Monday, April 11, 2016

Jacob's Tower: How To Run

Jacob’s Tower is the perfect fast paced dungeon crawl for the Pathfinder RPG. Regardless of your world, plot, or players, it is easily run in any campaign or as a megadungeon.

The dungeon is designed to test a party’s versatility and flexibility, utilizing every skill and creature type in the book over every three Levels. It both introduces new players to the wonders of Pathfinder and gives experienced players a non-traditional setting in which to test their skills.

Each Level of Jacob's Tower corresponds to the Average Party level designed to play it. Level 1 is designed for characters of level 1, Level 2 is designed for characters of level 2, Level 3 is designed for characters of level 3, and so on. Each Level can be easily brought into your campaign at the appropriate party level, either for a fun break or a real, plot relevant dungeon.

Alternatively, the entire Tower can be played one Level after another. Such an experience is an excellent chance to blow off some steam and test the player's Pathfinder chops. If you choose to run Jacob's Tower in this way, our heroes gain an addition bit of gold every level to make up for the quick leveling, as indicated at the end of the text.

Regardless of performance or enemies killed, players will receive a set amount of experience points for completing a Level as indicated at the start of the level. Some monsters exist only as deterrents, and the PCs should know they will get the same amount of experience points if they avoid the monster or kill it. However, the treasure that they get is entirely dependent on what they actually pick up.

Adjusting Difficulty: Jacob's Tower is made for an average party of 3 and a half characters. However, all parties are very different, and adjusting difficulty is very easy.

If you have more than four characters, or if your characters are well built, add the advanced template to all enemies.  This is essentially +2 to AC, attack, damage, saves, and DCs.  Additionally, add +2 to all skill checks in the dungeon.  If they are still breezing through encounters, you can add it again, or double the hit points of enemies.

If you are only playing with one or two characters, or your players are still coming to grips with the system, then adjusting is even easier.  Simply play the levels at a higher level than designated.  Start your characters at character level 2 for Level 1, and advance them such that they are consistently one above level at all times.

Nine and the Inter-Dimensional Bar Stop

Between each level, our heroes find themselves transported to a strange, extra-dimensional inn. The Inn is simple, clean, brightly lit, and pleasant, the type of Inn you might find in a quaint mountain village. However, there are no windows to the outside world, and all doors lead in short dimensional hops to other parts of the inn. A single black wooden door in the downstairs bar does not open at all. It leads to level 13 and will not open until our heroes get there.

The downstairs bar is devoid of other patrons, populated only by stools, tables, mugs, and large barrels of delicious beer and wine from around the world (including the characters' favorites). A short flight of stairs leads to a narrow corridor from which branch the characters’ rooms. Each room is simple, but well suited to its occupant. A druid’s room might have a banzai plant, a wizard’s room might have a smattering of old books, and a paladin’s room might have a small alter to his god.

Along the narrow upstairs corridor are thirteen paintings that represent the thirteen levels of Jacob’s Tower. They depict, in order:

(1) A large tan block of stone flanked by torches.

(2) A five headed hydra in a glass cage.

(3) A ghostly figure at the end of a feast laden table.

(4) A cell door with a silver key.

(5) A tall block of obsidian inlaid with purple runes.

(6) An advancing wall with protruding spikes.

(7) A gothic cathedral against a bloody sunset.

(8) A wall of purple shimmering force between two black pillars.

(9) A campfire in a dark forest.

(10) A corpse in a black void.

(11) An ornate chandelier.

(12) A dusty coliseum.

(13) Finally, a portrait of a handsome young man with blonde hair, a razor sharp jaw line, and piercing silver eyes. If asked, Nine will reveal that this is Jacob.

The Inn is filled with dozens of identical winged humans known only as "Nine." Nine is the everyman here, full time bartender, shopkeep, blackmith, entertainment, and conversationalist. Nine will happily buy anything the heroes have, and sell any item they require, generating the products out of thin air. He also provides the characters with rooms to sleep in, free of charge.

Nine is charismatic and pleasant to talk to. Though not a show off, he thoroughly enjoys impressing adventurers with his skills and magical abilities.

Nine is well aware that he is an extra-dimensional, magical construct and is very happy to serve Jacob. Nine is the 9th in a line of similar extra-dimensional magical constructs made by Jacob. Each in turn has been retired and replaced with more efficient models, but through the process of incremental improvements Nine appears to be at the pinnacle of Jacob’s craft.

Nine, and the constructs before him, are powered by the souls of adventurers who have died within the tower. If a PC dies within the tower, some of his ticks and oddities may manifest themselves subtly in Nine.

If asked about Jacob, or the purpose of the tower, Nine will be obtuse. He will explain that Jacob is a pleasant and powerful sorcerer, and though although Nine does not know the true purpose of the tower he can only assume Jacob built it with the best of intentions.

At least, that is the explanation that Nine gives as to his own existence, Jacob, and the tower. The true nature of Nine is revealed in level 13, at the end of Jacob’s Tower.

Shortly before going to sleep each night, our heroes will level up and be able to prepare any spells. They will have dreamless sleep, then wake up on the stairs to the next level.

Level 1: Classic - A warm up romp featuring traps, haunts, undead, animals, and a gambit of lesser used skills.

Level 2: Marble and Glass - The PC's both ambush and get ambushed in semi-traditional fights against the backdrop of riddles and a caged beast far above their pay grade.

Level 3: Corridors and Chasms - A sprawling maze of tight hallways and pits with four ghosts to test of the social skills.

Level 4: Bernard's Prison - Our heroes find themselves locked in a strange prison, and must make their way throughout the level with minimal gear.

Level 5: Runewall - An obsidian maze set in a starry abyss, characters will face a number of magical maladies, such as having their minds switched with fellow adventurers and being teleported to random squares.

Level 6: Gauntlet - A relentless wall of spikes pushes the party through a gauntlet of traps, encounters, enemies, and challenges.  This level is brutal, deadly, and unyielding.  Either our heroes will make it - or they won't.

Level 7: Gothic - A horror themed level set in the massive Hellbrooke cathedral, our heroes must gather gory ingredients for the resurrection of a vampire lord.

Level 8: Planar - An exploration of the different planes and their effects on adventuring, our heroes must hop between planes to brave flame, sea, wild magic, righteous angels, negative energy, and other dangers before fighting four huge elementals.

Level 9: Campfire - A significant departure from the stereotypical dungeon crawl, our heroes must keep a fire burning over a 24 hour period in a large outdoor environment while battling the elements and monsters alike.

Level 10: Resurrection - Stuck inside the corpse of a massive god, our heroes must follow the orders of a desperate spirit to bring his master back to life.

Level 11: Mansion - A Victorian style Mansion filled with ghosts, ghouls, traps and horrifying haunts, this level is sure to unnerve your heroes as they proceed from room to room.

Level 12: Arena - The charismatic but amorphous Ringleader guides our heroes through deadly combats and challenges as they try to win the favor of a deafening crowd.

Level 13: Sorcerer - The final level of Jacob's Tower, Sorcerer, features a three part battle with Jacob himself.  It also describes the rewards upon completion of the dungeon, explains the secret purpose of the tower, and reveals the true identity of Nine.  Level 13 is only available with the purchase of the 1-13 package below.

You may purchase printable and fully illustrated PDFs of the 152 page entire dungeon, including the secret final level only available in the PDF, here for $9.99.

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


  1. As an owner of the PDF I just wondered, if you adjusted anything, or just wanted to push it a little.
    Is there anything new? Not that it was neccessary, I just don't want to miss anything :-)

    Greetings from Germany and thanks for the great adventure!

    1. I have actually! Lots of little editing and formatting bits, and its fully illustrated. Today I'll be sending out the updated version to everybody who purchased previously.
      I see that you just purchased Dragons are Above My Pay Grade, so I'll send out your copy right now!

  2. Hey zen. I'm a big fan of Jacobs tower. I've read the whole thing and really wish I could get the chance to play it. However, I'm planning on using it as a tutorial campaign to teach my friends how to play pathfinder. Do you have any suggestions for making some adjustments to lower the difficulty while still promoting the creative thinking your clever dungeon encourages?

    1. Ready for the surprisingly easy answer?
      Put them at 1 (or 2) levels above the suggested level. Start them off at character level 2 for JT level 1, and then just advance them one character level per tower level!

  3. Hello Zenith,

    I am trying to purchase Jacob's tower. However the PayPal link just sends me to the PayPal homepage. Can you please help me out?


    1. Sorry about that, should be fixed! Give it a try now and tell me if it still doesn't work.

    2. Works! Just bought it. Thank you

    3. Great, and thank you for pointing that out! Just sent it. Enjoy!

  4. How tall are the majority of the rooms in jacob's tower if not specified? Also, is there a map of the bartending/smithing/shopping/sleeping areas I am missing, or do I just make it as I wish?

    1. Let's say 10 feet high, unless there is a monster or something which would necessitate something larger. The rest inn is whatever you want it to be! No map required.

  5. Hello, I recently purchased the Jacob's tower dungeon pack, but haven't received it yet. I know it's the holiday season, but I am just making sure that the purchase did go through. I am very excited to run the tower and look forward to my party's reaction to its many puzzles and combat encounters.

    1. Nathan M? You purchased on the 22nd? I sent it on the 22nd, but maybe it went to your spam box? Send me an e-mail at and we can see if we can use another e-mail.

    2. That was the issue. Thank you very much! I'm look8ng forward to running this next week.

  6. Hey Zen. I've wanted to get my chance to play this module for quite some time, however my group is currently playing 5E. Would running the guide in a theatre of the mind style and just fudging the DCs to an appropriate level work you think?

    1. Definitely! Let me know how it goes (and make sure you fully explain each room).

  7. If you go to sleep after going to sleep does that mean in between floors you only have one day of rest? Or could you take multiple days off if requested? Is the Dungeon designed with this in mind or is it simply up to GM preference.

    1. GM preference, though the characters should run it by Nine. I'm sure he would let them stay a few extra days if they need the time to recover. Anything more than a week is pushing it though.