I have been running the SCAP for the past couple of years now and we are just about to start Chapter 10 - Thirteen Cages, but I ran into a question almost at once.
I'm using a spoiler button just to be safe. If you're a player there are spoilers to the game inside.
Thanks for any suggestions.
I didn't merge many encounters and have found the single encounters were fairly easy for the heroes to handle. My assumption was that the Cagewrights have just completed the Ritual of Planar Binding and are pretty much exhausted and maybe even a little crazed, thinking that at this point they're pretty much unstoppable. They trust the fire giant and his Flamewarder minions to defend the complex and are certain that no enemy force can destroy the Tree of Shackled Souls or take the Dispersal Collar from the pyroclastic dragon.
** spoiler omitted **
We just finished this section, and it was a real drain on party resources. The cleric and favored soul were low on spells and bursts, as was the paladin, the duskblade still had some disitegrates at the end (thankfully)
We actually used had the cleric and favored soul jump into a portable hole with the collar and I flew across the room and put them by the tree. Luckily we kept rolling great on saves and a lucky disintegrate really put the hurt on. We had just enough heals and spells to make it through this encounter, with 6 players and 1 cohort. That seems like a well balanced AP to me and was a lot of fun to play through, now to see how the end game goes. Since we didn't have any deaths in the last section, i'm betting we hit some bad luck here.
I know this is an older post, but I still find the information on this board valuable so I will contribute for those who follow.
I am just about to run this chapter and had the same question. I then looked up the Alarm spell and found that it only gives a mental alarm to the caster (and the caster only). The alarm set off by this trap cannot be audible because the distance/throw of the sound is stated to be 60 feet (if there are no walls).
Great! So this mental alarm is sent to only one Cagewright... unless several were involved in the creation of the trap. It is conceivable that three or four were present during the creation of this trap and they each cast their own Alarm spell when the trap was devised.
With this in mind, I looked for anyone in the complex (because the Alarm spell only sends out a mental alarm to a distance of one mile, so those not in the complex are out of luck) who could cast Alarm (either by scroll or on their spell list). For safety's sake, I eliminated anyone who needed Use Magic Device in order to cast alarm.
This left two people: Freija and Thearynn. Those are the two I will "notify" if the PCs set the Alarm off. Now, Thearynn is completely paranoid (as stated in the AP) and Freija is methodical. I just need to "flesh out" how each of these individuals react to this news of an intruder. It should be fun.
This is what I do with the Fiery Sanctum:
Why? The Cagewrights have been working for years to subvert Cauldron to bring about a plan set in motion by the demodands some 500 years ago. They are arrogant, yes, but not stupid. They know this group has been undermining their plans for months, raided the cathedral of Wee Jas, took out Rhiavadi and her guests at her party, and stormed Oblivion. The Cagewrights know this group isn't to be trifled with. That said, they're not going to just wait, room by room trying to take them out one at a time.
Remember that Gau has a move of 40', which is probably faster than the average group speed. The group will get slowed for a few rounds by the farastus in rooms 4 & 5, so Gau will have plenty of time to alert the complex. ALL of the Cagewrights should be at the Tree of Shackled Souls, except for the paranoid one, he's paranoid after all. Ti'irok should gather all of his Flamewarders (16 iirc) and await the party in room 10. If the party doesn't arrive in 5-10 minutes, then he should fall back to the Tree. A kelubar in 7 should get the vrocks in 6 and head to 16 to spring upon the group from behind the stone curtain (also falling back to the Tree if it seems the group has gone the other way). There should be plenty of evidence of recent occupation (i.e. a knocked over cup that's still dripping) so the party knows that they've been detected and the complex is on alert.
I know this makes 13 Cages MUCH harder. A total meat-grinder, but it's a lot more tense. Players who've played as long as yours should recognize that its time to call in Nidrama, the hound archon from Test of the Smoking Eye, Saureya (if feasible), and any other big guns they can.
Some play the Cagewrights as haughty, wanting to take out the PC's themselves and over-confident now that the ritual is over. I see them as nervous and twitchy. They've built the Tree, they know it can still be stopped and this group of do-gooders has been relentless.
I agree with your methodology 100% Mykul. My "less than lawful" monster groups will routinely mass on a party if they are capable of being alerted. Their skew on the Law-Chaos axis is reflected by their disinclination to fight as a cohesive team vs. a desire to fight the party individually. It is how I imagine a group of highly intelligent monsters would react to an immediate and dire threat.
Wasn't it specified in the SCAP that the baddies were resting, a bit insane and too sure of themselves, so they wait for the players and al think (because of their recent spike in insanity because of the portal) that they can take the players no problem so they specifically don't band together ?
Anyway, in my game, the too insane to realize the danger flew well, and it didn't prevent my players from getting the beating of their life.