Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Elemental

I took a bit of my own advice regarding arcane wards, portals, and traps for the elemental-built level of a my Pathfinder group's recent dungeon delve into the lowest reaches of ancient dwarven catacombs. In short, I took typical game traps and simply allowed characters to use Arcane Knowledge instead of Perception to detect/understand a magic ward/trap; instead of Disable Device, they used Spellcraft to suppress, bypass, or otherwise safely negotiate a number of elementally magicked areas encountered during the heroes' underground ramblings.

For the most part, these were just simple affairs applied to doorways and the like. I did use a standard spiked pit trap and jazzed it up like some kind of earth elemental worm creature. As far as game mechanics go, it was nothing more than a trap that could move around in a room.

One of the key parts of the climactic encounter in the undead-filled temple (see last post) was to allow the heroes a chance to prevent - or at least hamper - the transmission of a a large lightning elemental to the temple via a large (10' x 20') black marble altar which served as a kind of portal between the planes when properly activated. I reasoned the mighty being was only sending a portion of his essence to aid the heroes' cultist foes. I also reasoned that such a challenge would be the equivalent of a lightning trap - if they could overcome the trap, they could further limit the elemental creature's avatar (for lack of better word) from arriving in the temple - ie. shrink him down to a medium-sized or small elemental instead of taking on a ten-foot tall man-shaped angry cloud of thunder and lightning. If they failed the disarm attempt, they faced a lightning attack. It seemed appropriate that the monster could channel its electrical energy through the altar/portal if the heroes could do the same.

This was a great way to give the players some choice - take a chance on getting zapped to reduce the effectiveness of a truly tough enemy or just let him come on. As it turns out, they failed in their attempts, but that just made things more exciting. This is where we became much more familiar with weapon resistance rules.

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