Friday, July 14, 2023

Entry Point: The Burning Tower of Calidar

In thinking about points of entry into the megadungeon, they have to be accessible enough that you can use them with some convenience, yet complicated enough that you cannot just walk right in the front door. Something has to keep people from constantly using them. I have one solution at least, so this is will be first entry point into the dungeons: the Burning Tower of Calidar.

Calidar was a magician of some power who built a tower to explore the dungeons, but eventually went mad. His small tower fell into ruin, and rumors persist that Calidar opened a portal into the lower realms, covering his tower in an unending flame. Furthermore, rumors report that a huge troll has taken residence at the bridge that crosses to the tower: so, between the tower being on fire all the time and the huge troll, not many people make their way here.

However, the haunting is the phantom of a doddering old man (Calidar) who was once a powerful illusionist, and who is now just looking for his marbles (yes, I stole this from Hook - ironic that I stole a hook from a movie named ‘hook’); he had used magic to generate a few permanent illusions - one is of his burning tower, and another is of a troll that guards the bridge (it’s actually a zombie who is compelled to remain there, but which is covered in the illusion of a troll). When the PCs learn that these are illusions and just need to be disbelieved, they can bypass these obstacles with relative ease. The tower proper has collapsed largely (somewhat open to the air), and the main chamber is filled with broken furniture and collapsed ceiling, but looks both more imposing and covered in blue flame from a distance. 

The phantom will open the passageways into the dungeon if the fellowship promises to recover his marbles. They can then continue to come and go through this entry, as long as they continue to promise to find and return the marbles. If and when the PCs do find and return the marbles, the phantom will be released, the illusion of the troll will end (once the zombie is destroyed), and they will take possession of the tower (if they want it). That’s for later.

That’s the entry. Aria learns in her studies about Calidar, and learns both of the illusion and enough about his phantom form to believe that he can be bargained with. She knows about his marbles.

Disbelieving an illusion requires both an action and a successful mind check. Because they know that the illusions are fake, each gets to check at +1 edge.  

The tower is located 2 hours (about 5 miles) from Daggerford, at the foot of the mountains. I am building it as a five-room dungeon.

The Road. The road to the tower is patrolled by a pack of wild jackals. 3 jackals will be tearing apart a huge beetle they killed. This is a large stonecutter beetle. A successful lore check reveals that the oil of the beetle can be salvaged and used to coat weapons. The oil will coat up to three weapons; this takes 1 full action, but imparts the weapon with an enchantment allowing it to strike enchanted creatures and dealing +1 damage.

The Bridge. As the fellowship approaches the bridge, a “12’ tall troll” climbs out of a cave on the other side, and moves to cross the bridge towards them. The ‘troll’ is actually a zombie with an illusion cast over it; it is a zombie, but appears to be a giant troll. Once it is destroyed, the illusion ends.

The Phantom. The phantom will not want to fight, necessarily. He will howl, forcing a mind check at -1 edge or all within 60’ flee in fear for 1 minute. Those who do not flee, he will attempt to teleport to the end of the bridge. On a successful reaction (mind) check, the phantom will ask the fellowship for help; he is looking for his marbles. He will have them search around the refuse of his tower for 1D12 minutes. During this time, each PC will find either a scroll or potion. When such things are discovered, the phantom will examine them, decide they are not marbles, and let the PC keep what they find. After each PC finds one item, the phantom will decide the marbles are not here, and will ask the PCs to search ‘down below’ and see if they can find them. If they agree, the phantom will speak the command word, his name backwards (“Radilac”) that opens the trap door, with stairs leading down to the sunken hallway.

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