Adventure Locales
The Steaming Demon
By Robert Wiese

Due to the extent of the Underdark in the Forgotten Realms, this adventure locale can go anywhere. It makes sense to place it near some volcanic mountains, but that is not required because lava flows can exist between the surface and the Underdark almost anywhere. It can even go underwater, though some modification of the creatures presented below is required. The text assumes the locale exists in a plain or foothills area, so alter as needed. This sidetrek is suitable for four 7th-level player characters.

In a clearing ahead, the heroes come upon a strange sight: a stone demon. At least, that is what it looks like. As they get closer, they see that the statue was carved from stone that is part of the natural landscape -- in other words, its creator did not carve it from stone found elsewhere and then move it here. The demon is fierce to behold, stands over 15 feet tall, and possesses massive muscles. Its stone face combines the aspects of a snarling wolf and an expressionless insect. Its bulbous eyes glow red as if a fire burned within the stone. Its jaws gape open hugely, baring two rows of teeth the size of daggers. Its body is bipedal and looks vaguely human, but black scales that shine in the light cover its entire form. The scaled tail protruding from its rear is at least 8 feet long and it ends in a stingerlike tail.

The most unusual aspect of the statue, or creature, is that steam hisses forth from its mouth in a great cloud as the characters approach, giving it the appearance that it is coming alive in their presence. It is not, but the steam is very real and gives a hint as to the danger that lurks here should the characters do more than stop for a short rest.

The statue is hollow inside and sits atop a natural steam vent in the earth. Far below, a lava river flows beneath stone slabs, constantly heating them enough to boil water on their surface. Closer to the surface, an underground river flows near the same spot. An earthquake some centuries ago opened up the underground riverbed, causing the water to fall down onto the heated slabs. Some of the water then runs into a new channel created in the many years since, but some is turned instantly to steam. That steam rises to a chamber underneath the demon statue, where the pressure builds up over a period of several hours. Every 9 hours or so, enough pressure builds up to push up a stone and allow the steam to escape all at once into the statue. It then rushes out the mouth in a great cloud for a few seconds, causing the appearance that the demon statue is belching forth the steam. The eyes glow red because they were carved from a special stone with unusual heat capacity, and they absorb and store the heat from the steam readily.

No one knows who carved this object originally, and no clues remain on the statue itself. Local lore states that it was one of a number of huge stones that the earth pushed up here in the earthquake that created the steam. The unknown artist, driven by his or her own demons no doubt, merely took advantage of the circumstances.

This environment has become the home for a pair of steam mephits, who live in the chamber where the steam collects. Their passage up to the statue and back causes the statue to belch steam at irregular intervals, and thus almost no one has figured out the pattern of the steam buildup. The mephits use the scary statue and the steam, and their own abilities, to intimidate and rob passers-by. They prefer small groups or individuals, because even though they have egos the size of a treant, they are realistic about their capabilities. They prefer to take what they want without revealing their true nature. They store their loot in the chamber where they live (twice standard treasure for level 7).

The statue hides a darker secret than the mephits, however. The statue has a secret entrance on the back of its base. Though it is a tight squeeze, a Medium creature can crawl into the statue and down into the steam chamber (if he or she can lift the cover or wait until the steam lifts it). On the way down there, a concealed door leads to a passageway 5 feet square that leads 30 feet westward and slightly downward to a metal hatch set into the ground. Runes inscribed to keep something from passing through cover the hatch.

Some 200 years ago, a priest of Lathander confronted a group of vrocks on this very spot, and the sole survivor fled underground once it realized it was stuck here via the priest's dimensional anchor. The priest followed, determined to end its existence. In the end, the priest cornered it in the room beyond the hatch, but could not destroy it. In a weakened state from the battle with the priest, it was easy to trap inside the room. The priest sealed the chamber with the hatch and the most powerful binding spells he could manage, and there the vrock has stayed to this day. Opening the hatch (break DC 25) releases the spells that hold in the vrock, which then tries to escape. However, its anger has built after all these years, and it spends a little while taking out its aggression on the poor player characters that released it. It flees by teleportation as soon as it feels truly threatened.

Gorsshhh: Male steam mephit bard 4; CR 7; Small outsider (extraplanar, fire); HD 3d8 plus 4d6; hp 27; Init +6; Spd 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (average); AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +6; Grp +2; Atk or Full Atk +7 melee (1d3 plus fire, 2 claws); SA breath weapon, spell-like abilities, summon mephit; SQ bardic knowledge +2, bardic music 8/day (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage +1), damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 2, immunity to fire, outsider traits, vulnerability to cold; AL CN; SV Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 15.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +12, Diplomacy +4, Escape Artist +8, Hide +16, Intimidate +4, Listen +10, Move Silently +8, Perform +6, Spot +6; Dodge, Extra Music (Song and Shadow), Improved Initiative.

Breath Weapon (Su): 10-foot cone of steam, damage 1d4 fire, Reflex DC 12 half. Living creatures that fail their saves are tormented by burned skin and seared eyes unless they have immunity to fire or are otherwise protected. This effect imposes a -4 penalty to AC and a -2 penalty on attack rolls for 3 rounds.

Spell-Like Abilities: Once per hour Gorsshhh can surround himself with a plume of vapor, duplicating the effect of a blur spell (caster level 3rd). Once per day, he can create a rainstorm of boiling water that affects a 20-foot-square area. Each living creature caught in the storm takes 2d6 points of fire damage (Reflex DC 13 half; caster level 6th). This ability is the equivalent of a 2nd-level spell.

Bardic Music: Gorsshhh can use bardic music four times per day. See the bard class features on page 29 of the Player's Handbook.Countersong (Su): Gorsshhh can use music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound. Fascinate (Sp): Gorsshhh can use music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Inspire Competence (Su): Gorsshhh can use music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task. Inspire Courage (Su): Gorsshhh can use music or poetics to bolster his allies against fear and improve their combat abilities.

Fast Healing (Ex): Gorsshhh heals only if he is touching boiling water or is in a hot, humid area.

Bard Spells Known (3/3/1 per day; caster level 4th): 0 -- dancing lights, detect magic, ghost sound, ghostharp (Magic of Faerūn), mage hand, prestidigitation; 1st -- cure light wounds, distort speech (DC 13, Magic of Faerūn), ventriloquism (DC 13 with interaction); 2nd -- invisibility, sound burst (DC 14).

Voosss: Male steam mephit sorcerer 4; CR 7; Small outsider (extraplanar, fire); HD 3d8 plus 4d4; hp 23; Init +5; Spd 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (average); AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +5; Grp +1; Atk +6 melee (1d3 plus fire, claw); Full Atk +6 melee (1d3 plus fire, 2 claws); SA breath weapon, spell-like abilities, summon mephit; SQ damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 2, immunity to fire, outsider traits, vulnerability to cold; AL CN; SV Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 16.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +9, Diplomacy +5, Escape Artist +7, Hide +11, Intimidate +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Spellcraft +2, Spot +6; Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility.

Breath Weapon (Su): 10-foot cone of steam, damage 1d4 fire, Reflex DC 12 half. Living creatures that fail their saves are tormented by burned skin and seared eyes unless they have immunity to fire or are otherwise protected. This effect imposes a -4 penalty to AC and a -2 penalty on attack rolls for 3 rounds.

Spell-Like Abilities: Onceper hour Voosss can surround himself with a plume of vapor, duplicating the effect of a blur spell (caster level 3rd). Once per day, he can create a rainstorm of boiling water that affects a 20-foot-square area. Each living creature caught in the storm takes 2d6 points of fire damage (Reflex DC 14 half; caster level 6th). This ability is the equivalent of a 2nd-level spell.

Fast Healing (Ex):Voosss heals only if he is touching boiling water or is in a hot, humid area.

Sorcerer Spells Known (6/7/4 per day; caster level 4th): 0 -- acid splash (+6 ranged touch), detect magic, electric jolt (+6 ranged touch, Magic of Faerūn), mage hand, open/close, resistance; 1st -- obscuring mist, scatterspray, shield; 2nd -- Igedrazaar's miasma (DC 15, Magic of Faerūn).

Vrock: hp 140; see Monster Manual, page 48.

Extra Music: You can use your bardic music ability four extra times per day.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide, Magic of Faerūn, Song and Silence.

About the Author

Robert Wiese is a veteran of the RPGA offices, where he worked for seven years and has been a member since early 1991. In that time he has written over 60 adventure scenarios for the club, a couple of articles for Polyhedron, and the Living Force Campaign Guide (the last one with Morrie Mullins). He also got the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns off the ground and into the hands of wonderful members to develop. Now he works at the University of Nevada at Reno in the Biochemistry Department, proving that you never can tell where you'll end up.


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