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Iron DM 2010: All Submissions and Judgments

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
The ingredients for Round 1, Match 5 are as follows:

Fertile Illithid
Dilapidated Stableyard
Kindly Fishmonger
A Thousand Lotus Blossoms
Interrogation Techniques
The Solitary Flame at the Center of It All

This match is now on.
 

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Wicht

Hero
Intro...
Stumbling back, the alien eyes of the illithid blink in shock as his life blood drains away. The stone petals, falling from his hand as his strength leaves him, strike the rotting floor of the old griffin stables and scatter in a dozen directions. "Now it comes...," he manages to whisper before falling to the ground. Almost at once, the strange skin of his face begins to smolder and smoke pours forth from his open mouth. The child of flame and darkness is being born.

The Birth of Fire
Background
Chuth Ruhli had little to distinguish him from other mind flayers until the day he ate the brains of a cultist, whom his servants had caught wandering in the deep places of the earth, calling for Yyng'sjg-Gothkni. Though the man, prior to his death, was in an obvious state of stark terror, Chuth thought nothing of it at first, for though he feared little himself, he assumed all those who dwelt above the earth feared to be lost beneath it. Alas for the Illithid, the man had been cursed in an arcane ritual, seeded with the offspring of his dread god. By eating the brain, Chuth Ruhli took the curse upon himself. Now, growing within his very skull is a being of fire and darkness, an all consuming avatar of Yyng'sjg-Gothkni who, when born, will utterly destroy his host.

Yyng'sjg-Gothkni, a god of fire and darkness, dwells in the heart of the world, imprisoned until the end when he shall consume creation. Called by his followers, “The Solitary Flame at the Center of It All,” he burns, biding his time. Nevertheless, many of his worshipers are not content to wait and upon occasion some take steps to hasten the end. The spell that fell, inadvertently, upon Chuth Ruhli, is an example of one such effort.

The mind-flayer did not realize what had happened at first, but soon the pain became intense and he could find no healing, magical or otherwise, for he was not diseased; rather a new life was growing within him and pregnancy is not something that can be cured with simple spells. Moreover, it was growing in his brain and that was not something easily removed. Chuth sought for other answers, and in his desperation, he alighted upon the story of the Thousand Lotus Blossoms.

Pearl white petals of stone, the Thousand Lotus Blossoms was originally an incredibly long string of magical prayer beads. Stolen from the Temple of Everlasting Dreams more than two century earlier, the Blossoms had been broken apart as a collection and dispersed over time. Despite the dissolution of the original prayer string, the individual Blossoms still retain some of their magic and impart healing to those who pray over them. It is said that when the whole set was together, the man who prayed, utilizing each bead, would be healed of any ailment, regardless of the source or type. Chuth decided to collect these relics, hoping that they might, joined together, ease his pain and save him from a dark, fiery death.

His quest, though not close to done, brings him into conflict with the PCs, who are on a similar trail.

Adventure Summary
The PCs are sent to find a set of healing stones, believed to be part of the famous Thousand Lotus Blossoms. They are told to search along a stretch of coast, where local tales of "healing stones” abound. In a village they meet Jak Bron, a kindly fishmonger who is looking for his daughter. As they travel with him, they discover that he possesses one of the Lotus Blossoms and though he uses it for his own health and that of his daughter, he is willing to give it up in exchange for his daughter's life. Leaving Jak Bron, who returns home, the PCs follow the trail of the girl, Kilm Bron, to a cave where they witness Chuth Ruhli in the process of torturing the girl for information on the Lotus Blossom, using his tentacles to probe her mind. As the mind-flayer teleports away the PCs overhear him muttering insanely to himself about the Griffin Keeper and the Fish-seller. Unfortunately, the interrogation techniques of the mind-flayer have left the girl with a segment of Yyngsjg-Gothkni embedded in her brain and that night as the PCs tend to her, she dies, bursting into flame. The fire elemental that erupts from her is dangerous and attacks the PCs. After defeating the elemental, the PCs, alerted by the Mind-flayer's words, race back to the village of Jak Bron, which they discover is under attack by a horde of morlock's, the servants of Chuth Ruhli. Driving away the horde, the PCs have opportunity to learn of the location of two other Blossoms in the area. The first is kept by a tribe of Hobgoblins, who killed the village priest and stole it away. The second was owned by old Mallias, a Griffin Keeper who passed away about five years earlier. No one knows what happened to his blossom, but it is suspected he hid it somewhere in his tower. Though the PCs might decide to approach the hobgoblins first, it is more likely they head straight for the tower of the Griffin Keeper. There they discover the minions of Chuth Ruhli tearing apart both tower and adjoining stables, looking for the lost blossom. The buildings are in a very unstable condition, and quite flammeable. The PCs confront the illithid in the stables after dispatching his minions in the tower. Ravaged by pain and unable to use his spells, the powerful mind-flayer is easily dispatched but unfortunately, his death means the premature birth of the Avatar of Yyng'sjg-Gothkni. Though not as powerful as it might have been, it is still a powerful force, surrounded by both heat and perpetual darkness. The PCs must find a way to defeat this avatar of destruction as the stables catch on fire around them and the wooden floor falls away, reveaing a hidden chamber beneath the stables. Only then can they claim the Blossoms Chuth Ruhli had already found as well as the Blossom hidden in the secret chamber.

Summary of Ingredients
Fertile Illithid – Chuth Ruhli, impregnated with the seed of a dark god
The Solitary Flame at the Center of It All – Yyng'sjg-Gothkni, a god of fire and darkness, waiting to consume everything
A Thousand Lotus Blossoms – A magical string of prayer beads, shaped like flower petals, totaling a thousand in number, now spread across the world.
Dilapidated Stableyard – The abandoned stables of the deceased griffin keeper serve as the scene of the final confrontation with Chuth Ruhli and the stage for the birth of the Avatar of Yyng'sjg-Gothkni.
Kindly Fishmonger – Jak Bron, owner of one of the Thousand Lotus Blossoms, he found it in the belly of a fish he was cleaning. His daughter has been kidnapped by the mind-flayer who knows there are three Blossoms in the area.
Interrogation Techniques - What the mindflayer uses to get information from poor Kilm Bron.
 

Green Dice

First Post
Island of the Lotus Blossoms
A DnD 4e adventure for the high heroic or low paragon tier

Adventure background:
The vile Illithid, Ba’shara is with child and has come to the surface to prepare to give birth. What does a baby Illithid need? Fresh, intelligent brains to devour. Ba’shara climbed from the Underdark to a small subterranean cave just under a small island. The island was teeming with water gardens full of Lotus blossoms. Here she made a deal with the local inhabitants: If they were to bring people to the island in order for her to turn into thralls (read: food for her child) she would leave them alone. Not wanting to be turned into Illithid food, the natives agreed.

Since then, the island natives have been spreading the word that bathing in the water of a thousand lotus blossoms would bring untold happiness. This brought people far and wide to the island and right into the clutches of Ba’shara. Friends and family of those caught in this web think that they don’t come home because they are happy there, but the truth is they are nothing more than cattle for the slaughter.

ACT I: The Missing Girl
The PCs start this adventure by coming into the town of Greenriver. This town can be anything the DM decides. It can be a new location for the PCs, it could be a place that they’ve been before and are familiar with or it could be a home town of theirs. DMs are encouraged to tie PC backgrounds to NPCs and locations in the adventure.

The local tavern is a buzz with talk of the stable owner, Harold. He’s spent many a night (and coin) in the tavern for the past few weeks. His 20 year old daughter, Gloria, had left Greenriver with a man who was staying in town for a few days. The taverngoers don’t know much about the man but they know that he and Gloria had been spending quite a bit of time together. Normally, the Bartender wouldn’t mind that Harold was spending all his coin in his establishment, but he knows Harold is distraught with the disappearance of his daughter.

If the PCs ask about Harold:
- He’s the local stable master
- He and his daughter Gloria live alone. His wife died a while ago
- Gloria is the only family he has left
- Since Gloria’s disappearance, his stable has been neglected. Harold just doesn’t seem to care anymore.

If the PCs ask about Gloria:
- Nice girl who helps her father at home and at the stables
- She’s been depressed recently, lacking her normal zeal and outgoing nature
- Since the new traveler came to town, she’s clung to him

If the PCs ask about the newcomer:
- He mostly kept to himself
- He said his name was Jimmel
- He’s a traveler and a purveyor of fine things
- He took a liking to Gloria and they spent many a night in the corner of the tavern, whispering to each other. She seemed happy around him.
- The two of them left in the night a few weeks ago.

Should the PCs investigate (and I sure hope they do), they could either go to Harold’s house, his stable or wait for him in the tavern the next night. They can get the location of Harold’s house or his stable from the bartender.

Next night at the tavern:
Harold is sitting in the same spot he is every night, nursing drinks. He has a scowl on his face and you can tell he doesn’t want to be disturbed. If approached, he doesn’t want to talk to the PCs (or anyone for that matter). If the PCs keep pressing him, he leaves the tavern. The PCs can follow him if they wish. He is heading to his stable.

Harold’s Home:
His house is a simple one and no one seems to be home. If the PCs break in, it seems as if no one has been in the house for a while. A fine film of dust covers everything and cobwebs stick to the walls. There is nothing to be found here.

The Stables:
These stables are on the edge of town and have definitely seen better days. Harold stopped caring for this place right when Gloria left. Parts of the roof are coming down. Paint is chipped. The four horses tied up inside are in dire need of care. They look sick and are fly-ridden. Manure is piled up underneath the horses and the air is thick with both flies and stink.
A keen eye (perception check) will find that some of the hay on the floor has been recently disturbed. Further investigation will reveal a hidden trap door. The door leads to a passageway that leads down underneath the stables to a small lantern lit room. Inside, Harold, covered in blood, is torturing a man (Jimmel) tied to a chair. Blood is being soaked up by hay on the floor. As the PCs enter, Harold is whispering in Jimmels’s ear: “Where is she?”
Once discovered, Harold confesses to kidnapping Jimmel and torturing him to get information about where his daughter is. Harold saw Jimmel speaking with a fishmonger in Port Town a few miles to the east. Harold managed to get Jimmel back to Greenriver 2 days ago and has been grilling him about the whereabouts of his daughter.
The PCs can either allow Harold to keep at it, or they can offer to try to get information out of Jimmel themselves.

Questioning Jimmel:
Jimmel is beaten up and severely cut. Harold has been doing some damage with the tools he had. He is securely tied to the chair and isn’t going anywhere.

This is a skill challenge for the PCs. They can reason with Jimmel or they can continue to torture him.

Failing the Skill Challenge:
- Jimmel says that he saw that Gloria was depressed being in the small town of Greenriver and that she wanted to be happy.
- Gloria was happy hearing about all of Jimmel’s travels all over the world.
- Jimmel told Gloria of a place that could make her very happy: The Island of Lotus Blossoms
- There is a fishmonger named Grinn in Port Town that can take the PCs to the Island if they wish to go. They just need to ask about the “Thousand Lotus Blossoms”
- Jimmel is a native to the island who tries to get people to travel there.

Succeeding in the Skill Challenge:
- The PCs get all the information above plus:
- A monster is controlling the minds of everyone who goes to the island.
- They won’t be able to get Gloria, or any of the people who are trapped there without first killing the monster

ACT II: Port Town and the Fish
Port Town is a much bigger place than Greenriver. It’s a town with a strong maritime culture with ships and boats of all sizes docked at the pier.
If they ask around, many people know about the Island of Lotus Blossoms.
- Supposedly, anyone can find happiness there
- Everyone who has gone there, hasn’t returned since they love it there so much
- A few people have returned and convinced others to go there.
At the pier, aside from ships and boats, there are also many people selling fish. The PCs have no trouble finding Grinn.

Grinn the Fishmonger:
Grinn is a clean-cut (for a fish merchant), charismatic guy with a big smile and an even bigger personality. He flatters them with compliments and tries to sell the PCs all kinds of different kinds of fish and seafood – until they ask about the Island of Lotus Blossoms.

He says that if they need a little happiness in their lives, that they’ve come to the right place. He asks the PCs to meet him at his ship, in a few hours so that they could ship off for the island.

As the PCs walk away from Grinn, they are called over by another Fishmonger. This fishmonger lays down the same sales-pitch as every other merchant until he sees that Grinn isn’t watching the PCs anymore; the fishmonger then changes his tone. He says he saw them talking to Grinn and that that only means one thing – they are going to the Island of Lotus Blossoms. He says it’s a bad place and that the PCs look like they are the kind of people that can change that. Afterall, the other people who have gone over are the dim-witted or gullible types; not armed-to-the-teeth adventurers.

The fishmonger then fills in the PCs on the truth of the island if they had not gotten that information from Jimmel. He then pulls out a large fish and slices it into chunks. He hands each of the PCs a chunk of slimy pink meat. The fishmonger tells the PCs that this fish will help them defend themselves from the monsters effects. He says the fish is on the house since he’s such a nice guy and all.

ACT III: Island of the Lotus Blossoms
Grinn’s ship sails for the Island of Lotus Blossoms without interruption. With a perception check, the PCs can see a small settlement on the coast which Grinn is trying to steer away from. If asked about it, Grinn just says it’s a small settlement of natives and that its nothing to be concerned with.
Grinn drops them off on the beach and tells them to head up the hill and towards the center of the island. There they will see the hundreds of others who have found their happiness.

The PCs can either go to the middle of the island or find the settlement on the coast

Settlement:
The natives will try to shoo the PCs away. They don't want the PCs near their village in fear of bringing the wrath of Ba'shara on them. Perceptive PCs may see many fish around town like the one the kindly fishmonger sold to them in Port Town. If the PCs have any questions about the monster or the island itself, they can find out information here.

The Middle of the Island:
Here in the middle of the island, there are huge water gardens coving much of the landscape. A thousand lotus blossoms fill these gardens. Tending to these lotuses are hundreds of people who seem to be in a trance. They are all wearing smiles on their faces and keep murmuring about how happy they are to be tending to the lotus gardens. Any PCs who have not eaten the fish that was given to them by the Fishmonger start to feel lightheaded. If this isn't a big enough hint to eat the fish, the PCs will have to start making Will saves against Ba'shara's magic. Any who fail, feel an uncontrollable urge to tend to the Lotus Blossoms and are genuinely happy. Those who do eat the fish, don't have any problems at all.

The PCs have no trouble finding Gloria after looking for some time. She, of course, does not want to leave. If the PCs try to force her to go, the other people there will try to stop them. Unless the PCs want to slaughter hundreds of innocents, forcing Gloria to leave may not be a viable option.
Next to the water gardens is a small cave. Inside that cave are twisting and turning tunnels that leads to the lair of Ba'shara, the Illithid. Her lair is a large cavernous room, with a single flame hovering above a raised dais in the middle of the room.

Ba'shara cackles as the PCs enter the room. The first thing the PC's notice is that she is pregnant. She explains to them that she has been tricking desperate people to her island in order to serve as food for her coming child. With the use of the magical flame at her disposal, she is able to keep everyone near the water gardens under her trance. She welcomes the PCs to be a main course for her child.

Ba'shara is the lone adversary in the room, but every round, two people from the water gardens enter the chamber to attack the PCs. These people are minions, but they are also innocent victims being used by Ba'shara. The PCs can either focus all of their attacks on Ba'shara herself or, as a skill challenge, they can try to douse the magical flame on the dais using Arcana, Religion or any other skills the DM deems appropriate. If they put the flame out in the middle of the battle, the people stop coming down to harrass the PCs every round and those that are already in the room flee the battle. Any PCs who have eaten the fish from the Fishmonger have a +5 bonus against any of Ba'shara's mind attacks.

After the PCs defeat Ba'shara, they can easily put the flame out and all the people in the water garden are free from her power. The PCs can return Gloria, and all the other prisoners back home.

Continuing the Adventure
There are deeper caverns heading down into the Underdark from Ba'shara's liar. The PCs can come back to the island to explore these tunnels. Also, since Ba'shara was pregnant, the odds are that she had a mate are quite high. Discovering the death of Ba'shara, her mate could try to track down the PCs for revenge.

Also, some people could be investigating the disappearance of Jimmal. Perhaps they find their way to Greenriver and start trouble with Harold and Gloria or the PCs themselves.

Ingredients

Fertile Illithid: Ba'shara, the pregnant Illithid, is the main antagonist of the adventure
Dilapidated Stableyard: Harold's stables are where the PCs find him interrogating Jimmel about the whereabouts of his daughter.
Kindly Fishmonger: Grinn the Fishmonger seems kindly enough, but it is the other Fishmonger, who tells the PCs about the true nature of the Island of the Lotus Blossoms and provide the PCs with the fish to help defend against Ba'shara's power
A Thousand Lotus Blossoms: The blossoms in the water gardens are the sham to trick the outside world into why people stay on the island.
Interrogation Techniques: Harold (or the PCs) interrogate Jimmel for the location of Gloria
A Solitary Flame at the Center of it All: The magical flame in Ba'shara's lair that allow her to keep all her prisoners under her control.
 

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Judgment, Round 1, Match 5: Wicht vs. Green Dice

There’s a bit of discussion about specific vs. wide-open ingredients. Although I try to thread the needle, I know that my ingredients have fallen on the “specific” side. Still, there was enough leeway that we got two different adventures. In an ironic twist, however, both adventures feature a father searching for a lost daughter—something that wasn’t in the ingredients at all.

On to the ingredients:
Wicht’s The Birth of Fire vs. Green Dice’s Island of the Lotus Blossoms

Fertile Illithid: I was curious to see how this one turned out. The “fertile” was a twist because reproduction isn’t typically considered with mind flayers, but since there’s so little on how mind flayers raise their young, exactly how they are fertile is wide open. In both cases, the fertility of the illithid is the source of action for the adventure, so good for both adventures there. Green Dice gives us a pregnancy, with the illithid preparing a farm of thralls for the unborn child. Simple, straightforward. Wicht gives us an illithid that is bearing the gestating soul of a deity—fertile in a completely different way (This gets to be a theme with Wicht’s use of the ingredients). Advantage to Wicht for originality.

Dilapidated Stableyard: Green Dice’s stableyards are dilapidated because the father does not care anymore about them, looking for information about his daughter instead. Wicht’s stableyards have been abandoned, and are the site of a combat. Wicht’s are a rickety wooden tower where griffins were once raised, and Green Dice’s are ordinary stables. They are both scenes of action, but Wicht’s use makes the dilapidated nature a greater threat. Advantage to Wicht.

Kindly Fishmonger: Wicht presents the father as a kindly fishmonger, but… it really doesn’t matter. He doesn’t really need to be kindly or a fishmonger for it to work. Green Dice’s kindly fishmonger uses fish as a defense against his illithid, and has the residents of the island use the same fish as well. This use is stronger, so Green Dice has the better ingredient use here.

A Thousand Lotus Blossoms: Green Dice ties in the legend of the Island of the Lotus Eaters to the Thousand Lotus Blossoms, giving us a place of happiness that hides the terror. Wicht gives us an item that is merely called The Thousand Lotus Blossoms. They are a thousand in number… but they are petal-shaped, not blossom-shaped. Ultimately, Green Dice’s use is better.

Interrogation Techniques: When there’s an illithid involved, this can get interesting. In Wicht’s adventure, Chuth Ruhli interrogates the daughter Kilm via tentacle implantation. The PCs don’t really get involved in that, but they do get involved with the fire elemental leaping from Kilm’s brain. That’s a good scene. Green Dice, though, invites the PCs to interrogate Jimmel. The techniques are up to the PCs, and Harold did some to begin with as well that the PCs don’t affect. Even though the fire elemental is cool, Green Dice gets the advantage for involving the PCs.

The Solitary Flame at the Center of it All: I wanted something specific, but still nebulous, to see what directions people took with this. Green Dice gives us something physical, a magical flame at the center of the island that keeps everyone weak-willed. Wicht gives us something allegorical, a Lovecraftian being called the “Solitary Flame at the Center of it All.” Yyng'sjg-Gothkni, by dwelling in the heart of the earth to be released later, makes for a very intriguing character, and a rather compelling way for the ingredient to be used. Wicht gets an edge here.

All in all, the ingredient use was very different between the two competitors. Green Dice took a direct route, using the ingredients as presented, and weaving them together into a single story. Wicht however, was very subversive in ingredient use. The illithid was giving birth to a god, the stableyard was a tower, etc. This can be very risky. A good use of the ingredient makes sure that it is still identifiable as the ingredient in some way. It worked sometimes, but not all the time. Certainly simply naming an object the ingredient name isn’t by itself enough. Yet some of the uses were very clever, as mentioned above.

Originality:
Tying the birth of the god to delving into people’s brains was a very different, unique, and well-managed portion of The Birth of Fire. Similarly, I liked how the Island of the Lotus Blossoms took a well-known myth and turned it on its ear. I would ultimately say that The Birth of Fire was the more intriguing, off-kilter of the two, with a clear Lovecraftian feel throughout.

Playability:
In both, we get a good idea of what happens and why. However, I was very impressed at how Green Dice took the time to walk us through the adventure, giving us ideas on how the adventure progresses depending on PC action. Definitely, if I plan on running either adventure, it’s abundantly clear that Island of the Lotus Blossoms makes the job much easier than The Birth of Fire, which seemed somewhat rushed (hey, yeah, Iron DM can do that, I know).

All Together:
The two adventures came off having very different feels. Wicht gives us a bare-bones idea of an adventure, plays with the ingredients in novel ways, and leaves us to fill in the blanks. I can see that the finding and rescuing of Kilm, followed by her fiery death, would be a tense and incredible scene… but that’s because I’m projecting additional thoughts into it. On the other hand, Green Dice’s adventure is more straightforward in its ingredient use. Many of the pieces have rather standard feelings to them. Yet it is also much clearer. The flow is established, the PCs are invited to play with the pieces, and, as a DM, I would feel much more comfortable running Island of the Lotus Blossoms. I like what’s being done in The Birth of Fire, but I find myself without much support as a DM. Combined with some rather severe twists in the meaning of some ingredients (the Thousand Lotus Blossoms in particular—although I like the quest for the prayer beads), I would say in the end, Green Dice gets the edge overall.

Green Dice advances.
 
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Pbartender

First Post
Round 1, Match 6
Waylander the Slayer vs. Pro-Paladin
Judge: Pbartender

Ingredients:
cheap trollop
jealousy
otyugh
elevator room
alembic
nonstop buckets

Submissions are due June 13th, 9:00 am CST.
 

Pro-Paladin

First Post
Good Clean Fun

A modern adventure for one PC.


Summary


The PC is hired to work a late-night janitorial shift at a rendering plant. Here he or she uncovers murder, mad science, black magic and an ancient evil hoping to make a modern comeback.


New Jobs Created


The adventure begins with the PC receiving a job offer for a graveyard shift janitorial position at a Pleasant Valley Dog Food plant. The PC should have a background that insures acceptance. Some possibilities: a laid off machinist, a military veteran struggling to readjust to civilian life, a bright-eyed recent college graduate who is discovering the hard way that an English degree is not highly sought after or an ex-con (wrongly imprisoned?) recently released from prison.

The PC is called with the offer by plant manager Warren Holdt. While discussing the job Holdt mentions in passing having difficulty keeping the position filled. The the past three hires all "left town" shortly after starting work.

In reality, these past hires were sacrificed to a Dark God.


Nature's Goodness

The Pleasant Valley Dog Food plant is located on the outskirts of a Midwestern rust-belt town. At the plant animal tissues are rendered into something that resembles food, sort of, and this product is then canned and shipped. Animal blood, fur and hooves are also processed here. The GM should play up the foulness of this entire process as much as possible. The odors from the rendering process are evident over a mile away and up close are overwhelming. The PC should have to pass some CON rolls at appropriate points to keep from gagging or vomiting. More sensitive characters may also react to the sight of unidentifiable organic goo that ranges in color from bloody red to sickly green to brown and gray.

The good news is the character will get used to it.


Grand Tour

The character will be shown the ropes by the senior janitor, a man named Glenn Starnes. Glenn is unfriendly, more so if the PC falls a CON check and throws up, is disrespectful, or flaunts his or her education. Starnes seems very distracted and impatient, as if he has better things to do. The character is shown the main floor, the cafeteria and bathrooms as well as an elevator room. "Don't worry about that." A little questioning will reveal that the elevator goes to a basement level where Starnes spends most of his time. After the brief tour, the character can begin the process of scraping away at the seemingly endless sea of partially fluid animal remains that cling to the plant's machines and vats. The plant is poorly lit at night and the character will be left all alone.

During the night's shift weird things occur. The PC will hear chanting and moaning, maybe some rumbling from below followed by a sudden burst of blinding red light. This moment is accompanied by a fresh attack of physical sickness, but ends as abruptly as it starts. Exploring the plant floor uncovers nothing and the elevator down is locked. It's impossible to be sure if anything really happened.

Bizarre events will continue to plague the character. These could range from vivid nightmares, to hallucinating for a moment that the rendered animal product is alive and breathing, to seeing his/her own face suddenly turn to melting organic paste in a mirror and so on. The PC should be constantly reminded of the unpleasant setting and the undercurrent of palatable spiritual evil.


What Do We Get For Ten Dollars?
When the character's shift ends at 8 am, another "shift" is beginning for Grace Hoobler, a woman who makes a living providing special services for plant employees. Grace will approach any Male characters ("You new here handsome?) and offer "the best [oral sex] you've ever had" for a small fee. While perhaps once attractive she is now in the late stages of meth addiction (any character with medical/street drug experience will recognize this) and has given up on basic hygiene as well. Matted, greasy hair covers wide, crazy eyes, while her half-smile reveals sores and missing teeth.

Grace has a lot to say, especially if the PC buys her services, is a male with high Cha or is a female (women employees are rare at the Pleasant Valley plant). In between banal talk about popular culture, she'll mention having "your new boss" Starnes as a regular customer, until a few months ago when he suddenly became cold and distant. "Something's wrong with him...he's got that look. I would know, since I see it on myself in the mirror all the time." She'll then repeat the offer to sell her "services," if she hasn't sold them already.

The encounter should ideally end with Grace sharing her concerns and raising the player's suspicions further.


Glenn Starnes

The following information should be slowly uncovered as the PC asks around and hears gossip. Grace and workers arriving or leaving are the best sources of information. Glenn may also spend a shift drunk, spilling information in the process. The Plant Manager is difficult to find and has better things to do, although he will express concern for his former friend if questioned.
Glenn's deeper secrets will have to be discovered by following him and/or exploring the basement.
The janitor is a deeply alienated man who keeps to himself. Recently he has taken to working 16 hours shifts, sometimes longer, disappearing in the basement of the plant. He is at best an unreliable worker and only keeps the job because of an old friendship with the Manager, Holdt.

Glenn's promising football career and dream of escaping his dreary surroundings died with a knee injury and since then he fell into a pit of alcoholism and bitterness. He was once close friends with Holdt, but the two have grown apart. In truth, Glenn has grown to hate his old friend and humanity in general. He is especially bitter and jealous towards anyone who is happy or successful. His horrible job combined with isolation, meaningless encounters with prostitutes and endless hours in front of the television that acted as his sole source of guidance slowly took his humanity.

This, combined with working knee-deep in filth both physical and spiritual created the perfect storm of events for a long-forgotten God to seize control. When Glenn murdered a prostitute and then dissolved her body in a rendering vat this served as the offering that awoke a forgotten evil.

Glenn is now partially possessed by an ancient God of decomposition and corruption. The Native Americans once worshiped this God as "The Devourer of Flesh" and made offerings to appease the monstrous deity's hunger for living tissue. When the offerings ceased and the tribes left the area, the Devourer lay dormant beneath the earth, but it has now found a willing slave.

The past janitors were taken as sacrifices and now the ritual is nearly complete to allow the Devourer to return and once again satiate himself on humanity.


Another Problem

To aid in the final rituals an Otyugh, a vile carrion-eating servant of the God of Corruption, has been summoned by Glenn. This creature must be present for the final ritual and has proven very useful in disposing of Glenn's sacrificial victims as well as gaining fresh victims. This horrible creature lives in the sewer beneath the plant and can reach the basement through a metal grating Starnes has loosened.

The monster spends the majority of the time eating (between the bodies of sacrifice victims and rendered animal product stolen from the plant it is well fed). When active, it will emerge from the sewers at night to seek victims in the nearby town. So far it has only killed a few homeless men, deaths that were largely unnoticed. The PC would have to spend days in the transient community of the town to learn about the disappearances.


Better Living Through Alchemy

The ritual to restore the God of Corruption requires an extraction from decomposing tissues that must be refined through a combination of science and magic ritual. PCs that trail and/or try to keep an eye on Glenn may spot him smuggling an alembic in or out of the plant in the middle of the night. He acquired this item in the back on an antique store, under direction from the God of Corruption. Characters with Occult or Chemistry skills will recognize it as an alchemical device. This encounter can be used to cast more suspicion on Glenn, or confirm the current suspicions if the character has been slow to investigate.

The device is used to boil select parts of humans and animals and then distill them into "essential fluids" required for the ceremonies. These fluids are then combined with dead tissues stored in old mop buckets, creating a half-alive abomination that adds its foul energy to the spells being cast.

When the character's explore the basement three such horrors are confined in the mop buckets which provide protection to these otherwise vulnerable sins against nature. These buckets slowly wheel back and forth across the splatter-covered concrete floor, pulling themselves along with sinewy tentacles, emitting soft groaning noises as they pulse and squirm and leaving slimy trails to mark their passage. The character will first hear the squeak of rusted wheels, then a horrible squishing, followed by the sight of buckets apparently moving by themselves in the darkness.

These horrors can not attack and killing them can halt the final ritual.


A Little Push

If Grace has been talking about Glenn to the PC she will be murdered by the Otyugh shortly after. Word of the disappearance will reach the character through gossip and overheard conversations and of course by the fact that she simply isn't there the next day.

If the PC waits too long he or she becomes the next target for the Otyugh.


Elevator Action

It should become clear to the PC that whatever Glenn is doing is taking place in the basement. To get there, the elevator must be activated. Glenn carries one key and an additional key is in the foreman's office. A little breaking and entering will be required to get it, but alone on the graveyard shift this is less of a problem than it might be otherwise.

Alternately, characters with electrical skill (perhaps a former electrician?) can hot-wire the elevator. The more rogue-ish might try to lift Glenn's key with a pickpocket attempt, or simply take it by force. If Glenn is physically dealt with before going to the basement the Otyugh will be waiting, however.

In any case, gaining access to the elevator should be a good opportunity for the character to show some ingenuity.


Stopping the Horror

Once the basement is reached the PC can confront the bucket horrors. If the character keeps his/her sanity they can be dealt with fairly easily. A further search of the lower level uncovers Glenn's alchemy lab. Time for a little heroic vandalism! A diary/experimental record found here will fill the character in to the full scope of the danger. He may also have some occult/magic tomes that might prove useful now or in the future. The alchemy lab is also a good source of creepy encounters with "lively awfulness": cow eyes with human fingers growing from them, mashed organic paste with a dozen moaning maws, bones leaking marrow that congeals into other shapes, etc.

Starnes should confront the character at some point. Depending on how sneaky the PC was he/she might completely get the drop on Glenn or find him lying in wait or arriving after. This scene should be milked for all it's worth and a speech about hating humanity and "you'll all pay soon" would not be inappropriate. Alternately, he could simply jump out of the shadows and attack. In either case, the PC should win after a hard fight.

Heading out of the dreadful basement to the world above, the final battle begins.

Refined Otyugh

As the dazed and drained character exits the elevator the Otyugh will burst through a particularly rotten portion of the floor and attempt to kill the character. The PC can win, but only with skill and/or luck. One solution is to lure the horror into the rendering vat and turn it into dog food. It's also possible to use some industrial cleaning chemicals (acids?) to burn the monster. Perhaps that fire ax on the wall will be useful? Maybe just set the old plant on fire and hope for best? Failing that, it's a fight to the finish, possibly even a running battle. Paranoid ex-military/criminal types might have brought the firepower to survive. Others are in deep trouble.

Destroying the basement lab and then killing Glenn and the Otyugh will probably delay the Devourer's return by years, until another suitable subject can be found. Actually destroying the plant is an even more permanent solution. Defeating this horror may earn the character the attention of a Delta Green type group of government sp00ks or simply get the character jailed or forced into hiding for the massive destruction caused. Either way, the life of survivor is going to get interesting.


Other Options

If the GM wishes to include a red herring villain the role of Holdt and Pleasant Valley Dog Food itself as "evil capitalists" can be played up. In this case Holdt should be more condescending and less helpful and employees should openly grumble about safety issues, cost cutting, out-sourcing, management and how bad it is, etc. This sidetrack could lead to some interesting role-playing opportunities.

It's also possible to run this adventure for more than one character with minimal modification. Additional PCs could be day shift employees (overtime?), local law enforcement (investigating missing persons), government health inspectors, or even Grace and Holdt. In the case of multiple PCs a body count should be expected to keep the tension high.

It the character fails to stop the evil plan a new PC could take over (likely a police investigator or even another new hire). If the Devourer is actually released or the Otyugh escapes to run amok the player might take on the role of a National Guard member or ordinary citizen from the nearby town.


Ingredient Review

Cheap Trollop:
The character of Grace Hoobler offers inexpensive services as a prostitute as well as fitting the other definition with her battered and dirty appearance.

Jealousy: Glenn's jealousy towards humanity following the death of his own dreams and his descent into misery drives him into murder and then becoming the slave of an Evil God.

Otyugh: This foul monster fits in perfectly with the rendering plant/sewer setting and theme of corruption. It is a servitor of the Devourer summoned to aid in gathering and disposing of organic tissue.

Elevator room: Couldn't be more literal. Gaining access to the plant's elevator will be one of the tasks the PC must complete to reach the basement and stop the horrors lurking below.

Alembic: This alchemical device is used by Glenn as part of the vile experiments and rituals, specifically to distill essential fluids from harvested tissue. It serves as a possible clue to put suspicion on Glenn. It also draws a nice parallel between the modern rendering techniques for the supposed good of humanity in the plant above and the medieval alchemy for humanity's detriment taking place beneath.

Nonstop buckets
: The horrific occupants of the mop buckets in the basement keep them in constant, horrible motion. The buckets house and protect these abominations, which are needed for the final ritual and might otherwise be easily damaged.
 

The Loving Daughters of Khalid Shah

The Loving Daughters of Khalid Shah is an adventure for 3.5/ Pathfinder or other similar systems for mid level (5th-7th) characters. The setting as written is Arabian Nights in flavor, but easily translatable as the main themes are universal.

Background
It is a problem older than time itself; one that has caused millions of sleepless nights and at the worst, lead to wars. What is a father to do if the apple of their eye, their little nightingale, is one of loose morals and questionable virtue? It is said that even the almighty has struggled with such a situation. So is the case of Khalid Shah, Grand Vizier of Zakhara.

Khalid Shah is the proud and loving father of two daughters; Leyla and Manar. It is often said that one loves ones children equally; but it is also known that such things are not possible (same as loving ones wives or husbands equally). Indeed, it is the eldest, Leyla, so much like her late mother- intelligent, responsible, and attractive that has always been the favorite of Khalid Shah and the one the Grand Vizier favors to inherit his wealth and status. It was a sad day when Leyla confessed to her father that she had fallen in love with a commoner, one that he himself had introduced (albeit a good man but still a man of low status). What is a father to do? Luckily, as fate would have it, there was solution; one used discreetly by a few of his wealthy friends- the Ashram of the Pure Flame (arranged for when Leyla’s paramour is way). A week at the Ashram had done wonders for some of the most miscreant daughters, who had come back as pure and chaste as first fallen snow. Leyla was sent to the Ashram for a retreat, but the results were anything but typical. The daughter that came back was impulsive, emotional and often acted like a harlot, even disappearing from the house for days at a time.

What’s going on here?
The Ashram of the Pure Flame is not as it appears- a peaceful tranquil retreat near an oasis where one goes to pray and meditate. To satisfy the high paying clients, the Purest One, Zufir Ali (level 9 Alchemist or Sorceror), has devised a contraption that uses a specific alchemical formulae that he found to extract the sensual, impulsive, and more “troublesome” aspects of one’s personality (the Chapel of Solitude). The massive amebic extracts and creates a duplicate of the person placed within.

In this instance, Zufir was approached by Manar, driven by jealousy towards her favored elder sister, to do the opposite, and was handsomely paid (both in money and otherwise), with future promises as well, to do the opposite. Hence the version of Leyla that returned is the more troublesome aspects of her.

Zufir usually disposes of the “bad half” by feeding it to Ulthet-o-nor, a rather large Otyugh he has kept in the caverns below the Chapel of Solitude. In the case of Leyla, the “good half” was fed to the Otyugh. The PCs will need to get the remnants of the good half and distill it into the alchemical formulate used in the Chapel of Solitude while the “bad half” of Leyla is in the Chapel Chamber itself to restore her back to normal.


Plot hooks:
The long hook- the PCs have worked for Khalid Shah before and one of the PCs is romantically involved with Leyla (the afore mentioned commoner). After coming back from an adventure, the PC finds Leyla to be a changed woman; extremely sexual, impulsive and temperamental. Rumors have started to spread that the eldest daughter has been found in some dubious establishments cavorting with different men and acting like a cheap trollop (in fact it is recommended that the PC’s come across Leyla acting in such a manner or men bragging about shagging the Vizier’s daughter.).

Short Hook- PCs are hired by either the Vizier or the commoner who is Leyla’s beloved to investigate what has happened.

The remainder of the adventure, as written assumes that the long hook is being used.

Event One- Confronting Khalid Shah/Leyla

Leyla, as she is, is a highly emotional woman who has no control over her impulses (unlike her usual well mannered personality). Confronting her will cause her to loose her temper, become very emotional and agitated, including accusations of being abandoned (whenever the PC goes adventuring), neglected, misunderstood, and of course, bucket loads of tears. The constant crying and emotional outbursts clearly indicate that her personality has drastically changed. Between the histrionics the following facts can be gleaned (the DM should reward good role playing along with the proper diplomacy checks whenever the PCs interact with Leyla):

- her father sent her to the Ashram of the Pure Flame- it was a wonderful retreat!

- She was personally greeted and given an audience with the Purest One, Zufir, who was a kind old man and discussed and provided guidance to her. He told her to pray in the Chapel of Solitude on the 5th night she was there (fasting for the prior four with minimal subsistence)

-She even had a divine experience- while praying in the Chapel of Solitude ( a small devotional prayer room)she felt the ground tremble, and was covered with a cooling mist and as she continued to pray, she felt herself become free of her burdens as if a load had been lifted off her shoulders.

-She still loves her beloved but does not know if she believes in commitments

-She flirts and keeps eyeing some of the more attractive PCs

Khalid Shah is distraught and ridden with guilt. He will readily confess to his actions and that he found the PC unsuitable for his eldest daughter if confronted. He personally has not met with Zufir, but has heard only good things about the man and about the Ashram.
When asked, he was simply told that his daughter was beyond redemption and the almighty had rejected her. He is willing to fund the PC’s if they choose to investigate discreetly and might look upon favorably (including marriage) if the PCs solve the situation.

Depending on where these encounters occur, Manar will try to be present. She will console her sister and get angry with both the PCs and her father, saying that they have done enough harm and should leave her sister alone. A perception Check DC 15 will reveal that Manar is not being her usual self and her level of concern is rather high considering the sibling rivalry ( the PC who is the paramour will also know of the strained relations and jealousy on the part of Manar from Leyla).

Event Two- Investigating the Ashram
If the PCs decide to research the Ashram (before heading out to the Ashram if they choose to do so), they come upon the following information( appropriate knowledge or Gather information checks or alternatively through good role play and investigation):

DC 10: Zufir is a wise old man, the Ashram is a wonderful, beautiful place.

DC 15: The women who attend the retreat come back changed; very chaste and pure.

DC18: The women who attend the retreat come back changed; they have no real passion or sensuality and are very non sexual.

DC 20: Majid of the Magnificent Emporium supplies the Ashram with goods and supplies. The Emporium is also known to supply exotic ingredients.

If PCs talk to Majid he is reluctant to divulge much information other than the fact the he supplies goods and services. However, the proper intimidate or diplomacy checks along with a heavy dose of bribery (rumors abound that Majid is a Pesh (or any drug) addict, plus the Grand Vizier is a powerful man) will get Majid talking. He will reveal that he has been supplying exotic ingredients like Night Lotus extract and Ghoul Essence to the Ashram.

Event Three- A trip to Tranquility
There are many ways that the PCs may approach the Ashram. One of them could be “enrolled,” they might choose to go as part of Majid’s Supply Caravan, or they might simply decide to go and spy/infiltrate the Ashram. Sooner or later, the PC’s will have to take Leyla with them to reverse the transformation (as explained below). If and when Manar gets wind of the PCs plans, she will try to tag along with them, as well as send a message to Zufir Ali, warning him.

The Ashram itself is near an oasis, and beautifully gardened and manicured, giving the appearance of tranquility and peace. If warned, Zufir Ali, will take appropriate measures to prevent the PCs from getting to the oasis. These measures include:

- Hiring mercenaries to waylay the PCs
- Adding patrols and guards around the oasis, and especially around the Chapel of Solitude
- Putting the denizens within the Chapel(described below) on high alert.



Location- Chapel of Tranquility

1. Prayer Chamber (main entrance) :
The prayer chamber appears to be a simple room with an ever flame in the middle and plain walls. It is in fact, an elevator room. When one presses the control lever in the Control Room, it slowly causes the whole chamber to descend, essentially making this the cucurbit. The alchemical mixtures are added in the Admixture Chamber and heated at specific temperature, the resultant vapors flow into this chamber, infusing into the being and distilling out to the Toxin Chamber where the “bad half” is reformed. Once descended, it is hard to scale the walls (DC 20). However, one can climb through this chamber into either the Admixture Chamber or the Toxin Chamber

2. Admixture Chamber
The Admixture Chamber is where the alchemical compounds are poured into based on a specific formula, ratio, and timing. This is done through a bucket chain, each of which contains a specific admixture (supplied mostly by Majid). The PCs will have to place the remnants of the “good Leyla” here during the alchemical process. The PC will take heat damage and will have to navigate the bucket chain as timing is essential as to when the remnants are placed here.

3. Control Chamber:
Accessible through a secret entrance; the control chamber is where the belt chain starts and includes the mechanism to control the Chapel of Tranquility. It also has a book with Zufir’s detailed notes on the specifics of the use of the formulae, including the reversal methodology. He also has a listing of names and dates disposed of. This chamber also includes 6 fires mephits and a Half Efreet Servitor that Zulfir uses to both guard the place and in assisting with the process.

4. Toxin Chamber:
The toxin chamber is essentially a large pit that drops straight down to the caverns below where Ulthet-o-nor the Otyugh resides. The PCs will have to go down here to retrieve the remnants of the “good Leyla.”

Conclusion
A lot depends on how and when the PCs approach the Ashram and the actions taken. It might very well be that they confront Zulfir elsewhere or that they go to the Chamber of Tranquility and find themselves trapped within (if someone activates the mechanism the exact nature of what happens to the PCs is left to the GM). Either way, they will have to use their wits in helping restore Leyla back to her normal self. Manar’s involvement might or might not come to the fore. It can be used as a long term plot point.


Ingredients

cheap trollop- The transformed Leyla whose troubling nature will have to be interacted with throughout.

jealousy- The motive that lead to Manar “transforming her sister. The PC involved with Leyla might also have to deal with bouts of jealously considering her promiscuous nature

otyugh- The disposal unit for the bad half’s distilled. The PCs will have to deal with the Otyugh to recover the remnants of the Good Leyla

elevator room- The praying room; the PCs will have to use it or might find themselves trapped within it.

alembic- The Chamber of Tranquility, also the process of extraction of impurities and transformation

nonstop buckets- The bucket chain the PCs have to navigate to place the remnants of “good Leyla” in the Admixture Chamber. Also the nonstop bucket of tears that the transformed Leyla is prone to.
 

Pbartender

First Post
Don't mind me, if I change up my format a bit...

GOOD CLEAN FUN

First, Glenn’s jealousy of what others have accomplished that he hasn’t sets the stage for Ancient Evil to take hold. It serves as his motivation for doing Evil. As an ingredient for the adventure, it runs the risk of being overlooked as a background element. The adventure outline touches on it a little bit, but the way it’s presented gives Glenn the feel of a stereotypical crotchety old janitor. A little more specific guidance on portraying his jealousy of success would be helpful… Example phrases and insults and the like.

Grace Hoobler is the cheap trollop. She’s a potential source of information, and can throw suspicion on Glenn. Her mysterious disappearance can also be a clue to Glenn’s diabolical activities. It’d be nice to see her in a more central role, though… Giving her a closer relationship to Glenn (even it was simply an unrequited crush) or a critical role in the ritual (she is, after all, a living embodiment of corruption) would make her a more integral ingredient to the adventure.

The alembic is used to distill “essential essences” that are used to create the horrors in the mop buckets. If Glenn is spotted purchasing it, it could provide an additional clue and increasing suspicion toward something strange going on in the basement. Consideration should be given to the fact that suitably paranoid players seeing Glenn with the alembic may be tempted to confront him then and there, and possibly smash the alembic, if the chance is given… That could short-circuit the adventure, if some care isn’t taken.

The otyugh is the servant of the God of Corruption, and Glenn’s sidekick in evilness. If played right, he makes a satisfying last-ditch surprise attack, shortly after the hero thinks everything’s wrapped up. Given the otyugh’s propensity to lurk about back alleys looking for inebriated snacks, it would not have been inappropriate to have him trail the player character from the shadows… Such a creature, vaguely seen in the shadows before vanishing, could really ratchet up the tension and suspense.

The elevator room is the singular way into the basement, where Glenn is performing his unspeakable ritual. It acts as a primary obstacle, since Glenn is the only one who has a means of operating the elevator. The adventure provides a several options for solutions, not to mention any cockamamie plans the player may come up with – like crawling through duct work, or cutting through the floor and climbing down the elevator cables.

The nonstop buckets are the unnatural creatures created through alchemy using mop buckets as a means of locomotion. They are necessary to Glenn to amplify the power of his profane ritual. I have to say, this is a terribly creative use of the ingredient. For their importance to the ritual and the conclusion of the adventure, however, they seem like they should be just a little more troublesome to get rid of. While they should probably stay physically unimposing, there’s no reason their mental and psychological danger couldn’t be played up.

The adventure scores reasonably well as far as playability is concerned. There is a variety of encounters – social, investigative, puzzles, infiltration, combat – and each encounter has several possible solutions. In addition, the success or failure of the player has immediate and wide ranging consequences (the God of Corruption is loose in the world!). You might, however, consider re-organizing the later encounters so as to make disrupting the ritual just a little more challenging.

On style, Good Clean Fun scores big. The atmosphere of the meat rendering plant and the descriptions of the mop bucket monsters are especially toothsome. Applying these same sensibilities to the other locations and characters within the adventure would truly make it stand out. I also like that options are given for red herrings, adding additional players and failure to stop the ritual.

Making it not only a non-D&D based adventure but also a solo adventure is a big risk, but one that pays off big here. Something I would like to see, would be taking this idea a step or two farther. There are several indy game systems that this sort of scenario would shine in. Dread immediately comes to mind as a game that would be perfect should the adventure be expanded to accept multiple characters.


THE LOVING DAUGHTERS OF KHALID SHAH

The cheap trollop is Layla, the daughter of Khalid Shah, and especially so after her transformation at the hands of Zufir Ali. I would have liked to see more of a focus on her trollopishness (and as I’ve said in previous judgments, first hand displays are far better than second hand stories), rather than her histrionics. Also, considering that her father is the Grand Vizier, there’s nothing here to suggest that she’s cheap. That aside, she is an important and integral part of the adventure, seeing as she’s the entire motivation for the PCs getting involved.

Manar’s jealousy of her sister and the attention her father lavishes on her sister is what has caused the whole problem in the first place. Here again, a direct show of how Manar treats her sister before the change happens would give the change in both Manar and Layla more contrast and more importance in the eyes of player-characters. As my high school composition teacher would say, “Don’t tell me. Show me.”

The elevator room is the main prayer room of the chapel. It lowers down into the rest of the alembic proper, where the subjects within are separated in Jekyll and Hyde fashion. While clever in an evil-mastermind’s-diabolical-trap sort of way, the elevator action of the room is not particularly critical to the adventure.

The entire Chapel of Tranqility is a giant alembic, meant to distill alchemical vapors that make the whole Jekyll and Hyde split happen. It’s a slick way to pull a switcheroo on the “item” ingredient and turn into a location. This ingredient had a good start, but I get the feeling that here you were running out time and couldn’t give it as much detail as you might have liked.

The otyugh is normally Zufir Ali’s means of disposing of the “Hyde” bodies, after he completes a separation at the Chapel of Tranquility. He is where the “Jekyll” half of Leyla ends up, and the PCs are supposedly meant to retrieve her remains, despite the fact that her remains are likely to be nothing more than a few teeth and splinter of bone mixed in with the otyugh droppings. However, here too it feels like there should be much more to him, but you got rushed as the deadline neared.

The nonstop buckets are a literal chain of buckets that deliver alchemical ingredients from the control room to the admixture room. Though details are thin, the buckets serve as some sort of obstacle as the characters do something with good Layla’s remains in the admixture room.

Playability is a little difficult to judge, here… The adventure starts out with an investigation into why the Chapel didn’t work on Layla. All the pertinent information is gathered straight-away through the Shah or Layla, and it all points to the obvious suspect: Zufir Ali. It’s not a terribly great mystery. The Chapel has the seeds of a very nice mini-dungeon, but lacks substance as-is, with half-formed ideas and encounters and details that I know should be there, but aren’t yet.

As I said, the Chapel as a giant alembic, has a great deal of potential style. What could have been the strongest part of the adventure suffered the most from what I suspect was a looming deadline. The Arabian-style setting has itself a certain amount of innate style, but with nothing to back it up, the adventure could just as well be set in any of a number of other settings with no more changes than the names of the NPCs.


Overall, GOOD CLEAN FUN had solid ingredients and game play, though certainly with room for improvement, and embraced the style of the chosen genre.

THE LOVING DAUGHTERS OF KHALID SHAH, suffered on all fronts from a general feeling of rushed incompleteness.


This round goes to Pro-Paladin.
 
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InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Round 1, Match 7: Allenchan vs. ajanders.

Your ingredients are:

Elf Ballerina
Underwater Path
Crowded Carriage
Shameless Promotion
Clever Bunny
The Dark God's Dirty Dishes

Best of luck to you.
 

Allenchan

First Post
A Gala For Geyron
This is an adventure for low/mid-level characters (4th - 6th). It is set in the world of Golarion, but is easily adaptable to any setting. Simply select a location that is likely to possess a debauched nobility in a place that caters to the exotic and taboo, as well as an appropriately themed cult.


Adventure Background
Almost all nobility within Cheliax worships Asmodeus, or at least pays lip service to the Lord of Hell. Though as a result, they are all under the thumb of House Thrune, current lords of Cheliax. Not all sit by idly, and a few brave souls seek out other diabolical pacts in hopes of gaining power, prestige, and freedom from the oppressive yolk of House Thrune.


Lord Vincenzio M[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]acchiata[/FONT] is one such person. A man well known for throwing lavish, night-long parties, he has hidden his occult affairs with Geyron – archdevil of snakes, lies, and deceit. His devotions continue while the nobility flocked to his estate in blind arrogance, and all their petty gossip fueled the lord of the estate's uncanny rise in prominence.


Meanwhile, the prima ballerina of Egorian's infamous Opera-turned-burlesque show, “Le Lapin Malin” has gone missing, and the proprietor is offering a handsome reward for any leads to the young woman's location.


Until, at last, he is willing to execute the first steps in his plan that will lead to his family's ascension. He will throw a coming out party, literally. His guests will not only be the revelers and spectators, but the spectacle themselves. They will be a sacrifice for his infernal master. Their blood will coat the unearthly bride-to-be of the Archdevil. Her dance will seal a connection from his layer of hell to the estate's inner sanctum and provide him with countless osyluths to help establish his domain.


I. Getting to the Party:
This flyer is made of a fine black paper, intriciately folded to resemble a rose. Unwrapping it reveals a glowing red text of arcane nature that seems to twist and slither as you stare at the elegant words, “Regent of Revelry, Prince of Parties, Our Lord Vincenzio of House Macchiata invites you to this, his finest gala yet! Celebrate Cheliax with an evening of festivities and admire his collection of acts from around the Inner Sea!”


There may be numerous reasons for the player characters to come to the party being hosted just outside the capitol city of Egorian in Cheliax. Most likely, they are investigating the disappearance of a young Elven woman named Le'lee Denara. She is the prima ballerina and lead for one of Egorian's most infamous musicals. Specific reasons why could be that she has crucial information they need, or that she is of importance to their patron. Depending on the party's background, they might be established figures in high society and invited as honorary heroes. Otherwise they could be investigating mysterious rumors, be hired guards of a less-than-reputable noble, or might simply be casing the wealthy noble's joint.


II. Fashionably Late:
A huge walled estate meets you at the end of this road. Nestled within the rich countryside overlooking the urban sprawl of Egorian, this manor appears ostentatious in its gothic style. Men-at-arms and servants in the lord's livery of black and red-violet greet guests as they arrive at the top of the circular cobblestone. Sweeping marble stairs lead inside, where swelling music and raucous conversation can be heard.


Assuming the player characters have an invitation, or a suitably forgery, it should be fairly easy to get into the party. Of course, Chelish societal norms encourage guests to bring gifts to the party, as well as being properly attired. If the group does not wear finery but rather common adventuring cloths, or does not give a gift at the front doors, the guards are going to be skeptical and inquire about the player character's backgrounds, motives, etc. Once inside, the players will find a huge ballroom dominates the building.


Three stories high, this marble room is decorated lavishly. Ice sculptures of devillish vixens are on prominent display. A small band plays in the far corner next to a set of staircases. It is lit by red and purple dancing lights.


At this point, the DM should have the players interact with various NPCs. All of which should build to the sense of what an honor and treat it is to be there. All of the guests in one way or another are invested in the current establishment and hierarchy of Egorian – just the people that should be killed off if Macchiata is going to have a successful coup. Asking about the missing ballerina is met with befuddlement and regret. No one suspects any connection between the host and the recent disappearing.


Investigating beyond the main ballroom will lead the player characters into glimpses of the dark and decadent lifestyles the nobles partake. Details are left to individual DM's based on the atmosphere of their games and maturity of their players. Excessive drug use, orgies, sexual deviancy, etc are all likely to be discovered in the back rooms of Macchiata's manor.


At some point during the evening, the player characters should run into Annissa Ravenna. This socialite “party bunny” is a stunningly gorgeous red-headed woman. If the PCs are exploring back halls or recently asked about the missing Elf, she'd likely to be listening in and meets the PCs.


Annissa (Enchantress 3) is a deceptively smart woman who uses her position and people's judgments with ruthless effectiveness. Something of an information broker, she uses her arcane know-how further her chosen profession. Currently, she is also investigating the disappeared Le'lee. In fact, Annissa is aware that the woman is within the manor. A charmed member of the kitchen staff told the lord's carriage brought in a hooded figure through the servant's entrance three nights beforehand. Furthermore, her wiles have gotten one of the guards to let slip that he helped his lord take an "elf wench" down into the basement.



III. A Festivus for the Rest of Us
The current song fades to a close, and the guests grow quiet. Up above, a dark-haired man in a rich violet-red suit with gold brocade strides out from a set of double doors, and calls down to the gathered. He is followed by a retinue of men all carrying bows.


He soon begins telling everyone each other's dirty secrets. Airing their social laundry in the most humiliating of ways. Eventually, he grows bored and tells them all that they needn't keep their secrets any longer. In hell, they will have no need for them.



Macchiata will have his men-at-arms close and bar the exits to the ballroom while he summons a minor devil (appropriate to the players' CR) and promptly exists. The guards at the balcony will also harrass the PCs, but are indiscriminate in who they shoot at.



It is recommended to start this once the player characters seem bored with interacting with various NPCs in the crowd.




IV: Machinations of Macchiata
Based on either Annissa's advice or the players' own skills, they should be able to follow after Macchiata after the battle in the ballroom. This will lead them down into the basement of the manor. Beyond the wine cellar lies a sunken crevice from which a stagnant pool of water lies.


The PCs may notice wet footsteps still around the cobblestone flooring, and investigation reveals that the pool of water is actual quiet deep and goes beyond their sight. This is in fact a flooded, submerged path. Navigating the dark tunnel full of cold water should be challenging for the PCs, and it should be portrayed by the DM as harrowing, claustrophobic experience. Eventually the twisting underwater path rises, leaving the water only a few feet deep.


As the players slog onwards they must maneurver past large pools of stagnant water. Residing in each of these are hunchbacked fiendish Skum and large aquatic snakes.


The tunnel soon ends at the altar to Geyron, protected by a snake-themed sea hag. This ugly, foul creature has been scheme with Macchiata. Though now the altar lays bare. If she is not immediately slain, she confesses the lord of the estate took her through a secret door beyond the altar and has fled, fearing that soon House Thrune will be after him.



V: Cutting to the Chase
You burst free through the door and past the overgrowth to see you are in the rear gardens of the Macchiata manor. Even as you exit from the dank tunnel you spot a carriage descending the hill towards Egorian beyond the stonework wall. A woman's cries echo into the night and begin to fade.


The stable is nearby the exit and the doors are left open from Vincenzio's hasty departure full of horses ready to be taken to the front of the building should the guests request to leave.


The heavily laden carriage has a movement of 50ft, but also has a significant head start (1000 ft away). Exceptionally fast players (barbarians, monks, etc) may be able to catch up with the carriage on their own. Otherwise the players should use the available mounts that have been left in the stables by the party-goers. If a battle mat is to be used, it is recommended to use relative mapping with the carriage representing a fixed place on the map.


This should be a cinema scene described by the GM in detail, as it represents the apex of the adventure. The carriage is guarded by three men, along with the driver. Two of the men possess crossbows and longswords. The third is a minor mageling with a wand of magic missile that he uses to dissuade people attempting to climb onto the wagon, or attacking the player's horses. Ensure you are well versed in the rules for fighting at night and on horses, wagons, etc. before you begin.


The carriage's windows are shuttered closed, but can be easily broken open (DC 15 strength). Furthermore, the door's locks are cheap and simple. Players may opt for other tactics such as taking out the wagon's wheels, or disabling the horses drawing it. These flavorful options should be encouraged.


Ultimately, the wagon will be opened and the player characters will finally face off against Lord Macchiata (Fighter 4/Infernal Sorcerer 1).


Ingredient Use
Elf Ballerina - Le'lee Drenara, the kidnapped elven girl whom Macchiata intends on making perform for his dark god and fuse the two planes together, ultimately making her one of the archdevil's brides and sealing her subsequent death.
Underwater Path – The “dungeon” of the adventure beneath the manor, this path leads to the inner sanctum; an underground altar to Geryon where his swampy layer of hell is already beginning to manifest.
Crowded Carriage – This is is the swashbuckling highlight of the adventure where the player characters attempt to rescue Le'lee.
Shameless Promotion – Macchiata's party for himself is mark of extreme hubris and confidence in his scheme.
Clever Bunny – The play Le'lee is a part of, “Le Lapin Malin”, and Annissa Ravenna
The Dark God's Dirty Dishes – This is a reoccurring ingredient in a few different ways. In all cases the dark god is Geyron, Lord of Forbidden Knowledge, Snakes, and Secrets. The dirty dishes can be the lacivious guests turned living sacrifices, the fetid pools of water throughout the underwater path, and fact that Macchiata “dishes out” people's dirty little secrets.
 

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