The eccentric wizard Xarn is a recluse. Almost comically dress in clashing reds and purples. His most notable feature is in fact a lack of one. His hand, missing from some terrible accident, is still a living visible stump. His Tower is visible from town. And his rare visitations to town always cause quite a stir. The rumors have it, that he is tinkering with the fabric of life. Others say his is looking for his lost hand. Others say his is ripping through the fabric of Reality. Most figure that hes stark raving mad, others suspect incredible genius. A month ago he walked into Luckys tavern, and bewitched the inn-keeper, Lucky, to tell all new-comers of the challenge Xarn issued.
"Those who dare, and have the prowess may enter my Tower unmolested. Or, for those whose curiosity might just kill them, for I will tell you the truth of my stump. Enter with only a word of Truth. After, you will face a series of Challenges. In my years and travels I have amassed great treasures which I am willing to share with those proven to be worthy individuals. These will test your faculties so the weak need not apply. Once begun your acceptance is binding, for there is no way out save for success. Good Luck."
Room One: Entrance and Guardian
Shaft of Light
To approach the dark foreboding tower you must enter a twisted forest, filled with a clinging mist and unusual noises. A feeling of being not right overcomes you. Every time you glimpse something you look again, to see if youre seeing right. your mind questions, Did that Bird have two heads? Did that squirrel have spiders eyes? Did that Fox have bee markings? Did you hear Humming from that tree? There is an almost understandable muttering surrounding you. You feel eyes staring at you. The players fear builds as they walk. About ¾ in, they most conquer that fear or risk running away. (Mind-effecting, easy)
Background: This forest was planted from modified seed; the plants radiate an aura of fear. It resonates with humanoids. The creatures, in the woods are early moderately successful experiments that are primarily harmless. Their oddity only reinforces the weird feelings already radiating from the plants.
When you finally exit the forest near the base of the tower, you stand in front of large thick wooden door. A mouth forms in the door and booms. "Tell me, what it is you truly desire, and you shall enter and your challenge will begin." (this is a great way for characters to share history, and plot hooks for their characters)
There’s a chance an observant character will see that the tower has no mortar and the stone seems to almost ‘Breathe’.
If answered truthfully a hole the shape of the character will materialize, closing after they pass. This is done with each party member. PCs on both of sides of the door can hear the answer. When all are present the door booms, Now the challenge begins. The room they stand in is plain cut stone and round with thin windows allowing some light in. An ornate circular rug from a far off land is the only decoration. A bright beam of purple light shines down a center hole in the ceiling. At the top of the shaft is what you seek. Your success depends on how this problem is - resolved
The party must get to the top to reach the next room up the shaft. This can be achieved in any manner that works. It should be set up 2 steps back for every 3 steps forward. The harder the group pushes and works together to succeed, the easier it will be.
General Note: the stones that make up the shaft walls are alive and they serve Xarn. They are hive-minded creatures (like ants) and work as one entity to change the tower itself to his needs. They will shift as needed to make the climbing harder or easier. They were developed with an oil like defense which works in two ways. Oil is be secreted to make them slippery, resisting willing relocation. The same oil can be forced out violently, much like a skunk used when being attacked. This oil when atomized, and breathed causes nausea. These can also become easier to grip, by roughing its feathers They have even been know to move in and out like a snail.
Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge
Once at the top of the hole. An image materializes. "Congratulations. Not in succeeding, but in passing the initial challenge. Behind you is a door for each of you. Beyond those doors is your next challenge. It’s simple enough. All you need to do is Choose."
Each PC encounters nearly the same thing. When they grab the handle to open the door, they are pricked with a needle.
When the door opens, an unpleasant odor hits as the character enters. In this small bare room a loved one is bound and tied to a wall. Next to the opposite wall, out of reach of the loved one is a table with a flask holding a yellow translucent liquid, and a note. The loved one looks very ill. Bloody vomit is seen in one corner.
The Note Reads:
My challenge I offered, you took,
and so you shall be challenged and shook.
Disease afflicts your loved one. This potion is the cure.
You have been infected upon entering. So, your choice it should be sure.
Fibers of character are sure to show.
So drink it up, or pass the swallow?
Make a choice and make it quick. Your time is as a standard wick
Will you win or will you lose, Leave the room when you chose.
Background: The loved ones in truth, are normal tower denizens bewitched to look, talk and act like the PCs loved ones. (almost literally reacting to how the player pictures their loved ones would in their mind) the denizens are really infected, and told that they will only be cured if they succeed in fooling the PCs.
This is a very strong enchantment and incredibly hard to see through.
Once they choose who, if anyone drinks, the challenge is over.
Room Three: Trick or Setback
When the PCs enter the round room again, they see an archway and a hallway beyond.
The disembodied voice of Xarn speaks, "At the end of this hallway is the ladder up. There you will find what you seek." Past the archway is a long hallway. (Impossibly long for the tower’s size) The 10’ high hallway has no ceiling. A ladder leads up the ceiling of this cavernous room. The top 3’ of the walls are made the living bricks. (They attempt to stop anyone trying to climb on the walls. Or fly out.)
About halfway between the archway and the ladder, the environment changes before the PC’s eyes. Either side hallways appear, or walls do, or disappear. In essence a second maze phases in, while the current one phases out. This change stays for a number of minutes and switches to yet another one, and to a fourth and back to the first. Then it cycles through them repeatedly. Some of the walls are living brick and can move, the walls move at 60 per appearance cycle. (Thanks Treasure Tables for the idea!) They phase in for one of the 4 cycles. (DM note: make four(4) identically sized mazes. Have a ladder near the center in the same spot for all. Do whatever you want with them, put a letter-number grid so when you switch, you know where they are)
To make matters worse for the PCs there are numerous half-breed minotaurs (experiments) who have been given a home here. They love this maze as it gives them something to do and purpose in life. They are constantly looking for what changes. There are a few cleaning oozes. All the players need to do is get to the ladder, which everyone can see from anywhere in the Maze.
If a party member Phases (example: blink spell), they see all 4 mazes at once and are probably going to wind up trapped, except they can walk through the current real walls, with normal dangers.
-The ladder has an anti-magic field emanating from it. (approximately 10’)
-Remember the PC who gave the disease cure potion to the loved ones will start being effected by the disease-most likely in this room.
Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict
Allow myself to introduce… myself
Environment effects: The anti-magic from the ladder suppresses all magic light. Until the hatch is closed the breeze is strong enough to put out lantern (50% for hooded lanterns) when the group arrives it should be dark. When they close the heavy hatch any magic light will no longer be suppressed. They’ve now enter a maze-like Hall of Mirrors.
"It’s finally time to take a GOOD look at yourself. Oh, adn there is a door here somewhere… Bwahahahahaaa…" Booms the wizard’s familiar voice.
As the hatch slams shut and torches and lights are re-lit, the party will find themselves in a standard hall of mirror. Only one of each party member’s multitude of reflections is an evil-half. They are really malicious spirit trapped in the mirror. The only way for them to escape is to take someone in. These reflections are exact copies of the PCs, except without the disease.
As one might expect, the reflections will try and confuse the PCs as to who to help attack. (The spirits can sense each other.) In a Hall of weirdly angled mirrors, It is very difficult to detect, enemy. The party must first decide who is real or false. The spirits have no such difficulty. The spirits also read surface thoughts and will use them against the party.
If the PCs survive, one of the mirrors will have a hard to find handle
Through this door is what they set on this challenge for.
Room Five: Reward, Revelation
Xarn awaits the PCs with his goblin assistant Rumi. Xarn is a slight man dressed in Red flowing Wizard robes, with purple trim. He has a similarly appointed hat. And smaller square spectacles. His crow’s feet wrinkles disappear into shoulder length salt and pepper hair.
He and his assistant stand behind a low pedestal with a large mirror mounted on top. They are grinning widely when they enter.
In a wispery voice, He greets everyone, "Welcome brave souls. You have passed the challenge I have put before you. And I am proud of you all. You have spoken your desires, and I know why you are here. I have also watched your actions, and they too speak of your wishes."
"Before I answer any questions, we will get to the heart of it. I shall put a last choice before you individually."
Xarn will then address each PC and re-cap their choices and actions, and their stated desires. He will present them each with two items. Each will aid in one of the two paths, Desire vs. Deed. For those that are afflicted with the disease, he also offers them the cure. If they choose the potion, after everyone has made their choice, he will offer them to pick between the remaining to items and accuse the PC of thinking him a cruel heartless man. The Goblin-Gumi will always mimic the expressions Xarn has, and will agree with his master.
If asked, Xarn will explain that the challenge was to find suitable characters to venture forth to reclaim his hand. When asked, he explains that his hand was lost during an unfortunately desperate situation involving casting a Djinni bottle into a Bag of Holding. This caused a dimensional rift to rip open, fold back on itself, and capture his hand before repairing itself. His hand is alive and technically attached. It is floating in-where he thinks-is the realm of forgotten creatures. He asks the party if they wish to travel with him to this dimension, and assist him. Otherwise the challenge is over and the PCs can return to town unmolested.