The adventurers get their first glimpse of the where they really are, Carceri, prison of the Outer Planes A lonely Gynosphinx guards beings in their prison cells in the panopticon. The prisoners, the Gunslinger, the Priest, the Beholderkin, and the Gulthias, each know a secret about the Carceri. They’ve been placed in solitary confinement here because of this knowledge. Their minds have been warped and twisted by their imprisonment, and they are not clear on where they are, or what brought them here. The adventurers must persuade or steal three of the four secrets from the prisoners in order to move on from this place.
Items and creatures that can be found in D&D source-books are bolded. Flavor text is italicized. The numbered list below corresponds to the numbered locations on the map above.
These stairs spiral downward, on and on. So far that you run out of things to say to each other, run out of eventualities to plan for, and run out of thoughts except for memories of your past. One event looms large. Indeed, it towers in your mind over any other.
Ask the players to describe the event in their character’s past that they are most proud or ashamed of. Role play a scene as appropriate. Whatever event they propose is what brought them to be imprisoned here in the Carceri. If they did a good deed, then they are likely imprisoned here unjustly. If they were evil or cowardly, the probably got what was coming to them. Don’t discuss this further with them yet.
You all trudge down the stairs in a meditative silence, each lost in your own past. Music comes from up ahead. Piano music, if you’ve ever heard it before. The tune is strange though, raucous and joyful. Unlike the melodies of home.
Denizens of the Panopticon
A Cloaker (hard encounter) stalks the darkness of this space. It will attack any NPCs who attempt to leave the buildings they are in other than the Gynosphinx. It is her colleague, also acting as a guard here. Any NPCs that die revive a few minutes later, back where they belong. If killed, the Cloaker and Gynosphinx should not be replaced.
Space is strange here. Any character that falls into the darkness loops to the top of the area and then falls again, accelerating due to gravity until they reach terminal velocity. PCs may find this feature of the space helps them traverse it.
- The Lonely Bandit Saloon – Adventurers arrive in this part of the Panopticon first. 11 gunslingers (Commoners equipped and proficient with pistols, deadly encounter) inhabit this place. All the the people here appear to be the same woman, Jaella the Gunslinger. It is unlikely that the PCs will recognize firearms, so it will probably appear to them as though all these women are equipped with small hammers. See What Jaella the Gunslinger Knows below.
- The Pond – There is a large pond on a rocky island floating just above and behind the Lonely Bandit Saloon. A copper spyglass sits in the grass next to the pond. It can be used to survey most of the area. This floating island is close enough to the saloon for the adventurers to jump to the roof. From the roof, the can access the lower tier for floating stones, shown in darker gray on the map. This will help them bypass the Gynosphinx.
- The Gynosphinx – The Gynosphinx (beyond deadly encounter) is a celestial being assigned to guard this place. She hates it here. Even so, she will not shirk her duty. She will insist that the adventurers do not leave the first location she sees them in, assuming they are prisoners. The Gynosphinx will return them to there proper place or kill them. Even so, she may be persuaded to let them pass if the party can convince her they are, in fact, not prisoners. The cloaker’s behavior may be evidence of this.
- The Temple – Halon the War Priest (deadly encounter) of Tyr preaches his sermon to a flock of mannequins. He is unable or unwilling to admit that they are not real people, therefore he will fight to protect them. The War Priest will Revivify anyone who dies in a location where he can reach them. He also carries a secret to escaping the Carceri. See What Halon the War Priest Knows below.
- The Flumph Tavern – A small tavern full of Flumph sits on this island. PCs can look through the door and watch them drinking and carousing. The Flumph inside will make no attempt to interact or communicate with them. This location is a red herring…or is it? Up to you. Maybe a change of scenery is in order for them.
- The Eye Bar – A Gauth and a Spectator, Sam and Diane respectively, tend bar at this oddly shaped, open air tavern. There are clearly no patrons. While the reason for this is clear, it is still distressing to these beholderkin. The Spectator is capable of telepathic communication and will eagerly strike up a conversation. On the other hand, the gauth is taciturn, and speaks an unusual set of languages which may prevent the party from communicating with it. Both are eager to keep the party happy, but loath to share the secret they know, as they are glad to have customers for the first time in an eternity. See What Sam and Diane Know below.
- The Cemetary – A lonely, twisted tree stands next to a small shrine, and the approach to this island is guarded by 8 Needle Blights, 4 Vine Blights, and 4 Twig Blights (deadly encounter). The tree is a Gulthias Tree, and will spawn more blights to replace one that fall in battle. It is equally alive, sentient and imprionsed, as every other being here. See What the Gulthias Tree Knows below.
The Way Out is Secrets
Each different prisoner, the Gunslinger, The Priest, the Beholderkin and the Gulthias tree each have one of the secret needed to exit this place, and they know it. It’s undoubtedly part of why they’re being held in solitary confinement. Importantly, it’s not just the information that’s matters. While the information in the secret may or may not be important, the knowing of the secret functions as a magical key to free the secret keeper. The more beings that know a secret, the less power it has. All but the Priest and the beholderkin guard their secret jealously, and will have to be convinced to give that secret up.
Who Knows What?
What Jaella the Gunslinger Knows
-Being trapped in the saloon is infuriating to Jaella; the Gynosphinx won’t let her leave.
-They gynosphinx seems can only come half way across the bridge from it’s island (3) to any other location.
-Things that fall seem to loop back forever.
-She has a deep understanding of the physics of falling objects.
-Secret: Water is a way.
What Halon the War Priest Knows
-Halon knows he failed his flock. Because of this is why he sermonizes to them endlessly.
-He knows he is a prisoner here, and firmly believes that he deserves this punishment
-Secret: The only way out is alone.
What Sam and Diane Know
-Sam and Diane desperately want patrons for there bar, enough that they will resort to violence to keep the PCs there.
-They know that the Cloaker will kill any of the other prisoners before long, so they are not viable patrons.
-They have no interest in leaving, and so if there needs are met, they will readily turn over there secret.
-Secret: If you can see the way out, it’s no way out at all.
What the Gulthias Tree Knows
The Gulthias Tree is not capable of communication on it’s own, but can be communicated with through the Vine Blights. The other blights can understand but cannot speak. The Gulthias Tree was born of the blood of a dragon, and so hungers for riches. Accordingly, a proper gift of 100gp, or similar value, will convince it to part with the secret it knows.
-Secret: The only way out is down.