Play time: 4.5 hours
- Gryme the Lizardfolk Alchemist (3)
- Lavender the Elf Bladesinger (3)
- Ukrog the Minotaur Barbarian (3)
- Sven the Human Swarm Ranger (3)
Ruins in the woods
After a light week of standard adventuring (killing goblins, I assume), the party woke and got on the road. Deep in the forest, they stumbled upon a strange white stone platform covered in runes, wrapped in ivy and moss. They stepped onto the platform and touched the small pillar at its center.
Instantly, they were all teleported to a dark room. As their eyes adjusted to the dim flicking light, they saw stone walls covered in slash marks and torn paintings. They stood on another round white stone, only this one’s control pillar had been smashed off. They were trapped! Looking out the single doorway, they saw a chamber with a spiral staircase and several other doors.
Slimy and scared
They slipped over to a door that had been slashed and torn open. Inside, the dying lantern revealed a floor covered in warm syrup, a table of vials, and several large smashed cylinders. Gryme quickly identified and pocketed several potions of healing and enlargement. They then inspected the cylinders and found each contained a dead man, all with similar faces but different types of skin. One cylinder was empty. One held a live fellow.
The live fellow was naked, shivering, and covered in slime. He said his name was Rev, and he seemed to have no memories. The team took him with them.
Next they pounded on a locked door. A voice inside said to go away. But when the party mentioned that they had a young man covered in slime, the door opened to reveal a skeleton surgeon, Doctor Mahkoi. The doctor was gruff and unfriendly, and mostly concerned with protecting young Rev on behalf of his master, Revelius Onar. The team saw a lot of blood spattered inside the room, and reluctantly let Rev stay with the skeleton, who offered him a lollipop.
Ukrog looked inside another smashed room and found three narrow cots and three destroyed lockers. Inside there was some clothing and one very nasty cat. He roared at the cat and it ran away, slipping and falling down the stairs. They left the clothes in the hall for Rev and moved on.
In the next room, they found some smashed furniture, a broken stone arm, and a large round window. Outside they saw a vast starry night and a single gray object slowly floating.
On the next floor, they went through yet another smashed door and found a nice lounge with three curtains. Behind the first curtain they found a damaged illusion of a snowy mountain, which Lavender briefly explored. Behind the next curtain appeared to be a hallway to a tavern, but they did not go in.
The last curtain revealed a damaged illusion of a sunny beach. Everyone went down to the water to explore and relax. Lavender and Ukrog put on some old-fashion bathing suits, and Lavender found a Ring of Gills. Gryme tried to swim out and explore the water, but was unable to go far. Then the water turned into a tsunami of turtles. They fled to the exit, but the turtles struck Lavender and Gryme for some serious psychic damage.
Returning to the central stair well, the team knocked on a locked door but got no response. They then explored a dark red and black bedroom and saw a woman floating outside the window. After a moment, she misted through the glass and appeared before them. Gray skin, red eyes, fangs. She demanded to know who they were and why they had come.
The team was equally confused, but did not ask who she was. She said that this was the tower of Revelius Onar, a vampire lord. The tower orbited on the dark side of the world so it was never in direct sunlight. She also explained that Revelius had trapped an angel for his experiments, and now the angel had escaped and was on the rampage. When she asked about the security guard Delilah, a gargoyle, the team showed her the severed stone arm. The vampire then shooed the heroes out of her room and closed the door to resume hiding.
After these revelations, the team went into the fourth room and found a lovely couch and a huge hovering mirror. Gryme sat on the couch and it began massaging his back. He played with the jewels on the armrest and was able to shift the view in the mirror, and hear the sounds of the places he looked at. This put him in contact with a stern vampire woman dressed in black and gold. The team told her that they had met Rev, a weak skinny person who was now in the care of the doctor. The woman looked delighted at this news and ended the communication. A few moments later, the team heard a heavy bang and boom from the floor below them!
Running out into the hall, they saw the vampire woman again poking her head out of her room. She asked what they had done. They said they had been talking to another vampire in the mirror. The woman reacted in fear and horror, saying that was vampire lord Aura Jatheed, and the banging noise downstairs must be her “Cleaners“. The woman retreated into her room again and slammed the door.
The party decided to run away too, so they headed up the spiral stairs again.
Up on the roof
The stairs ended in a glass-ceiling greenhouse full of strange plants and animals. Ukrog discovered the tiny shock frogs on the trees, and put some in a vial to make a lightning grenade. Sven spotted some footprints and tracked them to young man lying in a pool of starlight. It looked exactly like Rev!
But this version of Rev was even weaker, his skin nearly translucent. He claimed to be a dying vampire, that something was wrong with him, and he needed sunlight to live. The starlight was too weak, and he couldn’t find the sun. Ukrog picked him up and they agreed to find him some sunlight. On the way out, Sven also discovered a nest of fire ants tormenting a red octopus in a tree. The octopus psychically begged for help, so Gryme froze the ants to death and the octopus crawled up on Ukrog’s shoulder.
Beach party 2
The party went back downstairs, through the lounge, and onto the illusion beach. Rev perked up a little, but then declared the sunlight here to be fake and resumed dying. Meanwhile, the octopus continued to whisper that it was hungry and started biting Ukrog. The minotaur ripped the octopus off his shoulder, and it sank its beak into his hand. There was a brief and vicious battle as Ukrog crushed the monster, Gryme shocked them both, and finally Sven put a swarming arrow through its fleshy head.
At about this time, they head a chorus of terrible screams from downstairs.
Creeping down the spiral stairs, they saw the angel! It was a whirling matrix of golden blades and rings floating around three flaming eyes. Scattered around the floor were three vampire corpses, in various states of dismemberment. When Ukrog carried Rev closed to the radiant light of the angel, Rev began to perk up and grow stronger. He then stepped aside and let the party go on without him.
Fearing the power of the mad angel, the team tried to rush down the spiral stairs. But the angel took notice of Ukrog, the only Chaotic member of the party. The angel screamed that chaos must be destroyed! It bathed the party in searing radiant light, and they fled downstairs two levels to the bottom of the tower.
In the dark, filthy depths of the tower, they found a vast reservoir of blood and a stinking compost heap full of corpses and fungus. Lavender used her mage hand to snatch up a golden raven talon from the compost. This revived three fungal zombies exhaling spores. The team promptly shut the door. Gryme tried to jam it shut with an arrow, but put a hole in the door instead and spores began floating out. Lavender tried to blast the spores away, but ended up inhaling them instead. Instantly she felt unwell and orange fungal matter began growing on her arm.
Ransacking the leftovers
The party went up one level to explore the last few rooms. They found a laboratory floor being devoured by acid, a silver metal cell, a red resin cell, a menagerie of dead animals, and a shop full of tools and machines. They gathered up a magic knife, a crystal orb, and unearthed a little mechanical friend who began following Ukrog around.
About this time, they heard the WOOMF sound of someone teleporting into the chamber above them. And then they heard the whirling, burning, screaming sounds of the angel killing whoever that was.
Desperate to escape the tower, the team decided they needed to explore the blood reservoir. They went back downstairs. Gryme held his breath, and Lavender used the Ring of Gills, and they began swimming through the thick red blood. Together, they discovered the broken control pillar from the teleportation platform. They could escape!
But there was a price. Swimming in the inhuman blood affected their bodies. Gryme’s tongue tripled in length, giving him the ability to taste and identify blood. Lavender’s body tripled in mass (but not size), leaving her stranded on the bottom of the reservoir, too heavy to swim. Ukrog had to haul her up on a rope, and she found she was slower on foot than before.
A moment later, the acid pool in the lab ate clean through the floor and air began rushing out of that room.
The big escape
Sneaking back upstairs, they found the angel hovering about between the stairs and the teleportation room. They also saw two new bodies on the floor. Combining their magical powers and tools, they created a glowing, floating cloak and paraded it up the stairs, hoping to draw the angel away. But the angel did not seem to notice this.
Then Sven used his swarm powers to gather up the broken glass in the room where they found Slimy Rev and smashed the glass down to create an audible distraction. The glass shattered, as well as dozens of vials (including several vials of Enlarge). The tower began to creak and groan. Wood, metal, and stone were grinding and breaking. The angel went to investigate!
The team bolted from the stair well toward the teleportation room. Sven looked back and saw that a metal table was Enlarging out of control, smashing through the walls and ceiling of the room. Then the back wall exploded, and everything in the room was blown out into the dark starry expanse.
Including the angel.
Before the party flew out to a cold, silent death, Gryme used the golden raven’s talon (a wand of Control Air) to create a wall of air to fill the breach. Momentarily safe, the heroes ran to the teleport room, restored the control pillar, and vanished back to the forest where they began.
Ukrog promptly destroyed the old teleporter so no one else could ever be trapped by it.
This was a great adventure. Everyone had lots to do. We explored every room and talked to about half of the NPCs, and collected about half of the magic items. There was only one combat, the fight with the octopus. It was a very dense session, mostly focused on exploration and solving puzzles. The players were very keen on asking NPCs to explain everything, and I tried to be engaging but not too revealing. They did a solid job of poking around the rooms and gathering items.
By the last third of the game, I think they were getting a little gun-shy about all the scary rooms and dangers. But in the end, I was super proud of how creative and clever they were just to stay alive and find a way out of the tower. With so much happening, I decided to just have the angel kill the Cleaners and the Thieves. This made the angel seem scary and dangerous, although it meant we didn’t get to talk to or fight those NPCs.
I will add some notes to the adventure to encourage DMs to edit how much content to leave in or skip. I think most people would want a one-shot to be less than 4 hours, and this can easily go longer because of all the rooms and people. But that’s still a good problem to have!