Baron Ectar’s Fortress of DOOM!

   Relatively recently, the (seriously posing) Baron Ectar found that he had at his disposal:

  • An expert mystical architect.
  • An unrelenting rain of life force and magical energy.
  • A nigh-limitless workforce – even if they were only upgraded unseen servants.
  • A plentiful supply of rock, iron, wood, and sand.
  • A location atop an imposing pillar of stone jutting out of a crashing sea – backlit by the lightning of a continuous storm and overlooking an island full of monsters on one side and a mighty lake of boiling magma on the other.
  • A fair amount of time.

   Naturally, therefore, he decided to erect a terrible dark fortress, a sight sure to cause fear and trembling in all who looked upon it – channeling a part of that rain of free power into a the creation of a mighty Ward Major to ensure that his villainous legacy would endure for ages to come! It would be a Fortress of DOOM!

   Baron Ectar’s Fortress of DOOM! (TM) is a titanic quasi-gothic structure, filled with shadowy corners, twisted spires, flying buttresses, gargoyles, and massive ironbound doors. It exudes menace from every angle – or would if all the brilliantly glowing tubes and reservoirs designed to channel the power of the radiant magical rains and storms into the Ward and the magical reservoirs didn’t make it look like it was half built out of neon tubing.

   While that may slightly spoil the effect, in Baron Ectar’s eyes a nightmarish gothic castle is a nightmarish gothic castle even if it glows in the dark and has colorful neon-style lighting everywhere.

   The Ward Major:

   As a Rank Seven Ward Major (See: The Practical Enchanter), the Fortress of DOOM possesses:

   Int 22 (+6), Wis 21 (+5), and Chr 7 (-2) as well as a selection of four Minor and three Major abilities. It has sixty skill points.

   Skills:

  • Knowledge/Arcana +22 (10 SP +6 Int +6 Bonus).
  • Knowledge/Architecture and Engineering +16 (10 SP +6 Bonus).
  • Listen +10 (+20 inside itself) (5 SP +5 Wis).
  • Profession/Farming/Specialized and Corrupted (for triple effect/+45)/only for Beekeeping and Gardening in it’s personal gardens (10 SP +5 Wis).
  • Speak Language: English, Avanthil (Ikam), Revan (Veltine), Temorak (Thunder Dwarf), Untharik (Shadow Elf), Narthian (Swarming Insects), Saenthor (with all eight sub-dialects, allowing the production of prestidigitation-level effects throughout the fortress at will. In conjunction with Shaping, this covers level zero effects, 8 SP).
  • Spellcraft +16 (10 SP +6 Int). Unfortunately, like most Wards, the Fortress of DOOM cannot speak directly to normal people – although it has no troubles with swarms of bees.
  • Spot +13 (+26 inside itself) (7 SP +5 Int).

   Minor Abilities:

  • Bounty. The residents of the Fortress can – thanks to the places infusion with vast amounts of raw life energy – harvest a plentiful supply of fruits, berries, vegetables, and grains, from it’s various gardens each day. Similarly, the endless rains provide a plentiful supply of pure, fresh water.
  • Enduring. The structure, landscape, and furnishings of the ward all have triple their normal hardness (for the most part, Hardness 12-21 for various types of wood, mostly 30 for the granite-and-iron main construction – given that the local rock is mostly iron anyway), spell resistance 30, and remain unaffected by time and erosion.
  • Non-Euclidean. The Fortress of DOOM contains many internal pocket dimensions, local gates, and dimensional distortions. This is very confusing to non-residents and allows it to be many times larger on the inside than on the outside – and virtually impossible to search or to scry inside of.
  • Skill: Residents – and the Ward itself – gain a +6 bonus to Spellcraft and Knowledge: Arcana. The incredible amounts of raw magic flowing through the Fortress of DOOM makes the residents intuitively aware of such things.

   Major Abilities:

  • Initiation: Normally this lets residents spend experience points to pick up natural enchantments – also known as Talents (as per The Practical Enchanter). Given that the Twilight Isles game awards character points directly, rather than awarding experience, this translates to residents gaining 2d6 CP worth of Innate Enchantments after a month or so of residence and some hard training.
  • The Distant Gift (x2). Those whom the Ward accepts as residents are imbued with a portion of it’s power – and the near-limitless flood of life energy and magic which pours into and through the ward can be quite useful indeed. Moreover, once the Ward accepts someone as a “resident”, it’s non-Euclidean nature allows this benefit to be extended to them wherever they are, granting:
    • Longevity. Residents, like everything else related to or within the Ward, are protected from the ravages of time – aging at only one-tenth the normal rate.
    • Warcraft (Variant). The basic Warcraft Package provides +2 BAB (12 CP), +1d10 Hit Die (14 CP), and Proficiency with Shields (3 CP), Light and Medium Armor (9 CP), and Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP). 47 CP is quite a bonus, even if not all of that is useful to any given character. As constructed by a super-villain, the Ward provides the Minion Package instead. It’s not worth as much (letting the player design the package reduces the bonus to 24 CP), but suits Baron Ectar and his Minions a great deal more.

   The Minion Package:

  • Another Faceless Minion/Returning. As long as Minions wear masks, visors, or helmets, don’t use names, and otherwise avoid letting themselves be individually identified by the enemy, they gain the Returning ability (6 CP). This also, of course, lets their bosses display their terrible villainy by gratuitously killing them on a whim – without actually losing valuable minions.
  • Where do they keep those guns?/Ranged Spirit Weapon with Exotic Appearance, Specialized/the user only gets a limited amount of ammunition (usually about twelve shots) and then must spend 2 Mana to “reload” (6 CP).
  • I’ve got another few shots sir!/Body Fuel, Specialized and Corrupted/only to provide Mana, and only for reloading their Spirit Weapons (2 CP). If worst comes to worst, the Minions can opt to take eight points of temporary attribute damage to reload their Spirit Weapons. This is rarely a good idea, but it IS an option.
  • Of course I know how to use it! It’s part of ME!/Proficiency with their Spirit Weapon type, Specialized/only with the actual spirit weapon (1 CP). This wouldn’t normally be a limitation – after all, why NOT always use your spirit weapon in place of a normal one? – but the ammo shortage makes it one.
  • Yeah, the Robot comes with the job/Companion with a +2 ECL (the Robotic) Template (12 CP). Minions get a quasi-technological iron-and-crystal companion “creature” (created and animated by the energies of the Fortress) which they can load with weaponry and tools or other fun stuff according to their own character talents. And every character does have talents. Shadow elves, particularly, have an amusing variety of them.
  • Well, it’s not all gravy (-3 CP). Since that adds up to 27 CP – three above the 24 CP available – anyone who accepts the Minion Package must also accept a disadvantage. While others are available, the following are by far the most common.
    • Healing Resistant. Some Minions are just there to be battered, shot, blown up, and otherwise get wrapped in bandages. Such unlucky Minions may find that it’s easier to get killed and come back than it is to wait around while they heal up.
    • Obligations: Minions do have work to do.
    • Unluck: Things go wrong for Minions in a myriad of ways. They tend to die frequently against heroes, and sometimes just for fun. They also tend get assigned to do whatever-it-is that they’re absolutely worst at doing.

   In short, anyone counted as a resident gets skill bonuses, lots of cheap fresh food (handy when you’re traveling by boat and commuting via gate), the ever-handy Minion package, a very long life, and upgraded personal powers. That’s a very attractive package for troops.

   Personally, Baron Ectar’s Fortress of DOOM! (TM) is a bit cranky and self-absorbed. It has quite enough to do what with keeping the gardens straight and managing itself without all the pesky complications that it’s residents tend to cause. Residents who cause problems can expect to find their food cold and over-salted, their rooms musty, and to experience a hundred other petty miseries. Those who cause disasters can expect to be deprived of their residence benefits…

   It really wants to collect that kid who can generate the endless horde of upgraded unseen servants. It could get a lot more done if it had him!

   Mystic Architecture:

   As designed by a Mystic Artist specializing in Architecture, the fortress has a number of other effects and features, even without additional magics.

  • Every resident is affected by Greatness – gaining 1d10 temporary hit points while they’re there and a +1 Positive Level Bonus (adds +1 to their BAB, AC, and Saves, as well as granting them the Shaping ability).
  • The Fortress itself can “cast” it’s magical effects without it being noticed as spellcasting.
  • The Magical Laboratory allows those working within it to add up to (Cha Mod) levels worth of metamagic to any spell cast there – at least once they properly adjust all the “Frankenstein” style-equipment there and set various liquids to properly bubbling through the glass pipes. If you really must be a Victorian mad scientist, you’ll find everything you need here.
  • The Fortress exists in it’s own private pocket dimension. It can be accessed through dimensional travel or through any of five separate routes – the winding path up from the docks at the base of the pillar, the fixed gate to the Ring of Ptah (currently aboard the SeaSprite), through the bridge to the Wild Forest outside, through the Secret Escape Passage (currently full of Bees), and through a particular cloud, hovering high overhead. It can open and close other routes, but those are the usual ones.
  • The Pool of Visions (Sense Harmony) allows the residents to sense – if not necessarily to understand – great cosmic disturbances, such as changes in trans-planar wars in nearby realms or the birth of new deities.
  • Worldgate: The Castle contains a permanent portal to the Maze of Souls – the Afterworld of the Twilight Seas. This doesn’t resurrect people by itself, but it does make it much easier – as well as allowing easy quests into the Maze and for spirits to drop by and visit (while remaining spirits).
  • The Fortress is a soul-anchor (thanks to Harmonics, the Great Summons, and the Worldgate); anyone who’s spent some time there can – upon death – opt to take up residence in the Fortress as a free spirit (a bit like a Force Ghost – communicative, but otherwise fairly impotent).

   Other Major Rooms:

  • The Grand Hallway. Thanks to the fortresses ability to warp space, the Grand Hallway is considerably longer than the entire structure around it. Off to the sides there are regular rest areas and campgrounds for people walking down it. Once you finally do get to the end, you find a giant statue of Baron Ectar towering over his mighty throne (it has a cushion, too). Along the way are smaller, abstract humanoid figures striking improbable poses.
  • The Spider Cellars. Spider silk is very useful, and so the fortress has a large pit of evil (well, predatory and very stupid) spiders. Baron Ectar tries to keep them isolated, because after all, accidents would just be embarrassing. They’re good for threatening heroes with though.
  • The Torture Chamber. It’s not really used, but it has lots of space for hanging prisoners in easily-escaped cages. The bars are made of thin flexible iron for easy bending, while the chains are made of the most brittle and breakable iron available. The guards are half-blind and nearly deaf, and prone to wander into the cells whenever the prisoners ask them to.
  • The Sacrificial Altar. Always kept covered with a suitable array of cobwebs and bloodstains and lots of unholy statues to vile gods of blasphemous secrets best left untouched by Man. Most of these have been purchased at cheap import places, but a few have been hacked out by local kids, on the grounds that the Baron pays well, and that “crude and primitive” is an easy look to achieve when you lack any particular skill.
  • The Grand Bedchamber. Very ornate and impressively large, with a giant fireplace, comfortable chairs, a private bar, and a generally Victorian look. Also, His and Hers bathrooms and walk-in closets to accommodate any future Baroness. Hers are much larger than His.
  • The Barracks. Never let it be said Baron Ectar can’t take care of his minions. Each room comes with a complimentary canopy bed and hot tub, as well as a full array of Mutant-Tree-Wood furniture.
  • The Rookery. Space for a hundred or more Large flying creatures of varying size and shape. Has regular patrol routes scheduled for the bats to fly around. Sadly, what with the abundance of insect life in the area (another effect of Bounty), most of them can’t be bothered.
  • The Stables. Like the rookery, but ground level for things like horses or war bettles or whatever the hell they use in the Twilight Isles. The Baron has not yet bothered to find out – or to consider the question of where they’re going to go; the grandiosely-named Wild Forest is actually a fairly small patch of woods outside the castle, even if it does spill over the sides of the spire and down to the sea below (where the ship-trees grow). There isn’t much room on that spire of rock.
  • The Ice Cream Parlor. Because everyone needs a nice relaxing cone of ice cream now and then.
  • Baron’s Best Coffee. Right across from the Ice Cream Parlor. After taking control of a struggling chain of coffee houses, Baron Ectar put his most evil Beatnik minion in charge. Baron’s Best is the result. Not only does it serve coffee, but it also has rooms for various light narcotics use, as we all know that drug peddling is the most evil thing a villain can do, according to G. I. Joe and Batman.
  • Emergency Room and Clinic. Because, of course, minions need to be in tip-top shape. Since the evil castle is far away from hospitals and emergency services, it has to have it’s own medical personnel. Of course this amounts to a couple bored clerics playing cards in the breakroom. But all the nice beds are there, complete with surgical bay and radiology lab. For some reason, Ectar likes scientific appearances, even if they’re simply for show.
  • The Training Ground. Contains a firing range and Hogan’s Alley, complete with live minions to shoot at each other. The Training ground features space for ninjas, pirates, vikings, black knights, generic nazis, cattle rustlers, ronin, space nazis, mongols, and commandos – thus creating the ultimate array of minions, suitable for outdoing every other evil overlord in the cosmos.
  • The Clocktower. Having seen it in Castlevania, Ectar decided he had to have a grand gothic clocktower for everyone to see. He then thoughtlessly spoiled the effect by making it digital.
  • The Bees! The Bees! The Fortress hosts several swarms of bees in rooms off of various gardens. While they’re generally peaceful enough – even allowing humans to have a share of their honey (after all, with Bounty – and all the gardens in continuous bloom – the stuff is overflowing anyway) – they’re a lot more formidable than might be expected since the Fortress considers them residents, and so grants them both the Minion Package AND a positive level. If you upset them too much, you may find them firing formidable “stinger missiles” at you.
  • The Pool of Life. With an unrelenting rain of positive-energy charged water – also known as “healing potions” – falling from the sky, it would be positively wasteful not to have stored a lot of the stuff. After all, it’s bound to stop eventually – although the Fortress will probably have collected enough Najmhan to keep the water – and itself – powered up by then. After all, the rain contains traces of it, and it’s gradually concentrating in the Fortresses structure as it concentrates the rains power.
  • The Secret Passages wind throughout the Fortress – or would, if most of them weren’t simply local gates. The Fortresses non-Euclidean layout means that rooms can connect in defiance of all logic anyway.
  • The Grand Ballroom has a marvelously polished and shiny floor, and a distinct chill in the air – which is explained when you actually set foot on the floor and discover that it’s made of ice, not wood, and the entire room is actually an ice-skating rink.
  • The Kitchens are at the center of a network of pantries, storerooms, sculleries, brewing rooms, spinning rooms, and laundries, filled with an incredible tangle of nooks, corners, old barrels, strings of herbs, and casual obstacles. Even the residents get lost sometimes. The kitchens proper are massive, “unfinished” rooms with high ceilings and exposed beams supporting a huge array of tools, spices, and supplies, with shelves that go all the way up to the ceiling (several ladders are available to reach the upper shelves).
  • Out of all the workshops, the Forges and the Carpenter’s shops are the most used and the most practical. That has led to them being quite unreasonably large – to the point where it’s easy to forget that you’re in a building, especially since most of the doors don’t seem to exist from any direction but the front, and they’re often hidden behind workbenches, small hills, and piles of supplies.
  • The Observatory is – thanks to the Twilight Isles lack of stars or celestial phenomena – buried inside. While focusing the instruments on the roof reveals only the details of the murals there and the occasional bug, no one has yet discovered that focusing them at the ground will reveal a fine view of the Maze of Souls.
  • The Mazes. While the entire Fortress might be considered a maze, there are several areas within it that are literal mazes – as yet, nowhere’s near mapped. The rumor that one of them contains an elderly Minotaur writing his memoirs is equally unconfirmed.

   Future Expansions: While the existing rooms do a good job of managing the complex, Baron Ectar does have a few ideas he can’t yet work on. He wants to put in a Rancor Pit, and perhaps will try to kidnap the local version of Godzilla. He needs an evil lab for upgrading regular minions to supervillain minions once they gain a few levels. He needs a Theater House and would like to add a five-star restaurant. The Gallery and Museum are relatively unstocked as of yet, and there are sizable numbers of empty rooms available to work with.

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