To Feed a Demon

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The set up: A player's tiefling warlock forged her infernal pact with a servant of Asmodeus (recently collecting souls via such bargains a la Keith's Baator EoE) who offered her power to free herself from a nasty crucifixion ritual wherein she was being sacrificed by her father and other servitors of a demonic presence within Sharn (backstory). Her father is a wealthy and powerful merchant among Sharn's elite whose success is partly built on the aid of fiendish forces.

My question: Now that the PCs are mid-heroic, they seek vengeance against the warlock's father, the cult he belongs to, and the fiend that they serve, all within Sharn. It is quite possible this will resolve itself as heroic tier culminates. What is the fiend that this tiefling offers sacrifices to? What possible complications arise as a result of the warlock's infernal pact?

Creative input of all varieties most welcome!
What, over 70 view and nary a response in three weeks?!?

My current thought is to use a radiant idol for said fiend. It might be an interesting divergence from the typical set up of such scenarios. Of course, the radiant idol has not been translated into 4E, so maybe an angel (Gray Angel seems level appropriate) can serve?

Thoughts? 
Sure?

Well, if its going down in Sharn, then yeah, a Radient Idol (or thereabouts) makes the most sense. So, if you're going to reskin something, remember that RIs can't fly.

When you say, "Complications," what do you mean? 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Right, the fact that RIs don't fly hadn't escaped me. As long as I'm reskinning, are there other, more suitable options I haven't considered?

As for complications, I'm looking for ways to embroil the heroes in moral quandaries and unexpected plot twists as much as possible. Take down the big bad behind Daddy's power seems too straightforward for such, especially in Eberrron. In what ways might the heroes have to consider the potential negative impact of such actions? How might I make this a true dilemma?
The following ideas will require some developping, as they are only the result of a bit of brainstorming...

Complications:

1) Use the Draconic Prophecy. The death of the cult-leader is merely a link in the chain of events required to release a Rajah from its bonds. The servant of Asmodeus who granted the warlock his powers actually works for the Lords of Dust and has plotted this for centuries, using the son against the father. Depending on where you want to go with your campaign, it might even be the last link, or the players could have the opportunity to prevent the few next ones, if you want to build up a sense of doom and urgency. Work needs to be done to make this twist seem legit, rather than the reverse of a deus-ex-machina.

2) The Aztecs believed that if they stopped sacrificing people, the sun would no longer go up. What if they were right? I've been toying with the idea of a drow Serpent-Cult on Xen'drik who believe that the Silver Flame needs a constant supply of souls to survive. It was started by the sacrifice of the couatl, and even the Khorvairian Church believes that the souls of the faithful will join and strengthen the Flame, so this is simply going a few steps further. This could be a misunderstanding, or a weak spot in the Flame or even a local proto-Flame (before the couatl worked the ritual out correctly) which requires souls to survive. Using it in Sharn requires some explanation why nobody noticed regular sacrifices happening for millenia. So perhaps a few hundred years ago, some heroes managed to imprison a powerful force beneath Sharn duplicating a Silver-Flame prison in a flawed way - it requires fuel in the form of souls. The Cult around this may have become corrupted and now sacrifices people without remembering the why and wherefore; or they might know and accept their evil duties in the name of ultimate (and utilitarian) good. In the end, stopping the sacrifices will release the dread power (probably not a Rajah if you are going with a "newer" creation, but something close). You'd need to explain why fiends would help such a cult, though, unless they themselves are duped or not really fiends at all.

3) The PC's father is vitally important to some other plot. Perhaps he is involved in the ongoing diplomatic efforts to keep the peace between the Five Nations, between Breland and Droaam, or similar. Killing him might well reignite the Last War. Lots of work to be done to get this one right, though. The father might be a member of a dragonmarked house or the sole voice holding the Swords of Liberty from doing something stupidly dangerous. Alternatively, he might have an insurance against being killed: if he dies and his will is read, secrets will come to light that will reignite the war, cause two dragonmarked houses to openly attack each other, require the abdication of Boranel with all the chaos that will ensure, and so forth. Perhaps the will itself is a cursed object, spreading some demonic influence to whoever reads it out and the audience. 

4) The PC's father is possessed. This means that either he is not really evil at all, as his actions were dictated by the fiend inside him. So killing him would not be a good option. Unfortunately, that's a moral dilemma which can be resolved by a simple exorcism. Perhaps, however, the fiend is bound to the father and cannot get out (in Secrets of Sarlona there was a spell to do that, I believe). Killing the father would release the fiend, who might be tremendously powerful and above the means of the PCs. Naturally, the PCs have to be made aware of this, which can be rather difficult if the players assume you won't really throw something at them that spells TPK, but so long as they realise the threat, it might work. At least, they'd try to imprison the father (possibly in Dreadhold) or use other means (petrification, etc) as a temporary solution.

 Nature of the Fiend:

Next to a radiant idol, any member of the Lords of Dust would work, in particular if you involve a bound rajah. It could also be a Daelkyr, depending on your definition of fiend, making the cult leader a powerful aberration; this works less well with tieflings, however. Extraplanar evils could have designs on Eberron à la Xoriat incursion, except that this time, it's Mabar (where succubi and yuguloths dwell) intend on whiping out all life from Eberron, or fiends of Fernia (Sharn has volcanic activity, after all - though this would step on the toes of the Sulatar, who already seek to bring about a world of Fire). Finally, it might be something new entirely. Perhaps someone (a colleague of Mordain the Fleshweaver) has managed to create a fiend by syphoning off energies of Khyber and the life force of the sacrifices.

Hope this helps. The ideas are largely in a draft-stage of developpment and will need a lot of work, but maybe we'll get the stone rolling. 

My Eberron Characters. Commissions by various artists on Deviant Art.

These are some mighty fine ideas, Syltorian! Since this campaign began with "The Mark of Prophecy," I'm inclined to try to figure out ways to tie this to the Draconic Prophecy (your #1 above), especially as another character in the group became obsessed with the DP after the initial adventure. However, I think #3 works best for this group, especially as a separate member of the group is a Dark Lantern of Breland and the group as a whole is currently working in Breland's political interest as it pursues "Seekers of the Ashen Crown." This could indeed involve divided loyalties and moral dilemmas if the group's service to Breland continues and the tiefling's father turns out to be a key diplomat in Boranel's service!

I think I'm pretty set at this point in sticking with a radiant idol as the force behind the cult; it provides just enough of a twist on the standard demonic figure to defy expectations, methinks.

In any event, thanks for all the wonderful ideas! 
These are some mighty fine ideas, Syltorian! Since this campaign began with "The Mark of Prophecy," I'm inclined to try to figure out ways to tie this to the Draconic Prophecy (your #1 above), especially as another character in the group became obsessed with the DP after the initial adventure. However, I think #3 works best for this group, especially as a separate member of the group is a Dark Lantern of Breland and the group as a whole is currently working in Breland's political interest as it pursues "Seekers of the Ashen Crown." This could indeed involve divided loyalties and moral dilemmas if the group's service to Breland continues and the tiefling's father turns out to be a key diplomat in Boranel's service!



You could combine #1 and #3.

Let us say the Prophecy says the following: The Rage of War will rise in Thaliost if war flares up again; war flares up again if Boranel does not attend the conference of Sharn; Boranel will be severely wounded at the Battle against the Traitors of the Parliament if Civil War breaks out in Breland; Civil War will break out in Breland if certain nobles are forced; they are forced when certain secrets are revealed, these secrets are revealed when a certain diplomat dies.

Another fragment of the Prophecy says that: If in Sharn a demon is called forth, it will rule the city for thirteen years. It will devour the rulers of the Five Nations who unite against it, but from each will come a hero, and together they will kill the demon. From this will come a Kingdom of Unity and Peace for Eons".

Naturally, you'd need to encode this in proper prophetic language.

Now, your prophecy-obsessed PC might come across these fragments. But what will he do?

At face value, this would mean that if they kill the Father, Rak Tulkesh will be released from his prison. If they don't, there will be great misery for Sharn and the line of Wynarn will be utterly extinguished (Boranel, Kaius, Haydith, etc), but there will be peace after that. Yet does the Prophecy tell you everything? Perhaps the new Kingdom of Galifar is really united under the Quori, or some other perversion of "peace" and "unity" will reign. Perhaps Rak Tulkesh is meant to awaken, because an as yet missing part of the Prophecy speaks of him being bound even firmer than before. 

Are there any loopholes in the Prophecy the PCs might exploit? Perhaps they could get Boranel to the conference even if he is severely wounded and will die as a consequence. But he has averted the war and the monarchy is secure in Breland. Perhaps Thaliost can be evacuated in time, and a Tira-Miron can be pulled on Rak Tulkesh. What happens if they take the demon-worshipper prisoner, rather than kill him? Perhaps the Prophecy speaks of "the father killed by his daughter", meaning that it will not come to pass if someone else deals the death blow.

As for the radiant Idol: what portfolio do you want to give him? That should influence his ultimate aims. 

My Eberron Characters. Commissions by various artists on Deviant Art.

I had forgotten entirely about radiant idol's portfolios! I was planning on using Zotharr, the Idol of Death, as he already has a canon presence (and cult following) in Sharn. But, I must confess, I have not gotten far enough along in thinking this through to consider its ulitmate goals, besides worship.

I'm also still toying with a stat block for the inevitable combat. Again, this will likely occur sometime near the end of the heroic tier (though I have some reservations about "scaling down" the threat a radiant idol presents in this way).

Another poster, Matyr, was kind enough to whip up this as a 4E conversion, though I may tweak it up a few levels:
Show
Radiant Idol Level 10 Elite Soldier
Large Immortal Humanoid
HP: 200, Bloodied 100  Initiative: +8
AC: 26, Fort 22, Reflex 21, Will 23
Speed 6
Darkvision
Saving Throws: +2, Action Points: 1
Resists: 10 Radiant
Traits:
Regenerate 5
Aura 10 - Earthbinding Aur
Creatures who end their turn flying are knocked prone.  Any creature who flies while within the aura must end their turn on the ground or be knocked prone.

Standard Actions:
(Basic) Radiant Blade - At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature):+15 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8+9 radiant damage
Effect: Target is marked until the end if the Radiant Idol's next turn. 

Flames of the Fallen - Recharge when first Bloodied
Attack: Close Burst 1 (Enemies in Burst); +13 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d8+7 fire damage or 4d8+12 fire damage against a bloodied target and the target is marked until the end if the Idol's next turn.

Double Attack - At-Will
Effect: The Radiant Idol makes two Radiant Blade attacks.

Minor Actions:
Command the Blood Oath - At-Will 1/Round
Effect: One ally within 10 squares can charge or make a basic attack as a free action.

Triggered Actions:
Command Fealty - Recharge when first Bloodied
Trigger: The Radiant Idol is the target of a critical hit.
Effect (Immediate Interrupt): An ally within 5 sqaures shifts it's speed.  If it ends adjacent to the Idol it becomes the target of the triggering attack instead.

Summon the Faithful - Encounter
Trigger: The Radiant Idol is first bloodied.
Effect (No Action): The Radiant Idol summons 4 Radiant Slaves into unoccupied squares within 5 squares of the Idol.

Radiant Demand
Trigger: An enemy that is marked by the Radiant Idol makes an attack that does not include the Idol as a target.
Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The target takes 10 radiant damage and is weakened until the end of the Idol's next turn.
Skills: Athletics +17, Insight +14, Intimidate +15, Religion +18


I wonder whether Radiant Idols actually come to believe in their portfolios, or simply use them to get people to worship them. Perhaps it's a matter of actually ascending, returning triumphant to Syrania, or merely feeling powerful because of all the worship. If Zotharr believes in his portfolio, he might seek to destroy all life in Sharn (between the things that lurk in the depth, the remains of the magic of the Lady of Plague, and Eldritch Machines a real threat), if it is content with a single city.

I'm afraid I can't help you with the stat block, as I've never made it to 4e. Hopefully, your thread will attract the attention of someone who knows about this.

My Eberron Characters. Commissions by various artists on Deviant Art.