The Mithral Guard was called upon by the illusion department at Arcania University’s Samaabab campus to chaperone the freshman field trip to the Paramnesiac Spire. Several recent attacks by sand pirates just outside city limits had given them cause for alarm, despite the typically harmless journey, and the Guard was dispatched to ensure the safety of the students.
The guardians were flown into Samaabab by airship, and had several hours to kill before meeting with Suku Sariyah Thaqib. Daa went looking for exotic weapons but came back empty-handed, and Sander bought some wine. Shortly thereafter they met with Thaqib and begun the three-mile journey to the Paramnesiac Spire.
As they were making their way to the Spire, several of the guardians overheard the Suku drilling his students on the subschools of illusion, ending his lesson with the wisdom, “And remember, despite their differences, each subschool opens the same door of uncertainty in your opponent’s mind.” Half a mile from their destination, however, a different door of uncertainty was opened when the students and guardians found themselves surrounded by sand pirates (mostly gnoll and lizardfolk, some mounted on dinosaurs) under the leadership of Zhong Chèng, a cleric of Mèng Mèi who proceeded to announce, “Stand down, casters! You are all property of the Dreamblade.”
The pirates surrounded and took down the guardians and students, and when each of them awoke, they found that they were bound and blind-folded in a room with Zhong Chèng and several of the pirates. Sander awoke first and immediately broke his bonds and removed his blindfold. Preoccupied and unperceptive, Chèng took no notice, ordering the three pirates to brand the remaining casters while he dealt with the Suku, noting that he’d be back in an hour. No sooner had Chèng departed when the remaining guardians begun to break free and launch their assault on the pirates. When it was all said and done, no students had been branded, and three dead pirates wished they had chosen more wisely who to work for. This left the guardians presented with five doors.
Only Sander had seen the escape route of Zhong Chèng and he didn’t seem to feel like talking. From this point there were five rooms the guardians encountered, each representing one of the five subschools of illusion: figment, glamer, pattern, phantasm, and shadow. In order to get from one room to the next consecutive room, one had to choose one of the five doors and continue to go through the door in that particular position in each room. Once all five rooms had been visited through the same door, that door in the fifth room would lead to the outside world. Choosing doors in other positions would lead to different rooms, but the spire could never be escaped until all five rooms had been visited consecutively through a single door.
The figment room had ornate carvings covering every surface, and was full of major image (Core Rulebook, pg. 311) illusions of terrifying monsters with only a single beast—a cockatrice—presenting any genuine threat. The first time the guardians visited this room, they quickly discovered the cockatrice and dispatched it.
The glamer room was plain white from floor to ceiling. In the middle of the room was a man seated at a vanity, screaming and hitting himself—his clothes ripped, his make-up running. Statues stood in each corner of the room, their mouths moving in a recognizable pattern. Unfortunately, the room was under the effect of a silence (Core Rulebook, pg. 343) spell and each of the guardians had become invisible, making communication about which door to enter virtually impossible. The first time the guardians visited this room, Daa quickly discovered that beating the man in the chair would end the invisibility (Core Rulebook, pg. 301) effect.
The pattern room had shimmering walls and what seemed to be visible coloured lights floating all throughout the air. There were seven twenty-foot pits spread throughout the room and a series of moving walkways leading between pits and across the room. As soon as anybody stepped off the platform near the entrance, they were subjected to the effects of an hypnotic pattern (Core Rulebook, pg. 298), causing them to risk fascination. While fascinated, the moving walkways would dump them into the pits. This room proved incredibly challenging for the more skill and sword-oriented guardians and Dermus was left unconscious in the room after the first time the guardians visited it.
The phantasm room had a sun painted on the floor, leading to twilight scenes upon the walls, and a night sky painted on the ceiling. In the middle of the sun was a pedestal holding a book. The book (labeled the Paramnesiac Tome) was the subject of an illusory script (Core Rulebook, pg. 299) effect, thankfully only triggered to prevent tieflings from reading it, and written on the first page was the warning, “Watch your step when stepping out of line.” The remaining pages were all blank. Anybody attempting to go through a door other than the one that brought them to this room would be momentarily attacked by a vicious phantasm. The first time the guardians visited this room, Singéd grabbed the tome and Leokas fell prey to a phantasm.
The shadow room was all black and under a darkness (Core Rulebook, pg. 263) effect, as well as containing a pair of hungry darkmantles. This room proved challenging for those without darkvision, but they nevertheless managed to defeat the darkmantles.
The guardians at some point split up and begun wandering through different doors, making it all the more difficult to figure out the secret of the Spire, but eventually they put all the pieces together and escaped. Unfortunately, only one of the students managed to make it out of the pattern room conscious, and the guardians had to exit the Spire down eleven students and Dermus. Only Sander succeeded in bringing a student outside to safety on his own. When the guardians finally escaped, a frantic Sariyah Thaqib—freshly branded across his eye with the symbol of Mèng Mèi—approached them, screaming that he’d managed to escape Zhong Chèng‘s clutches and demanding to know what happened to the students. Upon learning they were stuck in the pattern room, he and several of the guardians made their way back inside to rescue them and get them out before Zhong Chèng returned. Unfortunately, one of the students didn’t survive his fall, and the entire incident ended up looking really bad for the Mithral Guard.