A Trip To Hell... input sought.

Well, in the course of an adventure, our Enchanting Dance focused Satyr-blooded gypsy companion managed to dance SO WELL that she not only awoke the sleeping Giant of Spring that had overslept in his chalk-man form for a season or two beyond the usual, ... she also awoke an infernal being trapped in the same field as the chalk-man, who promptly snatched up the gypsy and took her to Hell. OR something very helly, at the least.

SO, the players are preparing on an epic quest to rescue her as visions reveal she is being forced to teach her mystical dancing skills to demonic temptresses who are popping up here and there around the covenant's environs and causing trouble.

The entry to the infernal prison is Mount Dol, in the Normandy Tribunal. There's gash in the earth that goes down so deep, it touches upon Hell itself, and is normally too hot to enter in all seasons but winter. SO, the characters have 2 seasons to prepare, and 1 season to travel.

My thought is there should be an angelic guardian at the entrance to this infernal passageway, who must be overcome in a challenge or have the merit of the characters proven to it before they are allowed passage.

Problem is I can't think of anything that seems fitting.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what might be appropriate?

Second...

HELL... I would like some thoughts on how to make this quest suitably epic, and feel appropriately Hellish.

They've just come off of Festival of the Damned, which has shaken them and upset covenant harmony a good deal. Hell is on their mind, and after a brief preparatory couple of seasons, they'll brave it to rescue Nadja the gypsy.

Has anyone done anything similar, or does anyone have any medieval spice they can toss out there to kick things up a notch?

Thanks to all in advance!

Vrylakos

If you want the group to go to Hell, not a infernal regio, the angel should require a sacrifice, say one of the Magi loses The Gift. Should be very exciting for the player to be in Hell with no magic..... If they pull it off, he should have the Gift come back as Holy magic, if they resisted the temptations of Hell, or the Gothic arts if they are coming back as agents of Hell. They shouldn't be allowed to be neutral this time, they have to choose which side they're one. As to Hell itself, the Infernal is defined by lies, so run with that. Don't show them the horrors of Hell, don't have the demons hard to fight, give them a chance to "save" damned souls and bring them back to the world, let them think they can beat Hell and collect Vis to boot. Feed their pride! If you do it right, they should be unnerved for years, wondering what Hell was really up to.........

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheus

or have them meet a poet named Virgil...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Comedy

One last thought before bed. If they figure out a way past the lies of Hell, show them all the things they have used Perdo on in Hell. Is it a deeper lie, or is every Perdo spell cast a offering to Hell? Do they tell the Order, with the risk that they get accused of dealing with Demons and get marched? Are they silent as the Order slips into Damnation? Any story with Hell should leave scars.....

In Christian thought at least, redemption from Hell is impossible, I believe. If you were capable of redemption, you wouldn't be in Hell. It is therefore possible that your characters are entering a powerful Infernal regio rather than Hell itself. There's some stuff in RoP:tI about Tartaran regiones which are particularly unpleasant.

I would look at the Purgatory of St Patrick for ideas; which describes a vision of Hell from a C12 perspective. Likewise there was an English peasant called Thorkill who received a vision of Heaven and Hell, which might give some inspiration. I will try to find some references for these for you.

Orpheus's trip was undoubtedly to Elysium (one of the Worlds of the Faerie Realm), and Dante's trip could have equally been a Faerie journey (perhaps a Eudokian one).

Mark

Thanks so much, Mark Shirley!

I've found an english translation, and it looks like it will be very useful.

Indeed, a Tartarean regio is really what we're looking at, but I doubt the mages will know much of the difference.

Well, tomorrow is my bachelor party.
My friends have taken the day off, and want to play Ars Magica as well as a few board games.

Lady Pellegrina is guest of Louis Capet, and the rest of the group is heading off that winter to follow up this journey to the tartarean regio that holds Nadja the Gypsy.

I'm dredging the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and crafting some scenes for various characters.

Last chance to offer thoughts!

I'm considering a bridge that feels not the weight of a person, but rather the weight of the pride a person possesses. I envision the nun companion being able to cross this chasm, while a fair number of grogs and characters who fell victim to Pride in Festival of the Damned and never seemed repentant will fall.

Many dead characters may be seen. including the grog sent into the hellish Pit at the climax of Festival of the Damned due to a magical Auram botch.

I plan on starting the game by giving the players cards on which to rate the sinful nature of the other PCs. Who is seen as most Proud? Who is seen as most Lustful? Who is seen as most Wrathful? Etc...

If there are no grog casualties, I'm not doing this right, I imagine.

Thoughts? Advice? I really want this to be a tense, memorable episode.
I'm tailoring it to the characters as best I can, but any thoughts will certainly be listened to...

Vrylakos

The trip to the Infernal regio beneath Mount Dol went fantastically, thanks in good part to the Purgatory of Saint Patrick.

The covenant lost 5 grogs to rains of hellfire and other horrors, despite their best efforts to devise protections via magic in the year prior. Two of the "Avoid Certain Death" cards were used by Mages and Companions.

An angel barred entry at the gate to the Infernal regio: The Master of Metal Flambeau agreed to sacrifice what he held most dear to gain entry to the foul place, and so unknowingly gave up the magic he had placed so much pride in, and turned his back on his noble family for.

A short while later after entering the forsaken realm and seeing the terrible vistas before them...

The group was cast into the air by the winds of Envy, and split into three groups.

One landed upon the Plain of Sloth, where demons offered to take them to their fellows if the players would only given up their penance for their sins, which the demons knew they secretly enjoyed. A rain of hellfire swept the plain, and the demons pried up the corpulent bodies of the sinners pinned to the ground, and offered the party shelter beneath them... but not enough shelter for the entire group. The grogs and characters instead tried to pry up their own shelter, despite the wails of torment and pleas for mercy from the sinners they so abused...

Another group was sent flying to the River of Greed. Here in the river of offal and excrement, which boiled on the surface but was ice cold beneath, Coraldo the vainglorious Bonisagus clung to the back of Yngvar the 300 year old viking. A grog was lost to calamity, but two others managed to pull themselves atop a raft of piteous wailing bodies that sought to drag them under. The demon Fimus sought to settle a score with the viking, and despite the odds being against him, Yngvar managed to destroy the demon in one mighty blow of his axe.

The third group landed in a pile of fine powder, near the site of the construction of a dark castle that mirrored exactly their home covenant of Tulede. Pale, miserable slaves suffered under the whips of demons, busy cutting stone and offloading huge chunks of rock. A demonic overseer, before being hit with Demon's Eternal Oblivion, explained that they had only set the foundation, but by some dark miracle, fresh supplies of stone from the quarries of the mage's hubris had arrive that very morning... the morning they entered Hell. Witihn the holes in the wall, they could see some strange form taking shape.

The party left to chase spectral figures that seemed to be people they knew, only to see the completed castle finally fall to reveal a great, thick limbed beast of impossible size, skinless, but covered here and there by black brickwork and bits of masonry identifiable from their home. Headless, the thing's neck had great stone blocks, between which the faces of the mages of Tulede could be seen. The Colossus of Tulede, as it was called, chased them a good ways, eating a wounded grog who lagged behind.

After many many horrific travails and encounters with demons and torture souls, the groups caught sight of each other outside a great tower of brass, across a river of fire. Each group was on a different level, and across the river of fire were three mechanisms to open three drawbridges to each group. A thin golden cord stretched across, and demonic crossbowmen manned the battlements across the top of the tower. From within the sound of music could be heard, which they knew must mean Nadja the gypsy dancer was within.

Rather than brave the golden cord (which would sag under the weight of sin if stepped upon - a good scene for the nun companion, I thought) the made a grog weightless, scared the demons off the battlements, and cast the grog across with a gust of wind and a Finesse roll of... 84.

The grog landed, and demons poured hellfire from murderholes above him, though he lowered the middle drawbridge before the fires consumed him.

All of the groups managed to get across eventually, and Nadja was found dancing over a pit of fire in the court of the sleeping, enthroned Infernal King who abducted her a year ago. Nadja was chained to a red hot grate where she was forced to dance and "teach" her enchanting dance to demons (who wear her face, and now incite the armies of Aquitaine and France to war). Magic removed the heat from the grate, and Renoir, the magicless master of metals, started smiting the chain holding Nadja as infernally animated revenants of all those the covenant had slain (mainly brabacon bandits) assailed them. The top of the brass tower was pulled up during the fight, and the Colossus of Tulede could be seen, dripping blocks of black stone and mortar, as well as blood and ichor. Panic set in. Renoir was the last to leave, as the great hand of the infernal colossus, fresh from consuming Yann of Brittany, (the oldest grog in the covenant who had evaded death time and again - now consumed by the five faces of the wizards embedded in the Colossus' chest) - but the great hand snatched him up. (Renoir at this point uses one of the Story Cards to evade death). There is a crack of thunder, and the people ahead of Renoir are hit by flying stone. Renoir cannot be seen behind them through the smoke, and the Colossus is screaming in pain.

They retreat the way they had come, but the drawbridges have been pulled up, and the mechanisms are outside the wall. They climb to the top of the tower, where the gap is shortest, and use one of Renoir's previously made magic pebbles to create a wall across the gap spanning the hellfire around the tower. The see there the Colossus of Tulede, missing it's left hand. It tries to fumblingly chase them.

I then gave the players the chance to act as their evil faces, and berate the escaping wizards as they tried to cross the impromptu bridge and escape. This was a great moment, as this was a time for them to vent their most venomous comments to the characters. Coraldo's player gave an incredible speech (as the voice of the Infernal Coraldo embedded in the Colossus) to... Coraldo, deflating his ego, and being so on-the-point and true that the troupe agreed with Coraldo's player: Coraldo would be forever changed by the event.

They ran, low on fatigue that they could not regain in Hell's regio. Eventually, the come to the great lake of fire that the winds of Envy had cast them over, and they see no way to cross is. In the river of greed, they see in the distance the Colossus of Tulede, the monstrous child born of their collective sin, wading towards them.

Finally, someone calls them all to pray, and impassioned prayers of humility are given by the nun and the player characters... except for the viking... The Inspirational merit comes in very handy at this moment.

The lake of fire parts, the party praises the Lord and God Almighty, and runs back to the gate they entered by.

They awake on the beach near the mountain, and cross the narrow causeway to Mont St. Michel, throwing themselves on the mercy of the monks. The monks, who they had spent the night with prior to entering the infernal regio, tell them that there has been a miracle: in the night, their friend Renoir had appear on the altar of the chapel. He does not breath, but the pallor of death is not upon him. His armor is unsullied, his white hair arrayed about his head like a halo.

(This will put Renoir on the path for his Mystery Cult)

The players said it was an amazing night.

It's a fine line between making "Hell" harsh, and removing all hope from the players. I think I managed to get it right. They will likely not return...

What an excellent narrative, Vrylakos. Thanks so much for posting the story! (as I think about which ideas to steal and how....)

I'm glad you enjoyed it. We played for a full 12 hours. Pardon my bad spelling here and there.

There were a few other things:

Darius, the cursed ex-Crusader, was called by the damned soul of the Templar commander he murdered (and whom he believes himself to be) but the name he called Darius by was that of the Lady Pellegrina's husband, who had been gone for 17 years on Crusade up until the prior year when he "mysteriously returned". Pellegrina knew this was not her husband, but to avoid being pressured into marrying another man, she decided to accept this imposter. Slowly the covenant is realizing that the man who shares Pellegrina's bed is not all he appears. Her rightful husband appears to be a scarred, quasi-amnesiac who has been cursed for committing murder in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Why did he kill his commander? To avenge the muslim woman he had fallen in love with during his crusade... What is better? To cleave to your true husband though he was faithless and is now accursed to the point that milk curdles in his presence and misery helps his body heal, or to stick with the imposter who has helped you time and again, but refuses to explain his motives?

Lots of strange personal bits and pieces littered the hellish landscape. Coraldo got to see the fiery mountain of his sin, due to the players, on the pre-game "Sin Report Cards" I had them fill out, voting him Most Sinful in the categories of Lust, Greed, Pride, and tied for #1 in Wrath...

It was a good time. Many are unsure if saving Nadja - even if she DID awaken the spirits of Spring and banish a six-month long Winter with the power of her dance - was worth the cost.

Also, to think this was my bachelor party... hehehehe...

Great, great story :smiley: It seems you had a lot of fun, and handled it perfectly. Congratulations! :smiley: