1.6c – Dara’s Intervention

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Devils are loose in Baldur’s Gate, attacking a warehouse en masse in broad daylight. A pit fiend, one of the most fearsome devil types to exist, is about to unleash hell upon the city streets. What hope have mortals got?

Fortunately, the gods have not left events entirely in earthly hands.

Setup

As established in the last article, the pit fiend Lucille has just stepped through a portal from Avernus into the streets of Baldur’s Gate. They are on the hunt and know where their prey lies – within the Stormshore Warehouse.

At this point the PCs have faced a few waves of devils and are likely feeling confident. But the arrival of a pit fiend will likely have struck fear into even the most heroic of hearts. A CR 20 monster against a group of level 4 characters is certain death.

The gods deem to intervene however, as Dara and her guardian Ghorin (and his goat Clyde) rush to return to the Stormshore Warehouse. This is a literal deus ex machina, which often has negative connotations in storytelling and TTRPGs, but hopefully the setup of Dara’s pilgrimage and her status as the Chosen of Ilmater, plus the rapport the PCs have built with her since meeting her, will help make this an epic moment rather than an eyerolling one.

Dara empowered

Dara wasn’t at the Stormshore Warehouse when the PCs arrived. As previously established, she has been reading the Book of Exalted Deeds at the Shrine of the Suffering in Baldur’s Gate. After a few days study she has finally unlocked its secrets, unlocking further Chosen powers and gaining a deeper understanding of morality.

As such, Dara’s statblock has changed from acolyte to the mighty war priest (originally in Volo’s Guide to Monsters but readjusted in Monsters of the Multiverse so use that newer version).

These divine boons give Dara some great 1/day abilities such as banishment, dispel magic, flame strike and perhaps an important revivify in case one of the PCs died within the last minute, which is longer than the duration of the battle so far. She also gets a bonus action heal, probably usable once or twice over the fight. Visually Dara has changed too. She will look more mature, clad in plate, and wielding a magical maul, both gifted to her by her god Ilmater. Neither are particularly ornate or fanciful, more functional than glorious. Dara does however now have a literal halo of radiance glowing around her head – a sign of her Chosen nature and a boon from reading the Book of Exalted Deeds.

Dara, ascended

Dara’s arrival

With the pit fiend Lucille having just entered the fight, there is the potential that the PCs will want to just run for their lives. It’s probably the most sensible option in fact, so make sure you are prepared for it.

Whether the PCs stay to fight, or start to retreat, have Dara, Ghorin, and his goat Clyde show up.

Lucille can sense the divine spark within Dara which marks her as the Chosen of Ilmater. The pit fiend calls out to her mockingly as she arrives.

“Ah, Chosen of Ilmater—if it is suffering your god wishes for you then I shall be happy to oblige!”

Lucille then throws a fireball directly on top of Dara, Ghorin, and Clyde.

At this point my players were about ready to murder me in real life.

As mentioned in previous articles they love Clyde, so the thought of him being fireball-ed was a sort of sacrilege. As such, I played up the next few moments talking about the ball of flame spewed from Lucille’s mouth, which darted straight at Dara and her friends. I detailed its sudden rapid swelling size, as the conflagration expanded in a deafening roar of flame which consumed Dara, Ghorin, and Clyde.

Yet as the fire and smoke cleared, instead of death there stood rebirth… Two angelic figures stand over Dara, protecting her from the fireball.

Where once stood Ghorin now stands Rinzel, a muscular and hairless angel with opalescent green skin and white-feathered wings. It towers over any human, brandishing an immense sword with ease and grace (planetar Monster Manual page 17).

Rinzel, Ghorin revealed

The goat Clyde is gone, replaced by a beautiful human-sized celestial with silvery skin and the ungulate legs of a goat. Their hair and eyes gleam with an unearthly lustre, and large feathery wings unfurl from their shoulder blades (deva Monster Manual page 16)

Ausuriel, Clyde revealed

In a fury Lucille sweeps their wings and throws itself into the air towards Dara. The two angels fly up to intercept, and their battle soon soars higher than Stormshore Warehouse, playing out above Baldur’s Gate. Dara now joins the PCs on the ground, healing them and attempting to keep the other refugees safe from harm. She should stay close however as she is needed after the battle ends. If she leads the other refugees to safety, ensure she returns shortly afterwards.

Focus on the PCs not the NPCs

The deus ex machina arrival of a major divine spellcaster and her two very powerful celestial guardians has the potential to be an utter disaster.

If you suddenly switch the focus of the battle onto how amazing Dara and the angels are, and have them hog the spotlight, then you’re likely to annoy your players and undermine the heroic actions of their characters.

  • Don’t have Dara, Rinzel or Ausuriel roll dice.
  • Don’t have them take turns.
  • Don’t have them accomplish things the PCs are trying to do.

Describe the battle between the angels and the pit fiend throughout the following few turns, narratively portraying what is happening in the sky above.

  • Lucille swoops with its bat like wings, lashing out at the angels with its tail, mace and claws and breathing explosive fireballs at them-most of which will strike buildings in the streets below.
  • Rinzel clashes with Lucille directly, its massive great sword clashing against the pit fiend’s mace.
  • Ausuriel, much smaller than the planetar and pit fiend, darts around, harrying Lucille with its angelic mace before flitting out of reach.

Remember, the PCs should continue to be the focus. Dara will get them back up on their feet and healed, but then aim her efforts on healing the other refugees and keeping them out of harm’s way. The angels should be in the sky above, battling the pit fiend – not killing devils on the ground.

A player-controlled Dara

If one of the PCs takes it upon themselves to break off from the fighting to help the refugees flee, consider giving them control of Dara for the fight.

Hand them her new and improved statblock and reward them for taking the morally right decision even if it removes their own PC from the battle.

Finishing the battle

The battle is likely to finish relatively quickly at this point. In fact, it’s possible that the devil forces were already dealt with before Lucille even showed up. If this was the case consider having a few more devils appear through the gate, such as another couple of spined devils or lemures.

Try to make the battle in the sky above finish just as the PCs are wrapping up on the ground. Remember that any devil killed on the prime material plane isn’t truly dead-just banished back to Avernus for 99 years, as their body breaks down and turns to smoke and ash.

After the battle, once the angels return to the ground, Dara should provide the PCs with some insight as to what’s happened. If she’s absent, because of escorting the refugees to safety, consider having Rinzel fly off to her location, and then carry her back to Stormshore Warehouse.

Give the players a moment to talk with Dara and the angels. Dara will explain the following:

  • Any backstory about her pilgrimage they may have forgotten or want clarification on. (See: 1.6a – Setup)
    • She’s from Eshpurta, Amn.
    • She’s a child of immaculate conception, created by Ilmater, the god of suffering.
    • At the age of 10 (a few weeks ago) she was sent on a pilgrimage to Baldur’s Gate to read from the Book of Exalted Deeds. She made this journey with her guardian Ghorin and his goat Clyde, taking many weeks by cart and then barge.
    • She was passing through the village that the PCs were in when the Companion went crazy and Elturgard was thrown into darkness and chaos.
  • That she has finished studying the Book of Exalted Deeds and become empowered. The book has once again teleported somewhere else among the planes.
  • Her god Ilmater has sent her on a new quest, to restore the souls of the pious dead who are unjustly trapped in Avernus.
  • Ilmater guided her to the warehouse and told her that she must await a wanderer who will help her begin the task.

Dara wasn’t previously aware that Ghorin and Clyde were angels, but she knows that her mission is a dangerous one, and not something she could ask the PCs to help with. She knows however she will ‘see the PCs again one day’.

Fai Chen the wanderer

Another portal then opens, a swirling mass of golden thread twisting into a gateway to a Hellscape similar to Lucille’s portal. Through it comes a cart, drawn by a single horse (named Gary). Its rider is the wandering planar merchant Fai Chen, with his pseudodragon Drandeldew.

Fai Chen, the planer merchant wanderer

Fai Chen informs them that Ilmater has sent him here to bring Dara and the angels into Avernus to begin their new quest. He is insistent that the god instructed him to only bring Dara, Rinzel, and Ausuriel, but will explain that the portal is to a safe place in Avernus if asked.

If the PCs are insistent that they join Dara on her new quest, Ausuriel (formerly Clyde the goat) will tell them “Your time will come to prove yourself, for now Dara must do this without you.”

After their goodbyes, Fai Chen, Dara, and the angels will depart through the golden portal before closing it behind them.

GM Note: Dara’s quest will continue in Chapter 3: Avernus once the PCs start the Avernian hexcrawl.

Alternative outcomes

If the PCs managed to escape the assault and get the refugees away, it is possible that there won’t even be an assault on the warehouse. As mentioned in the previous article, the devils will search for a few minutes before Lucille just fireballs Stormshore Warehouse to the ground.

If this happens, you’ll have to roll with the punches a bit. I can’t predict exactly what might happen (and neither should you) but some things you might consider instead:

  • Lucille takes over the Cult of Zariel in the region, replacing the trapped Gargauth.
  • Powerful organisations such as the Harpers are likely to get involved if a pit fiend is in Baldur’s Gate.
  • These organisations would have the goal to stop the pit fiend, letting the PCs take on the job of stopping the Vanthampur’s.
  • Consider replacing some of the encounters in the Vanthampur dungeon with devils loyal to Lucille if the PCs delay for more than a couple of days before going there.
  • Perhaps the showdown between the angels and Lucille still takes place later, above the Vanthampur’s Villa instead.
  • Dara still has been given her quest, and Fai Chen is still going to come to take her to Avernus. It might be a good idea to nonetheless reveal the angel’s nature, perhaps as Fai Chen arrives, to convince the PCs that Dara will be safe with them.

Aftermath

The PCs will be asked to report to Marshall Liara Portyr, who is still devastated at her father’s assassination. At this point the evidence gathered by the characters should clearly point to the Vanthampur family-mostly from Vaz/Mortlock in the Dungeon of the Dead Three.

Liara will demand the PCs bring to justice Duke Thalamara Vanthampur and her sons Amrik, Thurstwell, and Mortlock. She’s aware that she doesn’t technically have the authority to send them out to assassinate a Duke but is blinded by rage and grief. If the PCs need convincing, Liara will offer them each 1,000 gp and her assurance that she will protect them from any political or legal consequences.

Mortlock Vanthampur might have worked with the PCs at the end of the Dungeon of the Dead Three. As such he may be granted amnesty if he works against his family to bring them down. He can provide drawn plans of his family’s manor house and will tell the PCs of the extensive sewer system his mother had constructed below it, as her personal domain.

Mortlock can describe the rough contents and purpose of each room of the manor but has no real knowledge of the sewer dungeon beneath it other than its existence.

Mortlock may even offer up maps of the Vanthampur Manor. If like me you are using _PogS_ maps, then consider using the official maps from the book as the ‘plans’ Mortlock is able to provide. I added notes from Mortlock, listing what some of the rooms are, and connections between levels. Remember he isn’t likely able to provide a map of the sewer dungeon beneath the manor, because it’s not on official records and he probably hasn’t been down there himself.

The next step for the players is Vanthampur Manor which is continued in Justin Alexander’s Remix of Descent into Avernus. My ‘Extra Content’ continues once Duke Thalamara and her sons are dead, when the PCs are pulled into a Mindflayer’s plot to lead a massive invasion force directly into Baldur’s Gate!

2 comments

    1. My campaign got put on hiatus, and then was effetively cancelled. The next few articles ‘The Struggles of Stelmane’ were never more than just a rough draft and weren’t playtested.
      I’ve had a couple of Patreons ask about it, somewhat recently too in fact. However my time is incredibly stretched at the moment, so while I’m not ruling out finishing it I wouldn’t expect it any time soon unfortunately!

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