For the Archive: A Sealed Laboratory (room, trap, magic item)

Occasionally I get hit with random inspiration, usually on the bus. In this case, it’s a modular room, suitable for pretty much any environment with savage spellcasters and more organized arcanists. It includes a low-powered magic item, a trap, and monsters. Deets after the break for my players, if I had any :b

The room occupies two levels: a ground floor and a mezzanine walkway around the outer edges, which is entered from the wizard’s private labs and apartments. The mezzanine door is plastered over, and the lower floor door barred. The lower door opens >outward< into the corridor, and the bar is spiked into the corridor walls. A distinct odor of brimstone can be smelled from thirty feet away in both directions, despite the soft breeze within the corridor.

The room’s most arresting feature is a massive sand painting in the center of the lower floor. It depicts a fanged, black-skinned goddess, wearing a necklace of skulls and throttling a faceless, ragged black form in each of her four arms. It is surrounded by an intricate, unbroken colored border. The room itself is forty feet by forty, with the painting in a thirty-foot circle cut into the floor and a domed ceiling reaching up to fifty feet from the floor. The mezzanine is fifteen feet above the floor and extends ten feet from the walls. It is supported by fluted half-arch buttresses and bordered by an intricately-carved stone railing – clashing sharply with the primitive sand painting below. A mummified, nude male body, covered in blue and black paint, hangs by a noose from a hook in the dome’s center.

The sand painting imprisons four Ash Wraiths (stats in link); should it be sufficiently disturbed, they will be released and lash out at anything in the area. If the door is smashed in, the painting is automatically disturbed. Otherwise, the outside breeze will almost immediately close the door. If it’s held open, there is a 10% cumulative chance per Turn that the painting’s magic will become disrupted and the wraiths released. If a PC walks on the painting, there is a 20% cumulative chance per Round, stacking with the door chance. If both doors are held open simultaneously, a sharp wind will rise up and immediately ruin the painting. It will radiate (Lawful, Abjuration) magic if scried.

If the painting is somehow vitrified or otherwise preserved, its raw and primitive splendor would fetch as much as 1000 and 4000 pieces of silver (I use a silver standard, so GP for non-silver games) depending on how carefully and completely it is removed from the dungeon. If the images of the wraiths are broken, the spirit within will be released, but the image will retain its artistic value when repaired.

The Spectator upon Arts Magical
If the mezzanine is carefully searched, or magic is scried for, there is a small, cracked lens wedged in a crack between a flagstone and the wall, near the upper entrance. The bronze bracketing bears its command words, “Defixae Spectare” (You must view the bindings). Once per day, for up to thirty minutes (1d3 turns), it will allow the user to view the winds of magic and spirits clustering during spells, and detect extant enchantments. Effectively, in the hands of a trained mage, it will allow him to more effectively analyze a spell, granting a 1-day per spell level bonus to any rolls/research attempts for a spell whose casting he has viewed through the lens. In the hands of an untrained individual, it allows the user to Detect Magic, but they must save vs. Petrification or the swirling, chaotic visions will render them blind for 1d3 rounds. Clerics or other holy individuals save at a +1, but the blindness will be doubled in duration if they fail; in campaigns where deities can become offended, using the item may be an affront. Due to its damaged condition, each time it is used the character must also save vs. Spells or the lens will shatter and the dweomer be lost. If repaired, the spirit within will be grateful; otherwise, it may distort the information presented.

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