This module, as it was intended, revolved around the search for the lost tower of Losarcum. The underlying premise was that the tower was never really destroyed in the explosion that laid waste to it’s surrounding areas. The tower was actually moved to Taladas by the Arch mage Abi-dalzim, who used ancient magic secure the tower somewhere in Taladas. Abi-dalzim was supposed to be an obscure character, who would remain hidden throughout the storyline. I never intended him to be dead – he was just not there. I took the name from the 2nd edition Player’s Handbook, where the spell Abi-dalzim’s Horrid Wilting was one of my favorite spells. Besides, it’s a cool sounding name. Anyway, the hunt for the lost tower was to be the event everything else revolved around. I even went to so far as to incorporate some of my favorite modules into the storyline, by modifying them to fit the Dragonlance setting. Drums on Fire mountain and Pharaoh were the first ones in what was supposed to be along line of “refurbished” classic modules.
The module was supposed to be an epic quest that would take the characters all over the world. At the same time, I intended to introduce a lot of new fractions and general changes around the world, to give Dragonlance a grittier more mature feel with stronger emphasis on roleplaying. Introducing Taladas was another goal, which was largely inspired by the novels that came out at the time. Chris Pierson’s Taladas trilogy is in my opinion one of the best Dragonlance series ever written. I had high hopes for a Taladas sourcebook as well as a fresh perspective on the Dragonlance setting. As we all know, that did not happen.
This module takes place partly on the other Krynn continent: Taladas. Events in this module, however, are closely linked to the continent of Ansalon, which will also function as the starting point of this adventure.
During the age of might, the three moon gods bestowed upon their followers seven magical foundation stones. These stones were imbued with the essence of High Sorcery and were meant to channel the arcane powers into one single powerbase. These stones were used to build the Towers of High Sorcery. The two remaining stones are believed to lost, one destroyed by the dwarves of Thorbardin, the other lost in a battle that took place eons ago. However, as is often the case, history is not an exact science and reality is often subjective. As for the two missing stones their whereabouts are clouded in mystery. Only two of the most unlikely creatures know what happened. A dark mage and a shadow dragon are the only ones who know where to find the missing stones – and they are not telling.
During the conflict with the dwarves of Thorbardin, some of the members of the Conclave felt they needed a backup plan in case things did not go their way. When Greyfen the renegade showed his true colors and his treachery became apparent one of the mages decided to act on his own accord and he teleported into Thorbardin, as the dwarves were about to destroy the stone. The mage used his most potent magic and slew scores upon scores of dwarves in the process of retrieving the stone. Upon claiming the stone the wizard used the corridors of magic to reach safety within the walls of his tower. The wizard was none other that the infamous Abi-dalzim, who was known for his destructive magic as well as his willingness to unleash his full power on his enemies.
Nightmare the Shadow dragon
The story of Abi-dalzim
Abi-dalzim the arch mage is truly a man of legend. He lived a very long time ago, so not many historical resources exist that pertain to his life. However, it is an established fact that he devised some o the most powerful spells known today. He was a student of destructive magic so many of his spells are used by war wizards and their like.
If the player characters decide to research the history of Abi-dalzim, there is a list below, which indicates some of the available information. Not all information is correct and it is left up to the dungeon master to determine which, if any, is true.
- Abi-dalzim was born in Khur.
- He became a powerful wizard of the Black Robes.
- He was known for his invocation spells.
- He rose to power as a member of the Conclave of Wizards.
- He believed in the use of force to ensure the survival of the order of High Sorcery.
- He decided to claim the stone of three for himself to ensure its survival.
- He killed scores of dwarves in the process of retrieving the stone.
- He is believed to have destroyed many members of the Conclave because they wanted to hand over the stone to the dwarves in exchange for peace.
- He was labeled a traitor and renegade despite seemingly being a favorite of the moon gods.
- He fled Ansalon and arrived on Taladas, where he planted the foundation stone.
- The gods of magic raised a tower of High Sorcery in Taladas where he planted the stone.
- Abi-dalzim was now to have befriended a shadow dragon named Nightmare.
- Scholars say he was instrumental in the founding of the Aurim Empire in Taladas. The stone of three was used to form the base of the mightiest tower in the capitol. The stone might still be there.
- Some scholars claim that Maladar the Faceless harnessed the power of the stone in order to boost his own might.
- Abi-dalzim was the first “Zulkir of Aurim”. He disappeared without a trace and his successor was chosen among the council members as per his written instructions. The successor was Lord Xymian, who was in all actuality Nightmare the dragon in disguise.
- The stone’s power transformed the nature of the tower underneath which it had been placed. Over the years the tower absorbed the arcane energies and the individual stones melted into a single smooth structure of black stone. The red and white minarets glowed at night and became beacons of the capital of Aurim. Only a very select few knew of the arcane properties of the tower. Most people thought it was enchanted by some mage to show off his or her powers.
Abi-dalzim the Arch Mage
Power structure of Kuhr
Khur is a place where most of the Ansalonian organizations concentrate their efforts after the War of the Lance. The Hierarchs are currently fighting the Green Dragonarmy as well as the locals for domination. At the same time the Conclave of wizards are trying to regain some of their lost power, by building a new Tower of High Sorcery.
This remote location was once home to a great nation known as Khurana. It was ruled by the pharaohs for many generations, but internal war and conflict tore the land to pieces. Since then the land we now know as Khur has been ruled by an uneasy alliance of Zulkirs lead by a Kahn.
The system now mostly resembles a feudal system with a complex network of vassals and lords. The Kahn Khuri-Tal of the Wastes does not rule because of his abilities a ruler, but rather because he command the biggest army. The ten Zulkirs pay their respects to the Kahn, but only out of intimidation and fear of war. The Zulkirs themselves fight amongst each other to increase their land/power base as well as the oases so vital to the survival in the desert.
After the War of The Lance, the Green Dragonarmy has lost much of its power in this region, mostly due to the lack of support from the green dragons that withdrew in the wake of that conflict. However, the Dragon Highlord still commands a sizeable force that does not hold any real sway over any land, but constantly seeks to ally itself with the different Zulkirs. The green dragon army is theoretically under the command of the Dark Queen, but since her banishment from Krynn there is no real coherence in the orders given.
The fall of Neraka left big gaps in the power structure in the region. Suddenly the oppression of the Green Dragonarmy was pretty much gone, which left the path open for the Hierarchs of Shrentaek to grab some power for themselves. However, instead of a full frontal attack the Hierarchs have opted to bide their time and wait for the warring factions to tire before invading. This means that the Hierarchs are sending spies into the region with the sole purpose to make it as unstable as possible. So far they have not been successful but with the aid of the Trade house Pandra from Palanthas this situation might just change.
The House of Pandra
Being traders by nature, the Pandra House is very interested in war in this region. People in war are always in dire need of supplies and who better to provide them with weapons than the Pandra House. Of course, being devout followers of Hidukkel helps them to achieve their goals. The Pandarians are following a two tier strategy, which means that they are trying to expand their influence in two major places in Ansalon. Firstly, they are involved in the conflicts plaguing Khur; secondly, they are deeply involved in the upcoming assault on Daltigoth. The Pandra House hopes to be able to put people in the right places if they involve themselves in these two conflicts.
The Conclave of Wizards
The Conclave is mostly trying to regain power in the region. Khur has in many ways become a sanctuary for renegades who do not want to adhere to the rules of the Conclave. The Conclave believes that by building a new Tower of High Sorcery they will be able to control the region better and thereby rid them of the renegade menace. Therefore, the Conclave has dispatched a great many spies to the region who mainly try to gather information while trying to locate the site of the old Tower of High Sorcery in Losarcum. Other spies are concerned with the local government and several of these have risen to high ranking positions among the local tribes.
The Taladas connection
With the involvement of the Pandra house, the followers of Hidukkel are very active in the power struggle. Thusly, many assassins from Taladas are roaming the region doing the bidding of their master. Fearing the growing cult of Ionthas the followers of Hidukkel believe that they may find a defense against the Father of All and Nothing among all the desolate sites in the dessert.
The cult of Ionthas
The cultists are not surprisingly trying to free their dark lord from his eternal prison. They are based in the dessert, where they raid caravans and search the lost tombs of the Pharaohs for clues to reach their goal. They have spies in the major cities, and their presence can usually be detected by the macabre murders that seem to follow them.
The adventure begins.
The players find themselves in Khuri-Kahn, the largest city in the area and home to the ruling council. Normally the weather is hot and dry, but lately the nights have grown colder, and the days seem to be a little less scorching.
The players find themselves in the desert on their way to Khuri-Khan for undisclosed reasons. The journey has been long and hard, and they find their supplies dwindling at an alarming pace. Fortunately, they stumble upon a big camp made out of tents. What the players do not know, is that this is actually a meeting between the leading Zulkirs, who are supposed to elect the next Khan. Unbeknownst to the Zulkirs, the Hierarchs are monitoring their meeting and intend to attack during the meeting itself. This attack is supposed to divide the Zulkirs, allowing the Hierarchs to invade Khur while the Zulkirs are fighting among themselves.
As you walk through the desert you feel the sun beating down on you tired bodies. Water is running low and the thirst is almost unbearable. Suddenly you hear noise like a gathering of people is close by. Is this another mirage or…
As the players climb over the next dune an amazing site meets their tired and dry eyes.
Myriads of tents are stretched out over the desert sand. In the middle there is what appears to be a large oasis, complete with water and palm trees. Armed guards patrol the perimeter while
The inhabitants are going about their business. You are immediately spotted by the nearest guard, who ask you your business.
If the PCs answer truthfully and polite the guard will bring them into the camp, where they will be offered refreshments. It should be apparent that these people are friendly and the PCs should act accordingly.
As the PCs seem to able men and women, they are offered jobs as mercenary guards for Zulkir Haman-Khan, who is present in the camp. The pay is good and the PCs will be allowed to travel to Khuri-Khan as part of the caravan after the end of the meeting.
Enter the Hierarchs
The meeting takes place at night around a huge bonfire. Each Zulkir is allowed to bring five bodyguards so the players have the opportunity to present. The discussions mostly revolve around subjects that the PCs cannot relate to so after a while they may start to lose interest and the guards will probably be down.
From out of nowhere a huge black shadow crashes through the perimeter. This creature is none other than Mathaax, personal enforcer of Xenvelen the highest ranking Hierarch alive. He is followed by a number of human henchmen. The battle is extremely bloody and may result in the death of one or more Zulkirs. The PCs should act to save their Zulkir while battling the attackers. After a ferocious battle the attackers are forced to retreat and the PCs will have made a name for themselves.
All of a sudden you hear the sound of thunder. Everybody jumps to their feet, though too late meet the enormous the shadow that suddenly crashes into the meeting ground. Before you stands a huge minotaur with jet black fur. In his hand he holds a huge gleaming sword which swings at the nearest guard.
The day after the attack on the Zulkir council another meeting is called. The mood is bad and the Zulkirs accuse each other of staging this attack. However, further bloodshed is avoided on account of the advisor of Zulkir Kreanon. The advisor is none other than Charon Webster, who in disguise is trying to keep the Zulkirs from starting a civil war. As an agent of the Conclave, he is interested in keeping the peace so he can find the location of the ancient Tower of High Sorcery.
He suggests that, as a peace offering and sign of good will, the Zulkirs should try to lift the curse that has plagued the western part of the country. According to Charon Webster, the key to lifting the curse is to be found in the ancient pyramid of Amun-re located four days travel to the west. Amun-re was the last of the ancient pharaohs who used to rule the land now known as Khur.
If the players do not volunteer Zulkir Haman-Khan suggests that they undertake this quest. They will be handsomely rewarded.
Run the “Pharaoh” (I3) scenario by Tracy and Laura Hickman
If the DM does not have access to this module I suggest that he or she make up an alternate quest. However, to continue this module the quest should probably involve an element of restoring the desert to fertile land. Lifting the curse and restoring the oasis will provide resources to the region. Furthermore, accessing the pyramid will leave clues to the players about the cult of Ionthas as well as historical information about the lost empire.
The life of a hero
Upon completing their quest to lift the curse of Amun-re, the PCs travel to the fabled city of Khuri-Khan. Here they will enjoy the sweet life of semi celebrities for a little while.
In Khuri-Khan the players may spend some of their new found wealth on equipment. Wizards should have few problems locating a Three Moon Shop where to replenish their spell components and maybe even trade magical items within reason.
Thieves may wish to explore or even join the local guild in order to train or trade goods.
Rumors start to fly around the dock area that the sea is filled with pirates. Pirates are not unknown in this part of the world, but these pirates seem better organized than before. Furthermore, the ships that are plundered are never destroyed; the ships are left drifting around without any sign of the crew or the cargo. Nobody knows where the pirates come from, but research into the matter reveals that there is an island called Teki-Nura-Ria. It is believed to be deserted but it is probably the best thing to a base of operations any pirate could find.
Run “Drums on Fire Mountain” (X8) by Grame Morris and Tom Kirby with modifications: KalnaKaa is not a mage but a priest of Ionthas. He is the leader of the cult in the area, and he is looting ships in order to supply his temple with human sacrifices.
Upon returning from the Fire Mountain the characters find a great deal of disturbing events have taken place since they were last here. It appears that despite the defeat of the marauders of Fire Mountain ships are still being attacked. However, this time around there is no clues as to who is behind these attacks.
The mastermind behind these attacks is none other than the Sea witch Sagarassi. She is attempting to divert attention away from the ancient pyramids located in the dessert.
The sea witch is more than the legend parents tell their children to scare them into submission. Although her existence is shrouded in dark mystery knowledge of her has spread through the eastern part of Ansalon. She is the main character in many a scary story although her name rarely the same in each story. However, scholars have established a correlation between these stories. Throughout Ansalon and Taladas, she is known as a powerful mage (wizard 20+) of incredible evil. She is believed to be behind the wars that have so ravaged the underwater kingdoms as well as surrounding areas. Furthermore, some people claim that the witch has lent her aid to several vicious warlords that have caused trouble from Nordmaar to Flotsam.
Nobody seems to know anything tangible about the origins of the sea witch. However, it seems fairly certain that she first surfaced seven or eight centuries ago. She rose to power among the inhabitants in the underwater realms between Ansalon and Taladas, and subsequently launched her devastating attacks against Watermere. She was eventually defeated when her armies fell apart for reasons unknown. When the victors ransacked her dwelling Sagarassi was gone without a trace. The raiders found powerful magical items meant for summoning and conjuration. It was assumed that the witch had called upon the aid of abyssal beings to aid her in her conquest. But for some reason her magic went awry and she was unable to retain control. The invaders decided to destroy the entrance to the caverns of the sea witch along with the remainders of her arcane experiments.
For a very long time Sagarassi was not a factor in the region until a group of adventurers decided to raid her caverns. Apparently they saw things so horrible that they were unable to talk about it. Only one adventurer escaped and before he died he talked about some horror from beyond, which had killed his friends. Since then nobody has sought out the lost caverns of Sagarassi.
Sagarassi is by far one of the mightiest inhabitants of Krynn. Thusly, player characters will most likely never meet her face to face until they reach epic level. However, they may run into ancient references to her, which may allow them to piece together her history and background upon escaping the Abyss.
Sagarassi wasted no time returning to her old lair. Here she managed to regain a large portion of her lost power. Unfortunately she was discovered by a group of adventurers who she promptly slew. One managed to get away and Sagarassi feared that her return to Krynn had been noticed. She decided to seal her caverns again and she departed her underwater kingdom. She shifted her attention towards Khur where she knew of old pyramids dedicated to the dark god Ionthas. She intends to harness the power she believes is hidden within these pyramids. However, the Chaos War and the Cataclysm has changed Ansalon dramatically and so far the sea witch has been unsuccessful in her endeavors. Furthermore, the tombs have been sealed off making it even more difficult to penetrate the ancient temples.
Sagarassi herself has many allies. Her most influential ally is Jiathuli, the demon queen of spiders who lends her aid to Sagarassi. Why the demon queen is interested in the pyramids is an enigma, but ancient texts claim that she was once a prisoner beneath one of these temples. These same texts suggest that the ancient crypts are somehow related to Ionthas and some elemental evil.
It appears as if the sea witch has changed her strategy. Instead of warfare she is now a lot more subtle, which makes her even more dangerous to the people of Taladas and Ansalaon.
The Wind Dukes of Ye’Cind
Opposing Jiathuli and Sagarassi are the four wind dukes of Ye’Cind also known as the four gods of the Dargonesti. These entities function as demigods, although knowledge about them is not wide spread across Krynn. History suggests that the wind dukes were once mortals who were elevated to the status of demigods to combat the influence of Ionthas. The wind dukes are considered champions of creation and preservers of life and balance. They are revered by the snow elves and to a certain extent by the Dargonesti. They do not seem to be too concerned about attracting worshippers although they do have powerful agents on Krynn.v