Main Hall of the Forgotten Academy

The two spires seen from a distant mark the corners of a large, impressive, castle-like structure at the center of the complex of buildings and ruins hidden by and encroached upon by the forest. To either side, other stone buildings can be seen - connected to this one by covered stone bridges at an upper level. The only entrance visible anywhere appears to be the massive iron-bound wooden doors into this central building.

These doors are each four feet wide and at least 12 feet tall at their highest point. (The doorway is arch-shaped, and the doors af cut to fit it. Four thick, horizontal bands of iron once reinforced them, but this iron is now badly rusted. A bronze blazon, blackened with age, is affixed to the each of the two doors - one bears the three heads of a chimera, the other the image of a sphynx.

Entry Hall

NEEDS WORK!!!
Twin grand staircases circle to an upper level balcony that surrounds the space. Stone floor, with a channel of sorts worn into it from years of foot traffic; some very shallow pools of water in these channels. Occasional drips of water from the roof high above is the source of these. Some moss growing out of stone cracks. Two doors and two arched passages leading elsewhere in addition to the stairs. Decorations include rusted suits of armor (useless) interspersed with stone statues of various Folk - most, but not all dressed in robes. Some hold tomes (stone; parts of the statues). One has arms crossed over chest with two wands in hands; another leans on a staff topped with some ornate decoration.

Visitor's Reception

The first door to the right leading out of the Entry Hall opens into a round room approximately 20ft (6m) in diameter - the base of the turret at the corner of the building. The walls of this room were once paneled in polished hardwood, but these are now cracked and rotting. Moss and vines have invaded the cracks. Parts of the panels have rotted away completely, showing the stone walls behind them. There is a wooden desk near the far wall that seems to be more or less intact at first glance. Perhaps the wax polish protected the wood somewhat? Behind the desk is a pile of dirt that is now home to a colony of moss and mushrooms.
A close inspection of the desk shows that it is badly rotting, despite its outward appearance. Leaning on it will cause short legs to collapse, and the impact will cause the desk to simply fall apart into rotting pieces. The pile of dirt is the rotted and composted remains of a padded leather and wood chair that the desk occupant once used.

A drawer in the desk contains eight special items: silver talismans that are attached to silk ribbon loops that can be worn around one's neck. The silk appears to be untouched by decay, and the silver is untarnished. The talisman itself is coin-shaped, with a stamped image of the Main Hall building itself. These talismans are magical, of course. They were used to identify "authorized visitors" to the Academy - anyone wearing one would not trigger the magical wards and defenses of the place when wandering about. (And some of those wards and defenses remain intact even centuries later!)

Also in the drawer are small placards that include a simple instruction: "To visit Headmaster, step into entry and announce yourself."

Turret Stairway

The near door on the left side of the Entry Hall is ajar. Pushing it open enough to allow passage through, you enter a stairwell. Stone steps lead upward, curving around to follow the wall of the circular turret.
The stairs lead to an access corridor on the second floor, then continue upward to the third floor lecture rooms, the Headmaster's Quarters, and the Observatory at the top of the turret.

Master Spangrove's Lecturing Room

Stepping through the near door on the right side of the Entry Hall, you are at the back of a room that appears to have been designed for lecturing. An unobstructed path of the stone floor slopes downward from the door, dropping about six feet until it levels out about 30 feet from you. On either side of this slope, there are stepped platforms that hold the remnants of stools and desks. A simple stone podium stands facing you; a visibly rotting desk stands behind that. The large wall behind the desk is smooth, flat, and has the black color of slate.

There is a door in the right corner of the back wall.

If a person stands at the podium and speaks while touching it, a lingering enchantment in the room will trigger. A small white stick of chalk will appear and begin scratching out whatever is being spoken - complete with the frequent and agonizing squeaks and scratches of chalk-on-slate writing. The writing itself is enchanted so that every person seeing the writing will see it in their native language (or at least the first language they learned to read and write.) True Sight reveals that the writing is an unknown magical runic language.

Master Spangrove's Quarters

The iron-bound wooden door in the corner of the lecturing room to the left of the desk and podium is stuck fast; it was locked from inside long ago, and the lock mechanism is frozen with rust. Fortunately for adventurers, this door, like many others in the Academy, has been rotting and rusting for centuries, so applying enough force to it will cause it to fail (spectactularly).

After getting the door open, you step into a room that appears to have been living and working quarters for a teacher at the Academy. A once-stout wooden desk dominates the room, though two of its short legs have collapsed, leaving it tilted precariously. Stacks of books and papers apparently tumbled to the floor when this happened, and since then, these have started to crumble and decay. There are a few volumes and rolled parchments that at least appear to be intact in the dusty debris on the floor.

Another doorway stands open; this leads to the teacher's bedroom. The bed has collapsed, and the sheets and blankets are badly decayed. But lying atop the bedcovers, a skeleton covered in the rotted tatters of what was once a robe lies peacefully. Its arms are folded over its chest; and a glass vial can be seen in the clutched finger bones of one hand. Around the skull is a headband of silk with a silver talisman affixed to it. Neither silk nor silver show any signs of decay or tarnish, though they are covered with the same thick layer of dust that envelops everything else in this room.

A dressing table with three drawers stands near the foot of the bed. There is a piece of parchment lying atop the dresser; the writing is archaic, but readable; the note simply says, "I cannot depart, and I will not join. This is the only way." It is signed "Donovar Spangrove".

The silk and silver talisman is a Peaceful Repose Talisman. When placed upon a body (either before or after death), it prevents the corpse from being resurrected into any sort of undead state. If placed on a dead body, or if the body wearing it becomes dead, it is magically held fast to the remains. It can be removed with a sufficiently powerful Dispel Magic, or by reducing the remains to a state that is not capable of reanimation.

The vial once held a powerful poison, though no traces remain after the centuries. This was the suicide poison used by the teacher long ago.

Attempting to pull open any of the drawers in the dressing table will result in the front panel of the drawer coming free in the adventurer's hands. Piles of rotted cloth that once were articles of clothing are all that remain inside, though a cracked leather pouch containing 17 gold coins, 27 silver coins, and 8 copper coins is hidden beneath one pile. The gold coins are in good shape. The silver coins are badly tarnished, and the copper is so badly corroded that it has effectively fused the coins into a single mass.

Master Snertblevin's Lecturing Room

The doors to this room stand open, giving access to another lecturing hall. A stone floor descends from the back of the room to the lecturer's podium; the desks and seats for attendees are nothing more than scraps of rotted wood and piles of compost arrayed on a series of tiers to either side of the sloped walkway. The wall behind the lecturer's podium is black slate. A stone block with three shallow steps carved into it is immediately behind the podium, suggesting that the lecturer was rather short. The floor against the base of the slate wall is littered with rotted wood debris and the glint of large quantities of broken glass. Closer inspection reveals that this used to be all sorts of flasks, vials, and other strangely shaped glassware. A few chunks of badly eroded copper shaped like tubes or vessels of some sort are also visible. Some flasks and vials are intact, and a few of these have a powdery residue clinging to the inside glass surface.

This was the introductory-level alchemy lecturing hall. The glassware is what remains of the display full of distillers, retorts, condensers, flasks, and other exotic equipment of the alchemist. The slate wall and podium are magically linked in the same manner as in Master Spangrove's Lecturing Room - magical chalk will transcribe the speech of anyone touching the podium.

Master Snertblevin's Quarters

The wood and iron door behind the lecturer's desk and podium is, not surprisingly, stuck fast. Once open, it provides access to a room that looks like it was once part living quarters and part laboratory. A low stone table is filled with intact flasks, vials, jars, and oddly shaped bits of glassware. What was once an easy chair stands facing the cold fireplace. The chair is oddly small, though. In fact, everything that you see suggests the occupant of this room was tinier than the average human.

Another door leads into a bedchamber room. Here you find the remains of bed no more than 4ft (1.25m) long. Tendrils of rotted linens adorn the bed, which seems to have collapsed in its center. Moving into the room a bit, you can see why: a figure of a gnome lies amid the debris - a figure made of solid stone, but more detailed than any sculpture you have ever seen. It is clothed with the tatters of a robe that has rotted with time. A silk headband holds a silver talisman on the gnome figure's forehead - seemingly held fast. A wooden night table stands - barely - next to the bed, and on it is the stump of a candle in a brass holder, and an empty glass flask. Beneath the flask is a sheet of parchment bearing the words, "And so I fade as my folk do, though faster than most thanks to my art. I can only pray that the art of Master Adoniel will ensure my lasting peace -- Billwillikin Snertblevin, Master of Alchemy

These are the living quarters of Billwillikin Snertblevin, the Academy's gnomish Master of Alchemy. As with most other doors encountered here, the hinges are frozen with rust, and rot has swelled the wood. It will, however, be broken down relatively easily due to that rust and rot.

None of the vials or flasks have any liquid in them, though many have a powdery residue coating their insides. All of the furniture in the two rooms was sized for a Gnome - or perhaps a four or five year old human child. The silk and silver talisman is a Peaceful Repose Talisman that cannot be removed unless the stone head of the petrified gnome is shattered.

Gathering Hall

At the top of the stairs from the main entrance, there is an open balcony or gathering area that overhangs the entry hall. There is a huge set of iron-strapped double doors in the wall opposite the stairs leading into the Gathering Hall. The doors are not locked or barred, but their hinges are quite rusty. It will take some effort to get one or both pushed open, and there is a small chance that the hinges will fail if strained, allowing one or both doors to crash to the ground loudly. If this happens, the rusted banding on the doors will rupture and the doors will splinter. The echo of the falling door will resound throughout the area.

You push open the huge, heavy wooden doors as their rusted hinges resist and complain loudly. Before you is a large hall, about 40ft wide and 60 feet long. The stone tile floor is cracked and worn. A few tattered remnants hanging from the walls suggest that banners or tapestries once hung there, but these have long ago rotted away. About 45ft from you, six steps lead up to the last section of floor, which is about 3' above the level of the main room. Along the walls are the remains of long wooden tables and benches. Many have rotted apart and lie as rubble. Some have partially collapsed. A handful still at least look like tables and benches.

Up on the dais, though, there is a long table - more ornate than the simple ones along the walls, and apparently in better shape as well. Four golden candlestands, each holding the waxy stubs of three candles. Though covered with cobwebs that seem to be binding them to the table, the glitter of untarnished gold is unmistakeable.

There are doors in the corners of the dais area.

The candle stands are heavy and bulky, but when cleaned up a bit they could bring as much as 50gp each if sold.

Custodian's Closet

Forcing open the door, you enter a round room about 20ft (6m) in diameter. The walls of this room are the unadorned stone walls of the structure itself. Rusted metal brackets show where shelves were set into the walls around the room, but the wood of these shelves has rotted and fallen to decompose on the floor. The space all around the room is littered with rusted and rotting remnants of buckets, and custodial implements like brooms and mops. Shards of pottery and glass lie amid the debris from the fallen shelves. Also amid the debris is a small wooden chest that appears to be intact. The chest has a brass lock mechanism that, while tarnished, does not seem to be destroyed by the ravages of time.
This is the circular space in the turret directly above the Visitor's Reception room. It was the Custodian's Closet, housing the various cleaning and repair implements that were required of that profession. The small chest contains a number of keys made of an alloy of metals that apparently resisted tarrnish or rust; the keys seem to be in good shape. The chest itself is locked, and the lock may be picked. Alternatively, a solid blow to the chest will cause it to splinter into rotted fragments.

There are three keys in the chest:
  • The Master Key has a stamped image of the Academy main building on its head (the part you hold when using the key). It unlocks any of the doors to residential spaces in this buildiing or the Dormitory building, as well as the workspaces in the Laboratory building.
  • The Library Key has a stamped image of an open book on its head. It unlocks the gate that separates the Restricted Section of the Library from the Common Section.
  • The Storeroom Key has a stamped image of an eight-pointed star on its head. It unlocks the section in the basement where odd (and/or dangerous) magical artifacts were studied or locked away for safekeeping.

  • Headmaster's Entrance

    Set into the wall of the corridor is a circular alcove covered in wood paneling that appears to be untouched by rot. A brass plate on the wall reads "Headmaster's Office". A circular mosaic tile pattern covers the floor of this space - which is only large enough for one person.

    If a person steps into the circular space while wearing a visitor badge and speaks their name, the space will spin 180 degrees and open into the Headmaster's Office. Anyone outside the space will see this entryway spin. The wooden wall that appears will have another brass plaque that reads, "Knock for access".

    Headmaster's Office

    You've stepped into a spacious room that is covered by centuries of dust - dust that was kicked up into a cloud by the spinning of the entryway. A large desk dominates the center of the room, the dust and cobweb covered remains of two rotting chairs face the desk; another large padded chair that appears to be covered in some sort of scaled hide is behind it. The walls are covered with portraits of various Folk - all middle-aged or elderly, and all wearing silk robes covered with intricate embroidered designs and patterns. Two glass globes sitting atop brass stands are on either corner of the desk; these flicker and glow with a very faint light. There are two skulls on the desk - one Human and one Taxlatl - that appear to have been converted into bowls of some sort. A pen-and-ink stand with three quills can also be seen.

    The globes contain a pebble that had Continual Light cast upon it centuries ago. The magic is badly faded, but not gone completely. The skulls are unremarkable. The inkwell contains nothiing but solid residue (beneath the dust), and the three quill pens practically disssolve into dust when disturbed. The portraits are of past headmasters and present (at the time of the downfall) instructors at the Academy; each has a nameplate.

    Headmaster's Study

    You've entered a room whose walls are lined floor-to-ceiling with bookshelves. A desk sits in the center of the room; apart from the thick layer of dust and cobwebs covering its surface, it appears to be in a remarkable state of preservation. There are no signs of rot or decay on the desk itself. Something resembling a brass candlestand about 18in (45cm) tall stands on one corner of the desk. Atop it, a small globe of frosted glass appears to be flickering and glowing faintly with light from within - at least from its bottom as the top is blanketed with dust.

    There are countless books of all shapes and sizes on the shelves; they too are covered with dust and cobwebs. The books don't fill the shelves, though; there are clusters of books separated by random gaps. Most show signs of age and decay so advanced you're sure they'll simply fall apart if you disturb them. Besides the door you entered, there is another on the far side of the room behind the desk.

    The gaps between books in the shelves are haphazard; they do not appear to be a decorating decision. It's as if a number of books were removed, leaving others behind on the shelves. A wizard - one with formal training in Arcane Lore - has a chance to notice that there are no books related to necromancy, and very few related to summoning, remaining on any of the shelves.

    Perusing the titles of the books, adventurers will find many in scripts and languages that they do not understand, though some are in commonspeech. Some are in Elvish script, some in Dwarven runes, and a few are in the Dwarf-like lettering of the Awkwana. Many are in a script that is unrecognizable to any that don't have knowledge of ancient Taxlatl. All of the titles suggest they cover some aspect of magic or alchemy.

    There is one book that faintly radiates magic. Its covers are far better preserved than the others, though its layer of dust and cobwebs will conceal this at first. Unfortunately, most of the pages were victims of bookworms long ago. There is, however, one intact section that contains a magic spell Thoughtful Gift (PF2E APG p227). A wizard may be able to make use of this.

    Headmaster's Private Quarters

    This is a spacious room dominated by a large bed against one wall, with small tables on either side, but the thick layer of dust and sheets of cobwebs everywhere make it clear nothing has used this room for many, many years. The nightstands hold badly tarnished silver candle stands; each with a partially burned wax candle. The bed appears to be made up, and there is nothing atop it other than dust. Opposite the bed is a large wooden dressing cabinet, and next to that, a small dressing table with a chair that has partially collapsed due to rot. Shards of broken mirror litter the top of the dressing table and the area around the chair - it appearss the mirror collapsed due to rot and broken when it fell. Carpets appear to cover much of the floor, though it is impossible to see any pattern or design due to the dust.

    There is door on the far wall; it stands ajar. Beyond it is a space no more than 3' square - the private garderobe for the occupant of this suite.
    The wardrobe contains the rotted and tattered remnants of a number of fine silk robes, some with embroideries of gold and silver thread in intricate patterns. None are salvageable, though. The dressing table is bare except for the shards of broken mirror. The blankets and bedsheets were also obviously quite lavish in their time, but are now rotted and riddled with insect holes (only visible if the dust is removed).

    The garderobe (toilet) features a rotting wooden seating platform with a hole in it. The space below the hole radiates magic - attempting to shine a light down it reveals only an unnatural blackness. This is a still-active portal to a pocket dimension that served as the the refuse dump for the academy; anything dropped into it will simply "disappear" without a sound.

    Observatory

    The spiraling stairway in the left turret continues several turns around the turret until it leads to a large room at the top of the turret. Vines from the forest below which have climbed the turret reach through the open archways that ring the entire room. Were it not for the iinvading foliage. There does not appear to be a roof to the structure - the view of the entire sky is unimpeded. But you distinctly recall that this turret had a roof of stone or slate tiles when you viewed it while approaching the building.
    If something is tossed upward, it will strike the invisible, transparent barrier that exists - and that appears to be an opaque roof from outside. Whatever this magic is, it has survived for centuries.

    Credits

      Side panel dungeon passage image by Evelyn Chai from Pixabay
    Banner image by kalhh from Pixabay

    Comments

    Author's Notes

    #Dungeon23 Progress:
    Rooms in this article:
    Jan 2 - Entry Hall
    Jan 5 - Spangrove's Rooms
    Jan 11 - Custodian's Closet
    Jan 14 - Observatory
    Jan 17 - Headmaster's Room
    Jan 3 - Gathering Hall
    Jan 6 - Visitor's Reception
    Jan 12 - Snertblevin's Rooms
    Jan 15 - Headmaster's Office
    Jan 18 - Headmaster's Entry
    Jan 4 - Spangrove's Class
    Jan 10 - Snertblevin's Class
    Jan 13 - Turret Stairway
    Jan 16 - Headmaster's Study


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