Today the prompt is Portal.
What leaks through portals? It’s a good way to introduce corrupting elements to an otherwise innocuous setting, particularly if you want to bring in demons and/or devils.
I was really inspired by The Blood War in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and I’ve been trying to bring in elements of the conflict to my campaign. I really like the concept that devils, which are evil but lawful, might end up on the side of the characters against the demons, which are evil and chaotic. But then what price will they charge?
I started introducing elements of this to the second campaign which started in Rennydale. I trailed Ardelphia being a place of strangeness (unfortunately I did this too well, and the players decided they wanted to head there straight away rather than building up levels and abilities before heading there). They were stopped by a wasteland dragon who detected the magical lantern they had discovered, but let them free in return for a promise to find the missing parts and to use them to restore the wasteland dragon’s land. Crossing the moors they encountered ghostly battles being re-fought, and then a desecrated shrine with dretches (which they cleared out) and a map showing the location of pieces of the lantern. They also had a talking raven following them at times, making suggestions (which they were extremely suspicious of).
That was when the two campaigns shrank to the point where I decided to merge them using Castle Amber. Fast forward eighteen months and we have finally returned to the world and I can restart building towards it. Except we’re now in Akorros and have no characters remaining from the crew who headed to Ardelphia.
So now we have a couple of characters from the original Threshold campaign who are looking for the shards of Traladara and the Medallion of Winter, and no-one to remember the lantern of dragons. I’m still hoping to bring in the Blood War, though. The raven did appear a couple of times in Averoigne and made helpful suggestions, and they arrived back in Mystara just as a portal was opened allowing through an obsidian-black sphere “glowing” with black flames. Their shards managed to contain it to a degree and then squirted it out through the ceiling, through the roof and out somewhere unknown…
On the second floor they found a room with a magical sigil on the floor, scented braziers around, and heavy leather curtains keeping out any daylight. Inside the magical symbol, along with the stolen whisper jar, were a host of strange worm-like creatures writhing around and unable to leave the extent of the symbol. Once the party defeated the worms, a strange deep voice spoke to them from the whisper jar in an unknown language.
So where has this obsidian sphere gone and where did it come from? Who was speaking? Are they league with the obsidian sphere or not? Where did the worm-like things come from? What about the fungus and the scary creature which almost finished them off in the sewers? Are they normal sewer denizens or have they been brought by the portal as well? Who or what is the raven and will they re-appear? Who created the portal and where are they now (and what happened to the previous inhabitants?)
Coming at it from a different angle – where are the demons and devils? How many more portals? What pacts will the party need to strike and with whom? And what’s happened to Ardelphia?
It’s recently been my birthday, so time for a new book. I asked for Heroes of Theros because I have been a bit put off Descent into Avernus by reviews and comments. Due to a mixup, I ended up with two copies of Heroes of Theros, and I’ve now discovered Descent into Avernus includes ideas for devil pacts and the nine Hells and devilish contraptions, so it fits better with my plans for the campaign. So one of the copies of HoT will go back and become Descent into Avernus, and I’m hoping it will help me crystallise how to start bringing in the devils as well.
Tomorrow is the last day, so time to reflect on the Experience.