Login or register. (You can now login/register with your social networks.)

Dungeons
Other
Rooms/ Halls
4.94
9 Votes

60xp


Hits: 1186
Comments: 10
Ideas: 1
Rating: 4.9444
Condition: Normal
ID: 6666

Submitted:

Updated:
April 27, 2012, 10:52 pm

Vote Hall of Honour
Dozus

You must be a member to use HoH votes.
Author Status

Options


Print Friendly and PDF

Escape From the Tower

By:

After waking up groggily in the middle of a floating wizard's tower, the players must find some way to escape before being slain by the beast that stalks them.  Time is ticking and the cat is always watching . . .

Background

A wizard of moderate power and wealth built a tower for himself in the sky so that he could conduct his research in peace.  While not “evil”, per se, the wizard wasn't above enslaving the poor fools who would occaisionally come to rob him, layering upon them enchantments so deep that they had no chance of escape.  Those who had been particularly annoying might wind up in one of his “experiments”, while the others would serve as menial labor for as long as their bodies held out.  Even the dead could serve as compost in his gardens – the wizard did not believe in waste.

Twice a month the wizard received a shipment of supplies a'gryphon-back to keep his operations running.  He chatted with the merchants and received the occasional visitor, but otherwise his only companionship was his familiar, a cat named Grimalkin.  Grimalkin had the run of the tower; the wizard had catwalks and tunnels built so that his friend had easy access to every room.  He also installed bolt-holes and “safe cubbies” for his cat in case one of his experiments went wrong.  In time, Grimalkin even learned how to set off all the traps and safety systems that the wizard had put in place.  He was a very clever cat, you see.

It was fortunate that the wizard had taken such precautions, for one of his experiments eventually did go wrong.  The wizard had been studying lycanthropy for several months, and had finally succeeded in procuring a werewolf for study.  While attempting to remove the curse, however, he accidentally transferred it to himself.  What's more, he seems to be stuck in beast form for some reason.  After killing the hapless ex-werewolf, the wizard (now the Beast) roamed the tower, destroying anything that got in its way.

It is several days after the accident, and the enchantments holding the wizard's servants are expiring.  Will the players be able to arm themselves and escape the floating tower before starving or being torn apart?

Introduction

You awaken in a small, sterile hallway.  There are no decorations on the walls, no mark left by the occupants of this place.  Just stone walls and a spotlessly clean wooden floor.  Your hands are cramped around the handle of a mop, as though you have been holding it for hours on end, and your stomach snarls with hunger.


One by one, the players throw off the effects of a powerful enchantment, awakening in the middle of a wizard's tower.  They have no memory of their time spent in the tower, but can remember their lives leading up to that point.  They are, by and large, remnants of various adventuring companies who have tried to assault the wizard's keep in the past.  The fate of their missing companions is unknown.

The party starts off in the Servant's Quarters, and all should bear signs of being stuck in “auto-pilot” for some time.  One could wake in the kitchen, surrounded by clean dishes but with her hands still elbow-deep in cold, soapy water as if awaiting more dirty dishes.  Another could be lying stiffly in his cot, after taking a days long “rest”.  It is clear that something has happened to their captor, and that they have this single chance to escape before he can renew the enchantments holding them here.

But that may prove more complicated than they imagine.

Running the Dungeon

The Cat
The party will first encounter Grimalkin when they leave the Servant's Quarters.  From then on, Grimalkin should always be lurking in the background, watching the party with unnatural intelligence.  If confronted, he'll simply disappear through a bolt-hole for awhile, only to reappear somewhere else later.  He has one goal: to return his master to normal.  And for that, he'll need the party's help.

Grimalkin will do whatever he can to keep the players from leaving before obtaining their help.  He will also try to keep them from poking around his master's quarters, and will set off the traps there.  The only places that Grimalkin habitually avoids are the Bestiary and now the Observatory.

The Beast
The wizard is trapped in a werewolf's bestial form, unable to shift back to being a human.  It is very intelligent, but not really aware of who it is.  All it knows is rage and hunger; it will kill just about anything that moves.  The only reason that the party was not killed while enchanted is that they were closed off on the only floor that has no windows and it didn't know about the trapdoor down.  Others were not so fortunate.

During the adventure, the werewolf should mostly sleep during the daytime up in the Observatory (coincidentally blocking access to the portal there).  At night, it should prowl all over the tower, mostly by scaling the walls up and down.  There are plenty of windows that it can come through to get at the party, and they should never know when it will attack (except in the windowless Servants' Quarters). 

Normal weapons are practically useless against the Beast, so it should be nearly impossible for the party to take down.  When confronted with a holy symbol, it will only hesitate for about a second or so.  There is some silverware in the kitchen that might be useful, but a fork or butterknife is a really dinky weapon to wield against a werewolf.

Possible Escape Routes

  1. The gryphons in the Beastiary.  To use them, however, the party will have to obtain the magical harnesses stored in the Wizard's Quarters.  The cat will try to prevent this from happening.
  2. The deactivated portal in the Observatory.  Set in the middle of the Beast's den, it will be tricky to get to without getting mauled.  And even then, the party will need the key that is hidden in the Wizard's Quarters to activate it.
  3. The wizard.  The party will probably assume that the wizard is dead.  However, if they can free him from his curse, they will have him at a disadvantage and he will be eager to get them out of his tower as soon as possible.
    • One possibility is to cooperate with Grimalkin and get the cure for lycanthropy from the Gardens, then somehow administer it.
    • The other is to smash the orb that is in the Observatory.  This will let the wizard revert back to human form for awhile at least, though it won't permanently cure him.

The Tower

Below is a description of each floor of the wizard's tower, along with notes on what the players may find there and possible exits (marked with a →).  They are listed from bottom to top, in order.

Bestiary & Holding Cells

Cages of all sizes line the walls here, filled with creatures both exotic and mundane.  The din of panicked screeching, cawing and squeeling is deafening. 

The rattle of chains draws their attention to the far side of the room.

There, three large & fearsome beasts prowl at the ends of their tethers, snapping at each other or pausing to rip at the corpse of some small animal.  Behind them is a large, double-doored entrance with the doors thrown wide.  The party can see blue skies and clouds beyond the doors, and a bunch of boxes, piled haphazardly on what appears to be a sizable landing pad, just outside the door.

As their eyes adjust to the dimness, the party can see that many of the cages around them have been broken open – blood, feathers and fur is all that's left of the occupants.  Additionally, there is a trail of blood that leads to a side window, not far from where the party stands.

Both the gryphons and the Beast have been feeding off the small animals here for the past three days.  There has been at least one territorial fight, as evidenced by a wounded gryphon (large gashes run down its hindquarters and it walks now on three legs), and the Beast has avoided their side of the Bestiary since then.  It prefers to come in and out of the window near the portal.

There is an closed and barred gateway to the right of the gryphons.  The party can just barely see the bars of the first holding cell beyond from where they stand.  The holding cells and their contents have been protected from both the gryphons and the Beast by a strong gate.  Though the gate itself is not locked, the individual cells may be.  Place any NPCs you want here – they won't have survived in the rest of the tower.  NPCs should be hungry and parched, having lived without food for three days and without water for one.  This adventure does not require any NPCs, but this can be a convenient way to flesh out a smallish party or add some moral dilemma or outside intrigue.

The boxes on the landing pad seem to have been there for awhile – the delivery date on their sides indicates at least three days ago – and they lie unopened on the landing pad.  They contain additional food, water and supplies.  Some of the boxes may have been ruined by the weather.

Encounter:
While the gryphons cannot reach the boxes themselves, their tethers are long enough to allow them to guard the door to the landing pad effectively.  The party will have to distract or disable them if they want to get to the extra food and supplies.

    → Portal to the Laboratory

 

Servants' Quarters & Kitchens

This place seems absolutely sterile, like a barracks whose occupants never stay long.  There is no decoration, nothing bright or cheery on the walls.  There aren't even any windows.

This whole floor was dedicated to housing the human automatons that the Wizard used for servants.  For maximum effect, it should be night-time when the party ventures up the trapdoor into the Laboratory (for that is when the Beast is on the prowl).

Rooms:

  • Kitchen with Larder: The kitchen cupboards are full of pots and pans, and the drawers contain several sets of fine silverware.  There is also a very large oven.  The larder contains enough food to feed the party for a few days.
  • Barracks-like bedroom with six simple cots (or as many as needed for the party, plus a few).
  • There is a large storage room (locked) in the hallway between the kitchen and barracks, full of old adventuring gear thrown haphazardly against the walls.  Swords, backpacks, armor – you name it.  Any magical items have long since been confiscated, but there will many tools and oddments left over in the personal belongings of dozens of adventurers.

    → Stairs up to the Laboratory, closed off by a trapdoor which can be opened from either side.

 

Laboratory & Library

Here is a scene of utter destruction.  Books, scrolls and implements of all kinds lay strewn across the floor amid puddles of viscous liquid and shattered glass.  Tables and bookshelves lie overturned, and a line of large cages has been simply ripped from the wall.  

Near the center of the wreckage lies the remnants of a broken circle and the remains of . . . something, lying in a puddle of blood.  The stench of eviscerated guts assaults the nose, and a few flies buzz greedily around the corpse.  Wrenching your eyes away from the carnage, you can see blood painting the walls and high bookshelves, flung almost to the ceiling by some violent force.  And a trail of long, jagged gashes leads up to one of the four windows . . .

Picking through the wreckage, the players may find various useful odds and ends; a few unbroken potions, spell components -- perhaps even a blasting rod or other magical weapon, hidden in the desk for quick access.

The Wizard also kept notes about his current research.  After the party has been poking about for awhile, Grimalkin will pointedly push a notebook off a shelf or desk to land at the feet of a PC.  He will do whatever he needs to do to attract their attention to it.  The notebook contains general notes on werewolves (including their weakness to silver, and nocturnal nature).  It will also mention a possible herbal cure for lycanthropy that is growing in the Gardens right now.  Once obtained, the herb must be dried and crushed into a powder that is to be thrown into the eyes or into the mouth of the Beast.  Unfortunately, it can only be harvested under the light of the moon.

Encounter:
After the players have received the notebook, if they decide to thumb through it now they will get far enough into it to see that the Wizard was studying lycanthropy.  At that, the hairs on the back of their necks will start to prick up.  When they look around, one of the party should see the gleaming eyes of the Beast staring at them through a window.  The Beast will charge once noticed.

If this is their first encounter with the Beast, they will quickly learn that their weapons are ineffective.  This may lead to the party getting into some real trouble.  If things get too bad, Grimalkin will step in to draw the Beast away from the PCs, allowing the party to escape.


    → Spiral stairs up to the Wizard's Quarters.  These are trick stairs, bewitched to prevent anyone from climbing up without direct permission from the wizard.  No matter how high you climb, the top never gets any closer.  This enchantment deactivates when a large clock next to the staircase begins to chime (normally three times a day, at mealtimes).  The clock has been smashed, however, and will now chime at random times during the day and night.  When the party hears it, they will have 5 minutes to get up the stairs before the enchantment reactivates.
    → Stairs down to the Servant's Quarters, closed off by the trapdoor.  There is a lock on this side that can be engaged, as well.
    → Portal to the Bestiary, currently set to permit passage both ways.
    → Door out to the Gardens

 

The Gardens

It is obvious that the wizard was an avid gardener.  Rows of immaculately kept herbs and flowers extend around the first bend of the tower, to the left.  A small shed with gardening tools, neatly organized, and a greenhouse are near at hand.  To the right, the wizard has fashioned an extensive labyrinth from the topiary.  Grown to about chest-height, the labyrinth is well-stocked with many species of ornamental plants; flowers and vines climb thickly over gated trellises.  Various statues and fountains can be seen poking out from within.

The gardens were used to supply the wizard with magical components, so expect to find many varied and useful herbs here, including the cure for lycanthropy.  For a challenge, feel free to stock the Gardens with various poisonous, carnivorous or otherwise dangerous magical plants.

Encounter:
If the party goes out into the Gardens to harvest the cure, the werewolf will get between them and the door back into the Laboratory (whether this happens before or after they've obtained the herb is up to the sadism-level of the GM).  The Beast will chase them into the Labyrinth and a long game of cat-and-mouse will ensue.  Partway through, the cat could appear to help guide them around the Beast and to the door of the hidden safe-room.

    → Door to the Laboratory
    → Hidden door to a small safe-room,
concealed behind some bushes

 

Wizard's Quarters

Though the rest of the tower has a spotless, almost sterile quality to it, the wizard's own quarters are chronically untidy.  A half-finished breakfast tray lies on the bedside table, along with various other oddments and nicknacks.  A large wardrobe, stuffed to the gills, was evidently insufficient for the wizard's needs; hats, robes, capes and other oddments have been flung over other furniture, even the life-sized statues that rim the chamber.  A massive bed with rumpled sheets, a wide assortment of tapestries, and a gilded portrait of the wizard holding a gray tabby-cat completes the décor.

There are a few points of interest on this floor:

  • There is a large chest at the foot of the wizard's bed which holds much of his physical wealth.  It is firmly locked.
  • A small chest of drawers holds many useful magical items, some removed from the adventurers themselves when they were captured.  The drawers are trapped with a loud alarm (and possibly a sleeping spell).  Among the magic items are three magical harnesses for the gryphons in the Bestiary.  Merely holding one of these harnesses is enough to make a gryphon tame enough to ride.
  • There is a secret cache of research notes, journals, etc. in a cubby hole behind the portrait.  The cubby also contains the key needed to activate the portal in the Observatory.
  • Besides the bedroom chamber, there is a private bathing room and adjacent privy.

Encounter:
Six armed statues/constructs stand at even intervals around the edges of the room.  If the party attempts to get into the magic items cache or get too close to the hidden compartment behind the portrait, the cat will set off one of one as a warning.  If they try again, it will set off two.  Then three at once.  After that, the room's defenses are exhausted and Grimalkin will only be able to express his displeasure by glaring at them and yowling.

Encounter:
The chest with the gryphon harnesses is trapped with a loud alarm.  Day or night, this will be loud enough to attract the attention of the Beast, who will come to investigate.  The party will hear snarls coming through the trapdoor above, followed by several large thumps as the Beast tries to break through, then an ominous silence.  It will burst through one of the stained glass windows 2d4 rounds later.  If there are any statues left alive, one could engage the werewolf at this point, allowing the party to escape.

    → Ladder up to the Observatory, sealed off by a trapdoor
    → Stairs down to the Laboratory

 

The Observatory

The scent of drying blood lingers in the air as you step into what was once an elegant chamber.  The whole of the large, domed roof is covered in intricate paintings of stars, planets, deities and the primal elements, swirling overhead in a crazy cosmic dance.  Lit by the soft, glowing light of a glass orb set high into the wall, the painting stands in sharp contrast to the disordered mess below.  Desks lie in splintered piles around the room; shredded charts, models and notes have been scattered over the entire floor; and a large nest of sorts has been constructed in the cleared space from various bits of fabric, bone and paper.  The Beast has obviously made a den of sorts up here . . .

The glowing orb is actually one of Lytharian's Luminescent Orbs.  Upon closer inspection, it seems to be hooked up to some sort of contraption -- a mess of crystals, wires and copper.  This is actually an early prototype "lux generator", a colaborative work between the wizard and his colleague, Lytharian.  It took them the better part of a summer, but the two were eventually successful in replicating the exact properties of the full moon's light from a stored sample (they intended to adapt the work to replicate additional light sources, but then got hung up on magical patenting issues). 

Here, then, is the source of all the trouble.  The wizard-turned-werewolf is being forced to remain in Beast mode at all times, due to the constant exposure of the full moon's light up in the Observatory.  The device is not very efficient (by wizarding standards), but it will easily be able to power the "lux generator" for at least a decade before failing.  If the party can deactivate it, however, or at least smash the orb that is giving off the light, the wizard will revert to human form at the following dawn.

Encounter:
Unless the party has taken specific precautions against it, you should ensure that the Beast is present to attack the intruders to its lair.  It's not specifically guarding the portal out, but it will attack anyone in this room with extra ferocity as it tries to defend its territory.  There's no rule against it following them through the portal either . . .

    → Deactivated portal to the left of the trapdoor.  The portal leads off the tower (to wherever the GM wishes), but must be activated by the key found in the Wizard's Quarters.
    → Stairs down to the Wizard's Quarters, closed off by the trapdoor
    → Door out to the observation deck, to the right of the stairs

 

Afterward

Because the tower is such an isolated location, it should be pretty easy to find a way to drop your party into their next adventure.  Here are a few segways I thought of:

1. The deactivated portal in the observatory was somehow damaged (either during the fight, or by the Beast previously).  When the party steps through to escape the tower, they are teleported to a random location.  Could be in the middle of your next dungeon, onto a battlefield, deep in the wilderness, etc.  Obviously not where the portal was originally meant to go.

2. The harnesses may allow the party to ride the gryphons out of the tower, but perhaps they don't give the players absolute control over the beasts.  The gryphons will fly to wherever they damn well please, and the party members have no choice but to hang on or fall to their deaths.

3. The wizard has been cured, and he wants them OFF the tower.  Perhaps he teleports them to a dangerous (or very remote) location to get them out of his hair.  This could be unintentional -- teleportation may just not be one of his strong points.



Additional Ideas (1)

Notes from running the dungeon with my group:

Exploit 1: The Cure was intended to be a way to force the party into a confrontation with the Beast on its terms. Instead, the party decided to grab a random selection of every plant out there that looked as if it could be ready to bloom, and plant them in pots within the Servant's Quarters, in the hopes of foiling the "flower that only blooms at night" ploy.

Exploit 2: Spell components. Because it was a wizard's tower, the party alchemist was able to find ingredients for almost anything, including sleeping potion (which could be used on the gryphons and even the Cat).

Things I wish I had done differently:

Wish I had included more opportunities for combat. The adventure was intended to provide a way around almost all combat, and that's fine, but it would be good to include a list of optional combat encounters that the GM could throw at his/her players if things start to lag.

Here are some ideas:

  • A rival faction of escaped prisoners, intent on stealing the party resources
  • A few of the wizard's other experiments (unatural horrors, mechanical sentries, sentient plants, talking animals, summoned demons or elementals, etc).

I could also have included a few more non-combat disasters. What things could go wrong or out of control without the wizard's direct oversight? Automated tower responses are a rich area that I didn't get a chance to explore.

I needed a better mechanism for deciding when the clock would chime. Probably rolling a die every 10 minutes?

Finally, more thought should be given to the werewolf's behaviour during the day. I think it would generally refuse to go outside, but what if the alarm goes off in the Wizard's Quarters? What if the party flees outside into the daylight? Who knows how a werewolf would react in those situations?

1xp

2012-06-11 05:15 PM » Link: [6666#82023|text]
Please register to add an idea. It only takes a moment.

Suggested Submissions


Join Now!!



Gain the ability to:
Vote and add your ideas to submissions.
Upvote and give XP to useful comments.
Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities.
Join a Guild in the forums or complete a Quest and level-up your experience.
Comments ( 10 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Silveressa
April 22, 2012, 17:04
6xp

This sub all but screams "convention material, run me at the next RPG Con!" A straight forward adventure with a clear end goal, and a unique way of brining the party of adventerurs togther at the begnining and encouraging team work. It can be run as a one shot not only at cons, but to intro new players to rping, or to showcase a new rule system for veteran group.

It also makes for a great one shot horror game to run on  game night when you are missing a couple players but want to game anyway.

 

Voted Kassy
April 22, 2012, 18:16
7xp

Terrific!

I share Silveressa's opinion, it's great for new players and seasoned veterans alike.

Instead of being the starting point for the PC's venture, it could be introduced pretty much anywhere throughout the course of a campaign.

Brilliantly written, excellent presentation.

5/5 for you sir!

Voted mrmiffmiff
April 27, 2012, 0:28
0xp

Great for the beginning of a campaign in terms of having an excuse to bring the PCs together. Can probably be adapted for an already-established campaign.

All in all, a really good adventure idea. I like it. 5/5.

Voted Cheka Man
April 27, 2012, 13:09
0xp

5/5. It would make a great rp.

Voted Mourngrymn
April 27, 2012, 21:01
6xp

I must say I began reathis train trying to find a reason to not vote a perfect score but I honestly can not find one. While I am not overly keen on you wake up in an unknown place with unknown people, this actually works. It's a tad odd but it works. The map did wonders for me as well. All in all I didn't find the plot uberly unique but with all the little extras it just works. Kudos

Dossta
April 27, 2012, 22:52
1xp
Update: Added "afterward" section, and cleared up the formatting a little.
Voted Forganthus
May 23, 2012, 0:25
6xp
I agree with the previous comments. Good for 1st level noobs, and for a long time after that. I don't like that the cat seems like an untouchable plot device instead of an animal. I love that you've thought of everything, though.
Voted valadaar
November 27, 2012, 8:47
0xp
A really well put together sub and a great entry level quest! Nicely done! The map is an excellent addition.
Voted Dozus
March 11, 2013, 11:49
0xp
Very thorough.
Voted HeroSword
July 15, 2013, 11:45
0xp
I really enjoyed this, along with the graphical addition.

Link Backs



Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Siren no Orakio

Telepathically linked twins that have the ability to switch places. Literally. They've learned to exploit this 'tag-team' throughly.

Ideas  ( NPCs ) | April 27, 2004 | View | UpVote 0xp


Creative Commons License
Individual submissions, unless otherwise noted by the author, are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
and requires a link back to the original.

We would love it if you left a comment when you use an idea!
PayPal
Powered by Lockmor 4.1 with Codeigniter | Copyright © 2013 Strolen's Citadel
A Role Player's Creative Workshop.
Read. Post. Play.
Optimized for anything except IE.
0.0237