There’s a lot to cover with this one, as I’ve mentioned previously.
I started writing this in October/November and kept updating my notes, but following the death of the DM at Christmas, I haven’t had the heart to finish it.
I stopped keeping up with the notes at that point too – a switch to a different DM, a deus ex machina to very suddenly change the focus of the game and we weren’t playing Planescape anymore, just planeswalking adventurers in the Underdark.
I’ll try and work this together, but it covers the last two months or so of games for 2019, something like four or five sessions, possibly six.
A sudden intake of breath and Loge was looking up into the face of a looming Bariaur in a gloomy tent.
The party filled him in on what had happened since he died. Died? Died.
After saving the locals from the Yuan Ti, they’d come back to the Infinite Staircase to resurrect Loge. The Nature Cleric had suffered a similar fate but her beliefs precluded resurrection, so she was buried in the forests of the Outlands per her customs.
After paying off the Bariaur, it was time to replenish all the funds by finding some other work. Loge tried to look for some books on where Fire Dwarves might be native to, other than the Plane of Fire.
The inn in the Planeswalker camp was well built, compared to a lot of the other temporary buildings. Inside, trays carrying drinks and jink flew through the air carried by Unseen Servants or Mage Hands or who knows.
Talking to a couple of likely patrons, we had a choice – an adventure in the sands of the Outlands, looting a recently discovered pyramid for a man who couldn’t get any locals to do it for him (something about curses? He sounded a lot like Habib…), or we could journey to the Astral Plane and help a bookish man researching dead gods, specifically their births, deaths, and rumoured resurrections. He not only needs to be in the Astral Plane and observe a dead god, he needs to actually stand on one.
We’d already seen gods being born (sort of), so why not a trip to the Astral?
Ugh, such a good idea at the start.
So we take up the researcher named Drudge on his offer. We have a couple of contacts in the Athar and the Godsmen, however he wants absolutely no involvement from the Factions. Hates them it seems.
The easiest way to the Astral is to hire on as crew for a trade ship. There’s settlements in the Astral so stuff still gets traded. A ‘week’ of ‘sailing’ (time is relative in the Astral, or non-existent, and movement is powered by thought) and we’d be at the Swallowed City, and have a place to start looking for passage to a dead god.
We have no trouble finding work, but it seems whilst we’ve been away that Magic Marvin’s shop appears to have exploded somehow – no trace of our ‘friend’ or his wares. Hmmm.
So, we shove off and head into the Astral. Drudge has been hired as a pilot – his solid mind of pure reason is a sort of superpower here, so we might actually arrive sooner than expected.
Along the way, the ship is attacked by a shrieking, singing monster thing – something like a gibbering mouther but with no eyes, just mouths? I wanted to call it a Gennorm but I can’t find any reference to that. **Edit some time later: Garmorm from the Planescape Mosntrous Compendium III**
The Bard almost immediately got consumed and turned into another mouth, and then started using up his spells on us. We managed to fight and beat it and save him though.
Arriving at the Swallowed City, we had choices to make – how to go on with our journey. Talking to some locals after charming our way in to speak to them – half the city is usually off-limits to non-residents – we managed to narrow our options down to three.
Either we contact the Athar (which our patron wont have us do), or we talk to the Githyanki (easier said than done) or we find a passing angel, specifically a Deva, and see if they’ll help (Oh no, is that all our options?)
Whilst we weighed up our choices, we wandered the town. In the market, Loge managed to find an honest group of Githyanki (somehow) but any suggestion of using their help was overruled by the Bard (metagaming – the DM confirmed with me weeks later that this was the easy option and would have saved us three sessions of a dungeon…).
Loge found them whilst he was looking for books on Fire Dwarves. He managed to find a book of legends but without much success on finding an actual birthplace of the race.
As luck would have it, though Deva arrivals are infrequent, one did happen to be in town within a day. After explaining our case to him, he had misgivings but decided that a council of the other Deva would be better to debate the issue.
He took us to the Deva stronghold somewhere in the Astral.
The combined debating of the Deva, despite our impassioned plea about knowledge and a lifelong quest, were in vain. They weren’t interested in helping anyone who might upset the balance by resurrecting a god, never mind publishing their understanding of how to do so.
Luckily for us, the Deva Unity of Rings happened to also be there.
Unity of Rings regularly spends their time in Sigil, and donates alms to the poor in the Hive. He gave Loge an orange once, so Loge trusted him implicitly. When Unity told Loge he would help if the party would do him a favour, Loge didn’t hesitate to agree.
If Unity needed a favour, Loge was about to repay his childhood debt.
Unity took the group back to the Swallowed City (and out of earshot of the other Deva) and explained – a friend of his in Sigil, a Paladin, had been imprisoned in the Astral by the Mercykillers for a crime he had not committed.
This is extremely unlikely, and certainly an extreme punishment. We didn’t know what crime he was accused of, but Unity vouched for his character. This event had not happened.
We agreed to help Unity.
And off we went to the prison (remember that dungeon crawl I mentioned above?)
Unity takes us to the prison. He can fly through the Astral very easily, and I think it was implied he’s native.
A huge shape begins to appear before us. A moon?
Yeah, that’s no moon.
Flying straight at the entrance to the prison, we ended up fighting our way through some giant beetles and guards, and there’s these lens on every surface watching us.
We win, barely, and there’s a corridor to head down. The Bard runs off down it and – zap, disappears. There’s traps everywhere. Magical traps in a prison mean he’s probably in the cells. Yay?
I took a bathroom break and when I came back, the group had decided to take a LONG REST at the entrance to a prison we’d just attacked.
Yes, that happened. I registered my complaint at the time but the other DMs at the table apparently didn’t see a problem with it.
Yeah, so we get attacked by the master of the prison, and we’re down a party member, and we didn’t get a long rest at all. We did however get a short rest, because it took the guy an hour to go around us sneakily and set his plan in motion, and also to spy on us a bit.
So yeah, the Bard (who isn’t there) decides that we should try and take him alive, but he’s not pulling any punches. We’ve taken out his mage lackey but we’re looking ragged, Loge has one spell left and uses Shatter to hit the boss and his two robot guard dog things. Kills all three of them and we survive, coolest thing Loge has done in weeks.
Party gets angry that I killed him, even though Unity can resurrect him.
Around this point, a Githzerai floating through the Astral arrives, having had a similar idea to Unity, and being an eye-witness to the Paladin being set up for a crime – fighting in the streets of Sigil when he was defending himself, and all the bad guys suddenly disappeared without being arrested themselves. Yeah, something fishy going on.
So, it takes a lot of Dispel Magic to get us down the corridor – there’s teleport traps and fireball traps (and a crushing corridor that resurrected prison warden gets crushed by), and so forth that we manage to avoid until we arrive in – the armoury/barracks?
Yeah, more fighting of guards and beetle things, and guard dogs.
There’s a sort of elevator here that goes down a floor to the prison proper, where we fight a big robot serpent thing.
We find the paladin and the Bard and spring them. Loge spots one of his old neighbourhood bullies locked in a cell and begging for release.
Nah, don’t think so buddy!
Anyway, we manage to work our way back out because the guards change roughly weekly, and we’ve only been here a few hours – that’s good.
Unity takes us back to the city, to give us time to recuperate before he will take us to the Dead Gods.
And then we LEVEL UP.
Taking Loge’s third level in Rogue, I decided that since he’d died reasonably recently that I wanted to test out the Unearthed Arcana rules – Loge becomes Revived – so if we ever get off this Plane, he doesn’t need to eat or drink or breathe or sleep anymore. That’s nice.
So the best place Unity can think of to drop us isn’t exactly a dead god. Unity is a Deva of Tyr, famous for only having one hand…
Yeah, he leaves us on this giant hand floating in the void. On the way, Loge asks him if he knows any stories of Fire Dwarves, whether they might be native to somewhere other than the Plane of Fire. Unity is surprised, but says he does indeed know one or two things. He will tell Loge more on the return trip.
Drudge does a couple of surveys and examinations of the rock beneath us, chips a tiny bit off, and then we look nearby.
Near to Tyr’s hand are:
A pyramid filled with knives – so likely to be Aoskar, god of portals.
A golden dolmen.
A series of boulders in a random pattern – but Loge has a Warlock ability to read any written language, so in some long dead tongue it’s a punctuation mark that says “?”
The Bard sends his familiar to the Pyramid. As he draws close, part of the top opens, and down a short tunnel appears to be a giant, pyramid-headed warrior, staring back up at the familiar.
Sending his familiar to the Dolmen, the familiar blinks out of existence. It cannot be called back, but a lingering sensation says that it’s not gone. He takes the time to conjure another as a ritual, and a different being appears.
Unwilling to risk another, Loge is told to send Laufey to the Question Mark.
Watching through Laufey’s eyes, as he approaches the site more messages appear floating around him. The party can’t read them if they try, but to Loge they say things like “Congratulations” and “Come on Down” and “You won’t believe our Deals, Deals, Deals”.
Then Laufey suffers the same fate as the Bard’s familiar and blinks out, once again possible to recover.
Before the end of the session, the group voted on where to go. Loge isn’t about to lose his childhood friend and won’t conjure another familiar, despite urging from others in the group.
And that’s where we ended everything.
After our DM passed, the Goliath Barbarian took over DM duties. There was going to be a vote on how to continue, which somehow didn’t happen. The group went to the Question Mark and were transported to an open white plain of sand with a raised wooden lectern in front of them.
Drudge said it had all become clear, there was a flash, and the group were in some stately manor with a man who claimed to be Mordenkainen. He said that Drudge was dangerous and must be killed, and seemed to be telling the Barbarian a completely different story somehow. Time travel seemed to be involved at this point.
We were flashed back to the sandy plain again and the Goliath took one swing at Drudge and there was another flash – now we were in some kind of underground ruin, no Drudge, no Goliath, no Tiefling Ranger (that was a different out of game thing, but still).
And then it became an Underdark dungeon crawl for a few weeks, before the Bard made some unsavoury remarks during my combat phase that eventually caused the collapse of our regular Meetup group into two.
Yeah, not great.
I’d offered to DM and finish out the adventure at least, though I said I needed some more time to come up with a good story.
By the time of our Deus Ex Machina switch, I’d come up with complete encounters for each of the dead gods in my head, a reasonable way to round out the conclusion of the adventure, and come up with ways to get off the Astral Plane at the end (since we couldn’t go anywhere near Sigil for a while after that prison break).
I’ll write a synopsis in another post. For now, I like to think that Loge is still sat on that hand in the Astral whilst they decide which route to take – time doesn’t exist out there after all. It was a more satisfying end to where I got the character.
It’s only been a couple of months, but I miss him. Loge and the DM.