This is a Discovery, and a set of associated Challenges, for Grand Adventure.
The tower stands solitary on a grassy plain. It has the shape of a forearm, capped with a defiantly closed fist. The stonework is rough and functional. There are enough outcroppings and imperfections that a dedicated climber could scale it. Its brown granite contrasts with the verdant green of the fields around it. In the distance, misty mountains and their snow-capped peaks are visible.
The tower should evoke surprise. It is the site of many strange magical experiments. Animals around the tower will be smarter and stranger than their mundane cousins elsewhere, whether due to magical modification or simply exposure to bizarre energies. Water from the well at the base of the tower glows a faint violet. Blue lights play around the top of the tower at night.
The inside is a crazy maze of corridors and rooms, sealed with doors that open and close themselves on a whim. Shelves are wooden, asymmetric, and oddly angled, the product of inexpert and impatient carpentry. Strange flasks of stranger liquids are crowded onto the shelves, glowing with every color of the rainbow. They look like they could slide off and spill at any moment. Stacks of arcane tomes lean haphazardly against the walls.
The PCs may be interested in the magician of the tower. Or the magician may be absent, and the PCs want to acquire something: a rare relic, an important book, or something similar.
These challenges are appropriate for characters with at least one three-star Word. Adjust the numbers if you think it should be more or less difficult.
On the way to the Magician's Tower, the PCs bed down for the night. They see and hear strange things — noises in the night, glowing eyes in the distance beyond the light of their campfire, whatever. If they stay put and sleep, they'll be visited in their dreams. Either way, they'll be confronted with shadowy figures and strange portents.
The Omen seeks to ferret out the adventurers' secrets. It's a spirit, sent by the Magician to investigate them. If the PCs seem confrontational, it will give them phantasmal enemies to fight. If they prefer to talk, it will ask strange questions and pose odd riddles. It won't seem hostile or malicious. Even if directly attacked, it will be mostly curious.
Stages: 6 □□□ (confrontation)
Twists: Twists for this Challenge should all be unique to the PCs involved. For example, a combat-focused character might be presented with an image of their rival — or a mirror image of themselves — who is ready to fight.
The Urn is a slightly cracked piece of crockery, animated by sorcery. It cannot talk, but should otherwise be lively and emotive. It can move quickly by hopping, and can use its handles as grasping arms.
While not fully intelligent, it has instincts and a will of its own. It wants the same thing as any urn: to hold things of value. Its unfortunate lot in life is to store wine or water for the Magician. It wants to increase its standing by holding something more valuable - like something shiny the adventurers are carrying, or a relic they seek within the tower! It will steal this thing, then make its escape, hoping to show off to the Magician.
- 9 □□□ (a merry chase)
- 11 □□ (hiding out)
- 13 □ (the final showdown)
- Fast (3): The Urn can really move fast for a lousy stinkin' jar.
- Identical (6): The Urn is identical in description to many others in the tower, and if it hides among its fellows, the adventurers will need to use wits and tricks to pick it out.
- Tricked! (♡): The Urn led you into a dead-end, surprise, or other strange corner of the tower. What happens?
- Allies! (♡♡): The Urn has friends in the Tower, like the self-closing doors. Do you get cut off or otherwise imperiled during the chase?
- Treat! (♡♡♡): If the adventurers think to tempt the Urn with something more valuable, it may fall for the trick. Can you get the original item back? Can you keep the offering you make?
The Magician is a slightly cracked piece of work, and an expert in sorcery. The Magician might be a he or a she or something the PCs aren't quite sure about, but they're powerful. They have full knowledge of everything that transpires in the tower.
The Magician is not inclined to help the characters at first. They're bumbling oafs, dull-witted clods, simpletons who don't grasp the first twinklings of magic. MCs with a flair for dialogue might find Dr. Smith's Insults from "Lost in Space" a useful resource. That said, the Magician isn't evil or malicious, just cranky and busy. If the adventurers can convince them that things are urgent, they'll eventually come round. But a Magician's help is never free…
The Magician's aid, and needs, should set up the next direction for the story to take. Maybe they have a quest that the PCs must undertake to earn aid. Maybe what the PCs want isn't accessible to the Magician, but they can point the way. The Magician might even be willing to train junior spell-casters, if they show promise and humility.
- 12 □ ("get off my lawn!")
- 15 □ ("young whippersnappers!")
- 18 □ ("well, I'll think about it")
- Shielded (10): The Magician's barriers and protections cover physical, mental, and magical intrusions of all kinds.
- Powerful (15): Despite their quirks, the Magician is quite skilled and potent. Direct assault, physical or magical, will be met with swift retribution.
- Toad! (♡): Impertinent or impatient PCs might get polymorphed into frogs! Does the Magician go this far, or do you back down first?
- Urned a Friendship! (♡♡): The Magician loves their creations, including the Magic Urn. Did you show kindness to it earlier?
- Good Omen! (♡♡♡): The Omen was a test of character for the group. Did you pass, in the Magician's eyes?
- Worthy Apprentice! (♡♡♡♡): If any PC has a flair for magic, and presents themselves as a student, the Magician will warm to them (and only them).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Face-urn is used with permission, see File:Face_urn-Roman_1st_century.jpg for details.