In the Hills of Talos there lies a squat gray stone edifice. The Fortress of the Silver Sphere was built by Somallas the most notable alchemist of the age. It was meant to serve as a laboratory and sanctuary for him to continue his alchemy research. He also designed an army of clockwork constructs to act as his attendants and to defend the fortress. Somallas had long ago discovered the art of producing philosopher’s stones and had since moved on to more esoteric studies. At great cost, he had acquired a sphere of annihilation and sought to use it to unravel the secrets of the planes.
Somallas refused to believe anything that came into contact with a sphere of annihilation was destroyed. He was convinced nothing was ever truly eradicated. It was either transformed or transported somewhere else. Deep in the underground levels of the fortress, Somallas built a laboratory to finally find answers. He exposed his sphere to varied materials and magic to observe how it reacted. After years of unchanging results, Somallas finally achieved his breakthrough. Through carefully measured doses of positive and negative energy, Somallas’ sphere changed from a deep black to a silvery white. Not only that but rather than sucking in matter the silver sphere was repelling it.
Somallas did not have long to celebrate before he made another discovery. Matter and effects he did not introduce to his sphere were soon spilling out of it. Before long strangely mutated creatures began appearing as well. He attempted to dissect them in order to unravel their origins. But his laboratory was quickly overrun by the hostile mutants. Somallas tried sealing the room off, but they managed to break out and spill into the rest of the fortress. His clockwork attendants were repurposed as warriors and were able to battle the mutants to a stalemate. Somallas and his warriors are currently the only thing standing between the mutants and rest of the world.
Somallas and the clockwork warriors are currently in control of the library and upper floors of the fortress. This connection to the outside world allows Somallas to construct additional warriors. The bulk of the army is made up of clockwork huntsman and clockwork hounds. They patrol the lower levels of the fortress on the lookout for any mutant activity. If they meet heavy resistance, clockwork myrmidons are called in for reinforcements. Somallas is well known for his stubbornness. He believes that as the cause of this catastrophe he should be the one to fix it himself. Somallas has already rebuffed offers of outside from nearby cities and adventurers.
The mutants control the laboratory and the lowest levels of the fortress. What exactly they are and where they come from is unknown, but more of them are appearing every day. Somallas’s working theory is that he fundamentally altered the sphere of annihilation. It changed into a kind of exit point for all sorts of things that have ever touched them. Traveling through a sphere is a traumatic experience. Most of the mutants are mindless and physically reshaped by the process. There is no real rhyme or reason to the types of mutations that appear out of the sphere. Everything from blind centaurs to winged mimics has been seen stalking the depths.
Somallas has been summoning aeons to help him better understand the silver sphere. He speculates it might have some connection to the sphere of creation wielded by pleromas. Regrettably, the aeon’s telepathic form of communication has proven undecipherable to Sommallas. The flashing images they send him do not mesh well with his straightforward way of thinking. These failed attempts at a dialogue have only made him more determined to succeed. He has been spending much more of his time piecing together possible meanings. If he’s not careful the mutants could push past his defenses and overrun the fortress.
Despite Somallas’ best efforts, word of the silver sphere has reached the outside world. Many adventurers have braved his fortress to attempt to put a stop to the sphere themselves. Most have been driven off, and the rest of been killed by the mutants. But that has not prevented the “heroes” from insisting they are the only ones who can save the day. Case in point, a cabal of powerful wizards is convinced they have resolved the mutant problem. They have their own sphere of annihilation and are bringing in to the fortress using a talisman of the sphere. The wizards are sure that if they merge it with the silver sphere the two will simply cancel each other out. Somallas does not trust their reasoning and lack of experience with the spheres. The clockwork warriors have been alerted to attack anyone matching the descriptions of the wizards on sight.
The mutants from the sphere are numerous but possible to manage with planning. They lack the intelligence for tactical thinking. It is possible to dispatch them easily enough as long as you’re not overwhelmed by their numbers. Fewer mutants seem to be falling for these strategic feints. They also seem to be better organized and equipped. Reports have been coming in from the clockwork warriors that a mutant has been seen wearing force armor. This mutant has also been seen manipulating other with spell-like abilities. Somallas’ greatest fear about a leader appearing from the sphere has been confirmed.
Drag & Drop Encounter (CR 8)
In the round stone room before you stands a bizarre sight. The flickering light of your torch shine off of three distinct shapes. They are standing over a vaguely humanoid pile of metal and gears. A goblin with an extra arm growing out of its neck is attempting to gnaw on one of the gears as if it’s food. A gnoll with a shriveled and useless arm continues to hack at the clockwork remains. If you draw closer the third figure, an orc, whips around to confront you. Where its eyes should be there is only smooth skin. The orc lets out a high-pitched screech in your direction and raises a club above its head. With a second screech, the goblin and gnoll finally become aware of you and ready their weapons as well.