Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jacob's Tower, Level 5: Runewall


Level 5: Runewall 
21,500xp / Max15,050gp (3.5 - 4.5 hours)



After being pulled roughly through the aberrant masterpiece, our heroes find themselves hurtling through a black abyss. Strange and unfamiliar stars dot the void all around them, and, after a few moments, a square silhouette appears far below. They approach at disorienting speed, only to alight gently at the center of the level a few seconds later.

Runewall is clearly brimming with magical energies. It is made entirely of black and shining obsidian, and every square inch of the level is carved with complex runes that glow brightly purple.

There are large, 5 foot thick obsidian walls throughout Runewall. These walls are 20 feet tall and are marked in purple on the map. It is possible and sometimes necessary to climb up on top of these walls, and the runes give the walls a Climb DC of 10.


Random Teleportation

There are many holes in the level that lead back into the abyss. These squares are marked with black on the map. If a character falls through one of these squares, he will tumble down towards the stars below him for the remainder of the turn. On his next turn Runewall will rush up to meet him, and he will land somewhere on the level. To determine where on the level he lands, roll three d6s and add the results, then refer to the numbers running across the top of the level. This determines the column he lands in.  Next, roll three d6s, add the results, and refer to the numbers running across the side of the level. This determines the row he lands in.  Choose the appropriate column and row to place the character in. Although the characters hurtle at immense speed through the abyss, they take only d6 damage when they hit the ground (but they do fall prone).  A DC 15 Acrobatics check negates this damage and results in the character landing on his feet.

The character who touches a rune crystal is also teleported.

Under Runewall

Every time that a character falls through the level, have him make a DC 16 Perception check. On a success, the character notices a Mithral Chain Shirt (small) and +1 Buckler (small) attached with loose straps to the bottom of the level underneath 1a. If a character attempts to fly to get these items, he must pass a DC 18 Fly check or get sucked down into the abyss and fall back onto Runewall. A character may attempt to climb to the items from one of the holes in room 1, but doing so is extremely difficult and requires DC 30 Climb checks. If the Mithral Chain Shirt and +1 Buckler are knocked loose, they will fall to a random square on Runewall.

Mindswitch 

When our heroes first land in Runewall, they will have a few moments to get their bearings. After a round or two, the runes in the walls start to take effect. Each player feels the symbols around him burning into his vision and seeping into his subconscious. Even blind characters or characters with their eyes closed somehow see the runes searing through their retinas.

All character should quickly make a DC 20 Spellcraft check. If any character makes the check, he can warn the group to focus on his earliest or most important memory. This will grant a +2 to all subsequent Mindswitch Will saves.

Each character (just characters, not eidolons, animal companions, minions and the like) should make a DC 21 Will Save . If a character fails, he feels his mind being ripped from him. The player should pass his character sheet to the next player who failed the check on his left, and receive a new character sheet from the next player who failed the check on his right. The character’s mind, including all his memories, personality, and beliefs, has just transferred to the body of a new character. He has gained all new skills, attributes, abilities, feats, spells, and abilities scores and understands immediately how to use them. He will be shocked to learn that he no longer remembers how to do some things that were basic to his old body, but suddenly understands new and wondrous ideas. Alignment restrictions to classes are temporarily removed.

If a character dies, it is the character controlling the body who suffers the consequences. The mind that controlled the dead body move on to the afterlife. The dead body is brought back to life at the end of the level, ready for its original owner to return.  The body of the dead mind dies at the end of the level and does not advance to the next level.  Spells such as resurrection may bring the dead character back to life.  Additionally, any permanent damage dealt to any body, such as loss of fingers or ability drain, is healed.  The player should be told this rule as a consequence of the mind-switch.

Whenever any character touches a Rune Crystal, Mindswitch occurs again.  Each character should make a DC 21 Will save or switch bodies.  Mindswitch ends when the level ends.

If only one member of the party fails the save, his mind has nowhere to go and stays put.

Note that players can voluntarily fail any of these saves, which they may want to do to get their character back.

Important Note: Runewall functions just fine without the Mindswitch mechanic.  GM's should carefully consider if their players will enjoy the chaos of passing character sheets around and playing somebody else.  If your players are more freeform and into roleplaying, they will likely enjoy it.  If your players are more into the mechanical side of things and looking forward to flexing their muscles, they may not.  Choose wisely, and ask your players if you are unsure.


Protector of the Walls

The walls of this level are fairly easy to climb, requiring a DC 10 Climb check. However, they are not unguarded. The first time a character reaches the top of the walls, he will be attacked by a Flame Drake. The Flame Drake, who lurks in the inky darkness approximately 300 feet away from the level, will fly in to and attack any on the walls.  If no PCs are on the walls, he will turn tail and fly back to his station 300 feet away and obscured by the blackness. The Flame Drake will primarily shoot fireballs from the air, though he will hover above enemies for melee attacks when appropriate.

When the Flame Drake is killed, he will plummet to Runewall. Where he falls, his corpse will smolder and smoke for days, dealing d6 fire damage a round to any in contact with it. Upon his defeat, players may make a DC 10 Knowledge (Arcana) check to reveal that a Flame Drake’s heart is very valuable. A character may spend a turn in contact with the corpse to attempt a DC 15 Knowledge (Arcana) check to retrieve the Drake heart, which can be sold for 1,000gp.  This check may be retried, but each attempt deals d6 fire damage to the player.

The first time somebody climbs the walls, he gains view of most of the level.  This includes the Crystals in Room 2, The Chemosit statue in Room 4, and the various monsters in Room 7.


Room 1: Central Crystal

The center of the floor in this room is divided into nine equal squares, three columns by three rows (1a). The center square is obsidian, but the other squares are made of glass. Each of these eight glass squares corresponds to a rune-crystal that must be activated in Runewall. Touching the rune-crystals throughout the level will activate the nearest square of glass, causing it to glow and hum slightly.

When a player activates a rune-crystal, he transported to a random square on the level as if he had just fallen through one of the holes in the floor.  Additionally, all characters undergo another DC 21 will save to avoid Mindswitch.

Once all eight rune-crystals are activated, the central obsidian center square opens and a crystal shard will rise out of it. When this shard is touched, the final boss will appear.

1b: To the northwest of the center room is a locked box with a complex linguistic cipher.  A DC 14 Linguistics check reveals the passcode, and speaking this word will cause the chest to open. However, failing the linguistics check three times will cause the box to lock permanently. There appears to be no lock or key, so the box cannot be opened with a Disable Device attempt. Inside the chest is a Wand of Charm Animal (CL1), a Potion of Fly (CL5), a Potion of Heroism (CL5), and a Hand of the Mage.

1c: To the northeast of the room is a small wooden chest. Although the chest is unlocked, it is trapped with insanity mist. Inside the chest are five sleep arrows and a +1 Longbow.

1d: To the southeast of the room is a large box made of small iron bars and glass. Inside the box is a fragile and expensive looking FabergĂ© egg. However, the box itself is poorly made, and there are a few bars blocking the egg. Three beams will have to be carefully removed to access the egg. The character should make three consecutive DC 10 Knowledge (Engineering) checks to remove non-structural beams. If he fails any one of these the box collapses, crushing both the egg and his hand for d6 damage. If he succeeds he retrieves the Faberge egg, worth a tidy sum of 1,000gp.  Alternatively, a DC 22 Sleight of Hand check will access the egg, though failure means the box collapses.

1e: To the southwest of this room is a locked chest. It requires a DC 30 Disable Device check to unlock, though our heroes may make as many attempts as they like. Inside are three bear traps, a magnifying glass, masterwork manacles, a magical vial of incense, and one dose of Dark Reaver Powder. A DC 21 Spellcraft check will reveal the incense to be Incense of Meditation.  However, a DC 31 Spellcraft check will reveal the item's true identity, the cursed Incense of Obsession.


Room 2: The Shiniest Crystal

Eight large crystal shards hover on this raised platform, slowly humming and turning (2a). When our heroes see them, runes and images flash through their heads. They will immediately understand that they must touch only the most valuable crystal, and avoid all others. To determine the most valuable crystal, a character should attempt a DC 20 Appraise check.

If a player fails the check, he touches one of the seven incorrect crystals. The crystal immediately explodes, dealing 2d6+1 damage to all within a 10 foot radius of it. A DC 18 Reflex check halves this damage. The DC of the Appraise check decreases by 2 for each destroyed crystal.

If he succeeds in the check, the character touches the most valuable crystal and it activates as a rune-crystal. At this point, the remaining crystals will melt into piles of gold worth 250gp each.


Room 3: Gauntlet Legends

At the southern edge of the room are three archways of different and varied materials. For as long as at least one character maintains line of sight with at least one of the portals, every portal begins to spawn enemies. There can only be a maximum of 15 spawned enemies at a time. These enemies spawn as if summoned, acting immediately upon appearing. They act on their portal’s turn.

Each portal has hardness 5, 20 hit points, and a break DC of 25. They are medium sized objects with an AC of 3, and, if brought down to 0 hit points, they stop producing enemies.

The portal at the western edge of the room is a hodgepodge of junk – broken weapons, sharpened sticks, and animal bones, all tied together with fraying rope. The portal has an initiative modifier of +6, and each turn it spawns one Goblin.  If any PCs are on the walls, the Goblins will draw their short bows and focus on them. Three small fireworks attached to the arch send off a stream of sparklers from whenever the arch spawns a Goblin.

The center portal is made up of nothing but human bones, primarily femurs and skulls. The portal has an initiative modifier of +6, and each turn it spawns one medium humanoid Skeleton.  Each time a Skeleton spawns, the bones of the portal shake with a horrifying clacking sound.

The eastern portal looks to be the entrance of a sewer. It is an arch of grey-green stone dripping a foul smelling liquid. An iron grate covers most of the portal except for a 2 foot hole gnawed in the bottom. The portal has an initiative modifier of +3, and each turn a Dire Rat shoots forth in a cloud of putrid green mist.

Once all three portals are destroyed, a rune-crystal will rise from the ground (3d).


Room 4: The Stone Ape

Room 4 is on a raised platform, accessible only by scaling the wall. The platform is bare except for a giant statue of what appears to be a fearsome ape (4a). The 10 foot tall creature is shaggy and fearsome, with massive teeth ready to tear away flesh and crush bone. A DC 14 Knowledge (Arcana) check will reveal that this is a statue of a Chemosit,  a powerful magical beast that devours the brains of its enemies.

Atop the feral hulk is a stone crown with a rune-crystal set in the center. If this crystal is touched without touching the Chemosit, then the rune-crystal activates and our heroes can proceed on their way. However, if the Chemosit is touched it will immediately come to life and attack our players. The creature will, whenever possible, attempt to bull rush his opponents off the platform and into the holes in the ground.

During combat with the Chemosit, our heroes may attempt to touch and activate the rune-crystal. Doing so requires a combat maneuver check against the Chemosit's CMD of 26. If the maneuver is successful, then the rune-crystal activates and the Chemosit turns back into stone.


Room 5: Dodging the Waves

At the southern corner of Runewall is a snaking tunnel through the obsidian. This tunnel, represented by the yellow squares, is 15 feet high, with an additional 5 feet of obsidian as a roof closing it in.  The eastern most squares of the tunnel have a wall separating them from the void. The air inside the tunnel is thick with magical energies, and moving through it is akin to moving through water. Thus, the yellow squares act as difficult terrain.

At the end of the tunnel is a rune-crystal, which can only be activated by standing on the final square (5a). Every turn, the rune-crystal sends out a yellow horizontal bar at a random height, which speeds down the tunnel and dissipates at its exit. Characters within the tunnel must make a DC 18 Acrobatics check, or be dealt 2d6 sonic damage and forced four squares backwards.

Once the rune-crystal is touched, it activates and the shockwaves cease.


Room 6: Four Questions

There are four floating gemstones, one in each corner of the room. Each gemstone speaks telepathically as our heroes approach it, letting our heroes know the order to activate them. Each character may only attempt each knowledge check once. Touching a gemstone will cause it to glow, and it will stop glowing after all four gemstones have been touched. Touching these stones does not cause the player to be teleported to a random location.

As our heroes enter this room and see the first gemstone, they will hear a voice in their head, speaking in their native language. “Order matters,” it will say in a gravely tone, “Listen to the stones.” When a gemstone is touched it will glow slightly, but dim and reset after all four have been touched. If the gemstones are touched in the correct order, then the center platform will open revealing a crystal.

However, if the gemstones are touched in the incorrect order, the player touching the final stone will be afflicted with horrible pain to the tune of 3d6+3 damage, DC 20 Will save halves. This pain occurs after the fourth gemstone is touched, and there is no indication of which part of the sequence was incorrect.  Each time the gemstones are touched incorrectly, one of the gemstones transmits which number it is.

In the southeast corner of the room a blue gemstone floats. As our heroes approach, it will ask “How many rulers of Taldor have been named Grand Prince Stavian?” A DC 13 Knowledge (Nobility) check will reveal that the current ruler is Grand Prince Stavian III, so there have been three rulers. This is the third gemstone that must be touched.

In the northeast corner of the room a black gemstone floats. As our heroes approach, it will ask “How many nostrils does a Fen Witch have?” A DC 13 Knowledge (Nature) check will reveal that the answer is one, and this is the first gemstone that must be touched.

In the northwest of the room a white gemstone floats. As our heroes approach, it will ask “Excepting the Okaiyo Ocean, how many oceans are on Golarion?” A DC 13 Knowledge (Geography) check will reveal that there are five oceans total on Golarion, four excepting Okaiyo. This is the fourth gemstone that must be touched.

In the southwest corner of the room a green gemstone floats. As our heroes approach, it will ask “How many gods, known as the ‘First,’ were born from the ‘Seal?’” A DC 13 Knowledge (Religion) check will reveal that the answer is two, Ihys and Asmodeus, and this is the second gemstone that must be touched.

Once all four gemstones are touched in the correct order, a rune-crystal appears at 6d.


Room 7: Monsters on the Walls

A number of monstrous humanoids guard these walls from adventurers. Four Dire Corbies wait on the middle wall, but will leap to engage the heroes once approached.

On the farthest wall stands a single Ceratioidi with a pile of ten spears beside him (7b). The Ceratioidi will throw spears and use his lure ability on the PCs. A rune-crystal is on the same platform as the Ceratioidi (7c).

The area above the outer wall is protected by a permanent wind wall (7d) which will block any projectiles heading through it.  The enemies in this area will watch but not attack the PCs unless they are attacked first or a PC breaches the wind wall.  However, if the enemies are attacked they will leave their area to fight the agressors.


Room 8: A Face in the Wall 

A large, smiling face is carved into the wall around this corner (8a). It has two twinkling ruby eyes and a gigantic smiling mouth. When our heroes approach, he will happily exclaim “Adventurers! It’s been so long, and I’ve been so bored! Would one of you mind entertaining me?” He will continue to ask for entertainment if questioned.

Our heroes will have three chances to make a DC 18 Perform check to gain access to the crystal. If they get a 23 on the check, the face will be so amused he will throw in one of his eyes, worth 600gp. If they get a 28 on the check, he will throw in both of his eyes, each worth 600gp.

If our heroes fail all three DC 18 perform checks, the face will be annoyed and demand 1,000gp in exchange for his crystal. If the money is fed into his mouth, or an items worth at least 2,000gp, he will produce the crystal.

However, the face is a coward. He should flinch if any character draws a weapon of makes any move that could be interpreted as menacing. He can be persuaded into giving up his crystal with a DC 21 Intimidate check. A 26 will intimidate the face into giving up one of his eyes as well, worth 600gp, and a 31 will intimidate the face into giving up both of his eyes, worth 600gp each.  Our heroes will only have one chance to make this intimidate check - otherwise, he will demand the gold.

Alternatively, our heroes can attempt to forcefully remove each eye with a DC 20 strength check.  After each failure, the player must make a DC 16 Reflex check or be dealt d12 damage from the eyelid coming down.  If both eyes are removed, the face will trade the crystal to get them back.

Once he has been persuaded one way or another, the face will open up his mouth, revealing the rune-crystal inside.


Room 9: Spitting Plants

When our heroes enter room 9, it appears to be completely empty. However, the first time a hero crosses the checkerboard pattern, two Calathgars drop suddenly from the sky (9a) and combat begins. One turn later, a rune-crystal drops from the sky and lands softly on the ground (9b).


Final Boss: The Glass Golem 

Once all eight crystals throughout the level have been activated, a larger crystal appears from the ground at 1b. Once this is touched, every character is teleported to a random square on the map. Simultaneously, a Glass Golem appears on 1a and begins to attack. Once the Golem is defeated, the entire level disappears beneath their feet, and our heroes find themselves once more hurtling through the abyss.

If our heroes are playing only in Jacob's Tower and ranking up to Level 6, then distribute 8,400 gold amongst them evenly.


Sleeping in Runewall

Each night that our heroes sleep on Runewall, runes and symbols permeate their dreams. Each character should make a DC 14 Will save. If a character fails this save, he has not slept a wink, gets no benefits from sleeping, is now fatigued, and takes 2 Wisdom drain. If a character makes the save then he had a reasonable night’s sleep with all the benefits that it brings.

Level 6: Gauntlet

The below map was made by Jamie "RedClaws" Bosmans.



You may purchase printable PDFs of the entire dungeon, including the secret final level available only with the package, here for $9.99.

Jacob's Tower, Levels 1 - 13 ($9.99)


14 comments:

  1. I've just discovered your Jacob's tower adventure and have been reading through them. I hope to run them with some friends in the near future. I have two questions about the unique mechanics of Level 5.
    1) When teleporting, is it intended that it is more likely for a PC to end up near the center more often (do to odds on the dice)?
    2) For Mindswitch, what happens if only one PC fails the Will Save?

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  2. Great, and let me know how it goes! Yes, it is intended that PC's will be more likely to end up near the center. However, plopping them near the center is more dangerous and, if you want that, use D20s.
    Hmm, I suppose if only one PC fail, he gets a get out of jail free card, and there is no ill effect! However, the save is fairly high, so that may not be likely.

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  3. So, if a character's mind is in another player's body and dies, the mind dies. At the end of the level, the body is revived and the original mind reenters the body. The mind that was controlling the body that died is gone forever? Are the players able to somehow return the lost mind to the original body, or are traditional resurrections spells ineffective?

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    1. Good point, and I've clarified that. Resurrection and the like are effective in bringing the mind back to the body.

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  4. Are the black squares in room nine holes, or are they just colored black?

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    1. Big old holes. Every black square leads directly to the black abyss.

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  5. whats the thing with this glass golem ?! we played the tower ... everything was very n1 ... but this thing is close to unkillable ... dr 5 ... so with bows/xbows it will take an hour to kill it and meele will kill you (att +16 => he always hits you ... and 2 - 4 hits will knock you out) ...

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    1. He is a boss, and thus intentionally difficult. He deals on average 14 damage on a hit, and has an 85% chance to hit an AC 20, pretty standard for this level. You probably have around 40hp, so that's about 3-4 hits for him to take down one person. With a party of 4 people, thats 16 rounds, assuming you aren't healing the fallen and are unable to do anything.
      If you just have bows, then it will certainly take a while to kill him. So it's time to adjust your strategy. Summon some creatures, go into melee, throw some bombs, put him in a pit. DR is a huge thing in later levels, so if you are finding that you are not dealing enough damage with longbows, this is a great time to adjust your strategy.
      Did you guys survive?

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    2. My group and I are playing Jacobs Tower with the Armor as Damage Reduction variant rules - until now there were no real problems.
      on Sunday we will play this level.

      I am really worried this might end in a TPK 18 DR and Magic Immunity - holy hell!

      But I think as this level is set in an abstract void a TPK is easily explained as a bad dream.

      I am really anxious for this encounter.
      Thank you for this great dungeon campaign and keep the good work.
      -Hyperkubus

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    3. I've never used Armor as DR rules, but DR 18 seems a biiiit extreme. You may want to lower that to 10 or so.

      Good luck! Have fun and I'm glad you are enjoying the dungeon!

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    4. Having only 2 Characters which could do actual damage but a cleric worthy of his profession it took the golem 8 rounds to bring the first character below 0 HP only to have him stand up the round thereafter and finally slaying the beast the next round.

      Let's see how they will handle the tarantula on the next stage.

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    5. Wow! I hope the fight was as long as it was fun. It sounds like the Cleric felt useful, which is awesome.

      Excited to hear about Gauntlet.

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  6. And now for this week's. Couldn't manage the mindswap mechanic, but it didn't hurt the level. Apparently my group has decided sleeping before activating the final trap/boss/what have you is 'cheating,' so they have made a pact not to do so. Welp. We'll see how that goes in the future. For now though...

    Started out pretty simple. They saw the 8 crystals to the left, completely failed all their appraisal checks and teleport ed right where they started (seriously, some landed on each other, it was great).

    They spent too many resources trying to deal with the portals...but only because they seemed to overestimate the CR 1/3 creatures. This crystal caused a teleport that really hurt them though. 3 people landed around the starting point, one fell into a hole and saw the hidden armor and buckler, one landed on the bottom right wall...and the summoner landed right on top of the ape statue. Cue both the Flame Drake and Chemosit aggroing at the same time and tearing through people. Nobody died, but a lot of healing was spent recovering afterwards.

    They solved the four little treasures easily, as well as the four questions. The wall was amusing, since it was only after they (barely) made a perform check that they considered stealing its eyes. Cue neutral good eidolin and summoner leaving the hall, while the inquisitor fails to steal an eye. The oracle managed a fairly high intimidate check though, so they got it in the end.

    The creatures on the wall didn't slow them down too much, neither did the plants (burning hands works wonders). I think my favorite part was their reaction to the gear underneath the level. "What do you mean, this stuff's ALSO made for a small character?!" They appear to believe the creator really wanted a party of haflings.

    As for the glass golem, well, it nearly killed three people before a lucky arrow struck it down (being on 25% health and having no spells at all will do that). The group enjoyed it all quite a bit!

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    1. Glad they enjoyed it! Yup, the level is entirely playable without mindswitch.

      By all means, encourage them to sleep if they need to! There are mechanics in each level to make it a dangerous trade off (though generally worth it once).

      Yeah, flame drake and Chemosit is a rough combo, particularly right after a teleport. Happens to a few groups.

      There's not THAT much stuff for small characters ... is there? I think it's about a third?

      Have fun in gauntlet!

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