Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part VI

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Area 27.  Observation Gallery

Stairs lead up from Area 18 along an unlit corridor to embrasures carved through the walls.  The openings blend in with the stone faces carved on the opposite sides, letting in some light from the Reliquary’s Nave (Area 17b).  These slits enable missile weapons and spells to be cast at various sections of the Reliquary.  Their fields of vision are limited to arcs stretching at best 45 degrees left and right, and at least 60 degrees up and down.  Aelith, the Companion of Eyoth, will pick the embrasure giving the best view of the intruders.  If there isn't a good spot, she will stand at the southern embrasure, 90 feet above the narthex (Area 17a).  Mystics behind embrasures are considered 90% behind cover if spotted.  Because of the Reliquary’s ambient light, infravision will not reveal someone’s presence behind a slit.  Spells requiring the target to be seen have a 90% chance of missing the mark.  Missile weapon attacks against mystics incur a –6 to hit penalty.

Area 28.  Reticle Room

The hollow pillar (17g) leads up to this chamber.  A huge stone cylinder fitted exactly to the shaft’s diameter hangs right above the shaft.  It will drop when someone reaches the shaft’s middle point, unless a trap was searched for and neutralized at the bottom entrance.  Area 28 lies 175’ above the nave’s floor.  The entrance to the shaft sits 60’ up the pillar.  The vertical shaft therefore measures 115’ long.  If the cylinder drops, the sound of heavy chains unrolling above and the rumble of the falling stone should alert those climbing of their fast approaching doom.  If they let go and jump, a Dexterity check ought to determine whether they can scramble out through the entrance.  The air pressure quickly increasing in the shaft from the action of the cylinder acting as a piston ought to eject those succeeding their Dexterity checks, causing them to collide with the opposite wall and tumble another 60’ to the base of the pillar.  If anyone fails a check, everyone following piles on top of one another, along with the massive stone—save vs. death ray or die horribly.  Those whose saving throws succeeded still incur 10d6 points of crushing damage in addition to falling down the shaft and being blown out through its entrance along with rock debris and dust.  Rubble now blocks the passage.  The sound of the falling stone and its final impact at the base of the shaft rumbles like an earthquake throughout the entire Reliquary complex.  As a result of the tremor, the hollow pillar has a 30% chance of shattering, causing further debris to come down, including a portion of the floor from Area 28’s antechamber.

If anyone makes it to the top of the shaft, a wide, unlit, antechamber leads to a larger room.  A permanent darkness affects the 90’x90’ space.  Four large pillars continuing from the Reliquary beneath the stone floor rise another 30’ to support the vault.  In the middle of the chamber lies a fist-size opening in the floor, with an iron tripod standing above it.  The tripod holds a brass tube, about two feet long and elbowed in its middle so that one half remains level with the floor and the other points down through the hole.  The device radiates magic.

If Aelith was forced to flee earlier, she may be hiding here, behind the northeastern pillar.  If she still has a dose of her Potion of Gaseous Form, she may resort to using it once more to escape through the hole.

The device above the hole is the Reliquary’s Revealing Reticle.  Looking through the inverted periscope-like device enables the observer to see a specific set of tiles, about five feet from the bottom of the stairs leading from 17a to 17b.  These tiles are aligned exactly within the axis of the stairs on the immediate left and right of the nave.  Symbols on four of the tiles start flashing in a specific sequence, pause, and resume until the viewer pulls away from the tube.

Revisiting the Narthex

The flashing tiles shown by the reticle in Area 28 allude to the secret entrance to Area 29.  One must return to the Reliquary’s narthex, and step on these four tiles following the right sequence.  If so, a number of other tiles slowly light up, prompting one to step upon them as well, as if dancing.  The first four tiles can easily be matched.  The next sequence requires a Dexterity check to complete correctly.  New and different sequences follow, a bit longer, faster, and harder to match, requiring combination steps and new Dexterity check with cumulative –1 penalties (and so on).  The dancer moves about the narthex randomly, one space per round, as nearby tiles keep flashing.

Each time a sequence is completed, the stairs leading to Area 17b shift 5’ downward.  At the 3rd sequence, the steps are flush with the floor in the narthex (assuming the alarm was never sounded or the stairs have not yet reset themselves).  At the 4th, a 5’ gap reveals the presence of Area 29.  If all six sequences are completed without fail, stairs shift down completely and lock in place, revealing the entrance to Area 29.  Those witnessing the dance may crawl through a partial opening of the stairs at any time if they wish.

Any interrupted or failed sequence resets the stairs to their full upward position (leading to Area 17b), requiring the process to be started over.  The first failed check also releases a gargoyle from the Reliquary’s dark vault, swooping down to attack the “dancer.”  The second failed check releases two gargoyles, three at the third, etc.  The gargoyles do not interfere with the obsidian beholder if it happens to be present in the shadows above the narthex.  The “sequence of errors” resets itself if no further dancing attempt takes place for at least 5 Turns.

Gargoyles* (1-??): AC5, HD 4**, MV 90’ (30’, (150’) 50’ flying, AT 2 claws/1 bite/1 horn, Dmg 1d3/1d3/1d6/1d4, Save F8, Int 5, AL N while Aelith is alive, C thereafter.  Special Defenses: immune to sleep and charm spells, requires +1 or better magical weapon to hit.

Area 29.  Crypt of the Relics

This 90’x90’ chamber is located exactly underneath the bronze brazier.  Stairs to Area 17b initially conceal the entrance until made to shift downward (see Revisiting the Narthex listed above).  A column of magical flames towers upward through the ceiling and the brazier on the next floor.  Four large cruciform pillars at each corner support the vault and continue above through the Reliquary.  Three pairs of plinths stand between the east, west, and north pillars, with a seventh in a recess, opposite from the stairs.  The artifacts described earlier rest upon these stone platforms, plus another two.  Artifacts and their plinths all radiate magic.  The names of immortals are listed on each plinth, with Samarion’s showing on the one in the northern recess.  The latter bears the Orb of Eternity.

If anyone entered the flames earlier on and was disintegrated, ashes will lay on the floor, all around the flames.  If anyone entered through the flames and survived, the stairs to Area 17b still block the exit and cannot be opened from inside, save for a wish.  Those who crawled inside while the dance took place in the narthex may find themselves stranded as well if the dancer eventually fails to lock the stairs in place.  The only escape routes then include attempting to climb or fly through the disintegrating flames, a magical stone-shaping ability, a passwall, dimension door, teleport, or comparable spell.  The stonework or the stairs otherwise require 250 points of damage to blast through.  There is no air vent to his chamber, precluding the reliance on an escape in gaseous form.

If any of the artifacts is touched, the other six teleport to another safe location.  Unless a dispel magic succeeded against the remaining artifact’s plinth, the disintegrating flames start expanding 5' per round until they fill the chamber, possibly disintegrating all within (unless a save vs. death ray succeeds).  Sections of the ceiling collapse while the brazier crashes through and bounces in a random direction crushing anything in its path.  If three or more pillars are disintegrated, the Reliquary’s nave and apse collapse catastrophically, destroying much of the complex, dispelling its entire reverse gravity enchantment, and possibly taking down some or all of the towers out on the surface.  The latter consequence will release all the undead bound to the towers, enabling them to escape with their treasured possessions to whatever end.  In an ultimate and futile gesture, seven bronze golems wander away, wreaking havoc through towns and countryside alike, trying vainly to pursue the escaped undead.

Escaping the Crypt

A wish or an immediate teleportation to the surface, away from the towers, will enable survival from the collapsing Reliquary.  With some time, Bettellyn’s religious powers will identify the cause of the collapse and hunt down the ones responsible for the disaster.  Aelith, if alive at that time, will teleport out to safety if she can, and report what she knows straight away.  If not, she might be able to reach her quarters instead and ride out the Reliquary’s destruction until the next day.  If still alive at the time Jezabioth dies in the cave-in (although the soul eater might survive under the rubble).  Corybemus teleports out and continues to track the stolen artifact.

Alternate Ending

If the Orb of Eternity is successfully retrieved (without a catastrophic cave-in) and any of the other NPCs are still alive, they will be waiting in ambush outside or on the way out.  Jezabioth is the first to intervene and try to steal the coveted artifact.  If Jezabioth fails or was defeated earlier, Aelith intervenes next.  If she fails or was defeated earlier, then Corybemus gets involved.  He will demand the artifact in his gold dragon persona.  Refusal will result in yet another epic battle.

Corybemus/Farraxillion (Gold Dragon): AC-4, HD16+3***, hp 80, MV 120’ (40’)/300’ (100’), AT#3 + breath weapon, Dmg 6d6+4 bite, 3d4 claw, Save F33, ML10, AL L.  Ring of remedies.  Spell Available: Level I—5 spells (Charm Person x2, Detect Magic x2, Ventriloquism), II
5 (ESP*, Invisibility x3, Phantasmal Force), III—5 (Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic x2, Hold Person x2), IV—4 (Confusion, Hallucinatory Terrain, Polymorph Self x2), V—3 (Telekinesis, Teleport x2)

Jezabioth: My4, AC6, hp 17, AT#1 open hand, Dmg d6+1, ML8(12); AL L(N)Disciple of Samarion; unable to use her companion abilities while possessed.  St15(18), In13(9), Wi14(9), Dx17, Co14, Ch12.  Ring of invisibility, amulet of protection against detection and ESP.  Soul Eater: AC0, HD10*, MV 180’ (60’), AT#2, Dmg d10+Wisdom drain, Save C10, ML12, AL N.  Minion of Masauwu.

Area 30.  Aelith’s Secret Quarters

Aelith resides in a chamber just north of Area 29, under the two central pillars of the apse.  It can only be reached through a passwall, dimension door, or teleport spell, of in gaseous form via a vent.  The room includes the basic amenities of a lady’s bedchamber and a chest.  Soft lighting comes from two enchanted cressets near the bed, and a levitating aura above the dresser, all of which may be switched off with a snap of the fingers.

Objects of value include: (under the bed) 5,493 gp in coins and gems, twenty pieces of jewelry of random value; her spell book lies in a hidden compartment of the dresser; an extensive wardrobe contains 899 robes with assorted coats and cloaks worth well over approximately 89,900 gp (Area 30a); in neatly stacked in boxes, a collection of 899 pairs of shoes, hats, and gloves matching the aforementioned outfits worth about as much together; scores of plumes, baubles, and trinkets are worth another 2,277 gp (Area 30b), plus a lead-coated container in which she keeps a huptzeen (AC9 Creature Catalog), a construct in the form of an ornate women’s golden bracelet (in a secret compartment inside the west pillar).  The huptzeen will change its allegiance to another wizard level 10 or higher if Aelith is deceased, which it can sense.

Huptzeen (1): AC 3, HD 7***, MV (30’ (10’) flying, AT 1 spell, Save MU7, ML 12, Int 11, AL N.  Special Abilities: spells as a MU7, shapechange.  Special Defenses: immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells; sustains half damage against non-magical weapons; explodes if destroyed, causing 2 points of damage per unused spell within 5’ radius (save vs. dragon breath for half damage).  Daily Spells: Level I—3 spells (analyze, detect magic, magic missiles), II—2 (ESP*, locate object), III—2 (clairvoyance, create air), IV—1 (dimension door).  Spell abilities cannot be altered.

Click HERE for the final chapter on Bettellyn.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part V

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Area 16.  Pool Lower Landing

This area appears identical to the Upper Pool Landing.  A trail of wet (human) footprints leads toward Area 17.  The trail runs dry halfway through Area 17a.  Although the two silveons guarding the stairs to Area 17 shoot small flames through their eyes like the one last encountered, they are otherwise inert.  There isn’t a wall of force blocking the way.  The statues and the wall of force activate if the alarm is sounded (see Area 17b).

Area 17.  The Grand Reliquary’s Sanctum

This grand, cathedral-like chamber stretches 220’ by 150’, its Gothic arches reaching more than 180’ up.  Cruciform pillars support the vault which remains mostly in the dark.  The entry area (Narthex, 17a) in the shape of an inverted T lies 15’ lower than the main floor (Nave, 17b).  Five raised platforms (17c-f, and 17h) stand another 15’ higher, and radiate faint halos.  The grinning faces of gargoyles, eagles, and other fantastic creatures cover the walls and seem to watch visitors as they come up the stairs.  Shadows dance among the sculptures from a main source of light on Area 17b.  Most of the chambers from Area 17 on feature air vents in their ceilings (too small to crawl through, but useful if able to adopt a gaseous form).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part IV

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Areas 6-12, Underground Terminals

These 30x30’ cells are destination points for the teleporters in Area 5 on top of Towers A-G.  A globe enchanted with a continual light hovers near the ceiling.  Magical circles in these cells aren’t “password-protected”, although they do require a command word (the corresponding immortal’s name) to activate.  Whichever tower PC’s visited last will connect with Area 6.  Remaining teleporters connect with the other towers, following a clockwork scheme.  Scribble the names of the corresponding immortals on the map.  White robes from Area 13 will teleport back to the chests where they came from if PCs try to leave with them.  A simple, unlocked door leads to the hallways beyond.  Hallways remain unlit.

Two other NPCs are prowling nearby, avoiding contact at all cost until PCs locate the Orb of Eternity if this was why they came here.  They are sister Jezabioth and Corybemus/Farraxillion.  Both remain invisible (Corybemus has 3-5 spells, levels 1-4, including multiple invisibility and polymorph self spells), waiting for PCs to unveil what they're looking for.  Jezabioth will be first to intervene and try to steal it before PCs can exit the reliquary.  Corybemus will be next, possibly attempting to take it away during the PCs’ sleep once outside the underground level.  He will not take the chance of his draconic nature being associated with his existence as the Archbishop of Magisteria.  If he appears, it will be either an another polymorphed creature (a tabi-like winged ape or a large golden eagle, for example) or his dragon form (never as the archbishop).  If out of spells, Corybemus, will leave and wait for another time to acquire the artifact.  If Jezabioth steals it first, Corybemus will find her and kill her and the soul eater possessing her fairly soon afterward.  Any undead tracking the PCs may show up at any time, since daylight does not rule the underground.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part III

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Areas 5.  Top Floor

Stairs lead to from Area 4d to 5.  The bronze golem from Area 1 will not follow the party to the top floor.  Supported by four pillars near the center, a steel structure holds what looks like glass panes (walls of force) enclosing the terrace.  A low stone wall, about 4’ high, marks the edges of the stairwell, overlooking the stairs.  At the center of each corner sections, (which would be areas 5a-5d) stands a mirror-like, featureless humanoid statue on top of a foot-high plinth.  A circle with alien writings is engraved in the stone floor, between the pillars.

The magical circle is a teleporter to area 6.  The statues are silveons, modified reflecters (inspired from AC9 Creature Catalog).  Their role is to prevent intruders from tampering with the magical circle and entering the reliquary’s lower levels.  Stepping past the stairs without brandishing the appropriate immortal’s symbol (at least the lead person for a party), touching the circle, entering it without the proper password, or throwing something inside will activate the four silveons.  Appearing in the circle without brandishing the appropriate symbol will also trigger the silveons.  Anyone in the circle is teleported when the command is spoken.  The circle is large enough for a party of adventurers.  The command word to activate the teleporter is the immortal’s name.

The password to enter the circle is based on clues engraved behind the silveons’ plinths.  Engraved stone slabs radiate magic if detected.  The clues include four numbers, one of which is the password.  The solution requires adding up the second digit of three numbers to find the fourth.  Numbered clues are, however, not listed in any order and change at every sunrise, or when someone gives a wrong answer, or a round after someone enters the circle.  Here are examples:

  • 15, 17, 22, 14—the password is 14.
  • 16, 27, 13, 15—the password is 15.
  • 21, 15, 26, 12—the password is 12.
  • 15, 18, 23, 16—the password is 16.

Silveon* (4): AC0, HD 3-9****, hp 14-40, MV 0’ (0’), AT# 1 energy bolt, Dmg 12-36, Save F3-9, ML12; AL N.  Special Attacks: bolt of energy.  Special Defenses: reflect spells and attacks, regeneration.

Silveons are enchanted statues made of mirror-like material.  When they attack a foe, silveons cast through their eyes bolts of energy 5’ wide and as long as ten times their HD.  Their heads can rotate 360 degrees if needed.  Silveons can detect invisible creatures using infrared (heat aura).

Silveons pick the closest available target, and require a hit roll.  If an attack succeeds, the energy bolt arcs, hitting another target in the same or adjacent space (if any), and so on until grounding itself in the metal beams above or in the floor when it reaches its maximum range.  Arcing may possibly lead a bolt down the stairs and around corners.  Damage from a bolt is equal to four times the silveon’s HD (save vs. wands for half damage).  A bolt will split if two or more targets are equidistant from the previous one in its path; reduce damage 3 points each time a bolt splits (down to a minimum of 3).  If an attack misses, it hits a metal beam or a wall of force directly, producing vast amounts of harmless sparks, like a Tesla coil gone haywire.

Silveons automatically turn all spells upon their casters (including attempts to dispel magic), save for a wish.  All physical damage is automatically reflected upon the attackers, save for magical plusses.  Successful attacks provoke visible ripples on a silveon’s surface, all traces vanishing within a few rounds.  Silveons are, however, subject to suffering damage from their own energy bolts.  Since they stand sixty feet from each other, bolts could arc to another silveon if five targets are lined up between them (presuming silveons have at least 6 HD).  A mirror can reflect energy bolts, provided the character holds his/her action for the round and rolls a higher score than the silveon when targeted.  If successful and roll was good enough for AC0, then the bolt hits the silveon.  Dexterity modifiers are allowable.  Note that silveons will not target someone with a mirror who stands 20' away or less.

If reduced to zero hit point or less, silveons lose their reflectivity and deactivate.  They can otherwise only be destroyed with a blackball or a wish spell.  Silveon regeneration only begins when a statue is reduced to 0 hit points or less and accrues at the rate of 1 hit point per Turn (6 points per hour).  If all of them are knocked out, the statues will not reset until all four are back up to full hit points.

Click HERE to Continue.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part II

Continued from Part I.  Click HERE to go back.
Charts updated 10/14/2012

Areas 1b-4d.  Display Galleries

The seven towers feature four exhibition galleries on each of their intermediary levels.  Corner areas (20’x20’) can be accessed directly from the stairs.  Forcefields segregate 10’-wide strips recessed along the external walls, protecting exhibited contents from visitors.  Using a dimension door spell to get past will fail, resulting in the transgressor appearing instead outside the tower.  The sole source of light comes from the illusory windows during day time, or if the moon is up.  Small glints should reveal the presence of three dozen small bells imbedded in each forcefield.  They will drop to the floor if the forcefield is dispelled, alerting the bronze golem in Area 1 below.  Detect magic will reveal the presence of forcefields, but will mask any magical aura within the secured areas.  Forcefields reset 1 Turn after being dispelled, along with bells if still lying around nearby.  Naturally, Bettellyn's ecclesia will be on the lookout for thieves soon after they discover missing items.

After sunset and until sunrise, visitors should sense odd phenomena, as the towers are thoroughly haunted.  These should be treated as inoffensive but colorful random encounters (25% chance per viewing area visited; roll d20):

01-04  Cold spots, breath condensation (1 Turn, 20’ radius)
05-08  Unexplained drafts (will snuff out any non-magical light)
09-12  Knocks, thumps, footsteps elsewhere in the tower
13-14  Area of darkness (1 Turn, 20’ radius)
15-16  Whispers calling a visitor’s name; moving shadows
17-18  Hallucinations (1d4 rounds, related to a displayed object)
19-20  Random objects surreptitiously taken from their owners and placed alongside displayed items, etc.

Beyond bizarre manifestations, unnatural residents do not materialize unless an object on display is taken to another level of the tower or outside (30% chance).  The stolen item determines which entity may be roused (see D&D Rules Cyclopedia).  If objects are removed during day time, these entities may awake after sunset and search for their stolen belongings.  Each hour until sunrise, an entity has a base 15% chance of catching up with thieves, +5% per hour.  The process resumes the following night (starting over with basic chances), until the entity is destroyed or the object returned to the tower.  If an entity can touch its stolen object, they both vanish (the object reappears in the tower).

Type A:  Apparition
Type B:  Shade
Type C:  Poltergeist (shoots bells lying on the floor)
Type D:  Ghost, Neutral
Type E:  Ghost, Chaotic
Type F:  Revenant

Apparition: AC0, HD 10***, hp 45, MV 180’ (60’), AT# 2 claws, Dmg d6+2/d6+2, Save M10, ML10; AL C.  Special Attacks: fear, entrancing mist, attacks at +4 to hit.  Special Defenses: ethereal at first, +1 or better weapon to hit, may save against a “T” result when turned.

Shade: AC0, HD 11***, hp 50, MV 120’ (40’), AT# 1 dagger, Dmg 3d4, Save T11, ML9; AL C.  Special Attacks: 90% surprise odds, lethal fear.  Special Defenses: ethereal at first, +1 or better weapon to hit, may save against a “T” result when turned.

Poltergeist: AC-1, HD 12****, hp 54, MV 60’ (20’), AT#2 small bells, Dmg 1 + aging 10 years, Save F12, ML11; AL C.  Special Attacks: ectoplasmic net, gaze, aging.  Special Defense: +2 or better weapon to hit, may save against a “D” result when turned, immune to all but evil-affecting spells.

Ghost: AC-2, HD 14****, hp 63, MV 90’ (30’), AT# 1 touch + 1 gaze, Dmg paralysis + aging 1d4x10 years, Save F14, ML10; AL Any.  Special Attacks: magic jar, ectoplasmic net, gaze, aging.  Special Defense: +2 or better weapon to hit, may save against a “D” result when turned, immune to all but evil-affecting spells.

Revenant: AC-3, HD 18****, hp 81, MV 120’ (40’), AT# 2 claws/1 bite, Dmg 2d4/2d4/1d4+2, Save F18, ML10; AL C.  Special Attacks: 50% surprise odds, all attacks bear lethal poison, withers consumables, paralyzes plants and insects, 60’ leap + automatic hits on first three attacks.  Special Defense: +2 or better weapon to hit, immune to spells 1st-3rd level, may save against a “D” result when turned; comes back 1d4 Turns later if turned.  Spells: darkness, silence 15’ radius, cause disease, animate dead, finger of death cast as a C16.  Can summon 1d4 specters each night.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bettellyn: The Grand Reliquary -- Part I

Continued from the previous article.  Click HERE to go back.

This religious center sits on the banks of the Llyn River, just a few miles upstream from Citadel, the capital city of Bettellyn.  Its purpose is to display and protect ancient relics of Bettellyn faith.  The reliquary marks the center of a gated community of mystics and clerics whose role is to pray to and meditate about The Seven.  Chapels, cloisters, steeples, offices, dormitories, kitchens, refectories, workshops, barns, wells, gardens, statues of archons on pedestals, walled orchards and vegetable patches surround the reliquary.  Every hour, bells, gongs, and chimes ring, marking the passage of time.  Peaceful chanting echoes from the chapels.

Entrance to the estate is free between dawn and sunset.  Daytime passage to chapels, offices, and the reliquary itself is unrestricted.  A road leads directly from the main gate to the reliquary.  Along the way, faithfuls slowly make their way to the ancient structure, taking three or seven steps, kneeling, and touching the cobblestones with their foreheads before standing up and taking a few more steps.  Carved stone bins protected under tiled roofs lie at regular intervals along the road and near chapels, enabling faithfuls to light incense sticks.  A thin haze, heavy with the scent of camphor and dragon’s blood, floats in the streets at peak time.  Faithfuls may take several hours before reaching the reliquary, all under the watchful gaze of mystics assigned to the compound’s security.  Visitors bearing bulky bags, backpacks, weapons, and armor will be asked to check them at the entrance before proceeding.  Any combat equipment must be concealed from sight to get past mystics guarding the entrance.

Mystics: My3, AC7, hp 11, MV 140’, AT#1 (open hand, baton, or bolas), Dmg d6 or by weapon, ML8; AL L.  Adepts of Samarion.  St14, In10, Wi13, Dx13, Co12, Ch9.

Six mystic watch the main gate.  Twenty more watch the road to the reliquary.  Another 74 are spread out in the compound along with a score of clerics of various levels, tending to daily duties.  Two out of six mystics carry bolas.  The remainder wield white batons equivalent to blackjacks.  For every ten mystics involved in a security action, a master will show up.  If more than 20 are involved, a cleric will also be present.

Master Mystic: My8, AC2, hp 28, MV 190’, AT#2 (open hand), Dmg d12+1, ML9; AL L.  Witness of Samarion.  St15, In12, Wi16, Dx14, Co13, Ch11.

Cleric Overseer: C10, AC5, hp 45, MV 120’, AT#1 mace +1, Dmg d6+1, ML8; AL L.  Messenger of Samarion.  St12, In13, Wi17, Dx10, Co11, Ch12.  Roll 1d6: Potion of ESP (1-2), Potion of Healing (3-4), Potion of Waterbreathing (5-6).

Seen from the outside, the site features a thirty-foot-tall, gate-less, circular wall and seven, evenly-spaced towers topped with a glass-like structure.  During daytime, simply touching the wall will teleport Lawful visitors inside, at the center point between the towers (and vice versa when coming out).  Those who aren’t of the proper ethos will be teleported outside the compound instead, about 3d10 feet above the nearby river.  This magical effect is limited after sunset to bearers of a medallion of Samarion.  Lower level mystics or clerics only have a 10% chance of wearing one.  All upper ranks do bear medallions.

The open courtyard within the wall is covered with glazed tiles laid out in concentric patterns of heptagons and hexagons.  Smooth and featureless white marble coats the towers.  Large stained glass windows appear at each angle, marking the locations of three intermediary floors.  A bronze-plated door adorned with archon carvings allows access to each tower’s ground floor.  At night, the carved archons seem to be holding fast the doors' edges—these portals are wizard-locked until sunrise.  Although relatively crowded with wide-eyed visitors marveling at the relics inside the towers, the site remains deserted after sunset.  Mystics will check the towers at sunset to verify everyone left, before locking the doors with a simple command word.  A Messenger of Samarion will thereafter disable the wall’s daytime teleport feature and head to a chapel for the vespers.

Scale: 1 square = 10 ft.  These towers are identical: one ground floor with a magical bronze door (Area 1), three intermediary upper floors (Areas 2-4) and one top level enclosed within walls of force shaped to resemble an Eiffel-like, glass-and-metal structure (Area 5).  Each stairs segment, 30' long by 20' wide, rises about ten feet above the previous, giving the stairs a gentle angle.  Area 5 therefore lies about 160 feet above ground.  Stone pillars stand at the stairs’ four corners.  Stained-glass, ogive-shaped windows measure 10’ wide by 20’ high.  The first row sits about 45’ above ground, 85’ for the next row, and 125’ for the last.  They are illusions designed to look like windows on both sides, reacting in accord with sunlight or moonlight.  As a convention for this adventure, arrows on the map point toward the tops of the stairs.  Doors are about three feet wide by six feet tall.

Tower A: Elarion; B: Ardonyl; C: Astafiel; D: Horana; E: Sabbaiah; F: Eyoth; G: Samarion.

Area 1. Archon’s Landing

The bronze door displays a representation of the corresponding archon, as described in the original Bettellyn article.  Companions of the Faith should be able to identify immortal archons.  Trying to bash down the door incurs 30% chance per round of alerting mystics outside the structure; a
Turn later they will mount a concerted action against the transgressors (30 mystics, 3 masters, and a Messenger of Samarion, in addition to all those waiting outside).

At the center of the ground floor stands a bronze statue of the appropriate archon, 16’ tall and on top a 6’ high plinth.  It is a bronze golem which activates when someone breaks through the door or when the tingle of small bells echoes inside the tower (see Areas 2-4).  The bronze golem attacks anyone moving.  The stone plinth may levitate, enabling the golem to quietly reach as far up as Area 4.  It may then step off the levitating plinth and pursue transgressors upstairs to the top level (Area 5).  It ignores foes who drop to the ground and remain motionless.  If all targets are prone, the bronze golem keeps watching until relieved by a Messenger of Samarion (2d4 rounds after the golem begins its vigil or after its destruction).

Bronze Golem: AC0, HD 20***, hp 90, MV 240’ (80’), AT#1 fist, Dmg 3d10 first + 1d10 heat, Save F10, ML12; AL N.  Special Defense: fiery blood—save vs. death ray or take 2d6 points of damage when scoring a hit with an edged weapon; immune to fire-based attacks.  Unless disintegrated or wished away, the golem regenerates an hour later.  If alone at the time, it returns to Area 1 and resumes its watch.

The ground floor features mosaics on the walls and floors representing scenes from the appropriate archon’s lore.  It is otherwise empty, including its four corner areas.

Click HERE to continue.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bettellyn: Secrets Forgotten -- Pt. V

Continues from Part IV.  Click HERE for the previous article.

From the words of Al-Zuhbaab-the-Keen:

Alphatia Bettellyn Al-Zuhbaab Scroll Artifact Relic Immortals

Players' Background: It isn’t known who or what created this object, or when.  No one has actually identified all of its powers and penalties.  The orb was already found once on Mystara, in the early days of Alphatian Landfall.  Its last owner discovered that it could grant a lore ability strong enough unveil legends about immortals.  Alas, a safeguard on the artifact caused a gate to open, enabling horrifying beings to enter.  Al-Zuhbaab's servant was able to escape and tell the story.  When local authorities rushed to the site, they failed to locate the artifact amid the dwelling’s rubble.  Neither was Al-Zuhbaab’s body ever recovered.  What lore he’d unearthed was forever lost.  Subsequent research yielded limited information.  Investigators concluded that, because of the orb’s design, either lawful creatures or chaotic ones could come in, possibly to retrieve the object and destroy its user.  It isn't known if any stayed behind.

The DM's Point of View: The Orb of Eternity is a Greater Artifact with 455 Power Points, using mechanics described in Wrath of the Immortals.  It has an obliterate power (Attack, 90 PP), an immortal lore power (Information, 100 PP), a travel power (Movement, 80 PP), a timestop power (Transformation, 100 PP), and an inertial control power (Defense, 85 PP).  It recharges at 120 TP per hour.
Alphatia Bettellyn Artifact Relic Immortal Lore
The true danger with this artifact lies in its handicap and penalties.  As a handicap, each time the artifact’s powers are triggered, the owner loses a point of both Strength and Constitution.  The loss is negated 120 days later if the artifact has been discarded or abandoned.  Penalties involve three different effects.  If the orb is damaged 50% or more, it teleports itself to safety, including inside solid material since it cannot be damaged in this manner.  Any power other than immortal lore has a cumulative 10% chance of provoking amnesia to its user (no save) when it is used.  It wipes out all memories from the moment the user acquired the orb.  Once amnesia is triggered, memory loss keeps occurring every following sunrise.  This amnesia cannot be cured unless the owner loses/discards the artifact.  The third and last penalty may occur when the immortal lore power is invoked.  A gate may open near the user (30% chance +10 per subsequent use) which can only be shut if the artifact is taken through it.  If the user is Lawful, one or more black hags enter through the gate or greet the user on the other side.  If the user is Neutral or Chaotic, archons appear instead.  HD of either creature types should at least match those of the user and anyone else attending.  These creatures’ mission is to kill the user and retrieve the artifact, after which they return whence they came and hide the orb in some obscure outer plane, preferably one very unfriendly to the user.  Having succeeded their mission, the affected creatures lose all memory of it and the event (no save).  If the gate remains open for whatever other reason (the artifact and its owner escaped), beasts keep entering now and then.

Using a lore spell on this artifact or any other divination magic cast by a mortal will fail, unless the spell is cast during a timestop.  Unveiling any clues about the orb otherwise requires epic quests.  The first few clues, unearthed by mystics at the service of the Archbishop of Quanfax, seem to connect with the Hebdomadea.  The only way to permanently destroy the artifact is to bring it back to its maker.

To be continued?  Why, of course!  Click HERE to continue.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bettellyn: Shadows in the Night -- Pt IV

Continued from Part III.  Click Here for the previous article.

Alphatia Bettellyn Law Inheritance Heirs Succession
Before entering into any detail about NPCs, one should know about laws of succession in Bettellyn.  As far as property is concerned, there is no difference between genders.  It is common practice in Alphatia for spouses to retain ownership of their titles and lands regardless of marriage.  In a society where high-level wizards and sorceresses form the backbone of land-owning aristocracy, it could hardly be otherwise.

A wife’s lands and titles do not generally transfer to a husband, and this is unavoidable in Bettellyn because aristocracy also holds ecclesiastic charges.  As a result, spouses from different realms travel often, either together or separately, in order to tend to their separate businesses.  Teleport spells and airships are the norm for the upper class.  Spouses may inherit from each other only with liege approval and if there are no sons or daughters.  Swearing loyalty to the former spouse’s liege may be possible, but remains subject to approval by the claimant’s own liege.  If a disagreement occurs, the claimant must relinquish the litigious part of the inheritance in favor of in-laws, cousins, or other kin.  These issues concern specifically titled nobility and the allegiance of lands to their original monarchies.

Progeny must inherit either from the father or the mother—not both to avoid conflicts, especially in the case of Bettellyn where land is inalienable from the realm.  For example, the daughter of a prelate and of a Vertilian princess eventually would have to choose between heading the father’s prelacy or abandoning any role in Bettellyn’s clergy in order to claim the mother’s titles in Vertiloch.  Generally, the timing of a parent’s death determines the oldest beneficiary’s inheritance, in which case primogeniture applies.  In the example given above, if the prelate dies first, the oldest child inherits the prelacy, the next in line inheriting Vertilian titles.  Anyone else in line would have to receive their apanage through an earlier arrangement such as a legal will.  If there is only one child, conflicting inheritance usually goes to the closest cousin or related kin.  Bettellyners cannot accumulate ecclesiastic charges.  If two are inherited, the heir picks one and lets the other go along with associated territories.  Common real-estate, commercial assets, and overseas possessions are treated separately and may remain property of a single heir.

Her Royal Holiness, The Most Devout Queen Llynara:  Although listed in the Poor Wizard’s Almanac as Neutral, she started out with a Lawful alignment.  Her change of heart occurred when she survived Alphatia’s destruction.  She lost her faith in the immortals, concluding they instigated the catastrophe, and thus became Neutral.  In AC1010, this detail escaped everyone’s observation, fortunately, or she would be forced to abdicate.  In-pre cataclysmic Alphatia (AC1000), she most-definitely is Lawful, fitter, more assertive, and a widow.  She also belongs to the Order of the True Blood.  She recently negotiated with King Qissling the marriage of her daughter to a certain wizard-prince, an obscure but dashing Admiral of Ar in the service of Empress Eriadna.  Surely, this man of impeccable Alphatian pedigree would prove a valuable source of information and influence among imperial circles.  Alas, the beneficiary has been away for a long time, and remains uninformed of the matrimonial arrangement.  M25, AC9, hp 33, ML7; AL L.  Witness of Samarion.  St9, In16, Wi18, Dx10, Co11, Ch13.  Magical Items: ring of human control, staff of commanding.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bettellyn: Strengths & Foibles -- Pt. III

Continued from Part II.  Click Here for the previous article.

Bettellyn went from being an enclave of pariahs to a feared realm.  Its people’s mood often swings from siege-mentality to obnoxious chest-thumping, world-defying arrogance.  For centuries, while it grew as a kingdom, local powers allied against Bettellyn and its strange cults.  Eventually, they lost that fight and were wholly absorbed by the expanding theocracy.  Conquests stopped at the present borders when Bettellyn, economically and demographically drained, accepted to pay homage to the Imperial Throne.

Bettellyn’s main strategy today is to spread the faith abroad as a way to maintain peace.  Of course, this does not sit well with immediate neighbors who see it as a grass-roots effort to evict local aristocracy and extend the theocracy’s boundaries.  Randel is the most hostile on many levels, and simply slammed their northern border shut.  Vertiloch watches its borders with an arcane vigilance, so far thwarting unwanted missionary efforts.  Mountains separating Bettellyn from Theranderol eased the latter’s task of keeping the problem under control.  Bettellyn remains a staunch supporter of the Imperial House and, to avoid jeopardizing this relationship, focused its efforts on Foresthome.  Frictions between the two realms have been growing steadily ever since.

Both Eriadna and the Great Council see Bettellyn as a major military asset and one that is more disciplined and controllable than Randel’s.  As embarrassing as the missionary effort may be, Vertiloch’s role is to prevent conflict among client realms.  Open war between its vassals bears the risk of the conflict widening.  Neither Randel nor Bettellyn have true allies, but their opponents could experience trouble with rivals trying to take advantage of a major clash.  Revolts are another peril.  Lack of stability, loss of income, and forced intervention of imperial troops at home are signals inviting more trouble offshore.  Thyatis and Glantri would, without a doubt, rejoice and stir the pot as much as possible.  A breakaway of Bellissarian realms would be catastrophic.  As a result, the empire will try to prevent wars at all costs. 

Since Theranderol relates directly to the House of Thera, it remains wholly aligned with Empress Eriadna.  On the other hand, in the face of Randel’s ominous presence, sympathies also lie with neighboring Arogansa and mysterious Eadrin as regards a defensive league.  Although Eadrin has largely managed to avoid Bettellyn’s influence, Arogansa is a different story.  Its population of serfs has proven unusually partial to the appeal of The Seven, earning them even more oppression from their overseers.  So far, this policy hasn’t helped much and proselytism persists amid carnival overtones.  People in Haven found the idea of archons as immortal patrons to have a certain charm, but in the end, really don’t care.  Archons don’t seem to produce much of beauty, other than their followers' cathedrals and basilicas, but then again, so does Haven.  Life goes on.

Bettellyn Army Troops Archons
Bettellyn's diplomatic trump card is, of course, its military.  From a strategic standpoint, when fully manned, its defensive layout includes 5,000 (troops or HD-worth of troops) in Uffacos in the northeast, and about as much in each of Leweo, Isoin, and Helms-Hold in the south.  Forts and castles at best house about a thousand troops each.  Minor defenses hold the peaceful southwest.  Aside from small garrisons in each town and village for civil order and law enforcement, most of the land forces otherwise remain quartered in and around Citadel.  Their duties are to head off monster raids from the western ranges, drill, kill whatever crawls out of the depths beneath Citadel, drill, participate in royal pageantry, drill, enforce the Queen’s Law, pray, and drill some more.  Half of that force moves to the Prelacy of Llyn in the winter to bivouac outside the town of Dheys.

Bettellyn Alphatia Ships Galleys Skyships Subs Submersibles 
The navy, despite its 126 vessels, is generally scattered about the realm.  One half is often at sea, on missions for the empire, typically including all sailing ships and 22 skyships.  To be accurate 31 of the small sailing ships are in fact skyships; 19 of the small galleys are submersibles.

Leweo and Brocto are the two main naval bases, with Weitara standing as a lesser third.  Their responsibility is the integrity of marine coasts and surveying ships sailing to and from Randel in particular.  Large galleys and submersibles handle the bulk of this work.  Small galleys typically patrol rivers and operate from inland towns.  A larger flotilla under the monarchy’s direct control patrols the Llyn River from Dheys to Llyn Lake.  The two war galleys and some of the subs from Corona Castle and Devouts’ Gate patrol Llyn Lake.  Galleys hailing from Uffacos keep watch over the East Llyn River.

Finally, nine remaining skyships patrol the western border with virgin Imperial Territories, and the edges of the Grey Mountains and Hammer Hills.  The latter are rigged to fight dragons, relying on ballistae fitted with grappling hooks and harpoons to tangle and tear through their wings.  Combat bays are located throughout these ships, including their undersides.  Masts are collapsed and long spikes cranked outward during battle to dissuade dragons from grabbing on.  Spellcasters are always at hand, ready to suppress fire damage.