I had other ideas, too. Ultimately I decided to dangle the harpy in front of Bidam and completely leave it up to him to tell me if anything happens.
(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard
Last time, the devil army tried to march through the Abyss and it didn't go well. A demon army attacked them and this huge demon lord named Codricuhn rose up out of the rift and blindsided everyone.
He didn't attack. He continued to observe her. The harpy used her charming song on him, singing "Be my protector" or something like that. Bidam had already made a save against another harpy's song on this day, and thus he was immune to this effect for the rest of the day.
He decided to pretend to be charmed. She glided over to him and held onto him from behind, singing to him and referring to him as her "dragon protector."
They continued to fall. Some creatures were hovering deep in the rift. They were ferroliths. A commenter pointed out to me that the ferroliths work perfectly into what I am doing. I read up on it and wow, he was right. The ferroliths hate Grazzt and want him dead, and they live right here on the Plain of 1,000 Portals.
Even better, I'd used a ferrolith previously as an attendant to Bidam's wife. The ferroliths knew who Bidam was already.
So these two matched speeds with Bidam, talked to him, and ultimately agreed to fly him to their home. They asked if he wanted them to "scrape" the harpy off his back. Bidam decided to 'keep' her.
The harpy's name is Xanthip Shrew. For the rest of the session she rode on his back and whispered nefarious plans in his ear. Her charming song was very, very useful.
The Sorcerous Duel
He wondered who was scrying him. Then he guessed... Iggwilv. And yep, she appeared. It was a simulacrum, a clone of her made from ice and snow. Iggwilv is trapped in Grazzt's palace.
Iggwilv confessed to being the one who sent the meteor swarm down on his palace last session. She said she would continue to do so unless he did three things for her:
- Agree to help Grazzt capture his enemy, Varin, under the condition that Iggwilv was freed of her imprisonment.
- Hand over the sphere of annihilation.
- Hand over the staff of power. She said, "I already have one, but it might be nice to have a backup."
Iggwilv used telekinesis to send Theran flying into a wall. Theran cast disintegrate, blowing a hole through her abdomen. Ice and snow dripped from within.
She was hurt, but still alive. She cast finger of death. The thin black beam struck Theran and dropped him.
He came to moments later, with his silent imp sidekick Barbagg stuffing healing berries into his mouth. He could see his ally, the succubus nurse Joiifercus sneaking up on Iggwilv. Iggwilv didn’t notice because she was looking at her wound, freaked out.
The nurse gave Iggwilv the succubus kiss of doom. Iggwilv threw her to the ground and began to cast a spell. Theran cast his own finger of death first, dropping Iggwilv. Then.. the demon babies that the nurse watches came crawling in. All of them are spawn of Grazzt. They devoured the remains of Iggwilv’s simulacrum as Theran watched, disturbed. He took special notice of what looked to be the child of Lamashtu and Grazzt. It had dark skin, long claws and three red eyes.
The Iron Maiden
Bidam and his harpy backpack were flown to a palace made from one million broken swords. This is the home of the ferroliths.
He was led to the throne room. A line of ferroliths, which are essentially succubi with metal skin, watched him walk by. They were all in awe of Bidam, as he had platinum scales. One ferrolith with a swedish accent touched his scales and said, "you are like me, yes?" She had platinum skin. The harpy swatted her hand away.
My terrible Swedish accent sounds like my terrible German accent, and immediately Jesse began scheming on how to get me to have to roleplay a conversation between the two. She finds it hilarious when I have to roleplay two NPCs talking to each other because I hate it so much.
Bidam met the Iron Maiden. Hey, that's her name in the book, I didn't make it up. I gave her a grand, heavy metal entrance, stepping out of an iron coffin with smoke spewing out, extending her claws as the ferroliths cheered.
The Iron Maiden explained to Bidam that the ferroliths were created when Grazzt threw a bunch of traitorous succubi into a lake of molten iron. They didn't die, they became the first ferroliths. Their goal is to kill Grazzt. What's more, it actually says in the book that they want to reach out to the devils to team up! The heroes are allies with the devils, how great is that?
Bidam agreed to work with them to eventually try to kill Grazzt. She said Bidam could choose one of her three best ferroliths to stay with him so they could report back and keep lines of communication open. The choices were some stupid joke NPCs I made up:
- The Gold Lady: She's covered in gold and acts like a spoiled princess.
- Iron Schlong: He's a dude with an iron.. well, you know.
- Devarda: She's the platinum Ferrolith.
From there, Bidam was able to go home. He, Theran, and their two new sidekick NPCs met with Bazuuma, Bidam's demon lord wife.
The group was worried that their friends Drokkarn the pit fiend and Bovina the cow lady were captured or dead.
The Lord's Rook
So Bazuuma knows a lot about Pazuzu. She explained that Drokkarn was likely imprisoned in the Lord's Rook, Pazuzu's floating home.
I read a bunch of stuff about Pazuzu and used as much as I could. I changed it a bit. I think the Lord's Rook is actually in Pazuzu's other layer, Torremor, but I stuck it here on the Plain of 1,000 portals. It's already confusing enough, I don't want to throw another layer into the mix.
So the group rested and then went to break into Pazuzu's floating Palace. They made their way through magic doors and snuck past guards. Ultimately, the harpy charmed a guard, who led the group to a prison.
I've mentioned before I don't like violent torture in D&D. I use joke torture. Drokkarn and Bovina were being “tortured” by having to sweep up feathers in an aviary for four hours a day using brooms with bristles that were sort of too soft. And they only got a 15-minute break each hour! They weren't sure how much more of this they could take.
The group were able to use their little magic jar with Lord Stillborn in it to teleport everyone out of there, including the charmed vrock, who got an all-expenses-paid trip to Bidam's demon breeding farm.
The heroes were eventually contacted by Pazuzu, who wasn't angry. He wanted to make them an offer. They returned to his home and met him in his throne room.
Pazuzu has this giant floating throne called The Blinding Claw detailed in multiple books. It is in the shape of a talon and can blind people. If you sit on this thing and you are not Pazuzu, you turn into a vrock and lose the memories of your old life forever! Pretty awesome.
I made up a new consort/girlfriend for Pazuzu, the "Queen of the Harpies." She's not the demon lord of harpies. I am pretty sure that there already is one. Her name is Ardat, I think. This is just some sub-ruler or something.
I wanted to run Pazuzu like Starscream from the old transformers cartoon - a whiny schemer. With her there, I could have him whine to her and kind of put his personality on display.
Once I'd read about Pazuzu, I saw how perfectly he fits into everything. He hates two demon lords: Lamashtu and Grazzt! The two big bad guys in my campaign! Lamashtu is a Pathfinder demon lord, but she has been mentioned in more than one D&D book. It's amazing how everything fits together.
Pazuzu had a few things to say:
- He hates Lamashtu and wants to help the devil army get to her layer. He told the group about a tunnel that could get the army there, unnoticed.
- He wants Grazzt dead and will help them any way he can.
- He told them if they say his name out loud three times, they can communicate telepathically for one minute. This is from an old Dragon Magazine article.
As the group left, the Queen of the Harpies contacted them via a sending spell. She wants them to help her overthrow Pazuzu!
The heroes were pretty pleased. I don't think they want to overthrow Pazuzu, they have too much on their plate right now But maybe wayyyy down the road I can roll that out as a surprise that blindsides them in some fashion.
The heroes caught word that the demon army of Lamashtu was pouring into the layer that the devils had taken. The demons were trying to take it back!
Khorramzadeh is a Pathfinder bad guy.
Theran got on the death hurler and started firing off spells. Bidam flew up to Khorramzadeh and hacked into him with the sword of sharpness.
Khorramzadeh tried to use his massive lightning whip to hit Theran, but he missed and soldiers went flying. He hit the death hurler with his giant sword and tipped it over, sending Theran falling into a crowd of dretches.
A lamia hit Bidam with a chaos hammer spell that sent him falling to the ground.
The group rallied from there and started piling on damage. Theran with disintegrate and finger of death, Bidam with the sword of sharpness.
Fun fact: Bidam finally rolled a natural 20 with the sword. It does a pile of extra lightning damage. Khorramdadeh is a special balor who is lightning-based, and thus is immune to lightning. In all this time, I don't think Bidam ha ever been able to get anything off of the sword's critical effects.
Khorramzadeh was very close to dying. He had no choice but to teleport away. When he fled, the demon army panicked and scattered. The demons were chased down and slaughtered. The devils cheered. They had held on to their layer of the Abyss.
The Trump Adventure: I asked the players what they wanted to do next time: Lead the devil army through the tunnel or go after Gonard Flumph, the Donald Trump NPC who has been causing them problems. There was no hesitation. They want to take down Gonard Flumph.
So I'm going to try to work in all the trump stuff I can and translate it to D&D. Putin, Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conway, Pence and his mother/wife, and of course, peeing on Russian prostitutes, D&D-style.