Monday, November 4, 2013

Jacob's Tower, Level 6: Gauntlet

Level 6: Gauntlet
40,000xp / Max 33,315gp, 4 - 6 Hours




Gauntlet is a grueling test of decision under pressure, resource management, and group movement. The party will have to act quickly as they spiral in towards the center of the level. Take too long and get crushed to death by the closing walls. Spread too thin and encounter enemies too powerful for just one or two members. There is no retreat or rest in the gauntlet. Either our heroes make it – or they don’t.

Hour Glasses
At the end of each corridor is an hourglass.  These hourglasses will provide treasure if the heroes have time to spare, a provide a reason for them to slow down.  Each hourglass is attached to the wall at the center, allowing the hourglass to be easily turned.

A character's may turn the hourglass over as a move action.  It will then run for a certain number of rounds as indicated in the text, transforming into a reward a the start of the character's turn.  This reward may be collected as a move action.  When the hourglass transforms, all living creatures within 10 feet are healed 3d6.




Corridor 1: Ghost in the Wall
As Runewall disappears beneath their feet, our heroes begin to fall. For a time they fall through the strange and cyclopean stars that surrounded Runewall, but, after a minute or so, they will find themselves in total darkness. All flames will gutter out, and even magical light sources will dim and then disappear entirely.

A few moments later, our heroes will register ground beneath their feet (1a). A few more moments and any magical light sources will to return, illuminating a long and dusty hallway.

Gauntlet has the feeling of an ancient Roman ruin. A thin layer of dust covers the floor, cobwebs garnish the corners, and broken statues lie in heaps along the walls. The frescos, primitive paintings, and stone mosaics that line the hallways are partially destroyed and almost totally faded. Unless otherwise noted, there is no light in the Gauntlet, and heroes must provide their own light source to see. The dim and cracked ceiling is a 10 feet above the ground, and these cramped quarters will make for very some unusual fights.

Once our heroes have gotten their bearings, a loud grinding sound echoes down the hall. 

The wall to the west (1b) suddenly grows impossibly sharp spikes, loudly roaring buzz saws, tiny pipes shooting gouts of flame, and metal fangs dripping acid, and, with a lurch, begins advancing towards our heroes.

This wall will continue to follow our heroes throughout the level, moving at a rate of 5 feet a round through east/west corridors and 10 feet a round through north/south corridors (it does not move during surprise rounds). At corners, the wall will go fully into the end of the corridor, then sprout a new branch and begin heading down the next corridor (refer to the chart). If a character is adjacent to this wall at any point during his turn, he takes 5d6 damage. If he is crushed between the wall and a movable object (such as an enemy, web, or ally), he takes 10d6 damage (fortitude halves) and moves both himself and the object. If he is crushed between the wall and an immovable object (such as another wall), he is instantly killed. 

Obviously, keeping track of how many rounds have passed will be crucial in Gauntlet.  During combat, the wall should move at initiative -10, at the very end of combat.  Once combat has ended, stay in rounds with the same initiative order.  When a new enemy is about to be spotted or about to manifest, go to the end of the current initiative order, then re-roll initiative.  Then, maintain this new initiative order until the next combat.

If the players take too long to strategize (perhaps 30 seconds or so), let them know that you will move the wall should they continue without action. If they continue to strategize (for perhaps a minute total), then move the wall and reset the timer. This will take some figuring out, so make sure you are fully prepared, confident in the mechanics, and communicate well with the players.

Motivated by this wall of impending death, our heroes should start on their way. After one round of movement, a ghostly figure glides through the wall to the north and comes to rest in the middle of the room (1c). The spectral being, a young child with sad eyes, hovers silently in the air emitting a pale green glow. He visibly starts at seeing the heroes. Roll initiative.  If are heroes attack, then combat continues as normal, and the child transforms into a Murder-Born. If our heroes are unsure and do not attack, then any character make a DC 18 Knowledge (Religion) check on his turn to identify the creature as a Murder-Born.  Either way, on the Murder-Born's turn he will transform into his true self and take a turn as normal.

In combat, the Murder-Born will start with Despondent Wail, then use his melee attack until destroyed.

At the end of the corridor is a Hourglass pegged to the wall (1d). Somebody has scrawled the word “Treasure” above it in common, as well as a few arrows indicating that the hourglass should be flipped. This hourglass (1d) runs for one round, then transforms into a copper ingot worth 100gp.


Corridor 2: Questions and Walls
Around this corner our heroes come face to face with a giant wall of fire (2b). The roaring inferno completely blocks the hallway, leaving no way around it. Strangely enough, very little heat radiates off of the flame and the PCs take no damage for being next to the blaze. Our heroes may choose to simply walk through the wall, but take 2d6+4 points of fire damage if they do so.

Luckily, there is another way. On the floor immediately in front of the wall is an intricate mosaic of a strange being; a pale, jellyfish-like creature that floats in the air, two long eyestalks extending from each side of its puckered mouth (2a).  Mosaic tiles at the bottom of the picture form the words "Speak my name."  Each PC with the skill may attempt a single DC 15 (Dungeoneering) check to recognize this as the much maligned “Flumph,” an aberration with a penchant for stench. This initial Dungeoneering check takes no time, but subsequent attempts may be made as full-round actions. If the word “Flumph” is spoken aloud, the wall of flame disappears.

15 feet away is another wall, this one mostly translucent with a shimmering yellow sheen (2d). It is a wall of sound which deals 2d6+4 sonic damage if one passes through it.

In front of the wall is another mosaic (2c) which displays a different image to each character. To each of them, the mosaic shows a member of their local community. Each character may attempt a DC 15 Knowledge (Local) check to identify the man or woman, and if his or her name is spoken aloud the wall disappears. This initial Knowledge check takes no time, but subsequent attempts may be tried as full-round actions.

A third wall looms before the party, again completely blocking the hallway (2f). This wall is a cracking web of electricity, and will deal 2d6+4 electricity damage to all who pass through it.

For each character with the professional skill, a mosaic appears demonstrating that profession (2e). A tool of the profession also appears. If no character has a profession skill, then the mosaic shows a farmer, and a hoe lies on the ground. A DC 20 Profession check is needed to make the wall disappear. This initial Knowledge check takes no time, but subsequent attempts may be tried as full-round actions.

The final wall is a swirling mass of snow and ice (2h). This wall forms the outline and contours of a gigantic curtain draped across the hallway. It will deal 2d6+4 cold damage to any who pass through it.

In front of the wall is a small pedestal, and on the pedestal floats a miniature curtain. The curtain glows slightly, and a DC 10 Knowledge (Arcana) check will inform the party that opening the miniature curtain will create an opening in the wall. Physically touching the curtain will do nothing, but a DC 20 Use Magic Device check is necessary to part the curtain and draw back the wall. Each attempt takes one standard action.

This hourglass (2i) runs for one round, then transforms into a silver ingot worth 200gp.


Corridor 3: The Lurking Oozes 
Corridor 3 appears to be completely barren. However, when the first hero reaches roughly 3b, two ten foot by ten foot dark spots suddenly appear in the ceiling, each dripping some sort of jelly (3a).  Roll initiative, and grant the players an entire round to prepare. The next round, two Gelatinous Cubes extrude through the ceiling and land on the ground as a move action. If any PC’s are in the squares now occupied by the oozes, they are engulfed unless they make a DC 12 Reflex Save.

The same turn the Gelatinous Cubes fall, a third wet spot appears in the ceiling (3b). This is another Gelatinous Cube. If any PC’s are below it at the start of it’s turn, it falls from the ceiling as a move action. If no PC’s are below it at the start of it’s turn, it double moves through difficult terrain for 15 feet total in an attempt to get above one or more PC’s. If one or both Gelatinous Cubes on the floor are killed before the one in the ceiling falls, it will fall on its turn as a move action

These Gelatinous Cubes are unusually greasy. Any square that they have passed through becomes slick and difficult to walk on.  A creature can walk within or through these areas at half move speed with a DC 10 Acrobatics check. Failure means the creature can't move that round (and must then make a DC 12 Reflex save or fall prone), while failure by 5 or more means it falls prone. Creatures that do not move on their turn do not need to make this check and are not considered flat-footed.

The Gelatinous Cubes will favor their engulf attack above all others, seeking to paralyze and digest their enemies rather than simply batting at them with protrusions.

This hourglass (3c) runs for one round, then transforms into a gold ingot worth 400gp.


Corridor 4: Ride the Horsie!
Immediately around the corner is a large wooden wall (4a). There are no doors or openings, and so the barrier must be broken down. The wall has hardness 5, 40 hit points, and a break DC of 26. A character may catch the wall on fire with any spell that would catch a ship on fire, dealing it 2d6 damage a round. All fire, sonic, and acid damage ignores hardness, while the wall takes no damage from electricity or cold damage. A DC 15 Knowledge (engineering) check will relay hidden weak spots to the group, add 5 to all damage rolls, and reduce the break DC by 5.

Behind the first wooden wall is another wooden wall - this one reinforced with iron bars and studs. This wall has hardness 8, 40 hit points and a break DC of 28. All fire and acid damage ignores hardness, while the wall takes no damage from electricity, sonic or cold damage. This wall will not light on fire regardless of spell. A DC 15 Knowledge (Engineering) check will relay hidden weak spots to the group, add 5 to all damage rolls, and reduce the break DC by 5.

Luckily, this wall has a locked door, requiring a DC 25 Disable Device check to open. Each Disable Device attempt is a full-round action, and may not be attempted if another character is attempting to disable the lock or break down the door. However, one character may attempt to open the lock, while another attempts to break down the wall around the door. The door has hardness 8, 20 hit points and a break DC of 25. All fire, sonic, and acid damage ignores hardness, while the wall takes no damage from electricity or cold damage.  A DC 15 Knowledge (Engineering) check will relay hidden weak spots to the group, add 5 to all damage rolls, and reduce the break DC by 5.

Once through the second wall, our heroes will be greeted with a strange sight. A saddled Pegasus (4c) stands anxiously at the edge of a 20 foot long pool of acid (4d). He will whinny and gesture with his head, indicating that he wants the PC’s to ride him.  If attacked, the Pegasus will fight back until killed.

The Pegasus will transport a single hero riding him across the pool, then return the subsequent round for additional individuals. To successfully get across the pool, a PC should make a ride check. A DC 15 Ride check gets him all the way across. A 10 will get our hero to the last square of the pool, a 5 will get him to the second to last, a 0 will get him to the third to last, and a -5 or below will dump him on the very first square of the pool. After being dumped into the pool, a PC may move to dry land with the rest of his turn.

Any PC who can fly may attempt to fly across the pool. However, strong winds buffet these PC’s and the flying character must make a DC 15 Fly check with the same mechanics as the Ride check. Our hero may also attempt to use acrobatics to jump across the pool. Alternatively, any PC with the ability to run on water may simply run across the pool, though he takes 1 point of damage for each square he moves on as he singes the soles of his feet.

The pool is only one foot deep, and deals 2d6 acid damage for every square the PC enters, including the square he falls into. Characters are dealt an additional 2d6 acid damage if they start their turn in the pool. This same damage is dealt to any footwear. For example, if the PC rides the Pegasus and gets a 10 on his ride check, he is dumped on the second to last square of the pool. With the remainder of his turn he trudges through the square he is in and the last square, getting dealt 2d6 acid damage for each of these squares.

If the moving wall enters within one square of the Pegasus, the Pegasus teleports away in a warm glow of light, leaving our heroes to fend for themselves.

This hourglass (4e) runs for one round, then transforms into a platinum ingot worth 1,000gp.


Corridor 5: Lions and Tigers and Bears
The first character who lands on the opposite site of the acid draws the attention of a Dire Lion (5a), a Tiger (5b), and a Grizzly Bear (5c) - oh my!  The PC’s may find the placement of these animals amusing. The three beasts are lined up in a row, unable to maneuver or go anywhere but forward or backward. As a result, it is all too likely that only one animal at a time will be able to engage in combat.

Although fighting these animals one at a time should not be a problem, our heroes should be reminded that wall level is closing in and they should not tarry.

At the end of this corridor the ground is painted yellow. On this yellow square is a mosaic of a spider being crushed by a fist. A DC 25 Perception or Knowledge (engineering) check will reveal that if some massive weight were to compress the area, a trap door in the ceiling would open. This area will do nothing for now, and will only become relevant in the final boss fight. These yellow squares and mosaics are at the end of each corridor from here on in.

This hourglass (5f) runs for two rounds, then transforms into a Masterwork Agile Half-Plate (small).


Corridor 6: Traps in the Mist
Corridor 6 contains a smoky and acrid fog as well as a whole bunch of fairly easy to manage traps. Due to the fog, each Perception check can examine only squares within 5 feet and Perception checks suffer at a -5 penalty. Each Perception check is a move action, and each Disable Device check is a full round action.

6a: In this unassuming piece of wall is a Shocksaw Trap. It requires a DC 20 Perception check and a DC 20 Disable Device check, though if seen it can be easily avoided by walking around it.

6b: A hidden scythe threatens to eviscerate our heroes here, as per the Wall Scythe Trap. It requires a DC 20 Perception check and DC 20 Disable Device check.

6c: Opposite the scythe is a Swinging Axe Trap which requires a DC 20 Perception check and DC 20 Disable Device check.

6d: A DC 25 Perception check will notice a Hail of Bolts Trap, and a DC 20 Disable Device check will disarm it.

6e: Immediately after the Hail of Bolts trap is a Headchomper Trap. This trap requires a DC 20 Perception check and DC 22 Disable Device check.

6f: A bright red scarf lies on the ground here, and the first hero who come within 5 feet falls prey to the Iesha’s Vengance Haunt. As the Haunt manifests, the unlucky PC sees the person about whom he feels the most guilt – perhaps a recently murdered enemy, or a friend he was unable to save.

This hourglass (6g) runs for two rounds, then transforms into a Spyglass worth 1,000gp.


Corridor 7: Minotaur
Corridor 7 contains rows of red squares them interspersed with the usual tan stone floor. If stepped on, the red squares activate a 5 foot by 10 foot version of the Floor Saws Trap. This trap resets immediately if not disabled. At the end of initiative after the first PC enters the middle of the room (7a), a soaking wet Advanced Minotaur will round the corner and combat will begin.

To achieve the advanced template, add +2 to all rolls (including damage rolls).  The Minotaur's AC is now 18/13/18, and his saves are now 8/7/7.  His new HP is 57. The Advanced Minotaur, who does not set off the traps despite standing on them, will attempt to bull rush his opponents into the red squares.

This hourglass (7d) runs for two rounds, then transforms into a small vial filled with dark green liquid:  one dose of the poison Deathblade



Corridor 8: Fancy a Swim? 
When our heroes round this corner, they may think they are facing a giant ooze. Instead, an immense wall of water fills the hallway, and stretches 25 feet back into the corridor (8a). The water, which does not spill or overflow its strictly defined bounds, seems to sparkle with tiny dark shards. In fact, it is infused with negative energy.

Our heroes have no choice but to swim through the mass of water. If a character ends his turn in the water, he takes d4 negative energy damage. This strangely thick water, which pushes against our PC’s, has a swim DC of 12. Success at this check means the PC may swim half his speed as a full round action, or a quarter of his speed as a move action. If a PC ends his turn in the water, he is pushed 5 feet south.  Items in the water will float south at a rate of 5 feet a round, and swimming south reduces all Swim checks by 10.  A character may hold onto another character to get dragged along, but the swimmer suffers a -5 penalty for medium characters and a -2 penalty for small characters.

Once the first player has made his way across, he may throw a rope through the water to assist his comrades. As long as he is heavier than the swimmer, he may add his strength modifier to the swimmer's swim check.  If multiple individuals are pulling on the rope, they may add their combined strength modifiers. He may not simply pull the swimmer across, as a swim check is still needed to hold onto the rope and deal with the strange currents.

This hourglass (8b) runs for two rounds, then transforms into a Bag of Holding I.


Corridor 9: Naebler, Gnomish Sorcerer
In the middle of this corridor stands a confident gnomish sorcerer named Naebler (9a). Naebler is an adventurer who was about to be crushed by the incoming wall, but bargained with Jacob to save his life. Now, he fights adventurers as they come through, and is reborn with every party. Until he is engaged in combat, he will cast Suggestion (DC 19), and order the unlucky adventurer back through the water in Corridor 8. Once our heroes get close, Naebler will cast Phantasmal Killer (DC 21) until he runs out, then switch to other spells. Naebler will not retreat, knowing that Jacob will ressurect him when the time comes. When Naebler is killed, he and all his gear disappear. 

Sticky web on the floor of much of this Corridor transforms the ground into difficult terrain (but just difficult terrain, not webbing as per the web spell).

This hourglass (9b) runs for three rounds, then transforms into a Lingering Metamagic Rod (Lesser).


Corridor 10: Sudden Jungle
Corridor 10 looks like another world. The hallway is completely overgrown with vines, tree trunks, and thick bushes. The branches of the trees are crawling with spiders, though they will scurry away and do no damage if attacked or approached. To proceed onto squares 10a, a DC 20 Escape Artist check is needed to squeeze between two trunks. To proceed onto squares 10b, a DC 20 Climb check is needed to maneuver over a bizarre root system. To get to squares 10c, a DC 20 Acrobatics check is needed to hop onto a thin branch. Each failure results in d6 damage from thorns, nasty falls, or bumps on the head, and no progress is made.

Survival checks can be made instead of any of these checks. Additionally a character may make a DC 15 Survival check to give an adjacent character a +5 bonus.

For the ironclad fighter who simply cannot make these checks, there is another way. 40 damage will destroy all obstacles on a single square. However, the foliage is far too lush and wet to ignite.

This hourglass (10d) runs for three rounds, then transforms into a Wand of Bull’s Strength with 10 charges (CL 3).


Corridor 11: Mushroom Surprise 
A giant red and white spotted mushroom (11a) all but blocks our adventurers’ path.  Although it can be easily destroyed or broken apart, if touched or attacked it falls apart and releases a Sprite Swarm. Each of our heroes may attempt a DC 15 Acrobatics check to leap over the mushroom, but if even one fails the Sprite Swarm is released and will attack.

Our heroes will likely notice some cobwebs in the corners of the hallway, and dozens of tiny and not so tiny spiders scurry away as the light approaches.

This hourglass (11b) runs for three rounds, transforms into a sack filled with three potions of Cure Serious Wounds (CL 10).


Corridor 12: Talking Walls 
A thick, blue stone wall blocks our heroes’ path. Set in the center of the path is a massive smiling face. When he sees the PC’s, the face states “I can only let a friend through.” A DC 25 Diplomacy check is needed to convince him to be friends. Our heroes may attempt this as many times as they like, and with each attempt the wall will become more and more amused, decreasing the DC by one. However, each attempt takes a standard action.  When the check is passed, the wall fades away.

Next, a thick, red stone wall blocks our heroes’ path. Set in the center of the path is a massive frightened face. When he sees the PC’s, the face states “I can only let a threat through.” A DC 25 Intimidate check is needed to prove how dangerous our heroes are. Our heroes may attempt this as many times as they like, and with each attempt the wall will become more and more frightened, decreasing the DC by one. However, each attempt takes a standard action. Alternatively, if a single PC is able to deal over 50 damage in one round to the wall, it recognizes the threat. When the check is passed, the wall fades away.

Next, a thick, purple stone wall blocks our heroes’ path. Set in the center of the path is a massive confused face. When he sees the PC’s, the face states “I can only let Jacob through.” A DC 25 Bluff check is needed to convince it that they are, in fact, Jacob. Our heroes may attempt this as many times as they like, and with each attempt  the wall will become more and more confused, decreasing the DC by one. However, each attempt takes one standard action. Feel free to add bonuses for convincing lies or corroborating evidence. When the check is passed, the wall fades away.

This hourglass (12b) runs for three rounds, then transforms into a Belt of Mighty Constitution +2.


Corridor 13: A Taste of Webs to Come
This room is overrun by cobwebs and spiders. Much to our heroes’ disgust, the spiders appear to be getting larger. Most scurry away when the final door in Corridor 13 is opened, but some conglomerate into a Spider Swarm and attack (13a). Only CR 1, this fight will be extremely easy, but may put our heroes on edge.

At the end of the corridor is a Hourglass pegged to the wall (13b). If the hourglass is flipped as a move action, it will run for four rounds including the round it was flipped. On the fifth round it will transform into a Pearl of Power (2nd Level) which can be collected that round as a move action.  When the hourglass transforms, all living creatures within 10 feet are healed 3d6 health.

This hourglass (12b) runs for four rounds, then transforms into a Pearl of Power (2nd Level).


Room 14: The Too-Big Tarantula
Room 14 is completely overrun with cobwebs and spiders. After one round of examining the room, our heroes will hear a muffled thud coming from the ceiling above. One round later, there is another, much closer thud. With each thud, the ceiling of the room shakes, and dust, stones, and spiders come flying down. With each thud, make it clear that any in room 14 are in danger, as something is about to come bursting through the ceiling.

The next round something does. It is a Giant Tarantula, a gargantuan vermin which must squeeze to fit in the hallway and pursue the heroes (14a). If any heroes occupy a space the Tarantula lands on they should make a DC 10 Reflex save. Success means they leap out of the way and land to the north of the Tarantula (14b). Failure means they are dealt 3d10 bludgeoning damage from the girth of the spider, then fall prone in a square to the north of the spider.

While squeezing (the entire combat), the Tarantula has a move speed of 15, an AC of 17, touch 3, flat footed 16, and attacks at a -4 penalty. The Tarantula will favor it’s bite over all else, and will chase our heroes to move into melee with them. Keep in mind that it still has a reach of 20.

From behind the Tarantula will boil a seemingly unending wave of spiders. These spiders will surround the Tarantula in a swarm Any creature within 5 feet of the Tarantula takes 3d6 points of damage at the end of each round it remains in the area. Let the players know this, especially that the damage will occur if a character ends his turn next to the spider.  Any area effect attack that deals 30 or more points of damage to the Tarantula destroys the aura of spiders for two rounds.

Take great care to describe the gigantic spider crawling through a tunnel far too small for it, breaking walls and tearing up the floor while a tide of spiders surges behind it.

If the Giant Tarantula ever steps completely onto one of the yellow squares, a gigantic stone fist comes down from the ceiling and smashes it to the tune of 3d12 damage. These traps are single use and do not reset. Our heroes may want to retreat from the Tarantula, drawing it through these traps and avoiding the swarm of smaller spiders. Of course, they can only go so far before they reach the ever approaching wall. Luckily, when the spider enters the dungeon, the jungle in Corridor 10 disappears and the mass of water in Corridor 8 vanishes.

The spiders retreat when the Tarantula is killed, but the approaching wall does not stop moving. Our heroes can backtrack and try to get the treasure they missed before the wall consumes it.

Back in room 14, the ceiling is completely broken in. Easily visible in the rubble is a +1 Vermin Bane Lucerne Hammer, whose head is shaped like a fist. The broken ceiling reveals a long upward sloping passageway that disappears into darkness. Our heroes may climb up the broken rubble to enter the passageway, then proceed into the darkness to enter Level 7.

If our heroes are playing only in Jacob’s tower and ranking up to Level 7 then distribute 5,000gp amongst them evenly.


Printable Maps and Such




You may purchase printable PDFs of the entire dungeon, including the secret final level available only with the package, here:

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

26 comments:

  1. I've been running this, and my players absolutely love how varied it is and how so much comes into play!
    I'm wondering, do you know anyone else who has made similar things? I can't get enough!

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    1. Excellent, and I'm glad you are enjoying them! I don't know anybody else who makes dungeons like this, but more are on their way.

      I'd love to hear more about how they are going! Are you running them one after another? Does your party find them easy or difficult?

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  2. I ran the first floor so far, and we just started the second but someone had to leave due to an emergency.
    I am planning on running them all eventually, and so far, floor one was fairly simple aside from posy who managed to mess our summoner up pretty badly. But to be fair, they are a clever bunch and managed to figure out most of one with a decent amount of effort. I think the rest of them are a bit harder, but we'll see.

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  3. This dungeon is amazing, i love how it implys so many different skill (especially underused ones like linguistics and kn enineering) in a way that does not feel forced. "Optimized" 20STR fighters and 20CHA sorcerors will probably have problems tho :)

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  4. Replies
    1. Yup! Sorry for the delay, I've been working on other stuff. Level 7, "Gothic" should be published by Wednesday.

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    2. Level 7 is live, and it just might be the best one yet! http://zenithgames.blogspot.com/2014/01/jacobs-tower-level-7-gothic.html

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  5. You describe the murder-born as both a small child and a benign old man in the first part.

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    1. Fixed! That's a change in version error, thanks for pointing it out.

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  6. What is supposed to happen at 1c?

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I've adjusted the map and wording.

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    2. So, I purchased the PDF and noticed that for the first encounter the online version shows a murder-born and the PDF has a ghost.
      The ghost makes for a more traditionally tough encounter, while the murder-born can harshly punish a group that doesn't have a ready way to deal with curses. I actually tipped off out shaman about that, 'cause it almost seemed unfair not to.

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    3. They are two very different encounters, you are right. Curses are usually very tough, and this is a great example. Parties with ways to remove curses will feel justified in their decisions, and parties without remove curse will learn to get some way of dealing with it by the time really crippling curses roll around.
      For better or worse, Pathfinder has these types of debilitating effects. Jacob's Tower shows off the breadth of the system, so these things need to be included. Of course, I did wind up going with a ghost in the final product, so feel free to sue that instead.

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    4. Maybe the murder-born would've been the better option. For the most part my players are flying through this level. The only times the party took significant damage were when the fighter got troughed through the acid. The next fight was a bit dodgy because the shaman often forgets to heal people, but other than that they've handled things quite easily. They just defeated the minotaur and we stopped due to time constraints.
      All in all everyone's really been enjoying the levels!

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    5. Glad that everyone's been enjoying the levels! The tougher fights are just ahead, especially as they start to run out of resources. Looking forward to seeing how this goes.

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  7. "The wall to the west (1a)"

    I think you meant (1b).

    Been running a party of three through the tower, and this is the floor we're on now. We have a Master of Many Styles who started off with Pummeling Style but has moved into a Panther/Snake style hybrid, a cleric who mostly healbots but has started transitioning into throwing fireballs (domain) and some summoning, and the least experienced player as a two handed weapon barbarian who has been collecting all the two handed weapons you've provided so far (he's like a peacock right now).

    The first floor boss managed to charm the cleric and incapacitate the monk, leaving the barbarian to fight on his own until he himself got charmed. She then orders them both to carry the monk back to the first room and tries to knock them off the bridge, breaking the spell. Monk and cleric clamber back up for the kill. Monk and barbarian claim two hedgehogs as their pets before leaving.

    Second floor was just a grand old time, everyone's favorite so far. One of the characters happened to know the language required to understand the first riddle, so they solved it pretty quick. The second riddle was in common, and they guessed the answer fast there too. The two remaining riddles were solved without them even understanding what the riddle said because pattern recognition. After that, Barbarian slew the hydra with no problems.

    Third floor went about how you'd expect. No ghost fights were required except for against the elven paladin. For the final fight against the dragon chicks, one dragon was killed, the other knocked unconscious, and the crystal dragon was reduced to exactly zero hit points before being intimidated and sent to the feast hall. The party manages to convince him to join them (despite not speaking draconic), and he joins them at Nine's Inn.

    Bernard's Prison was pretty fun. They had a little trouble escaping their cells, but after that they manage to trounce the rest of the floor. Only one seriously inconvenienced for an appreciable amount of time was the cleric, but he's the go-with-the-flow type so there were no issues.

    Runewall was hilarious. They immediately climbed the wall and had to combat the Flame Drake, which was fun but intense. The barbarian controlled cleric was carried up 100 ft and dropped, but I allowed the monk and cleric controlled barbarian to perform a gymnastic maneuver to minimize damage. No issues were had until the Glass Golem fight, where I forgot about it's damage resistance. The barbarian almost died anyway though, so it's probably better I did.

    We're about to start the Gauntlet tomorrow. It's been fun, and I can't wait to see how the party'll react to this floor.

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    1. Sounds like good fun all around, and it looks like you are doing a great job of adjusting things on the fly! Posy was a real doozy for you guys (that's a fight that can swing one way or the other), and it sounds like the glass golem that gives everybody trouble was another issue. Very cool that you have collected the dragon as a friend and hedgehogs as pets (other groups have collected Posy, the dog from Level 4, and others).

      Riddles might be a bit too easy - I've yet to hear of a group stumped on them. I may have to up the ante on those.

      Gauntlet is one of my favorite levels, so I am very excited to hear how it goes.

      That's great that your group enjoyed the mechanics of both Runewall and Bernard's Prison! Some groups aren't a huge fan of that type of challenge, but I love it.

      Thanks for pointing out that typo. Most of the typos have been fixed in the PDF, but I haven't gone through and made all the changes on the blog.

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  8. I ran a modified version of Gauntlet for my PCs the other night. I re-skinned it to fit my campaign – my version of Gauntlet took place inside a haunted painting, and the biography of the artist factored into some of the more flavorful parts – but mechanically it was identical. And really, it was a huge success.

    The party consisted of a Paladin (Warrior of the Holy Light archetype), Hunter, Skald, and Cleric (Cloistered archetype). Although this level 6 party’s wealth is roughly level 8.5 and they used good tactics (well… for the most part), Gauntlet was still a real challenge: the cleric went unconscious twice, the Paladin fled after the tarantula put him from full hit points to single digits, and the party used a dozen charges from their wand of lightning bolts. The Hunter was on death’s door, too – there was a very tense moment when he provoked an attack of opportunity from the tarantula; that fight was nice and scary.

    The wall mechanic really helped keep my group on track, too – they policed themselves pretty fiercely after I moved it a couple times when they debated too long. They got a solid lead on the Wall of Doom early on and, thereafter, they were never seriously threatened by it. One of my players suggested (if I were to run it again) having the wall accelerate after it hit a certain point, and I liked that idea – maybe it moves twice as fast as soon as it gets to the Gelatinous Cubes? I wonder how many groups have actually died from being squished.

    At any rate, I’m glad I bought Jacob’s Tower, and I look forward to adapting what I’ve learned from reading your blog to my own campaign.

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    1. Sounds fun! Glad it went so well, and sounds interesting with the artist biography in there.

      Sounds like everything was nice and close! Glad nobody died, and sounds like a grand old time.

      I find the wall mechanic to be great, and it does really help focus the party. Good job on moving it after they debated for too long. That's a good lesson.

      Regarding wall speed - how did they fight against the tarantula go? There are a few built in mechanics to encourage them to actually retreat from it, and the more room they have to retreat the better.

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  9. The tarantula fight was great. They took a ton of damage initially – the Paladin and the Hunter were both standing on the yellow tile trying to be tanks – and the Paladin nearly died from a critical hit/poison save failure before the Cleric realized the nature of the ‘tarantula traps.’ It took a round to convince everyone to retreat, and the monster’s 20-foot reach really complicated their withdrawal, but they eventually outdistanced it, retreating as far back as Corridor 8 before they stopped to catch their breath. I rolled really high for the tarantula trap damage and the monster died off-camera in Corridor 10/11. I didn’t let my players know that, though: I just kept moving the tarantula miniature, reminding them that it was out-of-sight, until eventually it rounded a corner but didn’t appear. The Wall of Doom was at 5c when they finally, suspiciously, exited the dungeon.

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    1. Interesting - I will have to run some numbers and see if I can make the wall a bit closer.
      Thanks, and looking forward to any other feedback you have on the other levels!

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  10. Phew, this one was an interesting challenge for the gang. They picked up a ratling arcanist, so I threw on the advanced template. It didn't seem to cause any noticeable difficulty, though the group certainly wasn't breezing through.

    The wall never became a real threat, though the party was certainly worried about it at all times. They managed to handle all the puzzles pretty well too. They killed the Minotaur with his own trap actually (the rogue purposefully activated it).

    Unfortunately, I killed off the sorcerer with the gnome. It was pretty fair, but rolls happen. After that, however, the arcanist stepped things up. Exploding runes on copper coins, unseen servants, and the rest of the floor quickly exploded in rubble.

    Over all the group had a great time with this one (it amused me to no end when they realized there was no way to just avoid the negative energy swimming pool), though most are realizing that they have specialized a tad bit too much. We'll see how next week goes!

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    1. RIP sorcerer. I'm guessing it was phantasmal killer? That spell is brutal.

      Yeah, the wall is more of a thing to be worried about than something that actually pushes on their backsides. Glad they enjoyed it, and glad they are thinking about diversifying!

      Gothic is a big change for this one. As always, thanks for the thoughts and I look forward to their next level. Half way there!

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  11. Do the webs in the last two corridors count as difficult terrain like the ones in corridor 9?

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    1. Just cosmetic! No difficult terrain here.

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