The characters have just returned to Sandpoint and learned of the recent goings-on with the sinkhole. Instead of investigating relatively quickly, they've decided to spend 40 days crafting magic items.
I'm looking for ideas on how to represent the Scribbler having over a month to advance his plans. What changes to the adventure would you make if this villain had another month to push his agenda?
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My players should not read this
The description in the book says that he wants to sanctify the temple, and summon more monsters. To me, for Lamashtu, that says that he needs either sacrifices, or women to help spawn more of the mothers creatures. You could have some people go missing, dragged into the hole by the Hounds of Lamashtu, to be found later either dead or being used to birth more creatures. The is would especially be great if you had some of the friends they had made in town be the ones that were taken.
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Hmmm, some elements appear to be missing here...
Do the players know that guards went into the hole and have not returned? It may be too late to rescue them but it definitely suggests something dangerous is down there. Do they or the townsfolk have any plans to watch the sinkhole? I can't imagine either the Sheriff or Mayor being any too happy about the situation. While they have no authority over the players (nor at this point any ability to enforce it if they did have it) I would think they would make clear to the pc's their growing, bordering on all-consuming fears about the sinkhole. Waiting a day to regroup etc. makes sense (if still nerve-wracking and just about certainly condemning any surviving guards to death) but waiting a month and a half? Really? WTF?
Do they have a pattern of exploiting "lulls" to craft items? Perhaps you should hint - okay, state outright - that the appropriate lull will be AFTER they deal with the sink hole.
Have they been running pell-mell, bouncing from one crisis to another over the past few events/adventures/books? And have a lot of pent up creation needs? Perhaps in this case you should have delayed the sinkhole until after they did their creating? Not much you can do about it now but if this is the case you may need to work with them somehow, especially if you have any WBL Lawyer Guild members on the team.
I suggest explicit, unambiguous dream sendings from the dieties of any good or religious PC, indicating that what is beneath the sinkhole is very, very, very dangerous. Innocent people have already died and more is certain if something isn't done. Soon!
They do know that guards went in to explore and have not returned. They assume they are already dead.
They plan to seal the sinkhole with a wall of force and probably have non-crafting PCs keep watch over it. They figure if anything dangerous emerges they can deal with it then.
Two of five players were ready to dive right in. That was until the two main proponents of crafting lured them in with promises of much cooler items than they could afford by outright purchase and telling them they would enter the sinkhole without the crafters if they didn't wait for them. They suffered a TPK just before the giant raid on Sandpoint and I think part of the issue might be fear of failure. Then again, the two proponents of crafting are big time optimizers.
I'm not much one for delaying the villains timelines to accomodate the party's crafting needs. Nor do I wish to tell them they can't choose to take longer. I'm really not trying to pass judgment on their choices even though, as a player, I would push to investigate the sinkhole immediately. I'm looking for ideas from other DMs as to what would be reasonable progress for the Scribbler with an extra month added to his timeline before he must contend with the PCs.
I was thinking of having the Scribbler's rituals spread Lamashtu's influence through Sandpoint. Finding a group of suicides performed by expectant mothers, having cut their own grossly deformed children from their wombs.
But I'm also trying to think of how much mechanical representation I could reasonably add in this section and many even further sections. Level the Scribbler? Advance the hounds? Add more opponents? But by how much would be fair?
Here's a random idea, let them take the 40 days off. Obviously the Scribbler wouldn't be just sitting around doing nothing during that time.
It would be reasonable to assume that he know that the PCs are in town so you could have him fortify the heck out of that place.
Your PCs are trying to increase their overall power level, so equally (or more) increase the challenge level.
I don't think letting an enemy go unattended under the town for 40 days would go over well with me.
Unfortunatly for my PCs (just finishing Chapter 1), they don't have access to Item Creation feats, so they can be pushed a bit faster.
They're paying 12500 gp for a permanent Wall of Force. Which doesn't seem to me like the best use of funds.
a) plunder the Cathedral and the Feathered Serpent for books (he can cast Tongues)
b) Kidnap Brodert Quink
c) Start looking for more of Lamashtu's minions. A couple of dozen goblins would make a nice distraction to get 1 or 2 PCs away from the ruins while he picks off the remainder.
d) Assassinate the crafters. MS 6 = Succubus, Invisible Stalker or Shadow Demon. Enjoy.
He's a bit bonkers, but he'll want to stay undercover for a while, so it should take some detective work to see what's happening.
@Mudfoot - They may have meant a Wall of Stone instead.
@RCW - The decision is purely in their hands. I wouldn't like their decision if I was one of the players and would state my case to the group why I didn't. I am planning to have the Scribbler advance his goals. I'm just seeking others' opinions as to how much he can achieve in the time given.
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I would personally be inclined to let the monsters out into the town.
First, have the crafters make a day-by-day timetable as to what items they are working on, and explain that any partly-crafted or -upgraded item is unusable until the process is complete (though they may interrupt the process and pick it up later if they want).
Give it about 3 days and then have the monsters serving the scribbler dig another shaft out of the caverns. This shouldn't really take them too long. The new shaft could open up in someone's cellar.
Once they are out have the scribbler find a way to have his guards and wards spell affect the town. Then basically run the various encounters in the town instead of in the catacombs. This way you can run them in the same order and with the same environmental effects, with one difference: Lots of civilian casualties. If the Hounds and the Glabrezu get loose there will be lots of dead. For example, I'd have the hounds get into the barracks and wipe out all the town guards present (there's only 12 of them anyway).
In the community creations thread there are lots of floor plans of buildings around Sandpoint you can use.
Have the monsters wipe out a significant number of civilians, including some important NPCs. After this the party doesn't really need to return to Sandpoint, so you can kill off a number of major NPCs, like Belor Hemlock and Mayor Deverin, and it won't change much going forwards. Titus Scarnetti becomes acting mayor and basically kicks the party out of town after they are done (though not before the party gets the clues to the Scribbler's rhyme).
My party also took about 45 days to make magic items.
I didn't have any monsters get out into town, although I certainly understand the reasoning behind that. I did have the Scribbler take some extra precautions -- unhallow spells in the entire dungeon preventing dimension door in some places and invisibility in the others. You could have the Scribbler bind yet more summoned monsters to the dungeon, but I had a specific feel I was going for in the dungeon, so I didn't do that.
I changed this section up quite a bit because I was disappointed in the design. I had the dungeon be the enemy -- with the guards and wards -- and changed it to have more corridors and a maze. I also altered the Scribbler a bit.
I keep the pressure on the pc's by pointing out that they do not know when Karzoug will emerge but it could be very soon.
The Scribbler with 40 days could get a lot more demons and such from Lamashtu, he needs information on the world outside using planar ally demons who can teleport start snatching people from Sandpoint for interrogation and murder would be a good start. The demons can only carry light people so perhaps the orphanage first, or any halfings/gnomes in town, or rip their arms and legs off the scribbler can interrogate using speak with dead.
If my players had waited 40 days , I would have started rolling for Karzoug emerging as I hate players metagaming (Karzough won't emerge until we are ready as that would end the campaign so we'll just take a holiday) say 1% change per 2 days they waste so up to 20% chance by the end of their holiday.
Or Karzoug needs greedy souls, your 2 crafters sound perfect , send a couple of Rune Giants and a Dragon to kill them.
Once at the Runeforge I have specifically given them 20+ crafting days via time flow in pocket dimensions shenanigans so they can use their crafting feats
We finally got back to the game after an extended board game break with everyone taking summer trips.
After multiple divinations the party determined that they could safely spend 9 days prepping before people began to suffer. I had planned out the Scribbler's actions for 40 days to be able to answer their questions. Since I originally thought a week was reasonable, this was close enough of a compromise to make (mostly) everyone happy.
The party crafters are concerned that their feat choices will be wasted and I get that. So I plan to have the research into Runeforge be a many-month montage that will give them time to make use of their hard-spent feats.
I did some handwavium at the Runeforge and allowed 28 days worth of crafting due to relative time flows so they were not just waiting around crafting while Karzoug carried on his plans., it is not as much as my crafters wanted but they are not meant to be able to craft everything they want anyway. If you give them multiple months they will get a long way beyond WBL