The ziggurat that Kalak constructed for his ascension to dragondom still towers over the cityís center. It remains a constant reminder to the people of Tyr of the cruelty and oppression that once ruled their city. To this day, it remains an object of fear and loathing. The great tiles and mosaic works lie in disrepair about the ziggurat. Few have dared enter and the ziggurat has become the focus of stories told to frighten children into bed.
There are three entrances into the ziggurat. The only conspicuous one is located at the top of the great stair. Atop the stair is a small antechamber. The interior walls are lined with obsidian as black as Kalak’s heart. On the right side of the room a stair descends. At every level is a landing where the stair turns to the left. After a complete circuit of the compass points, the descent ends at a large austere room. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all covered by the same obsidian bricks. Shredded paintings cling to the walls, the images of the dragon once portrayed are now barely visible. Shattered obsidian is everywhere and a strange odor permeates the area. A dried black ichor covers the floor. A trapdoor is located in the center of the floor. It leads to an underground tunnel, circular and roughly man-sized. The obsidian brick-lined tunnel extends to the east and west. In one direction the tunnel dead ends under the gladiatorial arena. The arena end was filled and sealed before the marketplace opened. The other corridor ends beneath the Golden Tower. Defilers under the orders of King Tithian placed permanent magical seals, guards, and wards to seal the entrance.
Shortly after Kalak’s death, a strike force from the Veiled Alliance entered the ziggurat to learn the secret of Kalak’s attempted transformation. They went armed with spells and Sadira’s information about the location of Kalakís body and the mysterious objects needed for the transformation. When they arrived, Kalakís body was gone, but the black obsidian balls remained. Different groups including various rogues and bards have attempted to use the ziggurat as a base of operations. All these attempts have failed.
City-State of Tyr, p.48-49
So I am about to run Freedom for my 3.5 group, and one of the places they might want to explore, post adventure, is the Ziggurat. In the days shortly after the assassination, I expect Tithian will be keeping nosy people away from the Ziggurat “for their safety” (and also so he can investigate its secrets and recover any items of power Kalak may have left behind) But in the event they decide to sneak in I would like there to be more than what was described above in it. At the very least there should be some magical traps and guardians. I am a bit of a newb to GMing so I thought I would pick your brains for ideas.
In a previous thread, http://arena.athas.org/t/kalaks-ziggurat/577 the idea of there being an inverse ziggurat underground, making the whole structure resemble an octahedron was brought up. I also like the idea of there being an upside-down “reverse-ziggurat” in the gray. That way when they get to be high enough level they might find a way to open the gate and investigate further into Kalak’s secrets.
So what would you put in the Ziggurat?
A couple of places to look for inspiration:
In the 4E Ashes of Athas campaign there was an adventure went into the ziggurat. Adventure 3-1, The remains of the living god. I am not sure if they are still distributing the adventures. If so, you just need to ask the AoA moderators for it.
Also the computer game Wake of the Ravager, had a section where you explore the ziggurat.
Near as I know, they’ll still give out the adventure to anyone who asks.
For contractual reasons, they cannot post the series for general download.
Lot’s of composite-undead ogre war-machines, a meorty kobold defiler, a few iron golems, at least one of those obsidian-orbs that acts as a psychic slave, and lots of steel weapons
Indeed, i asked some time ago and got them all. They’re great, some really neat stuff, even just for reading and plundering for ideas.
Could also look at Rajaat’s inverted pyramid in the Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs book for some inspiration.
The “inverted lower ziggurat in a different plane” idea is a good one: I imagine Kalak tapped into some pretty shady magical theory territory to make his spell. You could incorporate a lot of stuff from the Grey and the Black and crazy elemental powers like Gurdek.
Kalak has had 2,000 years to accumulate a terrifying and unique universe beneath the ziggurat. He has gained access to other planes of existence and has likely conducted countless ghastly experiments over the centuries and kept unspeakable prisoners. Combine tremendous power with unlimited ambition and a constant existential threat from rivals and the Dragon and our wildest imagination as to what is in there would not be enough. Sacha and Wyan likely hang out in there, too. There will be, of course, the incubation chamber and the hordes of wealth. Mine was connected underground to the Golden Tower and included great maps of the cosmos, an extensive library, an entire Iron Palace, great cisterns for withstanding siege, astral gates, cocoons and gestation chambers for manipulating life after the way of the Benders, and a pocket dimension imprisoning a powerful elemental being.
I don’t know that I agree that Kalak has been wondering the planes. Remember, Dregoth only wanders the planes because he has access to the portal, I think all the rest would be stuck to the gray, the black, and the elemental planes.
That said I am a fan of the idea that Kalak wasn’t actually a champion of Rajaat and so his temples powers actually come from his two severed heads. Therefore I would still have his temples empowered and populate the zigeraut with them, maybe a couple royal defiler and psionocists.
As, IMO, the weakest sorcerer king Kalak has been paranoid about his rivals. I would include as detailed of notes as he could make on them, as well as information of what the world was like in the Green Age, lists and drawings of things that haven’t existed for two thousand years (maybe including magically preserved corpses) and the like.
What is AoA? I’d love to read some new stuff. haven’t played in Athas since about 1996. But firing up a campaign next month.
Ashes of Athas. It’s a campaign that was ran for about 3 years at various cons. The pdfs are supposed to be freely available if you can find who has authorization to distribute them.
ETA: http://alphastream.org/index.php/ashes-of-athas/ I believe these people have the right to distribute. There is a link in their article to a contact form to request a copy. IDK how active they are, if at all I only recently found out about it myself.
I’m sorry if double posting isn’t allowed but I wanted to mention that I used the above link to request copies of Ashes of Athas and have already received all the adventures from that run. That’s a lot of adventures, free of charge, with a fast turn around. They’re fourth edition, but I’m planning to convert everything anyways, and just getting to read them is a pleasure. Massive props to everyone involved in that and to whoever it was that sent them out to me.