Cliffhangers Adventures

The Tower of Lore
Episode Four: Lair of the Lich
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 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 Stannis’s shield guardian construct, and provided some hints about the diviner’s fate. Episode 3 brought the adventurers face to face with the undead monster that Stannis has become. In this, the final portion of The Tower of Lore, the PCs have a chance to confront the twisted creature behind Stannis’s downfall.

Under the Tower (Area 10)

Nithis first built the chambers beneath the tower as an escape route, but when the tower was mostly ruined (by the same drow attack that drained his level, see below), he fled to these hidden chambers and made them his permanent lair. Dry, stale air fills the chambers, which contain the decayed furnishings of the lich. In life, Nithis maintained the large chamber (area 10) as his work room, but now even the shattered tables have mostly rotted away. If the players locate the trapdoor and make their way into the underground chambers, Nithis doesn’t hesitate to attack.

Nithis Callal 7th-level Drider Lich Sorcerer: CR 10; Large Undead; HD 7d12; hp 46; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft., climb 15 ft.; AC 19 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +6 natural, +1 ring, +1 amulet); Atk +6 touch (1d8+5, Will save DC 14 for 1/2 damage), SA fear aura, paralyzing touch, poison, spells; SQ turn resistance, damage reduction 15/+1, immunities, spell resistance, undead; AL CE; SV Fort —, Ref +6, Wil +12; Str 15, Dex 15, Con —, Int 17, Wis 18, Cha 18.

Skills: Concentration +10, Spellcraft +14, Spot +9, Listen +9, Hide +8 (Nithis’s skill point total reflects a 15 Int, the +2 Int for becoming a lich has not granted him extra skill points.) Feats: Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Craft Wondrous Item.

SA–Poison (Ex): Bite, Fort save DC 16, 1d6 temporary Strength initial and secondary damage.

SA–Spell-like Abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, darkness, detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, detect magic, faerie fire, levitate. Save DC 14+ spell level.

SA–Fear Aura (Su): 60’ radius. Creatures of less than 5 hit dice must make Will save (DC 18) to avoid effects of fear spell.

SA–Paralyzing Touch (Su): Creatures touching the lich must make a Will save (DC 18) or be permanently paralyzed.

SQ -- Turn Resistance (Ex): +4 turn resistance.

SQ -- Immunities (Ex): Immune to cold, electricity, polymorph, and mind-affecting attacks.

Sorcerer Spells Known: 0 -- detect magic, resistance, light, read magic, ghost sound, daze, mage hand, open/close; 1st -- charm person, endure elements, expeditious retreat, magic missile, shield; 2nd -- darkvision, see invisibility, web; 3rd -- clairaudience/clairvoyance, fireball; 4th -- improved invisibility.

Spells per day: 0: 7, 1st: 7, 2nd: 7, 3rd: 6, 4th: 5.

Possessions: Ring of protection +1, amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +2, potion of bull’s strength, potion of jump.

Note: Nithis was 11th level when he created the phylactery to become a lich. However, during his transformation, he was attacked by loyal servants of Lolth, a pair of clerics commanding a group of wights. Although he fought off the attack, he lost four levels as a result of the battle. Because he’d already completed the phylactery, Nithis was able to finish his transformation to a lich despite his reduced level.

Tactics: Nithis begins the adventure with darkvision cast on himself. He also casts clairvoyance twice to watch the characters face the encounters described in Episode 2 and Episode 3. Nithis is a cunning and ruthless opponent. After launching the surprise attack in the last installment (during which he uses more spells, see Episode 3 for a complete description), he retreats to his underground chamber (area 10) and prepares to face the PCs in earnest. He casts endure elements on himself one or more times, selecting energy types based on the attacks the PCs used in earlier encounters. He also casts see invisibility on himself if the PCs have any obvious spellcasters in their group. He then climbs onto the ceiling and casts improved invisibility on himself. During the battle, Nithis concentrates his offensive spells on those who seem able to see him. He is careful to always cast a spell and then move (using his Move Silently skill), attempting to prevent opponents who can’t see him from using the origin point of his spells as a way to locate him.

If the battle turns against him, Nithis casts expeditious retreat on himself and retreats down the underground passageway leading away from the tower. If he has time, he’ll cast silent image (of a plain wall) on the door to prevent the characters from following him.

Continuing the Adventure

The destination of the underground passageway (area 12) remains to be determined. Here are some ideas:

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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