Hecataeus: Sanctum of the Colossus


Round 4: Design a villain's lair

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Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 6 aka raidou

Hecataeus: Sanctum of the Colossus

Hecataeus maintains several estates, but none so removed from civilization as his prized manor in the Malgorian Mountains, south of Ravenmoor. While exploring those peaks for old dwarven machinery texts, he came upon the fragments of an ancient Thassilonian stone colossus, a find that forever changed his life. His golem companions hauled these fragments into an abandoned mine cavern, around which Hecataeus later built a small palace. From here, he has caused endless grief and suffering (mostly in a social sense) to nearly every community from Wolf’s Ear to Riddleport.

P1. Golems at the Gate (CR15)
This stately manor appears ingenious in its architecture but lacking in its upkeep. Its walls are granite and mostly seamless, but eroded and stained in places. A green copper bell is mounted a hundred feet east of the front steps. Two hulking, armored figures stand before the entryway. They immediately move to block the way forward.

Hecataeus constructed these iron knights as a first line of defense against trespassers. The bell allows Hecataeus’s infrequent guests to alert him of their arrival.

Creatures: These are iron golems. When they first spot intruders, they move together, arms folded over their chests, and begin shaking their heads as if to say “No.” If trespassers approach within 20 feet, both golems have orders to attack, beginning with poisonous breath.

Iron Golems (2) CR13
hp 129 (MM 136)

P2. Atrium (CR 8)
A magnificent chandelier floods this vast room with a warm glow. A slim balcony, reached by twin stairways at the room’s north end, circles the hall at a height of 25 feet. This room is 40 feet high, with a vaulted ceiling. A grand portrait of Hecataeus occupies the western wall, a full ten feet in height.

Hecataeus filled this main chamber with deadly traps and misdirection. An illusory wall (Will DC21 disbelief if interacted with) covers the east wall’s southernmost exit, preventing the casual observer from discovering the caverns beyond.

Creature: The chandelier is a huge animated object. A DC25 perception check reveals it is constructed entirely of swords. The chain affixing it to the ceiling allows it to swing, drop, or ascend anywhere within the shaded area. When anyone enters the area between the room’s pillars without first saying “It’s good to be home,” the chandelier animates, turning four greatswords point-downwards. It then drops upon a foe (treat as a charge) and strikes with all four blades in a single impaling attack. If the chandelier strikes a target, its blades close to grab the victim as a free action (CMB +15). If it successfully grabs a foe, on the following round the construct retracts toward the ceiling (move action), swings to the south (move action), and drops its victim into the pit trap (free action). It continues to do this until it deposits all foes into the pit.

Animated Chandelier CR7
Attack (charge): impaling greatswords +11 melee (4d6+5)
Special Qualities: Improved Grab
Speed: Swing 40, Ascend 20, Drop 80
hp 84 (MM 14, Huge Animated Object)

Trap: Camouflaged Pit Trap with Gelatinous Cube (CR5)
This 40ft. deep pit is half-filled with a gelatinous cube, used primarily as a garbage disposal. Falling PCs take no impact damage but immediately take acid damage to themselves and their possessions, and are considered engulfed. There is nowhere to stand without touching the cube. PCs must climb (DC15) or be rescued.

Gelatinous Cube CR3
hp 54 (MM 201)

Camouflaged 40ft. Pit Trap CR4
(DMG 74)

P3. Banquet Hall (CR12)
A large table is set as if for a feast, though there is no food. A magnificent throne stands at the western side of the hall. Seated around the table are six large humans dressed in gaudy robes. One suddenly breaks the silence, thrusting an empty goblet into the air and proclaiming “A toast to your accomplishments, Master!”

Hecataeus created golems in the images of his academic peers. He has perfected the ability to grant his flesh golems simple programmed speech, and each night he dines with them here as they toast his greatness.

Behind a polished shield on the north wall, there is a secret door (discovered with a DC28 perception check). This opens into a narrow hallway, with another exit into the lecture hall (area P4). From this space, tiny peepholes in the walls allow an observer to look out into areas P3, P4, and P5.

Creatures: These six flesh golems will attack only if someone sits on the throne without saying the phrase “Feast, my pathetic apprentices!” Each golem is capable of making simple verbal responses to Hecataeus’s toasts, insults, and conversations.

Flesh Golems (6) CR7
hp 79 (MM 135)

P4. Lecture Hall (CR10)
Seven desks face a podium and large slate board. Seated two to a desk, tiny cherubic dolls chatter and pull each other’s hair. One red-haired doll stands forlornly in a corner, facing the wall. Shelved books and papers on an assortment of topics line the east and west walls.

Believing himself a master orator and instructor, Hecataeus arranged a small classroom of aspiring students. Each morning, he instructs these creatures in the finer arcane arts. He keeps blueprints, spellbooks, and scrolls of animate object hidden beneath the podium in this room (DC30 perception check to notice the frequently-moved podium).

Creatures: These are Soulbound Dolls. The little monsters will break into a cacophony of shrieks and laughter when anyone enters the room, and unless someone speaks “Good morning, class” within three rounds, the “class” will swarm and attack them with their cause serious wounds spell-like ability.

NE Soulbound Dolls (15) CR2
hp 19 (PF#7 84)

P5. Goldfish Pool
Resembling a sea-fisherman, a stone man sits at the edge of this pool. It holds a fishing rod and gazes at the water, in which swim hundreds of bloated, colorful fish. Surrounding the pool are a dozen statues in unsettlingly life-like poses.

Hecataeus is fond of polymorphing his enemies into harmless creatures, such as mice and goldfish. The latter he tosses into this pond. Occasionally he also simply petrifies his enemies. He places their stone bodies in this room as well, typically in poses that seem “artistic” to Hecataeus but would be tasteless and borderline lewd to just about anyone else. The fisherman has instructions to throw back any fish it catches, but does not otherwise attack. If interacted with, the fisherman is considered a medium animated object with the Hardness special quality.

Stone Fisherman CR N/A
hp 31, Hardness 10 (MM 13, Medium Animated Object)

P6. Garden and Rat Maze (CR10)
This lush rose garden is open to the sky, abuzz with the noise of small animals. Cages of rats, mice, birds, and rabbits line the south wall. A ten-foot-square wooden maze sits in the center of the room, and ladders lead to an encircling balcony 15 feet up. A large clay figure moves about, trimming and tending the garden.

When Hecataeus polymorphs his foes into non-aquatic wildlife, he places them here. He takes great joy in watching his former foes-turned-rodents run through his elaborate maze for their dinner. Here, Hecataeus also torments a meddlesome intelligent amulet (a golembane scarab), coating it in animal fat and tossing it into the maze for the rodents to find. The vermin gnaw away at the amulet until Hecataeus grows bored and “rescues” the troublesome bauble.

All along the balcony are pots containing shriekers (DC25 perception to detect from the ground). These fungi emit an ear-splitting screech whenever a creature larger than a hawk flies past the balcony into the garden.

Creature: Hecataeus recently stole the clay golem from a nearby temple. It attacks any person who enters the garden without first saying “How’s the weather today?” The shriekers are immobile, but alert Hecataeus of intruders.

Clay Golem CR10
hp 90 (MM 134)

Shriekers (20) CR1
hp 11 (MM 112)

C1. Entryway (CR9)
The palace steps descend 15 feet to a large semicircular platform. This area cuts through the mountain and overlooks a grand excavation below.

Creature: A scorpion-like monster called a Skull Ripper, made largely of fused skulls, guards this platform. It ruthlessly attacks any intruders into this area.

Skull Ripper CR9
hp 112 (PF#3 84)

C2. Sanctum of the Colossus (CR 15)
This majestic cavern, well-lit for its size, extends hundreds of feet to the south. Continual flame torches hang from chains drilled into the rocky ceiling. Massive fragments of white marble, once the head, shoulder, arm, gauntlet, and lower torso of some mighty colossus, lie arranged on the ground, surrounded by piles of rubble. Stone laborers work tirelessly among the ruins, bringing fragments of this ancient statue to specific locations on the cavern floor.

Hecataeus spends daylight hours here, atop one of three foreman’s platforms. He directs his mindless drones to lift, drag, dig, and organize the fragments of his monolithic dream. He uses spells and items to repair and shape the stone according to his specific blueprints.

When enemies approach, he will call his six Cutlass Spiders to advance, following up with his figurine of wondrous power. These creatures provide a frontal assault while Hecataeus casts preparatory spells from relative safety. He never strays more than 100 feet from one of his three shield guardians. Each shield guardian remains stationed at a foreman’s platform, but will move and attack any creature on or within reach of these.

At any time, Hecataeus can command the platform bridge (itself a construct) to swing into any of the positions noted on the map. It takes one full round for the bridge to swivel to the next platform. When the bridge is in motion, any character (including Hecataeus) standing on it must make a balance check (DC10) or be considered flat-footed for the duration of the bridge’s movement. Failure by 5 or more means that character tumbles off the bridge to the ground 20 feet below.

The cavern floor is considered lightly obstructed terrain, with dense rubble piled up in many areas (noted on the map). Cover is plentiful, and Hecataeus will take advantage of it. The colossus fragments can be climbed with a DC15 check. All pieces stand 15 feet high except for the gauntlet, which stands 5 feet off the ground.

Fifty stone workers are scattered throughout the rubble, each one singularly fixed on its task. These do not attack or even notice any conflict or intrusion here. If interacted with, these are considered medium animated objects with the Hardness special quality.

In pitched combat, Hecataeus will attempt to neutralize threats quickly, one at a time. He may pause to gloat for a round if he achieves a particularly satisfying victory (polymorphing the party’s warrior or feebleminding the party’s wizard, for example). At the earliest opportunity, he will hide amid the rubble and let a projected image rain down damaging spells upon the group.

When below 70 hit points, he will teleport to the lecture hall (area P4), grab his paperwork, and hide in the secret area beyond.

Creatures: Cutlass Spiders are spider-shaped constructs made entirely of bladed weapons. These large horrors are able to move effortlessly over rubble and fragments of the colossus. Hecataeus’s shield guardians are constructed in his image, carved to resemble him in a military officer’s garb.

Cutlass Spiders (6) CR6
hp 74 (PF#15 84)

Shield Guardians (3) CR8
hp 112 (MM 223)

Stone Laborers (50) CR N/A
hp 31, Hardness 10 (MM 13, Medium Animated Object)

C3. Unfinished Exit (CR16)
The air in this wide, dark cavern is heavy and oppressive. In the darkness ahead echo the massive footfalls of some great creature.

The pinnacle of Hecataeus’s creations, a greater stone golem, wanders this passageway. It tunnels and excavates rock so that the colossus can leave its chamber and re-enter the world when fully complete.

Creature: This golem will attack any creature other than Hecataeus that enters this passageway. It resembles its maker as well, appearing bare-chested and powerfully muscled – a perfect physical specimen.

Greater Stone Golem CR16
hp 271 (MM 136)

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Review

Hecataeus. Not surprising someone chose him. In fact, two did. I doubt that surprises anyone either. So you had to know your lair would likely be compared to another lair for Hecataeus. That said, right off the bat your map is great. Well done. I'm not sure about the balance of these encounters. You have a huge heavy-hitter right off the bat--two iron golems (which, by the way, happen to be on the short list of my favorite all time D&D monsters, so good choice!). But once the PCs get by them, the rest are basically really low CR nuisance encounters. A party that can get by the golems will just be annoyed with these. Not sure that is a good plan. But I have to consider it more. Layout is great. Scaffolding gag is great. More to come...

OK, I've thought about it more. Not sure those are just nuisances. But the g-cube and the dolls are a bit light.

By the way, you fail to put Hecataeus's short stat block in your submission. I think that is a mistake. Sure, its obvious he's there but I think you have to include that.

More to come...

Clearly Top 4

Final Thoughts

Having slept on all these and though about them, I have found nothing to change my mind. Eric, this is a great submission and in my view it is clearly Top 4. I'm not sure your body of work is quite as good as some but you certainly grew and improved with your villain. That was great to watch.

That said, this is an excellent, excellent lair and as a result it is RECOMMENDED for advancement.

Malhavoc Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It’s interesting to come into the middle of the contest and kind of learn as I go. This is one of two lairs for the same villain, and it’s both similar and different in interesting ways.

The map is really cool. Area C2 is a great place for a really fun, climactic encounter with the moving bridge.

There are a lot of nice little details throughout. I like the peephole in area P3, for example. The animated sword chandelier is cool (although likely little challenge for the PCs involved in this, I’m guessing).

There’s not going to be a lot for a wizard to do in many of these encounters, and the rogue has no one to sneak attack. Just something to keep in mind when putting together something like this—everyone should have something to do. It would be cool, for example, to have more devices for a rogue to disable among the strange constructs.

I would worry that some of the encounters here will be so easy for the PCs (like the soulbound dolls) that it’s kind of a waste of time to have to deal with them.

The Exchange Kobold Press

The element that catches my eye here is the sense that the location is tied to Hecataeus' personality, his ego and insecurities. That's entertaining, as is the chandelier and the goldfish pond for polymorphed foes.

Beyond that, I'm not sure this is quite balanced right. Yes, we expect a lot of constructs. But I would think that the iron golems are a very tough starting encounter, especially as the utter lack of windows means that stealth/recon is impossible without teleporting into unknown territory.

I do like the use of Pathfinder monsters like the cutlass spiders, and the Thassillon reference.

Recommended for Top 4.

Malhavoc Press

It seems a bit odd to select both of the lairs done with the same villain, but there you go. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give this a 8. Recommended.

Contributor

I liked this place. It suits Hec thematically and in terms of his personality. The map is clear and easy to read. I think it is a little straightforward hack & slash, as there's no way to roleplay past some of the encounters (and, short of using advanced divination effects to learn the proper pass-phrases, no way to safely bypass some of the encounters), and it doesn't address high-level play issues--for example, characters of this level have access to fly and dimension door, so the ground obstacles and the moving bridge aren't as much of a hindrance as they'd be to a low-level party. But it is a neat lair and I like how it draws on sources other than the MM to give the encounters some variety other than "yet another humanoid construct."

Rec: advance to next round!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

This one is my second-favorite this round, and one of only two that had me saying "yes, I want to go adventure THERE" or "I am TOTALLY ripping this off to find some way to use it in my game as a DM."

I think this entry gives a lot of depth to the flavor and personality of Hecataeus, played out through a variety of constructs. The place seems like the sort of place a rich, snooty wizard would call home and get his jollies by bossing around his robots - and yet dangerous for anybody horning in on his turf. It's a construct-filled dungeon, but it doesn't FEEL like a construct-filled dungeon because there is great variety in the design of the rooms and parts of the place.

We again have the "giant statue" angle, but I guess I like the flavor of this one better than the other - that's a risk that happens when two people take similar angles (like last year's "aquatic countries" - they invariably were compared to one another) or in this case the same villain and put their own stamp on him.

This one is a very strong contender for my vote - I just have to decide if I want to cast this vote based on my preferences for this round alone (which would be you) or taking the whole contest thus far into account (where I'm not quite as sure).


Having now read all eight entries I can honestly say that, under other circumstances, there isn't one I wouldn't vote for. But it's getting tough now, and you're up against similarly tough opposition. To my mind, the other Hecataeus lair is marginally more interesting than this one, and while that doesn't necessarily rule out this one... I don't think I'm going to vote for this one. It is really tight, and I wish you the best, but... sorry.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
Monte Cook wrote:


There’s not going to be a lot for a wizard to do in many of these encounters, and the rogue has no one to sneak attack. Just something to keep in mind when putting together something like this—everyone should have something to do. It would be cool, for example, to have more devices for a rogue to disable among the strange constructs.

Just a random note... I think Rogues can sneak attack just about anything in Pathfinder rules, so that might not be an issue. Designing some of the encounters as traps might be a nice change of pace, though.

Star Voter Season 6

Love it. LOVE IT!

The map made me laugh. How many maps do that?

The claw chandelier is wonderful, with the PCs as those prizes you try to pick up out of the machine. Dropping them into a gelatinous cube where they need silent spells or the ability to climb beslimed walls to escape is priceless.

When you think about it, the toughest encounter should be the one to get inside. I know modules like to gradually escalate encounters, but that's not how people actually protect their homes and such.

I love the rat maze for pseudo-science and the "zen" goldfish pond of death.

Yes, the dolls are a lower level encounter... but as a DM you get to describe the players smashing life-like little dolls trying to kill the PCs! Creepy! (And disturbing when you "kill" one.) And, you'll note that with touch attacks for inflict damage, they're going to sap PC resources. Go take a look at the illustration for these soulbound dolls and tell me that this wouldn't be creepy.


I think the golems at the entrance are perfect. Hec does not want people to enter easily, he's going to put his tough guys out front. It puts a certain element of foreboding right at the beginning and sets the stage and mentality of the PC's going forward into what will be a high level wizard's abode.

The entire lair drips with roleplaying potential. You could hand this map to a level 1 DM with no characterization experience who would just need to read right off the page (sacrilege!) and still have the PC's come away with a deep sense of Hec's psychology and a lot of images that just stay with you (a charge of cherub looking children contructs?? crazy!).

Plus the chandelier is killer.

Nice job you get my vote!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I'm going through these in order like I have the previous rounds, so this is the first I've looked at. Overall, I like it a lot. I can easily see this as the final act in a published adventure. The map was great, and had lots of useful extras, like the location of the creatures, and the shaded area of the claw-chandelier.

I did have some of the concerns about the low CR of some of the challenges, but think that it's fine, given that a) every encounter shows more about how Hacataeus thinks, and b) does provide some interesting challenge that should wear down the party some before the final showdown. I particularly liked the claw chandelier/GC pit combo. If that hits a low fort character and dumps them in the pit, say goodnight. Having other party members try to rescue them will make dealing with the chandelier that much harder.

Now for a few little nitpicks. First, while I like the bridge and the interesting tactical situation it adds to the encounter, the balance check should be an acrobatics check in PRPG, and second, what type of action does it take for Hacataeus to command it? I'm guessing a free action, but it would be better to say so, and not make me guess. Also, for the cube/pit combo, I'd say that's only CR4, since the cube being in the pit reduces the pit's danger (since there's no falling damage). The pit does make the cube harder, since you can't avoid it or run away easily, so it still should increase the combined CR of the trap, but I'd only increase it by 1.

I'll have to see what the other entries are like before figuring out my votes, but I liked this one a lot, and I can see myself voting for it unless the others up the ante.


I like this lair and would recommend it for advancement.

I feel the lair fits the villain's personality.

I especially like the swinging chandelier and the g-cube trap. The moving bridges seems right out of Harry Potter. The dolls are a nice touch. Touch attacks are much more likely to get through the PCs defenses.

Good map.


Initial Impression:
Third entry I have read and at last someone presents a lair of one of the villains who in my opinion were 'begging' to have a lair done for them.
Some use made of Hecataeus' known character in how the lair is outfitted; I am slightly concerned by the judges' comments regarding the CR appropriateness of the encounters, but this is only my initial read through, and I will come back for another later.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Eric nicely done! I liked the "reboot" of Hecataeus and wondered if someone would provide a lair for him, and you delivered. (And there were TWO lairs done for him... wow.) But I must agree that yours was the better of the two, and as a result, you have earned one of my votes.
Well Done. Good Luck. Can't wait to see what you have in mind for an Adventure Proposal.

Dean; the Minstrel_Wyrm


"In Soviet Russia, the chandalier swings YOU!"


Nice work Eric. I liked the map a lot. The dolls were creepy. I laughed at the gelatinous cube because it reminded me of someone's initial criticism that they pictured the original Hecateaus dropping slime on a PC's head.

You definitely captured the feel for this villain, and I think it's really cool that you and Randy each did the other's villains.

Best of luck to you.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

First off, congratulations on making Top 8!

Man, oh, man, this round is going to be tough, I can tell that now, and I've still got four entries to read!

I love both Hecataeus' (Hecataeii? <G>) lairs ... they both feel like someplace this incredibly nasty loony would call home. Here, it's the twisted almost futuristic feel with the "yes-men" golems, the polymorphed and stoned enemies, the chandelier ...

And I was laughing so hard over the red-headed step-child in the corner!

This was a very clean submission, too, which always makes a pleasure to read :)

On to the next, and finding the best two for my two votes ... oy!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Hecataeus, eh? And over the ruins of a colossus, eh? Heheheh. Very cool stuff, Eric, and some great use of Pathfinder monsters. Soulbound Dolls! *kicks self*

Liberty's Edge

Speaking as a cartographer who is frequently tasked with the creation of finished cartography from an author's map, I find this entry quite pleasing. It follows the grid where appropriate but isn't afraid to stray from it to create an interesting floor plan for the building or ignore it completely for a nice natural cavern. The line work is clean and clear and the placement of rocks in the cavern feels reasonably natural.

Speaking of the cavern, the mobile bridge element was intriguing enough to make me want to read more about it; nice idea! From a gameplay point of view involving miniatures, it would be easier if the different bridge positions just happened to line up to the grid, so minis could be easily position in their proper squares if the bridge shifts during a fight, but it wouldn't look as natural that way so it's quite forgivable.

One small issue for me is that the walls of the manor don't look thick enough to provide realistic support for a medieval structure with vaulted ceilings, granite walls, etc. That can be fixed on the cartographer's end, but adding thickness to the walls can crowd the interior details unless the thickness is only added on the outside walls.

The manor itself has enough distinct-looking rooms and details that it could really stand to be a separate illustration on it's own at a larger scale, thus allowing the cartographer to play around with more textures and finer details. Since the contest constrained you to one map, though, this composite showing the manor and cave together is perfectly reasonable.

All in all, I like it and I think it would make a fine full-page map if it needed to stay one piece for space reasons. It would also be quite easy to develop the rest of the way into a finished illustration. Good work.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Brilliant use of Hecataeus' personality in the lair you provided. I had to remind myself that you didn't submit Hecataeus - the lair and features were so natural. I imagine that scores points with editors and publishers - that you fit in so snugly with the spirit of the material you didn't get to create.

The best part about this set of encounters is that they're funny. Even if the PCs don't know the words, the bizarre behavior of some of the constructs gives away the humor behind the design. I imagine more than a few instances where the PCs actually roleplay their way past a construct by essentially mocking Hecataeus, then finding that's exactly what he's like when left to himself.

There's room for fun roleplay here, and I don't mind that a couple of the encounters are cakewalks. I do agree that you've kind of bored the wizard and rogue players excessivelt - undead can be sneak attacked, but constructs still can't. Game better be giving something awesome to the undead if they don't want them put on the endangered species list!

My favorite part of this entry is the torture of the golembane scarab. How funny that a 16th level wizard would torture a magic item!

This is the first entry I have read, but I can't imagine not voting for it. This is solid, fun,profesional design work. It needs tinkering to balance encounters and offer some fun for the other half of the party, but it is a great effort.

Liberty's Edge

I really like this lair. It has a very old-school feel to it. For me it's a plus that its centered around its inhabitants rather than game concerns.

That's not why I'm going to vote for it though since I've also liked six of the other lairs this round. I'm actually voting for Eric Bailey at this point. I've voted for your work the last two rounds and I want to see your adventure proposal.

Vote.

Sam

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

As a fan and twice-voter for Hecataeus, I'm heppy to see two versions of his lair this round. Honestly, I'm not stacking them- much- against one another in my mind. The other one had the fun gimmick hook of being a lair INSIDE the colussus; this one still used the colossus, albeit in a more horizontal manner.

On the other hand, this one just reeked of the Hecataeus I voted for twice. Honestly, out of all the lairs this round, I think this one does the best job, by far, of capturing the personality of the selected villain. Everything, from the chandelier, ot the puppets and golems and other constructs placed there to boost his ego, to the delightful goldfish pond (and I loved the detail of the golem being under orders to catch and release... VERY in keeping with our boy's style of dealing with a defeated enemy.) and rat maze. This is really, really a strongly themed lair that managed to be a good/fun adventure as well. Well done.

I already am pretty sure of where my first vote's going; there's two or three lairs jockeying for that second vote. This is high on that list.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Garnfellow

Eric,

Many thanks for cranking up the awesome on Vashkar -- I had a blast with his lair. And great job on Hec's pad! The gelatinous cube was a wonderful touch.

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Great Lair, love the fishpond.

I hope you use this for your adventure proposal.

I had to give my 2 votes to underdogs, I'm sure this one will make it without my lowly vote.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

Maybe there should be a way to use Disable Device to daze a construct for 1 round? That way, rogues can still be effective against constructs, but not through sneak-attacking. But this should probably be in a totally different Pathfinder forum....

PS

I really liked the map!

Sovereign Court

Oh man, there are so many fun little touches in this lair! Torturing an intelligent magic item is sheer, raw brilliance and fits Hecataeus perfectly.

I love both lairs for Hecataeus, so my tactical vote is going to Trevor. I have no doubt that we'll see a full adventure from Eric in round 5. Fantastic job!


Before I begin, let me say congrats on advancing.

I have tried to keep my comments related to issues which no one has mentioned. I hope it's more helpful than receiving the same comment a dozen times.

Additionally, I have tried to keep each round separate, critiquing each submission on its own merit. One of my favorites in round 2 was a dissapointment in round 3, and one of the submissions I hated in round 2 became a favorite in round 3. So, that said, let me get to the point.

The Good:

1) Whatever mapping program you used looks nice.
2) I like the shape of the manor. Symmetrical is usually (but not always) boring.
3) I feel that you have really captured the personality of Hecateus.
4) It's already been mentioned, but I need to say it anyway. Good gag for the "crane game" chandelier. Awesome.

The Bad:

Before I get flamed, I invite everyone to print out ALL of the maps on PAPER, and compare them. Don't compare them by computer images because that's not how you are going to buy the adventure.

1) Despite the use of the mapping program, the map is extremely difficult to read. Sure, it looks good on the computer screen, but I think you forgot the medium you were supposed to be designing for. The map was supposed to fit on an 8.5"x11" (max) sheet of paper. Presumably because it's supposed to fit on the inside cover of an adventure. At this size, your squares are EASILY the smallest of any submission, and would give me headaches trying to read it if I didn't have the computer image.

2) Related to the above, the size of the lair is huge. I counted 106x68 squares. At the standard 1 inch = 5 feet scale, that’s 8.8 feet by 5.7 feet, 2/3 of which are part of the same room. Too big for most game tables.

3) If room C3 is supposed to be the exit, why is the construct burrowing AWAY from the edge of the mountain. Wouldn't it make more sense to excavate the (roughly) 50 feet of rock in the NE corner if you wanted a second exit? Better yet, just build the manor a little to the left and use the opening at area C1. I'm sure Hecataeus could have disguised the existing opening and saved himself a lot of trouble and time.

4) How does a lone 18 foot tall creature (with no scaffolding or equipment) excavate an opening big enough for a (100?) foot tall construct to exit?

Over all, I see this as an improvement over the previous rounds, but I'm not sure if it's enough to get my vote. Still, I think that you will advance anyway, based on the number of your supporters. I hope that you take these comments in a constructive way, and consider them in the next round. Good Luck.


That pun was not intended. I wish it was. "constructive way" "Hecataeus, Master of Constructs".

heh

Star Voter Season 6

Jason Rice wrote:


2) Related to the above, the size of the lair is huge. I counted 106x68 squares. At the standard 1 inch = 5 feet scale, that’s 8.8 feet by 5.7 feet, 2/3 of which are part of the same room. Too big for most game tables.

Every flaw has an associated virtue. In this case, the advantage of the large scale is that players have to use Perception checks with penalties. Both sides can use ranged attacks without too much fear of someone closing on them in the final battle. Battlefield control spells don't necessarily swamp your entire formation. And there's more room for maneuvering.

Finally, some people use tact-tiles or multiple maps. I certainly don't require that modules all be able to fit on one of my dry-erasable maps. I have to say that I give you props for even thinking of that objection, however.

Jason Rice wrote:
3) If room C3 is supposed to be the exit, why is the construct burrowing AWAY from the edge of the mountain. Wouldn't it make more sense to excavate the (roughly) 50 feet of rock in the NE corner if you wanted a second exit? Better yet, just build the manor a little to the left and use the opening at area C1. I'm sure Hecataeus could have disguised the existing opening and saved himself a lot of trouble and time.

Here's what I'd say: "Make a check. Ah. Well, Jason, if you had put ranks in Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering instead of Acrobatics, you'd know the answer to that!" Probably the correct answer would be something about the rocks and bearing loads and not sliding off the mountain or something. Not a big deal to me.

Jason Rice wrote:
4) How does a lone 18 foot tall creature (with no scaffolding or equipment) excavate an opening big enough for a (100?) foot tall construct to exit?

STR 33. Made of iron. DR 15/adamantine. Presumably, wizard smartiepants could order it to build in a way that would enable it to dig a big enough hole. After all, Hec has a Knowledge (engineering) +24 and Craft (stonemasonry) +17.


As to Iron Golem carrying out excavation work, I would have given it an adamantine pick (maybe enchanted) which it can excavate with or use as a variant from the usual 'golem crush' in combat.

However, that's me, not the OP.

Shadow Lodge

Maybe it is because i read this first, but this seems to be the strongest submission. I found my mind wondering as i read some of the not so fabulous posts. However, i think something that makes this strong is the size of the map. Some Maps are just to small for a boss imo.
One thing i think is missing in this is minions, not constructs, honest to goodness minions. CR 4 or 5 monsters that would scare the crap out of any commoner, but that Hecitous could crush with ease. Because sometimes you just need live people to beat down. This would have given the PCs oppertunities to roleplay, and gain info on Hecitous. It would have also opened up more oppertunities for other nastiness.

Other then that, i think this is one of 2, if not the only vote i am going to cast this round. Great job.


Charles Evans 25 wrote:

As to Iron Golem carrying out excavation work, I would have given it an adamantine pick (maybe enchanted) which it can excavate with or use as a variant from the usual 'golem crush' in combat.

However, that's me, not the OP.

it's not a question of "Is he strong enough?"

Its a question of "How high can he reach?"

Some of this shorthand is lost on me. What's an "OP"?

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

original poster..namely: the designer.

Hecataeus is a 16th level caster who makes golems. He plans way ahead. He can figure out a way to get the work done. Stone shape and disintegrate aren't out of the question. Plus, having the golem carve himself a way to climb up and work down isn't outside the box.


roguerouge wrote:


Finally, some people use tact-tiles or multiple maps. I certainly don't require that modules all be able to fit on one of my dry-erasable maps. I have to say that I give you props for even thinking of that objection, however.

I've played an encounter in a one room cavern, roughly this size. Half the party was on one map (on the table), the other half of the party was on the other map (on the floor). NEVER AGAIN. It's worse than splitting the party. You esentially have to run 2 separate combats, at the same time, because the party is in the same room and can potentially interact. And Heaven help you if a player wants to hang out on the "crease".

Besides, did you print the map on an 8.5x11 paper? Everything is too small and gives me a headache.

roguerouge wrote:


Here's what I'd say: "Make a check. Ah. Well, Jason, if you had put ranks in Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering instead of Acrobatics, you'd know the answer to that!" Probably the correct answer would be something about the rocks and bearing loads and not sliding off the mountain or something. Not a big deal to me.

Actually, my ranks are in "Knowledge: Time wasting techniques" and "Profession: nitpicker". I'm maxed out. And even have a +3 bonus due to them being "Gamer" class skills. :P

Star Voter Season 9

This is great -- the encounters are fun, and drip flavor. Hecataeus' personality shows up in every room. Congratulations!


Jason Rice wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

As to Iron Golem carrying out excavation work, I would have given it an adamantine pick (maybe enchanted) which it can excavate with or use as a variant from the usual 'golem crush' in combat.

However, that's me, not the OP.

it's not a question of "Is he strong enough?"

Its a question of "How high can he reach?"

Some of this shorthand is lost on me. What's an "OP"?

Steven answered the OP question.

So long as the bedrock's stable, and water-logging is not a problem, I imagine that you make a however-tall-it-needs-to-be exit the same way that tiny little humans in industrial revolution era Britain created some vast quarries....
You start taking material out at the top and excavate your way down, taking care to build ramps as you go so you can move the material out.

Personally I'd leave a very thin face of rock still blocking the exit... it saves using illusion magic to hide the exit, and it must be so much more satisfying for a colossus to dramatically smash its way out through it into the outside world.

I'd be much more inclined to worry if the cavern has sufficient space to accomodate the waste material, whilst leaving room for the colossus to move once it's been 'fixed', or if not then where else the golem on excavation duty is going to dump all that stone unless it's broken out already and is tipping it down the mountainside? (That makes for a rather obvious 'back door' to the complex though, with a spoil heap (and possibly a well trodden path if the golem does at least attempt to move it some distance away) pointing to it.)


Jason Rice wrote:


I've played an encounter in a one room cavern, roughly this size. Half the party was on one map (on the table), the other half of the party was on the other map (on the floor). NEVER AGAIN.

Why didn't you just put everything on the floor?

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
I'd be much more inclined to worry if the cavern has sufficient space to accomodate the waste material,

Again -disintegrate. It really is the answer to many, many questions.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

inue wrote:
Jason Rice wrote:
I've played an encounter in a one room cavern, roughly this size. Half the party was on one map (on the table), the other half of the party was on the other map (on the floor). NEVER AGAIN.
Why didn't you just put everything on the floor?

Very good point. I was going to suggest replacing minis with Risk pieces or something equally small, and then assuming that each quadrant of a grid square is its own 5-foot square. But if you've got the floorspace, putting two maps down on the floor is a really good suggestion.


Good execution. It triggered a couple of my pet gripes though. If someone just rings the doorbell, what happens? Does Hecataeus himself come to let them in, or what? And WTF does "grief and suffering, in a social sense" mean? Good descriptions though. A lot of reliance on staged rooms, reminds me of X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord. Map is lovely. Gets one of my votes.


Steven T. Helt wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:
I'd be much more inclined to worry if the cavern has sufficient space to accomodate the waste material,
Again -disintegrate. It really is the answer to many, many questions.

Do you really see Hecataeus as a wizard who is going to waste his time and spells on menial tasks such as turning rocks excavated by his constructs to dust? :D If so, why bother ordering the constructs to dig in the first place, and not just directly apply disintegrate to make the lair bigger himself?


(edited, tidied up)
This seems to me to be one of the best executed entries in this round; the OP seems to have caught the character of Hecataeus, and to have produced a thoroughly professional lair - in fact I'm starting to wonder if he's a professional freelancer who has never received a cover credit. (Please take that as a compliment, Eric, if you aren't.)
I have a query regarding whether or not Hecataeus has a strongroom for any worldly wealth which he has acquired? One has not been singled out by description on the map. I can imagine that Hecataeus might convert any windfalls which he did come by into art objects to decorate his home, however, or into materials for more constructs.

I would have liked to have seen some pillars to support the roof in some of the larger rooms.

Under other circumstances, this entry would be automatic for one of my two Round 4 votes.
However I am fairly certain that Eric will progress to Round 5 anyway, whilst there are other writers more marginal in situation whom I would like to see in the final too, (and, truth be told, I am still slightly irked by the Round 3 vampire rakshasas for a number of reasons), so I will be putting my votes elsewhere this round.

I commend the quality of this entry, however.

Star Voter Season 6

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Under other circumstances, this entry would be automatic for one of my two Round 4 votes.

However I am fairly certain that Eric will progress to Round 5 anyway, whilst there are other writers more marginal in situation whom I would like to see in the final too, (and, to truth be told, I am still slightly irked by the Round 3 vampire rakshashas for a number of reasons), so I will be putting my votes elsewhere this round.

Charles, have you checked the exit polls? There's not the margin of error there for such a cavalier use of your votes. Kevin's pretty much the only Superstar you could decline to vote for on such grounds.


inue wrote:
Jason Rice wrote:


I've played an encounter in a one room cavern, roughly this size. Half the party was on one map (on the table), the other half of the party was on the other map (on the floor). NEVER AGAIN.

Why didn't you just put everything on the floor?

ummmmm......

*looks around*

Bad knees? <:)

Seriously, I dont know why we didn't. It MIGHT have been due to the fact that some of us wanted to sit on a chair, not the floor. Or maybe we didn't have anywhere to put the table so it would be out of the way. I don't really remember, but I HOPE it wasn't just because we just didn't think of moving the whole thing to the floor.

I still stand by my comments that this is both too detailed for an 8.5x11 page, and too big for minis at the game table. At 9 feet across, it doesn't leave space in the (real world) room for things like furniture, and the gaming group.

I say again. Print out ALL of the maps on an 8.5x11 PAPER before you compare them. That's how you are going to buy it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Jason Rice wrote:
I still stand by my comments that this is both too detailed for an 8.5x11 page, and too big for minis at the game table.

I don't know about too detailed, but I know for a fact that too big has never stopped Paizo before. They've published plenty of adventures where the maps use a grander scale than "One square = 5 feet." Maybe the grid on this map needs to be changed to something that uses less squares per unit of area on the page, but it's hardly too big.


roguerouge wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Under other circumstances, this entry would be automatic for one of my two Round 4 votes.

However I am fairly certain that Eric will progress to Round 5 anyway, whilst there are other writers more marginal in situation whom I would like to see in the final too, (and, truth be told, I am still slightly irked by the Round 3 vampire rakshasas for a number of reasons), so I will be putting my votes elsewhere this round.

Charles, have you checked the exit polls? There's not the margin of error there for such a cavalier use of your votes. Kevin's pretty much the only Superstar you could decline to vote for on such grounds.

I acknowledge that I have seen your post, but I am currently too tired to compose much of a response by way of explanation at present, except to invite that you might like to consider that sometimes I understate things (I gather that that's actually viewed as a national British character trait/habit).

If this post does not make much sense to you, I shall try to do you the courtesy of a more wordy response at a time when I am better rested.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

This was a very difficult round for me to vote on, and it's taken me nearly two hours to deliberate.

In the end, I'll give you my first vote for this one; I'll admit largley this is due to it's size. To me, lairs and dungeons should be big and sprawling (my own dungeons typically have between 30-40 and sometimes double that locations). The sanctum, while you've only detailed eight locations (plenty enough given the time and word limitatins!), has enough spare room for expansion. The lair is big enough to serve as the final confrontation, I think, without being too big in concept it could warrent a module all to itself.

Good work.

Dark Archive

Wow, I do like your adventure...except perhaps the part with the golems at the dinner table, sounds alot like another adventure I've played through. Had a crazy spellacaster in it that turned the corpses of his former rivals into zombies, had them at a dinner table making comments...I think it may have been age of worms.


Jared Ouimette wrote:
Wow, I do like your adventure...except perhaps the part with the golems at the dinner table, sounds alot like another adventure I've played through. Had a crazy spellacaster in it that turned the corpses of his former rivals into zombies, had them at a dinner table making comments...I think it may have been age of worms.

Yep, Filge in the first adventure of Age of Worms. Same association popped to my mind but I let it slide...

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