Saturday, 2 October 2010

Tower of the Ape Lord

Background
There is no actual Ape Lord. Many many years ago, this tower belonged to a witch doctor who wanted to learn the secrets of imortality and engaged in a foul ritual to prolong his life beyond death, hoping to turn himself into a lich. The ritual failed, but the sorcerer has managed to retain some sort of presence in the tower, focused on his skull.

As years passed, a large family of apes moved into the tower. Through generations, the ghostly presence of the witch doctor influenced the apes who, although not really intelligent, formed a sort of pseudo-religious cult around his skull. Although powerless in the physical world, the sorcerer has been able to act through the apes as his agents to some degree.

Area 1: Outside the tower
Emerging from a jungle into a large clearing, the characters will see a tower of white, sun-baked clay, with many beams potruding all arround the surface. The tower is some 40ft. high, and seems to be in a state of some disrepair.

In front of the tower are a few large apes, lazing in the sun. If the characters approach, the apes will try to scare them off by barring their teeth, screaming and jumping wildly. The ruccus will attract the attention of several other apes in the surroundings and on the inside of the tower.

If the characters decide to press on, the apes will retreat to the entrance or start climbing the outside walls. They will try to avoid any sort of direct physical conflict, but will start throwing dung and small stones at the party if it continues towards the entrance.

The stones are fairly harmless, and do 1d3-1 damage on a hit. Poop doesn't do damage (except maybe to the character's pride), but on a critical, a character will get a fistfull of doo-doo in his face, which will effectively blind him, until he cleans it out of his eyes (1d2 rounds).

If the party's progess is not halted, the apes will continue to retreat inside the tower and up the walls, avoiding confrontation.

The apes will scale the walls with graceful ease. If a character tries to follow, it requires a moderate Climbing check.

Area 2: The ground floor
Upon entering the tower, the characters will see the apes retreating up a shoddy wooden stairwell. The ground floor is a hollow, dark chamber, full of carcasses of small animals and rotting remains of wooden objects that could have been furniture. The air is damp and stuffy, and full of unpleasant smells. There are vines and other small plants growing everywhere.

A moderate search will reveal what appears to be a sacrificial knife of black vulcanic glass. A thorough search will reveal a rotting trapdoor concealed by a jumble of vines. The trapdoor leads to Area 5, the earthen cellar.

Area 3: The shoddy stairwell
If the characters progress up the stairwell, they will discover it is pretty unstable, but seems to be holding together for the moment. The apes will be waiting for the characters at each of the four landings and continue with their poop flinging and the occasional stone. At any sign of violence they will escape further up the stairs.

If the characters reach the third landing, most of the adult apes will start congregating in the top chamber, but some will attempt to get behind the characters' backs. The apes can travel with normal speed on the outside of the tower, so it's not hard for them to exit through a window on the top floor and re-enter through the main entrance.

If the characters reach the fourth landing, the last one before the top chamber, the apes will attempt to collapse the stairs before and after the characters (1 in 6 chance on the first round, +1 each next). The landing itself will remain stable regardless of what happens with the stairs.

Area 4: The top chamber
If the characters reach the top chamber, they will face a narrow doorway that opens into a relatively small (20 ft. across) round room, packed full of angry apes. In the center of the room is a round table of volcanic stone. The apes surround it and will fight anyone who enters the room. This time, the creatures will not retreat automatically, but will fight the characters, until severely hurt or more than 1 3rd of their number is dead, at which point they will try to escape through the window.

On the table is resting a skull, with two rubies worth some 150gp each, inset in its eyesockets. The spirit of the sorcerer inhabits the skull, but his powers are extremely limited. He cannot move, hear or speak, but he can see through the gemstone "eyes". The eldest ape in the room will climb on the table and brandish the skull above its head as a sort of head-dress, directing the skull's gaze according to its master's unspoken commands.

The skull's gaze can hex one character at a time, causing a minor heart attack on a failed save.

If the skull is destroyed or the rubies removed, the sorcerer's spirit will be banished from this plane of existence and the skull will lose all its "power". Even if the skull is kept without being damaged, the sorcerer will refuse to help and/or use its powers to the character's aid.

Area 5: The earthen cellar
The cellar is a very small, damp, dark room with a low ceiling. In the middle of the ground is a shallow, uncovered grave containing a barebone skeleton minus a head (see Area 4). The skeleton is adorned with several gp worth of primitive jewelry and overgrown with strange yellow fungi.

If disturbed, the fungi will release a cloud of poisonous spores that will cause everyone in the room to start choking and suffer the effects of drowning on a failed save. The effect will persist for as long a character remains in the room (or 3d6 rounds -which is how long it takes for the spores to subside-, whichever is longer) plus 2d6 rounds.

Creatures
Adult Apes
# appearing 3d12+2
HD 1+1
AC 12
Attacks: Throw +1 (stone 1d3-1 or dung) or 2x Claw +1 (1d4) or Bite +2 (1d6)

Treasure
*Vulcanic Glass Ritual Knife +1 damage vs. cold-based creatures 50gp
*2x ruby, 150gp individual
*primitive necklaces, armbands and brooches, 10gp

Where to next?
The top chamber of the tower is just above the treeline and the view from it reveals several columns of smoke further to the North East. In that direction lies the village of a local tribe.

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