The original ‘Bzallin’s Blacksphere‘ was written by Chris Perkins in the September 1997 issue of Dungeon Magazine (#64). The original art was done by Bradley K. McDevitt and the Cartography was by Rob Lazzaretti. I’ve since converted it to Fifth Edition for educational purposes.
21 – Annis’ Bedchamber
This chamber has been set aside for Maelgor and Jzulla, Bzallin’s annis cooks (see area 19 for statistics). Two oversized obsidian beds rest against one wall. The beds are without blankets or mattresses, as the annis disdain human comforts.
A secret door leads to Bzallin’s treasury. See area 22 below for details.
Positioned between the beds is a stone table with an intricate bronze hydra worth 700 gp placed atop it. The hydra weighs 15 lbs.
22 – Bzallin’s Secret Treasury
The secret door leading to this chamber has a permanent non-detection spell cast upon it. Hence, a wand of secrets does not reveal the door so long as Bzallin’s spell remains in place. Any other creature has to succeed on a DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check to notice it.
This chamber is illuminated by a hemisphere of scintillating, multi-colored light positioned in the middle of the floor. The room is otherwise empty.
Bzallin has placed a permanent prismatic sphere (as the prismatic wall spell)) in this chamber to guard some of his more valuable and dangerous possessions, particularly items he wishes to keep out of the hands of his apprentices. Most of the items have been placed inside a 4-foot by 2-foot by 2-foot black crystal chest (valued at 16,000 gp). The only item which doesn’t fit in the chest is a 4-foot tall, solid steel hydra statue with four heads. It weighs 350 lbs. The prismatic sphere must be negated before the treasures can be obtained. When the lid of the chest is opened, the hydra statue reveals itself to be a living steel (see below).
Use the ochre jelly stat block for living steel, but with the following changes:
Lost Characteristics. The ochre jelly loses its pseudopod attacks.
Type. The living steel is a construct (shapechanger).
Armor Class. The living steel’s armor class is 15 (natural armor).
Abilities. The living steel’s Dexterity score is 12 (+1).
Damage Immunities. In addition to lightning and slashing damage, the living steel is immune to fire, poison, and psychic damage, as well as bludgeoning and piercing attacks made with nonmagical weapons.
Challenge. The living steel’s challenge rating is 3 (700 XP).
New Trait: Shapechanger. The living steel can use its action to polymorph into a metal object or back into its true, amorphous form. Its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
New Action: Multiattack. The living steel makes two blade attacks.
New Attack: Blade. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage.
The living steel uses its first action to morph into humanoid form. It then attacks with two sword-like arms. The living steel relentlessly pursues its quarry inside the Cube, using its amorphous form to squeeze through cracks in doorways.
The death slaad trapped in the iron flask (see below) fears Bzallin but enjoys inflicting pain on others. It does not attack immediately, preferring to remain invisible and use detect thoughts to learn more about those responsible for releasing it. When it decides to reveal itself, the slaad uses its shapechange ability to assume the form of a human female named Iliara. “Iliara” claims to be a powerful rival who was trapped by Bzallin many years ago. If “unmasked” the slaad’s first task is to summon 1d6 blue slaadi using its gate ability. Given the chance, it uses Bzallin’s cubic gate (see below) to return to Limbo before its escape is detected or its life is threatened. The cubic gate functions normally inside Bzallin’s lair and allows safe transport to the Prime Material plane, Limbo, the Abyss, Baator, Elysium, and the Elemental Plane of Water.
Bzallin’s treasure comprises the following: a cubic gate resting on a small jade table worth 5,000 gp, a platinum tripod (4,300 gp) atop which rests an iron flask (containing a death slaad) which has been crystalbrittled to conceal its sinister nature, a wand of cancellation (39 charges) held in a silver beholder’s mouthpick (2,000 gp), a magical replica of the dreaded wand of Orcus (15 charges, see below), and a libram of silver magic (which Bzallin cannot use but keeps as a souvenir) encased in an arcane locked iron case.
Replica of the Wand of Orcus
Bzallin has imbued the replica wand of Orcus with the following powers:
- Animate dead. 1 charge, each charge animates 3d6 corpses.
- Control undead. 2 charges per use, as the spell.
- Power word kill. 3 charges per use.
Using this wand should be considered an evil act, even if wielded against creatures or individuals of evil alignment. A character that uses it must succeed on a DC 20 Charisma saving throw or become evil. The wand cannot be recharged; if placed in Bzallin’s recharger (see area 26), both the wand and the recharger explode. Each creature within 30 feet of the explosion must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 54 (12d8) force damage on a failed saving throw, or half as much damage on a successful one.
23 – Xorn Statue
The floor of this chamber is covered with spiraling black and gold tiles. In the middle of the floor is a 5-foot tall statue of a gray, bulbous monster with three eyes, three stumpy legs, and a large mouth on top of its “head.” Each of the statue’s three stony appendages points towards one of the chamber’s exits. Painted on the chamber doors are snarling blue dragon visages.
The statue depicts a xorn. Unlike the other “statues” in Bzallin’s lair, this is not the petrified remains of a monster, but rather an actual stone carving. Hidden in the xorn statue’s gaping maw is a small iron lever which, when pulled, deactivates the trap in this room for three rounds. Characters who make a successful DC 18 Intelligence (Investigation) check can detect the hidden lever under the xorn’s stony tongue.
The two doors which lead from this room are booby-trapped (from the inside only). Anyone approaching within 5 feet of a closed door is struck by an intense electrical discharge and must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 8d6 lightning damage on a failed saving throw, or half as much damage on a successful one. Holding or wedging the door open keeps the lightning from discharging. All of the Cube’s residents are aware of these traps and how to deactivate them. The trap can only be disarmed with the switch or a dispel magic spell cast upon it.
24 – Privies
These three curtained cubicles are cleaned regularly by unseen servants. Each cubicle contains a chair with a hole carved into its seat and a waste pan tucked underneath. Towels hanging from hooks on the walls are cleaned regularly using prestidigitation cantrips.
25 – Koroxon’s Quarters
Placed around the perimeter of this room are dozens of burning braziers and smoldering censers. Huddled in the middle of the smoke-filled chamber are four wretched humanoids with deformed features and rubbery hides. They are fighting over a silvery object which catches the light.
Standing in front of a large wall mirror is a beautiful woman wearing wizard’s robes and plenty of gold jewelry. The woman is speaking to a bloated fiend whose hideous features are captured in the reflective surface of the mirror. Annoyed by the constant bickering of the creatures behind her, she turns sharply on one heel and tells the wretches to “Be SILENT!!!” Then she turns back to the mirror to carry on her polite conversation.
The four deformed humanoids are dretches that Koroxon periodically devours. The dretches are currently ogling over a silver everful mug, filling it to the brim with rancid ichor and drinking themselves into a stupor.
The woman in front of the mirror is Pentriss (CE female human diviner), one of Bzallin’s apprentices. Horribly scarred by acid, Pentriss uses alter self spells to conceal her ruined face. She is borrowing Koroxon’s ebony-framed mirror of communication to speak with a shator gehreleth named Ghasparog (who lives in the Abyss). Bzallin has given Pentriss the onerous task of convincing Ghasparog to join J’zzalshrak against the baatezu, thus amalgamating their respective legions. If the conversion is allowed to continue, Ghasparog becomes abrasive and demand too many concessions, forcing Pentriss to “hang up” on him. If the characters somehow manage to insult the gehrleleth, Ghasparog goes out of his way to seek retribution. The mirror enables its user to open a line of communication anywhere in the known planes, provided one knows the command word (“Drizzinvel”). A shatter spell, directed shout spell or any single blow inflicting 10 hp or more destroys the mirror.
These are Koroxon’s quarters, but he is not found here. Often, he is roaming the corridors Bzallin’s Cube. While roaming, Koroxon, a babau, uses a alter self spell to assume the form of an intimidating, battle-scarred human warrior dressed in spiked, blood-stained plate mail. He wields a halberd +2.
Once the characters are detected, the dretches throw hot braziers at the characters (+2 to hit, range 20/60, 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) fire damage). Then, they charge and use their fetid-cloud attack, following up with their bite and claws.
Pentriss is armed with a doom dagger +2, ring of Eelix, onyx ring of resistance against necrotic damage, and ioun’s circlet allowing her to attune to three invisible ioun stones. The ioun stones are an ioun stone of magic resistance, ioun stone of devil’s sight, and an ioun stone of false life. She also carries a potion of magic blocking and an anti-magic shell scroll. She keeps her distance, letting the dretches do all the dirty work. If she drops to 20 hp, she uses her teleport spell to escape.
When Koroxon enters combat, he uses his darkness innate spellcasting ability to put distance between himself and his foes. He then waits for creatures to come through the darkness so he can attack with his halberd.
In addition to Prentiss’ magic items and equipment, she’s wearing a golden belt (500 gp), a gold necklace set with six fire opals (18,000 gp), four gold bracelets set with semi-precious stones (2,500 gp each) and her spellbook. Her spellbook contains all the spells she can cast and is protected by a fire trap spell.
26 – Laboratory
This chamber seems to be a laboratory. Pushed against one wall is a desk covered with sheets of parchment and alchemical equipment. On the wall behind the desk is a shelf lined with beakers, vials, and jars. Next to the door is a cluttered work table, while between the table and the desk sit two iron chests, their lids marked with a strange black rune. By far the most unusual furnishing is a four-foot tall, upright bronze cylinder positioned near the wall shelf. The cylinder is bolted to the floor, and a hinged door is built into one side.
This room is occupied by Pentriss’s homonculus, Eegez. If Pentriss is killed, Eeguz dies and reverts to a pool of ichor. The homonculus is trapped in the room when Bzallin activates his guards and wards spell and waits for Pentriss to return from area 25. The homonculus either hides inside the upright bronze cylinder to avoid detection, or it takes a sip from a potion of invisibility and perches atop the cylinder. Pentriss can see through the creature’s eyes, using it as her spy.
The upright cylinder is a magical recharger which Bzallin built while living in Horizon. The cylinder activates whenever a charged magic item is placed within; such items regain charges at a rate of one per turn. However, the cylinder permanently lowers the maximum number of charges an item can hold by 1d10. Thus, there are only so many times the recharger can be used before the charged item loses its magic permanently. The cylinder cannot be used to recharge items that have been completely drained. The recharger weighs 200 lbs. and is securely fastened to the floor.
The pages atop the desk provide recipes for 1d10 randomly-determined potions. Characters inspecting the alchemical equipment atop the desk discover an unplugged potion of invisibility among several botched potions and a number of other vile concoctions. There are no other magical potions hidden on the desk, the table or the shelf. although the characters find countless chemicals, corrosive acids, and poisons stored here.
The iron chests are emblazoned with magical symbols cast by Bzallin. Any character who touches the chest or reads the symbol is affected by the spell. The first chest is protected by a symbol of insanity and holds four scaled glass cubes. The cubes contain small samples of green slime, gray ooze, olive slime, and crystal ooze respectively. The second chest is protected by a symbol of death and is very cold to the touch. It contains six jars of preserved blood (taken from Bzallin’s apprentices) which are kept cool by a patch of brown mold. Bzallin keeps these blood samples to make clones. Any warm-blooded individual opening the chest is subjected to the brown mold’s heat-draining attack.
27 – Planar Study
Two smoking censers are mounted atop tripods in opposite corners of this chamber. However in the middle of the room and turning clockwise on an invisible axis is a translucent rendering of the city of Horizon complete with the sphere of annihilation.
Symbols and wizardly runes are used to mark various buildings and districts as they appear before you. Clearly, this is some sort of magically-generated diagram.
The three-dimensional holographic image seen floating about the room was created by Bzallin and is just one of several hundred illusionary images which can be summoned. Bzallin has programmed this chamber to display images of specific layers of the Abyss, Baator, and other known planes. One can also conjure up-to-date images of various planar cities and any number of cities on the Prime Material plane including Horizon (complete with Bzallin’s blacksphere). Although this is not an actual scrying device, the images are very detailed. To picture a specific place, a person need only to stand in the room and mention the place by name. A successful dispel magic cast as a 6th level spell removes whatever image is currently being displayed.
The gold censers hold non-magical incense and are worth 1,500 gp each.
28 – Wizard’s Workroom
Two large tables stand in the middle of this brightly-lit chamber. The tables are covered with books, scrolls, jars, and other fragile pieces of laboratory equipment. Colored tiles form an elaborate star-shaped pattern on the floor, while suspended from the ceiling are two crystal orbs which glow like lanterns. Hundreds of jars are stored on a wall-shelf at one end of the room.
Two of Bzallin’s apprentices, Cazmus (CE male human mage) and Evelyn (CE female githyanki gish) occupy this chamber. Six juju zombies with heavy crossbows are normally stationed here as guards; usually the stand in the “wings” so as not to get in the way. If the juju zombies were taken to area 1, Bzallin replaces them with a pair of summoned invisible stalkers. The zombies and stalkers attack intruders on sight, protecting the wizards from harm. If Bzallin was warned of the party’s arrival by one of the flameskulls (see area 4 of “Bzallin’s Citadel”), one flameskull is also present in this chamber. It casts and reflects spells until destroyed.
Cazmus had an unfortunate experience casting a polymorph spell from a scroll. One misspoken word permanently transformed the left side of his body and face into that of a nabassu tanar’ri. Cazmus may still cast spells with his clawed hand and suffers no penalties to movement because of his one wing or misshapen leg.
Evelyn is a githyanki outcast, shunned by her people because of her chaotic disposition.
The crystal orbs secured above the tables have glassteel spells cast upon them. Contained within are two evil siblings named Vraekas (LE male human gladiator) and Vharkal (LE female gladiator). These fighters were captured during the Blood War and polymorphed into will-o’-wisps by Bzallin. Aside from their improved Armor Class and ability to fly, the fighters have none of the wisps’ magical abilities and are virtually harmless in their current forms. If freed from their crystal prisons, the pair quickly become an annoyance, hoping someone will cast a dispel magic upon them. A successful dispel magic cast against a 6th-level spell restores them to their original form. Once restored, Vraekas and his sister fight their way to freedom by attacking anyone perceived as a threat. Both wear plate mail +1. Vraekas wields a greatsword +3. Vharkal wields a chaotic evil intelligent longsword +2 named Crescent. Crescent has Intelligence 11, Wisdom 13, and Charisma 12. Crescent can cast power word kill once per day, and detect evil or good. Crescent communicates telepathically with a creature that is attuned to it; he can hear and see normally out to 60 feet.
If the PCs have entered the lair undetected, these wizards are studying at the tables. If they are expecting intruders, the wizards prepare for the party’s arrival by casting all of their defensive spells and readying their offensive ones.
Cazmus casts a blur spell upon himself then unloads his lightning bolt. If attacked with missile weapons, he casts his shield spell. In melee combat, he fights with his staff of striking (using 3 charges with every hit and inflicting an extra 1d6 force damage). If hard pressed, he uses his teleport spell to relocate to area 11. In addition to his staff, Cazmus is armed with a dagger +3, a ring of mind shielding, and bracers of defense.
Evelyn saves her haste spell for either the juju zombies or the invisible stalkers, doubling their movement and number of attacks. Evelyn wears a girdle of defense (similar to bracers of defense), a ring of protection, and an amulet of psionic reflection which is attached to a golden headband (250 gp). She wields a mageslayer dagger +1.
The juju zombies employ heavy crossbows loaded with one bolt of flesh to glass. Any creature struck by a bolt suffers normal damage and must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creature is petrified and turns to glass. While made out of glass, a creature suffers the same effects as being petrified except it does not have resistance to all damage and it is vulnerable to thunder damage.
Cazmus’ staff of striking is capped with a fist-sized amethyst (5,000 gp) clutched in a platinum claw (350 gp). His spellbook has all the spells he knows plus an additional 1d8 1st-level, 1d8 2nd-level, 1d6 3rd-level, 1d6 4th level, and 1d4 5th level spells. The book, located atop one of the desks, is protected by a sepia snake sigil.
Evelyn’s spellbook has an item spell cast upon it, enabling her to hide it in her girdle pocket. The spellbook (which is not trapped) holds an additional 1d8 1st-level, 1d8 2nd-level, and 1d6 3rd-level spells.
Characters searching the tabletops find several spell scrolls: eyebite, contagion, summon shadow, reincarnation, and stone to flesh. There is also a scroll of protection from good and evil in a plugged metal tube. A fire trap spell triggers the instant the plug is removed by someone other than Bzallin. A creature must make on a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw or take 6d6 fire damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a successful one. The jars on the wall contain material components for virtually every spell listed in the PHB (GM’s discretion). All jars are carefully labeled.
29 – Summoning Chamber
The floor of this chamber is tiled black. However, painted in gold over the tiles is a large thaumaturgic circle used for summonings. The outer “ring” of the magic circle is adorned with strange runes, while a silver symbol adorns the center of the circle. Four tall braziers made of polished silver are placed int he corners around the circle. Tendrils of smoke rise from the braziers and fill the chamber with the smell of burnt cedar.
This room is occupied by the beautiful Raxalla (CE female human archmage), Bzallin’s most able and ambitious apprentice. She is joined by her invisible quasit familiar Yazbat and a mezzoloth with a alter self spell cast upon it in order to resemble a human mage with a bald, tattooed head. Raxalla is trying to summon and ensnare a hordling (see the appendix) using her newly-acquired planar binding spell. The mezzoloth is present in case the hordling somehow manages to escape from the magic circle. When the characters arrive, Raxalla has not yet completed her spell (which takes 1 full turn to cast). If her spell is interrupted, she is very upset.
Raxalla has no control over the hordling and will not release it from the magic circle. If anything passes over or through the circle, the containment is broken and the hordling is unleashed. The hordling has a hunched back covered with bristles, a wide mouth filled with teeth, and three glowing red eyes. Sprouting from its sides are two strong arms ending in razor-sharp pincers and two 12 foot long tentacles which can crush prey. Given a choice, the hordling attacks Raxalla first, followed by any creature within reach.
For a hordling, use a gray render‘s stats but with the following changes:
Type. The hordling is a fiend (demon).
Alignment. The hordling is chaotic evil.
Damage Resistances. The hordling is resistant to cold, fire, and lightning damage, as well as bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks.
Damage Immunities. The hordling is immune to poison damage.
Condition Immunities. The hordling is immune to the poisoned condition.
Senses. The hordling has truesight out to 120 feet.
Challenge. The hordling’s challenge rating is 15 (13,000).
New Trait: Magic Resistance. The hordling has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
New Trait: Magic Weapons. The hordling’s weapon attacks are magical.
Raxalla is an extremely capable wizard. If caught by surprise, she uses time stop to improve her defenses with globe of invulnerability and mirror image. She then uses her wand of fear to take out noticeably susceptible targets. Raxalla then follows with offensive spells: cone of cold, lightning bolt, and magic missile. Her overall strategy is to keep melee combatants from reaching her while targeting spellcasters. Raxalla commands the mezzoloth to keep back strong foes, as well.
Raxalla wears bracers of defense and eyes of true seeing. She also wears ioun’s circlet which is beset with three ioun stones: greater absorption, resistance to fire, and agility. Her adjusted challenge rating is 14 (11,500 XP).
Raxalla keeps her spellbook on an iron lectern positioned several feet from the circle. Both the book and the lectern have been rendered invisible by Raxall’s magic. Raxalla’s eyeglasses of true seeing allow her to see the lectern and read the tome. Her spellbook is protected by a sepia snake sigil and contains an additional 1d10 1st level, 1d8 2nd0level, 1d8 3rd-level, 1d8 4th level, and 1d6 5th level spells.
30 – Laboratory
Pushed against one wall of this chamber are two transparent crystal slabs, each a few inches thick, which hover in the air at table height. The crystal “tables” are covered with peculiar items, devices, and trinkets of unknown origin. Built into another wall is a stone hearth, next to which is a small bucket of ashes and a shovel.
The crystal slabs are held aloft by permanent levitate spells. Each slab measures 10 feet by 3 feet and weighs over 450 lbs., and can support an additional 150 lbs. of weight. Although their height above the floor is fixed, the slabs can be moved around with little effort. Both slabs are cluttered with pieces of jewelry, fragments of metal, and bits of cut glass.
Dragen (CE male human mage), Malloch (CE male human mage), Talica (CE female half-elf mage), and a simulacrum of Raxalla (CE female simulacrum mage) are normally found here. The simulacrum was created by Bzallin during one of his lectures (see area 18). His most favored apprentice, Raxalla, served as the model for this creation. However, if Dragen and Malloch were slain or captured in area 1, only Talica and the simulacrum are present, along with Ajadarus if he teleported here from area 18.
For the abyssal ant, use the giant spider‘s stat block, but with the following changes:
Lost Characteristics. The ant does not have the web sense or web walker traits, nor does it have the web action. It is also not proficient with stealth.
Type. The ant is a fiend (demon).
Alignment. The ant is chaotic evil.
Damage Resistances. The ant is resistant to cold, fire, and lightning damage.
Damage Immunities. The ant is immune to poison damage.
Condition Immunities. The ant is immune to the poisoned condition.
Challenge. The ant’s challenge rating is 1/2 (100 XP).
Raxalla’s simulacrum wears bracers of defense and a cloak of protection. She also uses an ioun stone which grants her immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non-magical weapons. The simulacrum wields a wand of lightning (7 charges). A wish spell has given the simulacrum a personality similar to Raxalla’s and it attacks with its wand or a barrage of offensive spells.
Dragen wears a robe of protection and a vest of protection (both act like cloaks of protection). He’s armed with two wands: a wand of armory (22 charges), a crystalbrittle wand (14 charges), and six darts of stunning.
Dragen lost his left eye in a back alley brush with three drunken fighters. Embedded in the empty eye socket is a magical red crystal through which Dragen can cast ray of enfeeblement three times per day as a bonus action only if he has not cast a spell that round. He can, however, still use his wands and his crystal eye in the same round.
Malloch wields a dagger +1 which he keeps in as scabbard of poison (wyvern poison) and a staff of the sphere (41 charges, described below). Malloch uses the staff to prevent tough melee combatants from approaching while the others deal damage.
Once alerted to intruders, Talica uses her scroll to summon two abyssal ants (see above), renders herself invisible, and casts a non-detection spell for good measure.
Talica uses a black rod of energy draining and wears a ring of protection and an amulet of magic resistance. She uses a scroll of summon lesser demons to summon the abyssal ants. Nothing tickles Talica’s fancy like touching someone with her black rod and watching her summoned abyssal ants sting a hapless foe to death. Bzallin admires her sadistic streak but doesn’t trust her loyalty. Bzallin’s other apprentices feel much the same way.
Atop the floating slabs are numerous tools used by Bzallin and his apprentices in the meticulous construction of magic items. Among the more mundane items are the following magical constructs: a leather half-mask with crystal lenses (actually a magemask), a twelve inch black cube (a version of Ohm’s black box), two eleven-inch-long black rods (actually exploding candles), and a flask of curses (opener has disadvantage on all saving throws until removed with a remove curse spell).
Characters can also find three scrolls (creation, fabricate, and magic weapon). Other items of value include a crystal vat (450 gp), containing 15 assorted gems (5,000 gp (x6), 1,000 gp (x9)), three carved wands (none of which are enchanted), and spellbooks belonging to Dragen and Malloch.
In addition to the spells he can cast, Dragen’s spellbook holds 1d8 1st-level, 1d8 2nd-level, 1d6 3rd-level, 1d6 4th-level, and 1d4 5th-level spells.
Malloch’s spellbook is protected by an ice trap spell (this modified version of fire trap deals 10 (3d6) cold damage). In addition to the spells he knows, it contains 1d8 1st-level, 1d8 2nd-level, 1d6 3rd-level, and 1d6 4th-level spells.
Malloch’s staff of the sphere was borrowed from Bzallin. This device has the following spell-like powers (spellcasting save DC 20, +12 on spell attacks): flaming sphere (uses 1 charge), Otiluke’s resilient sphere (uses 2 charges), Otiluke’s freezing sphere (uses 3 charges), and prismatic sphere (uses 5 charges). A contingency spell cast upon the staff automatically teleports it to area 31 (as per the teleport spell) if handled by someone other than Bzallin, Raxalla, Pentriss, Dragen, Malloch, or Talica.
31 – Bzallin’s Library
If Bzallin has cast his guards and wards spell, the first character who approaches within 5 feet of the door is subjected to a suggestion spell (see “Guards and Wards” for details). Bzallin relies on his crystal ball with clairaudience to divine the party’s location and thus cannot be surprised unless the characters are protected against scrying magic.
The door opens into a room lit by a green fire burning in a nearby hearth. Positioned in front of the fireplace is a large, padded armchair, and seated in the chair is a bearded man dressed in purple and black wizard’s robes. Clutched in one hand is a wooden staff capped with a large black gem, while positioned next to the chair is a crystal ball resting in a black, claw-shaped stand. The crystal ball is currently displaying a desolated city district that is slowly being consumed by the ever-growing sphere of annihilation. The two farthest walls of the chamber are lined with bookshelves. Packed into these shelves are thousands of dusty tomes.
Bzallin’s library is not subject to the restrictions governing divination spells. To facilitate the use of his crystal ball, Bzallin permits divination spells to function normally in this area. Scrying magic used or cast within this room allows one to spy on the other location within and beyond the Cube.
Bzallin (CE male lich) used a alter self spell to assume human form. He generally prefers his human appearance to that of a lich. He keeps his magical talisman around his neck but tucked under his robe of the archmagi. Clutched in his hands is a staff of the magi, while hidden at his side is a bone of slaying. The crystal sphere next to the chair is Bzallin’s crystal ball with clairaudience, which he uses to spy on the characters or the sphere of annihilation in Horizon. The green flame in the fireplace is a permanent spectral force which provides the chamber with moderate light, but no heat. Bzallin’s shadow demon henchmen, Gloomwhisper, conceals itself behind the throne and strikes only if Bzallin is threatened.
If the party’s arrival is imminent, Bzallin casts globe of invulnerability on himself and relies mostly on Gloomwhisper to protect him. Wearing the talisman has left Bzallin fatigued. He suffers disadvantage on initiative checks and if he attempts to cast a spell with a casting time of 1 action, roll a d20. On an 11 or higher, the spell doesn’t take effect until his next turn, and Bzallin must use his action on that turn to complete the spell. If he can’t, the spell is wasted.
Bzallin wears a ring of wizardry, which doubles his 5th-level spell slots. He also wears a black robe of the magi and wields the staff of the magi. Bzallin can make an attack with his bone of slaying in place of his Paralyzing Touch both as a normal action and a legendary action.
Bzallin has lair actions which he can use, although he can’t use the negative energy cord effect (due to his weakened state).
If the party is equipped with several magic items, Bzallin casts Mordenkainen’s disjunction from a scroll the instant the characters enter the room. The lich’s possessions are not affected, and Bzallin is careful not to catch his crystal ball in the 30-foot radius area of effect. He then follows up with his least obliterating offensive spells first: power word kill, dominate monster, finger of death, disintegrate, blight, Melf’s acid arrow, magic missile, and ray of frost. Afterward, Bzallin proceeds with his more destructive magic: fireball and thunderwave.
If reduced to 20 hp or fewer, Bzallin cracks his staff of the magi in a retributive strike. Luckily, the lich has already prepared a contingency spell for this. An instant before the explosion, Bzallin is teleported safely to area 22. Once there, he removes the cubic gate to flee to the Abyss and eventually makes his way to the layer ruled by J’zzalshrak. If the lich manages to escape, the characters may not be able to track him down in time to save Horizon (GM’s determination, based on the actions of the PCs).
If Bzallin’s yugoloths succeeded in killing Amazzar and returning with his corpse (see “Part One”) the animated corpse is standing in the corner by the fireplace. Bzallin may order the zombie to attack intruders.
In addition to its spell-casting properties, Bzallin’s staff of the magi has a large black gem affixed to its tip. The gem is worth 10,000 gp intact.
Bzallin’s library is stacked with hundreds of valuable tomes worth thousands of gold pieces. Many of the books are cursed or booby-trapped and reading them would take a lifetime, literally. Bzallin’s spellbooks (of which there are dozens) contain all of the spells in the PHB as well as selected spells from other sources. In addition to the spellbooks, inquisitive characters find a fat libram titled The Book of Vile Death. This gruesome tome outlines the process of turning oneself into a lich and can only be understood by wizards of 17th-level or higher. Bzallin has promised this evil tome to Zhargaunt the necromancer. Any good-aligned PC who opens it unleashes 13 angry specters.
Concluding the Adventure
If Bzallin is destroyed, the magical barriers which hold his Cube together inexplicably begin to dissolve. The entire complex begins to shudder. Within 1d10 + 6 rounds, Bzallin’s Cube implodes, instantly killing every living creature within (no save). Every object and magic item inside the lair is lost forever, except for artifacts and relics. These are blown into the Astral plane. Characters should have just enough time to make good their escape. Characters unable to reach the teleporter dais in area 1 may use Bzallin’s cubic gate (see area 22), a plane shift spell, or some other method of departure. If Bzallins’ talisman is left behind, it is blown into the Astral plane and set adrift (until found by an astral-traveling wizard or githyanki warband), and Bzallin’s blacksphere begins shrinking as outlined in the “Bzallin’s Talisman” sidebar.
If the characters return to Horizon with the talisman, either Amazzar or the party wizard can use a gate spell to collapse the sphere of annihilation once it has shrunk to its original diameter. See “Origins of the Sphere” for chances of success. Optionally, characters may use the rod of cancellation from area 22 to destroy the sphere (once its size has been safely reduced).
If Amazzar was slain in “Part One” of the adventure but the characters were successful nonetheless, Glynn Palderus may offer Amazzar’s post to the party mage. Any character who accepts this position has instant notoriety as well as complete access to Horizon’s extensive library (and possibly libraries throughout the civilized realm). Non-wizard characters may be given a position of command in the local militia or land on which to build a residence, guildhall, or temple. Word of the party’s heroism spreads quickly throughout the kingdom, and characters who have neither holdings nor henchmen may find themselves swamped with employment, offers, able squires, devoted acolytes, and/or eager apprentices. If Amazzar was slain but later raised or resurrected, he shows his gratitude by allowing the characters to use his personal library or take whatever magic items they need from his workroom.
If Bzallin and his sphere of annihilation are destroyed, J’zzalshrak will no doubt seek retribution. Not noted for her subtlety, this vile tanar’ri lord sends emissaries to trouble the characters in the near future. The party will have earned the enmity and derision of a terrible and powerful adversary.
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Thumbnail art by Ryman James.