Players ride into battle on war machines fueled by the souls of the damned. Descent Into Avernus is a module for four to six players, with content that spans levels one through Unlike some other recent books from publisher Wizards of the Coast, it feels very much like a complete experience tailored to groups that are starting out fresh.
It just might be more trouble than its worth. The plot of Descent Into Avernus goes all-in on the promise to get players out of the material plane , and challenges Dungeon Masters to explain the unimaginable sights beyond. Character creation even includes the assembly of a dark secret shared by the entire party, which could be anything from a union action gone wrong to a failed coup attempt or a cold blooded murder. The majority of the action itself takes place on the first level of the Nine Hells. Cast in an eternal twilight, the sky is lit by pieces of other realms that rain down like meteorites.
Expect distances to change as locations move across the land of their own accord. By far the most exciting part of the module is the opportunity for players to acquire their very own Infernal War Machines, bringing to mind the rides from the Mad Max series. These magical vehicles are heavily armed and armored, and literally consume the souls of the damned for fuel. Thankfully, the systems designed for fighting with and on Infernal War Machines are relatively light.
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Each one has the same style of stat block that you get with any other creature in the game, including strength, dexterity, and constitution scores. But the vehicles themselves depend on players to perform their actions, and keeping the battle stations on your Infernal War Machine properly manned at all times is a kind of minigame all its own. In fact, the authors of Descent Into Avernus go out of their way to stop players from turning the experience into a tactical miniatures game.
Each of the vehicles has its own personality. The book is filled with great descriptive language for how they move across the land, and the obstacles that might get in their way. Just as important are the warlords who employ them on the battlefield. As the mask staved off suffocation and allowed oxygen to filter in through the kernels, Baker continued to sink straight down through the corn toward the churning auger and certain mangled death. Defying all reasonable odds, he felt his right boot make contact with metal—the auger gearbox. Several minutes later, he felt the metallic hum cease as Rick shut off the auger and drove away to deliver grain.
With Rick and Palmer both in transit, and a temporary respite from the auger, Baker was forced to wait, as motionless as a stone. I could push against the grain and free my back a fraction of an inch. But that fraction was then lost to grain. No way. Just be alive when rescue comes. As Rick drove away at a. No answer.
Concern mounting, Rick called Palmer and asked him to check on Baker and make certain the auger remained off. Returning to the farm after delivering a grain load, Palmer climbed the bin staircase, called for Baker and peered into the dim depths at a flat corn surface…and nothing else. He climbed down, called Rick, and reported: No sign of Baker.
Fearing the worst, Rick sent Palmer back up the staircase to check on Baker once more. This time, Palmer spotted the slack rope running down the ladder into the center of the corn like a fishing line reaching to the middle of a pond. Empty rope in hand, Palmer shot down the staircase, phoned Rick, and delivered a body blow. Rick dialed , pulling the trigger on the fire department and local assistance.
Despite all due speed, the reality was understood by all involved in the small agricultural community: The effort was likely a body recovery, and not a rescue. By fair estimate, Arick Baker was already dead, entombed in the corn. Clint, alongside older brother Cody, scampered across the corn to Schumacher, still firmly planted to his armpits. No effect; like pails of water bailed from an ocean. After several minutes, two neighbors arrived and joined the scooping brigade.
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The effect of four men atop Schumacher for over 20 minutes began to take a predictable toll. The grain tightened, gaining in strength. Every step they took trying to save me made it worse. Every scoop out seemed like it was replaced with two scoops in. Again, I can only compare this to being stuck in concrete.
Call for help. Over an hour into the ordeal, the bell was rung. However, the plus minute interval came with a precipitous price. The Wisconsin farmer was wearing down. Despite the lack of external stimuli, he could feel—but not hear—the maddening vibration of a cellphone in the pocket of his shorts.
Fading in and out of consciousness, Baker struggled to cope as corn pressure crushed his lower extremities and progressively constricted his diaphragm with each exhalation. It was like two grown men sitting on my chest. The pain was so intense, but in a way, the pain was good because it let me know I was alive. Baker surrendered physically in order to mentally fight a ferocious battle for survival.
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His position in the corn was akin to a stringed puppet. Right leg straight down atop the gear box; left leg cocked forward in a running position; right arm straight out; and left arm straight up, with thumb and fingers poking just out of the corn canopy. My lungs kept drawing in tiny bits of oxygen and my heart kept beating. Later on, doctors estimated my heart rate under the corn was close to beats per minute.
At p. Unconscious, Baker was entirely unaware of movement above. I could hear a radio and voices, and started yelling for help. The guys dug like crazy and we locked hands. I knew I could come out of that bin alive. Ten fire departments, two rescue squads, four ambulance crews, and a phalanx of community friends kicked into gear. Four holes were cut in the bin sides, with plus people at each outlet shoveling grain away to maintain flow.
By p. The strain was unbelievable and they would have had to rip me in half to get me out. Changing plans, the rescue team drove sheets of plywood into the corn around Schumacher, creating a box effect. Six hours later and several box collapses, Schumacher was plucked from the corn.
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But the freedom felt so damn good. Tough as a cob, after a total of eight hours trapped in a corn vice, Schumacher climbed the inner bin ladder and walked down the outer staircase—by himself. Using an aluminum cofferdam, and aided by the four-hole improvised drainage, the rescue crew freed Baker at p. The crew carried Baker out of the bin on a stretcher and placed him in an ambulance at the ready. Five hours of hell was over.
Mentally I was free, but physically my body wanted to shut down. Every piece of pain my brain had regulated or fought off came charging back. Pain was all I could feel.
Thirty-two minutes after extraction, Baker arrived at the hospital with his heart rate still pounding— beats per minute. His body was covered in kernel marks and indentations. Being so far down into the corn, my right foot received the highest pressure per square inch and was swollen so bad we thought it might need amputation. No matter what, I was alive. And inside the bin, his nerves tighten up. We bought several body harnesses and snatch blocks. You do certain things your entire life on the farm and think there are no consequences.
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