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.

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