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Pathfinder 2E Help me Design a Tree-Spirit Hazard

JmanTheDM

Explorer
Hey all,

would love some feedback on designing a complex hazard for next game session. any thoughts or feedback would be awesome!

Background:
PC's level 6
they are at an Ekujae tree village. have been accepted as guests, will spend the night. some of the Elves are not happy with them being present have "awakened" the tree spirit of the room that is granting the PC's shelter for the night.

the Ekujae "record" their knowledge by having tree spirits modify their tree's shape and form and thereby creating a "living history" of the people.

my thought is this:
late at night, the tree spirit is "activated". the tree spirit is hungry for knowledge, and will be trying to grab and "merge" the PC with the tree so that the tree can "learn" the PC's Lore skill and add this to the overall knowledge of their society.

so, I'm thinking about things like:
  • nature and Occutism to learn about this hazard
  • the branches of the tree taking grab attacks and trying to push the PC's "into" the tree trunk in a kind of merge.
  • the tree trying to "fight" the PC for their individual LORE skills. the tree is trying to consume this information. maybe "fighting" the tree by resisting the Lore "drain". maybe even delaying the tree by sacrificing your lore to buy others time to respond.
  • some kind of skill checks and possibly combat to ward off the branches - to get the tree spirit to relent.

first, is this stupid? :)
second. any help in building this? I'm perfectly cool joining hazards and VP systems. like other threads elsewhere, I'm trying to spread skill usage here for a mostly non-combat yet potentially deadly encounter.

thoughts?

cheers,

J.
 

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This is a really cool concept, definitely paging @Justice and Rule et al to come check it over (I feel they are better on the mechanical side than I). With regards to the “lore drain” what are the proposed stakes here? Like a reverse VP system where if it runs out, the PCs die or did you have something else in mind?

From a more narrative point of view (where I feel on firmer ground) if you want to avoid combat in this, why not already have them grabbed, they are each trapped in several different historical memories with a problem to solve?
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
With regards to the “lore drain” what are the proposed stakes here?
my thought (and it may not be mechanically supported... fully) is kinda as follows:
  • this is a life and death struggle.
  • eventually, if the tree spirit "wins", the PC's physical form will get "merged" with the tree, and the PC's essence will essentially transform into the tree's living form adding the PC's Lore to the village's knowledge.
  • mechanically, not 100% certain, but what's swirling around my mind is a branch grabbing the PC, maybe the PC or tree spirit trying to "merge", which could be extracting knowledge through a branch or trying to push the PC INTO the trunk of the tree and merging.
  • the PC's should have several different ways to over come this spirit
  • and related to the VP system (and picking locks system as a template), needing multiple successes to ultimately defeat this threat.

From a more narrative point of view (where I feel on firmer ground) if you want to avoid combat in this, why not already have them grabbed, they are each trapped in several different historical memories with a problem to solve?

that's cool! I was thinking of having this happen at night when the PC's were asleep. could be a completely mental conflict within the minds of the PC using their knowledge / lore skills as a kind of Saving throw? knowing my PC's though, even in a friendly village they'll still keep a watch, and a physical way to involve that person on watch to also participate in the complex hazard will need to be considered.

cheers,

J.
 

my thought (and it may not be mechanically supported... fully) is kinda as follows:
  • this is a life and death struggle.
  • eventually, if the tree spirit "wins", the PC's physical form will get "merged" with the tree, and the PC's essence will essentially transform into the tree's living form adding the PC's Lore to the village's knowledge.
  • mechanically, not 100% certain, but what's swirling around my mind is a branch grabbing the PC, maybe the PC or tree spirit trying to "merge", which could be extracting knowledge through a branch or trying to push the PC INTO the trunk of the tree and merging.
  • the PC's should have several different ways to over come this spirit
  • and related to the VP system (and picking locks system as a template), needing multiple successes to ultimately defeat this threat.



that's cool! I was thinking of having this happen at night when the PC's were asleep. could be a completely mental conflict within the minds of the PC using their knowledge / lore skills as a kind of Saving throw? knowing my PC's though, even in a friendly village they'll still keep a watch, and a physical way to involve that person on watch to also participate in the complex hazard will need to be considered.

cheers,

J.
This is cool. It sounds like you’ve an idea of how you want this to go.

you’ve established there is a “win condition” and “lose condition”. So how could this be measured? Victory points certainly seem to present themselves. So now, what kind of actions could a pc do to move it forward and gain points to over come this? Pure strength? Mental challenges? Logic problems?
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
PS. my goal here is to build the hazard with your feedback. I'd love to hear those with better system mastery feedback on gotcha's and considerations. I'll build the hazard, but would love to iterate through this. its my first time building a custom hazard.

cheers,

J.
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
you’ve established there is a “win condition” and “lose condition”.
May be obvious, but "winning" is dissuading the spirit from continuing to try and "extract" all the PC's knowledge. "losing" is one or all PC's getting subsumed by the tree.

So now, what kind of actions could a pc do to move it forward and gain points to over come this? Pure strength? Mental challenges? Logic problems?
completely brainstorming here. possible thoughts include:
  • physical. "attack" branches that are trying to grab the PC and merge the PC with the tree. here, it might not be a challenge of attack roll vs. an armour class or hardness - but more like a BT/HP threshold that needs to be reached for the connections to be severed.
  • Mental. resist the extraction of knowledge. or better, "fight" the unrestrained knowledge transfer between the PC and the tree spirit
  • Logic. using skills (eg. nature, occultism, etc.. other?) to "defeat" the tree spirit in stages
  • Physical. avoiding the branches from trying to attach to the PC to start the knowledge transfer
  • mental. "fight back" to the spirit, confusing it with bad knowledge or negotiate with the spirit to not follow-though with this hostile action on unwilling PC's (may be unknown to the spirit as all Ekujae may have willingly giving up their knowledge as part of their society)

Cheers,

J.
 

PS. my goal here is to build the hazard with your feedback. I'd love to hear those with better system mastery feedback on gotcha's and considerations. I'll build the hazard, but would love to iterate through this. its my first time building a custom hazard.

cheers,

J.
Yeah, would love to pitch in here, and love what you’re going for, but I don’t feel I can fairly contribute to what you’re wanting. I’m much more laid back with rules application as a GM 😂
 

!DWolf

Explorer
I agree that it’s a cool concept.
From the scenario described I would actually run it as two hazards - the tree grabbing and a “dream/lore” realm hazard that follows once grabbed. I did something similar with a dream serpent fighting the PCs through a rapidly shifting dreamscape that worked pretty well - though you would probably want to do more of a puzzle for each lore skill than a travelogue combat like I did.
 

May be obvious, but "winning" is dissuading the spirit from continuing to try and "extract" all the PC's knowledge. "losing" is one or all PC's getting subsumed by the tree.


completely brainstorming here. possible thoughts include:
  • physical. "attack" branches that are trying to grab the PC and merge the PC with the tree. here, it might not be a challenge of attack roll vs. an armour class or hardness - but more like a BT/HP threshold that needs to be reached for the connections to be severed.
  • Mental. resist the extraction of knowledge. or better, "fight" the unrestrained knowledge transfer between the PC and the tree spirit
  • Logic. using skills (eg. nature, occultism, etc.. other?) to "defeat" the tree spirit in stages
  • Physical. avoiding the branches from trying to attach to the PC to start the knowledge transfer
  • mental. "fight back" to the spirit, confusing it with bad knowledge or negotiate with the spirit to not follow-though with this hostile action on unwilling PC's (may be unknown to the spirit as all Ekujae may have willingly giving up their knowledge as part of their society)

Cheers,

J.
These are cool. What about a contest of strength instead of attack? What about your players? You know the party comp. design it so it attacks each one of their weaknesses but give them an opportunity to use their main strength?
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
one other note - to help frame this encounter in the context of the game session. this will likely be the only non-social encounter for the night. likely up to this point, it will have been a very heavy role play session, negotiation, diplomacy, and building trust. odd's are there will have been zero fights in the past 3-5 hours.

so, this should be a tough encounter. scary. sever level at least. it'll not be a bump in the path, but likely the pinnacle event for a 4 hour gaming session.

if this matters when designing it.

Cheers,

J.
 

one other note - to help frame this encounter in the context of the game session. this will likely be the only non-social encounter for the night. likely up to this point, it will have been a very heavy role play session, negotiation, diplomacy, and building trust. odd's are there will have been zero fights in the past 3-5 hours.

so, this should be a tough encounter. scary. sever level at least. it'll not be a bump in the path, but likely the pinnacle event for a 4 hour gaming session.

if this matters when designing it.

Cheers,

J.
Oo. What about as one of the dream challenges an easy combat against some dream spirits? That way it’s quick, it’s only one of the challenges and it gets the blood pumping with a little bit of combat in an otherwise fluffy sesh?
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
From the scenario described I would actually run it as two hazards - the tree grabbing and a “dream/lore” realm hazard that follows once grabbed.
What about this thought. (I'm assuming that the PC's will have at least 1 guard on watch.. otherwise, I could have perception rolls to have someone(s) wake up).

2 Hazards. hazard 1 is the "awake" hazard. it is the PC or PC's who are awake working frantically to prevent their companions from getting dragged into and merged with the tree spirit, and avoiding the same fate as other branches are moving around trying to grab the players that are awake.

hazard 2 is the "dream" hazard, for those that are already caught. here, they are fighting the drain of their lore. successfully fighting this will slow the tree's ability to merge in hazard 1. and failing to try and slow hazard 1 will make the knowledge extraction harder in hazard 2?

Complicated! :)

cheers,

J.
 


!DWolf

Explorer
Some thoughts - very scary hazards are those with superior action economy or that alter the environment someway. That being said, mechanically, I (and these are just suggestions) would use two actions for the tree - on the first action it attempts to grab everyone then on the second action it attempts to send them into the dream realm to absorb their knowledge (you could do cool stuff with the characters backstories here). Character in the dream realm could interact with that realm solving puzzles there to defeat it or attempt to wake up with a will save or suchlike to take actions in the physical realm. As this is essentially a death trap you might also look in my book (on the handbook of hazards thread) for mechanical inspiration.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So the spirit can cause branches etc to move and reshape at will?

So you've got sticky sap oozing out of trees that, impedes movement if stepped in (Str test),
branches tangling into cages or twisting and swining to knock PCs down, causing rhem to fall if at a height, where thorn spikes or razor leaves cause piercing damage,

Now in terms of Action Economy I'd treat the Tree Village as the Spirits Lair each of which can be activated simultaneously as lair 'actions' - the PCs face the horror of the entire village being against them
 
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JmanTheDM

Explorer
That being said, mechanically, I (and these are just suggestions) would use two actions for the tree - on the first action it attempts to grab everyone then on the second action it attempts to send them into the dream realm to absorb their knowledge (you could do cool stuff with the characters backstories here).
would 3 choices for 2 actions be reasonable, each can only be done once/round? the choices being "attempt to grab", "send them into the dream realm", "move the PC's towards merging with the trunk"

I would imagine I'd need to build some kind of timer on the "merge with the tree and then you die" state. maybe 3 rounds to merge? round 1 to move the PC to the tree trunk. round 2 to start the merge, round 3 if not stopped, merged. modelling a bit off of the Basilisk turn to stone action here? does this nerf things too much?
Character in the dream realm could interact with that realm solving puzzles there to defeat it or attempt to wake up with a will save or suchlike to take actions in the physical realm.
would having a "feedback" system where the dream realm successes/failures influence the # of actions the tree spirit has in the real world? eg. succeeding on blocking a knowledge drain would result in fewer actions the tree can make? the tree successfully draining knowledge adding additional actions and thus closer to merging? this feels a bit OP on first blush.
As this is essentially a death trap you might also look in my book (on the handbook of hazards thread) for mechanical inspiration.
I'll look for this . THANKS!!

Cheers,

J.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
would 3 choices for 2 actions be reasonable, each can only be done once/round? the choices being "attempt to grab", "send them into the dream realm", "move the PC's towards merging with the trunk"

You can do that but you usually want to avoid having hazards make any choices and instead be fully automated. You can structure things to make the automation do what you want however. Consider this (formatted as best as I can from my phone and away from all my books):

Routine (three actions) - if the players did x action the previous round then this hazard loses its first action.
On its first action the hazard drags anyone grabbed and dreaming five feet closer to the trunk.
On its second action the hazard attempts to grab everyone in the room (+x, DC y escape).
On its third action all characters grabbed by the hazard must make a DC Z will save or become dreaming (a custom condition).

So the first round it will attempt to grab and put to sleep but it won’t start dragging towards the trunk until they have had a chance to react. If you swap the second and third actions then it would instead grab the first round, put to sleep the second, and start to drag on the third.

I would imagine I'd need to build some kind of timer on the "merge with the tree and then you die" state. maybe 3 rounds to merge? round 1 to move the PC to the tree trunk. round 2 to start the merge, round 3 if not stopped, merged. modelling a bit off of the Basilisk turn to stone action here? does this nerf things too much?
I would actually use a vp subsystem for this, tracked individually for each character - maybe with starting points based on knowledge skill ranks (on the theory that it takes longer to absorb someone with more knowledge) with an expert starting with 4 and trained with 3 or something. Give the players tokens, then when they suffer a failure on the dream realm hazard they lose one token, but if they fight back extremely well they can get back tokens (and if you are using a shared dream realm maybe gain other characters back tokens instead or as well).

would having a "feedback" system where the dream realm successes/failures influence the # of actions the tree spirit has in the real world? eg. succeeding on blocking a knowledge drain would result in fewer actions the tree can make? the tree successfully draining knowledge adding additional actions and thus closer to merging? this feels a bit OP on first blush.

This is doable, but I would limit it to something very easy to run (like what I posted above) - you are going to have a lot to keep track of and if you are near the end of the session you might be tired and in a rush to finish before times up.

I would also make sure that the characters are sealed into the room somehow, either through the elves sealing the exits or the tree spirit doing so with sap or altering the room as suggested above. Otherwise all the characters will avoid the first grapple and just walk out!

Finally, if I was going to actually run something like this for my players (and this may be way more than your willing to invest or take too long for the time you have available) - I would set it up as follows:
  1. A sealed door hazard - a simple hazard to keep the characters in the room for at least a round or two.
  2. The spirit tree physical hazard with a routine that is essentially what I posted above plus a clause making it unable to attack characters who have completed their challenge. I would make sure one of the disables ended the dreaming condition (a will save to wake up, probably).
  3. A series of realms - one for each characters and based on their highest knowledge skill and background. Each realm will have a thematic challenge based on the skill. Warfare lore might be fighting off a hoard of weak enemies who are attempting to seize a flag, academic lore might be taking apart someone’s dissertation, city lore might be a chase through the city, etc. this would be the time consuming part.
  4. a dream shifting hazard: it automatically goes last and it’s action is to shift randomly into another dream realm (all dreaming characters share the same realm) unless progress was sufficiently made or a disable check was made to prevent shifting or force it into a specific realm. The realms have to be associated with those dreaming of course. When it shifts it takes knowledge with it and the vp tokens associated with the current realm go down.
  5. A vp system to keep track of failure in the realms. If a realm is failed (for example in the warfare lore dream: everyone ‘dies’ or the enemy achieved it objective), or the vp tokens run out, then that character is absorbed. If a realm is solved then that character cannot be absorbed, the physical tree lets them go and they wake up (and can no longer help in dreams but are free to act in the physical world). If three (or however many) such realms are defeated then the tree spirit gives up and everybody wins... (a second, very simple vp system)
  6. The conspirators may come in at a certain time and attempt to finish the job while the PCs are struggling with the tree (may be too deadly).
That is probably way more than what you are looking for, and looking at it: probably extremely challenging to run as well, but hopefully it gives you inspiration.
 

You can do that but you usually want to avoid having hazards make any choices and instead be fully automated. You can structure things to make the automation do what you want however. Consider this (formatted as best as I can from my phone and away from all my books):

Routine (three actions) - if the players did x action the previous round then this hazard loses its first action.
On its first action the hazard drags anyone grabbed and dreaming five feet closer to the trunk.
On its second action the hazard attempts to grab everyone in the room (+x, DC y escape).
On its third action all characters grabbed by the hazard must make a DC Z will save or become dreaming (a custom condition).

So the first round it will attempt to grab and put to sleep but it won’t start dragging towards the trunk until they have had a chance to react. If you swap the second and third actions then it would instead grab the first round, put to sleep the second, and start to drag on the third.


I would actually use a vp subsystem for this, tracked individually for each character - maybe with starting points based on knowledge skill ranks (on the theory that it takes longer to absorb someone with more knowledge) with an expert starting with 4 and trained with 3 or something. Give the players tokens, then when they suffer a failure on the dream realm hazard they lose one token, but if they fight back extremely well they can get back tokens (and if you are using a shared dream realm maybe gain other characters back tokens instead or as well).



This is doable, but I would limit it to something very easy to run (like what I posted above) - you are going to have a lot to keep track of and if you are near the end of the session you might be tired and in a rush to finish before times up.

I would also make sure that the characters are sealed into the room somehow, either through the elves sealing the exits or the tree spirit doing so with sap or altering the room as suggested above. Otherwise all the characters will avoid the first grapple and just walk out!

Finally, if I was going to actually run something like this for my players (and this may be way more than your willing to invest or take too long for the time you have available) - I would set it up as follows:
  1. A sealed door hazard - a simple hazard to keep the characters in the room for at least a round or two.
  2. The spirit tree physical hazard with a routine that is essentially what I posted above plus a clause making it unable to attack characters who have completed their challenge. I would make sure one of the disables ended the dreaming condition (a will save to wake up, probably).
  3. A series of realms - one for each characters and based on their highest knowledge skill and background. Each realm will have a thematic challenge based on the skill. Warfare lore might be fighting off a hoard of weak enemies who are attempting to seize a flag, academic lore might be taking apart someone’s dissertation, city lore might be a chase through the city, etc. this would be the time consuming part.
  4. a dream shifting hazard: it automatically goes last and it’s action is to shift randomly into another dream realm (all dreaming characters share the same realm) unless progress was sufficiently made or a disable check was made to prevent shifting or force it into a specific realm. The realms have to be associated with those dreaming of course. When it shifts it takes knowledge with it and the vp tokens associated with the current realm go down.
  5. A vp system to keep track of failure in the realms. If a realm is failed (for example in the warfare lore dream: everyone ‘dies’ or the enemy achieved it objective), or the vp tokens run out, then that character is absorbed. If a realm is solved then that character cannot be absorbed, the physical tree lets them go and they wake up (and can no longer help in dreams but are free to act in the physical world). If three (or however many) such realms are defeated then the tree spirit gives up and everybody wins... (a second, very simple vp system)
  6. The conspirators may come in at a certain time and attempt to finish the job while the PCs are struggling with the tree (may be too deadly).
That is probably way more than what you are looking for, and looking at it: probably extremely challenging to run as well, but hopefully it gives you inspiration.
i want this. So bad...
 

JmanTheDM

Explorer
such a great reply @!DWolf. thank you for taking the time to set it out the way you did.

OK. here's my first attempt. be honest! does it feel too complicated to run? too punishing? imagining yourself as a player would this be "fun" (such a nebulous word)? LMK.

I'm not sure about the numbers. PC's are level 6. as above, looking for a sever level encounter. also not sure about if the number of escape hatches is enough, too few, too complicated etc? I'm really going for a story heavy narrative focus here by the use of the dream scapes and playing the scenes of each Lore showing the knowledge getting "lost" while in the "real world" a life/death fight is taking place to try and save their companions from getting melded with the tree.

PS. I'm aware that I am using language that appears to take PC agency away from them. I'm aware that this is bad-wrong. my thought is by having the dreamscape, the PC's mental agency remains to "fight" even if the physical body is being moved about. but if that is still too close to the ethical line, please let me know.

Spirit Tree
Concept: This is a 2-part complex hazard. Part 1 is the physical manifestation of the tree being controlled by the spirit, who's objective is to merge nearby creatures into itself to learn the creatures history, experiences and knowledge. Part 2 is the Mental dreamscape where each creature under its sway fights a mental battle to stave off the loss of their knowledge and having their physical form integrated into the history of the elves.

Spirit Tree - Phase 1: Physical form
Complex Environmental Hazard

Stealth +22 (Expert)

Description: The Tree Spirit attempts to gain contact with the PC's and through this grasp, sway them to relinquish their corporeal form by merging with the Tree Spirit tree. the spirit does this by melding their experiences, knowledge and essence into itself. First, the tree must establish a connection with the PC. Next, it must take physical control of the PC's body through a knowledge transfer. The tree will then assist the PC in positioning itself within physical contact of the Spirit tree, which finally will lead to the PC's melding into the trunk as a willing vessel which knowledge becomes fully absorbed and shared as part of the Ekujae's living history.

Disable: The physical form can be disabled a number of different ways.
DC 31 Nature roll, DC 28 Occultism or DC 23 Survival rolls all can be used to manipulate the Tree or Tree Spirit with non-combat methods. Alternatively, the Tree can also be disabled with physical attacks AC 24, Hardness 15, HP 66.

Once all the PC's are free of the tree's physical grasp, then the PC's are free to "attack" the tree using the skills listed above or with physical combat. Use the Stealth DC (+22) as the DC to overcome whenever the tree is "attacked" through the use of skills. Any result in excess of the DC will transfer directly to the HP total. for example, if a Survival skill is rolled vs the Tree's DC 22, and a 28 is rolled, then 6 excess "damage" is subtracted from the Spirit Tree's HP total of 66, reducing it to 60. once the Spirit Tree is reduced to zero HP, this hazard is defeated.

Grasping Branch: [reaction] Trigger: A creature is asleep and dreaming within 60' of a Tree Spirit who hungers for knowledge. Effect: The tree lowers a branch on each sleeping creature within range. each creature must make a DC 28 Reflex Save to avoid contact:
Critical Success: The PC avoids the branch and wakes immediately
Success: the PC avoids the branch but remains asleep
Failure: The PC is grasped by a branch
Critical Failure: The PC is grasped by a branch and immediately proceeds to stage 2 effects (See phase 2 below)

Routine (2 Actions)
Action 1:
The Tree attempts to Grasp a PC that is awake or asleep that is within range
Action 2: For each PC Grasped, each must make a DC 22 Fortitude Saving Throw: (treat like an affliction)
Critical Success: the PC shifts 2 stages in improvement
Success: the PC shifts 1 stage for the better
Failure: the PC shifts 1 stage to the worse
Critical Failure: the PC shifts 2 stages to the worse.

Action 2 Effects: Must be Grasped by the Spirit Tree
Stage 1: the mental blocks release and the PC begins sharing knowledge with the Spirit Tree
Stage 2: with the knowledge link established, the Spirit Tree manipulates the PC into physical contact with the trunk of the Spirit Tree
Stage 3: the PC begins to merge with the spirit tree
Stage 4: the PC is fully merged with the Spirit Tree (Consider the same as dead for this encounter).

Spirit Tree - Phase 2: DreamScape
Deception +22 (expert)

Description: Any creature that is in the Grasp of the Spirit Tree and has entered into Stage 2 enters their dream state. Inside this state, the PC's attempt to resist the Spirit Tree's knowledge theft. Successfully defending against this theft will will make it more difficult for the Physical Manifestation of the Spirit Tree of consuming the Grasped PC.

Trigger: any PC who is at Stage 2 inside the DreamScape

Routine (1 action):
Action 1:
for each PC at Stage 2 of the Dreamscape, the PC will participate in a narrative scene that is related to their Lore knowledge skill as follows: (Note: Names below are of my Player Characters)
Rathanus: Lore Alcohol
Firetail: Lore Port Peril
Ushii: Lore Fortune-telling
Andrus: Lore Warfare
Enki: Lore Cult
Each PC must attempt a DC 21 Will save to resist the images from the individual scene, else they will continue having knowledge taken from them.
Critical Success: The Dreamscape wavers. The PC can temporarily perceive their condition and circumstances by seeing through the veil. the PC can attempt an immediate DC 22 Fortitude save (As per the Routine 2 Action effect from the Physical manifestation - see routine in phase 1 above). The PC will have a +2 to their Fortitude saves until the start of their next turn
Success: The PC resists the draining of their knowledge. the PC gains a +1 to their Fortitude save to resist the routine in phase 1 until the start of their next turn
Failure: the PC is slipping deeper into the Spirit Tree's mental control. the Tree has an easier time manipulating the PC's physical form and deepening its mental links. the PC gets a -1 to the Phase 1 routine saving throw until the start of the PC's next turn
Critical Failure: the PC gets a -2 to its physical fortitude saving throw, and a new check is made immediately. in addition to when normal checks are made.


Note:
PC's can exit the dreamscape as follows
1) Lowers the physical grasp to stage 1 or less
2) a friendly creature removes the graps by breaking the branches (AC 24 Hardness 8, HP 16) or a successful Survival or Occultism (DC 23) to force the Tree Spirit to rear the branches back.


cheers,

J.
 
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!DWolf

Explorer
If you can, definitely do a dry run to see if your numbers are good and the flow works.

That being said - it looks pretty decent and run-able. Though I have a few notes:

It’s not clear from the writeup if PCs can take actions on their turn in stage 2+ of the affliction? I am assuming no - they get their actions in the narrative dreamscape instead (since they are dreaming).

Mechanics wise the major problem I see is that dealing damage with skill checks is a little — odd. It looks workable but you might change it to a straight disarm with multiple success required to nonviolently put the tree spirit back to rest - you could also work in skills like diplomacy, performance, society (elven tree rituals), and deception (no tasty brains here) into this strategy. This gives your players a solution that doesn’t harm the elves’ tree. I also wouldn’t require all the PCs to be free before they could attack or disarm the tree. This creates interesting choices on each PCs round: do I try to free other PCs, attack the tree (potentially angering the elves), or attempt to disarm the hazard? And one of the hallmarks of a good death trap is, IMHO, that it creates situations with no obvious right answer.

Without having run it, I am also worried about the trees action economy. If three PCs are grabbed and two free and on the first turn they free two more and the tree only grabs one... then the hazard will quickly degenerate into one character frees the person who got grabbed while the others wail on it.

Fun/player wise: In the second part I would want choices in the narrative scene to determine what I rolled (with the Will save a fallback option) with more interesting/clever options having lower DCs. This would let me use my creativity and have more control and choices in the encounter. If using successes to disarm like I talked about above, it might also be a good idea to have a critical success count as a successful disarm check. This would allow success in a situation that everyone was grabbed. It would also allow a more aggressive action economy for the physical tree.

Finally, I will once again recommend a dry run. I have found, designing and running many deathtraps, that flaws you never even considered will quickly reveal themselves if you actually try to play through it at least once. And, this is probably just me but, I can determine roughly how much fun the encounter will be by how much fun I had running through it in the test run.
 

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