Introduction: Six hundred years ago, the emperor of Belemar* founded the college of higher learning and the college of higher magic. These colleges would strengthen the empire and provide them with valuable information and magic, which could be used in the best interest of the empire. Alas, it did not take long before the college of higher magic decided they did not need the empire and their constant demands, and declared their independence. There was not much the empire could say about this. Of course they sent a couple of legions to suppress these unruly elderly men, but all those that entered the woods surrounding the college valley, always came out on the same spot they entered. Fire would not touch the trees and the legions went home. Today the college is still independent and is ruled by the council of supreme mages.
*One of the nations that now is part of the southern empire
Description: The college consists of seventeen great towers and many lesser towers soaring above the valley floor. The central tower is called the Mahjora-uth-Arcaie, and houses the assembly of mages and the council of supreme mages. The lesser towers are the abodes of the great mages, while the greater towers house different cabals, circles and covens. Only great mages have towers and the rest are considered apprentices in service of the great mages.
Deep beneath the central tower laid the chambers of the Arcane. This is where the mages, witches and warlocks place those creations they deem to dangerous. The crystal bell Â Beloth Â was such a creation. Shortly after it was created by Magnus of Cormalth, it got in the hands of a cunning mercenary captain known as Harlan Marcus. Let’s shorten the tale and just say that the mages in the college valley did not like to have Harlan and his men roaming about the valley, helping themselves to the mages valuables. The bell rendered the college magic useless, and the mages locked themselves in, awaiting Harlan, armed with brooms, pottery and kitchen utensils.
The bell was later recovered, together with Harlan himself, and both were locked away in the chambers of the arcane.
Overview: This is one of the optional places the PC’s may visit prior to entering the citadel of Xolthog. It will be referenced in the prophecy all three campaigns will be based upon. The part of the prophecy concerning the elves quest will describe all three of the required items, but only vaguely. This place will be the easiest to identify, and will contain Â the well of Urthmok , a rather peculiar oracle.
The council will send underlings to investigate if the PC’s fail to disable the glyphs on the entryway to the chamber of regrets before they pass or if the watch mages patrolling the forbidden garden detect anything out of the ordinary. The watch does not normally enter the chambers.
Reaching the Valley: If the PCs are to reach the valley, they have to cross the college forest. This forest is enchanted and illusions will lead most people astray and back the way they came. The PCs are elves however and from a forest that were defended in a similar manner. They will probably fail a couple of times before they realize the situation but then they can use their innate abilities, the conjurer’s tree-empathy or the seer’s gifts. The forest is home to few creatures but the Urghul beast is one notable exception. This Gorilla shaped creature with ram horns live in the forest. Its primitive brain is not affected by the illusions. It has razor sharp teeth and is a carnivore with greedy appetite. It weighs in excess of 1400 lbs./635kg
Entry: To gain entry to the Chambers, the PC’s must sneak past the guardians of the valley and enter the forbidden garden outside the central tower. To do this, they must be wearing robes of the order and medallions of the order. These can be stolen from apprentices or masters of the college when they can be found travelling outside the valley. If they do not have these items, the guardians of the valley will be alerted and the PC’s will be in for a nasty surprise. Within the forbidden garden lies the entrance to the chamber. They will need the gatekeeper’s key to unlock the door or they could pick the lock, but that requires a special success or better. Beyond the door are the stairs that lead down to the first level of the chambers.
The guardians of the valley: These differ depending on the nature of the closest great tower. If they are close to the tower of the Caarthian, a cabal of arch mages, the guardians will probably be summoned spirits drifting around, whispering the secrets that damned them and compelled them into the service of the cabal(in some ancient language). If the closest tower is of the red moon, a witches coven, the guardians will probably be cult-zombies carrying the necklace of the red moon. These zombies will erupt from the earth and attempt to drag the characters down beneath the soil. Their grip will affect the health of the character and will seep the strength out of him. Some of the towers do not care about the surroundings and wildlife will have claimed those areas, while other towers employ the watch mages that patrol out of the central tower.
The First Level: Â Chambers of Folly : Harlan was the mercenary that looted the college aided by Beloth, the crystal bell. He was later captured and locked within the antechamber where he starved to death. The mages have since placed his remains on a throne of stone and equipped it with a crown and sceptre. Both are made of iron and glass.
The items within the Chamber are mostly cursed in one way or the other, more harmful than of use for the college. Many of the beneficial effects are unknown to the college.
A corridor leads to the other rooms and the stairs down.
Room #1: Â The well of Urthmok: This large, circular room is dominated by a circular well built into the floor. The Well is built of white rectangular stones and on the upper edge there is a plating of copper. The stones around the well differ from those in the room and it is obvious that the well wasn’t originally placed here. An inscription on the plating reads Â Urthmok’s well, keeper of secrets. Oracle of the ancients. Â Within the well is murky water. When someone poses a question to the well, lots of mouths form out of the water. They will answer with many, many different voices in disharmony and slightly out of synch with each other. The answer will always be condescending, but true. In addition to this truth, the oracle will also taunt the speaker and hint about some flaw or secret that the speaker does not wish exposed/revealed. If the speaker tries to ask more than one question, the oracle will only taunt. Every character will get one answer.
The well was created by the arch-mage Urthmok and is the only item of his that still is known. The creation required the soul of a living being and the mage thought his annoying apprentice would suffice. Urthmok did not realize that the well would inherit the personality of the sacrificed person.
Room #2: The nightmare Orb: Within this circular chamber a dark red coloured orb the size of a clenched fist lies discarded on the floor. It is the only item within this room and the PC’s might notice that the chamber seems untouched for quite some time. Dust clings to the orb and when the PC’s enter it suddenly starts rolling in their direction.
This orb is the creation of Margas Uerval, an apprentice that got hold of a tome of great value. Sure of himself and more than a little haughty, Margas decided that he was ready to create an orb of dreams based on the theories within the tome. The result seemed flawless and Margas paraded through the college with the orb. The following morning his fellow apprentices found him in his room, dead from a heart attack and with an expression of utter horror on his face.
The orb needs to be placed in the hands of the user while he sleeps. It actually works, although the user needs to be in control of himself. If the user manages a meditation check he can guide his dreams and affect the actions of others. The user will travel through a dreamscape vaguely resembling reality but distances and appearances will be distorted. In this fashion he can travel to a person and plant a suggestion in his subconscious which might be effective. The chance increases if the other person sleeps, but then he might have to encounter the nightmares of the other dreamer.
If the user fails his meditation check, potentially fatal nightmares will occur.
Room #3: The Lord’s Circlet: Â A golden circlet rest in a niche in this room. It is smooth without jewels or any kind of ornamentation. Anyone not of noble blood that dons the circlet will become completely obedient. They will obey all orders, from anyone, that are not suicidal, no matter how silly they seem. The face of the wearer will reflect how he truly feel; tears might tumble down the cheeks while he fights his former friends or he might blush while doing something he might otherwise find embarrassing. The only way to remove the circlet is to order the wearer to take it off. The characters might not immediately notice anything but over time the willingness of the wearer might seem suspect.
If the circlet is donned by a true lord its real powers awaken. The lord will seem more capable, more inspiring. Everyone within sight of him will have a higher morale and will fight better and more savagely. His appearance will dishearten the enemy and their morale will easily crumble. In addition he will have the loyalty of his people in life as in death and if he is deserving they might come back from the dead to defend him, but only for a short while.
If Lord Carcassul dons the circlet, the spirits of the elves slaughtered in the western forest where he ruled will hear him beckoning. He will feel them drawing closer and closer, feel their sorrow and disappointment. After some time they will catch up with him and bow down in the dust, weeping. They will raise their heads and look at him with eyes full of despair. Thanuvel, Carcassul’s lieutenant, will come to the front and will be their spokesman, his trembling voice filled with sorrow. The dead of the elves are denied passage to the afterlife by some unknown power and Carcassul is their last hope. All they know is that only the fallen lord and his companions can redeem the elven race and save them from damnation. They have haunted the forest since the elven defeat. The third campaign will revolve around this unknown power and will centre on some of the elves, Camhol and other unmentioned characters.
The origins of the circlet is unknown, although there is a reference in the Tome of Origin* which claims that the arch-angels of Fhalgharod appear wearing similar circlets.
* Described in the episode: The citadel of Xolthog
Room #4: empty room: This room is empty save for a small, crushed table of charred stone. The walls are also charred and portions have crumbled away.
Room #5: Mask of unearthly Beauty: The witch Clarionne was never considered pretty, yet she craved the love of the prettiest of men. When she fell for the Paladin Prince of Silmar he sent her away, he did not want to marry an old crone that dabbled in the darker arts. Heartbroken she swore that he would regret that decision and she set about to create a mask that would not only hide her unremarkable features, but also lend her an appearance of absolute beauty and charm.
After several months of research, collecting rare ingredients and carefully sewing the mask, she put it on and looked in the mirror. Her heart nearly stopped for what she saw was a thing of unearthly beauty. Dazzled she went to the Prince in his city, often stopping to view herself in the mirror. When she arrived old men died of heart failure, women gaped and men fell to their knees in admiration. She soon had a huge following of lovesick men and jealous women. The Prince’s council heard rumours of a lady that held the entire city in her hands. Afraid of a coup and fearing that this was the workings of a demon, he rode out to capture her and burn her at the stake. As he rode up to her he fell in love and his male instincts battled with his Paladin sense of honour. He quickly pulled a sack over her head and ordered her burnt at the stake. As the flames consumed the sack, a wind came by and carried the mask away.
The mask is made of white silk that is burnt on the edges. It will give the wearer another appearance based somewhat upon his natural appearance, but far prettier. The mask has been damaged and the wearer will view the world as Clarionne did before she died; everything will look terribly ugly and the persons you love the most will appear threatening. The wearer might fall in love with himself and many others certainly will.
The Second Level: Â Chambers of Regret : The archway leading into the chamber of regrets is flanked by glyphs. These glyphs are wards that will alert the council watch mage. There is a mosaic in this room that enables the college magicians to teleport into the chamber. The items stored here are considered outright dangerous. If the PCs make any loud noises or if the Â faces of the antechamber Â scream, Celemion will be alerted and she will cry for help (from the PCs). The PCs will hear this as muffled cries from some unknown location.
The antechamber: The first room is octagonal with relief illustrations of gargoyles on the lowest part of the wall. The ceiling is dome shaped. This room is the last line of defence for the items hidden below. If the characters enter it without chanting a certain mantra, the defences will be activated. This is common knowledge among the watch mages and the seer will get a warning vision if she does not use the herbal potions.
When the defences are activated ghostly visages will appear from the upper portions of each wall. The walls with exits have no ghostly faces, thus there will be a total of six faces partially emerging from the walls. The faces will seem distorted and terrifying with scowls and grimaces of utter displeasure. Each face will have a distinct attack.
Face #1: Scream of souls. Its scream will rend the soul from the body and the victims will die.
Face #2: Scream of battering. The scream will be so staggering that it will knock the characters off their feet and into each other or a nearby wall.
Face #3: Scream of insanity. The scream will shake the very sanity of the characters.
Face #4: Scream of terror. The scream will terrify the characters, make them run away panicking.
Face #5: Scream of anguish. The scream will give the PC’s a nervous breakdown.
Face #6: Scream of unconsciousness. The scream will knock the PC’s senseless and make them sleep for a long time.
The faces will scream four times, one at a time. The screaming face will be selected at random. The other faces will stare menacingly at the characters while they are inactive. The screams affect all PCs.
If the watch mages are near the entrance to the chambers, they might hear the screams (3% chance each scream).
Room #1: Music box of Mordalin: This is an unremarkable and worn music box of wood painted dark brown. It requires a key to open and the key is not in the room. The lock is of excellent make, even if it does not look the part and is magically strengthened. Only the key or a dispel followed by lock picking can open it.
The music box is the creation of the warlock Mordalin, the fabled ruler of the lost realm. He was a practitioner of the darkest arts and his name is never mentioned. If anyone does mention it, silence and scared whispering will follow. It is taboo. This box was found a long time ago in the heartlands of the lost realm, in the marsh of the dead. When the box was taken, the marsh dried out and became a peaceful place.
When someone opens the music box, the figurine of a lady clad in a black dress will begin to turn. Weird, slow music will play and slowly thick fog will pour out of the box. The music will not be stopped and the lid will not close until 10 minutes have passed. Strange marshlights / wisps will float out of the box along with the fog and after a while the surroundings will appear like a dark dream world. The box acts like a beacon to all restless spirits and roaming dead. The fog will not disperse for a day, unless the wind is strong. If left open, the area of the fog will widen until it covers a very large area.
The box has some beneficial effects; it doubles the strength and duration of all dark magic. It weakens the will of the undead, making them easier to control and it helps the creation of undead.
Room #2: Flail of the apocalypse: This circular room is empty, save for a small table where a flail with seven chains lies. There is no ball on these chains and they are inscribed with various runes. If touched, the flail chains will twist and twirl themselves up the arms of the unlucky person and then establish a stranglehold around the neck. It requires much strength or dispelling to free the person before he chokes.
This flail is the weapon of V’rul the fallen* and each chain holds the essence of a great hound of the apocalypse. This flail enables V’rul to summon the hounds** and given his hatred of the college, the council found it best to store his weapon here.
* V’rul was formerly the apprentice of the witch Atianna of the red moon. When she killed his secret love, another apprentice of hers, something snapped within the innocent young man. Over time he acquired great power and transcended to lichdom. Atianna discovered this and sought out his phylactery. When he returned from the forge of the apocalypse, where he had created the flail, Atianna waited. One look at her new necklace and V’rul knew he was her slave. V’rul hates the college and everything within it and only remains because of Atianna’s power. She is not stupid enough to let V’rul keep the flail though, and together with the council she removed it from V’ruls possession and hid it here.
** They appear, collared, at the end of their given chain
Room #3: The crystal bell: In this chamber they will find the crystal bell.
The unseen chambers: An illusionary wall is located in the chambers of regret. This leads to the chamber of holding and the chamber of forgetfulness. If the crystal bell is struck, it will temporarily dispel the wall. The wall appears to be a section with some shelves with pottery. The pottery and the shelves will feel solid to touch.
The chamber of holding: This circular chamber holds several steel bars in the walls. These are the entrances to four prison cells of which only one is occupied. Within that cell sits a beautiful (for a human) and elderly lady. She has a black evening gown and a blue metallic necklace. The necklace sits tight and has some symbols engraved on it. (it is a necklace made of blue Tharkhite, a metal that defies magic and makes spellcasting impossible). Her face is slightly wrinkled and worn with time but it is obvious that she has once been very pretty. Her hair is jet black with streaks of grey at the temples. If asked she can tell that her name is Celemion and that she was the head of the summoner’s coven. She made the mistake of criticizing the head of the college, Master Lyriel Thalaren and this is her reward. It was not an official sentence and Celemion and her coven did not even know of this place. If freed she will travel back to the summoner’s tower and resume her duties but she will enquire whether she can do anything for the elves first. If told of their quest she will brighten up. She is a summoner and Xolthog is a name that she has heard. She has a huge volume about Â the eternal war of the brothers Â as she calls it and she can tell the pc’s that Galaruz trapped his brother in his own citadel. Only a secret phrase will enable anyone to enter the citadel, although there are Â other entrances from other places . She will tell the PCs the secret phrase.
The chamber of Forgetfulness: When Sil’Durhon ascended to become a god, the essence that was Natal was banished. The spells of Sil’Durhon devoured his power but could not undo him. Within the halls of time was the mirror of memories and within this mirror Natal found his final resting place. But memories hold power and can be awakened. Sil’Durhon knew this and ordered his half-elf lead armies to conquer the college and seize the orb of chaos which was the key needed to enter the halls of time. The council eventually learnt why their valley was under siege and sent the masters of the towers to fetch the mirror within the halls of time. They returned, although they had lost more than three fourths of their number, and the college master placed the mirror of memories somewhere safe. Here.
A large, golden mirror dominates this tiny chamber. Red carpets lay on the floor and wooden stool has been placed in front of the mirror. On the stool is a mortar filled with a strange murky liquid (Thel; a narcotic fluid inducing euphoria when sipped). The golden mirror has ornamentation resembling dragons entwined around hourglasses.
If someone stares into the mirror, they will only see hazy reflections of themselves. Something will continually change though and if they study it, they will discover that their appearances slowly change from very young to very old. This only happens within the mirror. Further study will reveal small persons trapped within the mirror; elves, humans and other. If anyone utters the name Â Natal Â aloud, his visage will show on the surface, pleading and charming. They can actually hear him speak within their heads, begging them to smash the mirror with the wooden stool.