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Sand Von Glokta's page

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This encounter turned out to be one of the best we've had so far. I had to tailor things a little (although most of it's hinted at in the text):

It mentions in the introduction that the taverns and flophouses throughout the Shadow district have bets running on the inevitable collapse of the Shadow Clock. My PCs passed the Friendly Merchant tavern on the way to the Clock, where they saw the chalkboard of odds on where the tower would fall, and heard some of the stories about the tower's "haunts".

When the bell crashed down the staircase, I stressed how much the whole tower shook and creaked, as though it were liable to tumble at any time. Lastly, I changed the layout of the roof so that the angel was perched atop a "witch's hat" rooftop, with Xanesha's lair in the attic beneath (which is kind of how it looked in the picture). I told them that almost half of the roof had completely fallen away and was open to the elements, and the rest was dotted with missing tiles. The statue at the top was supported by a single, ancient pillar of wood. Just to make sure they really got the picture, I allowed an Architecture and Engineering roll to determine that the statue could potentially collapse the floor of the attic if it fell onto it.

To ensure Xanesha's demise they'd have to lure her down inside the tower or directly beneath the statue before toppling. I figured she'd naturally avoid slithering beneath the statue, and wouldn't enter the tower beneath so long as there were enemies to kill in her lair. If they could lure her inside, then collapse the statue, it would crash through the weak floor, through the gears room, through the bells, and bring the whole structure down on her head.

I guessed Xanesha would chase the PCs inside if they fled down through the tower. If one of them could hide in the gears room, he could double back upstairs after she's passed by and topple the statue. The others could barricade Xanesha inside by spiking the main door, then wait for their ally to fly or featherfall down the tower after it falls (or die in the collapse - one death is better than a TPK!).

As it happened, my group tried to take Xanesha on head-to-head - and suffered her wrath. Eventually their fighter was slain, so the cleric grabbed the rogue and dived from the roof, using an Updraft spell to land safely. The wizard fled inside the tower and hid (assisted by the cloak of elvenkind worn by the Scarecrow!), then cast an illusion of herself running down the stairs. With no reason to disbelieve, Xanesha slithered down after the illusion, giving the wizard a chance to scramble back onto the roof and topple the statue. As the tower began to collapse, the rogue/sorceror cast a benign transposition on the wizard and her hawk familiar, bringing her back down to ground level. Very cool!

Anyway, hope some of this may be of use to someone :) I'm with the original poster here: going toe-to-toe with Xanesha is lethal at this level: even with buffs and 'aid another' your melee PCs are unlikely to get many hits in. Even if they do land some strikes (and beat her mirrors!), they've got to wear down roughly 130hp just to make her flee - and every other round one of them is likely to drop.

Her high spell resistance puts spellcasters on a similar footing. I agree that true strike could help, as could dispel magic (if you're lucky!), but you're screwed if you don't have those spells on your list (or you've already used them up). I understand that forcing a retreat against almost impossible odds is fun once in a while, but I'd argue that it's poor placement at the finale of an adventure. A fight on the very top of a crumbling tower, against an opponent who's responsible for nearly everything that's happened to date - that should be an epic, hard-fought win, not a sour retreat!

Excellent stuff! I too found the original encounter a little lacking in flavour, and I now count it as "fixed" :)

As we left our last session with the PCs just arriving in Magnimar, I'll be sure to use this. Thanks!

Name of PC: Shannon
Class/Level: 1st lvl Varisian Bellydancer (rogue)
Adventure: Burnt Offerings
Catalyst: Entering the Catacombs of Wrath
Story: Scouting ahead as the party descended into the smuggler's tunnels, Shannon spied a dark cave to her right. Looking back toward the group, she mouthed "Could be monsters down here", just as the Sinspawn guarding the Catacombs leapt from the darkness. Vainly tried to beat it back with her torch, but died in the following round, her head crushed in its jaws like an eggshell (a very unfortunate, max damage critical).

Name of PC: Shannon
Class/Level: 2nd lvl Half-Orc Rogue/Sorceror
Adventure: Burnt Offerings
Catalyst: Elyrium
Story: Having been reincarnated by Father Zanthus as a half-orc, Shannon bravely returned to the catacombs with the group. Elyrium was encountered first, but was subjected to a "fear" spell that caused her to flee her chamber. She rallied her troops and returned with the mutated goblin hero, all of the zombies, and the varagoulle. Paralysed by the varagoulle's shreiking, poor Shannon was coup de grace'd by Elyrium. She was reincarnated the following morning as a goblin.

Name of PC: Wake
Class/Level: 2nd lvl Shoanti Fighter
Adventure: Burnt Offerings
Catalyst: Goblin Dogs
Story: The party were suffering badly from guerilla attacks carried out by the goblin druid outside Thistletop, but finally managed to get him on the run. He fled to where the goblin dogs were tethered, and started freeing them one-by-one. Wake stood his ground, but took an unfortunate critical hit and had his throat torn out, killing him instantly (later raised by Father Zanthus as a half-orc, which he finds quite agreeable)

Thanks for the quick replies, guys. So, there's a hat of diguise in the adventure... I'll take that out of its present location and give it to the rogue as a gift from the mayor.

I honestly hadn't thought of Aldern trying to dig up her body! Hmm, the way I've played it is that the old body is consumed upon creation of the new, so it's an empty grave.

So I'm thinking that Aldern digs up the grave after questioning the miller about the rogue, and is disturbed in doing so by the crazy old gravekeeper (who'll probably know about the reincarnation). Aldern interrogates and then murders the gravekeeper (who comes back as a dread ghoul to trouble the party), then hatches a plan to lure the goblin to his den so he can capture her and - with the help of the Skinsaw Men - bring her back as his bride. I'll just have to modify some of the notes a little...

...and of course, seeing her in the hat of disguise will throw him completely, and he'll roughly return to the behaviours listed in the adventure.

I feel an evil laugh coming.

So, Aldern Foxglove fell for the Varisian bellydancing rogue. Thing is - now she's a goblin! Ghoulish Aldern doesn't know this, and I'm worried it's going to lessen the impact of some scenes in the Skinsaw Murders...

She *was* a dead ringer for his late wife. In the first adventure she earned a rep in town for putting on dance shows at the Rusty Dragon, accompanied by songs from Aimeko. Aldern fell head over heels. He brought her an expensive dress, wined her and dined her, and promised to consumate their relationship once his business in Magnimar was complete. So far, so perfect.

Then she caught a fatal critical from the Sinspawn in the tunnels. We're playing a fairly hardcore game that involves rolling dice in full view, so I couldn't fudge it...

The player was really attached to the character, and didn't want to roll up a new one. So (somewhat cruelly) I gave Father Zanthus a level of Druid and a stack of reincarnation scrolls, and she was reincarnated as a half-orc. The very next day, Elyrium stabbed her through the heart, killing her a second time. So she was reincarnated again, and the dice came up with goblin.

I couldn't believe it, but the player's done brilliantly roleplaying the whole affair. First she pretended to be a goblin shaman sent by Nualia to rescue the captured Tsuto, (which ultimately earned the party a breakdown of the Thistletop defences), then she performed numerous acts of trickery to infiltrate the goblins and distract them from ambush by the rest of the group. She's earned her xp well, and has recovered the level loss.

Nobody in town knows she's a goblin apart from the mayor, Hemlock and Father Zanthus (everyone else thinks she's dead). It doesn't seem right to change the object of Aldern's affections to somebody else in the party, so I'm thinking around the following options:

1) Just raise her back to her true self through divine intervention, probably as a reward for saving the town from Nualia. Very cheesy.
2) Aldern finds out she's a goblin, and somehow hatches a plan to turn her back to her true self. God only knows how... I like the idea of him trying to kidnap her, but I don't want her missing out on the haunted house by being tied up in the caves throughout.
3) Aldern finds out she's now a goblin, and switches from "lust" to just wanting to kill her for ruining his chances. Seems a bit lame.

Any thoughts? It was weird chance occurances like the goblin reincarnation that made Burnt Offering so memorable for us - I'd love to tie it all together cleverly in some way (weirdly, the same player has always wanted to prestige his rogue into master of masks, which ties into the Skinsaw Murders so much I'm actually quite scared).

Thanks for reading!

Yikes, my first post :)

We've just finished Burnt Offerings, ending it on a freezeframe with the jubilent fighter and cleric knocking back the hagfish water.

The group began as follows:

"Dieter" Chelaxian/Shoanti Cleric of Pharasma - a drunken shipwright from Sandpoint whose family was killed by Chopper. Spent many years wandering the watering holes of Varisia and loudly cursing the gods, before being contacted by an image of Pharasma and sent home to "fulfil his destiny".

"Wake" Shoanti Fighter - an outcast from "the northern tribes" who fled his homeland with his sister to save her from an arranged marriage. I'm told he looks like "the Rock" in the Scorpion King...

"Kat" Shoanti Conjurer - the sister; a bookish Willow-from-Buffy type o' gal. Has an interest in all things Thassilonian (well, in practically every knowledge skill TBH)

"Shannon" Varisian Rogue - a belly dancer from Korvosa who won the boots from the King of Thieves during a card game, and has been hunted ever since. She was beautiful, but has since been reincarnated as a goblin (it was the dice - honest!)

Looking forward to the Skinsaw Murders!

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