User:Cedric/Out of the Abyss

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Oh boy. You probably shouldn't be here, but in case you're the DM, here's how to play the demons found there:

Non GMs/DMs/WotC: Cthulhu phtagn, ("The curse of the GOD of horrors (Cthulhu) dreams you into the Abyss within the night where your existence shall be erased.").

XXX Make sure not to reveal anything that should be contained on Legend cards. Focus on initial description, types of interactions or dialog, and what occurs at "death".

The thing with the Abyss, is that it is not meant to be a "concrete" realm like everywhere else (mostly). It maintains a few landmarks and perhaps special areas, but otherwise is related to the geology of the land and the forces from death which made it.

Intro[edit]

Rewards[edit]

Is it worth risking your character by going into the realm of Death? The players must try to divine this for themselves. Certain combinations of race, stats, and the alignment of the FR make it happen favorably. But, do mind, that there is inherent risks in being here and the only legitimate reason is that you seek the Ancient Knowledge. Or, HAHA, perhaps you are foolish enough to reverse what the gods had already decided: someone died and you want to save them. Oooo boy. It is only sensible that with great knowledge comes great risks.

As is said, four more class slots open up upon finishing OotA properly -- immortality requires such. And that is the reward: immortality. This requires eight total stats to hold your immortal soul. The extra two I've termed "Assemblage" and "Perceptivity" -- the two areas that you have to master to survive the Abyss, notably: perception and your immmediate connection to your body. Upon successful completion, players get the name Eldritch preceding their class (NOTE: this is yet unchecked with WotC), if they choose. This new flexibility (of 8 rather than 4 slots) doesn't give them much until they start earning respect in the realm. Immortality, you might know (from CoS), isn't automatically a blessing.

The DM can estimate how much XP was used to survive the madness and award XP on these new slots, so that they are automatically multi-classed by having now at least one extra class with XP on it. This XP will be used to calculate their new ability scores. If they had to rely on their body awareness significantly, the ASM score will be higher. Alternatively, their relyance on their eyes and perception of the outer world increase their final PER score.

Upon sunlight hitting you again, you awaken new powers within, add PER and ASY to your ability scores and give them 10+ whatever modifier the DM believes you accomplished.

Upon reaching 0HP the players are dead, but that’s okay in the Underdark. You’re still trapped and the gods don’t seem to mind. However, you won’t have energy. The demons leave players alone once they’ve sucked all of their energy dry. Rest time might be 2x the normal time. You'll just sit there, not decaying, until the "cleaners" come around. That's the insect kingdom, or depending on the state of hte realm, the mantles will come around and "clean up". Players can even stay calm staying between 0MANA and 0HP. PER side requries engagement of the mind, while ASM means they’re engaging their body in novel ways.

Lore[edit]

Some curious soul went out on the Dark Lake one day with a plumb-bob to assess how deep the Great Lake was underneath the ground above.

He rowed out a 100yards or so and started to unwind his plumb-bob to check for depth. He kept unwinding but it didn't stop. Eventually he reached the end of his 50fathom plumb-bob and felt a tug on his line. He naturally reacted and dipped it up. And it pulled it back down. Curious, he then tried dipping it twice and once again he felt it "echo" back twice -- just as he had dipped it.

He then wound up his plumb-bob, sat down, and without a word or an attempt at thought, he rowed quietly back -- NOT WANTING TO DISTURB WHATEVER IT WAS UNDERNEATH HIM.

"Be careful to stare into the darkness of the Abyss, for the Abyss can stare back at you..." --Neitchze.

The Motley Crew[edit]

Not every NPC needs to be an ally to your characters. Try to find the lines where affinities might exist (dwarves loyal to dwarves, for example, or magic users and magic users). The starting crew in the book have very little in common with anyone in the party, very likely. That's the breaks: this isn't a realm managed by the gods, except in a very coarse way. Things are random.

Topsy and Turvy are to be played like fools and jokers, only half "there". They somehow know that if the characters are in the Abyss, they must have already failed their own world, somehow, but don't say this outright unless probed about their behaviors. They, themselves, are a result of the failure, and in some queer way, are part of the gods. Hence, Hekaton has been sorting things out in the realms, to try to set them straight. His weary visage appears on the cover of STK. Too much sorcery and necromancy, methinks -- players wanting to stay alive after the gods had already determined them dead, skirting the boundaries that were there for a good reason.

The gelatinous cube is there courtesy of the Jublex and will gladly eat you (dissolve you) as soon as you show any missteps. Don't try to anthropomorphize a gelatinous blob -- no matter how much the books may try to. These are merely learned behaviors, meant to entice you to drop your guard. While it can easily dissolve the steel of your plate armor, it reacts in symbiosis to your body mechanics (due to your mutual karma, if you are humanoid and nonfey) and is limited in how much it can act against you, making it seem safe.


DM Notes:

  • As they go through the different stages of madness and cure them, they earn fixed XP values which will be also used to determine their ASM and PER scores. Up to 20 and 20 on each. To get 20 on each requires that you've spurned your complementary Other, practically there are about 30 points to distribute for perfect players and DMing. AVerage play somewhere around 10/10. Poor DM of madness, however should only get them less than 20points. The fixed reward for each point of madness solved, gains the PC 5000XP.

Domains of the Dead[edit]

Labyrinth[edit]

The labyrinth conceals, nay... protects something inside. Perhaps it is the "the Maze Engine" or perhaps some bizarre monstrosity that cannot be comprehended by the mortal mind. A giant Chuul that dispense wisdom to those who have the patience to find it. It is the center of the Realms. One tweak of it can spiral out of control like a fission reaction into cataclysm requiring an aeon-long correction. Lore: No one knows how to control it. It is only changed by the ALLTHATIS (Mammon, the all-father, all-mother) once an aeon. It would take a LVL100 Wizard not to create a severe negative result. Most results destroy the user, if the gods are being worshipped, otherwise most results, if they don't destroy the Material Plane, result in subtle changes that aren't known for generations to come. Hence, the Labyrinth. On a d20 roll of 1, the engine might appear. But don't rely on randomness. Assess the players: are they wise enough in their character and person to have a vision of such a machine? If you're sure, go with no and put a gargantuan minataur there.

Blindgenstone(?)[edit]

On the floor within Blindenstonem is a patterned grating covering a hole that leads to Avernus, below. The duegar don't know much of it -- they just throw their waste food-slop down it. From it, the adventurers hear the roar of an adult(ancient?) red dragon. To everyone else, it seems to blend in with the general noise of the place. But on a DC 20(?) perception check they can hear it.

Sloobludoop[edit]

One interesting landmark here is the shrine. Most parties really wouldn't encounter this unless there's a fey wild, perhaps an elf/aryan, among them (but what the heck is a feywild doing in the Abyss?) You should give penance to the creature there and have an ability to communicate, but if you do you can pretty much find out ANYTHING about people or creatures who have died. For example, it could be used to recover someone who's died and their soul, if it had something unresolved, roams the underdark. So it can be used for a bit of unique divination (although oppressively, meaning this divination uses the creatures oppression to get those answers for you). For a player to have this ability, they'd have to be level 50 or above and be a necromancer (anything else?), not so common.

If players free the creature, they gain an invisible (the DM must track this, not the player) +3 bonus to DEX, INT, or WIS. Which one of these depends on a bit of arcana that the author has not yet divined. This lasts until the end of the campaign or beyond. If the score goes over the maximum of 20, then it spills over to an adjacent stat. If they have divine favor of some kind, it might go to a stat chosen by the DM or other power above. Players might figure it out by suddenly succeeding where they previously thought they were incompetent.

Demons[edit]

The gods, it seems, have made a demon for (almost) every letter of the alphabet. The divine H (like "Hekaton", even "Harshnag") is omitted and not used (yet, it appears that the hezrou was in the realms, perhaps when the giants hadn't been named to overpower the demon-side...). The thing with these demons is that their ancientness might (inadvertantly) teach players a lot (DM Note: if they should survive to tell it) because their actions, which are connected to the ancientness of this realm, speak in some of the encoded and embodied wisdom of the allthatis (MHMY, OMANO, what characters?). Sometimes in hostility, yet the astute player can surmise the wisdom, by applying their knowledge of the darkness upon the beings which are acting. Such attunements are rare and, in fact, have never been witnessed in any known gameplay, but perhaps your table will stay committed to developing a character over MANY (real, mind you) years to achieve such attainment. Players who exploit this (cheat) are considered condemned and get cursed dice.

It is suggested that all of the demons, by various activities above, can converge into one of eight categories of demons. These may relate to ability scores (and also to the dragons, if the dragons do not have the power of the realms. This may be the case for example, if Strahd's darkness enters the FR and overpowers the gods of FR.), or, rather, the order within each soul which organize it. You know them as "ability scores". These create power centers where power gathers and this power is exactly what attracts the demons. You don't need to know this and if you know a sorcerer, they have probably already exploited it. (This is why sorcerers are disfavored.) For demons cannot get life force in the above-world as you were able with eating (regular) food. It is likely the case that you are their food source.

The fey creatures tremble at such darkness, and it is not advised to bring such sensitive creatures here, even mighty ones like the feline or avians (which while they might not tremble may fall from such a height of their own divine souls, due to ignorance, that it will devastate the whole of the race), for the goddess shuns these places where she cannot care for them. What will you, the DM, or players, know about how to care about a being made by the gods?

NOTE: As described elsewhere, it is surmised that the state of the realms is (1/2?) determined by the openness-state of the different gates of Hell. If the giants don't have any dominance over the realm, then what escapes out of these gates will be things like goblins, skeletons (affiliated with Ravenloft), zombies, orcs, reptiles, and other undeads. When the giants hold dominion, however, for every demon type from the Abyss, there is a unique insect that finds its way into the realm. Just regular, small insects, mind you, but they creep their way into the lands, perhaps into your bedding, your food, you never know. This is how the gods do it, until the darkness is completely eradicated or transformed in the lands....

So, every demon has an insect associated with it. Don't use the demon list on this page (from v5), use the stuff from earlier versions of D&D (Demonomicon?):

  • Asmodeus, spider? In its black widow form it is merely watching you to see if you're screwing up.
  • Grzz't, cockroach.
  • The flies come from? Guh?
  • Boxelder bugs from...

Asmodeus[edit]

Lawful evil strategist. ?He's statagizing something -- to get back at you who lived.

Baphomet/Balrog[edit]

"Baphomet stares at you, unflichingly, towering above you. It's warm breath breathes out a frost, sizing you up, slowly moving its head to gaze into each member of your party, assessing whether any of you are worth even a drop of mercy. (Probable next line: Nope.)"

Legend and Lore hint: animals get killed by humans and suffer by them. Who fights for them?

Insect: It seems the goat hold the power of hate within the above world. Best not to eat them or drink their milk, probably.


DM Notes:

  • This demon comes around when a players STR is too high.

AL Notes:

  • It should always win, unless a player is feywild.
  • The frost of the breathe is due to the fact that this world is cold to this creature, even though the players may feel at home.

Cerberus[edit]

FIX: OR should this be filed as Kerberos?

A three-headed dog that guards Hades or the Underworld. It was to keep you from entering such a place as the Abyss. How did you get through? Perhaps you will find a clever solution for your players.

Demigorgon[edit]

"Without warning, the demigorgon lumbers towards you, knowing no magic or any weapon that could stop its progression towards tearing you apart and getting a meal consisting of your life force and the unique satisfaction of your death. It knows its relation to the gods -- for they have set up the universe perfectly and this is it`s domain until it`s thirst is sated. To reinforce what was just said: the gods themselves allow it total freedom."

If you're the DM, this is where you simply ask your players: "continue? Y/N" For you have to trust the gods as well, and if the players wish to make the choice -- regardless of what you, the DM, know as the probable outcome. You must allow the universe to follow its course, unless you also wish to get wrapped up in the karma of the gods. There are gods, for example, that are interplanar, and work your world, Mr. or Ms. Dungeon Master. Care not about this puzzle and you better draw a character sheet of your own, so that you, too, work out your ignorance.

Legend and Lore card hint: Unjustified suffering of pure, innocent souls imbalance the equations of the above-world that the gods set up to keep good and evil in check.

I'm saying that the demi-gorgon is a LVL100 demon, whose rage and hate burn without mercy in his eyes. He isn't malevolent, rather he represents something so betrayed that no one can understand or overcome it. And, since he cannot speak, no one ever can understand it, creating endless pain and sorrow, leading to the blind rage you see. Perhaps you should leave it alone, Mr. Duorden, or maybe not.


DM Not3s:

  • The cockroach could be considered the insect of this demon. It's little antennae seem to be associated with the two heads.
  • This demon comes around when a player's INT(?) is too high.

Al Notes:

  • It should always win, except against a good-alighned human player.

Fraz-Urb'luu[edit]

"You feel something glance by your arm, and before you can answer the question of what it is within the darkness, it has already taken one of your companions."

A successful DC perception check of 20-30 (depending on the situation) might give the person a notice that something is wrapping themselves around you. On a failed save, they are taken quickly away towards the jaws of the beast, so surprised that they cannot react, Within one round they are crunched through it's many teeth and swallowed. The universe has spoken. It turns and leaves without a chance for players to wonder what just happened or to ask for an apology.

This demon is simply an expression of all of the unresolved angst from the upperworld. It doesn't really interact, but measures you up and takes back to balance things. It is possible that once seen by a particular kind of humanoid, this demon may turn into a snake (probably boa constrictor or python) wrapping itself around you.

Arcana:

It is able to see the invisible though darklight.


DM Notes:

  • Some colorful, perhaps iridescent beetle is associated with this demon.
  • This demon comes around when a player's WIS is too high. "Too high" means that the player doesn't really have this much wisdom. Let's face it: some of these stats are not in alignment with the players who claim them.

AL Notes:

  • It can lose to a lawful-good, elven player.

Graz'zt[edit]

The Dark Prince wants your life force, your kundalini or first chakra energy.

"What are you humanoids doing wandering the demi-planes? These realms aren't meant for you!" By listening for their answer, he arrives at whether they have gotten there by some help from the gods, or by their own stupidity. Given the latter, he knows this opportunity is his.


DM notes:

  • ON a piece of paper, write the player's RL names and cross out the one who's been the most "bad". Hand the players the note and say you found this on Grazz't. (He dropped it while walking away or something).
  • This one comes around when player CON is too high.

AL notes:

  • Can be defeated by dwarves.

G'uh[edit]

A giant women of decayed flesh.

Insect: flies. horseflies not fruit flies.

Ichibod Crane[edit]

The demon of sleepy hollow. Should probably reside in Ravenloft, whenever Strahd is decapitated by players -- until his form recovers, you see. Sleeps in the Abyss (some unknown place in Velkenvelve?) to gather energy from the recently departed that come to the Abyss, so the Dark Lords (Visigoths) can reconstitute the Baron of Barovia.

Do you understand what I said? This guy roams Ravenloft the next time players get sucked back into Barovia, if someone decapitated the head of Strahd. You are quietly training them about the intricacies of this vampire. This scenario especially activates all of the insane asylum NPCs and behaviors -- an alternative view of the realm of Strahd, like a "dreamtime". Dare I tell you, but you are really seeing the dreams of the gods that reside far above the Dark Lords, but are so ancient and have such reserve that they never show their hand. It is me (akin to Madam Eva) who is showing you. You seeing the internal mechanics of the gods, how they interact in such alien ways to help the world. Their mind shares nothing in common with y/our own. It took an eternity to find this knowledge and convey it to you. May it help you in your quests for knowledge, immortality, and virtue. If you find a man stuck in the Abyss, may you help him get out, so this widsom can enter our world of Earth.


DM Notes:

  • The insect here seems to be the boxelder bug.

Jubilex[edit]

The Juiblex doesn't speak or act in any way that is familiar to humans. It may not even have any of its own agency, but is acting on a karma that is unresolved in the universe. So it acts up when there isn't nobility in the realms. It will simply try to dissolve you to get your life force. Any attempt at interactions are ignored. Yet another type of horror really, to find that the universe is so foreign and alien to your daily life, that you haven't any hope of all in unraveling it. Truly humbling and terrifying at the same time. Know this feeling well, knight or warrioress, for it will keep you safer than the mightiest and noblest of fighters that you know.

The Juiblex should be considered an undead aberration. It is soul substance, present for reasons not yet divined by mortals. If players kill/injure this demon, Tiamat activates with at least the white and green heads, the white dragon announces its presence somewhere in the realm (with hostility), and the presence of Strahd becomes dominant for all human players.


Arcana: The death of noble warriors gives this demon power, so that some day their soul may wander the surface again -- through the defeat of the less noble.


DM Notes:

  • No insect for this one, it becomes a slime or black mold when it appears in the above world.
  • This one comes around when player DEX is too high. Keep in mind, the gods have reasons for things. Each time, rather than death, the demon takes 1-2 points of their ability stat -- permanently.
  • A lawful-good, shou race can defeat this one.

Nimrod[edit]

?

Orcus[edit]

Orcus is out for revenge for killing his brothers and sisters.


DM Notes:

  • The research is quite in for this, but it might be the tsetse fly or fruit fly.
  • This one comes when players are too high PER...?

AL Notes:

  • Turami players can defeat this one.

P[edit]

queeth[edit]

?

Romenthus[edit]

?

Satan[edit]

A king of demons, you might say. When the eight categories... Has no real personality, only power. Sits higher than other demons, but is simpler also. Can take the form of any of the demons listed here, and in fact, no one really knows if all of these forms are simply other faces of this one. Could be considered hermaphrodite by nature, not sexual, but neuter.

If you fight Satan, your swings hit dead air. They pass through unaffected through a legendary ability that grants immunity from melee attacks (Interdimensional Corporeality). That is, it simply moves into a different point in space -- outside of your own dimensionality. Simple, yet complex.

Has a tendency to attack one's most vulnerable spots that player's didn't know they had. This gives uncanny ability to create pain and get critical strikes that suddenly reduce the opponents HP to 1. The reality that the players see might be that it struck between a crack in your armor, but the precision is so improbable in provokes fear. This, simultaneous to the intense vulnerability that you've just been put into is enough to make some players die through the mana drop (an event which is experienced in a lessor form as becoming pale in the face as all blood rushes away from you). This drop overtakes your HP from the sheer horror that you've somehow partaken in something anti-life.


DM note:

  • For reasons of the gods, the players cannot kill him/it. The divine reasons for this require an Arcana card.

AL Note:

  • If some do-gooder tries to kill Satan or any of the demons here -- despite what I say that they can't, the gods will eventually throw them back out into FR, becuase they keep it alive for a reason, as stated above. So, pick the most cursed part of the realm that the gods wish to be cleaned up, or perhaps the most traumatized (Tomb of Annihilation is good) where they will have to learn deep humbleness and compassion in the face of great "evil". There, they got out.

Yeenoghu[edit]

"The demon rushes towards you, it fangs dripping wet, not with hunger, but with a ravenous thirst for your blood. It sniff you but for a moment and the moment is gone. You are under attack." It will ignore a fey creature or child. This may because of the use of the holy letter "Y" in its name.

Yeenoghu, without further explanations, attacks any corruptions of mortals -- that means you, most likely. It won't attack children. But will attack the adults just for being themselves if you're found in its domain of the underdark.

If an angel were to show up, it would probably squeeze it's arm/wing in a futile gesture of frustration that cannot be resolved or quenched.

Arcana: One might say that Yeenoghu is trying to get the justice against adults who allowed children to suffer or die.


DM Notes:

  • Insect for this: ants(?)
  • This one comes around when a players ASM is too high -- they are trying to be too creative.

AL Nptes:

  • This one can lose to feywild characters.

Zuggtmoy[edit]

Not really a demon, but a fungal source for the universe to simply to take back and reclaim. It has no agency of its own. So players are really just fighting a machine whose purpose is simply to replicate for the sake of some divine balance where the gods did not have total control. The gods will keep it going for its purpose stated, so if you get it too wounded, expect a giant or demi-god to appear to put you in your place.


DM Notes:

  • No insect for this one, just regular ol' mushrooms...

Other nasties[edit]

Carnivorous snails. Player goes to sleep in the Abyss. Player awakens suddenly, realizing s/he is covered in snails who are digesting his/her flesh. You will have to fight for your life every day, because you are the light in their darkness. A light that feeds them.

Inquisitive insects. Humanoids roaming the Abyss create questions to the beings who live there and are used to being undisturbed. There are insectoids (really, quasi- or proto-, "nahual" forms: morphic beings who haven't quite become form) who can probe through the Abyss to see what is going on. They generally do this by touching the victims flesh with their long (to our dimension) legs and seeing how they respond (they "see" with darkvision whose dark photons are emitted with each neuro-muscular trigger). They do this by reaching through other dimensions of space. They are generally not anywhere near the victims (apart from the one extremity) in regular 3-space. Alas, if the victim reacts with panic, they know there is FREASH MEAT! This panic might take 1/2 of their HP, leaving them open to a critical strike. They only get one of these surprises, so players still have a chance. But it gets greater HP each time you don't kill it and it learns how humanoids and other mammalians react.

These probes, by the way, have great reach and suggest great size of the creature, but when a player look down at what touched them, they may find a mere cockroach, or a leech, biting them (if they're simply annoyed) or sucking their blood (if the realm needs the fresh mana).


Notes[edit]

DMs only[edit]

  • Gameplay through the abyss is dreary, presenting an uncommon, yet worthy challenge: can the players build value subconsciously rather than their normal 1st-person psychology? If/when they do, allow them to emerge up to places like, Gauntlgrym, Gravenhollow, Moria, Ruins of Undermountain, and other such places as rewards, having traversed this drearyness, found that their personal self couldn't solve the dilemma, but they had to trust the god/dess to get a victory. These should be nestled within the various (and different) mountain ranges of FR. In other words, the Underdark really consists of these deadzones and the places that pop up occur whenever this event occurs. They never need to know that this is how the Underdark works: it's too arcane of a location anyway. Many campaigns, players get to feel that they "own" the locale because they "figured it out", but not this one. This one stays with the gods. Keep it that way.
  • PLayers here could be scripted to be h
  • The carnivorous insects seek through other dimensions (this is probably out-of-date with the new knowledge that the demons enter the above world as insects until man holds the world in the place of the gods), but players aren't aware of this. Their knowledge makes them conclude that there have been these nasties near by the whole time. Players can then walk in agony wondering how closely they are being tracked.
  • The demons power is not by fighting characters so much as the memory they keep once they walk away. This is what creates the madness in PCs.
  • Each demon is attracted to the flesh of characters that exhibit an excess of some particular attribute (STR, INT, CON, etc.). When the demon strikes them they are afflicted with the appropriate ailment and they (temporarily) lose all of their attributes of that one ability. One point can be recovered after a short rest. Half of them after a long rest. Subsequenty they regain up to half until restored to their regular amount -1 permanent loss. This is the advice of the gods. Do not question it.
  • The Abyss can effectively begin whenever you get below sea-level (on land, generally). This is about the point that Saruman noted that the "dwarves dug too deeply". Dig as far into the mountain as you want, but if you dig below sea level, you've now engaged the land-generation equipment of the gods. Whether the gods make this boundary or not is unknown. It is noted that sand crabs (an abyssal creature?) seems to burrow near the sea level boundary... perhaps they seek the above world....

AL Notes[edit]

  • Each demon can be defeated by a particular race which counters the demon's make-up.

WOTC 0nly[edit]

  • The races mentioned above must be lawful-good to win against the demon. This is the hidden counter-balance of the god/desses for the differing species/races.
  • If a player comes into the Abyss seeking "the ancient knowledge", you will have to divine something good or you can contact me to assess their worthiness (lolz). It may be found in the library of gravenhollow or it may be found with the crying statues or it may be found with a demon of which the players somehow get the respect. A shou race might get it from communion with the faezrezz. If the players are especially worthy, the Ancient One him/herself may appear. It's only known appearance is how it appeared to master's lovecraft and huxley: as a great octopus 10x the size of Man that speaks in a low, rumbling voice. Its voice may or may not be sensed in the normal 3dimensional fashion of a conversation but strums the fibers of consciousness within the individual's soul to speak in its original language.
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