left to right: Zordlan Elf Fighter, Minerva Elf Rogue (Mersiel modified), Rogar Dwarven Cleric of Gorum (Ezren is an NPC)
My brother-in-law, two of my nephews, and I ended Spring Break on Friday with our second Burnt Offerings session. Eleven hours of primo play at their house (thanks, Sis!) got us from the fallout after the Swallowtail Festival including a little Foxglove drama (somebody's crushing on Minerva!) and goblin-hate fueling tragedy, then the heroes of Sandpoint went looking for their missing hostess in the Glassworks of Sandpoint. I gave absolutely no hints beyond describing what they could see from the outside with all the windows covered and what they could see through the skylights after they crawled on top of the building. Everything went right for them. They took a route through the Glassworks that avoided goblins and their attentions, except for one that they killed before he could do anything to alert the others. They thus took a direct route around dangers to the kidnapper who was unwarned and in a sodden sleep. Capturing him without a fight, they found their hostess and got the two of them out and to the authorities with a hitch or a scratch on them. I was impressed with their decision making and their luck. It ended there. What had happened so far was interesting, but hardly challenging for their 2nd level party, but for what came next, I'm glad I had taken them through the Black Fang adventure in the Beginner Box and let them gain a level before starting BO.
The returned, killed the goblins, and found their way into the Catacombs of Wrath. They had some decent fights, but with some healing, it was no big deal. I forgot one of the the minions of leader of the dungeon -- the second toughest fight in the dungeon -- because I got confused where he was supposed to be. No big deal, I thought, I'll just have him (CR 3 mutant goblin) enter during the fight with the leader (CR4 quasit cleric of Lamashtu) from behind to spice things up. She creates a (CR2 sinspawn of wrath) and casts some summoning spells and then focuses her attacks and damage spells on Minerva, the first who broke the sanctity of the Cathedral of Wrath. What a fight! They were busy with her minions and summoned creatures and she was free to cause havoc from a distance. Rogar went down first. Ezren heroically stood over negative HP Rogar to keep him from being coup-de-grased. A critical hit killed him in one blow. Minerva was taken down to 0 HP and disabled. Zordlan was fighting alone and I thought the end was at hand. Zordlon killed his opponent (CR2 sinspawn of wrath) and moved to the (CR 3 mutant goblin). Minerva moved to the cleric and rifled his body for a healing potion while Zordlon killed his last opponent. They were then in a position to face the (CR4 quasit cleric of Lamashtu) who was out of spells and dealt her enough damage to trigger her flight (per the text). Going through their equipment, they saw the Scroll of New Life they got from Black Fang. They stopped mourning the heroic Ezren and used the scroll to bring him back!
This was some of the best gaming I've had in recent memory, and the players were majorly pumped. They had lots of emotional highs and lows, and it ended with them overcoming great adversity in just the last couple of rounds. Defeat loomed, but they prevailed. They made off with some decent treasure and were only disappointed that the BBEG was able to flee to fight another day. Pathfinder's Beginner Box continues to provide plenty of play. It simplifies a solid system, and I have done zero conversion to the 3.5 AP so far, playing it basically as written (but with my little embellishments). Callous Jack's minis provide what I am lacking in the minis department -- my only complaint is that Paizo made him split most of the new bestiary monsters out of the volume sets that they belong to and offer them as a separate set -- almost never have I felt that Paizo made a stinky decision, but this smells like one. Because of it, I have so far not incorporated any of the optional new creatures in the adventure. I think everybody is growing both tactically and as role-players, and above all, they're having a good time. I can't wait until next time. I'm weighing whether to level them up to third before they take on Thistletop. At the least, I think Shalelu will accompany her elven friends to lend them a little more fire-power.
Link to first session report.