The Blue Tower: A Symbaroum Adventure Writing Contest Entry by Cal (@spacedickhead on twitter)
Note: this adventure involves a lot of elements from the Advanced Player’s Guide, particularly Symbolism. It’s a fairly soft introduction to them, and might be good if you’re heading East later. It’s most suitable as a short adventure for somewhat experienced characters, as the final fight can be very tough if things don’t go your way (potentially 2 Challenging NPCs). It also won’t work with murder-friendly PCs.
The adventure begins with the party talking to the travelling bard Blackhawk, presumably at a rest-stop, bar or campsite. He’s looking for some support for an expedition to a ruin he heard about in some Vajvodi fairytale.
“It wasn’t particularly good, mind you. Something about a brash lass hunting an Aboar so she can win the favor of some witch, and she learns the value of patience. Didn’t even have a part where they broke a taboo and got eaten, so I don’t really see the point.”
A loremaster or local barbarian knows the story is far more adult and euphemistic and Blackhawk’s translation was heavily sanitised.
“Anyway, there’s some part that gets real specific about this Blue Tower that an old mystic was in, who blessed the hunter with a magic mark and some mystic trinkets for her quest. Doesn’t sound like any witch or sorcerer I’ve ever heard of, and Symbaroum wasn’t the kind of place to colour things blue. I’m pretty sure I figured out where it is, and I was looking for some extra swords to see if the story’s true. Even split of treasure, and I’ll cover expenses, of course.”
A Loremaster Adept identifies this as a Symbolist, a mystic tradition from the region that focuses on esoteric Rune magics.
The journey leads roughly to the border of Vajvod and Karohar territory, south of Black Pitch Mire. Eventually someone sees glowing markers carved into the trees leading to a tower of azure blue stone, covered in carved runes, standing alone in a clearing. There is a single wooden door with a bell beside it. Any Vigilant Check reveals that it’s all been well maintained with local materials, aside from the top floor, which is covered with holes and a few cobwebs.
Unlocking the front door reveals a deteriorated entrance hall with some crude furniture. Slumped on a carved log is a hulking man-shaped figure made of blue stone and wood. His torso and arms are oversized, he some has patches of moss around, and his head is a large oval stone with a glyph of two yellow glowing vertical lines above a crescent. If the party breaks in, it is surprised by the intruders and greets them warmly but panicked in a deep voice. If they ring the doorbell, it is more composed but still nervous.
The stone figure is a Rune Guardian, a Symbolist Construct that follows the orders of its creator, which are to maintain the tower and protect the master. This one is very old and has developed some independence and personality. It attempts to keep the party from going to the top floor by stalling them with neurotic hospitality and conversation, mostly out of loneliness. It enthusiastically struggles with basic tasks, burning food or using incorrect ingredients, which provides the players an opportunity to explore the tower. It has an inbuilt Alchemical Firetube, which is used for several tasks as well as combat, but is otherwise mechanically standard. It does not have a name, but is grateful if it receives one or any compliments.
If it is asked about:
- How long he’s been here: A long time, a good few centuries. It only remembers the forest.
- Other Guests: There was a barbarian lady a long time ago (Spirited woman, dyed her hair blue with woad) who met with Weaver Deridar and got a few trinkets after a nights drinking. Other than that, a few other mystics came by to trade knowledge and favors, as well as disrespectful treasure hunters around a decade ago.
- It’s Master or Symbolism: he starts talking excitedly about his master’s (called Weaver Deridar) wisdom and understanding of the symbols that underlie reality, and is suspiciously insistent that symbolism is resistant to corruption. He mentions that Deridar does not respond well to guests and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Blackhawk goes along with the Rune Guardian’s schtick, and if the players aren’t making progress, starts telling a long-winded story to occupy the Guardian while gesturing towards the stairs. The Guardian may interrupt again on the second or third floor with awful tea and dry biscuits if the party makes noise.
The 2nd floor is a dusty storeroom covered with paintings of desert landscapes, rotted books and shelves of trinkets, knick-knacks and decorative items. Most of them are covered in blue sigils, and a few of them are glowing. A loremaster check reveals that these contain a Spell Trap, containing a spell from a different tradition that can be released one time. There is:
- a brass music box with trolls embossed on the side. When started, it sings an adept Heroic Hymn.
- A quarterstaff with a grip of a tattered scroll. Contains Dancing Weapon at Adept when thrown.
- A pressed rose flower that unleashes Adept Entangling Vines when pushed into dirt.
- a grimacing mask that casts Adept Curse at whoever the wearer glares at.
- In a locked drawer, there is also a cruel throwing axe made of black chitin, covered in sickly purple runes that hurt to look at. If thrown at someone, it casts adept Exorcise at them. It is corrupt and gives 1d4 temporary corruption when held in one’s hand.
The next floor is an artist’s studio, with a large window letting in sunlight from above the treetops. Most of the walls are covered in abstract paintings of symbols, worn with age. In front of the window on a carpet-covered heap is a cat made of animated mossy stone, much like the Rune Guardian. The cat is friendly and loves to climb on people, but is surprisingly heavy. If the pile is examined, the party finds piles of cloth, bark and canvas covered in cruder forms of the paintings around the room, as well as some vague portraits of old guests. A cunning check reveals that these were painted by the Guardian, if that wasn’t obvious.
The door upwards is stuck by webs on the other side, just visible on this side. It’s not hard to smash the door down, although it makes a loud noise that alerts the Rune Guardian. The top floor is an old bedroom, with a grand bed covered in cobwebs and dust. On the bed are four bundles of webs, which when examined contain the preserved bodies of some treasure hunters. If the room is searched with a Vigilant test, the party finds above the door is a limp human figure with long spider legs and abdomen jutting from its back, covered in sickly blight-mark glyphs and dark chitin This is what remains of Master Deridar, statted below. If the Vigilant test failed or the party searched the bed first, the abomination has already weaved a Draining Glyph into its webs, a twisting spiral that seems to lead forever into a shadow. The room isn’t large enough that it can climb away vertically from melee attacks, but there are webs everywhere as per the novice level of Web that will need to be passed to reach melee combat.
Further complicating things is that on the second round of combat, the Rune Guardian arrives. It is incredibly regretful and apologetic to the party, but nevertheless prepares to attack due to the enchantments that created him. He can be persuaded not to fight with a [Persuasive -> Resolute] test and a decent reason, and if the party gave him a name, all attempts roll twice and take the highest. He will also stop fighting if Deridar dies. If persuaded not to fight, he cannot bring himself to attack Deridar, but burns the webs with his Firetube, destroying the passive obstacles and the Draining Glyph. It is not immune to the Webs, and will need to roll to travel through them.
Once the fight is over, Blackhawk burts into the room, saying the bloody statue locked the door behind him. If the Guardian is still alive, it seems to relax, as if a great weight was lifted. It’s thankful to the party and lets them take whatever they want from the tower. There’s about 75 thaler worth of assorted artworks (Too avant-garde for most) and curios, and each Spell-trapped Trinket is worth 10 thaler each. It considers the tower home and doesn’t want to leave, but enjoyed the company and plans to turn the tower into a rest-stop for travellers in the region, and asks the party for advice. If they return after a while, he has learnt some Symbolist magic, including the ritual Spell Trap, and will use it on the party’s request.
|Traits||Natural Weapon 3, Web 2|
|STATS||Accurate 13 Cunning 11 Discrete 10 Persuasive 5 Quick 10 Strong 13 Resolute 12 Vigilant 6|
|Abilities||Draining Glyph Master|
|Weapon||Bladelike protrusions on spider legs (5, LONG)|
|Armor||Twisted remnants of a Rune Tattoo (2)|
|Toughness 13||Pain Threshold 7|
|Shadow||Charcoal Black, covered in purple, patternless webs|
|Tactics||Creates a Draining Glyph out of webs and then stalls enemies by throwing webs. Switches targets frequently and lets the Glyph finish people off. If the glyph is destroyed, it will recreate it unless in melee|
|Suggested upgrades for higher level Pcs||Robust, Poison, some smaller spiders, Corrupting Attack and Blinding Symbol. Polearm Master if you’re feeling like a real jerk|
Deridar’s Rune Guardian
|Traits||Armored (2) Natural Weapon (2) Robust (3)|
|Stats||Accurate (+5) Cunning (0) Discrete (+3) Persuasive (+1) Quick (0) Strong (-5) Resolute (-1) Vigilant (-3)|
|Abilities||Iron Fist (Adept)|
|Weapons||Hammering Fist (10 damage) Inbuilt Alchemical Firetube (6 damage, Flaming, Area of Effect, only one ammo)|
|Armor||Stone Body (6)|
|Toughness 15||Pain Threshold 8|
|Shadow||Grey and green, with some purple webs creeping at the edges (2)|
|Tactics||Arrives, apologizes, and then shoots the party with the firetube before moving into melee. Stops attacking if persuaded and burns away the webs, or if Deridar is killed.|