Far outside the rest of human civilization, near elven territory, is the frontier town of Haetrope. In most respects Haetrope is unremarkable. It has a town council, and a town guard. The citizens of Haetrope enjoy their ales in the tavern, get their pack animals shod at the blacksmith’s shop, and purchase their tools from the general store. The only thing that Haetrope has which most towns do not is the tower. The really old, really tall tower.
The base of the tower is circular, and about 200ft in diameter. The bottommost levels are completely open, the walls having long since crumbled away, leaving only a ring of off-color stone to indicate that the space was once the base of a mighty structure. Iron structures remains in place, ascending high into the sky, and through the clouds. The tower can be seen from miles around, and many travelers in the area rely on it as a guiding marker.
A handful of the towers levels do remain intact, with the lowest being about 200ft above the ground. The few who have successfully ventured up to those areas say that the stones are incredibly unstable. A wrong step can send a piece of the floor crashing to the ground far below, along with the adventurer who foolishly put their weight on that floor. It has been said, though, that any who dare to climb the tower and survive to explore its many levels could return with fabulous and untold treasures. This brings a steady flow of adventurers to Haetrope who wish to attempt the climb. So much so that watching someone make the attempt—and placing bets on when they will fall—has become a local pastime. The few who do make it to the top often return empty handed, if they ever return at all.
A far safer and more reliable expedition is to explore the numerous sublevels of the tower, which extend deep beneath the earth. Perhaps descending even further below the ground than the tower rises above it. These sublevels are not without danger of their own—fearsome monsters and deadly traps still claim the lives of most adventurers who dare venture into the depths. But at least it does not require a treacherous climb to the heights of a long since crumbled tower.
The razed bottom level of the tower allows easy access to the first sublevel via an open staircase, making the tower a popular destination for those whose lust for gold is sufficient to drive them into danger.
Nobody knows when the tower was built, or for what purpose. Not even the greatest historical sages can name a time when the town of Haetrope did not lay in the shadow of the tower. And while it is true that much of history has been lost, it is also certain that both the tower, and the town of Haetrope beneath it, have existed together for millenia.
Beyond when and why, it cannot even be determined how the tower was built, or why it still stands. Numerous kings over the ages have sent their royal architects to learn from the tower, so they too could have a castle which rose above the clouds. But even the most talented architects humankind has produced have been unable to replicate the materials or the construction techniques used by whatever ancient people built the tower. And more than one twisted wreck of a tower can be found throughout the human lands to prove it.