(To all my DCC RPG players... stay out! The Judge knows)
I started a “one dungeon room” post series some time in the last year. Those posts were actually my way of making up for a friend, for whom I had promised a dungeon. As usual, I failed miserably in delivering it on time. Let me see if I can wrap it up in one final post.
As I am terrible at drawing, there is no use point using maps, so I will just describe it. Please, bear with me.
The Tower of Visions should be a frigging crystal tower, so it is easy to spot (place it wherever the Judge wants). Its entrance was envisioned to be buried; a crystal tunnel hidden in some cave. Just before the dungeon itself there should be some hostile humanoid tribe living in the caves. While outright combat could be avoided, the humanoids should be clearly hostile or at best they could be bought for a one-time pass through their territory. The idea here is (1) the party cannot retreat to rest without some cost; and (2) if they linger too much, the humanoids will start coming after them. Their only option should be forward. This is the perfect opportunity to roll some crazy humanoid from the DCC RPG Core Rulebook (actually, let me do that right now!)
The entrance to the Tower of Visions itself is the Tiger of Doors encounter, HERE.
After the that, the party will reach what I call the Shadowless Room. The Shadowless Room is party’s best place to rest in the Tower of Visions. It is a circular room entirely made of crystal that shines as bright as the sun. Yes, EVERYTHING shines here, from all directions. It is maddening. While it is possible to see for enough time to notice that there are 2 ways out, staying in the room for more than a few minutes will eventually blind any character. At the end of each minute, start asking for Fort saves (DC 10). Failure blinds you for 1d4 hours, then days, months, years and forever! Success just gives the character a -1 Die Step penalty for perception and ranged attacks for the next 1d4 hours. A blindfold can take care of the light and is the only way to stay long in the room. Now, the other weird thing about the Shadowless Room is that its eternal lights play havoc with time. Each time the ENTIRE party gets inside the room, roll a 1d4: (1) means each turn inside is 1 day outside; (2) means time outside stops, so this is the perfect opportunity for rest; (3) means time stop INSIDE, so the party cannot rest until they all leave the room and enter again; (4) means that a paradox happens. Ask the character with the lowest Luck to roll a Luck check. If they succeed, the party will actually meet themselves at the door of the Shadowless Room. Their versions from the future will not let anyone in, but will answer one question about the dungeon (and maybe cast one healing). A failure at the Luck check means time itself is broken. The party are suddenly back at the beginning of the adventure, before the cave and the first encounter, without any XP, loot, damage or whatever (but they DO retain the knowledge from the dungeon – it’s a paradox! – and the Shadowless Room does not exist anymore if they enter the dungeon again).
There are two paths from the Shadowless Room.
One leads to the Stairs of Mortality, HERE. At the end of the Stairs the party reach the Fane of the Lost Reflections, as described HERE. There is one extra item in the Fane: a Mirror Mask, shattered in half and really sharp (it is hard to hold without cutting your hands). This Mask is the key to reach the Tower’s Master. The other half will be in the end of the other path.
The other path from the Shadowless Room leads down, to the Room of the Eyeless Ogre, as described HERE.
From the Room of the Eyeless Ogre, the party finds a weird thing… instead of a room they find a giant hole opened in the otherwise indestructible crystal structure of the Tower. Something BIG broke inside the Tower and literally eat an ENTIRE ROOM (describe clear signs of giant teeth and claws). Following the hole leads the party down to a cold cave where flames burn blue and cold (and anything burned to 0 hit points here return in 1d4 minutes as a hungry un-dead). Spells that deal with darkness, cold and necromancy gain +1 Die Step and are never lost. Spells that deal with light, fire and divination are always lost once cast and the caster must roll a Luck check or suffer a minor Corruption. Divine magic suffers -1 Die Step and the cleric instantly know that the party is in another plane (which one? I don’t know. Niflheim, Gehenna, Malfeas… Judge’s call). What matter is that at the end of the tunnel the party will see themselves in a deep lake over which strange orbs of blue fire burn. There is a hoard – silver coins, jewellery, weapons etc. – and also a big dragon sleeping over it! Yes, a dragon. Do not worry about stats (but if you like it, roll a Large Dragon in DCC RPG Core Rulebook). This particular underworld dragon is sleeping, but if even a tiny coin is removed from the hoard, yes, he will awake in 1d4+1 rounds.
If the party is smart, they won’t touch anything (of course, they are players… so just wait & see). What matter is that any spellcasters (or the PC with lowest Luck) will start hearing whispers coming from the dragon’s hoard. The whisper promise “the King’s Mercy”, “Truesight’s Blessing” and other nebulous things. If the party follows the whispers, they arrive at what appears to be a crystal ball and a Mirror Mask lying in a corner of the hoard. The Mirror Mask is the other half of the one found in Fane of Lost Reflections.
The crystal ball is the one doing the whispers. It begs the party to take it “back” to the King, but it won’t give any extra instructions. As soon, as someone takes the crystal ball (or the mask), the dragon as usual will awaken. At that exact moment, the crystal ball will (mentally) cry to its bearer to “hold me before the Harbinger’s Gaze!”. If anyone manages to lift the orb in front of the dragon eyes, it will daze the gargantuan creature for 2d4 rounds.
If the dragon awakes and the party is still there, they are basically toast. The dragon will demand their names and quest, and also will ask to be entertained (if the Judge leaves that to the dice, entertaining a dragon is definitely DC 20… but only allow rolls if the PCs can come with something clever). Each success should grant the party 1d4 rounds before the dragon attack. When it (inevitably) attacks, its soul-draining breath should deal something like 4d4 Stamina damage (half if they manage a Refl DC 20). Merciful Judges can allow “Shields shall be Splintered” rules to reduce damage by half. If the dragon is mesmerized with the crystal ball, then it will attack in a mad rage as soon as it breaks free.
Other potential hazards in the dragon’s cave are: (1) it is Artic-like cold, plus there is water, so frostbite/hypothermia is in order (i.e. don’t let the party linger); and (2) the blue fire orbs that fly through the cave deal 1d4 damage and can only be extinguished by touching another living creature (this deals one final 1d4 of damage, shared by both targets, but cancels the life-draining flame). Really evil Judges can suggest that there mindless un-dead (skeletons) hidden in the water. Again, use those hazards to make the party move.
After they (hopefully) get out of the cave, they should (again, hopefully) have the Mirror Mask and the crystal ball. Joining the two halves of the Mirror Mask opens a floating gate to the last room of the Tower of Visions: The Room of the King.
The Tower is actually the retreat for the King of Cyclops, the original bastard who sold his people’s eyes in exchange for magic power. The King himself did not lost his eyes, but actually gained the power to use other people’s eyes to see their future or use their magic. He also became an accomplished thaumaturge and eventually created artificial eyes with new powers (considering that the King is a giant, those artificial eyes are actually crystal balls, and perhaps the King might have created the first crystal ball ever). The King cheated some very pissed-off Chaos Powers when he hid himself in the pocket dimension that is the Tower of Visions. If he ever steps out, he is doomed. So, he uses his crystal balls and captures eyes to see other planes and sometimes even possess and enjoy other people’s lives. As I said, make the dude a total bastard.
The King desires knowledge and experience from the real world. He will ask for one eye of each adventurer in exchange for “the power to know his own End”. That is of course the Doom that linger of most Cyclops and is more a curse than a blessing. However, if a PC says “Yes!” that PC loses the eye and his Luck stat and in exchange for the Doom rules (see the rules here). Classes that run on Luck like Thieves and Halflings will be crippled after accepting this pact, but – hey! – they can at least burn their Doom with double effect before dying.
Denying the King will result in the party getting killed, unless they offer something better. If they make a promise to do something for the King, they might be able to walk away, but they will be cursed by “The King’s Shadow”. Basically, every day they DON’T work towards their part of the bargain, they lose 1d6 Luck. When their Luck runs out their shadows become monsters (same stats and hit points as the original, but each attack ignores armor and reduce Strength by 1d6, PCs with Strength 0 are dragged screaming back to the King to have both their eyes removed before being returned to the real world as blind and probably mad creatures). Because the King’s Shadow is a curse, it can be removed if the party can find and befriend a Cyclops (good luck with that!*).
*Befriend a Cyclops is too easy for me, make the party HELP a Cyclops. I would creature a Cyclops that is in love with a giant and the party must play matchmakers here.
The King of Cyclopes (Elder Cyclops): Init +5; Atk huge fists +8 melee (1d4+4); AC 16; HD 5d8+5, 45 hit points; MV 40’; Act 3d20; SP true sight; SV Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +10; AL C. The King can use his second and third Action Die to cast a random spell as a 10th level spellcaster. He literally replaces one of his eyes with one of various flying crystal balls in the room. After so used, he can’t use that exactly spell again this encounter.
To make matters worse, every round each character will be hit by a high velocity flying crystal ball. Roll a 1d14 attack against a PC. If hit, the PC can choose to fall prone and lose his next action or suffer 1d8 damage.
One secret to defeat the King of Cyclops is to offer him the crystal ball found in the underworld dragon’s cave. If the King places that orb in his eyes, he will fall screaming and the Tower of Visions will start shaking. In 2d4 rounds the underworld dragon will come to claim the King’s live. The bastard knows he is doomed, so he will do his best to kill the characters BEFORE that happens. (Oh, if the King of Cyclops suspects that the crystal ball offered came from the dragon’s cave he will NOT touch it and will go mad with rage against the characters.)
If the party managed to kill the King of Cyclopes then the Tower of Visions will start crashing down over them. Each PC can roll a Luck check to grab a random crystal ball before running for their lives!
Having vanquished the traitorous King of Cyclopes is the greatest reward of the dungeon. Afterward, the party will always be followed by a Cyclops (use the monstrous one from the Core Rulebook). They are considered Cyclops-friend. Remember, Cyclopes are man-eating, stinky and barbarian monsters… but they all feel a true debt to the party for killing their terrible King. These Cyclops “hirelings” can be useful, but most of the time they will also give the party a lot of problem. If killed, roll a d6. Anything except a 1 means that another cyclops will show up in a few days or weeks.
There is also a good chance that the nefarious Chaos Powers that made a pact with the King will seek the party, trying to enroll them as new champions of Chaos (after all, they were useful in killing someone that tried to cheat Chaos).
What does this Crystal Ball do? (1d7)
1 – Divination. This crystal ball, if checked during the night, will warn the user about horrible things happening with him during the next day. If the character rolls a Fumble during the next 24 hours, the Fumble is treated as a normal failure. However, if the crystal ball is used by the same person two days in a row, then the next Fumble is actually made worse (add +1d10 to the Fumble Table).
2 – Wild magic. Any character can summon once per day a piece of chaotic magic (non-spellcasters roll a 1d10). Choose your favorite spell generator and roll it (I like the tables from Maze Rats). To determine the power of the spell: 1 (Minor Corruption), 2-9 (Misfire), 10-15 (success), 15+ (wild success, usually targeting an area or 1d6 targets). The Judge will tell with happens.
3 – Clairvoyance. This crystal ball can see any place that within 30 feet or that the party had visited in the last 24 hours. It can see through wood or stone, but not metal. The sensor created can see everything within 30 feet, with the same limitations of a normal person. However, there is always ONE thing that is false in the seeing (a monster, an object, a door). One detail will always be wrong.
4 – Shadow Orb. This crystal ball summons a shadow (see the stat in the Core Rulebook). This shadow will serve the Orb Master for seven nights. After that, the shadow will return to orb taking the Orb Master’s own shadow with it. The now shadowless character can never use the orb again and if attacked by a shadow in the future, he must roll Will DC 10 or be possessed.
5 – Life Ball. This crystal balls, if touched by two creatures, allows them to transfer their life force. Hit points can be passed from one character to another. Unwilling characters can be forced to touch the ball to have their life force extracted by force, usually losing 1d10 hit points per round (however, ask a Will save from both creatures, the one that rolled higher is that round’s winner and deals 1d10 to the other). Unconscious targets cannot resist. Using this crystal ball for evil stuff like draining the life of others is an open invitation for the Judge to inflict Corruption on the crystal ball user.
6 – Fate Orb. This old and cracked crystal ball works as an Invoke Patron for the Three Fates, rolling 3d10! Each time this orb is used it cracks. After three cracks the characters are pulled before the Three Fates and must complete three quests for the Patron or spent eternity trapped inside the Fate Orb.
7 – The Chaos Ball. When the power of the crystal ball are summoned Fate itself is corrupted within a 30 feet radios of the crystal ball owner. In that area Success becomes failure and Failure success. This power can be used once per day and lasts for 1d7 rounds. However, each time it is used the Judge should roll a secret d7: (1) one enemy inside the area is immune, (2-5) nothing happens, (6) the orb activates again in the next day in a moment set by the Judge, (7) the owner loses 1 Luck permanently.
(Remember, Crystal Balls are heavy and cumbersome items! Not easy to carry. Just remember the Palantir from the Lord of the Ring movies)