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    Dwarf in the Playground
    the clumsy bard's Avatar

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    Sep 2010

    Default [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level party

    So Monday I started a new campaign with my group.

    This will be the 3rd campaign I am involved with my group (2 as a player and this one as the GM)

    It doesn't sound like much, but understand that the first campaign i joined in when they were at level 13 and we went into epic levels (I think my elven warblade reached level 26 or 27 by end game) and that part of the campaign lasted 4-5 years and apparently the game started them off at level 1.

    The other game just wrapped up and we went from level 4-10 and it lasted just short of a year. That game was a little faster in terms of levels mostly because the GM increased our level by 1 every major boss we killed or milestone we passed.

    In any case to my point! I have just started a campaign with all the characters at level 1. My issue is that there are 7 bleeping PCs!

    All characters are level 1 and use Pathfinder material
    The cast of characters is as follows:

    Fetchling summoner (synthesist)
    Goblin alchemist
    Suli magus
    half-elf witch
    half-orc oracle (haunted curse and outer rifts mystery)
    catfolk bard (archeologist and I allowed to trade spells for rogue sneak attack progression)
    Ophiduan Soulfknife

    We have only had the first session this past Monday.

    They were getting transport from a port town to another town about 10 days away via the medium sized wagons they hitched a ride on. 2 days out from the town they were going to they ran into an overturned carriage on the road. All characters decided to "know each other" (they were with each other long enough on the back of the wagons to know each others names) except the fetchling synthesist who was underneath the overturned partially destroyed carriage. After the drivers of the wagons and the measly wagon defenses asked our brave adventurers to investigate the overturned carriage they found 2 dead bodies lying near the carriage with obvious marks of shrapnel and cuts and lacerations. The party quickly surmised that the carriage had been ambushed and the alchemist suggested perhaps it was some sort of bomb! In any case before they were able to do much else the fetchling summoner started groaning and moving from underneath the carriage. On a side note the fetchling summoner has decided his eidolon looks like a dwarf... I allowed it because his backstory was cool.... so they find the dwarf and as they make very rudimentary introductions the wagons which they left about 200 feet behind them with the drivers and measly militia type guards are attacked by bombs rolled out underneath the wagons (explosions killing the heavy horses) and then all but one horseman is shot down by arrows from the woods nearby (level 1 warrior elves in case anyone was wondering)

    A battle ensues, which ends up being the 7 PCs as previously mentioned


    3 x melee elven warriors
    3 x ranged elven warriors
    1 x elven druid
    1 x wolf companion of previously mentioned druid

    If I go by pathfinders encounter design this was CR = 2.5 ((6 x warriors 1/3)+0.5 for druid)

    Now there was a random element which was another bandit who was not ever supposed to fight, just steal the last working wagon with the 2 remaining horses. It was a specialist the bandits had hired (rogue 3 (driver archetype))

    Now immediately in the fight the warriors rushed the remaining NPC horseman and before being able to kill said horseman they are put to sleep with a well placed sleep spell by the witch character (cool because she only started playing these types of games recently and seems to have grasped the fun stuff already). I kept the druid and animal companion out for the first bit of initiative to see how the fight went and figured I would have them hide and direct the remaining bandits. The part over a 4-5 rounds which seemed like an eternity (7 PCs makes things go real slow) They killed 1 archer, killed the wolf companion, bound and gagged the 3 sleeping sword wielding elves and scared off the remaining 2 archers and the druid who had to use contingent plan C for running away by cutting down some ropes that put logs and tons of foliage between the PCs who were in the forest terrain fighting them to begin with.

    One character tried to stop the wagon from being stolen, but this failed horribly.

    The game ended with them deciding the 3 previously sleeping warriors would be interrogated, but before this the ophiduan soulknife failed a will save and eviscerated one of the helpless warriors. This was a background choice by the player of the character. In any case the players are now looking at our next week's session with the aforementioned interrogations (which I am not 100% sure they will put much effort into), trying to get to the the town they were supposed to go to via the wagons, or possibly exploring.

    My money is on them following the road to the town. This was initially supposed to be a 2 day voyage with the help of the wagons and the horses carrying said wagons. Is it crazy to think that since it would take horses with a speed of 60 2 days to reach a town that PCs with an average speed of 30 would then take 4 days?

    My initial question about encounters still stands, but the background I figured would help. In terms of encounters especially for level 1 characters I don't necessarily mean combat encounters. In terms of what I had planned for the campaign I have adapted the idea of the kingmaker adventure path to my campaign world and at the moment they are following a road that has a river to one side and untamed forests to the other side. The PCs are all carrying charters (again much like Kingmaker) to explore an area north of the town they are going to called the Bound Wildwood.

    My idea for the campaign is to make Fey prevalent, but I always enjoy any and all suggestions.

    In terms of a 4 day voyage by foot on road what would be some interesting encounters for 7 1st level PCs. Again any suggestions for things they might meet on the road or slightly off would be greatly appreciated. I am very good at improvising as a GM, so anything you suggest or offer up as interesting would be great.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Averis Vol's Avatar

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    Jan 2012

    Default Re: [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level par

    What kind of environment is this all taking place in? I heard forest in there, so I assume they're either: in a full blown forest, or they're at the fringe of one and in sort of a medowish area outside of one.

    Depending on which the encounter could go a couple of different ways, and if I get a bit more info on the area I'd be glad to help you with a few party appropriate encounters.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
    the clumsy bard's Avatar

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    Sep 2010

    Default Re: [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level par

    Brookglade is a village located at the outskirts of the Bound Wildwood, located about a 7-10 days journey from Wellsgrove The settlement sits only a short distance from the Bound Wildwood and is little more than a logging village.

    Brookglade is the second logging town to be built in Harridan Dale , each built to harvest the region's rich supplies of darkwood and other lumbers. Danan Esh, the previous logging town, was abandoned about 50 years prior due to being located to close to the western borders of the Bound Wildwood, at which point the village of Brookglade replaced it as the main settlement for logging in the area.

    Brookglade is located a short distance from the Bound Wildwood. Most of the roads and paths from the village lead to lumber camps operating on the edge of the treeline, while the main road runs close to the river Beldam and eventually leads to Wellsgrove after 7-10 days. The mountain Monotok Ridge dominates the skyline to the northeast

    The River Beldam forms a southern boundary below Brookglade, as it passes southeast through the Veiled Fens (swamps).

    The road itself follows the southern part of the Beldam river and north of the the river is mostly swamp / marshland. Below is marshlands but the closer they get to the town (brookglade) it will become more forest like.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
    Averis Vol's Avatar

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    Jan 2012

    Default Re: [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level par

    Alright. Ill take a peek at the bestiary tomorrow morning and mull over some encounters at work then I'll get back to you afterwords. They will most likely be not very in depth as they are level one and a stray sling shot from a kobold is liable to take them out, so It might be more skill/puzzle based for the most part.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
    Averis Vol's Avatar

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    Jan 2012

    Default Re: [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level par

    Okay, lets take a crack at this.

    The Toll Bridge....Kobold?

    This can take place anywhere along the road, but it would be preferable somewhere near a river, forest or other natural area of cover. As they wake in the morning (Presumably) this will take place within two to three hours of sunrise, as it will be the best time for Kivtix to conceal himself. While they are traveling down the road your party will notice a slight amount of natural fog, slightly obscuring vision, but not enough to ruin vision. after about 15 minutes of travel they will immediately be thrown into the midst of a thick fog, making it nearly impossible for the party to properly discern their whereabouts.

    If they back out of the obscuring mist it will seem to be a normal days fog caused by the river, but once they enter back in, their sight is again hampered. If they continue on, have the person in the lead make a reflex save; Failure puts him face first into a small river running through where the road should be. Have the person (From here on out known as 'him' or 'himself') make a dc 10 climb check to get himself out and a minimal spot check (DC13) to let the party see the rather crappily constructed bridge leading over the thinnest part of the 15 foot (10 feet at the bridge) wide river. If they make their way up they are greeted by a booming voice that seems to waft eerily through the air, saying in broken common, "HALT! YOU PAY TOLL CROSS MY BRIDGE! AND YOU ANSWER QUESTION FOR ENTERTAINMENT! YOU NO DO THIS ME EAT YOU!"

    give them a spot check to notice the looming figure 10 feet across the bridge. This is secretly Kivtix holding up a troll decoy to try and intimidate travelers into obeying his demands, if they make moves to leave he roars, "NO! YOU TRY RUN ME BROTHERS CATCH YOU!" at this he mentally commands his unseen servant to raise the other dummies to a standing position; planting the pole holding them up in the hole in the ground before moving to the next one, and as he hides safely besides his dummy and casts Ghost sounds to simulate growls through the other figures to make it sound, well, like they're real trolls.

    now this next part is up to you and your group. Allow them various checks to discern that this is not actually a troll, if they do figure it out he will use his spells and special abilities to best aid him in a fight, saving a potion of expeditious retreat in case things go south.

    When and if they defeat Kivtix they will find a bag underneath the bridge with all the things he has stolen so far in it. This will be their loot, so adjust as according.

    the important thing to keep in mind here is to just keep up the powerful monster charade as long as you can, It is his main defense against people bigger then him, and he uses his high charisma to demoralize the party if he can. As such he should have intimidate as a class skill, if this stat up seems to easy for your group, go ahead and throw a few small water elementals in there to assist him, as he used these to create the offshoot from the river in the first place, so he could feasibly still have them around.

    Kivtix Thull 'zarr

    Kobold Sorcerer 4
    LE Small humanoid (reptilian)
    Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
    AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+4 mage armor, +1 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size)
    hp (4d6+8)
    Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +4
    Weaknesses light sensitivity
    Speed 30 ft.
    Ranged sling +4 (1d3-1)
    Spell +4
    Str 9, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12,Wis 10, Cha 14
    Base Atk +2; CMB 1; CMD 10
    Skills bluff +9; Intimidate +9, Spellcraft +8 ;Racial Modifiers +2 Craft (trapmaking), +2 Perception, +2 Profession (miner)
    Languages Common, Draconic, Sylvan
    SQ crafty

    Spells Known: (1st-dc14) Mage armor, obscuring mist, Magic weapon (2nd-dc15) Web

    Spells per day:

    well, thats the quick and dirty of it. I left a bit open for you to conform to your groups style, but all in all I don't think this will be too hard of a fight, and it paired with the challenge of dealing with the fog and him should make for a well rounded encounter.
    Last edited by Averis Vol; 2012-11-16 at 08:32 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Halfling in the Playground

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    Nov 2012

    Default Re: [PF] Need help designing a challenging but not deadly encounter for 1st level par

    If they go exploring, you could have them find a damages woodcutter's shack.

    Enemies: Fiendish house cats
    Plot hook: someone wanted revenge on these people for some reason, and so corrupted their pets, who killed everyone. Could lead to a rival nearby, or link to a subtle war being played out between the two kingdoms - a terrorized and demoralized populace is easier to conquer after all.

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