While the party is walking along, a hellish portal opens in front of them, spewing a blast of hot air and the odor of sulfur. Out from this portal stumbles a young devil, dressed in what looks like a military school uniform. He immediately closes his eyes and sighs as a gentle breeze rushes over his sweaty face. He smiles and sticks his arms out, clearly savoring the coolness of the air.
He won’t notice the players at all until someone gets his attention.
“Oh!” he exclaims, falling clumsily backward onto the ground. “I’m, uh, sorry about that. I didn’t think about where I was going to pop out, ya know? I just knew that I had to get out of there…”
He picks himself up and brushes off his jacket, readjusting a sash that is adorned with various boy-scout-esque merit badges. Each badge sports typical devil iconography: flames, pitchforks, horns, etc.
The devil boy introduces himself as Purspyre.
“I’m trying to rise through the ranks of Devildom at the Hellfire Academy. Not because I want to do any harm, of course,” he adds, perhaps noticing if there are any paladins or other divine characters in the party. “I don’t want to be a hellish prince or some general of a demonic army. I just want one thing: to turn down the thermostat by a few degrees.”
“You don’t understand how bad it gets down there,” he continues, mopping his brow with the back of his hand. “I mean, I get it; it’s hell. But does that mean we need to keep the atmosphere scorching!? I’m always so uncomfortable.”
“Anyway. Lowly cadets, like me, don’t have permission to adjust the temperature in the dormitories. However, if I can climb my way up to 2nd lieutenant, then I get special privileges. I can turn down the temperature a bit and no longer need to rely on so many icepacks or mini-fans. You have no idea how expensive it gets trying to keep cool in literal Hell. I’m on a student’s budget, after all!”
If the party offers to help the little devil “rise through the ranks”, Purspyre will be thrilled and rush over to shake the players’ hands (with an incredibly sweaty palm).
The Devil Made Us Do It
In order to climb to the next ranking, Purspyre must earn 3 more merit badges. Of course, the badges can be earned in a very straightforward way, although all of these activities would be legitimately “evil” and likely not supported, morally, by the party. It should also be made clear that Purspyre is not like typical devils; he has a kind heart and empathy, so he will be more appreciative if you help him earn the badges in clever, non-destructive ways.
When he accompanies the other players into towns or populated areas, he has the ability to cast “Disguise Self” at will so others won’t notice his clearly devilish identity. However, if he gets particularly nervous in a situation, he will still start to sweat profusely, potentially alerting others that something’s not quite right.
- Challenge 1: “Destroy something holy”
- Obviously, the party can help Purspyre ransack a church, break a museum relic, or destroy a saint’s statue, but this will result in city guards getting involved. Alternatively, the party can help the little devil find an object (or create one) that’s “holy”: stabbing a piece of wood full of holes with a piercing weapon, buying a block of Swiss cheese from the market, etc. Once they have helped Purspyre obtain a “holy” object, he will cast a fireball and incinerate it immediately. If you, as the DM, feel the party satisfied the requirements for the challenge, then a chorus of discordant trumpets is heard and a merit badge appears on Purspyre’s sash, manifesting in a small cloud of smoke and sparks (almost like the badge is magically branded onto the fabric).
- This badge depicts a holy symbol with a big red “X” over it.
- Challenge 2: “Make mortals cry.”
- This task should be pretty straightforward for the players. Obviously, they can help the devil attack/hurt someone and make them cry from pain; Purspyre will not enjoy doing this and will likely start crying himself. Alternatively, the party can help Purspyre tell jokes during stand-up night at a tavern (by whispering clever one-liners through the curtain), or Purspyre can act like a ventriloquist dummy and allow one of the players to take center-stage alongside him in an effort to entertain the crowd. Whether or not the audience laughs so hard that they cry will depend on some performance checks with DC 12-15. Of course, other options include chopping up a bunch of onions and flinging them at people to make them cry or, on a more sentimental note, helping them with something so near-and-dear to them that they cry tears of joy. Like before, completion of this challenge will result in a badge manifesting on Purspyre’s sash.
- This badge depicts a large eyeball shedding a single blue teardrop.
- Challenge 3: “Convince a mortal to sacrifice their soul.”
- This challenge is the last challenge for a reason: it’s the toughest. If done literally, this challenge requires the devilish knack for deception and trickery (neither of which Purspyre is particularly adept at). The party can find an NPC who desperately needs something and trade that thing in exchange for the mortal’s soul (a soul that would then be claimed by the Nine Hells upon the time of the poor mortal’s death). However, this would be incredibly dark. Unless there’s some villainous character that your party has a vendetta against and would love to consign their soul to the Nine Hells, it’s unlikely that they will choose this option. An alternative could be in misunderstanding the word “soul.” For example, the party could make a deal with a cobbler to donate some worn-out soles from old shoes. The party could also convince a bard, preferably one who specializes in soul music, to let little Purspyre play their guitar a bit and inherit some of their soulful spirit.
- If the party tries one of these alternative readings of the word “soul”, a badge will not manifest right away. Rather, a representative from the Hellfire Academy will appear in a cloud of smoke and fire to assess the case personally and determine if it will be counted. The party/Purspyre will need to succeed on a DC 12 persuasion check to convince the devilish evaluator from Infernal Affairs that everything has been done in accordance with university policy.
Once all the challenges have been completed, Purspyre’s sash with glow and triumphant horns will blast around them for one final time (celebratory sounding but still grating). The devil boy will be thrilled that you helped him reach 2nd lieutenant status.
“I can’t wait to adjust that thermostat now!” he exclaims, “I won’t need to constantly tote around a backpack full of hand towels anymore or shower 8 times a day. Thank you, everyone. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
Some possible rewards:
- If the party needs to find a way to visit the Nine Hells themselves (perhaps something related to the main quest), Purspyre can invite them to the upcoming “Friends and Family Weekend.” Students can invite whomever they would like to visit the campus, and those guests are treated with kindness and respect while on academy grounds (even mortals).
- If the party has no need to visit the Nine Hells, then Purspyre can say that the players have earned a merit badge themselves and hand them The Badge of Friendly Friends.
This badge is clearly handmade by Purspyre himself and represents how helpful and kind his new friends have been to him. It needs to be stitched onto the outfit of one of the players to receive any benefits from the accessory. Once per long rest, the Badge of Friendly Friends can be invoked to maximize all healing and support spells (cast by the wearer) for the next minute.