Smuggler's Vault


Advice


The PC's have found out about a bank that caters specifically to airship pirates and smugglers. So far that's all they know, but what they don't know is that this is a vault that is owned and operated 100% by the different smugglers themselves (so no one officially owns the vault, it's collectively owned by each member). They've given this vault every manner of protection from their own walks of life and from items they've all collected.

So this vault is owned by 112 smugglers in total and they each have their own lockboxes, and they've all placed their own individual protections both on their own lockbox and also collectively around the entire vault.

IF the PC's decide to go down here and do a bank heist, what protections can you envision? and what kind of loot/artifacts would be appropriate for a lvl 10 party?

The vault is a small 15x15 dome with 1 room and a desk with 1 receptionist who is extremely snoody, and in the back of this room is an elevator that goes deep into the ground (approx 250ft), where there are 2 different vault rooms (at the bottom of the elevator). They cannot fight their way in because of one of the protections on this place: Descreants, which are homebrewed ethereal creatures of death; if they even think for a split second that you're there to steal something, they materialize into the physical plane and cast Circle of Death spells.


Interesting concept.

My go to idea if theres two vaults owned by a bunch of paranoid smugglers, is that one vault is a fake. Here are some wards/puzzles/spell effects that they might incur while trying to break into the vault.

Alarm
Explosive Runes
Symbol of Death
Open and Shut
Hallow + Resist energy, etc.
Locate Object
Scry
True Seeing
Major Image
Curse
Anti Magic Field
Alarm
Blood Biography
Hold Person
Arcane/Magic Lock

Other advice:
Looks like your vault security is incredibly intense, I'm not saying you should force the PCs to fail, but giving them the option to can be fun. Enough bad rolls and a stealth op can go sideways super quickly, just make sure the Descreants don't TPK the party.

As for items, it really depends on the PC's already have and how hard the encounter is. IF they have a wizard with craft magic weapons churning out +2/+3 weapons then throw something in there like a +4 or +5 sword and change some of the +X number in to an enchantment, so like a +2 Holy long sword or something suitable for your setting. Some fun lesser artifacts are the quilt of revelation, book of spells and if the party has an alchemist a philosophers stone


you left out one major spell.
the place is warded with teleport trap + permanency (at minimum it can ward an area of 13X40 ft cubes so 15X15 room would fit with it's surroundings).
and every lock-box owner have a token that allow him to bypass this ,so getting one might be a side-quest. (or one per burglar pc)

the trap will teleport those who failed the will to a proper place where they can be interrogated and disposed off (or enslaved to work for 'repaying' the cost)


Great suggestions on the protections, what do you think would be appropriate for loot?


Perhaps when no one's there the vault rooms are filled with something that will stop teleporting in - a network of wires is something that might be pulled up by a wheel or lever.

As far as loot goes there's blackmail material, artworks, magic items that aren't easy to sell (evil items, exotic/rarely used items, identifiable stolen items - easy to sell stuff probably would have been), or just plain old gold.


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The vault is actually just an entrance to the portal for a permanent demiplane that has the antimagic quality and adamantine golems inside.

All the magical protections are to prevent you from getting to the portal on the material plane.

Plane shift to get to the demiplane is impossible without an attuned rod, and attuning a rod to a plane is basically impossible for demiplanes (unless you already have access).


If the PC's are 10th level is there something else about the Descreants Circle of Death that makes it a threat? The spell has no effect on creatures of 9 or more HD. And that's without considering Death Ward, Spell Immunity etc.

2 "obvious" vault doors fully trapped containing useless junk and cursed items the smugglers did not want. This area, the bottom of the elevator can be covered with Private Sanctum and/or False Vision. To prevent or mislead those spying on the layout remotely.

2 "real" vault doors are both effected by Sequester - only perceived by direct tactile touch. Behind those doors is the wall, the wall has a Phase Door to access the actual vault. Those entering the vault through the Phase Door deal with Symbols or Greater Glyphs of your choice upon entering the vault proper. Destroying the wall or otherwise bypassing the Phase Door triggers other defenses (arrival perhaps of the Descreants) Mind Fog plus Will based saves can be a nasty combo.

portion of Phase Door text:
You can allow other creatures to use the phase door by setting some triggering condition for the door. Such conditions can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. They can be based on a creature's name, identity, or alignment, but otherwise must be based on observable actions or qualities. Intangibles such as level, class, HD, and hit points don't qualify. Phase door can be made permanent with a permanency spell.

The best way to block Teleportation subschool magic is to prevent any access to the Astral Plane, next best are things like Dimensional Lock. Claxon's demiplane idea also works well ... means they need a side quest most likely to steal an existing Attuned Rod from one of the Smugglers. This is all effected by how your group envisions the planar cosmology (or at least how you envision it).

A Created Demiplane does not have to be on the Material. It merely has to be on the Astral or Ethereal Plane or access to them.


Kayerloth wrote:

If the PC's are 10th level is there something else about the Descreants Circle of Death that makes it a threat? The spell has no effect on creatures of 9 or more HD. And that's without considering Death Ward, Spell Immunity etc.

2 "obvious" vault doors fully trapped containing useless junk and cursed items the smugglers did not want. This area, the bottom of the elevator can be covered with Private Sanctum and/or False Vision. To prevent or mislead those spying on the layout remotely.

2 "real" vault doors are both effected by Sequester - only perceived by direct tactile touch. Behind those doors is the wall, the wall has a Phase Door to access the actual vault. Those entering the vault through the Phase Door deal with Symbols or Greater Glyphs of your choice upon entering the vault proper. Destroying the wall or otherwise bypassing the Phase Door triggers other defenses (arrival perhaps of the Descreants) Mind Fog plus Will based saves can be a nasty combo.

** spoiler omitted **

The best way to block Teleportation subschool magic is to prevent any access to the Astral Plane, next best are things like Dimensional Lock. Claxon's demiplane idea also works well ... means they need a side quest most likely to steal an existing Attuned Rod from one of the Smugglers. This is all effected by how your group envisions the planar cosmology (or at least how you envision it).

A Created Demiplane does not have to be on the Material. It merely has to be on the Astral or Ethereal Plane or access to them.

All great stuff, thank you. And nice catch on the Circle of Death HD requirement, maybe I'll have them do Finger of Death instead.


While it's tempting to use lethal spells (and a few are probably to be expected) I'd lean towards spells designed to incapacitate or slow invaders/robbers down so as to allow time for a response to be mounted against the the intruders. Or for similar reasons spells, like Alarm, designed to alert the Smugglers to an intruders presence and hence allow for a response. There was a spell called Transfix a 6th level Wu Jen spell from Oriental Adventures which might make for an interesting spell to use. You'd need to tweak it to update for PF rules but that should be fairly straight forward. Bonus if combined with the presence of Mind Fog and note it targets the area not creatures.

Text of Transfix:
TRANSFIX
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Wuj 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: 10-ft. burst
Duration: See text
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
This spell causes humanoids of Medium-size or smaller within
the area to freeze in place, standing helpless as if affected by the
hold person spell. When casting the spell, you must specify some
condition that must be met to release the victims—“Wait here
until I return,” or “Stay here for all eternity!” for example. You
may specify any condition, however implausible, but the spell
ends as soon as that condition is met. For every hour the creatures are transfixed, they can attempt another saving throw.
The spell affects an area, not (directly) the creatures in it, so
creatures that are removed from the area are freed from the spell’s
effects, and humanoids of Medium-size or smaller that enter the
area must make a successful saving throw or become transfixed.
If all affected creatures are freed from the spell, the spell ends
and additional creatures entering the area are not affected.
Material Component: A drop of pine resin.

Responders, such as Descreants, are much more likely to use lethal force, of course. 112 Smugglers could be expected to have a substantial and potent response planned for any intruders in terms of number and capabilities of the creatures involved.


The vault itself is constructed from adamantine and uses some of the best keyed locks devised in Golorian (DC 30 to open). The entire area is under a permanent anti-magic field. The vault exists in a slightly larger cave with a single metal tube that leads from the antichamber above. The cave is filled with permanent portals from which positive energy spills constantly.

The light is blinding. Sight in this area is useless. The first 2 rounds of exposure fully heal all wounds. The 3rd round all hp are fully healed but the creature must make a fortitude save DC 20 or perish as a flood of micro organisms cause their body to rupture. The DC increases by 2 every round.

The vault wall is 12 inches thick. The anti-magic field extends 6" beyond the wall.

In the antichamber awaits a handsome red skinned man with impeccable black hair and a flawless white smile. He prepares a contract for each person wishing to enter the vault. The contract's terms are that the signer agrees not to take anything from the vault other than the contents of the lock box associated with the key in their possession. Any attempt to interfere with a different lock box, though action, inaction or association, will constitute a forfeit of the signer's soul upon death.

Each key has a symbol that matches exactly one lock box. Each of the persons that wished entry to the vault has a signed contract on file. The contract devil also provides a copy to each signer.

Technically, if you breath in the vault, you violate the contract. But the devil will never mention this.

If anyone attempts to start a fight the contract devil will teleport away to another room where a mechanism that withdraws the metal tunnel to the vault exists. The devil will immediately activate this device and return to the antichamber 24 hours later with several guards. If it is still occupied he'll leave the guards and teleport away again. This devil is not there to fight.

The passage to the mechanical control of the tunnel exists in a separate building, and has been filled in with stone. The only way into the room is to either tunnel or teleport.


Kayerloth wrote:


The best way to block Teleportation subschool magic is to prevent any access to the Astral Plane, next best are things like Dimensional Lock. Claxon's demiplane idea also works well ... means they need a side quest most likely to steal an existing Attuned Rod from one of the Smugglers. This is all effected by how your group envisions the planar cosmology (or at least how you envision it).

the reason i opted for teleport trap is that it block teleportation. it ether send the teleporting party into a trap (if they fail the save) or just outright prevent the teleportation (if they save). ether way ward from teleportation.


zza ni wrote:
Kayerloth wrote:


The best way to block Teleportation subschool magic is to prevent any access to the Astral Plane, next best are things like Dimensional Lock. Claxon's demiplane idea also works well ... means they need a side quest most likely to steal an existing Attuned Rod from one of the Smugglers. This is all effected by how your group envisions the planar cosmology (or at least how you envision it).
the reason i opted for teleport trap is that it block teleportation. it ether send the teleporting party into a trap (if they fail the save) or just outright prevent the teleportation (if they save). ether way ward from teleportation.

Interesting I thought you were talking about Teleportation Circle. Definitely yet another way to block or mitigate Conjuration(teleportation) magic with an offensive twist added in. It doesn't clarify what happens if the SR check is successful. I'd personally lean strongly to the teleport happens as intended by the teleporting creature rather than acts as if the Save was made. I'm also not entirely comfortable with the seeming power difference between this spell and Dimensional Lock and more so Teleportation Circle as in many ways it combines those effects into one spell which is also lower level than either the above (but I'm not sure if I think the later are too weak or Teleport Trap is too strong for their relative levels). But that's a separate issue for another thread perhaps.


Teleport trap may seem lower level for it's effect, because despite being very powerful it only does one thing, stop people from teleporting into someplace you don't want them to.

Pathfinder has a record of making spells that have a very narrow focus to be lower level than you might otherwise expect.


@Meirril - The link to the Contract Devil sent me to the entry for a Barbed Devil aka Hamatula on the d20PFSRD site. I did find an entry for a Contract Devil on the Archives of Nethys site. Flooding the area with the overwhelming brilliance of the positive energy plane is an interesting idea but I suspect the Descreants would find having to fight in either the vault or the overly bright positive energy filled cavern difficult at best if not outright extremely harmful (unless I'm totally missing my Knowledge check).


Claxon wrote:

Teleport trap may seem lower level for it's effect, because despite being very powerful it only does one thing, stop people from teleporting into someplace you don't want them to.

Pathfinder has a record of making spells that have a very narrow focus to be lower level than you might otherwise expect.

Oh I agree with that, hence the part about not being sure about whether the problem was more with the other spells. My main concern is Teleportation Circle does a very similar thing, is 9th level, is shorter in duration than Teleport Trap, a smaller aoe and in some ways even more limited as in you have to enter the Circle (and stand there) to be effected at all vs just trying to Teleport (or Plane Shift or Dimension Door or ...) into a much larger area. About the only real advantage of Teleportation Circle is the lack of any save. You stop and stand there and the only way not to go bye-bye is a strong SR.


Teleportation circle and teleportation trap are completely different functions.

I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Teleport trap prevents creatures from getting into an area, though it does also redirect those who teleport into or out of the area to a specific location. Teleport trap doesn't do anything if someone else doesn't cast a teleport spell trying to leave or go to the warded area.

Teleportation circle is a continuous teleport effect that can be used by anyone who can move to the location of it for the duration of the spell to teleport to a specific location.


Claxon wrote:

Teleportation circle and teleportation trap are completely different functions.

I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Teleport trap prevents creatures from getting into an area, though it does also redirect those who teleport into or out of the area to a specific location. Teleport trap doesn't do anything if someone else doesn't cast a teleport spell trying to leave or go to the warded area.

Teleportation circle is a continuous teleport effect that can be used by anyone who can move to the location of it for the duration of the spell to teleport to a specific location.

It can be used both as a means of transpot for creatures aware of its existence but it can also be a trap, sending creatures unaware of its presence to a designated and potentially unfriendly destination on the same plane of existence. Bolding mine.

Text of Teleportation Circle wrote:

You create a circle on the floor or other horizontal surface that teleports, as greater teleport, any creature who stands on it to a designated spot. Once you designate the destination for the circle, you can't change it. The spell fails if you attempt to set the circle to teleport creatures into a solid object, to a place with which you are not familiar and have no clear description, or to another plane.

The circle itself is subtle and nearly impossible to notice. If you intend to keep creatures from activating it accidentally, you need to mark the circle in some way.

Teleportation circle can be made permanent with a permanency spell. A permanent teleportation circle that is disabled becomes inactive for 10 minutes, then can be triggered again as normal.

Magic traps such as teleportation circle are hard to detect and disable. A character with the trapfinding class feature can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps. The DC in each case is 25 + spell level, or 34 in the case of teleportation circle.

This trap usage is what I am talking about. No it won't redirect an incoming teleporter but it can send someone unaware of its presence to a prepped cell or similar if the caster of the Circle wished to set it up that way. There is no indication that they have to desire the teleport for it to occur. Step off the elevator into the vault, stop to look around and poof welcome to my holding cell readied for your arrival, for example. Not really that different than a wizard trying to teleport in with companions and running into the effect of Teleport Trap (and failing the save).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd first think about how it is supposed to work. How does one of the 112 access their money? Do you have to get everyone together since everyone has put protections on it?

Layering spell after spell is silly if they can't be turned off and if turning them off is too easy then how many spells you have doesn't matter.

Also 112 seems like a very unwieldy number for control of a super secret illegal vault. Why so many? A dozen or less would make more sense to me.

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