[Due to some last minute player cancellations from Valarie & Mike, this session was hatched-up in the 2 hours before game, and involves a somewhat forced side-quest with only 5 of the players.]
When last we left our players… they were resting somewhat uncomfortably in the remains of the stables next to the gargantuan Mimic-disguised-as-an-inn that they had bloodied as it tried to devour them. It was during the last watch, Jenn/Art Zoe’s watch, that our episode began…
The rain had settled to a light drizzle as a traveler in a brown leather coat & hat approached the fire in the pre-dawn hour. He appeared as a tiefling, though Art Zoe’s trademark paranoia would have none of that. Eventually it was revealed that he was a devil, an “independent contractor for the Nine Hells” named Lee (actually Le Ralak Ahsah-skar E’ht Y’lter’ces… but “Lee” is much easier for all concerned). Lee noticed a familial resemblance between Art and her father, and after some conversational gymnastics she finally revealed herself to be her father’s daughter.
Lee told of a family curse invoked by an ancestor of Art’s, an infernal-pact sorcerer named Keziah from one of the high houses of Bael Turoth (before the Cataclysm… so over 1000 years ago). Keziah had made a deal with a demon lord named Ehkahk, who called himself the Smoldering Duke and lord of the Choking Palace. The problem was that some part of the deal (a hidden part that was disguised under a faulty contract) apparently gave access to all of Keziah’s descendants, so in the centuries since then her family had suffered a tendency to be tempted by fiery/smokey demons and to die horribly in burning-related incidents.
Lee said that the forces he worked for did not like Ehkahk, because he was a chaotic demon who lied in his contracts… totally unlike a proper devil’s contract, which always followed the agreement to the letter and made sure all parties had a chance to read every word. He said that the forces he worked for would love to take out Ehkahk, and that the best way to do that was to examine the contracts he’d made over the centuries, as those were how he garnered most of his power. Unfortunately, his contracts were held in a Fortress of Smoke on a massive coal mote floating in the Elemental Chaos, and Ehkahk had enchanted this fortress to immediately identify any incursion by immortals or creatures native to the outer planes.
This did mean, however, that most of the party would be okay to go on an infiltration mission. Akara/Valarie and Karath/Mike couldn’t go, since Akara is a deva (an immortal) and Karath was born in the Outlands (also because Valarie & Mike couldn’t make it that night). However, due to a time discrepancy, the party could spend an hour or two in that part of the Elemental Chaos and only pass 5 minutes or so in the Prime Material Plane. Lee gave the party a book that would immediately copy any contract touched to it and a special trans-dimensional teleportation gem (empowered by crystallized eladrin souls) to bring the party back when they were through.
In addition, Lee (who had been travelling north) had information about a very upset revenant caravan driver (The Unknown Soldier) with whom he had made a deal. The caravan driver had wanted a ritual, and he had traded a list of recently “available” souls… the List of the Dead that described all the bodies in the caravan. Lee had “looked into” the souls on the list, and said that all were already spoken for. However, he said that if the party succeeded in copying as many contracts as possible from Ehkahk’s warded contract room, he’d give the party the List of the Dead, which he believed had directions to where TUS was going (the next name on the list was the brother of Ssussun Beluth, with whom TUS wants revenge for the whole family murder thing the Pelorian Drow Avenger did to TUS’s family in his last life). He also said that if Art was able to copy the contract Keziah had signed, that he and the forces he worked for would do everything in their power to find any loopholes or ways to use the contract against Ehkahk. These agreements, in conjunction with the knowledge that they’d be freeing the trapped family of eladrin souls (though Lee assured them that "they were not exactly GOOD people who made the deal that resulted in their getting trapped there) in the gem when they activated it, convinced the party to go on this devil’s errand. Lee said he’d discuss the specifics of the ritual he’d given TUS with Karath & Akara while the rest were gone.
In the Elemental Chaos, there was a lot of smoke, as the massive earth mote seemed to be made entirely of coal, and was orbiting perhaps 50 miles away from the Choking Palace, a huge floating cloud castle composed of glowing orange smoke and bursts of blackness. On the coal mote, the party first was attacked by a medium smoke dragon and some flamesoul lance creatures (afterwards they found a magical bottle… see below). Reaching the Fortress of Smoke, they engaged in a number of skill challenges to maneuver into a building of sometimes-solid smoke, filled with smoke creatures that might trip alarms. Eventually they found their way to the stone-floored Contract Room, but were so busy examining it that they missed out on the enemies sneaking up to attack them. The party fought against some smoke-fire bats and enhanced versions of the flamesoul creatures from before… but some of the flamesouls entered the walls and turned them into expanding masses of combusting gas. The party grabbed and copied as many contracts as they could, not reading any but just smacking them against the book and dropping them. Both Art and Scout felt strange sensations upon grabbing one of the contracts each. When they finally activated the portal to leave (seconds before they were burned alive by the white phosphorous-like clouds), the party had copied 11 scrolls, and had taken 3 of the originals with them:
- One was the contract signed by Keziah (the one that made Art’s blood tingle when she grabbed it).
- One was a contract signed by Zira of the assassin’s group Kargatane (the one that made Scout’s shadow tattoo feel like it was burning).
- One has not yet been opened (Scout had mentioned to Karath that he’d try to bring him back a book or something from their trip).
[I’ll have these contracts posted in the Books section of the site in the next few days]
The next game will begin with a five minute conversation between Lee, Karath, and Akara, followed by the return of the scorched five.
For two fights and a skill challenge, as well as getting 11 contracts, each party member receives 150 XP.
NOTE: To keep everyone even, all characters will get this, even folks who weren’t present.
Rewards & Treasure:
For their travels in (and survival of) this particularly unpleasant area of the Elemental Chaos, the five who participated in this adventure received the free feat Born of Elements (from Heroes of the Elemental Chaos… it gives you a +2 to Endurance & Intimidate, and is a prerequisite for a lot of other cool elemental feats from that book).
The warm brass bottle found on the coal mote is a lvl 7 wondrous item Bottled Smoke. Lisa/Praxis has this item currently.
Next game will hopefully be in 2 weeks, on Sunday, July 15. We can email about specifics. Stay tuned for episode 17: A History of Violence.