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Thassilonian Time Sanctum

   
Thassilonian Time Sanctum

I'm in the first stages of writing a dungeon for my Pathfinder group, using the new Pathfinder 2e rules, for which I have trouble deciding on an endgame.
It's heavily themed about concepts of time - duration, aging, passing seasons, and such - because it was the lair of a group of ancient Thassilonian wizards who wanted control over the flow of time using the artifact the Scepter of Ages.
(My group won't get access to the artifact, it's more a plot device and set piece than an actual item in this adventure.)
The wizards are from the same ancient empire as is discovered in the Rise of the Runelords campaign, but separate from the events of that AP.

Here is the setup:

A cabal of wizards from Xin-Shalast - Karzoug's empire - obtain a mighty and alien relic that supposedly will allow them to travel through time, and manipulate the flow of time itself.
They construct a sort of portal that the relic will "unlock" - but something goes wrong. Throughout the secret sanctum, trapping the wizards and most of their minions, bubble-shaped tears open inside which time does not pass.
They are thus stuck in stasis, unhurt but unfeeling to the passing of centuries and millenia around them - all the way up to present day. Nobody every found them, until now.

Something has changed inside the sanctum, and the tears spread to the outside.
The Pathfinder society, of which my players will have become full-fledged members by the end of their playing the Rose Street Revenge adventure, take notice when their lodge in Korvosa receive word of a "stopped deer".
A deer seemingly frozen in time, stuck inside an invisible bubble of unmovable air.
The pathfinders will travel out to investigate the phenomenon and discover the source of it, and that will lead them to the sanctum, riddled with traps and undead guardians, hidden inside a spider-infested mountain cave.



What I'm having trouble with deciding, is the endgame for this adventure.
The problem is that the bubbles of frozen time might spread further through Varisia, but how to solve that?
The one idea I have is that the portal - the parts of it not sealed in a bubble - has become damaged or eroded over the millenia, and will have to be repaired somehow.

But I have nothing concrete, and I'd welcome any input you might have to offer.

What about this: The team finds the portal, and can figure out how to nullify a time bubble and bring the contents into the present with a rod they can carry with them that channels the portal energy. So they can unfreeze that poor deer, and you can have a few adventures with them tracking down other (new) bubbles and freeing the people who were trapped in them.

Eventually, they learn that collapsing some of the bubbles will lead to the whole system collapsing and all the bubbles will eventually vanish on their own. Sounds great, right? Well, turns out that one of the bubbles holds a cabal of wizards from this ancient empire who are one syllable away from casting a doomsday spell. If the bubbles collapse on their own, then the wizards will finish their spell and everyone dies/suffers/is turned into pudding. They have to figure out how to modify the portal, so that everything in every time bubble "catches up" to the present, thus turning the ancient wizards to dust while anyone trapped more recently is just fine. And the way to modify the portal is to reforge the Scepter somehow. So now they have to go on a race to fix the Scepter before the bubbles collapse and the doomsday spell happens—and they better leg it, because wizards from other bubbles that collapsed on their own are hunting down the PCs to stop them.

Those are actually really nice ideas.

My best idea was that the reason the time-stop effect is "spilling" out of the sanctum is that the parts of the portal that were not frozen in time have eroded over the millenia and fallen into disrepair. As you say, there will be other "bubbles" that have formed out in the terrain surrounding the cave, and it threatens to expand exponentially with no certain end in sight.
More than that, as they traverse the dungeon my players will find themselves aging rapidly, so as to add a ticking clock to spur their progress before they are too old to solve whatever problem lies at the heart.

And I did imagine perhaps - though I'm very unclear on the particulars - that they are to discover a way to repair the portal from their side, or better yet - reverse it. Making time catch up, like you said, dusting everyone trapped inside the sanctum, and also giving back the years that have been taken from them.
As the Scepter of Ages looks a great deal like a key, perhaps something as literal as turning it in the lock.

I think also, whatever happens, that the effect will draw the scepter into the portal to emerge in another time and another place. They will have learned through research that Durvin Gest was the last known owner, though he lived and died long before any of them were born.

What I liked the best from your ideas is the anachronistic cabal, even if I'm not necessarily putting a doomsday device in their hands. That would make for some fun recurring villains.








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