Kalak's Ziggurat

I have always been fascinated by what could be inside Kalak’s prized structure and I was wondering who else thinks this would be a great opportunity for an adventure?
If so what do you think could be in there?


This is just a thought, but since the purpose of the ziggurat appears to have been to speed him on the way to becoming a dragon, it could be some sort of magical/psionic location.

It could act as a massive cognizance crystal, which he could slowly add power points to over time, and then use all at once. It could also store the life energy of a large amount of victims like a myrmelons orb, so when he casts one of the Metaphorphosis spells he doesn’t suddenly defile the city.

Finally, if you will allow me to borrow ideas from other settings, be some sort of enormous Mythal for dragon metamorphosis spells. A mythal is an epic spell which causes an area to become magically morphic for a short time. A caster can then cast a number of minor spells into the mythal, and set them as constant or contingent effects. Given this spell actually consists of a single epic spell seed, it is conceivable that one could add other seeds to it, which would allow one to actually cast epic spells into the mythal. Thus, one could cast Defiler Metamorphosis I - X into the mythal and use the corresponding ziggurat to store the necessary life-force and psionic power. Thus, provided the right ritual, it could be possible to cast all the defiler metamorphosis spells simultaneously.

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I usually use this as the end-point for the Prologue to Tyr. I basically have players take on missions within and around Tyr, gradually determining their factions for a few sessions and leveling up to maybe level 2-3 (I use gestalt characters instead of starting at higher level). Eventually, they attract the notice of the newly-formed Quorum and are sent to tie up a number of loose ends by investigating the Ziggurat. Usually I seed some earlier plot-points involving the pro-Kalak cult/conspiracy within the city who have been receiving visions from him while the rest of the city experiences increasing amounts of nightmares, insanity, riots, etc. I also like to throw in some odd clues like, finding a ledger showing all the Iron from the mines going into the Ziggurat for some reason, etc.

When they eventually enter (I still have Kalak alive but kind of in a stasis-chamber), they gradually find all kinds of pre-Dark Age magitek and have to overcome a number of automated defenses. They also come upon some deceptively powerful items that will stick with them throughout the campaign, and meet some strange characters (a computer/android, an imprisoned former adversary of Kalak, etc.) etc.

Usually, I play it as a factory full of magitek drones, as they go deeper, they eventually confront Kalak in his weakened state, but he quickly closes himself off, forcing them to flee intense drone attacks and escape in an airship as the Ziggurat gradually lifts off looking like a diamond-shaped mega-airship of some kind. The mega-airship takes off for parts unknown, leaving a massive crater in the center of Tyr, this eventually fills with water, which I use as a political point of contention amongst the Quorum factions. Meanwhile the characters crash relatively unharmed and report back to the Quorum, whereupon the greater campaign really gets going.


When you say magitech, are you referring to arcane magic or psionics? I would think that a psionic version would be more appropriate to the setting. Aside from that, it’s a good idea


While I personally would not introduce objects such as magitek drones into my home campaign of Dark Sun, I really like the idea that while everyone can see the ziggurat being built up, it could very well be going down as well. I’m not sure how I could plausibly make the ziggurat move, such as your idea of an airship, but having the void depression fill with water is an absolutely genius idea!

Afterall, Tyr was once the most powerful city-states in the Tablelands, based on the fact that they were predominantly the only iron exporters throughout the Tablelands. With the presence, and control of a massive amount of fresh water, Tyr could once again rise to its former glory as the predominant city-state of the Tablelands. What besides iron is most prized on Athas? Water. This could lead to massive power struggles, not only within the many factions within and around Tyr, but also with jealous Sorcerer-Kings/Queens!


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Yea, I have a largely re-written chronology and cosmology. Technology figures heavily in the later plot so I like to use the opportunity of Kalak’s Ziggurat to tease what is to come. You don’t use or see much anywhere else before or after for quite a while then though (not till maybe around level 10). I use ‘Magitek/Artifice/Psitek/etc.’ as kind of a catch-all for exploitation of different figurative resources (Mana or Life-Force, Psi or Will, etc.). If you’re averse to tech though, it could easily be filled with Undead, Aberrant Life-shaped creations, or Constructs for instance. In my world, technology is basically power manipulated through artifice, so if you have magitek/psitek the technology aspect is fairly indistinguishable from magic/psionics from an in-world perspective. I have a really strange mash-up of dystopian visions ranging from post-apocalypse dark sword-sorcery, to cyberpunk simulacral singularity dystopia, to just plain real-world harshness and I’ve worked a long time trying to model a world where that all fits, so, part of it is Dark Sun for sure, but then a lot of it recontextualizes the world.

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Yea it basically emerged as a giant 8-sided polyhedron made of seamlessly fused obsidian on the outside. It’s kind of my Athasian version of a Defiling Death Star. It’s function is to go around sucking up people’s mana, but, because of the actions of the characters, it is forced to withdraw for the time being until it is later seen hovering over one of the other city-states.

I like the water both for internal and external politics, it helps the characters engage in Quorum debates and sets up both intra- and inter-poli antagonisms. In my setting, Tyr vaguaely resembles Revolutionary Russia so you have the Crimson Legion led by Tithian as a statist-communist faction, you have the Blackguard led by Rikus, Neeva, Agis, and Jaseela as an urban-anarchist bloc, you have the Nobles and Merchants as old money and mercantilists, and finally, you have you have a Crime Syndicate and the Cult of Kalak (True). I make heavy use of factional alignment in my campaign, to the exclusion of normal alignment.

On that thought, what if the ziggurat were some sort of technomagical attempt to harness the powers of the elemental vortex which Kalak had? I could see him using some sort of combination of defiling and psionic power to bind the vortex to the ziggurat as either a power source (a la eberron elemental binding crossed with the elemental wombs of the life-shaping handbook) or to allow him to actually cast spells as a level 20 templar.

That’s certainly an avenue you could go with it. I usually play it as Kalak pitted against the other SK’s. Being the weakest, he builds the ziggurat in order to use it as a weapon against the other SK’s, having succumbed to Sacha and Wyan’s corruption. Now he seeks to ascend to the level of a dragon so that he can contend with Borys and release Rajaat (these characters all have different names in my campaign). Being injured however, he is forced to kind of Darth Vader himself in the ship and he becomes and imperfect Dragon, becoming deranged and wantonly destructive. Initially, I have him float off to the Forest Ridge and begin sucking them dry. This does not become apparent until later when he becomes involved in breaking open the ‘Ghost Gate’ to the obsidian plain and causing the earthquake to bring the Tohr-Kreen into the Hinterlands. I like the irony of the characters eventually allying within to defeat the SK’s only to have him ascend into his techno-aberrant state and release Rajaat or something. I have kind of vague details on how he gets to that point, but I just became very enamoured of a scene so surprising as the temple taking off and destroying a large section of tyr, throwing it into crisis but also providing a new and massively potent resource.

Another route I’ve considered going, because there is a PC I prefer to become entrapped by fate into freeing rajaat and ‘ascending.’ Is that Kalak goes around kind of improvising and trying to escape to the moon (there is only one in my cosmology), in order to get beyond the power of the SK’s and to hopefully learn better how to use his tech. In this, he becomes a pawn of Dregoth and the Undead of the moon in bringing the technological armies of the dead from the moon to Athas via a time compression.

Sorry, there are a lot of idiosyncratic aspects of my narrative, so I hope that mostly makes sense.