Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jacob's Tower, Level 7: Gothic

Jacob’s Tower, Level 7: Gothic
46,000xp total, approx 35,000gp, 5 - 6 hours

Gothic has a distinct horror vibe, so feel free to dim the lights, put on some mood music and use your creepy voice. It takes place in a twice cursed Cathedral, first home to a Vampire Lord, then home to a cult of Zon-Kuthon, God of Pain. Jacob has physically transported this church from Golarion for use in his tower.

This level will focus on the collection of ingredients to be placed into a Chalice to aid in the resurrection of a vampire lord.

You may want to read up on running a horror game.

When looking out the various windows and going outside, Hellbrooke Cathedral appears to be on a slight hill overlooking dark and dreary forest at the darkest of twilight. However, any attempts to venture off the map will prove fruitless, as this view is simply an extremely high level illusion.

Virtually every room in Gothic is separated with heavy wooden doors. Each of these doors starts out closed, although none are locked. They are marked with double lines on the map.

There are a number of donation boxes scattered around the level. Items and gold put into these boxes are immediately destroyed, and cannot be retrieved. Excess worth or change is not returned.

Room 1: Cathedral, Chalice, and Tomb

The passage way from Gauntlet narrows into a small tunnel which emerges from the ground at 1i. When the last hero exits, the hole closes back over and disappears.

Our heroes have emerged into an immense Cathedral. Dim stone column soar 200 feet into the air to hold up a wickedly slanted roof. Weak and sickly red light seeps in from immense stained glass windows depicting demons, torture, and slaughter (1c, 1d, 1e, 1f, 1g, and 1h). The stained glass window against the farthest wall (1c) depict a hooded figure with white skin, red eyes, and splayed bat wings. The floor in the Cathedral is barren, and freezing cold to the touch.

A grey marble tomb (1a) is the obvious centerpiece of the cavernous Cathedral. The tomb is a raised rectangle, with complex carvings of vines, roses, and skulls inlaid along the edges. A smiling steel skull with two long fangs is partially sunk face up into the tomb’s top slab, and the words “Barbaneth Hellbrooke” are carved into the tomb’s southern face. Any attempts to open or scry into the tomb prove fruitless.

Atop the tomb is a steel chalice inlaid with large, blood red rubies. This chalice seems to be magically held in place and cannot be moved.

Next to the chalice is a large book, it’s ancient pages worn and cracked. Thick leather binding are split and frayed, and dark blotches and burn marks mar the edges. The entire book is written in a strange and otherworldly cipher (which cannot be pierced even with magic), and any character who stares at the letters for too long feels a sharp pain in his temples and jaw, as well as a giddy sense of madness.

On the front cover, someone has written “The Sanguine Resurrection” in dripping red letters. Underneath, in smaller words and underlined several times, is written “Hellbrooke Cathedral.” These letters are still wet if touched, and will smear and spread across everything they touch. These smears cannot be removed short of dispel magic.

A DC 11 Knowledge (history) or (religion) check will reveal that Hellbrooke Cathedral was a real Cathedral in Golarion. It was famously built by the vampire Barbaneth Hellbrooke to headquarter a cult devoted to his worship. After being purged by holy warriors it was used as a temple for Abadar, which was then corrupted into a church of Zon-Kuthon, god of pain. After being purged for a second time by the forces of good it mysteriously disappeared from Golarion, seemingly kidnapped by Jacob for his tower.

Throughout the margins of the book, the madman has written a range of scrawled notes. Most of these are illegible or incomprehensible: For example “These words burn” or “Sliced from nape to nape” or “To translate this means madness.” However, there are two places where the red markings could be helpful.

On a blank page in back of “The Sanguine Resurrection,” the mysterious writer has written this rhyme over a drawing of a chalice:

Mix stony blood with cursed ring,
Crown of a saint, bones of a king,
Eye of a blind man, Tongue of a mute,
Heart where evil once took root,
Then down into the water deep,
To kill the mind that does not sleep,
Last, a priest, burned for his crimes,
Then ring the church bell thirteen times,
And finally, your blood:…” And here the mad author has scribbled the names of the PCs present.  It may be worthwhile to print out this rhyme and physically hand it to the players.

If you feel your players won't want to bring back a vampire lord, below the riddle is written "The only way to kill him for good is to bring him back."

A footnote on the next page states. “25,000gp worth of magical items may substitute for any ingredient.”  Thus if the players are having a really tough time, they may sacrifice a fortune in gold to replace a single ingredient.  They may do this for multiple ingredients.

Incorrect ingredients cannot be placed into the chalice, as if some force field protects it.  Except for the church bells and PC's blood, the ingredients may be placed in the chalice in any order.

On the next page is scrawled a map of the Cathedral. When our heroes discover this, feel free to draw the map for the players and label each room in a way that won't give anything away (for example Library, Peter Bellow's Tomb, Room of Statues, Bishop's Mausoleum).  Include the secret treasure room, but give no indication as to where the entrance to the treasure room is.

A massive steel church organ sits against the north wall of the Cathedral (1b). Playing it with a DC 25 Perform (keyboard) check will result in a +2 morale bonus to attack, damage, and will saves for 24 hours.

Room 2: Graveyard

A pale mist sits over the Graveyard, chilling our heroes to the bone. A single huge oak tree (2a) stands sentry over the tombs, a hundred frayed nooses hanging loosely from its gnarled branches. Gravestones and marble sculptures are scattered throughout the graveyard.

The gravestones are too weatherworn to be read, but, if examined closely, the sculptures seem to be of adventurers mid battle. Our heroes will not know this yet, but those sculptures are actually adventurers turned to stone by the Basilisk in Room 3.

There is one sculpture in the Graveyard that is not part of northwest cluster. A large stone statue of a young elf, crow on his shoulder, is partially encompassed by the tree (2a.b). An engraving is just visible from the entrance to the graveyard.  If they approach it, the engraving on the statue reads:

Here lies the Druid Gaius Gallows Willowhand and his Crow companion Blackfoot,
Once a heroic adventurer, Willowhand was corrupted by the foul vampire Barbaneth Hellbrooke and murdered during the first cleansing of Hellbrooke Cathedral.

Upon reading the inscription, our heroes will be startled by the sudden cawing of a crow. Up in the oak tree, an unnaturally large crow bears a striking resemblance to the Blackfoot, the crow in the sculpture. He caws loudly and stares with burning red eyes at the adventurers, as the tree suddenly rumbles to life.

The tree is actually a Hangman Tree, corrupted by Willowhand’s dark power over nature. It will attack at this point, carrying the demented crow along with it. If nobody suspected the tree, he will get a surprise round and use his Hallucinatory Spores Ability.  Any who fail the save will believe that the Hangman Tree represents Willowhand’s good aspects and should not be attacked.

If our heroes kill the crow, the Hangman Tree will be staggered for d4 rounds.

Normally, maintaining a grapple is a standard action.  However, this Hangman Tree may maintain a grapple by sacrificing one of his vine attacks during a full round action.  Thus, if the Hangman Tree is currently grappling two heroes, he may take a full round action (normally three attacks) to maintain one grapple with one vine, the second grapple with the second vine, then attack with the third vine.  He will not attack already grappled opponents with extra vine attacks.

The Hangman Tree's general strategy will be to attack and grab opponents (dealing them normal damage then constricting them), attempt to pin them on the next turn with another successful grapple check (constricting them again, and gaining a +5 on the CMB check due to being the aggressor), then attempt to swallow them whole on the next turn with another successful grapple check (constricting them again, and gaining a +5 on the CMB check due to being the aggressor)

When the Hangman Tree is killed, it will fall and crush the crow. Its roots will be pulled from the ground, and in them will be found a dark, decaying heart. This heart is Willowhand’s heart, and it is the ingredient: “Heart where evil once took root.”

A decrepit wooden fence lines the south and west borders of the Graveyard. However, our heroes will find themselves completely unable to pass it, as if stopped by a stone wall.

Room 3: Bishop’s Mausoleum

The Bishop’s Mausoleum is a large marble structure with Corinthian columns and a slanted roof. Our heroes might be clued in to the danger when they see the statues of people littered outside – or, they may think the statues are simply part of the Graveyard.

There are no doors in the Mausoleum, and the 15 foot wide entrance is completely open.

Inside the Mausoleum is a marble tomb (3a) with a marble statue of a squat, eight legged alligator on top. A DC 15 Knowledge (Arcana) check will identify that this is a statue of a Basilisk.

However, a DC 30 Perception check or DC 30 Knowledge (Arcana) check will realize that the Basilisk is actually alive. If he is attacked, or if any enemy enters the Mausoleum, he will open his eyes and attack. He will focus almost exclusively on his gaze attack in combat. Note that the Basilisk is actually a Slime Infected Basilisk instead of the standard version.

When killed, the Basilisk will drop enough blood to un-petrify two party members.  If any blood is left over, they may think to un-petrify any of the dozens of statues in the graveyard.  Any statue they un-petrify is turned back into a hero, who thanks them and gives them a single +1 weapon or armor.  They may choose to look for a statue with a particular weapon or armor they like.  If they choose statues randomly, the first will give a +1 Light Steel Shield of Arrow Catching, and the second will give his gold pouch, filled with 5,000gp.  After giving his prize, the hero will thank them and fade away.

A donation box sits along the back wall of the Mausoleum (3b). On the donation box is written:

To Soften Skin, donate 5,000gp.

If a player donates the required amount, a party member of his choice will become un-petrified.  If none are petrified, the donation is not accepted.  They may not use this to un-petrify the marble statues in the graveyard.

The Basilisk's blood is one of the ingredient’s for Barbaneth’s Resurrection, “Stony blood.” Just a few drops will do, and will not count against the total amount of Basilisk blood harvested.

The Mausoleum houses a marble tomb (3a) with the following engraving:

Here lies Pious Anticus,
Bishop of Abadar, burned at the stake for his collusion with Zon-Kuthon.
He is enshrined here so all may know his fate.”

The tomb is not locked, but it is heavy. A DC 20 Strength check will lift the slab, while destroying it will also do the trick (60hp, 10 hardness).

Once the tomb is opened, a haunt manifests. Flames and screams rush forward from the tomb, enveloping the Mausoleum in a sudden inferno. All those inside the Mausoleum must make a DC 20 Will save to recognize the flames as illusion or take 10d6 fire damage.

Inside the tomb is a cracked ceramic urn containing Anticus’ ashes. A pinch of these ashes are an ingredient for Barbaneth’s Resurrection: “Last, a priest, burned for his crimes.”

Room 4: Library

Tall bookcases, fluttering papers, and large stacks of tomes suggest a library much greater than the space allows. Inside are a wide range of rare books, and any bibliophiles in the group may be sorely tempted to explore. However, one things should catch the eyes of our adventurers pretty quickly.

A small open box about the size and shape of a book sits on the floor (4a). One of its sides has been disguised to look like the bindings of a book, and, if placed into a bookshelf, it would be indistinguishable from any other tome. The “title” of this fake book is “Spirits and Good Humor.” The box is empty except for a note which reads:

Brother Fallius,
If I catch you smuggling in any more brandy, I will have you flogged. The other brothers inform me that you have an entire collection false books in here, and that each false book’s title is “Spirits and Good Humor” in a different language. The books may be protected from “Comprehend Languages” and the like, but, rest assured, I will find these books and destroy them.
- Bishop Pious Anticus

Our heroes may attempt to find other copies of “Spirits and Good Humor” by simply looking around the library. For each different language that our heroes know (excepting Common), they find one book and one bottle of Westminson Brandy Reserve. These brandies are exceedingly rare, and may be sold for 750gp each.  Or drunk for good times.

When our heroes look around the library a bit more, they will notice a note pinned to one of the bookshelves (4b). It reads:

Brother Fallius,
I’ve noticed you have quite a love for reading recently. I’ve left you a present inside the most expensive book in the library.  Can you find it?
- Bookkeeper Avius

A DC 20 Appraise or Profession (librarian) check will discover the incredibly rare and valuable memoir “Trips to the Southern Isles” by Gilfred Halvern. Each character may attempt this check once. Simply looking for the book among the thousands of others without these skills is impossible. The book alone is worth 1,000gp, and hidden inside is a Scroll of Slay Living (CL 7), a Scroll of True Seeing (CL9), and a Scroll of Restoration (CL 7).

You may generate random books here: Seventh Sanctum - Bookspinner

Room 5: The Four Sinners

This barren stone room has four upright sarcophagi along the northern wall. A large engraving on the floor reads:

Four sinners are interred here for their crimes: A beggar, a blind man, mute and a thief."

A note on the ground has the following written on it it, surrounded by numerous question marks.  The note is written in the same near gibberish red writing as the footnotes in "The Sanguine Resurrection."

"There is one coffin between the mute and the blind man
There is one coffin between the thief and Elf. The Elf is on the right.
The Halfling rests in the right most coffin.
The Orc rests directly to the right of the human.
The Thief is directly to the left of the Mute.

If 5a is opened, a Revenant who use to be a Human thief leaps out and immediately attacks.

If 5b is opened, the decomposing corpse of a mute Orc falls out. His tongue can be easily harvested, and is the ingredient “tongue of a mute.”

If 5c is opened, a Revenant who used to be an elf beggar leaps out and immediately attacks.

If 5d is opened, the corpse of a blind Halfling falls out. His eyes can be easily harvested, and are the ingredient “eyes of a blind man.”

Room 6: Hall of Monsters

This stone room is dark, dusty, and entirely enclosed without any windows or source of light. Spiders scurry out of the way as our heroes pass. A note tacked along the wall (6a) reads “Destroy them with what they fear.

With this tantalizing clue in mind, our heroes may be too distracted to notice the Shocking Floor Trap, Perception DC 26, Disable Device DC 26 (6b).

Along the northern wall of this room are 6 painted stone statues of monsters. Each of these monsters must be identified with a relevant DC 16 knowledge check, which may only be attempted once per character per monster. This check gives the monster’s name and weakness. If the monster is subjected to this weakness, he crumbles into a pile of gems worth 1,000gm. If the monster is subjected to an attack he is not weak to, he explodes into rock shards, dealing 7d6 damage to any within 30 feet (Reflex 21 halves).

The information in quotes should be read to the players, and the italicized information should be given if the knowledge check is made.

6c: “This blue-furred creature sports an elephantine trunk and a camel-like body.” A DC 16 Knowledge (arcana) check will determine this is a Disenchanter, and it is vulnerable to dispel magic.

6d: “This massive crimson blob reaches out amorphous pseudopods in all directions.” A DC 16 Knowledge (dungeoneering) check will reveal this as a Carnivorous Blob, and thus vulnerable to cold.

6e: “This stooped creature has powerful limbs, a mane of gritty brown fur and a ferocious, tusked underbite.” A DC 16 Knowledge (local) check will determine this is a Mountain Troll, and thus vulnerable to sonic.

6f: “This creature looks like a hairless elf, with long arms that end in sharp claws. Its skin is brown and resembles tree bark.” A DC 16 Knowledge (nature) check will determine this is a Grimstalker fey, and it is weak to cold iron.

6g: “Four arms grace the torso of this towering humanoid, a wicked grin painted across his face.” A DC 16 Knowledge (planes) check will determine this is a Glabrezu Demon, and he is weak to Good. Attacking with “good” means either casting “align weapon,” attacking with a magic weapon that explicitly states it is “good,” or using a creature with the good subtype. Simply attacking with a good aligned character is not good enough!

6h: “This horror’s upper body is twisted and malformed, his hands ending in tangles of blunt, electric-blue tendrils.” A DC 16 Knowledge (religion) check will reveal this creature to be the undead Spellscar Fext and he is vulnerable to glass. As an undead creature, he is also vulnerable to channeled energy and healing spells.

Room 7: Saint’s Tomb

This small but ornate room houses a raised stone tomb (7a) surrounded by murals of farmers, blacksmiths, and sailors. The side of the tomb reads:

St. Kailon Runard

Next to the tomb is a plaque and donation box. The tomb, donation box, and plaque are all protected by a strong magic and cannot be broken.

The plaque reads:

St. Kailon Runard was a patron Saint of the Working Man before he turned to Zon-Kuthon. He was discovered a traitor when his blasphemous worship led to the growth of a ring of horns emerging from the top of his head. Despite his nefarious involvement St. Runard was never officially accused of his crime, and was thus interred following his death in the second cleansing.

On the donation box is written “To pay your respects to St. Runard, either show him the capabilities he cares for or donate 5,000gp worth of gold or items.

A DC 26 Profession Check will avoid the donation. Character should feel free to take 20 on this check.

After the check or donation the tomb will open, revealing the skeleton of St. Runard. The skull has thirteen small horns growing from the top, and this is the ingredient “crown of a saint.” The entire skull, crown of the skull, or broken off horns will suffice.

If a Profession check was used to open the tomb, a Masterwork tool of the relevant Profession skill lies interred with the skeleton.

Room 8: To Basement

A spiral staircase (8a) leads down into wet and humid darkness. The staircase descends 50 feet before coming out in the basement (9a)

Room 9: Basement

This room is dark and damp. The stone walls, which extend 30 feet up, are covered with moss and dripping black grime. A small +1 Rapier is lodged in the ground at 9d.

Two large stone columns emerge from a murky pool of water. Visibility in this water is only 15 feet, and the putrid pool radiates evil.

A donation box (9b) sits next to a small statue of a female pirate waving the jolly roger. On the donation box is written:

Besmara will accept donations of 1,000gp or more to provide safe passage to the depths.

If a player donates to Besmara, he receives her blessing. He will become the target of a Water Breathing (CL7) spell and a Freedom of Movement (CL 11) spell. These will both help immensely in the fight ahead.

The pool of water is surprisingly deep, reaching fully 100 feet down. It is also obviously very dark, and with a visibility of only 15 feet our heroes will need to be careful with how they proceed.

At the bottom of the pit is an Aboleth (9c) who will attack if somebody lands on him (A DC 15 perception check will see the Aboleth instead of mistaking him for ground, and the Aboleth will get a perception check to see the heroes). If only a small part of the party goes underwater, the Aboleth will use dominate monster, then use the character in conjunction with illusions to try and lure the rest of the party into the water.

If the Aboleth is damaged while he is in the pool, but cannot attack his aggressors, he will rise up out of the water and attack. When roused, he will lead with dominate monster, then resort to lashing out with his tentacles.

When the Aboleth is killed, a ghostly miniature image of his head will float from his corpse slowly upwards. If our heroes choose to follow it, it will go up the stairs and get sucked into the chalice. This is the ingredient “the mind that does not sleep.”

Be sure to review the underwater combat rules for this fight.  They ain't easy, but we have to address them sometime.

Room 10: Cloister

A covered stone pathway runs along the outside of a small courtyard of dead grass.  A silent image of a wooden chest (10a) sits in the center of the cloister over a 10 deep foot pit.  If this chest is interacted with, a DC 17 Will save reveals it to be an illusion.

Surrounding this chest is a separate silent image of solid ground (10b&10c) where there is actually a 10 foot pit.  Any who step into squares 10b or 10c must make a DC 17 Will save.  If the character succeeds at this Will save he recognizes the pit in front of him and ends his move before the pit (though he still sees the chest).  If the character fails his Will save he falls prone into the pit where a Ghast (10c) awaits.  The Ghast will be unable to climb out of the pit under any circumstances.  Note that the pit-bound Ghast's stench ability is confined to the pit.

Once the first Will save against either silent image has been made, roll initiative with two sets of Ghasts.  On the first set, the two Ghasts on the 10d's will burst out of the ground as a full round action that provokes, and end their turns standing.  On the second set, the the two Ghasts on the 10e's will burst out of the ground as a full round action that provokes, and end their turns standing.  The Ghast in the pit will act on the second set.

Let the player know that the skin and flesh of the corpses bulge violently, as if something inside is struggling to get free. A dull buzzing noise can be heard over the sound of combat.

When any Ghast is slain, a Wasp Swarm bursts from his corpse.  These Wasp Swarms act on the initiative of the Ghast from which they were birthed.

Characters may check the north wall of this room for an entrance to the secret treasure room.  A DC 20 Perception check will note a lever at 10f.  However, a DC 25 Perception check will note that the lever does not open up any doors.  Instead, it activates a trap which emits a blast of freezing air, dealing 6d6 cold damage (DC 18 reflex halves) to all within 30 feet.  A DC 25 Disable Device check disables the trap.  There are no doors leading to the treasure room here.

Room 11: King’s Tomb

This small room houses a raised stone tomb (11a & 11b) surrounded by murals of minstrels and bards. On the side of the tomb reads:

Henry Bellows

Next to the tomb is a plaque and donation box. The tomb, donation box, and plaque are all protected by a strong magic and cannot be broken.

The plaque reads:

Henry Bellows was a traveling bard well known for his dirges of blood and glory. Raised an orphan, he came to discover his true lineage traced back to the rulers of Cheliax. Instead of claiming the throne as his right, Henry chose to become personal bard to Barbaneth Hellbrooke, who interred him here upon his death. He was never transformed into a vampire, and thus no attempts have been made to remove him.

On the donation box is written: “To pay your respects to Henry Bellows, either show him the capabilities he cares for or donate 5,000gp worth of gold or items.”

A DC 26 Perform check will avoid the donation. Character should feel free to take 20 on this check.

After the check or donation the tomb will open, revealing the skeleton of Henry Bellows. Any one of his bones will suffice for the ingredient “Bones of a King,” as Henry was rightful heir to the throne of Cheliax.

If a Perform check was used to open the tomb, a masterwork instrument of the relevant Perform skill lies interred with the skeleton.

A DC 24 Perception check will reveal a hidden panel behind the tomb (11b) leading to the treasure room.

Room 12: Hidden Treasure Room

A scattering of ancient coins and minor religious artifacts are spread around what clearly used to be a treasure room. These trinkets sum a mere 100gp. However, the real prize is Shadowslayer, a +1 Undead Bane Light Crossbow (12a). All bolts fired from Shadowslayer are considered to be silvered in addition to any other material, and Shadowslayer is worth 10,250gp. Shadowslayer sits on a pedestal at 12a, and seems to glow slightly with light.

A golden ring sits on the pedestal next to Shadowslayer.  This ornate piece of jewelry is the "Cursed Ring" ingredient, and around its length is written "Touch Me to Move Me."  While not in direct contact with a living creature's skin, it acts as an immovable rod, and cannot be moved by normal means. Any round that it physically touches any creature's skin, that creature's move speed is halved and he takes 6d6 damage, DC 21 Fortitude save halves.  However, as long as the ring touches a creature's skin, the ring ceases to act as an immovable rod and may be carried as normal.  Note that if the ring is dropped, it will hover in place until touched again.

When a character moves within five feet of the pedestal, or if any attempts are made to remove Shadowslayer from the pedestal, there is a sudden flash of light. All characters adjacent to pedestal may make a DC 12 Reflex save to leap five feet away from it. Those who fail this check are automatically grappled by the Black Pudding who suddenly appears in 12b and completely engulfs the pedestal. As the Black Pudding moves around the Battlefield, Shadowslayer and the Cursed Golden Ring moves with him (the curse does not affect him). When the Black Pudding is killed, Shadowslayer and the Cursed Golden Ring may be found in his remains.

A DC 26 Perception check will notice a loose piece of cobblestone which can be pried up to reveal a chest (12c). The chest is trapped with Frost Fangs Trap (Perception 25, Disable Device 25), and inside the chest is a Ring of Jumping.

Room 13: To Belfry

Spiral stairs (13a) in this room lead up into the belfry. The stairs rise 200 feet into the air and come out at 14a, and they take the equivalent of 800 feet of forward movement to climb.

Room 14: Belfry

The belfry sits at the top of an immense tower at the peak of the Cathedral. The surrounding landscape, brown and dreary forest, seems to bend away at the horizon and shimmer as if it is an illusion (which it is).  The stairs end at 14a.

A massive steel bell hangs from a rope at 14b. It may be rung by hitting it with a large item, such as any two handed weapon that deals bludgeoning damage.

On the floor next to the bell is a cruel looking black mace dripping with blood (14c) . A DC 23 Spellcraft check will reveal the item as a +3 Mace, while a DC 33 Spellcraft check will reveal the item for what it really is: the cursed Mace of Blood. In any case, the mace may be used to ring the bell instead of a two-handed bludgeoning weapon.

Each time the bell is rung, any in the room or within 100 feet of the room must make a DC 13 Fortitude save or be deafened for one hour and dealt 2d6 sonic damage. These hours of deafness stack.

In order to meet the requirements of the ritual, the bell must be rung thirteen times after all ingredients (save the PCs’ blood) have been placed in the chalice.  Get ready to make 13 fortitude checks!

Boss: Barbaneth Hellbrooke, Vampire Lord

This fight has multiple factors and can be very hard – if your players do not buff before putting their blood into the chalice, you might want to hint that they should do so. They should also have a pretty good idea of what they will be fighting, and should take that into account if possible.

Once all ingredients have been placed into the chalice (including the heroes’ blood), the concoction will begin to swirl. The mixture turns into a dark red liquid, which drains as if somebody is drinking it, and the rubies on the chalice begin to glow. Moments later, the massive church organ at 1b begins to play.  A crack appears across the tomb and widens with every chord.  Suddenly, the stone slab covering the tomb launches hundreds of feet into the air, thousands of bats shatter through the stained glass windows, and Barbaneth Hellbrooke floats up from his tomb. Before our heroes have a chance to react, he opens his blood red eyes and attacks.

Barbaneth is everything you’d expect in a Vampire Lord. Tall, pale, gaunt, with white skin stretched tight over sharp features. His thin fangs, pointed ears, and bat-like nose are not subtle. Neither are his catlike red eyes or long, black flowing cape.

Remove Change shape, Children of the Night, and Spider Climb from Barbaneth’s Abilities. Remove Greater invisibility from his spell list. Instead, Barbaneth has Quickened Dimensional Door (3/day). Barbaneth will enter combat as if he had mage armor (giving AC 25/19/18) and expeditious retreat (giving him a move speed of 60). He will appear to hover several inches off the ground as he stands and moves around the battlefield.

In combat, as long as Barbaneth has bat companions he will seek to put some distance between himself and the heroes by either moving normally or using dimensional door. At range he will use fireball and scorching ray. If given the opportunity, he will teleport to a straggling non-melee hero and use either vampiric touch or simply slam him.

Once his bat companions are dead, Barbaneth will become more aggressive, using domination, vampiric touch or slam. If he has opportunity, he will attempt blood drain.

As Barbaneth explodes from his tomb, 3 bat swarms burst through the stained glass at 1c, 1d and 1e.

The second turn of play, 2 dire bats burst through the stained glass at 1f and 1g.

The third turn of play, a single bat swarm bursts in from the stained glass at 1h.

When Barbaneth is brought to 0 or less health, he becomes engulfed in a sudden, screaming white inferno. Within one turn he and all his gear are reduced to nothing but ashes, and any remaining bats dissipate and flee.

Our heroes may find the steps down the to next level within Barbaneth’s Tomb.

If our heroes are playing only in Jacob’s tower and ranking up to Level 8 then distribute 3,000gp amongst them evenly.

Sleeping in Gothic

Each night that our heroes sleep, they are each visited by a vision of Barbaneth Hellbrooke. In the dream, he chases them through dark and twisting hallways before finally catching and slaying them. Upon waking, our heroes feel a great unease and fear whenever they think of the Vampire Lord.

When our heroes actually face Barbaneth and combat begins, each character should make a DC 21 Will save for each each night they slept.  For every failed save, that character is panicked for one round.  This is a fear effect. Thus, if the heroes have slept for three nights and a hero fails all three will saves, he is panicked for a whopping three rounds at the start of the fight with Barbaneth.

Maps from Redclaw:

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

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


  1. I've enjoyed reading these Jacob's Tower posts quite a bit. I plan on using these in my homebrewed campaign, but refluffing them as tie ins to other quests or stand-alone encounters. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks! Yup, they are designed to be easily refluffed (although you might have a slightly harder time with this level). Let me know how it goes!

    2. They probably won't get to this one for a few months, but I'll let you know. I'll have to leave out most of the History related stuff (or rewrite it to my homebrew history). My homebrew has a lot of unexplored area, so I can throw in a few small villages that have a lot of commoners missing recently, and turns out the cult at this old church is to blame. Main difference would be the PCs could decide to leave if they want.

  2. So, just a quick question, did the inter-dimensional bar stop being a thing, or is that still implied between each level?

    1. Yup, still a thing. It's implied at this point, but it will be between every level.

    2. Nice dungeons!

      Several of the previous level transitions make little sense with the tavern break. The transition through the eldritch mural to Runewall is particularly disrupted by the tavern. I'm still thinking about how to make it work.

      I'm still very interested in the background behind Jacob and the mysterious Nine, though I've invented something for our game should it ever get far enough (I suspect they'll get meat-ground in level 6).

    3. It's an excellent point.

      Initially, the tavern break and Jacob were just of a broad framework to place a series of mini-dungeon crawls. However, as I write these it seems that people are more and more interested in the story behind them. After I finish up level 8, I'll likely go back to clean up, clarify, and expand upon the mythos.

      Level 6 is only slightly more intimidating than it is difficult. As long as your players are able to quickly make decisions, they shouldn't have too tough a time. Just be wary of the final boss!

      And yes, the grapple rules are strange, especially in the case of the Hangman's Tree. :)

  3. Does the black pudding count as a "living thing" in regards to the cursed ring? Does it get the damage and the reduced move speed?

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I've clarified that to exclude the ooze.

  4. The poem in the text is incorrect. It says: “Mix stony blood with once-monk’s wing". I'm assuming it is supposed to say "cursed ring".

    1. Right you are! Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Does the shocking floor in room 6 affect the paintings too? Because if it does that would be just nasty.

    1. Ha, no it does not. That would be a bit too nasty.

  6. This one took a couple of sessions, but it was well worth it!

    The team was paranoid as heck coming in, as the very sight of the vampire's coffin made them believe they would just be thrust into a fight. Ironically, despite multiple players correctly guessing there would be a vampire, none of them bought anything to assist in killing it.

    Nobody recognized the Hangman's tree or the Basilisk amusingly enough, so they kept calling it an alligator. Only two failed saves, so the party was fine afterwards.

    The ghasts scared them quite a bit, especially with the wasp swarms afterwards. The poor rogue came quite close to dying in the pit. From there, the library was ransacked, and the four sinner's room was solved with no problem. It was amusing to see them avoid the Hall of Monsters, as they all assumed there was another fight in there (though nobody tried perception or...really anything to find out). They eventually did so after the final fight.

    The aboleth slimed the sorcerer, and gave the party a fright when the rogue was dominated and dragged the sorcerer in. Cue 3k in gold being donated for combat. The secret treasure room was solved fairly well. They just hit it until it was tiny, then blew it up with a fireball.

    The belfry was simple enough. The vampire, however, was not. The arcanist tried really hard to blow it up with exploding runes and an unseen servant to kill it fast. It didn't work out initially, but that actually was how they finished it off.

    Overall, no deaths, a few near deaths, lots of cursing at vampires, and lots of gold.

    1. Sounds fun and close! Yeah, this is one of the longer levels. Your party sounds great, sounds like everything went off exactly how it was supposed it (stealth Hangman's Tree and Basilisk, aboleth slime & domination, dangerous vampire, stuck in a pit). Sounds like great fun, excited for the next level!

  7. I think one of the 12c's ought to be 12a.

    1. Shucks and darn it, you are right. 12a should be surrounded by all those 12b's. Thanks!

  8. What a great (half) session!
    We played for about 4,5 hours, after nearly two hours of OT-discussions and finishing the level-up -.-
    We made it through half the level, other half coming in about 2 weeks.

    The PC's today:
    - Aasimar Cleric (Sun and Healing domain, lets see what that will do to Barnabeth)
    - Elf Bard
    - Human Unchained Rogue
    - Ratfolk Ranger (revived and double-restored by Nine)
    - Half-Elf Synthesist Summoner (New Char of the Fighter Player) <- I already hate that Character ;-)

    They didn't want to look through the whole "sanguine resurrection", so they don't know what to do.
    They first found the stairs up and down, but didn't want to go either way, so they started with the Bard's tomb at 11. There was no problem with the skillcheck and also the secret door was found fast.

    The treasure room was done pretty fast. The ranger immedeatly spotted the secret chest and triggered the trap. Then he made his save to avoid being incorporated by the Oooze and the group quickly killed it. It splitted to 4 creatures, then I chose not to let it split more often.
    I couldn't figure out if it is still immune to slashing and piercing when it stops to split and I chose to remove the immunity then.

    Next part was the tomb of the working man saint. My players were still bugged out about the profession skillcheck in level 6 and when they saw the paintings of farmers they groaned in exasperation. I loved it :-)
    They skipped the room for the moment.

    The library was quickly handled, they found 4 bottles (The Synthesist hadn't chosen languages yet) and nobody made the appraise check.

    They tried to guess what the riddle about the sinners could be about and after a few minutes of guessing chose to skip that too.

    Now the real fun started. The synthesist ran into the trap, while everyone was in the target-area, so everybody was struck by electric wires falling from the ceiling.

    They made all the Knowledge-checks and the first thing they did was the cleric casting CLW on the spellscared fext. They cheered when it crumbled to gems.
    What happened next was stupid decision paired with cruel GM fiat. What hurts the Mountain Troll? Sonic! What kind of Sonic damage can we do? Thunderstone! Whats the AOE? 10 feet! What does that mean? 4 exploding statues for 7d6 damage each!
    Two players were lucky to have soft cover from their comrades and the Wolf Companion and the rogued were lucky to have their evasion. I dropped two players, but luckily nobody died.

    The Hangman Tree was a nice encounter and the players had a big bunch of fun, when the wolf companion managed to trip the tree. The bard got swallowed whole, but the tree was killed right the round after.

    Last fight was against the Basilisk. I failed two gaze-attacks against the Synthesist and after he suffered 1 point of Dex-damage from the poison the cleric came up with neutralize poison. Poor basilisk... The DR was the only thing that kept it up a few rounds, since the ranger and synthesist rely on multiple low to medium damage attacks.

    Thanks for the haunt! Another 10d6 damage for everybody but the cleric!

    Until now they consumed:
    48x CLW from their wands
    4x Channel Energy
    14x Rejuvenate Eidolon, lesser
    1x CMW and CSW each from the cleric

    My modifications so far:
    Doubled Hitpoints for the Black Pudding
    Doubled Hitpoints and Infernal Template for the hangman tree
    Doubled Hitpoints and Advanced Template for the Basilisk

    As usual we had a lot of fun!

    PS: Barnabeth's stats seem a little bit wrong. His AC should be 27/17?/22 and his Slam attack +8, 1d4+6.
    But I'm no expert, so maybe I'm missing something...

    1. Hmm, they are going to have an interesting time without reading the instructions! You may want to hint that they should read it.

      Boy oh boy that's a lot of damage! And boy is that a cruel play on the thunderstone!

      Skipping riddles, skill checks, and manuscripts, huh? Sounds like a combat heavy party! Well, hopefully there is enough action to tide them over in this one.

      I'm interested to see how they handle the end of the level if they don't read the Sanguine Resurrection!

  9. Round two!
    This time we were 4 players again, the Synthesist and Ranger were absent, but the Alchemist rejoined the group.
    Since I didn't want him to start with full resources I let a tunnel lead him from Nines Inn to the woods about a mile from the cathedral.
    An Encounter with 3 werewolves and a little skillchallenge to cross a river were planned.
    Yeah, seems like he had Fly prepared and was more than willing to use it. There he goes with all his resources minus one spell...

    They went to the Cloister and tried to be very careful. The Rogue fell into the pit and nobody was able to notice where he went. They thought he was teleported or something like that. So he had 4 rounds alone with a Ghast.
    But the others were doing well up there and I totally forgot the swarms. And also the Rogue made all his saves and hit quite well, no PC blood spilled in the Cloister.

    The fight with the Aboleth was the opposite. The Bard swam down, got dominated and lured the others down the water. The Aboleth attacked at 45 feet depth, when nearly everybody was out of breath. I let the bard (who was the only one with Besmaras Blessing), do some breath donation(?), since his commands werent really against that.
    The group had a hard time and I think the only reason they made it without a dead PC was that they made all their swim checks, so the Aboleth couldn't get a full attack.
    The Alchemist and Cleric suffered from the slime and the bard got hit by the mucus cloud.

    In the end they summoned Barnabeth. The fight started rough. The Bard was grappeled and blood drained down to CON 5, then Barnabeth became a little arrogant and left him wounded in a corner to start lacerating the others.
    I had plans to fight without mercy, since I really wanted it to become a rememberable and hard fight, but when my group started struggeling I pulled the punches. That was just a round before a critical hit with the shadowslayer and good hit with a bomb ended the fight.

    Oh and I should mention that the Bard sneaked back to the cleric for some healing and was colleteral damage to a fireball, bringing him to -6 hitpoints while at 5 CON...
    No more Bard from here.

    I really enjoyed the level, as well as my players.
    I noticed again, that I often struggle with to much to keep in mind. Illumination, weather effects, monster statblocks... Not quite sure if it's because the adventure isn't in my native language or just lack of experience...

    Thanks for another great level,

    1. Sounds some tough fights. Shame that the Bard died, but 5 Con will do that to you. Jacob's Tower claims another! This is a challenging level, but there are some more difficult ones ahead. Don't be afraid to pull punches, as long as you can make it look good.

      To make things easier and faster, I wouldn't worry about illumination. Unless it is important, I treat everything as in bright light. Weather shouldn't come up too much, though it will be in level 9.