D&D 5e: Pact of the Blood (Warlock Pact Boon)

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Some Warlocks come by their pacts by inheritance, rather than deliberate choice. Straddling the line between Warlock and Sorcerer, their fell agreements are inherent in their blood. For some, this is actual descent from a pact-granting entity or one of its servitors. For others, it is a contract, geas, or curse that has been passed down a family line. In either case, this source of magic works as a pact rather than sorcery: the power is coming from the original entity, not the caster’s own blood.

In many ways, such an implicit bargain is more dangerous than a formal agreement: the Warlock has little idea of how much credit she’s taking out until the bill comes due. Some may seek to broker an actual contract later in their careers, switching to a different pact with a straightforward accounting of the bargain. She may even switch patrons completely: a blood-pact Warlock of a Fiend may swear her blade to an Archfey to save her soul (though she may learn that vassalage to the fey is a greater bondage in many ways).

Blood pact Warlocks are more likely even than other Warlocks to suddenly get notice that a patron has a quest that must be accomplished, and credit cut off cut off if it’s not completed in a reasonable time frame. Sometimes this is a mission no darker than any other quest. Others, it’s the inspiration to finally formalize the contract. Some such Warlocks never receive such a request… which may lead them to believe that they’re somehow accomplishing their patron’s goals without even intending to do so.

And that’s before the echoes start…

Pact Boon

At 3rd level, you learn two of the Metamagic options of the Sorcerer. These can be used only with spells cast with your Pact Magic.

To cast a spell using metamagic, treat your Warlock Slot Level as if it was 1-3 levels lower (based on the sorcery point cost of the metamagic), or half-level for Twinned Spell. For example, most metamagics are cast at one level lower, Quickened is cast at two levels lower, Heightened is cast at three levels lower, and Twinned Spell is cast at half its level (round down).

You can only cast spells of equal or lower level to the reduced slot (e.g., if you have 4th level slots and the Quickened and Subtle spell metamagics, you can cast any spell of 2nd or lower with Quickened, or any spell of 3rd level or lower with Subtle).

You may use metamatic with your Mystic Arcanum spells: treat the arcanum slot as working equivalently to a pact magic slot for this purpose. If the arcanum is reduced to 5th level or below, use it to cast any applicable spell you can cast with your pact magic slots. If it’s reduced to 6th level or higher, use it to cast the arcanum you have at that level.

Eldritch Invocations

Lesser Echoes

Prerequisite: 7th level, Pact of the Blood feature

You have begun to transform into a supernatural creature in service to your patron. This may be an echo of your ancestor, or the form your patron intends for you once your life as a mortal is complete. Choose a monster of a type related to your patron (e.g., devil or demon for the Fiend, fey for the Archfey, aberration for the Great Old One, etc.). You take on some minor cosmetic and personality features of the monster (possibly replacing one of your characteristics). Additionally, choose one of the monster’s traits and come up with an equivalent version for yourself that seems reasonable to you and your GM.

Suggested powers include gaining a resistance to an energy the monster is resistant or immune to, gaining a climb speed equal to half your normal speed, gaining a special attack equivalent to another attack at 7th level (or an enhancement to your attacks that can be used a limited number of times per rest), or gaining a special power equivalent to a 4th-level spell that you can use once per long rest.

You also choose another metamagic option (your third).

Greater Echoes

Prerequisite: 15th level, Lesser Echoes, Pact of the Blood feature

You have continued your transformation into a proper servitor for your patron. Choose even more obvious cosmetic and personality traits of the monster type (replacing another characteristic). Additionally, choose another power with your GM based on the monster’s capabilities.

Suggested powers include immunity to an energy type the monster is immune to, gaining a flight speed equal to your normal speed, gaining one of the monster’s special attack types (even really powerful ones), gaining a special power equivalent to a 2nd-level spell that you can use at will, an equivalent to a 4th-level spell that you can use once per short rest, or an equivalent to an 8th-level spell that you can use once per long rest.

You also choose another metamatic option (your fourth).

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The Septarch’s Tower, Part 5

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Floor B4

Entry

A fantastic battle ranged throughout this level. Charred and smashed bodies lie in the main hallway and throughout the rooms. Most of them show some strange accumulation of earth: crystal growths, stone nodules, and the like. All the beds and tables have been smashed throughout. Pictograph carvings lined with crystal in the walls give instructions for bonding to earth at one of the summoning circles.

The door to the southeast bedroom has been magically sealed. Only an order key will open it. Within is Hieronymus’ library collection from the rest of the tower.

Earth Dorms Note

Well f*** me with a Hedge thorn! They just kept coming but I think I got them all. I think the earth mages never fled, but somehow bonded themselves to the earth to stay behind as guardians. They… weren’t rational about it. I’m not sure they could even still speak. This is insane. I’m moving on.

Salome

You didn’t get all of them. I got the rest. They were like zombies that used earth magic. I found and destroyed the ritual that did this to them. It was supposed to grant them agelessness and imperviousness to harm, perhaps as one last risky attempt to win the war. It worked, to a point, but I suspect they didn’t expect it to destroy their intellect. I can’t abide the idea of anyone else doing this to themselves or someone else. I’ve put the rest of the secrets of this tower in the southeast. Use your key.

Hieronymus

Earth Bonding Cantrip (Wis)

Earth supports and nourishes. This cantrip allows the caster to fortify loose earth, hardening it or increasing its nourishing capabilities to life.

The hardening application causes a cube of earth up to five feet on a side to calcify, gaining the strength of sandstone. This can be used to slowly mold loose earth or sand into a freestanding sculpture, make mud easy to walk upon, hold back floodwater, or shore up a tunnel or sapping. The caster may take a -3 penalty for each additional cube to be affected per round. The effect lasts until the affected earth takes a meaningful impact, change in pressure, or change in humidity (i.e., it can last indefinitely if nothing would upset the chemicals bonds created in the soil).

The nourishing application draws lifegiving nutrients to the top of soil. This application is maintained, and can be sustained even while sleeping (but precludes other magic that requires concentration). A single living individual heals at double the normal rate while sleeping partially buried in this soil (and this can also repair damage to plants). The caster may take a -3 penalty for each additional target to affect.

Library Room

This contains the compiled higher level spells that Hieronymus took from Salome’s folios. The lower-level spells may still be available in the upper levels.

Air Spells and Rituals

Feather Fall, Whispering Wind; Misty Step*

  1. Unseen Servant
  2. Call Storm, Summoning
  3. Wind Wall*
  4. Invisibility
  5. Storm’s Wrath
  6. Wizard’s Flight

Fire Spells and Rituals

Burning Hands, Flame Charm; Scorching Ray*

  1. Produce Flame*
  2. Hellish Rebuke*, Summoning
  3. Continual Light
  4. Flaming Sphere*
  5. Heat Metal*
  6. Fireball

Earth Spells and Rituals

Pass without Trace, Petrifying Gaze; Shatter*

  1. Goodberry
  2. Endure the Elements, Summoning
  3. Skin of the Treant
  4. Enhance Ability*
  5. Ritual of Healing
  6. Shape of Stone

Water Spells and Rituals

Abjuration, Obscurement; Acid Arrow*

  1. Gather Mists
  2. Cleansing Ritual, Summoning
  3. Purify Food and Drink*
  4. Water Breathing*
  5. Dispel Magic
  6. Full Restoration

* Not a normal part of Beyond the Wall (converted from 5e version)

Floor B5

Entry

The deepest floor of the tower is heavily warded and organically carved from earth and stone. Unless otherwise noted, all walls, ceilings, and floors are smooth granite traced with endless glyphs of quartz that glimmer enough to produce low light throughout each room of the complex. The ceiling of each room is at least 20 feet high, leaving room to maneuver for even the tallest of prisoners.

The sphinx, Taheret, is responsible for guarding this floor. However, based upon her contract, she’s pretty sure that simply destroying most or all of the inhabitants is enough for her to get out of her contract. While she’s not allowed to attack them herself unless they try to escape, she is simply tasked with keeping them from escaping and doesn’t have to prevent invaders from killing them or stealing. She knows what’s in every room, and might help by giving answers and bargaining for additional assistance. However, she can’t help but talk in riddles, because she’s very, very bored.

Rooms

  1. Entryway: Taheret the Sphinx
  2. Brass Golem
  3. Hellhound x5
  4. Salome’s body and possessions
  5. Room is covered in polished mirrors to disorient the Aatheriexa
  6. Aatheriexa
  7. Room is heavily warded against abominations
  8. Room is covered in strange glyphs that make this a dead magic area
  9. Hellhound x6
  10. Belker x3
  11. Mihstu
  12. The room has powerful winds set up to blow into the northwest corner. Non-flying creatures must succeed at a Strength (Athletics) check each round at +5 to avoid being moved into the corner; flying creatures must make the check at -5. At the end of the round, any creature within 10 feet of the northwest corner takes 1d6 cold damage.
  13. Animated Armor x8
  14. Magically-powered Forge (Lair Treasure 1)
  15. Troll anteroom: Proto-Troll outcast (who will nonetheless fall back quickly upon being hurt)
  16. Troll bathroom (very gross)
  17. Troll Living Room: Proto-Troll x4
  18. Troll Sleeping Room: Proto-Troll x3 (will reinforce 17 after 2d4 rounds)
  19. Troll Kitchen: Troll Cow
  20. Room is heavily warded against abominations
  21. Dead beholder (killed by Salome years ago)
  22. Byakhee
  23. Ancient storage room (everything here is long-ruined or taken by Salome)
  24. Locked door (Succeed on 2 out of 3 lockpicking at -10): Lair Treasure 2
  25. Sand Golem
  26. Magically Shaking Room: Reflex save each round in room or take 1d4 bludgeoning damage by slamming into pillars in the room
  27. Crysmal x10
  28. Efreeti (trapped in heavily-glyphed room with one wish left to grant before being freed)

Treasure

Salome’s Body (4)

Mummified in the dry air, Salome was clearly a dark-haired woman of early middle age, slight, agile build, and nondescript appearance. She carries:

  • Another teleport key
  • 66 cp
  • 120 sp
  • 6 gp
  • 150 sp of ritual components
  • Infiltrator’s Athame: Functional (easily hidden in knife form, useful as a ritual tool), Life-Drinking; Contingent Situational (Deals damage): Increases to Longsword until Life-Drinking triggers; Contingent Code (Sworn to Service of the Order): Magic, Spell Storing
  • Bracelet of Biting (3 charges)
  • Gloves of Thievery (2 charges)
  • Amulet of Deception (3 charges)
  • Spellbook (Order):
    • Spells: Burning Hands, False Friend, Flame Charm, Feather Fall, Healing Touch, Magic Missile, Masked Image, Misty Step*, Mystical Shield, Obscurement, Pass without Trace, Spider Climb, Whispering Wind
    • Rituals: (1) Arcane Experiment, Circle of Protection, Mage Armor, Steed of the Sorcerer, Wizard’s Mark; (2) Endure the Elements, Summoning; (3) Continual Light, Friends; (4) Alter Self, Invisibility; (5) Arcane Sight, Dispel Magic, Heat Metal*, True Identification; (6) Fireball; (7) Wall of Flame; (8) Storm of Ice

Forge: Lair Treasure 1 (14)

This forge produces a never-ending flame whose heat can be adjusted by dials on the wall. A complete set of anvils, quenching pots, and forging tools are neatly arranged. The valuable ingots are hidden deep in a cabinet where they were missed by mages clearing the tower (or too heavy to fly away with)

  • 2 ingots of Adamantine
  • 4 ingots of Mithril
  • 10 ingots of silver (50 sp value each)
  • 40 ingots of steel (8 sp value each)
  • Masterwork Longsword x5
  • Masterwork Spear x10
  • Reinforced Shield with Volkov heraldry x20
  • 3,000 sp of miscellaneous plates that could be assembled into a suit of plate armor (or used to repair other armor)

Lair Treasure 2 (24)

This room was used to hide any treasures that couldn’t be taken away. It contains miscellaneous ancient art furnishings (too bulky to move easily) worth 2,000 sp for pure material value, and potentially worth up to three times that to collectors of ancient Imperial art.

Troll Cow (19)

A cow bound to an earth spirit in the same way as the proto-trolls, this poor beast has suffered for over a thousand years as the trolls used it as their primary source of food: ripping off hunks of beef and letting the cow regenerate. The cow wears a Nosering of Sustenance (4 charges) which is sufficient for the cow to be fed and continue serving as a food source for others, and seems to have been designed for this purpose. It’s unclear what kind of effect eating the cow’s meat would have on humans. The cow is long-adjusted to its lot in life, and quite docile. It suffers the same difficulties moving through dead magic and sunlight as the trolls (it has 20 HP).

Monsters

(Additional stats for Beyond the Wall. Most of these are based on creatures from Pathfinder.)

Aatheriexa

Summoned from a foreign star, this immortal tangle of thin, tentacle-like eyestalks travels by floating in the air, but must remain within a few feet of a solid surface or water. It is slightly larger than a man, and it can reform its mass to attack or manipulate items. Though indefinitely cruel, its intelligence is inscrutable to humans; it cannot be commanded nor does it try to communicate.

Hit Dice:    10d4 (25 HP)                            AC:    12    XP:    2,350

Attack:        +10 to hit, 3d4 damage (tentacle)

Notes:        Grab (a target hit by an aatheriexa’s tentacle attack must make a Reflex save or be grabbed and pinned; if pinned, the target must use its action to make a Strength check to escape on its next turn; on the aatheriexa’s next turn, it can engulf the target, dealing damage automatically while still being able to attack another target), Withering Aura (any living creatures within 15 feet of an aatheriexa must make a Fortitude save each round; failure deals 1d4 damage), Gaze of Many Eyes (any creature that looks at an aatheriexa must succeed at a Will save to be able to attack it; critical failure on this save results in the attack instead being directed at an ally)

Animated Armor

Formed of cast-off plates of armor in various ancient styles, these creatures are created from fallen warriors. Not exactly a ghost, the spirit that animates it is much closer to an elemental of the astral plane: the idea of armored combat itself. They proved difficult to command on the battlefield in the best of times, and especially hard to keep idle while waiting for battle. When used, they were typically stored apart from others and deployed as close to the enemy line as possible.

Hit Dice:    3d10 (16 HP)                            AC:    18    XP:    150

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d10+2 damage (greatsword)

Notes:        Armor (animated armor can absorb armor from fallen other animated armors by passing over them, healing 1d10 hp; defeated animated armors count as suits of double-broken plate armor)

Belker

Hybrid elementals of air and fire, the process that created these creatures accidentally tapped the demonic realms: in addition to looking very demonic, the creatures proved malicious and impossible to trust to not attack their own allies. They appear as man-sized demonic figures made of smoke and shadow. Defeated belkers congeal into fist-sized smoky gems useful in rituals related to air and fire, and worth 50 sp each.

Hit Dice:    5d8 (22 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    150

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d8 damage (claws)

Notes:        Smoke Form (belkers can enter smoke form at will at the beginning of their turns; they become incorporeal so they can only be affected by magic and iron weapons, but cannot make physical attacks), Smoke Claws (while in physical form, a belker can make two claw attacks and a bite attack; while in smoke form, it can attack by engulfing a character and that character must succeed at a Fortitude save or take 2d8 damage from internal attacks)

Brass Golem

Forged of brass and nearly twenty feet tall, this warrior sculpture has been bound with a fire elemental and ancient arts of golem making to be a powerful protector. Due to the fire of their construction, the scroll that animates a brass golem will often become singed through use, causing the creature’s behavior to become erratic an no longer useful in war. When defeated, much of the brass can be salvaged, producing at least 1000 pounds of scrap brass (easily worth 3 sp per pound).

Hit Dice:    8d6 (30 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    1,300

Attack:        +11 to hit, 2d6 damage (falchion)

Notes:        Regeneration (golems regenerate 3 hp per round, even after being reduced to 0 or fewer HP, unless their animating scroll is removed; for brass golems, this regeneration is paused for a round after taking cold damage), Cinder Breath (brass golems fill the area around them with smoke and cinders from their breath, causing everyone within 15 feet or an entire enclosed room, to make a Fortitude save each round on their turn or take 1d6 fire damage), Brass Body (brass golems are healed by fire damage and immune to electricity)

Byakhee

Evil spacefaring creatures from a distant star, these man-shaped insectoid creatures are so wrong that most thinking people have trouble looking at one directly or comprehending what they are seeing (making them very difficult to hit). While seldom summoned directly, they may simply appear, inscrutibly, on worlds that have contacted foreign stars. Immortal and ineffable, they are content to wait for the stars to be right.

Hit Dice:    5d4 (12 HP)                            AC:    17    XP:    550

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d8 damage (claw)

Notes:        Shriek (As its action, a byakhee can shriek to take 1d4 damage and then summon 2d4 additional byakhee that each have only 1 HP; these duplicates cannot themselves summon others unless they are healed enough to survive the self-damage)

Crysmal

Small, scorpion-shaped arrangements of crystal, these earth elementals aggressively seek out gems to form into new crysmals. Annoyingly aggressive, the ancients kept them essentially as truffle pigs for valuable stones. They can normally burrow easily through earth and stone, but cannot easily penetrate metal. Immortal, they do not need to eat, and will wait endlessly for an opportunity to continue their burrowing.

Hit Dice:    2d8 (16 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    95

Attack:        +2 to hit, 1d8 damage (tail spike)

Notes:        Brittle (crysmals take double damage from bludgeoning and sonic attacks), Tail Spike (crysmals can launch their tails as a ranged attack that does 2d8 damage if it hits, but they subsequently only do 1d6 damage on regular attacks)

Efreeti

Complete jerks from the plane of Fire, Efreeti can grant wishes, delight in perverting the wish as much as possible. If thwarted, they are quick to attack, but also willing to accept surrender and continue negotiations. There is no greater threat than a twelve-foot tall genie on its last wish.

Hit Dice:    10d8 (45 HP)                            AC:    16    XP:    625

Attack:        +10 to hit, 3d8 damage

Notes:        Creature of Fire (efreeti are immune to fire, can create fire at will as an action (dealing 1d8 damage to everyone in the area), and can create illusions at will), Spellcaster (efreeti may cast spells (up to 10 per day) and ritual magic)

Hellhound

Perhaps the most tameable of demons, these big fiery dogs are sometimes kept for their uses in detecting spirits. Immortal and cruel like their progenitors, they can be an unfortunate surprise in ancient buildings in which they were previously penned.

Hit Dice:    2d8 (9 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    70

Attack:        +2 to hit, 1d8 damage (bite)

Notes:        Demonic Sight (hellhounds may see spirits and invisible things), Immune to Fire (hellhounds may not be harmed by fire of any kind), Demonic Skin (hellhounds ignore the first five points of damage from sources that are not magic or cold iron)

Mihstu

Bizarre air elementals, mihstu appear as clouds of mist that, upon closer inspection, is made up of razor-sharp shards of glass. Not filling much more space than a human, they can contort into many different shapes, easily escaping non-warded confinement. When they can be commanded, they make excellent strikers, as they can fly to wherever they want in a battlefield, with little worry about ranged attacks. Their targets are only fortunate that they do not have ranged attacks of their own. When killed, the dust wrapped up in a mihstu falls into a powder useful in rituals and worth 100 sp.

Hit Dice:    6d8 (27 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    425

Attack:        +6 to hit, 1d8 damage (tentacles)

Notes:        Swift (a mihstu can make four tentacle attacks, but cannot attack the same opponent with more than two), Draining Pin (if a mihstu hits the same opponent with two tentacle attacks, that target is pinned; the mihstu can automatically hit that target with one or both attacks on subsequent rounds; the target may use her action to try a Strength check to escape), Wind Defense (a mihstu is immune to physical ranged attacks), Incorporeal (a mihstu has no physical form and is only affected by magic and iron weapons), Susceptible to Cold (a mihstu loses its next turn upon taking magical cold damage)

Proto-Troll

Formed by binding an earth elemental to a volunteering warrior, the hybrid creature so created was not what anyone expected. Mutated and distended by the process, they proved to be ageless and immortal as long as they remained fed. However, they also proved irrational, vicious, and no longer capable of voluntarily following the orders of their previous commanders. Even more of a problem, the binding left them strangely vulnerable to disruption: fire, acid, lack of magic, and even sunlight could upset their regenerative abilities and cause them to calcify. The most docile of them were bred, eventually losing some of their greater weaknesses and making the modern troll, but pockets of the proto-trolls still live as long as they have access to food.

Hit Dice:    5d10 (27 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    300

Attack:        +6 to hit, 1d10 damage (bite), 1d6 (claws)

Notes:        Regeneration (trolls regenerate 3 hit points per round unless they have been wounded with fire, and may even come back from death in this manner), Swift (trolls may attack once with their bite and twice with their claws), Unstable Magic (proto-trolls have their regeneration reversed while exposed to sunlight or non-magical areas, taking 3 damage per round and turning to stone upon reaching 0 HP)

Sand Golem

Originally a stone or clay golem that was repaired too many times, this golem has reached a failure state where it is simply a vaguely man-shaped, ten-foot-tall pile of sand held together only by magic. This has some interesting effects on its fighting ability, as it is already shattered and can simply grab onto melee weapons. Unfortunately, it also loses a lot of its programming, and most of these eventually become as much a danger to their creators as to their intended targets. When defeated, the golem collapses into around 2,000 pounds of magically-infused sand, which might go for as much as 1 sp per pound to the right mage.

Hit Dice:    7d6 (30 HP)                            AC:    11    XP:    300

Attack:        +9 to hit, 2d6 damage (slam)

Notes:        Regeneration (golems regenerate 3 hp per round, even after being reduced to 0 or fewer HP, unless their animating scroll is removed; for sand golems, this regeneration is paused for a round after taking electric damage), Clutching Sands (hits against a sand golem with a melee weapon require the attacker to make a Reflex save or be disarmed, or pinned until succeeding at a Strength check for unarmed attackers), Sand Body (sand golems take double damage from water-based attacks, and are slowed to a crawl for one round by electricity or fire attacks)

Sphinx

Denizens of a distant faerie dimension, sphinxes are often summoned to the earth for use as immortal guardians. While they enjoy eating, they do not need to do so to maintain their lives as long as they continue to fulfill their contracted role. Their intellect is capacious, they can easily learn any language, and they often entertain themselves through the long interludes in their guardianships by planning riddles for the next people they meet. While their catlike natures make them seem somewhat cruel, they are able to be negotiated with, particularly by adventurers that might be able to end their contract and free them.

Hit Dice:    8d8 (36 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    1100

Attack:        +8 to hit, 1d8 damage (claws)

Notes:        Swift (a sphinx may make two claw attacks, and follows up with a rake for an additional automatic 1d8 damage if it hits the same target with both), Spellcaster (a sphinx may cast spells (up to 8 per day) and ritual magic)

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 4

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Floor B2

(This and subsequent floors are getting wider, as they spread to fill the hill. All external walls are slightly sloped so they narrow inwards toward the ceiling.)

Entry

This floor is even more humid, and has a damp chill as the party descends deeper into the earth. The mage lights are simple, regular affairs set at head height along the walls every few feet. Each of the doors on the floor is held open with a stone or metal spike wedged into the bottom of the door, and the ones further back into the area are blasted open, with scars of the magical blasts still upon them. (Salome got impatient with solving whatever water puzzle was on these doors, particularly since each and every room is empty.)

Each wall is almost as smooth as glass, and the floors not much more textured such that walking is slightly dangerous (it’s unclear whether this was from a thousand years of erosion, or an intentional polish). Any art on the walls has long since eroded to nothing. Explorers do not get the sense that there was much furniture here to begin with, and any there was has long melted into a faint organic film in the corners of the rooms. Perhaps the only other thing of interest is the room with two doors immediately east of the stairs: some ancient mechanism still causes cold water to shower from several holes in the ceiling (and into drains in the floor). It’s easy to come to the conclusion that these were a spartan people, concerned with cleanliness and purification. Various toiletries, some monogrammed with an S are piled up in the southwest corner and suffering over a decade of water damage (Salome set up here for her own hygiene).

An odd sense of being watched dogs the party as they inspect the floor for several minutes, and anyone staying near the stairs notices a haze of water slowly accumulating into what seems like a cloud, and then like a humanoid form. By the time they’re done looking around and probably forming up in case of a threat, the still foggy being speaks in a wet voice, asking in Ancient Imperial:

“Are you students of water, or interlopers like the last invader? Please, demonstrate the magics of water so that I know you are friend, not foe.”

(The bound mist elemental is looking for a demonstration of what they’d consider water magic: either explicit manipulation of water or cold, or magic that purifies and cleans. Without any surviving materials, he is the primary way of accessing the wisdom of the water mages, specifically how to attune to water. Salome blasted him as a threat before having a conversation. He’s not very intelligent, more of a simple artificial intelligence than a thinking being, and upon convincing him that at least one of the PCs is a disciple of water:)

It has been some time since a new class of students entered these halls, and I’m afraid the accommodations are more sparse than usual. You may take your pick of the smaller, central rooms, as they are all unclaimed at present. You should check on the other floors to see if there is any bedding in the stores. Once you are settled in, I can guide you through the rites of binding to water.

With that, he steps back, taking up a position immediately east of the stairs up, out of the way of traffic. He seems perfectly relaxed to stand like a statue forever.

The elemental servant can walk them through water bonding. Any other information he can provide is up to the GM’s discretion.

Water Bonding Cantrip (Wis)

Water dissolves and cleanses. This cantrip allows the caster to cleanse a surface as if by clean water.

The normal application causes a touched surface of up to approximately a square five feet on a side (or the skin of a grown human) to be cleansed as if run under swiftly flowing clean water. The cantrip can be sustained (doing so makes it impossible to cast new cantrips, spells, or rituals, or maintain any existing effects that require major concentration), and every round the apparent time submerged is equal to a minute. This process quickly cleans wounds and grime away from a surface, and eventually begins to break down a surface that’s vulnerable to exposure.

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may increase the effective “speed” of the flow. With a -3 penalty, even round is an hour, with -6, each is a day, and with -9, each is a year: at the maximum power, iron can be ruined in minutes and hard stone scoured away in hours. The caster may intuitively shape the affected area to deliberately sculpt it through erosion.

Floor B3

Well, this is certainly the source of all the humidity. (In the Fallcrest map, the tower sits upon a high hill, the base of which is next to a river passing north of the hill. This level is, thus, intended to be basically level with the water table. Adjust as needed if yours isn’t set on a big hill.)

The third basement is far down enough that it’s probably level with the lower city that surrounds the hill, and thus the small lake inside is probably an offshoot of the nearby river. Rivulets of water stream down the back wall, glistening in the mage lights arranged around the walls in flowing geometric patterns, and likely running from the drains in the showers above. The lake itself has mage lights along the bottom, and is crystal clear (and about ten feet deep). Some fish swim in the water, but there are also other strange ripples and those with supernatural senses detect a presence in the water (it’s a water elemental, if they’ve encountered similar before). Something is keeping the lake clean and preventing bugs from entering the tower from here. They can see a tunnel set into the northern wall, with a gridded gate set into it, that might be another way to access the tower if they wanted to swim underwater for a decent distance (and brave the possible elemental guardian).

A large summoning circle is set in an island. It’s unlikely that the mages jumped a dozen feet to get there and unclear what the elemental would do if someone jumped over there. (The elemental will attempt to defend the large summoning platform from interlopers unattuned to water, but will not deliberately molest travelers that don’t touch or cross the water. If someone is attuned to water, the elemental braces their feet to allow them to walk across the pool to the summoning circle, and won’t interfere with attempts to use the escape grate.)

The walls to the south are set with mosaics that haven’t deteriorated significantly, showing individuals in various poses that look like they’re dancing?

The one door out of the room to the south opens easily, and mostly seems to be designed to cut some of the moisture. Inside, the walls are made of silver-backed glass, and may be the best mirror any of the PCs have seen (depending on campaign technology level), creating a seemingly infinite space (lit by magelights on the ceiling). Various blue gems are mounted at seemingly random places around the room (in the mirrors) at anywhere from waist to shoulder height. The door to the southwest is locked with no obvious method to open it.

Any monks or other martial artists in the party can recognize the dance on the wall and the position of the gems as a martial kata. They are capable of learning and performing it, different parts of the kata taking hands and feet past specific gems in the room, triggered in sequence as a combination lock for the inner door. Less martial but more intellectual characters can probably eventually figure it out, and open it like a traditional combination lock without actually doing a kata.

The Trials

The rooms of this level are an ongoing purification ritual, becoming progressively harder and netting greater rewards. After steps 4 and 6 there are water orbs to touch to end the ritual and take the bonuses already accumulated. The rites must be started again to proceed further after using one of these orbs (the orb returns the user to the main room). The final room is an orb that triggers completion of the ritual.

Touching a water orb after doing some basic rites is also key to attuning to water, so anyone that wants this attunement must make it through at least the first four rooms of this challenge.

Room 1: Clementia et Humanitas

This room contains several of the greatest enemies of those in the room, bound, gagged, and kneeling. The targets are helpless, and damage dealt to them is taken by the attacker after a two round delay. You can simply proceed through the next door at any time.

Passing this challenge purifies any mental effects upon triggering a water orb.

Room 2: Comitas et Gravitas

This room contains a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy at the end of the room. Those in the room experience a series of emotions (sadness, joy, anger, hilarity, shame, pride) and one mask lights up (the emotion is always wrong for the mask). The challenge is to put on the proper face for the lit mask, rather than what is being felt. Characters with an acting or deception skill can make a Charisma check with that skill to demonstrate the correct face, and any character can make a Will save to resist the false emotion and put on the correct face. Every failure deals the character’s level/hit dice in damage. Once all six emotions have been passed, the supplicant can move through the next door.

Passing this challenge purifies any ability damage or level drain upon triggering a water orb.

Room 3: Salubritas et Veritas

A stern matronly face at the end of this room asks a series of questions about the speaker’s healthy practices, and everyone is compelled to answer truthfully (Will save at -10 to resist the compulsion):

  • Do you wake with the dawn each day?
  • Do you cleanse yourself in cold water each week?
  • Do you keep your hands free of your private parts except when bathing?
  • Have you lain with anyone but your current bonded lover?
  • Have you ever failed to wear veil and gloves when touching the dead?
  • Do you consume organ meats whenever they are offered?

Every answer of No causes the face to wail and blast a line of ice at the speaker that deals the target’s level/hit dice in damage (Reflex save to avoid). The door opens once all questions have been answered either way.

Passing this challenge purifies any disease or poison upon triggering a water orb.

Room 4: Dignitas et Honestas

A statue in this room stands in a classic orator’s pose, straight-backed, feet planted, and hands raised. Upon mimicking the pose, the character is subjected to a barrage of uncomfortable effects designed to make it impossible to maintain the pose. The character must make six Fortitude saves. Each failed save either restarts the challenge or forces the character to take a point of damage to a random ability score (to power through the pain). Once all challenges have been passed, the door opens.

Passing this challenge heals all hit point damage (including permanent damage) upon triggering a water orb.

Room 5: Virtus et Firmitas

The door to the water orb starts open. Characters may use it without taking this challenge.

A statue appears in this room for each individual, bent in a wrestling pose, which moves to intercept if they try to move past. Each character must succeed in two out of three Strength tests at -5 to wrestle the statue to the other end of the room and exit through the door.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of fear and doubt upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Will saves.

Room 6: Constantia et Disciplina

A constant, cutting icy wind blows across this room, making crossing it an endurance challenge. (If the character is protected against cold, the wind adapts to a temperature or even energy type that no one is protected against.) Each character must succeed in two out of three Constitution tests at -5 to cross the room (and either touch the water orb or move on to the next room).

Passing this challenge purifies the character of physical weakness upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Fortitude saves.

Room 7: Frugalitas et Industria

This room is full of simple puzzles games, which award tokens upon successful completion. Some cost tokens to play, risking the tokens. A sandglass begins counting down upon entering the room, providing about 20 minutes, and the door to the next room has a clear number of slots for tokens. If the glass runs out, all tokens evaporate and the glass begins the count again. Each character must succeed in two out of three Intelligence tests at -5 to work out a way to earn enough tokens to proceed. Succeeding at all three provides enough tokens to erase an ally’s failure. Upon putting tokens in the door, the character is teleported to the next room (i.e., not all have to win to proceed); the character can still go back through the door once to return to the previous water orb.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of flaws in the reflexes upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Reflex saves.

Room 8: Iustitia et Prudentia

Each character in this room receives a private vision of a mystery play, each of four individuals recounting their own version of a murder that occurred as if the character is the judge. There are a surprising variety of different stories, though repeated viewings sometimes repeat actors in different roles and situations. Each character must make three Wisdom tests at -5 to eliminate a suspect: passing all three leaves only one suspect, while each failure leaves another possible murderer. The character may then pass declare a murderer to be put to death (choosing randomly if more than one suspect hasn’t been eliminated). Choosing incorrectly results in the character taking 1d10 damage per level and restarting the challenge. Passing allows the character to move though the next door (it becomes immaterial only for the character).

Passing this challenge purifies the character of ignorance upon triggering a water orb: the character can learn an additional language within a few days if study begins within the next turning of the moon.

Room 9: Pietas et Severitas

This is just a crazy room full of magical traps (choosing energy types that the targets are vulnerable to) that strike either across the midsection or in two vertical lines to narrowly miss only someone standing ramrod straight. Light-up faces on opposing walls give a clue as to whether the solution is to genuflect or stand at attention. Each character must make six Dexterity checks at -5. Each failed check results in the character taking 1d4 damage per level.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of hesitation upon triggering a water orb: the character grants a permanent +1 to initiative (that stacks with previous bonuses).

Room 10: Auctoritas

Each character in this room faces a gauntlet of elemental figures (the number of figures is equal to the character’s level/hit dice). The character must command them to move aside, making a Charisma check at -5 for each. On a success the figure stands aside. On a failure, it deals 2d6 damage and disappears. Bypassing each figure through success or failure without being defeated passes the challenge.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of self doubt upon triggering a water orb: the character gains experience as if defeating a creature with hit dice equal to the character’s level/hit dice:

  1. 15
  2. 40
  3. 75
  4. 125
  5. 200
  6. 325
  7. 475
  8. 700
  9. 1100
  10. 1300

Conversion Notes

This is intended to be both an insight into the strange values of the ancient empire, as well as a repeatable resource for the players to remove status effects. If I had the map to do over again, I’d probably arrange it in such a way that the PCs have a little more control over which challenges they do in which order, to focus on traits they’re good at.

The difficulties and damage numbers are designed for Beyond the Wall. For other systems, the idea is basically that getting past the first four rooms should be tough but reasonable for anyone, and the subsequent rooms should be almost impossible for low-level characters but still very difficult for high-level characters. Thus, most things scale based on level (and the ability checks are based on Beyond the Wall not really increasing ability scores drastically: in other systems you may need to scale these in a different way).

I had one PC make it through to the last room with only one HP remaining, after a series of extremely lucky rolls (and using up all her rerolls). She grudgingly left rather than risking getting killed in the Charisma room and cashed out her prizes, but plans to go back later. None of the other PCs even made it past the fifth room.

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 3

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Floor U4 (Air Dorms)

Entry

The fourth floor is another visibility risk. Thick panes of glass or crystal seem to be worked haphazardly into windows on the tower. The panes are very thick and cloudy, making it hard to see anything outside. At night, light inside is visible from outside. The mage lights start to come up in arbitrarily arranged points, in all seven colors such that the total lighting of the room is even and white, but objects cast strange rainbow shadows. It’s not incredibly bright, but probably visible outside.

The floor wraps clockwise around some kind of central area. The shapes are seemingly random, tables that once were piled with scrolls are pushed into the corners with no obvious reason for their orientation, and even a quick glance around the corner is enough to spot a couple of small beds in a bigger nook. There are stains on the tables as if scrolls sat there for ages and then were removed; nothing obviously useful is apparent to a quick glance. It is hardly damp at all up here, so the scrolls might have survived… if they can find where the order mages carted them off to. The walls are painted in flowing, abstract rainbow colors, mostly in curls and more-or-less horizontal lines that look like currents of air.

When people do the rainbow dance from below, climbing the stairs, the tones of their passing are louder up here, though not blastingly loud. Likely, the denizens would get pretty good warning of people approaching this floor from the lower one.

Ducking back down the stairs cuts the lights, and spellcasters wielding a key can try different words for “darkness” in Magespeech, using a sufficiently commanding tone, to get them to turn off.

Inside

The floor continues in a clockwise spiral with furniture in a largely unfathomable arrangement. Though the feather stuffing of the mattresses has long decayed into dust with the periodic preserved stems, the fabrics still retain some shape and color (though one probably wouldn’t want to sleep in them) and the frames are in remarkably good shape. Similarly, all the tables are mostly intact. A good blow could probably shatter the ancient wood, but at least it’s not already rotted into powder. There might be treasure to be found by digging through the furniture (which would probably take about half an hour of careful searching or 15 minutes if the party doesn’t care about destroying these artifacts of an ancient time), but nothing is immediately obvious.

By the inner ring, it’s safe to light candles without fear of the light being visible. The murals of wind continue on the wall’s side that faces outward, but the wall’s side that faces the center of the tower are more pictographic. Done in an archaic style (think Egyptian tomb paintings or Bayeux Tapestry; no perspective), it seems to be pictures of mages performing some kind of ritual, possibly in the light of the oddly shaped windows on the outer wall of this floor.

In the center, a large ritual circle is carved into the floor, with two smaller circles to the north and east. To magic detection, they are inactive, but still potent permanent summoning circles. The easternmost table on the inner ring contains a few hastily hand-bound folios seemingly comprised of pieces of salvaged scrolls, and a note on top in Salome’s handwriting (this one not water damaged to any meaningful extent).

One folio contains a primer that explains the murals on the wall (how to attune to Air), while one contains what seems to be treatises that could be used to learn some air-related spells and rituals (up to 3rd level). Both will take some time to decipher, since they’re in a combination of Ancient Imperial and Magespeech, and would be somewhat alien to modern understanding of magic.

Air Dorms Note

The scrolls here were much better-preserved, but more obviously simply missing. It is likely they were the easiest to flee with. I believe the top floor was what was referred to as the Sky Road. They would use the massive circle to call up air elementals and bind them to service. With the help of the elemental and crude gliding apparati detailed in some of the scrolls, they could safely leap from the bays in the tower and travel great distances by air. I do not believe this was true flight, particularly for the more portly of magi, but they could likely travel miles for every foot they fell, and do so at great speed. A very effective way to get around indeed. This is likely how most of the remaining magi fled.

As with the fire dorms, there were ample primers to assemble a completed copy of instructions of the introductory binding technique to air. Their operative understanding of air was its elasticity, and the cantrip seems to impart a way to draw in the nearby air (possibly depriving those that need it for their breath) and then release it in an explosion of wind. Not as exciting as summoning up fire, but possibly more versatile for everyday uses.

Unlike the fire mages, there seem to be no hidden or locked areas, beyond the annoying puzzle to get to this level. I believe I’ll check below next.

Salome

Of all the cantrips, this one sounds the most useful. I believe I will learn it, and ideally pass it on to others in the Order. It could be incredibly useful for certain problems of mechanical optimization.

As with the previous floor, I will store the more advanced texts in the library room I have cleared below. I don’t know what Salome was thinking, simply leaving such things lying around.

Hieronymus

Air Bonding Cantrip (Int)

Air is elastic and compressible. This cantrip allows the caster to attract nearby air and compress it into a small orb, then release it slowly or explosively. This can starve air from a sealed room, save air for a trip underwater, knock back a target, or propel a projectile.

The caster can only maintain a single orb of air at a time, and doing so makes it impossible to cast new cantrips, spells, or rituals, or maintain any existing effects that require major concentration. The normal application saves enough air to empty a cube five feet on a side, provide eight hours of breathing, force a target to save or be knocked down or back, or provide standard damage to a projectile. The cantrip can be cast and thrown at a target as a single action, but all other actions require the cantrip to be cast on one round and then used for other purposes on the next (e.g., one round to cast and load a firearm, then the next to fire it).

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may compress more air. For each -3 penalty, the caster empties an additional five-foot cube, which provides an extra eight hours of breath, or +1d6 damage (either from a projectile or if the target of a knockback impacts a wall).

(This cantrip is my answer to not wanting to allow gunpowder in my game, but to allow those that want guns to have a magic-powered equivalent.)

Search

A thorough search of the beds and tables turns up:

  • 39 cp, 173 sp, and 2 gp all of ancient minting, heavily tarnished, mostly crammed into corners under mattresses, but some fallen behind tables
  • A few objects of art carved of stone, mostly white stone and in shapes like birds and butterflies (possibly up to 200 sp for the lot if one could convince a collector of the provenance)
  • A thin, rune-carved stick of approximately a forearm-length in a delicate and slightly spiraling white wood that senses of magic (hidden deep in a mattress that had been cut open to hide it)
  • A castable scroll that had fallen behind a table where the order mages missed it, which seems to be a scroll of the Summoning ritual

Floor U5 (Air Summoning)

Entry

The top floor is completely open, with just corner pillars to hold up the roof. At nighttime, the party might have to shout down the mage lights again, because there aren’t really even walls: there’s a faint distortion in the air that seems to be the tower’s defensive field (and which had let neither bugs nor climbers in for a thousand years), but air flows freely and one can easily see city below.

A massive summoning circle is set into the middle of the floor, and ancient empty tables are haphazardly spread out and empty, save for scraps of leather, softwood, and fabric that might have once been gliders. The mage lights, if not shut off, are on the ceiling, mimicking stars.

This ritual circle makes it very easy to call up air elementals. The walls are permeable walls of force, which permit air to flow both ways and allow people to leave and attack from inside, but block travel from outside.

There is no roof access, though an enterprising climber or flyer could leave and climb to its flat top. There is nothing of note up there (save perhaps some nesting birds), and leaving makes it impossible to get back in without going back down to the bottom of the tower (hopefully there are still friends inside who can lower a rope).

Floor B1 (Cafeteria)

Entry

The first basement is even more humid than the entry floor. It appears to be the dining hall and kitchens. Everything organic and steel has turned to damp dust, and the party can make out the shadows of once-giant tables in the detritus on the floor. It may not have been large enough for everyone from the tower to eat here at once, but certainly in shifts. Side rooms were likely staff dining or meeting rooms, or maybe they had preferred seating for top students? The southeast room has some plumbing and holes in the floor, so may have been a large bathroom (which is convenient to meals but maybe not the most convenient for students on other floors).

Of the large kitchen, all that remains is a stone hearth and island with inset basins for cleaning, as well as shattered shards of pottery plates, mugs, and bowls in the dust off what must have once been cabinets. Searching through the remains, the party can find 75 sp worth of miscellaneous silverware, bent and tarnished. They don’t add up to sets and there’s not a lot of them, so likely someone looted the silver already (either during the flight, or one of the order mages) and this is all that went undiscovered.

In the Northeast dining room, someone managed to assemble a table from scraps and close the doors against the damp. A few decade+ old bags contain food that has long deteriorated and camping supplies that aren’t particular upgrades to the party’s own (and are also beginning to succumb to the damp). This seems to be where one of the order mages set up a command center. A couple of letters in a pack look to have been unsealed, read, and then refolded sufficiently to survive without significant water damage.

(Zacharias is the name of the former court mage of the PCs’ local Baron, who trained one of the wizard PCs and went missing recently. Lazarus and Judith were not previously known to the party, and are a quest hook. These letters likely need to be heavily edited to fit the context/hooks of any given campaign.)

Letters

Salome,

I appreciate the research you sent along regarding the water magics you’ve uncovered in the tower. It does sound like their conception of the uses of water are much closer to what we’d consider the more active uses of abjuration magic. It’s interesting that they saw it as a cleansing, scouring force rather than a source of sustenance. Perhaps they assigned the source of healing and life to the earth, which would track given their rather nonchalant use of necromancy: if you’re used to covering people with earth to heal them, it’s probably less inherently offputting to summon the dead forth from their graves.

Unfortunately, even though I’m now safely ensconced in nearby Heimbach, I do not believe that I can spare the time to help you research physically at the tower. I see a lot of potential in the baron’s second son, and hope to confirm that he has the gift and ease him into training early. As you well know, the children of the nobility can be difficult students if taken after they have a sense of their own importance. In fact, the town itself seems to be a confluence almost as interesting as the tower. We have fae foundlings taken in by the locals, motherless babes delivered to town by close-lipped warriors from the north, a golden-haired child that seems destined for greatness, twin scamps fostered from a storied line of nobles, and whatever secretive plans the old witch in the town has cooked up. I suspect in a decade or two, you may start hearing interesting things from this town.

Feel free to continue to send me correspondence as needed, and you’re, of course, welcome to stop by Heimbach if you’d like in-person counsel. If you have a current address for Lazarus, he could likely assist with the earth magics. I believe Judith retains her long practice of wintering in Grebenau, and her divinations would likely be of great use to you. The next time Magdalena passes through for a… visit… I’ll see if she has any insights. You would also do well to correspond with Hieronymus. He can receive mail via the Zedlitz, from whom he rents a tower. His research into transmutation may be relevant to correspondences between elements, and he’s a shrewd organizer of research.

Yours,

Zacharias

Salome,

Regardless of the fact that you have not yet encountered anything more than passive security in the tower, I must caution you in the strongest of terms not to enter the earth mages’ basement without significant assistance. From what you sent me, their conception of earth is not just a healing, nourishing force, but one of containment. I suspect it’s very likely that if there are any active threats remaining in that building, they will be locked away beneath the earth.

Not once in our association have you ever listened to my advice, but please listen now. I have set up a place in Overath, and am even now assembling a party to investigate the cursed city to the north. Come. Lend your evocations to our mission, and I will then lend you my own expertise and the might of my allies to investigate the tower.

With hopes,

Lazarus

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 2

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Floor U2 (Fire Dorms)

Second FloorEntry

The second floor is pitch black, with no mage lights turning on on entry save for very dim crystals around the walls, enough to see where to walk. This may be a safety precaution to prevent giving away one’s position from outside, as each wall section has four arrow loops to the outside, likely for defense of the tower. The loops seem to admit air but they haven’t been an entry for bugs. Those that detect magic can see the protective magic surrounding the tower also shielding the windows, which may account for that.

The rooms appear to be contained within a C walkway around the shell of the tower. There are six doors, three of which feature a keyhole (The door to the blue summoning circle and the doors to the eastmost room).

If there was any adornment of the walls accessible from here, it was all in paint rather than relief, and has long since faded to nothing. It is noticeably less humid here.

A party can split up to body-block the four loops closest to whatever they’re looking at and still use a candlelight, but they will need improvised curtains for all 28 loops. If the loops are not blocked, any light sources on this level at night will be visible lighting up the tower to those outside.

Each of the door plates is engraved with a five-by-five grid of the letters of Magespeech (i.e., whatever language your game uses for magic; mine uses a Greek alphabet but Latin-sounding words). The three doors without keyholes look like they once had some of the letters indicated in chalk, but Salome or Hieronymus’ writing has worn away in the damp over the years. Likewise, there’s some mild discoloration in the indicated letters such that they might have been frequently touched by the original inhabitants. There’s enough overlap in the remnants that a quick search can make the party pretty sure the same letters were marked on each door, but it’s possible some of the markings have faded completely (and it’s not certain what the circles were meant to indicate).

Door Plates

This puzzle is to press the letters of the password all at one time. Pressing single letters (once or trying to spell out a password) does nothing. Pressing the wrong combination heats up the plate enough to deal 1 fire damage to the person touching.

A        B        C        D        E

F        G        H         I        K

L        M       N        O        P

Q        R       S         T        U

X        Y        Z         |         –

The commonly-used password for the dorms is IGNIS (which Salome worked out and tried to mark). The other passwords on this and the next floor may have to be brute-forced by the players, unless you want to include clues in the students’ notes. Suggested passwords for other doors are:

  • incendium
  • incensio
  • incensor
  • ardor
  • flamma
  • flammula
  • flagrantia
  • inflammatio
  • lux
  • lumen
  • iubar

IGNIS

The door leads to a carefully regimented dorm room, that all three of the unkeyed doors seemed to enter from different directions. If the party pulls the door closed behind them, the mage lights come on inside (staying dark outside). The lights are in a regular grid about head height around the walls of the room.

This room looks very regimented, with the remains of the student beds each lofted above a chair and table for study beneath (and high enough up that they’re shaded from the mage lights for easier sleeping). Only a few of them have crashed down from their lofts over time: the closed exterior doors seem to have cut down on the humidity significantly, so the beds and furniture are in reasonable condition for furniture that’s been in a dry environment for centuries. These beds seem to have been stuffed with a fairly course padding that’s decayed mostly to powder.

Emptied scrollshelves line the walls, and above them the murals in here demonstrate students doing rituals around glowing orange-yellow orbs (the flame orbs upstairs). Two additional closed and key-locked doors (with uncircled rune panels) are across from each other to the north of the room (making a total of five doors in this floor that are locked in a different style than the one opened). Owing to the density of furniture in this room, it likely takes a full party up to an hour to ransack this room for treasure.

Flame Dorms Note

On the bookshelf next to the west door, a stack of folios and a note from Salome sit (they are pages Salome assembled into some semblance of order from what hadn’t decayed on the level). The folios include a primer on how to attune to fire, and some lower-level fire-based spells and rituals (see the suggested spell list, later, using the level 1-3 ones). They must be deciphered from the Ancient Imperial and Magespeech.

This tower was sadly not archived properly. It’s hard for me to tell which scrolls were taken as the wolf mages abandoned the tower, and which simply decayed into nothing. I have not yet found any logs of the final days here, and I am merely assuming that the tower was abandoned with some haste but never actually conquered. Perhaps the mages were given an ultimatum to leave quickly, or perhaps they simply evacuated as the city was falling rather than trying to weather a siege. From what I have seen of the kitchens, they likely relied on the city for supply, so could not have been trapped long, even with their power. It is likely there were few of them left here, anyway: while there are many beds, I cannot imagine that dozens of magi would have been left in school as the war was going against the Northern Empire.

What I have found on this level, I have collected here for the Order’s later use. It is not much, and much of what remained was too ruined to read. I have tried to bind what was meaningful into codexes, and am beginning to draw some interesting conclusions.

While the Order’s classification places the arts of evocation and conjuration as neighbors, the magi of old seem to have seen no practical difference between them. Particularly as the wolves of this tower seem focused on the summoning of elementals rather than beings of the fae realms, they saw the arts as merely steps in the manipulation of greater and greater energy. In particular, the first codex I’ve assembled was made from surviving text from several identical books for the apprentices. It is likely close to a complete copy of the introductory text of the fire mages, used to explain the art on the walls. It details a method to attune oneself to fire, which they conceived of as the mechanism of causing objects to release their energy to the world.

I believe following these steps would instill one with a cantrip of Fire, which could be used as a bridge to understanding of the more complex texts in these books. However, the writings imply that elemental specialization was very important to their understanding of the praxis. Likely, attempting to attune to a second element would fail, or might even make it harder to use all attuned elements. I intend to look into the arts of the other floors before choosing a focus.

I have not yet been able to open the other doors. The others on this floor have keys, and may have different code phrases than the dorm doors, as must the doors in the floor above. It took me some burnings to puzzle out that IGNIS must be the code for this door. Mentions in what scraps I’ve found lead me to believe that the others are likely commands in Magespeech, but I do not have the fortitude to try too many at this time.

I believe that the other rooms on this floor are practice summoning chambers and possibly the Magister’s room. Those above likely lead to the fabled Flumes: legend says that this tower could blast attackers with torrents of flame from above.

Even such magics could not save them against the greater physical and mystical might of the Southern Empire, it seems.

Salome

I have taken some of the more advanced texts Salome left and stored them below for the time being. I would take them with me when I leave, but I must travel light and may find other treasures to walk away with. Besides… I am not sure Leberecht, my apprentice, is ready for the temptation they might provide him.

Hieronymus

Fire Bonding Cantrip (Int)

Fire releases Energy. This cantrip allows the caster to cause a flammable object to burst into flame.

The normal application causes heat to burst from an object that the caster touches, sufficient to instantly ignite cloth, paper, kindling, extremely dry wood, or the like. An unwilling, animate target may make a saving throw to dodge out of the way or otherwise spoil the casting. Against such a target, the effect immediately deals 1d4 fire damage, and burns for an additional 1d4 on your action every round until the target takes an action to douse the flame (or all clothing is burned away). A target can only suffer from one casting of this cantrip at a time.

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may increase the intensity and/or range of the flame. For each -1 penalty, the caster may affect a subject five feet further away, simply gesturing at the intended target. For each -2 penalty, the effect can ignite more difficult materials, and the damage increases by a dice size (to a maximum penalty of -8, which deals 1d12 and can ignite green wood).

This effect cannot be maintained to generate heat or melt a target over subsequent rounds: it simply sets a fire or does not, based on the flammability of the target, and subsequent burning is based on the available fuel.

Search

Performing a thorough tossing of the dorm, the party can find:

  • 65 cp, 28 sp, and 3 gp in ancient vintage
  • Seven small ceramic pots that are full of dust but still have a faint whiff of aloe vera
  • Three non-magical white pearls of sufficient size to use for spell components
  • A small, non-magical decorative dragon made of red gold, probably worth 50 sp just from metal value alone; it’s designed to hug onto a rod or staff
  • A steel key with a red gem embedded in the head that detects faintly of magic and looks like it would fit the locks on this floor (deeply buried in someone’s mattress)

(The other doors need the key and a different password to open.)

Teacher’s Room

This larger private room contains a bed and shelves. In addition to 400 sp worth of miscellaneous art furnishings too heavy to move (worth up to three times that to a collector of ancient Imperial art), a two-gallon covered steel pot contains a flame-retardant dust that can be applied as a body-covering to provide the wearer Fire Resistance 2 for eight hours, or used to extinguish a fire it’s thrown at (up to a 5 foot square; deals 2d6 damage to a creature made of fire). Each such use requires approximately a double-handful of dust, so there are approximately 30 uses within the pot.

Summoning Rooms

These ornate summoning circles are embedded in the floor, and provide a bonus to attempting to summon beings from the plane of Fire.

Floor U3 (Fire Orbs)

Entry

The third floor is dryer than the lower floors, and has no immediate exterior windows. The mage lights are almost blindingly bright after leaving the dimness of the previous floor. Some of the paint on the walls has survived, and they seem to be abstract murals of warm colors in shapes reminiscent of flames.

The floor at the landing of the stairs has a couple large burlap sacks of years-old straw laid out in front of them. The straw has rotted down to almost nothing, but there’s faint evidence of a human-shaped imprint in the bags, as if someone used them to sleep, feet pointing towards the upstairs. (Salome filled them with straw and was using them as cushions to land on while trying to figure out the puzzle stairs. The straw is now over a decade old and largely rotted.)

The immediate door has an identical brass plate with no obvious markings as to which letters to touch, but it has been spiked open by an iron nail that shows only faint signs of rust. The entry room and hallway both feature sagging scroll shelves that appear to have been emptied rather than just deteriorating. The wear pattern indicates that some were vacant for centuries, while others might have been emptied relatively recently.

The two doors at the end of the hall feature brass letter plates with no obvious clues, and no spikes. Perhaps the previous order mages never got them open.

The next flight of stairs has the first seven steps divided into three sections each of alternating colored stone, with the eighth step a whiter stone than the normal steps, all in one piece. (See Trick Stairs, below.)

Flame Orb Rooms

Each wall of the tower has a small room that is large enough to contain an enormous orange glass orb before an open archway. The archway is protected by a plane of force, but this does not protect against fire- or heat-based attacks. Anyone that knows the Fire Bonding Cantrip can use it to activate an orb and use it to blast a line of fire up to 300 yards away from the tower (or far enough outside the city walls to give a very bad day to a besieging army). This ray can be tuned to do 3d6 fire damage per round to a single target (Reflex save to dodge out of the way) or 1d6 fire damage per round to a 20-foot radius (Reflex half). This takes some experimentation to get right and is very visible from the ground. The orbs can also be tuned to just produce a focused beam of light that can be used to communicate visually with targets far in the distance, particularly at night.

North Rooms

These rooms were used for communication with the rest of the Empire, and contain shelves of observations and communications that have mostly faded to illegibility. Weeks of study by someone who speaks Ancient Imperial and has a good sense of geography could uncover some details about troop movements and strongholds in the ancient Northern Empire that might give clues as to ruins and battlefields to the north.

Statue Room

This statue appears to be a very tall wicker man, and the room is full of strange thorny growths. The statue is very dry and easily ignited by magical fire damage of at least 1d4, at which point it begins roaring from within with flame that deals 2 fire damage per round to everyone in the room. If not on fire, at the end of each round everyone within the room is attacked by the thorny growths: +5 to hit, 1d6 damage, and the attacks are Magical and Puncturing.

Those meant to be in here would light the statue rather than suffer the thorns.

East Rooms

These rooms seem little used, as there weren’t many threats from or allies to the east. The table contains a few old faded texts describing interesting celestial phenomena and cool sunrises.

South Passage

These rooms seem to be the focus of the defense of the kingdom, and include a mostly-preserved war room and many shelves for documentation. As with the north rooms, weeks of study with Ancient Imperial and a good map or knowledge of geography could turn up some interesting information about the final days of the war with the old Southern Empire and potential locations of battlefields and ruins.

Trick Stairs

Detecting traps reveals no explicit traps. The stairs are the same stone as the tower, but painted with some kind of pigment that’s proven much more durable than whatever was on the walls.

There is a faint musical note when someone steps on any stair segment. It sounds trumpety, and comes from above. (If any of the PCs have musical training, they can identify that colors closer to red are deeper notes and those closer to violet are higher, essentially playing a musical scale from red to violet.) The sound doesn’t appear loud enough to be heard outside the tower, even in the dead of night.

If anyone steps on the white stair (or tries to jump over it) without hitting the notes in the correct order, a discordant note sounds accompanied by a strong (but not especially loud) rush of air, shoving them back (i.e., why Salome had the cushions; with them decayed, the falling character takes 10 feet of falling damage without some kind of check to land softly or allies checking to catch the falling PC).

To get up the stairs successfully, a climber must step on, in order, Red -> Orange -> Yellow -> Green -> Blue -> Indigo -> Violet -> White (this requires some backtracking). The rest of the stairs up don’t play notes.