An adventure hook for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons but adaptable to other systems.
By Mark-Alexander Cross
An ark for a flood that never came is the setting for today’s hook but in order to beat this thing you will have to encourage your players to use their heads and look for the clues needed to win.
Players: 3-6 Level: 3 (personally used) Goal: Dungeon Run
Your adventurers are heading to the Tower of Ark; a fortress built to sustain life for a terrible natural disaster that never came to pass. The location of the tower and the disaster I shall leave up to you, maybe even use the the latter as a time clock for your players to beat the dungeon e.g. four hour session length to win if not then TPK (Tower Party Kill).
The Tower Code
As ever if you wish to use your own ideas and motivations feel free but the purpose of the tower to me was a safeguard from a vicious storm of hurricanes and heavy rain for two months. It was built by monster researchers who study these beast in order to understand and learn for all manner of reasons but when the storm never came the Tower of Ark went quiet. It was a arcane surge of energy which stopped the disaster but also waved over the tower, making the monsters go berserk and killed the staff turning them undead.
The reward for my players was 100 gold and a magic item each to reach the top of the tower in order to find the head researchers diary to find out exactly what happened in there.
Four security doors which separated the tower where the staff lived to the monster pens made of pure adamantine, blocks each level of the tower with a numerical code required to open each door. I placed a code on four pieces of wash flannel that a researcher had when doing his rounds and got scattered all over the complex, in fact when my players found the body of this poor soul he was by the first door dead, killed by panic and did not turn.
Set up encounters, monsters and undead remembering to balance for party level but go nuts with the variety of what you want to throw in there. The Tower of Ark has all manner of beasts that they were studying and wild magic is always fun to play with undead effects.
The Tower of Ark
A dwarven built structure made of pure granite reinforced by adamantine designed to protect what is inside and stop those inside from getting out in return. The location is atop of a valley surrounded by natural stone formations which span higher than the main building although not the tower itself.
Picture a long church structure with a tower in the north-east corner rising 400 feet but the main building is only 30 feet high yet spans in length by 100 feet. There are several rooms and halls designed to hold a complex of monsters (or whatever takes your imagination) but the tower is the goal being the heart and control centre for this facility.
The literal key to success is on a piece of wash kit but take the adventure even further by asking yourself two questions: who or what is at the top of the tower and what caused the arcane surge to begin with?
The story is yours.