Monday, June 22, 2015

"The Blue Imp" - Chapter 7.5 of the Dwellers of the Forbidden City

Inza the Shadow
Indigo lays it all on the line. As a result, Aline and Randalf are able to reach a compromise and move forward. Later, the team performs some reconnaissance on the wizard Horan's fortified compound.

The Group (in order of seniority):
  • Aline, a Thaumaturge of half-Human/half-Sylvan* parentage (Wizard 7)
  • Gravy, Human Priest of Thumina (Cleric 7)
  • Inza, aka "The Shadow", Human Shadow-Warrior (Monk 6/Sorcerer 1)
  • Lodar, Prairiefolk** Barbarian (Barbarian 7)
  • Randalf Azul, Human Abjurer (Wizard 7)
  • Sorjin, Human Adventurer, Bounty Hunter, ...Ladies Man (Fighter 5/Something Else 2)
* Elf
** Halfling
*** Half-Orc

Last week, the party learned that Indigo the blue imp was somehow connected to the Aline's crystal ball, and that the crystal ball was somehow opening a gate to hell and allowing devils to escape. Randalf had just confronted Aline with an ultimatum over Indigo, "Either he goes, you go, or I go!"

Breaking the Impasse
Indigo looked at Aline and sighed.

"Look, boss. You're not supposed to know this and I'll probably be busted back down to lemure, but you've been very good to me and I hate what my boss has in store for you so you deserve to know."

"The crystal ball is cursed."

DM Note -  DUH!. It is a crystal hypnosis ball.

"This particular crystal ball is a key that will open a gate to hell and free my bosses, the Baatezu, aka the Old Gods aka the Devils, from their imprisonment. For the past six months, you have been serving my true boss: Asmodeus, Arch-duke of the Baatezu. The gate was small at first. Only lesser baatezu could come through.  But the more you use it, the bigger the gate becomes. You've summoned a lot of baatezu, more than you know, and they've been serving as agents on this side, setting the stage for our return."

"You've also spent a lot of time doing some other leg-work for us, but you have no memory of this."

"I am SO busted for telling you this next part, so listen up! If you want to destroy the crystal ball, you've got to take it to the top of Nightflame Mountain and summon forth the lightning of Lorimes, the Lord of Ravens. If he finds your situation worthy, his lightning will melt the crystal ball, or explode it, I'm not quite sure which."

"If you just want to RID yourself of the crystal ball, just have someone cast a Remove Curse spell on you, and give the crystal ball to someone you trust."

"Since I was a gift from Asmodeus, transmitted through the crystal ball, I'm not sure what will happen to me. Either I'll no longer be your familiar, or I'll no longer be an imp, or I'll die. Who can say?"

Soon after saying that, Indigo had a seizure. "Oh shit!" he said, "Oh shit, I'm busted!"

He began painfully shape-changing through his forms: rat-spider-raven-rat-imp-raven-spider-raven

He eventually stopped at raven with blue feathers, lying on the ground with labored breath.

Indigo was now a blue raven.

"Ah..Ah..Ah.. I guess this is better than being a lemure? KAW!"

Randolf stroked his beard in thought, "Hmm.  Indigo, your kind are known for deceit," he paused to emphasize the next point, "and trickery.  So you will understand if I withhold my judgment on your trustworthiness.  However, if what you have told us has been on the up-and-up, it will be a very small first step towards a possible trust.”

"You have centuries of Baatezu history stacked against you and this…punishment”  he pointed at the Indigo Raven, "could just be another in a long line of trickery."

"We’ll go to Nightflame Mountain and summon forth the lightning of Lorimes, the Lord of Ravens and see what he says.”

With that, the impasse was broken. The rest of the night passed with no interruption.

The party spent the entirety of the next day resting and preparing and debating what to do next. Should they eliminate the remaining bullywugs? Should they change the focus of their attention towards the wizard Horan? What was Horan doing anyway? Or should they find and eliminate the nest of Yuan-Ti? After much debate, they decided to at least find out what the wizard Horan was up to.

Aline cast a spell of invisibility on herself and did an aerial fly-by of the compound, noting the two wooded enclosures in the southeast and southwest corners, the house and its porch, and the two sheds in the northeast and northwest corners.

Inza was then tasked to wait until nightfall and scout the wizard's compound.

The Soft Probe
That night, Inza watched the compound from a hiding place. The wall surrounding the compound was fifteen feet high. There were three gates, one each on the west, south, and east walls. Reptile-men patrolled the top of the wall or stood atop small turrets at each gate.

When there were no guards near the southeast corner, he darted across the street and leapt to the top of the wall in a single bound. He looked down and saw a pond in the park-like enclosure in the southeast corner. He looked around, saw no opposition in the enclosure, and decided this would be the best place for an assault. He left the compound to retrieve the rest of his team.

TO BE CONTINUED

We didn't play last Friday so this is technically the last half of the previous week.

the Problem with Indigo

Indigo was really becoming a source of intra-party conflict between Randalf and Aline. It's natural considering Randalf is a magical exorcist and Indigo is a literal devil from hell. 

The problem was mine, not Aline, or Aline's player. Several months ago, Aline came into possession of the "Crystal Ball". That treasure was described in that adventure as a Crystal Hypnosis Ball. At that time, I only had a vague sense of what I wanted to do with such a cursed item.

As time went on, I came on the idea that every time Aline uses the crystal ball, she would summon something. I don't know how I wound up with devil, probably just opened the Monster Manual and picked. Anyway, the first thing she summoned was an Imp. I was going to start small and work up the list. 

Aline's player really liked battling the imp and asked me later if she could have an imp as a familiar. Imps are Lawful Evil and only serve Lawful Evil characters and try to corrupt those that are not, so I said sure. 

Later, when she cast "Summon Familiar", I had the imp emerge from the crystal ball. Telegraphed? Naw!

Anyway, I role-played Indigo as an annoying but very useful member of the party. He was also rebellious, and always out doing his own thing and needing to be summoned back against his will.

Randalf hated Indigo the moment he saw him. I should point out, Randalf's player LOVES Indigo. RANDALF, on the other hand, hates him, and Randalf's player is an EXCELLENT role-player!

So when we had the show-down and Randalf issued an ultimatum, for a while we all thought "Um, dude, calm down. Are you REALLY angry or just pretending?"  

It turned out he was pretending, and doing a great job of it.

Anyway, Aline really likes Indigo because despite his being evil, he's very useful. Aline's PLAYER really likes Indigo and likes how I role-play him. Randalf's player really likes Indigo and how I role-play him. Randalf, however, hates Indigo.

So I worked out a compromise that allows Indigo to stay with the party:

  1. Indigo spilled some beans and was actually honest with Randalf.
  2. As punishment, Indigo was stripped of his Impishness. He's now a blue raven. 
This way he's no longer an Imp, so Randalf is satisfied, but he gets to stay with the party, so Aline is satisfied. 


Come back next week when the party takes on Horan the Transmogrifier!