After solving the staircase puzzle, the party advances upwards into the dormitories. Answers lie above them. In this area they will finally meet the priesthood and come under heavy fire as they try to continue up the central staircase.
REMINDER: Descriptive text from end of last section
Once they gain access, the players can freely climb the staircase. Narrate the enormity of the climb and continue to emphasize the unusual silence of the large hall. Anyone looking down will see the large lunar inscriptions glowing blue–a visually striking reminder of their victory over the puzzle.
When the party advances into this level of the tower, read the following out loud:
Eventually, the staircase passes through a hole in the ceiling. Your eyes adjust as you move upwards into the next level of the tower. Glints of light beckon from around every corner of the ascending spiral staircase. Yet, it’s difficult to tell how many steps remain, due to the staircase twisting around and around on itself.
Looking around, you realize you have entered the dormitory proper. It appears to be roughly twice as tall as the large chamber you just left below you. Surrounding you in every direction are 5 levels of exposed sleeping quarters with low, silver railings overlooking the open air around the central staircase. Some of the rooms are connected to the central staircase with 4 foot wide beams of blue light–exactly like the light that lit the lunar inscriptions below.
Standing at many of these railings are men wearing pale yellow robes. None of them are moving or making any sounds at all. They all watch as you ascend the stairs, their faces lacking any expression.
Encounter with the Priesthood
There are a total of 12 Corrupted Moonlight Priests observing the party in this area of the tower. Only 4 of the Priests are capable of attacking the party.
The Priests are the under the effects of psychic dissonance emanating from their leader Nerezza. This thrall leaves most of them unable to act rationally or act at all, due to the intensity of their internal struggle. Your goal here is to make the party feel overmatched and under deadly pressure to flee this area. You should not mention that most of the Corrupted Moonlight Priests are harmless, nor should you hide this information from them if they figure it out.
To setup this encounter, you may distribute the Corrupted Moonlight Priests in any way you wish, though they should all be silently watching the party. The Priests do nothing until the party makes it halfway up the stairs. The silent climb increases the anticipation.
Once the party reaches the halfway point, the Priests begin attacking:
The Priests bombard them with Ray of Frost.
The blue light bridges that connect their rooms to the central staircase disappear. They can be reactivated by standing at the connection point and speaking the prayer of Sel: “By the pale light of Sel, I find my way through darkness.”
Reactivated bridges immediately start to fade. After 18 seconds they disappear. To increase the difficulty, you can have a Moonlight Priest cast Hold Person on someone in the middle of crossing.
In general the Moonlight Priests will continue attacking from range but not pursue the party beyond the Dormitory, or try to close in.
To increase the difficulty, you can have the Corrupted Moonlight Priests start to cast Moonbeam instead of Ray of Frost.
Remember: Only 4 Priests will come to life and start attacking. The others will continue to stare in silence or some may start pacing around aimlessly–some part of them feeling they should react but prevented from knowing how by their psychic torment.
Combat ends when the party incapacitates the 4 attacking Moonlight Priests or when they leave this section of the tower, either through the hole in the ceiling or back down through the hole they came from. Due to their psychic thrall, the Priests cannot be bargained with.
Searching the dormitories
Most parties should be convinced to flee for the upper level of the tower, but if they hold their ground and somehow overcome the attacking Moonlight Priests, they will have an opportunity to search the dormitories.
To describe one of the rooms, read the following out loud:
The room is small, spartan but comfortable. It smells of old paper, ink, and wax. A pair of desks stand opposite each other, each laden with books, quills, inkwells, sheafs of parchment, and half-melted candles. Bunk beds dominate one wall, their sheets and pillows tangled from the fitful sleep of students. Various charts and depictions of the moon cover the other walls.
All of the rooms will appear more or less the same. If they approach an enthralled Priest, read the following out loud:
The young man is garbed in priestly robes of pale yellow. The phases of the moon are embroidered in dark blue on the stole. His uncovered blond hair is sandy as a beach and falls to his shoulders, his upturned eyes the colors of the sea. He’s lean and tall.
Severe strain marks his otherwise youthful face. He seems to stare at a point several feet behind and above you. His body gently trembles, yet he appears somehow frozen to the spot.
Enthralled Priests are engaged in an inner mental war with the corruption brought on by Nerezza Moonstone 's evil crown. No matter what the party does, they will remain unresponsive. The effects of the crown are psychic and not detectable as magic.
Players who search the dormitories may be rewarded with the following:
A collection of loose coins worth 210 gp.
An ornate, 8-inch marble carving of the lunar phases. A sale to the right collector could yield 1000 gp. Giving it to any worshipper of Sel could bring a great favor in return.
A Priest’s journal made of blue leather, with a silver-foiled picture of the moon on its cover.
Go back to Part II: The Spiral Stairway
Continue to Part IV: High Priestess Nerezza Moonstone