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The Haunted Tower of Ashafby Tristan Dunigan
This is a side-adventure for use in an existing Red Steel / Savage Coast campaign. I didn't assign levels or numbers of characters. That's so a DM can customise this adventure to suit a group of 1st level rookies or a group of 10th level hardened vets. I know this adventure lacks rigid structure, but I made it that was so a DM can do pretty much whatever he/she wants to do with it. If you want to throw 1000 zombies in the tower or 2 dust-bunnies, go for it! If your party should be travelling through Herath one dark and stormy night, you might try throwing this at them: The Tower of Ashaf is one of the many towers in Herath that was destroyed or abandoned when magic stopped working and the goblins swept down from the steppes. The Red Steel Source Books don't say anything specific about any of these towers, so I took the creative initiative and made something up. The Tower of Ashaf lies in the Highlands of Nazbuth about 112 miles southwest of the ruins of Nazbuth and about 32 miles northeast of the Tower of Yechir. As this is a pretty remote area, the PC's will probably only pass through here on their way to somewhere else (like Asgamoth, Herath's capital, if heading east, or Nimmur, if heading west). Hope you enjoy it!
The clouds begin to roll in and you can hear the claps of thunder moving ever closer. It is close to twilight so your party decides to begin searching for a place to take shelter for the night. Not long after the decision to stop was made, you find a small cave; as luck would have it, it is just large enough to shelter your party from the rain, which even now begins lightly falling, and to build a fire within. The dark clouds finally cover the sky and the stars disappear from sight. Your group works out its watch schedule and one by one, the party finds sleep.
Now, is the time to see if the guard the party chosen for the midnight shift (if any was chosen) is doing his job. Have this guard make an awareness check (or other applicable skill check). There is movement in the trees and bushes near the camp. If the guard fails his check, he is in for a nasty surprise. If he makes it, he must still save vs. paralysation of be scared to death and take off running for 1D6 rounds. A ghostly apparition swoops down from the trees and strikes at the guard...but only once.....as the ghost continues to fly by. Once it passes the guard, it disappears. The ghost heads for the area the PC's are sleeping in and somehow manages to take anything that radiates magic (it ignores cinnabryl, red steel, smokepowder, steel seed, vermeil, and crimson essence). The party is then awoken by the ghost as it flies away...shrieking toward the tower (which at this point is not visible to the party....have them wander around the woods for a while before you let them find it)
You are awoken by shrill cries and notice a ghostly figure flying off, away from your campsite. You also notice it is carrying a handful of items...your items! Your party, not being one to give up easily or give up magical items, decides to get dressed and pursue the spirit. After looking around the forest for signs of the ghostly figure for quite some time, you wonder if you will ever see your possessions again....then, your hear a ghostly moan to the north. Your stalwart band moves quickly toward the north and then you see it: the ruins of a tower. It is still standing and its walls, for the most part, are intact. There are a few holes here and there, but all together the tower appears to be in good condition. There is what appears to be the remains of a small wall surrounding the tower. You follow the wall around to the front, where you find a dilapidated guardhouse and an iron gate. The gate is being held open by the skeletal remains of one of the guards and several more skeletons can be seen strewn about the courtyard. The doors to the tower are open...the inside is dark.
Any adventurer who's been around will notice that these skeletons appear to be human and lizard-man. It looks as if a large fight took place here. As stated above, the tower doors lie open ;waiting for someone to venture inside.
You enter the darkness of the tower, and your eyes adjust, with time, to your new surroundings. A large spiral staircase is visible, but it looks as if it will collapse any moment now. Portions of it are even caved in and missing. There are webs everywhere (this might be a good spot to throw in an encounter with a few spiders) and you can make out doors on some of the floors in the tower...10 all together.
The party should use rope to climb the towers interior, because the stairs will collapse if used by any non-arachnid. The tower's layout is pretty generic....as long as the DM throws 10 rooms in the tower, the exact layout doesn't matter. The rooms are as follows:
2 Library's: Filled with hundreds of books on everything form Astrology to Witchcraft. One of the libraries contain the ghost...sitting behind a large oak desk and reading a book. He will not even acknowledge the party if they enter the room...and the PC's magical items are nowhere to be seen. The book is a spell book containing 1D10 spells. It is guarded with explosive runes also.....
1 private chamber: this is where the owner of this tower lived. There is a bed, dresser, closets, chests, etc. One of these chests contains a diary (this is the story behind the tower, so pay attention). On the first page it says :Journal of Narahud, and then it continues: "I Narahud, took control of this tower on the 5th day of Thaumont. My job here is the preservation and safety of the magical possessions of my Lord, Edrick. I will perform these duties to the pinnacle of my abilities. When I arrived I noticed that in addition to being a "guard", I would also be a teacher. There were 4 eager, young apprentices waiting here for my arrival. Though this is an unexpected duty, I look forward to training these aspiring mages. My main concern upon arrival was the small group of warriors that are our security force. While well trained and well disciplined, there are not enough men here to fend off a stiff breeze much less an attack. I shall send a message to Edrick and voice my concerns....the pantry could also use more provisions.
The last few entries in the book are as follows:
Day 10, Thaumont: My students are in the lab day and night it seems. I admire their dedication. Received a reply from Lord Edrick this evening. He says he can spare no more soldiers, as there seems to be and increasing presence of creatures in the woods. I suppose his private residence is more important to him than these artifacts. Tomorrow I shall have my students take a break from their studies and go out to gather supplies in the forest.
Day 11, Thaumont: Tragedy struck today. While gathering supplies, Leos, one of my students, was killed by a group of lizard-men. The rest managed to get back to the tower before they were discovered. I hope they were not followed. I also feel badly that we did not recover the body....probably a meal for those reptilian devils. I have ordered the gates closed and locked and the guards are on full alert. We will see what happens in the morning.
Day 13, Thaumont: The guards reported activity in the forest this morning. I asked them to investigate. As I feared, the lizard-men found the tower. One of our guards, Gladius, was killed while fighting some of the creatures. They must have archers among them, because a few arrows were fired into the compound today....luckily no one was injured in that attack. The gates are once again sealed and shall remain so until those vile beasts go away. We shall begin rationing the remaining food tomorrow.
Day 14, Thaumont: I saw them myself today...lizard men....they began surrounding the tower. I managed to use my magic to destroy a large group of them....but as they fell, more came out of the trees to replace them. We are preparing for a fight, but there are so many of them. I fear the worst.
Day 15, Thaumont: They broke through the gate today....the remainder of our warriors perished, but they took several with them. I used my magic to seal the door, but it won't be long before they can get in....perhaps the morning. So, tonight my students and I will spend in study and rest...and prepare for battle tomorrow.
Day 16, Thaumont: They are in the tower! I have sealed my door, but they will break through soon. My students we killed almost as soon as the door to the tower was bashed down. They know I'm in here....I can hear them clawing even now.....I fear this will be my final entry....I have failed in my task to guard your possessions, Edrick....but damn you for not sending more guards...Farewell.
4 student chambers: each contain bed, chest, table, chair...your basic dorm-room.....nothing of real interest
1 lab: DM can decide weather or not any of the potions or solutions remain here.
1 vault: the vault is actually an empty room with an illusionary wall. Behind the illusion are the PC's magical items...but as soon as they start collecting them, the ghost howls and flies into the room. There is a 50% chance he will attack. If not, he will simply grab the items again and return them to the vault. This will continue as long as the PC's attempt to take their stuff back. (This is the Ghost of Narahud and he's got a guilty conscience for losing the tower and his lords magical items....so now he wanders the forests and brings every magical item he can find to take back to the vault....perhaps if the PC's can convince Narahud that all Edrick's magical items were found, they could get their stuff back. Narahud wants to rest in peace, but needs to be assured that his job here is done. Anyway, the DM can come up with any solution that he/she likes....perhaps the party is the Savage Coast's "Ghost Busters" and wants to blast Narahud into ectoplasmic goo...or maybe the PC's will say "who cares" and go on their merry way (this would be foolish though as magic items don't grow on trees).
Kitchen/Pantry: Oddly the pantry contains large insects in storage for food preparation (this is only odd to those who don't know the secret of the aranea).
As stated before, my party chose the diplomatic/peaceful solution...and they were rewarded for it. In addition to their own items, they found a couple more....which might not have been there if they went charging in. Of course if your party is into mindless violence and carnage, by all means, hack away! Whatever your solution is, the end is pretty much the same. The tower will no longer be haunted and the spirit of Narahud will be at rest (or destroyed). The PC's will have recovered their magical items (plus more if DM permits). Experience points will be awarded (7000xp for either helping the ghost RIP or killing him again + new items found .. if any + 1000xp for a peaceful solution + good role playing bonus of DM discretion...mine's usually 250xp per character).....and lets face it...a night of ghost hunting beats a night resting in a cold, dank cave any day of the week...right?