To understand this post, you need to read my Part 1 of this article.
When we last left my AD&D party, there was roughly 3 groups all vying for the same McGuffin necklace and literally at each other throats with threats and violence. I had created this lovely plotline that put the group at cross purposes, and was hopefully going to become a bonding moment and allow the group to go forward a bit stronger, with a few lumps to show for it. I talked with a few fellow DM’s to get some advice on how to proceed, and a few suggestions floated to the top. The main outcome was the concept that, “Evil turns against itself, Good redeems its own.” That the groups of evil going for the necklace, would not just focus on getting along on “Team Evil”.
Suffice to say, the party trying to keep the necklace from evil, and the group trying to rescue their friend that was being held hostage decided to meetup and work together. They did not know exactly how the whole situation would shake out, but anything was better than letting players that were actively working for Asmodeus get the necklace. They still had the moral question of, do we give this powerful item to the Sultan of the plane of fire to get back Safia, or do we sacrifice her and destroy the item outright (or at least attempt that). They were attacked by members of the local thieves’ guild, who somehow knew about the artifact. Johnny and Nico, the devil worshipers, stumbled upon and actually helped out in the combat, because they did not want the guild to get the item. After the fight though, they demanded it, and the rest of the group fled and got away from them. They actually went as far as threatening and in a minor way attacking the group to get the prize.
The group with the necklace sat around getting a moments rest in the city, and still debating the great issue of what to do. The followers of Asmodeus were confronted by a representative from the Zhentarim telling them in essence, “Hey, I’m on your side, I hired the guild to get the necklace, and you screwed me over. Let’s go get the necklace together.” The two of them look at each other, slightly abash and decide to go alone with this plan. He informs them that he has a large contingent of the guild tracking them and when he finds them, he will attack in great force and he wants them to help lead the attack. They agree to this and wait for the trap to be sprung.
"Zhentarim, I hate these guys."
Tourin, who is in a relationship with the captured NPC Safia, decides that she must save her and send the message to the Sultan’s enforcer to show up and reclaim the artifact. Things are really starting to heat up, and they agree to meet in an abandoned warehouse for the exchange. The rest of her group seems to be going along with this plan, but they still have their doubts. What will the Sultan do with this item? Will it upset the balance in the planes? Will that spill over into the Prime Material? Is one person’s life worth this risk? Either way, they head out and decide to go to the meeting, this is when the guild strikes.
While trying to avoid the public they take some back alleys to get to the warehouse, the area that thieves’ guilds know well. At a good four way stop the guild surrounds the group, keeping a fair distance, and the Zhentarim leader ask to end this peacefully. He knows this burden was thrust upon them, by another group, and he is even willing to throw in a finder’s fee to them for the item, upwards of 20,000 GP. Our stalwart heroes refuse and prepare themselves with a fight with 20+ armed men, and it is at that point that an invisible imp working for the Zhent gets the drop on the party and now holds the necklace barer, Remus, hostage with his tail to his throat. The Zhent leader comments on how he tried to do it the nice way, now it was the hard way. He also makes an offhand comment about how he cannot wait to get the item back to Fzoul, and the promotion that he will receive. This is not lost on the Devil worshipers, who realize they are being used, and most likely will be killed. They needed to deliver the prize to Asmodian trustees, the Zhentarim is backstabbing them.
Johnny slowly approaches the group, under the pretense of getting the necklace, while Nico positions himself next to the Zhentarim leader. Johnny leans into Tourin and whispers, “You owe me,” and dashes to decapitate the imp. Seeing this the Zhentarim commander orders the charge and guild members flock towards the group. Right after he does this Nico uses an unholy gift, to use Charm Person on the Zhentarim commander and has him call off the thugs, who start to leave after only one round of combat. Both Johnny and Nico know that not returning the necklace to their Dark Lord will incur his wrath, but they decide to back their friends and help save Safia.
After that, they as a group go to the warehouse and shortly thereafter the Sultan’s Enforcer, Eram, shows to collect his bounty. They go into another round of, “Is this right?” With the now former, Asmodeus followers chiming in that they are now on a hit list to save Safia, they must do this. The party’s cleric, and conscious, Wolfen, hammers the point that one person’s life might cost millions of lives. Eram threatens the critiques to silence themselves, and warns that his patience is not eternal. Tourin asks for the necklace, and Remus hands it over. There is a long and lingering pause. Eram stands in front of a portal to the plane of fire reminding Tourin of their “ironclad” agreement, “one necklace, one girl.” Tourin staring at the floor looks up with grim determination and walks crestfallen towards the towering obsidian man. When she nears him, she looks up and sprints towards the portal and hops through. Eram screams in anger and goes after her, and as the portal starts to shrink the party piles in after her and we ended the session there. The player of Tourin hands in real life were shaking, and the whole table was on their feet.
I honestly was not expecting this. I was not prepared for an adventure in the plane of fire, but here we are and I could not be happier. As a DM, I live for the moments that I cannot predict. Generally, I know the plot, and what is going on, but having a twist like this is amazing. My players are psyched, I am psyched, and the party seems like they have a common purpose. I guess I did not break it after all is said and done.
The Plane of Fire or Apocalypse Rio de Janeiro
*P.S. I can see people’s post already about, “Wouldn’t they just die going into the plane of fire?” I have two points on that. One, depends on the source. I am using the Al-Qadim books on genies and they seem to say that there are plenty of areas in the Elemental Planes that are habitable for humans like the City of Brass. Two, I guess I could just start the session and say, “Ok, after that amazing session and dramatic moment….you are all dead. Sorry, you’re in a lava flow. Let’s roll up something new.” How fun is that?
P.S.S. This is our Obsidian Portal link, if interested.
P.S.S. This is our Obsidian Portal link, if interested.