View Full Version : Campaign Setting: The fortress of the Archmagi

2008-05-26, 10:08 PM
Alright, So I have a campaign Idea I’m working on, it goes something like this. There were, long ago, a group of super powerful mages who, for various reasons, built a massive (possibly extradimensional) fortress together. The PC’s are trying to clear it out, looking for powerful magic shinies that may turn the tide in a war (with the other side doing the same thing).

Now, rather than just stick abunch of stuff in some rooms, what I want to do is create a personality for each of the archmages that helped build this fortress. Give each one a philosophy, personality, excetera. Rather than design the dungeon from the perspective of me as a DM, I want to design this from the perspective of whichever archmage designed that particular part of the fortress. My goal is for, at one point, the Players to look at a room and say “Alright, we know this room was designed by Archmage X, who had a philosophy of Y. Because of that, we should probably expect something along the lines of Z”.

Now, the archmages built this fortress partly as a showcase of their power, partly to one-up each other, partly to protect various magical items/ sealed evils in a can, but mostly because they were bored with untold levels of wealth and power.
Each also created a sentient race that resides in the fortress, it’s been a long time since the masters passed away, and so these races now have more or less become nations, with various factions, subfactions, and relationships with each other. They have, in short, Not spent their entire time sitting in rooms guarding things, the fortress includes living spaces for them, places for them to farm, ect. They have complex societies, and they worship the archmage that created them.
What I need help with:
Statting/Fluffing the races created by each archmage
Developing the archmages as characters (not statting them out though, more like developing how they think)
Thinking up interesting things the archmages may have put in the fortress. (Traps, rooms, devices ect)

Next post is reserved.

2008-05-26, 10:13 PM
Here are the Archmage. As I think up things/ other people post things I like, I’ll add it to this original post. Right now, these are basic ideas that should by no means be considered set in stone or complete.

Ortak Boneaxe

Race: Orc
Title: The Blade
In stories about the Archmages, Ortak is often portrayed as a simple, if friendly, brute. These stories are not only inaccurate in this regard, they fail to account for how such a brute could possibly be an archmage. Ortak was actually quite intelligent and actually, as few know, The most powerful of the archmages. He did focus on physical combat though, not because he was incapable of powerful magic, but because he believed one should not rely on it too much. Ortak saw mages that relied exclusively on their magic as both foolish, for making themselves helpless when faced with antimagic, and rejecting the effectiveness that a physical body could accomplish. His upbringing amongst the orcs taught Ortak great respect for physical strength and speed. In battle he mainly used his magic to enhance himself or summon allies, preferring to dispatch foes by hand rather than simply blasting them. He held a great respect for magic, but felt that mages ignored mundane abilities at their own peril.

Fortress Ideas:

Petri Littlewing

Race: Halfling
Title: The Sneak
Before being taken in by a mage who caught him in the act of stealing his purse (the mage was amused by his cunning and decided to take him on as an apprentice) Petri had been a small time (no pun intended) thief. This carried over with his magic which was largely illusion based. He preferred to outsmart foes rather than overwhelming them with force. He preferred subtlety, never did what he could do with a weak spell with a powerful one. He was also the stealthiest member of the group, and often used the skills he had picked up as a thief to great effect.

Fortress Ideas:

Darak Stoneforge

Race: Dwarf
Title: The engineer
Darak Stoneforge saw magic as a means to an end. He was a brilliant inventor, often to the point of ridiculousness. His magic was primarily artifice, and was mainly using magic to create a mundane effect, preferring to use a machine or contraption even when a simple spell would be more effective. Many cities boast examples of his arcane engineering. His main motivation was often simple curiosity, analyzing every part of a spell to see what he could do with it. He found the idea that a fireball could only be used as an attack to be ridiculous. The phrase most often attributed to Darak is “Because I can”

Fortress Ideas:

More to come, including the other Archmages

Somber Requiem
2008-05-27, 12:28 PM
These guys aren't grabbing me. For starters the premise works in so far as the magic fortress... but the magi behind it... well... aren't.

Here are some questions I'd like answered: Why did they build it? Is it a weapon, popping into a material plane and conquering whatever they wanted? Is it a machine, a magical strip miner designed to elevate the magi to godhood without the fuss of worshipers? Is it a life boat and the magi built it to escape some other universal cataclysm? Is it intact or was it damaged in some fight or battle, and now might be even more dangerous? What happens to kill the magi? Infighting? An even nastier interdimensional force that's now trapped in the fortress... and hungry?

Two... who is the antagonist or boss of the place? Are there going to be 5 magi to beat... or maybe just the undead or semi-divine survivors. Is whatever killed the magi still around? Are you going to trap the players there, or is it going to be a recurring theme? What's to stop the players from taking over this super fortress and annihilating all the "bad guys"?

Three... how linear are you going to make this place? Will each section have to be cleared out one by one? Will players be able to pick the section made by the abjurist and not the necromancer?

Here's my spin... The Ars Arcanum was built by the five greatest archmagi in the world as the greatest magical research facility in the universe. It wasn't just designed to research epic level spells... it's ultimate goal was to allow the five to create entirely new universes free from divine meddling. However, one of the five was secretly a member of a demonic cult and saw a way to turn the Ars Arcanum into a weapon. In one swift act of betrayal he attacked and killed two of his fellows, but not before the master of necromancy and the master of abjuration were able to rally their forces and counter the master of conjouration. The resulting instability shunted the Ars Arcanum into an unstable demiplane, trapping the demons and undead within.

The Ars is divided into seven sectors. The first is the common sector. This is were the alcolytes, students, and helpers all lived. It's one of the first places that the party accesses, and they might not know that its even on a demiplane or what happened here. The area is smashed and rife with lower level monsters to face. The second is the underside. This would be a tight and claustraphobic environment that handles all of the pluming, storage, and other materials for research. The third is the Master of Evocation's tower. This plane within a plane had been devoted to the study of evocative magic, but during the betrayal the magical explosion gutted it and killed the master. It is now filled with chaos beasts, living evocation spells, and dangerous disruptive spell effects that activate and deactivate chaotically. The fourth is the master of transmutation. This tower looks like it is the inside of a living creature. As the master was assassinated, it is mostly intact, but without the master's guidance has turned wild and tumorous. Worse, a lingering curse left by the master slowly transforms any who enter without his permission. And the unique creatures that inhabit it doesn't help either. The fifth sector is the abjurist, and rather than countless fights this is a battle of countless puzzles with the occasional golem guardian patroling around. Unfortunately the abjurist master has gone insane with paranoia and must be killed. The sixth is the necromancer, who has since become a lich and is the sanest of the bunch. The question is can the party members manage to keep from killing on sight long enough to negotiate with him? And what do they do when they find out the lich plans of escaping from the Ars Arcanum for the purpose of continuing his experiments? The seventh area is the master of conjouration, who was promised elevation to a fiendish counthood if he turns the Ars to the fiends. However, the demons learned of the plot and decided to use the attack to jump in and try to sieze it. So these rooms are an endless battlefield with the players in the middle. Do they fight both sides at once, or try to play the fiends off the devils. Since any killed outsider regenerates after a day in this sector any betrayals will have to be critically planned out... and reoccuring grudge matches are a definite plus.

After they defeat the master of conjouration and possibly necromancy the spells holding the demiplane together begin to fall apart and they have to evacuate or be sucked into a singularity. Que the dramatic flight of the party as the universe falls in around them, with a few fights of other creatures driven mad by the collapse or trying to delay the party as they flee. Or else the party is able to stabilize the magical fields and they have their own interdimensional base of operations.

2008-05-27, 04:11 PM
Hmm, You have given me an idea, one that I rather like. I think I'm going to take your stuff, twist it to my own ends. The new backstory to the Ars Arcanium (rewritten).

Once upon a time, there were six powerful archmagi (I'll work on them later( who used their powers to create an extradimensional fortress of massive proportions. This fortress had various purposes, it was a university for learning of all sorts, especially magic. It was a vault where great treasures were stored. It was the ultimate neutral ground, International negotiations were almost always held there, diplomats could meet without bodyguard, safe in the knowledge that nobody would dare defy the Archmages instructions to keep such negotiations peaceful. Most of the fortress was communal, though each archmage had their own wing, occupied soley by themselves, their apprentices, servants, and creations.
This carried on for over a century, with a golden age of peace and learning occuring on the material plane. The very existance of what became known as the Council Arcanum prevented conflict.

All that ended one day when a powerful explosion rocked the Ars Arcanum, The students of one of the archmages found their master in his private study, dead. Attempts to ressurect him failed, His students demanded the perpetrator be caught and punished. However, a problem arose. The study showed no sign of forced entry, whoever killed the Archmage had been allowed in, and the only people that would have been capable of killing the archmage without setting off the fortresses wards would be another archmage.

Each of the Archmagi quickly became reclusive and paranoid, suspecting the others of killing their college. Old hatreds and rivalries flared, Before long each of the archmages retreated to their personal sanctuaries, neither leaving nor communicating except in very rare instances. The servants of the various Archmages quickly seized control of various sections of the Ars Arcanum, all of them infected with their master's paranoia. They rigged traps and stayed on constant patrol. Before long the Archmages's servants began battling each other, believing that each was hiding incriminating evidence. These of course led to retaliations, and it didn't take long before the Ars Arcanium was a five way battleground. The fact that the servants of the murdered archmage went out of control, and that his students, unsure of what to do, simply fortified themselves from the chaos that was gripping the rest of the fortress.

Meanwhile, the Material Plane, having grown used the the guidance of the Council Arcanum, fell into chaos and war. The PC's are from the embattled kingdom of Sarinal (Name pulled out of thin air), which is in the midst of losing a war. The King is desperate, and so he sends the PC's through one of the few stable portals leading to the Ars Arcanum, ordering them to find somthing, anything that could save his kingdom. Either the aid of one of the archmagi, or a powerful artifact left behind as a legacy, somthing.

The PC's arrive and encounter some of the Murdered Archmages former students who have holed themselves up in what was once their masters wing of the Ars Arcanum. They can try to solve the conflict and reveal the murderer. Or they could just grab somthing that can save their kingdom and get the hell out of there. Either way, there will be alot of violent monsters, paranoid students, magical traps created and abandoned as scorched-earth tactics and or fortifications.

IN short, fun times for all.

2008-05-27, 04:36 PM
Hmm, I like the newer story. Makes more sense then " A wizard did. Actually, Multiple Wizards did it. Deal with it." OKay, I have a few suggestions for each ArchMagi.

Ortak Boneaxe: Mabye a large chamber with a prominent feature that is also the test to access a chamber/vault thing. He prefered Physical strength to blasting, correct? So make a huge boulder that must be moved manually. Any Attempt to Magically move it fails. Or a Huge Stone Golem Gaurdian that they have to wrestle or something.

Petri Littlewing: Sneakity Sneak Sneak? Make a huge web of illusions. Doesn't mater of what, just illusions of illusions of illusions. Keep them paranoid. Make sure they have no idea what is real or not. Throw in a few pit-traps as well.

Darak Stoneforge: Make a Rue Goldberg Style machine, with a few adjustments needed for it to function properly.

More ideas to come.

2008-05-27, 04:43 PM
I don't know if I'm going t keep those same Archmage Ideas, but I might. Have Ortak's followers be more about augmenting their physical abilities with magic, have Petri's followers be stealth based, have Darak's people mostly use constructs. For Darak Rue Goldberg machines are a definite must.

This came about as this
"hmm, It would be cool to have a campaign set in a fortress place where I can spice up encounters with magical traps and gizmos and stuff."

So the first idea was more a justification for having that sort of campaign, the second one is much more of an actual story, one that I like much better.

An alternate idea could be that the PC's are students of the murdered Archmage trying to get to the bottom of his murder.

2008-05-29, 08:20 AM
The other Archmagi Ideas I had.

One was an elf who was very knowledge-based. You know, kind of Faustien in nature, constantally amassing knowledge and information. The other was more of a standard wizard, except really powerful, which is too boring to make much of an intresting enemy, but would work well for the murdered archmagi. Maybe the sixth was some kind of magical reasearcher who was always tweaking and developing new spells (Which may allow me to give out slightly overpowered for their level spells as treasures).