Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jacob's Tower, Level 4: Bernard's Prison

Level 4: Bernard’s Prison
9,500xp / Max 9,775 gp (2.5 - 3.5 Hours)

In Level 4, the PCs will be placed in an unfortunate situation classic to the genre: Prison. All items will be stripped from them, and they will have to make do with just their wits, fists, and whatever else they can find. Sorcerers, Monks, and similar classes will be at a huge advantage over Wizards (who need spellbooks), Gunslingers (who need firearms), Clerics (who need holy symbols), and other item dependent adventurers. However, the more versatile classes and (players) will relish the opportunity to show that they can still perform optimally in sub-optimal circumstances. Depending on composition, some parties may find Level 4 a cake walk, while others will have a very tough time.

Not to fear though. Weapons and other goodies will be found along the way, and halfway through the level, one stolen item, such as a weapon, spellbook, or holy symbol, will be returned to each hero. Level 4 contains fewer encounters than other Levels to make things a bit easier. None-the-less, fights like the Aberrant Masterpiece can still be very, very difficult.

The walls, floor, and ceilings in Bernard’s Prison are made of large, grey granite blocks. Every room is lit by burning torches in evenly spaced wall sconces. The ceiling is about 15 feet high in all Rooms except Room 10.

Important Note: As always, know your players.  While some players will love this change in pace, others will feel cheated and useless.  If you think your players won't enjoy losing their items, then start them with one item and place the rest of their items in Room 5.  If you do this, add an additional Goblin Dog to Room 2, an two additional Zombies to Room 4, apply the advanced template to the Centipede in Room 6, and add an additional Chon Chon and two Sagari to second turn of the Aberrant Masterpiece.

In Transit: The Sentence

After stepping on the platform at the end of Level 3, the party is suddenly plunged into darkness. In the inky black, they know they have each been separated from the rest of the group and are standing on a podium in the middle of an immense room. Even through the darkness, they can feel a thousand angry eyes staring them at them. A deep, booming voice reads all of their past transgressions, sins, and errors. Each character should make a DC 10 Will save to avoid breaking down during the verbal onslaught. For every step away from Chaotic Evil, characters take a -2 penalty on this save due to shame. For example, Neutral Evil characters take a -2 penalty, True Neutral characters take a -4 penalty, Lawful Neutral characters take a -6 penalty, and Lawful Good characters take a -8 penalty.

After the transgressions have been read, each of our characters feels a thousand rough hands ripping his possessions from him. If the character made the previous Will save, he may attempt a single DC 20 Sleight of Hand check to keep a small item, such as a light weapon, hand crossbow, holy symbol, or spell book. Characters are at a +2 bonus to conceal a dagger, and a +4 bonus to conceal very small items such as a single coin, shuriken, or ring. Any animal companions or familiars are taken as well, though tiny or smaller animal companions or familiars may be concealed instead of an item.

Room 1: You Wake Up in a Cell…

Our heroes groggily come to in a prison cell 24 hours later. They are hungry, thirsty, and sore. All items except for those concealed, including spell books and holy symbols, are gone. Any prepared spell casters can only remember preparing one spell of each spell level, but spontaneous casters have access to their full retinue.

By the time our heroes wake up, they will have been without food and drink for a full 24 hours. Penalties due to thirst will start to set in for each character in a number of hours equal to his Constitution score. Check the Starvation and Thirst rules for more information on how to apply these penalties.

Any familiars or animal companions who have been taken may make a DC 15 Escape Artist check, and then a DC 15 Stealth check. If the creature makes both of these checks, he escapes from his captors and sneaks into Room 1 with our heroes as they are waking up. However, the familiar lacks any memory of his captivity beyond a vague notion of being tied up and escaping.

The hands and feet of each PC is bound. Fortunately the knots are poorly made, and a mere DC 10 Escape Artist check or Strength check is all that is needed to break free.

The cell is locked, but keys dangle loosely from a hook 15 feet away (1d). These keys will open all cells in this room, but nothing else on the Level. A shaggy, friendly looking dog sits next to the keys and pants, staring vacantly at our heroes (1e).

A DC 35 Escape Artist check will see a Medium sized character wriggle through the bars. Small characters need only a 30. Anything smaller (such as Tiny Familiars) can leave the cell automatically. Every DC 27 Strength check to bend the bars lowers the Escape Artist Check by 5.

A DC 20 Handle Animal check will get the dog to retrieve the keys. Every failure confuses and excites the dog, and the DC is temporarily raised to 25 for half an hour. If they can figure no other way out of the cell, our heroes may spend a long time trying to get the dog to cooperate, slowly dehydrating in the process.

At any point, a DC 30 Handle Animal check on the dog will get him to fight alongside the PCs for the rest of the Level. Otherwise he will be friendly, but will not leave the room.

There are two other cells in this room. The cell immediately next to the heroes (1b) has a Human named Doug, and the other cell (1c) has a Half-Elf named Bethany. Both will be taciturn and sullen until they see the other heroes escape. If pressed, they will explain that they were heroes who tried Jacob’s Tower but were captured and put in this prison. They have been here for months, if not years. Without daylight it is impossible to tell.

When the heroes escape their cells, Bethany will start pleading with the heroes to release her. She says she can fight with them and get them past the guards. However, a DC 22 Sense Motive check will reveal that she will work against them to curry favor. If released, Bethany will produce but refuse to hand over a dagger. She has the same stats as a Beggar.

Doug will remain taciturn despite the heroes’ escape. He tells the heroes to leave him in his cell, as he doesn’t want to get in trouble with the guards. Our heroes will have two chances to make a DC 22 Diplomacy check to convince him to help. If they succeed, he will attempt to escape with them until he dies. Doug has the stats of CR 1 Initiate.

On a table along the southern wall (1f), there are many scraps of leather, string, wood, and metal. The PCs may attempt three DC 12 Craft (Weapon or Bow, depending) checks to create weapons before all materials are either used up or broken. Each success results in one of the following items with the fragile feature: shortbow, sling, club, dagger, heavy pick, light hammer, or 10 arrows.

For each failure or non-attempt, one improvised sling and one improvised club can be salvaged. Because they are improvised, these salvaged weapons impose a -4 penalty to attack. Regardless of successes or failures, our heroes can salvage a lockpick and 30 sling bullets from the junk.

A unlocked iron door separates Room 1 from Room 2. The door is reasonably soundproof, so the denizens of Room 2 will not hear the heroes escaping unless they start shouting.

Room 2: Gambling Orcs

Two Orcs (2a) sit on wooden chairs over a table (2b). They are engaged in some sort of game with an arrow, spinning it on the table and watching it fall. A mangy and smelly Goblin Dog looks on, confused and occasionally yipping. The entire group is fairly loud and distracted, and suffers -4 penalties to Perception to notice the PCs coming in. If the Goblin Dog notices the heroes before the Orcs, he will spend an entire round to get the Orcs' attention. As soon as they notice the heroes, they will draw weapons and attack.

If Bethany has been saved, she will start shouting “The Prisoners are escaping” as soon as she enters the room, draw her dagger, and engage in combat with the PCs. If Bethany’s dagger has been taken from her, she will shout, then run and cower in the corner.

Each Orc has one falchion and one javelin. Each of these items are made for medium characters and can be looted.

A iron door (2d) sits in the northern wall of this room. A heavy duty combination lock keeps the door closed, although a DC 30 Disable Device check or DC 30 Strength check will open it. A roll of parchment is pinned to the handle. It states:

Note to self –

Gear for Guards. Keep locked. Don’t forget!
Right: Rank of Wizard Spell ‘Vision.’
Left: Region of Heaven that belongs to Andoletta.
Right: Year of the First Siege of Absalom.

– Bernard

A DC 11 Knowledge Arcana check will tell the heroes that Vision is a 7th rank Wizard Spell. A DC 11 Knowledge Planes check will reveal that Andoletta is the 4th region of Heaven. A DC 11 Knowledge History check will reveal Absalom was first besieged in the year 23. If our heroes can get all of these, then the door opens. However, each character can only attempt each Knowledge checks once.  After three failed attempts the lock will stop working, fuse, and no longer open.

Room 3: Guards’ Armory

Beyond the door is a small and not too impressive armory. It contains a number of basic weapons which our heroes would normally ignore, but which now could prove very useful. The armory houses 5 longswords, 5 bucklers, and 5 pieces of leather armor (3a). Two of each of these items are small sized, while the rest are medium sized.

Tucked away in a corner (3b) is a pouch with spell components, an Extend Metamagic rod (Lesser), and a Wand of Cure Light Wounds with 10 charges (CL1).

Room 4: Torture Chamber

The door between Room 2 and Room 4 is slightly ajar. Inside is a frightening sight, horrific torture devices such as a Rack and a Judas Cradle (4a). These items are about 3 feet tall, though they are very difficult to stand on.  There is also an Iron Maiden and a Brazen Bull which extends to the ceiling and provide full cover (4b).

Littered throughout the room are 4 lifeless corpses and one skeleton draped among the devices. If touched or attacked, the corpses will come to life as Zombies to attack the heroes. If they are not touched or attacked, wait two or three rounds and then bring them all to life. The Zombies must take a full round action that provokes to spring to life and stand up.

The Skeleton (4d) carries a small fiddle, and will begin to play a chilling song. Every round, the sounds of a different instrument will join the tune until the sounds of a full blown orchestra emanate from the fiddle. As long as he is playing, all Zombies in the room gain +1 to attack and damage, and will be clear that all Zombies are swaying slightly to the music.

The fiddle is actually a magical item, functionally identical to the Pipes of Sounding except that it takes a Perform (String instruments) check to activate.

A heavy iron door to the west is locked with a DC 30 lock.

A small table in the south western corner of the room houses three books on torture, as well as a note (4e). The note reads:

Note to self –

Real key in my favorite book. Fake keys in those inaccurate books I got on my birthday.  They don’t even understand basic anatomy. Garbage.

– Bernard

Upon examining “On Pain,” our heroes will find a copper key. A DC 15 Heal check will reveal that this book appears to be accurate. Placing this key in the door will open it. Additionally, “On Pain” will act as a masterwork tool for the Heal skill.

Upon examining “Breaking the Spirit,” our heroes will find a silver key. A DC 15 Heal check will reveal that this book has a number of serious mistakes regarding humanoid anatomy. Placing this key in the door will set off a Poison Dart Trap that automatically aims at the nearest PC.

Upon examining “Beyond Sanity,” our heroes will find a golden key. A DC 15 Heal check will reveal that this book far overestimates the individual’s capacity for pain. Placing this key in the door will set off a Poison Dart Trap that automatically aims at the nearest PC.

The DC 15 Heal checks may only be made once per book, and failing a check reveals the opposite answer. This roll should be made secretly.

Room 5: The Loose Beast

The torture chamber may have been chilling, but this room is just gristly. Blood, organs, and entrails cover the walls in dark splatter marks. Five half-orc corpses are spread around the room. Most are dismembered, and some are barely recognizable as anything more than a quivering pile of red Jello.

The cages on the western wall have been torn open in a tangle of bent bars and shredded steel. The northern most cage is empty, and the other cages contain piles of blood and guts that may have once been animals.

It is immediately apparent what has caused this carnage. A Yeth Hound stands with his back towards the door, feasting loudly on one of the corpses. Normally frightening enough, this emaciated (and recently emancipated) canine is splattered with blood, his skin matted with flecks of pink flesh and brain. He eats loudly, and is at a -4 penalty to notice our heroes approach. When he does notice them, his first attack will be to bay. After that, the Hound will attack whomever is closest.

There are a number of large boxes along the southern wall of the room, one for every PC. Each PC’s name is pinned to the top of one of the boxes. Ask each player what one item he wants back, be it holy symbol, spellbook, weapon, familiar, animal companion, or potion. That is the item inside the box.

At this point, prepared spellcasters and others may want to sleep for the night. If they still do not have access to water or food, let them know that thirst and starvation rules will apply. If they still wish to rest, apply the rules appropriately hour by hour. Otherwise, our heroes will be unmolested.

By the northern most cage, a heavily blood-splattered but still legible note is pinned to the wall:

Note to self –

Don’t forget to feed the Yeth Hound! If I don’t feed him he might get angry.

– Bernard

Fed Tuesday,
Fed Wednesday,
Fed Thursday (A little late today),
Fed Saturday (But left most of his food outside, I’ll get it later)
Fed Sunday (Maybe? Can’t remember)
Fed Wednesday (Looks Angry)

Our heroes can search the corpses if they like. On most they find nothing, although a DC 15 Perception check will reveal that one has a diamond ring worth 200gp.

Room 6: Centipede and Bernard’s Corpse

A Giant Whiptail Centipede  (6a) is crammed into this small room. He is feasting on Bernard’s corpse (6b), and thus will take a -4 to Perception to notice our heroes. However, given the extremely tight quarters, the creature will likely notice them quickly.

A patch of ground near the eastern wall has been torn up, revealing dirt and loose stone. This area is difficult terrain.

The Centipede had been eating Bernard’s stomach and thighs, so his face is mostly intact. Bernard is an ugly Orc with massive scars across his face. A note in his pocket reads:

Note to self –

The Green Door will only open if I tell it to open.

– Bernard

P.S. Gotta get rid of the Centipede. It keeps tunneling in here.

Along the eastern wall there is a very strange Green Door with two gigantic eyes and a mouth, but no door handle (6c). If our heroes tell it to open, it will simply say “You are not Bernard,” and will not open. To fool it, one of our heroes needs to make a DC 20 Disguise check to look like Bernard. He can use the corpse as reference. Alternatively, a DC 20 Heal check can carefully remove Bernard's face from his skull, which will fool the door if worn as a mask.  Propping the corpse up in front of the door will do nothing unless the corpse is somehow made to speak.

At the south eastern corner of the room (6d) is a wooden door with a note attached to it. The note reads:

Note to self –

Don't forget, do NOT go through this door. There are a ton of traps.  Just take the secret door. Don’t forget, [strange symbols and runes]”

– Bernard

A DC 22 Linguistics check will reveal that the strange symbols and runes say “press the third stone on the wall left of the corner in the left cell” in Orc. Alternatively, knowledge of the Orc language will reveal the writing.

The secret door is in the southern cell on the west side of the room (6e). Finding it without reading the Orc on the note takes a DC 30 perception check. Finding it after reading the Orc is automatic.

Room 7: Bernard’s Gear

The door opens up to what is clearly Bernard’s personal gear, a real treasure trove. An ornate set of green +1 Chainmail and samurai helmet is displayed on a stand in the center of the room. An Amulet of Natural Armor +1 with complex jade carvings hangs around the armor’s neck. Two Masterwork Wakizashi’s are crossed on the wall. One is Alchemical Silver, with an engraving of a slain werewolf on the blade. The other is cold iron, with an engraving of a demon cut in two.

Room 8: Traps, Traps, and more Traps

Hopefully, your heroes will be able to avoid this room altogether by discovering the secret passage. If not, they have a rough time ahead of them. This room is filled to the brim with traps. However, with a high enough perception and disable device, the hazards of this room can be identified and disarmed without causing too much damage.

8a: Burning Hands Trap, activated by pressure plate.

8b: Rock Deadfall, activated by trip wire and affecting its own square and one square west of it.

8c: Filthy Slasher Trap, activated by proximity.

8d: Ungol Dust Trap, activated by pressure plate.  When activated, the gas billows from that area and affects any within the hallway.

8e: Fireball Trap, activated by proximity.

8f: Wall Scythe Trap, activated by location.

After all of that, the wooden door is both unlocked and untrapped.

Room 9: Secret Passage

If our heroes have found the secret passageway, then they have saved themselves a lot of trouble. The passageway is dark and cramped, but there are no traps to be found. The path leads directly to a door to Room 10, which is unlocked and not hidden from either side.

Room 10: Aberrant Masterpiece

This room is larger than other rooms, with complex designs and runes scrawled into the walls. At the top of a 40 foot tall domed ceiling is a horrifying mural: a complex and sprawling oil painting depicting strange and otherworldly aberrations. The work is actually very impressive, a mesmerizing masterpiece by all accounts, a Sistine chapel of bizarre Eldritch horrors. There are three types of creatures set against a backdrop of disquieting and whirling stars.

Tiny green-eyed, fanged horse heads with tentacles for bodies wheel through the foreground. A DC 12 Dungeoneering check will reveal these as Sagari, flying aberrations who can sicken with their whinnies.

Among the Sagari, flying humanoid heads flap their incredibly large ears to keep aloft. A DC 14 Dungeonering Check will reveal these as Chon Chon, insane creatures who shoot acid and interfere with spells through their constant jabbering.

Lastly, two squat, frog-like creatures stands on their feet, glowing white eyes appearing to grow brighter as our heroes watch. A DC 16 Dungeoneering check will reveal these as Blindheim, strange magical beasts who can blind enemies with their eyes.

As our heroes watch in horror and amazement, creatures begin to peel off the ceiling and fly towards them.  Roll initiative.

On the first turn, 2 Sagari and 2 Chon Chon peel from the wall as a move action in the surprise round. On the second turn, 1 Sagari and 1 Chon Chon peel from the wall as a move action. On the third and the fourth turn, a single Blindheim peels from the wall and lands prone on the ground as a move action. Both Blindeims take 1d6 points of non lethal and 2d6 points of lethal damage from the impact. Each creature should generate in a random square, so roll to determine where each lands.

Once all the monsters are defeated, our heroes have a few moments to rest. Then, once all heroes are in this room, they are suddenly afflicted by a feeling of weightlessness before being pulled up and into the mural. After passing through the mural, they suddenly find that they are re-equipped with all of their gear and falling fast into Level 5, Runewall.

If our heroes are playing only in Jacob's Tower and ranking up to Level 5, then distribute 9,200 gold amongst them evenly.

Sleeping: Starvation

Our heroes may sleep anywhere they like on this level without fear of being bothered. However, there is no food or drink, and without their packs our heroes are going to get very hungry. Follow the standard rules for starvation and thirst.

Level 5: Runewall

Here's a Roll20 compatible map from Anthony Crain.

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

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


  1. Does placing wrong key in room 4 springs poison trap AND electricity trap?

  2. I absolutely love Jacob's Tower, it's been amazing to run it for my players and they've been shocked at how they've been using skill checks they didn't even know existed.

    However this level is the exception... It appears at a very awkward time and seems very anti-fun for the players (at least that's how it happened for us).

    While I like the theory behind forcing players to lose their gear and try to fend for themselves in a bad situation, I feel like this one was too soon? My players had JUST bought themselves some new gear, gotten their first +1 on their weapons and/or armors and JUST started feeling like they might be badasses, and now as they are about to finally use their shiny new stuff - it gets taken away from them before they even get to test it out...

    The next problem we ran into is how this floor can make some characters absolutely USELESS and cannot contribute anything to the group for the 2.5 - 3.5 hours that it takes to get through the floor - beyond maybe helping with the occasional skill check or ineffectual swing of an improvised weapon. We had a Dervish Dancer and without his scimitar he could not do anything - this is already a major threat for him if he ever gets disarmed but losing his weapon for the entire level means he couldn't contribute anything (with no strength bonus to speak of) and lacking precise shot means he couldn't try to use his high dex for ranged attacks.

    Now sure, a Dervish Dancer isn't very common, so this situation wouldn't affect many - but what about prepared spellcasters? Our wizard was completely screwed out of doing anything other than being a piece of meat (albeit an extremely frail piece of meat) and being able to make some skill checks - he can't swing a club and he can't shoot a sling. This means that for the 2.5 - 3.5 hours our wizard sat there twiddling his thumbs because he couldn't do anything. Potentially getting his spellbook back halfway through the level doesn't help either because then he's forced to rest to prepare his spells (and then probably fail the starvation rules due to being a wizard with low fortitude).

    I feel like this could probably be alleviated if everyone gets to keep 1 item right from the start, and prepared spellcasters don't need to be forced to re-prepare?

    Overall this floor was a big disappointment for my players and everyone left the table feeling cheated and bitter - myself included.

    1. I'm glad you are enjoying Jacob's Tower so far (this level excluded), and thanks for the well-reasoned and thorough feedback. It's interesting, I play tested this with a wizard (who couldn't cast any spells) and a bard (who couldn't use bardic performance). They had a great time, and, even though they were next to useless, they found interesting ways to contribute.

      I view Jacob's Tower at low levels as a type of bootcamp. It is as much to teach the players as it is to teach the GM. Losing equipment, through prison, sundering, or stealing, can be part of a varied campaign. The intent of this level is to force the players to think about how they can contribute without it. I'll bet you that the next time the Dervish Dancer's weapon is sundered, he will be better prepared to continue on. The next time the wizard runs out of spells and is unable to rest, he will have a back-up plan.

      Unfortunately, because ever level of the tower is a new experience level, there is no "good time" to put in this level. There will always be just received trinkets and abilities that can't be tested out until level 5.

      But, as always, the number one rule of GMing is know your players. Some players will relish the opportunity to be stretched like this, while others will feel bitter and useless. I'll definitely add a note at the start of the level: if you feel like your party won't enjoy this level, either skip it altogether of give them their items.

      As a side note - carefully read the "Mind Switch" mechanic for level 5. In my play test, the players loved it, but your party might not enjoy it. The level is perfectly serviceable without it.

      I'd love to hear any more critiques you have!

    2. Yeah... My players seem to be primarily focused on combat, they somewhat enjoy the odd distraction from combat but that is definitely their favored activity. I understand that there is always new gear, it just worked out really against my group as they had been practically pawning off everything and saving up and they finally made some real purchases (aside from a few potions) at the end of level 3, then level 4 took them all away.

      It might also have to do with them being relatively new and lacking the experience to think of other ways to contribute, I thought Jacob's Tower would be perfect as a way to refresh them with the system and teach the brand new player that joined our group.

      Other than this floor everything has been great and I don't really have any criticism, we got some hilarious incidents with the rickety bridge on floor 1 (our dwarf paladin nearly died from falling off the bridge about 8 times, he only made it across when he stripped naked), this was repeated with the chasms on floor 3 (said player has sworn an eternal vendetta against all acrobatics checks :D).

      Posy *might* be a little too scary of a level 1 boss, she nearly took out the entire group (our rogue failed the will save spectacularly) - if they didn't have a wand of cure light wounds (one of the players took the rich parents trait so they could buy a wand) I don't think they would have made it through as some clutch healing pulled them through.

      They all loved the ghosts on floor 3, except the orc because they kept standing in his threat range ;)

      When I described the hydra standing in the center of floor 2 - the looks of accusations that I was trying to TPK them was priceless :) and when the first head lay severed on the ground from the first successful riddle the looks of absolute relief that grew on their faces was likewise.

      We are playing Runewall tomorrow, I've already printed out the statblocks and made my reference notes all prepared :)
      I saw the Mind Switch and I'm still debating whether my players would find it fun or not... I know one of them is obsessed with manga and anime involving bodyswapping so it could definitely be interesting.

      I'm eagerly awaiting to see what lies after Gothic :D

    3. It really is amazing how difficult chasms and bridges can be to characters! Our first death was in Level 3 - a character ran ahead and got stuck to the mime, and the rest of the party was unable to get across the chasm in time to save him.

      I've heard other feedback that Posy can be difficult, but in my play test she did absolutely nothing. She never got off a charm person spell and did not hit anybody in either melee or ranged. It's good to hear that she can be difficult (but not impossible, I hope), and I can see how that combat can swing wildly.

      Glad the ghosts and Hydra worked out!

      Runewall can be very chaotic and very fun. My guys had a blast with the mind-switch so I hope you are able to run it. It's different than the handicap of Level 4 in that you actually get to play a full-powered character - just not your own.

      Level 9: Planar should be up in about a week (hopefully)!

      I'd love to hear how Runewall goes!

  3. Hey Zenith,
    I've bought a PDF of this level through PayPal, and I have no idea how to actually receive it. Will you email it through to me, or is there a download link I have missed?

    1. Just sent it over! Sorry for the delay, it can take me a few hours to get to these. Enjoy, and please let me know how it goes!

  4. I have to say, this level was kind of a disappointment. Not only was it easy (the party breezed through with advanced template and hp doubled) but the party hated it. They ended up killing Bethany and hating Doug, and also the rogue did sleight of hand to conceal thieve's tools and picked the cell door lock. No challenge for the party (except the fighter who was blind and vomiting on the floor in the last fight). Also btw the blindheim version you have linked to is outdated, they changed it to a cone and save = immune for 24h. Overall not a fun level for the group, I'm hoping runewall will work better otherwise I may have to further customize the dungeon more then templates. We will see how it goes I suppose. (Rhyme not intended)

    1. Sorry they didn't like it. This seems to be the level that causes the most difficulty. Not to many players like having their stuff taken away from them, surprise surprise.
      Interesting that the level was so easy though. How did the PCs mitigate the lack of equipment? Were they all level 4? What was the party make-up (fighter, rogue, and...?)
      You'll be glad to hear that things get more difficult at runewall, and then up to standard levels above that. These first levels are supposed to be a little easy for training, but crazy that they still breezed through it with advanced template and double hp.

    2. All 4th level, we had a fighter, rogue, barbarian and cleric. The fighter couldn't do much being a twf user, but mind you blind + nauseated does that anyways. The barbarian used a heavy pick and then got a greataxe back. The rouge got a dagger back and also used the arrow as an improvised weapon. The cleric actually carved a wooden holy symbol from the table in the room. Just so you know how that happened.

  5. Whoops, apparently I didn't say how this one went. Welp.

    So the team didn't manage to sneak anything in with them (the rogue was the only one who could've managed to reliably, and he failed the initial will save). But! As luck would have it, a new player joined. Ancestor Oracle (and also evil, though nobody has picked up on it yet).

    Nobody had any craft skill, so they had to make due with improvised clubs and slings for the first couple of rooms. The orcs and dog didn't give trouble, since Doug was getting some lucky crits. The zombie/skeleton room killed their poor NPC assistant and burned their remaining spell resources due to poor rolls on their part. The hound almost killed the eidolin (and the rogue) but they survived and slept their troubles away.

    The centipede scared them a tad bit, up until it practically fell over when the sorcerer destroyed it with massive crits. They actually had enough natural perception to spend an hour and find the hidden switch without making the linguistics check (No clue how not one person had orcish on their list though). The final room honestly wasn't too troubling for them though. Even with the advanced template, they were able to overcome it with only the sorcerer nearly dying due to a choker grabbing him.

    The rogue was great for trap solving this level, but in fights mostly stuck back and failed to swing the sling. The draconic sorcerer was definitely the MVP with his casting and claws.

    The group had some fun though. Played up the gore, made it seem Dark Souls-like. Good time for all.

    1. Sounds about right, and I hope they had a good time! Are you running the website version of JT or the purchased PDF? I think this level got the biggest changes in the PDF (if I am remembering correctly).

  6. Do you happen to know the grid size for the roll20 map? I'm having difficulty aligning to roll20's grid on most of the maps after level 3 :/

  7. May I ask what you used to make your basic maps?

    1. -stares for a long minute, then bursts out laughing-

      Oh my god! How have I never thought of that! You've just opened up an entirely new world for me, thank you ><

  8. Maybe I'm being a bit dumb, but I can't tell- should players get their armor and shields taken away as well?

  9. 2.5-3.5 hours? We outperformed that again! We played 6.5 hours and I already cut some stuff out to speed things up.

    The Group:
    Human Fighter (Greatsword)
    Human Unchained Rogue (TWF)
    Ratfolk Ranger (Ranged)
    Aasimar Cleric of Sarenrae
    Elf Bard

    I didn't give the group time to buy stuff from nine since I didn't want them to spend time on it and didn't want them to buy something totally cool just to have it taken away minutes later.

    The group didn't manage to hide something (well the rogue did, but the ratfolk-player reminded me kindly, that I forgot to let the Rogue make a Will-save. It's not his best save. Not at all...) so they started naked.

    The Ranger instantly tried to command the guard dog and managed it with his first check, even though he didn't care much about handle animal. But the big dumb Fighter wanted the key and a little brawl happened (about 30 nonlethal damage for the Ranger - not the greatest moment of the Fighter-player...) but then the cell was opened.

    The Fighter immediatly opened the door, alarming the Orcs (I advanced the Goblindog and added one Orc). The players had two rounds and took 3 clubs, 1 sling and freed Bethany.
    It was quite a nice fight, but the group managed to avoid most of the attacks. They found the Animal Companion of the Ranger (He didn't meet it yet), a heavily injured Wolf in a cage in the guards room.
    They didn't make their knowledgechecks and thus missed 3 times. The Rogue then took 20 on opening the lock and couldn't join the fight in the next room. But even taking 20 he couldn't open it.

    In the torturechamber I added 1 fiddling skeleton and gave the zombies the fast zombie template as long as they were fiddling. This nearly caused a wipe. The group was heavily injured, bringing all of them but the Rogue to one-digit hitpoints. Doug even died in this fight.
    They made some mediocre healchecks and thus weren't sure about the right book, but luckily took the right one. I hid 2 Cure Moderate Wounds Potions in a bookshelf in this room on the fly because I was sure they wouldn't survive the next room without.

    Having bad experience as a player with Yeth-Hounds (RotRL), I didn't enhance this creature. But this time luck was with the party. The Rogue made his stealthcheck and the whole party had an initiative above 20. That meant 4 Sneak attacks and a hit with a falchion from the Fighter while flatfooted - dead before even noticing the intruders.
    The Group chose: Fighter:Armor, Bard:Wand of CLW, Cleric:Holy Symbol, Rogue: Weapon, Ranger:Bow&Arrows.

    The Centipede met the same cruel fate as the Yeth-Hound. Sneaky group - dead centipede. They tried some stuff but rolled high on diplomacy and bluff and low on disguise at the door. So no treasure to get here. Nobody could read orc, so they had to deal with the traps. They disarmed only one and the Rogue and the Ranger took some damage from the remaining.

    I should have used the advenaced template in the last fight again, since the group didn't have too much trouble. Only the Chon-Chons were a problem, because they only had one archer in the group. I substituted the Chokers with Blindheims, because I liked the blinding. And it worked, the Cleric, Bard and Wolf were blinded.

    The level was fun again, only the Cleric player didn't like being useless but it didn't completely kill the fun for him.

    Thanks again and a lot

    ---> Runewall will be played at jan 14th

    1. This one is a tricky level, but glad that the players liked it! Too bad about Doug!

      Nice work on the stealth-ing group!

  10. Hmm was running Jacobs tower to test out my Occultist build (with trappings of the warrior). I am playing with him solo (some adjustments like a level higher, a few more skill points, max hp and such). But without any items on such an item dependent class, not sure how to handle this level.

    1. Tricky! Normally the most item dependent classes can rely on their barbarian buddies to get through this level. I'd start with one or two items of your choice, then get the rest in room 5.

  11. That map is offscale for roll20 sadly.

  12. Got to run this level and it was a pretty good time. The party was really suited for it though so it wasn't that much of a challenge. The monk sorcerer managed to shine as the only thing he lost was the spell slots, which he didn't really rely on to begin with. The witch was super fine because she was just able to evil eye and cackle the whole time, and the paladin found a replacement falchion (her preferred weapon) in the very first fight. The bard archer was effected probably the most, but the witch made a bow and arrows for him, which lasted until he got is own magic one back. The witch's familiar managed to break out, so the impact on them really was minimal. To escape, the bard swiped the keys with mage hand. No real challenges until the centipede, which took a decent chunk out of the paladin and sorcermonk, but nothing they couldn't heal. They really liked Bernard, and were disappointed to find him dead. The bard managed to exactly make the linguistics check to bypass the trapped room (sadly), and so they were able to go right to the final fight. The fight was actually a fair challenge for them. half way through the bard ran out of arrows, but managed to take out the chon chon before he did. the chokers put up a good fight, and knocked the sorcermonk to 11 hp and the witch to like 7 and if they had managed to hit on just 1 more attack, they could have easily dropped one or both of them before they were taken out. Funnily enough, they never freed doug, and so they went back to do it after the final room. The witch wanted to leave him be since he didn't help, and ran off with they key and threw it down the tapped hallway, but the bard picked the lock easily. They also took the dog as well, so the dog and doug both managed to get out. But yea, fun level, could have been a bit more challenging though, as they never even needed to sleep. By the way, something I was wondering, what would happen if no one had handle animal trained or another way to get out? Since handle animal is trained only, there seems to be no other way they could have escaped!

    1. Glad to hear it! Sounds like your party was very well suited to the challenge. Almost too well suited!

      Funny that they liked Bernard. Oh well!

      If the PCs can't break out of the cell using mage hand, bending the bars, or slipping out, then I would trust them to eventually come up with something. It's a pretty open ended problem. I don't think I've had anybody say that they were just stuck in there.