RPG Adventure Hook – Devil in the Details

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dungeons and dragons bbrawl

This week: a devil seeking asylum, a runaway warlock, and a whole lot of dirt cheap dirty deals.

The priest was the essence of discomfiture. Might as well be in the Nine Hells for how out of place and terrified he looked to be in the tavern. Behind him, a raucous laugh serves as prelude to a brawl. Yet he is determined, even as he stammers out his explanation. “The rest of the clergy and I have taken up a collection… you see, we’ve a most unusual, ah, guest(?) who’s claimed sanctuary…”

This adventure is designed for characters of 9th-13th level see below for guidelines.

The players are relaxing at an inn, enjoying what passes for the local cuisine, when a young priest approaches them. He has an unusual problem–one that’s driven the clergy to take up a collection to hire adventurers to help. They are in a most unusual situation: sometime late the night before, a guest showed up to their church claiming sanctuary. This, by itself, would be unremarkable if not for the fact that the claimant is a devil, ventured up from the nine hells…

devilHorned

The expression on his face says it all.

After being approached by a priest from the town’s small church, the PCs are informed that it is currently playing host to a devil, one Belaaz, Archbaron of the Citadel of Ashen Ruin in ever-burning Phlegethos–currently claiming sanctuary within their humble walls. And they would like very much to not have their guest. That’s where the PCs come in–not as vanquishers, after all, the devil has claimed sanctuary, and the clergy are keen to uphold that sacred tradition–but rather, the clergy have elected to hire the PCs to help them solve the devil’s problem.

Meeting the devil reveals that Belaaz is a minor player on the infernal stage, barely holding on to his citadel and whatever other power he can wrest. When he came to the Prime Material Plane looking for vengeance on his sole Warlock (who he believes is conning him [she is]) he was ambushed by other devils, believing him to be weak and stupid (he is). As a result, he has claimed sanctuary to keep his enemies at bay. For now, at least.

And if that wasn’t dizzying enough, Belaaz’ warlock, a young woman named Marillax, also approaches the PCs, looking for their aid in keeping Belaaz from making good on his threats.

Infernal deals abound, it seems.

Read on for full details, or skip to the end for all the stats you’ll need.


A priest walks into a bar…

Glavor Steng is not having a good week. It’s bad enough that he had to tend to the graveyard at the beginning of the week (his least favorite chore–he’s certain he’ll end up haunted one day). But on top of that, last night an actual devil showed up at the doorstep of the church, banging on the door loud enough to, well, raise hell. Glavor was the one who opened the door, and who stammered out the “okay,” when the devil claimed sanctuary.

Then it turned out that a whole band of devils was pursuing the one standing in their vestibule–whom they were now obligated to shelter. Worse still, he was being sent into town. There were rumors about the sorts of things that happened to people in town. It didn’t seem like the sort of place for decent folks.

dungeons and dragons bbrawl

It is this line of thinking that Steng is sorting through when he encounters the PCs, whom he looked for at an inn, because that’s the sort of place you find adventurers. It should be very clear to the players that this particular fish is out of water, and indeed possibly on another planet. Nevertheless, he attempts to explain the situation as best as he can understand it. The elders have told him he’s to go hire adventurers to help take care of a devil that has been plaguing them.

Power Underwhelming

The journey to the temple is mostly uneventful. Glavor will jump at almost every shadow, but will do his best to answer the PC’s questions. He has been instructed not to mention the specifics of the church’s demon problem (at least not until it becomes absolutely necessary).

However, Glavor is talkative, and a DC 7 Persuasion check will get him to reveal all he knows:

  • A devil, called Belaaz, has claimed the rite of sanctuary in the church
  • At least four other devils are in pursuit (this is why Belaaz has claimed sanctuary).
  • Belaaz has a warlock, with whom he is very angry.
  • Sanctuary is an ancient rite, honored by lawful outsiders–at least as long as they have reason to do so.

If desired, the journey back to the church is a perfect opportunity for the devils hunting Belaaz to send a raid against the PCs, testing to see what their strength is like.

abbey

Once they arrive at the church, Glavor shows them in and the players are informed by the Clergy that they are not being hired to kill Belaaz (if they haven’t already figured this out, see above). But rather, they are being brought in to help him feel safe enough to be on his way. The quicker the better. After being “briefed” they are shown into the devil’s room.

Meeting the devil reveals that Belaaz is a minor player on the infernal stage, barely holding on to his citadel and whatever other power he can wrest. When he was duped into a pact by a cunning (if not wise) warlock he assumed his power would grow. Now, his supposed “servant” has been “misusing” his infernal power, and this has made him seem weak and stupid (he is). So naturally, when he came to the Prime Material Plane looking for vengeance (he thinks), Belaaz was ambushed by a band of devils, serving another master, eager to take Belaaz’ place in the infernal hierarchy.

Right now, sanctuary is the only thing keeping them at bay. Belaaz needs either to drive his tormentors away, or to get answers as to what has happened to his warlock. Perhaps she can help drive off the devils.

Let’s make a Deal

Whatever their decision–leave the church to go and try and attack the devils, or to try and track down the warlock Marillax, whom Belaaz says he can “sense” in the nearby town–the PCs are attacked not long after they leave the church. Scouts have been watching them (an imp, specifically) whom the players might notice in this first fight.

As they fight (or shortly thereafter), they are approached by a concerned young woman: Marillax.

warlock

She explains to the PCs that she is being hunted by a devil, and will act more fearful than she actually is right up until the PCs reveal that they know Belaaz already. At which point her timid act drops, but she maintains, she still needs help to deal with Belaaz. Marillax is not afraid to go into greater detail about their situation:

  • She is a failed student from a distant arcane academy.
  • Not long after, she was approached by Belaaz, the Archbaron of the Citadel of Ashen Ruin in ever-burning Phlegethos with an offer of power…for a price.
  • Realizing he was an up and coming devil, she preyed on his greed–tricking him into granting her a pact that gives her her freedom.
  • This hasn’t exactly worked out like she’d hoped–she can tell he’s coming for her. But in the meantime, she’s been trying to do good with her infernal gifts, helping people and the like.
  • She is especially fond of fighting evil outsiders–one of her latest schemes brought her (and Belaaz) into the sights of Karvalahk, a much more canny devil who covets Belaaz’ station.
  • Karvalahk is an ambitious devil. Much smarter than Belaaz. Much more organized too–he commands the loyalty of many fiends.

Marillax wants to find a way to stop Belaaz from trying to get his revenge–he is foolish, but relentless, and she knows she can only outmaneuver him for so long. She asks the PCs for help getting out from under his infernal thumb.

And, if that’s not enough, shortly afterwards, one of Karvalahk’s agents approach the PCs, offering them “great reward” if they can either slay, or bring to them the coward Belaaz.

Ultimately, the PCs are tasked with getting Belaaz out of the church (without killing him). How they do this is up to them. They know that Belaaz is arrogant and greedy. He could be lured out of the church–Marillax is excellent bait for this–only to meet his doom at the hands of Karvalahk.

The PCs could also try and chase down Karvalahk. After all, if they can drive him away or kill him, Belaaz has no need of sanctuary.

The PCs can ALSO try to convince Marillax to help Belaaz–putting her fondness for fighting fiendish foes to use for Belaaz (making him seem powerful) which also gets her a little more freedom/relief from Belaaz’ vengeance.

Dance with the devil(s)

By the pale moonlight

Does that moonlight seem pale to you?

Whatever the decision, the next step leads them back to the church, where Belaaz and Karvalahk wait. The encounter unfolds according to the choice the PCs have made.

Stats for all the NPCs have been provided, just in case.

If Marillax and Belaaz team up, they are able to distract some of Karvalahk’s minions, making the fight much easier on the PCs. If the PCs leave Belaaz to his fate, they don’t even have to roll–a mighty battle ensues (Belaaz is strong, after all), but he ultimately falls. In the aftermath of the battle, the ultimate fate is left unclear. If Belaaz is destroyed, Marillax is relieved–but worried, Karvalahk is a much cannier foe, and now he is moving up the ranks in hell. (Perhaps he even claims her pact as a prize, if you want to keep this plot around for future use). If the PCs defeated Karvalahk without brokering peace between Marillax and Belaaz, then Belaaz leaves to pursue his erstwhile warlock. If Belaaz and Marillax teamed up, then they have an uneasy truce and Belaaz counts this as a “win” in his hellish politics, and returns whence he came.

Either way, the PCs are rewarded by a most grateful church. Depending on how they treated him, Glavor may wish to join the PCs as an NPC henchling–after all they were incredibly heroic and brought about an end to the worst week of his life (little does he know). If freed, Marillax might be a good ally/recurring foil for the PCs as well. She’ll be grateful and could show up bringing a different sort of trouble with her where she goes.

At any rate, the PCs are bid a fond farewell, as they go off on their next adventure.


Belaaz, Archbaron of the Citadel of Ruin on ever-burning Phlegethos

Medium fiend (devil), lawful evil 

Armor Class 18 (plate)
Hit Points 178 (17d10 + 85)
Speed 20 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
22(+6) 17(+3) 21(+5) 8(-1) 16(+3) 14(+2)

Saving Throws Str +10, Dex +7, Wis +7, Cha +7
Damage Resistances cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren’t silvered
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Infernal, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)

Devil’s Sight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the devil’s darkvision.

Magic Resistance. The devil has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Actions

Multiattack. The devil makes three melee attacks: two with its fork and one with its tail. It can use Hurl Flame in place of any melee attack.

Fork. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8 + 6) piercing damage. If the target is a creature other than an undead or a construct, it must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or lose 10 (3d6) hit points at the start of each of its turns due to an infernal wound. Each time the devil hits the wounded target with this attack, the damage dealt by the wound increases by 10 (3d6). Any creature can take an action to stanch the wound with a successful DC 12 Wisdom (Medicine) check. The wound also closes if the target receives magical healing.

Hurl Flame. Ranged Spell Attack: +7 to hit, range 150 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) fire damage. If the target is a flammable object that isn’t being worn or carried, it also catches fire.


Karvalahk (who is not compensating for anything with names or titles)

Medium fiend (devil), lawful evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 85 (10d8 + 40)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18(+4) 15(+2) 18(+4) 11(+0) 12(+1) 14(+2)

Saving Throws Con +7, Wis +4, Cha +5
Damage Resistances cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren’t silvered
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Infernal, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Devil’s Sight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the devil’s darkvision.

Magic Resistance. The devil has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Actions

Multiattack. The devil makes two attacks with its chains.

Chain. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 14) if the devil isn’t already grappling a creature. Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and takes 7 (2d6) piercing damage at the start of each of its turns.

Animate Chains (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). Up to four chains the devil can see within 60 feet of it magically sprout razor-edged barbs and animate under the devil’s control, provided that the chains aren’t being worn or carried.

Each animated chain is an object with AC 20, 20 hit points, resistance to piercing damage, and immunity to psychic and thunder damage. When the devil uses Multiattack on its turn, it can use each animated chain to make one additional chain attack. An animated chain can grapple one creature of its own but can’t make attacks while grappling. An animated chain reverts to its inanimate state if reduced to 0 hit points or if the devil is incapacitated or dies.

Reactions

Unnerving Mask. When a creature the devil can see starts its turn within 30 feet of the devil, the devil can create the illusion that it looks like one of the creature’s departed loved ones or bitter enemies. If the creature can see the devil, it must succeed on a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened until the end of its turn.


Karvalahk’s Minions

Karvalahk commands a number of hellish minions. His devils hunt in packs and may include:

1 barbed devil per player, 2 bearded devils per Player, 2 lemures per player

A bone devil, 2 bearded devils, and 4 lemures/player

Karvalahk is always accompanied by an imp. The final showdown with Karvalahk (if the PCs are fighting him) consists of:

Karvalahk, a bone devil (if alive), 2 spined devils per player, 2 bearded devils per player, the imp (if alive), and 2 barbed devils.

 

~Happy adventuring!

  • Commissar Molotov

    Fresh idea – I like it!

  • Ronin

    There needs to be a separate page of these posts so I can look them up later. 🙂

    • adamharry

      You can click the “Adventure Hooks” tag at the bottom of this post or you can use the Search function at the top of the page for “Adventure Hooks”

      Happy Adventuring!