Nugraal’s Arena is an unusual layer, in that it is not controlled, technically, by demons. Nugraal, often called Nugraal Paingaze or Nugraal of the Black Diamond, is a medusa death knight of tremendous power, who struck a bargain with some of the powers of the Abyss, offering them easy access to his homeworld to despoil as they wished. He has managed to enforce the terms of this bargain by a combination of raw power and trickery, and the fact the arena has attracted other beings of might, who act to make sure it continues to function.
What is Nugraal’s Arena? In both life and undeath, Nugraal was fascinated with blood sports, with watching beings compete and die. He always played the role of the sophisticate, claiming he enjoyed the challenge and the competition, the pitting of skill against skill, but the fact is that he simply derived pleasure from watching other beings suffer for his amusement. He began demanding greater and greater spectacle, more baroque challenges and battles, and the kingdom he ruled on his world became a place of dark legends. Even that, he found limiting, and so he bargained for this place, a small bubble in the midst of chaos, that he could carve and shape to his own specifications.
There is no single arena or stadium. There are hundreds, ranging from classically styled colisseums to broad expanses of rocky ground walled in by flaming barriers. Some are semi-permanent, existing for decades or centuries, while others form themselves out of the chaotic energies that ring the plane, last for a few hours or days, and then dissolve when they are no longer needed. Some form complexes linked by bridges, stairs, and walkways, while others float isolated. Everything here is random and localized. Gravity, temperature, the breathability of the air… these vary from place to place, or even within a single place.
Beings from a hundred worlds and as many planes use Nugraal’s Arena. Some come merely to see the spectacles, others to offer their servants as fodder for the fighting pits, still others to bring in captives whom they wish to see die in interesting ways. A rare few come to fight; the self-proclaimed champions of battle, who dare the overlords of this place to find something worthy for them to fight.
The battles staged here are renowned for cruelty. Some fight in chains of barbed steel, forced to tear their own flesh with every move. One visitor fielded a team of soldiers whose arms had been removed, with daggers then hammered into the bones of their face, pitted against a blinded and limbless elder silver dragon. Many are compelled to fight by threats against their families, their homes, or their worlds, with ravaging hordes of demons set to be loosed should they fail to win (and, often, even if they succeed, as keeping bargains is not high on the list of anyone who patronizes this place… at least not bargains with anyone who lacks equal power.)
Heroes sometimes come to the Arena in pursuit of captives, to rescue someone taken here, or to fulfill the terms of some challenge. Sometimes, they will come pursuing a patron of this place, or even to meet with some foul creature with whom they must bargain, however repulsive he may be. Of course, for the venal and power-seeking, the Arena is known to be home to a range of powerful weapons, brought here by warriors or gifted to champions. A few masters of the arts of arms and armor will bring their greatest creations here, to see them forged and tested in battle.
Nugraal, as noted, likes to play the part of the intellectual, the man (well, medusa) who loves nothing more than to see great champions demonstrate their skill. Perhaps he even half-believes himself to be such a patron of the art of battle. To help sustain this lie, or delusion, he has commanded the crafting of a set of armor and weapons which he offers to those who can complete a series of challenges. While he would prefer to never let anyone actually win, on rare occasion, he miscalculates and must confront individuals of sufficient power to hold him to his word — and, as a consequence, some of these items have made it out of the Arena and across the many worlds.
This is an Item Set, following the guidelines in Adventurer’s Vault 2.
Nugraal’s Gifts Items
|21||Helm Of The Dark Vision||225,000||Head|
|24||Cape Of Painful Shadows||525,000||Neck|
Nugraal’s Gifts Benefits
|2||Once per encounter, as an immediate interrupt, when a bloodied ally within five squares is subject to any power with the Healing keyword, you may gain one-half the hit points he would gain; he gains no hit points. Neither the ally nor the source of the power needs to consent to this.|
|3||So long as you are adjacent to a bloodied ally, you may spend his healing surges any time you are able to spend one of your own. This does not require that ally’s consent.|
|4||Your defenses increase by 1 for each enemy past the first your adjacent to. However, any ally adjacent to any of those enemies suffers an equal penalty to defenses, no matter how many enemies he is adjacent to.|
As one might guess, Nugraal enjoys dissent. His "gifts" make someone stronger at the expense of his friends; while some evil folk see this as a way to make their allies "useful", what it really means is that the wearer of Nugraal’s gifts tends to die alone. For purposes of the effects of Nugraal’s Gifts, an ally must be a non-minion no more than three levels lower than the wearer; others do not have sufficient life force to empower the items.
Helm Of The Dark Vision Level 21
This helmet features a full face guard, seemingly without even eyeslits. It is made of pitted and corroded black iron.
Item Slot: Head 225,000 gp
Property: You gain Blindsight, and a +6 Item bonus to Perception checks.
Power (Daily): You see the endings of all things, and you can share these visions. As a minor action, both you and an enemy you can see receive a vision of your possible deaths, a particularly painful and grisly one. (DMs are encouraged to have fun with this, heh heh heh.) You make an attack +6 vs. Will. If you hit, the enemy takes 3d10 psychic damage and is dazed (save ends). If you miss, you grant combat advantage to the targeted enemy until the end of the encounter.
Special: The helmet causes the wearer to constantly see strange and morbid visions when he is resting. So long as the helmet is in his possession, whether he wears it or not, he regains 5 fewer hit points from each Healing Surge he spends during a brief rest.
Searing Breastplate Level 22
This breastplate was once formed of glistening bronze, but it has been charred and blackened as if by dragon’s breath, and is now discolored, dull, and battered.
Item Slot: Armor 325,000 gold pieces
Enhancement: +5 bonus to Armor Class
Property: You gain Resist 15 Fire and Acid
Power (Encounter): Free Action. Trigger: You are hit by an attack which does fire or acid damage. Effect: Any damage you take, resisted or not, is instead dealt to the attacking enemy, who loses any resistance against these damage types for this attack.
Special: Wearing the armor wracks your body with pain, as it burns and corrodes your own flesh. Your Speed is reduced by 1.
Foebiting Axe, Level 23
This axe is made of badly rusted iron, constantly shedding flakes, and the haft is of rotted wood, which looks as if it will snap with one good blow.
Item Slot: Weapon, 425,000 gp
Enhancement: +5 to attack rolls and damage rolls.
Critical: +1d8 necrotic damage per plus.
Property: When you are bloodied, the Foebiting Axe gains the Brutal 2 property.
Power (Encounter): Wide Swings .Free action. Prior to making an attack, you may declare you are using the axe’s wide swings ability. If you hit, you do Str+5 damage to any foes adjacent to you other than your target. If you miss, you become immobilized (save ends) and cannot use the axe to make attacks until you are no longer immobilized.
Special: Any time you miss with an attack, you do Str+2 damage to an adjacent ally (chosen randomly if there are more than one). If you are bloodied, this increased to Str +4.
Cape of Painful Shadows, Level 24
This cape is woven of dark grey cloth, torn, ragged, and threadbare.
Item Sloth: Neck, 525,000 gp
Enhancement: +5 to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will
Property: You do not grant combat advantage from being flanked.
Property: Any enemy flanking you takes 5 Necrotic damage at the start of their turn.
Power (Encounter): Minor action. Target an ally and an enemy, each within 5 squares of you. The targetted ally loses a healing surge. The targetted enemy gains vulnerability 10 (necrotic) (save ends).
Power (Daily): Free Action. All of your attacks do necrotic damage until the end of your next turn.