Tower of Aetius

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"When a group of individuals so brilliant learned everything they could of this world, they built the means of escaping it. Or so they say. The Tower of Aetius is one of the greatest wonders of the world."

The Tower of Aetius is the grand project of former Emperor Joseph Aetius and his trusted Council, the greatest minds of the age. It was built upon the sacred Mount Pavonis, incalculably tall and reaching into the heavens, forged from the bones of the old primal Ymir. The tower is the source of great interest to humans and divines alike, and responsible for the calamity known as 124.

Many mysterious around the tower remain; the following is only what's known currently.

The public map can be located in-game at 180, 490, 1 (type /coordinates to see where you are).

The Greatest Monument

Physical Description

The tower of Aetius is a pale white, stronger than any material that can be salvaged in the mortal realm, crafted through magics long since lost. There have been no successful ways to pierce it from the outside. The tower, while enormous and rising to the skies, is impossibly large on the inside compared to the outside and its geometry does not conform to physical laws. If one flies high enough they can even see the top, almost half a dozen kilometres into the sky, seemingly unremarkable and revealing no secrets.

The Mysteries of the Tower

Entering the tower betrays its true form. The first floor is a verdant field surrounded by a small ocean with several rune gates present. These rune gates represent the means to travel through the tower (detailed later). There are several in place for floors 1-10, where the tower is more stable; in these floors humans of old once settled, though they have now become closer to spirits, as the veil between Eternia and the Netherworld is thin. These early floors are simple to access though still potentially dangerous.

The true climb of the Tower starts at floor 11 and beyond. The final floor number, according to Misfortune, is 150.

The Spirit World

The secret of the Tower of Aetius and its magnificence is easy to witness, though impossible to fully comprehend a 'how' or 'why'. Every floor in the tower seems to link to a completely different biome; some floors are just a room or a hallway, while others can span across unfathomable distances too great to even settle in Meranthe. These massive, spanning worlds are intersections of the spirit realm; evidence of this is most clear from its inhabitants, which are oft spirits, and the nature of the realms which draw parallels to the major spirit realms. The Tower of Aetius is, potentially, the greatest source of convergence known across Meranthe, allowing access to parts of the netherworld in a controlled manner.

Scholars continue to argue over the logic and, perhaps more importantly, the purpose of the tower. It is believed that Joseph Aetius had become entranced with learning the mysteries of the world, divining the nature of Eternia and its deepest secrets- a quest which he must have failed in. That, or he had become so great that he no longer needed to return.


History

Joseph Aetius

Not much is known about the creator of the tower, a figure who's name has fallen into the realm of myth within Meranthe, to the point that some doubt he existed at all and it was a mere pseudonym for one of the primordials. It is said that with one of Enarr's descendants, Aeacus, he freed Meranthe from vassaldom of the great empire of Aen and led for decades. In this time he would begin to build the tower. While not renowned across the world like Arthur Pendragon or Mikhael and Elaide, Aetius is recognized as perhaps the greatest mortal man of Meranthe.

When the tower was complete (or at least construction was no longer obvious), Joseph stepped through into it, never to return. Combined with the disappearance and rumoured death of Aeacus, the empire of Meranthe slowly dissolved back into city-states over the decades as the next in line was unable to match the legacy of his forefathers.

Along the way of using the tower as a vehicle through the spirit world, it seems Joseph Aetius and his Council did not wish to be followed, so they made many of the Realms incredibly dangerous. It's theorized that this is to avoid attracting the attention of the overseers of the spirit world, as many humans going where they shouldn't be long may bring attention to the tower and lead to its destruction. A deterrent.

Only by actually climbing the Tower can a person learn the secrets of its lore, the true history of our world, and perhaps more.

The Tower Through The Ages

Throughout recorded history, the tower has been the subject of study and searching. Parties have gone through to collect great treasures, though kingdoms in the past did not delve too deep as the dangers became too great. In the early days, nephilim and the direct descendants of the primordials also visited the lower areas of the tower, cautioning against advancing much further.

Great companies and heroes did over time march into the bowels of the tower, grinding up floors by the dozens, even reaching 100 and beyond... but none had come so far as Lightgarde, at the dawn of the second age.

124

At the behest of Good King Alfewynn, Delphina led the charge through the tower, though Aphros and Vdalion also did their utmost. Floor after floor they cleared, advancing at a breakneck pace over two years, until they were finally reported as entering Floor 124. They were not victorious. The few survivors from the 124th floor provide little detail of what occurred other than a jumbled nightmare: All present lost their lives, and those that survived were too scarred of mind to go on much longer. This calamity, known simply as one-hundred and twenty-four, sent a tsunami of unstable magical energy from the tower throughout Meranthe: Earthquakes, floods, and storms followed, dealing major damage to many cities, towns, and villages. It is theorized that for a moment the spirit realm and physical world connected.

This convergence of planes was for a split second, yet the power it unleashed enough to shatter Meranthe's nations.

The Renewal: Floor 11

In 2001, the demigod Misfortune provided crucial information to allow a return to climbing the tower of Aetius. Specifically, the location of Floor 11. Dive into the ocean, swim deeper than any man might hold their breath, search for the light- and move into the darkness, opposite it. Here you will find the runegate.

Climbing the Tower

Mechanics

A party only has access to tower floors as high as the highest floor taken by one of its members.

When activating a runegate, the tower of Aetius will transport the party through a random floor up to ten levels higher than the activated gate. For example, activating Runegate 11 would take you anywhere from 12-21. If that party landed upon and 'completed' floor 15, for example, the next time they arrived they would activate Runegate 15 and move from 16-25.

Not every floor is hostile. If a floor is peaceful enough, however, one may find it has been overtaken by residents that invariably create complications or become hostile.

After finding the exit gate on entering a runegate (in some cases there are multiple) the person can return to that realm at any time. They just need to interact with a runegate lower than the level they reached.

Dungeon Master Guide

To run a tower of Aetius event, a DM should keep in mind the spirit realm it is located in and its guardian (listed below). They have a large degree of creative freedom of what goes on in each floor unless that floor has already been explored; if uncertain, run your idea past an admin. Sometimes a realm is large enough to where it has multiple exit gates and different regions, and you can focus on one of them to keep it fresh.

Dungeon masters should create their own rewards and loot that suit the floor they are imagining, rather than accepting requests from players. The exception to this is if the player has some in-character connection to the Tower and that floor in particular.

Events in the tower can be standard or expedition length depending on the expectations of the party. Expedition level events are typically more dangerous, longer and provide more rewards.

The tower of Aetius should grow progressively more dangerous as groups escalate, with an ever present chance of death. Once floor 100 and above are reached, however, there is a drastic increase in stakes: all floors above this point are expedition tier events and multiple deaths would not be uncommon. These are some of the most dangerous events that can be found in Meranthe.

When a DM completes a tower of Aetius event, they are expected to fill in the details of their floor in this wiki page and provide their entry in advance of approval. A template is provided at the bottom of the page. They do not go into the details of the event; just a brief description of the floor, and who the event was run by in case a future DM wants to ask questions.

The Ascent to Greatness

The following are established floor examples that you can use to inspire yourself. They should not limit you in any way. The Tower of Aetius is designed with limitless potential. Any combination of events might be present. You may also want to check the following page for ideas: https://chronicles-of-esshar.com/lore/index.php/Spirit_Realm

Floor 6: Sea of Swords

Guarded by one of the three children of Caius and Mortyl, Misfortune, the sea of swords is an expansive realm where great warriors have their essence, their lives and the actions before their death, represented in glowing blades. Their legacy lives on in the tower. This floor is easily accessible though rumors suggest it has recently become home to the Coven of Misfortune. It is said that Misfortune cannot leave the floor, bound to it forever for reasons he does not disclose easily.

Floor 7: Bed of Blooms

Inhabited by the Great-Great Grand-Daughter of the Primordial known as Caius, this realm used to be nothing more than dead grass and an empty, blackened sky. However, the moment that Intima connected and bound herself to the place, it blossomed into a beautiful field of flowers, rolling grass, and starry skies. This floor is easily accessible, even welcoming to outsiders. It is said that Intima's main vessel cannot leave this place, and reasons for why she connected herself to this place are not given.

Floor 9: Garden of Opulence

Whereas those that accumulate material beyond the fathomability of those upon the lower class, there clings upon a tale of a garden, secluded deep within the floors of Aetius. Overseen by a distant ghostly painter simply known as Qian, said to eternally tally the visages of each bud within the garden. Tales of foolhardy men with deep pockets had searched high and low for a passage into the garth, for it is said that one can plant the seed of coin to grow whatever one's heart of cupidity yearns for. In such granting of treasures, those that enter the garth is said to eternally yearn to remain within its overgrown walls.

Floor 18: Sunscorned Abyss

A cursed realm, left ruined by some horrifying ritual gone terrible wrong... or perhaps terribly right. There is only an eternal, empty night sky, filled with flickering sliver flames that seem to watch those intruding upon the realm. Vast, corrupted swampland fills the majority of this cursed realm, only breaking for the shattered tower that lies in the centre of the realm.

Press on quickly, lest the realms Hunters find you.

Floor 25: The Sounds of Summer

Sandy shores and a vast sea spread ahead of us, much as though beckoning our call similar to the very shores of Meranthe. Some found themselves lost in the indulgence within such a realm, wanting for nothing more than to waste away into the nothingness of the sands.

Floor 45: Silvergold Lake

This floor houses a lake of modest size and a small village nestled beside it, where spirit citizens of Alfheim live happy and productive lives. Speaking with the affable villagers will quickly reveal to travellers that the only way to advance from here is to draw forth an echo of their soul from the surface of the Silvergold lake. Those that peer into the lake can see its namesake; endless caskets of gold and silver lining the lakebed, discarded treasures of those that came long before. To progress, adventurers must sacrifice material or memories of equal worth, or convince the lake that what they have is worth keeping.

There are rumours of an alternative exit, far beyond the borders of the village and in a forgotten barrows, but this will draw the ire of Silvergold Lake.

Floor 61: Crossroads

Something has gone wrong in this floor. The foundation has shattered; the runegate is on a single, floating rock, with nothing but the expanse of space in all directions. Minutes, or perhaps hours, pass in loneliness and contemplation before the way is made clear. This floor is under the (occasional) supervision of Chireus himself, the god of travel. Should you properly entertain whatever challenge he has put forth, the six-winged god will ferry you out of this shattered realm, to the nearest escape portal- though it may very well be guarded. This also provides an opportunity for the curious to learn of Chireus' many wayfinding techniques, though be wary of boring him.

Myths

Below are assorted myths regarding the tower and what one might find that haven't been covered elsewhere.

The Herald: Back when the gods still dwelt within the mortal plane, there was a legendary order of astral warriors that donned golden helmets and armor. The Heralds are all but gone with the age of man, but the magic suits remained scattered within the Tower of Aetius, even if only a few have been recovered over the centuries. It was the hero Aris who was most known, not scorched alive on wearing the armor like most, becoming the Herald of Enarr, serving valiantly in the peak of the divine wars and ultimately passing in battle.

Most Holy of Places: If it is communion with the actual gods of Meranthe that you seek, then the tower of Aetius is the place you will have the most chance of finding them, especially if you prepare properly. Some of the higher floors may intersect with realms most relevant to gods such as Nemea, Vdali, Athelios or Enarr. Of course, even if they ARE present, there is a low chance that they take any interest in interacting with you unless properly approached...

Lost in Time: The tower obeys not the laws of physics and it stands to reason that time itself is more or less malleable in its walls. Your journey may take days or years or a lifetime and when you leave you'll find yourself unaged. More than that- the tower can intersect with events of the past, or even the future. In cataclysmic circumstances like this, adventurers are deftly guided by unknown gods to avoid messing with reality as much as possible. These unanswered pasts and potential futures are unlikely to impact Eternia itself- but their mere existence hints at a darker truth.

ENTROPY: Some floors of the tower have become corrupted. By what? There is only one way to find out. In these places, reality and nightmare are entwined and any unprepared soul may be lost to the madness of the void. If they're lucky.