First, I'm going to ask for advice on what to do next. My players are about to enter the Dark Mountain Pass. My players just don't like combat that has no overall tie to the story or role playing. I kept the T Rex for the wow factor, but skipped the terror birds.
1. Only the pudding sounds interesting to me. I don't think they'd like the mummies. Therefore, I want to primarily use the mountain pass as a way for the players to learn about the Olamns - maybe the Tanorians specifically - and foreshadow the savage tides. Any suggestions? I'll also have a destroyed village along the way with acid damage so that players will see the connection with Chapter 2. I have only read through Chapter 4, so if people have ideas on what to foreshadow without foreshadowing too much, I could use your help. It's possible there would be a reason the Olmans would know something about the shrine to Demogorgon.
What I changed in Chapter 3, successfully.
2. I thought the Sargasso was just tedious, so I used another dragon magazine article about the Oquon and Cabanite talking sword civil war. I changed the location to somewhere else along the route. Characters had a lengthy debate about what to do with them.
3. Changed the masher to a Sea Serpent. If anything, it was too easy. With quarantine, I have 7 players, plus I had Skald, Lirith, and Avner's assistants join the fight. They also had a ballista on the ship. With the storm, a druid effectively used call lightning and a sorcerer used ray of enfeeblement. I deliberately had the serpent go after NPCs as a way of getting rid of them - I didn't find it plausible that so many died in a reef or beach crash but none of the PCs did. Since it was the NPCs manning the ballista, which was doing the most damage, it made sense that the serpent went after them.
This new encounter can be placed anywhere in the Cliffs of Dread section. Haunt encounters were created by Paizo for the Pathfinder RPG and work easily with 3.5 D&D. The mechanics of haunts are found in Paizo’s SRD First Edition Pathfinder.
This encounter was first published in Threshold Magazine #19.
Name: Oltman Village Despair CR 5
The PCs come upon another abandoned collection of Olman huts with a few canoes nearby as night approaches. The trail leading up to the village is along a beach but at the village the beach ends and the trail ascends some sixty feet until it reaches another well trod path overlooking the sea. Soon after dusk, the haunt activates, replaying the final fate of this Olman settlement when the gargoyles of the aerie attacked.
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Area: 40-ft radius(focused on shrine 60 feet above the village)
Caster Level: 5th
Notice: Listen DC 20 (to hear a faint high-pitched keening)
Reset: 1 day
Effect: The haunt begins with ghostly images of Olman retiring to their huts to sleep. Suddenly ghostly gargoyles swoop down upon the huts and break in, attacking and slaughtering the inhabitants. As the men attempt to fight off the gargoyles, a band of women and children flee up the rocky trail to a small open Olman shrine situated against the mountainside sixty feet above the village. Gargoyles begin plucking stragglers from the trail, and only a few make it to the shrine where they desperately look for a place to hide. The gargoyles finish slaughtering the men and one by one the remaining Olman are plucked from the mountainside.
All but one, an elderly woman is either overlooked or perhaps the gargoyles have taken all they can carry. The ghostly woman creeps back to the shrine and watches as all of her kin are carried away by gargoyles who fade in the distance. She wails one long cry and then turns and looks down at the sea and rocks below. She suddenly jumps off the edge.
The haunt targets all PCs in its area of effect with a Suggestion spell (DC 14 Will Save to resist). All who fail to resist are compelled to jump off the cliff. Those who do so take 6d6 hp of damage when they hit the rocks in the water below. This haunt is not persistent.
Destruction: A DC 25 search check in the five foot deep water directly below the shrine will allow the PCs to find the bones of the elderly Olman woman. Giving those bones a burial in the village will dismiss the haunt.