Excerpts 09/21/2006

The Twilight Tomb Excerpt
By Greg A. Vaughan

The coming night approaches. Will your PCs stand against the darkness and successfully vanquish it, or will they fall to the Duskwalker? The Twilight Tomb is a stand-alone Dungeons & Dragons adventure designed to take four 3rd-level characters from the sun-dappled paths of the Yuirwood into a realm created by a bygone betrayal. Although the adventure is set in the Aglarond region of Faerûn, it can be placed in any D&D campaign easily. To learn more about the adventure, please take a look at our two excerpts below. You'll see the introduction plus a sample encounter for The Twilight Tomb.

32. Athenaeum Arcanum (EL 8)

The ceiling of this glowing chamber arches 40 feet above. Towering walls of transparent glass extend from the corners of the room toward the center, reaching from floor to ceiling. These walls are divided into thousands of tiny holes, and additional wall sections branch off from these, likewise covered with these small cubicles. At the room's center, a small marble platform rises a few feet above the floor. Surrounding it, at the terminus of each of the interior walls, are four crystal busts atop glass pedestals.

This room was once the great library of Tir'in'tiral, known as the Athenaeum Arcanum. Here the star elves stored the compiled knowledge of hundreds of generations. Rather than keeping the magical and mundane lore in perishable scrolls or books, the star elves used a far more durable method. They magically imprinted all their information into the rare and strange gemstones native to Faerûn known as king's tears. Each of the jewels could hold several volumes worth of information.

The thousands of king's tears were stored in the shelving units on the walls. These units were unmarked, and the king's tears were impossible to tell apart, so finding a specific jewel was nigh impossible without the magic of the library. Anyone standing on the marble platform could command the library's unseen servant librarians to unerringly locate any gem and replace it correctly when the user was done with it.

Once a king's tear was obtained, the user took it to one of the crystal busts. Each depicts a sagacious elf, a former rector of the library, with a gem-sized depression in its forehead. When a king's tear was placed in the receptacle, the bust softly recited the contents of the gem in Elven. The user could command the bust to pause, skip ahead, skip backward, or locate a specific portion of the information contained therein.

Tolg'byri the nilshai invaded the citadel to reach this room, hoping to glean lost bits of star elf knowledge that could help its alien race in the conquest of Sildëyuir. Unfortunately for the ill-fated nilshai, after Mourel's defeat, the high mages of the star elves removed all the stored jewels to a safer location in their hidden realm.

Creatures: Tolg'byri was not the only being hoping to gain the knowledge of the star elves in this citadel of glass. His successor currently uses this room as her lair. Her name is Savera, and she is a kind of demon called a yochlol -- a handmaiden of Lolth. Her mighty mistress likewise sent her to discover the secrets of lost Tir'in'tiral to be used by Lolth's children, the drow.

When the yochlol and her taers joined the company, Savera used her hat of disguise to appear as a male half-orc warrior. After dominating key members of the company, she came down here to confront the nilshai. Tolg'byri foolishly thought the challenger was only a suicidal half-orc and was unprepared for the might of a yochlol. Savera slew the nilshai and took control of the mercenaries, maintaining her half-orc disguise. She has not located the portal key that the nilshai used to activate the stone circle and is not sure how it was able to utilize the magic gate. She is aware that Mourel possesses such a key, however. Now she and her charges are trapped in the citadel of glass until she figures out a way to gain the key and escape.

In this room, along with Savera, is her personal entourage of five taers. The taers have created beds out of mounds of rags scattered throughout the western and northern portions of the room. The room contains ten of these bedding mounds, so obviously all the taers are not currently present.

Savera: hp 40; Monsters of Faerûn 34; see below.

Taers (5): hp 14 each; see area 25.

Tactics: Savera is likely aware of the PCs' approach due to her telepathic link to Thraka. When the characters arrive, she is standing at the western end of the room in front of the stairs in her disguise as a male half-orc warrior, with bow drawn. The taers have taken up positions 8 feet up on the walls, hanging from the holes at the locations marked T on the map. They have readied actions to drop when anyone passes beneath their positions (treat as a bull rush from above). While the taers occupy the PCs, Savera casts magic weapon on her sword and then supports her minions with magic missiles (don't forget her 20% chance of arcane spell failure). If she thinks anyone might charge her, she blocks the way with web. She continues with magic missiles and arrows, and uses spider climb to clamber up the shelves and gain a better vantage point for attack. If any individual appears to be particularly dangerous, she attempts to use her psionic dominate person on that character.

If Savera is forced into melee, she assumes her elf form, cloaks herself in darkness, and battles using her Blind-Fight feat. If multiple attackers come at her, she changes to her natural form to use all her tentacles in battle. If reduced below 10 hit points, she changes into gaseous form and attempts to escape up the lift tube. If she escapes, she lurks outside the towers, hiding down near the water, waiting for an opportunity to ambush the characters or at least escape the demiplane.

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