The Tower

The normal rules of our reality do not apply to the outer dark and, by definition, any explanation of it will not make sense. Additionally, the outer dark is not a single place or even one dimension but a catch-all for a range of realities beyond our understanding. With that in mind, the best way this author can describe this particular part of the outer dark is as the mind of an inter-dimensional god during its final moments before brain death.

Each Tower is a synapse. Once there were an infinite number of towers but now they are all destroyed except for a handful which still hold the last dying embers of life. The mind those synapses once powered is dead except for the echoes of incomprehensible thoughts. The or-karpi and the Tower's other defences are part of the god's immune system to whom the humans are bacteria to be destroyed.

The tower which the characters encounter is unique in that its death is part of a paradoxical loop in time. The characters' arrival in the outer dark leads to the destruction of the Tower which sends parts of it into the past of the characters' reality as a shooting star. A large chunk of the Tower landed in the Sinai desert, forging the link with Earth, and a small fragment ended up in the Ramallah Museum. That stone was stolen by Ahmed Yassin who then took it back in time. Al-Nazeb was pulled into the outer dark by the meteor of 43CE. There he learned much about outer dark symbols and on his return to his own time he was able to defeat Ahmed. This sent the tattooed man into the outer dark where reality warped and Ahmed became the Tower.

One may speculate that this loop in time must have started at some point. In one version of reality, the lives of Al-Nazeb, Ahmed Yassin and the characters are totally unconnected. Questions about what caused the time loop and how it may be broken are left to the Game Leader.

Life In The Outer Dark

Physically, the outer dark (or at least this part of it) obeys the normal laws of the universe in all regards expect light and time. The sky of the outer dark is black with no stars or moons and no sun to provide light. Yet in this darkness humans can see. To each person it seems they alone are carrying a lamp providing a small (10') island of light around them. However, no one else can see the 'light' of another person and the 'light' casts no shadows.

Once an object or person moves beyond the viewer's island of light, they are lost in the dark. The only exception to this is the light from the Tower. This is visible from a considerable distance and within a mile of it, everyone may see by this light (i.e. it behaves like a bright light on Earth). However the light from the Tower also does not cast any shadows. Artificial lights do not penetrate the darkness at all and make no difference to what a character can see. Cameras detect no light and all they record is total blackness.

Time in the outer dark is impossible to track because it is personally subjective. Characters who are out of sight of each other may experience time at significantly different rates. The actual passage of time cannot be measured. There is no day or night, no weather or seasons and there is no guarantee that time in the outer dark is related to time in the normal universe.

Humans

The ground around the Tower is populated by around one thousand humans who have been caught up in the magic of the outer dark. During severe sandstorms and other extreme events the barriers between reality and the outer dark weaken. All the survivors at the Tower have been caught in a sandstorm and woken in the outer dark. Most were in the Sinai desert but some were from the deserts of North Africa.

The Sinai peninsula is a bridge between two continents and has been crisscrossed by trade routes for thousands of years. The storm has collected an eclectic mix of these travellers and the people of the Tower come from many different cultures and times. Communication between these diverse people is difficult. Even when there is a common language there are large variations caused by regional dialects, differing cultural references and shifts in usage and pronunciation over time. A mongrel language has evolved around the Tower as a lingua franca which allows the residents to communicate enough for their basic needs.

Humans in the outer dark do not need to eat, drink or sleep and nor do they feel tired. However, they can be hurt and killed. Injuries will heal, though due to the way time works here it is hard to say if this is quicker or slower than normal. Game Leaders should use their discretion regarding the healing throttle and healing actions. The years, often lifetimes, of meaningless existence spent in the shadow of the Tower dulls the brain and most residents become passive. Those which fight against the apathy develop severe mental health problems and rarely last very long.

Four Quadrants, Six Dangers

The four walls spiralling out from the Tower split the land around it into four areas: The Camp Quadrant, The Quadrant of Madness, The Quadrant of Prophets and the Quadrant of Statues. Each quadrant is different, shaped by the Tower's defence mechanisms which kill in a unique way in each area. The defences are triggered when anyone ventures too close to the Tower. This generally means more than halfway into the quadrant though the exact distance varies.

  • The Camp Quadrant is protected by a terrifying, ear-splitting sound known as the Scream which targets everyone anywhere near the Tower. The camp is located in this quadrant so there is always someone around to prevent the insane and the suicidal triggering it.
  • The Tongue in the Quadrant of Madness is an impossible horror which obliterates its victims but their death also helps keep the other camp occupants alive. The Tongue is also the only source of the nectar which brings release to many prisoners of the outer dark.
  • In the Quadrant of Prophets the characters risk losing themselves to the Soul Eater. It silently destroys the victim piece by piece, destroying the mind but leaving the body intact.
  • Death in the Quadrant of Statues is unpredictable and sudden. There is no warning and nothing visible happens except victims are turned instantly to stone.

There are two additional defence mechanisms protecting the Tower. Anyone climbing the spiralling walls will release the Guardians who flock out of the Tower and attack everyone nearby. These tiny winged worms suck the life essence out of their victims. The other defence is the or-karpi who circle the Tower. They slowly come closer and closer until they reach the Tower itself. Only a sacrifice to the Tongue can prevent the humans around the Tower being overrun by these sand creatures.

The Bone Yard

The characters arrive in the outer dark scattered around an area known as the Bone Yard where the remains of 10,000 legionaries and auxiliaries from the Legio IX Hispana lie scattered.

Automatic
Apart from a 10' area around each character and a small light in the distance, everything is pitch black. The ground is a thick red sand with pieces of metal and bone visible in it.
Easy
The bones are human and the metal appears to be parts of armour and swords. The ground is rich in bones and metal fragments of equipment but everything has been mixed together and disturbed. There are no complete skeletons.
Moderate
The fragments of equipment come from 2nd century CE Roman legionaries.
Hard
None of the bones show any sign of damage or cause of death.

After examining the debris and getting some sense of the strange way light works in the outer dark the characters have little option except to head towards the light.

The Tower

Approaching the light, the characters will see the Tower for the first time.

Automatic
Rising 200' from the red desert floor is a square tower, 40' wide on each side. The Tower is black but it has light brown patches and markings all over. At the top of the tower, seemingly dead centre on its roof, is a 9' tall free-standing archway. Running from the tower are thin walls, extending for over half a mile. Unlike the Tower, these walls are unadorned and look like mud bricks made from red sand. They project from each corner of the Tower and at their start they match the Tower's 200' height. As the walls curve away from the main structure they gradually get lower until they disappear into the desert sand.
Easy
The archway and walls spiralling out from the central Tower are strongly reminiscent of the Eye of the Storm symbol.
Moderate
The archway is impossible. It is always in line with the viewer so that anything coming out of the arch would be coming straight at them. Two people observing it from different angles at the same time would each see the arch differently.
Hard
The light brown patches marking the tower are outer dark symbols but on a large scale and distorted. It is as if they were originally drawn on a flatter, rounder object which was then reshaped into a tower.

By spending some time walking around the Tower the characters may deduce the symbols on it as the Eye of the Storm, Death's Door, Scream, Soul Eater and Tongue. These are the same symbols Ahmed Yassin was adorned with when they saw him entering the Roman fort.

The Camp Quadrant

The Camp Quadrant is the nearest section to the Bone Yard and the first part of the Tower the characters encounter.

Automatic
In between the two walls forming this quadrant a makeshift camp exists of several hundred tents or shelters. Sitting and standing around the shelters are clusters of people, mostly Arabic or North African in appearance, but a few Europeans and Sub-Sahara Africans are also visible.
Easy
There is a wide range of styles of dress and shelter visible. Some of the shelters are in the style of traditional Bedouin tents, others are recognisably Roman military tents but the bulk are makeshift, made from a patchwork of materials. The styles of clothes are similarly mixed and include the occasional part of a 20th century uniform.
Moderate
The camp starts about a quarter of the way into the spiralling quadrant and stops about halfway in. This leaves the camp crowded but there is no obvious reason why the camp starts and stops where it does.
Hard
There are no cooking fires and no animals around. Nor is there much activity from the people. Mostly they just stare into the distance.

The residents of the camp will not notice the team at first so the characters will have a chance to observe from the distance and approach quite close before being spotted. Once they are noticed a buzz passes over the camp as word of new arrivals is passed around, but the noise quickly dies as the occupants slump back into apathy.

Characters attempting to talk to people will often be simply ignored. Of those who do react, there will be a language barrier making communication difficult. By looking around the camp and persevering with their attempts to communicate the characters may gather some information:

Automatic
The camp is crowded with up to a thousand people but its occupants are passive and inert. Few seem willing to speak and those which do quickly revert to sitting and staring at nothing.
Easy
From the little that people say it is clear they come from a wide range of different times.
Moderate
The only thing people say about the Tower is "Keep away from the Tower."
Hard
At the Tower end of the camp there is a small ditch in the sand that extends from wall to wall. No one in the camp goes past this point.
The Scream of the Banshee

Unlike other dangers around the Tower, there is a clear line marking where the danger begins. Anyone passing over the line will trigger the scream which continues for as long as anyone alive is beyond the line. The sound is incredibly loud but apart from headaches and short-term tinnitus the volume is not an issue. The sound penetrates the soul and awakens every fear and doubt a person has ever had.

The scream attacks anyone within the Tower's area of light including those in other quadrants. Beyond the quadrants the attack is 1d6+1 but this increases the closer the character is to the Tower. Around the line drawn in the sand it is 3d6+3 and at the Tower it is 6d6+6. Anyone failing the resistance permanently gains either the Distracted, Paranoia or Timid status effects. The scream continues as long as someone is beyond the line and it is one of the few things which rouses the camp's residents to action. Anyone who resists being pulled back across the line is killed.

Quadrant of Madness

Eventually everyone in the outer dark descends into madness. It may be the other-worldly strangeness of the place or simply because they are trapped, far from their family, with no hope of escape. It may happen quickly or take thousands of years (as measured from the outside world; it is impossible to say how long each individual perceives they have been trapped). When someone's behaviour becomes erratic and dangerous to other camp residents they are placed in the Quadrant of Madness. This is not an act of kindness but to prevent the insane accidentally triggering the Scream. It also makes it more convenient when the or-karpi come and someone needs to be sacrificed.

Automatic
This quadrant is deserted except for twenty or so solitary figures who stand, sit or wander around aimlessly. Most are naked and there are no signs of any shelters or equipment. After a few moments' observation it is obvious these people are deranged.
Easy
The red sand in this area is heavily churned up. Large gouges several feet deep and tens of feet long mark the sand. There are also pits up to three feet deep and wide.
Moderate
None of the quadrant's residents move closer than about halfway down the quadrant as if some instinct keeps them away from the Tower.
Hard
The sand near the Tower is a lot smoother but shows clear signs that people do venture quite close.
The Tongue

The Tongue is awoken when someone ventures past the halfway mark of this quadrant, but the response is not instant. If the Tongue has just been fed the delay may be as long as several minutes. This gives a window of time for nectar collectors and curious characters to venture into the area. However, the tongue is unpredictable and no-one is safe in this quadrant.

The spectacle of the Tongue is a horrendous sight. From the archway on top of the Tower, a thick red tongue starts to emerge and doesn't stop. The tongue hangs in the air, unsupported by anything, growing half a mile or more in length. It glistens and thick droplets scatter everywhere as it darts backwards and forwards like a lizard tasting the air. When it has selected a victim the tongue lashes out and hundreds of feet of blood-red slimy flesh smashes down on the target and anyone nearby. As lightning erupts from the archway into the impossibly black sky the tongue slowly withdraws. It disappears through the arch until no sign of its presence remains except a long gash cut into the red sand where its victim once stood.

The tongue is a killer. It can reach all along the mile-long quadrant, moves faster than any human can run and slams down with several hundred tons of force. If it targets a character then it kills them automatically but Game Leaders should not do this unless the character is really asking for it. Instead the tongue will target one of the insane or a nectar collector nearby and simply give the character a fright. Even if the character avoids a direct hit they may receive an indirect blow of 1d6+1 to 6d6+6 at the Game Leader's discretion.

The sheer impossible nature of the tongue is more disturbing to witness than the sudden death of its victim. Characters must resist a 3d6+3 attack or gain one of either the Despondent, Reckless, Self-Harm or Timid status effects.

Nectar

The tongue drips saliva and spatters it around the quadrant. This is known by the camp residents as nectar and as soon as the attack is over people from the main camp will rush with bowls, buckets, helmets and even skulls to collect it. They venture far into the quadrant to scoop it up, risking the tongue's reappearance, and fight each over the substance.

Nectar is the camp occupants' only escape, their one relief from the mind-numbing terror and tedium of their lives. It is a by-product of the Tower's self-defence mechanism which has strange magical effects on humans who touch it and especially on those who consume it. To those watching, any user of the nectar falls into a deep sleep. However, the user finds themselves returned to their real lives. They relive moments from their past or more commonly moments from a future lost when they fell victim to the outer dark. Those few moments are not dreams but are 100% real. The nectar user is simultaneously within the outer dark and in the real world. Even when those moments are in a future which will never happen, the user is there.

The impossibilities of this dual existence and non-linear time is why the human brain struggles to cope with the magic of the outer dark. When the nectar user awakens from their sleep they are left apathetic. The horror of their imprisonment is made worse by its contrast to the life they have lost. After using the nectar the character must resist an attack or gain the Despondent status effect. The attack ranges from 1d6+1 to 6d6+6 depending on the amount of contact or consumption.

Quadrant of Prophets

In this quadrant the danger is subtle but the area also contains the secret to escaping the Tower.

Automatic
A much smaller camp occupies this section. It is thinly scattered over the entire quadrant but most shelters are around the halfway point. The tents and shelters are very crude and the 100 or so occupants are poorly dressed, some even naked.
Easy
Some of the camp occupants are staring at the walls where things have been carved into the stone. One man is scratching something on the wall.
Moderate
A boy, the youngest person the characters have seen, is staring at the characters.
Hard
Some of the occupants of the camp are perfectly still, lying flat on the ground or curled in the foetal position. Others sit, grinning madly as they stare into space.
Ibraahiim and Al-Nazeb

Among the camp occupants there are two people who stand out, a boy and a striking-looking man. They are Ibraahiim (known to the characters as the adult Yousef al-Masri) and Al-Nazeb. The boy will constantly watch the characters as they move through the camp, following them around and slowly drawing closer.

Automatic
The boy is Arabic and small, maybe only seven or eight years old, with intense grey eyes. He is dressed in western clothes but they look dated.
Easy
On a closer look, the boy is showing the first signs of puberty and is just small for his age.
Moderate
The child rarely blinks which gives him a slightly unsettling stare.
Hard
There is something familiar about those eyes.

Ibraahiim is just a shy young boy and will respond well to kindness. Al-Nazeb is the closest he has to a friend but the language barrier makes communication difficult. With everyone else too busy dealing with their own pain and despair Ibraahiim is lonely and desperate for companionship. He will attach himself to whoever first shows him attention, quickly treating them as a surrogate parent. He is also inquisitive and will pester the entire team with questions about who they are and how they got here. Once he learns they are a TV crew he will ask about how the cameras work, the shows the team have made and about who they work for. He says his dream is to make TV programs in America like Starsky and Hutch.

The revelation that the young boy is Yousef al-Masri is a significant point in the adventure. It gives the characters a different perspective to everything which has happened to them. Though the characters may work it out when they meet Ibraahiim, it is not important. Game Leaders should not force the situation and instead leave the surprise twist for the adventure's final scene.

The physically distinctive Al-Nazeb is working on the wall but is open and friendly when approached.

Automatic
The man engraving the wall is 6' tall, making him one of the tallest people the characters have seen in the outer dark.
Easy
He is dressed in little more than rags. His face is lined with age and he has deep-set eyes with prominent eyebrows.
Moderate
The man is going over the wall carvings, re-cutting the faint scratches to make them deeper and clearer.
Hard
The style of the man's carvings is familiar.

Al-Nazeb is the oldest person in the outer dark. Few people survive more than a few centuries but he has endured for 2000 years. The secret of his survival is that he found a purpose. He noticed that the messages and symbols carved on the spiral walls faded over time and that the walls even repaired themselves of substantial damage. Al-Nazeb recognised the importance of the knowledge carved into the walls and dedicated himself to maintaining it. He now methodically moves up and down the walls recarving the inscriptions left by others. Al-Nazeb cannot read or write the languages of his own time and certainly not more modern tongues so sometimes information is lost or corrupted during the recarving. Only with the outer dark symbols can he be 100% accurate.

Conversation with Al-Nazeb is hard, even if a character speaks Aramaic, his native tongue. The characters know it as a dead language and use pronunciation based on its modern descendants. Al-Nazeb is speaking it as a native with an accent no one has heard in 2000 years. Characters will probably be reduced to mime, simple words and gesturing to symbols of the outer dark. The Game Leader should encourage this role playing and give Al-Nazeb just enough language as is needed to keep the adventure moving along.

It is not vital to the adventure that the players realise this Al-Nazeb is the same man whose skeleton they saw in Ramallah. However if they do, the characters will know there must be a way back to the real world. It also poses the players with an interesting dilemma about how much they tell him about his future.

The Wall

Examining the walls will reveal a lot to the characters but it takes time. There is over a mile of wall and a lot of overlapping carvings. Even getting the [Easy] clue from the wall is a time-consuming task.

Automatic
The walls are covered in symbols, writing and other markings. It is clear that many people over a long period of time have worked on the wall. At the base are discarded bits of metal used for carving and many are worn down to just stumps.
Easy
There are examples of written Greek and Latin on the walls along with Arabic and a few modern European languages. They tell the history of individuals or groups who were caught in sandstorms and found themselves at the Tower.
Moderate
There is no mention or indication that anyone has escaped the outer dark though there are attempts to reach the door in the Quadrant of Statues. On the wall there are the various combinations of outer dark symbols which have been tried in attempts on the door but no indication that any of them worked.
Hard
In all the writings on the wall, there are only eleven symbols of outer dark used.

Examining this wall is the key to the characters' escape. There are only eleven symbols used on the wall: Death's Door, Eye of the Storm, Guardian, Mot, Or-Karpi, Romans, Scream, Soul Eater, Star Stone, The Outer Dark and Tongue. The characters have had a chance to learn all these symbols in the previous two episodes but it is likely they have missed at least one. The discovery of new symbols may obscure what is really important.

There is one symbol missing from the wall. This is The One Beyond which the characters encounter originally in Al-Nazeb's Cave. The Al-Nazeb present at the Tower does not know the symbol and the only way he can learn it is from the characters. This is one more example of the time loop causing a paradox but it is also a vital clue to the players. They know Al-Nazeb escapes the Tower and also that he knows the symbol for The One Beyond by the time he dies a few months later. It is only a small leap to the conclusion that The One Beyond is vital to his escape.

Game Leaders are recommended to make the players work for this revelation. It will be far more satisfying for them than serving it to them on a plate thanks to a lucky dice roll. Allow the characters time to experience the Tower and the frustration which imprisonment brings before dropping any obvious hints.

Soul Eater

The Soul Eater's attacks happen slowly and eat away at the victim's mind over decades or even centuries. It attacks anyone who spends a lot of time in the area, particularly if they are close to the Tower. There is no visible sign of the Soul Eater's assault and the victim may not even notice it. The attack is worth 4d6+4 and the character always resists with all their Soul advantages (even if this exceeds their potential) and nothing else. Status effects have no impact on this action. If the attack is successful, the character must permanently remove one advantage from their character sheet. This can only be regained by spending CP, as per buying a new advantage.

The characters are unlikely to be at the Tower long enough to be attacked by the Soul Eater. However, it is a tool for the Game Leader if the characters start to abuse this apparently safe quadrant.

Quadrant of Statues

This quadrant is empty of living people.

Automatic
This quadrant is empty except for several hundred statues. At the base of the tower there is a door (see below).
Easy
The statues are of humans in very lifelike poses, all made of red stone the same colour as the sand. The majority of the statues are in the last third of the quadrant nearest the tower.
Moderate
All the statues are facing the Tower. A few appear to be walking but most are posed as runners. The closest statue to the tower is just a few feet from the door.
Hard
Lying broken and buried in the sand are the remains of more statues. These can be found along the entire length of the quadrant.

The door leads into the Tower and appears different to each character. Everyone sees the door as the front door to their own home.

The Eye of Death

Protecting this quadrant is a silent killer. There is no warning or sound, nothing appears in the archway, the victim just instantaneously turns to stone. This can happen anywhere within the quadrant though the chances increase the closer the victim is to the Tower.

The horror of this quadrant is that death is silent, sudden and automatic which means characters can very easily die. The statues should be enough to warn the players that walking up to the door is dangerous but Game Leaders may drop hints or have Ibraahiim tell the characters of the threat. The attack from the Tower always succeeds. There is no resistance so Game Leaders have no option other than to kill characters who venture close to the Tower. This threat of instant death is important to the climax of the adventure. It brings real tension to the finale as the characters attempt to reach the door and escape the Tower.

The Walls

The spiralling walls of the Tower may attract the characters attention.

Automatic
The outer walls start at each corner of the Tower, matching its 200' height before spiralling away in a long arc, gently dropping in height. Each wall extends for about a mile before disappearing into the red sand.
Easy
The walls are about 2' wide and made of what looks like crude mud bricks and mortar.
Moderate
The brickwork is tougher than it appears but can be damaged.
Hard
There is a very slight vibration constantly running through the walls as if they are alive.
Guardians

Characters attempting to walk along the gentle slope of the walls to the Tower's top will need to overcome two problems. Firstly everyone else in the camps around the Tower will attempt to stop the character any way they can. This is because of the second problem the characters face: the guardians. They appear in their tens of thousands from the archway and attack everyone in the Tower's vicinity.

The guardians are six inch long worm-like creatures with wings which pour out of the archway on top of the Tower. Strangely, the guardians cast a shadow and as the creatures boil out of the archway the ground below darkens. They swarm towards anyone and everyone but especially those on the wall or near the Tower. With tiny mouths full of pointed teeth they latch onto any exposed flesh and feed. Characters must resist an attack from 1d6+1 to 6d6+6 depending on where they are. This is a purely physical attack and characters may defend themselves by swatting the creatures, covering all their exposed flesh or even burying themselves in the sand. Characters who fail to resist will permanently lose a single Life advantage. This is not damage which can be recovered; the guardians have sucked that aspect out of the character. It is to be removed from the character sheet.

Unsurprisingly, people who release the guardians are not very popular with the other residents. Those foolhardy enough to do it are likely to find themselves being sacrificed to the Tongue.

Or-Karpi

Stretching out in all directions away from the Tower is an infinite plain of gently rolling dunes. Somewhere in that space are more towers and other horrifying aspects of the dead god's brain but reaching them is impossible, at least for the characters. The plain is the domain of the or-karpi or sand creatures who ring the Tower. They are an impenetrable barrier which draws closer and closer like an incoming tide until the Tongue is fed or the sand creatures reach the base of the tower. Immediately after either event they retreat to a distance of five miles and slowly begin creeping towards the Tower once more.

The light from the Tower spreads for little more than a mile in all directions. Anyone outside that area is in the dark with only their own personal 10' area of light and will have little warning of the approach of the or-karpi.

When the or-karpi reach the edge of the Tower's light they appear as gentle ripples in the sand but slowly they draw nearer. As they come closer to the Tower they gain speed, becoming more violent. From the rolling sand, malformed heads and limbs briefly break surface. By the time the circle of or-karpi reaches the outer ends of the spiralling wall it is a swirling maelstrom of shapes. The circle of moving sand breaks up as it enters the walled quadrants and a heaving chaotic mass of sand moves simultaneously down all four areas. Only when the or-karpi reach the base of the Tower does the sand once again become calm and safe.

Anyone caught by the sand creatures during any part of this process will be dragged into the sand and killed. An or-karpi's normal attack of 3d6+3 increases as it nears the Tower until it reaches its maximum of 6d6+6.

The sand creatures would have killed all the humans long ago if the humans had not discovered a flaw in the Tower's defences. In fleeing the or-karpi, people run towards the Tower and fall victim to its various attacks. However, if someone is killed by the Tongue, the sand creatures instantly retreat back to their starting point and the sand becomes calm once more. When the humans spot the circling or-karpi approaching, someone is grabbed and forcibly sacrificed to the tongue. The victim is normally one of the poor souls in the Quadrant of Madness but sometimes it is a personal vendetta or inter-group rivalry. The lethargy of camp residents and the lack of co-ordination can mean the or-karpi get very close before a victim is successfully sacrificed. Ths is why the camps are set as far into the quadrants as possible.

Escaping The Tower

To escape the outer dark the characters must enter the door at the base of the Tower in the Quadrant of Statues. The challenge is doing this without being turned to stone - a feat which Al-Nazeb, in his 2000 years here, has never seen done even by people using magic to protect themselves. However, the characters have something which the others did not: The One Beyond symbol. With this they can protect themselves, reach the door and enter the Tower.

There is no resistance or dice roll needed to protect themselves, success is automatic; though Game Leaders should encourage the players to roll dice and let the characters approach the Tower uncertain if their plan is working or whether they are about to become statues. The possibility of death without warning is a great opportunity for building tension. A crowd will form to watch and cheer on the characters as they approach the Tower. This is normal behaviour when some desperate soul makes an attempt for the door. When the characters are successful some fools from the crowd will rush to the door but this stops when the first two or three are turned to stone.

Players may devise other methods of reaching the door and Game Leaders should allow them to work. The important element of this scene is not how the characters reach the door but the fun the players have working out and executing their plan.

Through The Door

The door opens easily to reveal the insides of the tower.

Automatic
A smooth-sided, rounded tunnel with blood red walls twists and turns, widens and narrows as it descends away from the doorway.
Easy
There is a smell of decaying meat.
Moderate
The walls feel warm to the touch and have a slight sponginess to them.
Hard
The tunnel is reminiscent of an intestine.

The tunnel descends sharply and care is needed not to slip on the smooth rounded floor. After 100' the tunnel widens into a small chamber.

Automatic
Emerging from the floor of the chamber is a glistening human hand grasping a black stone.
Easy
The hand and stone are covered in a thin viscous layer of a gel-like substance.
Moderate
The arm has faint henna tattoos of the Eye of the Storm, Death's Door, Scream, Soul Eater and Tongue on it.
Hard
The skin tone suggests the arm belongs to someone with an Arabic background. The hand has no callouses on the skin and nails are in good condition.

The characters must take the stone from the hand to destroy the Tower. It has a grip of 4d6+4 plus an extra 2d6+2 for the slippery gel covering it. The gel is absolutely harmless and can be cleaned off. Characters can also sever the arm if they desire. This is no different from amputating a living person's hand but is an unpleasant experience as blood spurts out and bones crack. Characters involved must resist 3d6+3 against the horror of the situation or gain a status effect at the Game Leader's discretion.

The moment the stone leaves the hand the Tower explodes. The characters, whether they are in the Tower or not, all experience a sudden rush of images and sensations. They see the Tower explode from multiple perspectives with large chunks of stonework flying into the dark and images of meteors streaking across a star-filled night sky. They experience moments from the lives of Al-Nazeb and Ahmed Yassin before everything goes dark.

Back In The Sinai Desert

Everyone awakes with a blinding light in their eyes and in the middle of what seems like a sandstorm. After a few moments they realise there is a large helicopter with a spotlight hovering directly overhead. As the characters dig themselves out of the sand the helicopter lands nearby, its Mystery! Science! TV logo plainly visible.

The characters are back in the Sinai desert with the first glimpses of dawn on the horizon. The road and their cars are almost invisible beneath newly-formed sand dunes and the non-player team members are slowly emerging from the sand. Running from the helicopter are military looking men and women wearing bullet-proof vests with the Mystery! Science! TV logo. Also exiting the helicopter is Yousef al-Masri, his intense grey eyes visible in the bright glare of the helicopter lights.

The entire team will be shepherded on to the helicopter which quickly takes off leaving behind some of Yousef al-Masri's people to deal with the vehicles. There is a very quick flight in a noisy helicopter to a runway where two small private jets await with their engines running. All the non-player members of the team are placed on one jet; the characters and Yousef on the other. Both planes quickly take off, the characters are served drinks by the cabin crew who then discreetly disappear, leaving al-Masri with the characters.

Alone at last, the characters may now speak openly. If the players have not already worked it out, he will open by saying "My friends call me Yousef but those who have known me since childhood call me Ibraahiim." He will be open and frank with the characters, answering all questions as best he can. There are certain things he doesn't know, such how Ahmed Yassin got involved with the outer dark, though he suspects rivals and other users of magic may be responsible. Yousef does not know how the time paradox came into being or other details except that the outer dark obeys laws beyond human understanding.

Yousef will explain his own history, how he used his knowledge of the outer dark to escape the poverty of the West Bank and establish Mystery! Science! TV. He goes on to explain how he came to realise the full nature of the paradox he was in and that he had no choice but to ensure it happened. He had to find and recruit the same team of people for Science in the Danger Zone! as he remembered from his time at the Tower.

What Now?

One aspect of the outer dark Yousef will explain is the dangers, not just those from the magic but from other individuals and groups interested in the subject. Whatever the characters choose to do next, it is best for their own health if they do not draw attention to themselves and the outer dark. Science in the Danger Zone! will be broadcast but heavily edited to remove all mention of the outer dark and genuine magic. (The show will go on to win awards). If the characters choose to talk publicly about their experiences or release their own footage then Yousef will not stop them. However, it may be seriously bad for their health and careers.

The plane will land in Dubai and the characters taken by limo to a top class hotel. The next morning any personal effects left in the cars will be returned to them by a member of Yousef's personal staff along with a note explaining the company's private jets are available to take them home at their convenience. A large sum of money will also appear in the characters' bank accounts.

And then …

At this point the adventure officially ends. Game Leaders who wish to expand the outer dark universe and run more adventures are encouraged to do so. Yousef al-Masri and his TV channel provide excellent cover for investigators, or the characters may set out on their own to discover more of the strange, terrifying magic of the outer dark.

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open/oneshots/petra/act3tower.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/17 15:21 by darth_tigger
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