I tend to like adding mooks and waves into boss fights, especially when spellcasters are involved. I don't think going overboard on trying to beat the players is particularly worthwhile, unless you notice them getting bored. I don't know why any spellcaster concerned with his safety wouldn't set up alarms within his domain that he could trigger to summon his allies attention if he's in trouble by setting them off. This rewards the party for playing carefully and should balance out some of the party issues.
Also, with the cohort you're up to ~6 PCs in combat, so adding extra mooks should be a given to almost all the fights in the game, to keep their CR correct. I would say 1 mook per even CR, 2 per CR + 1 and 3 for CR +2...
Other Red Herrings usually involve Lord Gregan from Wayfinder 7, Lord Scarnetti, you might even make a case for Gaven Deverin (the brewmaster) depending on which circumstances you use...I like Das Korvut as one. Though I'm not sure how the lordship thing would play out. Maybe if his family tree included disgraced nobles from Korvosa....
How to add WBG2 to Burnt Offerings for a more active investigation of the goblin problem.
Make Gresgurt a Birdcruncher and have him mention the three dead chiefs and Pa Munchmeat.
Have Shallelu lead the group to the Birdcruncher tribe immediately after the Trouble in Mosswood event.
Have Featherlips alive and giving the PCs a map.
Skip the chieftan moot, and start on the rest of the adventure as in We Be Goblins Too.
Have the goblin refugees in Thistletop be Birdcrunchers. So the boon is if they succeed in defeating Munchmeat, the Birdcrunchers won't be in Thistletop. This also provides opportunities for small characters to gain cold iron weapons (one of the goblin chiefs could have one).
Timewise, this shouldn't take more than an afternoon in game time.
I did a search but didn't see anything: If any of your players wish to go see "The Harpy's Curse", I built a plot summary for the play.
Morthalus: Avisera's father
Lamashtu: Goddess of Beasts and Madness
Gozreh: God of Nature
Alanna: Avisera's mother
Corvaine: Avisera's suitor
Venrus: Avisera's older brother
Selaya: Corvaine's sister
Pelene: cleric of Gozreh
Morthalus was a fisherman who lived on Elsvein, one of the islands of the Iresfall quays, northeast of Magnimar. He struggles with the nature of the divine, and creates a destiny for his children through his own actions because he refuses to accept his fate.
Act 1 Scene 1:
Lamashtu and Gozreh argue about the nature of storms, Lamashtu claiming them as agents of chaos and Gozreh as a relationship between air and water
Act 1 Scene 2:
While piloting his small fishing boat a storm rolls in unexpectedly, and Morthalus overcorrects, ending up crashing on the sunken rocks that have formed a reef around Iresfall. He explains his plight to Gozreh and begs for aid.
Act 1 Scene 3:
Alanna visits Pelene, a cleric of Gozreh and pleads with Gozreh to release her husband to her safely, promising to stay faithful to the God.
Act 1 Scene 4:
Vaenne tempts Morthalus into praying to Lamashtu, her goddess. When he relents, Vaenne provides a boat with which Morthalus is able to escape the island and returns home. Alanna thanks Gozreh.
Act 1 Scene 5:
Morthalus and Alanna, older, speak about their son Venrus and daughter Avisera. Morthalus notes the strange circumstances of his children's births. Venrus was born with a club foot and fingers on his left hand fused together. Avisera was born covered in soft downy feathers, which fell out as she grew older. Pelene contrasts her own experiences with her children, Corvaine and Selaya, but is unable to convince Morthalus and Alanna that anything is wrong
Act 2 Scene 1:
Avisera visits Pelene and Selaya to ask for Gozreh's blessing on her father, who seems to have become less successful at fishing. She sees Corvaine as more than a child for the first time.
Act 2 Scene 2:
Venrus and Corvaine make a bet about who is the better fisherman. They each bet a date with the other's sister. Both assume they have the favor of Gozreh, but Corvaine is the winner. He wins the opportunity to court Avisera.
Act 2 Scene 3:
Venrus is upset about being defeated by Corvaine, and speaks with his parents about Gozreh. Alanna reminds Venrus that one cannot rely on the divine alone for the outcome of events.
Act 2 Scene 4
Corvaine and Avisera take a walk on the beach, and are interrupted by a strange woman, who brings Avisera terrible news that she will become a harpy on her 20th birthday. Avisera denies this as the ramblings of an old woman.
Act 2 Scene 4:
Avisera speaks with her mother Alanna and her friend Selaya about what the old woman said. Both women try to convince Avisera to ask for Pelene's aid, but she refuses.
Act 2 Scene 5:
Avisera decides to run away with Corvaine and asks him to take her away.
Act 3 Scene 1:
Corvaine and Avisera flee Elsvein, only to find themselves stranded in the Varisian Gulf.
Act 3 Scene 2:
Fearing the worst, Pelene asks Gozreh for guidance, and is sent a vision of her child adrift in the Varisian Gulf. She pleads with Morthalus to go save the young adults.
Act 3 Scene 3:
Morthalus and Venrus leave Alanna to seek out Corvaine and Avisera
Act 3 Scene 4:
Corvaine and Avisera are on the brink of dying of thirst. Avisera pleads with a nameless power to save her love, Corvaine.
Act 3 Scene 5:
Vaenne arrives while Avisera is sleeping, and entreats with Corvaine. Corvaine pledges himself to Lamashtu in order to save Avisera.
Act 4 Scene 1:
Erastil pleads with Gozreh to allow Morthalus to save his daughter.
Act 4 Scene 2:
Morthalus and Venrus see Vaenne, Corvaine and Avisera, the latter beginning to change but unable to see it in themselves.
Act 4 Scene 3:
Morthalus pleads with Corvaine to get them to return to Elsvein, Venrus gets into Corvaine's boat to try to force them. Corvaine ends up killing Venrus.
Act 4 Scene 4:
Corvaine and Avisera reach the shore, and see themselves anew, their love ripped away due to the changes in their forms.
Act 5 Scene 1:
Avisera accepts her position among the harpies, and kills Corvaine to pass a trial of coming of age.
Act 5 Scene 2:
Morthalus returns broken hearted to Elsvein, and explains what happened to Alanna.
Act 5 Scene 3:
Erastil admonishes Gozreh for allowing such terrible things to happen.
Also, since that PC is a competitor, you might see local prices go *up* for that character. Also, since demand is greater, prices of raw materials should go up. This might cause drama within the Mercantile League. So there are ways economically to make this "business" not quite as fruitful as the PC expects.
I'm going to try to address this from a different angle. If he's trying to set this up in Sandpoint, he needs to run by the Mercantile League, who take their cut. According to the AP, the Varisians *also* get a cut of profits.
"Varisian Council demanded punishment for all four families , but the High Court arbitrated a peace between them, in no small thanks to the remarkable diplomatic skills of a young bard and member of one ofthe families accused-Almah Deverin. Not only did she manage to assuage the Varisians' call for blood payment, she also managed to salvage the plans for Sandpoint by promising not only to incorporate the worship of Desna into the new town's cathedral, but also to pay the Varisian Council a generous share of any profits made by Sandpoint businesses over the course of the next 40 years." (Anniversary Edition, p372) You can easily adjust that 40 years number to in perpetuity.
Thus, the cut is much higher than say, US tax rate. Magnimar also takes its cut. Then you have to reinvest in the business. Furthermore, you need buyers, and I don't see enough traveling merchants listed in the followers. 4 isn't going to cut it.
As for responsibilities to his followers? He needs to make sure the roads are clear so his merchants don't get waylaid by the sczarni/bandits. (Especially since there are only 4, they could easily be outnumbered) He also owes them living wages that would be equitable enough that they would want to continue following him and not striking out on their own.
To really get goods moving, he needs barges or to sell wholesale in Magnimar (which means he's not selling for 100% of the number in the PHB/DMG). Also, if he isn't careful about how much he sells, he could easily drive the price down because of outstripping the demand.
So you can definitely make this venture be far more costly than the PC believes. But I recommend having the PC find this information out before investing in the leadership feat.
A prominent messenger known to deliver official messages from the nobles and officials of the town to and from Magnimar. He has been trying to actively court Rynshinn Povalli, Ameiko Kaijitsu, Sabyl Sorn, and even Aneka Avertin, without any real luck, but has hope that someday, someone will fall in love with him.
Boswick has been a great foil for any characters fancying themselves ladies men, as he is one too. So far he hasn't been terribly successful with the women in Sandpoint, mostly due to always being an opportunist.
A tight-lipped, gruff, ranger who is sometimes seen protecting the roads. No one in Sandpoint trusts him though, after the damning evidence mounted against his father.
I haven't used Madrack much, but he came from the idea of Chopper maybe not being Jervis Stoot, and also Jervis perhaps having a son. He may assist the characters if Shallelu is busy for some reason, or might help them out if they get lost in the hinterlands.
The beautiful sister of Jubrayl travels back and forth from Magnimar and Sandpoint in her multicolored wagon. While most believe she is Sczarni, the rumors have never been proven.
Again, not used often, but one of the party members is involved in the family business, and I wanted to have a possible love interest. No hits yet, but we'll see.
Black Arrow Recruiter Althus:
A recruiter for the Black Arrow Rangers of Fort Rannick. He seems interested in speaking with Sheriff Hemlock and Mayor Deverin.
Used in the sandpoint festival to introduce the ideas about Fort Rannick.
I've also added many of the characters from the Sandpoint GM guide, though I think that was compiled by another GM and has some not listed in the wiki (mostly fleshed out some Sczarni, priests, and prostitutes).
I highly recommend Wayfinder 7, (it's free!) especially the games listed for the festival. This is a great way to introduce certain NPCs that wouldn't seem very interesting otherwise. Also, I would try to include NPCs that hint at further connections outside of Sandpoint as well as the peoples inside Sandpoint. People from Fort Rannick, or Turtleback Ferry, or Magnimar also enjoying the festival really helps tie Sandpoint in with the rest of Varisia, and these places will come up again in the AP.
When I ran it I also had a cooking contest, which solidified the idea of Ameiko quite a bit more, but it really depends on who the PCs latch onto. I would make the innkeeper or tavern owner the PCs latch onto the most the winner of the cooking contest. Also, where it says Ameiko gives them a week of free board, I would change that to whoever the PCs indicate they enjoy the most. (Most of the time it will be Ameiko, but you never know)
As far as party balance, you may want to encourage a session zero, as described by dawnforgedcast (check him out on youtube, he's awesome). Also, as this is your first time DMing, I recommend removing certain alignments for consideration (I removed Chaotic Neutral and all the evil alignments for players). Your players may be mature and good enough at RPing to handle playing said alignments, but the AP is aimed at a mostly good party. Otherwise you have little reason to do certain things later on.
Also, the first couple of encounters aren't terribly challenging, and ease the DM into playing with more than one monster. I recommend playing up the skeleton's DR though, as DR is one thing that pops up a LOT in the first book. And it's all different types, so it can really make anyone playing a melee character feel ineffective.
If no one shows much interest in Madame Mvashti, I would save her as a trump card of sorts, to use if the party starts going off the rails. You can impart information through the Harrow Reading that otherwise would be difficult to justify.
Also, you should play up many of the nobles listed in Sandpoint, so that when Skinsaw starts, Lordship is ambiguous.
The robe of bones said it came equipped with 2 human skeletons and 2 wolf skeletons, so I added those to stiffen that encounter a bit. I had all the skeletons wait until the party was up to the sepulcher and then hit from two sides. Worked fairly well until some crits brought down the skellies. I don't think the party weapon-based characters learned their lesson yet, as only one attempted to switch to bludgeoning. I'm also planning to add a few swarms in the catacombs of wrath to shift some of those encounters away from being boring slugfests.
I also changed T to be a rogue 4, as rogue 2 monk 2 loses 2 BAB, and gave him ki and the invisibility ninja tricks. He'll pop invisibility and run for 4 rounds if he gets walloped too quickly.
Yeah, there's alot here if you can find it. One of the ways of making a town come alive is to have different people walking about different parts of town, chatting with friends, buying stuff, selling stuff, flirting with girls, etc. Sandpoint becomes "dead" when it's still. So the people about doing stuff is quasi-important. Oh, and rumors really help too. So when the AP says there's rumors about, have people in town gossiping about whatever it is. And exaggerate and change them as you go along so they act like real rumors do. Case in point, Banny and Katrine. Have the rumors go the gamut of the innocent to the extremely raunchy, depending on who's telling it.
Also, there's a playhouse in the town, so that can be an easy topic of conversation for the townsfolk. (An easy way to deal with this is to rename popular movie or book titles to be related to Golarion) So maybe Cyrdak has "A Tale of Two City-States" or "To Kill a Butterfly" or "Clash of the Giants", etc.
Wayfinder 7 had some great goblin items to help with the samey-ness of the goblins. Also, changing the bonfire to a fireworks display (and having a goblin aim a big firework with a long fuse at the temple could help that initial set).
I made sure to drop characters into the festival that were from the hinterlands (especially before the events of chapter 2) and some of the other places. (I missed having someone from Magnimar)
I'm hoping that this helps with Chapter 2 and maybe Chapter 3, though I may have to bring some more in next time. Also taking advantage of the help wanted board to show some of the other places in Varisia.
I mostly add mooks when there aren't enough, like the first couple of spots in the campaign. When there are plenty, I adjust tactics and have some do ranged and some do melee. The tactics in the book seem to favor swarm, which does get people dead. Also a lot of the fights can be made more interesting by adding spellcasters or wondrous items that grant spell like abilities. This way the mooks are still interesting/dangerous.
Allow some of the people from the surrounding farm communities to be at the festival, like Rogors Craesby (have him watch the PCs fight the goblins and rush up to them starry eyed saying how much he wants to be an adventurer now) the Hambleys and their five sons, the Guffmins and Maester Grump. I invented a character called Black Arrow Recruiter Althus and had him show up as well.
I'm also thinking of having M start shouting "Release me! K!" as if he forgot again when the PCs get near his room, and asking them who they serve, and adjusting T's diary to having N whisper certain names in her sleep.