Ideas on "Encounter 3-3 Clear the Path" (DMs only)

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I'm going to make a few changes to Encounter 3-3, because, for me, the setup text on p. 7 of Chapter 3 is unconvincing. 

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What makes "a long slice of the cliff face  sheer off the mountain"?  It's not plausible for it to be caused by the Gith, since there are no casters among them; and it's downright silly to have it be purely coincidental.  So I'm eliminating that event and simply placing the shard bridge across the chasm without preamble.  The Gith Spearhead will be aware of the Bolt Stones on the bridge, which explains, in part, why he waits for the PCs to advance across the bridge.

But, if I eliminate the shard breaking off the cliff face, there is the question of why the fleeing creatures fall.  To explain this, I'm eliminating one Hobbler and adding the Gith Drone from the Game Day module.  The Gith Drone can plausibly cause the fleeing climbers to fall with his Telekenetic Thrust, and he give leadership and greater interest to the Gith group.  This technically raises the XP of the encounter by 25, but I don't think makes the encounter much more difficult.


Other ideas or comments?

"As the good archmage often admonishes me, I ought not let my mind wander. It's too small to go off by itself"

Danilo Thann

I likewise find the description leading up to the encounter incomplete and unsatisfying.  It's made worse because the map presented doesn't illustrate the described terrain well at all.

Changes I plan to make:
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I am also thinking of adding a caster to the Gith, likely a shaman of some sort.  Then I was going to describe the climbers and the gith down below completing a ritual - then a flash of lightening and the cliff collapsing with the hapless climbers.

For a comic moment I can keep the encounter as written by have a large rock crush the shaman in addition to creating the bridge (it would be a blast to play him up as really scary and then crush him before the encounter begins).  As a weak party adjustment the falling rocks will also wound some of the other gith.  For a strong party adjustment the shaman can remain active, but I'd still have their ritual cause some wounds  amongst them because I love the effect.  This, along with their eagerness to loot the bodies, also better describes why they start a bit disorganized as indicated.

The encounter seems pretty decent to me, but probably a bit swingy.

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It seems very easy for the encounter to be very hard or easy depending on whether certain PCs are knocked off and whether the S is taken out early.

I don't have a huge issue with the lightning hitting the cliff face. My thought was this could be a nice example of how uncommon rain is, how it does happen, and that when it happens it isn't a good thing. I was thinking there could be dark clouds and maybe it is just heat lightning with the chance of rain. It wouldn't be clear if it would start raining or not (I'll play it by ear based on PC reactions) but the heat lightning would boom and the wind would whip for extra drama.

Another option is to have the travelers fighting a group of gith (same or another one) and for one of them to defile as they cast lightning magic. The defiling turns some of the ground to ash and the piece breaks off, sending them to their doom.

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I don't have a huge issue with the lightning hitting the cliff face. My thought was this could be a nice example of how uncommon rain is, how it does happen, and that when it happens it isn't a good thing. I was thinking there could be dark clouds and maybe it is just heat lightning with the chance of rain. It wouldn't be clear if it would start raining or not (I'll play it by ear based on PC reactions) but the heat lightning would boom and the wind would whip for extra drama.

Another option is to have the travelers fighting a group of gith (same or another one) and for one of them to defile as they cast lightning magic. The defiling turns some of the ground to ash and the piece breaks off, sending them to their doom.



it seems like some folks are getting the wrong idea about the
elements of this encounter

if you read over the adventure material, you'll see that the flash & loud crack that cause the rock to sheer off are not due to lightning or a magic spell, but a rare elemental property of the stone itself.

you'll see in the adventure materials that the unfortunate climbers just so happened across some bolt stone and set off it's properties by climbing on it.  you'll also see that the stone retains these properties after it has fallen and become the makeshift bridge (surprise! for whoever tries to cross it).

it appears that the climbers were running from the gith, got to the cliff face and decided to make a climb for it.  unfortunately they chose a fatally bad spot to climb.
You are probably right.

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I was thinking that the bolt stone was actually showing how the lightning had changed the rock.

Boltstone would not normally cause any damage to rock (rock would resist more than the damage that boltstone can cause). I do agree with you that this may be the most accurate representation of what the author probably ment. It is fantasy, so it is all potentially plausible. The importance is the DM feeling good about the story they will tell.

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All of this is theoretically possible, I suppose, but for me,...
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it's the convergence of the arrival of the PCs, the placement of the two groups of NPCs, and the coincidence of weather and/or the terrain, that makes it so ridiculously implausible. It seems to me that the setup for this encounter is needlessly baroque.  If the the explanations offered are what was meant, it should have been explained more clearly. 

For my part, I will have the bolt stone bridge in place at the start of the encounter and allow PCs who wish to make a nature check [DC 17] to recognize that the cliff and the shard that spans the chasm is comprised of bolt stone, which may or may not be electrically charged.

"As the good archmage often admonishes me, I ought not let my mind wander. It's too small to go off by itself"

Danilo Thann

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