Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jacob's Tower, Level 9: Campfire

Jacob’s Tower Level 9: Campfire
65,200xp, Approx 50,000gp, 4 - 5 hours

Campfire is a massive break in style from the usual dungeon crawl.  It provides an outdoor setting where the action comes to the PCs instead of the PCs going to the action.  The characters are tasked with defending tending a campfire across a 24 hour period.  In addition to monsters and NPCs, the characters must contend with weather, food, and sleep.

The Map

The entirety of Campfire takes place in a single outdoor area, a valley at the intersection of a path and a stream. Creatures and events will enter and leave this area, but the heroes are stuck here for 24 hours. Take a good look at the map and the description, and learn it carefully.

Cliff walls run along the north and south edge of the map, ascending into the clouds above at unimaginable heights. Each grey square represents a vertical wall that extends infinitely high. Attempts the climb or fly up the cliffs will reveal that the wall simply goes on forever.

An impossibly dense low hanging fog shrouds the forest immediately to the west and east of the map. Characters cannot see through this fog, and are only able to view objects within the confines of the map. Creatures who enter or leave through the west or east of the map are immediately birthed from or consumed by the fog. The fog wall is about 50 feet high and, if height is gained, tree tops can be seen poking out from the mist as far as the eye can see. This fog cannot be removed or seen through by any means, even magic or special ability which normally allow vision through fog. Players cannot move through the fog, nor are they able to fly over it. They are stuck within the borders of the map.

Despite the stray clouds and mist, the sun is easily visible throughout the entire day, rising at 6am and setting at 6pm. It burns through the fog and can be seen from sunrise to sunset. The full moon, which rises as the sun is setting, can be seen all night.

A dirt road runs from the west side of the map to the east. It is marked by the stone on either side, but is otherwise fairly overgrown and unused.

A small wooden bridge with no railing lifts 5 feet off the ground to go over a river.

Large oak trees, marked with “T” on the map, stand 50 feet high, their trunks a mass of wood completely obscuring their squares. They require a DC 10 Climb check to climb and their branches extend 20 feet in all directions at 20 feet off the ground. DC 15 acrobatics checks are needed to move at half speed across the branches, and DC 20 acrobatics checks are needed to move at full speed.

A stagnant, 10 foot deep pool to the south west teems with fish and insects. All around it are a tangle of swampy brambles, marked with b, which act as difficult terrain.  Each time a player ends his turn in the pool, he must make a DC 16 Fortitude save or contract Bog Rot.

A waterfall descends from the cliff face at the northern wall and turns into a river which flows south and then into a slit in the southern cliff wall. Except for directly below the waterfall, the river is fairly shallow and simply counts as difficult terrain.

The waterfall throws up mist on the ground to the north, marked with an M, which provides concealment beyond 10 feet and total concealment beyond 20 feet.

Treasure Rune & Adventurer’s Corpse

There are two hidden secrets in the map: a treasure rune and an adventurer's corpse.

A DC 20 Perception check or Detect Magic in the North East Corner will reveal a faintly glowing magic rune at “G.” The rune means “Treasure” in an ancient Dwarven Dialect. Detect Magic or a Spellcraft DC 15 check will reveal that, if activated correctly, the glyph will dispense gemstones.

A single Use Magic Device Check may be made. Once the check is made, the glyph will dispense an amount of rubies, sapphires and other gemstones equal in gold to the check times 200. The Rune will then fade and become inactive.

10 feet down in the pool in the south west corner of the map, the skeleton of an adventurer clutches a +1 Thundering Falchion (m). Although the skeleton and falchion can only be seen with a DC 20 Perception check from the surface, they are easily visible if anybody goes swimming in the pool. Each time a character ends his turn in the pool, he must make a DC 16 Fortitude save or contract Bog Rot.

Protector of the Forest

If at any point our heroes damage a plant, a Treant will come immediately come lumbering from the east and attack them, screaming bloody murder all the way. This Treant has a very broad definition of damaging a plant, and will appear if the party chops down a tree, breaks a branch, catches a tree in an area attack, starts a forest fire, or does anything else that could be construed as negative. Gathering dead wood for the fire is acceptable, as is trampling grass, hunting animals, and gathering berries. Although he will ignore slights from non-party members (such as the dragon and T-Rex), he will enter in the midst of another combat or encounter if the party does anything wrong.

There is only one Treant, and once he is dead our heroes are free to do whatever they like to the forest.

Eating and Hunger

If it has been 8 hours since any hero’s last meal, he or she becomes hungry (have players write down the times of their meals). If no breakfast is had, our heroes first become hungry at 10am. If hungry, a hero suffers a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Any hero may take half an hour to forage and hunt for food. Game is scarce in these parts. A DC 10 Survival check will provide food for one meal, while each additional 5 points (15, 20, 25) provides a meal for one additional person. If these foraging missions are interrupted, they may be continued without incident.

As our heroes continue to hunt and forage in this small area, food becomes more and more scarce. For every previous attempt by any member of the group (or any simultaneous attempt), the DC of the survival check and the amount needed for an additional meal increases by 1. Thus after the first check, the DC becomes 11 (17, 23, 29). After the second check, the DC becomes 12 (19, 26, 33). Etc…

If a character does not eat for the entire day he will become famished for the boss fight, suffering a -4 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Let the players know these rules for hunger at the start of the level.

Sleeping and Fatigue

Around evening, our heroes will begin to get tired (or at least any of them who need to sleep). Any character who has not slept from 6am to 10pm will become fatigued at 10pm. After 8 total hours of sleep throughout the day or night, consecutive or in batches, the fatigue will be lifted.

It takes 15 minutes to fall asleep.  Naps under one hour do not count towards the total rest. Heroes are fatigued for 3 rounds after waking up as they rub sleep out of their eyes.

Naps throughout the day will push the 10pm bedtime back as far as the nap was, and will count towards the total amount of sleep needed.

Any character who has had 2 or fewer hours of sleep across the entire day will become exhausted when the boss comes by at 5:58am.

Let the players know these rules for sleeping and fatigue at the start of the level.

6am: The Campfire

Our heroes wake up at sunrise on the ground surrounding the Campfire. Allow the players to place themselves and their tents (if they have any) as they normally would for a night’s sleep. They may be confused, and not remember going to sleep or setting up camp, but they wake well rested and invigorated.

In the midst of the camp, a campfire burns brightly (C). A small piece of parchment is pinned under a rock near the flames. The parchment reads:

Thank you for agreeing to watch my campfire. Make sure that it is well fed. You will need to gather wood and tend to it every few hours. Remember, DO NOT LET IT GO OUT. If it goes out LIGHT IT IMMEDIATELY.

I will be back at sunrise. Please keep it burning bright until then.

Gathering firewood is simple, and requires no skill check. However, every four hours, (at 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm and 2am) a DC 10 survival check that takes one minute must be made to tend to the flame. If failed, the campfire goes out. A campfire that is out may be re-lit with any spell that deals fire damage and has a duration of longer than instantaneous. A campfire may also be lit with a DC 20 survival check as a full round action that provokes opportunity attacks.

If the campfire goes out, a Colour Out of Space appears in the squares surrounding the campfire. An additional Colour Out of Space will appear every minute (10 Rounds) that the campfire is out in nearby squares. If the fire is re-lit, all Colours Out of Space will immediately disappear.

Besides the fantastic sunrise through the mist, nothing immediately happens to our heroes after waking up. They should feel free to explore the map until the next event.

At night, the campfire will prove normal light for 40 feet, and increased light for 80 feet (the remainder of the map).

9am: The Ettins and Owlbears

At exactly 9am two frantic men will enter the map, one from the east and one from the west.. These two people are identically dressed older men with long white beards and long purple cloaks. They each have tall conical purple hats with stars and moons on them. In other words, they look like iconic wizards.

Running across the map along the road, they will both shout “They're after me! They're after me!” before reaching the other end of the map. If attacked or waylaid in any way, the NPCs will dissolve into mist.

Two rounds later, four monsters will enter the area, an Owlbear and an Etin from each side. These monsters have broken shackles trailing from their feet. These will move far more slowly than their victims, scanning the woods and area as they proceed. If any monster sees a character, he will hoot and bellow and combat will begin. All four monsters will work in tandem to defeat their enemies.

If the heroes hide from these monsters, the creatures will tentatively approach the campfire and, within a few turns, build up the courage to stomp it out.

11am: The Wandering Peddler

At shortly before 11 am, the sound of bells can be heard from the east. At exactly 11am, a stooped old man with an immense backpack tromps out of the mist. He has a wide-brimmed hat, a bald head, a long white beard, and sandals. Small bells hang from his backpack. He has a perception score of +5 and a sense motive of +10. Smiling and placid, it is impossible to threaten him but not impossible to bluff him. He will sigh and disappear into mist if attacked, leaving behind no reward of any kind.

If our heroes hide from him and he does not see them, the peddler will slowly walk west and leave the map. However, if he does spot our heroes he will immediately greet them, explaining that he hasn’t seen a client in days. If asked about Jacob’s Tower, his life, or anything outside the map, he will skillfully avoid questions or become confused. He is known only as “The Peddler”

The Peddler will then open up his pack and attempt to “sell” the players items. He will lay a mat on the ground and place four items on it: a tiny golden ball, a figurine of a horse, a small lockbox, and a broken object (which corresponds with the group’s highest craft skill. If no players have the craft skill, then the broken item is a jeweled music box which does not play).

First, the Peddler will gesture to the golden ball. “See the incredible luster to this gold? The blinding sheen of it’s coat? The perfect shape of the ball? You see before you one of the three Dancing Spheres of Avalain, made by Avalain the Summer Prince for his three daughters. It’s pure gold, you can tell by the weight.” With this, the Peddler picks up the ball and tosses it into the air. It immediately grows wings begins to dart away with quick, hummingbird movements.

Quickly!” Screeches the Peddler “If you can catch it, you can have it!

The ball is immune to any magic, and will not be knocked out of the air if hit with a projectile. It must be manually caught. The ball moves up at a speed of 15 feet a round, dancing and cavorting in crazy angles through the air. If it is not caught within 6 rounds, it careens away at lightning speed and is lost.

If a hero or animal companion catches up with it, he or she must make two consecutive DC 15 fly checks to catch the crazy ball. He or she may make these checks once per round every round until the ball careens away. If caught, the ball may be sold for 5,000gp.

Panting, the Peddler continues.

This next item is even more rare than the last. Steamrunner, the mechanical horse created for the Dwarven Archduke Goriad in the famous Skystone War. On this horse, Goriad slew many a goblin, skillfully severing head from shoulder. With just a touch of a button, Steamrunner grows to full size. Watch closely.” With this, the Peddler touches a button on the horse, and it grows into a majestic white enameled mechanical horse.

Steamrunner, however, is in none too good a mood. He prances and brays angrily, moving slowly towards the edge of the map. If he is not ridden in 6 rounds, he bolts for the mist and leaves the map.

Quickly!” Screeches the Peddler. “If you can ride him, you can have him!

Steamrunner will not respond to handle animal or the like, and he will break out of any cages that bind him. Instead, he must be calmed by riding him. If a character can make a DC 15 ride check to leap on (as a move action) and a second DC 15 ride check to keep from being bucked (as a second move action, either that same turn or the next), Steamrunner calms down and immediately bonds with the group. He may be taken as an animal companion by anybody who could normally have a horse. He is like a horse in every way, except he has construct traits and may be shrunk to the size of a dove egg or returned to full size as a standard action. Alternatively, he may be sold for 5,000gp.

Panting, the Peddler continues.

But this item puts the previous two to shame. Said to contain the last treasure of first Elven King, it has never been opened. I have heard legends that inside is an treasure so verdent, it is where mother nature got the idea for grass. I shall sell you this unopenable box for only 10,000gp.” He pauses and licks his lips. “However, I must admit that in my old age, my curiosity has gotten the better of me. Tell you what. If you can open it, you can have it.

The Peddler will allow three attempts at a DC 30 Disable Device check before he changes his mind, takes back the lockbox, and moves onto the final item (he will still sell the box for 10,000gp). If any of these checks are successful a gleaming emerald can be found inside worth 5,000gp.

The Peddler continue.

This last item is the most valuable of all. But, unfortunately, it is worthless in its present state. It used to be the pride of my stock, and now… ruined.” He pauses and licks his lips. “Call an old man sentimental, but I would love to see it fixed. If any of you can fix it, I’ll give it to you, free of charge.

The Peddler will allow three attempts at a DC 25 Craft check before he changes his mind, takes back the item, and says his goodbyes. If any of these checks are successful the characters will receive an item worth 5,000gp.  If not fixed and our heroes insist, the peddler will part with the broken item for 7,500gp.

When he has gone through his materials, he will pack up, smile, and leave the map to the west.

1pm: The Witch

At around 1:00pm, an ugly middle aged gnome woman with huge moles on her face will come panting down the road. Frantic and obviously distressed, she will pause to take a breather against a tree, and then sit down and begin to cry. If attacked in any way, she will dissolve into mist.

If approached and questioned, the woman will reveal that her name is Hazel. She comes from a nearby town, where the use of magic is seen as witchcraft. When Hazel’s son Bren fell sick, Hazel used her magical powers to save him. Now, the town has kicked Hazel out, and threatens to kill her if they ever see her again. Even worse, they have taken Bren. A DC 20 sense motive check reveals that this is all true, and that Hazel has nothing but the best intentions.

Hazel explains that she needs to sneak into town, take her son, and then leave forever. She needs someway of looking different. To complete this task, our heroes may use either magic or the disguise skill. The town is about 3 hours away, so any magic spell needs to last at least 3 hours.

A DC 23 Disguise check must be made to adequately disguise Hazel. Roll all disguise checks in private, so our heroes do not know the result. After the check has been made, Hazel thanks our heroes and goes back the way she came, promising to return by 7:00 that evening.

If the check is below a 23, then Hazel is discovered and burned at the stake. Our heroes never hear from her again. If the check is a success, then our heroes will see Hazel again at 7:00pm.

3:30pm: Sudden Deluge

At about 3:00pm, storm clouds will gather overhead. Starting at 3:30pm and lasting until 4:00pm, the skies will open up and rain will come crashing down. A DC 15 Survival check is needed at 3:30, 3:45, and 4:00 to keep the campfire burning. After this deluge, the ground and wood are wet, increasing all fire tending survival checks by five.

6pm: The Impostor

At exactly 6pm, sunset, a grave young woman enters from the west. She is dressed in long green robes, carries a walking stick, and has brilliant green eyes which sparkle supernaturally. A vague mist surround her.

She will approach the heroes and bow deeply. Then through a thick eastern accent, she will say “Thanks to you for keeping my fire, heroes. You have succeeded in the task I assigned. The time has now come to put the flame out. Quickly, before the last rays of the sun vanish from the sky” she will not respond to any questions or queries. With this, she will begin casting a spell which pours water on the campfire. Within two rounds it will go out.

At any point, our heroes may make a DC 25 sense motive check to realize that this is not the person they are waiting for. She is an impostor, and she means to do them harm.

If the imposter is attacked, she will drop her walking stick, cease her spell then return to her true form as a swift action: A Young Forest Dragon. She will then attack the party.

If the imposter is allowed the quench the fire, a Colour Out of Space will appear, as per the campfire rules. The imposter will then drop her walking stick and transform into a Young Forest Dragon as a swift action and the pair will likely wreak havoc on the party. The dragon will not attack the ooze, but the ooze may attack the dragon if she seems like the most dangerous party.

The Dragon's walking stick is actually a Intensified Metamagic Rod (Lesser), although she will not use it.

7pm: Return of the Witch

If the heroes helped Hazel at 1:00pm and delivered at least a 23 on the Disguise check, then Hazel will return with Bern, a young gnome boy. When she sees the heroes, she will give them +1 Shadow Leaf Armor (small). She will explain that in the past she used that armor to sneak around the village to gather herbs. But, as she is moving to a more tolerant place, she won’t need it anymore.

As usual, if either Bern or Hazel are attacked they will disappear into mist and will not drop any treasure.

12:30am: The Wounded Squirrel

At around 12:30am, a repeated, pitiful squealing of some forest creature wakes the characters. Until it is found, a DC 20 Will check is required every hour to fall and stay asleep.

If investigated, a small squirrel can be found lying on the ground near a tree to the west of the campfire. The squirrel is shivering, panting and squealing, clearly sick. If any character has Remove Disease, they may attempt to remove a DC 20 disease from the squirrel. If no character can magically remove the disease, a DC 30 heal check may be attempted. Character should feel free to take 20 on the check.

If the squirrel is cured, he will lead them back to his squirrel hole, where he has stashed 3 Potion of Barkskin +5.

Alternatively, the squirrel can be killed if our heroes just desire a quiet night’s sleep.  If this route is taken, the potions cannot be found.

1:15am: Bees in the Night

If only one adventurer is on watch at 1:15am, and he is fatigued, have him make a DC 12 Will save to avoid falling asleep as the enemy arrives.

At around 1:15am, three bee-like Thriae Solders and their pet Two-Headed Troll will sneak from the east to as close to the campsite as they feel comfortable. Depending on our heroes’ sleeping arrangements, this generally means they will group up on the opposite side of the river from the campsite, keeping their targets just within their 60 foot darkvision.

Their buzzing and plotting makes some noise and movement in the dark, provoking a DC 25 perception check (DC 40 for anybody sleeping). Make the appropriate adjustments for distance (+1 DC for every 10 feet) and darkness.

If the Thriae are not discovered, they drink their stimulating “merope,” then take a surprise round, loosing their arrows at any targets and sending their troll to move as close as possible. The troll will utter a war cry as he comes charging across the bridge, waking any still heroes sleeping. Battle will then commence as normal.

Among the corpses of the Thriae a Druid’s Vestments and Headband of Alluring Charisma +2 may be found.

5:59am: T-Rex Boss

Shortly before sunrise, our heroes will notice any puddles or pools of water begin to quake. Loud, regular thudding noises from the east get closer, until the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex boss crashes through the fog and into view.  Feel free to play a clip of a T-Rex scream.

 See stats to the right.  This a a Tyrannosaurus Rex with the giant and advanced templates each.

At 60 feet tall and taking up a 30x30 square, the T-Rex will simply ignore any adverse terrain except for the cliff. The T-Rex will move through trees and river as if they are not there, completely destroying them.

Alert your players that this creature is extremely dangerous looking. Without clever tactics, this CR 11 fight could easily become a TPK.

After the T-Rex Boss is killed, or if the fight takes more than 1 minute (10 rounds), the first light of dawn will fall on the campfire. The sun and the fire will grow brighter and brighter until it is impossible to see anything. When our heroes open their eyes, they will find themselves on level 10.

If the heroes are just playing Jacob’s Tower, distribute 40,000gp evenly.

Level 10: Resurrection

Roll20 Map by Jamie "RedClaws" Bosmans:

You may purchase printable PDFs of the entire dungeon here including the secret final level not available online:

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


  1. Awesome floor as always. I must say I keep getting pleasantly surprised each time a floor is finishes as it still unique and fun as the last one was. I find myself revisiting this site often just to check if another floor has been added!. Well done :D

    I actually plan to run Jacob's tower with 2 parties. One will start from lvl 1 so i can pretty much use everything as you have laid out. A nitpick would be that in the overview section a general plot hook could be added for those planning to play it one floor after another, but really its nothing a DM cant figure on it own.

    The second party will be lvl 9 and since there are not any floors ready after that at this time I plan to scale the monsters/ skill checks up on each floor... but i am not really sure about the results as the players (especially the casters) will have more option available to them. Any suggestions?

    Anyways many thanks for all the hard work you have put on this project. If I manage to make either of the two groups running I will try and post any feedback that might arise from the experience

    1. I am very glad you like them! I would love to hear how it goes, and look forward to more updates from you.

      Jacob's Tower is episodic, and wasn't originally intended to have to much cohesion. But more people are asking for an overall story, so I may include that at some point.

      Scaling shouldn't be too bad. Grab tougher monsters and add a few templates and you should be good. At Level 9, you are looking at skill challenges of between 20 and 30.

      Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  2. Hooray, another floor! Loving this tower so much. I'll be running my players through it starting next week, and I'm so glad to see another one.

    Please tell me Jacob himself is the 20th level's boss?

    1. Glad you like it, and let me know how it goes!

      About level 20: that would be telling! We'll just have to wait and find out.

  3. Hey, one question. The witch comes from a village 6 hours away... Why does any disguise magic only have to last 3 hours..? Surely that would only last her halfway there, am I missing something important?

    Amazing level as always

    1. You are correct! The town is actually only 3 hours away, thank you for pointing out that error. I have fixed it.

      I'm glad you are enjoying the levels.

  4. How many times much a character eat to avoid the hunger penalty during the T-Rex fight?
    Assuming they ate at the earliest times they needed to avoid hunger, it'd be 10am, 6pm and 2am. If they managed to collect food at the earliest opportunity, they'd be eating at 630am, 230pm, and midnight 30.
    When I run this level (hopefully later tonight), I'm probably just going to drop the eating requirement during the night (since you burn less energy while sleeping). I could potentially have them do survival checks during their time on watch, assuming they post one. But, I'd have to hike up the DC due to it being night time, for anyone without darkvision, probably. That seems a little punishing.
    Perhaps I'll make it such that their first meal must occur by 8am instead of 10, and do every 6 hours during the day. It's not terribly unrealistic, I don't think, and it should make dinner early enough as well.
    Doing it this way, I'd have to compensate the DC for the increased number of meals, plus I have 5 players, so it'd be 15 meals total instead of 8 or 12 (Depending on if in your your model characters only ate twice.)
    My first thought on how to handle that is to keep the DCs the same, but split out the pond and the land and track the DCs separately. Alternately I could just lower the initial DC a little bit.

    1. 3 meals for each character during the day sounds like a good idea, as long as they are spaced out, and foraging while staying on watch also makes sense. However you want to do that, it should work. You can either have the DC modified for the additional players, or you can consider that one of the balancing mechanics for having additional players in the first place. Either should work.
      Let me know how it goes!

  5. I threw together a map for this level, if you're interested in posting it here. The trees sort of obscure a lot of the level, but it works well if you give the players a version of the basic map with the G for the rune hidden.

    1. I'd love to see it! You can send it to zenithgames.blog@gmail.com

  6. Ooooh boy, was this a fun time!

    So the group (wondering where their traveling companions mysteriously vanished off to) appears at the campsite, where their newest compatriot, a half-orc fighter with the familiar bond line, meets them. After some fun roleplay to try and prove he was real, the group set themselves up to survive for 24 hours.

    The Arcanist had a 'set up merchant's shop' spell, which they used as their bedroom/cover and they decided to go in shifts of 3 per 4 hours, then after they'd had a total of 8 hours each, stay up until the end. They also found all the treasure hidden.

    They activated the treant while building up kindling, with minimal losses. Shift one (fighter, arcanist, oracle) met the ettins and the owlbears. It was quite amusing, as one leapt onto the top of the house, where the arcanist was sitting and grabbed her. But not too much trouble.

    Shift 2 of rogue, summoner and eidolan met the peddler. They used an air elemental to grab the first two, then the rogue got open the third. Unfortunately, none of them had the craft skill or bothered to wake up someone who did, so they lost out on the last 5k. They also met the witch, and despite giving her a hat of disguise to assist (+10 on the check!) they failed the roll.

    Shift 3 (fighter/arcanist/oracle) enjoyed the rain from inside. All were up in time for the imposter, who (while no one let her into the house) fazed in and started casting. A failed phantasmal killer went off, and then everyone but the fighter (who failed his sense motive on her and was still outside on guard) was trapped in the house with a dragon. They managed to kill it with 4 successive crits in a row, but it was dicey.

    Assisted the wounded squirrel for sweet loot, then the bees in the night attacked. It was hard goings; the bees got the jump on them, people were shot, the fighter got crit by the beetle and went down to -10 instantly (he had a feat to keep standing around after, but still). The oracle also went down. What turned the tide was when the summoner pulled out a gravity elemental. The flying bees were screwed after that, and a fireball took care of them all.

    The T-Rex freaked them all out a little bit. Especially when its first turn was chomp down on the eidolon. On the eidolon's turn, it tried to take it's full attacks and crit failed the first attack. Cue loud crunching noise as the t-rex had a tasty snack. The fighter and rogue nopped out of there and hide for the fight. The summoner burned a turn with a magma elemental that spewed magma inside the T-Rex's mouth. Summoner cast slow and the t-rex failed the save, which is probably what really made them survive. It made 2 separate save-or-dies from the arcanist, who feebly pelted it with fireballs afterwards before setting up a trap of explosive runes. The oracle was a target for a while too, but he luckily had 27 AC and a ring of blur (or whatever it's called) which assisted him.

    Between being staggered and the summoner throwing every large elemental it could at him, the team survived the full minute and got back to the tower.

    They all agreed, f that T-rex. They enjoyed the rest of it, but definitely had only rage about the boss. Looking forward to saving a dead god next time round!

    1. Ha, I love that boss battle. After all the complexity of magic, summoning, elements, conditions, etc... there's something so delicious about a big t-rex stomping all over everybody at level 9. But maybe that's just me. Glad they won, and with no deaths!

      Nice use of set up shop! Sounds like the skill challenges went well (though too bad about the witch!).

      Wow, 4 crits in a row! That's super impressive, and one dead dragon.

      And then a crit against the fighter down to -10? Jeez, that's intense.

      Sounds like the t-rex went about as expected. You've got to have somebody with a slow spell or similar - he's a big beast, but he's got some pretty glaring weaknesses. Crazy that they couldn't kill it though!

      Given how close these fights were, I would warn your players that a death or two could be around the corner! The last few levels of Jacob's Tower are the hardest! Luckily, they seem like a smart, creative group so I'm sure they will manage.

  7. Quick question, what if the heroes simply have trail rations and not forage?

    1. Then they get to eat their trail rations! Rewarding players who actually bother to buy that stuff.

    2. Huh that simply ey? I was mostly wondering because I believe this is the first time food resources were mentioned so they probably never used up any. And what character doesn't start with at least a few trail rations.

    3. If you think that they probably would have used it by now, then go ahead and have them forage. They can buy more rations from Nine between levels.

  8. Great fun was had!
    It took us two sessions, each one about 4 hours.

    Session one:
    Cleric, Alchemist, Fighter, Ranger and Rogue.

    My players cheered when they saw the already painted battleground and loved the level from the beginning.

    First thing to happen was the Rogue carving some stupid stuff into treebark, causing the Treant to come after only a few minutes. It was a nice, challenging fight.

    The Ettins and Owlbears were changed to two Ettins led by a Redcap from the west and two Owlbears led by a Redcap from the East.
    They fight wasn't thrilling besides the alchemist having the great idea to split from the party and being grappled by both the Owlbears. He went down to about -30 hitpoints and was only rescued by the cleric casting breath of life.

    They had fun with the peddler, getting everything but the riddlebox.

    The party was totally confidend that they managed to disguise Hazel. Well... They didn't!

    The sudden deluge was handled without problems by the Ranger, whose shift it was.

    The party really enjoyed the first half of the level.
    Especially the Ranger and Fighter who called themselves the "super-tag-team" after finding the treasure rune and skeleton together.

    End of session one.
    To be continued...

    1. Glad great fun was had! Campfire can be a nice break from the rest.

      Funny that the rogue pissed the treat off so quickly!

      Poor Hazel...

      When did you purchase JT? I think that all of the levels now come with nice maps. If you let me know the day you purchased it, I can re-send it to you.

  9. Session two:

    Since I don't like it, when my players who missed the first part of a level come in with full resources, I had the Synthesist make his way through the fog.
    After leaving the Inn he walked through a long tunnel and suddenly stepped out of it on a small hill.
    He could see a path leading into a massive forest, obscured by thick mist. After a few miles the mist and forest opened into a small village.
    He entered and asked for his friends, but nobody had seen any stranger in the last weeks.
    When he was ready to leave he heard angry shouting.
    The villagers surrounded a small person, strangely disguised with a red cap and owlbear feathers (The rest of the party laughed out loud).
    The villagers told him this was Hazel, an evil witch and they were going to burn her and her son. He tried to convince them to let her go and when it didn't work he knocked out a villager in one punch. Thrown rocks and forks didn't work against his AC 43... Even the Villages Mayor (NPC-Codex CR 11 Ranger) wasn't able to score a hit with his bow and was cut into pieces in two rounds.

    He left the village after Hazel told him she met his comrades. In the fog they were suddenly attacked by a Mist Drake, who killed Hazel and her son, but did nothing to the Synthesist but force him to use a fly spell. Again the combat didn't last long.
    Since he screwed up his survival check after the fight, he walked straight back into the village and had to walk the whole way back, which I ruled to make him enter the valley in round 6 of the fight against the Impostor.

    1. Back to the group:

      Right before the fight against the Impostor the party already had their 8 hours of sleep each. So when she came to quench the fire, everybody was up and ready. The party didn't fall for her trick and the cleric block her line of effekt to the fire.
      In her true form she opened the combat with her breath weapon for good effect. After she took a bad hit from an alchemists bomb, she cast obscuring mist, waited 2 rounds and used her breath weapon again, nearly as effectful since only one of the players moved.
      After that she used her fly speed and fly by attacks.
      She landed near the pool just the round when the Synthesist came into play, who immedeatly closed up to her and started pummeling. The fight was neither easy nor brutally hard for the group and I think we all enjoyed it.

      The next time the campfire needed wood the Ranger screwed his survivalcheck and the party faced the COoS.
      Nobody liked being attacked against Touch AC and the Alchemist was facing the first high touch AC enemy for a long time. If the cleric didn't throw an alchemists fire on the campfire after 3 rounds, this might have become nasty.

      The wounded squirrel was cured without any problem and my party liked the little fellow, even more after they found the potions. Only the Ranger was disappointed, that his Handle Animal wasn't high enough to tame it.

      The Thriae were reinforced by a third soldier and a Thriaebard of 4th level. The giant beetle managed to trample the cleric and the rogue for a good amount of damage. The cleric tried to hold person the Thriaebard, the Thriaebard tried to hold person the Synthesist. Both failed. The rogue readied actions to hit the bard when she closes to him only to learn that she has fly-by-attack and a ranseur with reach...

      Oh the endboss...
      I teased the group for the last two levels, telling them that Barnabath was gonna be a T-Rex Vampire and that an AlienT-Rex was going to be the boss of Planar. Of course I told them a T-Rex was gonna be the boss of this level. I only wish I had started earlier with these jokes.
      I told them sun was rising.
      I told them birds were singing.
      Then I started slamming my fists on the table, slowly then faster. Everybody was laughing - oh here comes the T-Rex.
      Now I made my best T-Rex sound and pulled out the 8 inch high plastic T-Rex i bought.
      Everybody was stunned. The rogues player even asked me if there really were dinosaurs in Pathfinder :-D

      The fight was brutal. I won initiative, charged, bit the Ranger and grappled him. Next round he was swallowed whole, and digested. While it was still gulping the unconscious ranger it was already biting and grppling the rogue.
      He had no chance.

      But three round of Alchemists bombs and an angry Synthesist were enough to dismember the T-Rex before a third PC could die.

      This level together with Gauntlet were what made me buy Jacobs Tower. And it was totally worth it!
      In my opinion this was the best level until now and my players also enjoyed it a lot.


      By the way - I purchased JT around october 2015. Do you mean the roll20 maps like the one on this page?

    2. https://picload.org/thumbnail/rioocpga/20170513_234853.jpg

      Sorry for the spam :-)

    3. https://picload.org/view/rioocpga/20170513_234853.jpg.html

      OK, this link works better. Maybe you can delete the last entry...

    4. Dinosaurs make everything better!

      Very clever playing out the other side of Hazel (though it's a shame she died to a dragon!)

      Glad that the imposter fight was well balanced. It sounds like (per usual), you are doing a great job of running and balancing per your players.

      Smart with the alchemist's fire. Kudo's to your players!

      Glad everyone liked this level so much! Nice picture & board, I always love seeing picture of people playing Zenith Games stuff.

      I just sent you an e-mail with all the updated maps and everything. Let me know if you don't get it!

  10. "This a a Tyrannosaurus Rex with the giant and advanced templates each applied twice." If they were applied twice this would be a CR13 and larger than colossal.

    As is, it's a pretty nonsense end to this floor. The earlier fights should be against lesser dinosaurs, otherwise this just comes off as ridiculous.

    1. There's a lot of pretty nonsense stuff all around. The whole peddler dialogue is super nonsense. Or the wizards chased by owlbears? Hopefully it's fun nonsense though.

  11. Sorry, I should have been clearer with my critique. Floors 7 and 8 were wonderful. They were cohesive with everything fitting the setting and leading to the boss. For the campsite, the encounters on the floor fit and worked. My players really were enjoying the additional mechanics and annoyances of getting woken. But when they T-rex comes out, there weren't cries of terror, there were questions of "Where did this guy come from?" and "Why is there a T-rex in this forest?" He just doesn't fit.

    Then I TPK'ed my players while never rolling above a 10. They were pissed.

    1. Ouch, TPK can be rough, particularly if the PCs felt it was unfair.

      Did you apply the templates yourself, or just use the stats provided? The stats provided have each template applied once, making the T-rex a pretty beatable CR 11.

      What was the party composition?

  12. Fighter, Wizard, Ranger, Cleric

    Ranger was swallowed at the start of rd2. Then Wizard died from the bite.

    Fighter was swallowed at rd4. And Cleric was grabbed.

    1. Sounds tough! You're the first TPK that I've heard from this, so I'm glad to see that it can fall either way at least.