The New Guard Tower
by Denis Tetreault
The New Guard Tower was constructed by Lord Arabis Melkotia I over a
two and a half year period from 461 to 463 CY as a means of
significantly increasing the defensive capabilities of Melkotia Castle.
The tower did not originally have the rather unique demonic stone skull
attached to its front. That feature was added by Marchanter Melkotia in
520-521 CY. The tower itself can only be approached from directly
forward, as the tower, and the road leading up to it, is perched on a
relatively narrow ridge.
The most interesting feature of the New Guard Tower is the internal
spiral ramp that lifts people entering the castle from ground level up
one floor to the bridge that crosses a chasm over to the Old Guard
Tower and Barracks building. Any individuals attempting to storm the
castle would find themselves cut off from outside assistance and
trapped inside a highly defended shooting gallery as they attempted to
climb the ramp. Maneuvering siege engines and battering rams up the
ramp would be very difficult under fire, as would the 90 degree turn at
the top through the portcullis and onto the bridge. In times of normal
operation, a specially constructed horse-drawn cart (see Level 4)
designed to easily compensate for both the curvature and slope of the
ramp is used to lift bulky items to the top, where it is offloaded onto
normal carts. Smaller horse-drawn carts have little trouble negotiating
the ramp. The tower is completely of stone construction, with a slate
roof, making it essentially impervious to fire.
When Marchanter built the skull attached to the tower, there was
method to his apparent madness. The skull is essentially a siege
platform, something that was lacking from the original design of the
tower. No less then two ballistas and two catapults can be
simultaneously operated on this level. This is possible through both
eyes of the skull because the ballistas in front use direct fire, while
the catapults behind use arcing fire. Numerous locations within the
skull for archers and crossbowmen also afford complete coverage of the
inside of the skull, the inside of the tower, and the relatively narrow
approach in front of the skull.
Most people believe the castle to be abandoned, however the Sons of
Marchanter actually hold the New Guard Tower and the next
Old Guard Tower and Barracks. While they do not have as many troops
here as there were when the castle was still actively occupied, the
defensive nature of the New Guard Tower is so formidable that even with
their limited manpower, it would be very difficult for anyone with less
then a full siege-capable force to take the tower. This is just as
well, since much of the Sons' defensive efforts are actually directed
inwards, towards the rest of the castle, and not outwards towards the
front of the castle. On average, there are generally 20 Sons occupying
the ground level led by at least a 7th level leader, and at least 15
more on the seige level. Remember that all Sons of Marchanter are
double-classed. Also, while the outer-planar creature infestation of
the main castle cannot reach the New Guard Tower, there were at last
count at least two special familiars (an imp and a quasit) trapped in
the tower and now consider it home. Keep in mind that any PC with a
non-prime-plane special familiar will be in for a big surprise when
they leave the tower (in either direction).
If you are not using Melkotia Castle in your campaign, DM's are of
course welcome to use the tower description for your own devious
campaign purposes and come up with your own history and locations.
Level 1 - Ground Level
Anyone entering Melkotia Castle must enter the mouth of the giant stone
skull at this level. Against the back of the skull is a massive iron
gate. Numerous arrow slits have clear view of the entire interior of
the skull from Levels 2 and 3.
2. Main Gate
The main gate is a massive, magically reinforced, iron portcullis which
can be raised or lowered only from the winch room on Level 3. Numerous
slits cover the area immediately behind the gate.
From here, the spiral ramp rises up and around the interior of the
tower. Dozens of small trap doors in the floor of Level 3 allow arrow
crossbow coverage of the entire length of the ramp. The ramp has a
missing section above area 2 (See Level 2).
4. Front Office
This is the main office from which the Gate Keeper and Captain of the
Tower Guard operated. Meticulous records were kept of all comings and
goings from the castle, as well as records of materials. All shipments
were inspected by assistants. The Sons have looked through many of the
record books, and there are always several Sons here continuing to read
through them, taking notes. These mind-deadeningly boring ledgers
record that for the most part the constant flow of supplies that passed
through these gates were the standard fair that one would expect for a
large castle that contained hundreds of people. Periodically, one finds
a record of more interesting fair, such as crates of arcane reagents
and supplies, weapons shipments, and boxes of books. In fact, over the
years Marchanter had hundreds of crates of books shipped to the castle!
Thousands of books in total collected by hundreds of hirelings.
a. Storage and bathroom
5. Inner Office
The Gate Keeper's office contains a finely crafted solid oak desk, and
numerous shelves shelves filled with record books.
6. Guard Room
The guard rooms on this level contain weapon racks, benches, chairs and
a few tables for numerous on-duty guards. Arrow slits afford complete
coverage of area 2.
Weapons and armor were stored here for the guards posted on this level.
The bulk of the extra weapons were stored on the upper levels, however,
in case the lower level did fall into enemy hands.
8. Guard Room
Same as Room 6.
Level 2 - Ramp Level
Inner Lift Bridge
Controlled from the winch room on Level 3, the ramp bridge can be
quickly lifted to the ceiling of this level. Also visible at this level
cables and tracks along the wall that the main portcullis slides up
into when the main gate is opened (again, winches for this are on Level
10. Inner Gate
This heavy, magically reinforced, iron portcullis bars the way to the
bridge that leads to the Old Guard Tower. The winch for this gate is
on Level 3. A thick iron door leads to stairs up to the winch room on
11. Bridge to the Old Guard Tower
This open bridge, rebuilt when the New Guard Tower was constructed, can
be fired upon from arrow slits on Levels 3 and 4 of the New Guard
Tower, as well as from the Old Guard Tower.
12. Archery Station
This area can only be accessed from Level 3. Arrow slits along the
walls allow archers to fire into both the skull and
the ramp areas of the tower. Racks on the walls hold extra missile
weapons and ammunution, as well as sonces for igniting flaming arrows.
Level 3 - Seige Level
13. Winch Room
This large room houses the winches for both portcullis' (Areas 2 and
10) and the ramp lift bridge (Area 9). A large panel in the center of
the floor can be
removed, allowing the main lift winch to lower a platform carrying
seige weapons, supplies, or the spiral cart all the way down to ground
level. Dozens of locations all around the winch room floor have small
trap doors that can be lifted off. From these holes, as well as from
the lift shaft, arrows and boiling oil can be rained down upon any
attacker attempting to climb the spiral ramp below. Oil poured onto the
ramp would make it particularly difficult for attackers to storm the
castle, especially when a torch is them dropped upon it.
14. Storage Room
This room contains seige weapon missiles, spare parts, hand weapons,
lead ingots, barrels of oil, and other equipment required to maintain
and repair the various weapons found here. Also stored within this room
are weaponry and ammunition for the archers and crossbowman that were
stationed on this level.
15. Storage Room
This room contains spare parts for all the winches, as well as rope,
chains, hooks and other related equipment required for the maintenance
and repair of
all winches in the New Guard Tower.
16. Seige Room
Stationed in this room are 2 catapults and 2 ballistas. Also found here
are lead ingots, a cauldron and small furnace for
melting lead. Near the furnace is a funnel-shaped hole in the floor for
pouring molten lead or burning oil out of the
nostrils of the skull. Continous Light lanterns hang inside the "eye
sockets". Steps lead down into Area 12 on each side of the room.
16a. Archery pits for firing inside the skull area.
The pits are
approximately 4 feet lower then the rest of the room, and accessed by
short steps along the side. Racks of bows, crossbows and ammunution are
along the wall. A small locked cabinet in each pit contains arrows
tipped with liquid-filled glass bulbs. When the glass bulbs are
smashed, they release a heavy gas (save at -4 or lose consciousness for
Level 4 - Main Winch
17. Main Lift Winch and Storage
This level contains the main lift winch for bringing large objects up
from the ground floor, to levels 3, 4 and 5. The block for the main
lift winch is attached to the framework of the conical roof high above,
allowing the lift platform access to all the floors below, as well as
the balcony above. Stored here are several spare seige weapons, and a
large wheeled platform or cart that is specially constructed for easy
the spiral ramp. When on a flat surface (such as the floor of Level 4),
the cart's bed lies at an angle. Large hooks on the cart that fit into
carved notches on the floor and wall enable it to be locked into place
at the top of the spiral ramp near Area 10 for easy off-loading.
Barrels of oil and a partially constructed spiral cart are stored
here, along with various miscellaneous supplies..
Level 5 - Attic Level
The balcony is used for miscellaneous storage, and is accessed by
the main lift platform, which can be attached to a platform protruding
from the main balcony for stability.
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This page last modified on December 23, 2004