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).