Monday, April 20, 2015

Pathfinder Run #1: Space Loop

Our primary Pathfinder GM currently misses most sessions, so we've been rotating that duty for a while. The last adventure I ran started with the party trying to leave a small adventurer's/crossroads town, only to discover the town was trapped in a space loop. High skill rolls revealed that the space loop was centered on the town alchemist shop and had been initiated by some sort of blood rite.

Quest below the cut.

The Shop

A second space loop protects the shop (breaking in one side of the building exits you out the other). The party ignored a dog-sized burrow nearby, failed to jimmy open windows, and smashed the door to splinters. The party goof found a puzzle lock on one of the splinters: a triangle with a flush peephole and four rows of sliding letter tiles arranged E / NW / R_P / EAOE. Shifting it to _ / WE / ARE / OPEN ends the shop's space loop. This was a fun puzzle--long enough to be worthwhile, everybody contributed a step to solving it, and simple enough they didn't resort to "skill rolls solve it for me."

They ignored a living space upstairs and empty brewing equipment in back. Magic emanated from inside a locked cabinet and under a rug: the cabinet, when opened incorrectly (by smashing it to bits) almost sucked someone's gloves and rings into a howling planar abyss; the rug covered a trapdoor leading to a small and wholly unremarkable cellar; the underside of the rug had an image of stairs which was a magical entry to the real cellar.

The stairs lead to a 40'x40'x40' room. At the far end is a smaller 10'x10'x10' room; a magic semi-circle with 10' radius faces it, and a large 25'x15' mirror hangs from pulleys above it. Ropes run from the pulleys down to cranks in the near corners of the room. The cranks must be operated simultaneously, or the mirror just sags at a little angle and doesn't really move.

(I'd been trying to come up with vital tasks where teamwork is required, and also vital tasks where high bonuses aren't required. The two cranks weren't terribly interesting but they did prove to me that it could be done.)

Inside the small room was a chest with many traps: the lock triggers a cone of frost; the hinges bury the area with a "stone to mud" spell; simply opening the chest launches a vial of acid up into your face; and a large (fake) gem sits amid a hundred hair-trigger razors. A sign above the chest reads "open chest / lots of good stuff inside."

The party sneak, always happy for a chance to show off, triggered the chest from a safe distance. It convulsed, shredded and buried itself.

The Mirror

Then they lowered the mirror, revealing another 10'x10'x10' room about 20' up the wall. The mirror completes the diagram on the floor, but the other half, the half through the mirror, isn't exactly the same; and the room reflected in the mirror isn't the same either. The party and the stairs are absent, for instance, replaced by an armed man, two dozen spiders the size of large house cats, several dessicated corpses, and spider-tunnels and other things in the walls.

The man, a (now undead) adventurer who had previously attempted to rob the alchemist, wanted to leave but was magically bound to defend the place. His sword, forged from a meteor which fell from a spider constellation, inflicts wounds which bleed more spiders; it fits into a socket on the wall where it can be levered to release neurotoxin from gratings spaced around the room.

After a failed parley, the party muscle killed him in one blow, and the two dozen spiders got fireballed into irrelevance. (I am learning to distrust Encounter Ratings.)

The party discovered that the back of the mirror is also a mirror and that the small room with a broken chest reflects into another small room with an intact chest. A doorway-sized mirror stands on either side of that chest, reflecting an infinity of chests.

Each chest contained random magic items. Loot removed from a chest grows intangible the farther you take it from its chest, vanishing completely after traveling four or so rooms. (I wanted to make getting back out of these rooms a puzzle, but never got around to it.)

The Upper Room

The upper room contained a big comfy sitting-room chair; a twisted and menacing coat stand which encased something magic (a rope-like strangling demon they quickly dispatched); and a locked cabinet identical to the one up in the shop except for an inscription in an uncommon archaic language which read "change your passwords daily, to avoid ending up like ____." Speaking the demon's name, spelled out in the magic circle, unlocked the cabinet which contained a random sampling of potions you'd expect to buy in an alchemist shop.

Raising the mirror back up to see the upper room's reflection, the party saw a cot, a wardrobe and a 40' corridor leading to non-magical mariachis from town. The mariachis sat on a trunk, serenading a giant three headed dog whose body blocked another doorway. One player decided to help the mariachis by luring the dog away down the corridor.

The rest of the party shoved past the mariachis into the new room. Menacing statues stood in each corner (encasing gibbering mouthers); a magic monkey paw (we have a monkey theme going for ancient magic stuff) was grabbed off a mantle by the invisible party sneak; a tapestry on the left showed the monkey paw floating where the party sneak was; and a tapestry on the right showed a signet ring worn by the alchemist, who looked to be dead and stuffed in a trunk. (Killed earlier by the mariachis. His death activated the town's space loop.)

When the mariachis stopped playing, they were revealed as skeletal sorcerers, and cast fireballs into the small room containing almost the whole party, all of whom nearly die. (I should have had the gibbering mouthers break out of the statues at this point but I forgot.) The party muscle parkoured past his partymates to kill half the mariachis. The PC from the corridor got the rest.

The Diagram

The magic circle had three parts: ancient cave art, depicting cave men defeating a giant demon; magic geometric lines overtop the cave art, much more recent; and four runes spelling the demon's name. These elements bind the demon and power the space-loop trapping the party in the town. I wanted to make a puzzle of this, in which examining the diagram (to figure out how to disable it) had choices and risks, but I couldn't work it out in time.


  1. Nice scenario. Very inventive.

    1. Thank you!

      A couple elements--the spider sword and the rug, plus maybe the coat stand--were taken from another blog.

    2. In retrospect, the guy I took those things from probably also did a space loop, and I can't remember if I decided on mine before or after I would've read his version.