Updated: Aug 15, 2020
one hex = 24 miles
Of the locations that have been explored during my long tenure as a game master, Ormolu and the Marches have seen the most play. This map assumes true north at the top of the page. To the South is Eh'Muhruk Muht (the Great Cloud Rift), and beyond: the Six Kingdoms of the Tebesh Plateau. To the east (where the sun sets) lies the Witchocracy of Mirạyhr; the Kingdom of Greymoor and the Duchy of Stonehold. North is mostly unknown: mountains, vales and forests, all strung with hjolk-trull (elven) ruins. In the west, the Marches transition to the Horth Gar (a terrible place, if you ask regulars from my high school games) and finally become Crypt Garden and the Coasts of Gath, where "the Isles" of Greenwick still brood over the sunken Gringling empire at Jôrgill Deep.
In the early days of the campaign, Ormolu had another name, and the cities and towns bore Greek-sounding monikers. This shifted in the 90's after my horizons had broadened by living in Asia and learning Korean. I also began preliminary work on a pair of novels that repurposed what they could from my campaign maps, ruthlessly excising all things D&D while advancing the timeline to a "chemiostatic" technological age.
The novels were set primarily in the Duchy of Stonehold, a location I'd never previously fleshed out. This allowed me to start with a fresh slate while still leaning on the lore of places like the Witchocracy. For the novel, I pulled in maps, languages and races----especially the Gringling Writers and Eaters of Time.
You can gloss these details in my first campaign-related post.
You can even see my method for VERY quickly throwing together a dungeon----when players turn left instead of right----by looking here at Palace Vulre.
Note that Palace Vulre, while usable in a bare bones way, is meant more to showcase HOW I assemble brief notes for a side mission when I only have a week to prepare and isn't intended as a polished "published" module. Still, you can see how, by the roll of dice, which indicated a ruin, the resulting discovery of the hjolk-trull palace helped flesh out the world----for I then marked Palace's location on the main map. Many locations have been added in like fashion. Thus the known world expands THROUGH the actions of players.
That's what this blog post is really about. I want to tease a bit how you can cobble together your own world while still relying on outside materials and on the players themselves.
The map above was drawn at the tail end of the 80's and evolved to its current form in the first years of the 90's. Recently, I added a sophomoric but useful color-treatment that clarifies various regions.
As you can see, Ormolu (like Greyhawk City) sits very near the center of the map, along with the City State of Sandren, and is therefore an ideal location for beginning exploration.
If you look closely at the map of Ormolu you'll pick out Floshin Manor, whose name I never bothered to change after settling on Mike Schley's wonderful map to serve as the table-top set piece. It's taken from the Forgotten Realms, of course, and completely re-contextualized. Because the players had turned left again, leaving me with only a week or two to prepare, I grabbed the Floshin map and quickly set about jotting down a new key.
Re-keying a map from another adventure can often provide a better and more personalized method of using a store bought module. The time you'd take to read a module and convert it is instead spent making a bullet list of rooms, treasures and monster names. And when you go to run the thing, you are infinitely more familiar with the material than you would be if you did it a different way.
In this fashion, the World of Adummim has collected shadows from other settings, traces of names or ideas, that I bent to my own purposes while I worked on bigger set pieces: like Geir Loe Cyncrull or The Night Wolf Inn. I have no intention of selling my campaign setting so the traces of other milieus that riddle my game world are far from embarrassments. They are bits of color scattered from a sun catcher hung over the world----bits of color that I unite by recasting them within my world's framework.
Certainly magic, a healthy dose of strange technology, and a vaguely evolved hodgepodge of societal norms help bond the menagerie of influences together. And the Night Wolf Inn is admittedly a key element in doing so. If you've purchased any of my adventures you've seen reference to chemiostatic swords for instance and stranger objects like the velvet gun. So, this is NOT standard European feudalism by any stretch. It's far closer to the Victorian era than that of the Crusades, for example, but contains recognizable elements of both. There is a dash of Sword and Sorcery as well.
To try and nail it down, the World of Adummim, I think, has an Old West feel----albeit heavily disguised by notions of kings, walled cities and dragons. I say Old West because perspective is everything. The title "sheriff" is really only as good as the strength to back it. As such, there is a falseness to titles; a sense of continental bickering that casts doubt on the legitimacy of each vying country and their arbitrary hierarchies. Laws vary wildly from place to place and seem isolated to bastions separated by geographic features.
If you compare the map above with the others, you can see scale of the zoom is accurate enough for play at the table but not perfectly precise.
Sanctuary sits at the foot of a mountain called Geir Loe, protected by Silver Pool and the Autumn Wall. Each fall, humanoids and giants assail the wall (and city if they can reach it) in what seems to be ritualized warfare----something linked deeply to their cults and traditions. The Southern Watch Tower was abandoned decades ago because of repeated razings. Only when the players were tricked into purchasing it (and spending plenty of treasure) was it once again restored and put into use. This setting therefore offers a very "frontier" kind of feel...not dissimilar to the Keep on the Borderlands.
One of my players had a character named Ruby Stone, who became a dancer and fire breather at an upscale establishment in town. The player even created a flyer for the show, wherein you can sense a trace of that Old West feel.
Jacobugoth, where Ruby met her end. 1sq = 5'
Ever since, the Buxom Moon has remained a fixture for the players, even after the campaign moved 20 years into the future and Ruby Stone had long died at Jacobugoth in the Marches on the obsidian axe of Etalnoch, the Ghnall King.
So the Kingdom of Ormolu is the place where it all started and Sanctuary became home base, with player choices helping flesh out the establishments and NPCs.
I'll now dive into the setting a little bit for the sake of showcasing both the world and what sort of premise I used to kick off my campaign in 2014:
The City of Sanctuary rests at the southern edge of Ormolu. Pale domes and spires throng with bird shapes.
The city stands on rocky outcrops at the intersection of three different terrain types. To the west rise the mountains, where the ruins of a mining town called Copper Grove slowly fall apart. To the north and east the bronze leaf trees spread their enormous shadows over meadows and lakes. To the South and west the vast expanse of the March land opens up: an undulant expanse of wind-tossed grass and wild flowers.
Sanctuary is an ancient town, built of cut white marble----the same marble the hjolk-trull used long ago to construct places like Esma. Architecture consists of tall fluted spires and beautiful white domes that throng with birds. Down in the avenues, walls and statues are trellised with flowering vines and girdled by fabulous rose bushes. The chants from God Town are piped out into the city and you can hear the Song of the Storm Angels almost anywhere you go. Due to weather off the Marches, wind chimes are popular. In the evening, chemiostatic lights flicker in the alleys and gas lamps gurgle on the white porches of the gentry. Machinery begins churning in the early morning and the daily newspaper arrives shortly thereafter, perhaps with a cup of Loring Tea.
This is a city of surface-piety. Decadence is thoughtfully sequestered. Backroom diamond traders, high price courtesans, secret baths, and drug and gambling dens all exercise discretion. With money, the doors to these hidden bastions of opulence and decadence swing open. But on the surface, in the prim townhouses of Roseflame, with the melliflulence of the Storm Angels drizzling from the air, that world seems a distant possibility.
The City Map for Sanctuary is another hijacked resource. I repurposed and lifted (from Unrest's city of Bhimra) the map which I then modified for personal use at the table.
My version offers players a light key:
Lotus Towers: Elite District
Roseflame: Upper Class Homes
Bronze Leaf: Middle Class Homes
Lake District: Middle Class Homes
Winter Court: Working Class Homes
The Hills: Slums
Tempesthaven: Temple District (informally referred to as God Town)
Farms: the only ones around
Steel Watch Keep: Home of local hero Josef Bellwether (LG paladin lvl 4) and a sage named Barabbas (who survived the destruction of the city some decades ago but has sadly recently died of old age)----the party is now dependent on their bard for lore! Prior to his death, Barabbas specialized in knowledge of Humanoids and giant-kind, with minor interests in dweomercraeft, hjolk-trull, & the elemental planes.
The Shaded Trail: Mercenary and Overland Guide Guild
White Rose Palace: Home of the Bronze Governor (currently Elsbeth Wyrmilver who occupies White Rose Palace)
House of Warning: Temple to Demmindain & residence of the High Channeler Katri Sanden (CN cleric lvl 12) who oversees the temple with her storm angels.
Additional Points of Interest:
A) Red Dragon Pub (upscale)
B) Buxom Moon Tavern & Inn (old but dignified)
C) The Bone Perfumery (where the dead are turned into perfumes or incense so they can be released into the sky or worn/inhaled.)
D) Wicked Haunt Tavern (which has a particularly dark history with the party)
E) Skysweep Abbey: Beautiful asylum and home of Emma Featherstone, the Skyswept Abbess (CG cleric lvl 9).
F) House Geir Loe: (named for the mountain over Sanctuary & former base of Operations for the "Men of Autumn" a local adventuring company with 7 members of 2nd - 4th level that once caused the party trouble)
G) Jackal & Iguana Expedition Outfitters
H) Marchview Bank
I) Silverpool Traders (gems and furs)
J) Crimson Manticore Leatherworks
K) Sanctuary Surveyors and titles
As you can see, scale is extremely incorrect at the zoomed-in city level (compared to the blue regional map above) but it has served well enough.
An arrow's flight beyond North Gate (which actually runs toward South Hollow) and on the north side of the road, sits the Night Wolf Inn.
So: major town, PC's home base (the Southern Watch Tower) and the Night Wolf Inn all in reasonable proximity. This hub structure has proved very convenient.
I try to keep good track of my NPCs with a spreadsheet so that as they pop up, I don't forget them. Taken from my spreadsheets, here you can see the kind of note-taking I'm talking about.
These are a few of the more prominent/regular 130+ NPCs in the campaign (limited only to those in the vicinity of Sanctuary). Those hi-lighted in gray are deceased.
Being able to sort the sheet by name/title/location etc. is incredibly useful once the list becomes long (as it will with an ongoing campaign). As you can see, Ridley Void passed ownership of the Buxom Moon to his daughter, Nikki.
These are the things that ground your setting over the long haul. Details known to some of your oldest players will float in one ear and out the other of your new players...but that's OK. It's your method of record keeping and your habits of doing so that will quickly cause them to realize there's a lot going on in your game world and that they should make no assumptions their characters are above (or immune to) the daily machinations of principalities, secret orders and so on.
Currently, the Witchocracy is in control of Ormolu primarily because the player characters did nothing to stop them. You can see that Elsbeth Wyrmsilver is a high level witch. While the players were doing other things they witnessed and heard of many clandestine meetings between the Wichocracy's agents within Ormolu. But the party had bigger fish to roast. The witches' takeover of the crown (note that the king is dead and his queen now holds sway) is not a punishment levied on the Players or their characters, but merely a "development". It is a thing that came to be while they were busy with other problems. Had they changed direction, I would have certainly provided a campaign experience more heavily focused on the Witchocracy and its various intrigues.
Should the party ever return to Ormolu (for they are trapped on the Inner Planes at the moment) and decide to tackle the infiltrated government, my preparations will have to shift in that regard and copious notes will be generated for those NPCs, secret hideouts and machinations.
This is how your world is made. Not by carefully authoring everything before hand, but through your own choices (as you impersonate NPCs that react to player choices and devise counter measures). Such work, between game sessions, makes the difference between a humdrum string of dungeons and a living, breathing setting for players to explore.
To kick off my campaign in 2014 I devised a hook that would quickly draw the player characters into the goings on and intrigues of the town of Sanctuary. I was fortunate in that the Players did not turn left...though what with it being the very beginning of the campaign, they were much easier to guide back then.
What follows is a portion of the very first adventure I cooked up to reboot my RPG hobby. This adventure was initially run using Pathfinder. When I decided to kill pathfinder, I ran an AD&D intro session (The Silver Temple of Transcendent Flame) and then rebooted the campaign at the Great House of Pathak-Beil, an Emir in the Sultanate of Bablemum. It would be nearly a year or more before the party returned north and found the Southern Watch Tower again, at the center of strange happenings.
When they did, however, the tower once again became the focal point of their activities, which spawned the game prop known as the black book.
Since the Silver Temple of Transcendent Flame was a mid-level introduction to AD&D's combat systems, I'll save it for later (assuming anyone cares to see it). Below then, is the very first adventure I put together with the intent of reeling my pals in to my table and keeping them there. It worked.
I offer the adventure to you unedited, unpolished, and basically in the exact rough first-draft form I typed it up in. It was never intended to be shared, but here you go. Hopefully it can illustrate how I blend setting with dungeon material to underscore and support the world building.
Cheers, and Happy Gaming.
The Set up:
Each autumn, the City State of Sanctuary is besieged by monstrosities and humanoid cultists. The almanac predicts that this year (442) is going to be a bad one.
Mathias Ulcroft is Sanctuary's "Warden in Chief" and duly charged by the Exalted Bronze Governor (Andrew Quartermourning) with the protection of the City.
Mathias Ulcroft, by law, cannot be held accountable for serious losses of life or property provided that the Southern Watch Tower "is garrisoned and sufficiently provisioned against assault." A legal loophole underscores that the OWNER of the Southern Watch Tower is obligated to defend Sanctuary in good conscience or face trial before the Magistrates on the charge of reckless endangerment of the populous.
As such Mathias Ulcroft is eager to sell the property to anyone foolish enough to sign the deed before the autumn raids begin. He believes he will be able to escape culpability for what is predicted to be the worst year on record.
Previous years have seen almost no raids at all (a trend also predicted by the Old Frontier Almanac) and Mathias has been lax. Rather than pay for upkeep and soldiers' pay, he let the Southern Watch Tower stand empty (since its previous occupants -- a group of four famous adventurers) vanished in the Marches. The tower has now been abandoned for five years and is in serious disrepair.
Mathias Ulcroft's Actions:
Mathias (should the players manage to speak to him personally) tells a tale of hard luck. He says he's fallen on hard times and that he is planning to move soon, leave Ormolu behind and travel south to the Six Kingdoms where his brother will take him in. He says that getting rid of the property is the last thing he needs to do before the journey and therefore he's willing to part with it for little more than the fees associated with the paperwork. This is a lie: Mathias will not be leaving his post or the city of sanctuary.
What the Players can Learn. Each player who spends a day asking may roll the rumor die one time. Each day allows 1 roll. Duplicate rolls indicate nothing new is learned.
The Rumor Mill = 1d12
That Tower used to be inhabited by an adventuring group.
Group lived in that tower used to call themselves the Endless White in the Dark. Whatever the hells that means.
People lived there, ain't been seen or heard from in close to five years, I reckon.
Was four people lived in that tower, I remember clear. Two men and two women.
I know it was a few people lived there. One of 'ems names was Asenath Whitcomb.
I know it was a few people lived there. One of 'ems names was Alabaster Grim.
I know it was a few people lived there. One of 'ems names was Pritchard Cordy.
I know it was a few people lived there. One of 'ems names was Chalice Shade.
Group lived in that Tower was reclusive and even though ever'body said they had titles like defenders of the city or whatever, I don't think anyone really considered them heroes, if you know what I mean. I mean something was a little off.
That tower's been shunned since the group o' four that lived in it disappeared without a trace.
One o' them folks used to live there came around sometimes liquored up, talkin' bout a place called Jacobugoth. You ever heard such a word? Anyway, they said it sat out in the Marches; some shadowy place where the Ghnall lived...where they raided from. But the mister, I can't remember his name, he never did say where it was.
People used to say that the group lived out in the tower were into the occult -- got themselves a pair o' lesser artifacts and probably by no good means...
A printed flyer:
Deed of Land:
One small tower included. 100 acres for 200 fauns!
Tax exempt status for three years. Will require some repair.
Ask for Isham Wade at the Sanctuary Surveyor & Title Office.
1753, Lilac Court
( Isham Wade is an ancient Ilek man with wispy gray hair, eyes like orange jello and sagging liver spotted flesh. He has 2 hp and an AC of 4. )
Note, if the players buy the Tower, it will cost them 25,000 fauns to have masons and carpenters come in, clean it and restore it to a livable state (AFTER IT HAS BEEN CLEANED OF MONSTERS).
It is likely the player's might see a copy of the almanac lying around somewhere in town:
Excerpt: "By wise cosmological inference, this year four hundred forty-two war count, will show to be of more (and somewhat grave) concern than previous seasons come autumn time and the city would do well to increase its vigil upon the southward March land. Lest in anywise they be caught unprepared, strong men are advised to stock larder and keep a goodly spear at the ready. For single women, a recommendation of autumn travel abroad is in keeping with prudent regard for protecting our flowers of humanity."
Irony intended of course. If the party is tricked into buying, clearing and inhabiting the Southern Watch Tower, their actions will generate gossip in Sanctuary. The responsibility of owning the Watch Tower is well known and the renown of the players will instantly rise, attracting potential "followers" such as:
Fighter lvl 1
Cameron Thatcher will approach the party first, catching up to them as they near the Southern Watch Tower. He insists on joining the party and tells the group that it's all over town that they purchased the tower from Mathias. He feels strongly that it's the sign he's been waiting for: to become a man and take care of his family. He is 17, 180 lbs, and has a boyish charming smile. He is six feet tall and well built. He wears badly scuffed leather armor and carries a short sword and a buckler. There is a cooking pot on his head which he has attempted to hammer into a helmet. It looks ridiculous.
Cameron (You can call me Cam) is soft spoken and easy going. He says he wants to seek his fortune, but will admit that his mother is single and they are poor. He hopes to buy her a house some day if being an adventurer doesn't kill him. Cameron will become the follower of the player with the highest WIS score.
Cameron is loyal to a fault and if treated well, he will never betray the party.
If Cameron joins the group, his mother will come looking for him, knocking on the tower gate and scolding the group for their irresponsibility in allowing her only son -- a simple boy -- to risk his life so that they can get rich and famous. His mother's name is Beatrice. She wears a patched and frayed dress and says other's people's laundry is her job.
The trip from Sanctuary's March Gate to the Southern Watch Tower will take about half a day on foot for those with a move of 30. Due to topography, the city is only barely visible from the tower's roof. Its stained glass beacon, however, can be seen from the city walls. [note the tower was almost completely destroyed later and had to be rebuilt by the players later characters]
It is a downhill journey to the tower and an uphill climb back to Sanctuary. Thankfully the grade is gentle and though tiring, the return trip takes only an extra 10 minutes to complete.
The trip is mostly scenic, with rocky outcrops and vistas of the grassland. There are ditches along the road filled with swampy water and autumn leaves.
The weather is beautiful, clear, blue and 70 degrees with a cool wind to make short sleeves just a bit uncomfortable.
If the Party Wanders around the Tower environs or scouts the 100 acre property, use the charts below for encounters. (There will be NO RANDOM ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN THE CITY AND THE WATCHTOWER)
Each hour of travel in the border Marches presents a 12% chance of a random encounter.
Each hour spent resting or camping without a fire, lights, or noise presents a 1% chance of random encounter.
Each hour spent resting with a fire but no noise presents a 15% chance of random encounter.
Each hour wherein the party was loud, showed lights, or generally behaved foolishly presents a 30% chance of random encounter.
Encounters in bold italics are nocturnal only. If a nocturnal encounter is rolled during daylight hours it means no encounter.
There are many artesian springs in the Marches and patches of boggy ground are common. Quicksand and tar pits are dangerous natural phenomena. When thunderstorms happen there is a constant threat of tornadoes.
Random Encounters 00 Hill Giant 99 Ettin 97-98 Gibbering Mouther 95-96 Leucrotta 93-94 Troll 91-92 Manticore 90-91 Crypt Thing 88-89 Otyugh 86-87 Giant Dragonfly 84-85 Gloomwing 82-83 Owlbear 80-81 Barghest 77-79 Ankheg 74-76 Gelatinous Cube 71-73 Lost Traveler* 68-70 Rust Monster 65-67 Giant Scorpion 62-64 Shadow 59-61 Centipede, Giant Whiptail 56-58 Howler 53-55 Wight** 50-52 Mobat 47-49 Demon Quasit 44-46 Giant Ant 41-43 Morlock 38-40 Blindheim 35-37 Skeleton Champion 32-34 Vargouille 29-31 Dead Traveler*** 26-28 Turtle, Snapping 23-25 Skeleton 20-24 Dire Rat 19 Giant Centipede 18 Stirge 16-17 Artesian Spring (potable) 14-15 Giant Tick 12-13 Bone Pile w/ pennant**** 10-11 Gnoll 08-09 Goblin Dog 06-07 Bone Pile w/ pennant**** 04-05 Snake, Venemous 02-03 Ghoul 01 Giant Amoeba
[Yes. this is the actual random encounter table for the 1st level group. It is my opinion that you must train players to run away at an early stage. If you show them that the world was not created as a framework for their egos, you are on your way to an authentic setting where leveling offers real survival advantages.]
* Lost Traveler: A random NPC of low level is lost in the Marches and desperate for help. They cannot find their way back to Sanctuary without a guide. Left to their own recourse (even with a map) they will die. The NPC will plead with the party to lead them back to town. If the party agrees, the NPC is a lifelong informant and ally. If the party abandons the NPC, they will hear of this missing person when in town and the watch will question the party as to whether they saw the person. The party will not be charged with a crime but the rumor of their unheroic act will circulate. The NPC's body will be found and a funeral will take place.
**Wight: During daylight hours and from a distance, this ravenous undead will appear to be a lost traveler.
***Dead Traveler: A body is found with bite or (50%) weapon wounds. Weapon wounds indicate an intelligent attacker. Bite marks mean that some treasure has been left behind. 1d30 x 10 red faun value.
****Bone Pile w/ pennant: A neck high pile of skulls and bones, mostly human. A pole rises from the middle of the pile with a tattered orange and teal banner. The symbol on it is of a spiked hammer. This is the banner of Etalnoch, the Ghnall Barbarian King and a warning to all not to trespass in the Marches.
Exterior & First Story
Things to Remember
The Tower used to be inhabited by an adventuring group.
The group was known as the Endless White in the Dark.
The group has not been seen or heard from in five years.
The group consisted of four people.
Asenath Whitcomb : Holomorph (magic-user) lvl 5
Alabaster Grim : Cleric lvl 4
Pritchard Cordy : Paladin lvl 6
Chalice Shade : Bard lvl 5
The group was reclusive and, though they defended the city, they were not considered heroes.
What Happened Here:
Pritchard led his group with his boots of plane walking, hoping to track down an evil cult they had been hunting across the March.
Pritchard had a simultaneous relationship with both women in the group which undermined his own leadership and made his confidence falter. He blamed his appetites for the group's deteriorating camaraderie and addressed it openly, admitting his secret trysts.
The women, upon finding out, began to quarrel and Alabaster Grim, who was smitten with Chalice Shade flew into a rage. He defended her from Asenath's assault and when Pritchard stepped in, Alabaster killed Asenath in retribution for the pain Pritchard had caused them all, then cursed Asenath with undeath.
Following this, Alabaster and Chalice fled the tower and Pritchard chased them into the Marches where they were soon ambushed by the cultists and dragged off to an abysmal lair (Jacobugoth) where all three were tortured and sacrificed to Old Gods.
Exterior & First Story of the Ruined Tower
1. The trail is thick with wild grass, stony and uneven. No one has been this way in some time. The road runs into a gully from the north, passing the tower on the western side. It then wraps around the tower's southern face before leading up to the approach stairs. On inspection any of the following can be observed:
The tower is round and only slightly taller than its diameter. Roughly 80 feet. Crows mock you from the battlements.
Arrow loops pierce the walls, beginning some twenty feet up from road level. There are two stories worth of arrow loops.
The moat is shallow and weedy. Brackish water has gathered into three pools at the deepest parts.
The land slopes downhill to the south, west, and east. All of these directions show windswept grassland as far as the eye can see. Occasional boulders and outcrops break the vista, but it remains a lonely and powerful sight.
SOUNDS: crows and other songbirds; wind; leaves; lapping water.
SMELLS: stagnant water; rotting leaves and wood
2. The Stairs from the trail are steep. They rise twenty feet: the same distance they travel. At the top is a stone platform with a walled north face (12' high). An arched window frame looks out at the Marches.
A wild sapling hugs the platform.
It is a 20 foot drop to the ground off the east side.
It is nearly a 30 foot drop to the north.
3. A Secret Door is hidden at ground level below the window frame. It can only be opened from the inside and due to grass and ivy even then requires considerable strength. This is a sally port from area 29 in the dungeon.
4. The Drawbridge connects the tower gate to the approach. It is a full 35 feet from the old wooden planks into the dark water. The wood complains underfoot. Graffiti marks the boards with bright, unwholesome colors, conjuring strange fears to your mind. There is a 5% chance per person per crossing (or per round of combat) that something will go wrong; equal chances for:
1. Player falls into the moat. Take 1d4 dmg
2. Player's leg goes through the drawbridge. Take 1d3 dmg.
3. Player pitches off drawbridge but catches self on edge.
4. The entire drawbridge collapses, sending all players on it into the moat. Each takes 1d4 dmg.
5. Under the Drawbridge is a brackish pool edged with cattails and thick mud. The pool is cold and deep (10 feet). It is also home to a monstrous snapping turtle with a shell 6 feet across. This black-green armored horror will attack any player that falls or ventures into the pool. The turtle has no treasure.
6. The Western Pool is roughly 12 feet at its deepest. There is a large blue heron here perched in the scrub above the water. From the western banks, players can clearly see the enormous graffiti painted on the side of the tower: a crude but unnerving depiction of an open eye without pupil or iris, solid white and rimmed with nodule-growths. Any player seeing this symbol must make a saving throw or become unhinged and suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls for the next 8 hours.
7. The Double Doors of the Tower Gate are broken and lean inward on their hinges. This vast common room is 35 feet above the moat and 20 feet above the level of the trail. Arrow loops look out in all directions. Hinges suggest they were once covered by fine glass windows but these have been torn off. Shards of dirty glass litter the floor. The ceiling is 20 feet overhead and supported with iron-bound beams. A wrought iron chandelier covered with the stumps of a hundred or more candles hangs in the middle of the room. To the north, a single iron-bound door of oak leads out. You can see vague areas of interest lurking in the shadows of this large room.
a. SOUNDS: wind whining in the arrow loops; creaking beams; scratching and chewing noises.
b. SMELLS: damp wood and stone, mildew mixed with the cold wind coming in.
8. A Large Pile of Debris rises some three feet. It consists of bricks, bones, eggshells, dried feces and hair. A giant centipede will slither forth if the pile is disturbed. It is a dark iridescent brown color with a flame-orange belly and glossy black legs. Its poison is particularly virulent: Save each round for 1d8 rounds or take 1d3 Con damage; cure = 1 save attempted each round. There is nothing of value in the pile of debris. Lost Con returns at a rate of 1 per day.
9. The Well drops into darkness. Its stones are cool and slick with both condensation and moss. It is 70 feet to the surface of the dungeon pool below and a fall, jump or dive will inflict 2d6 of nonlethal damage. A badly weathered rope tied to a bucket sits next to the well. The rope is wrapped around a stone knob on the well's exterior but there is no wooden support or windlass. It appears that the bucket was simply hauled up by hand. The rope will not support weight in excess of 50 lbs. If anyone listens at the well they will hear a frightening crooning sound which will not last long...low wind will quickly replace it as the only discernible noise within the well -- save for the distant splash if an object is tossed in. The crooning is the voice of the Accuser Devil that inhabits the tower. It is invisible and will neither reveal itself nor attack at this point but will continue to assess the party's strength and wait for an opportunity.
10. Mounds of Dirt Almost Obscure a Wooden Chest that sits against the south curve of the tower wall. Its lock is rusted shut. The chest's hinges can be melted off with acid or it can be broken open with force. Breaking the chest will crack the potion of remove disease (lvl 20), spilling and spoiling it. The potion is white and creamy like pearlescent nail polish. It can be used as a light source, illuminating a five foot radius until it is drunk. In addition to the potion, the chest contains a roll of 40 blue jabbers bundled with a rubber band, some moldy clothes (with the name Pritchard Cordy sewn in) and bottle of perfume (worth 20 fauns).
11. An Enormous Fireplace hulks against the western wall of the room. If the fireplace is approached, four giant ticks will scramble out of the chimney seeking blood. These brown shiny vermin make loathsome gasping sounds as they scuttle aggressively toward their prey. One is cadaverous gray and swollen with blood (AC 11; hp 16) If killed this disgusting bloated tick will pop, spraying blood in a 5' radius. Anyone adjacent to it must save or contract the shakes.
12. Five Chests stacked in the northwest corner of the room. Four of them are locked. One is broken open but appears chemically burnt and partially melted. The broken chest contains nothing but webs.
Chest One: (locked) contains a breastplate and a stiff and cracked leather harness.
Chest Two: (locked) contains 50 common arrows
Chest Three: (locked) contains six bottles of dusty, high quality brandy (20 fauns each)
Chest Four: (locked) contains a morningstar, shortbow, shortsword & two traveling cloaks
13. An Enormous Wooden Door, Clad in Studded Iron bars the way to the second story. Graffiti done in thick white paint covers the door. It is the same symbol as on the exterior of the tower. See area #6. Any player looking at the door must make the same check with the same consequences. Note that this effect will stack up to six times (which is the power number of Mastak), compounding the curse each time a player looks at the mark.
The door's keyhole has been sealed with red wax. A similar seal with a crude signet-like stamp covers the seam over the lockplate. If the wax is cleared, the lock can be picked. If the door is opened, a crooning whisper will rise from the well (area #9) that is unintelligible and sounds remarkably like a sick infant.
The space north of the door is cold and dim, with only the light of a single arrow loop streaming down over a dark winged statue of an angel with its head broken off. The statue is not large, not quite 5 feet tall. There is enough room behind it to man the loop and look north, back toward Sanctuary.
The staircase to the west goes up and down. The staircase to the east goes only up.
SOUNDS: wind whistles in the staircases. There are indistinct moans impossible to pinpoint.
SMELLS: A rich moldy fume curls up from the downward stairs; thankfully there is a breeze from the arrow loop.
S. The Secret Room can be opened by means of a knob on the floor. Once the knob is depressed, the door will swing outward with complete silence. This reveals a peep slot for spying on the area in front of the fireplace. Inside the narrow room is a slender wooden nightstand with a small coffer of black walnut.
The Coffer is trapped but small enough that it can be easily moved. The trap fires five poison needles, one from each side of the coffer and one straight up from the lid. Anyone within 15' and in the direct path will be hit. Acrobatics to dodge. The needle does 1 hp non-lethal damage and 1d8 poison per round for 1d4 rounds. Cure: CON check every round
Inside the coffer is a platinum broach set with a diamond of breathtaking brilliance. The value of this extraordinary treasure is 30,000 Red Fauns.
There is also a scrap of paper with a strange word written in the Unknown Tongue. It can be pronounced/rendered in Worian as "Ought-Thripteen." This word is the word of command to activate and deactivate the boots of planes walking in area #34.
14. Both Staircases rise 25 feet from the first story to this landing. The western staircase ends here, but the eastern staircase continues up to the rooftop and battlements. A cold draft blows the full length of the hall here, north to south and scraps of rotting leather flap against the floor.
SOUNDS: moaning wind; a faint slimy oozing sound; far off birds.
SMELLS: strong mildew and an acidic tang in the air that smells almost like citrus.
15. This Common Room contains a nearly invisible Gelatinous Cube (note position on map). It is sitting motionless, making very faint squelchy sounds, emitting the scent of citrus acid. The bones of several crows float inside it only a few inches off the floor, hardly betraying its presence. Any character moving into the space occupied by the cube is likely to be automatically engulfed.
Details of the Room: The fireplace is enormous, just like the one downstairs. A bas relief below the mantle shows the City of Sanctuary in the background while armored knights clash with bestial man-things in a plain of windswept grass. There is some firewood stacked near the hearth. A pair of gold spectacles rest on the seat of one of the chairs, lenses caked with grime (value 30 fauns). Some sacks of wheat against the south wall are full of holes, riddled with mouse droppings and crawling with weevils.
A book on the mantle seems to be a log book of the adventuring group that once resided here. Their names are listed on the inside cover along with the title of their group and a motto of some kind, "Together Forever".
The book has suffered badly from exposure and mold. Only a few tidbits are legible.
Log Book from the Fireplace Mantle:
· Asenath Whitcomb
· Alabaster Grim
· Chalice Shade
· Pritchard Cordy
· "Together Forever"
"We know now about the war that has spilled out of the..."
"And the horrible truth of the autumn raids, no less than a seasonal blood sacrifice to..."
"We thought to do some good there, but it seems that darkness has turned us, like a worm from inside..."
"...the war can only grow more bloody. When finally, it splashes over its banks in years to come..."
"It is certain that we cannot tell the city elders of our wonderful discovery, nor of our terrible secret. They will never change the laws for such a wild story..."
16. In the Northeast Bedroom there is a skeleton, complete from the waist up, its pelvis and legs crushed and shattered to fragments, lying on the rotting carpet near the bed. If combat with the gelatinous cube happens prior to the party entering this room, the skeleton will pull itself across the floor 5' per round until it can scratch feebly at the door. Half a skeleton AC 12; hp 4;
A rusty and stained mace rests on the floor in the vicinity of Asenath's crushed legs. A blood stain still mars the stones there. The Mace has Alabaster Grim's name on it.
The bed mattress is full of burrowing scarabs, blackish-green and glossy. The wardrobe contains some formerly rich gowns, sewn with the name Asenath. There is a thermal crank here that no longer works. The chest in the room is unlocked and contains a book written in the Unknown Tongue. There are two spells in it. Select them to best match PC needs. At the back of the book is a diary written in Worian. It outlines Asenath's sultry relationship with Pritchard, the fact that she thinks Chalice also likes Pritchard, and the suspicion that Alabaster is jealous of Pritchard because he likes Chalice. The diary also mentions __PC Name _, Asenath's brother/sister and regrets not having tried to make contact. There are a few obscure references to the group's low morale, and growing despair or hostility toward one another. At one point, Asenath mentions Pritchard's cursed boots whose footprints they followed into "that dark place".
Asenath's skeleton wears a simple gold band on its ring finger (value 50 red fauns) the inside of which bears an inscription: "Asenath, You and No Other"
17. The Southeast Bedroom has a hole in the frescoed ceiling, 20 feet overhead. You can see sky through it. A corresponding pile of fallen masonry has destroyed half of a moldering bed set and a rusted out thermal crank. The fresco on the vaulted ceiling is simple and features minimal colors, depicting a border of creepberries and vines and crude renditions of songbirds flying at the upper part of the dome.
Inside the Wardrobe, on a shelf is a silver signet ring featuring seven stars in a circle (This is the Holy Symbol of Aluvum) (The holy symbol is worth 20 fauns) A cleric (or similar) has insight that it is odd such an item like this was ever taken off. Clothing in the wardrobe is sewn with the name Pritchard Cordy.
The chest is unlocked. It contains rotting satin nightgowns and lingerie, along with a water tight scroll tube. Inside the tube is a fine sheet of vellum, which reads:
Last Will and Testament of
Devout Guardian, Pritchard Cordy
Paladin Under Oath
Four years rendered before Aluvum
I, Pritchard Cordy, aged 34 and residing at the Southern Watch Tower on Blood and Flower Drive on the outskirts of Ormolu, City of Sanctuary do of sound mind declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
I appoint Asenath Whitcomb as my Personal Representative to administer this Will, and ask that she be permitted to serve without the Courts of the city. If my Asenath is unable to serve, then I appoint Chalice Shade in the same capacity with the same request of privilege and beg both her and Alabaster Grim's forgiveness for the black secrets that have surely brought this to pass.
I direct my Personal Representative to sell the secret kept in the black walnut coffer on the premises of the Southern Watch Tower and from this amount to pay any government charges imposed by reason of my death without seeking reimbursement from or charging any person for any part of the taxes and charges paid, and if necessary, reasonable funeral expenses, including the cost of any suitable marker, without the necessity of an order of court approving said expenses.
I devise, bequeath, and give my silver knife, which no longer obeys my hand, to Alabaster Grim unless such secrets as all of us have kept prevent it also from obeying his. In the latter case he may do with it as he sees fit.
I devise, bequeath, and give my armor to Chalice Shade. May its sale repay in part the heartache I have given her.
I devise, bequeath, and give my boots, which carried us across that rift into darkness so deep that our return was but an illusion and do so with the hope that she to whom I give them, Asenath Whitcomb, can find a way to undo what all of us have done.
Should any beneficiary not survive me by 30 days, all is forfeit and I pray our new lords below end this charade swiftly with pitiless fire. Damn whatever useless soul may read this under such circumstance to a similar fate and spare them none of my hell-soaked wrath.
A grappling hook will allow players to climb up through the hole in the ceiling and reach the rooftop battlements.
18. The Southwestern Bedroom belonged to Alabaster Grim. Opening this door immediately rousts 5 stirges from their roosts. They attack voraciously. The bedroom contains a wardrobe which has male priestly attire sewn with sevens and embroidered with storm cloud patterns (Demmindain). Near a broken thermal crank, there is a cheap metal locket with the names Chalice and Alabaster Forever engraved inside. It looks like the locket was hurled against the floor for it is damaged on one side as if from a fierce impact. There is nothing of value in the room.
19. The Northwest Bedroom belonged to Chalice Shade. There is a mandolin resting on the chair, which due to weathering, is worthless. Its neck is shattered and the strings are broken. The wardrobe contains rotting finery for a woman of slender build. Also present is a broken thermal crank and a book of poetry, seemingly composed by the occupant. The name Chalice is written inside the front cover.
One of the poems is entitled "My Paladin" and seems to be about Pritchard Cordy. It describes him in somewhat erotic detail as a tall, dark-haired "merchant" who mints golden pleasure. The poem mentions a woman, Asenath, by name and claims that she doesn't deserve such riches.
20. The Trapdoor is not reached by ladder. Rather the eastern stairs rise all the way to the battlements, 25 feet up from the second story. One can mount the stairs and step directly onto the roof. The roof is fully 80' above the moat water and 70' to the level of the road. It is windy and cold up here with a spectacular view of the Marches.
There is a stone pillar here near the trap, with a wooden perch laid across its top. Clearly a stand for birds. There is also a stone frame on the pillar that houses a lodestone for the tower. A corroded and busted chemiostatic battery is wired to the perch. It seems that when a bird lands on the wooden bar, the weight depresses a switch that is supplied power from the battery. This in turn likely sounds some kind of bell inside the tower.
21. The Roof supports two non-functioning scorpions, one pointed south, the other pointed northeast. The hole at #21 looks down into a bedroom (area #17). It is a 25 foot drop to the floor of that room. Anyone looking into the hole will hear a childish giggling-suckling sound from below along with a buzzing sound, like a giant fly. If the player persists in looking down into the bedroom, the invisible Bazzool may (50%) summon a swarm of spiders to attack anyone on the roof.
There is a small tower rising from the center of the roof. It is 20 feet tall and roofed with a steep cone of slate tiles. A large pair of iron bound oak portals open into this tower on the north face. The hinges are stiff with rust but the doors are not locked.
22. The Tower Storage Room contains some rubble, decomposed bags and seven chests. A strange vibration murmurs in the air here and if the tower doors are opened a colony several million large gray moths will explode from the room and funnel into the sky.
The upper portion of the room is fitted with stained glass windows depicting a blue eye looking through a golden keyhole. There is a mechanical apparatus here that by windlass and pulleys raises or lowers a giant lantern capable of illuminating the stained glass: apparently some kind of beacon that might be visible from the City State. If anyone attempts to break these windows, they will find them stronger than steel, only a wish can break them.
The stained glass windows are high overhead (20') and the lattice of beams is full of webs and barn spiders grown to preposterous size from feeding on the moths. A Giant Black Widow (10' across) resides in the rafters.
None of the seven chests are locked.
Chest 1: Large arrows for the scorpion
Chest 2: 10 flasks of weapon-grade oil sealed with wax
Chest 3: 50 common arrows. Only 1d30 of them are unwarped and usable.
Chest 4: 3 gunstones carved of marble and inscribed with intertwined runes. Usable in a cannon
Chest 5: Wrapped in rotting white cotton and tied with badly weathered twine:
1 potion of red and gold sparkling fluid, smells of hleim berries. Cures 1d30 hp instantly when drunk. Also a potion of black effervescent smoky liquid that smells of burnt sugar. It provides 20 phantom hp when drunk.
Chest 6: a steel coffer sealed with wax and inscribed with Naneman war runes. This coffer is not particularly heavy. Anyone who can read Naneman understands that this coffer contains some kind of talisman for war and that the contents might be gruesome based on Naneman traditions. Breaking the wax releases a dry but waxy foul smell. Inside, wrapped in white linen is a mummified infant of terrifying appearance, mostly head, its dead white eyes staring, its tiny spine and limbs curled inward like a dead fern. The terrible thing has a small tail and instead of a proper face, tentacles are curled around a tiny mouth. It is a grayish mauve color where its mummified flesh stretches between black bones that have in some places cut through the taut skin. A ring of stone has been fitted into the back of the baby's neck and a leather thong passed through it so that it might be worn either from the belt or from the neck.
This is a mummified illithid baby and an evil protection device, which Pritchard meant to destroy. He carried it back from the abyss, where it had been worn as a talisman by demons fighting against mindflayers. It radiates evil strongly in a 10' radius but grants the bearer damage resistance to magic weapons. Wearing it or using it is an evil act and any good player feels compelled to destroy it.
Chest 7: empty and with the inside bottom painted with the white eye of Mastak. Any player seeing this symbol must make a saving throw or become unhinged and suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls for the next 8 hours. Note that this effect will stack up to six times (which is the power number of Mast