Tower of Lore
One: The Tower Calls
By Jesse Decker
Tower of Lore
is a short adventure for four 8th-level characters. Nearly any mix of
characters will work, but the adventure consists of four sequential encounters,
so a cleric or another source of recuperative magic is extremely useful.
The adventure should prove a reasonable challenge for characters from
7th to 9th level. The adventure is set in a quiet area of the Duchy of
Urnst in the Greyhawk campaign setting, but can be located almost
anywhere within a days travel of a small village. The adventure
uses "The Old Tower" map from the October Map-A-Week
Two months ago,
an ambitious young diviner named Stannis Moonsdale journeyed to the
small village of Ethdar in the Duchy of Urnst. The mage came to the
area looking for a cache of lost lore supposedly left by a powerful
mage who used to live in the region. With the help of the villagers
and his own powers, Stannis was able to locate the ruined tower. Accompanied
by his powerful shield guardian, Stannis traveled to the ruined tower,
forced his way past the magical traps guarding the inner chamber, and
as expected, found a stash of loot.
research and divination, Stannis did not discover the true fate of the
towers original owner. The priest who constructed the tower was
Nithis Callal, an elf and servant of Lolth whose own schemes ended in
ruin. Nithis learned that he was to be sacrificed as part of a play
for power by one of Lolths prominent priestesses. Refusing to
give up his life so easily, Nithis refused the call of his deity and
began the terrible research of the process to become a lich. Although
the priestess was furious with Nithiss failure to obey, punishment
was a long time in coming. After her scheme failed, the priestess was
left with one mission: to destroy the one she believed responsible for
her failure. Calling upon Lolths love of revenge, the priestess
cursed Nithis by transforming him into a drider. This didnt stop
him -- even in drider form, Nithiss transformation into a lich
When Stannis arrived,
the undead monstrosity that Nithis had become still lurked in the chambers
beneath the tower. Not wanting to risk a confrontation, Nithis used
his spells and drider abilities to hide, hoping that the trap he had
laid would ensnare the new arrival. Rumors that Stannis had heard about
the tower were mostly of Nithiss creation. When he was alive,
Nithis used similar rumors to lure adventurers to the region, and the
rumors survived their creators transformation into undeath. The
lore that Stannis discovered was carefully crafted by Nithis, under
the guidance of his goddess, to shatter the mind of anyone not dedicated
to the mistress of spiders.
Aware of the dangers
of such hidden lore, Stannis took precautions when exploring the contents
of Nithiss remaining library, but he fell victim to the trap nevertheless.
The trap exposed his mind to the direct touch of Lolth, destroying him,
and leaving his corpse in the twisted form of a bodak.
The adventure consists
of exploring the small tower, confronting first Stanniss shield
guardian, the bodak that Stannis has become, then the drider lich lurking
under the tower.
Hooking the Characters
Because the adventure
can take place almost anywhere, getting the characters to the Tower
of Lore is relatively easy. However, simply passing by the tower might
not provide enough motivation to explore its interior. Heres a
short list of ideas to get the characters into the tower.
- The players know
Stannis, or know of the diviners abilities, and need his advice
on an important matter. Stannis is an expert on a number of subjects,
such as history, arcane knowledge, and geography.
- The players have
heard rumors of the tower themselves. Stannis isnt the only sage
to be intrigued by tales of the towers contents. A rival of Stannis
could hire the party to learn the towers secrets. The secrets
would be a strong temptation for any of the partys spellcasters
- Stannis initiated
some major projects in Ethdar, at least by the villages standards,
and had made plans to spend a good deal of money on them. The merchants
of the village have finished their work and are now anxious for their
payment. The smith, wainwright, and innkeeper need payment to recoup
their expenses. The three contact the party as a group and ask them
to check on Stannis in exchange for a considerable discount on their
services as long as the group is in the area.
Area 1: Outside the Tower
around the tower consists of open, rolling hills with sparse trees.
Since Stannis returned to the village a few times during his stay at
the tower, the villagers know the route. Hungry for news from the outside
world, the villagers warm to outsiders quickly. A successful Diplomacy
check (DC 10) gets them to share what they know of Stannis and the route
to the tower. The tower is about one days travel by horse (just
over 30 miles) from the village.
As the players approach
the tower, read or paraphrase the following text:
|As you approach
the ruined tower, it becomes clear that the one-story building once
rose higher than its current size. Piles of rock on top of the building
reveal the fate of the towers upper stories. The building rests
on top of a small hill, offering a good view of the surrounding area.
Before the characters
explore the tower, they must deal with a pair of athach who have recently
wandered into the area. The giant humanoids patrol areas 1 and
2 on the map. Had Stannis encountered the pair, he would have
driven them off. Their presence should be a clue to the characters that
the mage is unable to leave the tower.
hp 133 each; see Monster
After dealing with
the athach, the characters still need to investigate the tower. Continuing
to follow Stanniss final command, the mages shield guardian
patrols the inside of the entry chamber. Characters have a good chance
to hear the guardians ponderous footsteps. Allow the characters
a Listen check (DC 10) to hear the footsteps echoing in the small chamber
managing editor of TopDeck
magazine , Jesse Decker worked as assistant editor for
Dragon . His previous Cliffhangers
adventures are Unearthing
the Past , and The
Candlemakers Fire .