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The Flames of Passion

"And though this world with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us; 
We will not fear, for God hath willed, His truth to triumph through us"
- A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Martin Luther

Adventure Synopsis: As raiding orcs pillage and raid villages for prisoners, an intrepid group of heroes tracks them to a ghost town condemned to an underground mine fire.  Exploring inside, they find a shrine dedicated to a mysterious entity as the orcs attempt to summon a fiend and incite war.

Adventure Background: In the lands of the Dying Kingdom, a small abandoned village lies in the mountainous vale known as the Haze.  Records in the historic tomes of House Nowyki state that this village was once the main location of coal and fuel mining for the rest of the kingdom.  Using various trade roads, large quantities of anthracite were exported to the rest of the Dying Kingdom, supplying the lands with enough energy for the populace.

While this area was not the only mining source in the Dying Kingdom, it was considered to be the greatest due to the wealth of anthracite that was located beneath it and in the surrounding mountains.  Anthracite released larger amounts of energy than normal coal when burned, causing some to give it the name dragonstone.  The royal family of House Nowyki used anthracite exclusively, and made sure that the anthracite hills were well defended and protected from the dangers that dwelt within the lands.

Eventually, disaster struck the region as the Dying Kingdom's great fall began.  Some claim the Kingdom was cursed for turning against Umbaria.  Others say it was the mysterious strangers that would show up unexpectedly and disappear.  No matter the thoughts, they cannot dispute what happened to the village.  Somewhere in the mines, a fire had begun, igniting the anthracite and creating a huge underground fire.  Sinkholes enveloped the village, swallowing up portions of the community and releasing large clouds of toxic gas.  As more of these gas vents opened up, a perpetual smog filled the valley, choking out the last residents and creating an entirely inhospitable dwelling.  The once formerly glorious land, the energy jewel of the kingdom, was re-named the Burning and left alone as monsters and other evils took over, claiming the land and the anthracite as their own.

In truth, the fire had been set by cultists of Nybor, a mysterious entity of fire, chaos, anger, and passion.  Deep within the mines, they built a shrine dedicated to her, bonding it to the elemental ties already prevalent within the land.  The ties opened magical elemental rifts, summoning fire elementals and other creations, igniting the anthracite and spreading.  The cultists were killed in this cataclysm, though the elemental beings lived on, stirring deep within the earth.

As time went on, the rest of the Dying Kingdom slowly fell.  The poisonous cloud known as the Haze became less toxic, yet the fire still burned.  During the latest event, an orc warrior-prophet calling himself the Bloodson, among other titles, attempted to unite all of the orc tribes in the lands under his leadership.  Great skirmishes were fought, and those who stood against him were executed in torturous brutality, showing the other orcs to submit to his authority. 

One orc and his followers managed to escape.  Boorog the Skull-Crowned and his ape-like brethren fled to the Burning, believing (rightly so) that they would not be pursued.  It was there they discovered the mines, and after exploring deep inside, discovered the shrine to Nybor and the a drow cultist, Immolandra, who is pursuing her own agenda by manipulating the chief to get what she wants.  Now, Boorog seeks to overthrow the Bloodson by summoning a fiend and using it to unite the tribes, making himself the undisputed leader of the orcs.  From there he will bring about the fall of the last remaining kingdoms and named the Dying Kingdom his own.  Unbeknownst to him, the fiend serves nobody but himself...

However, in order to release the fiend, Boorog requires prisoners to trade for the magical components to fuel Immolandra's summoning ritual.  And so, his orcs have begun raiding the civilized settlements, taking prisoners and causing the call for heroes and mercenaries to go out through the lands....

Setup: The Flames of Passion is an adventure for 5th-6th level characters.  Monster names and stat blocks can be found in the last D&DNext playtest packet released.  Anything created for the adventure will be listed in it.  Distribute treasure through the adventure as the DM sees fit, and feel free to adjust encounters based on the challenge you want the players to experience.

Monster Stat Blocks: The monsters used in this adventure can all be found in the last D&D Next Alpha playtest packet.  All the monsters are run as is, except for the following adjustments:

Orc Priest of Nybor: Use the Dark Priest stat block.  Add the Orc's Relentless trait, and fill the 2nd level spell slot with Scorching Ray instead of Silence. 

Adept of Nybor: Use the Dark Adept stat block. Add the Orc's Relentless trait.

Cultist of Nybor: Use the Cultist of Asmodeus stat block

Encounter 1: The characters encounter a group of orcs hastily leading prisoners back to the Burning.  What starts a simple random encounter can easily lead to more questions of what is happening.

Encounter Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Monsters: Orc Priest of Nybor, 6-8 Orcs

The orcs do not attempt stealth, so the PC's can hear them crashing through the underbrush and may hide in order to ambush them.  When the orcs break into the clearing, they can be seen leading a few battered prisoners.  This is an excellent location to introduce new PC's to the game.

The orcs fight to the death, until they are either reduced to 50% of their starting force, or the Priest of Nybor dies, whichever one comes first.  They will then attempt to flee off the far edge of the map to make it back to the mines.

After the encounter, PC's may wish to speak with the freed captives.  They inform the PC's that the orcs have been raiding more and more, taking prisoners north who are never seen from again.  They also mention the strange rights the orc shamans have been performing, painting their faces red and black with blood and dirt.  Their magic seems to be more fire and rage oriented as well.

Following the trail the orcs were taking is relatively easy, and any character skilled in Track automatically succeeds and leads the group to the Burning.  The village is abandoned and ruined, and the orc trail leads right to the gates of the mines.  They open easily.

Inside the mines, the PC's can already feel the heat and can navigate by the walls that glow softly (dim light).  Eventually, they make their way to the checkpoint, where they can hear orcs squabbling and arguing amongst themselves.

Flavor Note: When a follower of Nybor casts Inflict Wounds, the targets veins and arteries heat up, glowing bright red as if they will catch on fire.

Those under the Bless spell cast by a follower of Nybor have increased bloodshot eyes, bulging muscles, and a sort of a mad fury that possesses them.

Encounter 2: After entering the mines, the heroes come to an underground outpost used to remove the anthracite from the mines.  The outpost has now been converted to a slave pen, shackling the prisoners as they are taken deeper underground to be exchanged for the magical components Nybor's followers need.

Encounter Difficult: Medium
Monsters: Orc Priest of Nybor, Adept of Nybor, various amounts of Orcs depending on party


The orcs immediately attack any intruders.  The priests use their spells first, then switch to weapons once their spell slots are depleted.  When the magic users are defeated, the rest of the orcs flee deeper into the mines, warning their chief, Boorog of the warriors.

If the players explore the location, they find piles of confiscated equipment and possessions.  In the far room, evidence of large creatures exists as well.  This outpost was used to strip slaves of their valuables and goods before taking them deeper in the mines to be traded for ritual components.

Additional Encounters: Depending on the length of the game session or mine exploration, the DM may wish to add additional encounters as the party goes deeper into the mines to find the orc chief and the Temple of Nybor.  Consider using the following map and adding wandering bands of orcs and Priests of Nybor.  There are also various terrain hazards to be encountered, from burning anthracite to polluted, toxic air. 


Encounter 3: Having reached the deepest part of the mines, the heroes discover the forgotten shrine of Nybor.  There, her drow follower beings a ritual to summon Nagûl (Nah-gool), a banished fiend who once wrecked havoc upon the land in the days of the past.  While the orc Boorog thinks to control the fiend, Nagûl turns on him, escaping to rally his own army and cover the lands in darkness once again.  If the servant of Nybor escapes with him, so be it.

Encounter Difficulty: Hard
Monsters: Borgo the Skull Crowned (Orc Chieftain); Immolandra (Cultist of Nybor); 4 Orcs; 2 Orogs; Fire Elemental; Nagûl (Horned Devil)


Note: Additionally, if the encounter is going too easily, the gargoyle statues can animate and attack as 2 Gargoyles.  Otherwise, they are two inanimate statues carved from anthracite with glowing veins running through them.  More orcs can always be added as well.

Set up: The gargoyles flank the altar.  Immolandra stands atop the altar.  The Orogs guard the altar, while Boorog stands among the ruins.  Two Orc Priests of Nybor flank the portal, but do not participate in the battle, channeling their own magic into opening the portal.  The orcs flank the river of burning anthracite.  The fire elemental and Nagûl do not start the battle on the map.

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The altar depicts a woman standing among flames, her head raised and screaming.  The altar steams, giving any PC 3 fire damage for touching it.  Any PC who studies it may make a DC 15 Charisma check.  On a success, their head is filled with a vision of a beautiful woman surrounded by flames, asking to be served by one so passionate.  A failed check leaves the PC with feelings of passionate rage and anger.

Any PC that attempts a Divine Sense knows that the portal is desecrated.  The altar emits pure chaos.

The PC's enter from the bottom of the map.  The enemies wait for the PC's to enter the room, focusing their attacks on the Orc Priests of Nybor.  When the Priests die, the portal is finally opened and Nagûl emerges.  When he emerges, Boorog attempts to command him, which earns the fiend's ire.  Nagûl will attack and slay Boorog before fleeing the map by flying across the burning river of anthracite, unable to be pursued on foot.

At the end of the first round of combat, a fire elemental emerges from the burning anthracite to attack either the players or the Priests of Nybor, speeding up the completion of the ritual.

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Immolandra fights to the death, unless she can escape with Nagûl.  Her face is covered in red and black tattoos, and she enjoys taunting the PC's, telling them their passion is to be commended.

The orcs flee as soon as Boorog is killed, using their action to Hustle back to the entrance and out of the mines.

Nagûl flees after Boorog is slain.  He will attempt to carry Immolandra with him if she still lives, flying up to the altar in order to reach her.  The summoning has left him weak, so his attacks are made with disadvantage.  He cannot summon devils.  If any of the PC's are descendents of House Nowyki, he offers to give them the kingdom if they serve him.  PC's that join the fiend may be carried by him to their escape.

The fire elemental fights until defeated, or until a PC subdues it.  Any magic user may use their action to enter a contest with the elemental, using their primary magic ability score vs the Fire Elemental's Constituion score.  The first success a PC has stuns the elemental, making it unable to act until it breaks free from the controlling magic.  The elemental will attempt to break free on its turn by initiating another contest.  If the same PC already has the elemental under their control, they may use another action to banish it back into the anthracite.   

Exploring the temple, the PC's may come across the back room which details the various ritual components Immolandra received to fuel her summoning ritual.  The caves along those areas lead to deeper portions of the Underdark, and the rock walls no longer burn, due to the veins of anthracite ending.  Exploring these caves leads down into the Underdark and may be another source of adventure to find out who exactly was supplying Immolandra with the ritual supplies she needed.

The PC's may escape the mines after the final battle.  They encounter no hostilities, but see that the fiend has destroyed even more of the Burning, perhaps even sending a taunting message to the party as he plans to rally his army and rule. 

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The maps used in this adventure for the mines can all be found in the map pack Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison.  The outdoor map can be any location deemed appropriate, though the Monster Vault 2 has a nice forested area to use.

The miniatures used can all be found from the Dungeon Command sets Sting of Lolth (for Immolandra), Tyranny of Goblins (for the Horned Devil), and Blood of Gruumsh for all the orcs.  Two sets of Blood of Gruumsh is especially useful with all the orcs used.  Any large Fire Elemental miniature works, but the Reaper Bones one was cheap and has a great glowing effect.

 

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