Time between Catacombs of Wrath and Thistletop

Rise of the Runelords

As you might be able to deduce by the title I'm wondering about how much time did you or would you give PCs if they wanted to do some stuff after Catacombs of Wrath. I ask because my players are kind of slacking on the roleplay in town, and I want to give them a swift kick in their RP gonads.

I know I could make it an indefinite amount of time but I also want the world to run fluidly. The PCs will know about Nualia's plans and may not wish to take any time at all, but I really want to push them into the color of the town to create some more feelings. I want them to CARE about the town. 3 of the 4 are veteran players while 2 of those 3 have been great roleplayers in the past. I don't know why they seem to want to railroad the campaign, maybe its because they know its an AP and have some sort of hatred for them, maybe its because its my 1st time GMing and they want to mess with me, but either way I'm open to some ideas...

Thanks again guys

It probably shouldn't be too long here because IIRC a second attack on Sandpoint is being planned and if the party found Tsuto's diary they know about it, but not when it will happen. So there should be some pressure for them to hurry.

There can be a decent gap of time between Thistletop and the Skinsaw murders, so if players need downtime they can do it then.


I'm using the following timeline sketch - 7 days to a prompt, 23 days until Malfeshnekor is freed. So the PCs have a good while but exceptional tarrying could be disastrous.

1/10/4708 The Missing Bartender (Morning) – Ameiko is missing. Tsuto’s note on dresser.

8/10/4708 Thistletop - Evening - Letter from Magnimar with Josper Creesy on the Flying Cloud – Belor is having trouble securing the requested assistance and is likely to be another two weeks. In the meantime he advises Mayor Kendra to take any necessary action.

24/10/4708 If Nualia not stopped, she frees Malfeshnekor the same night that Belor Hemlock finally returns from Magnimar with a platoon of 24 elite guards.

26/10/4708 Belor & his 66 men (24 from Magnimar, 12 watchmen, 30 militia) with Shalelu attacking Thistletop are ambushed by a strong force of 200 goblins led by Malfeshnekor, Ripnugget, Nualia and her mercs, and (if PCs not present) are defeated with heavy losses.

28/10/4708 The five goblin tribes unite in a great host, nearly a thousand strong.

29/10/4708 Goblin horde and Sinspawn attack Sandpoint. If the town is well-prepared for an attack the goblins are likely driven back eventually, but hundreds of townsfolk perish.

My party, if I remember correct, went to Thisletop on the next day. And like your party, they knew that attack on Thisletop wass a railroad.
Heck, like one of my players sad "Yeah, going there is clearly railroad, but it doesn't mean we don't have to roleplay, so lets make a plan aside from storming in, and killing everybody". And they did. It still went down to killing all goblins in the fort, but they managed to do it in 2-3 rounds with taking Rippnugget alive.

thanks guys...I'm wondering how my players are going to try to get to thistletop...some of them are quite clever

on that note it seems that if the PCs go through the woods to get to thistletop I see almost no way for them to do so stealthily...especially with the Druid goblin patrolling and being able to rub trough the briars

I'm going to spoiler this just in case...

The pc's should have some urgency if they've read Tsuto's journal, but technically they probably recovered that in the Glassworks and knew Nualia was up to something, maybe at Thistletop before they explored the Catacombs of Wrath so there isn't a dramatic level of urgency.

Even so, there would still be time to have them interact with the citizens of Sandpoint for a day or so... You might ask the players what they're thinking maybe you're misunderstanding their intent or they aren't interested in role-playing for the sake of role-playing but if they saw some benefit - get better sale/purchase prices on goods by getting chummy with a merchant or seduce the local flirt (okay it's really a you-had-me-at-hello situation with Shayliss.) Or show some conflict for them to resolve - Ameiko has a conflict with the Scarnetti's or some trouble with the Sczarni at the Pixie's Kitten. Players like fixing problems. Give them some.

I would agree that it would be difficult but not impossible to approach Thistletop stealthily but the pc's would need good skills at it and I would argue it would double or triple the time given in the AP for finding it. Assuming they don't know where it is (the assumption in the AP as written.) But maybe someone in Sandpoint can give them better directions. If only they had better relationships with some of the citizens in town... Like Daviren Hosk, the owner of Goblin Squash stables. He probably knows exactly where it is. Gees, I wonder how they could find that out...

As written Gogmurt doesn't patrol outside the areas C1-9 (at least as I read it) - as depicted, he's too despondent to be that proactive. But it seems consistent with part of his backstory (he's convinced the longshanks are going to retaliate) for him to be on patrol watching for a response from Sandpoint. If he spots them and they don't spot him and you wanted to be particularly devious, you could have him retreat back to Thistletop and organize an ambush with the Birdcruncher goblins and goblin dogs. He and his animal companion would likely not attempt to deal with the pc's without other support.

My first thought about Thistletop (as a player) would probably be to approach it by sea. Has anyone's party ever come up with that?

Anyway, if they wait a couple days it's probably all right, but you should start having goblin "scouts" showing up after a little while to illustrate the need for the party to hurry.


Peet wrote:
My first thought about Thistletop (as a player) would probably be to approach it by sea. Has anyone's party ever come up with that?

When I played it that's what we did. We were able to climb up from the boat to the cave with the

, but reading the AP myself now that doesn't seem to be possible as written, the cave is too high up. I guess maybe a really good climber or a Spider Climb or Levitation spell could do it.

My PCs approached by sea in the dead of night and climbed up through the tentamort cave (which ended up being a rough fight. Creature with reach perched above them while they're all dangling from a rope and the folks without darkvision can't see what they're fighting.) while having some town guards light a big old bonfire on the shore as a distraction (they'd already cleared out all the goblins in the thistle maze) and then run away.

Of course, after they finally defeated the tentamort, the very first room they entered was the temple and the yeth hounds baying woke up all of Nualia's crew. Orik, Lyrie and Bruthazmus joined the fight a few rounds later (Nualia stayed downstairs, trusting her minions to deal with the problem.) Luckily for the party, the goblins upstairs were in too much of a tizzy about the fire to notice the hounds baying below them. Still, it was a close fight, with Orik switching sides once brought low enough, and trying to convince Lyrie to do the same, but she was too determined to get revenge on Tsuto's killers.

They definitely would have died against Nualia if I hadn't decided to swap out the wand of shocking grasp from the Catacombs for a wand of CLW, as they were really beat up, but were worried about what might happen if they retreated, since they obviously wouldn't be able to use the same trick to get into the fortress twice and everyone was now on high alert.

My PCs just finished the Catacombs... I'm giving them a few days to follow up on some rumours and RP in town. Belor Hemlock will return with troops soon and if my PCs need a bit of guidance in that direction I can have the good sherrif give it to them. Or maybe Shalelu if they are spending too much time outside Sandpoint. In my campaign, Nualia was coming around to Tsuto's plans to use the tunnels to attack Sandpoint, but when he and the goblins never returned she had to assume the tunnels and Glassworks were lost, and go back to Ripnugget's plan and has been set back some in her timeline.

They have a handful of side quests they can do before Thistletop, we started with the Beginner Box and eventually got to RotR, so Blackfang is a threat and while I am having him side with Nualia as thanks for her finding and healing him after the PC's first encounter and to make the upcoming attack even more dire, he got a taste of mortality and isn't too interested in dying for some crazy Aasimar who wants to be a demon. At best Nualia will use Blackfang to escape, jumping out the tentamort's cave if she can make it that far.

My PCs failed to explore the smuggler's tunnels, so I am also going to have them go back down there and map the place at the mayor's request, as well as haveing Brodert desperately want to examine the catacombs with the PC's aid. I figure I can give them an encounter with the vargoulle they bypassed and have Quink bumblingly create some sinspawn while examining the Runewell. I find my PCs don't immediately attempt to deal with the RP fallout of their actions... so I have to make it catch up with them, heh.

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S'mon wrote:
Peet wrote:
My first thought about Thistletop (as a player) would probably be to approach it by sea. Has anyone's party ever come up with that?
When I played it that's what we did. We were able to climb up from the boat to the cave with the ** spoiler omitted **, but reading the AP myself now that doesn't seem to be possible as written, the cave is too high up. I guess maybe a really good climber or a Spider Climb or Levitation spell could do it.

I haven't read the GM's stuff, so I don't know how much my GM changed things, but we approached Thistletop from the sea and, after detailed scouting, attacked

through the cave with the crab and giant helmet in. Then we ascended through the lower dungeons, fought Nualia (who almost killed the party) until she used a tattoo of dimension door to escape, Malfeshnakor (who also almost killed the party, but finally died to a wand of magic missile, convinced Orik & Lyrie to change sides, and then we almost all died yet again when we met the goblin on a lizard and lots of little goblins plus the druid in a courtyard. We had bought a wand of cure light wounds and it was empty by the end of that!
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