Many an independent mage* calls the Forest Kingdom home.
Some dwell in Cormyr’s three principal cities (Arabel, Marsember and Suzail), while others have settled in any of the several villages and trading towns that dot Cormyr’s countryside and forests.
Despite the stereotypical notion of wizards as tower-dwelling recluses, the actual number of tower-dwelling wizards residing in Cormyr are not as numerous as one might think. Wizards that desire to live away from Cormyr’s population centers are more likely to take up residence in abandoned mansions or any of the dilapidated “foursquare” keeps that have been built, torn down, and then built again over the centuries as Cormyr’s borders expanded, as opposed to selecting a site and then constructing a fortified, defended-by-magic tower from scratch.
Of these, few prefer to live like hermits. Most independent practitioners of the Art in Cormyr that have attained a residence in which to practice their Art make use of servants, errand runners, agents and apprentices, and may call upon the help of other mages as well. After all, each task performed by an assistant is one less spell cast per day.
To pay for the help, these mages provide services magical to those that can afford them, while the bulk of their coin is made by selling their expert knowledge of one or more non-magical topics to visitors in need of assistance. (Just like many a sage in Cormyr.)
True tower-dwelling loners don’t last long, even in relatively peaceful Cormyr. Most believe their magic to be far more unique than it actually is; likewise their skill at Art. When they attend the monthly Council of Mages meeting in Suzail they are likely to brag above their station, and may sow the seeds of their demise if word of the power they have supposedly attained reach the ears of other rivals or anyone capable of slaying a mage and selling the caster’s stolen wares quickly. Such mages have few friends, if any, and the lack of their presence is not likely to be noticed should they fall prey to accident, spell-mishap or treachery.
Wizards of War are believed to place bets on how soon the most arrogant of mages that have recently setup shop in a tower will perish.
Thus, for Dungeon Masters that would like to add a twist to the same old experience of PCs visiting a wizard’s tower, I present some ideas below on how to make things interesting.
The tower the PCs are seeking is…
1. …on fire; the door blasted off; smoke erupting from windows absent any glass or shutters, and out of cracks and holes in the tower stone.
2. …falling over. The place literally falls on its side, crashing into the earth with a sound like thunder and sending a rumble through the ground that shakes the earth under the PC’s feet as they round the bend.
3. …gone. It was there last time, and filled with what you’d expect to find in a wizard’s tower (at least the parts of it the wizard, her apprentices, and whomever else runs the place allowed you see on your last visit).
4. …small. Very, very, small—about as tall as a dwarf. The wizard walks out, casts a spell to amplify her voice, and proceeds to inform the PCs as to what happened.
5. …surrounded by merchant carts, laborers, factors, horses and the curious. The wizard is nowhere to be found, her servants and students are gone too, and the locals have decided to empty the place out.
6. …not where it used to be. That is, it’s no longer standing in a round clearing surrounded by low hills, just around the bend. Now it stands on the highest of the low hills.
7. …now one of two identical looking towers standing just around the bend. As the PCs turn the corner the wizard appears, waves her hands to signal the PCs to go back the way they came, and follows them. She says the second tower is a rare form of mimic—a gargantuan tower mimic—and they must approach invisibly, because the creature is hungry.
8. …the way it’s always been. However, a different wizard answers the door and he has no idea who it is the PCs are asking after.
9. …no longer there. A sign posted where the tower stood informs the reader as follows, “We’ve moved! Find us in the heart of Redspring (ten miles to the east, as the raven flies).”
10. …not taking visitors, but is hiring guards. A mage moot is taking place inside, and trouble always follows.
* The word “independent” in this case meaning any arcane spellcaster residing in Cormyr that is not a Wizard of War, or a House mage in service to any of Cormyr’s noble families.