Thursday, November 27, 2008

The End of Burnt Offerings

And with that, it's over. Thistletop is cleaned out, the goblins vanquished and Sandpoint saved for the time being. The PCs are 4th level, closing in on 5th level. You certainly have the opportunity for downtime available. This is a rare chance to show off a Sandpoint free from peril or obvious threat for a few days. I advise a window of inactivity anywhere from three to five days. This doesn't need to take up an entire game session, or even close to it. It's quite possible that your party will have little interest in the day-to-day affairs of the town and won't have any personal business they need to take care of over the course of the next few days. If "fast-forwarding" through the intermission will suit your group better, do it.

When you feel comfortable returning to the adventure path, and when you feel your party has become just complacent enough to merit a jolt back to the realities of the heroic lifestyle, spring Sheriff Hemlock on them to begin The Skinsaw Murders.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

E10 (Malfeshnekor's Prison)

Here it is: the final showdown between the valiant adventurers and the big, bad monster at the bottom of the dungeon. I won't lie - Malfeshnekor is one hell of an adversary. The rough structure of his stat block is based on the young red dragon. He can tear an unskilled or overconfident party apart. This is by design. Malfeshnekor was created as an above-and-beyond encounter in the original adventure. After the PCs have dealt with Nualia, Sandpoint can be considered safe from attack for the time being. Malfeshnekor is relatively powerless to affect the outside world. If your party has a tough time of it, gently remind them of the open door at their backs. They can deal with the barghest at their leisure.

Play Malfeshnekor mercilessly. If he can afford to focus entirely on a single character, have him spend an action point and use insane rage coupled with two separate rip and tear volleys to completely decimate that character. If this is the party defender he is taking down, all the better. I won't advocate this often, since I'm not a fan of effectively removing a player from the game for the remainder of the evening, but if you get the chance kill PCs. The adventure is effectively over and the party will have a great deal of downtime over the next in-game month to recuperate, so don't worry too much about forcing them to spend money bringing their companions back to life (they should have plenty of spare gold at this point). I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 1,500 xp (Level 7 Encounter)

One of the hidden side rooms does contain a silver coffer worth 110 gold pieces (treasure parcel 10 from level 5). Within it is treasure parcel 1 from level 4.

Stat block:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

E7 (Collapsed Treasury)

Converting this encounter had me at a mental block for quite a while. I was loathe to convert yet another monster to the 4th Edition rules set, given the number I had already committed to. WotC has a much better grasp of what makes a good monster than I do, and so whenever possible I like to defer to official material rather than create my own. Furthermore, this is yet another single-monster fight in the original version. When possible I have tried to expand fights to involve more than one monster, as solo monster fights are not supposed to be nearly as common in 4th Edition as they were in D&D 3.5.

My goals for converting this encounter were as follows:

  • Involve multiple monsters
  • Preserve the hiding-in-the-helmet exposition
  • Justify the monster's presence in a semi-aquatic area
I originally settled upon the idea of using otyughs, but they were a really imperfect solution. A few days later a friend suggested kruthiks, which I had originally glossed over for some reason. They turned out to be a much better fit (credit to LogicNinja). The Kruthik Hive Lord is large sized, making it perfect to hide under the helm. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 1 Kruthik Hive Lord
  • 1 Kruthik Adult
  • 1 Kruthik Young
  • 3 Kruthik Hatchlings
Total: 893 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

Treasure-wise, the enormous helm is worth 200 gold pieces. Another 690 gold pieces are scattered throughout the chamber in the form of silver, gold and small precious stones (which, altogether, comprise treasure parcels 5 and 7 from level 5). Some digging also reveals treasure parcel 3 from level 5.

If your group decides to try and remove the helm from the treasury, and if you feel like making them work for it, I suggest running a relatively simple (complexity 2) impromptu skill challenge.

E6 (Crypt)

This encounter runs mostly unchanged, except for the addition of a couple more shade creatures (Wraiths, in 4th Edition). Have them make liberal use of their ability to walk through the walls of the crypt in order to flank enemies. Keep the Mad Wraith out of melee combat if possible, but try to keep it close enough to the party that they are caught within its aura. If it is hurt by radiant damage, have it temporarily retreat until it recovers. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 1 Mad Wraith
  • 4 Wraiths
Total: 1050 xp (Level 5 Encounter)

As far as treasure goes, should the PCs investigate the sarcophagi (which, though not explicitly stated in the adventure, are undoubtedly sealed shut given the circumstances of their occupants' deaths) they discover a pair of ornate burial masks worth 30 gold pieces each, and two large diamonds resting above the eyes of one of the interred (250 gold pieces each). These count as treasure parcels 7 and 8 from level 4.

E4 (Observation Deck)

Here she is, the villain of Burnt Offerings. You can make this as dramatic a meeting as you like, but sooner or later it's going to erupt into violence. Her Yeth Hound is now, of course, a Shadow Hound. The encounter itself is fairly straightforward. Nualia has no reliable means of escape, and her entourage of nasty minions has been decimated by the PCs.

The Shadow Hound is there merely to provide reliable flanking, since its teleport movement allows it to be wherever it is needed. Have Nualia make sound use of her Burning Eyes ability to move characters into melee who wouldn't normally want to be there, and then hit the defender (who probably has a poor Will defense) with Shared Nightmare. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 1250 xp (Level 6 Encounter)

Nualia's golden holy symbol is found here (worth 110 gold pieces), and it along with the ancient manuscripts also lying around the room (500 gold pieces) count as treasure parcels 5 and 9 from level 4. Treasure parcel 1 from level 5 is also here, the Sihedron Medallion worn by Nualia (treat it as an Amulet of False Life +2, but do keep track of who is wearing it).

Stat block:

Monday, November 10, 2008

E3 (Trapped Hall)

This is a better trap than the goblins' chest in that it can create some tactically interesting situations if a character triggers it, and can involve a number of party members in overcoming the challenge. In fact, in 4th Edition, what was originally a single trap can now become four separate traps, each posing its own hazard to the party. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 600 xp (Level 2 Encounter)

This hallway has been lengthened to six squares and the slashing cage trap now occupies three of them. The portcullises drop down on either side of the trapped area, and the pit is now 15 feet in length. All three squares are subject to the slashing glaive attacks. See the stat blocks below for full details on the augmented series of traps.

Stat blocks:

D15 (Research Room)

At this point, unless the party has made stellar efforts to remain unnoticed throughout their assault on Thistletop, both Orik and Lyrie have decided to fortify this room. Play this encounter with a careful eye for the characters involved. Lyrie is described as hot-tempered and pessimistic. Orik has a good deal of resolve and a sound sense of self-preservation, but also harbors unrequieted feelings for Lyrie. Both of them will opt to surrender if things turn out badly.

Keep Lyrie at range and have Orik occupy the party in melee. Have Orik lock down strikers when able. Make sure Lyrie saves her Cunning Manipulation for when it can best be used - a multi-target daily spell, for instance. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 950 xp (Level 5 Encounter)

Treasure parcels 7, 8 and 9 from level 3, as well as treasure parcel 3 from level 4 are found in this room, whether as part of Orik's or Lyrie's equipment, or research materials scattered throughout the room.

Stat blocks:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

D12 (Chapel to Lamashtu)

The chapel now contains three hounds, which use the Shadow Hound stat block. Though Shadow Hounds do not fly, the indoor environment doesn't really favor flying creatures much to begin with. The hounds attack as soon as the PCs enter the chapel by any route.

The most effective way for the hounds to fight is as a single-minded unit. Their ability to teleport gives them unrestricted movement. Each round, have them select a vulnerable PC as their target. They should all teleport adjacent to that same target and attack. This strategy can reliably bring a PC down to bloodied in a single round. The party's leaders will need to be on their toes, and the rest of the group will need to focus their attacks on a single hound at a time in order to defeat them before they cripple the party. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 3 Shadow Hounds
Total: 750 xp (Level 3 Encounter)

D6 - D8 (Not-Tentamort Hunting Grounds)

The tentamort doesn't exist in 4th Edition (and in fact was a 3rd-party monster in D&D 3.5). I originally designed this encounter to feature a pair of Azure Jellies, but it was pointed out to me that Grells are the closest analogue to the tentamort (credit to Jamie Lovett). I still like the idea of including an Azure Jelly to spice things up, so I've kept one of them.

Have the jelly drop down from the ceiling into the central chamber right after the PCs enter the room. The grell should be floating somewhere nearby.

In running the monsters, try to keep them attached to or grabbing a PC for as long as possible. Keep in mind that they can still use their attacks while attached to or grabbing a character. This has the potential to be a difficult fight if handled well. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 1,200 xp (Level 6 Encounter)

One of the goblin corpses still remaining in the caves holds treasure parcel 2 from level 4.

D2 (Chieftan's Harem)

You have a real opportunity here to demonstrate to your players that goblins of either gender are roughly equally depraved and bloodthirsty. Bruthazmus is found in this chamber, along with a pack of goblin wives.

Despite Bruthazmus' experience as a hunter and trapper, he sticks to melee in this fight, knowing that the close quarters of the harem chamber do not favor ranged combat. To that end, Bruthazmus now possesses a frightening array of melee abilities. The goblin wives act as a single entity, wreaking havoc where able and setting characters up to be attacked by Bruthazmus. They have been turned into the goblin version of a kobold horde. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 1,250 xp (Level 6 Encounter)

Bruthazmus and the goblin wives have treasure parcels 2 and 5 from level 3 on them. If one of your players is in need of a magic longbow, this would be a prime opportunity to present them with one.

Stat block:

C24 (Treasury)

The treasury chest in this small room sports a nasty surprise of a trap. Unfortunately, this trap once again runs counter to the design philosophy of 4th Edition encounters; it challenges only a single party member and isn't tactically interesting. It would be a shame to leave it out, though, so I've bitten the bullet and converted it anyway. The stats for both the trap and the associated tetanus disease are below.

The chest itself contains treasure parcel 4 and any portion of treasure parcel 10 you decide to allocate here.

Stat blocks:

Monday, October 13, 2008

C19 (Throne Room)

This marks the PCs' final confrontation with the goblin menace (save the minor threat that the goblin wives in Bruthazmus' room pose). It should be a dramatic encounter full of Ripnugget's taunts and goblin rallying cries (which often sound more like insults than encouragement).

Any creature forced into one of the four spiked support columns is dealt 1d10 points of damage from the protruding spikes. Ouch.

We're also changing things up for this fight. The PCs have fought dozens of goblins by now, and they are no doubt becoming somewhat predictable. For this final battle, I've taken some of the recently released kobold monsters and retooled them to look like goblins. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 875 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

Make heavy, effective use of the pikers' ability to ready attacks with a bonus by positioning them near Ripnugget, then using Stickfoot to drag an unfortunate (and now prone) adventurer into triggering their melee attacks. The cutters can run interference, but don't expect them to last long with the party pulling out daily powers for what should clearly be a climactic fight. When Ripnugget becomes bloodied, he uses his Alchemical Juggernaut ability, pulling out one of Gogmurt's most powerful alchemical concoctions and throwing it to the ground, inhaling the billowing green smoke.

Ripnugget carries treasure parcel 1, and treasure parcel 6 can be found either here or in Ripnugget's room (whichever you feel is appropriate).

Stat block:

C18 (Shadowmist)

Shadowmist is in pretty pathetic shape when found by the PCs. Restoring him to good health is a skill challenge.

Skill Challenge: Tending to Shadowmist

Setup: After many days of confinement and starvation, the once-magnificent warhorse Shadowmist is a shadow of his former self. Little more than skin and bone, he is in need of prompt, careful attention if the PCs wish to prevent the horse's death.

Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 3 (450 xp)
Primary Skills: Nature, Heal, Athletics

Nature (DC 11): You have spent time caring for horses in the past, or have had to suffer long periods surviving without food yourself. You know a few things about how to safely handle Shadowmist, and whisper some calming words to the horse while expertly instructing your companions. The first success with a nature or heal check indicates starvation and reveals that feeding Shadowmist will provide a one-time automatic success.

Heal (DC 16): While horses may not have been your most common patient, you're familiar enough with methods of care for living creatures that you can get Shadowmist on his feet again. The first success with a nature or heal check indicates starvation and reveals that feeding Shadowmist will provide a one-time automatic success.

Athletics (DC 16): Once Shadowmist is back on his feet, he reacts violently to any attempt to restrain him, and worse still if spooked (say, by a failed nature check). A strong arm can help rein the warhorse in so that he can be tamed.

At least one success in this challenge must come from either a successful heal check or administering food to Shadowmist.

Success: You restore Shadowmist to passable health and calm him to the point where he can be safely led back to Sandpoint. Upon returning the horse, award the PCs the quest reward from the minor quest Horse Thieves!

Failure: One too many mistakes and ill-advised decisions results in the proud warhorse succumbing to his exhaustion and starvation, collapsing dead in the yard. This also results in the PCs failing the minor quest Horse Thieves!

C11 - C13 (Trophy Hall)

At this point it is practically inevitable that the PCs have alerted at least the top level of the fortress to their presence. The goblins within the fortress have fortified it with two groups. One is positioned in the trophy hall with the goblin dogs from the exercise yard, and the other waits within the throne room. The defense here is being marshaled by the two commandos, who yanked a pair of goblin grunts from the barracks to muster the goblin dogs. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 750 xp (Level 3 Encounter)

There is a good deal of potential exploration to be done after the conclusion of this fight. Divide treasure parcel 10 up so that it can be spread throughout this level. 40 gold pieces worth is found in the form of Ripnugget's holy symbol in C23. The rest should be split between the chest in the treasury (along with treasure parcel 4) and Ripnugget's possessions.

Monday, September 8, 2008

C9 & C10 (Thistletop Exterior)

The rigged rope bridge and fight with the goblins outside the hideout now form a single encounter. This has been done for two reasons: first, the rope bridge trap by itself is not very tactically interesting at all. Once spotted by the PCs (likely with their Passive Perception scores), it's not challenging to simply send two PCs across at a time. The other reason is that putting goblins and goblin dogs at one end of the bridge forces an interesting tactical dilemma on the PCs. Do they fight on the bridge and get bogged down, with only a couple party members fighting the goblins at a time? Or do they figure out a way to get past the goblins somehow?

Fighting the goblins with ranged weapons is a losing prospect. Not only can the goblins fire back (with surprising accuracy), but most ranged powers do not have enough range to reach across the length of the bridge. If the goblins find themselves overpowered at range, they simply retreat within the walls of Thistletop and inform Ripnugget, if he hasn't already heard of the attack. The onus is on the PCs to make it inside Thistletop. The goblins have the home turf advantage. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 1,200 xp (Level 6 Encounter)

The goblin dogs and Warriors begin the fight outside the walls, playing Killgull. They stop once they see the PCs and attack them immediately (though the one holding the gull-on-a-string continues to absentmindedly hold the string until he realizes he needs his other hand for something). The two goblins in the eastern guardtower (C15) rush downstairs to warn Ripnugget and protect the throne room while the goblins in the western guardtower (C13) are awoken by the battle on round four. After tossing the pickles off the tower, they join the fight by peppering the PCs at range. If the PCs head inside without killing the pickle thieves, they are quick to assume that the PCs will come to murder them next. Panicking, they scramble onto the outside of the guardtower and try to climb their way down and to safety. They do not join the fight in the throne room.

Stat block:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thistletop Fortress

And so we near the finale of Burnt Offerings: the assault on Thistletop. I'm going to quickly go over the changes being made to this final dungeon before I dive into the encounter write-ups.

The first floor is being split into three encounters, plus a skill challenge. The pickle thieves in the guard tower are now combined with the goblins playing Killgull. The goblin dogs from the exercise yard are mustered by a pair of goblins from the barracks and the two commandos from the eastern guardtower, who mount a defense just outside the throne room. The remainder of the goblins in the fortress are part of the encounter with Ripnugget. Dealing with Shadowmist is now a skill challenge.

The second floor prominently features a fight with Bruthazmus and the goblin wives. Orik and Lyrie are holed up together in the research room as a single encounter. The cave area has been altered to replace the tentamort with up-to-date monsters, and the chapel contains Shadow Hounds, which are a decent replacement for the Yeth Hounds.

The final floor begins with a trap encounter (an expanded version of the scythe-pit trap). The fights with Nualia and Malfeshnekor remain largely intact, as does the fight with the undead in the crypt room. The hermit crab no longer resides in the ruined treasury, which is instead inhabited by a group of kruthiks.

By this point it is very likely that the party has reached level 3, or will very soon. They will hit level 4 before the end of the dungeon. Be sure to keep track of your treasure parcels appropriately.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

C6 & C7 (Gogmurt and Tangletooth)

Tangletooth growls menacingly at anyone unfamiliar approaching Gogmurt's lair. Have the goblin make a dramatic appearance by stepping through the bramble wall as it parts for him, igniting his dagger in supernatural flame in the process. The PCs should immediately get the feeling that this goblin is different from the others they've fought so far.

I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Tangletooth (use the Cave Bear stat block from the Monster Manual - note the errata increasing the bear's damage to 2d8 + 5)
  • Gogmurt, Goblin Druid
Total: 900 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

Treasure parcel 3 can be found at the back of the lair, amongst Gogmurt's alchemical supplies.

The cave bear makes a surprisingly good stand-in for a leopard in this fight (though you should still describe Tangletooth as a firepelt), and it is an elite monster to boot, making this an appropriately challenging fight. Gogmurt posed a few interesting design questions. No druid class currently exists in 4th Edition, but that's not really a problem. One of the best ways to approaching monster conversion in 4th Edition is to start by making a list of what might be called "signature" abilities. The list I made for Gogmurt included the following: a love of fire (he's a goblin, after all, and employs produce flame and flame blade in the original adventure), his ability to move through the bramble walls and, of course, his animal companion. I also wanted a chance to try out some of the new Kobold monsters presented in Dragon #364, and this looked like a great chance to try out the Kobold Wild Mage stat block (modified for a goblin).

I decided to start with the Scion of Flame template to bump Gogmurt to elite status. This makes all of his attacks fire-based (including all of his Wild Magic powers and his dagger). I removed the Body of Flame ability and Wild Teleport and replaced them with the ability to heal Tangletooth once and his free movement through the bramble walls. The random nature of the Wild Magic effects meshes well with the Pathfinder imagining of goblins, and Gogmurt should also feel plenty druid-like to the party.

Stat block:

C5 (Goblin Dog Kennel)

There's one more Goblin Dog here than in the original adventure. The goblin dogs begin the fight leashed to wooden stakes in the dirt, but the presence of potential threats and/or food is more than enough incentive for them to pull the stakes free (a move action for the Goblin Dogs) at their first opportunity.

Any fight here creates enough noise to alert Gogmurt to the party's presence. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 500 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

C4 (Refugee Nest)

The majority of the refugees who ended up here are poorly equipped and are unable to put up much of a fight. A handful have seen a fight or two, though, and take advantage of their numbers to overwhelm the PCs, flanking whenever possible. When the fight starts going badly for the goblins (and it undoubtedly will), have a couple of them panic. PCs who understand the Goblin tongue are able to make out phrases like "We're done for!", "Run for your lives!" and "Longshanks are here to kill us all!"

I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 8 Goblin Cutters
  • 3 Goblin Blackblades
Total: 500 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

Navigating the Nettlewood

Before the PCs even come across Thistletop, they run the risk of getting rather lost in the tangled maze of the Nettlewood. While Thistletop is easy to locate simply by heading to the coast and following the shoreline, it is difficult to access from below in such a manner. It is very likely that your party will head through the wilderness to the goblin fortress. To do so they will have to defeat a skill challenge, or accidentally stumble across a bloodthirsty hobgoblin patrol (these hobgoblins have no connection to Thistletop and are nothing more than bandits keeping an eye on the nearby highway).

Skill Challenge: Navigating the Nettlewood

Setup: The Nettlewood is a tangled, confusing mess of trees and brambles. To make matters worse, the sun overhead is obscured by a natural canopy, making travel direction difficult to gauge. Thistletop is here somewhere, but too many missteps and trouble could find the party first.

Note: This skill challenge is practically identical to the Lost in the Wilderness sample skill challenge presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 2 (250 xp)
Primary Skills: Endurance, Nature, Perception

Endurance (DC 11): You forge ahead, shrugging off the snagging nettles and ever-growing weariness from your continued trek through the forest. At least two of the successes gained in this skill challenge must be from this skill in order to complete the challenge. A failed check indicates that all members of the party lose one healing surge, in addition to counting as a failure for the challenge.

Nature (DC 11): You're able to advise your companions on how to deal with the hazards of the Nettlewood, picking out the best-used trails to follow and avoiding dead-ends and briar patches. At least one of the successes gained in this skill challenge must be from this skill in order to complete the challenge. A failed check indicates that all members of the party lose one healing surge, in addition to counting as a failure for the challenge.

Perception (DC 6): You point out an obscured path for the party to take, or notice a hidden patch of nettles that you ought to avoid. Using this skill doesn’t count as a success or failure for the challenge, but instead provides a +2 bonus or –2 penalty to the next character’s Endurance or Nature check.

Success: You finally come across one of the entrances to the goblin warren leading to Thistletop. While the trek was challenging, you are more or less in one piece. Thistletop awaits.

Failure: After one wrong turn to many, you stumble out of the tangled undergrowth and into a clearing. A number of burly goblinoid creatures turn towards you and chuckle to themselves, drawing nasty-looking weapons in the anticipation of another set of victims.

If the PCs fail the skill challenge, they need to contend with a pack of hobgoblin bandits. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 2 Hobgoblin Archers
  • 3 Hobgoblin Soldiers
  • 1 Hobgoblin Warcaster
Total: 900 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

Soon after they contend with the hobgoblins, they manage to find the entrance to the goblin warren and Thistletop. The party does not need to complete the skill challenge a second time.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Preparing for Thistletop

The next target on the PCs' agenda at this point should be Thistletop and attempting to put a stop to the enormous goblin raid threatening Sandpoint. Assign them a couple of quests to help them along.

The first is given to the PCs by a group of traveling merchants who have had their prize warhorse stolen during a goblin attack on their caravan. Shadowmist can be found within Thistletop, and requires the successful completion of a skill challenge to save. The monetary reward for returning Shadowmist is treasure parcels 6 and 10 from level 4.

The second should be given to the party whenever it becomes clear to them that the town can only be saved by taking care of the leaders of Thistletop. This could be as early as when they discover Tsuto's notes, or as late as having to throw pleading townsfolk at the PCs until they realize they're needed for the good of the town.

Either way, I suggest supplying your PCs with appropriate quest cards to allow them to keep track of what they're after in between sessions (Thistletop will undoubtedly require a number of gaming sessions to complete). Quest cards are provided below, sized for standard 3" x 5" index cards. Most modern printers are capable of printing on index cards, so simply stick one in your printer's tray (make sure your print settings are set up for index cards) and hit the print button.

Allow the PCs a chance to rest up from whatever adventure they've just returned from, and give them an opportunity to purchase equipment (they may even have enough gold to buy a magic item or two).

When they are sufficiently prepared and decide to leave Sandpoint, set them on the Navigating the Nettlewood skill challenge.

Quest card(s):

The Lesser Runewell of Wrath

The runewell in the Catacombs of Wrath presents a significant threat to Sandpoint and the surrounding region if not dealt with. By the end of the fight with Erylium, the runewell contains 32 wrath points, enough to create 5 more sinspawn. In order to disable the runewell, the PCs have to drain it of wrath completely. This is an opportunity to include another skill challenge - allowing the PCs a chance to shut the runewell down without having to put up with the threat another five sinspawn pose.

Skill Challenge: The Lesser Runewell of Wrath

Setup: The runewell must be shut down by draining it of wrath points. This can be accomplished by causing it to disgorge sinspawn, but with some finesse and patient examination, the wrath can be diffused without creating more of the tainted monsters.

Complexity: 5 (12 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 2 (625 xp)
Primary Skills: Arcana, Religion, Thievery

Arcana (DC 6): Your knowledge of summoning rituals provides you with a few incantations to disperse the influence of wrath in the catacombs.

Religion (DC 11): You counter the unholy presence in the cathedral with a number of furtive prayers to your own deity, who responds by diluting the taint of wrath covering the runewell.

Thievery (DC 16): While this particular device is quite different from what you're used to, you find yourself able to identify a handful of the runes inscribed along the well's edges and effectively counter them.

Success: The runewell's glow dims and disappears, and the cold and unease the party felt upon entering the cathedral gradually fades over the next few hours. Sandpoint is safe from the runewell's influence - for now.

Failure: A careless mistake in defusing the runewell causes it to expel a host of sinspawn, all eager to prevent the intruders from meddling in the affairs of greater beings! Immediately begin a combat encounter involving 3 Sinspawn Rippers and 2 Sinspawn Wrathlords. Award the PCs with 625 xp if they defeat the sinspawn.

Whether the PCs succeed or fail, the runewell is no longer a threat.

B13 (Cathedral of Wrath)

This encounter will function similarly to the original. Erylium is the focus of the fight, and she uses the lesser runewell of wrath to summon new Sinspawn to her aid. The main difference is that she has the ability (and inclination) to summon an additional two Sinspawn over the course of the fight as she becomes increasingly desperate. This is justifiable in part because the number of goblins involved in (and killed during) the raid on Sandpoint and in the Glassworks afterwards has been dramatically increased in this conversion, supplying the runewell with far more wrathful souls than it originally contained.

The runewell here contains 50 points of wrath before the encounter begins. Any creature entering the runewell immediately takes 2d10 cold damage. The runewell then makes an attack at +5 vs. Will against the creature. If successful, the creature is compelled to do nothing but attack the nearest target, using the most powerful abilities available to it (save ends).

Erylium is positioned atop the pulpit and immediately summons a single Sinspawn Wrathlord from the runewell. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 625 xp (Level 2 Encounter; adjusted for Erylium's summon sinspawn power)

Erylium should make use of the runewell after she first takes damage and immediately after becoming bloodied.

Located in this room, either on Erylium or elsewhere, is treasure parcel 1. Erylium wears a tiara worth 260 gp (treasure parcel 6) and a black silk gown worth 170 gp (treasure parcel 8).

Stat block:

B4 (Washing Pool)

The size of area B4 has been increased to a 5-square diameter circle. The pool in the center remains the same size. Vargouilles do not exist in 4th Edition yet, but a very similar monster - the flameskull - does. I have dropped their level by 4 to make them an appropriate challenge for a party of 2nd level adventurers.

Place the flameskulls throughout the room, at the same height as the PCs. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 525 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

Try to space out the Flameskulls' use of their fireball ability. One of the downsides of stacking a fight with artillery monsters is that they can easily devastate a party by using their encounter powers immediately.

Stat block:

Friday, August 8, 2008

B9 (Prisoner Pits)

This encounter has undergone some thematic alterations. The zombies are no longer simply hazards waiting at the bottom of a pit for a hapless PC to wander into. Not only would they be relatively insignificant threats absent a monster with the ability to push PCs with a power, but carrying out that isolated combat in a single 5' square would not be terribly interesting. And finally, once Koruvus is dealt with the zombies are a ridiculously simple threat to deal with. On that note, there are now only four zombies, all of which claw their way up out of their pits and into the room once they sense the untainted presence of the PCs in the room.

The prisoner pits are covered by thin, fragile wooden planks which instantly break should a creature move atop one. Allow the creature a saving throw. If successful they are able to leap aside, and land prone in the square they just left. If unsuccessful, they fall 20 feet to the bottom of the pit (a fall which deals 2d10 damage). Four of the pits' covers are already broken.

Place each of the four zombies adjacent to one of the pits with a broken cover. Koruvus begins at the back of the room, and immediately lumbers towards the PCs, utilizing his Alchemical Breath first and then engaging the nearest PC in melee combat. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 3 Zombies
  • 1 Corruption Corpse
  • Koruvus
Total: 850 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

One of the prisoner pits contains treasure parcel 2 from level 2, amongst the bones at the bottom.

Stat block:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

B11 (Meditation Chamber)

When the PCs come across this room, alter the room's description as follows:
This strange room consists of a fifteen-foot-diameter sphere. Several objects float in the room, spinning lazily in space—a bottle of wine, a dead raven surrounded by a halo of floating and writhing maggots, and a ragged but finely adorned book. Yet perhaps the most unnerving aspect of the room is the walls, for they are plated in sheets of strange red metal that ripple every once in a while with silent black electricity that seems to coalesce into strange runes or even words far too often for the effect to be chance.
Should the PCs attempt to get their hands on the book, run the following skill challenge.

Skill Challenge: The Meditation Chamber

Setup: This room is located within a small area of warped gravity, causing everything within to float. The PCs must work together to retrieve the prayer book of Lamashtu without damaging it significantly in the process.

Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 2 (375 xp)
Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Arcana, Dungeoneering

Acrobatics (DC 6): You deftly launch off one of the chambers spherical walls, aiming your body for the book and hoping to catch it without harming it.

Arcana (DC 11): You use your knowledge of magical anomalies to minimize the room's effects on yourself, allowing you to maneuver easily towards the book. PCs who beat a DC of 16 on this check are also informed that the unstable magics here may cause especially weak spells to be twisted and turned upon their caster.

Dungeoneering (DC 16): Your experiences with magical traps or underwater currents give you remarkable insight into handling the disorienting effects of the room's lack of gravity.

Special: Any character attempting to use an at-will spell in this room immediately has it wrested from his control and can only watch as it spirals throughout the room, wreaking havoc. Any such use earns an automatic failure.

Success: The party manages to retrieve the book in stellar condition thanks to its magical preservation against the ages. They can sell it back at civilization for 150 gold pieces (treasure parcels 9 and 10).

Failure: The book is inadvertantly damaged by the party's actions. When they finally get ahold of it, its value has dropped to 75 gold pieces (but still counts as both treasure parcels). Note that a Make Whole ritual or similar power can restore the book to its full value of 150 gold pieces.

The wand and scroll are no longer present in this room.

Monday, August 4, 2008

B6 (Ancient Prison)

The ancient prison now holds a bevy of monsters for the PCs. A group of Stormclaw Scorpions has taken up residence near one side of the cave, but the scorpions dislike the unnatural nature of the Sinspawn who share the prison with them, and the Sinspawn consider the scorpions too dangerous to be worthwhile eating.

Place the Stormclaw Scorpions off to the left side of the prison and the Sinspawn to the right. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 675 xp (Level 2 Encounter)

They should try to fight on their separate ends of the platform, flanking the PCs, but if no other opportunity presents itself they take advantage of the second stairway as well. If a Sinspawn has no way of reaching a PC on the platform above, it waits underneath a corner of the platform and readies an attack should a PC take a tumble over the edge.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

B1 (Guard Cave)

This is a pretty straightforward encounter, beginning as soon as a PC rounds the corner to look into the cave.

A group of Sinspawn are waiting within, and are happy to take out their frustration with guard duty out on the PCs. Place the Rippers closer to the mouth of the cave, and the Wrathlord nearer to the back. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 625 xp (Level 2 Encounter)

The Catacombs of Wrath

Yes, it was originally a "semi-optional" dungeon. The extra encounters it contains are important to the leveling scheme of this conversion, though, and it's a great sneak peek into the world of the Runelords. Encourage your party by whichever means necessary to investigate the tunnel leading from the Glassworks to the Catacombs. If the PCs seem reluctant, have Ameiko mention that she heard Tsuto say something about a special surprise for Sandpoint in the tunnels, or have Shalelu or Sheriff Hemlock express concern that the smuggling tunnels have not been mapped.

The Catacombs of Wrath will contain five combat encounters and two skill challenges. It will also require a handful of monster work since 4th Edition stats do not exist for Quasits or Sinspawn. I've already updated the Sinspawn in the Bestiary and stat blocks for the rest will appear as they are used.

Non-combat treasure in the Catacombs includes the decorative ranseur held by the statue of Runelord Alaznit in area B3 (the Welcoming Chamber). It is worth 290 gold pieces (and is treasure parcel 5).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A17 (Glassworking Room)

And, finally, Tsuto. This should stretch the party's resources relatively thin, and Tsuto has a healthy number of goblins working at the furnace. Of all the encounter maps in the Glassworks, this is the only one that doesn't need to be enlarged (and shouldn't be, since it barely fits on most mats as is).

When the PCs first arrive, it's goblins and only goblins. Tsuto arrives during round 3. Don't bother having a goblin go run and grab him. It's entirely possible that the PCs enter from the far end of the room, blocking the way to Tsuto anyway. Just have him join the fight upstairs on his own. Roll initiative for him and insert him into the combat at the northeast doorway. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 875 xp (Level 4 Encounter)

The goblins should absolutely focus on killing PCs in this fight, especially once Tsuto shows up. If a PC drops unconscious at any point, the nearest two monsters should make a beeline for the body, pick it up (a minor action), carry it to the furnace doors (bearing in mind that a single goblin carrying a body is slowed due to the weight), open the doors (a minor action) and finally throw the helpless character into the furnace (a standard action). If they have an action to spare, they also slam the furnace door shut again (a minor action). Careless PCs will thus find that this fight could prove quite lethal.

Also note that by this point, the party should have accumulated a total of 5,275 XP if all the encounters outlined here are followed. This is enough to bump each character to 2nd level. So far we're on track for our stated goal of reaching 4th level before the end of the adventure.

Tsuto has treasure parcel 1 and treasure parcel 3 from level 2. Tsuto also has 180 gold pieces worth of bribe money on him (treasure parcel 6). Sequestered on Tsuto's father, encased in glass, is treasure parcel 3.

Stat blocks:

A12 - A14 (Office & Reception)

By this point, the glassworks should seem infested with goblins. This is a notable departure from the original adventure, but shouldn't really alter the mood or urgency of the situation. You'll also note that the size of the glassworks' rooms has been increased by about 50%. This is because encounters in 4th Edition try to incorporate terrain and movement much more prominently than D&D 3.5 did. Increasing the space available will hopefully decrease the number of times the party gets bogged down in a corridor or doorway and let players and monsters use their tactical abilities more often.

For this encounter, place one of the goblin blackblades in the hallway between areas A13 and A15. When the PCs open the door into said hallway, the goblin's first action should be to pound on the door to area A12, where his closest allies are (the rest of the monsters in this encounter). The goblins have brought a fire beetle along at Tsuto's request to help make a mess of things. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 1 Goblin Skullcleaver
  • 3 Goblin Blackblades
  • 1 Fire Beetle
Total: 550 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

Hanging on one of the walls in the reception room, encased in glass, is treasure parcel 4 from level 2.

A6 - A9 (Dining Room)

As soon as the PCs enter the dining room area, spring the next encounter on them.

Position the goblin cutters around the main dining table. You can introduce them to the PCs as devouring whatever meal you wish. One of them might have taking a liking to the salt pork, while others might prefer the leg of one of the glassworks' unfortunate workers. The underboss and skullcleaver can be in any adjoining room (though probably not the washroom). They immediately rush out to investigate any sounds of battle. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 1 Goblin Underboss
  • 5 Goblin Cutters
  • 1 Goblin Skullcleaver
Total: 625 xp (Level 2 Encounter)

The Goblin Underboss carries treasure parcel 4, and treasure parcel 2 is propped up against a table nearby.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A3 - A5 (Servants' Quarters)

The Glassworks was originally devoid of hostile life save the glassworking room. We need more encounters, so there are now goblins crawling everywhere.

Again, note that the doorway into the servants quarters now leads out into the hallway instead of the dining area in order to separate these two encounter areas from one another.

Array the goblins and their dogs within A5, and set the party up just outside the door in the hallway. The goblins are still in the process of gleefully ripping up bedsheets and clothing while the goblin dogs rest on the floor nearby. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 500 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

The goblin blackblade here is carrying a pack of some of the tribe's supplies and what they've managed to pull off the workers' bodies and belongings. Within are two potions of healing, 120 gold pieces and a pearl worth 100 gold pieces (treasure parcel 5 from level 1, plus treasure parcel 7 from level 2).

The Glassworks

The Glassworks has been increased from one encounter to four. This is probably a good time to point out that, for obvious reasons, the number of goblins mentioned as being used in the raid on Sandpoint needs to be increased. They cite 30 as the number, but the PCs kill nearly that many themselves during the attack. I suggest increasing the number to 50.

Once Shalelu has briefed the party on the goblin threat and Bethana has shown them Tsuto's letter to Ameiko, they should be well on their way to the Glassworks. This is a great point to introduce the party to quests. When Bethana implores them to find out what happened to Ameiko, give them a major quest reflecting their task (Discover Ameiko's Fate). There are no changes to the adventure until the PCs reach the interior. The DCs for climbing up the building, should the PCs choose to do so, and picking the locks on the exterior doors remain at 20.

I suggest guiding the PCs along a specific route through the Glassworks (mention that they hear giggling and banging from a certain door) so that the encounter with Tsuto in the glassworking room serves as the climactic finish to the set of fights. There is one notable change that should be made to the layout of the Glassworks. The door into area A5 (the servants' quarters) should be made to face northwest, across from the door to A4 (the storeroom) instead of leading into A6 (the dining room). 4th Edition is much happier with spacious combat areas, which this change accommodates.

As far as non-combat-related treasure goes, area A16 still holds 60 gold pieces in three rolls in a hidden portion of the desk (Perception DC 15 finds it). This is treasure parcel 9.

The first encounter the PCs will likely reach is in area A5 and its adjoining hallway.

Quest Card(s):

Tangent: Burnt Offerings Bestiary

Burnt Offerings, as with all Pathfinder adventures, contains a number of new monsters to challenge a party of adventurers. Regardless of whether or not the monster appears in the actual adventure, I will be updating all Bestiary entries to 4th Edition.

Burnt Offerings contains the Goblin Dog, Goblin Snake, Giant Gecko, Sinspawn, Attic Whisperer and the Sandpoint Devil. As monsters are used in the updated adventure they will be posted here, with the remaining entries published when the adventure concludes.

Goblin Dog:

Goblin Snake:

Giant Gecko:

Sinspawn Ripper:

Sinspawn Wrathlord:

Attic Whisperer:

The Sandpoint Devil:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monster in the Closet

This encounter will see some significant changes from its original incarnation, as well as the party's first introduction to an elite monster.

Back in D&D 3.5, a fight against a single monster of the party's level was considered to be an average fight. Of course, usually a single monster simply couldn't keep up with a full party of adventurers. It got to hit one of them, sure, and then the party got to hit back four times. Not the fairest of fights.

4th Edition fixes this by giving the average fight one monster per character. Furthermore, when the party does face off against a single monster, that monster is well-equipped to deal with taking on five enemies at the same time.

Unfortunately for this encounter as designed, goblins simply don't make great solo monsters. Elite, definitely, but they don't have the interesting powers that would allow a solo version to keep a party occupied. So forget the single monster in the closet approach. Gresgurt is still here, but he's simply the bravest of the goblins huddled together under the closet floor. There are now three monsters in the closet.

Begin the PCs in the upper story wherever they choose. It is likely that the encounter is begun when one of them physically checks on the body of Alergast, so place the closest PC one square away from the closet door (right next to the bed), having recoiled from Alergast's mutilated body. This will allow enough room for all three goblins to appear. Put Gresgurt in front. Use the Blackblades' Sneaky ability to help them deal with the cramped quarters of the bedrooms while Gresgurt hacks away at the nearest PC. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 1 Elite Goblin Skullcleaver, Gresgurt (apply the Battle Champion template)
  • 2 Goblin Blackblades
Total: 500 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

Have Sheriff Hemlock dole out 190 gp and a potion of healing to the party when he comes to deal with the aftermath (treasure parcels 7 and 8).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tangent: Treasure and Leveling in Burnt Offerings

Characters in the original Rise of the Runelords adventure path were supposed to reach around 17th level by the campaign's conclusion. In 4th Edition we have a new challenge in restructuring the adventure path around a 30-level range rather than the 20 levels of D&D 3.5. I plan on setting this up so that by the end of the converted adventure path the party will have reached level 25 or 26. That means that each of the six adventures contained within Rise of the Runelords needs to advance the party by a little over four levels. To this end, we need to break down each adventure into roughly four sections so that experience and treasure can be awarded appropriately.

Burnt Offerings, as written, can be considered in three large sections: the festival and glassworks, the Catacombs of Wrath, and Thistletop. I am going to expand the number of encounters for each of these sections so that the PCs will hopefully be well on their way to fifth level by the end of the adventure.

Let's start by looking at experience breakdowns. By the end of Burnt Offerings, each character should have accumulated well over 4,000 xp. This means that a party of five characters should encounter in excess of 20,000 xp worth of monsters, traps, skill challenges and quests. This might seem daunting at first. Don't worry, we'll get there.

Part 1: Festival and Fire contains three encounters totaling 1,875 xp. Part 2: Local Heroes contains another 900 xp between three encounters. This puts the party a little over halfway to 2nd level by the time they begin Part 3. This means that, in short, the party needs to gain three and a half levels between the Glassworks, the Catacombs of Wrath and Thistletop. To that end, these dungeons are going to be jam-packed with encounters.

The Glassworks, including the quest to rescue Ameiko, is worth 3,175 xp. Much of the treasure for level 1 and some of the treasure for level 2 is located therein. The party should reach 2nd level partway through the Glassworks. The Catacombs of Wrath is worth 4,300 xp and contains the rest of level 2's treasure. Thistletop's exterior is worth 4,375 xp, including the quests to save Shadowmist and stop the goblin attack. The party should reach 3rd level well before they enter the fortress. Thistletop's upper floor is worth 2,250 xp and its second floor is worth 4,150 xp. The party should have reached 4th level by this point. Thistletop's lowest floor is worth 5,293 xp.

The more immediate concern should be the amount of treasure the party receives. All of the parcels available in Burnt Offerings and their locations are laid out below.

Treasure Parcels for Level 1:

  • Parcel 1 is carried by Tsuto.
  • Parcel 2 is found in the dining room.
  • Parcel 3 is on Lonjiku Kaijitsu's corpse.
  • Parcel 4 is carried by the Goblin Underboss in the dining room.
  • Parcel 5 is found in the backpack of a goblin blackblade in the servant's quarters.
  • Parcel 6 is the bribe money carried by Tsuto.
  • Parcel 7 is given to the party by Sheriff Hemlock.
  • Parcel 8 is given to the party by Sheriff Hemlock.
  • Parcel 9 is found hidden in a desk in the Glassworks.
  • Parcel 10 is given to the party by Aldern for rescuing him.

Treasure Parcels for Level 2:

  • Parcel 1 is found in the Cathedral of Wrath.
  • Parcel 2 is at the bottom of one of the prisoner pits.
  • Parcel 3 is carried by Tsuto.
  • Parcel 4 in encased in glass in the reception room.
  • Parcel 5 is carried by the statue in the welcoming chamber.
  • Parcel 6 is worn by Erylium.
  • Parcel 7 is found on a goblin in the servants' quarters.
  • Parcel 8 is worn by Erylium.
  • Parcel 9 is found in the meditation chamber.
  • Parcel 10 is found in the meditation chamber.

Treasure Parcels for Level 3:

  • Parcel 1 is carried by Warchief Ripnugget.
  • Parcel 2 is found with Bruthazmus.
  • Parcel 3 is found in Gogmurt's Lair.
  • Parcel 4 is in the treasury chest.
  • Parcel 5 is found with Bruthazmus.
  • Parcel 6 is either in the throne room or Ripnugget's room.
  • Parcel 7 is in the research room.
  • Parcel 8 is in the research room.
  • Parcel 9 is in the research room.
  • Parcel 10 is found scattered throughout Thistletop's upper level.

Treasure Parcels for Level 4:

  • Parcel 1 is in a hidden side room off of Malfeshnekor's prison.
  • Parcel 2 is found on a goblin corpse in the cave.
  • Parcel 3 is found in the research room.
  • Parcel 4 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 5 is found in the observation room.
  • Parcel 6 is a portion of the reward for returning Shadowmist.
  • Parcel 7 is found in the sarcophagi in the crypt.
  • Parcel 8 is found in the sarcophagi in the crypt.
  • Parcel 9 is Nualia's holy symbol.
  • Parcel 10 is a portion of the reward for returning Shadowmist.

Treasure Parcels for Level 5:

  • Parcel 1 is in Nualia's possession.
  • Parcel 2 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 3 is buried in the collapsed treasury.
  • Parcel 4 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 5 is part of the remaining wealth in the collapsed treasury.
  • Parcel 6 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 7 is part of the remaining wealth in the collapsed treasury.
  • Parcel 8 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 9 is allocated in The Skinsaw Murders.
  • Parcel 10 is the silver coffer found in the hidden room off of Malfeshnekor's prison.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Boar Hunt

If the PCs decide to accompany Aldern on his hunting expedition into the Tickwood, run this skill challenge.

Skill Challenge: The Boar Hunt

Setup: The PCs are asked to accompany Aldern Foxglove on a boar hunt near Tickwood. The PC who holds Aldern’s attention from earlier receives a +2 bonus on all skills made during the hunt as Aldern actively assists him or her. At the beginning of the skill challenge, prompt any characters trained in the History skill to make checks in order to receive the information outlined under History below.

Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 1 (200 xp)
Primary Skills: Nature, Athletics, Perception, History

Nature (DC 5): You use your knowledge of boar habits to track one down and pursue it. Success here opens up the use of the Endurance skill.

Athletics (DC 10): You maneuver through the forest, climbing rocks or trees to get a better view of your surroundings as you search for signs of boar.

Perception (DC 10): You spot boar tracks out of the corner of your eye and follow them until you discover one of the creatures. Success here opens up the use of the Endurance skill.

History (DC 10): You recall that a traditional Varisian boar hunt is undertaken more for the thrill of the chase than anything else, especially amongst the nobility. A hunt ended quickly is a disappointment, even if you have fresh boar to show for it. A successful History skill check does not award a success.

Endurance (DC 15): The chase is on! You ride hard, tailing the boar and waiting for a shot to present itself. This skill is closed after one use, but can be re-opened. Success here counts as two successes but immediately ends the encounter. Failure on this check does not count against the PCs.

Success: The PCs impress and entertain Aldern with a thrilling hunt, and he allows each PC to keep the mount he purchased for them. If the encounter ends before a PC succeeds on an Endurance check, Aldern manages the killing shot.

Failure: The PCs did not manage to impress Aldern beyond the mild fascination he already possessed towards them. The hunt ends with nothing to show for it. Aldern accompanies the PCs back to Sandpoint, taking the horses with him once they reach the town.

Whether the party succeeds or fails, have Aldern grace them with 40 gp for saving his life during the Swallowtail festival (treasure parcel 10).

The Shopkeep's Daughter

One of the most important updates to the Pathfinder adventures in terms of conversion to 4th Edition is the addition of skill challenges where appropriate. In Part 2 of Burnt Offerings there are two such challenges: The Shopkeep's Daughter and The Boar Hunt.

Note that all skill challenges posted here use the skill check DCs from the July 16, 2008 update to the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Skill Challenge: The Shopkeep’s Daughter

Setup: One of the male PCs is tricked into accompanying Shayliss Vinder back to her father’s shop’s basement where she attempts to seduce him. The PC must avoid a violent confrontation with Shayliss’ father when he catches them in the basement. Allies may assist in skill checks made before they reach the basement.

Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures)
Level: 1 (200 xp)
Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight

Bluff (DC 10): You can use this skill to convince either Shayliss or her father that the situation transpired in a different way than it actually did, or that you have something important to attend to for the good of the town.

Diplomacy (DC 10): You can use this skill to reason with Shayliss or her father, describing the situation in a way that looks favorable to you, or politely declining Shayliss’ request.

Insight (DC 5): You get the feeling that Shayliss is interested in something more than just rat extermination, and use that to attempt to weasel out of the situation before things turn ugly. This skill cannot be used after the PC reaches the basement.

Streetwise (DC 15): You recall hearing that Shayliss is even more of a troublemaker than her sister. Success here opens up the use of the Intimidate skill. This skill can only be used once this encounter.

Intimidate (DC 10): You threaten to spread word of Shayliss’ brazen actions to the town at large, causing Shayliss or her father to back off slightly.

Stealth (DC 10): You scamper out of sight, hoping to avoid a confrontation by not being noticed in the first place. This skill can only be used in the general store's basement before the PC has been spotted by Ven Vinder. The DC increases to 15 after two uses of this skill.

Success: The PC manages to remove himself from the seduction or confrontation with Ven Vinder. Succeeding with no failures means that there are no hard feelings created between the PC and Shayliss.

Failure: The PC is unable to avoid enraging Ven Vinder, who attempts to drive him from the shop. The PC and his “pervert friends” are thereafter barred from Ven’s shop.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tangent: History and Rumors in Sandpoint

Here's an idea to give your players something interesting for spending time in Sandpoint. We're given a number of rumors and bits of information on the various goings-on around town, both in the Player's Guide and Burnt Offerings itself. If you collect your group's character sheets at the end of each session, hand them back at the beginning of the next one with a rumor or two (if you don't collect them, just pass out rumors at the beginning of your game day).

Before each game, roll a Streetwise skill check for each character. If that character beats a DC of 10, give that character a rumor. If that character beats a DC of 15, give that character two rumors. If that character beats a DC of 20, give them two rumors and indicate whether they are true or false. Characters can, of course, actively hunt down rumors by making a Streetwise skill check for each hour of listening to local gossip. Use the same DCs and results as above. The following is a list of rumors and other overheard bits of conversation compiled from Burnt Offerings for Sandpoint:

  • Sheriff Hemlock shares a long-running, “secret” romance with Lady Kaye, madam of the town brothel. TRUE
  • The ghost of the murderer Chopper haunts Chopper’s Isle, just north of town. FALSE
  • The White Deer Inn used to be the Black Deer Inn, but was tastefully renamed after the fire. TRUE
  • Ask Ven Vinder at the general store to see the “wine cellar” and he’ll sell you a jug of disgusting but potent orc rotgut. TRUE
  • Farmer Grump claims the Sandpoint Devil, a horselike monster with bat wings, once flew off with one of his prized sows. TRUE
  • Old Ilsoari at the museum sometimes wanders the beach at night, looking for treasures. TRUE
  • Don’t go down to the junktoss after dark: goblins steal the trash at night. TRUE
  • Solsta Vinder claims Sczarni stole her sheets last week and two cooling pies a week before that. FALSE
  • The new cathedral is magically protected from catching fire. FALSE
  • Murdermaw, a giant red snapper big enough to bite a boat in half, lurks in the Varisian Bay. FALSE
  • The Deverin family was once affiliated with the Chelish resistance, but was forced to flee to Varisia. FALSE
  • It’s bad luck to see the Sandpoint devil. Any who do are cursed to suffer an ill fate. It’s said the devil flies over Sandpoint in warning before tragedies, murders, and shipwrecks. FALSE
  • The Sandpoint devil is the son of a widowwoman named Agatha Leeds who used to live north of town and was said to practice dark magics and consort with evil beings. When she wandered into town round with child, she avoided all questions about her pregnancy. Weeks later, Leeds’s home was found reduced to cinders with its owner missing. Soon after, the first sightings of the Sandpoint devil began. FALSE
  • Evidence of the Sandpoint devil often disappears before it can be widely studied. Tracks, bitten animals, weapons with its blood, and similar such evidence regularly vanish, no matter how well watched or guarded. Many who have sought out the Sandpoint devil have disappeared without a trace either during their hunts or in the weeks following their return. FALSE
  • Descriptions, paintings, and other evidence regarding the Sandpoint devil often mysteriously catch on fire, sometimes burning entire homes to the ground. FALSE
  • Some Varisians say the Sandpoint devil has lived along the Lost Coast for thousands of years, protecting it from those who would exploit the land. Its modern misdeeds are merely its way of fending off the most recent encroachment of civilization. FALSE
  • The Sandpoint devil is sometimes seen in the company of other local legends and spooks, most commonly a white stag, the ghost of a young girl, and a zombie without feet. FALSE
"Can you hear him waking?
Up above the stairs?
Can you hear him weeping?
Is he really there?
Can you say ‘I’m speaking?’
Are you saying naught?
Is it you who’s weeping?
Is it you he’s caught?
When the nursery rhyming
Has whispered up above
Is it you who sounds
In the attic, my love?
When you hear your voice
Echoing on high
Is the voice a whisper
Is it just his lie?"
- Varisian nursery rhyme

  • Lonjiku Kaijitsu has a notoriously short temper, and many believe this is responsible for his estranged son and adventurer-turned-innkeeper daughter. TRUE
  • Mayor Kendra Deverin didn’t initially want the job, but after she was nominated for the role by her close friend Casp Avertin, she won the election by a landslide, something her primary opponent in the election, Titus Scarnetti, has never quite come to terms with. TRUE
  • Ethram Valdemar, patriarch of the Valdemar family, is not long for this life. The old man has a lung infection that keeps coming back, no matter how often the family pays to have it cured. TRUE
  • The Scarnettis have long lobbied to have prostitution oulawed in Sandpoint, and view the Pixie's Kitten brothel as a place where vice and criminal activity can take root. TRUE
  • The Fatman's Feedbag, contrary to popular belief, is owned by Jubrayl Vhiski. Jubrayl is also the rumored leader of the local gang of Sczarni, an extended network of Varisian thieves, highwaymen, con artists, graverobbers, smugglers and murderers. TRUE
  • Sir Jasper Korvaski was once a paladin of Abadar. He now runs the Sandpoint Mercantile League and his romantic relationship with Cyrdak Drokkus of the Sandpoint Theater is one of the town's worst-kept secrets. TRUE
  • It's whispered that the Two Knight Brewery's mead, ale and rum haven't quite tasted as good since Wade Deverin, one of its two owners, fell victim to a heinous murder. His brother, Gaven, now runs the Brewery, but Wade's death deeply shook his faith. TRUE
  • No one hates goblins more than Daviren Hosk. The bitter ranger's pride and joy is a large glass bottle filled with brine in which he's preserved the body of Chief Whartus of the now extinct (due in large part to Daviren) Bonegrinder Tribe. TRUE
  • Ameiko Kaijitsu at the Rusty Dragon has a "discount rooms for anyone who tells an exciting adventure story" policy. TRUE
  • Mysterious fires have claimed the Soggy River Mill, the Biston Pond Mill, and most recently the Cougar Creek Mill, leaving the Scarnetti Mill the only functioning grain mill in the region. TRUE
  • Rynshinn Povalli has operated Vernah's Fine Clothing for the last five years, since her mother's death. She is the daughter of a mysterious elven bard who reportedly was killed by goblins less than a week after Rynshinn's birth. Despite this, every year on the anniversary of her birth, a small package of elven trinkets has mysteriously appeared somewhere in the upper floors of Vernah's. TRUE
  • Ilsoari Gandethus keeps a goblin farm in the basement of the Turandarok Academy. FALSE
  • Ilsoari Gandethus keeps a nest of phantom spiders in the basement of the Turandarok Academy. FALSE
  • Ilsoari Gandethus keeps the Sandpoint Devil in the basement of the Turandarok Academy. FALSE
  • Not many people can afford to shop for books at the Curious Goblin with any frequency, but a nest egg gathered in his adventurous youth combined with a frugal lifestyle makes the success of Chask Haladan's business secondary to his own satisfaction. TRUE
  • Nisk Tander fancies himself a more gifted alchemist than he really is. Use caution when buying anything from Bottled Solutions. TRUE
  • It's whispered that Aliver "Pillbug" Podiker of the Pillbug's Pantry is secretly a poison merchant working for the Sczarni. TRUE
“Here comes crazy-man Das Korvut,
Mad as a cut snake in a wagon rut.
See how his chops go bouncity-bounce?
How many people has he trounced?
One! Two! Three! Four...”
- Children's hopsquares rhyme

  • The old sage Brodert Quink has a theory that the Old Light was once a war machine capable of spewing fire to a range of more than a mile, but he's a quack anyway. TRUE
The true or false nature of many of the above rumors are educated guesses and suggestions. If there is something you want to change, go right ahead. If, for instance, you want to turn Chopper's ghost into a plot thread you should probably change that particular rumor to TRUE.

Don't neglect players trained in the History skill either. A character who succeeds on a DC 15 History skill check knows all of the recent troubles Sandpoint has gone through (everything covered under The Late Unpleasantness) and some of the more recent portions of Sandpoint's History. If the character beats a DC of 20, they also know a few things about the ancient history of the area.

Tangent: Using Adventure Illustrations

There is a lot of excellent artwork in the Pathfinder adventures, and it would really be a shame if you, the DM, were the only one who got the chance to enjoy it. I've taken to printing out images from adventures for my players' benefit.

You know that DM screen you have with all that useful information on your side? There's probably some really fantastic epic battle taking place on the other side of the screen. Yeah, it's pretty, but ever feel like giving your players a change of scenery?

Here's what you do: print out illustrations from the adventure you are running. These can be of important NPCs, significant landmarks or even pitched battles. They will all help set the mood. Cut your image down so that it can fit comfortably against the back side of your DM screen without overlapping one of the edges of the screen. Then take a paperclip, and clip the cut-out illustration to the back side (the side facing the players) so that it hangs upright. Your players can now see all these illustrations for themselves in a convenient place! You can even write in labels for NPC names and the like. Don't forget to change pictures when the time comes.

It should look something like this:

Why thank you, that is a badass-looking screen, isn't it?

I used to post extracted images from the Adventure Path here for others to use, but given the number of groups making use of this conversion blog for their own games I am no longer comfortable doing so without Paizo's permission. I'd be happy to walk others through the steps to extract your own images, and if you're having trouble with the process and want the images to use as player handouts or props during your game just let me know and I can try to work something out for you.

Die, Dog, Die!

The third (and final) encounter of the Swallowtail Festival is designed as a climax and should really stretch the party's resources. They should be spending their freshly-earned action points and daily powers now. Describe the scene and center the encounter around the south-eastern building (this will be where Aldern is located). Don't bother placing Aldern on the map. Just have him hide nearby while the goblins ignore him in order to focus on the more threatening PCs.

Make a mental note prior to this fight if any of the party are suitable objects of affection for Aldern. If not, keep a running tally of the damage done by each PC during this fight. Use this to help determine who Aldern is most fascinated with.

I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 2 Goblin Skullcleavers
  • 2 Goblin Sharpshooters
  • 1 Goblin Blackblade
  • 1 Goblin Dog
Total: 750 xp (Level 3 Encounter)

Once the goblins have been mopped up, introduce the party to Aldern and select his favored PC. Handling Aldern and the next few challenges will be covered in subsequent posts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Goblin Pyros

Start the PCs wherever they finished the previous encounter. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 5 Goblin Cutters
  • 2 Goblin Hexers
  • 2 Goblin Warriors
Total: 625 xp (Level 2 Encounter)

The hexers should immediately use their Vexing Cloud abilities in tandem to cover as much of the map as possible, keeping the clouds maintained as long as they can. Don't forget to use the Goblin Tactics abilities you have at your disposal, and try to keep a minion alongside each hexer so they can soak up ranged attacks.

Again, allow the PCs a short rest to recover after this fight. They will probably have used a lot of their encounter powers (and possibly some daily powers) in the last fight, and the next one is the hardest still. Don't forget to award the PCs a milestone for completing the Goblin Pyros encounter.

Initial Assault

After reading off the boxed text, set up your battle mat and draw out the first encounter's map.

Begin the PCs anywhere they'd like within the festival grounds. The goblins appear coming from the northeast street between the buildings. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 4 Goblin Cutters
  • 2 Goblin Warriors
  • 2 Goblin Blackblades
Total: 500 xp (Level 1 Encounter)

Once the party has finished off the last of the goblins, provide them with the equivalent of a five-minute rest as the crowded streets begin to clear and the goblins start to converge on the town square. When they've healed up and gotten their bearings, begin the next encounter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tangent: Updating the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide

The Player's Guide for the Rise of the Runelords adventure path is relatively light on the mechanics. It has a handful of feats and some new equipment, which could stand to be converted. In addition, the new deities should be assigned Channeled Divinity feats.

Let's first deal with the deities. NChance has put together an excellent set of new Channeled Divinity feats for the Golarion deities. They are provided below with his permission:

Abadar's Decree [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Abadar
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Abadar's Decree.

Arcana of Nethys [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Nethys
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Arcana of Nethys.

Calistria's Sting [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Calistria
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Calistria's Sting.

Cayden's Courage [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Cayden Cailean
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Cayden's Courage.

Desna's Liberation [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Desna
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Desna's Liberation.

Eye of Erastil [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Erastil
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Eye of Erastil.

Gorum's Steel [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Gorum
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Gorum's Steel.

Gozreh's Rain [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Gozreh
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Gozreh's Rain.

Iomedae's Sword [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Iomedae
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Iomedae's Sword.

Patience of Irori [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Irori
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Patience of Irori.

Pharasma's Caress [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Pharasma
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Pharasma's Caress.

Sarenrae's Corona [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Sarenrae
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Sarenrae's Corona.

Shelyn's Grace [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Shelyn
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Shelyn's Grace.

Torag's Hammer [Divinity]
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Torag
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Torag's Hammer.

Evil deities should be off-limits to players. I prefer to disallow evil characters in my games as a rule of thumb, unless the adventure is designed for an all-evil party. It's just asking for trouble and the bad sort of drama.

On to the other feats. Remove Big Game Hunter. It is strictly better than the Paragon-tier feat Light Blade Precision. Use the following replacements for the other feats in the Player's Guide (all of these are, of course, Heroic tier feats):

City Born
Prerequisite: 1st-level character, cannot have Country Born or Lone Wolf.
Benefit: Choose Magnimar, Korvosa, or Riddleport as your home city. The frantic bustle of the city has honed your reactions - you gain a +1 feat bonus to your Reflex defense. If you’re from Magnimar, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Diplomacy checks. If you’re from Korvosa, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Intimidate checks. And if you’re from Riddleport, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Bluff checks.

Country Born
Prerequisites: 1st-level character, cannot have City Born or Lone Wolf.
Benefit: A childhood of farm work, apprenticeship, or similar toil has granted you reserves of endurance. Once per day, when you would be weakened or slowed, you may make a saving throw against that effect (and any effects tied to it) as a free action. Your traditional upbringing has sharpened your willpower as well, granting a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense.

Lone Wolf
Prerequisites: 1st-level character, cannot have City Born or Country Born.
Benefit: You have a +2 feat bonus on saving throws to avoid dying when reduced to negative hit points. Your vigorous health also grants you a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense.

Totem Spirit
Prerequisites: Member of a Shoanti tribe.
Benefit: The benefit granted by this feat depends on which Shoanti tribe you belong to:
Lyrune-Quah (Moon Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense and a +1 feat bonus on Perception checks.
Shadde-Quah (Axe Clan): Enemies that you mark take a penalty of -3 to attack rolls when attacking targets other than you (instead of a -2 penalty). You also gain a +1 feat bonus on Intimidate checks.
Shriikirri-Quah (Hawk Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus on Initiative checks and a +1 feat bonus on Athletics checks.
Shundar-Quah (Spire Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Fortitude defense and a +1 feat bonus on Perception checks.
Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Reflex defense and a +1 feat bonus on Acrobatics checks.
Skoan-Quah (Skull Clan): You gain a +2 bonus on weapon damage against undead and a +1 feat bonus on Heal checks. The bonus damage increases to 4 at 11th level and increases to 6 at 21st level.
Tamiir-Quah (Wind Clan): You may move an additional 1 square when using the run or charge actions. You also gain a +1 feat bonus on Athletics checks.

Varisian Tattoo
Prerequisites: Con 13, wizard
Benefit: When you take this feat, choose a type of damage from the following list: fire, cold, thunder, lightning, psychic, necrotic, force. Your spells that deal this type of damage deal an additional 1 point of that damage when they hit. The bonus damage increases to 2 at 11th level and increases to 3 at 21st level. In addition, you may have five Prestidigitation effects active at the same time (instead of three).

As for equipment, we'll focus on weapons first, then armor and miscellany. There are seven weapons listed in the Player's Guide: the dogslicer, starknife, war razor, klar, earth breaker, ogre hook and bladed scarf. The klar is also a shield, and hide shirt is a new armor type.

The dogslicer and war razor are basically a re-flavored short sword and dagger, respectively. They can be treated as such. The starknife best functions as a heavy thrown light blade. The klar is both a light shield and light blade with the off-hand tag, which loses its AC and Reflex Defense bonus if used as a weapon (dealing 1d6 damage) until the end of the wielder's next turn. The earth breaker can use the heavy flail's mechanics, and the ogre hook is similar to a greataxe, though the chances of the players finding one in an appropriate size is small. The bladed scarf is a superior light blade weapon (requiring specific training to use) with reach which deals 1d6 damage. Why anyone would want to wield one beyond for flavor beats me.

If this is more than you want to deal with, just use the following simple conversions:

  • Dogslicer - short sword
  • Starknife - shuriken
  • War razor - dagger
  • Klar - remove entirely
  • Earth Breaker - heavy flail
  • Ogre Hook - greataxe
  • Bladed Scarf - spiked chain
The hide shirt really doesn't have a place in 4th Edition, just as there is no chainmail/chain shirt distinction anymore. Just treat it as hide armor.

Most of the miscellaneous equipment listed in the Player's Guide can be done without in 4th Edition, especially since the beneficiaries of the two most interesting (the barbarian chew and Varisian idol) haven't seen a 4th Edition incarnation yet. My advice is to simply not update this extra equipment.

That should do it! The Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide is now updated to 4th Edition.