Content of the article: "Awakening the God Slayer, destabilizing two religious orders, freeing an archdevil in a cursed mansion — the events of an utterly unforgettable campaign (Part 1: Pre-Demiplane to early DemiPlane shenanigans)"
Where do I even begin?
Me: High Elf Cleric turned Necrophagy Wizard (I played death domain cleric before, but switched to wizard bc roll20 didn't have it) with pretty low intelligence and only 4 strength, 12 con (it was my first character, sue me), no shits to give, and admittedly chaotic stupid, at first. From a crazy rich noble family that he ran away from. Had a pseudodragon familiar because he worshipped a deity of death, and named it Dog. The strongest weapon he has is his devilish luck, as we've learned throughout the campaign.
Not me (we're all friends, so it's pretty chill):
Chaotic Good Changeling glamor bard (the only strictly good character)
Unknown alignment Human(?) Hex Blade (reflavored the hexblade to hold an archfey patron, character was kind of an asshole and he really played the part)
Eventually a lawful evil devil (homebrew, *actual* devil) cleric joins the party.
And of course there's the gracious DM, who puts up with all of our shit and is the absolute best at crafting lore, complex characters, building an intriguing world. His DnD philosophy is that nothing is balanced in the game anyway, so go with what makes sense logically. Note: this was also a heroic campaign.
It all started with a simple quest — we were to join the ranks of this one army for our own reasons, get tasked with investigating why this town had halted trade shipments to the point where the caravans were straight up going missing. My character had claimed to be a high priest, and as the reward for this mission, asked for shrines to be built for his deity, all of that jazz. DM had the entire region fleshed out with rich lore…that we never really got to because my dumbass came into the picture (look, I'm reformed now).
See, there was an NPC — Velsim, that had gone along with my wizard during session 0. A dumb, friendly woman in full plate armor (inscribed with runes that had a magic nullifying effect). Mysterious. I was fairly sure she was undead. She was part of that army I was talking about, and I convinced the leader to let us take her along with a high persuasion roll.
I didn't take anything all that seriously at first — doing a lot of random shit just because I thought it'd be funny. Example: we entered an alchemist's workshop; I think his name was Naveed. He had kicked Velsim out by sending out birds to scare her because she smashed his shit last time. Me, with the big brain move, bites a bird out of the air, snapping its neck instantly. The rest of them look at me in abject horror, then fly away. I gave Velsim a big pep talk about conquering her fears and all that, which I further reinforced by handing her the bird corpse and telling her to smear the guts on herself as a sign of dominance. Naveed asks us to get a dagger and some abyssal ruby dust for him and to explicitly NOT touch the dagger's blade or consume the dust.
Now, if you're wondering how we got to being sucked into a Demiplane and having to do all of that…I had killed what I thought was an Ettin in session 0, and carved out one of its eyes. A hag named Cocoa summoned it with quite few human sacrifices and we barely managed to stop her.
I thought it was a FANTASTIC idea to test what the "ettin" eye did by crushing it up and feeding it to Velsim while she was sleeping. See, DM had a pretty neat side quest planned for when we were around level 18. We'd find out that Velsim, the lovable idiot we met at the start, is actually a powerful undead (Skarra) who had previously slayed multiple gods and will stop at nothing to destroy most of them. She even had just a placeholder faceclaim because DM figured we'd be parting after session 0 anway. Well, I awakened the previously amnesiac God Slayer at level 3 — restored all of her memories with that. I think DM even asked if I was sure and got nervous when I initially declared my intentions, and I just went ahead anyway.
She starts going berserk, the entire party is trying to see how the fuck to calm her down, the upper echelon of a religious order (Oros, the god of righteousness and integrity *rolls eyes* yeah right.) coming to destroy her, all sorts. A guy that could summon portals at will (It's a homebrew thing called a virtue; the virtued are born with a special power and face markings, but are often enslaved due to it, and also can't use magic), into different planes even — Morfiel, as we later learn — summoned an angel from another plane to fight her along with this woman in heavy armor and a giant hammer; I think she was a templar of Oros (Sylea). Along the way I randomly found the dagger and abyssal ruby dust Naveed had wanted.
Spoilers — Sylea and the angel lost, especially since we also interfered because Skarra was our friend and shit. While running, it dragged away Acelle, one of our npc companions at the time — note that she was also virtue'd. At some point the entire party went unconscious and we woke up in some prison cells, stripped of all our items and clothes etc. Presumably at an Oros uh, temple? We broke out, got our shit, heard the slowly weakening screams of Skarra, made our way to the ritual altar to stop them.
We see Cocoa, the hag that I encountered in session 0, Sylea and Morfiel, some randos, Skarra chained up in the middle. This was a ritual to force Skarra into a Demiplane cut off from the mortal plane, that not even gods could interfere with. There were portals leading straight to a higher plane, presumably to bring out entire celestial armies if anything went wrong. Cocoa, the hag, unsurprisingly, double-crossed the Orosian order and the ritual was supposed to put her in Skarra's body instead. I later found out that would've been just fine, since they had entire armies ready to kill her because they expected her to cross them. Unluckily for them, the warlock's archfey patron told him to do something that interfered with the ritual so…everyone in the room, and likely the entire temple, got sent to that Demiplane. Including the hag.
Session ends, DM is sweating bullets, like "Alright guys… Ima have to create an entirely new campaign on roll20 and add different maps". He ended up heavily modifying a curse of Strahd module. Honestly kudos to him, he just really emphasizes player freedoms even if it gives him a ton of work.
We wake up in an empty field after falling from the sky — missing our bard. Also, my magic looked different now — decayed, almost — and my familiar (who was my familiar and part of my soul basically because of the deity connection) looked weak, faded out. I couldn't commune with my deity or ask her for help anymore. Well, shit.
In comes the bard player's new character — a goliath barbarian with a weakness for pretty faces and is socially awkward. My character was a prettyboy, you can imagine how that went. I wake up to barbarian doing *something* that I don't remember to piss me off, which lead to praying to my deity to give me the mental fortitude to not fireball her right then and there. Even DM was a bit annoyed. She *also* accidentally slapped Warlock's mask off which apparently triggers him or something so he got mad too.
We spent 10 minutes or more arguing or discussing what the hell had happened, all while DM kept giving us hints to stop by mentioning the creeping fog that's getting closer and closer. *None* of us took the hint. NONE. He gave us 5 hints, I think, and eventually just thought fuck it, I'm just going to let this happen. We got trapped in the fog that was moving a grand total of like… 2 miles per hour, lost an ally NPC in it when we got out (Patricia. She was this sweet 15 year old priest/paladin that I gave some choice words because of some…religious differences).
We traveled for a bit, ending up in a forest around nighttime. I, in my infinite wisdom, decided this was quite a lot to take in, and decided to snort the abyssal ruby dust like a well practiced cocaine junkie. Just to get high, you know. The dust that Naveed had mentioned to NOT consume under any circumstances. Warlock tries to stop me, but fails the opposing dex checks. In comes a nightmarish sequence of heavy, negative as hell hallucinations — I see myself, berating me for all of the selfish, terrible shit I've done, how prideful I acted. I strangled that other self while the others just look at me like a crazy person.
Eventually, I snap out of it with some con saves, and the warlock, while still mad, notices hooting and sees these weird owl looking creatures closing in. I, rolling insanely high animal handling, manage to prevent them from attacking us by throwing out some rations, petting one of them while it ate, and then hauling ass as the others came to eat. This will be relevant later.
Making out way out of the forest, we had the real dumb idea to believe these two kids outside, crying about their parents being in danger because of a monster in this mansion. We went in, got trapped inside instantly and *quite* a lot happened over the course of a day, I think it took like…2 months of weekly sessions to get out of it?
— the mansion was showing us things from each of our pasts to entice us to stay
— We found a library filled with dusty books and tomes; with liberal use of a spell called "By the Light of the Moon" I managed to find important books from library, and ALSO a very cursed looking and feeling grimoire in a secret room, which I got quite a few decent spells from. Also, a locked box with *the* dagger inside (that Naveed wanted us to get). The dagger that we had lost somewhere along the way. Inside we also see a letter from Strahd to the presumed owner of this mansion, berating him for falling for a woman whose form is not what it seems.
— Straight after, we enter another room where we encounter a scarlet haired woman who instantly starts flirting with us. Warlock almost immediately recognizes something is strange. Remember the archfey patron that had told Warlock to interfere with the ritual? The woman reveals her true form as a shard of that patron — Astranza, queen of the forest feigns (forest feigns are changelings that feed on positive emotions, whereas desert bluffs are changlings that feed on negative emotions) and gets sucked into Warlock's hexblade weapon. Nobody except warlock really understood what was going on.
— heard two children's voices laughing from a room. they sounded like the voices of the kids we met outside, and we opened the door, finding nothing but some bones. as we looked around the room, a ghostly kid popped up and um, out of my extreme shock and assumption that they'd also be dangerous since everyone in the mansion had been, I firebolted their bones thinking it'd make them pass on, like in Supernatural, you feel? INSTEAD, I definitely sent them to hell. DM himself confirmed it.
— I got suicide bombed by these "twinkle dolls" that had cultist souls in them — a direct hit, with more incoming. Warlock had to use a healing item to get me up and we ran like hell downstairs.
— While escaping downstairs to a basement, we found a giant sapphire crystal with a devil trapped inside. He begged us to free him, saying he'd give us a favor if we do, so Barbarian decided to smash the crystal. We get transported to his awfully modern looking office, where the very…colorful devil starts talking in Infernal (because speaking Common is beneath him), which only Barbarian understands so she had to translate, introduces himself as an Archdevil, and these cultists had trapped him in there yada yada. Tells us to figure our way out of the mansion then we can talk.
–The story behind the mansion was basically that one of Astranza's shards had ended up in this mansion, and she seduced the owner of the mansion and even sired a changeling child with him. His wife, being vengeful, had killed him and the baby, done some shit and I don't actually remember how it related to the cultists… but it ended up cursed and all that, the cultists' souls still left in the mansion, ensnaring people into it and enticing them to stay inside so that their eventual deaths will feed it. The cultists had worshipped the archdevil, I think.
–We go down, enter a ritual altar. The cultist souls start doing something — they look like long shadows, and summon a monstrosity — imagine changeling baby but surrounded by a giant fleshy suit. Warlock's patron tells him to let the baby get sucked into the blade so that it'll rest in peace or something like that, so we try pulling the baby part out of the fleshy part, but all of us rolled terribly, so I ended up just throwing *the* dagger at it, which turned out to instantly kill you if it even scratches you because it steals your soul. Baby dies, we run the fuck out of the crumbling mansion, having to make multiple checks as a party to successfully escape. Warlock had cleverly secured an escape route right before the fight, so it was a bit easier.
We make it out of the mansion finally, see the devil's portal again. Barbarian gets swept up into the moment, I suppose (not to mention the devil is also devilishly handsome) and agrees to become his "employee" (signing a devil contract) in exchange for power, yada yada. I get looked at with disgust because my soul is tied to my deity, but he tries to convince me to sign a contract too, which I refuse. Warlock says he'll take a rain check. For her favor, Barbarian very selflessly asks for a permanent healing item for each party member so that we can actually heal. I ask for an amulet of health, because 12 constitution is tough as a wizard, man. I don't remember what Warlock asked for.
Now…onto what the devil actually wanted. He wanted us to put these seeds in the leyline convergences of this Demiplane to destroy the convergences and eventually the plane itself, because, as he so aptly put it "these people are probably happier dead anyway, what with the rebirthing to suffer again and all that". Totally legit. He gave us a boon to help with this mission. Also gave us a few cards showing the visages of who we were to hopefully gain as an ally and bring to him — Skarra (godslayer), Morfiel (portal guy) and Patricia (the cleric woman we had lost in the fog) We were level 5 and the boon boosted us to 8, I think. He also sent his son to help us, being a devil, and also a cleric. The player's a great guy, he played the character pretty well and we had some good times.
We exit the portal and immediately see a ginormous beast come out of a portal where the mansion had previously been. Of course we had to fight it, the mansion itself was on a leyline, and we had to destroy it. Which a cleric in hand, we actually beat it, even though DM kinda expected us to die right there. I did end up getting swallowed and almost dying, but my devilish luck came into effect, I guess.
As for the leyline…funny story — we thought Polymorph worked for any monster at first, not just beasts. I was like, alright, I polymorph Barbarian into a green dragon and we'll ride her to get past the water and such. I fill a flask with that leyline liquid while we're at it, because why not. We destroy the leyline convergence, destabilizing the plane in the process, and start flying our way towards…somewhere. Anywhere.
As we're flying, we get hit with these weird exploding crystal things, almost like chromatic orbs but more damage. Since polymorph is a concentration spell, I lose concentration, Barbarian reverts back to human, and we fall like 80 feet down. In comes Morfiel and a strange kid that looks awfully similar to Acelle…with the same face markings indicating her virtue, as well. The kid had shot us down apparently because she mistook us for a threat? I don't remember.
After which, we find out FIFTEEN years had passed during that one day we were in the mansion. FIFTEEN. We find out the entire situation here is kinda fucked. DM himself admitted what we did would've been entirely suicidal if not for the devil boon.
To be continued
- How my warlock won at mental chess with his patron
- Hot Take: You should enforce class restrictions and take away powers.
- ritual session
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