Deep in the wilderness, an ancient stone ziggurat squats, its vine-covered walls slowly crumbling to time. Many secrets and wonders lie within this monument to a dead civilization, and a new resident patiently plumbs its depths.
A lamia named Lystrata has taken up residence inside this complex, which contains everything from ball courts to baths to libraries, all appointed in opulent tastes. As is typical for her kind, Lystrata has acquired a large retinue that inhabits the ziggurat with her, and she’s re-opened many of its chambers, reactivating the wondrous mechanisms left behind here that provide artificial light and pump water from mysterious sources. It is the perfect lair.
The library in the lowest level of the ziggurat is sadly incomplete; some years ago a cluster of ankhegs burrowed into the library accidentally, exposing its books and scrolls to humid air that rotted a large proportion.
As a friendly faction, Lystrata has become captivated with researching the secrets of this ancient civilization, and has grown less evil and more obsessed. She treats her retainers reasonably well, if mostly because she’s too distracted by her research to pay them much attention.
The library has revealed the location of several other ziggurats, and Lystrata desperately wants to find them. Unfortunately, none of Lystrata’s retainers have experience as adventurers, so she’s resorted to sending out her retainers to hire adventuring parties (like the PCs) to find and secure the ziggurats.
Some PCs may be uncomfortable with working for a lamia. This is a great source of potential role-play.
As a foe faction, Lystrata is a typical lamia: evil and self-absorbed. The ziggurat has become her private pleasure lair, filled with her slaves and captured beasts, where she feasts on any adventurers who attempt to explore it. She has no particular interest in the knowledge contained in the library, but the patron who sends the PCs against her very much does.
The ziggurat itself can be a classic dungeon crawl, but Lystrata will not fight to the death. She already controls several other ziggurat lairs, and will retreat (with some of her retainers) to another if the PCs do particularly well, allowing her to serve as a long-term villain.