The Gateway To Hell

heklaPremise

The Infernal use a volcanic eruption in Iceland to open a gateway to Earth. The PCs join forces with a group of knights on a quest to seal the gateway to what is perceived to be hell and banish the demons.

The Infernals

A humanoid species that live on the volcanic world of Ash. They are able to live on heat alone, their black and cracked skin glowing red as they convert it into sustenance. Coupled with the horns that grow from either their forehead or temples they resemble the Christian imagery of demons.

Mastering thermodynamics they can use heat in a variety of ways, including opening portals to other locations in the universe. Such portals are opened either through inscribed symbols or gates constructed from bones.

When a portal forms at the chosen destination a great deal of heat is released, enough to start fires or disintegrate those who get too close. The easiest way to prevent their arrival being detected is open portals near or in sources of great heat, such as volcanoes. They may also open portals beneath the ocean, so that the only indication of their approach is the water boiling as the portal opens.

Once they have established a foothold the Infernal will explore and seek out those who can act as their agents. They prey upon the fear and superstition of other races going so far as to play into any myths and legends that will enhance their mystique.

To this end the Infernal encourage the creation of cults and religions around them. In this way their followers will regulate and organise themselves, with the Infernals only having to make occasional appearances to keep them in line. Found of slavery the Infernals will have these cults and religions work to further their goals and ensure that their presence is kept a secret.

Ultimately their plan to ignite new worlds, so that they may feed on the resulting heat, but they are patient. They will spend time learning about and testing new species, so that they might remember them when they are gone.

Virtually immortal the Infernal can store heat within their bodies and then unleash it to form whips made of fire out of thin air or to perform their ‘magic’. They may bestow gifts upon other species, especially those who are loyal to them, using their thermodynamic knowledge to twist and enhance genetic codes.

Infernals are not careless with displays of power, since it is fuelled by the same heat that they need to live. As such they demand sacrifices to replenish themselves after each use of magic or gift that is bestowed.

The Infernals are unaware of the existence of Shards. These portals allow them to appear in any region which is extremely hot and time periods with numerous fires (coincidentally placing them during periods of increased superstition).

While their goal to incinerate any location is the most obvious danger the Infernals cause problems with their manipulation of other species. Discovery of their existence can prevent or stall the age of reason, since they appear to confirm the existence of demons.

To represent the Infernals use the write-up for the Sygorax, with their energy whip now being composed of fire. Similarly their Blood Magic is now Fire Magic but have the same effect. In addition they gain the minor good trait Environmental (Extreme Heat).

Background

In 1300 the stratovolcano Hekla erupted with incredible force, covering large regions in ash and volcanic rock. Settlements were damaged and hundreds lost their lives. Worse still the volcanic activity has allowed Inferno to establish a portal, from a colony on the planet Vitirak.

Three Infernal have explored the region. Any survivors they encountered have been offered aide in return for their worship, those who refuse are put to death. A cult has formed around them, with unwary travellers captured and taken for slave labour on Vitirak.

News of these demonic beings have reached the Icelandic nobles and the Earl of Iceland. They have despatched four knights to travel across the cursed land to the Hekla and banish the demons. So far the journey has been harsh, with the land dying around them.

Ormur, Strula, Olaf and Loftson’s faith has been tested but now they have entered the area surrounding Hekla in the southern region of Iceland. Here the cults hold sway and the closer they travel to the volcano the more they will feel the presence of the Infernal.

Further information about Hekla can be found on wikipedia.

Outline

The PCs arrive in the frozen fields of Iceland, a mixture of snow and ash covering the land. The trees and plants wither and die, joining the cattle rotting in the fields. In the distance they can see the volcano itself, still belching out smoke.

Nearby is the ruin of a village, abandoned as a result of the devastation. The sound of battle and the clash of swords indicate that there is life nearby. Investigating they see the four knights in battle with cloaked cultists.

The PCs can remain hidden or choose a side to help. The cultists soon reveal themselves as unnatural as one breaths fire, killing Strula’s steed. If the PCs do nothing the knights finish off the cultists, although not without injury.

If the PCs haven’t made their presence known by now one of the knights will see them. Although treated with caution the knights are in desperate need of help so will ask if the PCs are holy men and if they oppose evil. Answers in the affirmative will led to their recruitment in the knights crusade.

The knights explain the situation, introducing themselves as loyal subjects of the Earl of Iceland and the King of Norway. They are on a holy mission to eradicate the demons which the cultists worship and close the gateway to hell which lies at the centre of Hekla, the volcano they can see in the distance.

The unnatural abilities should tell the PCs that something isn’t right and persuade them to join the knights. The knights are noble men but tired from battle and the environmental conditions. All have scars or fresh wounds. Breathing the ash filled air has given each of them a terrible cough.

Travel is slow and harsh. Signs of the cults activity are everywhere, from the bodies of their victims to overturned wagons and carts. The knights share their meagre supplies and take turns taking watch during the night, as the others sleep around a camp fire.

Take this time to let the PCs get to know the knights. Craft the personalities of the NPCs to appeal to the players, such as having them share motivation or skills. The adversity should bring them together in a common cause.

As they near Hekla they find a small settlement, Hvek. The cultists hold sway here, worshipping demonic effigies of the Infernals. Crudely constructed cages contain captured slaves, ready for transportation to Vitirak.

Luckily for the PCs most of the cultists wear cloaks and scarves to cover their faces. This allows them to effectively conceal their identity and mingle with the cultists. This is useful as they will need to gather supplies before they push on to the lava-fields and up the side of the volcano. They might also want to free the slaves.

Mingling with the cultists they can learn more about the Infernals and the gifts they bestow upon the chosen. In addition to being able to breath fire some of the cultists show immunity to heat, eyes that can see heat sources and clawed hands able to burn with a touch.

This can also be an opportunity for the PCs to first encounter an Infernal. The cultists set their demonic effigy alight and from the resulting flames emerge an Infernal. The Infernal whips them into a frenzy, promising them glory and protection from the volcano.

It is also at this stage that the group might loose a knight, preferably one that they have bonded with. An opportunity to free a slave, stop an innocent from being tortured or slay a demon could cause a knight to shed his disguise and get caught.

Do the PCs and the other knights maintain their cover in the hopes of completing their mission or do they risk everything to try and save him? This should be a dramatic scene where the players have to make a tough decision.

If they escape they can push on to the lava fields. If they fight and are captured they will join the slaves as they are driven towards the volcano on foot. Either way the journey is difficult, with rivers of lava capable of burning anyone to ash within seconds. Worse still another eruption causes rocks up to 17cm long to bombard the fields, forcing them to run for cover to avoid from being hit or splashed by lava as the rocks hit the lava streams.

Climbing the volcano is equally arduous. Hopefully the PCs will have at least some points in the Climbing skill. The knights may struggle here and the PCs could have an opportunity to try and save one from falling or having to chose whether to help someone at the risk of being dragged down with them.

Reaching the summit of the volcano the PCs can find the other Infernal, protecting flaming gateway to Vitirak. The gateway itself is made from bones, harvested from those who died during the eruption of the volcano.

The wails of the slaves on the other side of the gateway should persuade the PCs to see what is on the other side. There might also be another shipment of slaves being ushered through as they arrive. If they were captured they’ll have no choice but to go through.

Vitirak is a volcanic world. Everything the PCs have endured is nothing compared to the sheer scale of this alien planet. Slaves toil in the lava fields, obtaining materials for the Infernals inscrutable structures. From the perspective of the knights this is hell itself.

What the PCs do is ultimately up to them. Closing the gate on Hekla is only a temporary measure. To ensure that the Infernal can’t re-establish the link the portal on their side must be closed as well, of course that would leave someone stranded. Either a knight can sacrifice himself or the PCs can use their TARDIS to travel there and close the link.

Before they close the link the PCs may want to free the slaves. The Infernal are overconfident, believing they have broken the spirits of the slaves. If the PCs can rally them then they may ignite an uprising, encouraging them to make a break for freedom. It is unlikely that all the slaves will be able to make their way through. There are some who are simply too weak to survive the attempt, especially once the Infernal try to quell the rebellion. Still enough should make it through for the players to feel this was a victory.

Study of the inscribed portal on Vitirak can allow a clever PC to change the co-ordinates, so that the gateway opens in a cold region. Without sources of heat the Infernal will retreat and seek other areas to conquer.

On Hekla if the Infernal make too much use of their magic they may destabilise the area. If the volcano erupts again the ground upon which the gateway stands may give way, destroying it as it falls into the lava.

Without the Infernals the cultists will soon scatter. In time their secret worship of the demonic race might summon them back to Iceland. This can give any surviving knights a continued quest to carry out.

In the PCs may encounter the Infernals again in the future but for now they have pushed back the invasion.

This entry was posted in Adventure. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s