Raiding an enemy Sanctum - traps / obstacles requested

Hi All,

The last few adventures in my saga involved defeating an outlaw Magus (former member of the Order, thought long dead), and then retracing his steps to his secret lab on the island of Gozo, near Malta.
In the last session, the characters infiltrated a faerie regio, rescued a Magic creature that that Magus had trapped in order to generate a small magical aura, and defeated the fae Mermen guardians.
I had expected the session to culminate with rewarding the players with the Magus' loot, but the session went really long. We're starting the next session at the door to the Sanctum, and with one of the two Magi incapacited.

I expect that most of this session is going to be about gathering the loot, and then some seasonal downtime.

I'd like to have an obstacle or two in this session, however. I usually like to mix it up a bit at the beginning to wake everyone up, so I was thinking about maybe some sort of guardian or imp inside the sanctum? Or maybe some sort of puzzle or trap? I look to you all for ideas.

Some background on the Enemy Magus:
He's a Rego specialist, with stress on Terram, Corpus, Mentem, and to a lesser degree imaginem. His spells focussed on necromancy, mind control, and his terram spells usually involved Brass.
About 50 years ago, just before his gauntlet, he was used as a pawn in a centuries-old war between 2 rival cults. This brought about the destruction of his entire covenant. He was thought killed during the chaos, but managed to escape. The guilt and anger of being used in this way, however, made him go insane. He's been a sworn enemy of the Order ever since, and has been on the run for 50 years, changing his name and appearance when he needs to.
Some of his lab notes will be legible. Others will be the medieval equivalent of 30 sheets of vellum scribbled with "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

So, I wonder what obstacles, guardians, puzzles, traps first pop into your heads?

Also, on a side note:
I was thinking that there might be some damage to some of the books he's been carrying with him for 50 years, especially some water damage from the sea air. If I lower the quality of a few of the books due to water damage, is it possible to re-copy the work in order to create a higher-quality book?


First question: where on the island is the sanctum? That would determine a lot of the traps.

A short list of obvious traps by location: If it's in a mountain, rockslides and cave mazes. In a forest - pitfalls and angry trees and illusionary paths. In a ruined castle - ghosts, unstable flooring/ceilings, animated weapons.

Now, a real Rego master wouldn't have a fixed sanctum, but one that itself moves - either floating in the sky, or by some other (even more significant) magics. Finding where it is would be the first challenge; being able to leave after it starts moving as a defensive mechanism would be a greater challenge.

The real jerk GM in me would have the whole sanctum have some sort of ward where it would pull a "reverse Semita Errabunda" and stop being a higher regio of a geographic location in Malta, and become a higher regio of, say, a plot of land on the northern end of the Neva River. You know, strand the supply and transportation grogs (and the boats) in Malta, wondering what happened to the magi (an adventure in itself!), and drop the magi and the war grogs somewhere grossly inconvenient to travel through and get back from.

Well, a Terram mage is almost certain to have a statue as a Lesser Feature. Perhaps it's a brass statue enchanted with something along the lines of The Tireless Servant both to animate it for lab help and to attack intruders? Not very original, but the classics do work.

Gozo also has extensive limestone caves, perhaps either a labyrinth or escape route could be featured?

Here's an interesting take on the animated statue idea - maybe the lab/sanctum are inside a large earth elemental with certain instructions in case of intruders... Elementals are more of a CrTe thing, but controlling them is straight up Rego.

Moving more towards his strengths, a mind control spell could turn a grog against the magi, or maybe he has a horde of animated necro-critters waiting in the wings.

Depending on how nasty you want to be, you could simply set the sanctum to collapse if intruded upon.

The Door, when touched teleports the opener of the door away, and slams shut. Embedded on the back side of the door is an AC to some nearby location (maybe a reef?), but is a several minute journey back. The Door has unlimited uses, and it activates when struck or touched. It's a Rego Corpus effect, without requisites, so the person arrives at the location naked.

Thanks! I love these so far. I shall dwell upon them. Please keep them coming!

The sanctum is inside a small 3 story tower, next to a deep pool that connects to the sea via a sea cave.

I was kicking this around at lunch and came up with the idea that there could be a lab servant (either statue, undead, or mind-controlled local) that is instructed to set fire to the place if invaded. This fits into the magus' paranoid backstory. The characters could have to deal with stopping the servant and the fires. Maybe the servant lets loose a tiny little fire elemental?

I should mention that this sanctum is a recent construction, for research purposes on Gozo. He wouldn't waste valuable lab time creating a ton of magical traps. But one tasty one is appropriate. :slight_smile:

Watching wards are a potential way around not wanting to spend seasons creating items as traps (although they're still fairly vis intensive), and if he's a Rego specialist they're within his ballpark.

Two D:Ring wards "interwined" (so that at first glance they might appear as one to the casual observer): one ReCo, keeping intruders out of the Circle surrounding , and one ReTe, keeping the (stone) ceiling up. If someone "breaks" the ReCo ward by breaking the circle, the ReTe ward also breaks and drops (a non-magical!) ceiling onto the intruder(s).

One, two, or twenty classic "animated skeleton(s)" yielding non-magical weapons - again, T:Circle, D:Ring! So no vis is needed, and they can guard the sanctum in perpetuity. This works really well with a circular or almost circular sanctum. For maximum creep effect, fill the sanctum with skulls, skeletal hands etc. and animate those!

Rego Imaginem a portion of the wall or of the floor so as to mask a "hole" hiding treasure or a pitfall. As usual, D:Ring, so no vis.

A Watching Ward teleporting the valuable stuff away if a command word is not spoken. This is really common among my troupe, but it's evil on the part of a Storyguide :slight_smile: A valid alternative if your players are as paranoid as my troupe is: teleport away most of the stuff that appears valuable, but leave the one or two most valuable items (a chunk of vis, a high-level Summa...): why did the evil bastard leave that stuff for the interlopers, when he removed everything else :smiling_imp: ?

Charged items make decent traps. They're easy to make with high Penetration and cost no vis. You just set the triggering condition to something the owner would not do. For example, a rug that teleports someone to a dangerous place if stepped on while wearing shoes. The owner goes barefoot, and can ignore the rug.

This has the added benefit of NOT showing up on 'Sense Vis' type spells, as Charged Items contain no vis, though most decent magic sensing spells will detect them.

That's why you include a CrVi effect on the lab that makes everything look magical. :smiling_imp:

Given that the magus has been on the run, I doubt he has much in the way of entrenched traps. He's probably used to packing up his lab and moving on short notice.

For this reason, his lab may well be enchanted with spells to relocate the entire lab to one of a number of bolt-holes. Such enchantments would likely be triggered by bound spirits that can make intelligent decisions about when to activate such enchantments.

If he's good with illusion magic, it may well be that his 'obvious' lab is purely a trap room. The enchanted ceiling that falls would be ideal for something like that; it's a huge security risk if you use the room regularly, but if it is purely set up as a trap then it makes sense.

Bound spirits as triggering mechanisms for enchanted items are dangerous because the item itself can be deadly, and the spirit can make intelligent decisions regarding targeting. Assuming he has something like the Spirit Binding virtue, setting up permanently bound spirits is not super-complex.

Undead security of a more corporeal nature is definitely an option, though that would depend on how easily he has acquired corpses for such security since the last time he was forced to relocate.

Ghosts that possess grogs and have them turn on their charges are a great option, too.

If you are going with the 'teleport' door, and he has had some time to prepare a destination chamber, then a sea cave full of undead is a great way of getting rid of people. Nothing says 'DIE!' like a room full of grappling undead in which you can't see or breathe.

Effects that end when disturbed are good. Remove one ward and it clonks the roof inward.

To protect against mundanes lazy magi, use real traps. Crossbows, swinging bars, etc. All the classic mundane dungeon tricks. A section of floor which is very thin above the ol'spiked pit might work, but spont will save some magi. You only need to hurt them enough to get some blood for an arcane connection. Follow it up with a ringing bell and the covenfolk can come running.

This, and the target arrives very deep underwater, in a hollow in the earth, or very high up. Something like an iron coffin thrown off the side of a ship. If they survive it still sends a message.

Placing a "don't push this button" thing in the room is good for roleplayers. In some groups, somebody will...especially if it looks like a magical mcguffin.

Keep in mind that while the renegade magus was on the run, he probably had something of a career before he went on the run. It's not all too inconceivable to believe that he would be able to take the door and any other enchanted goodies from his sanctum with him. Also, if he had half a clue that he was going to be on the run, he may very well have prepared what was his most recent sanctum by casting the Ambulatory Laboratory in the spot he prepared. Depending on his Rego skill, and other abilities, mastery, etc he may have been able to move his entire lab in one fell swoop, and made different plans for the enchanted door. Whether or not any of the above is possible depends upon the Art scores and abilities of the character at the time he went renegade and/or a March was declared against him. The Ambulatory Laboratory (as in the errata) is a 50th level spell, but one only needs a 40 casting total to be able to move it (don't forget the casting requisites for herbam, vim, animal, etc). IF it is mastered for ceremonial casting (a commonly known mastery ability) then he can add his Artes Liberales and Philosophiae to it, too.

I'm revisiting this thread. Thanks for all the previous replies.

The players were mostly pretty wounded when they approached the tower in the last session. When one of them touched the door and zapped away to a reef off the coast, this was enough of a deterrent to leave the place and return home to regroup.

They are now planning on returning to investigate the tower and explore the sanctum in our upcoming session. I'd like to craft the tower's obstacles to fit in with the motivations of the uber-paranoid rogue mage. Traps that are intended to kill is not really an option, because the Rogue Mage would want to know what the infiltrator knows about his Nefarious Plans, and therefore would want to trap him/her for questioning. So... what traps does he have to accomplish this, and how do I turn this into a fun story?

Looks like the 2 players will both be playing their magi, and no one else. There are grogs back at the boat, but the only characters entering the tower will be the magi. I need to make sure the players can actually free themselves if they both get trapped.

Thanks in advance...