Soul Exceptions

joyblood's picture
Recommended Levels: n/a
Author: Heiner de WendtEmail:

The souls of dead primes often head off to the Lower Planes (too often, some say). Some of them find their way to the Abyss or Gehenna, others to the Gray Waste or Pandemonium, and even others to Baator. But about all of them embrace the ideals of the plane where they end up. When they form anew as petitioners, they don’t consider themselves "damned" or "punished". But as any canny planewalker should know, the most important rule in the multiverse is the rule of exceptions. One of those exceptions is a village called Sacrufico, a village on Avernus, the first layer of Baator.


As can be seen in the description of Sacrufico, the whole village is nothing but one big ruse of the fiends. Those poor souls who get here are at the very edge of lawful evilness, and they still struggle to overcome their dark side. The baatezu aren’t willing to let them go, of course, and so they gather them here in Sacrufico, slowly breaking their will and shattering their souls, one by one.

The fiend who’s responsible for Sacrufico is the female osyluth Timera, a baatezu who’s turned out to be very capable in creating cunning treacheries, although she lacks a bit of understanding combat tactics and war strategy. This will probably keep her away from a promotion in the next centuries, but on the other hand, it seems some high-up among the baatezu has an interest in keeping Timera’s records clean of any failures.

Currently, though, there might a problem for her. A new petitioner has arrived, who was a powerful psionicist in his mortal life. The former half-elf Thaldon doesn’t remember anything of his former life, except the deeds that brought him here. Astonishingly, though, he has kept one wild psionic talent, one which the baatezu themselves didn’t notice at first. With this psionic power, he can read the minds and alignments of the other citizen of Sacrufico, and notices how they all slowly turn to lawful evilness more and more.

Being an intelligent cutter, Thaldon slowly starts to find out the dark of the settlement. Even worse, before the baatezu found out about this dangerous fact, a Guvner who came here for research of Avernus (and, unknowingly, sold his soul on the way) has been told by Thaldon what the half-elf thinks about Sacrufico. The Guvner then returned to Sigil, and his report is now available to any Guvner who’s interested in it.

Put short, if the fiends don’t manage to destroy the report, the chant about Sacrufico might spread, and the whole wonderful treachery might be blown up by mortals who feel like meddling with the forces of Baator. Or even worse, the Celestials might hear about it, and try to "rescue the lost souls".

-Adventure Start-

In the very beginning of the adventure, the foolish Guvner, Markhen Ribbust, disappears. The contract he signed to be allowed travelling through Avernus had a loophole that gave the fiends the right to claim his body and soul as soon as he left their plane, and they did so just after they recognized what Markhen had found out. The PCs could be involved because they knew Markhen, or they can be hired by friends of him. If there are any Guvner PCs in the group, their faction might tell them to find out what’s happened to Markhen.

If the DM doesn’t want to use Markhen and/or doesn’t have Guvner PCs in his group, other factions can easily be interested in Markhen’s records or Sacrufico:

* Athar: The Lost may have heard rumors about a power "stealing" petitioners that rightfully should go to another plane. The PCs are sent to break into a Guvner building, steal Markhen’s records, and bring them to their high-up. That high-up, a man of utterly good alignment, is shocked about the report, and hires the PCs personally to stop the treachery of Sacrufico.

* Indeps: A tanar’ri has heard rumors about Markhen’s report. He’s one of those fiends who are really good with words, and has managed to convince a couple of Indeps that 'someone' should be asked to stop the baatezu from forcing 'innocents' into their 'dictator system'.

* Sensates: A whole village of lawful evil petitioners struggling to become good again? If one could just get a few of these people to Sigil, some of their experiences are surely worth being recorded...

*Godsmen: A high-up of the Godsmen has heard about Sacrufico before. He believes that most of the people there have the potential to overcome their Evilness; when he hears rumors about Markhen’s report, he fears that, if it’s true, the baatezu might interfere with the true potential these petitioners have.

* Mercykillers: The Red Death has heard that the baatezu are punishing petitioners for what these sods have done in their mortal lives. An ambitious high-up wants to proof that it’s the duty of HIS faction to punish those sods, and thus sends some capable bashers to investigate (of course, capable bashers one could also do without, in case things go wrong).

* Harmonium: The petitioners in Sacrufico are struggling to overcome their evil tendencies, so to embrace harmony and goodness, right? Someone should help them.

* Bleakers: Sacrufico? A place that resembles the whole multiverse. Everyone struggles to find a greater meaning, but they all fail because there just isn’t any such meaning. Maybe someone should tell them.

* The Fated: The Fated have heard about Sacrufico, but not about Markhen’s records. They believe that the baatezu steal the souls of the petitioners, although they haven’t really done anything for gaining them. A high-up who doesn’t like the fiends anyway sends someone to interfere, and of course find out if the faction can gain something there itself.

* The Anarchists: Markhen’s records are another trace of people who are subdued by a corrupt system. There’s just one solution: ATTACK!

* The Doomguard: Look, even the power of the baatezu crumbles away. They already need to take souls that are just barely lawful evil. If someone managed to help the souls get out of there, wouldn’t it proof even better how MUCH their power crumbles?

* Dustmen: The petitioners of Sacrufico should be on their way to understand their own existence, but instead these dead souls are forced into a new, artificial "afterlife" by the fiends. It doesn’t matter if that’s evil or not, but it DOES matter that it’s just plain wrong.

* The Ciphers: A high-up has heard about the records of Markhen. And before he understood it himself, he’s ordered that someone should investigate.

* Xaositects: Someone’s heard rumors about a Guvner file stating that the baatezu try to force petitioners in their system that don’t really belong there. Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone broke into the Guvner buildings, stealing the records, and then went to Avernus to stop the fiends? Not only would it interfere with the systems of two lawful groups, it’d surely be a great opportunity to spread chaos on the way!

* Signers: A high-up of the Signers has made a bet with a high-up of the Sensates: He’s said that, by sheer force of will, he can imagine the petitioners of Sacrufico to leave their evil ways behind. Okay, he was drunken when he made that bet, but now someone’s got to help him win the bet. A mission where secrecy is of importance, of course.

-Adventure Summary-

The first part of the adventure (which, depending on whom tells the PCs about their mission, could be left out) involves the records. They’re stored by the Guvners, and it’s surely hard to get them if no Guvner is available to help the PCs out, but to accomplish the mission, it’s simply necessary. So, the PCs have to sneak or break into the Guvner building, get Markhen’s record, and find out about the dark of Sacrufico.

The second part involves travelling to Sacrufico. The baatezu are surely peery about anyone who wants to come to Sacrufico now, and thus the PCs must find a way to Sacrufico that the fiends don’t find out about. There are several ways, but any of them involve very fast acting as soon as the PCs get into the village:

- The PCs could pay a marraenoloth for bringing them across the River Styx. Sacrufico is situated near the River of Blood, and the ’loth could bring the PCs quite near.

- The PCs could use divination spells to find out about the exact position of Sacrufico (maybe their faction can help them out here, too). Then, they could use teleport without error, if they’ve got access to such a spell.

- The PCs could travel to Baator in disguise, stating they’ve got something completely different to accomplish on Avernus (they should get really creative here), and bringing a guide along that leads them to Sacrufico. Of course, they should make sure the guide’s trustworthy.

The third part would involve the PCs finding Thaldon in Sacrufico (if the fiends haven’t "cared" for him yet). The characters have to convince the citizen that they have to flee as fast as possible, and of course they have to present the petitioners a way to get out.

As Timera keeps a close eye on "her" village, she will notice the PCs very fast for sure, and if the PCs don’t want to oppose her and her inferiors, they should finish their quest even quicker.

There could very well be a fourth part, in which the PCs try to make sure the petitioners end up in a place where they can finally truly work towards goodness in themselves.

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.