View Full Version : Rate this Villain: Vex the Malign

2007-09-04, 10:18 AM
Vex has been influenced by more than a few gory horror films, Klaxx the lich from D&D2: Wrath of the Dragon God, a dim recollection of press for The Suffering video game, and D&D PSA (http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=CreativeJuices7)'s Morthos imitation.

HistoryLex Vietmaghn was born some 432 years ago in Midgard to a young parishioner mother and a slightly older man of the shugenja. His mother and father travelled for some time together spreading the word of Odin and Thor to the darkest regions. When his mother, Cassandra, became with child, Alexander insisted that she return home to Midgard until the child came of age. However, a firey woman, Cassandra denied him his martial reprieve and continued on alongside him.

Eventually, their travels pitted them against a conjurer of foul demons and spirits. Included were a number of Vrocks, and Cassandra in her weakened and vulnerable state soon fell victim to their hazardous demonic spores. Alexander was able to protect her long enough to escape with their lives, and she soon recovered without issue.

Several months later, Lex was born, and his parents rejoiced. The couple settled down, delegating their journeys to younger supplicants of the clergy, to raise Lex as best as they could. When Lex was ten years old, he began displaying sorcerous talents, performing minor tricks such as minor electrical jolts and light-fingered telekinesis.

The village elders were amazed, they could scarcely believe that the child of two farmers nee holy priests could have inherited some innate magical talent, but this appeared to be the case. However, as time went by, it became more and more apparent that Lex wasn't inheriting only sorcerous skills, but demonic ones as well.

The first incident of this was shortly after his sixteenth bithday when a young outlaw arrived in the village, and began disparaging all he could lay eyes on, including his fair mother. Lex confronted the man and eventually the argument grew violent. Lex's eyes flared red, and as he struck the man down, a similar flame engulfed his fist. The villain was not burned, but had been killed outright regardless.

For the rest of his time in the village, Lex was ostracised. People whispered and muttered under their breath near him, telling tales of demons and monsters and alleged heinous acts. In reality, he was a hard-working student and a dutiful farmer's son, who said his prayers each night. But his ways were being gradually changed by these whisperings, and his father recognised it.

When Lex was twenty years old, his mother passed away from Vile Rigidity. Lex was at her bedside for the entire ordeal, including her passing, and heard the final gasps of breath that passed her cracked lips. Realising that the villagers would blame him for causing the affliction, Alexander sent Lex away to a university in Beldor, and bid him never to return for his own safety.

In his new environment, Lex did his best to hide his inherited demonic abilities and ply them off as mere sorcery, a trait more readily accepted. His penchant for magical study eventually earned him a prestigious place in the Transmutation department of the Mystical Experimentation Complex, just as the Great War began to heat up.

Realising the necessity of better soldiers for the war, Lex stepped up his experiments beyond the restrictions of the complex, picking up orphans and beggars from the streets to test his potions and tonics on. He knew it was a vile action that would have proven the prejudices of his hometown, but he felt it necessary to save many millions of lives. However, he was eventually discovered, and sentenced to fifty years in Larkhill prison for unnatural acts of arcane experimentation.

Ok, now time for a history lesson.

402 years ago, Larkhill Prison was a fairly recent institution, only 60 years old. Built to contain the worst inmates imaginable, and whilst it had it's fair share of breakouts, it did it's job well.

However, war brings everyone to their knees. With funds to the prison instead going to help win the Great War, started 442 years ago, the prison suffered considerably. Maintenance started going undone, and eventually disease began to stir in the population.

Then, twenty inmates fell sick with a terrible plague of Slimy Doom. To contain the outbreak, the guards locked them away in a storage room in the underground boiler level. 19 of the inmates fell to their sickness, but the twentieth survived. He banged desperately on the door to be let out, but the guards couldn't risk releasing the plague as well.

As a result, he was locked away and forgotten in the storage room. To survive, he began feeding on the carcasses of the other inmates, until eventually he died of thirst. He awoke as a gravetouched ghoul, still hungering for living flesh, and the necromantic energies of his creation spurred four more inmates to awaken as plague blights.

The ghoul sent the blights to beat at the stone walls of the room, hoping to gradually tear it down and wreak revenge on his imprisoners. The guards heard this, and rapidly sealed an earth elemental into the structure, reinforcing it beyond the ability of the blights to damage, entombing them forever. As a matter of government embarassment, the warden of the time erased the incident from the books with a fire that tore through the record library later that year.

The ghoul and his plague blight minions stayed locked away for all four hundred years, and Vex the Malign has hungered for all of them.
CrunchVex the Malign: Gravetouched Ghoul Human Warlock 3/Sorcerer 4*/Eldritch Theurge 6.
*Taking the Divine Companion alternative class feature in place of the regular Summon Familiar, Complete Champion page 51
Total CR: 14 (But he can easily nuke most things of that level)
Skills*: Bluff +22, Concentration +22, Diplomacy +10, Disguise +12, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (the planes) +15, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +22, Use Magic Device +21
Feats: Contagious Paralysis, Eschew Materialsh, Multiattackb, Point-Blank Shot, Retributive Spell, Somatic Weaponry, Violate Spell-Like Ability

Lesser & Least Invocations, Eldritch Blast 5d6. Up to 5th level Sorcerer spells (He could grab a familiar, but where from?).

If he paralyses someone, there's a DC 22 Fortitude save to avoid catching it when you try to move them out of the line of fire, or else you add to it's fuel. Thanks to Somatic Weaponry, he could hold wands or other items and still cast spells without issue (It's almost like a free Still Spell) and his UMD ensures he doesn't have trouble doing so. And of course, he gets to put Essence and Blast invocations onto his Eldritch Blast, plus spell effects via Spellbast. So here's an idea: Eldritch Spear with a Spellbast (greater fireburst). That's the equivalent of a d8 version of Fireball from 250 ft. away. So he gets to deal up to 80 damage from a distance that most melee characters need a couple of Run actions to cover.

For personal defense, he also has Fiendish Resistance (Fast Healing), damage reduction 4/cold iron and Turn Resistance +2. With Retributive Spell, he can ensure that anyone that manages to get close enough to hurt him regrets the decision. Violate Spell-Like Ability increases this regret, almost permanently cutting down your HP by up to 15 points if he uses it with the Eldritch Blast, 30 with both uses. The Sor/Wiz spell Ghoul Glyph is hilariously handy, whilst he Eschews the Materials of it, the components are soil from a Ghoul's lair :biggrin:

Assuming Greater Mage Armor and Shield, he has an unequipped AC of 22 plus Dexterity

*Assuming a modest Intelligence of 18 and a Charisma of 22. Ghoul adds +2 to them, so a starting pair of 16 and 18 works nicely with level adds.

If things fall short, he can always gain up to 4 more Eldritch Theurge levels, improving his Eldritch Blast damage, his invocations, his spells, his Fiendish Resistance, his Damage Reduction...
Once Theurge is at the full 10, you can advance either of the base classes, or pursue prestige classes. In the latter case, applying 2 levels of Fatespinner to his Warlock casting and 1 level of another spellcasting prestige class for Sorcerer. This nets you 8th level spells and 7d6 Eldritch Blast. To advance both at once is a little sketchy, but you can take Southern Magician (Feat, Races of Faerun) you can conceivably move into Mystic Theurge and use the arcane for Warlock and the divine for Sorcerer.Okay, so it's fairly clear that Vex is a villain, whilst Lex might well have been a great adventurer.

As a villain, Vex specialises in the world-changing schemes. Literally, his specialty was researching transmutation of creatures after all, and during the Great War no less. Now, he's had over 400 years to plot his vengeance upon the world and he's got 4 pretty powerful minions to do it with (Plague Blights, Libris Mortis page 115).

Here's a couple of schemes he could get up to:
The absolute root cause of his present state was the Great War. This means that he may move to unleash Bel'la Oloth (Better known in the metagame as ID38). This would involve first tracking her down, so historical libraries and rumour tracking would be distinct areas of interest. Followed then by actually getting there, depending on the defenses of the location this could involve rallying an army, either by creating more undead or by domination or some other method. Lastly of course, he gets there, lets her out of her prison, and sits back as the world is annihilated.
He could resume his work, it having landed him in the prison that ultimately became his tomb. A slew of children and vagabonds begin disappearing off the streets all across the nation. He secludes them underground in hidden catacombs, carved personally by his Eldritch Hammer Blast (Hammer Blast, Complete Mage page 124), where he performs countless experiments in the name of finally producing the ultimate creature. He's presently in a state of loathing for his undead state, so the likelihood is that he'd find a way to permanently inhabit it as well (Perhaps using Imprison Possessor (http://www.imarvintpa.com/dndlive/spells.php?ID=5559) with Magic Jar or True Mind Switch (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/powers/mindSwitchTrue.htm)). To do so, he might need rare/expensive scrolls and other magic items, because his warlock/sorcerer abilities will only take him so far, but he's hardly lacking Use Magic Device. Once this happens, he'd start work on a hostile takeover to subjugate the races involved in the Great War (Read: All humanoids).
Supervillain mode. If you can't beat them, disintegrate them. Eberron is replete with plot devices he could set to work building to terrorise Beldor and Midgard chiefly. A couple of the Eldritch Machines presented in Eberron Campaign Setting that he might use are the Emerald Reanimator and the Necromantic Lens. The former raises all creatures that die within 2 miles as zombies under the creator. The latter produces Mass Inflict Light Wounds out to a 5 mile radius. You'd need to change them around a bit for the differences in cosmology between Eberron and most other campaign settings, but it's doable. It may eventually end up that Eberron's Spell Sink (Antimagic Field out to 3 miles) is necessary to put a hold on the monster.Ultimately, Vex can also be incorporate as a minion of another greater evil, though more likely he's pulling strings behind the curtain.
As an antihero, Lex suffers from the stereotypical prejudiced belief that all warlocks are descended from those that trafficked willingly with demons, and his belief of the greater good and the needs of the many.

Here's a couple ways to integrate him into a campaign:
If there's a war going on, perhaps Lex is employed by the PC's nation or beneficiary to explore his experimentation for a weapon against the enemy. In this case, the PCs may have to consider the moral issues of snatching enemy soldiers and various downtrodden fellows for his experiments, all the while unknowing of his warlock side. Maybe he's on the enemy's side and the PCs cross paths as he travels to another laboratory in enemy territory.
Perhaps the PCs are the ones that finally discover his dark secrets. Perhaps they find him carrying a shrieking child into the lab, or beating a poor soul down an alleyway.Of course, they too could be victims. From here, they need to defeat him to capture him, and then they could serve as chief witnesses to his trial. Upon his escape from the Locked Room, Vex would be certain to take vengeance upon them.
Finally, perhaps they know him while he's imprisoned. The pivotal issue is that the prison is lacking the funds it needs to operate. Maybe the PCs are mercenary guards, hired on the cheap to keep order. They might even have been involved in his eventual imprisoning in the Locked Room. Alternatively, perhaps they're prisoners themselves. It's unlikely they'd be in the room with him, but they might get to know him before the disease reaches its head. From thereon, they might hear that he was quarantined and then of the fire in the archives. If they connect the dots, they'll realise that the fire was intentional to erase Lex from history.Lex is in all ways an antihero, trying to live an honest living and work loyally for his country's well-being, but trapped indelibly by his accidental demonic inheritance and the knowledge that he can never go home without being lynched and burned.

2007-09-04, 03:06 PM
I quite like him, on a scale of 1 thorugh 10, ten being the highest i'd give him a seven. Just why did he change his name

2007-09-04, 03:10 PM
Vex the Malign is actually an anagram of Lex Vietmaghn. He may be undead, but he's spent over 400 years locked in a room underneath the most vile prison imaginable. He spent too much time thinking on other things, like revenge, to accurately remember his own name.

2007-09-04, 05:30 PM
He remembered all the letters, but not the order? I'd find it more likely he changed his name on purpose.
How did Vex escape? Earth elementals don't seem to have damage reduction or healing. Why couldn't the blights eventually kill it? Why didn't they just have the elemental earth glide into that room and kill Vex and the blights?

2007-09-04, 06:08 PM
He remembered all the letters, but not the order? I'd find it more likely he changed his name on purpose.

How did Vex escape? Earth elementals don't seem to have damage reduction or healing. Why couldn't the blights eventually kill it? Why didn't they just have the elemental earth glide into that room and kill Vex and the blights?

The elemental was bound to the room's structure (Elemental-bound objects are detailed in the Eberron Campaign Setting, though Vex isn't uniquely Eberronian) as a way to enhance the structure beyond his capabilities to actually destroy it, thus ensuring his imprisonment. The specific bound elemental was a Large Earth elemental, which wouldn't have survive in any case.

As for how he escapes, that's really up to the individual DM that employs him. Myself, I err towards the idea that he combined Greater Fireburst with his Eldritch Blast via the Spellblast invocation from the Eldritch Theurge levels, thus allowing him to (Over the realistic course of 106 days, because he can only cast it once/day) whittle away the wall (But not the door, that's still too strong). I imagined this in-context discovery after a player entered the Locked Room, majorly ticked him off, and then locked the door again. Since Vex is inherently fire-based, that is we see his best abilities utilising fire, and fire's relation to anger, he sparked the heck up and started beating at the thing for roughly 106 days afterward.

2007-09-05, 04:15 AM
Hmm...guess I should talk a little more about the Plague Blights:
Thean Carnideta - Male Human - Sentenced to 75 years imprisonment in Larkhill's Rock Block for crimes of genocide, but became ill before he could be processed.
Warren Anatic - Male Human - Sentenced to 70 years imprisonment in the Melee Block for his part in an international gang war.
Anna Minecritaef - Female Tiefling - Imprisoned for 60 years in the Spell Block for acts of crop devastation.
Atlasen Peticenicern - Male Gray Elf - Willfull addition of virulent diseases into populated areas, sentence to Rock Block for 70 years but like Thean fell ill before he could be processed. Given his crime, it's possible the plague was his doing.

Thean Carnideta - Thean had an irrational hatred of everything non-Human. Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Halflings, the like, he believed they were conspiring to destroy Humans by deliberately failing to reinforce strategical positions in the War. In his frustration and anger, he brutily slaughtered all non-Humans he encountered for two months, a total of over 700 victims. He hid the bodies near craters and similar disaster areas to mask the cause of death, but was eventually discovered when his most recent victim, a Halfling, left rigor mortis during the relocation and her arm fell out of his backpack for his entire company to see. He was sentenced ad hoc to 75 years in Larkhill's Rock Block for his crimes, but suffered debilitating stomach pains and vomiting five hours after entering the prison. The Warden determined he was suffering from Slimy Doom and he was quarantined in the Locked Room with the other victims.

Warren Anatic - Warren earned his brutal reputation amongst the streets of Hecaten. He gradually worked his way up the ranks of the local cartels until he found himself sitting, bloody handed, atop the thrones of four separate crime syndicates. The Great War had drawn attention away from anything criminal within the capital cities, so he decided to orchestrate a hostile takeover of several other cartels in the meantime. He was captured by the head of the guard on his way to enlist, fighting single-handedly against thirty opponents. He was sentenced to 70 years for the mass-murder and inspiration of hostilities convictions. He was among the first inmates in the Melee Block of Larkhill to fall ill, and the first Lex began eating, due largely to his massive frame.

Anna Minecritaef - Anna grew up among the members of a Druid Circle in Midgard, not ten miles from Lex's own home village, where she was always bored and dulled by the tedious activities of daily life. The Great War soon brought it's troubles to her forest however, but instead of recoiling in horror at the devastation, she enjoyed it. From then on, she burned ever field and slew every farm animal she came across, from Midgard to Liosliath to Cairo, until she was finally captured by a force of near fifty guardsmen. She was sentenced to 65 years in the Spell Block, but was vomited on by Atlasen and fell ill with Slimy Doom three days after arriving. She was the last corpse Lex fed upon for sustenance, though she was one of the first to die in the Locked Room.

Atlasen Peticenicern - Atlasen firmly believed in the use of "designed diseases" to win the Great War. He knew that regardless of her abilities, Bel'la Oloth could still claim sickness and could fall by it's touch. He devoted his final years to the creation of new diseases through natural selection and intermixing, infecting victims with different diseases and releasing them into populated areas, hoping that the viruses would mingle and mutate into something all the more virulent and deadly. He was captured in his laboratory when a survivor reached the guards and informed them of his monstrous (If government funded) work. He was sentenced to 70 years petrified in the Rock Block of Larkhill, but three days after entering fell violently sick with Slimy Doom. In the centuries he was sealed away in the Locked Room, Vex considered that Atlasen could have been the originator of the plague, but dismissed it giving his previous successes and the uncompromised failure the plague would represent.

2007-09-05, 07:49 AM
Builds...mmm, crunchy :smallyuk:

Now, because of the method of their reanimation, the Blights don't have any of their original abilities. However, if Vex were to kill them, reanimate them as something mindless (Which according to the rules text of Revive Undead, you can), and then Awaken Undead them, they would have their original class abilities, memories, and personalities.

Alternatively, they might take levels in Emancipated Spawn, which they could in theory do, given that they were created by a release of negative energy from Vex's own creation, not Vex himself, and that release has since long dissipated (Ie. "dead"). Rules-tricky, but it's possible, and only 3 levels too.

Thean Carnideta - Plague Blight Human Monk 5/Sorcerer 6
Feats (In order): Spirit Sense, Surge of Malevolence, [Stunning Fist], [Combat Reflexes], Debilitating Spell, Fell Drain, Vile Ki Strike
Thean enjoys using his Fell Debilitating Spells from a distance, allowing him to deal both Constitution and Level damage. When he gets into close combat, his Stunning Fist, Combat Reflexes, and Vile Ki Strike, make him a dangerous opponent to stay in close combat with. He also gets at least one bonus feat for his taint, feel free to plug whatever you like in, I personally prefer Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike) and Debilitating Strike.

Thean specialises in damaging the two most vulnerable statistics in D&D: Levels and Constitution. If he can't do this, he Stuns the opponent and kicks into high gear with Girallon's Blessing.

Warren Anatic - Plague Blight Human Ninja 7/Avenging Executioner 4
Feats (In order): Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Unarmed Strike, Combat Reflexes, Throat Punch, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
Warren is all about terrorising his opponents. He sneaks up on them to keep them flatfooted, at which point he sudden strikes them, scares everyone nearby, leaving them flatfooted, etc. Basically, his opening move sets the stage for a bloodbath through gratuitous use of +6d6 sudden strike. If there's a spellcaster around, he sneaks up on them and uses Throat Punch to keep them quiet. With Combat Reflexes and Dread Blade, anyone trying to get into position to help his initial victim is liable to get skewered just as badly.

Warren's weapon of choice is at least one Longsword, but he can make do with one sword and an empty hand (For spellcasters). He functions best if you slip in some Skill Tricks (Such as Spot the Weak Point)

Anna Minecritaef - Plague Blight Tiefling Druid 6/Blighter 5
Feats (In order): Improved Toughness, Fell Drain, Fast Wild Shape, Cheetah's Speed
Anna does best at deforestation, the destruction of crops and livestock, it's what she was imprisoned for after all. However, it's not her only trick, she's capable of taking dangerous forms through her Wild Shape, which she can use as a move action, and she is quite adept with Undead as well (She favours the Fiery Skeleton variant in Libris Mortis as her undead of choice).

Anna serves cannily as the scout and messenger of Vex, because she is easily one of the fastest (Due to Cheetah's Speed and her Wild Shape forms).

Atlasen Peticenicern - Plague Blight Gray Elf Rogue 3/Fighter 1/Wizard 1/Cleric 1/Cancer Mage 5
Feats (In order): Great Fortitude, [Combat Expertise], Iron Will, Poison Immunity, Eschew Materials
A specialist in disease and viruses, Atlasen is no stranger to using them as weaponry. In addition, his Wizard and Cleric levels allow him to use spells to sneak attack +4d6 against Undead and Constructs (Grave Strike and Golem Strike, respectively). The +4d6 makes him adept at snatching unfortunate souls up to infect with his Intelligent viruses.

Yes I'm aware that Cancer Mages become immune to negative disease effects at 1st level. Consider what that implicates for a while :smallwink:

2007-09-06, 11:48 AM
Any thoughts?

2007-09-06, 02:49 PM
Neat concept. Nice cronies. I'd say 8.7 outta 10. :smallwink:

2007-09-10, 10:20 AM
(7+8.7)/2 equals an average score of: #drumroll# 7.85!

Yay! He's above-above-average! :smallsmile:

2007-09-11, 06:25 PM
Example Campaign - Old Wounds

Part One - Hellfire
The PCs decide to explore the derelict prison nearby. Abandoned a few decades ago, there are rumours that the cache of contraband and confiscated items in the vaults are not quite empty. Compounded on this is the rumour that one of the earliest Wardens, fearing the inmates would break free due to the decrepit conditions, locked away a great treasure in the basement of the prison, but died before he could retrieve it.

The PCs start out on a typical dungeon crawl. They wander around the crumbling ruins of the once-great prison, hoping to find some lost treasure. They have two options: Go for the vaults above-ground or go for the supposed great treasure in the basement. Any experienced player will go for the big thing first, because it's likely to have the most resistance and need the most resources to take the guardians down.

If they go down into the basement, they should encounter a Ruin Elemental (Monster Manual V) or two (CR 10/12). A single Sepulchral Thief (Cityscape, CR 12) guarding its treasured horde near the vaults (Always good to keep them on their toes) should be found above-ground. Various rodents and vermin should roam the cells. Be very certain that there are no signs of illness around the prison, the vermin are feasting on scraps of food left in the pantries for example.

Whether they fight the Ruin Elementals or the Sepulchral Thief, they'll eventually find their way to the oldest parts of the basement. Read or paraphrase the following to them at this time:

The lighting is dim and the area is hard to make out in specific detail. You can hear the dripping of water on old metal piping somewhere, and small puddles erratically dot the floor.

A pair of doors sit at the end of a nearby corridor. Both appear quite rusted and old, you barely recognise the architecture.
One of the doors seems to be buckling from the other side, and a small trail of dirt is seeping in from underneath.
The other door seems to be in better condition. A small lantern hung by string to the ceiling sways back and forth infront of it, the continual flame from it flickering, casting eerie shadows that betray the presence of strange sigils on the door and the connecting wall. A small keyhole is cut into the door, but it seems clear it has been locked for many years.
They now have the option of opening the first door (Which causes a brief flood of dirt and earth into the corridor. This door would have lead to another room, but work was discontinued before it could be finished. A player that figures this out may reconsider opening the second door.)
The second door, infront of the swinging lantern, has what was once a good lock, but which has since deteriorate to the status of an average lock (Open Lock DC 25). A character that manages to open the door notices that the lock is only on the outside.

They open the door into a pitch black room. The lantern shows a few skeletons inside the doorway, but nothing specific. A character with darkvision may note that there are about fifteen skeletons in prisoner fatigues inside, and the floor is covered with dirt. If they enter, perhaps to examine the bodies or look for the purported treasure, the door closes behind them. Quote or paraphrase the following passage:
A deep, sophisticated, and clearly eloquent voice alerts you to the presence of something...unnatural in the room. The masculine voice says, matter-of-factly, “You trespass into the tomb of Vex the Malign. For my gratitude, you must join me for dinner”
They can now either try and be diplomatic with Vex or they can try to flee. To flee, they need to find a way past the 4 Plague Blights. Diplomacy is lost on Vex, as is Intimidate, because there's no conceivable way he would let food or escape pass his hands without a fight. However, a successful Bluff check may allow them to get closer to the door and flee. Between the Sepulchral Thief and the Ruin Elementals, they shouldn't be in much position to fight him, especially not in the pitch black he can see in perfectly.

The smart players will relock the door quickly behind them, preventing Vex and the Plague Blights from following. The not-so-smart ones either tried to fight or don't leave the door locked behind them, allowing Vex out. However, Vex doesn't give chase if given this opportunity.

If the door is relocked, Vex is understandably enraged. When angry, his warlock talents manifest fire, which if he focuses on the walls he can escape with. Realistically, this takes about 106 days, so either flash-forward or get them doing other things inbetween (Selling loot, following plot hooks from loot, etc.). Either way, it's a long while before Vex starts pulling his own strings in the new world.

Part Two - Bubonic
By now, the PCs have likely long-forgotten poor Vex and his minions. This is perfect.

A recent spate of dissapearances strikes the home town of the PCs, a significant distance from the derelict prison. Perhaps an ally or popular consultant is listed among the missing, or maybe the town guard is just at a loss for leads and asks them to investigate.

The scenes of the disappearances all have similar traits. Nearby food is rotten beyond it's days, the stench of death hangs tightly in the air, and all of them are near entrances to a waterway or sewer.

In the sewer, no part of the plague blights would be distinguishable without some form of divination. There would be few traces of the victims. Perhaps a drop of putrefied flesh, some blood-stained wall, or a dropped shoe or book.

Eventually, they find their way to a dis-used building. It seems very old, and the connection between the sewer and the building is a recently remodeled doorway. The PCs might recognise a few things, but by now the building has changed. Quote or paraphrase the following:
You enter through the muddy pathway cut into the earth. Ahead you can see a lantern set into the ceiling, burning perpetually with a continual flame at its core. An iron door stands not far ahead on the left, sealed shut through flame. You can't see much past the lantern's light, but the sound of shuffling feet and soft, quiet whimpers can be heard for quite some distance.
If they can get into the door through the welding (Treat as not being locked, but requiring a break check of DC 30. Vex himself gets in by simply breaking the welds and using mending, but the players probably won't pick up on that.), they find several of the victims, approximately 3 or 4. They are malnourished and starved, various stichings covering their bodies and slight unnatural tinges of colour and shape pockmarking their skin. By breaking the door, they've alerted the Plague Blights. If they don't grab the victims and run, read the last quotation in this segment, otherwise allow them their brief reprieve, but remember that they may be the next victims.

If they don't choose to open the door, and instead sneak ahead of the light, they get treated to an even worse picture. Quote or paraphrase the following:
You peer around the corner and see a sight to tinge the gods themselves with anguish. The wide floor lies covered with wooden tables, each holding a single victim. Their eyes are cloaked with a dirty cloth, and tubes pierce their sides and mouth. Some lie barely breathing with stitches across their throat and chest, whilst others lie in a state of near-death with their chest completely split open, their beating hearts left open to the air. A number of them seem mutated or changed in some way, various alien limbs grafted onto them and entire sections of body transfigured into something altogether foul and wretched.
If they take even one step out towards the tables, quote or paraphrase the following:
All turns black, even darkvision cannot pierce the inky blackness. You feel a tattered hand claw at your shoulder, as a horrifyingly familiar voice speaks out to you "Wide is the gate beset upon anguish, and many are chosen to enter. Enter now the furnace that lies flooded with the damned. The loathsome, the wretched, the foul! All take their place where Surtur himself would take flight!

A perfect residence. Won't you come inside?"
With luck, they'll now remember Vex and know exactly where they are. Unfortunately, by now it's too late. The PCs are now attacked with nonlethal force, they either escape or are captured unconscious.

Part Three - Altered
When the PCs come to, they find themselves strapped to a table, in a room separate to the main room where they were caught. They have no weapons or armor, and they appear to be naked from the waist up (The lower body lies beneath a blanket, feel free to be as cruel as you like). From here, there's a couple of options: Vex has had new limbs and organs grafted onto them, he's experimented on them, both of the above, or he's done nothing to them yet. Again, be as cruel as you want, and remember that any grafts count towards their treasure for this adventure. Getting out of the straps requires a DC 25 Strength check, unless they have some other method. Quote or paraphrase the following:
You wake up, dizzy and aching, with a cloth strapped over your head. You can feel your arms and legs are bound by leather straps to the hard surface you are lying on.

Peering down, you can just see out from under the cloth, and see that you are naked from the waist up, with a folded blanket, covered in stains of blood, covering the rest of you. Everything aches, and there is a distinct bitter taste in the back of your mouth.

What little of the room you can see is similar architecture to the prison ruins, but you can't tell where you are specifically.
In reality, Vex has been using highly addictive Vodare (Book of Vile Darkness) to force obedience from his conscious subjects, withholding the drug until they comply. That's the bitter taste, the addiction is the aching.

They can try and escape, but first they'll do best to find their equipment. It is being stored in the boiler room, across the main room from their present position. Move Silently checks aplenty should allow them to pass through the room without penalty, but the other subjects will moan and grasp at them as they pass, imposing a -4 penalty to the checks. The size of the room as determined by your individually-generated map will determine the difficulty of this. If detected, the Plague Blights notice them and attack.

Once they have their equipment back, they can start doing some proactive damage. However, they take damage from the Vodare addiction at this time. Each must make a Fort DC 14 saving throw or take 1d6 Dex & Wis and 1d2 Con damage. The first thing they encounter upon leaving the relative safety of the boiler room is, of course, the Plague Blights. They will have realised the PCs have escaped once they enter the room to feed them their dose.

With the realisation of their escape, the alarm is raised. If the Plague Blights survive for 3 rounds, Vex joins battle to support them with his Eldritch Blasts. If things go bad, he attempts to escape through the tunnel with the surviving Plague Blights, collapsing the tunnel behind him with an Eldritch Blast. On his way out, he uses Darkness on as many subjects as possible, leading the Blights through the affected area using the Devil's Sight invocation.

With Vex either dead, captured, or escaped, the PCs are left with the choice of what to do with the unfortunate victims. They have to deal with their new addictions, and with whatever else you inflicted upon them while they lay unconscious.

2007-09-19, 05:29 PM
I'm converting Vex into a character for a new campaign I'm in, under his original living self, Lex. At the moment, I'm going for Human Warlock 1 with 2 lots of Violate Spell-Like Ability and the Eldritch Spear invocation. Any suggestions?