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Dwtempest's Ziggurat


Serpent's Skull

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, so i finally got to use a modified version of dwtempest's ziggerat this last weekend and thought i might leave some comments....

1) The puzzle was well done, though my players complained that it was fairly obtuse and you had to think about things in a certain way. I have no problem with that, 'cause that is what puzzles are supposed to do.

2) The serpentfolk at the start, in the main room of the lowest level of the ziggerat, seem odd. The lieutenant was large for example, but no explanation as to how he got large. I left it along though, and the players thought he might have been a different caste of serpentfolk. Which is cool, as I can not make different serpentfolk with all sorts of oddness in the future. A lot like y***-t* way back when they were first introduced to DnD.

3) The enchanter turned out to be a bit tougher than I thought he would be. However, at the end of the battle is a struggle of attrition -- protection from arrows proved it worth, especially when the person protected is using spider climb to stay away from the group.

4) Watch out for failed knowledge checks. My players failed their geography checks when presented with the ancient map of the Mwangi. So I actually had to *tell* them what they were seeing so they could figure out how to get from Tazion to Saventh-Yhi.

5) The encounters, at least when i ran it, all happened at the start of the exploration of the ziggerant. If you wish to make it a bit more combat oriented, i would add a few things. perhaps a few of the giant wasps attack anyone on top of the ziggerat for any period of time, or a mimic in one of the side rooms. The leech swarms were annoying all around, I would change that to some sort of nasty fish, perhaps modelling on the stats of a viper or turtle. if you want to be absolutely nasty and really screw with things, make it a larval form of an aboleth. :) But that is probably too much.

6) Three gems are found before the PC even get to the ziggerat by Isseth (the serpent folk enchanter). When running you may want to detail with the serpentfolk found the gems and what was there. I put secret panels/hiding places in the hall of Stars, Hall of the Sun, and the Void room (where the water is).

7) What happens to the various pieces of the puzzle after it is solved? Do the gems lose their power (the faint aura of divination on them)? What are they worth? Can they be taken from the ziggerat? What about the gold plaques in the step puzzle room? What are they worth each (I assigned an arbitrary value of 100 go each)? What happens if the gems are left in the hands of the idols and the PC do not take them with them? (Here i suggest that the gems must be presented to the door of the step puzzle room to get the door to open.)

Hope these comments are of help to someone. I really enjoyed the redo that dwtempest did. Thanks for sharing this with us!


Thanks very much for the feedback! I've decided to go ahead and post the changed Ziggurat on Google Docs. I've made a few changes based on your suggestions and other feedback garnered so far.

Spoiler:

Note that these changes assume a larger than normal party. It was designed for 7 characters of 7th level. You can always adjust the serpentfolk accordingly to tone it down or up as needed.

It assumes that the old aqueducts run to the Ziggurat and come up in room X4. This gives PCs a way to sneak in if they wish.

Tazion Ziggurat


Ran this two sessions ago instead of the ziggurat as written, and I think it went over pretty well with the group. I was pleased with it, at any rate.

Some thoughts:

Spoiler:
- The leveled serpentfolk in the first room add up to quite a high CR. I have a large group too, though they were only level 6: six characters plus animal companion plus eidolon, two of them very optimized builds, and the rest are casters. It was a decent challenge for them without being too deadly, and I've been using the leveled serpentfolk stats in subsequent encounters. But a more standard party of four would have a world of trouble.

- The gem puzzle was nice and complex, and has a good logic to it, though the players ended up plowing through via trial and error. After the first mess-up, they started overthinking it, and this new-found caution meant they got the answers correct the next time.

- After finding the idols, and realizing the one moonstone they'd found was a piece of the puzzle, one of my players said "Man, we're going to have to search all over for these things... I'd be very disappointed if they were all in the same place." This was right before they opened the door to fight Isslar, after having explored most everything else, so he got a very unpleasant glare. If I ran it again, I'd spread the gems out across Taizon... maybe one in the well and one in the tower, and add some more traps guarding them to make up for the low-level charau-ka mobs.

- The rebuilt X2/trapped puzzle room? It is awesome, and properly Indiana Jones-like. The poison gas was an excellent touch. There was a frantic scramble where everyone ran for a corner/cast fly, except for the one character stuck fiddling with plaque. And we saw the fighter and animal companion take a nose dive into the pit, and subsequently get gassed. They survived, and ended up racing the gas to the platform via a rope of climbing and skill checks.

- My one complaint with it, though, was rolling the 3d12 to determine which blocks rolled out; maybe I just can't roll worth a darn, but they spent half a dozen rounds waiting for the one door to open so they could grab the last plate they needed. I ended up just moving random blocks I hadn't moved in a couple of turns and foregoing the dice since I rolled so bad.

- My players weren't really sure how a golden plate symbol of a blindfold would work, since it's a really awkward image. I realize it's got symbolic value, in the tarot and elsewhere; I ended up saying it was a blindfolded face, not a blindfold itself.

- Getting to the map room, they again resorted to trial and error in their attempts to make the gems fit. I had to prod them to remember the earlier idols' phrases and astronomy theme, and they got the first one correct. They kept wanting to put the moonstone in the star sapphire's slot, for both puzzles, but after that they figured it out.

- There's nothing that says what happens after the gems have been inserted, so I ruled that they were stuck in, a few lone lights in a dark, abandoned temple, pointing the way to Saventh-Yhi.

Like I said, it went over really well; one of my players really liked that it was challenging and made them think, and that it was a nice change of scenery from all the combat encounters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

My players are at the Ziggurat right now and I have started to use dwtempest's version of the ziggurat.

I laid it on for them, having two teams of degenerate serpent folks (one awake, one sleeping and needing 3 rounds to get to the main floor), six charau-kas, two Girallions and Issilar disguised as a charau-ka arriving on round 7.

The fight took over twenty rounds to finish and was a close run thing, but very satisfying to the players.

Other changes that I made are:
The magical gems (keys), teleport somewhere random in the city once they have been used (and will teleport there as soon as they leave the city - including being put into bags of holding, etc). This ensures that others can find the way to Tazion once the PCs finish figuring out the path.

The idols, once the proper key has been put in place has a force field like magical beam come out of it and engulf the head of the person that placed the key. This will telepathically place the message in the being's head, along with some flashes of visions of Saventh-Yhi in it's hey day (these visions will allow me to reveal a fair bit more to the PCs at the appropriate time by the PCs recalling the visions).

The idols only work for core races. All other races get the penalties for the wrong key, and the key teleports away (a protection to ensure that the serpent folk didn't use this powerful magical item).

As Yargoth survived in my campaign, I have her working with Issilar. Issilar was left in Tazion to find the keys again and hide them somewhere in Tazion where the "mammals" will not find them. He has recovered three of them. Issilar's note book entries have been suitably modified.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mistwalker wrote:
The magical gems (keys), teleport somewhere random in the city once they have been used (and will teleport there as soon as they leave the city - including being put into bags of holding, etc). This ensures that others can find the way to Tazion once the PCs finish figuring out the path.

Once one group figures out the path, they lead a caravan of a hundred or so people (including mules and archeologists and possibly others not adept at hiding their tracks) from Tazion to Saventh-Yhi. I figured that other groups would be capable of following that sort of trail (possibly with difficulty, but still feasibly) no matter how hard the PCs worked at destroying Tazion.

Still, cool mechanic. My party's a little light on loot, so I didn't go that route.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
tbug wrote:

Once one group figures out the path, they lead a caravan of a hundred or so people (including mules and archeologists and possibly others not adept at hiding their tracks) from Tazion to Saventh-Yhi. I figured that other groups would be capable of following that sort of trail (possibly with difficulty, but still feasibly) no matter how hard the PCs worked at destroying Tazion.

Still, cool mechanic. My party's a little light on loot, so I didn't go that route.

Thanks.

I wanted something in place so that if the PCs weren't the first ones there, they could find where to go.

Yes, most of the other expeditions will simply follow along behind the first one to figure out the way to go.

I also wanted a mechanism in place in case the PCs need to find things in the future (the Pillars of Light find more than just the way to Savinth-Yhi), if they missed the clues in Savinth-Yhi and the clues from the visions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ooh, nice thought! I hadn't considered using them as a back-up for later. I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks for the idea!

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