Infernal swamp ideas?

So the next plot point in a long running quest will have a newly-gauntleted "healer" mage (Sebastian) recover a minor artifact from a demon.

This came about rather spontaneously in the last session, and thus I'm not quite prepared for it.

The demon stole the artifact in question from a mage 100 years ago, and has been hiding it ever since. It's in the Roman tribunal, so I'm thinking that the demon will be an Aerial demon that causes the infamous "roman fevers". I'd like the demon to have had a part in the fever that took the life of Otto III in 1002. I'm thinking the demon has his lair in an infernal swamp north of Rome.

I'm thinking that NPC mages that Sebastian is working for have been planning this raid for Holy Saturday, when the demon will not be able to assume his physical form. Due to the low-power of all the PC's involved, they will not be on the front lines of the battle. Rather, they will be in charge of getting into the lair, finding the artifact, and getting out. Afterwards, the Sebastian will need to patch up some of the battle damage.

I'd love to get some quick ideas for what this infernal swamp might be like, and what servants the demon might have. One obvious power of the demon would be causing fevers. For its minions, I might go with severly warped humans that have nasty frog tongues that can pull swords from opponents' hands (although this might be a little too high-fantasy for my tastes.)

Any thoughts on the physical lair of the demon would be welcome as well.

Thanks in advance,

Have the vapors of the swamp accentuate the negative personality characteristics-- a roll every so often or they begin to act more and more on those negative characteristics...

Or the vapors could infuse them with thoughts of the seven sins... causing them to act in ways focused on a particular sin-- gluttonous grogs will want to stop to eat, greedy grogs will demand pay, slothful grogs will want to make camp by way of just sitting down...etc.

Insects, snakes, birds could all become more vicious, harrying wounded individuals, being especially drawn to those who are strong in the four realms and maybe attacking them en masse beforehand. It doesn't seem like a place I'd want people who are tainted with evil, have fae blood, people with guardian angels, ...that kind of thing, I'd want the most vanilla grogs possible. None of the fauna would have any Might per se, but maybe it would all considered tainted with evil.

You could also follow a classic underworld theme, give them a disease if they eat anything or take anything from the swamp...basically tying themselves to the swamp. Certainly any wounds received in the swamp will fester no matter what, and there should be a heightened chance of disease regardless. I think the chance of gaining the tainted with evil flaw should be there unless they take some sort of precaution against it-- fasting, a blessing, anoiting of holy oil, something.

The weather could also get worse and worse as they approach the demon's lair. Thick mist they can't see through, heavy rain that slows them, high winds that make archers useless.

All of this combined with an increasing Infernal aura, such that spellcasting will only get an uglier chance of causing some sort of evil botch and terrible Twilight. Botches leave an awful, acidic taste, a greasy feeling on skin, a cold crawling itch on the back of the neck.

The lair itself could be a blackened, twisted tree that looks like an inverted cross, where numerous predators have taken up residence, where horrible poisonous plants grow and toxic vapors linger...everything they've seen up to this point, only more potent.

Hope that helps.


Thanks Ben, excellently disgusting thoughts, all.

Perhaps the demon has placed the artifact (an enchanted bone) at the bottom of a vaporous stagnant pool. This would force some spell casting by the mage, with possible side effects. A battle between the grogs and a snake while the mage goes muck-diving could be interesting.....


The best idea for an Infernal Swamp I can recall is the "Malakaz" encounter from the old Expert D&D module X4: Master of Death. Very creepy, sentient swamp that sends nightmares etc against the characters and fits the whole Infernal regio thing. Worth tracking down for ideas anyway IMO (can get from Paizo in PDF for about $5 IIRC).

Otherwise get the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, by Stephen Donaldson (IIRC it's in the 1st book - the Wounded Land) which has a story told of some scouts that return from an equally Infernal swamp that might fit your concept. You can probably track the book down at a second hand store or library easily enough. Can't remember the chapter title.



Or do the Lord of the Rings, Mere of dead men thing. In the waters of the swamp are the reanimated remains of the unquiet dead slain by the demons diseases. All have low infernal might zombies, ghouls. You know, bloated stenching corpses hideously discoloured by the nasty that killed them, trying to pull grogs and magi down with them.

As for the cave itself, the fun part about swamp caves is that they don't tend to keep water out, instead you have air pockets keeping the water from rising to the ceiling, so waterfilled caves you have to dive thru. For the whole coated in poluted water, all lights out, and the grogs and magi desperately trying to get a light going so they can find the artifact they are looking for.

You can also have what looks like an infernal ritual in place from before Holy Saturday. Some kind of incense smoking in a burner, could be left active, filling the cave to what end the magi do not know. The demon might not be able to manifest, but that is no reason not to have passive spells still running, weakened though they would be.

... considering that many invading armies succumbed to the fevers, this could potentially be VERY nasty. And kind of funny to describe the various ghouls bearing rusty arms from different eras. Our military history buff player would get a kick out of that.

I thought this would happen. Our next session is in a week, and I dont' have time to do this right. So I guess the next session will turn into PLANNING the raid, with a bit more politicking or something. It'll give me more time get the swamp environs set up. I guess I can always throw an encounter at the characters on the way to the swamp. Maybe something interesting and foreboding on Good Friday....

I really like the flooded cave idea, thrakhath (?). Yuk.

(ps., ever heard the King Krimson album, Thrak?)


no, don't listen to much music.