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The Tower of Lizards
Author: Dru Pagliassotti
System: D&D Forgotten Realms
Requirements: levels 3-5, good-aligned, magical weapons
Romance. Players investigate a series of diamond robberies and get drawn into a romance, complete with rescuing a maiden in a tower. Suggested levels 3-5, good-aligned; magical weapons will be necessary to defeat some of the monsters.
ABSTRACT: Romance. Players investigate a series of diamond robberies and get drawn into a romance, complete with rescuing a maiden in a tower. Suggested levels 3-5, good-aligned; magical weapons will be necessary to defeat some of the monsters.
NOTES: This adventure makes reference to a few names from TSR's Waterdeep and from Flying Buffalo's Citybook series; use or discard as desired. DM will need two maps - one wealthy noble's estate for the initial capture of the thief, and one of a tower for the Tower of Lizards. (I wish I could tell you which tower map I'd used for this, but I honestly can't remember.) This adventure works best with a good-aligned party. NPCs are provided at the bottom of the adventure.
The DM might want to use a chalkboard to write all of Benedict's words - I did and it worked well throughout the campaign (he became a continuing NPC).
DM'S BACKGROUND: About eighteen years ago, a young street witch named Cariole succeeded in catching the eye of the powerful Magus Lord Adrian "Lightcaller," a mage specializing in the use of light-based spells. Other mages tried to warn Lightcaller away from the girl, who was already known in the Order as a bad seed, but he was deaf to their warnings and their romance lasted a tumultuous year and half, until Adrian was killed in a back street down in the Chifes, where he sometimes did missionary work. Rumor has it that Cariole had spiked his drink with Morhiet root, or "Wizardsbane" - which makes a mage incapable of tapping into the akasic patterns to use magic. However, she did retreat in mourning, only to reappear a year later and enjoy her rather large inheritance.
What nobody knows is that the Witch Cariole had given birth to Adrian's child in that time, a girl she named Marie-Catherine. Witch Cariole's pet oracle, then only eleven, prophesied to her that "Lightcaller's whelp will call the darkness on her mother when the Dragon roars and light dances from her hair and hands." Fearing this prophesy, Cariole decided to make sure the girl never saw light at all, and locked her into the Tower of Lizards, which had once belonged to Lightcaller's mentor, Mordecai Lake, and had passed to Adrian after Lake's death.
Cariole visits the girl every once in a while, and once tried to kidnap a child to be the girl's companion, but that scheme failed when her bodyguard Raphael took pity on the boy and freed him - Sebastien Gerhard is the youngest mage in the Order and the whole affair around his kidnapping has led to Cariole's virtual ostracization from that mage's guild. However, Cariole has seen to the girl's education and upkeep, and the girl herself has developed into a beautiful young lady of sixteen.
Marie-Catherine has always led a lonely life, and thus has learned to amuse herself by reading, playing a variety of instruments, singing, and making up stories. One night she was playing the pipes, and strains of music drifted down into the ears of a crippled young beggar-thief, Benedict. Benedict was fascinated, and stood at the bottom of the tower to listen until she was finished. The next night he returned with his own set of reed-pipes, and played for her. Inside the tower, Marie-Catherine was delighted, and demanded to know who he was. Mute, Benedict wasn't able to answer.
Over the past year, however, they have started a correspondence - Benedict writes her notes and ties them to his pet cobble lizard, Drake, sending them into her along with occasional gifts like flowers and pretty stones and new ribbons stolen from merchants' carts. She replies cheerfully, and took to calling him Benedict Dragonlord, because of his pet lizard. Benedict fell in love with a woman he'd never seen - and, it seems likely, Marie-Catherine shared his feelings.
Benedict recently discovered that Marie-Catherine has never seen jewelry or fine gowns, and has decided to steal them for her. He scouts out what he wants, then breaks in to the houses by cutting or breaking a small pane of glass open, just large enough for Draketo enter and exit by. Drake, his long-time thieving companion (and quite a bright cobble-lizard, really, as most of them are), sneaks in and takes small, choice items. Then they take them to the Tower of Lizards, where Drake delivers them with notes to Marie-Catherine. Marie-Catherine is delighted with the gifts, not having any idea of where they're coming from or really how valuable they are at all, and pleasing her has become the end-all of Benedict's life.
His first theft occurred two days ago, when he stole a diamond tiara from Lady Dorea Lathkule. Two nights later, he stole Lady Ketlavna Ilzimmer's three-strand diamond necklace (whom her great-grandmother always claimed was given to her by the young king Tandal du Sunblazoned).
GETTING THE PLAYERS INVOLVED: A prominent private eye, Lord Finster, detects the pattern of diamond thefts from his sickbed, but, still recovering from wounds taken in an earlier adventure, cannot pursue it. Thus, he asks the group if they would guard Lady Helma Massalan's house - she is one of the few nobles who also has an extensive diamond collection, particularly her well-known Star of Morning diamond ring. The group may warn her if they want to, or may stake out the place on their own. It is up to the DM whether she'll cooperate or not; I suggest making her cooperative so the players can catch the thief more easily.
If any of your players are related to or work for the nobles who were robbed, the tie-in is even easier, and eliminates the need to use a private eye to get the characters involved.
CAPTURING THE THIEF:
Sure enough, Benedict plans to go after the ring next. The next scheduled night (two nights after the theft from Ketlavna Ilzimmer), he and Drake break in to the estate. See Benedict's writeup for a description of this mute, lame young man. (When I ran this adventure the group caught him trying to escape over the roof; he dropped his crutch and they ended up having to help him down). Because he relies on stealth rather than speed, it is very likely that he'll be captured without too much effort.
The DM should describe Benedict's handicaps and emphasize that he does not try to fight at any time. If the party seems at all sympathetic, Benedict will ask to confess to them in private, and will (writing notes) mournfully explain the whole affair, and admit that the next thing he was hoping to take his unseen beloved would be a dress, although he hasn't any idea how he might be able to deliver it to her, since the narrow, shaded arrow slits Drake enters through wouldn't be room enough for the gown he has in mind. The DM should play up the starry-eyed, romantic aspects of Benedict's nature to pluck at the player characters' heartstrings. Note that Benedict only knows that the Witch Cariole locked Marie-Catherine up - he doesn't know who Marie-Catherine's father probably was or any of the political history provided above.
The group may now decide what to do - they can free him, arrest him, or decide to aid him. Hopefully, his tale of a locked, magical tower and a captive girl-child will pique their curiosity. He can describe the witch, her mad companion, and her silent bodyguard to the group, and the ownership of the Tower of Lizards can be traced by asking around. If the group lets Benedict go, he'll try to steal the dress he's set his heart on for her - the debutante gown and silk slippers of Marquessa Viera Cassalantar, an incredibly ornate piece done by the Hunabar dressmakers with small diamonds glittering against snow-white silk on the bodice and skirts! He's incorrigible not out of malice, but out of love....
QUESTIONING THE WITCH:
If the characters approach the Witch Cariole to try to get some verification of Benedict's story, she will deny all knowledge of an imprisoned girl and curse anyone who decides to pursue (the curse is actually effective, and should have minor effects along the lines of bad breath, -2 to all dex-type rolls, bad luck, etc; after all, she IS a witch! - her most effective threat against male characters is a curse of impotence....). If her mad oracle Cairn Siebeck is questioned about the imprisoned girl, he will repeat his prophesy:
"Lightcaller's whelp will call the darkness on her mother when the Dragon roars and light dances from her hair and hands."
If the bodyguard Raphael is questioned, he will sadly look away. He will only fight the characters if ordered to by Cariole (which she will surely do), and will not kill if he can at all avoid it. He is a good-hearted man bound to the witch by some unknown promise in his past.
Once questioned, the Witch Cariole will become suspicious and stake out the Tower to defeat the characters should they decide to try to rescue Marie-Catherine. Cariole should be an awful annoyance, but the monsters are far more deadly. Killing the Witch is a bad move, since the public will frown upon learning that a group of hearty adventurers slaughtered an old woman, no matter what the old woman's crimes end up being.
Characters who look into the legal aspects of the problem should find that locking one's daughter up in a tower for this many years is a violation of the law, especially if it is against the daughter's will. However, the DM should step carefully around this subject, because s/he doesn't want the characters to simply ask the city guards to open the Tower and free the maiden for them! The best way to avoid this is to emphasize that nobody will suspect such a wealthy (if disreputable) old dowager, or risk her fabled bad temper and nasty curses, unless they can bring back absolute proof positive of her crime - such as the girl!
If the Witch Cariole is not killed during this adventure, she may try to lodge a legal protest that the adventurers (a) broke into her property, and (b) kidnapped her child. These accusations won't hold up in a court of law, but the old witch should be a thorn in the characters' sides for as long as the DM can get away with it..... The Witch Cariole will harangue the player characters for the rest of their lives in small, petty and irritating ways. However, with a little effort on the player characters' parts, the Witch can be tried and locked away for keeping her daughter imprisoned for so many years. (Although Marie-Catherine won't press charges, so it'll have to be The City vs. Witch Cariole.)
The nobles will want to see Benedict imprisoned for his crimes, but if they get their jewelry back they may be inclined to be more lenient, especially if the characters give them a sob story or otherwise cover for Benedict.
TALKING TO MARIE-CATHERINE:
If the characters decide to talk to the girl, they can do so by having Drake deliver notes back and forth, the same way Benedict talks to her. However, if they actually try climbing the outside of the tower, the Stone Guardian lizards on top of the tower will come to life and attack. The DM shouldn't suggest that the characters try contacting her, however, because the adventure will be far more interesting if she's afraid of them and the characters have to go to the top of the tower to cajole her out of her bedroom.
Nevertheless, if contacted, Marie-Catherine would be delighted to leave the tower. She can tell the adventurers that her mother (Witch Cariole) uses a silver key that she keeps on her belt to open the tower door. She does not know about the various golems and so forth in the tower, because they've never come alive while she has lived inside.
If the characters do talk to Marie-Catherine, unless they ask her to bring the jewelry down with her, she won't. She might meet them at the front door, but she won't have the stolen jewelry with her (she won't have much of anything with her - what does she know about packing?). She'll tell them the jewels are "in my bedroom at the top of the tower" and let them get the loot themselves while she revels in the open air (or whatever). That way the characters still have to get to the top of the tower, fighting the various guardians on the way.
There is no immediate reward for freeing Marie-Catherine or helping Benedict, except perhaps the reward of helping along a young romance and getting to return the stolen diamonds to their owners (neither Benedict nor Marie-Catherine will object, although Benedict will be a little wistful because he can't afford to buy her such fine jewelry). A generous DM might allow the characters to get some reward for returning the stolen jewelry.
If Marie-Catherine is freed, she'll be overjoyed to see the sun and be able to enjoy life on her own. (If Witch Cariole is dead or imprisoned, Marie-Catherine will mourn or dutifully visit her regularly, respectively - she's a good daughter.) She will inquire anxiously after Benedict, and (if she ends up meeting him) become close friends with him. Any character doing some research into her heritage will discover that she is Lord Adrian Lightcaller's sole heir, and Lightcaller's lawyer in Saldon will eventually visit to settle up her inheritance and etc. However, having led a protected life, Marie-Catherine will hardly know what to do with her wealth and may need some advice from the player characters. If she does come into her inheritance, she will offer the characters some sort of reward for helping her and Benedict, in the form of fine jewelry or other rich but nonmagical items that would please the characters.
Benedict is suddenly gripped with fear as he finally gets a chance to meet Marie-Catherine. He fears she will be put off by his being, after all, an impoverished cripple. He is still quite in love, though, and a concerned player character can eventually talk him into facing her. In fact, she won't care about his being lame since she was never raised to feel any prejudice towards anyone. If the two are brought together, Benedict will begin to try to make a name for himself, perhaps asking for employ with one of the player characters, so that he can become "respectable" and eventually hope to have something to offer her other than a thief's life. (When I ran this, the group ended up employing him as their adventuring company clerk, since he's quite bright and thoroughly capable of carrying out a desk job; he filed papers, wrote and read contracts, got the necessary permissions and warrants, and so forth.)
TOWER OF LIZARDS:
This tower is located somewhere in town, probably in a back alley somewhere. It has been closed up for years and nobody knows who lives in there (but if this adventure takes place in Waterdeep, unusual locked towers aren't that uncommon).
All wizardlocks are at 14th level, cast by Lightcaller when he was alive. The tower is 3 stories high with a walkway around the roof that circles a stained-glass dome. The tower has one narrow balcony with closed silver doors, toward the top
Upon the front step of the tower are 2 stone lizards, and crouched upon the roof of the tower are 4 stone lizards.
Benedict will want to join the party in rescuing Marie-Cathering, but he'll have a hard time negotiating the stairs and may be an obstacle if fighting moves into the stairwell. The DM should probably try to keep both him and Marie-Catherine alive during fights to avoid turning this adventure into a tragedy.
The greatest dangers in this tower are the automated defenses - Marie-Catherine has no control over them and doesn't even know they exist, although if she sees something moving she may call down a warning to the characters. However, since she doesn't know these strangers, it's far more likely that she'll hide in her room and have to be cajoled out to meet them!
1) Food stores.
2) Water stores
3) Wizardlocked door to the sewers, magically guarded by a carved Stone Guardian knight embedded in the door who will pull away from it if anyone tries to open the door without the magic word. Opening door leads to room 4.
4) Forgotten stairs leading to the sewers.
5) Stairs up to Lower Level.
1)Front door. Wizardlocked, although Witch Cariole's silver key will temporarily negate the spell, allowing the door to be opened. The door is guarded by two Stone Guardians shaped like dragonlike lizards that stand on each side of the frontsteps. Anyone who attempts to enter the Tower without using Witch Cariole's silver key will be attacked by the Stone Guardian. If a fight starts, the Stone Guardians on the roof may also join in.
2) Hall of Tapestries. Wooden-floored, hung with tapestries, Marie-Catherine dances down here sometimes. The tapestries are old and valuable, but not magical.
3) Salon. Beautiful carved chairs and an inlaid-wood table sit in this room, with a tea set on the table and floral tapestries on the walls. Here is where Witch Cariole chats with Marie-Catherine when she visits.
4) The privy. Drops down to the sewers. Enterprising and strong-stomached characters could conceivably enter by this route if they could fit into the narrow disposal chute, but it wouldn't be pleasant.
5) Stairs, going both up and down.
1) Stairs up and down, and a circular hallway. This hall is lined with books on all subjects, beautifully bound and illuminated. They seem well-handled, and many have scraps of ribbons as bookmarks. By the stairs here is a suit of silver and black armor that is an Armor Guardian. It will activate if any but Cariole or Marie-Catherine (or former owners of the tower) enter. The stairs can be stepped off here or continued up to the Upper Level.
2) Inner Library. This room is also lined with books, with two comfortable chairs for sitting on reading, and a small roll-top desk. On the desk are sketches and stories Marie-Catherine is working on to pass the time. They aren't terribly skillful, but they show earnest effort.
3) Painting room. This room has several paintings in it, that Marie-Catherine has obviously been working on. They are strangely unreal landscapes, populated by dragons and gargoyles and bright knights in fantastic armor - clearly the work of someone who only knows the world through pictures in books! She is a skilled amateur, but would require real training before becoming great.
NOTE: The roof of all of these rooms is one large stained-glass dome, with stained-glass knights battling a sky full of dragons. The knights are Glass Golems that will attack if intruders enter this level of the tower.
Note that Marie-Catherine and Witch Cariole are not intruders.
1) Dressing Room. This room contains a large mirror and stacks and stacks of clothing of all sorts, much mismatched and old, and quite a bit masculine (i.e., belonging to Lake or Lightcaller).
2) Bedroom. This is Marie-Catherine's bedroom. Two Caryatid Columns flank the bedroom door, and will activate if intruders enter the room. There is a large four-poster bed draped with odds and ends of silk and ribbon, and a chair that sits by the Wizardlocked silver balcony doors she has never been able to open. A vanity is set with a mirror, misc. toiletries, pipes, and a small lap-harp. Any gems that Benedict stole for her that she isn't wearing are on this table, along with a great many love notes from him, all carefully tied with a silk ribbon. Marie-Catherine is likely to be in here, hiding from the intruders, unless she's been warned that they're coming. Mention of Benedict will pique her curiosity enough to peer out and eventually be cajoled from her room.
3) Instrument room. A pianoforte dominates this room, with sheet music, some hand-penned, scattered around. There is also a standing harp, and racks for lute, lap harp (empty), and a variety of woodwind instruments. Marie-Catherine is a rather talented musician, and could easily become a bard if given proper training.
4) Hallway. A separate set of stairs go up to a little tower with a silver, Wizardlocked door. This tower was originally meant to be a watchtower on the roof, but it's Wizardlocked. The silver key will open this door, but only from the inside out - there is no way to unlock the door from the outside in (to prevent unwanted intruders).
5) Stairs down to middle level and lower.
2) Walkway around the center stained glass dome. A tarnished silver rail runs around the top of the tower. Four Stone Guardians shaped like lizards crouch onthe edges of the roof and will attack intruders.
3) Stained Glassteel dome.
4) Stairs down to a silver, Wizardlocked door that opens into a little tower (4, Upper Level).
Witch 4th level. HP 12, AC 8 Neutral Evil
(NOTE: DMs may want to use any of the various "witch" writeups that have been developed for AD&D; this writeup simply presumes that she is a wizard who specializes in "witchy" spells).
||Darkness 15' radius
Magic Items: Broom of Sweeping. Staff of the Shield (once per week, can be rapped smartly against the ground and bearer is protected as if by a Shield spell cast at 6th level). A silver key that opens the Tower of Lizards, ignoring the Wizardlock spell.
"Witch" Cariole was once beautiful and still given to wearing too-ornate clothes and too much makeup. She gives herself airs and fancies herself quite a lady, but scratch her pancake-powdered surface and you'll reveal her true haggish nature. She should be roleplayed to the hilt, screeching and cackling and making wild threats. A true harridan, she isn't afraid of causing a scene in a street, doing her best to flummox the player characters. If she curses someone, the effects should be embarrassing and amusing, but they'll wear off in a few days, or whenever the DM feels like giving the character a break.
If the Witch is encountered outside of her house, she'll be accompanied by Raphael and Cairn.
Bodyguard, Fighter 5 hp 40 Lawful Neutral
AC 5 (chainmail) +4 (dex) +2 (1-weapon spec) = 5/1/-1
Longsword (specialized) (1d8/1d12/+1 - 3/2)
Greatbow (specialized) (1d8/1d8/+1 - 3/1)
Dagger, thrown (1d4/1d3)
(oracle) - insane, doesn't fight.
Rolls around laughing at everyone and cackling to himself. However, he's a good oracle, and the DM can use him to drop hints for later adventures if desired.
(maid) - thrown objects, 1d2/1d1
(cook) - rolling pin, 1d3/1d2
(groom) - horsewhip, 1d3/1d2
Beggar/thief 4, hp 18, Move 4" (both legs crippled)
str 16, int 17, wis 11, dex 18, con 15, ch 16 (9 at first sight, since most people are shocked by his handicap and rags - 16 once they get to know him, and see past the handicap to his good looks and kind personality)
|hide in shadows:
||88 (arms only - slings crutches over back)
NWP: forgery, juggling, musical instrument (reed pipes), reading lips
PET: "Drake" a cobble lizard, AC 5 (natural), HP 15, nonintelligent (although Benedict would say otherwise)
Black hair, violet eyes, tongue cut out, legs broken and badly re-set, so that he cannot walk with them. Strong upper body and arms. Usually wears ragged old clothes, with reed pipes, a slate and chalk, and his lizard tucked into his shirt. He walks using two roughly hewn crutches.
Benedict's violet eyes are a giveaway; anyone doing some research will discover that he shares this telltale sign with Warden Josef Falcon, the Child-King's master-at-arms. Falcon had married a young bride years ago, but she and her child (he was told) died in childbirth. He later discovered that the midwife was his old enemy, Elizabeth Blackblade, in disguise, and blamed her for murdering his loved ones. The story of how Falcon hunted Blackblade down and finally killed her in a shipboard fight is quite a good one, although never told where he might overhear.
Actually, Elizabeth stole the child away and left it with a poor couple who ran nasty chores for her, and from whom she'd intended to retrieve the boy to raise him against his father.
The couple who took in Benedict were not kindly parents by any stretch of the imagination. After a year, deciding that nobody was going to reclaim the child, they figured he might as well start earning his keep. They cut out his tongue and broke his legs so that he could join the throngs of beggars on the street, a helpless child sure to win the hearts and coins of the rich. For years Benedict - still nameless - worked like a slave for them, crawling along on crutches begging and, eventually, stealing for a living. He walks - if his lurching hops can really be called "walking" - on two crutches. He's much more agile climbing up walls or along ropes, because his arms and upper body are phenomenally strong from a lifetime of pulling his weight along.
Benedict might have turned as bitter and cruel as his "parents," were it not for some kindly beggars who pitied the child and took him in. Crippled and/or deformed themselves, they understood the physical and emotional pain he was undergoing, and became his real family, teaching him patience and kindness and perseverance. He left his adoptive (real, as far as he knows) parents and went to live with his beggar-friends. The beggars took him in as one of their "Spoiled" rank and (unbeknownst to him) eventually avenged his injuries by killing his wicked foster-parents. In particular, one old man, "The Captain," befriended him and taught him to play pipes and to write, so that he could communicate. Once able to express himself in some way other than grunts and hand gestures, it became clear that Benedict was quite intelligent, and so the beggars ironically named him "Benedict," for "Bene Dictu" - Good Speaker.
Benedict usually steals only to feed himself and his friends, including his pet cobble lizard, who he keeps tucked in his shirt when it's cool out. His thefts are usually burglaries, and he's trained Drake to pick up bright objects and bring them back to him. Thus, he can climb a wall to an open window, send Drake in, and wait until Drake returns with a necklace, ring, or whatever. Benedict only steals from those who can afford to lose the money. He takes care of his beggar-friends as much as he can, and is part of the informal network of beggars and thieves that stretches across the city.
Benedict is blessed with a kind heart, optimistic spirit and sense of humor. He makes jokes at his own expense, scribbling the puns and wry remarks down on his slate, and is resigned to his handicaps. The only time they bother him is when he thinks about Marie-Catherine, a beautiful young witch's daughter whom he's fallen in love with. He's never told her about his handicaps or his true profession because he doesn't believe anyone could love a crippled, homeless beggar-thief.
Benedict would make an excellent clerk, librarian, accountant, or any other type of worker who sits most of the time and does research or paperwork. Benedict's tongue can be Regenerated and his legs Healed if someone had the money and the will to do him that favor. However, he's never considered healing his ills to be a financial possibility, and the proposal would startle him. If he could speak again, he might even make a good mage, although he's a little old to start training. Unfortunately, there are very few people willing to pick up a cripple off the street and take a chance on employing him. There is, however, one small hope. Benedict does bear that remarkable resemblance to his father, the king's commander, right down to his rare violet eyes. If, for some reason, somebody ever thought to compare a member of court to a crippled street-child, the relationship would be obvious, and Jericho Falk would be overjoyed to have his "dead" son returned to him....
human, level 0, hp 6
str: 13 int: 15 wis: 17 dex: 16 con: 14 char: 17
Marie-Catherine is the daughter of a terrible old hag, Witch Cariole, and the deceased Magus Lord Adrian "Lightcaller." She has been raised in the Tower of Lizards all her life, doted on by her mother and provided with nearly every creature comfort. As she grew older, however, her mother's visits became fewer (the novelty wore off). Because she is left alone for long periods of time, she has learned how to amuse herself. She reads, writes, sketches, paints, dances, and plays musical instruments, all with the passable talent of the skilled but untrained amateur. She knows life through the romantic novels and reference works that her mother left her, and thus is simultaneously startlingly well-educated but charmingly naive. She has impeccable manners learned from etiquette books and practised in front of mirrors for years; but she also has little idea of when and where those manners are usually applied. She will always be strangely formal, perhaps greeting beggars as "Mister" and offering to shake hands, even though most people would ignore them; or curtseying to the adventurers when she finally meets them. Moreover, for quite some time after being freed from the tower, everything she runs into - no matter how mundane or uncommon, sordid or exalted - will be an exciting adventure for her. She has a romantic heart, is a delight to be with, has a refreshingly unbiased view of the world, and does her best to please. Alas, she is also tailor-made for being taken advantage of in the cruel, ruthless real world, and although Benedict will do his best to shield and protect her, she may unwittingly provide a hook into future adventures as the players have to help her get her money back from a swindler who promised to "invest" it for her, and so forth.