• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

Iron DM 2009 - all matches



OK, first of all let me make clear that I understand a lot of people like 4E. by all means keep writing 4E adventures if that suits your gaming style and your choice of system won’t affect my judgements at all. however, I dislike what I’ve seen of the new system. I think it’s 2 dimensional and cartoony, lacking in depth and if you’re not really up on your Dungeon Mastering, it lends itself to facile gaming. I prefer something with a bit more meat on it. in addition, Iron DM competitions are about twisting every drop of juice out of the core ingredients without a whole lot of extraneous stuff. too much extraneous and the core ingredients get lost in the shuffle. suffice it to say, one of the entries hit most of my buttons in a bad, bad way. therefore it makes me wonder if what I saw as a weak style of writing was influenced more by the game system or by the inexperience of the writer in an Iron DM competition. just something to ponder…

by the way, the judgement is Wik’s entry for the win. let’s go find out why…

Main Entry: des•per•ate
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin desperatus, past participle of desperare
Date: 15th century
1 a : having lost hope <a desperate spirit crying for relief> b : giving no ground for hope <the outlook was desperate>
2 a : moved by despair <victims made desperate by abuse> b : involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration <made a desperate leap for the rope>
3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety <desperate for money>
4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster <a desperate situation>
5 : of extreme intensity

Wik’s entry has three wives, who all fit under definitions 2 & 3.
Brent’s entry had so much potential here, but it all slipped away. what if the ogres had kidnapped the kids and mothers and then released the moms to influence the rest of the townsfolk, who instead of a warm community spirit, were cold and distant. the mothers would have been “crazy women” that no one listened to, raving about the dangers of the swamp or about rescuing their kids, who “everyone knew” were already dead because no one comes back from the haunted swamp.

here’s another way it could have been spun: the troll king has a problem. what an excellent opportunity for the hags to let him fall on his a$$ and then they can seize power for themselves! maybe if the hags were not the councilors of the troll king, but instead his concubines, sent in on the mission to play the part of the mothers and instead are whooping it up, laughing and playing with the men in the taverns, even though they are pretending to be the mothers of the kids who were lost. if confronted by the party, they might have been desperate to see their husband’s downfall and the party would have had a difficult time finding out what’s really going on.

and what’s up with Troll Kings, Ogres, and Hags by the way. how did these ingredients get into this adventure? Brent, go on Ebay and buy yourself a copy of the Libris Mortis before they all disappear forever. at least Wik had the shades of the Palomas in his entry. there is not a single named undead type living (or un-living) in your Haunted Swamp. and Fey? trolls, ogres, hags, and hydras aren’t enough, let’s toss some fey into the mix as well? it was supposed to be a Haunted Swamp, not what I saw from what you wrote.

Brent’s Bank Vault belonged to the Troll King and from what I can see, it only came into the story when he opened it to give the players a reward. Brent’s Potion of Fiery Breath was only there to fight the hydra with, and could have been swapped out with a Wand of Fireballs, a Flaming Sword, or just an NPC with the right spells on his sheet. and where is the Dry Well ingredient? a portal on a desert island in the middle of a swamp is not a dry well. the two are not the same. the only ingredient that seems to have any interest at all is the Elemental Hydra. BUT ELEMENTAL HYDRA WASN’T AN INGREDIENT EITHER! what is a Rogue Hydra anyway?

Main Entry: rogue
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1561
2 : a dishonest or worthless person : SCOUNDREL
3 : a mischievous person : SCAMP
4 : a horse inclined to shirk or misbehave
5 : an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation

Wik’s idea of the three wives combining into a compilation of their three pets was kind of ingenious. Brent’s elemental hydra was weak in comparison. players tend to bring fire to hydra hunts anyway on the off chance it’s one of the types that regenerates heads. making a hydra that’s even MORE susceptible to fire… what did I say earlier about 4E making the game too easy? the only reason I’d be playing in Brent’s campaign would be for the social aspect of the game, if I liked the other players. it definitely wouldn’t be for the challenges to overcome. I could fall asleep and still get all my xp and treasure.

sorry if I offend anyone (including you Brent), but I deliberately posted on the general thread what I wanted to see and what I didn’t want to see. perhaps you didn’t see that post. but I don’t think any judge has ever told players what he wanted ahead of time in an Iron DM that I’m aware of, and I only did it because we have a lot of new players this time around and I wanted to see a higher caliber of entry from the start. I’ve already pointed out some directions that you might have gone. here are a few more:

for whatever reason, what’s going on in the haunted swamp has dried up the main water source of the town (I don’t know how or why, that’s why you’re writing it, not me). maybe the lack of water is what gives the wives desperation (married to mermen? or maybe each thinks they’re married to the handsome nixie in the well who’s dying now?). something to tie them together though.

instead of a Troll King, how about a Lich King (or Vampire, Wight, Wraith, Ghoul or Zombie King – each would have been quite interesting, different, and would have added necessary flavor to the swamp setting).

what about a ROGUE hydra? there’s this game I’ve heard of where you play pretend that you’re a fantasy character, and one of the professions you can be is called… how would you like to fight a monster with class levels that can be its own flank buddy? against the rules? maybe. would I do it as a DM? in a FREAKING HEARTBEAT! and then instead of fighting a stupid animal that’s going to be ridiculously easy to kill, you’re going up against a scary monster who’s smart, cunning, planning and manipulative, with lots of sneaky skill ranks to play against the party.

DM: "Up ahead you see the hydra (rolls dice). Wait, everyone make a Spot check. The Hydra seems to have disappeared!"
Player 1: "Where did that dumb critter go?"
DM: "I don't know. Maybe he's Hiding..."
Player 2: "Hydra's are to big to hide."
DM: "Right." (evil chuckle, followed by more dice rolling...)


in terms of connecting ingredients together, here’s a fair example of what I like to see:

I liked Wik’s idea of using the potions as the only portable means of burning through a magical mist – mist which was caused by the cursed dry well – a well surrounded by the cursed spirits that caused the well to be dry – spirits haunting and causing the swamp to come into being – a swamp caused at the root by three wives desperate for greater power.

the only really weak ingredient on Wik’s entry was the Bank Vault, and even then it’s the reason for the players to be here, they have to focus on it’s protection throughout the adventure, they will eventually lose it and then have to come up with some plan to recover it again. so even though it doesn’t tie directly into the other five ingredients (and in a really close match that could spell the difference between winning and losing) it stands out as a essential core ingredient on it’s own, so it works.

so as I said before, this round goes to Wik's In Grog We Trust.

by the way, it’s generally a good idea to recap the ingredients at the end of your submission, if for no other reason that to help the judge understand what you thought you meant when you wrote what you did. otherwise (as in the case of Brent’s Dry Well ingredient that I’m still not sure if that’s what he meant, the judge is forced to make an intuitive leap (and judges can be vindictively lazy if forced to exercise like that). it doesn’t add that much work and is one more thing that might make the difference between winning or losing a match.
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
space reserved for the Brent_Nall vs Wik, possibly later today or tomorrow.

mush, mush! I have a thanksgiving dinner in two hours, and I want to know before I have to leave!

Just kidding, of course. I would never do anything to insult such a wise, benevelent judge such as yourself, oh frighteningly clever one....



To Devour a Demon

This adventure is for a party of 4-6 at level 7-8.

The party begins in the Halfling town of Epicarthos, renowned for its excellent cuisine, and located at the foot of the wide, stony volcano Sacrotini. They arrive in time for a festival, taking place at in the town plaza, at the feet of the statue of the town’s hero, St. Epicarthos, Protector. The party, over wonderful fare, learns the story of St. Epicarthos, and how he defeated the demon Varscivus the Devourer, Bringer of Famine, and introduced the world to the value of cooking, starting the Halflings’ never ending passion for excellent meals and preventing starvation. The saint ended the reign of terror of the demon, trapped him underneath the volcano, and moved atop the volcano to remain vigilant over the demon for all time. The volcano has been silent ever since. This is the five thousand year anniversary of the defeat of Varscivus.

Then, the volcano erupts.

The town panics as lava can be seen to flow in the distance. They ask the party to go to the volcano center, find what has happened to St. Epicarthos, and see what can be done to save the town from the volcano.

Travel across Sacrotini:
The structure of the shield volcano is such that it is not steep, but is a barren field of granite about ten miles across, like a giant cap on the earth. Nothing grows, and there is no cover. The way is rocky and uphill, and travel is slow. It will take a full day to travel the five miles on foot, although other methods will reduce this time.

Along the way, steam vents open up. As the party comes closer to the center of the volcano, geysers and patches of boiling mud make the way more dangerous. Lava flows become more common. Finally, they come to the central caldera, a field of flowing lava, small cooled rocks like ever-shifting floating islands in the flow, and dretches fiercely trying to assault a flying structure. Far above the reach of roiling magma, a stone fortress hangs in the air, held above the caldera by chains descending into the depths of the volcano. If the party navigates far enough into the field of lava on the floating boulders, the denizens of the flying fortress will lower a series of cages to lift the party to safety.

Laputarcosa, the Flying Monastery:

Inside, the party discovers that the fortress is Laputarcosa, a Halfling monastery dedicated to St. Epicarthos. The monastery, filled with male and female Halflings, has existed in secret, away from the rest of the world, for the past five thousand years. It is dedicated to St. Epicarthos’ mission, and to keeping the demon Varscivus chained beneath the volcano. At all times, there are fifty monks chanting prayers, siphoning power away from the demon to maintain the reverse gravity in place on the monastery, keeping it away from the caldera. Food—wonderful, delicious food of manna, nectar, and ambrosia—is provided, despite the fact that there is nothing growing on the volcano and the monks never leave. It is discovered that baskets descend into the heart of the volcano, filled with delights from within, and hoisted back into the monastery. But given the problems with the volcano erupting, the party is quickly given audience to St. Epicarthos.

The saint, a Halfling dressed in a simple white robe, and still alive after these millennia, welcomes the party in his inner sanctum. They are simple, Spartan, and flecks of blood can be seen. The reason becomes clear as a monk enters, offers his neck to Epicarthos, who drinks his fill of blood. He explains that he did not, in fact, bring the gift of cuisine to the Halfling people, but that Varscivus did. Varscivus would enslave thousands through offering meals while causing famine and taught the secrets of food preparation. His well-fed soldiers wrought destruction upon the starving masses, until Epicarthos learned the secrets for himself and granted himself the strength necessary to defeat the demon. He did not slay him, however, but imprisoned him beneath the granite shield volcano, because he did not want the demon to simply reform in the Abyss and cause destruction anew. Epicarthos can only destroy the demon if some part of his essence is willingly placed into a destructible object, which could then be crushed by someone who had never eaten food since Varscivus’ defeat. He embraced vampirism to sustain him through the centuries without ever eating anything Varscivus may have made.

And Varscivus makes a lot. Epicarthos made a deal with the demon, wherein Varscivus cooks and provides the meals for the monks—only good, healthful, safe food—and Varscivus receives a single skillet. Yet now, the volcano erupts, a sure sign that Varscivus has found a way to free himself, and he will, soon.

St. Epicarthos asks the party to go to Varscivus’ prison and determine how, precisely, he is breaking his bonds. He explains that there is another prophecy in addition to the volcano erupting; Varscivus’ worst deal in short shall deliver the greatest good forever.

Into the Fire…

The party descends into the volcano by way of the meal baskets. Lava cascades around the party within the crater, leaving only a slim shaft leading to a cooler platform below. The air is foul here, filled with the stench of minerals and evil. A group of quasits meet the party below and attack, to defend their master Varscivus. The quasits deliver the meals from Varscivus to the meal baskets, through a labyrinthine series of lava tubes. The PCs must navigate these passages to reach the central chamber, where Varscivus, a glabrezu, stands chained to the rocks and holding his skillet. With a command word, the frying pan bursts into abyssal flame and fills with boiling oil. Varscivus pours the oil on his chains, which bubble and crack. He has already cut through three of the chains holding him, and he is busy working on the fourth. A cornucopia, filled with fruits and meats, stands to one side, unused as he abandons his role as master chef.

“You!” he calls out to the party, brandishing his skillet, “You have come too late! I shall be free, and you cannot stop me! That fool Epicarthos let me have this pan, and for thousands of years, I have placed every shred of demonic power I can harvest into it so that I can be free this day. See how my powers are coming back! Behold my wrath!”

Varscivus summons a vrock, which fights the party. Once the vrock is defeated, Varscivus changes his tone. “No, but I am defeated! Oh, if you are so strong, strike now, while I am weak, and send me back to the Abyss!” This is a trick, because he would be able to return later, and be free at last. Should the party refuse, he replies, “Bah, so you are the merciful sort. Very well, I cannot find a way to corrupt your souls. Bid me my freedom, and I shall leave and take all I have brought to this world with me. I shall trouble this world no further.” This is another trick, because he will also take the gift of cooking with him, plunging the world into famine. Upon a second refusal, he grins. “So you will not strike me down, and you will not let me go peacefully. Then let me give you all the riches I have. My wealth, all my possessions will be yours. All you need to do is stand by and do nothing as I free myself.” Although this is still another trick on the glabrezu’s part, it is the correct response. If the party waits until the demon is free, the boiling oil eating through the last of his chains, he will laugh, tossing the skillet to their feet. “There! That is the sum total of my possessions! Enjoy your newfound riches!” With that, the volcano shakes as Varscivus heads to the surface.

The PCs must race out of the tunnels and back to the meal baskets with the flaming skillet before the tunnels fill with magma.

…And Out of the Frying Pan

The final step is a race against time. The monastery, without the demon’s power, has trouble staying aloft and will soon crash. Varscivus the Devourer is free, and bursts through the caldera ahead of the magma. Lava flows advance toward the town of Epicarthos. The party must deliver the frying pan, infused with the essence of Varscivus, to St. Epicarthos. As he has not eaten any food since the demon’s defeat, he can destroy the frying pan, and in the process, utterly destroy Varscivus. In the meantime, Varscivus reels the monastery in to exact his revenge before turning to the rest of the town, the countryside, and the lands beyond, famine in his wake. Should the flaming frying pan reach St. Epicarthos, he will tell the party to flee, granting them flight for long enough to escape the monastery, which plunges into the caldera… but then stabilizes. The eruption stops, Varscivus explodes in the lava, and the magma cools.

Take note of whether the party members eat any food in the monastery or in town. If any PC has not eaten anything, then that PC can also destroy the frying pan and destroy Varscivus.

The party is welcomed back in the town of Epicarthos with dance, song, and lots of wonderful food.

The Flying Monastery of the Vampiric Saint Epicarthos is suspended above the Granite Shield volcano of Sacrotini, under which the Chained Demon Varscivus, who granted the Halflings their Never Ending Passion for food, remains captured. The demon enchanted the Flaming Frying Pan of the Master Chef in order to make his escape, but this same frying pan is the key to his destruction.


First Post
Into the Fire
A 4th Edition adventure for late Paragon Tier

Six hundred years ago, a flying monastery of monks traveled the known world, delivering humanitarian aid wherever it was needed. Their charitable works proved the foil of many demonic enterprises, earning them the hatred of a particularly powerful and particularly enormous demon known as Zazgush the Hunger. The demon was able to uncover the source of their flight, passion, hope, and conviction. As the monks' spirits soared, so too did their citadel.

Zazgush and his demonic underlings ambushed the monastery during a flight over the Dormud mountain range, bursting forth from a volcanic fissure and tangling the monks' home in titanic chains of the Hunger's forging. What began was a tug of war between demonic hatred and mortal faith. Zazgush's fearsome attack and the flood of abyssal minions proved trying for the monks and slowly they were dragged down nearer the rumbling fissure Doomscar.

In that darkest hour, a monk rose to deliver his brothers, Korvon. With his sword Heaven's Gleam and the armor of his faith, he plunged into the Doomscar and sacrificed himself to repel Zazgush. The fissure grew quiet and the monastery was dragged no more. The monks retrieved Korvon's body, uplifted him as their patron saint, named the monastery in his honor and took to calling themselves the Brothers of the Leash. After all, the monastery hung in the mountain air, still tangled in the giant chains and anchored to the cooled pit of Doomscar.

Set Up
The brothers were content to worship above the site of Korvon's triumph for centuries. Though slowly declining, perhaps because they no longer traveled, the brotherhood remained pious and true. Recent young brothers Frellis, Charad and Pelon showed particular promise. In truth, they held such strong faith they might have broken the chains if given time. Zazgush, defeated but merely dormant, knew he'd only one more chance to claim St. Korvon's Monastery.

The Hunger rose Saint Korvon from the catacombs as a vampire lord charged with terrorizing the monks and assassinating the promising three youths. When Frellis and Charad fell, the monks' resolve weakened and Zazgush again started dragging the monastery down toward the Doomscar, and deeper still the Abyss.

With the exception of Pelon, the brothers are frightened and frantic, doubting Korvon's victory and their own faith. When Korvon reveals himself and murders the last of the youths, it will be the final blow needed to spiral the monastery into Zazgush's clutches. That is, unless the PCs can stop it.

1.The Brothers of the Leash are associated with one of the pious or divine PC's religions and church superiors ask him or her to aid St. Korvon's Monastery.
2.The seismic rumblings from the Doomscar scare the local communities into sending the PCs to investigate and assess the danger, during which they come upon the strange sight of St. Korvon's.
3.The PCs encounter the fleeing Brother Laef on a road near the monastery, whose faith and courage has completely left him. Desperate to escape the rumblings, Laef does pass on news of the monastery's woes before running off.
4.An NPC acquainted with the PCs has a relative who is also a Brother of the Leash. He's sent him or her a goodbye letter, fearing he hasn't long before he's dragged into the Pit, spurring the NPC to ask the PCs for help.

Into the Fire is easily adapted for any campaign. St. Korvon's Monastery and the Doomscar are isolated enough to fit in any mountain or wilderness. St. Korvon himself or the monastery's larger affiliations can be tailored to any campaign religion. Some of the adventure's details are entirely focused on the PCs as unique individuals, also helping with adaptation.

Brother Pelon Tesk, Human Invoker
Brother Pelon is a young monk with curly, black hair and a pronounced nose. He's also the acting head chef of the monastery, a position inherited from his mentor Brother Gert (along with some cookware). His passion for cooking, at which he's very good, sound faith and steadfastness are what's keeping the monastery afloat after the deaths of Frellis and Charad.

Abbot Benjamin Gratva, Half-Elf Cleric
The wizened leader of the Brothers of the Leash, Benjamin is as scared by recent events as any of the other brothers, but instead of fearing the PCs, he actively seeks their aid. Desperate, perhaps foolhardy, or maybe he trusts the good in people. He's always fussing with his itchy frock, has a kind voice and stands slightly bowed.

Brothers Frellis and Charad, Murdered Young Monks (halfling and human)
Both brothers were passionate and faithful, one an excellent musician and the other a talented artist. Korvon marked both of them as glimmers of hope in the monastery and successfully snuffed them out.

Saint Korvon, Vampire Lord (human avenger)
The patron saint of the Brothers of the Leash returned as a vampire lord by the evil influence of Zazgush. His goal is to hasten the monastery's fall through terror tactics and the assassination of the most devote of the monks. His primary target during the adventure is Brother Pelon. (described below)

Zazgush the Hunger, Unbound Balor (scaled Gargantuan)
Zazgush the Hunger is the ancient demon bound to the monastery by the mammoth chains plunged into the Doomscar. He's in a constant struggle with the uplifting force of the monk's faith, trying to drag them down into the Abyss. The youngest generation of monks, including Frellis, Charad and Pelon, hold such passion and potential for good it threatens to break the chains which keep the monastery from aiding abroad. Zazgush enacts one last plan to claim the monastery, raising the brothers' patron in the catacombs as a vampire to cause doubt and fear. (described below)

Act I: St. Korvon's Monastery
Whether the PCs are aware of the brothers' plight or not, they'll cross a mountainous track and come closer and closer to the source of the earthly tremors and the sound of clashing metal. Cresting a high ridge, they discover the flying monastery of St. Korvon's hanging low in the sky, a vast, domed structure bound in titanic chains. Every rattling link is as large as a house. The chains plunge into a rumbling, steaming ravine, effectively anchoring St. Korvon's.

A hard Religion check for unwitting PCs reveals the monastery as Saint Korvon's, that its occupied by the Brothers of the Leash, and a very rudimentary origin of the place telling of the heroic monk Korvon who defended the monastery from a demonic attempt to drag it into the Abyss.

The Monastery
There's several floating disks which can transport people and cargo to and from a loading platform built in the monastery's shadow. They activate with a simple Arcana or Religion check, though a DM could have fun should the group fail their checks with some stopping and starting, near-falls and things. The PCs might also have their own means to fly up to the monastery, in which case let them.

Once inside the monastery walls, the PCs find a simple community with well-tended gardens and courtyards, many shrines, reflecting pools, tabernacles and of course a large church proper. There are also various common rooms, a library, bedrooms, a kitchen, chicken coops, a small pig pen, a few cows and everything else expected of a facility that caters both to the spiritual and bodily needs of monks.

The brothers themselves are plainly-garbed in brown frocks, boots, heavy cloaks and caps to ward against the cold of the high mountain air. They are mostly human, but there's a handful of halflings, dwarves, half-elves and half-orcs. About three hundred monks make St. Korvon's home, though even that number hardly seems to fill the place. There is a sense of decline and the farthest reaches of the monastery aren't as well-maintained as the used areas.

The Brothers' Plight
The PCs will quickly be greeted by rather surprised monks wherever they first appear and be escorted to Abbot Benjamin Gratva. Not all the looks the PCs get are welcoming ones. Abbot Benjamin is of the welcoming sort, however, a bowed half-elf of considerable age. Whichever hook the PCs might have taken, the abbot is all-to-willing to implore these strangers for their aid, sounding frightened at the prospects of a continued descent and the murder of two young brothers. Should the PCs agree to help, or even if they don't, the abbot insists they stay for dinner. He assures them Brother Pelon is a wonderful cook.

If the PCs choose to do a little exploring or investigating before dinner it's a Complexity 3 Skill Challenge, which includes a quick walk-through of the monastery, talking with willing brothers (an opportunity to meet Pelon, who may be the only monk actually willing to talk), research in the library, and hunting for clues to the murders.

Between talking with Abbot Benjamin and Brother Pelon, any sort of investigation and the beginning of dinner, the PCs should learn the following:

  • The origins of St. Korvon's Monastery (as described in the background)

  • Abbot Benjamin and the other monks are frightened by the monastery's dragging down, and also doubt Korvon's ancient victory. They fear the demon (whose name they fear to utter) may be roused and there's nothing that can prevent it.

  • Brother Pelon is the only monk that reflects more hopefulness than fear. His passion for cooking and the joy in making food and having others partake in it seems like a shield against recent events. Pelon's optimism comes from the steadfast teachings of his late mentor and former Master Chef Gert, whose position and cookware he's inherited.

  • Two young brothers have been killed around the same time the chains tensed and began pulling down the monastery. They were lively, hopeful monks in life, one a gifted musician and the other a skilled artist. To the brotherhood's alarm, both were drained of their blood and the whisper of vampire is on everyone's lips. Monks are now sequestering themselves in their rooms after sunset, sometimes skipping meals and prayers, and jumping at their own shadows. Likely some of the brothers put the PCs through various tests like sunlight, holy water and garlic.

* PCs should feel the slow descent and hear the constant rattle of the chains to maintain an ominous mood, given in the occasional description as a reminder or impetus to help keep the PCs moving.

Act II: The Saint
Saint Korvon's main objective is to kill Brother Pelon, the greatest source of passion, faith and conviction in the monastery. He's already killed two similarly young, similarly hopeful brothers, but has at last found his true quarry. His larger purpose is to hasten the descent of the monastery by terrifying the entire brotherhood and eliminating their glimmers of hope.

The First Attack
The first attempt on Pelon's life comes somewhere with an audience. Saint Korvon wants the brothers to see him and despair as their patron turns against them. The ideal location would be in the dining room as Pelon is serving dinner. Korvon would be dramatic and shocking, condemning his former followers to an endless torment in the fires of the Abyss, playthings of mighty Zazgush. He's adorned in the armor of his burial, covered in dust and cobwebs, and wielding a dull version of Heaven's Gleam. In his other hand is a massive, granite shield, which later reveals his resting place as it's also the lid of his sarcophagus.

Most brothers flee while the PCs confront the vampire lord. Abbot Benjamin and Pelon are the only two that remain, the latter fearfully swinging the only thing on hand, his frying pan. Depending how well the PCs protect Pelon, once Korvon is bloodied, Pelon should either use the frying pan as a holy symbol or a weapon to strike the Saint and send him fleeing. It bursts into holy flames as he does so, surprising everyone, including himself.

A moderate Insight check or the abbot's musings should reveal that the frying pan is a great symbol of passion for Pelon, passed down from his mentor Gert and an instrument that brings joy to him and others. Such an item is a bane to Saint Korvon and the demonic forces who animate him. During the lull between attacks, the PCs own symbols of passion should be brought forth and discussed with either with Pelon, perhaps family heirlooms, gifts, something that can be used against Korvon and later Zazgush.

The Chase
Should the PCs seek to track Korvon, a hard Perception check brings them to the kitchen. The stairwell into the catacombs is a few rooms down, so he might have passed through, but a second hard Perception check would recognize the granite counter of the kitchen's island as Korvon's shield. The Saint is lying in wait for Pelon to prepare dinner the next night. If the PCs catch on, they'll get a surprise round on the vampire, who they might very well kill. If they don't catch on, Pelon may remark the next day that all the food he left out on the kitchen counter spoiled.

Failing either check, the PCs will likely plunge into the depths of the monastery in search of Korvon's sarcophagus in the catacombs. His container is lidless and empty. A moderate Perception check reveals a false wall and a ladder, one which leads just outside the kitchen. There are little other clues, leaving PCs to wait until the next attempt on Pelon's life.

Spreading Hope
Through a moderate Insight check, the abbot's or Pelon's musings, or best of all the volition of the PCs, there comes a realization that if passion, faith and conviction are the bane of Korvon and the power that animates him, bolstering the brothers' resolve would greatly behoove the monastery. It must have been why Brother Frellis and Brother Charad were slained.

Easier said than done, as the monks are more terrified now than ever. It will take a Complexity 5 Skill Challenge to inspire anything out of the brothers, and include social skills such as Diplomacy, knowledge skills like Religion, and the aid of Pelon and Abbot Benjamin. The challenge could take as little as a few hours, but more realistically a few days, during which time Korvon plans his next attack, this time sneaking into the catacombs and raising some undead minions for an ambush in the kitchen. All the while the monastery is pulled lower than ever. Success bolsters the spirits of the monks and weakens Korvon (-2 to attacks and damage), while failure plunges the monks into their worse doldrums yet. Some are even beginning to flee the monastery entirely, empowering Korvon and his allies with a +2 to attacks and damage.

The Second Attack
After the Spreading Hope challenge is complete, the next night's dinner preparation is an ambush. Korvon, wights and ghoul minions attempt to surprise and slay Brother Pelon. Korvon bursts forth from the island, while his minions spill from the secret passage outside the kitchen. PCs must again defend Pelon, who can only do so much with his fiery pan. Pelon is particularly unsettled for the fact one of the wights is his old mentor, Brother Gert. Korvon will not relent this time, fighting to the death. Just as he's destroyed, Saint Korvon gains a moment of clarity and asks the PCs to avenge this sacrilege and save the monastery from Zazgush.

*Should Korvon ever manage to kill Pelon, the monastery descends into the Doomscar at an alarming rate. Depending on whether or not the PCs discovered the symbols of passion, they'll have to defeat an empowered Korvon, stronger from his increased proximity to the Doomscar and the lack of faith in the monestary, as well as stronger undead minions and demons later on, all of them receiving +2 to attacks and damage.

*Should Korvon be killed before his Second Attack, allow him a final, dying wish to stop Zazgush once and for all.

Act III: The Doomscar
PCs descend the great chain links, as demons are sent up in a last ditch effort by Zazgush. Combine late paragon-tier demons with a Complexity 2 Skill Challenge of bounding down the massive chain links into the molten heart of the Doomscar. Success sees them safely through to the bottom, while failure sends them plummeting into fiery rubble and smoking pits, incurring falling and fire damage.

At the bottom of the volcanic ravine, the PCs discover the chains lead into a massive Abyssal rift. If they seem particularly set on closing the rift in hopes it might sever the chains, they could attempt a hard Complexity 5 Skill Challenge including Arcana, Religion and Nature.

Facing the Hunger
Success or failure will force Zazgush the Hunger to intervene, which should come as a sudden shock as giant, red claws explode from the Abyss and use pure unholy strength to hold the way open. Zazgush's upper half fights its way out of the rift, a many-armed red torso licked in flames with a flayed, horned head dominated by a jagged set of snapping jaws. He lacks eyes, ears or a nose, and stinks of sulphur and charred flesh. He's easily the size of the monastery, truly enormous, with the chains tangled around his body and pulled on by dozens of arms. A success on the challenge imposes 15 ongoing damage per round for as long as he holds the portal (to say for the encounter).

Other groups may decide their only hope is to enter the rift and loosen Zazgush's hold the old fashioned way, which finds themselves in a similar combat situation, facing the ancient demon on his home turf, a blackened skull isle in a sea of molten lava which imposes 10 ongoing fire and necrotic damage per round for as long as the party is in the Abyss (to say for the encounter). Moderate Arcana and Religion checks can warn the PCs of the ongoing damage types.

The defeat of Zazgush loosens his grip on the monastery and within hours the renewed conviction of the monks shatters the chains entirely. The Brothers of the Leash are now free, and in need of a name change, thanks largely to the PCs. As a flying monastic order, the brothers can travel wherever healing and compassion are needed as they did in the days of Korvon. This also opens the brothers up as companion characters or reoccurring allies, perhaps encountering the PCs down the road and leading to new adventures as the monks acclimate to traveling the wide world, encounter opposing forces, or perhaps even suffer demonic revenge.

List of Ingredients:
Flying Monastery: St. Korvon's Monastery, the home of the Brothers of the Leash
Vampiric Saint: St. Korvon, patron of the Brothers of the Leash
Never Ending Passion: The monks passion is what keeps the demon from dragging them down, the passion of the youngest generation inspired Zazgush's raising Korvon, and Brother Pelon's passion is what keeps the monastery afloat in their darkest hour.
Granite Shield: The lid of St. Korvon's sarcophagus doubles as his shield and is at one point disguised as a counter top.
Chained Demon: Zazgush the Hunger, whose chains are meant to drag the monastery into the Abyss
Flaming Frying Pan of the Master Chef: The frying pan Brother Pelon uses when he cooks, handed down from his mentor, the late Brother Gert. It's so infused with passion that it's used against St. Korvon as a fiery holy symbol.


Penguin Herder
Pour, you have written a nearly complete module, and have covered most every eventuality. Kudos on the completeness of your final product. The NPCs have good motivations, the environment is detailed nicely.

InVinoVeritas, you have written a mostly tight summery, but there are holes galore once we get to the demon's speech -- you assume the PCs will take three specific choices, and in my experience, they can't be trusted to even make one obvious decision. If you offer specific choices, talk about the consequences of all choices. IMHO it was not necessary to offer specific trick questions.

Ingredient use:

Flying Monastery
5/5 points to both of you. Both are plausible, both are cool, both are central, and both of you do a good job tying them (literally, via chains) to other ingredients. Not much to say here. Good job.

Granite Shield
InVinoVeritas: It's integral, it's tied to the other ingredients (particularly the monastery food issue), it's coherent... but it's boring. Fine use from the DM's end, but the ingredient itself probably won't be noticed by the players, because they'll be getting more snacks while I read through the grey box text that tells them they walk for a day over boring terrain and nothing happens. 4/5 for ingredient use, -2 for evocative prose.
Pour: It's cool that the kitchen counter becomes a coffin lid, but how is it that nobody who works in the kitchen noticed? My players would throw dice at me. 3/5 for ingredient use, -2 for usability, because I'd be forced to re-work that angle.

Vampiric Saint
InVinoVeritas: Interesting spin that he's a saint and a vampire concurrently, useful as exposition, and half-way useful as a Macguffin if the PCs eat the food -- which they probably shouldn't if they listen to his exposition, so maybe he should be more explicit about that. 4/5 for ingredient use, +2 originality for spin on the "noble vampire" trope. Not perfect, since he could be replaced by a Warforged Saint, but not all settings have those so I'm being lenient.
Pour: Ex-saint, now vampire. Central to the story, tied to a few other ingredients. 4/5.

Never Ending Passion
InVinoVeritas: The vampire saint has his patient passion since he ate his last supper long ago, the demonic chef has his fiery passion which spills through in his quotes. I like. 4/5
Pour: The emotional state of the monks is in disarray, so I hesitate to call it "never-ending" -- it's more like "mostly over". Also, there's not much "never-ending" about the passions of the monks. They're just mortals. Their passions have an expiration date stamped on the back. 2/5

Chained Demon
Typical boss fight, both nicely using the chains to connect to other ingredients. 4/5 each.

Flaming Frying Pan of the Master Chef
Here's the type of ingredient that can make or break an entry.
Pour: It feels tacked on. Any holy symbol could replace it in the module. It may be appropriate, but it's not integral. 2/5
InVinoVeritas: It's an integral item despite its hilarity, though the flaming aspect isn't integral. Good job. 4/5

In most other particulars, the entries match up fairly well. I find both useful and evocative, with bits I could perhaps steal for my own games. Pour has an edge in usefulness thanks to thinking out the consequences of both choices (hint, hint), but this match is going to InVinoVeritas due to superior use of ingredients.

Note to future matches: in my opinion, Pour ran a bit long, while InVinoVeritas could have filled in a few more details.

Again, apologies for the delay.
Thank you both for your patience.
Last edited:

Radiating Gnome

Here are the ingredients for Round 4: CleverNickName vs MortalPlague

Soaking Backpack
Ogre Bodyguard
Three Wishes
Elemental Wierds
Symbol of the First Spirits

It is 6:45 EST right now. You have 48 hours.


Round 5 Ingredients: Rechan vs Atras

you have until midnight on Sunday, have fun!

River Delta
Severed Foot
Monsterous Bard
Brutal Slayings
Bedridden Troll
Ioun Stone


First Post
Even more interesting ingredients! I wish I had this set. As soon as I saw them, I had some fiendish ideas...

Remove ads