This is a small dungeon, suitable for a high-level climactic encounter with an evil wizard or lich. It could be used as the site of the final showdown between the PCs and their campaign nemesis
Wizards, as all men know, feel happiest locating their home in a tower. Why this should be so is a great mystery; some have speculated perhaps the layout of circles, the most perfect shape, piled one on top the other satisfies some deep mystic yearning; others, less flaterringly, say that it merely helps to feed their already over-inflated egos.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it cannot be gainsaid that dark wizards are in somewhat of a quandary. Unless one is invulnerable, building a large tower as a dark wizard is akin to hanging out a sign that says, 'Here I am, come kill me now.' Practitioners of the dark arts are frequently reduced to skulking underground, in caves or dank dungeons, a fact that no doubt contributes to their notoriously unpleasant dispositions.
One such mage, the vile arch-lich Zarakoth Xorast tired of this situation. After several centuries, even the least dank dungeon begins to pall. Gathering together his minions, he ordered slaves to construct a mighty tower, a rival to the best towers of the most powerful wizards in the land. When the work was completed he stepped back and performed a powerful Spell of Inversion.
In an instant, the entire tower was inverted. Whereas before it had stood tall over the plains, now its entirety was underground, invisible to all comers. One could enter the Tower and climb the stairs; however, despite the fact that one appears to be going up, one is actually going down, a fact that can be severely disorientated for the newcomers.
Entering the Tower
Once the PCs have located the Tower they must next gain entry. As the Tower is now underground, to do so they must stand on the ground at the 'base' of the tower and then dig. After a little way down, they will break through and can climb through the hole, hauling themselves round on to the floor of the antechamber. As gravity is reversed inside the tower, they may find it severely disorientating to stand on the floor of the tower and be able to look 'down' through the hole they just climbed down through and see the sky 'below' them.
The PCs then climb the stairs, passing through each of the levels in turn. Each level consists of a room that covers the entire floor, around 200ft in diameter. Zarakoth is located on the fifth and final level.
First levelThis room is full of entrails, brains and other internal organs, draped all around the room on racks and shelves. The entrails are still moist, maintained by who knows what dark magic and seem to flutter as if by some internal life. On tables lie a number of partly dissected corpses - animals, humans and exotic species - and other organs of various kinds lie pickled in jars. This is where Zarakoth carries out his vile experiments, blending and twisting creatures with his dark magic.
Second levelAfter the horror of the first level, the comparative normality of this level is a relief. It is a forge; mighty bellows and a roaring furnace occupy one side of the room and great mechanical hammers, wheels and pulleys fill the room. A collection of metal working tools can be found hanging around the wall, as well as a variety of metals, many unusual, and strange powders. Here is where Zarakoth creates artefacts, forging magical rings, weapons and other creations.
Third level The spartan simplicity of this room belies a horror greater even than the first. Bare save for some small, delicate gold ornamentation on the walls, the room seems unthreatening. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each of the gems in the wall ornamentation contains a tortured soul, trapped and at Zarakoth's mercy. Those sensitive to such things may feel their agony and be very uncomfortable in this room.
Fourth level The 'attic' of the tower, this room is filled with a mish-mash of magical items, many of them flawed or no longer working. Others may appear innocuous or simply junk but are actually dark items (see The Garage Sale from Hell for ideas). Spaced evenly around the wall six motionless golems of different types watch over the room.
Fifth level Here is the heart of the Tower. Here sits Zarakoth, surrounded by countless books and scrolls of magic. This is the seat and summit of his power.
Zarakoth is a supremely powerful mage and should be a very difficult opponent to defeat. As a Master of Summoning, his basic tactics are to summon a number of demons, elementals or undead to protect him and then to rain spells down upon the PCs. Once all or most of his defenders have been slain he will teleport to another level. Whilst the PCs are following he will use the time to summon more defenders and, if possible, regain health or mana.
In addition, Zarakoth has long prepared the Tower of Inversion in order to defend it. On each level he has prepared spells that can be triggered at will, allowing him to wreak havoc upon his attackers. The preferred order in which he will fight is:
1) Fifth level, the Room of Scrolls (where he is found)
2) Third level, the Hall of Tortured Souls
3) First level, the Room of Entrails
4) Fourth level, the Storeroom
5) Second level, the Forge
Fifth level, the Room of Scrolls Magic crackles around faded books and scrolls as the battle commences. This is the heart of the tower and Zarakoth is in his element. At the beginning of each round a random spell (from either the entire system spell-list or a large subset thereof) triggers. After knowing what it is, Zarakoth may choose its target.
Third level, the Hall of Tortured Souls
Forced to retreat from the Room of Scrolls, Zarakoth now knows that he is facing a formidable foe, one that could prove his match. Accordingly, upon arriving he drains the very life-force of the tortured souls, fully regaining all health, mana, spell-points and so forth, meaning that the PCs will find him once again at full strength whereas they are battered and weary. In addition, any tortured souls who are not drained assault the PCs ears with desperate, heart-rending wailing, a noise which can cause the listeners to temporarily go insane. The strength of this effect is proportional to the number of tortured souls that remain.
First level, the Room of Entrails Retreating once more, Zarakoth is beginning to grow weary. Here he will attempt to make his final stand, taking some risks to finish off the PCs - or at least reduce them in number. As the PCs enter, the entrails from around the room fly at them, attempting to smother them in writhing masses of intestines. They particularly target the head, strangling and blinding. The result is fear and panic amongst the PCs. Though the entrails can be wrenched off by a strong foe, fire is the only thing that provides lasting relief. Walls of fire and powerful fireballs may clear them from the side of the room and we may see PCs fireballing each other merely to clear off the entrails.
Fourth level, the Storeroom Retreating once more, Zarakoth takes refuge in the Storeroom. Though he may find some useful artefacts here to aid them, the best are elsewhere - this is his junkyard. However, at least the six golems - Iron, Bronze, Gold, Silver, Green and Glass - assault the PCs, meaning he has no need to weary himself further by summoning defenders. If the PCs have not been reduced in number before reaching this level then Zarakoth will likely die here.
Second level, the Forge The final battle between a drained Zarakoth and the equally exhausted remaining PCs. Here, Zarakoth must pace himself - it is unlikely that he can cast many more spells, or summon defenders. Instead a deadly game of hide-and-seek will be played out amongst the forge machinery - manchinery that has been called into life by Zarakoth and that will strike at the PCs or block their path at his will.
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? Responses (12)
Nice and complete. A bit more DnD than I personally like, the descriptions and the tactics are useful.
I remember a dungeon of mine, that I have wanted to run some time ago. Three towers, made by wizards of course, were under siege by a rabble of magic-hating peasantry. After they succeeded to demolish the structures built around the towers themselves, a serious weakness of choosing this spot was shown: there were caves below the location. While handy for some purposes, towers without their supports were too heavy, and have fallen through the caves, effectively vanishing from the world. They are still there, suprisingly intact, containing a little common treasure, but above all magical knowledge that is lost today...
Oh, and your post is fine, too. :)
A nice way how to hide something. As for the digging... does the Evil(tm) wizard not come out at all, or is there an alternative entry? Besides teleporting, of course.
Post up that dungeon for the Quest Manfred - it sounds great!
In my setting, the mage was a lich so he almost never left (aversion to sunlight, etc.). He had devices to communicate with his minions and could transport objects in magically. On the very rare occasions he did need to leave he teleported.
And little over a year later, I oblige, and it's even a part of a Quest: "The Towers of Wisdom".
In other words: BUMP! See what other dungeons were created here.
Yay-something new that I've never read of before. 5/5
The layering of the tower seems a bit out of place to me, I would have imagined the forges and the like being on the lowest level, and the attic having been in the highest. Is this the same Zarakoth as in the Regression post?
Good point about the forge - that should probably be level 1. I put the library above (or below, after inversion) the 'attic' as I imagine the wizard sitting in his library at the top of his tower.
Re. the name, no it's not; I just use Zarakoth as my generic Evil Mage name (when the details aren't important to the post).
This brings back memories of old school d&d modules. Thumbs up! I like the Room of Entrails!
I ended up using this dungeon in my campaign; I was surprised as to how freaked out my players got. Ended up as an exciting and memorable adventure (although the PCs decided to turn tail when they hit the fifth level.) Excellent submission, and highly-playable adventure to boot.
Oops! Forgot to leave my vote. 5/5
A neat location, with just enough detail to get the mind going