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Rating: 4.5
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ID: 7429

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July 11, 2013, 9:38 am

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The Dreaming Chamber

By:

Umbra may have trapped Prima's body, but she is free in her village of dreams.

Prima

Prima loved Umbra with her whole heart. She believed also that he loved her in return. For years of their love, their relationship, Prima gave him all she had except one secret: she withheld the Lich Scroll. The one secret, at first, seemed like nothing, just common sense. One secret was not much. But over time, one secret had to be covered with a little white lie, then another secret, then more lies, and mistrust. As he would near the scrolls hiding place, Prima was forced to deceive Umbra, to lead him away. She even used magics directly upon him to cause him to forget little things. But she could not.

The mistrust slowly eroded their love.

Knowing that she would live forever and he would one day die also ate at her. It kept them separate, like a Dwarf's love for a fine jewel. Umbra could love her, find her beautiful, give her everything, but in the end he would die and she would go on having given him nothing but fleeting joy.

In the end she chose to show Umbra the Lich Scroll, perhaps, to stop her lies and maybe explain a little, maybe make them just one bit closer for a time.

But Umbra had only been waiting for this, he and his master, the God of Shadows. Prima didn't understand. She thought he was playing with her, perhaps he was jealous of the scroll, she tried to explain away Umbra's actions even as he used her own magic against her. As he wrapped her body in the Shroud of Sleep, only then did she begin to understand: he's stealing the Lich Scroll. Her powers were now filtered through a layer of dreams. Even then Prima wanted only to warn him, to tell her lover that he could not use the scroll, that there were parts of the ritual he needed to know.

But it was too late.

The Dreaming Chamber

The Lich Scroll had been kept in a small, circular chamber far beneath Prima's Tower of Magics, guarded with all manner of protections and misdirections, mazes, traps, and even magical guardians. The tower was in the heart of her capital city, Somulana, a near Utopia built on the rocky coast. Prima's people loved her, but none were as devoted to her as her personal guards, twenty-four Ever-Questing Knights.

When Prima was trapped and Umbra performed the Lich Ritual, his first act was to seek revenge. He attacked Somulana and its people with an army of the dead. Those who died in the battle he added to his army. He laid waste to everything he could, and what he could not destroy he twisted with magic and shadow.

The Ever-Questing Knights stood against him. They fought him for almost a year, ever retreating closer to the Tower of Magics, losing ground, suffering more and more injuries. Umbra's army grew: men, women, children raised as undead, fighting for him. The Knights knew many of those that now mindlessly and soullessly came against them. Their whole world had become a nightmare.

It was then that Prima broke through. She entered their dreams. Prima infused her loyal guards with her dreams, and through that with a measure of her own power. She gathered the lost dreams of her people, every one who had died defending Somulana and her, and bound them into the Ever-Questing Knights. The Knights severed Umbra's control of the dead and drove Umbra to the border where the city wall once stood, but the price of Prima's power to them was that they could not move beyond that point. They swore to guard the city from intruders like Umbra forever, but they could not pursue him any farther.

From the dreaming chamber, Prima used her powers to do for her people what she could. By day her people are mindless undead, twisted by Umbra's shadow over them to evil and destruction. When the sun sets, however, she shrouds them and the city in a dream, and they live their never ending lives, unaffected by time, in Prima's dream of Somulana. The city rises beautifully, no one sleeps, and within the city walls and for the time until the sun rises, they are able to live... after a manner of speaking.

Daytime in Somulana

By day the city appears as a great ruin of an ancient city. It has been centuries and Umbra's devastation was terrible, so only a few walls remain surrounding the Tower of Magics. The tower itself is covered in vines, briars, and rose bushes, but it can be identified even from the distance of the city walls as a once beautiful tower. Some of the city's streets have collapsed into the sewers and have become streams and rivers that flow through the ruins.

Upon crossing the border of the outer wall, the undead will become aware of invaders. They have a limited drive to actually attack, however, staying mainly within 100' of where they died. Thus those entering will often face only clusters of the dead at a time. Most appear as apparitions: dead that can only attack the mind. A few who bore more devastating deaths appear in Ghostly forms and have psychic and physical attacks. Rarest are those who were very powerful and died fighting; these have become Wraiths, bearing real weapons and armor, wielding magic, and of a terrible mein, able to pursue the living anywhere within the city.

As they near the tower, there will be more and more attacks and the balance of Apparitions, Ghosts, and Wraiths will shift (since more of the most powerful died defending the tower.)

Apparitions - Harmed only by psychic or magical attacks; attack by terror (psychic damage) and a mind attack that the victim must resist or fall into a suicidal dispair. Even if temporarily destroyed, Apparitions return at the next sunrise. They can pass through all non-magical items but will rarely do so; usually they will go around each other and structures that existed before they died (even if there is no sign of those things now.) They move at about half of the speed of a running human at their fastest and so are easily escaped. They are often translucent but never transparent. Apparitions have no power of speech and are often desperate to be understood.
Ghosts - Also harmed only by psychic or magical attacks; attack with ghostly weapons which are only partially tangible (they usually only do 1/2 of the normal damage physically) but have a devastating drain upon the living (usually an ongoing or weakening force that must be resisted or causes death in minutes), and they can possess a victim for a brief time, allowing them to act using the victim's body (often to cause harm to themselves.) They are less restricted by the physical world and willingly move through physical things and each other, granting them very three dimensional attacks. When undamaged they are able to be invisible, but their presence can be felt in a coldness that actually frosts glass and causes a thin layer of ice on water. Ghosts can speak and must stop what they are doing, even attacking, to answer direct questions.
Wraiths - Only harmed by magical attacks partially (except holy weapons and magics); their presence causes nearly overwhelming fear that must be constantly resisted, and if resisted for too long (usually a minute for each year the target has lived), the victim's heart will burst; also use full weapons and armor, both of which become magical upon touching the Wraith, causing a necrotic rot to spread through the wounds, preventing all but magical healing (and in some cases entering the blood stream and flowing to the heart.) Wraiths must adhere to the physical structures of the world and are always tangible to magical objects (which can act as shields against them.) Some Wraiths maintain powers from when they were alive, allowing them to cast spells or fight with amazing skill. Wraiths can also speak, but everything they say must contain a lie (or at least an important omission.)

Night Time in Somulana

The moment the sun sets, Somulana gains the appearance of a beautiful, thriving city to anyone within its city walls (no one outside of the walls can enter once the sun has set, and they cannot scry nor see inside in any way.) There will be all of the citizens going about their lives as if all were perfect. They are a kindly people, often helpful to a fault. They are free with their foods and goods. There is no sickness nor injury among them, and every one of them is beautiful. The only thing out of place will be that no one ever sleeps.

If the people are questioned or told of the ruins or the devastations of the day, they will first change the subject, then become agitated if pushed. If pushed further in any way, they will become frightened, even terrified; if this happens, there will be brief flashes of the destruction and of their true forms, and if pushed further these forms will stay and attack until the questioner leaves the near area.

The people will usually guide most people away from the tower, always seeking to distract them or tempt them away. They will allow it, but in the end they will give a final warning about the guardians: the Ever-Questing Knights.

If a person looks through glass or crystal during the night, they will see a slight superimposition of the reality. If they look into a mirror, they will see everything as it is. There are very few mirrors in the city.

The citizens will all try to get the visitors to be at one of the gates by morning, ready to leave as soon as the sun rises.

WARNING: Do Not Eat or DrinkAnyone who eats or drinks the goods of night time in Somulana will be trapped in the city, unable to pass the outer walls, for three full sunrises. Trying to pass will result in massive pain that will feel as though part of the entire body is being ripped away. To cross the wall or be forced to do so by any means will result in massive damage (typically a permanent loss of half of all health immediately and ongoing damage from chunks missing inside and out equal to 1/8th of all remaining health.
WARNING II: Don't DieAnyone who dies in the city will immediately join the undead. When they do there is only a limited time to bring them back. If they are still among the undead after the sun rises a third time, they will become bound to the city with all of its people.

Of course, if the party frees Prima, they can choose to redeem their friends (or any person in the city, which could be a great plot hook) instead of taking a treasure.

The Ever-Questing Knights

These twenty-four knights appear the same both in day and night: strong, well armed and armored knights, men and women capable in battle against any foe. They will protect truly good people from the undead: Apparitions will not come near them, Ghosts will stay back but may interact from a distance, Wraiths will openly defy them and may attack, but they can do no harm to the knights.

If someone comes who they see a worthy, they may test them in goodness and battle. If still seen as worthy, they will ask them to take up a quest to "free the dreamer." They are unable to enter the tower themselves, so they may sent heroes in to try and find Prima and free her from the Shroud of Sleep. They believe that once she is freed she will free the poor dead that are trapped here.

If someone appears evil or greedy, bent upon looting or other robbery, they Knights will all attack.

Knight- Immune to all non-magical attacks, able to defend against most physical attacks, rarely damaged; Fight with any weapon, carry Dream Swords that cause critical wounds with each hit, can cast most spells that a moderately trained cleric or mage can do; teleport at will up to 20'; can cause illusions at will. If defeated in battle, the Knight will reappear in seconds within 20' of their defeat; however, they will grant respect to the person who defeated them unless evil.

The Dreaming Tower

Prima's Tower of Magics has become known to the people as the Dreaming Tower. No one has entered the tower since Umbra left it. It is still filled with various treasure and powerful magics from Prima's reign, but everything is cursed: if you leave the tower with any of the items you will immediately become one of the dead. If Prima is freed, however, she will freely grant each person a choice from her things. The things may be used inside of the tower freely.

Entry Way

Written upon the door in ancient runes is the protective curse: "The stuff of dreams the dreamer keeps within these walls she will share; but living death and eternal dread should any remove even the smallest, the dreamer's gift a nightmare."

The doors appear to open inward easily. If opened either without stating otherwise or specifically pushing on the doors, the first trap is released: a drop weight will swing 100 spears from above in an arc through the doorway. Anyone in the doorway must dodge (save) or take damage proportional to their size. Tiny = None, Small = Roughly 1/2 Health, Medium or larger = roughly 3/4 Health; removing the spears will cause equal damage again plus ongoing damage.

If the doors are opened outward, the trap will not trigger
Library

Traditionally, Prima kept a library in her main chamber for anyone she trusted to come and use. Though the shelves are covered in dust and cobwebs, the library is still present. The room is large, roughly 50' diameter, and circular, with floor to ceiling shelves 24' high all around the space except for the door. There are no windows, so if the door closes the room will become extremely dark. There are several old candle stands, and most have a few usable candles still in them. Three tables are also in the room, each with several sturdy chairs. Above the door is an inscription in ancient runes: "By Prima's Permission."

If anything is removed from the shelves without speaking the key phrase, "By Prima's Permission," a powerful gas will issue out of the item filling 10' radius: the gas causes those in it to either resist a very powerful poison or forget everything that has happened to them for the past week and then to become extremely confused over where they are. Immediately upon the release of the gas, the item will be teleported back to its original location.

If anything is left off of the shelf without someone touching it for more than five minutes, it will also teleport back to its place.

There are hundreds of rituals fully described here as well as instructions for creating many magical items. There is also a rack of glasses that, if worn, allow the wearer to read any language and cast a gentle light onto anything looked at (there are three pairs of the glasses on this rack.) Near the shelves are several small carpets, only large enough for a single person to stand on; if a person is standing on one of these and reaches up, the carpet will levitate upwards until they put their arm down. Pointing downward will lower it back to the ground. (10 of these carpets.)

In the center of the room is a spiral stair that appears to lead just up. If a person steps onto the stairs, however, and turns around, they can walk through the floor and descend to the lower rooms.
Second Floor

There are two rooms at this floor: the main chamber and a changing room.

As you come up from the stairwell there is a landing made of wood, and beyond that you can see a large room with a ceiling crowded with chandeliers. There is not a place above that does not have a chandelier. As soon as you step onto the floor of the room, all of these burst into flickering, blue, low light. You will also notice that the floor is covered in metal. Tiny arcs of lightening dance along the chandeliers from one to another. There are a number of thin webs hanging throughout the room which also light up with thin blue lightening arcs.

In the room you can also see a long, golden table set for a meal (no food, just fancy place settings.) There are a number of tapestries hanging on the walls depicting dozens of scenes of daily life and two rituals. One of these rituals is actually clear enough that if a magic user were to study it for several hours they would gain a ritual/spell for a Wine Blessing (changes common wine into a Potion of Healing). Everyone will most likely note that at the landing near the stairs there are racks for placing weapons and armor, and there are several changes of clothing for every size (even Pixie). There is a screened changing room. The only interesting thing about these clothes is that there is nothing metal on any of them.

If anyone enters the room wearing any metal (weapons, armor, anything) where there is metal floor, a constant and strong pulse of lightening will arc from the chandeliers to the floor and through them. This will not be enough to kill them, but definitely enough to injure and cause severe pain each step they take. What they may not know, and any strongly magical being will notice within a step or two, is that the lightening is draining off the properties of the metal: magical items will be drained of all magic slowly (for example, a +3 Broad sword would become a +2 within two or three minutes in the lightening), and non-magical metals will become brittle and useless very quickly, turning to pot metal within three minutes.

If there is no contact with the floor or ceiling, items of metal can pass between the two without harm.

Sitting at the table will cause the plate and cup before you to fill with magical food suited to your species finest dining. Eating the food will temporarily increase a person's resistance to illness for a full day, and drinking from the cups will heal most damage a person has (though it will not restore lost life or limb.) This is not an effect of the room but rather the cups and plates which are very strong magical items. (There are 10 place settings.)

Against the far wall there is a flight of stairs leading up.
Third Floor

This is the training room. Anyone who senses magic will note that immediately there is a pressure around them and their magic greatly restraining it. The room is mostly empty but there are two stone tables built into opposite walls.
Tower Room
Dreaming Chamber (Below)

If they reach her, the heroes will find a beautiful woman covered in a translucent and slightly glowing cloth of silver. She hovers three feet above the floor as if sleeping upon a bed. Touching the cloth will immediately cause sleep to overwhelm the person doing so, even beings that do not sleep; they will float into the air and enter a dream state until their contact with the cloth ends. Gloves and other objects may be used to handle the cloth. Only by completely removing the cloth will Prima be woken. If she wakes during the night, the city will be fully restored and its people brought back from the dead; if done during the day, they will all be freed from un-death and the Knights released into their own deaths, only Prima will remain.



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Comments ( 5 )
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Voted Cheka Man
June 24, 2013, 15:38
5xp
One of the most original magical cities that I have ever come across. 5/5
dustyjohnson
June 24, 2013, 18:49
0xp
Thank you.
Voted Moonlake
June 26, 2013, 18:54
0xp
It took one day to decide on my vote for this particular sub. First of all, let me say that I think this is a high quality sub that fits easily into my 4+ range and I think the whole piece is on the whole well written. The reason that it took me so long to decide on my actual vote, though, is the fact that as I read this piece, there are some sections that give me an adverse impression (I admit to being a bit nitpicky so by 'adverse impression' I don't really mean anything big, really just minor pts and actually I think they are related to you being relatively new to Citadel, I will explain below). 


This might be a personal thing with me but I found the descriptions of each of the ghostly types at the City and some of the game mechanics info. distracting. I understand they are necessary as GM notes but they disturb me from a good legend abt a lost city that I thought I was reading. I think these could be addressed by some re-formatting. For example, you could put these two warnings in a blockquote and maybe move the ghostly type descriptions somewhere else (for example insert an asterick and then submit the ghostly types as a user-submitted idea below the main sub in that white space under Write Your Idea). I understand you might not be familiar with any of the formatting things I just talked abt, a useful reference on this topic is Strolen's CSS Demonstration Sub which can be accessed from the I'm Helping tab under the Library drop-down if the link here doesn't work. Also, I would prefer it if you put that bold note on adding maps in the future either at the very bottom or the very top b/c it disrupts the flow a bit b/w the two paragraphs on what the PCs could do inside the Dreaming Tower.

valadaar
July 2, 2013, 10:31
0xp
This is a very good submission and I agree with both Cheka and Moonlake's comments.

A couple things that bother me, though obviously I could adjust this if I used it.

"Anyone who dies in the city will immediately join the undead forever. Sorry."

When it comes to life and death mechanics, I would leave this to the game system in question. There should always be a way out - generally resurrection spells are driven by entities as powerful or more than those involved in the city.

The Knights. You have 24 of them. They can kill even high level characters by themselves in very short order, and they regenerate nearly instantly? Unless your players are rather more principled (non-greedy :)) then any I've had the experience to play with over the years, you are almost assuring a permanent total party kill. At least have the knights not reappear until the next nightfall or daybreak.

Voted valadaar
July 2, 2013, 10:32
Only voted
dustyjohnson
July 10, 2013, 23:19
0xp
Update: Added change to the effect of dying in the city and started notes on the tower.
dustyjohnson
July 11, 2013, 9:38
0xp
Update: More rooms in the tower.

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       By: Shadoweagle

The party is walking through the forest at night when they come upon a clearing. Half a dozen black-robed corpses lie scattered across the ground, and a pentagram of blood is shoddily drawn in the dirt.
It seems these people summoned something they could not control. Whether or not the demon returns is up to the GM, but it would be just as rich if the demon never returned, and for the rest of the night, every stray sound or odd shadow will be jumped at!

Encounter  ( Forest/ Jungle ) | June 12, 2013 | View | UpVote 4xp


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