Sunday, May 30, 2021

There Are No Mundane Towers


Yoshitaka Amano
[Yes, this post is going to be metaphysics of magic. Stick with me, I promise it's usable in-game]

Magic rolls uphill, searching for the quickest route to the highest point, like lightning in reverse. This may be because spells love the sun (which is made of magic) or abhor the earth (where the Dark dwells).

This means that in any structure that is taller than all other nearby structures, magic will slowly accumulate over time. This magical buildup makes the structure weird; the older and taller it is, the weirder it gets.

What's Wrong With The Tower You Built Last Year?
The tower begins to animate. Gargoyles, mimics, and other “trap” monsters are born. In severe circumstances, the tower may pick itself up and attempt to climb the nearest mountain.
The tower begins to grow, both upward (approaching the sun) and downward (to set strong roots). The rooms are unsettlingly “organic”, and nothing is as it should be; the ceilings are too high, the walls slope inward, the stairs are all different heights.
The tower attracts 1d4 demons; goblins; shades; pigs, who grow fat and dangerous lapping up the excess magic.
The tower’s inhabitants change. The bats, the rats, and the lichen on the cobble grow dangerous, intelligent, or downright odd.
The tower is levitating upwards at a glacial pace. It’s currently 30 ft off the ground and rising faster with each passing month.
The tower is slowly filling itself with riches, inciting all sorts of brigandry and territorial disputes between nobles. The madness of greed settles over the countryside

Yes, this happens to non-tower things too: tall trees, mountain peaks, etc. Frequent "venting" can prevent a tower from weird-ing, although it's a dangerous and mishap-prone process.


When a tower falls down, all that built up magic is suddenly released, causing any number of magical catastrophes.

What Happened To The Tower You Knocked Down Last Week?
The nearby land becomes haunted. dead things buried here start waking up.
a FRACTURE opens: a tiny crack between two realities. Left alone, it will expand into a full-fledged portal to another plane
Time or spatial distortion; infinite labyrinthine woods and impossibly huge lakes. May cause backwards aging
Chimeric fusion zone. Bifurcated stone-trees and liquid hillsides. Owlbears come from these
Everyone in a ten mile radius has nightmares about the same previously-unknown figure. If enough of them gather in one place, a sermon begins and a god is born.
New tower. An enormous spire of bone and mineral sprouts from the ruins of the previous tower. It is impossibly tall, full of impossible things. Looking directly at it is bad luck.

Pawel Hordyniak

Wizard Towers

This is also why wizards always build their own towers; to gather magic more efficiently.

In bygone eras, they climbed the tallest mountains where they build the tallest towers and installed enormous vessels at the top—orbs of finely-sculpted crystal, barrels full of ghosts, whatever’s on hand really—within which they collect unstable arcane energy.

Then, they hauled these batteries into their dungeons, which were dug deeper than the deepest trenches, and release them. The upward current of magic powers all the equipment and experiments between the highest and lowest point. The deepest, weirdest dungeons are decrepit wizard-engines from before the end of the world.

You can spot them from a distance; just look for the tower.

Oh, and if you start running batteries up and down the structure, you might be able to turn on the machine again, but this would take ten armies worth of manpower.

Today's takeaway: If you're going to write magical metaphysics, make sure your players can interact with them.

Words to live by from


1 comment:

  1. This rules. Saved it as a PDF and will definitely use the tables, and I love this concept of magic flowing uphill.