So, I'm running my group through Rise of the Runelords and the party just got to Thistletop, and, well half of them fell to their deaths on the rope bridge. One PC was captured by Nualia and her gang, while another PC has escaped back to Sandpoint.
Now I'm thinking of how to continue the campaign. I reckon that Nualia, upon discovering that her plans were known about from the captured PC, would accelerate her attack on Sandpoint and without the PC's there to save the town, would almost certainly win. So maybe I should start the campaign again in Magnimar, with the Skinsaw Men going around the town killing folk while the story of an army of Goblins burning Sandpoint to the ground filters into town. Any advice?
Remember that the reason Nualia is in Thistletop is to release Malfeshnekor, and that can take an indefinite time period. For example, when my party chose to cut the bridge, Nualia's reaction was, "Oh, good. Now I can work on this in peace!"
My approach would be that Nualia still can't attack Sandpoint until Malfeshnekor is free (a town of 1200 commoners will have a good 800-900 capable of going one-on-one with goblins, so she needs critters capable of upping the goblins' odds). So she cuts the bridge, locks down Thistletop, and keeps at it.
This gives the sole survivor the chance to gather some help that Sheriff Hemlock brought with him back from Magnimar (the newly-rolled PCs), rescue the captured PC, and continue the campaign.
Just my $0.02. I wouldn't burn Sandpoint to the ground; it'll cause many more issues in not just this AP, but other APs you might want to run.
That's pretty much exactly what I'd advise: The survivor goes back to Sandpoint, raises a rescue party (i.e. the new PCs-- perhaps locals, perhaps the help the Sheriff brought back from Magnimar), and goes back to Thistletop.
Maybe they'll take a different approach this time: perhaps they'll hire a fisherman to take them by boat to Thistletop, where they can scout at the water level-- and possibly discover the opening into the dungeon level (and tentamort lair). I had detailed in my version that there was a fair amount of vines that were growing down the side of the cliff that the party could climb up. (I had perhaps been playing too much Legend of Zelda at the time...) Of course, then they'd have to tangle with the tentamort...
Of course, the party would need to be on the lookout for the goblins noticing them and shooting arrows or dropping rocks and flaming sacks of goblin poop onto their boat.
So much potential!
Make a goblin raid on Sandpoint, but with reduced number. Initially plan was to attack with 200 goblins (and sinspawns?), but you could go with 100-150? so this would be adorable 1 session full time raid on Sandpoint.
Of course, PCs wouldn't fight all goblins, but would instead defend the key points in the city.
It might require some work tho.
I agree. Do not burn down Sandpoint. It is too important, even later in RotRL. Another raid on Sandpoint would definitely be good to give the new PCs another level, and get the players back into the feel of the situation. Did they finish off the Catacombs of Wrath? Where is Shalelu? Where is Ameiko? Having an NPC with the party can help to balance things. Much of the time, I tend to have an NPC or two with the party.
Once third or fourth level another assault on Thisteltop could be attempted. In the original Burnt Offerings there was an image of Thisteltop with a battle waging on top. (I don't think this image is in the Anniversary Edition.) There was also what looked like a natural ladder cut into the face of the rock that went from a seaside landing up to the back side of the fort. Though not in the AP, I went with this idea from the drawing.
My party also fell off the bridge. Thankfully the Cleric and the best swimmer survived the fall and was able to help the PCs that went unconscious. But then the churning waters and the Bunyip made the whole situation tense. Once over this hurdle though, they swam around the base of Thistletop found the carved ladder and ascended the top. After that they assaulted Thistletop from the rear.
Also having a surviving party member will help to warn the new party of the dangers ahead.
Let us know how it goes. Reading others RotRL trials is fun.