I keep worrying about how the third book has no real reason for the players to want to possess Fort Rannick. It's far away and actually draws them away from Sandpoint.
I was considering putting a magical ring near or on the skull crossing that would fly users quickly to one of Karzoug's giant statues. The key to activating the ring would be in the lower section of the dam. The only location still active would be the head at Thistletop.
When the key is brought to the ring it begins to hum. A transmutation spell cast and lights flicker upon the surface then most blink out revealing the surviving statue. The whole ring would detect strong transmutation magic. Stepping onto the light suddenly launches those within the ring through the air at a frightening speed and height to safely land on Thistletop.
I would like some advice on if this is a good connection for the PCs to want to take the fort as their own in hopes to protect this vital way of traversing vast distances quickly. I understand it could drastically change things in Fortress of the Stone Giants since they could maneuver cross country easier.
I really like that idea. It seems to make sense the Karzoug might well have set up some sort of transportation system around his realm if he could manage it... My PCs didn't fully explore Thistletop, and putting something like this in there might give me an excuse to fill in those last few bits of the adventure (not to mention giving them an excuse to finally take out Malfeshnekor).
By the end of Hook Mountain the PC's will be in the neighborhood of FTM (faster than mount) travel anyway so I think adding a cool keyed teleportation/fast travel system adds some cool flair and gives a much needed support system for having the PC's live at a fort WAY out in the boonies.
Players of 8th~9th level also tend to get into the 'Avengers Assemble!!!' mindset so it allows for PC's that want to live in the Pixie's Kitten to do so(cause where else in Sandpoint could they POSSIBLY want to spend their time sheesh!).
They can then deploy quickly when Liono activates the sword of Omens summoning them to Fort Rannick to defeat Mum-ra.
*edit* I would add a cost mechanism to the travel device in a similar way to
Adding cost would be good. With the key could be a small bag of gems. I would hope that would be enough of a hint that hey would get the point.
Use the key and an opening appears for the gems to go into. Drop in the gems and the map activates showing the one operating landing zone left in Thistletop. If it works out well maybe I could have them find and repair or activate other landing zones within the old borders.
Also this handles a lot of the road trip and ties the different locations together. Also another way for Karzoug to learn who the heros are.
What about moving into Skull's Crossing and using that as a base of operations? Once its cleared of denizen's then rolling up their sleeves and cleaning it up. Stone Shape and Wall of Stone spells to repair the dam. What could be sweeter?
Than being the sole occupant of a dam which has been at the center of a power struggle which includes trolls, ogres, and pit demons?
I dunno, loving in a town that has a sweet brothel in it?