Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jacob's Tower, Level 2: Marble and Glass

Level 2: Marble and Glass
7,000xp / Max 4,946 gp (2.5 - 3.5 Hours)

Level 2 is both majestic and barren. Floor, outer walls, and 30 foot ceiling are made of impeccable white marble, while all the inner walls are seemingly indestructible glass. Although there are no obvious light sources, the entire area is illuminated with a soft white glow.

Given that the walls are made of glass, it is easy to see across the entire level, including into other rooms. Our heroes can view most of their opponents ahead of time and plan accordingly.

At the center of the level, trapped by an enlarged Forcecage and visible from all angles due to the glass walls, is a raging 5-Headed Pyrohydra. This terrifying CR 6 monstrosity is roaring, smashing himself against the walls of his prison and periodically filling his cramped quarters with fire. He’s a pissed off and deadly beast, and our heroes should pretty much immediately realize that he is way out of their pay grade. A DC 16 Knowledge (Arcana) check will reveal exactly what he is, what his weaknesses are, and his CR.

However, as our heroes proceed throughout the level, they should be able to damage the Pyrohydra. If they fail to damage the beast, then this could easily be a TPK when the monster finally attacks.

Rooms 1, 3, 5, and 7 each contain a riddle that appears on the ground in giant glowing letters after the room’s threat has been dealt with. For each room, a single riddle is written four times in four different languages. If our heroes are unable to read any of these languages, or cannot make a DC 18 Linguistics check to read it without knowing the languages, then they cannot decipher the riddle and must move on. Note that the answers to the riddles are often related to the languages, so knowing what the languages are could be helpful. A DC 10 Linguistics check for each language will reveal what the language is.

At the same time each riddle appears, a giant three dimensional illusion of an hourglass appears in the room. As the GM, take out a stopwatch, set it to count down from three minutes, and put it on the table where all the players can see. After reading the riddle, or, if none of the players can read any languages, after stating that the riddle appears, start the timer.  If the players cannot guess the answer to the riddle in three real time minutes, then the riddle disappears and they cannot gain the benefits of solving it. If your players are not particularly good at riddles, feel free to extend this time.

For each riddle, a DC 15 Wisdom check can be made to get the first letter of the answer. A DC 15 Intelligence check can be made to get the number of letters the answer has. Each character can only make one Wisdom and one Intelligence check per riddle. Feel free to let the players know that this is an option.  If multiple characters pass the same check for the same riddle, no added bonus is given.

If the PCs answer the riddle out loud and correctly in any language, a brilliant flash of light and crack of thunder explode from the center of the level.  When they can see and hear again, they notice that the Pyrohydra is missing one of his heads, which lies unceremoniously at his feet. Heads destroyed in this way will not return. For each riddle that they get right, the Pyrohydra permanently loses one head and his max number of heads decreases by one as if it had just been sundered and then burnt with acid.

Room 1: Executioner’s Hood

The stone staircase abruptly turns to marble, and our heroes emerge into Room 1 at 1a. Describe the entirety of Level 2 to them, and quickly let them know what they can see in the other rooms.

However, they do not have long to admire the view. An Executioner’s Hood lurks on the ceiling. It will drop two rounds after our heroes have entered the room and attack the character closest to the stairs. To spot the Executioner’s Hood, our heroes must beat the Hood’s Stealth roll with their initial perception check. However, the Executioner’s Hood gains a +5 bonus to Stealth given all of the other distractions in the Level for a total of +18 Stealth.

After the Execution’s Hood has been dealt with, giant glowing letters appear to spell out a riddle is written in Auran, Celestial, Tengu, and Sphinx. The riddle asks:

“What surrounds the world, yet dwells within a thimble? All men need it, no men own it, and without it you would die.”

The answer is air.

Room 2: Healing Corridor 

Room 2 is a short corridor leading between Rooms 1 and 3. Visible in the center of the room is a large rune inscribed on the ground (2a). It is easily avoided, but if a player walks onto it the rune activates and casts Cure Moderate Wounds (CL5) on the victim for 2d8+5 health. The rune then disappears.

A character can identify the spell that will be cast from the rune with a DC 17 Spellcraft check.

Room 3: Chessboard Oozes

The marble on the floor of Room 3 has been stained into large squares of red and green. Although the PCs will probably approach it cautiously, there are no enemies visible inside.

Along the Eastern wall is a marble pedestal (3a), upon which float a small green crystal and a small red crystal. These will detect as magic, and a DC 11 Knowledge (Arcana) check will reveal that each will probably set off traps on their respective colored square.

As a standard action a character standing on or adjacent to 3a may attempt a DC 11 Use Magic Device check to activate either of the crystals. Activating the Red Crystal will cause flame to shoot up from the red squares, dealing 2d6 +1 fire damage to any creature on those squares (Reflex 13 halves). Activating the Green Crystal will cause a small geyser to shoot up from the green squares, dealing 2d6 +1 acid damage to any on those squares (Reflex 13 halves).  These can be activated as much as our heroes like.

After the PC have spent about a minute puzzling over the room, three Giant Amoebas will seep from the walls (3b). Any characters in these squares will have the opportunity to step back if they like.  These oozes are just as susceptible to the magical traps as the heroes, but are not intelligent enough to avoid them.

Once the oozes have been dealt with, a riddle appears on the floor in Common, Aboleth, Grippli, and Aquan. The riddle reads:

“What always runs but never walks, often murmurs, never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats.”

The answer is a river.

A small hidden compartment lies behind a false wall on the western wall (3c). Instead of marble, this false wall is just a thin sheet of lead painted convincingly to look like marble. Normally, it is a DC 20 Perception check to notice the false wall. However, each time the green crystal is activated the some paint burns off the wall in that location, decreasing the Perception DC by 4. If the DC decreases down to 8 or less, our heroes automatically notice it.

The wall can easily be knocked down. Behind it is a small iron chest that can be unlocked with a DC 20 Disable Device check. The chest contains Bandages of Rapid Recovery, Bracers of Armor +1, Silversheen, the cursed item Ring of Truth (which, short of a DC 34 Spellcraft check, appears to be a Ring of Arcane Signets), and 500 gold.

Room 4: Another Healing Corridor 

Room 4 is a short corridor leading between Rooms 3 and 5. Visible in the center of the room is a large rune inscribed on the ground (4a). It is easily avoided, but if a player walks onto the rune it activates and casts Cure Moderate Wounds (CL5) on the victim for 2d8+5 health. The rune then disappears.

A character can identify the spell that will be cast from the rune with a DC 17 Spellcraft check.

Room 5: The Praying Demon

In Room 5, a deformed, horned, hunchbacked humanoid in tattered black robes (5a) kneels praying before a stained wood altar (5b). A forked tail slithers menacingly on the floor behind him, and the more perceptive may notice that each hand has two curved thumbs. The creature is an Abrikandilu Demon, and he is praying to a small altar of Rovagug. His eyes are closed, and he is distracted enough to suffer a -10 penalty to Perception, resulting in a +2 Perception. Once he notices them, he will immediately cast Cause Fear and attack, neither giving nor expecting any quarter.  He will not summon another Abrikandilu Demon.

A red and incorporeal tentacle connects the demon to his altar, and our heroes will be able to see this clearly when close enough. For as long as the altar is in one piece, it grants him regeneration 5, and will even bring him back from the dead to continue the fight. The AC of the altar is 4, and it has hardness 5, 15 hit points, and a break DC of 18. Alternatively, catching it on fire with any spell that deals 5 fire damage would also destroy it within one turn.

Once the Abrikandilu Demon and altar are destroyed, the riddle appears. The riddle is written in Orc, Draconic, Infernal, and Ignan. The riddle states:

“Feed me and I live, give me drink and I die.”

The answer is fire.

The Abrikandilu Demon has nothing of value on him except for a small golden symbol of Rovagug, inlaid with tiny rubies. This strange and otherworldly piece of jewelry costs 200 gold. Inside the altar is a Masterwork Greataxe, which becomes visible when the altar is destroyed.

Room 6: Magic Missile Trap

Room 6 is a short corridor leading between Rooms 5 and 6. Visible in the center of the room is a large rune inscribed on the ground. It is easily avoided, but if a player walks onto it the rune activates and casts Magic Missile (CL5) on the victim for 3d4+3 damage. The rune then disappears.

A character can identify the spell that will be cast from the rune with a DC 16 Spellcraft check.

Room 7: The Greenhouse

This room is the only room on Level 2 that it is difficult to see in or out of. Thick vines coat the walls, and a tangle of roots covers the floor, transforming the entire room into difficult terrain.

There are four large trees in this room, each with four plump and gigantic purple fruit. The fruit from three of these trees (7a) is toxic, and, if consumed, will mimic the effects of Bloodroot poison. The final tree (7b) yields fruit that will instantly heal d6 hit point, and may be saved for later. Each tree looks different, and identifying one tree will not help with the others. A DC 10 Knowledge (Nature) check for each tree will reveal the true effects of its fruit.

Four small green humanoids (7c) covered in fungus sit motionless in a circle around a halfling corpse (7d). A fifth humanoid sits on the halfling corpse. The rotting corpse is covered in mold, and has a burst chest cavity. A DC 11 Knowledge (Nature) check reveals that these creatures are Vegepygmies, and they are likely staring at the corpse from which they were birthed. A highly dangerous mold known as Russet Mold infects careless adventurers, and once they are killed Vegepygmies burst forth.  However, unlike normal Russet Mold, this will only infect the PCs if they actually touch the corpse.

The Vegepygmies are completely infatuated with the corpse from which they sprung, and are at a -10 perception to notice the heroes.  However, once they notice the heroes they will attack.

As soon as all the heroes are in room 7 at the same time, whether before, after, or during the fight, the vines on the floor will suddenly reach up and grab our heroes as per the Entangle Spell with a DC of 12. These vines have thorns and deal one damage every time the heroes fail their save or check. Once a PC breaks out of the vines, the vines will not attempt to ensnare him or her again.

The Russet Mold covered corpse has a few items of worth. Characters may attempt to retrieve the items without disturbing the spores with a DC 10 Sleight of Hand check. Failing this check, or entering the same square as the corpse during combat, results in exposure to the highly dangerous Russet Mold.

The corpse has a small bag with a Stunstone, a Masterwork Cold Iron Dagger, and a Masterwork Silver Dagger.  The daggers are both small sized.

With a DC 11 perception check, our heroes may notice a small opening in the eastern wall approximately 20 feet off the ground (7e). A DC 10 climb check will get the hero up the vines and into the opening, where a Scroll of Remove Curse (CL 10) and a Potion of Remove Disease lies.

Once the Vegepygmies have been dealt with, a riddle appears on the ground in Elven, Druid, Sylvan, and Treant. The riddle states:

“Reaching stiffly for the sky, I bare my fingers when it's cold, In warmth I wear an emerald glove, And in between I dress in gold."

The answer is a tree.

Room 8: The False Rune

Room 6 is a short corridor leading between Rooms 5 and 6. Easily visible in the center of the room is a large rune inscribed on the ground. A pressure plate for a Javelin Trap uses the contours of the Rune to hide itself, upping the Perception DC to see the trap to a 25.

A DC 15 Spellcraft check will reveal that the Rune has something to do with healing. However, a DC 20 Spellcraft check will reveal that the rune was made incorrectly and is actually not active. Furthermore, the rune is not active and will not register as magical. Thus, this “healing” rune does nothing, and anybody stepping on it will instead be greeted with a javelin to the face.

Room 9: The Pyrohydra

If our heroes have successfully answered every question thus far and the Pyrohydra only has one head left, they get no final question.  Instead, when the time for the fourth riddle has elapsed, a lever materializes in room 1.

If the Pyrohyrdra sill has at least 2 heads when the time for the fourth riddle has elapsed, a final, fifth riddle appears. The riddle is written in Dwarven, Hobbit, Necril, and Undercommon. The riddle states:

“Cannot be seen, Cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
Lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
Comes first follows after,
Ends life kills laughter.”

The answer is Darkness. This riddle, of course, is from Tolkien.  When this riddle is answered or the time elapses, a lever materializes in room 1.

The handle of the lever is shaped like the head of a Pyrohyrda.  When they flip it, all of the walls in the level instantly shatter. Our heroes must make a DC 12 Reflex save to half d6 slashing damage from the glass.  Roll initiative: The Forcecage is gone and the Pyrohydra is rushing at them.

If the heroes are clustered, the Pyrohydra will favor breath weapons.  Otherwise, he will lash out with his heads.  Our heroes should feel free to lure him into the checkboard, where they can activate the crystals to deal 2d6+1 damage for every relevant square he is on.

When the Pyrohydra is killed, a steel spiral staircase rises from the center of the Level (9a), leading to the Level 3.

If our heroes are playing only in Jacob's Tower and ranking up to Level 3, then distribute 3,550 gold amongst them evenly.


If our heroes attempt to sleep anywhere on this level, they will be attacked by a single Skum who attempts to sneak quietly upon the party.  Every additional night, they will be attacked by one additional Skum: Two the second night, three the third night, and so on.

Bonus! Little Venecian has also created this battle grid for Roll20.  If used outside of Roll20, you may want to overlay a 70px by 70px grid on top of it.

You may purchase printable PDFs of the entire dungeon, including the secret final level and an expanded foreword, here for $9.99. If you have already purchased some levels of Jacob's Tower, we will discount that amount off your purchase.

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


  1. Great work. Creative and varied challenges. Keep 'em coming.

    1. Thanks! More on their way. If you use it, let me know how it goes!

  2. How is it possible to kill the hydra, without fighting it: " they should be able to damage him or even kill him outright by completing the various rooms" since it has 5 heads, and although there's 5 riddles, but the fifth only appears, if the hydra still has at least 2 heads?

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. In the first version, you could kill the hydra with riddles alone, but that was something of an anti-climax. Now you'll always have the boss battle.

  3. Hi! I made this less than mediocre battlegrid for this adventure =P.

    It's made for Roll20, but I guess you can use it for anything else (you may want to draw a 70px by 70px grid on top of it tho)

    1. Very nice! Mind if I put it directly on the blog (and credit you with a name?). I'll happily host any other ones you've made for Jacob's Tower as well.

    2. I will make more when I finally learn to actually use GIMP, I actually want to make them all. All the 20 levels ;)

      I made the 1st level one a long time ago but I lost it, though the floor rendered awfully and was all pixelated, so not a big loss.

      And yeah, you can add it to your blog. You can call me Little Venecian =P

    3. Forgot to say how much I love your blog dude, I have it bookmarked, and I never really use bookmarks, that's how good it is haha!

    4. Guess I better hurry up with the next levels! Glad that you like the blog! If you run the levels, I'd love to hear how they go.

      As a teaser, the tentative name for the next level is Campfire. It's a different spin on a dungeon crawl, and should be very interesting for players.

  4. I ran this level a while ago now, and it was a great time.

    I nearly got the wizard with the Executioner's Hood (he's what you'd call *extremely* cautious), although the monk stepped in just in time to take it out. They were suspicious of the floor pattern, but eventually figured it out, and I particularly liked the image of jets of fire and acid spitting up from the floor. The demon got grappled and wrecked by the monk, although he came back to life hopelessly a few times before they figured out how to keep him dead.

    The Vegepygmies were an interesting battle, as the Wizard actually never entered the room, which meant the trap never went off (I told you he was cautious). As such, they went down pretty quickly.

    The final fight, with the Hydra, was a little easy, as they got all the riddles right, and he wasn't at his rampaging best. Although again, the image of a huge and terrifying creature hanging above the room is a particularly good one, especially if you keep drawing players' attention back to it.

    Overall, this level was a good follow up to the first one. Clean and bright as opposed to the more traditional dungeon feel of level 1, and the boss fight, while ultimately anticlimactic, was fairly satisfying. My biggest criticism would be the riddles were a little easy, and perhaps having two options (an easy and a hard) would cater better to groups of different skills.

    1. Caution is good! Rewarding caution is great. That's awesome that they carefully figured out the puzzles. Glad you had a good time.

  5. TL;DR: if you're running this module I recommend you bump up the difficulty on some of these encounters. Great imagery, fun layout, too easy.

    Hi there. My background: I was invited to play a weekly Pathfinder campaign with some friends from work about 6 months ago. Last month the GM had to step away from the games for a bit and so I took on the task of leading the other 3 guys through a fill-in campaign. I saw some recommendations for Jacob's Tower and it looked fun and so I started running it as a first-time GM. Some of my players are quite experienced.

    The first level was fantastic. Honestly, you made me look good. Fun traps, ghouls, great imagery with the feral animals, a fantastic fight against Posy and a bluffed PC... and with all the DCs spelled out I ran the game like a pro. Got lots of compliments.

    This level was a step down for my group. It was just way too easy. My 3 person party was a Lvl 2 rogue, plus a 1 barb (war beast) / 1 Cavalier mix (with 2 pets), and a 1 Barb/1 Sorcerer. They waltzed through: Hood went undetected, got a surprise round, failed the grapple and was dead before its next turn. Amoebas were no challenge, especially since the fire/acid was an easy help. They had to kill the demon twice before sundering the altar, but 1 vs 5 (with the 2 pets) was no problem. Rogue's stealth damage killed one Vegepygmie in surprise round, the others were quickly dispatched. Minmal damage taken by PCs.

    They solved 4 riddles (couldn't read one of them). When the lever with the hydra head materialized they realized it was time for the final fight and explicitly asked me if I would regrow the Hydra heads so they could fight it at full force (they wanted a challenge after waltzing through the level). I allowed it and they fully buffed up before pulling the lever... since the picture showed a hydra they brought potions to deal with a hydra... shield of faith, barskin, resist energy (fire), bull's strength and enlarge person. Admittedly: they sold almost everything from level 1 and used a good chunk of cash on the potions. They plan to pick up their armor and weapons as loot instead of buying it. Anyway, with all those potions invested you see why they wanted to fight full strength Hydra. The thing lasted 1.5 rounds while they beat it to death and resisted the flame attack. It would have switched to bite for 2nd round but it didn't get a second round. One PC did have a critical hit with 6 damage + 12 strength = 18 *2 that really helped the Hydra along.

    The first level was fantastic, this one was a bit on the boring side. I'm still very optimistic about the campaign and appreciative of the work you've put in. Looking forward to running number 3 next week. If you have any advice on how to increase difficulty it would be well received.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Yup, the earlier levels tend to be a bit easier than the later ones. If your party is strong, then you could probably turn on the advanced template for enemies until level 4 or 5. I may make a few adjustments to the level to increase the difficulty of both the enemies and the riddles.

      Two pets is a big boon in early levels, so that might also be swinging things a bit. Level 3 is more challenging that level 2, so I'd love to hear how that goes!

  6. So, my group played this last week and I don't know if it was supposed to be a horrifyingly stressful experience, but it kind of ended up being that way. We had little issue with the first two rooms, but we almost tpk'd three times after that.

    First, the demon that we were fighting was completely immune to everything the alchemist could do except his crossbow, which the demon promptly sundered using Shatter. Our fighter took an unlucky crit and went down despite my best attempts as the bard using CLW on him, and our rogue got hit by the cause fear and fled to the magic missile trap where he was promptly knocked unconscious. I managed to get the fighter back up, but if I hadn't there was no way we would have been able to kill the thing and it would have eventually killed all of us.

    In the vegepygmy room, the alchemist took down all 4 with bombs in the surprise round and the round after that, but then sent me to investigate the body because I was the only one with heal trained and the DM wouldn't let me heal check without touching the body. As a bard with 12 con, it was nearly impossible for me to make the save and only the potion of remove disease stopped me from dying from constitution damage when I had 4 con left. The fighter and alchemist fortunately both passed their fortitude saves when they had to touch me, but I'm well aware that if either of them had failed...well they had to roll a 13 and 15 on the dice respectively to pass the FIRST save, so any subsequent saves would have most likely been failures. I rolled a 13 myself and that wasn't enough.

    Well, we tried to sleep off my constitution damage before taking on the one-headed hydra, but ditched the idea after two nights when it became obvious that we'd be ambushed by increasing numbers of monsters every night until we died or killed the boss. I was at 8 constitution. When we attacked the hydra, both the alchemist and the fighter were doing solid damage but apparently since the fighter explicitly targeted the hydra's head, it ended up splitting the damage between two distinct HP pools and we were unable to take it down quickly. It downed the fighter in about 3 rounds and then brought me from my new "full" HP to dead with its breath weapon (again, I rolled an 11 on the die for the reflex save with a +5 and still failed) in one hit. Admittedly, I have a racial vulnerability to fire, but that's a bit brutal for an above average roll on my reflex save. The alchemist finally killed it when he had 2 HP left, but that was so close to being a wipe. I'm quite aware that I got the worst end of things, but *everyone* was extremely stressed out.

    1. Woah! Sorry everything was so stressful! Most people actually think that this level is a bit too easy, but it looks like with bad roll and bad luck we can get close to TPK's.

      Abirkandilu Demon is a CR 3 monster, but taking away his summon monster and giving him regeneration 4 might bump him up to CR 4. It seems like you got unlucky a few times, as this should have been a pretty standard encounter. Did you take advantage of a surprise round? Were you able to destroy the altar?

      It kind of sounds like your DM wanted you to touch the body, which isn't at all the intent. There are plenty of clues and roll to be made to determine that this is bad stuff. Glad the potion of remove disease was able to save you though, that is what it is there for. Note that the fighter and alchemist wouldn't have to make saves against the mold from touching you - there's nothing about that in the description.

      Sounds like the pyorhydra fight was run a bit incorrectly. You cannot target the head with an attack, only a sunder attempt. Each head only has 5hp, so any fighter attack should have taken it off and prevented bites and breath weapons. Speaking of which, the save for the pyrohydra's breath weapon is DC 16, so with an 11 plus 5 you should have made it.

      Sounds like your GM made a few innocent mistakes in there which unbalanced the encounters - you shouldn't have needed to touch the russet mold for a heal check if you didn't want to, the alchemist and fighter didn't need to save against the mold, the pyrohydra should have been beheaded, and you should have made the save against the breath weapon. That's okay, mistakes happen, Jacob's Tower is for GMs to learn too.

      That being said, the Jacob's Tower's levels are designed to be tough at higher levels, where TPK's are always an option and people do go down. Numbers and saves alone aren't enough to save you, but careful thinking is. Some people find the challenge really fun, and love a good death or close fight. If you do continue with the module after that stressful experience, you should recommend to your GM to play at one level above the recommended level. It should be much easier that way and less stressful.

    2. Thanks for your insightful reply. Our DM has a few months of experience under his belt, but probably still has a bit to learn. I'm not entirely sure but I think he saw the words "russet mold" and went to look up the normal rules for it rather than your modified version.

      The main problem we had with the demon was some bad saves vs fear and a crit, but our alchemist literally couldn't do anything as his bombs only did fire or acid and the demon resisted both. Just a little food for thought. We did destroy the alter after about 2 rounds when it became obvious that it was healing up again.

    3. It happens. That's great that the alchemist is able to switch between fire and acid, but bad luck that the enemy was resistant to both. Altar wasn't though! I'm sure he'll grab some de-buffing discoveries in the future against enemies like this.

  7. Just finished running this level recently, I really enjoyed it! Only issue was, it was rather easy for them. The riddles were relatively easy, and the monsters... lets just say they had fun dying round 1 to the half orc barbarian. The russet mold and the hood were neutralized by the rangers alcohol, and he actually used it to easily take the amoebas out (fire + alcohol = my new reoccurring nightmare as GM). The Vegepygmy fight was rather fun as no one had piercing weapons, but they killed it pretty quick. The arbikandulu wasn't that hard, and they killed the pyrohydra like round 2. I did get some fun things off though, ex the wizard taking like 1/3 of his health from the entangle, and he barbarian getting a javelin to his face for 10 damage (and later on a skum's trident for the same amount), but they got through pretty easy. Our party was a 3rd level half orc barbarian, a 2nd level rogue, a 2nd level wizard (evocation specialist) and a 1st level ranger (who used catch off guard and beer bottles to twf). Overall, I liked the level a lot and I am looking forward to level 3.

    1. Glad you liked it! The difficulty does kick up a notch at levels 4/5. The first few levels are designed to be an introduction so they are a bit easier.

      Why are there different level PCs in the group? I'm not surprised that a 3rd level barbarian was able to carry the group through.

    2. It was just because they were a transfer from another campaign where they kinda broke the campaign and we had to get rid of them. I just finished running level 4 and comments will be up shortly.

  8. Hooooo boy, that was a fun session. I was worried at first. The group easily solved the riddles, and the first three fights went down with nary any damage taken (or problems, really). They didn't actually realize the altar needed to be destroyed until the demon got back up. The rogue lost a weapon to shatter, and the sorcerer lost his staff. The inquisitor had a blast attempting to swing around that greataxe hidden away.

    The forest room screwed over the inquisitor, who took 5 CON damage. The hydra, despite it's head reduction, proved quite the challenge. It knocked out the inquisitor and sorcerer in one round. What followed was the inquisitor dragged to his feet, the rogue and eidolon distracting the hydra, the rogue running to the 'magic missile' trap and getting knocked out, since he thought it was a heal. The summoner got knocked out soon after, and then the inquisitor was leading the hydra on a wild goose chase while the revived sorcerer got others on their feet.

    It ended with the hydra critting the summoner for massive damage, killing them. It was the quite the match. Groups been really enjoying all this. Looking forward to the next part!

    1. Awesome stuff, and thank you so much for the feedback. Glad that you guys are having a good time. Sounds like things have been very close so far. Things will get a little harder over all come level 5 so far, so if things stay tough for the next few levels, you might want to level them up to an extra character level.

  9. Great fun!
    Our Rogue Player gave up his Char for an Alchemist, leading to the following group: Human Fighter, Ratfolk Ranger, Elf Bard, Halforc Alchemist.

    They were pretty scared of the Hydra all through the level.

    The first fight was quite boring. The Hood fell down, missed and landed on the floor. 4 Characters' attacks were too much, especially from the greatsword wielding fighter.
    The riddle was solved quickly, even though I wasn't well prepared and forgot to translate it to German for my group.

    Then they went right - why would you do this? I totally suspected them going to the left...

    The Alchemist walked straight on the trap and took the javelin for full damage. He was then noticed by the Vegepygmi, causing them to take cover behind the walls/trees.

    The fighter went straight in and the fight was short. But the Ranger chose to touch the fungus and got infected. I was quite sad, because the player already missed half of the first level and I didn't expect him to survive the Russet Mold. But he made 8 of 9 Fortitude Saves before the Potion was found and identified. The group was cursing you a little bit for such a high CR threat, but in the end nobody died. They even managed to use mage hand to get the two daggers from the corpse.
    I quickly translated the riddle, but it was no problem for them.

    The next trap was avoided but they tried to speak with the demon (wow no murder hobos!), who wasn't much into smalltalk. He hit the Alchemist with a full attack and scared the fighter away. But a well aimed bomb on the altair and some arrows from the Ranger and Bard killed him. Meanwhile the fighter ran away and was even healed by the upper left symbol.
    The riddle was solved quickly.

    The amoebas were no problem either, but they couldn't find out how the crystals worked. This riddle wasn't solved so the Hydra remained with two heads. I was pretty sure that they would solve the last riddle and they didn't have much trouble so far, so I chose not to give them the last chance.

    The shattering glass did some damage and the raging Hydra opened with a charge at the fighter and landed two hits, sending him to the ground. The bard came to heal and the fighter got up, giving the Hydra a double target for its Breath Weapon. Both fell down bleeding. The Hydra was at about half of its HP, after one hit from the fighter, some arrows and a Frost Bomb from the Alchemist.(Thats your fault! My player used your Alchemist Guide :-D )

    So now it was two vs one.
    The Alchemist was smart and hid between the trees, making it impossible for the Hydra to attack. So it charged at the Ranger, but after two more frost bombs came back to the Alchemist for some Breath Weapon fun. He instantly went to the ground, leaving a Ranger at 8 HP and the Hydra at 5 HP.

    Everyone thought this would end in a TPK - the ranger being small and out of point blank range, so even a straight hit would only make 1d6 damgage.
    What happened was one of the most appreciated and well deserved critical hits in my PF career :-)

    The group was thrilled again and so was I.
    I only wish I would have been able to visualize the raging Hydra in the force cage during the dungeon - it wasn't as omnipresent as I wanted it to be.

    Thanks again for your great work!

    1. Great fun! Sounds like the last fight was nice and close. Glad good tactics and some luck saved the day.

      If you have the pdf (and I believe you do) take a look at the modified russet mold. It's a CR 3 hazard with only has two fortitude saves - not the full blown CR 6 stuff.

      Good call on adjusting for the last riddle.

      The earlier levels are a little easier (they are meant for new players too), so the difficulty will ramp up as you go forward. Good luck and I'm excited to hear what happens next!

  10. Ok, my group just finished with this second level of the tower. Again, they did not need to sleep and did it all in one go, however they were fairly resource taxed and still took a fair amount of damage and used up most of their stuff. The thing that gave them the most trouble was probably the russet mold. The Monk/sorcerer forgot that the body was there, and even though he was trying to be careful and not touch it when he first entered the room, rushed right onto it to share the lot he found with the party. No one was able to identify the Vegepygmies or the russet mold, so they had no idea what was about to happen. The monk/sorcerer succeeded his first save, and good thing too because he failed the second and took an unlucky 11 con damage from it (he has 13 con base), and went down to 9 hp. He proceeded to stay out of literally every fight afterwards, out side of once or twice acid splashing when things got a little spooky for the rest of the party. The bard had mage hand, and since the russet mold only released spores in a 5 ft area, I saw no reason why he couldn't use that to bypass the sleight of hand check they otherwise would have needed to loot the body, since the items were all lightweight. Next they fought the demon. The paladin used smite evil on the demon and dealt like 20 damage in one shot, while the bard archer, the witch, and the monk (who is normally our only other front liner) stayed back. the demon was able to successfully fear the paladin, who had to then spend 5 turns running away. The demon began to heal up, and started using it's ranged attack on the rest of them. Since it's not explicitly stated, I told them that it was throwing chunks of broken rubble from a bag it had, which resembled sculptures that had been demolished and broken into pieces. Assuming from the cause fear from earlier, they assumed that it would sling offensive spells at them, and they thought it was super hilarious that instead it basically was just throwing bricks at them, and spend like the next 2 hours of the session making brick jokes and insisting they loot the bag of bricks. I think I just made a new meme. Anyways, after seeing it throw a brick they decided to run away, and even though it says that the demon will keep attacking I decided not to have it follow, since even though an explicit range isn't given, I thought it would be weird to have the alter healing it from halfway across the map. I also didn't want them to trigger the next riddle while they were away from the room, so I just had it stay there and heal. On the second attempt they beat it pretty quickly, the paladin requiring all of like 2 turns to drop it to negative hp. They could then whale on it to keep it down while figuring out they need to destroy the alter.

  11. The amoebas gave them some trouble, dealing a decent bit of damage to the bard (who was in the hidden room when they emerged and got trapped there), and a lot of damage to the witch, who got grappled and could only break free if the thing rolled a 1 to maintain the grapple. she went down to 3 hp. the paladin and the witch made good use of the crystals though, dealing lots of damage to the amoebas with them. They guessed the riddles laughably easy, taking no longer than 15 seconds max for each one, and it was usually their first guess (except for when they guessed "bricks" for the one in room 5). After that they went right into fighting the hydra. The paladin was at almost full health going into this fight, and everyone else just hung back while she face tanked it (with only 1 head, it wasn't hard). she rolled 2 crits in a row and the hydra was down in like 3 turns. Really liked the level, but felt like the riddles were way to easy. I would say either make them much harder or give the hydra an extra base head. To compensate for the increased difficulty, maybe you could make the russet mold less brutal. In my mind the russet mold was a much bigger threat than even the hydra, so it would make sense to transfer some of that difficulty (perhaps only 2d4 con). Anyways, right after that they went to leave, though first they wondered if they could take the crystals in room 3 to sell. I thought why not, they were magic crystals after all. They managed to pry one out with a strength check of 25, but the other I said crumbled to dust after someone rolled a nat 1. I let them sell it for 100gp, since they were a bit behind on wealth for their level anyways. Well, that's about everything that happened. Thanks again for the module, we are having tons of fun with it! it seems to be just challenging enough for them to have a couple close calls but still be able to triumph in the end.

    1. Sounds like a good time, and nice job improvising those details! Yeah, the russet mold is pretty brutal - in the paid pdf I made it a lot less deadly.

      I'm on the fence about the riddles. I think they are easy, but I also think it's more fun for the players to get them after a bit of thought then to not get them at all.

      Glad you are having fun! The levels get more complex and intricate as you go forward, so get excited! Always happy for the feedback.

    2. Oh, I wasn't aware that the paid version of the module was an updated version. I was intending to wait until floor 13 to but it because of that. Are there a lot of significant details that were changed in any of the upcoming floors?

    3. It's got some handfuls of tweaks and odds and ends. If I recall, most of the changes are balancing issues like that one.

      Generally, I have less control over statblocks on the blog, because I just link to the srd. But, on the paid version, I tend to edit the statblocks a lot to make things easier. The russet mold is one of the statblocks, but a lot of the bosses get edits to make them more fun, more balanced, and easier to run.

  12. Took two sessions to finish the second level for my group. They finally understand the difference between an attack roll and a damage roll now though. They have also learned that in the future, atleast someone is going to need a rank in disable device and someone will need a rank in use magic device, not one of the five players chose that skill.

    Used two executioners hoods. They missed their slams in the surprise round, they missed their slams when they made climb checks to launch again. Promptly dealt with.
    In the southeast room we discovered only one person had spellcraft, and she came up just a hint short on identifying the rune as inactive, so our bravest adventurer (who was at full health) decided to test out the "healing rune" and took the javelin to the face.
    The vegepygmies were alright to fight but the group got bogged down with the difficult terrain, and our hunter stayed outside the room, so while not difficult it did get slow. Luckily the bard thought to simply magehand the items away from the russet mold. In the Northeast room they succesfully identified the rune, and in discussing the demon which they also identified, suggested pools of water to make reflections. I expected them to pour water on the rune to lure the demon in but instead they backtracked and fought the oozes, making sure to activate the healing rune on the way there. Rolled 20 points of healing on the character with 2 damage.
    Added more oozes for good measure, including one that plops down from the ceiling after one round. As stated, no one was able to activate the crystals so they fought them the hard way. The perception check for the hidden room was a success even at full DC, but without a way to open the lock I kindly ruled that the residual acid from the oozes would burn the lock off if they gave it some time.

    Which leads to the most critical part of their entire playthrough. The silversheen inside the chest was used almost immediately after, on one side of the indestructible glass walls, so when they opened the door to the demon room, the demon only had time to cast cause fear before seeing a big old indestructible mirror on the wall. A few failed will saves on the demons part and he spent his next two turns beating against a wall to no avail, while the party dispatched him a couple times until the altar was lit up.

    The hydra fight was pretty quick but scary for them. a good cone of flame and some strong reach let them learn a few more lessons but the one head was no match for the animal companions acid maw.

    All in all good level, easy for the most part but incredibly educational. Oh and ive decided my nine is played by Tilda Swinton, in a creepy, friendly, androgynous kind of way.

    1. Sounds like a good time, with some good lessons learned. How did they do with the riddles?

      I love Tilda Swinton as Nine!

    2. The riddles were quickly answered, I meant to swap out a riddle for the one from the hobbit but forgot to. If I run this again I'll probably make a six headed hydra and use all five riddles.

      Level three is going easy breezy even after bumping up the difficulty for my five person party, just that much more opportunity to pass skill checks. The level is not done yet though.

    3. Very fun! Looking forward to hearing about level 3!