Over the last few months of 2015, my 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons group was able to get together for three sessions to enjoy the tremendous climax to the adventure “Expedition to the DemonWeb Pits“. It’s taken us a year and a half of irregular gaming to play through the adventure. Four actual years (or half a Greyhawk year game time) has passed since we began the whole Giants – Demonweb series. I’m not entirely sure where things will go with the group now – I expect we will continue playing, but I’ll aim to run single session adventures, and if a player can’t attend then his character will not be a part of the party.
The Grand Council Chamber:
The book notes that players have a number of options open to them once they reach this point – stealth, diplomacy, golden council pass (obtainable within the adventure), combat, or a combination of these. It gives some details and suggestions for how these can be done and has a passage titled “The Battle Royale” for those who fail at other options or for the party that “might decide to fight the Demon Council. All of it.”
I was expecting my group to fight, and it initially looked like they were going to try and take on everyone at once. Since all the (chaotic evil) demon lords (or their ambassadors) distrust or even hate each other, a group can get away with fighting “individuals” to a point. Also, two items that the party carried, each triggered an attack by an ambassador/demon as the group moved into the hall. I expected the players to over-estimate their opponents (they did), since the demon lords as presented are only avatars/aspects (not full powered) and they did very well until the very end of things when the council hall became a free-for-all. I was impressed that they first pulled-back and planned instead of charging in.
SESSION 1: The party continued along a web tunnel until reaching a secret door. This led into a large hemispherical hall with four other exits and an ornate mosaic floor. Khufu determined there was another secret door across the hall and Levallious realised that the “abstract” mosaic actually portrayed a current map of the demonweb and was able to determine general layout and the party’s current position. A female Drow strode out of the darkness into the hall, followed by five male warriors. She seemed amused to find “mortals wandering the Spider Goddesses web” but was quite surprised when Figjam produced the council pass and stated they were Orcus’ ambassadors to the Council Meeting. She teleported the group to the Black Gate using a “key” and floor inlays and then left saying their were other ambassadors that hadn’t shown up yet.
A huge demon glared at them and demanded they open the Gate. Pyro cast “Dread Word” on the Gate, opening it. Two male drow on the other side pointed towards one of two tunnels. Ignoring a side branching that wasn’t on the map, they followed the curving tunnel to a chamber where they were attacked by three large harpoon spiders. Past this they came to a second side branch, which was investigated. A chamber with alcoves and statues brought attack from a drow assassin and a phase spider. The drow attacked Khufu (who saved against a death attack and poison) then failed a save against Myste’s curse and stabbed himself with his weapon – the poison on the blade knocked him unconscious and he was coup de grace’d in the next round. The spider bit Levallious and flung him across the chamber, phasing out and leaving. Avoiding a petrification traps, they took a secret door which proved to be a short cut along the main spiraling tunnel bringing them almost directly to the council foyer. This very large room had huge mirrors and a spider shaped stone golem blocking the archway into the main council chamber. Figjam held up the council pass and the golem shifted its legs to allow entrance.
Laying out my hand-drawn gaming map and putting figures on it had everyone on their feet to watch: Approx 200’ long, 110’ wide, 50’ high ceiling, dimly-lit and containing three Vrocks (vulture demons), a Frost Giant, an Occulus Demon, three 1/2-Fiend Minotaurs, two 1/2-Fiend Gnolls, four Giant Hyenas, a trio of Succubi, five Drow, a Bebelith (Demon Spider), six Demon Lord aspects (Yeenoghu, Baphomet, Demogorgon, Obox-Ob, Malcanthet, Pale Night), and an empty throne.
The Vrocks close to the entrance appeared to have just killed two male drow. The party immediately pulled back to the side of the foyer and discussed tactics while casting protective and enhancement spells – Bless, Mass Aid, Mass Fire Shield, Divine Protection, and Mass Resist Fire. Myste summoned a Spider and 2 Large Beetles. While this occurred, the Vrocks performed a dance of ruin causing huge explosion of energy. Thankfully, the party were sheltered from the effect.
The “plan” (I tried not to pay attention while everyone discussed this) was to sneak some of the group in and set off powerful area-effect items/spells amid the lesser monsters and hope to pass-the-blame to another group. This fell apart within the first round or two, when Khufu (try to sneak across one side of the room) and Myste (flying invisibly) realised they were being tracked by the Occulus Demon. The main party moving around the Vrocks on the other side also ran into trouble when the Frost Giant ambassador saw Figjam carrying a Demon-Slayer sword (stolen from Frost Giants), called him a thief and threw a rock at him. During this combat, the Occulus demon saw Levallious using Thaas (Weapon of Legacy, demon-bane bow) and attacked him. This was all made more interesting when Pyro fumbled a touch spell and created a 20’ radius Stinking Cloud around the Frost Giant, himself, Figjam and Brolith.
The giant died quickly. The Occulus demon lasted about two rounds (with Levallious hit three times each round by negative energy eye rays, and miraculously making saves against sickness, panic and unconsciousness) and Obox-Ob moved to the remains. It demanded they declare fealty to it, and was of course attacked in return. As it took damage, it released demon-wasp swarms, which Myste blew (Gust of wind) across near the minotaurs. The rest of the group had started on the Vrocks. After seven rounds of combat all of these foes had been defeated. Most of the party had minor damage. Baphomet (who had previous been impressed by the upstart mortals dealing with the giant & Occulus) weren’t looking so happy. Demogorgon was returning from an audience with Lolth upstairs. The drow all look concerned.
You notice that the beautiful demon Lady of the Succubi (Malcanthet) is now leaning over the balcony. She addresses the Council. “Listen to me, O Aspects of Our Greatness!” But something’s wrong; it’s not the Lady of the Succubi after all. Her voice and her shape suddenly change; the figure in front of you is male, not female, a black-skinned demon with fine features, rich black robes, and six-fingered hands. (Grazz’t) He continues speaking, his voice echoing through the council hall. “These mortals are servants of Orcus, brought here among us to turn us against one another. Lolth says we must not fight each other—but surely that does not mean we cannot destroy a few worthless mortals.” A murmur goes up around you.
A few of the demon lords hesitate, perhaps considering whether it is worse to annoy Lolth or to annoy Graz’zt, the Dark Prince. For a moment it seems like the whole room is against you, and then another voice answers him with a sneer.
“If these mortals are as ‘worthless’ as you say, surely you can deal with them yourself.” Demogorgon looks as pleased as a demon lord possibly can . . . an immensely disturbing expression.
SESSION 2: Grazzt moved towards the top of the stairs. Khufu strode across the floor challenging Grazzt. Levallious discovered Grazzt has an Aura of Sanctuary (Will save or you can’t attack). Myste cast dispel to remove the aura. The three Succubi launched into flight across the room – but they didn’t last very long – Levallious could target them! Grazzt reinstated his aura and Brolith and Khufu began to engage him in combat. Figjam had also moved forward, and not being able to reach Grazzt decided to attack the male Drow Commander. This triggered the remaining drow to act against the party. The two warriors began to move forward around the other Demon Lords, while the Drow Priestess started casting spells and the female warrior vanished. Both Grazzt and the Drow commander were defeated fairly quickly and the invisible drow female attacked Levallious. She was in turn attacked by Pyro.
The defeat of Grazzt disrupted the Council completely. Yeenoghu (Gnoll Demon lord) ordered his group to attack Baphomet (Minotaur Demon lord). Pale Night disappeared (teleporting or plane shifting out, even against Lolth’s restrictions) and Demogorgon looked down from the central stairs at the mayhem. Once the central combatants moved in against each other, Pyro and Myste both cast maximised Cone of Cold across them (144 cold damage) – this killed all four large Dire Hyenas, one of Yeenoghu’s gnoll attendants (the second was invisible and flying away from the melee), the three half-fiend minotaurs and moderately wounded both Demon lords. Figjam was confused by the priestess.
The party moved into the melee. The Drow priestess ran out of worthwhile spells and came down the stairs mace in hand. Demongorgon skirted everyone and exited the Spider golem door. The flying invisible Gnoll warlock fired eldritch blasts at the party while moving slowly towards the exit. The bebelith (demon spider) jumped off the balcony stairs into the fight. The two demon lords were defeated and then it was realized that Lolth’s aspects had left the audience chamber above. A large Giant Spider with female drow head (the Hammer of Lolth) dropped from the ceiling to attack while the Envoy (10’ drow female sorcerer) moved to the top of the stairs and cast Feeblemind on Pyro.
Myste rewound time (going back most of a round) and while most things happened the same way, Pyro wasn’t left with one point of intelligence. The Spider aspect got tripped by the wolf and wasn’t able to regain its feet before being killed. Both the Drow Priestess and the Gnoll Warlock were killed, the Bebelith had been knocked unconscious and was healing but didn’t get much chance to do anything more. The Envoy (high AC, Fly, Mage Armour & Shield active) proved much more difficult than any Demon Lord – it tried to Charm Levallious (failed), Confused Myste, Feebleminded the confused Figjam and then Brolith, before some of its protective spells were cancelled and the active characters were able to kill it.
The group quickly checked fallen opponents, making sure they were dead. Caranthir cast two Heal spells to restore the feebleminded, and the group dispelled (or restrained and waited out) confusion. Many of the group used what healing options they have available. The party then headed up the stairs to the audience chamber. This ellipsoid room (about 100 x 140 ft) had glossy black walls, and a spider-web floor across the middle. There was no sign of any other exit or portal. Caranthir recalls the prophecy that brought them here: “Near the throne a fourth gate – home”.
SESSION 3: The party head back into the main hall and to the throne. Levallious realises that there is a secret door behind the throne. They also note that ten drow – a priestess, two knights and seven warriors are moving quickly across the floor of the hall to attack.
Both Drow Knights issue challenges in an attempt to focus the party’s attention on them, but only Pyro is affected. The drow warriors are killed quickly. The Knight and Priestess last a little longer. Khufu finds the opening mechanism for the secret door on the throne and the group enter a long web tunnel. While they move along Figjam reports odd rustling sounds from behind them. The tunnel ends in a roughly circular cave. A faint light glows from a portal in the centre of the chamber and a figure steps forward to where the rough stone meets webbing. For a moment it looks like a woman, then that image fades and all see a blank-faced creature gazing with hate at them. Most of the group feel a chill, but Khufu’s heart stops and he collapses to the ground – dead! The party does it best to avoid the gaze of the Bodak and strike it down. Caranthir quickly casts Revify – returning Khufu’s spirit to his body, and then healing spells. Pyro examines the portal and learns how to open it. It leads back to Oerth – to what appears to be a large courtyard in a castle or fortress, that Pyro is sure is in the western Flanaess. Most of the group are aware of the rustling, clicking sounds growing louder in the tunnel behind them. When Figjam reports thousands of spiders flooding the tunnel, they quickly activate the portal and hurry through.
The group stand in a huge courtyard. Before them are horses, wagons and training soldiers. Behind them stands a palace. Shouts of alarm and warning are raised all about them. A horn sounds, and Myste and Pyro note both the spark of a fireball shooting down towards them from a tower and a mage to one side casting prismatic spray…
There is a burst of bright light around them and time stops: A muscular eight-foot tall human with magnificent feathered wings floats above them. His forearms transform into flaming swords. On either side of the group, a large armoured bear-like humanoid has stepped through a split in the air. While one winks at Figjam, the other closes and seals the portal to the Demonweb. The celestial warrior above the group announces that there will be no hostilities here today – these heroes have confounded a grand plot between the forces of the Abyss and stopped a demonic invasion of the Flanaess.
After escorting the group into the presence of King Skotti of Keoland, the Sword Archon returns to Celestia. (The portal opened into his palace in the capital city of Niol Dra.) The Warden Archons from the Temple of the Eye in Sigil, tell everyone that the Celstial Eye told them to be here following the fulfilment of the prophecy given to these heroes – that they had defeated a plot between Lolth and Grazzt to lead a unified force of demon lords and their armies into Oerth and later against the Upper Planes. King Skotti declares them all “Champions of Keoland”. Each are entitled to use the title Lord (or Lady) and claim hospitality anywhere within Keoland or the lands of its allies. (Geoff, Sterich and the Ulek states) Over the next week they are treated royally – given gifts (clothes and new horses), their equipment repaired or replaced and hosted at many feasts and celebrations.
The group have been away from Oerth for about five weeks. Istvin is being repaired following its devastation, and the armies of Keoland, mercenaries and adventuring groups are hunting remaining giants in Sterich. The people of Sterich are slowing returning to their land. Keoland and the neighboring states will support the country in its rebuilding and resettlement. The King offers a small monetary reward, stating that there is little to spare for even heroes, considering how much is required to be spent to aid Sterich. A final gift from Celestia for the party’s achievements is the granting of a bonus feat.