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TPK in the offing

Shackled City Adventure Path

Triel and her door nearly killed my party only a lucky 'decapitation' critical from the deck saved them. Idiot play got them into the mess.
The party immediately rested for 8 hours in her room, allowing Skaven (the halfling Diviner) to scry on them, and then set up a fantastic defense back at the lava tube overlooking the lake.

Then the party started happily exploring the complex, not bothering to map!

Am I being too much of a jerk having Skaven bottle up the party like this and then ruthlessly attempting to slaughter them? I'm pretty sure he'll call out a mocking warning so the party knows 'what's up'...(and one member of the party had a 'forshadowing' encounter with Skaven in the hallway outside of Triel's room - Skaven cast a phantasmal killer at him).

My feeling is this presents a cool, perhaps fatal, challenge for the party. If they are successful they might forget about their pasting by Triel. The party did kill the demon in the lake on the way in, and I'm considering having Skaven and his crew kill the other critter (Kopru?)just to make things easier to follow.

I've considered having Skaven open the doors to the 'undead section' too...

Any feedback would be helpful.

smell of orange blossoms in the wrote:
Am I being too much of a jerk having Skaven bottle up the party like this and then ruthlessly attempting to slaughter them?

In my campaign, Skaven was the villain that kept getting away, driving the party bonkers. First off, when the party entered and started searching his room, he attacked with the various spider creatures. He used Fear and Lighting Bolt, and hosed the party fairly badly. Once his ettercaps and harpoon spider went down, he escaped using Invisibility and his Slippers of Spider Climbing. The party found his diary (from RPGenius) and went ballistic. They wanted to find this guy.

This sparked them following his trail back to Sasserine, where he used a Hat of Disguise to procure some funds while pretending to be a local lord. Gathering enough money to restore some of his lost books and such, he then made his way back and tried to contact the Cagewrights. Eventually he ended up in the Rhiavaldi ballroom, as the group had removed Zarn Kyass earlier. Again, Skaven escaped.

At this point, I have him with Alurad in the Haunted Village.

Bringing it back to the topic at hand, Skaven is a coward when it comes to anything other than the procurement of knowledge. He is a slippery fish. Have fun with the party at their expense. At this point though, he cannot control the undead, and based on the diary, he is worried about Tharkilar's recent transformation. If you are going to use this resource, I would recommend he only ambushes the group with his spider allies.

So they decided to rest in Triel's room after Skaven cast Phantasmal Killer on one of them and got away?

If i were you, I would set up and proceed with the ambush. Otherwise your players will come to believe that they can rest anywhere without consequence.

Thanks for the good advice - and for the tidbit about skaven's journal - I had overlooked that.

Yeah, Skaven screams to be played intelligently (and the diviner school makes him an awesome foe). They can expect to be 'rocked'.

I didn't read the book closely - I have the belief the undead section (at least the 'spawn' area) is closed off. I don't expect skaven to control the undead, just let them out to wander (I'll give it a closer read and see what he can do!)

In my campaign there was a near TPK with Skaven, they killed Triel but made some bad choices after that....
A cleric and a rogue escaped, the other cleric was captured and questionned by Skaven, worshipping Zelis (LN Destiny goddess replacing Wee Jas)she spoke truthfully with him, they went for Triel (Killer of Sarcem) and had no real problems with the wizard.
He let her go telling that there was a nasty undead creature in the caves who could become a danger for the locals and if her and the surviving companions agreed they could come back and destroy him.
They agreed and came to destroy Tarkilar(with some new PC), after that they separated on "good" terms....
I think Skaven will be meeting them later but I don't know when....

Just in case you're a player who's never played the AP, or one of my players (Stephen, I'm looking at you):

TPK in the Offing:
So, last Friday the Magma Carters made their first foray into the Kopru Ruins. They killed the guards at the top of the cage-lift without any alarm going off. Good for them. They wisely avoided the skulvyn and kopru (Cedros the druid in octopus wildshape had scouted them).

Then they went into Room 42, the one with the caltrop like floor trap and four guards in it. Here's the thing. The group was all wearing Alleybasher red sashes like they were going to bluff their way in. Fine by me. But then Cedros sent Squawk, his eagle companion, into the room. Meryin, Sorkalath, Durkal and Pindinson might not know much, but they know no one has an eagle, so they shot at Squawk. So now the Magma Carters join the fray.

Pindinson runs out the back door to alert the complex. While the Carters are shooting back and forth, Pindinson makes it to the barracks in Room 37 and runs on through to Triel in Room 36.

The Magma Carters finish off Meryin, Sorkalath and Durkal and then go through the door. They turn the corner because they hear noise and through the southern door comes Thistle, Adjar, Pyrus, Sukoro, Zoth, and Lonjiku.

The ranged attackers stay at the top of the "T" and the two melee combatants head into the hall. Battle ensues for several rounds. During those rounds Triel, with the help of Pindinson, dons her armor and proceeds to Room 39 to collect Milo, Hamfist, Mari, and Eirlinaki. She then exits through Room 41 and heads north to Room 42 and comes in behind the Magma Carters.

They're only separated by about 30', but it still makes it, effectively, two different combats. Anyway, long story short (I know, I know, too late for that), Ashe, the cleric of Fainu (think Fharlaghn, sort of), has been killed, Cedros has escaped with his genitals mangled by Triel's critically hitting flail, and Kayle, paladin of Poldore (sort of a Tempus meets Helm), has been captured. Only Tenebrous Oddshadow, graduate of Bluecrater Academy has escaped unscathed.

So, they're determined to rescue Kayle. Kayle's PC is going to play 4 level 2 characters (a CR of 6) who were slaves that the group rescued in Life's Bazaar. But the Magma Carters' assault has moved up Triel's timetable.

Lord Vhalantru (a patron of the group) informs the group that she's issued a ransom demand for the wands, that Lord-Mayor Navalant will have no truck with terrorists and has dispatched the Stormblades to deal with the situation (my wife, who has already played through the AP and doesn't play regularly, will be playing the Stormblades).

Triel, expecting reprisals, wisely has the ruins on alert. When we play on the 26th, the group will arrive at the bottom of the lava tube to find the cage-life lowered. They will be no guards. They'll bring it up, presumably. Once the life makes it to the top, the Stormblades will exit Room 42 with Kayle limp between them. Triel and the remaining guards (14 fighters and 7 rogues) will be 2 to 3 rounds behind them. The Stormblades will not be happy to see the lift all the way back at the top. Play begins here.

Once the group makes it down to the beach, the trap slams shut. The small monstrous spiders are hiding in Room 11; their job is to make sure no one uses the lift to escape.

Skaven, the medium air elemental, and the two large monstrous spiders are in K12. Skaven is to arcane lock the winch and also make sure no escapes that way.

The harpoon spider, 3 ettercaps, and 4 medium monstrous spiders are in K41 and they'll coordinate with Skaven to keep people from leaving.

Tarkilar, his gargantuan tyrannosaur skeleton, the skulvyn and 14 zombies are underwater in the lake. They march out of the lake to pen in the group. Since the group never made it as far as Tarkilar's section, I'm just saying the skeleton has always been in the lake.

I feel like this is reasonable tactical planning for the villains.
I also feel like I might wipe the group out, even with the Stormblades on hand (Kayle's church has provided a potion of heal so that he'll be combat worth as soon as the Magma Carters reach him).

I'm planning on having Jil and 5 level 2 rogues on stand-by. The reasoning is that Jil (a lust interest for Cedros) has convinced some of her superiors within the Last Laugh that this a good opportunity to strike at the Alleybashers.

I'm also planning on having Sergeant Skylar Krewis and 5 watchmen (lvl 2 fighters) on stand-by. He's convinced Captain Skellerang that the best way to alleviate the panicking masses of Cauldron is to retrieve those wands.

Lastly, I'm planning on having Haanu Pershai also on deck (perhaps with Sgt. Krewis). She wants to build her credibility before she pitches her MTA proposal.

Those three groups will only be available if it looks like the group is too obviously overwhelmed. I'll give these groups to players to play. And I can dole them out one at a time.

My questions are:
How does this strike people? Too harsh? Don't like the idea of so much NPC support? Keep the set-up but use fewer creatures than are in the AP to make it more doable? Keep it as is and that'll teach those PC's not to flub their first assault?

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