The Tower of Lore
By Jesse Decker
Complete Cliffhanger
Episode 4: Lair of the Lich
Episode 3: Seeking Stannis
Episode 2: Into the Drider's Den
Episode 1: The Tower Calls
Cliffhangers Archive
The Approaching Swarm
Kingdom of the Blind
Into the Forsaken Temple's Crypt
The Trouble in Town
The Light of Despair
Training Grounds
Lorin's Chasm
Bridge Work
Nest of Corruption
A Giant Ransom
Black Water
The Horror of Lannock Hill
Over the Edge
The Proper Count
The Tower of Lore
The Candlemaker's Fire
The Hallowed Hills
The Village of Camiram
Unearthing the Past
Special: Cliffhangers Live!

Cliffhangers Adventures

The Tower of Lore
Episode Two: Into the Drider's Den
By Jesse Decker

The Tower of Lore is a short adventure for four 8th-level characters. The first part of the adventure set the party on the trail of a powerful diviner, Stannis Moonsdale, who -- unbeknownst to the party -- has fallen prey to dark magic. Episode 1 culminates with a brief fight outside the tower where the diviner was last known to be. Episode 2 includes a confrontation with the diviner’s shield guardian servant and offers the group a chance to learn more of the diviner’s fate.

The adventure uses "The Old Tower" map from the October Map-A-Week web feature. The tower itself is mostly ruined; only the first story, including a small entry chamber, remains intact. The shield guardian moves slowly around the inside of the entry chamber, and a Listen check (DC 10) allows the characters to hear the automaton’s footsteps. Both doors into the tower are protected by an arcane lock (12th-level caster). These are strong wooden doors (hardness 5, 20hp, DC 23 to break open normally, DC 33 because of the arcane lock).

Inside the Tower (Area 6)

Ordered to prevent anyone from entering the tower, Stannis’s mightiest creation, a shield guardian, waits for the adventurers. Although the undead Stannis (detailed in Episode 3) still possesses the amulet that controls the guardian, the madness that consumed him during his transformation to undeath prevents him from exercising control over it. Without new orders, the guardian is an implacable foe to anyone trying to explore the tower.

Characters who know something of Stannis’s background, either from talking with the villagers in Episode 1 or through skill use (Bardic Knowledge DC 25, Knowledge History, Knowledge Local [Greyhawk] DC 30) know that Stannis had a shield guardian like the one attacking them.

Shield Guardian: CR 8, hp 82, see the Monster Manual, page 163.

SA–Store Spell: The guardian has fire shield stored (cast at 12-level), set to be cast as soon as it begins combat.

Tactics: The shield guardian fights with mindless intensity, but it is limited by its instructions. If the party retreats from the chamber, the guardian does not pursue. Attacks from outside the tower will, however, draw the guardian out.

The entry chamber itself is full of broken masonry and the remains of wood furnishings. Stannis kept most of his possessions in the inner chamber, but a large chunk of masonry in this room served as a makeshift desk. Papers and a vial of ink rest on the stone, giving evidence of its use. The room is covered with a thick layer of dust, obscuring most of the original stonework.

Stannis spent a fair amount of his time in the entry chamber, and its interior contains several items of interest to the party:

Unsent Letter: Stannis communicated with his scholarly associates mainly by means of whispering wind or similar spells. When his travels took him beyond the range of such spells, he occasionally sent brief letters to describe his progress. One such letter is on Stannis’s makeshift desk. Finding the letter is easy (Search check, DC 5). The letter is addressed to Duran Highson of Greyhawk and states simply that Stannis found what the two believed to be hidden here and that he was staying to study the contents.

Secret Notes: Stannis was a careful researcher who strove to maintain a balance between keeping accurate notes and concealing his discoveries from others. Two pages of sparse notes are concealed by secret page spells. When examined normally, the pages look like a simple accounting list of Stannis’s expenses. The actual contents of the first page reveal that Stannis uncovered whatever hidden lore he’d sought. The actual contents of the second page document his attempts to master a new divination he discovered. (The new divination is actually a trap designed by the drider lurking in the chambers below the tower.)

The secret pages cannot be located by a normal search. A detect magic spell reveals a faint aura around the pages, but does not reveal their contents.

Original Decor: Although it won’t tell the PCs much, anyone making a difficult Search check (DC 20) notices that the original stonework looks quite creepy. Relief carvings along the walls and ceilings show thousands of little spiders rushing up the wall. The carving shows the spiders coalescing into the form of a giant spider in the center of the ceiling.

The Cliffhanger

During the battle and subsequent exploration of the room, the lich in area 10 casts clairvoyance on the chamber. A successful Scrying skill check (DC 20) reveals the magical sensor created by the spell, alerting the party members to the fact that they are being watched.

About the Author

Before becoming managing editor of TopDeck magazine , Jesse Decker worked as assistant editor for Dragon . His previous Cliffhangers adventures are Unearthing the Past, and The Candlemaker’s Fire.


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