We've explored a bit about the basics of Ark, then a bit about the area of The Rivlands and Kingdom of Rivland; but now we are going to the dreaded structure known in the past as the Forlorn Tower to Karnites, or Forn Torr among the Vannulvir.
Long ago, before humans even started to use writing independently of their Aerkay masters, the structure now known as Forn Torr was raised by the power of the Aerkay Emperor known as Agath. This fellow was NOT someone common at all; he didn't have Forn Torr built, he pulled it from the bowels of the world and forced it to rise up at his command with magic that can scarcely be imagined today even by the most powerful users of arcane lore. Agath was exceptional even among the Aerkay, and had lived so long that even his normally long Aerkayan life had been spent. He had been one of the first ever Aerkay to delve deep into the mysteries of the cosmos and found secrets Beyond the Black to ensure his continued "life" into what is now commonly called undeath...and he did so with the blood of Gods on his hands. Agath was not a common Lich, Vampire or any such abomination, he was what some call a "True Undead" in that he had managed to wrench immortality from the still forms of minor Gods he had destroyed in titanic struggles that literally changed the face of Ark. In fact, some blame him for the decimated area now known as The Fallen Lands far away beyond the Shadowed Sea.
Whatever the origin of his power, he pulled Forn Torr from the ground and caused it to be. The Druids of Rivland say that Agath's power was so great, that he tapped into the very power of the God Kragg and used that beings primal power to intertwine Forn Torr's existence with Kragg's own; thus ensuring that as long as Kragg lived and was imprisoned within Rivland, Forn Torr would be impossible to topple and immune to assault. Today, the vast structure (much the size of the largest cities of mankind) still stands as it did the very day it was brought up from the bowels of Rivland.
Forn Torr is not a ruin in the classical sense: it is not fallen, it is not at all bent by age...it is simply thought to be primarily vacant of intelligent beings capable of leaving the place. There are birds in plenty (as well as other beasts) that nest in its many balconies; even magical creatures are known to lair within it, but the Aerkay no longer inhabit their southernmost outpost of power. The entire place seems to be built of obsidian, the outer wall surfaces riddled with razor sharp edges and the smaller Inner Wall is the same. The great tower itself is also built out of obsidian that seems to mend any damage to its surface just as the outer walls do...literally healing in time from any damage.
The outer towers, immense structures in their own right, have dancing black flames (said to be made of a Dark Energy) that lift into the sky above them and perhaps act as an eternal power source with no known means to quench their burning despite repeated attempts to do so by even such powerful beings as the Alven and their Goddess Vanadis. Anyone and anything moving through those dark and cold flames is eternally consumed and without ability to be restored short of power wrought in Ark by the very Gods who are for some reason loathe to do so.
Forn Torr's interior is a labyrinthine structure of mazes, great halls and miniature towns it is said. Legions of warriors once inhabited the place and ruled the lands now known as The Storm Coast for the Aerkay. There were said to be tens of thousands who lived within and were fed by continuous supply from the surrounding lands and from great underground farms beneath Forn Torr itself. Some of the mightiest magics of the Emperor Azar "The Undying" were also wrought here. Azar had been the premiere pupil of Agath and had succeeded the dread creator of Forn Torr when Agath fell at last in battle against the God known as The Shining One. It was Azar who brought the sealing of Forn Torr however...in his hubris he dared take as his concubine the Goddess Gersemi, who was daughter of Vanadis and half-sister to The Shining One. The invading hosts of the Alven were relentless, and despite the fact that they could not topple Forn Torr, they did use their mightiest magic to seal the place shut.
It is because of this event that Forn Torr today sits as a mostly quiet reminder of Aerkay power in Ark...and an equal reminder of Alven power. The evil forces pulled from Beyond the Black that once lived within Forn Torr still do; but are forever barred from leaving the place because of the magical wards placed upon the entire structure by the Alven and their deities in retribution. The primary reason for sealing the place instead of placing a garrison was the very first chamber in which a being finds they stand within when entering Forn Torr:
The "Gate of Infinite Gateways" was a structure as integral to Forn Torr as air is to living beings of most sorts. The place could not be destroyed, but led to so many strongholds of the Aerkay (and other beings allied to them) that it had to be somehow contained to limit the resurgence of Aerkay power. As Forn Torr could not be destroyed without killing both Gersemi and Kragg (who are said to be bound to the existence of the dreaded place) the Alven instead shut it up with powerful warding magic. The portals were quieted, but not destroyed; and so lay in wait even today for activation again if those who wish their use can only discover how to undo what the Alven have wrought on the place.
GAME DESIGNER NOTES
The purpose of Forn Torr in the World of Ark is to facilitate almost endless adventure opportunities in the same location. The Gate of Infinite Gateways will be a place where a party of adventurers, when discovering how to unlock various gateways, will be able to embark on many dungeon adventures without ever having the leave the area of Rivland. It will also make it possible to visit far lands and perhaps even new worlds as well. The Aerkay were once a much more powerful civilization who had mastered the ability of travel to distant places without the need of vessels for either sea voyages or star voyages.
From a gaming perspective, Forn Torr is essentially designed to be an "Infinite Dungeon" but also limited in whatever way is most convenient for the Lore Master's (Dungeon Master) own designs. It can be used to connect the players to far corners of Ark, far worlds, or just lost dungeons that the party can explore. The structure itself will carry several levels of "dungeon" which can be explored; but only when the Lore Master is ready for the party to do so. Certain Keys will be needed to pass certain points within the place and so without them a party will be unable to go where the Lore Master is not prepared for them to go. The first level (pictured above) is intended as a low level dungeon; though certainly not for beginning adventuring parties at all.