by Nathan Taylor
© 1995 Alliance LARP, Inc.
A small earthquake exposed the roof of an ancient sunken tower in a local swamp (in Fenmarch along the Ash River). A group of local adventurers eventually discovered it and decided to explore. The small party found the tower to be empty of inhabitants. However, while rummaging around the first room, they disturbed a powerful necromantic item. The result was both the death of the poor fighter who touched it and the awakening of the tower's undead guardians. The party was caught by surprise and with the loss of their fighter, the battle was a losing one.
Fortunately, one of the group members survived and managed to escape. Though the amount of casualties was extremely high, the short foray had not been in vain, for the small thief Osco had managed to escape with a small journal he had found within. The companionless rogue was surprised however for when he returned to town, his companions had not resurrected. This puzzled and scared Osco, but after experiencing the tower first hand, he had reason to worry.
Later, after reading the journal, he confirmed his suspicions. The tower had been the home of a necromancer, and his friends were now probably zombies. Worse than that, according to the journal, the tower was also home a powerful necromantic magic item! The journal had the name "Accolon" (who, by the way, is the creator of the spell Cause Serious Wounds and its unintended reversal Cure Serious Wounds.)
Alas and alack, poor Osco was in dire straits. Alone he stood no chance against the undead abominations, and his companions were probably mindless drooling zombies at this point. The only solution left was to head to The Dragon's Flagon and look for help.
The Dragon's Flagon
A lone hobling enters the tavern and immediately obtains a drink from the bar. He then sits down and discreetly eyes all of the inhabitants. Eventually, he approaches the party. He will state that he has a task of great import for a small group. The small rogue will explain that about five hours ago he and his party discovered the home of a powerful necromantic item. While within they were set upon and defeated by its undead guardians. He was the only one to escape. He fears for his companions for it has been almost five hours and they have not resurrected yet. He is willing to offer the party what little cash he has if they will merely find his companions and rescue them. They are welcome to keep whatever they find in the tower.
He will tell the party that the tower had apparently just recently been exposed and that it stood about 5 feet above the ground.
If questioned about the necromantic item, Osco will state that he believes that it is a strange crystal that his group encountered in a small side room, right off the entrance. Valjar, the group's main fighter, tried to pick it up and died on the spot. As he touched it, there was a blinding flash of light and undead suddenly appeared and attacked.
From reading the diary, Osco knows some information that will be useful to the party, and he will tell them if they accept his offer. He knows that the structure is a tower, not a dungeon as he originally thought. It was the home to a powerful scholar who was researching a powerful magical item of necromantic nature. According to the journal, the tower contained a laboratory and a vault in addition to several other rooms. The journal told Osco no more for it came to its end there. However, the final page said, "continued in Log #3." The journal itself was labeled "Log #2," and was dated 476 ER. Judging from what he saw in the tower, Osco assumes the creation of the item was a success.
If the party agrees to help, Osco draws them a map to the tower.
Travel and The Tower
The trip to the tower is luckily uneventful. The trip takes less than an hour, and leads the party into a swamp alongside the Ash River. When they arrive at the location on the map, they see the tower.
The tower appears to be a featureless stone platform raised only about a foot off the ground. The players should remember that Oslo told them it was five feet off the ground. If the party notices this and inspects the tower, they may be able to tell that it is sinking into the muck. (If there is a dwarf in the party, it is clearly obvious to him/her.)
One corner of the platform has an open trapdoor, with a ladder leading down.
What the PCs see is actually the roof of the tower. The rest is submerged in the mire. The ladder leads down into the top room of the tower.
How this works OOG is that after going through the first room, the party will find a winding staircase. The players must walk "down" the staircase. For every three turns down the stairs, a panel will open to one of the other rooms.
The players must realize that they have only one hour and 45 minutes from the time they start until the tower is so submerged there is no way out. The marshal should emphasize this by saying from time to time "You feel the earth shake a bit" and "You feel like the tower is slipping a bit." If they run back up to the top level and check it, they will have their suspicions confirmed&emdash;the tower is indeed sinking! As the time runs out (like in the last 5 minutes) the marshal will have to make it very plain that if they don't get out now they will certainly all die. This time limit is independent of holds.
This room has walls of smooth obsidian. Several shelves line the walls. An closed doorway leads to an adjoining alcove. The room glows green.
This is the top room of the submerged tower. It was used by Accolon as a storage area for his most valued items and ritual components. The various items that withstood the passing of over a century still line the shelves. The alcove was where the wizard's most prized possession was kept -- his crystal!
When Osco's party searched this room, they looted most of the valuables, so even the most careful search won't reveal any treasure. In the corner of the room is a trap door. When the trapdoor is opened, a set of spiral stairs leads down. An eerie green glow rises up.
The small alcove cannot be entered, as it has a Ward around it. This spell was just recently cast. Behind the alcove, the party can see the Crystal (see below for more on the crystal).
When Valjar, the fighter of Osco's adventuring party, touched the crystal in this room he unknowingly reactivated it. This immediately sent a blast of necromantic energies through Valjar, and released a wave of chaos through the tower. The necromantic energy instantly sucked Valjar's spirit in to the crystal, and the surge of chaos reanimated all the dormant undead in the tower. The undead on the top floor killed the rest of the party except for Osco.
Down below, more undead awoke, including the healer who created the crystal, for he too was undead. In January of 477, he completed work on the crystal. At the completion of the final ritual, the crystal released a wave of chaos which turned the healer and his servant both into undead -- much to their surprise).
Upon awakening from dormancy a few hours ago, Accolon immediately set to work. First, he raised the slain party members with Create Undead spells, in order to add to the ranks of his undead minions. Next he protected his crystal by having Edward (his manservant) cast a Ward on its room.
The Crystal Chamber
This room is also made of smooth, featureless obsidian. In the center of the room is a pedestal on which lies a fairly large crystal orb. The orb is glowing very bright green. Around the pedestal is a small circle of runes (about 5 feet diameter).
The crystal in the center of the room is an unique magic item created by the necromancer of the tower to aid his undead. During its creation, the mage trapped the spirits of three humans within the crystal to help fuel its magic. The three spirits live in eternal agony and they constantly moan and wail in anguish. The crystal is powered by a direct channel to the plane of chaos. This power channel is provided by the unique runic circle which surrounds the pedestal. The runes cannot be erased or destroyed.
The circle cannot be duplicated as the means for its creation were invented by Accolon and he'll never tell.
Anyone stepping into the circle will receive the following spell based on party level (from the immensely powerful necromantic energies within):
1-2: Cause Serious Wounds
3-4: Cause Critical Wounds
5+: Cause Mortal Wounds
Reaching into the circle (say, to inscribe a new rune) will not produce this effect.
Anyone directly touching the crystal will get a Drain Life. Touching with an object will produce no response, but wearing gloves will not protect the person.
Any spells cast at the object will Reflect Magic.
It is not harmed by any spells or normal weapons.
To destroy the item, you must first destroy the circle by inscribing a new rune onto the floor. This will allow the crystal to shatter. Each good intact piece of the shattered crystal that remains is worth one gold piece. There should be one good intact piece available for each level of the party (this is the bonus).
There is a set of spiral stairs leading down. The party should enter the stairway and walk around in circles for a while. The NPCs will close off the entrance and open another one after a while to represent the next level. The players should be told that the stairs continue down so that they could skip a level and go to the next level if they choose, or climb back up to check out another level.
In the center of the room, a number of undead guards await any intruders. Their job is to destroy any intruders and stop them at all costs from continuing to the lower level. They will not leave the tower, and once no outsiders remain, they will return to the center of the room.
This room is also constructed of featureless obsidian. Lab tables covered with all manner of strange apparatus line the walls. The entire room is filled with a faint green light, originating from the ceiling above. There are components in here as well as some chalk.
A solitary undead is dusting and cleaning. This is Edward the Manservant. He is an intelligent mage who has been turned into a zombie by the crystal's activation. He has the Ward key (Of course, just because they get into the Warded area doesn't mean they can get past the runes on the floor).
He will talk to the party first and pretend to be completely harmless ("Oh, I'm just a manservant, no one special"). He will attack when he gets a chance. He's bottled so he doesn't really worry too much about dying; best to take out as many as possible before they can get to the master, though.
There is also a group of 5 zombies which match the description of Oslo's party. They are not scaled for party level, they are just zombies! (That's all you can make with a Create Undead spell!) Any armor, weapons or other similar treasure from the treasure bag will be on them. Edward is trying to get them to help clean but they're unintellegent and are of no help at all. They will attack when Edward tells them to.
Like the others, this room is made of featureless obsidian. This room looks undisturbed. This room glows green but it is brighter than the previous one.
On one of the lab tables is a book labeled Lab Log #3. The book sits open to a page which reads as follows:
I have finished gathering the components, and am getting ready to complete the final ritual. Despite, the earlier flaw, the other rituals seem to have been successful. I still have not determined the exact nature of the flaw, but I have gone too far to turn back now. If the crystal is unstable, the Rune of Tyric will solve that problem but cause yet another one for me. My slight feeling of apprehension over the flaw is far overshadowed by my excitement and anticipation. I hear Edward now, so all must be ready for the final ritual. I will continue my writing as soon as I am finished as I am eager to record observations of the finished Crystal
The journal ends here in mid-page with no following entries.
There is a pressure trap on the floor under the rug that releases a Sleep gas poison (5 foot radius). A trigger trap along the floor sets off a fire trap (5 foot radius). The fire trap will destroy fragile items such as scrolls, potions, papers, glass items, and other nonmetal items.
The vault area holds most of the treasure for the module but of course it's all well guarded by a trap. The room is also locked with a regular NERO lock. There is a "safe" against one wall which has many drawers and compartments.
The party might have to leave the thief here while they check out other areas because time is of the essense! There is an explosive trap on the vault that will destroy everything except unshatterable items.
Here is where Accolon waits. He has four other undead thingies with him scaled for level. He will offer the party gold and other bribes to leave him (he only wants to get them calm and unprepared before he attacks). And eventually, attack he will.
However, what the party is not aware of is that Accolon has been greatly weakened by his transformation and is much less powerful than he should be. At lower levels, he will only be able to cast low level spells.
In this room (preferably in a wastebasket) is some paper with some notes with doodles, scribbles and comments, including:
Must make some more special chalk for runeweaving
Tell Edward to get more bodies
Publish findings? Royal Academy?
The page will also have a very obvious rune on it that the players will have to inscribe using the special chalk also found in the room.