Rise of the Runelords
Chapter 1 Part 4
The map ofthe Sandpoint hinterlands on page 386 shows the location of Thistletop. If the PCs follow the Lost Coast Road east, they can reach the Thistle River crossing relatively quickly-it's only a 6-mile journey (2 hours by foot), and unless you want to spring an attack on the PCs by a group of six goblin warriors (a CR 2 encounter), they shouldn't run into much trouble along the way.
Thistletop is located on the Varisian coast-approaching by land is difficult since the tangles of Nettlewood are in the way. A DC 14 Survival check reveals a route through the woods. If the check exceeds this DC by 10, the PCs come across one of several narrow goblin trails that eventually lead to area C1. Each attempted Survival check takes 1d4 hours of wandering in the woods, and for each hour of wandering there's a 30% chance that 1d4 PCs stumble into a patch of poisonous plants, either stinging nettles (Fortitude DC 12 to avoid 1 point of Dexterity damage) or a goblinberry patch (Fortitude DC 12 to avoid 1 point of Strength damage). A character can substitute a Knowledge (nature) check for these saving throws to avoid damage.
Thistletop is a curiously round island about 6o feet off shore, connected to the mainland by a rope bridge. The island had an unusual genesis-it was once the head of one of Karzoug's sentinel statues that stood upon the ridge of land called the Rasp before the nation of Bakrakhan became the Varisian Gulf. The statue has long since crumbled and become overgrown by the Nettlewood, but the head escaped such obscurement by landing in the surf. The magical nature of the statue's construction drastically slowed the process of erosion on the head's features, and when the sun hits the western cliff ofthe isle just right, one can just make out the ancient features of the statue's face. The statue once contained a small complex, but today only a few of the original rooms within the head itself remain accessible.
One of these rooms contains an imprisoned barghest named Malfeshnekor. An ancient agent of Alaznist, the monster was captured by Karzoug's minions and imprisoned here for interrogation. Yet the end came too quickly, and when the statue's head tumbled into the sea, Malfeshnekor found himself one of the few surviving creatures. And yet, the outsider remained trapped. For the next several thousand years he waited. For a time, a group ofLamashtu cultists settled in the rooms above. Himself a loyal minion of Lamashtu, Malfeshnekor quickly discovered he was able to communicate empathically with any priest who stood before the altar. In so doing, he was able to lead the cultists to discover the small complex in which he waited, but the cultists were slaughtered by a hellcat guardian before they reached him.
Well over a century later, Malfeshnekor sensed new creatures settling nearby-goblins. As with the Lamashtan cultists, the barghest had a crude empathic link with these goblins. Malfeshnekor couldn't quite communicate with them as he had with the clerics of Lamashtu, but the goblins could still sense him. They felt drawn to Thistletop for reasons they didn't quite comprehend, and it quickly became the most coveted tribal land among their kind. Traditionally, the Thistletop goblins were led by clerics who sensed the barghest's empathic urgings during their rituals. These urgings encouraged the goblins to explore the lower levels of their lair, yet goblins are fragile and stupid creatures. None ever found the secret door that led to Malfeshnekor's level, and now that the current leader of Thistletop is himself too unwise to receive Malfeshnekor's empathic sendings, the barghest had begun to despair.
And then, with Nualia's arrival and the reconsecration of the temple, Malfeshnekor realized his time of freedom was close. Nualia is his salvation, and he her path to becoming a true demon.
Thistletop Upper Level
Thistletop Dungeon Level One
Thistletop Dungeon Level Two