Dungeons of the Mind Playtest Material: The Midnight Tower

SO there is this problem with role play content. You kind of have to learn by doing. I have all those nice ideas about Ideas as a central mechanic for expressing madness, aliment, and in-world progress, but without actually trying it out it doesn’t really of use to anyone.

So, in the spirit of actually getting my ideas to a usable state, I’m going to write a dungeon that incorporate some of my ideas, to use for immediate playtest. I’m going to write it like I’ll write prep notes for a game I’ve forgotten I’m suppose to run and then just find a bunch of test subjects lovely players and run this shit.

Introducing:

The Midnight Tower

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vitapolis and the Living Dead

Vitapolis is a lovely coastal city in the middle of rich trade route that suffer from a mild case of perpetual zombie apocalypses. Each day at midnight the souls of the dead come back to haunt the city for some ancient crime. The solution for this problem was naturally to chained an Angel to the bell in the Clocktower of the city and ring it once at midnight each day, sending the awakened dead back to the grave.

Well, something went wrong. They have sent you in to figure shit out before everyone is (un)dead. Good luck.

Rules: you can rest and buy things in Vitapolis as usual as everyone is in deep denial and the buildings in the city have heavy doors, but every trip outdoor require a random encounter check:

D6Encounter
1Chimes in the soft breeze intertwined with a distance scream
2Children play on the rooftop of a nice white brick house, they wave at you and laugh
3Marry songs from a bustling inn, refusing to let in strangers, not very clear on why
4Zombie Seagulls Flock (lv1d6+2, as Chain, 2d6 pecking) devouring a running victim
5Zombie Horde (3d6 lvl1, as Leather, d6 bite), humming gospel, smile, eat man
6A moment of absolute quite. Just your footsteps and the sound of the waves. You could live with that kind of serenity, or die with it. Random PCs catch the Idea of False Serenity. Can save to negate (wisdom if applicable in you system)
The Idea of False Serenity
Takes 1 mental inventory, and double as a skill for making things calmer and telling comfortable lies. When you hold the Idea of False Serenity, you have:

1. advantage for saves against strong emotions.
2. the uncanny ability of contacting diplomacy in the middle of combat as if it was a lively coastal tavern.
3. disadvantage for initiative.

If you end a battle without shedding blood while getting horribly injure, you Internalize the Idea of False Serenity and you can wield it to talk to the weather and try to calm it as if it was a person with the appropriate emotional disposition (though failure may entail getting struck by a lightning).

Murder something in a loud manner or be confronted with the lies you told yourself and others to remove.

The Midnight Tower

The fastest dungeon-mapping technique I’ve ever heard of is Phlox’s “using your hand as a map” thing from the Charcuterie Board (page 16) so we’re going with that:

Source: My own damn hand + Deep dream generator
1 – The Stairs

Long spirally staircase. Distance screams. Lovely view of the ocean. A Parrot carry a chain of keys (will not exit the tower, hungry, chatterbox: “Oh the pain! the pain!”, “you have no idea what you’ve done!”, “please captain greenfeather, call for help…. *cough*”).

Locked door to the Keeper’s Room at the end (easily breakable, but this alerts the Keeper) to the Keeper’s Room.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
2 – Keeper’s Room

Small room with a large window to the city and various Heavy Clockwork Instruments hanged all over the wall (10 inventory slot, considered a Treasure if sold at non-apocalyptic city).

The Dead Keeper (lvl 6, as Chain, d12 pendulum) is staring at the window expressionless. Clearly been stabbed in the back. If alerted (by load sounds, in his roon or elsewhere in the Midnight Tower) he starts to weep, murder the PCs, and apologize profusely. He Blame the Apprentice.

Beyond the Keeper is a Ladder to the Rafter, a Locked door to the Bellroom and a visible Trapdoor to Clockworks.

3- Rafters

Slippery from the sea fume. Amazing scenery of the whole town with it’s brilliant white bricks and colorful silks. Random PCs catch the Idea of False Serenity. Can save to negate. 50% there are Zombie Seagulls Flock (lv1d6+2, as Chain, 2d6 pecking) nesting there.

About 20m further the mosaic of the Bellroom is visible. Extra Slippery from anti-seagull-shit blessing. Breakable. See-through. Immovable without expert and lots of labor, but If the PC find a way to remove it and bring it to another city, it’s considered a Treasure.

4- Clockworks

Hot, pitch dark, constant ticking, wrong turn might get you into a turning gear (d6 damage or get stuck until you tear off your armor) 3 terrified maintenance goblins (lvl0, d4 wrench or d8+deafness Holy Bell Clapper, expert engineers, henchmen material). They were starving if not for the undead and chained Apprentice, and they got the Holy Bell Clapper (d8 + deafness for a minute, magical, automatically destroy undead on crit) but they are afaid to put it back because of the Keeper and the Dead Adventurous Sailors.

Long search (or the goblins) would reveal a trapdoor opening right under the Bell of the Bellroom.

4- Bellroom

Wonderful big room mosaic depicting an Angel singing the dead to sleep.

The last people the cityfolk have hired for this job, 6 Dead Adventurous Sailors (lvl 1 + one lvl 3 captain, as leather, d8 axes and swords, crafty and prone to tripping the adversary and ganging up on them) are dancing around Humongous Copper Bell that is missing a clapper.

Two pendulum swing rhythmically from one side of the room to the other with considerable force (potentially 2d6 damage)

While in the Bellroom, the sailors are free from the undead hunger and each speak for the Angel in turn. If one of the PC is infected with the Idea of False Serenity they can also hear it clearly.

It needs a city official to set it free, and would offer to take the PCs, the official and their family away in exchange. This is a Major Deed, so one PC go up a level if they set it free.

They might agree to lull the dead to sleep one last time, but they hate doing so, as the dreams of the dead are distasteful. They can also bestow some other appropriate boon (like an ever blissful sleep that grant immunity from mind magic, divine musical talent, or just the friendship of lvl12 Angel).

If the PC are uncooperative, the Angel would stop singing, and the sailors would start weeping and initiate combat in d4 rounds (or when attacked).

If the Holy Bell Clapper is properly installed into the bell and rang:

  1. The apocalypse of the city ends, and at least for the day – the dead go back to sleep. After being notify some city official would make sure the bell would keep on ringing, so the city is saved.
  2. This is a Major Deed, so one PC go up a level.
  3. The ringing PC feel the scorn of the Angel. The weight of their act sink in, they have sentence an immortal to prison for the sake of others. They catch the Idea of Chains (no save).
The Idea of of Chains
Takes 1 mental inventory, and double as an expert skill (double bonus) for convincing people to do distasteful things for the greater good. When you hold the Idea of False Serenity, you have:

1. The unshakable loyalty of you henchman. Their moral never break, but it would have been broken otherwise and you do not order a retreat, they would quite in the next chance they have.
2. The liking of Devils (+1 reaction level).
3. constant nightmares of weeping dead (1 in 6 to waste rest).

If you encounter another chained immortal and leave them in chains for the good of many, you Internalize the Idea of Chains and you can wield it as plate armor when doing what you must.

Refuse to do something on principle or convince yourself its just a magical curse of the angel have to remove.
Anvar saifutdinov, An angel with a hand bell
Source: Wikimedia Commons which is the fucking best

Next up – play report. Hopefully.

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