I wanted to do a small homebrew scenario for a change, and as I sat listening to Ritchie Blackmoor’s Rainbow, the idea that came to me was of an abandoned tower in the desert. Here, a wizard had been researching the Fly power, and having mistakenly thought he’d got it right, tried it – and fell to his death. (In Beasts & Barbarians, sorcerors can’t learn the Fly power, but I reasoned this wouldn’t stop them trying, just stop them succeeding.)
On his death, his slaves revolted and slaughtered his apprentices and guards, looted the tower, and made off. The tower is now haunted by his ghost, and full of smashed equipment and bodies decayed almost to skeletons. In honour of the inspiration, I named the wizard Blackmoor. The tower itself I generated using Zack’s rules from the Vornheim City Kit; 2d6 stories high, 1d6 rooms per level arranged like the spots on the die.
Meanwhile, Jughal the Restless wants his eyes back. I upgraded him to a liche, but kept the Fast Regeneration; he has been following the party with Invisibility cast – under the No Power Points option this stays up until he drops it, is Shaken, or falls asleep, and being undead he doesn’t sleep. Seeing the party enter the tower, and all the skeletons inside, he decides to animate them and attack the party.
I had worried about what treasure to put there for the party, but I need not have been concerned; they became engrossed in a hula-hoop competition using the hoops from some smashed barrels, and McGyvering a scorpion launcher for the Warforged out of scrap metal and some scorpions they found in a crack in the walls. They did find a book of legends casting some light on Jughal, although not the full story.
I had also wondered what opposition would be appropriate, but that was almost superfluous too. The Warforged and Garstrewt came to blows over Blackmoor’s library. Gutz became convinced that the tower itself was magical and had granted him the power of flight; he made a flying squirrel costume out of his cloak and a pair of goggles, and threw himself off the top of the tower. If Nessime hadn’t used Entangle to grab him, that would have ended in tears.
By interviewing Blackmoor’s ghost, they did discover that he hadn’t animated the skeletons to attack them, but they didn’t believe him on the grounds that anyone who throws slaves off a tower to test his fly spells is obviously untrustworthy. Never mind, they’ll work it out eventually.
So, one lesson to be learned is that the PCs will read all kinds of things into whatever I describe, and some of them will have a ball doing it.
Another lesson is that I made a basic GM mistake, in not having something for every character to do. Athienne’s player ended by wondering what her role in the party was, and Gutz, as previously described, threw himself off the tower.
I could summarise both of those by quoting a proverb: The Devil makes work for idle hands.