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    Canonfire :: View topic - Origins of the Tower of Silence
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    Origins of the Tower of Silence
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 1:34 am  
    Origins of the Tower of Silence

    LGJ #4 states the following about the Lonely Tower of the Silent Ones:

    Quote:
    An architectural wonder, the Tower of Silence seems an alien structure, defying the laws of sensibility. Rising from the ground without any base or support, like the trunk of a great tree, the tower soars hundreds of feet, two and three times the height of the tallest spire of Niole Dra...

    No mage who casts eyes upon it can deny the fact that it would be nearly impossible to construct today, since great sorcery was no doubt required during its construction. Legends abound as to its origins and the blue-grey stone that composes it has no counterpart in a thousand miles. The Chronicle of Secret Times makes it quite clear that the tower was here before the Neheli and their Seers arrived in the valley, implying that it was not constructed by them. Reportedly, the interior of the tower is honey-combed with scores of small cells clustered around a central shaft which descends from the top of the spire down into the depths of the earth.


    We know that Vecna's Rotted Tower was near present-day Shiboleth. Why did Vecna choose to live there and not in the Tower of Silence, since it clearly existed during his reign?

    Did the Arch-Lich himself erect the Lonely Tower/Tower of Silence? Seems unlikely, since he didn't inhabit it, and therefore may not even have been able to access its interior.

    Did the grey elves of Celene erect it? If yes, it seems odd to me that they would just surrender it to the Seers of the immigrant House of Neheli. Did the grey elves, exhausted from their centuries of resistance against Vecna, make a pact with the emergent Silent Ones, ceding them the tower before withdrawing from the Sheldomar Valley to Celene?

    Could someone other than the elves have erected it? A dragon or order of dragons, perhaps (who would have had to take a human form to move about its interior halls and winding stairways)?

    A demi-god/hero-god (Daern?) or the avatar of a deity (Dalt)? While Daern's portfolio would be a good fit, she did not become a hero-deity until well after the Great Migrations had begun, and likely after the collapse of Vecna's empire (see LGJ #3). Dalt also seems unlikely, if only due to his Suloise origin (why would the avatar of a Suloise god have erected such a structure in the Flanaess, before the Suel had even migrated there?). Boccob? I don't think he would care enough about Oerthly events to send an avatar to raise some mystical tower there, for who knows what reason.

    Was it a parting gift from the Wind Dukes of Aaqa? I don't know much about them, but it seems unlikely.

    Some other extra-planar entity?

    I would love to hear other peoples' theories on this.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 09, 2003
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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 9:13 am  
    Re: Origins of the Tower of Silence

    TwiceBorn wrote:
    ...We know that Vecna's Rotted Tower was near present-day Shiboleth. Why did Vecna choose to live there and not in the Tower of Silence, since it clearly existed during his reign?
    ...
    ...why would the avatar of a Suloise god have erected such a structure in the Flanaess, before the Suel had even migrated there? ...


    -Suel explorers made forays on the other side of the mountains long before the Twin Cataclysms- I remember this being discussed elsewhere here. The Silent Tower could have been built by a small (but obviously powerful) group that settling in. Maybe the tower's existence was the reason Slerotin went for the Sheldomar Valley in the first place?
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 10:23 am  
    Re: Origins of the Tower of Silence

    jamesdglick wrote:
    TwiceBorn wrote:
    ...We know that Vecna's Rotted Tower was near present-day Shiboleth. Why did Vecna choose to live there and not in the Tower of Silence, since it clearly existed during his reign?
    ...
    ...why would the avatar of a Suloise god have erected such a structure in the Flanaess, before the Suel had even migrated there? ...


    -Suel explorers made forays on the other side of the mountains long before the Twin Cataclysms- I remember this being discussed elsewhere here. The Silent Tower could have been built by a small (but obviously powerful) group that settling in. Maybe the tower's existence was the reason Slerotin went for the Sheldomar Valley in the first place?


    That's an interesting theory.

    I was aware of the First Comer Suel... but I'm pretty sure that Vecna would have preceded even their arrival. Still, if magi comparable to Slerotin in power accompanied some of the First Comers, that may partially explain why Vecna's empire did not occupy the southern Sheldomar when he met his end.

    Yes, that might work. Thanks for the suggestion, James!

    Looking forward to seeing what other theories the CF! community might come up with.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 11:00 am  
    Re: Origins of the Tower of Silence

    TwiceBorn wrote:
    ...Looking forward to seeing what other theories the CF! community might come up with.


    -I'm sure Rasgon will have something to add... Laughing
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 1:59 pm  

    Tharizdun. (Yeah, I know, "Why does it always have to be Tharizdun?")

    Once upon a time I asked if there where overarching narratives for the whole Greyhawk setting. I posited that one such narrative might be the disappearance of magic, as reported from the future by Pluffet Smedger the Elder. For my own purposes, I have determined that it is magic itself which holds Tharizdun imprisoned - and his plots revolve around magic being reduced and ultimately eliminated from Oerthly reality.

    So for my use, the Silent Tower is a prison for magic - and unknowingly a tool to destroy magic. The Silent Ones as reported in the Living Greyhawk Journal article are preoccupied with regulating magic and gathering "dangerous" magical items. The features of the Silent One prestige class even allow them to deactivate magic items. The purposes of the Silent Ones, while initially to protect against magical calamities like the Twin Cataclysms, are unknowingly co-opted by the Tower towards the goal of helping destroying magic altogether.

    Tharizdun's dogma is to destroy everything, so much so that nothing is left to even remember reality. Magic is a huge part of the Oerth's reality - and so would need to be destroyed. Tharizdun's plan regarding the Silent Tower was that Someone, Somewhere, at Sometime would want to contain or eliminate someone else's magic. And Tharizdun made sure the tools would be there, but that such useful idiots will never understand that they serve his goals, and that with every diminution of magic on Oerth, and every item locked up in the Tower, more cracks appear in his prison.

    In that same Living Greyhawk Journal, it describes a Cenotaph in the lowest reaches of the tower. For me it serves as the literal "empty tomb" for magic - a source of disjunction for the most potent of items.

    So this, in a round about way, is my explanation of why the Silent Tower was there beforehand, who made it, and its purpose.

    I think Vecna would avoid such a place because as a lich - his very existence was maintained through magical energy. This may or may not be relevant after his divine ascension however.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Tue Jun 07, 2022 7:26 pm  
    Re: Origins of the Tower of Silence

    TwiceBorn wrote:

    We know that Vecna's Rotted Tower was near present-day Shiboleth. Why did Vecna choose to live there and not in the Tower of Silence, since it clearly existed during his reign?


    Some possible explanations:
    - Because it was only there briefly, perhaps for a year or even less, before the Neheli arrived, and he hadn't gotten around to it yet.
    - Because it had defenses that Vecna couldn't penetrate (possibly specifically against undead or evil beings, which the Silent Ones didn't set off, or perhaps Slerotin was simply better at defeating the tower's defenses than Vecna was).
    - Because it was inhabited by a powerful rival mage who kept Vecna at bay, but allied with (or was defeated by) Slerotin and/or the Silent Ones.
    - Because it was created by Slerotin, before the Baklunish-Suloise War, as an isolated tower away from his rivals in the Suel Imperium, and it would only open to Slerotin or his students.
    - Because it didn't exist yet. Perhaps The Chronicle of Secret Times was simply wrong, and the Tower of Silence was created by the Silent Ones after all.
    - Vecna preferred his own tower, and used the Tower of Silence as a prison or as a place for his minions to live.
    - Vecna had already looted the tower long ago, using the secrets he learned there to build his own, superior tower, and was no longer interested in it.
    - Vecna's Rotted Tower and the Tower of Silence were the same tower, existing simultaneously in two places, or connected by portals.
    - Vecna's tower was a version of the Tower of Silence imported from the future, or from an alternate Material Plane.
    - Vecna didn't know about the Tower of Silence because it was invisible, or perhaps astral or ethereal or otherwise otherworldly or out of phase, until the Silent Ones revealed it.
    - Eleven hadn't yet removed the chip from Vecna's neck, so he was powerless.

    Quote:
    Did the grey elves of Celene erect it?


    Perhaps, though the high elves of the Duchy of Ulek are a closer choice. Or perhaps it was created by proto-drow before the elven civil war and abandoned since then.

    Quote:
    If yes, it seems odd to me that they would just surrender it to the Seers of the immigrant House of Neheli.


    The high elves of Ulek are closely allied with the Neheli, who built their capital city on the Duchy of Ulek's border and intermarried with them. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer implies that the Neheli allied with the high elves of Ulek to drive out earlier waves of Suel who imperiled their sovereignty.

    Quote:
    Could someone other than the elves have erected it?


    Sure.

    - An earlier wave of Suel migrants (perhaps the ones who threatened the Duchy of Ulek before the Neheli helped defeat them).
    - Vecna created it, then abandoned it.
    - The Ur-Flan, generations before the rise of Vecna.
    - The people of the Isles of Woe.
    - Ethergaunts, perhaps one of their fortresses crashed on the Material Plane during their war with the people of the Isles of Woe.
    - It could be a spell weaver node.
    - The Crafters who created Exag long ago (see also Dungeon #145, page 49).
    - The Wind Dukes, possibly.
    - Galap-Dreidel, before he created the Ghost Tower of Inverness.
    - The faranth.
    - The gods themselves (Boccob? Rao? Wee Jas? The Serpent? The lich-god Mellifleur?).
    - The tower is alive, and erected itself.
    - The Silent Ones created it in the future, and sent it back in time.
    - It was always there. Oerth formed around it.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 8:27 am  

    There was speculation in an Oerth Journal about the elves of Celene originally have paths of song or some such by which they could travel across the Sheldomar Valley instantly. In the war with Vecna, these song paths were corrupted and became a threat to the existence of Celene itself. I remember in the article that the elves had to permanently disable their own song network to save themselves.

    What if the Tower of Silence (aptly named) was their means of accomplishing this? What if said Tower is still disabling these song paths by its existence—such song paths being natural and requiring powerful architecture to circumvent?

    The Silent Ones might just be squatters in a functioning magical device then.

    Furthermore, the creed of the Silent Ones, gathering up dangerous magics, would fit right in with faerie/grey elves disgusted by human irresponsibility in the use of their ancient teachings. So maybe the faeries of Celene secretly created and sponsored the Silent Ones and were behind the whole no-wizards thing for all those centuries in Keoland. The elves might think of this as a gift to the humans, a way of keeping them and everyone safe from the dangers of powerful magic.

    Encouraging this secret society to squat in the tower also, of course, protects the tower from tampering.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 8:43 am  

    Thank you, Ragson, for the 11-Vecna reference. LOL!
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:01 pm  

    A-Baneful-Backfire wrote:
    Tharizdun. (Yeah, I know, "Why does it always have to be Tharizdun?")

    Once upon a time I asked if there where overarching narratives for the whole Greyhawk setting. I posited that one such narrative might be the disappearance of magic, as reported from the future by Pluffet Smedger the Elder. For my own purposes, I have determined that it is magic itself which holds Tharizdun imprisoned - and his plots revolve around magic being reduced and ultimately eliminated from Oerthly reality.

    So for my use, the Silent Tower is a prison for magic - and unknowingly a tool to destroy magic. The Silent Ones as reported in the Living Greyhawk Journal article are preoccupied with regulating magic and gathering "dangerous" magical items. The features of the Silent One prestige class even allow them to deactivate magic items. The purposes of the Silent Ones, while initially to protect against magical calamities like the Twin Cataclysms, are unknowingly co-opted by the Tower towards the goal of helping destroying magic altogether.

    Tharizdun's dogma is to destroy everything, so much so that nothing is left to even remember reality. Magic is a huge part of the Oerth's reality - and so would need to be destroyed. Tharizdun's plan regarding the Silent Tower was that Someone, Somewhere, at Sometime would want to contain or eliminate someone else's magic. And Tharizdun made sure the tools would be there, but that such useful idiots will never understand that they serve his goals, and that with every diminution of magic on Oerth, and every item locked up in the Tower, more cracks appear in his prison.

    In that same Living Greyhawk Journal, it describes a Cenotaph in the lowest reaches of the tower. For me it serves as the literal "empty tomb" for magic - a source of disjunction for the most potent of items.

    So this, in a round about way, is my explanation of why the Silent Tower was there beforehand, who made it, and its purpose.

    I think Vecna would avoid such a place because as a lich - his very existence was maintained through magical energy. This may or may not be relevant after his divine ascension however.


    Thanks for sharing your campaign background. You'll get no eye-rolling from me. While I do think too many scenarios reference Tharizdun, rendering slightly banal the unknowable and terrifying evil that it supposedly represents, I agree that "it" is the ultimate underlying enemy/threat in the "Greyhawk universe." I don't necessarily think Tharizdun is sentient in the manner that humans are, it just "is" (or, perhaps more appropriately, "isn't"). But I digress...

    I really like what you have going there between Tharizdun and the Silent Ones. That could also tie into the disappearance of the Malhel (which, up until now, I thought was due to them unleashing forces connected to the EEG/elemental evil that backfired on them. Tharizdun is also in the same ball park).

    Makes me wonder... could the tower of Valadis in someway be a twin (or sister) to the Silent Tower?
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:22 pm  
    Re: Origins of the Tower of Silence

    rasgon wrote:


    Some possible explanations:
    - Because it was only there briefly, perhaps for a year or even less, before the Neheli arrived, and he hadn't gotten around to it yet.
    - Because it had defenses that Vecna couldn't penetrate (possibly specifically against undead or evil beings, which the Silent Ones didn't set off, or perhaps Slerotin was simply better at defeating the tower's defenses than Vecna was).
    - Because it was inhabited by a powerful rival mage who kept Vecna at bay, but allied with (or was defeated by) Slerotin and/or the Silent Ones.
    - Because it was created by Slerotin, before the Baklunish-Suloise War, as an isolated tower away from his rivals in the Suel Imperium, and it would only open to Slerotin or his students.
    - Because it didn't exist yet. Perhaps The Chronicle of Secret Times was simply wrong, and the Tower of Silence was created by the Silent Ones after all.
    - Vecna preferred his own tower, and used the Tower of Silence as a prison or as a place for his minions to live.
    - Vecna had already looted the tower long ago, using the secrets he learned there to build his own, superior tower, and was no longer interested in it.
    - Vecna's Rotted Tower and the Tower of Silence were the same tower, existing simultaneously in two places, or connected by portals.
    - Vecna's tower was a version of the Tower of Silence imported from the future, or from an alternate Material Plane.
    - Vecna didn't know about the Tower of Silence because it was invisible, or perhaps astral or ethereal or otherwise otherworldly or out of phase, until the Silent Ones revealed it.
    - Eleven hadn't yet removed the chip from Vecna's neck, so he was powerless.


    rasgon wrote:
    TwiceBorn wrote:
    ]Could someone other than the elves have erected it?


    Sure.

    - An earlier wave of Suel migrants (perhaps the ones who threatened the Duchy of Ulek before the Neheli helped defeat them).
    - Vecna created it, then abandoned it.
    - The Ur-Flan, generations before the rise of Vecna.
    - The people of the Isles of Woe.
    - Ethergaunts, perhaps one of their fortresses crashed on the Material Plane during their war with the people of the Isles of Woe.
    - It could be a spell weaver node.
    - The Crafters who created Exag long ago (see also Dungeon #145, page 49).
    - The Wind Dukes, possibly.
    - Galap-Dreidel, before he created the Ghost Tower of Inverness.
    - The faranth.
    - The gods themselves (Boccob? Rao? Wee Jas? The Serpent? The lich-god Mellifleur?).
    - The tower is alive, and erected itself.
    - The Silent Ones created it in the future, and sent it back in time.
    - It was always there. Oerth formed around it.


    Thanks for your input, Rasgon, I knew I could count on you for some great ideas.

    Do you have a favourite theory, or one you've relied on in your own campaign?


    Rasgon wrote:
    TwiceBorn wrote:
    Did the grey elves of Celene erect it?


    Perhaps, though the high elves of the Duchy of Ulek are a closer choice. Or perhaps it was created by proto-drow before the elven civil war and abandoned since then.

    TwiceBorn wrote:
    If yes, it seems odd to me that they would just surrender it to the Seers of the immigrant House of Neheli.


    The high elves of Ulek are closely allied with the Neheli, who built their capital city on the Duchy of Ulek's border and intermarried with them. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer implies that the Neheli allied with the high elves of Ulek to drive out earlier waves of Suel who imperiled their sovereignty.


    I have read your impressive article on the history of the elven peoples of the Flanaess (it was some time ago and the title escapes me at the moment), but I was always under the impression that the Grey elves were somewhat more powerful than the High Elves (from a magical point of view), and that in the pre-Cataclysm Flanaess, the lords of the high elves would have sworn fealty to the ruler of Celene. Hence why I suggested grey elves (and not high elves) as candidates for the construction of the tower. But I may be misremembering.

    That said, I'm not at all married to the idea of elves (grey, drow, or high) being the architects of the Silent Tower.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:59 pm  

    edmundscott wrote:
    There was speculation in an Oerth Journal about the elves of Celene originally have paths of song or some such by which they could travel across the Sheldomar Valley instantly. In the war with Vecna, these song paths were corrupted and became a threat to the existence of Celene itself. I remember in the article that the elves had to permanently disable their own song network to save themselves.

    What if the Tower of Silence (aptly named) was their means of accomplishing this? What if said Tower is still disabling these song paths by its existence—such song paths being natural and requiring powerful architecture to circumvent?

    The Silent Ones might just be squatters in a functioning magical device then.

    Furthermore, the creed of the Silent Ones, gathering up dangerous magics, would fit right in with faerie/grey elves disgusted by human irresponsibility in the use of their ancient teachings. So maybe the faeries of Celene secretly created and sponsored the Silent Ones and were behind the whole no-wizards thing for all those centuries in Keoland. The elves might think of this as a gift to the humans, a way of keeping them and everyone safe from the dangers of powerful magic.

    Encouraging this secret society to squat in the tower also, of course, protects the tower from tampering.


    That's another great theory. Thanks for reminding me about the OJ article!
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 09, 2022 6:02 am  

    Vecna originally built the Silent Tower to act as the tailpipe for his Doomgrinder juggernaut. Unfortunately for him, Kas attacked him before he was able to assemble the two parts.

    I say the above mostly tongue in cheek, but what if Vecna created the Doomgrinder, either as the windmill version or the juggernaut version as an experiment when he was dabbling with Sha'ir techniques? Perhaps he studied the Mighty Servant of Leuk-O (before it was named that) and thought to create his own device based on some of the principles.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 11, 2022 12:34 am  

    LarethTheBeautiful wrote:
    Vecna originally built the Silent Tower to act as the tailpipe for his Doomgrinder juggernaut. Unfortunately for him, Kas attacked him before he was able to assemble the two parts.

    I say the above mostly tongue in cheek, but what if Vecna created the Doomgrinder, either as the windmill version or the juggernaut version as an experiment when he was dabbling with Sha'ir techniques? Perhaps he studied the Mighty Servant of Leuk-O (before it was named that) and thought to create his own device based on some of the principles.


    Certainly worthy of consideration... and a good chuckle.

    In this much older thread, Samwise suggested that the Wyrd of the Silent Tower could even be an avatar of Vecna. Definitely an interesting twist. http://www.canonfire.com/cf//modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1433

    I have much to chew on.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:31 am  

    TwiceBorn wrote:


    Thanks for your input, Rasgon, I knew I could count on you for some great ideas.

    Do you have a favourite theory,


    Well, I can discuss pros and cons.

    The big problem with crediting ethergaunts or spell weavers is that both are associated with pyramids, not towers. So unless the Tower is built over a ruined pyramid, it's unlikely to be associated with either race.

    The Crafters are also associated with pyramids, and built from an indestructible terra cotta substance, so again they were unlikely to be involved unless it was extensively rebuilt.

    The drawback to associating it with Slerotin is that it's already associated with him, so it doesn't add anything new.
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