130 - The door is opened to a great hall. The hall is filled with every notable NPC from the campaign world, both past and present, chatting away. As the PCs enter, the room quiets and the crowd splits creating a path for the PCs to walk through. The path leads directly to a raised dais with a massive ornate throne. On the throne sits a man that they recognize all too well. To the PCs chagrin or horror, the crowd starts chanting, "ALL HAIL AVNER!! GRAND EMPEROR OF OERTH!!", repeatedly.
Will there be a cut-off date by which back issues will need to be selected if using the back issue option? Whats the usually turn around time for converting a Print into a PDF?
The reason I am asking is that a recent issue (relatively speaking) is not currently available in either Print or PDF (though it may eventually), but I would hate choosing a issue I don't really really want just to clear my account by a certain date.
I'm thinking that the PCs won't even directly need to combat Demogorgon, at least not for very long.
There's probably a device or ritual that will activate all the shadow pearls simultaneously causing the savage tide. The PCs will have to destroy the device or disrupt the ritual causing the destruction but not the activation of the pearls. This will have to be accomplished while Demogorgon is preoccupied with the invasion of outside sources. This way the staus quo is maintained while still accomplishing the mission.
Thus, the world is saved...salt water taffy for everyone. (And the crowd goes mild.)
Yes, as a DM you realize that Ahazu is using the energies of the prisoners to ascend to godhood, but this information is not presented to the characters. All they will know is that they need to replace one prisoner with one of equal or greater power. You must also realize that this process has been taking a few centuries and still not complete. In fact, Ahazu has let other prisoners go so you can assume that he is not in a rush.
As for the question of a paladin, or other good and virtuous character, making a deal with a demon being a violation of there oaths you must put it in the proper context. They are not doing this for personnal power or gain. It is possible to look at this not a pact but a negotion or trade, something they had to deal with while in Scuttlecove (aiding one faction to defeat another with neither one being any better.) Shami-Amourae while being a demon lord has been out of the picture for awhile and is not a major player, if you so desire it, and the fact that an entire world hangs in the balance the gods may look the other way. There have been many stories published in D&D where the goodly gods had to join forces with their evil counterparts to save themselves and/or reality from destruction... so its not that big of an issue if you don't want it to be.
If this still isn't satisfactory, then bypass the meeting with Ahazu or the trip to the Well altogether. Depending on the type of PCs you're dealing with, variuos knowledge checks could be employed to establish what the charcters may know about Demogorgon or the planes. Do they know that he has two personalities? Do they know who his current consort is? Maybe she has observed his weakness. What about other sages? Can they go directly to Iggwilv? What about a sage on another plane or in Sigil?
The difficulty to this method will be if the player's can figure out that the dual personalities are so divided that given multiple problems at once, Demogorgon locks up like a computer running Windows 95