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Sidequest Saturday (Uralicans Uncut): Gateway to HEL

Whether they were entranced by psionic anomalies or herded here by avoiding bloodcensers, the PCs and their vessel head for Uklonjen’s gateway to HEL (which is on the way to the Ancestral Gateway, where the crystal compass points).

AAW-GitwercCover-color-02A particularly sordid gitwerc—Varg the Candlekeeper [the subject of tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! -MM]—attempted to cross the great river of weapons some time ago, failing and instead finding himself here. The natives of the demiplane, while powerful and masters of their realm, are not equipped to capture Varg, and he ran rampant through the weakest among them for years. The gitwerc made far more bloodcandles than he required, and eventually, decided to brave the passage to HEL once more. After decades of work he has prepared a massive stone to transport himself across the bladed river, and with countless rituals using the soul-capturing tapers, opened what was once a blip between dimensions into a gateway nearly large enough for him to travel through.

A true vessel would serve Varg far better, however, and as soon as he becomes aware of the PCs’ ship (which happens the moment a bloodcenser is destroyed) the gitwerc decides it should be his own. As soon as the party are within 5 miles of the gateway to HEL, their passage is interrupted by a huge asteroid that reaches out with an infernal hand wreathed in psionic energies, holding it fast against it.

From out of the orange mist soars a massive stone easily a mile across, infernal runes covering the length of it. The asteroid spins toward you and as it nears the ship, a massive spectral arm of appears around the side, grabbing onto your vessel and drawing it onto the rocky surface!

The product of numerous bloodcandles, each 5-ft.-square of the arm (which has a space of 15 feet by 100 feet) has 100 hit points and fast healing 20; in order to free their ship, the party have to cut it off at least three 5-ft.-squares (either the arm or “claws”).

16 magaav (host devils) prowl within the Candlekeeper’s asteroid under the direction of Varg’s “first mate”, a contract devil named Haxskrekin. The hallways are lined with 200 lit bloodcandles, and anyone that succeeds on a DC 24 Spellcraft check realizes that they power the arm holding down the ship. It takes a swift action and ½ a flask of holy water to extinguish a bloodcandle, and they remain lit until Varg’s death or 4 hours, whichever comes first. Every corner outside of the direct line of sight of the helm has a 50% chance of containing a HEL spore.

HEL asteroid

Varg sits at the helm of the asteroid, directly across from his private quarters. As soon as a bloodcandle is extinguished the Candlekeeper sends his infernal guards to wear down intruders (if the patrolling devils don’t find trespassers first) and flees into the safety of the asteroid’s one room, waiting behind the 2-ft.-thick rough hewn stone door until his minions—or the adventurers—are dead.

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Story Locale (Uralicans Uncut): HEL’s Uklonjen Gateway

Dwarf-caravan-under-attack

In the world of Aventyr, HEL is the destination of souls with owners foolish enough to trade them for power in life or whom worshipped dark and evil powers, a realm concealed deep below the surface. Many find refuge in other planes when their mortal coil shuffles off, but those ill of heart or who deny the existence of the gods make their way beneath the chasms of the Underworld. Their corpses feed the eternal fires beneath Aventyr, building more layers to the realm of the dead or fueling the slow, unyielding movements of tectonic plates.

Powerful dwarves forever tied to HEL oversee it all, stewards of the creatures that dwell in the realm of the dead. Gitwerc are not the only means to fall beneath to this concealed place of eternal struggle, and HEL’s draw for souls proves inescapable for most mortals. The stout but incredibly powerful kings of the Underworld live in conclaves surrounded by lava, and below their settlements flows a vast riverway of weapons—axes, spears, and swords from countless battles throughout history. Crossing this barrier is the last step for most of Aventyr’s souls, and the tales of what lay beyond are too few and far between to be a reliable source of information, and what the gitwerc reveal is never known long enough to be shared with others.

cave backgroundThere are other ways to HEL, however, and a gateway to Aventyr’s realm of the dead exists in Uklonjen. The portal has been open for time immemorial, bleeding out dangerous effects into the demiplane. These psionic effects float across space, reaching out to any mind able to grasp upon them, warping wayward travelers to eventually fall into an early afterlife. All other transition points to HEL—including the Amber and Rhizomorph Roads—share these anomalies, which continue until the dimensional passage to the place of the dead is closed. How commonly creatures are subjected to the anomalies and the power of their effects are determined by where the passage to HEL is connected to.
HEL’s Psionic Influence in Uklonjen
In Uklonjen, the touch of Aventyr’s afterworld bleeds out as psionic energy, touching upon any mind that comes within 20 miles of the gateway.

  • All sleeping creatures within this sphere of influence must make a DC 20 Will save or be compelled unknowingly with a curiosity about what lay in the direction of the gateway.
  • The influence of the mysterious entities in HEL cast foreboding illusions that fill those who see them and fail a DC 22 Will save with dread, giving them the shaken condition for 1d4 hours if the travel towards them (encouraging travelers to head toward the gateway).
  • Whenever a creature begins to feel doubt, they are reminded of childhood memories that reinforce the need to show caution—recollections of broken limbs, scalded fingers, and stubbed appendages fill the mind of anything that fails a DC 24 Will save.
  • The center of the sphere is obscured from view, appearing to be a warm, radiant orange glow that fills souls that gaze upon it with encouragement. Only a DC 45 Perception check (reduced by 1 for every 2 miles closer to the gateway a creature is) can pierce this misleading veil.