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Eightfinger's Tomb - Tom Phillips

Eightfinger's Tomb

Round 4 - Top 8: Design an Encounter With a Map

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Star Voter Season 8

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So because of schedules I was only able to get with my group (which wasn't my typical group) for one playtest. I picked this one. Here's how it came out.


Human/Wizard (Abjurer)/5
Human/CG Cleric of Gorum/5


1 of my players had never played a P&P, but observed several sessions and watch a lot of Neverwinter Nights game play (again, didn't play himself) (Wizard)

2 of my players have been involved in a 4th Ed D&D game that has confused them both several times. (Druid and Ranger)

My other player is very comfortable with Pathfinder. (Cleric)

We had a blast, the wizard had no trouble, the Druid and Ranger felt a lot better about this game than their other game. I had no problem running the game for them even with helping them with rules.

This is iffy... I missed the DR5/- line for part of the encounter. So the mummy was admittedly easier than he should have been, but not by much, and (without knowledge of the encounter) my brother built the ranger with favored enemy undead. Also, the mummy and all the skeletons ended up with a lower init than the party. Still a party of inexperienced players and walked it. So maybe skeletal champions might have been better.

Extremely fun. Everybody enjoyed the evening. Lots of good jokes "is still... juicy".

Star Voter Season 6

Tom, just wanted you to know that I am now itching to run this adventure. You'll definitely be getting my vote.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

We're still in the middle of running this encounter, but since voting opens in a handful of minutes (and I'm procrastinating on what I SHOULD be doing), I thought I'd post my report so far.

Playtest report:

I'm running a group of four (all human; ninja 6, cleric 6, net and trident fighter 6 and metal oracle 6), using the lower tier.

I've been very pleasantly pleased with Tom's design choices here, which made what could have been a very easy encounter into something more. Twice he appears to have predicted what the regular gamer would do and countered that, making for a more exciting scene.

First of all, noticing the mummy, they decided to not try to descend* but rather use alchemist's fire and a slow-burn arrow to rain fiery death down from above. A Knowledge check showed it was a bog mummy, however, so they saved their resources.

They then considered trying to shoot from above, but I ruled the mummy would have cover based on the angles of trying to get through the trapdoor. They decided to stop pussyfooting around then, and just get into the muck.

On their way down, one took a potshot at the mummy, which I decided would get him to respond -- he used the biggest fireball immediately. Three of the players had good cover as they were above the trap door still, but I ruled the other couldn't get a Reflex save while he was hanging from the chain.

Two of the players landed in the tentacle mold, which caused the ninja to leap into combat with the mummy and the other to quaff his potion of fly. A third player immediately used his fly potion and they've just closed with the mummy. The priest is descending the chain, where the skeletons wait below -- I assume they'll get nuked momentarily as he channels them into oblivious, so they'll pretty much be a non-factor other than causing a minimal use of resources.

The razor rubble doesn't seem to have come into play, but as a DM, I appreciate learning about the design Tuesday blogs.

* On this note, however, where before I defended Tom's use of "you" in his readaloud text as the players were likely going to be descending if the adventure were to continue, I was proven wrong. My players mostly stuck around at the top and tried to observe from there.

Overall, I thought it was a fun encounter, and I expect I'll vote for it. Tom, you're the Superstar veteran, and I think you're probably the favorite to win at this point. However, I thought Cody was the favorite last year and his adventure proposal didn't quite get it done. I'd say keep doing what you've been doing, combining solid fundamentals with creative ideas and you should have a good shot. Best of luck.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good luck, Tom. Loved that map! You've got my vote.

I'm a story-teller and that's what I look for in a game. Tom's encounter, to me, is the only one that gives me a good story. It hints at more to come and makes me eager to head to the next areas.

Tom - you've certainly got my vote!

Dedicated Voter Season 8

I didn't get around to any playtesting, sadly, as my regular group was obstinately unavailable for anything beyond previously planned games.

However, looking through this, I still feel that most issues that might appear (hard to judge without a specific group in mind) could be fairly smoothly resolved.

I really, very strongly, like the idea you're running here. You manage to go for a very unique location and the bog mummy is a nice way to get around the monster limitation while still bringing something interesting.

Definitely getting a vote for this. I hope to see you in the top 5.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

I had the good fortune to be part of Jacob's play test listed above. The few notes I have about this encounter are:

1) Great setting, love the Gloomspires and the pirate tomb story.
2) Good dungeon, made better by the connection of the story of Hrethnar to the encounter.
3) Biggest concern was the PCs starting the encounter from the top of the chamber, it provided too much tactical advantage, a party could trigger the encounter from above and then play whack-a-mole at the trap door after pin-cushioning anything in the chamber as it slowly ascended the ladder.

Overall, this was one of my favorite entries this year and I enjoyed the encounter, especially the way the bog mummy was used as both a vehicle for the story and the gameplay.

In case you’ve only just woken up to the contest or otherwise (somehow) missed these Round-by-Round reviews before, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:

Fairness means Prizes For All Succubi, balance is the process of fine-tuning your harpsichord of the Abyss so that the acoustic resonances are particularly obnoxious to any clerics of Asmodeus who happen to be captive audiences in the vicinity, and logic is very much like cornflour paste – cast-iron hard work when anyone else touches it, but conveniently gooey and runny to a succubus’ subtle touch. Oh: And Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still) firmly maintains that it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind with neither any warning nor any obligation to bother to explain herself…

Does the location and situation seem suitable for a succubus in distress (broken fingernails are such a nuisance) to find a Noble Knight?
The situation seems completely unsuitable. Noble knights do not go around looking for pirate treasure. Well not without some ulterior motivating factor such as a hoard containing an item necessary to save a sibling's life, or some such thing.

Is there any possible convenient financial gain obvious in this situation for a succubus?
There's obvious financial gain here, and given the possibilities of ethereal travel, it's fairly likely convenient, yes.

Purely from a point of view of testing-this-situation-to-destruction what impact is a fire-breathing phase doppleganger giant space hamster likely to have if introduced to it?
ROOOAAAAAR! Munch, crunch, rampage, trample, *phwooooom* (tweet-tweet-tweet), crash, crunch, trample, bloort.

Other comments?
I believe you have considerably underestimated the corrosive effect that sea air happens to have on most metals. After three centuries, most of the metal in this place should be rusted into uselessness, ladders included. If they haven't then they're probably some sort of corrosion resistant metal (or enchanted to be so) and thus valuable in and of themselves.

Estimated time for four adventuresome succubi to deal with this situation:
One minute thirty seven seconds. It comes from having to go slowly due to the tricky going under foot.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

I didn't manage to read through everything in time to vote, but if I had, you definitely would have gotten it.

The Map

The map alone was a huge factor. Not so much the map's execution (which was also good), but the sheer amount of flavor coming from all the little hints as to what else is in store.

The side view of the dungeon is especially nice, even before one reads the evocative names. One look as a potential DM, and I think, hey, that's a cool dungeon. It strikes a delicate balance. It's not flashy in some gonzo way, but it's not a boring hole in the ground either.

You can tell at a glance this thing is massive. Additionally, it's not just a stack of dungeon levels on top of each other. The mostly solid space with small passages between rooms kinda' reminds me of the cross section of an Egyptian pyramid, which is about perfect, considering it's a tomb.

I also like how the map shows the whole level, with enough detail to use it. A lot of the other maps used much of their page space for overview stuff that's not tactically useful. With yours the GM still has a combat grid if the PCs do something unexpected. (i.e. trying to leave the room in the middle of the fight, or do some stealthy recon.)

The Backstory

I love the Gloomspires. If someone was so inclined, they could have a whole campaign exploring these things. While it looks like you did your homework slotting them into Paizo's world (but I didn't bother checking), what matters more to me is that I can drop these babies off the coast of anywhere and they work just fine. I also actually like the hand-wavy original origin of them. If I where to use them in my personal world, I already know who built them. Thanks for that.

Now onto Eightfingers himself. Nice pirate name there. I'm honestly curious as to which eight fingers he still has. And how he lost them. I'm rooting for congenital defect, 'cause I think that's just creepy, but it's probably more mundane.

The basic story of a pirate who buries all his treasure is classic. Not terribly original, but sure to tweak the interest of both kill-happy loot-seekers and more serious role players. Buries himself also? Now, that is original. Good stuff.

Hrethnar's background is deliciously evil as well. It makes it sounds like he deserves his fate, which is good for getting the DM into the BBEG's head. If the PCs find it out, it also serves as a preview of Eigthfinger's wrath should they fail.

The Encounter

I didn't run it, so my evaluation of this could be a bit off, but it looks good to me. The formatting and organization seems pretty professional. I'm also impressed that you put in a full stat block, given the word limit. I suspect this is because you can write tight and flavorful prose, which frees you from the constraints of the word limits.

A lot of people have mentioned that the skeletons are push overs, and it's probably true. However, I like the surprise attack. Timed properly, they might be a good distraction before being destroyed. Besides, it sounds like the upper levels aren't exactly a walk in the park, so how much channeling has the (inevitable, I suppose) cleric gonna have left? And still save some for the rest of the level and the BBEG? (And I don't think one wants to spend the night here.)

Additionally, I get the impression that Hrethnar is a mini-boss. So the dungeon as a whole might be Lv5 an this is actually a CR+1 encounter. At the CR9 level though, I do think the individual creatures are getting too weak to be relevant. Then again, more bang from the improved necklace may just do the trick.

Speaking of which, the fireballs are an especially nice touch. I love how it takes the common PC tactic of spamming AoEs at everything that moves and uses it on them. Also, being a bog mummy allows Hrethnar some latitude to fire some (of the weaker ones) up close if need be.

As for whether the vampire spawn are justified or not, I guess I'm pretty easy. You can stock the undead pirate's tomb with whatever undead you want and I probably won't mind. Even if he's not personally a vampire (unknown, but unlikely), or doesn't keep one handy (as some have speculated the high tier version does), he's probably had some kind of interaction with one at some point in his three centuries.

Finally, the hazardous terrain and the layout of room, especially the long chain ladder add even more appeal.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Tom, I suspect this is your time to shine. You’ve been in this competition three times, so you know what to do. As a fellow 2010 competitor, I’m cheering for you. You have the Golarion knowledge down and I’ve enjoyed your previous entries but I’d recommend trying something in an area of the world not so well-traveled. It’s easier to not have to worry as much about reading the entirety of canon on an area that’s well known and making sure that you mesh with it. It also explores something new and expands the world for everyone. As always, write an adventure you’d love to run/play.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Hey Tom, I'll skip the congratulations and the best wishes; though both are due. I'll just say that I'm really excited to see you your adventure proposal, and I expect it to rock.


You had my vote from the second I read your entry. I'm glad everyone else felt the same way, and I'm tremendously pumped for you heading into the final rounds - you've been bringing your "A" game the whole way through.

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