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Sovereign Court

For my current campaign, I'm trying to make an Egyptian Pyramid-themed dungeon for the players to explore. The general idea for dungeon is that the Pyramid was built about a thousand years ago to guard a magical ankh owned by a Pharaoh a thousand years ago. The dungeon is meant for 7th level characters.

My problem is that I don't know what monsters to populate it with. I already know it will have tons of traps, and Mummies will obviously be there, but beyond that, I don't know what there should be. Anyone have any ideas for monsters that would be able to survive in a pyramid with no food or water for a thousand years and be an appropriate challenge to level 7 (fairly optimized) characters?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

My preferred way to handle this is to put a hole in the bottom level. Something dug up from beneath (I'd probably use kobolds, though dwarves are a good option in Golarion) and although the mummy mostly drove them back, a few are still hanging around in various cubbyholes. They hunt and are hunted by aberrations and oozes who came up through the same tunnels.

If it's just a sealed pyramid, you're mostly looking at zombies or wights (in mummy garb, but servants and pets shouldn't be full-power mummies) and maybe a few outsider guardians. Would get monotonous rather quickly, but maybe OK if they're not meant to stay there long; add a bunch of traps to spice it up.

Mold/fungus encounters are likely in the first case. In the second, it depends on how tightly and cleanly the pyramid was sealed when the PCs got there. If previous adventurers have been in but didn't make it through the initial hazards, molds would actually be more likely in the early chambers than in later ones.

Sovereign Court

tejón wrote:

My preferred way to handle this is to put a hole in the bottom level. Something dug up from beneath (I'd probably use kobolds, though dwarves are a good option in Golarion) and although the mummy mostly drove them back, a few are still hanging around in various cubbyholes. They hunt and are hunted by aberrations and oozes who came up through the same tunnels.

If it's just a sealed pyramid, you're mostly looking at zombies or wights (in mummy garb, but servants and pets shouldn't be full-power mummies) and maybe a few outsider guardians. Would get monotonous rather quickly, but maybe OK if they're not meant to stay there long; add a bunch of traps to spice it up.

Mold/fungus encounters are likely in the first case. In the second, it depends on how tightly and cleanly the pyramid was sealed when the PCs got there. If previous adventurers have been in but didn't make it through the initial hazards, molds would actually be more likely in the early chambers than in later ones.

I considered the 'hole in the bottom level' approach, but it kind of loses the theme I'm looking to achieve. I'd prefer if only the native monsters were still there. I do like the idea of an aberration, and molds seem brilliant for the situation. Since my players metagame a lot, it will surprise the hell out of them when a creature described as a mummy isn't... I like that idea quite a bit.

Also, my campaign is set in a homebrew setting, not Golarion. But yeah, great ideas.


use statistics and reskin the beasts.

Use flesh golem stats, only it's not a golem, but a Giant Scarab.

Possibly let them come amidst a broken trap, a pit that has no spikes and is not high enough to cause proper damage, but was obviously contructed to lock something in.
They'll assume that the character that triggered it should be the one locked in...little did they know that the compartment held a black pudding that is now rampant nearby.

Also, have some huge statues of, say an Anubis-like god. Only, they become animated objects(hitting with their weapons, same stats as the slam but spending construct points on extra attacks.

Stuff like that.

For the boss-fight, have the pharao be a mummy(obviously) just very slow, seemingly weak. Once they use fire against it(or when they hit it enough) it's shell bursts and it's now an advanced mohrg...

surprises are good. Reskins are, too.

They never need to know those are animated object-statues and not homebrew guardians of the pharao...


Duegar , evil dwarfs who want the pyramids riches for themselves.

make it a race adventures, 2 groups going after the same prize , then you can have skill challenges to slow and impede the other group who are taking a different route, with a final showdown.

Sovereign Court

Phasics wrote:

Duegar , evil dwarfs who want the pyramids riches for themselves.

make it a race adventures, 2 groups going after the same prize , then you can have skill challenges to slow and impede the other group who are taking a different route, with a final showdown.

That's a nice idea that I may use later, but it doesn't really fit this dungeon. I'm trying to pit the players against just the traps and creatures that inhabit the pyramid, not other intruders. I appreciate your input, though.

@Mordred: Re-skinning should be a good idea with my players. I like the idea of Animated Object statues; I'm thinking that I'll pit the players against some of those. Then, later on, I'll probably throw an identical statue at them, but it will be a Clay Golem. I'm feeling evil.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Can't believe I didn't think of golems. :D Yeah, sounds like you're set.

Sovereign Court

The more I look at the Black Pudding, the more I like it. One of the characters is a Greataxe-wielding Werewolf Gnoll Barbarian who inflicts ungodly amounts of damage; the splitting quality on the ooze should teach him that slashing stuff up isn't always the right way to go.


Re-skinning creatures as suggested is a good idea; just play off of Egyptian themes keeping in mind what kind of guardians the pharaoh would likely have buried with him. How about a room for his beloved pets who were embalmed and entered alongside him? Having the players crack open the door of a dusty old chamber only to see a mound of small shroud-wrapped bundles beginning to stir seems ominous. Imagine when the bundles are revealed to be a dozen or so bandaged undead felines; apply the dread-mummy template to normal cats and/or leopards.

Imagine a trapped room in which stone blocks slide down to block the doors as sand begins to pour in through holes in the ceiling; threatening to drown the party. Pretty standard action movie fare right? Alright, so then have the sand itself rise to form up into one or more sand/earth elementals that threatens to tear them apart while they endeavor to escape.

And then there's the pharaoh himself; he can actually be encountered several times in different forms and guises. Ancient Egyptians believed that, in addition to the body itself (called the ha) a human's soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib. Being dead and at rest, the pharaoh's various parts could be spread out in specially prepared areas around the pyramid; each one ready to interact with the party in different ways when encountered.

The Ib is the metaphysical heart of the soul and the seat of emotions; believed to have been formed from a drop of the person's mother's blood. Perhaps the Ib's physical embodiment is found in as a drop of blood in a canopic jar sitting on a scale weighed against a feather. If disturbed the blood within the jar could animate, grow and attack trespassers as a black pudding.

The Sheut is a person's shadow; a metaphysical part of the soul. Have the party discover a statue of the pharaoh and, while they're fretting that it's a stone golem, have the statue's shadow animate and attack instead. Use the stats for a greater shadow.

The Ren is the person's name; important in that it must be remembered for the soul to endure. It could be discovered inscribed in a cartouche on a wall or object. Perhaps knowing it imparts some power over the pharaoh (increasing the save DCs of any spells the party casts against the pharaoh's soul's parts) or grants those who speak it resistance to the pharaoh's powers (granting them a save bonus against the attacks of the pharaoh's soul's parts). Or perhaps it's the secret activation word for the magical ankh they're seeking. Simply using the anhk could ensure that the pharoah's soul endures past its seeming destruction to harass the party at a later date.

The soul's ka is the essence which grants a person the quality of being alive; its initial departure is what makes a person dead. It could manifest as a haunt within the tomb; a primal force which instinctively attempts to wrest control of a living body to do the pharaoh's soul's bidding. Use the stats for a Pool of Betrayal from the online SRD, but have it be a collection of canopic jars containing the pharaoh's organs rather than a well with severed heads. Disturbing the jars triggers the haunt.

The soul's ba incorporates the person's personality and which is close to the western world's notion of a person's eternal soul. It could be encountered pleasantly enjoying its afterlife amidst the furnishing and riches left in the pyramid for just that purpose. It might first be confused as to who the PCs are; believing them to be messengers from the gods or mortal subjects/worshipers come to make offerings. Only once it determine their purpose does it grow upset. It could either fight them then, or flee so as to rejoin and animate its ha/body for a final showdown. Use the stats for a spectre.

The final showdown is of course with the animated ha/body of the pharaoh, possibly once its been reunited with its ba and ka. You could use the stats for a mummy or perhaps use those of a shroud-wrapped lich just to keep the party on their toes. =]

Just some ideas.


Sphynxes, lamia, giant scorpions, cobras, giant cobras, swarms (scorpions or beetles), were-jackals (reskinned werewolves), dire jackals, undead dire jackals, dire jackal golems. Even crocodiles fit an Egyptian theme.

Alternate possibilities from nearby regions that aren't strictly Egyptian might include lammasu, djinn, efreeti, behir to name a few.

And some dragons like deserts, as well as some elementals.


Throw in a cat that keeps crossing thier path and ducking away before they can catch it.

either as a red herring or the cat is acutally an avatar of a much more powerful creature in the pyramid

perhaps if they can befriend the cat it might result in a get out of death favour further in

or just leave it as something to nag their attention that server no purpose except to nag them hehehe

even more creepy if you give the cat a raspy voice and have it cross thier path saying
"can I have that fur coat when the flesh has left your bones ?"
before seemingly dissapearing into shadows


scarab beetle swarm?( re-skinned army ants?)

Dark Archive

My suggestion is to place plenty of dead creatures in the tomb. Would be adventurers, scientists, laborers of the dead king who were trapped in the tomb due to how it was constructed and had to be sealed etc.

You don't need to fill the place with undead either, just because it is what comes to mind automatically doesn't mean it will make for a memorable encounter. Zombies and the like are far to weak to pose any threat to 7th level PCs.

Big elaborate traps and curses for disturbing the remains of royalty is a must though.

Sovereign Court

Carbon D. Metric wrote:

My suggestion is to place plenty of dead creatures in the tomb. Would be adventurers, scientists, laborers of the dead king who were trapped in the tomb due to how it was constructed and had to be sealed etc.

You don't need to fill the place with undead either, just because it is what comes to mind automatically doesn't mean it will make for a memorable encounter. Zombies and the like are far to weak to pose any threat to 7th level PCs.

Big elaborate traps and curses for disturbing the remains of royalty is a must though.

Of course. If I include any zombies at all, they'll be of pretty large creatures to begin with, or else they'll be useless as an encounter. I'm definitely not going all undead; I'm planning on a few constructs, some elementals, and a Dire Crocodile in a Minimus Containment Binding, just to name a few. Obviously, traps, magical and otherwise will be a major element, as will be puzzles. The scarab swarm is an idea I'm considering, and it would be criminal to pass up some of the awesome ideas that Ambrus just posted.

EDIT: As for the Ankh itself, it's largely a MacGuffin. It functions as a Staff of Necromancy, but it only starts with seven charges and the Pharaoh's mummy will be using it in the final showdown, which will further reduce its charges. Because the party's Wizard won't be powerful enough to recharge it, it will be of extremely limited use to the party.


The last pyramid I used on adventurers was populated by a minotaur. a big 3D maze with maze traps (traps that tigger the maze spell), and a pair of magnificent mansions set on sliding blocks (so whole sections of the dungeon 'moved')

The minotaur was bandaged, but by no means a mummy. (Apis, the bull headed deity) and a variety of mimics, disguised monsters and animated objects. even the 'treasure' turned out to be a creature.

It was fun, having characters get 'lost'

Batts


Half-fiends don't need air, water, food, and don't age, so they are perfect for tombs that are likely to be sealed for long periods of time.

Personally, I'd go with Half-fiend Crocodiles. Possibly Half-fiend Were-crocodiles.

Basically, anything vaguely Egyptian + Half-fiend, zombie template, or ghost template.

Remember too that there are various magic items that remove the need to eat or breathe. A Sphinx with a Necklace of Adaptation and a Ring of Substance can just live in a tomb.

Also, remember that there are various forms of suspended animation. There could be Break Enchantment traps that target petrified Jackweres or Giant Snakes or something.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

K wrote:
Half-fiends don't need air, water, food, and don't age

Calling you on that one... half-fiends are native outsiders; they eat, breathe and sleep. (Even non-native outsiders have to breathe.) I see nothing anywhere about outsiders in general, or half-fiends in specific, being immune to aging.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. :) Special enchanted collars (attuned specifically to the crocs, so they're not treasure) can turn plain old GM fiat into mysterious ancient magic.


tejón wrote:
K wrote:
Half-fiends don't need air, water, food, and don't age

Calling you on that one... half-fiends are native outsiders; they eat, breathe and sleep. (Even non-native outsiders have to breathe.) I see nothing anywhere about outsiders in general, or half-fiends in specific, being immune to aging.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. :) Special enchanted collars (attuned specifically to the crocs, so they're not treasure) can turn plain old GM fiat into mysterious ancient magic.

My bad. I forgot they added the Native subtype on them in 3.5, changing them from the 3.0 versions. Pathfinder follows the 3.5 version, so that idea is a bust.


DM_Blake wrote:

Sphynxes, lamia, giant scorpions, cobras, giant cobras, swarms (scorpions or beetles), were-jackals (reskinned werewolves), dire jackals, undead dire jackals, dire jackal golems. Even crocodiles fit an Egyptian theme.

Alternate possibilities from nearby regions that aren't strictly Egyptian might include lammasu, djinn, efreeti, behir to name a few.

And some dragons like deserts, as well as some elementals.

I like all of these ideas, would add Ankheg, Any Beetles, Cave Fisher, Any Centipede, Gargoyles (Egyptian style), clay golems, shadows, and skeletons.

Maybe a Lich if party is good and going down into a Pyramid, or Phoenix if party is evil and going up into a pyramid.


I've always wanted an excuse to throw Catydids into a dungeon. They would be a good fit.
Also, the Egyptians were real big on curses and magical charms. Have many of your traps be magical in nature. At least they will keep the cleric busy doing remove curse and break enchantment. Many of your monsters could be wearing amulets that give them additional protection.

Pooh


There's an AWESOME GameMastery adventure involving exploring a cursed pyramid, with a competing party of tomb robbers to boot. It's a challenge for a 6th level party, so it's right around the same level. Having run it, I can say without reservation it's the best Egyptian-pyramid-type adventure I've ever seen.

Sovereign Court

Oliver McShade wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

Sphynxes, lamia, giant scorpions, cobras, giant cobras, swarms (scorpions or beetles), were-jackals (reskinned werewolves), dire jackals, undead dire jackals, dire jackal golems. Even crocodiles fit an Egyptian theme.

Alternate possibilities from nearby regions that aren't strictly Egyptian might include lammasu, djinn, efreeti, behir to name a few.

And some dragons like deserts, as well as some elementals.

I like all of these ideas, would add Ankheg, Any Beetles, Cave Fisher, Any Centipede, Gargoyles (Egyptian style), clay golems, shadows, and skeletons.

Maybe a Lich if party is good and going down into a Pyramid, or Phoenix if party is evil and going up into a pyramid.

The problem with this is that my party is only level 7. They can't take on a Lich or a Phoenix. Also, I'm trying to restrict monsters to stuff that would survive inside of a Pyramid without food or water for a thousand years; animals are right out (except for a Dire Crocodile under the effect of a Minimus Containment Binding). I'm mostly looking at Undead, Constructs, Oozes, Elementals, and maybe an Aberration or an Outsider. A good portion of the challenge will come from traps.


Phase Spiders... could come and go as they please due to their Ethereal Jaunt ability.


Or... something about the pyramid grants animals & vermin the Ethereal Jaunt (Su) ability.


I was going to say many kinds of Ethereal creatures would also work, and be quite annoying if not deadly. An advanced or even giant Ethereal Filcher or Ethereal Marauder (from d20 SRD/ 3.5 MM) will also work with a just a few updates. An Ethereal Filchers would be really annoying because it could very well have moved most the treasure the PCs are after and also rilled up any ghosts in the tomb that will not be searching for the 'lost' possessions.

A cruel Filcher could even try to deposit such items in a character pack to draw ghost, specters and wraiths to him.

Sovereign Court

Temporal Stasis guardians.

Monsters have been trapped in the Pyramid to serve as guardians. If certain passages are entered/traps triggered a dispel magic activates that removes the temporal stasis.
As long as the players observe the effect it will still seem fitting/effective. It's a way to get living monsters into the pyramid.

Of course, the Ankh isn't there, it was stolen by a demon cult who later perished with it in the Mountains of McGuffin. They left a fake 'Demontrap' Ankh - when you grab it a demon is summoned.

The players can learn that this ancient spell was created and used almost exclusively by Cult X and off they go on the next adventure.

Sovereign Court

GeraintElberion wrote:

Temporal Stasis guardians.

Monsters have been trapped in the Pyramid to serve as guardians. If certain passages are entered/traps triggered a dispel magic activates that removes the temporal stasis.
As long as the players observe the effect it will still seem fitting/effective. It's a way to get living monsters into the pyramid.

Of course, the Ankh isn't there, it was stolen by a demon cult who later perished with it in the Mountains of McGuffin. They left a fake 'Demontrap' Ankh - when you grab it a demon is summoned.

The players can learn that this ancient spell was created and used almost exclusively by Cult X and off they go on the next adventure.

I've already got one living monster in the pyramid with Binding. I may just add extra monsters with Temporal Statis like you suggested, though, even if it's only one or two.

As cool as the demon cult thing would be, I've already statted out the Pharaoh's mummy, and I'm quite satisfied with the results, and the rest of the plot kind of works better if the players get the Ankh at level 7-8. I plan on having them finish this arc around 10 or 11, and an extra adventure into the mountains would give them experience that would reduce my ability to finish this plot at the right level. That, and I don't want to shift the plot's focus off the current villain by introducing a demon cult.

I think I also have enough incorporeal monsters as it is; I don't really want to make half the dungeon's encounters incorporeal/ethereal.

Here are the ideas for encounters I have so far:

-Long room with torches lining the walls. Once the party gets to a certain point within the room, the fire suddenly jumps out of the torches to form two Large Fire Elementals.
-Battle with two mummies in a trapped room. Touching a pressure plate causes Nightmare Vapor (Poison, Core Rulebook page 560) to be released into the room. If the party doesn't hit the pressure plate, one of the mummies can.
-A huge room with a shallow artificial river running down the middle. A portal teleports the water back to the start of the river (which is only about 80 feet long) once it hits the end. There is a Dire Crocodile under a Minimus Containment effect which is released if the party enters.
-A room at the bottom of a pit trap full of various incorporeal undead.
-A room with several gilded jars of the Pharaoh's blood and some treasure chests. If any containers are disturbed, the jars all break, spilling blood all over the floor, where it blackens and thickens into a Black Pudding.
-A battle with a large statue of the Pharaoh that is actually a Clay Golem.
-A battle with a Large Animated Object statue after the fight with the golem. The party will likely assume it's a golem, so there's a high chance they'll waste inordinate amounts of resources to beat a single creature.
-Yet a third statue of the Pharaoh; this time, when the party approaches it, it triggers a Symbol of Pain and a Greater Shadow attacks the party from behind.
-A climactic encounter with the mummy body of the Pharaoh and three other Mummies. The Pharaoh is a mummy with plenty of extra hit dice, the ability to wield the Ankh, and much higher Wisdom and Charisma than normal, making the saves against his Mummy Rot and Despair aura harder. Additionally, he'll have some Spell-Like Abilities and when he dies, the entire party will have to make Will saves or be cursed.

What do you guys think of those? I need about four more encounters of similar CR as well.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

When I did my version, I also used swarms of normal vermin, snakes, scorpians, etc. Then I switched up, Construct vermin swarms! Then I finished with spectral 'giant' scorpians.

Mine was based on one of the temples.

Dark Archive

Four more encounters, huh?

1. Reskin Dust Mephits as Sand Mephits. They are only CR3 so several of them cavorting around an earth or fire elemental reskined as a sand elemental should get you up to an appropriate EL. I'll note, that the Mephits should all have Blur on and so can actually be kind of annoying to kill. The difficulty in hitting them combined with their breath weapon, fast healing, and the elemental ought to make for a good encounter.

2. I really like the idea of swarms but they are an absolute pain in the ass to kill, too. Depending on your party makeup, it might be more frustrating than fun.

3. The Giant Rhinoceros Beetle is a CR 7 and can easily be skinned as a scarab, perhaps with a gold armor and a golden, jewel encrusted mask with a large horn on it to account for the gore attack. It has trample so perhaps put it in a long narrow room? The door behind the party closes after they come in trapping them in there. Suddenly, with a growing noise of clicking exoskeletons, the walls, ceiling, and floor are covered in crawling beetles. After that puts the creepy in them, unleash the big beetle.

4. A room full of clay statues of warriors holding the weapons they might have borne in life. There are two ways to do this. A) the clay shells burst apart as the skeletons inside animate and attack! B) the statues are just clay but the weapons animate and attack! The second one might be more complicated since you'll have to fix up the animated weapon entry to make it an appropriate challenge but it would be quite a surprise to have the statues not be the enemy after some of the earlier encounters with statues.

Sovereign Court

YuenglingDragon wrote:

Four more encounters, huh?

1. Reskin Dust Mephits as Sand Mephits. They are only CR3 so several of them cavorting around an earth or fire elemental reskined as a sand elemental should get you up to an appropriate EL. I'll note, that the Mephits should all have Blur on and so can actually be kind of annoying to kill. The difficulty in hitting them combined with their breath weapon, fast healing, and the elemental ought to make for a good encounter.

2. I really like the idea of swarms but they are an absolute pain in the ass to kill, too. Depending on your party makeup, it might be more frustrating than fun.

3. The Giant Rhinoceros Beetle is a CR 7 and can easily be skinned as a scarab, perhaps with a gold armor and a golden, jewel encrusted mask with a large horn on it to account for the gore attack. It has trample so perhaps put it in a long narrow room? The door behind the party closes after they come in trapping them in there. Suddenly, with a growing noise of clicking exoskeletons, the walls, ceiling, and floor are covered in crawling beetles. After that puts the creepy in them, unleash the big beetle.

4. A room full of clay statues of warriors holding the weapons they might have borne in life. There are two ways to do this. A) the clay shells burst apart as the skeletons inside animate and attack! B) the statues are just clay but the weapons animate and attack! The second one might be more complicated since you'll have to fix up the animated weapon entry to make it an appropriate challenge but it would be quite a surprise to have the statues not be the enemy after some of the earlier encounters with statues.

1- I've never paid too close of attention to mephits, but I see how throwing in a lot of them could be a cool fight. Then again, I've already had many minion-type encounters previously in the game. Maybe I'll do this.

2-I don't think I'll do a swarm. The party is composed of a Gnoll Werewolf Barbarian 2/ Fighter 2, a Tengu Monk (Drunken Master archetype) 7, a Halfling Bard 7, a Warforged Cleric 6/ Fighter 1, and an Elf Wizard 4/ Ranger 3 (shooting for Arcane Archer). Considering how the Wizard's prohibited schools are Necromancy and Evocation, there's no blasting available. A level-appropriate swarm would be incredibly frustrating for them, so I probably shouldn't throw it in. It's one thing to punish the Wizard for making Wisdom a dump stat by throwing in Wisdom-damaging poison, but it's another to throw a potential TPK at a party in the form of an encounter they're almost completely incapable of dealing with. That, and I've never seen a fun swarm encounter at any point in either playing or DMing.

3-I felt wrong without a scarab in there. I like the Giant Rhinocerous Beetle idea quite a bit, although I may slap on the Advanced template depending on the difficulty of the rest of the dungeon.

4-Playing with statues is a pretty big motif in this dungeon. Part of me wants to throw it in to see what the players assume about them, but I think it may be overdoing the theme. I'll consider it.


Squidmasher wrote:
Oliver McShade wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

Sphynxes, lamia, giant scorpions, cobras, giant cobras, swarms (scorpions or beetles), were-jackals (reskinned werewolves), dire jackals, undead dire jackals, dire jackal golems. Even crocodiles fit an Egyptian theme.

Alternate possibilities from nearby regions that aren't strictly Egyptian might include lammasu, djinn, efreeti, behir to name a few.

And some dragons like deserts, as well as some elementals.

I like all of these ideas, would add Ankheg, Any Beetles, Cave Fisher, Any Centipede, Gargoyles (Egyptian style), clay golems, shadows, and skeletons.

Maybe a Lich if party is good and going down into a Pyramid, or Phoenix if party is evil and going up into a pyramid.

The problem with this is that my party is only level 7. They can't take on a Lich or a Phoenix. Also, I'm trying to restrict monsters to stuff that would survive inside of a Pyramid without food or water for a thousand years; animals are right out (except for a Dire Crocodile under the effect of a Minimus Containment Binding). I'm mostly looking at Undead, Constructs, Oozes, Elementals, and maybe an Aberration or an Outsider. A good portion of the challenge will come from traps.

Lich you could lower the HD, change his paralyze touch down to 1d4 rounds, make his DR 5 or 10/ except vs Fire, or silver, or magic. Drop his Fear Aura down a few HD in abiliy,... etc. ""what can i say, i dabbled in the dark arts, and only got half-way there.""

Oozes need to eat and breath. Oozes also do not go well with undead, as one (oozes) will usually eat the other (undead) if there is no other source of food around.

Aberration also need to eat, sleep and breath.

Sovereign Court

Oliver McShade wrote:
Squidmasher wrote:
Oliver McShade wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

Sphynxes, lamia, giant scorpions, cobras, giant cobras, swarms (scorpions or beetles), were-jackals (reskinned werewolves), dire jackals, undead dire jackals, dire jackal golems. Even crocodiles fit an Egyptian theme.

Alternate possibilities from nearby regions that aren't strictly Egyptian might include lammasu, djinn, efreeti, behir to name a few.

And some dragons like deserts, as well as some elementals.

I like all of these ideas, would add Ankheg, Any Beetles, Cave Fisher, Any Centipede, Gargoyles (Egyptian style), clay golems, shadows, and skeletons.

Maybe a Lich if party is good and going down into a Pyramid, or Phoenix if party is evil and going up into a pyramid.

The problem with this is that my party is only level 7. They can't take on a Lich or a Phoenix. Also, I'm trying to restrict monsters to stuff that would survive inside of a Pyramid without food or water for a thousand years; animals are right out (except for a Dire Crocodile under the effect of a Minimus Containment Binding). I'm mostly looking at Undead, Constructs, Oozes, Elementals, and maybe an Aberration or an Outsider. A good portion of the challenge will come from traps.

Lich you could lower the HD, change his paralyze touch down to 1d4 rounds, make his DR 5 or 10/ except vs Fire, or silver, or magic. Drop his Fear Aura down a few HD in abiliy,... etc. ""what can i say, i dabbled in the dark arts, and only got half-way there.""

Oozes need to eat and breath. Oozes also do not go well with undead, as one (oozes) will usually eat the other (undead) if there is no other source of food around.

Aberration also need to eat, sleep and breath.

My final set of encounters doesn't include an Aberration. I realized the bit about eating and sleeping. As for the Ooze, it gets generated by a trap; it's not always there.

For the partial Lich, I'd prefer not to. A Lich wouldn't just sit around in some Pyramid for a thousand years, first of all. Second, it really doesn't fit with the theme as well as an advanced mummy. Third, I already have a major Lich villain planned out for later in the campaign, and I don't really like repeating monsters. Fourth, I don't like weakened versions of monsters in general. I feel like Liches are a high-level challenge, and I don't want to water one down to serve as a minor boss. They're major movers and shakers and masters of the arcane arts, not chumps who lie around in a pyramid for a thousand years, doing nothing. You might suggest making the Lich some sort of villain using the pyramid as a base, but I already have a perfectly decent villain for this plot arc, and I really don't need to subvert him and throw in a secondary one.

That, and it's not a good-aligned party. The character alignments are as follows: The Cleric is Lawful Good, the Wizard is Neutral Good, the Monk is Lawful Neutral, the Bard is Chaotic Neutral, and the Barbarian is Chaotic Evil (he still travels with the party because he likes them and because with 5 Intelligence and 3 Charisma, he's too stupid to do anything else).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

+1 to the suggestions of statues coming to life and attacking. Especially jackal headed warriors with light armor and wielding khopesh, slings and axes. A few mummies with reduced hit die and class levels works well too, especially clerics.

But your best bet is traps. And don't just use the traps in the Core Rulebook, make your own up. Some truly spectacular and ingenious traps will make a very memorable experience. And if your campaign continues... a nice curse is always in theme. Make it long lasting and work mysteriously, so they don't realize it right away. If it's a plot point, don't even let them make saves against it.

And maybe as a boss, a giant statue of a Sphinx set to guard the entrance to the final room. Make it seem harmless until they reach it's shoulder, then have it come to life.

Sovereign Court

Talynonyx wrote:

+1 to the suggestions of statues coming to life and attacking. Especially jackal headed warriors with light armor and wielding khopesh, slings and axes. A few mummies with reduced hit die and class levels works well too, especially clerics.

But your best bet is traps. And don't just use the traps in the Core Rulebook, make your own up. Some truly spectacular and ingenious traps will make a very memorable experience. And if your campaign continues... a nice curse is always in theme. Make it long lasting and work mysteriously, so they don't realize it right away. If it's a plot point, don't even let them make saves against it.

And maybe as a boss, a giant statue of a Sphinx set to guard the entrance to the final room. Make it seem harmless until they reach it's shoulder, then have it come to life.

I like the statues coming to life and I'll definitely be making the traps soon. I'll post them up here later.

As for the Sphinx statue, there's a minor issue. I have THREE separate encounters about statues harming/attacking the party, and potentially four if I go with the one YuenglingDragon suggested. There is no way I can possibly make a statue seem harmless by that point.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Squidmasher wrote:

I like the statues coming to life and I'll definitely be making the traps soon. I'll post them up here later.

As for the Sphinx statue, there's a minor issue. I have THREE separate encounters about statues harming/attacking the party, and potentially four if I go with the one YuenglingDragon suggested. There is no way I can possibly make a statue seem harmless by that point.

Tell you what, make that sphinx something they pass by multiple times, never even bats an eye. Solid stone, no magical aura, no sign of life whatsoever. Until, they unknowingly trigger it in some other room.

Dark Archive

I agree with Squidmasher. Two encounters where statues come to life and attack followed by, perhaps, another where the weapons come to life and the party is going to have statue fear ingrained in them regardless of how often it just watched them.

Squidmasher wrote:
1- I've never paid too close of attention to mephits, but I see how throwing in a lot of them could be a cool fight. Then again, I've already had many minion-type encounters previously in the game. Maybe I'll do this.

Eh, a skeleton with 6hp is a minion. A blurred Mephit blasting the party with scything sand breath is something else. If you like, you could also toss the advanced template on the Mephits and drop the elemental from the encounter.

Squidmasher wrote:
2-I don't think I'll do a swarm. The party is composed of a Gnoll Werewolf Barbarian 2/ Fighter 2, a Tengu Monk (Drunken Master archetype) 7, a Halfling Bard 7, a Warforged Cleric 6/ Fighter 1, and an Elf Wizard 4/ Ranger 3 (shooting for Arcane Archer). Considering how the Wizard's prohibited schools are Necromancy and Evocation, there's no blasting available. A level-appropriate swarm would be incredibly frustrating for them, so I probably shouldn't throw it in. It's one thing to punish the Wizard for making Wisdom a dump stat by throwing in Wisdom-damaging poison, but it's another to throw a potential TPK at a party in the form of an encounter they're almost completely incapable of dealing with. That, and I've never seen a fun swarm encounter at any point in either playing or DMing.

So very true. Absolute pain in the ass. If you had a more blaster-y party it just fits the theme so well that it would be worth it if used in an appropriately creepy manner.

Swarms of scarabs could be used just for creepiness instead, though. There is an AP where one room has glass walls behind which zombies writhe eternally seeking but unable to reach living flesh. It skeeved me out and I was just in my living room. It replaced the whale in my nightmares. Something similar with insects might be cool.

Squidmasher wrote:
3-I felt wrong without a scarab in there. I like the Giant Rhinocerous Beetle idea quite a bit, although I may slap on the Advanced template depending on the difficulty of the rest of the dungeon.

Either way, I think that could be a great encounter. The rolling boulder of Indiana Jones combined with a monster from a horror movie.

Squidmasher wrote:
4-Playing with statues is a pretty big motif in this dungeon. Part of me wants to throw it in to see what the players assume about them, but I think it may be overdoing the theme. I'll consider it.

I think the animated weapons could be great. Maybe they'll smash all the statues as they pass only to have the weapons rise up from the detritus just when they think they're safe. Perhaps trap the door on the far side of this room with a low spot DC so that they'll pause there to disarm it giving you the chance to surprise them a bit. There is little more satisfying than wrecking someone's preconceived notions.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Bwang wrote:

When I did my version, I also used swarms of normal vermin, snakes, scorpians, etc. Then I switched up, Construct vermin swarms! Then I finished with spectral 'giant' scorpians.

Mine was based on one of the temples.

Almost forgot, in 3.0 there was a bit about encounter design, cobbed here: "The PCs should be able to take on many more encounters lower than their level but fewer encounters with Encounter Levels higher than their party level." At no point does it forbid IMPOSSIBLE or nuisance encounters. If the level 4 party can't recognize that hack and slash isn't going to help get past the uber-sphinx filled antechamber, they NEED to die! (Okay, once the sphinx realized the ineptitude of the party, I had them do subdual and dump the unconcious party outside. I was a softy. After they read up on sphinx, they all but walked through that 'Impossible' bottleneck.) I also put in a swarm of 'mummies' that were just zombies in rags. Baseball has a term for it, a 'change-up'.

Sovereign Court

Talynonyx wrote:
Squidmasher wrote:

I like the statues coming to life and I'll definitely be making the traps soon. I'll post them up here later.

As for the Sphinx statue, there's a minor issue. I have THREE separate encounters about statues harming/attacking the party, and potentially four if I go with the one YuenglingDragon suggested. There is no way I can possibly make a statue seem harmless by that point.

Tell you what, make that sphinx something they pass by multiple times, never even bats an eye. Solid stone, no magical aura, no sign of life whatsoever. Until, they unknowingly trigger it in some other room.

Knowing my players, they'd smash it just to be safe. After three/four combat encounters with statues, there's no way they'd live any statues intact; it would be a destroy-on-sight situation after the first two. They would never "pass by" it or give it a chance to bat an eye.

@Bwang - I'm not doing a swarm encounter. It's not just that I know the party isn't equipped to handle it, it's that swarms just aren't fun to begin with. I've fought several as a player, and I know that they're just frustrating (and I was the the Sorcerer, not some fighter who was incapable of hurting them). The one time I threw one at my players, they were pretty annoyed by it. So, I'm not putting one in again because no one in the group thinks they're fun. I appreciate the suggestion, and they may work for your group, but I just don't like them.

Also, I don't think the uber-Sphinx thing would work for my game. We're very hack-and-slash centric in this campaign, and, while I throw in roleplaying encounters, I don't like situations that can't be solved by chopping the enemy up. Generally, if I throw in a roleplaying encounter, I give the party extra XP and some other rewards for roleplaying it, but I always like to leave combat an option. I know that from the player's perspective, it's really frustrating for the DM to throw uber-creatures and NPCs into the party's path and force you to roleplay with an annoying creature when you'd rather just cut it to bits.

@YuenglingDragon - I may add the advanced template to the Mephits like you suggested, because with only 19hp, they'd die in one or two hits depending on luck with damage rolls.

I may just have a bunch of tiny scarabs crawling around on the walls, ceilings, and floors at all times anyway, just to put the party in fear of a swarm encounter, though... I like your suggestion.

I'm definitely making an Advanced Rhinoceros Beetle as a scarab, and animated weapons seems like a pretty cool idea. Bonus points if the party picks them up and throws them in the bag of treasure, only for them to fly out an attack. That, and I've always wanted an excuse to write stats for animated weapons.

Anyone else have some ideas? I need a few more encounters.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Hmm. Sounds like that could be a problem unless you turn the tables on them. Put the sphinx in. Once they decide it's time to smash it, let them. Let them waste the time and effort destroying the harmless decor. You can make them nervous by rolling some percentile dice and nodding or shaking your head. If you really want it to be an encounter with combat, make it the seal on the tomb of an undead necromancer or a giant scarab.

Aside from that, how about encounters with some other tomb raiders?

And how are they getting to this tomb? An encounter with living guardians of the pyramid outside, along with a sufficiently cryptic warning can help set the mood of the entire adventure.

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