Zodiac themed towers for party


Advice


Hi guys,

I'm running a homebrew campeign (where there will be a Hellish civil war taking place on the material plane), and one of the players is the grandson of semi-demi-god (Donny Stardust, a tiefling Eldritch Knight on Elysium).

The group will learn of the "Zodiac Towers", which are 12 towers on the material plane, constructed by Donny Stardust. The idea is that after the 12 Zodiac towers are "completed", a final Zodiac tower will erect from a central island on the continent, which will aid and be the key for the party in defeating the feindish raids and wars on the material plane.

Now, I've found a way to rename the zodiac signs to kind of stall the moment the group will realize they are inside the zodaic towers:
- Resurrection (Ram/Aries) [the first tower they will encounter, which will erect the other towers]
- High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]
- Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius)
- Sacrifice (Goat/Capricorn)
- Savior (Archer/Sagittarius)
- Judge (Scorpion/Scorpio)
- Redeemer (Scales/Libra)
- Messiah (Virgin/Virgo)
- King (Lion/Leo)
- Deliverer (Crab/Cancer)
- Sons of God (Twins/Gemini) [Donny is a twin with Danny, who became a vampire)
- Lord of Hosts (Bull/Taurus)

Now I'm looking for puzzles/quests/objectives and rewards for each tower, which kind of relate to the theme of the tower. One tower (Sons of God) will be 2 large statues of Donny battling Danny (who is clearly portrayed as a vampire), as they are descendants of the CN god Azatoth of the Stardust. Sort of like the Argonath of LotR.

Could you help me out with ideas and advice for each tower?
The party consists of a Bard, Rogue, Paladin, and a Barbarian. The barbarian is the grandson of Donny. The Bard is the daughter of the first Dragon Desciple of Apsu, the Rogue and Paladin are sisters who are descendants of a powerful and wealthy family the Silversmiles.

Any help is much appreciated and many thanks in advance!

Cheers


The only other equivalent I can think of to what you're going for is the seven sins (if that's even the right word) of Thassilonian magic.

If you're interested in seeing how that played out, see Shattered Star and Rise of the Runelords adventure paths and Thassilonian magic descriptions in general. IIRC, we had to go through 7 "dungeons" each with the appropriately flavored monsters, NPCs and challenges.

I wish I could be more specific, but it's been so long since I've played that theme that's all I've got.

Perhaps someone else could offer more practical applications.


Danny StarDust wrote:


- High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]

Now some specifics. This tower almost writes itself. Not only do water elementals and aquatic beasts and traps come to mind, but its opposite fire does, too. Maybe some of the fire forces could even be helpful/friendly towards the PCs.

Danny StarDust wrote:


- Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius)

(presuming the law-giver theme here):

Maybe here we have some desecrated Archon temples that are now infested with Lawful Evil baddies. Maybe the PCs could rescue an Archon from his imprisonment from his oppositely aligned Devil tormentors.

I know those are the barest of thumbnail sketches, but I hope it might be a start for you.

Maybe if you think of what kind of atmosphere you want your PCs to confront in each tower you could even change the aspect of a particular zodiacal sign or signs. In other words you could reverse engineer the titles based on what you decide to throw at the players.


EpicFail wrote:
EpicFail:
Danny StarDust wrote:


- High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]

Now some specifics. This tower almost writes itself. Not only do water elementals and aquatic beasts and traps come to mind, but its opposite fire does, too. Maybe some of the fire forces could even be helpful/friendly towards the PCs.

Danny StarDust wrote:


- Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius)

(presuming the law-giver theme here):

Maybe here we have some desecrated Archon temples that are now infested with Lawful Evil baddies. Maybe the PCs could rescue an Archon from his imprisonment from his oppositely aligned Devil tormentors.

I know those are the barest of thumbnail sketches, but I hope it might be a start for you.

Maybe if you think of what kind of atmosphere you want your PCs to confront in each tower you could even change the aspect of a particular zodiacal sign or signs. In other words you could reverse engineer the titles based on what you decide to throw at the players.

Thanks for the advice, the advice for the High Priest is really awesome. I think I'm going for a fire-trail "temple", just to screw with the players who will be prepping for a water-tower.

The Law-giver tower with Archons is a hefty idea as well, but more as judges and bringers of law (or a puzzle that the players need to solve to turn chaos into law [lawbringer]).

For the other towers as well, I was more looking/hoping for puzzles and questionairs and stuff, as the towers are made by a Good Guy, and the towers are meant as tests for people to prove their worth and enable them to save the world.


Anybody else who has some great ideas of pre-existing puzzles?


I don't have much at present, but to better frame your request, are you seeking puzzles for the characters to solve (e.g. skill checks and rolls) or the players to solve (e.g. riddles and brain work)?

Clarifying this might help people contribute.


Artificial 20 wrote:

I don't have much at present, but to better frame your request, are you seeking puzzles for the characters to solve (e.g. skill checks and rolls) or the players to solve (e.g. riddles and brain work)?

Clarifying this might help people contribute.

Thanks for tip, it is a bit of both, obstacles for the characters to overcome (dice rolls) and puzzles/ethical questions for the players to solve/overcome. I'll edit OP to include this.

EDIT: I can no longer edit OP :')


Yeah, edit windows are things here. You can get used to them.

For your question, on the character side you probably want to think up a skill or handful of skills you feel thematically suit each tower, and then use them as the dice interface/ideas seed for challenges. To grab a couple of examples, the Judge (Scorpion/Scorpio) tower could focus on judgement in the sense of careful and balanced scrutiny, which may call for perception and sense motive rolls, possibly with knowledge checks in a secondary role to add variety. Or King (Lion/Leo) might call for leadership through diplomacy and/or intimidate checks.

Depending on your fondness for patterns, there are 12 themed towers and the game has 6 ability scores, so you could possibly pair them off with 2 towers using each (King is charisma, Judge wisdom etc.). Constitution would probably require fortitude saves, as there aren't any con skills, but that might encourage you to be inventive and diverse with concepts.

For players, there's enormous amounts of puzzle and riddle materials a Google away once you have a theme.


I mean, it’s not really original in any way, but you could populate your Taurus tower with Minotaurs.


You should have a Vanara portrayed as the Lawgiver.

On a more serious note:
Resurrection (Ram/Aries)
Have lethal traps to massive HP damage, but everyone gets regen 1 and comes back to life from regen if left inside.
High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]
Poseidon rules here. Sahuagin and Malenti with class levels are the enemy, and the party is aided by merfolk.
Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius)
This is a library with lots of scrolls that record the history of some forgotten age, and is undecipherable without magic. Sepia Snake Sigils can be used as a trap in a number of places. You can put some Graven Guardians could be there or some Gargoyles. Also add a few cursed magic items that slowly burden the PCs, a little more each tower.
Sacrifice (Goat/Capricorn)
This building could have a riddle that requires the loss of a magic weapon to solve. Perhaps the reward will be a free resurrect for the next party death with no level penalty. [This for a +1 weapon, and for a higher plus, get an additional use per plus.] Only works for the first weapon sacrificed.
Savior (Archer/Sagittarius)
The party gets into a horrible battle and are nearly lost when suddenly a powerful outsider appears to give the party a mass heal followed by doing major damage to the enemy. When the enemy is defeated, the outsider disappears.
Judge (Scorpion/Scorpio)
Have several traps that use teeter-totter floors. The party must baance their weight on the floor to reach the needed items that lie near the sides in wall niches. Have the room in an antimagic zone to remove the usual bypass spells like Fly.
Redeemer (Scales/Libra)
Solving this place removes the curses from the previous building, as well as any other cursed objects the party has.
Messiah (Virgin/Virgo)
I think Innocent would be better. A unicorn mount for the paladin might not be amiss, or a figurine of wondrous power(unicorn) might be good as a reward. Tests and traps could be about not knowing something, making the right choice be the choice an innocent would make.
King (Lion/Leo)
Have the result be one or more party members gain +1 Inherent Charisma. Perhaps some Circlets of Persuasion as well.
Deliverer (Crab/Cancer)
This is another water tower, but there are a number of grapple monsters here. Like giant crabs. Perhaps they guard some treasure that the party needs.
Sons of God (Twins/Gemini)
Monsters come in pairs. Portals can only be passed through in pairs. Traps need two like actions to disarm.
Lord of Hosts (Bull/Taurus)
I agree miniaturs would be a good choice.

/cevah


Minotaurs imply a maze.

The edit window is 1 hour after posting BTW.


Artificial 20 wrote:
Awesome stuff
Ventnor wrote:
Awesome stuff
Cevah wrote:
Epic stuff!
avr wrote:
Maze is awesome

Thank you guys!! This is really awesome and really helpful!!

Each tower will grant the players a bonus depending on the ability score associated with the tower (like Artificial 20 and Cevah mentioned) or a specific personal boon (like a unicorn mount) depending on how the players are drawn to each theme and how they solve the puzzles, thanks guys!!


One cool idea would be to add a themed boss at the end of each dungeon in the towers.

- Resurrection (Ram/Aries): The first tower's dungeon could have a lot of bludgeoning traps, as an analogy to a charging Ram. The last boss could be in a place with a lot of holes and Pits, and the boss is some sort of Ram demi-human specialized in pushing PCs onto them.

- High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]: The Second tower's dungeon would be focused on fish based monsters such as sahuagin as aforementioned by another guy, the last boss obviously could be two sea serpents of appropiate CR.

- Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius): This water based dungeons would be focused more on water survival, and could have certain puzzles to solve on time limit, the last boss could be a big water elemental, or a summoner of water elementals.

- Sacrifice (Goat/Capricorn): This tower could have a lot of goat inspired demons like Capras, Schirs and the like, you could add class levels to them, or more HD if needed. The last boss could be a high level demon.

- Savior (Archer/Sagittarius): This one could have a lot of high grounds for ranged snipers, you could use some dirty archer builds for this. The last boss could be a group of switch hitter centaur rangers, arcane archers, archer magus, fighter archers and the like.

- Judge (Scorpion/Scorpio): This dungeon could have a lot of poison traps, you could add a puzzle which would overload them with hundreds of scorpion swarms if they fail. The last boss could be a giant Drider xD?

- Redeemer (Scales/Libra): This Dungeon could involve a lot of riddles about philosophy, you could take the riddles from Socrates who liked to do weird analogies. This dungeon could have no battles at all, and be based around knowledge, the last boss could be a Glabrezu trickster.

- Messiah (Virgin/Virgo): This one could be a nature based dungeon with visions about how the forest was destroyed by the orcs, by checking different versions of the story, and discovering certain phallacies in it (you could add discordant versions to the visions) they could reveal exactly what happend in the forest. The last boss could be a Dryad or a Banshee.

- King (Lion/Leo): The dungeon could be a Castle full of soldiers, the group would have to stealth fight or be overwhelmed by their ridicolous numbers, the last boss is obviously an Half-lion (Custom Race) Paladin.

- Deliverer (Crab/Cancer): This dungeons could be full of Ghosts and monks, and ghost monks, it could deal with a treasure horrocrux and a lich monk. The last boss could be a Marilith Monk! There could also be a Shipwrecker Crab (http://bit.do/Crab)

- Sons of God (Twins/Gemini) [Donny is a twin with Danny, who became a vampire): This is my own zodiac sign, and could involve having two different sides of the dungeons and PCs need to coordinate to find the solution for the puzzle in both, (you could even add a illusionist wizard manipulating all from the shadows) the last battle could be two spellcasters, one Evocation and the other Shadow. Or you could make this one of the encounters, the one against Danny being the last boss one.

- Lord of Hosts (Bull/Taurus): I guess this is pretty self-explanatory as a maze, the last boss being a Minotaur, but what if you made a different maze? like a dream maze a la inception? and the objective of the maze could be to escape the dreamscape by saving the minotaur trapped inside, who is a wise druid Minotaur. This could be an interesting twist to an otherwise cliche dungeon.

Dark Archive

Danny StarDust wrote:

- Resurrection (Ram/Aries) [the first tower they will encounter, which will erect the other towers]

- High Priest (Fishes/Pisces) [a water based tower]
- Lawgiver (water bearer/Aquarius)
- Sacrifice (Goat/Capricorn)
- Savior (Archer/Sagittarius)
- Judge (Scorpion/Scorpio)
- Redeemer (Scales/Libra)
- Messiah (Virgin/Virgo)
- King (Lion/Leo)
- Deliverer (Crab/Cancer)
- Sons of God (Twins/Gemini) [Donny is a twin with Danny, who became a vampire)
- Lord of Hosts (Bull/Taurus)

I'd want to use the names to focus the themes.

So the Libra-themed tower would have a set of rooms that need to be 'balanced' somehow to complete the puzzle (once balanced, both rooms shift to a place where an opening appears in both rooms, and the party, divided between the two rooms, can dash through before the balance shifts). Any foes in these rooms will disappear when slain, *or* remain behind, but weigh exactly as much as the party members (and their bodies be dragged to one room and used to 'balance the scales' so that the party in the other room can access the tunnel out), in either case, having the rooms function like a Mirror of Opposition.

That all said, I'd also want to tie the word 'Redeemer' into the challenge, perhaps making the easier solution being to use Diplomacy to encourage the 'Mirror' duplicates to willingly assemble in the second room to balance the scales, instead of fighting them, and so beat the challenge by 'redeeming' the dupes, instead of killing them. (Obviously that has to be made an option, since standard Mirror of Opposition dupes are pretty mindlessly hostile, but these rooms are already not your standard Mirrors of Opposition...)

Similarly, I'd want to tie the other key-words into the other towers. So it wouldn't be enough to have the Pisces tower be fish-themed or aquatic, but since it's also called 'High Priest,' I'd use some sort of aquatic outsiders or divine spellcasting theme, like Triton clerics or a Piscodaemon, or similarly find ways to tie the themes of Sacrifice (must give up or destroy something precious to defeat the 'boss', perhaps sundering his expensive-looking weapon to beat him?) or Savior (perhaps interposing to protect an NPC?) to the Capricorn and Sagittarius challenges.

Silver Crusade

You should consider divination spells as a component of the towers. The Zodiac was developed around predicting annual floods and planting the harvest, so fortune telling ties in naturally.

Also, the procession of the zodiac is considered a major event in the cycle. The position of stars at each season is reliable from year to year, but over millennia the signs appear to slip backwards.

Time travel and the long term effects of the PCs actions could be a way to address the power creep of higher levels. Plot wise, PCs’ abilities to fight CR 15+ monsters sets them apart from the smaller issues they faced at lower levels and it can be difficult to keep the players connected to their original story. Giving a wide perspective and deep impact on their world can make the often 2 hour fights feel more rewarding.


Look up the old Atari Game/comic series Sword Quest: Earth World/Fire World/Water World, Earth World had a strong Zodiac theme to it, other two might give some inspiration as well.


Zilfrel Findadur wrote:
Awesome stuff
Set wrote:
Awesome stuff
Oli Ironbar wrote:
Awesome stuff
scrapper wrote:
awesome reference

Thanks guys! All ideas are really usable!


I found the site History of the Zodiac Signs has a short paragraph on each sign, and has links for more info.

/cevah


Seems weird to have Libra being the redeemer rather than the judge, given the numerous occasions in myth and in law where scales are used as a symbol for judgement.

And I'd make Sagittarius the deliverer, using the bow as a delivery mechanism (for what?).

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