To be fair, this version has some updates that would have been included if the deadline weren’t announced less than a week before it expired. It also contains improvements based on the feedback I received from Wizards.
The dusty plain of Silurca is one of the most desolate planes of the abyss, a wasteland that even the powerful demon lords studiously avoid. What few demons that survive there have been warped by the harsh conditions, evolving the ability to suck nutrition from their prey.
Silurca was once relatively unremarkable. It was not a place of fire or torment. It lacked resources or strategic importance. In short, no one wanted it because there was nothing to want. It was used mostly as a way-station to other places, until the archangel Nemeroth was ambushed there by a demon known as Golgonnet of the Spines. The two of them wrestled and fell into the sea, both presumably dead. Shortly thereafter, the sea began to recede and the entire plane began to wither. Before long, it was a wasteland of red-brown sand. Those demons that could leave, did. Those that could not, fought for what little nourishment remained. As the centuries passed, the survivors adapted, growing even more feral than their normal kin.
With the plane abandoned, it was not until much later that the other oddity was discovered: Silurca was sinking. While linkages between layers of the abyss change, this is mostly the byproduct of deliberate effort. Scholars suspect that Silurca is slowly drifting toward the shard of evil that lies in the heart of the abyss, growing more remote and barren as it falls.
Travelers to Silurca report that almost all traces of the cities and roads have been buried beneath the drifting dust, where they haven’t been worn away altogether.
Silurca is intended to have a Death Valley kind of feel. Skill challenges on the plane will involve surviving the hardships and avoiding packs of hungry demons. Possible plot hooks include:
- The characters find themselves on Silurca by accident and must struggle to escape the plane.
- The concentrated bile of Silurcan demons can be used to create powerful antidotes. The characters travel to the plane to save a loved one or someone important.
- The characters are sent to investigate whether or not Silurca really does point the way to the shard of evil.
- The characters discover that Nemeroth is not dead or that he possessed a powerful relic that needs to be retrieved.
All demons are violent to some degree, but the Silurcans are especially so. They revel in mindless orgies of bloodshed, only stopping when they are exhausted. This makes them nearly impossible to control. Most Silurcans appear emaciated unless they have recently gorged themselves.
Demon Plot Hooks
- A summoning has gone terribly wrong and a pack of Silurcans are rampaging through isolated villages, killing and eating everything that gets in their way.
- Warlocks are using Silurcans to invade Dwarven keeps.
Silurcan Demons in Combat
Silurcan demons are notoriously hard to control. They are not stupid, but their endless hunger drives them. Silurcan demons are most often summoned in enemy territory and let loose to cause as much havoc as possible.
They do not generally use coordinated attacks or tactics, tending instead to lash out instinctively. Their curse often drives them to continue attacking where other creatures would flee.
Silurcan demons generally have three common characteristics: a forced behavior to represent the ravenous hunger of their curse, a way to gain temporary hit points and a powerful attack that can only be used when they have temporary hit points.
The structure of the latter two characteristics allows you to have a very strong conditional power without having to worry about the “ghoul pile-up”, where the first monster applies the condition and the others gang-tackle the victim. This also allows for the interesting tactical decision between focusing on the most injured enemy or the Silurcan with temporary hit points.
Image: Tall, gangly Babau-like figure with a round, toothy mouth. Its skin is a dusty red/brown.
Kissing Demons are the most commonly seen Silurcans, having been sent into Dwarven keeps much like dachshunds down a rabbit hole. While not especially smart, their tenacity and viciousness took a heavy toll on the Dwarves.
Silurcan Kissing Demons in Combat
Kissing Demons are much like mosquitoes, drawn to the vital fluids of their victims. This is why they prefer unbloodied targets. They find it difficult to sneak up on prey. Instead, they tend to attack in packs, hoping to overwhelm their enemies.
The healing surge drain is unusual for the heroic tier, so you should watch how many of the kissing demons you include in an encounter. This mechanic can be used to set the tempo of an encounter arc by artificially reducing the party’s resources.
Image: a pile of foot-long maggots with shark-like mouths.
The origin of the Silurcan Mealworms is something of a mystery. One belief is that they are common demons that have regressed to a mindless state. While the Dwarves hate and fear all the Silurcans, they have a special terror of the mealworms. Until they learned to poison the mealworms to prevent reproduction, most of their mountain holds were overrun by ravenous demons.
Silurcan Mealworm Plot Hooks
- Propagation, while unlikely to happen in combat, would allow the Mealworms to reproduce and spread. They might have overrun an isolated community. The characters might be bringing a special poison to help clean out the Mealworms.
- Someone has made a trap that will drop a mass of Mealworms on the party. (It would be very possible, in this case, for the Mealworms to treat everyone around them as an enemy.)
- A hive of Mealworms had gone dormant until a farmer plowed a few of them up, now the town is threatened.
- An arcane scholar keeps a single Mealworm as a specimen.
- A pit of Mealworms is used as a method of execution by a despot.
Silurcan Mealworms in Combat
Ravenous means that the Mealworms will routinely shift, then charge a bloodied target. They will get a large number of attacks and will almost always be able to Gnaw, so expect their damage to be high. Using more than two of them in an encounter might feel grindy, especially if the party is low on area attacks.
Silurcan Walking Carcass
Image: A Dwarf with sallow skin and open sores.
The Silurcan Walking Carcass is unique in that it is a corpse animated by a Silurcan demon. They were first created by accident when a summoning went horribly wrong. A few were subsequently created as shock troopers, but the warlocks soon discovered that they were not as effective as their out-of-control kin. A Walking Carcass is surprisingly intelligent, both for a Silurcan and for an undead creature, suggesting that the bestial nature of Silurcans is largely due to the curse.
The most horrifying ability of a Walking Carcass manifests when a creature dies near it. It sheds its old host and jumps into the fresh corpse, gaining strength and vitality. Even bold men have been made to retch at the wet, meaty sounds of the Walking Carcass taking control of a body.
Silurcan Walking Carcass Plot Hooks
- A Walking Carcass has vague memories of its life and is slowly shambling its way back to “home.”
- A rebel noble, desperate to win a civil war, is herding a group of Walking Carcasses into the enemy encampment.
Silurcan Walking Carcasses in Combat
Corpse Walk will feel more thematic if only one Walking Carcass triggers off a single death. Surrounding a Walking Carcass with minions will make it much more powerful.
Image: A large, bipedal beetle with a jet-black carapace and a long proboscis.
Marrowborers go into torpor when no prey is available, making many of the old, abandoned caves dangerous to recover. They jab their bony proboscis through armor and suck out bodily fluids. They go into a vicious frenzy when bloodied.
Silurcan Marrowborers in Combat
The Marrowborer is unlikely to get many Frantic Feeding attacks, but they will hit hard, forcing the players to drop them quickly. It uses the “limited use” damage values. If you think this is too much, the “high normal” value is 3d10+1.
Puncturing Spine is intended as a clean way to simulate the monster ignoring armor by punching through. You could choose to give it only +1 to hit someone in light armor with a light shield (most likely a Rogue).
Image: A large Krenshar-type body without the spines with a leather saddle and a heavily armored figure astride it. It is surrounded by small eddies of sand.
If Silurca exports anything, it is the Droughtbearers. They are popular mounts for evil champions because they are hard to kill and do a great deal of damage. One does not exactly “tame” a Droughtbearer, however. You have to convince it that you’re not prey and that it gets more food by obeying you. Even so, expect to lose the occasional pack animal or henchman.
Silurcan Droughtbearers in Combat
Droughtbearers are straightforward monsters. They deliver the bad guy to where he needs to be and provide enough of a distraction that he can be more effective. Their presence will generally lead to a “kill the mount, then kill the rider” tactic.
Dehydrating Blast uses the “high normal” damage expression. The medium expression is 3d10+4.
Nemeroth was once an angel of great renown, serving Pelor with distinction. He traveled to the abyss to confront the demon lord Golgonnet. Nemeroth prevailed, but was dragged down and disappeared in the flash of divine energy that often accompanies the destruction of powerful angels. The gods mourned him.
What they did not know was that, at the instant of his death, their captain gave in to rage and fear, speaking a word of blasphemy to lash out at his foes. Golgonnet’s minions were crippled and Silurca was laid waste, but Nemeroth was transformed into something corrupt. He lay beneath the sand of Silurca for many ages of man, his yearning for revenge leeching out into the demons of that plane
Nemeroth Plot Hooks
- Nemeroth has risen from the sands of Silurca, amassed an army of demons and is threatening to conquer.
- The PCs are sent to subdue Nemeroth so that he can be reclaimed for the divine host.
- Nemeroth is assaulting another demon lord and the characters are caught in the middle.
Nemeroth in Combat
Spending an action point early will allow you to regain it if the PCs trigger Exalted of the Great Host. Omnivorous Smite will do twice the target’s Hunger in damage. Flesh Carver can only drain one healing surge per turn.
Victims of the Silurcans have developed a special cake that includes their blood (a healing surge’s worth, if the characters are making it for themselves). Eating the cake makes them toxic to the Silurcans at the cost of being sluggish.
There is also a ritual that makes attacks against Silurcans more effective.
Fire in the Blood
Level: 8 Component Cost: 135 gp
Category: Warding Market Price: see below
Time: 10 minutes Key Skill: Arcana
Duration: 24 hours
When you perform this ritual, you designate up to eight participants (including yourself, if you wish) to benefit. Whenever a recipient deals damage to a creature with temporary hit points, they deal an additional 1[W] or an additional d8 damage.
Because this ritual is instrumental in helping fight the Silurcans, many will teach it for free. The normal market price would be 680 gp.