Hello all, I am currently beginning the rise of the Runelords AP with a group with whom I have played for a long time now, and my intuition tells me that as soon as the first goblin attack is done they will run off immediately into the wilds trying to track the goblins back to where they came from.
While this is not world breaking, I am guessing it can disrupt the flow of the initial part of the Burnt Offerings, which in my opinion is very rich in what comes to establishing connections and relations in town, and also a mood where you grow to care about the people in that place.
Have any of you experienced this situation before, and have any hints on how to address it? I mean I can just say that they find no tracks but...
Speed up Sheriff Hemlock's departure for Magnimar, so they're stuck in town guarding it until he returns.
If they try to leave, have concerned citizens (Father Zantus included) tell them that they're the only thing between Sandpoint and another goblin attack.
Have Shalelu scold them and send them back.
This messes things up a bit (how are they supposed to go on a boar hunt with Aldern Foxglove if they're not allowed to leave town?), but if you're sure they're going to ignore everything anyway and run off, you rescue everything except the boar hunt.
Once Hemlock returns, let 'em gallavant off.
I'd make things eerily quiet in the typical goblin domains. They gather some information say, and ride off towards a noteable goblin haunt only to find that there's no goblins there. It appears as though the goblins packed up their filthy, meager belongings and left, leaving only their huts behind. Provide an encounter with an unrelated beastie if you'd like to give them some combat once they get out there.
When they come back to town to rethink things you can start hitting them with encounters, the goblin in the closet, Vinder's daughter, Aldern approaches them about the hunt, etc. I'd have Shalelu show up shortly there after confirming what they found out that the goblins are acting odd and the five tribes seem to be working together.
Letting them ride out provides an opportunity for even more foreshadowing that things are really amiss.
Have an adorable child meet them at the gates, grab the cloak of one of your players and say in the sweetest voice:"... But m-m-m-m-mister... Who's gonna save us if you are g-g-g-gone?"
Hahaha, that's evil.
I would go with what NobodysHome said. Just keep in mind the reason a lot of people like to play game's like Pathfinder is because of the freedom it offers. If you try to railroad the players down a very specific path and they can tell that's what your doing, they may loose some of their interest. But let the consequences be real, meaning the story goes on with or without the PC's. They will feel like they are missing out and head to where the story is taking place.
As others have said, there are things you can do to keep them around. After the attack, they are pretty worn so it's not likely they'll go out that night. If they are chomping at the bit to leave right then, hit them with the graveyard discovery and make sure they see the "human" footprints. That might help them keep their minds in town as there might be a local element to uncover. They could also get ambushed by Foxglove and dragged on the hunt (his annoying personality won't accept no for an answer). The Barrett family situation could also interrupt their departure from town. By that time, Balor would need to leave town. Hopefully you can drag it out a few days.
If they are absolutely set on going goblin hunting, let them but don't leave them many clues to follow. When they start making knowledge checks, let them remember the local goblin hunting ranger that is scheduled to return to Sandpoint in a day or two.
In the end, it sounds like you know this group pretty well. Hopefully you all can work together to keep the story on track.
This really comes down to how alive you make Sandpoint feel. After a raid like the one the goblins pull off the town would be set on shoring defenses and rewarding the heroes. The book gives a few ides in the encounter rap up and in the Sandpoint appendix for characters that could provide distractions to your players. You could also have a captured goblin to give the characters some local info and segue to the crypts.
Pretty much the same thing happened with my players. I let them go off hunting goblins, and actually sent them towards the Birdcruncher tribe. When they got there, they found just a bunch of empty goblin hideouts. They set up a trap and waited for goblins to return, but none ever did. Eventually, they gave up. On their way back to town, they saw a farmhouse burning and ran to help. They met Shalelu who was helping rescue the family and killed a few straggler goblins that got separated from the rest of their tribe after the raid. Shalelu went back to town with them to have her meeting with the mayor and the sheriff. All in all, it worked out just fine.
As long as your players come back to Sandpoint relatively soon, a little side trip is ok at this point; just watch out that they don't get in over their heads.
Whereas the blacksmith mage in my campaign would go "You can't pay me enough, kid." (Mind you, that group stayed in town anyway but that's because I immediately described the next day how people were being nice to them and thankful and all that. I suspect some greed was involved in having them stay, sort of a "oooh, I could get use to this!" aspect.)
If you don't just ask the PCs what they're doing and instead jump into stuff in town, they'll likely end up doing what you want them to do. Be proactive, not reactive.
|The black raven|
In our campaign, due in part to the PC's effectiveness, I made use of many more goblins than are included in the book, especially during the raid and as made mention of during the 'impending' raid.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with either 1) letting the PC's go out and find some goblin village to attack or to encounter a goblin war party or raiding party, representing the increased goblin activity in the area or 2) setting the PC's go out and find some abandoned goblin villages, suggesting that the goblins are gathering somewhere.
At that level, the PC's are hardly infallible trackers, and while they maintain the belief that they have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything, the truth is they only encounter what you put before them.
There's also nothing wrong with speeding up the Glassworks encounter either. Shalelu's visit could even take place after they deal with the glassworks, pieces of the puzzle coming together after the fact rather than beforehand. Hemlock's departure from the town could happen as soon as the day after the goblin attack, owing to the need to bring in more soldiers from Mangimar, at least temporarily, if only to replace what was lost during the raid.
I had similar - the party inquisitor managed to get to the woods near Thistletop. I had Shalelu find them and warn them that they were bee lining towards a goblin fortress, and they might want to reconsider...