Monday, April 11, 2016

Jacob's Tower: How To Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nine and the Inter-Dimensional Bar Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

(4) A cell door with a silver key.

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

(6) An advancing wall with protruding spikes.

(7) A gothic cathedral against a bloody sunset.

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

(9) A campfire in a dark forest.

(10) A corpse in a black void.

(11) An ornate chandelier.

(12) A dusty coliseum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dragons are Above My Pay Grade!

5/5 - N. Jolly
"Definitely worth checking out ... I seriously enjoyed it"

A non-linear search for hidden artifacts that culminates in an attack on a huge red dragon, Dragons are Above My Pay Grade provides heroes with an electrifying start to their careers.  Who doesn’t want to fight a dragon, even if it is above your pay grade?

Dragons are Above My Pay Grade is an adventure for 3 – 6 first level PCs. It is 23 pages long, fully illustrated and in color, and only $3.99.

Sunstone Island seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Idyllic weather, pleasant beaches, docile animals, and, most importantly, a mine absolutely bursting with gold.  Peter Grimples, owner of the Grimples Mining Corporation, was so enthusiastic to exploit these virgin resources that he personally headed the mining colony on this remote island.

The volcano?  Looks pretty quiet.  The tribe of kobolds?  Nothing a group of wide-eyed heroes can’t handle.

That is, until the kobolds resurrect the red dragon Varaug onto the island.  With reinforcements weeks away, suddenly the cheapest heroes money can buy don’t seem quite up to the task.
To combat this sudden and unexpected threat, the heroes must follow in the footsteps of the legendary native A’uapa who slew Varaug many centuries ago.  Following the instructions of a turncoat kobold who would like nothing more than the death of the merciless dragon, the heroes collect the dragon-slaying tools of A’uapa hidden across Sunstone Island.  These poisons, blessings, spells, and weapons are heavily guarded, sequestered in dungeons or protected by kobolds.  As the heroes traverse the island, following clues, unlocking riddles, and completing challenges, their already formidable adversary grows stronger and the colony town that they call home grows weaker.

Can the heroes collect enough dragon-slaying weapons to defeat Varaug before he destroys the mining colony along with any chance of future employment?  How could the party’s first contract go so wrong?

Dragons Are above My Pay Grade features a mining town, a fleshed out island with wild beasts and tropical hazards, a range of mini-dungeons and challenges,  and a host of original enemies, spells, poisons, items, and traps.  And, of course, the opportunity for level 1 character to face a red wyrm!


Praise for Dragons are Above My Pay Grade!

"Dragons are above my pay grade feels like it could be the great beginning of a dragon slaying campaign, giving the players a very nice taste of taking on one of the biggest and baddest beasties in the bestiary. It'd be a great way to jump into things and ask your party 'Hey, you wanna kill a dragon today?'" - N. Jolly

"I found the premise fun, the characters likeable, the new monsters fun and interesting, the names of the kobolds and dragon just unpronounceable enough ("Rowg? Like Smaug? Or is it more like 'rock,' or 'cog?'"), and the humor measured and's a great adventure, the characters are fun and inspired, the concept is great and well-executed" - Simon Barr

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