4d4 Ruined Wizard's Tower
by Creighton Broadhurst
September 03, 2019
Ruined wizard’s towers are a classic adventure locale. Their lofty, crumbled walls and dusty chambers can hold many foul things (along with the treasures those foul things have accumulated) and the leavings of the wizard’s esoteric research.
Use the tables below to add depth and verisimilitude to the ruined wizard towers in your campaign.
Outside the Tower
A ruined tower’s approaches are an excellent place to start building the atmosphere and flavour of the upcoming adventure. It’s also a great place for the GM to sow hints about the tower’s history and what might currently lurk within.
- Thick stands of brambles and bushes ward the ruin’s approaches. Here and there, game trails force their way through the dense undergrowth.
- The shadow cast by the ruined tower seems deeper and more elongated and jagged than it should be even in the strongest midday sun. From certain angles, the shadow looks like a grasping claw crawling away from the ruin.
- A preternatural silence hangs over the ruin. Nearby, no birds sing and no animals scurry through the undergrowth. Even the wind seems strangely diminished as if it dares not blow over the tower’s remains.
- The ruin is unstable and small rocks and stones still occasionally fall from the crumbling edifice. Like occasional rain, the clatter of stones falling from above is sporadic, but strangely the tower never seems to diminish in size as a result of these falls.
Inside the Tower
Within wizard’s towers, terrible, eldritch deeds are wrought and strange, otherworldly research is carried out to its logical, but sometimes unwise, conclusion. Such arcane works leave their mark on the fabric of the place.
- The shattered remains of several gargoyles and other decorative features lie intermingled with the rubble and other debris surrounding the tower.
- Broken, rotting furniture lies scattered about; other smaller remains—perhaps plates, mouldering books or other mundane items—hint at the functions of various rooms and are intermingled with the larger pieces of trash. Many of the pieces bear the wizard’s personal sigil.
- Iron torch sconces jut from the walls. Of various esoteric designs some are wrought to resemble skeletal arms while others appear to resemble the arms and claws of terrible, otherworldly beings. A few are in the shape of various forbidden magical runes.
- In places, rotting oaken wainscotting hangs from the walls while in others its remains litter the floor. Several missing panels once concealed secret storage niches and the like which are now revealed (and empty). Perhaps some of the remaining panels yet conceal similar niches.
Lingering Spell Effects
Wizard's towers are strange places. Sometimes, even after they are destroyed or abandoned strange effects—leavings of the wizard’s esoteric researches and work, or lingering echoes of whatever befell the wizard—remain after the tower has fallen into wrack and ruin.
- A small globe of darkness hovers in mid-air. Faint wisps of shadow drift from the globe to seemingly evaporate as they float away on a faint breeze. The temperature is noticeably cooler, in the vicinity of the globe.
- Shadows move and shift in the corner of the characters' eyes but disappear or stop moving when looked at. The shadows are of a variety of shapes and sizes; perceptive characters notice several of the shadows have deeper spots that look disturbingly like eyes.
- Heatless yellow flames dance about an ornate chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the room.
- A permanent unseen servant, its magic now fading, yet haunts the tower. It continues to mindlessly try to tidy the tower; in its vicinity small objects move, dust gets blown about and so on. Some characters might believe the tower is haunted, as a result.
Strange Sights & Sounds
Wizard's towers are strange places, full of strange sights, sounds and smells.
- Cut into the wall, a glowing rune—etched in pale red light—provides faint illumination, akin to that of a candle. A careful examination of the rune reveals the light to be gently pulsating. Characters steeped in arcane lore can identify the rune as the wizard’s personal sigil.
- Glimmering motes of multi-coloured light drift gently through the air, on the breeze. Feather-light they can be blown or pushed about, but disappear if they touch anything.
- The faint scent of burning or scorched flesh hangs in the air, and stubbornly refuses to dissipate. The smell is particularly strong in areas featuring scorched and blackened stone.
- The faint suggestion of chanting—screeched in a high-pitched desperate tone—reach the party’s ears. The chanting seems to come from a higher floor in the tower. This is an echo of the tower’s master’s final spell. The chanting ends in a choking sounds that trails away into nothingness.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #41: Ruined Wizard’s Tower, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.
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