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Molten Lava

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Orroloth's picture
Recommended Levels: Mid (8-14)
Author: Orri EiríkssonEmail:

The para-elemental plane of Magma may be the last place in the multiverse most planewalkers would like to explore, strange as that may seem. Actually, the plane of boiling rock isn't all that bad if you can stand the heat. It's certainly no Baator, and the natives won't go out of their way to cause travelers harm....as often as in some of the outer planes, that is. There is one requirement that the PCs need to fulfil, if they are to be dumped into this adventure: They need to be able to survive for one round in the molten lava, by whatever means possible. Really high-level characters, or those who are powerful enough to travel in magma under their own power, probably aren't suitable for this adventure either. After all, if you can just leave whenever you want, you probably won't give yourself time to enjoy the subtle nuances of the plane, let alone it's savage beauty.

-A Shifting Portal-

You're hardly an experienced planewalker unless you've had to deal with an unexpected visit to a plane that you never wanted to go to...

"If I had a green for every time some poor sod wandered into a portal he didn't know was there, I'd be richer than the sodding Jester." -Anonymous tout in guildhall ward-The PCs are, for some reason, walking down (street) in market ward. Perhaps they were looking to spend some jink, perhaps to see what was going on in the Grand Bazaar...it doesn't really matter. Over the heads of the pedestrians, several bladed metal archways cross the street, more than a few of them having a stylized metal sculpture of the Lady's head in the middle. This shouldn't worry any but the most paranoid PCs, since such architecture is quite common in Sigil and people are constantly passing under the arcs. However, as fortune would have it, when the PCs pass under the archway in the middle of the street, the eyes on the Lady's image begin to glow, and a shifting portal appears....and opens, sucking the party in. The key? Not knowing where the portal leads. Now, this doesn't have to be an (unfortunate?) coincident. As every graybeard and well-lanned blood knows, the Lady of Pain has total control over her portals. Perhaps she acts on a whim....and perhaps not. Why would the Lady throw the PCs into the pareelemental plane of Magma? They'll never know for sure. All they know is that they didn't die.

-An Inner Planar Ship-

As the portal draws them in, there is a sensation of scalding heat, so intense that their eyes water and their hair smokes. The PCs only have time for quick protective manoeuvres, like covering their faces, activating a magical item or casting a quick spell (if the DM is feeling merciful, he/she might suggest casting Avoid Planar Effect ). Again, if the PCs can plane-shift, they have an all too easy way out of this. The portal opens up about 900 feet above the lava, which boils and bubbles menacingly under them as they fall towards it. Fortunately, this area of magma is closer to the elemental plane of earth than it is to fire, so there are several nearly solid isles of rock floating in the lava. The PCs need to survive one round before they are rescued (actually falling into the lava causes 6D8 points of damage per round to most people, besides ruining all but the hardiest equipment. Staying above it, by floating or flying, halves the damage, but still ignites flammable equipment. Breathing is also dangerous, but the players should be able to hold their breath for one round.). Before they realize what is happening, magical obsidian hooks, attached to some sort of red leather ropes, appear out of the thick fumes to pull them to safety. As they pass into some sort of protective bubble, the lava is magically peeled off them (if they fell into it), and they enter the relative safety of the Centre of Infinity, a vessel designed to travel in the elemental planes.

-The Centre of Infinity...in the middle of nowhere-

Since the PCs now know where the portal leads, they cannot open it again, even if they could get to it again (the portal hangs 900 feet above the 'surface' of the lava). They lie, most probably smoking and blistering, on the deck of a huge galley that seems to float in the lava. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the lava never touches the galley at all. Seemingly generated by a huge crystal inside a metal pedestal on the galley's deck is a magical protective bubble, which not only keeps out the lava, but clears the air enough to breathe safely (this crystal can be replaced with another if they decide to explore other elemental planes. This is the only one aboard at the moment.). In spite of this, the heat is still obnoxious to all but tieflings and other heat resistant creatures, as it stays steady at 55 degrees Celsius. Obnoxious, but not fatal. The ship has two more of those crystals, located near the steering wheel. One that acts as an anti-gravitational device (very necessary on some elemental planes, including magma) and powers the ship's forward movement, and the other powers it's up and down movement (although, by shutting the other one down, they could easily travel down, that wouldn't be possible on elemental planes without gravity). The ship is also fitted with ethereal sails, as it used to be an ethereal ship. These are useless here.As the ship cleric (a magma genasi by the name of Liparitus) sees to their wounds, the crew, a mis-match of humans, tieflings and even a few magma genasi, mills around, interested in hearing how they could have been stupid enough to dip into the lava without protection (not that they had any choice..). The captain, a huge, frog-like tiefling called Wart, explains to them that they're at least a month's travel away from the nearest portal to the Outer planes (that he knows of), and even farther away from any portals to other elemental planes. He agrees on taking the PCs with him to this portal, if they agree on becoming one of the crew for the duration of the trip. The other choice is to swim in lava, but he's nice about it ("Can't have dead weight on board...yeh might as well do some work while yer here..."). Soon it becomes clear what an amazing stroke of luck the PCs had when they were picked up by the Centre (besides the obvious). The entire ship is yet another fantastic tour from the Outlands firm, Snail Outfitters! The ship is currently running a trial for a new two-month tour through magma, to check it for dangers. Unfortunately, two weeks ago, the up-down crystal broke down, during stress testing, leaving the ship stranded at it's current altitude. They must replace this crystal before they leave, because magic is usually no good unless it was made at least close to where it's going to be used. To this end, Snail Outfitters employ a local wizard to supply them with these very expensive crystals.

-Lava fucus, Fire Snake Steak and other delicacies-

Besides the stopping at the Molten Shore, the wizard's home, the only stop the Centre of Infinity will make is at the Fulgram Tluxx, an inn catering for non-native travellers. The inn is a prime castle that is magically suspended on a semi-molten isle of rock, and has a protective bubble, similar to the Centre’s, protecting it from the lava. The captain lets everyone know that they’ll be staying here for a couple of days, resupplying and resting. The Tluxx is far more comfortable than the Centre, the heat going as far down as 25° Celsius, and has an extensive and exotic menu for it’s customers. The PCs can, amongst other spectacular courses, try out Lava fucus; a kind of tough, spicy lava seeweed, and fire snake steak; cooled down to survivable levels. Water is expensive but plentiful. Around the inn, also on the semi-molten rock island, is a small community of renegade salamanders. The renegades are escaped slaves from the City of Brass in the Fire elemental plane, hiding away from their former master, a powerful efreet lord, in magma. During the stay, the captain trades extensively with them, both for information about the lava ahead and for special weaponry, made of a kind of obsidian that doesn’t melt. The PCs might notice a small band of apparently stranded Githyanki (they’re not) loitering at the bar, asking questions about the Centre. They are scouts for another inner planar ship: the Fire Shark, a privateer in the service of the former lord of the salamanders. The efreet is trying to isolate the salamander community, thinking he can force them to return to servitude. He doesn’t like one bit that Snail Outfitters are planning to use the inn as a pit stop in a tour.

Shark attack!

If the PCs won’t mention the suspicious looking giths to the captain, the Centre will be taken by surprise. If they do mention them, all sorts of precautions can be made, ballistas armed and spells memorized. The Fire Shark attacks three days after the Centre leaves Fulgram Tluxx. It soon becomes clear that the Shark is a far better vessel for combat. She's is a former githyanki astral ship, modified to survive in the hotter elemental planes, similarly to the Centre. The difference is that she has a full crew of fully armed warriors, half githyanki, half human, and the ship’s vertical control is working perfectly. Her captain is an unusual githyanki-human crossbreed. They attack relentlessly and will only try to retreat if they suffer at least 50% loss.

-Getting home-

If the Centre survives the privateer attack, the rest of the journey goes as planned. The captain buys a new crystal for the ship, and then takes the PCs to the portal he told them of. If they did well, he’ll offer them a job, as sailors on his ship. The Centre of Infinity, he explains, can always use good crewmembers, and if they’re interested, they can go with him to the other elemental planes (the Centre isn’t always working for S.O.). It’s highly possible that the PCs manage to capture the Fire Shark’s vertical crystal, shortening the trip by a week, or even capturing the entire ship. The Fire Shark needs a crew of least ten to be operated at full efficiency, but the Centre’s captain will happily tow them to the nearest port if they request it.

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