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Burnt Offering: Thistletop, the party avoiding the showdown


Rise of the Runelords


So last time I ran the adventure, my party had finally reached Thistletop, and while they did enjoy the forest before going on the island(the two-hand fighter and the paladin turning into lawnmowers). Once they reached the rope bridge they decided to simply burn the bridge down and kill any who tried to put it back up or who would try to reach the other side by swimming and climbing. Effectively paralyzing Nualia and her lackeys inside. The party being dedicated to stay there until either Nualia finds and release malfeshnekor or they all die of hunger, which was pretty likely.So likely, I decided to add a goblin messenger party, that would travel by a hidden boat on the other side of the island to tell the other goblin tribes that the heroes no longer defended Sandpoint. Which had the party back out and prepare for an incoming assault.
Any tips on how differently I should have handled it?

Sczarni

My party did something similar. They have cut down the bridge connecting Thistletop with caves, effectively one and only way out. I did imply however that in goblin fortress must be some food supplies, so how long until they starve out would be a wild guess.

In medieval, fortresses had plenty of supplies to hold out months, even years.

That said, I think you did it okay. Problem is that goblins are crappy at tactics. Most likely, they wouldn't have a boat since those cliffs are way too high, however, in panic they can do wonders.

Here is few ideas:
- They could simply create a raft and swim across. Some might drown or raft might even get crushed, but that won't discourage them.
- They have ropes, it's a fortress after all. They might try to throw ropes with some hokes on the other side.
- Nualia is a cleric. Check her list, maybe she has some very good utility spell to help out. Even a simple spell that grants Swim speed might be good choice.
- If the party decides that they won't go in, keep things going. Count the days and each day give Nualia Perception check to find out secret entrance to Malfeshnekor's chamber aided by her servants since the DC is 28.
- If Malfeshnekor gets out, all hell will break lose. With allies he will make short work out of PCs.

It might lead to interesting development.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, your party is attempting to besiege Thistletop, and you're looking for a way to encourage them to break off the siege and go on the offensive.

Area D7 (Tentamort Hunting Grounds) has an open window. Since your party hasn't encountered it yet, you could just eliminate the tentamort encounter (or move it to its lair in D8) and say that there are a lot of sturdy vines that grow along the cliff face that the goblins can use to climb up and down to go for supplies or launch raids. The Lost Coast is foggy at night, and they could use that for cover. This means that the siege could go on for a long time. Have the goblins regularly taunt the PCs, calling them cowards and other more colorful insults. That alone might goad them to attack.

You could have Nualia, Orrik, and Lyrie (and Tsuto, if he survived) build a catapult or two. You could also have the goblins build wooden battlements, so that goblins can take a defensive position on ground level and the walls, and start firing rocks, arrows, and ranged spells at the party, to force them to either leave or assault the fort. Remember to make the goblins use terrible tactics when left to their own devices, but if cowed by Nualia, Ripnugget, and/or Bruthazmus could be somewhat effective.

Or, have the bad guys bring the fight to the PCs. Under cover of a naturally foggy night, Lyrie uses fog cloud to further obscure the view from the mainland to Thistletop. Nualia casts silenceon a small object that's tied to a makeshift raft that they lower to the water through the window in D7 (silenced so the party can't hear it). Nualia, Lyrie, Orrik, Bruthazmus, and a some goblins then take the raft to a nearby goblin switchback trail that leads up the cliff, and attack the party at night on the mainland-- hopefully with surprise. That would likely be a tough fight. Of that group, only Lyrie and Orrik don't have darkvision, so you can give each of them a potion of darkvision, so that this raiding party doesn't need to bring light sources that would give away their position.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay, I just re-read the original post, and it sounds like your party broke off the siege based on the new intel you gave them, and retreated back to Sandpoint to help reinforce the town for an inevitable major goblin assault. You want to get them to go back to Thistletop to attack the goblins first.

One idea is to have Brodert Quink tell the party that he's sure that Thistletop is built on a Thassilonian monument that probably has ancient secrets and/or treasure that he'd rather Nualia not get her hands on before the attack.

You could instead (or also) have a Pathfinder from Magnimar come to town, looking for a failed Pathfinder applicant (Lyrie) who'd killed a rival and stole a bunch of Pathfinder archaeology equipment. He'd heard that she was working with an aasimar priestess of Lamashtu, and was worried about what they would unearth. He also mentions that Venture-Captain Heidmarch has placed a 500 gp bounty on her capture.

Or, just have Hemlock tell the party that he and the town guard will handle preparing the town for attack, but that the party should go back to see if they can prevent the attack in the first place.

It would be a bit of work to prepare, but you could play out a major goblin raid on Sandpoint. You can use some of the stuff from the giant raid on Sandpoint from Fortress of the Stone Giants as a guide to help plan the raid. Be sure to include the NPCs from Thistletop in the raid... plus Malfeshnakor. The barghest will be a tough fight with its DR-- only a few Sandpoint NPCs have magic weapons! That attack would likely cause some major damage on the town, and the party would hopefully get the idea that inaction has consequences.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It also sounds like your PCs are missing the crucial key to the whole thing - Nualia's performing some sort of ritual that will transform her into a demon, and she's going to be finished with it Soon. A lengthy siege is in her best interests. Once she's finished with the ritual, she can free Malfeshnakor and leave the Thistletop goblins to die.

If you can remind them of that plot point, they'll realize that waiting isn't as great an idea as they originally thought.

If they still refuse to do so, then by all means, use Haladir's idea of attacking Sandpoint. Malfeshnakor plus a fully demonic Nualia would be devastating.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Misroi wrote:

It also sounds like your PCs are missing the crucial key to the whole thing - Nualia's performing some sort of ritual that will transform her into a demon, and she's going to be finished with it Soon. A lengthy siege is in her best interests. Once she's finished with the ritual, she can free Malfeshnakor and leave the Thistletop goblins to die.

If you can remind them of that plot point, they'll realize that waiting isn't as great an idea as they originally thought.

If they still refuse to do so, then by all means, use Haladir's idea of attacking Sandpoint. Malfeshnakor plus a fully demonic Nualia would be devastating.

Yeah, my party killed all the goblins, then went back to Sandpoint to recover for the evening. I had Nualia's group cut the ropes. All she needs is time to free Malfeshnekor and complete her transformation and she'll slaughter their sorry low-level tails.

Had my party been silly enough to camp right across the ravine from Thistletop, I would have hit them with all 3 Yeth hounds from the sky at once, and had the hounds carefully pursuing and killing individual panicked PCs who ran away from the rest of the group. If the PCs are going to hand the bad guys victory on a silver platter, I'll ruthlessly take it. And if your party was tough enough to handle 3 baying yeth hounds in the open at night, they were waaaaay too powerful for Thistletop anyway.

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