Notes from a Recent Campaign
--DM's notes presented unedited, for your amusement:
The Temple of Camelsast
--Camelsast is a demonic gnoll-like beast, sometimes depicted as a sand dragon, which is a chaotic demon that was cast into the mortal realm long ago. In his true form he has the body of a camel spider, the torso and upper arms of a gnoll, the head of a goat and the side tentacles of a froghemoth. Lazy DM uses modified Balor stats if somehow it comes to blows with him (but see more below).
--The Temple was once a fortress dedicated to a lost order called the Adonari. The Knights of this order were killed twenty-five hundred years ago when Camelsast took control of the temple. The old knighthood was a dedicated order which served the enigmatic deity called Bashtron.
--About a century ago, shortly after the fall of the Dark Pharaoh, the devils of Avernus, following their general Razzadien, invaded the temple and slew its priests, then fought with Camelsast and drug him to the Nine Hells where he was imprisoned in the City of Dis. Razzadien was slain in the battle and his remains rest at the center of a powerful planar anomaly that permanently binds the temple to the plane of Avernus, first layer of Hell.
--Camelsast has a ring of ancient keys which he keeps. Some of these keys bind the dark chains of the fallen angels which were bound to the Dark Pharaoh Xauraun 150 years earlier . These keys are hung around his neck in a deep, burning pit in the city of Dis. (side note: these were the plot goal of the group entering the temple)
--The body of Razzadien is located in the main hall of the old temple, a moldering mass that is covered in crystalline black blood. Any who enter the circle around the body, or touch the crystalline blood are transported to Avernus. The body is haunted by a specter of Razzadien, who will inform the PCs that they must journey to Dis if they seek the keys of Camelsast. He offers to take them there for a price….his price is that they must promise to take his crystallized heart and present it to Dispater himself. He’s lying (a bit) though; any who touch the crystalline bones will seem to be transported to Avernus anyway.
--The interior temple has the following guardians:
o Undead specters of the lost knights who once inhabited this fortress and worshipped Bashtron
o A lone Nabassu (adult) named Grath which has taken Camelsast’s name and claims to be the demon lord so that the gnolls will worship him. He even has his own unholy amulet and ring of false keys! The keys are actual gate keys, one each to: Acheron, Mechanus, Dis, Arborea and the Material Plane.
o A horde of hooked horrors occupy the darkest corners of the temple
o A gang of derro led by the antipaladin derro Crucix occupy the lower regions of the temple as well, studying the phenomenon of an Abyssal tomb ruptured by an Infernal invasion. They are sworn to seek a way to restore Razzadien to life that they may remove his lawful evil corruption from the temple, but prior efforts to take his heart to Dis have proven fatal to those who tried….and each time the heart reappears 13 days later in the corpse’s chest.
o A Nonaton modron and his small army arrive in search of a group of rogue modrons. The Nonaton is named Cherish-223-00067. He won’t take no for an answer. (In the actual game the group had the three rogue modrons with them).
Journey to Avernus and dis
--Avernus is the first layer of the Nine Hells, and the point of entry for most all creatures. Bypassing Avernus is very difficult.
--The anomaly on this side is a great claw rising from the earth in which the adventurers appear when they interact with the dead Razzadien. A pair of spinagons watch it, waiting patiently for evidence of use. The spinagons are Kratus and Strakos, and they will try to flee if approached to bring word to the nearby fortress of scars and the salt devil Ruukalos that there are invaders.
--A crude path winds through the rocky, devasted countryside of the land, littered with volcanic glass and shards. Cracks filled with boiling water and swimming pools of mewling, worm-like lemurs can be seen.
--The Fortress of Scars is ruled by the salt devil Ruukalos, who will send forth an army of Legion Devils to investigate the new arrivals. He is advised by a petitioner named Ruvan Mool, a Galvonarian vizier hanged for treason last year by the Caliph, now working hard to become a lesser devil.
--“Safe Spots” in this region include the Blade’s Cut, a scar in Avernus where a portal to Acheron can be found. A legion of bladelings led by General Crossika stand guard, waiting for the next great war between Acheron and the Hells. They will show antipathy to the humans, but will aid them if the adventurers promise to return with intel on Dis or other major fortresses of hell.
--Another “safe spot” is the Tower of Mugalin, a lone sorcerer of ancient power who dwells on this plane studying the movement of Tiamat in her ancient prison. His many telescopes allow him to study that land at a safe distance. He explains that Tiamat’s Hellish form is a vessel, an aspect, and that the spirit of the goddess roams the multiverse seeking reincarnation. He speaks with an accent and explains he is from a kingdom called Pellucid (Chirak, four centuries old). If the PCs stay overnight, in the morning the tower is gone, turned to ruins and dust. Beneath the tower is a passage to the legendary Dungeon of a Thousand Gates, an ancient demiplane created by Mugalin after he went mad some centuries ago. Foolish adventurers may brave the dungeon and find a gate to Dis....if they have a key.
And on to Dis
--The Riven Path is the passage along the cliffs leading to the second layer, the hot and untenable land of Dis. Armies of the dead march along this path seeking deeper passage into the Nine Hells, driven by legion devils and spinagons. Masquerading as the shroud-covered lemurs is the only way to pass in disguise.
--Alternatively, a wild ride down the River Styx, including a terrible waterfall, is another way, but bathing in or drinking the water instantly destroys all memories of who and what the person is. Passage by Charonic ferryman is possible, but he charges a steep sum to escort the living…a solid diamond worth 10,000 GP. The only diamond of such value in the area is in the diadem of Ruvan Mool, at the Fortress of Scars!
--Once at Dis, the winding, cutting, burning canyons open up to the iron city, which glows with an eerie burning light. Passage in the city is difficult, and it is filled with all manner of infernal beings.
--Asking around draws attention but reveals that the “former” demon Camelsast is serving his life sentence in the Asking Pits. This information is known to most, but a fallen deva named Cryosine offers to help the PCs. She is remorseful in her ways, and if it is revealed they seek to restore a fallen seraph see will see this as a chance at redemption.
--The deepest, largest pit contains the fallen demon lord, whose exposure to this land has changed him forever to a lawful evil fiend. As a bound pit fiend he still seeks escape and will bargain with the PCs to cough up his chain of keys if they free him, but that they will suffer a terrible curse if they don’t fulfill their portion of the bargain.
--The pit guardian of the Asking Pits is a Pit Fiend named Rugose, who serves Dispater directly. He is also one way the group could ask to see Dis, especially if they bring Razzadien’s heart. If they mention this task to Cryosine, she will warn them that Razzadien sets them up….he owes 1,001 souls to Dispater and they will be given to fulfill his obligation, slain immediately and raised as lemurs.
--No matter what, Camelsast cannot escape until he can answer the question of the Asking Pit, which is “Name the form of your disgrace.” The answer is: Camelsast himself, but he can never see this through his own hubris. If an adventurer answers, then they free him (in error or by design). He will cause havoc and attack the pit fiend Rugose, giving them accidental time to escape. Cryosine, if allying with them, can take them to a portal which leads them back to the material plane, though she is not sure 100% where. The portal opens to a dark cave in a mountainscape of the DM's choice. (Note: in the campaign the group actually took Razzadien's heart to Camelsast and gave it to him; I ruled that this actually freed him, after which he attacked Rugose.)