722 The Winter Observatory

Nestled in the heart of the Glacial Peaks, the Winter Observatory stands as a testament to the ingenuity of the deep gnomes, a reclusive and ancient civilization renowned for their ar­cane prowess and architectural marvels. This observato­ry was designed not merely to chart the celestial bodies but to harness and decipher the arcane secrets woven into the very fabric of the infinite cosmos.

Crafted from ice that never melts and stones hewn from the heart of mountains, the observatory is an ar­chitectural marvel encased in shimmering frost. The walls of the observatory are lined with intricate runes and diagrams, glowing faintly with an otherworldly light. The Winter Observatory is not only a place of wondrous beauty but also a hub of magical knowledge and power, a destination for heroes seeking to explore the mysteries of the cosmos and enhance their abilities.

The Winter Observatory has the power to tap into the unique cosmic energies and celestial alignments to en­hance and improve weapons. This marvelous place also offers unparalleled access to ancient lore and the se­crets of the world, essential for those seeking to unravel mysteries or foresee the future. Lastly, the observatory serves as a vital nexus for extraplanar exploration, en­abling heroes to gaze into distant realms, uncover hid­den paths, and engage with entities beyond their world.

Adventure Hooks

The heroes learn about this place or discover its lo­cation in one of their quests. Consider the following to get the characters involved with the Winter Observatory.

Power. The heroes are motivated to come because they wish to make their weapons more powerful and in­fuse them with the ancient gnomish magic (0 XP).

Guidance. Lord Jassimar, an influential prince, hires the heroes. Their job is to use the observatory to read the stars and learn the events of the future. This secret knowledge and insight may give Jassimar the political boost he needs to become king (8 XP, 1500 gp).

Search. The characters must find a certain individu­al. A kidnapped friend, an old acquaintance, or a possi­ble ally in another world or plane. The gnomish magic of the Winter Observatory may help them get there (0 XP).

Level 7 Adventure

  • Danger. Unsafe. Check for a Random Event every 3 crawling rounds and after loud noises (4-in-6 chance).
  • Lighter. Some areas have braziers with permanent light spells. The dungeon denizens are dark-adapted.
  • Snow. Magical snow that vanishes when it touches the floor never stops falling. The dungeon is very cold.
1 A rare alignment of planets enhances the luck of anyone within the observatory, granting all heroes a luck token.
2 The ghost of a gnome astronomer appears, he is happy to answer any question about the observatory. However, he attacks if the heroes antagonize him in any way.
3 A sudden malfunction in the observatory’s ancient mech­anisms triggers a chaotic release of magical energy that affects anyone within the dungeon (DC 15 WIS). On a fail, the heroes lose any luck token they previously had.
4 A breach in the planar fabric allows an ice elemental to invade the observatory. (Use the stats of an earth elemen­tal but its Avalanche ability buries creatures in snow).
5 A sudden shift in the nearby ley lines causes the observa­tory to become a nexus of wild magic, altering the effects of spells cast within its walls for 1d3 hours. (Spells cast are rolled at random to determine the result).
6 An unassuming relic in the observatory, charged by a unique cosmic event, awakens from dormancy, releasing an immortal gnome guardian (angel, domini).

Teleportation Chamber

The heroes are given or obtain the rune sequence to tele­port here when they learn about the Winter Observato­ry. The curved corridor extends north and south of the compound but both paths end in abrupt cul-de-sacs. A south alcove features a couple of shelves. An observant character spots the two magic spell scrolls (mirror im­age and illusion) hidden among the disarrayed papers (DC 14 WIS and 1 crawling round of search).

Arcane Gate

There is a key that unlocks the gate and negates the sum­moning of the guardian. It got lost in time and the heroes have no means to get it. Without this key, the characters’ presence summons the guardian when they stand 15 feet from the gate. A stone golem appears and blocks the passage until dropped to 0 Hit Points.

North Gallery

Three golden urns rest in the symmetrical alcoves on each side of the chamber. The winter runes on the floor are crafted from etched glass. The two tables at the end hold ancient scrolls and a couple of gnomish diaries.

  • Gnome Blood. Whenever a non-gnome creature stands on the central runes, the black ashes in the gold­en urns fly and coalesce into four shadows.
  • Gnomish Lore. If the characters spend 1 crawling round reading the documents here, they learn about the Winter Observatory and gain more insight on how to use it properly. Reduce the DC to use it by 1 (see below).

South Gallery

This chamber is a replica of its northern counterpart. Likewise, the characters’ presence summons the anger of four shadows when they approach this area. After combat, the heroes may learn more about how to employ the Gnomish device. This reduces the DC to use it by 1.

Observatory Library

The Gnomish Library is a trove of ancient wisdom, its shelves laden with scrolls, tomes, and star charts. These texts encompass a vast array of subjects, from the intri­cacies of celestial mechanics and astral navigation to the forgotten histories and treatises on planar magic.

  • The Lens of Starlight. A rare optical instrument that allows the viewer to decipher the hidden magical scripts and celestial codes embedded in ancient manuscripts. Users may cast detect magic and detect thoughts once per day without spending a spell slot.

A Gnomish Safebox lies by the wall, a curious invention designed to secure the most valuable items. Astrological puzzles and rune-encoded locks make this box impene­trable. Opening this safe is an entire quest in itself.

Soul Urns

The Soul Urns are ancient, enigmatic artifacts of gnomish creation. They were crafted from a red crys­talline material that shimmers like a crimson sky.

Each urn contains the ashes or essences of gnome scien­tists, artificers, or mechanics. These are the remnants of powerful mages who devoted their lives to the mysteries of the cosmos. The urns’ alcoves feature dancing lights that represent constellations. Characters that interact may earn a luck token if they prove their worth and rear­range the astral bodies in order (DC 14 INT check). On a fail, any luck token they previously had is spent.

However, failing by 5 or more is an insult to the ancient gnomes’ intelligence. A spectral custodian (invisible stalker) materializes and attacks the dumb intruders.

  • Treasure. The urns contain 318 gp, a mahogany pipe (25 gp), a mace inlaid with holy symbols (50 gp), and six black candles with golden runes (10 gp each).

Font of Vitality

Situated in a tranquil chamber adorned with celestial motifs, the Font of Vitality is a revered feature of the ob­servatory. This mystical font, imbued with the rejuvenat­ing powers of the cosmos, serves several key purposes:

  • Restoration. Imbibing its waters heals injuries, cures ailments, and dispels negative conditions. However, this only works once per person during their lifetime.
  • Revitalization. The water can restore spent magical energies. A spellcaster can regain two spell slots of their choice whenever they take a sip. This works once a day.
  • Longevity. This fluid can also extend someone’s lifes­pan by 20% of the normal average. This does not make people immune to death by combat or illness, though. This effect works once per person during their lifetime.

Observatory Chamber

The observatory is an incredible device; it is required to have a certain level of arcane knowledge to use it (DC 17 INT). This difficulty can be reduced by investigating one or both North and South galleries (see above).

  • Console. Adorned with levers and runic interfaces, this is used to manipulate the observatory’s functions. It also displays a detailed astral map showing the conver­gence of magical ley lines and arcane planar paths.
  • Chamber. The heroes use the observatory to complete their mission (see Adventure Hooks). The gnomish mag­ic delivers. The heroes find the magic to enhance their weapons, the guidance they seek, or the person they look for. It is up to the GM to interpret how this comes to pass.

Secret Passageways

There are hidden paths throughout the dungeon (see map). The characters may go through them if they spot the concealed mechanisms to reveal them (DC 14 WIS).

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