The Trouble in Town
By Eric Haddock
Episode Two: The Old Tower
The Trouble in Town is a short adventure for four 10th-level characters. The adventure takes place near a walled town by a shallow river with a nonfunctioning, long abandoned aqueduct. Dungeon Masters can modify the adventure to accommodate higher-level characters by giving humanoid foes more class levels and increasing the HD and/or age category of other opponents.
The PCs came to town and discovered that people are missing. In this episode, the PCs investigate the old tower that housed the monster that attacked them in Episode One.
This episode uses the Githyanki Citadel Main Watch Tower from the Map-a-Week feature as the map for the old tower.
The Old Tower, Ground Floor
The door to the ground floor is wooden, sturdy, and not trapped or locked. It's kept this way intentionally so that if any townspeople are curious and decide to investigate the tower, they can have limited access to it and report that the tower is still empty.
The door opens to reveal a small chamber that's dominated by an old wooden staircase that leads up. There are no furnishings here. In fact, only the debris that has accumulated over the ages covers the floor.
Of note, however, is that the top of the stairs have been boarded over, preventing access to the upper floors.
If the PCs walk into the room, they can see twigs, dead leaves, and broken Auldlar ale bottles covering the floor. The door to the north is not locked either and nothing of note is in that room. To get to the first floor, the PCs either have to break the wooden planks covering the top of the stairs or enter through the windows on the fourth floor and come down. A successful Craft (carpentry) (DC 15) or similar check reveals that the planks were laid around three months ago. Once the PCs have begun breaking the planks, read or paraphrase the following:
As soon as you begin work on the planks, you hear heavy padding around on the floor above you, as though a small group of people without shoes was walking quickly around the upper floor. They're also muttering something, but you can't quite make out the words.
A successful Listen check (DC 15) allows the PC to understand the language is Common, but only a few words are clear: "coming" and "warn." The voices are cracked and yet somehow gurgly, like an old man talking with a mouth half-full of water.
The creatures uttering the words are three red slaad who believe they are charged with protecting the upper levels of the tower. Golgon, the master of the tower (see upcoming episodes), has other plans for them, however, and has convinced them to stand guard over an empty floor until he is ready for them.
First Floor (EL 10)
Red Slaad (3): hp 50, 55, 60; see Monster Manual page 166.
Tactics: The slaadi position themselves at each compass point (except south) in preparation for the attack. If they see a hole being slowly made in the floor, the one from the west attacks through the hole and uses its stunning croak ability to subdue as many as possible on the lower floor. The slaadi have but one purpose on the day the PCs visit: prevent anyone from going up the tower. To this end, they fight anyone or anything that enters their floor that they haven't been told to allow to pass. (On the day the PCs arrive, no one can pass.) If the slaadi subdue everyone on the ground floor, their orders are to send word to the master of the tower via the mirror of sending (see below) and to continue to watch for intruders.
The room contains a mirror of sending (see below) and a teleportation area on the floor. Anyone who steps on the area, which is the most southern square on the map of the floor, is teleported to the tower's second floor. The area is not marked, though it can be detected as per the teleportation circle spell description (Search DC 34; Disable Device DC 34).
There is a large silver mirror against the north wall. It is a magic item, and the tower's owner uses it to communicate to the slaadi. Golgon taught the slaadi the command words
Mirror of Sending: This 5-foot by 3-foot mirror allows a specific person to communicate with any being that says the words "in your service" in Infernal while near it. Once said, the mirror clouds over until the reflective surface becomes bone white, whereupon the user may communicate with the mirror's owner -- in this case, Golgon. The duration of the effect is 10 rounds. The mirror has only one owner (appointed at the time of creation), so its use is limited.
Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, sending; Market Price: 90,000 gp; Weight: 25 lbs.
Should the PCs try to scry Golgon using this mirror, they see a darkened area. (This is Golgon's chamber; he is currently moving about arranging some alchemical equipment.) Episode 4 will have more information on this area. If the PCs ascend to the first floor or otherwise kill the slaadi, read or paraphrase the following:
This floor closely matches the one below it, save that it has a stone ceiling instead of a wooden one and is devoid of debris that you would expect a human to leave behind. Instead, there are bones of small animals and children here, as well as a loose pile of clothes in the northwest area of the room.
There are also three torches in the room -- one on each compass point save the south.
The skeletons are of Auldlar children buried in the local cemetery, and the pile of clothes consists of the garments they were buried in. The slaadi have nothing to do with the bones of the children, only of the small animals. They have been commanded to leave small children alone by Golgon. A successful Search check (DC 15) shows that there are gnaw marks on the bones that are from mouths smaller than the red slaadi. The slaadi do not know where the bones or clothes came from.
If the slaadi are interrogated, they don't have a great deal to tell. They seek passage to a plane where it is said there is a rare ore. The ore is for their master, a gray slaad, who wishes to use it for his own purposes. To gain access to the plane, they have allied with a human wizard named Golgon, who promises to take them there once their term of service is over, which is for one year. The slaadi don't know, or care, what Golgon's activities are, but they do obey his orders readily enough.
The torches in the room are everburning torches.
The Old Tower, Fourth Floor
If the PCs climb or fly to the fourth floor, read or paraphrase the following:
The window that the winged monster flew out of stands out in contrast to the others. It's framed with a thin metallic border.
A successful Search check of the metal (DC 10) shows fine rune-like inscriptions on the metal. Also, the metal is magical (see below for description).
Once inside the room, read or paraphrase the following:
You see nesting material for a large winged creature. The outside of the nest consists of small tree trunks that have been stripped of their twigs and leaves, which then form the majority of the bedding. The rest of the bedding is composed of strips of clothing.
Notable among the clothing is Walford's white apron, which can be found with a successful Search check (DC 10).
The trap door, which is conventional, unlocked, and underneath the nest, leads to the third floor crawlspace (see episode three).
The window is magic and has a basic function. It allows those that touch its gem to become ethereal for as long as they want to or to the limit of the duration, whichever comes first.
Window Frame of Ethereal Jaunt: This 6-foot by 4-foot steel window frame has runes twining their way up from the base of the frame to a large, fist-sized blue topaz in the center of the upper frame bar. When the topaz is touched, the being touching the topaz becomes ethereal as per the ethereal jaunt spell. The duration of the effect is 14 rounds, though beings can choose to lessen the duration voluntarily. The window frame has 42 charges left.
Caster Level: 14th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, ethereal jaunt; Market Price: 98,000 gp; Weight: 50 lbs.
Development: Anyone who steps on the teleportation area is sent to the floor above. Details of this area are in the next episode of the Cliffhanger.
When the PCs gain access to the second floor, the mystery deepens. Who is responsible for the deaths of the children, and why? The answer is surely on another floor in the tower. . . .