Tower of Lore
Episode Three: Seeking Stannis
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 members on the trail of a powerful diviner, Stannis Moonsdale who, unbeknownst to them, has fallen prey to dark magic. Episode 1 culminated with a brief fight outside the tower where the diviner was last known to be. (This location uses "The Old Tower" map from the October Map-A-Week web feature.) Episode 2 detailed the confrontation with Stanniss shield guardian construct, and provided some hints about the diviners fate. Now we continue the adventure, bringing the adventurers face to face with the undead monster that Stannis has become.
The Inner Chamber (Area 7)
When Stannis discovered it, the inner chamber was relatively intact. Nithis, the lich hiding beneath the tower, destroyed or drove off all adventuring groups to that date. However, when confronted with more powerful opponents, like Stannis, the lich resorted to trickery, planting a tome of its own creation in the ruins of the tower. The tome, now destroyed, held instructions to a powerful divination ritual. In actuality, the ritual was designed to draw the attention of Lolth, the evil deity of the drow.
Stannis, although a careful researcher, was taken in by the ruse. As a result of his exposure to the deitys dark power, he was slain, only to rise again in the twisted form of a bodak. The bodaks tormented mind bears little resemblance to that of the mage it once was. It its madness, the bodak has destroyed most of the contents of the room, including Stanniss spellbook and the tome containing the lichs trap.
The room itself is filled with fragments of fallen masonry, tatters of Stanniss possessions, and little else. The bodak, although intelligent, is plagued by madness and has not yet ventured out of the room. The creature has no coherent attack strategy, other than to stay away from attackers and focus its deadly gaze upon them.
Bodak: hp 58, see the Monster Manual, page 27.
Possessions: ring of jumping, bracers of armor +2.
Notes: Although bodaks usually have no possessions, Stannis was transformed so recently that the monster still retains a few items of the mages equipment. Adjust the statistics in the Monster Manual accordingly.
Treasure: Pearl of Power (2nd level). Although bodaks typically possess no treasure, this tiny pearl has rolled into the corner of the room, unnoticed by the insane, undead Stannis. Other than this pearl and the possessions noted above, the bodak has destroyed all Stanniss equipment, including his spellbook and the tome that led to his transformation.
The Return of Stannis
Although there is little direct evidence beyond the possessions the bodak carries, most PCs will realize that the creature was once Stannis. The characters are unlikely to know much about Stanniss background or friends (Bardic Knowledge or Knowledge Local [Greyhawk] DC 30), but the letter found in Episode 2 gives them a possible clue. Should the characters resurrect Stannis or take his remains to Duran Highson in Greyhawk (a 13th-level cleric of Heironious who will resurrect his old friend), the party will have earned the gratitude of one (or more) powerful members of the Greyhawk community.
Although Stannis did not discover them, a few chambers beneath the tower remain intact (areas 8-11 on the map). The trap door leading underground is hidden in the center of the floor (Search check, DC 20). The lich in area 10 observes the party through a clairvoyance spell. Once the party has dealt with the bodak, the lich launches a surprise attack by first casting darkness on the trapdoor, opening the door, casting fireball into the room, then closing the door. If the party tries to interfere (an unlikely event over two rounds of combat), the room is suddenly covered in darkness then filled with flames. The lich then retreats to area 10 and begins preparing for the groups attack (see Episode 4).
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 Candlemakers Fire.