Emergent Event: Fractal Towers Building / Landmark in Expedition Demeter | World Anvil

Emergent Event: Fractal Towers

or The Stairway To heaven

A Fractal Tower is the name given to a randomly encountered building type that your players can explore. Its a one shot encounter/ adventure/ long running campaign depending on how the GM and players want to go about it. This is an encounter of my own design and if used in your own games I'd love to hear how it went. Also, do credit please! The maps and adventure are my own, any art used is credited in the standard way.

The Fractal Towers are near infinite dungeons that appear and disappear all over the world. Players will hear no rumors of them, and must find them by accident. This is a must. The towers cannot be intentionally found because they do not want to be found. The following is a series of ways to deal with each tower you may have to build, and options on various ways of running it, as well as my experience while using this little encounter.

Randomness is the name of the game here. If your players are on World Anvil and stumble across this. its unlikely that they will be able to metagame it. Each tower is different, and what dwells within is just as much so.

What is it to the players?

Fractal Towers are anomalies that can only be found by accident. They are massive is size, the top vanishing in a ring of clouds no matter how far away you are. The Towers are always beautiful, seemingly carved from gold and marble. They are decorated with massive arrangements of precious stones, all impossible to remove due to the arcane forces that allow the tower to exist.

The towers come in different shapes. Some are shaped like squares, some are round, and some are triangular, but it will always maintain a 45 by 45 foot interior. You're players will pick up on this information if they visit more than one.

What is it to the GM?

The Fractal Towers can be whatever you want them to be. In the beginning it may just be a one shot encounter, but later on it becomes a full blown campaign or subplot to the main quest line the players are on. Many strange things can be found inside, and the doors will open and welcome the players, almost eagerly.

Infinite Floors

What makes the tower easy to run is a rotation of floor plans that invert and reverse as the player ascend. If a player realizes this at any time, the enchantments break and they immediately progress to the top floor. Below is where the floor plan will be once ive drawn it up on computer, as well as several variants of the floor plan. You can use any combination or make your own as well, but you must have at least 4 to make it work. The floor plan follows a rotation of floors. Floor 4 is the top of the tower. Any other floors are simply added to the rotation. The rotation is in the side bar to the right.

The Goal

The goal varies from tower to tower and from GM to GM. Generally, the goal is to reach the top floor. You're players will likely realize this as they travel. You can even skip floors for effect to really drive the point home if you need to. There are three ways that guarantee reaching the top floor.
  • Realizing that the floor plans are reused over and over, but in different ways. Make a point every now and then that each floor is unique and special. If its taking to long, leave some previously cleared floors on the mat, table, whatever so they can see it.
  • The players have a chance to kill the source of the enchantments. This can vary, but is usually an antagonist who resides on the top floor. This antagonist will not just lie in wait. It will seek out those who enter the tower and try to kill them. Killing it will reveal the top floor, though you want a plan B for the finale if this occurs.
  • Using certain spells that dispel or negate magic can break the enchantment, though many players may not even think to attempt it. The difficulty is fairly high, regardless of arcane skill. In d20, it requires a natural 19 or a natural 20 to succeed.

Gm notes

I would suggest ensuring players have the ability to try and steal the precious stones. Make a point to note the massive emeralds and sapphires that line the base of the tower, maybe even say that the characters can reach out and touch them. This does 3 things.
  1. It gives them a moment to be cautious, since you're offering such treasure so easily. Cautious players wont touch it.
  2. It gives the more bold players a chance to learn that they cant be removed without having to climb to dangerous heights, thus preventing a needless casualty.
  3. It allows you to prepare them for the arcane nature of the tower. Either the gems are traps, or you suggest the gems can't be removed because of magic after a failed attempt. It starts to show off the weirdness of the towers. Whether the gems are traps is up to the GM.

Floor Rotation

3-1-2 > 4

If players have not solved the tower by the time you reach full circle to 1-2-3, inverse the maps and follow the same rotations. You can inverse by reversing the map or rotating the map in any way. The players cannot reach floor 4 until they solve the puzzle, Get lucky, or achieve the goal.  

Hazard Rotation and Staircase Rotation

The stairs, ladders, portals, or whatever you decide to use to progress to the next floor will always match the entrance on the next floor, as shown in the maps. An entry point in A7 will come from an exit point on A7 on the floor below. The exit point is random and you can place it wherever you want.   Hazards are different. Traps should be used sparingly, and never in the same place if you can help it. Be sure to have a list of traps you can use if you chose to use them. They can really spice up a floor. Other hazards include environmental hazards and antagonists.

Your players are not storming a castle here. Many enemies they face have been lost in the tower for some time, and the option to talk to other sentient beings shouldn't be off the table. Monsters are common enough but not throw too much at the players. There is no indication of how long they will be stuck here, so keep combat quick if you want to rush it.

Environmental hazards don't come in till your players end up in floors beyond 25, if they make it that far without solving the goal.   See Effects for more info.

How to run the encounter

When introducing the towers, make a note on how you want to use them for the campaign.
  • An encounter:An encounter should be simple and quick. Make it easy to solve the goals with plenty of opportunities to do so. Combat should be light and easy, with a few harder obstacles on the way.
  • An Adventure:If you want a good session or two out of the tower, or notice the player really enjoying it, you can tweak the rules a bit. Maybe knowing the pattern of floor plans isn't enough anymore. Maybe they have to find a secret door, and are simply going through the same three floors over and over till they find it.
  • A Major Questline: The questline for the towers is called Stairway to Heaven, and is still being written. Keep an eye out and the link will be right here (link)

But what about the story?

As were about to discuss, the story of the towers will vary from GM to GM and from party to party. The use of random tables to build the foundation for the story is essential. The story itself is up to the GM who is more than welcome to engage the players in its creation. For each element of the story, turn to a player and ask that they expand on the lore. If a cult is behind the tower or even all The Fractal Towers, who do they worship? Why do they build them? The adventure can easily be a cooperative world building experience. When constructing the story on your own, keep notes on how the story can evolve and expand. Keep information ready to give to the players.

Tables, and how to use them.

The following tables will help build the encounter if the encounter is rolled. It would be a good idea to call a quick break to gather this information before resuming play.


So much space! How do!?

You could end up making A LOT of rooms. Below is a handy bullet list of possible rooms to make if you get stumped. Try to keep things fresh and let the imagination wander here. Create unique treasures and loot to add to the loot list.
  • Armory?
  • Storage rooms?
  • Kitchens?
  • Dining rooms?
  • Bathrooms?
  • Barracks/bedrooms?
  • Training areas
  • Shines/ Alters/Places of Worship?
  • Recreation?
  • Experiments/research?
  • Torture/Prison?
  • Chokepoints/Defensive Rooms?
  • Library?
  • Magical rooms?

Random encounter Table

Lets start simple. This Table will be used every time the players get to a new floor.
Dice roll (d100) Result
0-10 Nothing at all... Like the floor is empty.
11-20 The Source of the enchantment Attacks on this floor.
21-30 Random Loot on floor.
31-40 Random Enemies are on the floor.
41-50 There is an elite enemy on this floor.
51-60 The floor has a unique magical effect. (see effects)
61-70 Random Loot can be found on this floor.
71-80 Weary Travelers are hiding on this floor.
81-89 You find the exit... Begin again at floor 1.
90-95 The next floor is the top floor. (Floor plan 4)
96-100 A unique antagonist appears on the floor.

Who's Bad?

The following table will determine what the source of the enchantment is. This doesn't always have to be an antagonist. it is just as likely a god or demon got stuck in the tower by mistake, or was imprisoned in it, and would love help in escaping it.

Dice roll (d12) Result
1 A God/Goddess
2 A Spirit of Geometry/Infinity/Impossible Spaces
3 A Particularly Powerful Mage
4 A Chosen Of The Void
5 A Trapped Monarch
6 An Angry Child
7 A Cult
8 A Demon
9 An Imprisoned Noble
10 A Nemesis or rival of the one or more PCs
11 A Thieves Guild
12 A Jhoterordene (you're welcome)

A note on special PCs

Some PCs, like Pathfinders and those who practice Arcana Discordia, have a natural sense of patterns and location. They will always find out the goal by floor ten, but that doesn't mean you cant have fun with it! Describe the weird feeling of Deja vu they get when entering a floor plan they have been in before. Next, they can predict traps and can even predict where rooms will be, and what will be in them.

Excuse me. People live here.

Its very possible, especially if your big bad is an organization, that people live in this tower. They know its inner workings and the players are just a bunch of hobos who have come to ruin it. Food for thought there...


The rooms rarely seem to match in decor. It is almost like the tower pulls rooms from all over time and space to make its inner space. Smaller rooms are usually underused and prone to looking run down and dusty. Larger rooms are more ornate and luxurious.

Now that's a five dollar word...

So, if you're like me, you may be at a loss for words or reuse the same words over and over. Here are a bunch of words to use in your descriptions! Dont forget there are many shades of blue and every other color. Use them!
Green< Verdant

Luxury< Extravagance, Leisure, Opulence

Strange or Weird< Outlandish, Peculiar

Also, here is your word of the day!

Halcyon[ hal-see-uhn ]
calm; peaceful; tranquil:
halcyon weather.

rich; wealthy; prosperous:
halcyon times of peace.

happy; joyful; carefree:
halcyon days of youth.

Magical Effects

Where would the fun be without a little magic thrown in? These effects change the way each floor manifests for added variety and this table is rolled on every time a magical effect is rolled on the encounter table.
Dice roll (d6) Result
1 The entire floor is a different biome. This changes every time its rolled, and will exist until this effect is rolled again. Desert requires water, forests have monster, tundra is cold, you catch my drift.
2 The composition of the walls and floor has changed to a different material. Possible something valuable...
3 The tower is alive, and the walls and floor are made of biological tissue. In at least one room, 4 1hp feelers that deal 3dmg per hit will wait to be found.
4 You will hear voices call to you from beyond. You cant hear what they say.
5 Every room has a trap...
6 Each room from this floor on until another effect is rolled will close in on itself slowly. every action taken shortens the room by 5 feet.


Author's Notes

I do Hope you enjoyed this little adventure of mine! Let me know ways to improve it or explain where I may have fallen short.

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