I’ve already provided 4 adventure hooks for the 4th Edition D&D Starter Set here, and it’s time to do the same with the Pathfinder Beginner Box. 🙂
And this first adventure is more detailed than just some simple ideas like in that earlier post. Here, I’ll provide an outline for a story background, a basic plot for the adventure, and some encounters that you can use to run it as written if you wish.
This first adventure for Pathfinder Beginner Box GMs will be about an orc invasion of the Sandpoint Hinterlands. As a GM, you can never go wrong with marauding bands of orcs!
Most of these Beginner Box adventures that I’ll be sharing should be able to be completed over the course of one or two sessions with your group. Though with a little creativity on your part, you could probably fit some of these ideas into your current campaign (if you have one), or string one or more of these ideas together and/or expand upon them on your own, and turn it into a full length multi-level campaign that could take your group from 1st level all the way up to 5th level (which is as far as you can go with the Beginner Box).
If you’re a player — you probably should not read the adventure outline below… Why ruin the mystery? You should just forward a link to this article to your Game Master right now & say, “Hey, check out this free adventure for our next game!” You’ll enjoy your game session much more if you don’t know what’s going to be happening… 🙂
If you’re a Game Master, then read on & enjoy!
Don’t forget that I have several free Pathfinder adventures here — use them whenever you’re in need of some ideas!
And now, on to the first adventure: I’ve written the below assuming that the party would be at least Level 2 or 3 at the time they begin — but you can easily scale the difficulty up or down as needed:
Orc Invasion: An Adventure for the Pathfinder Beginner Box
Adventure Setup / Background
Sandpoint is one of those oases in the wilderness — a place of relative safety (thanks to fortifications & the vigilance of the Town Guard), where civilization has secured a tentative foothold.
But there is always the threat of danger coming out of the wild lands not too distant from those town walls…
Orcs are one of those ever-present dangers. These strong, green-skinned warriors have rampaged through the Sandpoint Hinterlands in the past, killing all who stood against them & taking away & enslaving most of those who couldn’t (or wouldn’t). Each time an orc tribe has invaded, it has taken an alliance of several settlements (along with the help of bands of great heroes) to finally drive them back beyond the Foxglove River to the south. The threat of another orc invasion from the wilds of the south is always looming in the backs of Sandpoint’s residents’ minds…they’ve come before, and one day, they’ll undoubtedly come again…
Plot Hook / Beginning & Suggested Plot + Encounter(s)
Not long after your band of heroes returns from Black Fang’s dungeon, they are urgently summoned to the Town Hall to meet with Mayor Kendra. When they arrive, the Hall is bustling with activity — troops of the Town Guard are rushing in and out of the Hall.
- If the party questions a guard, they’re quickly told that there’s no time to talk, they have to reach the outlying villages & farmsteads as quickly as possible. The party sees the guards rushing into the Town Watch stables & one by one, the guards mount horses & gallop off in different directions.
- When the party enters the Hall, they’re taken to meet with Mayor Kendra. She & her advisors are in a map room, leaning over a table where a large map of the Sandpoint Hinterlands is displayed (the GM can hand share a copy of the Hinterlands map found on page 90 of the Game Master’s Guide with the party).
Kendra welcomes the heroes:
“Ah! Thank you for coming so quickly! We have heard terrible news from the South…an orc warband has attacked one of our Guard companies on the Lost Coast Road. They thought they left none alive — otherwise we never would have known what destroyed the company…but one of our Guards was able to escape.”
She gestures to the back of the room, where the heroes see a guard rise from one of the chairs & limp toward them — he is in terrible shape (what appears to be a broken arm in a sling & a leg in a splint, along with many cuts & bruises). But he has been treated to some minor healing & is at least still able to walk.
- The guard tells them that his company (6 Town Guards) were ambushed on the road. He describes the battle, which involved at least 3 orcs warriors, several goblins, a massive boar & the orc leader (an Orc Boss) who was the biggest orc he’d ever seen, or heard of.
- He points to the map, where a red “X” has been marked on the Lost Coast Road, between the Ashen Rise & the Brinestump Marsh.
- Mayor Kendra asks the heroes to track this warband back to wherever they’ve gone. And if possible, destroy them before they return to the orc tribal lands, south of the Foxglove River. If they can manage to destroy the warband, the tribes will take it as a sign that the people of Sandpoint are ready & strong, and the orcs will likely take that as a sign that they should look elsewhere for easier plunder…
- This will involve at least a half-day of walking to arrive at the scene of the orc ambush. Along the way, you can work in a level-appropriate random mountain encounter as they travel past the hills near the Birdcruncher Goblin Lair (see the Hinterlands map mentioned above). And you can have a swamp-based random encounter as the party travels through the lands near Brinestump Marsh. See pages 84 – 87 in the Game Master’s Guide for the random encounter tables.
- Once they arrive at the orc ambush site, they see no obvious signs of the attack, such as remains (such as the bodies of the guard company), but with a DC 10 Perception or Knowledge Nature check, they are able to identify signs of the struggle (such as slide marks & prints in the wet grassy areas off the road, near the trees — and marks in the trees where arrows probably hit during the skirmish). The orcs are pretty self-confident — they haven’t done a good job of hiding the evidence.
- If the heroes fail the skill checks, they don’t see those obvious signs right away, but they do see half of a broken arrow sticking out of the ground on the side of the road, and they have the map which marks the place as the area of the ambush, so they should have enough to go on.
- With a DC 15 Perception or Knowledge Nature check, the party is also able to find the trail where the orcs dragged the guards’ bodies off the road and hid them in the woods. Again, not an all together great job of hiding the evidence — a typical trait among orc warriors is arrogance. They don’t believe the peoples of the Hinterlands are worthy opponents… Of course, they believe this because in their experience it’s usually true.
- The heroes follow the trail from the bodies and encounter some hazards as they move through the woods. The trail of the orc warband leads the Players eastward, through the lightly wooded lands on the way to the Ashen Rise. The party can follow the trail for about a quarter mile.
- Use level appropriate traps that the orcs would probably set in these woods to keep the players on their toes as they follow the trail (found on page 38 – 39 in the Game Master’s Guide). I’d suggest traps like the Pit Trap (depending on the average party level, you could choose a CR1 Pit trap or the CR 3 Camouflaged Pit Trap for example), and the Falling Rock (this could be from rocks lifted high into the trees via ropes or nets which are dropped onto unlucky players’ heads via tripwire triggers, etc.), or a Poison Dart, or Javelin Trap.
- Eventually, the PCs reach the outskirts of the warband’s encampment, at the base of the Ashen Rise. The PCs could attempt a DC 15 Perception check to notice the encampment from a safe distance. If they do not notice the goblin sentries, then have whoever is at the head of the party roll a DC 20 Stealth check, provided the party has told you that they’re trying to move carefully through the woods (they usually will after they encounter a trap or two). If the player succeeds, they are not noticed by the sentries first & will have an opportunity to notice the goblins before they can raise the alarm.
Upon a failure, they’re surprised by 2 goblins, who attack from their hiding places & gain a surprise round against the players (page 77 of Game Master’s Guide). Once one goblin is killed, the remaining one attempts to flee back to the encampment to raise the alarm. If the PCs do not catch him in time, then they encounter the full warband, with the Orc Boss (also on page 77 in the Game Master’s Guide). Warband at the encampment consists of:
2 Orcs (page 77)
1 Orc Boss (page 77)
1 Boar – the Orc Boss’ pet (page 64)
And the surviving goblin who raised the alarm
If your party is of a higher level (such as 5th level) then you could substitute a Barghest for the Boar – which you can page 63 of the GM’s Guide
- If the party destroys the warband before any of them are able to flee (which they will try to do, once they are down to just 1 or 2 left in their group — not counting the boar, which will fight to the death no matter what), then they find a message written in orcish in the Orc Boss’ gear. If none of the party members can read orc, Mayor Kendra will have it translated if they bring it to her.
- This message contains his orders from the chieftain of the tribe…
- And don’t forget the treasure — these orcs have been raiding and ransacking since they crossed the river, so I’d include a Major Random Treasure bundle as the party’s loot if they are victorious (see page 30 of the Game Master’s Guide).
From here you can easily turn this adventure into the start of a longer campaign!
Perhaps the chieftain wants this group of outriders to meet up with another, even larger warband who is supposed to move in from the southeast, and they’re going to meet up with the ogre at Pitgtongue’s Farm (see just north of the Whisperwood Moor area on the Hinterlands map). This could set up a mad dash to head off the warband and stop them from joining forces with the ogre, which would make them a nearly unstoppable force.
Maybe it’s not a message from the orc chieftain, but instead it’s orders from a rogue wizard who was recently banished from Sandpoint for practicing necromancy…one who promises that he will use his knowledge of the area (and an army of the undead) to help the orcs to once and for all destroy the town?
It’s up to you just how dire you want to make the situation, from here!