Grimwald Keep: Week 6
The journey into the depth of Grimwald Keep continues. This week has seen the completion of the Water Tower. I've transitioned from the damp environs of the cistern and Grindylow cavern to the dry and warm tunnels leading to the forge, which I expect to reach next week.
One of the prominent features of this level so far has been narrow tunnels and other terrains that complicate exploration. Several tight squeezes hamper progress, although these can generally be avoided by finding an alternative access route to the other side. Potential combat encounters in spaces that disadvantage the player characters may be a more significant impediment.
Fighting the grindylows on their terms in waist-deep water will be challenging because it reduces player character mobility. The water makes much of this area difficult terrain for the players, while the grindylows can zoom around with impunity. This is particularly significant in Pathfinder 2 because the grindylows are one of the few low-level creatures with Attacks of Opportunity. Since you can't step into difficult terrain (which would avoid the AoO), many of the usual tactics won't work. There is, however, a floating platform that may allow for some shenanigans. Of course, fighting the grindylows could be avoided. They may be amenable to diplomacy if the players can overcome communication barriers.
Then there is a cave with a low ceiling, forcing the player characters to fight while prone. Again, movement is limited, but penalties to attack rolls and armour class make the vermin dwelling here more dangerous than you might expect. Luckily for the players, this area is entirely optional, and they are free to leave and return when they are better equipped for this particular challenge (or just leave it alone). Those that brave the challenge are rewarded with Shaper Relic Armour.
The fact that Shapers produced relic armour was one of the discoveries this week. I originally thought that Shaper warriors relied mostly on natural armour by hardening their skin. While this fits well with the general theme of shapers adapting their bodies to their role, it doesn't make for particularly exciting treasure. The Shapers also use gemstones infused with elemental power as the foundation of their technology. So why not use the same for armour (and maybe weapons)? So now you can find socketed armour to upgrade with gems as you level up. Choose a combination of elemental powers to suit your needs. Assuming a supply of empowered gems, of course. This adds some additional incentive to figure out how the Shapers did this, besides idle curiosity and the potential benefit of fixing some of the machinery throughout the dungeon.