WARNING: The following discusses details of the plot, characters, encounters and events of the Adventure Path Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords #1. Do not read further if you intend to play as a PC in this Adventure Path.
We covered the three Big Bads of the adventure in the last post; Runelord Karzoug, Nualia and Tsuto Kaijitsu. They are the three who are the most direct drivers of the events of the adventure, I think. That said, there are a couple other Bad Guys in the adventure who have their own goals that shape the way Burn Offerings will play out.
Lurking in the Catacombs of Wrath under the town of Sandpoint is this thousands year old quasit, scheming to expand her power and control over the Catacombs she considers her domain.
What does the Bad Guy want? Erylium wants Nualia to succeed in destroying Sandpoint, since its destruction will power her runewell of wrath to new levels and allow her to create an army of sinspawn dedicated to doing her every command. With this army, she will be able to secure her control of the Catacombs forever and defend her domain.
What does the Bad Guy do? In the back story, Nualia has been trained and taught by Erylium in the ways of worshipping Lamashtu. Thus, the quasit is aware of Nualia's plans and waits to exploit them.
What if the PCs do not stop the Bad Guy? Erylium's plans are, ultimately, passive. If Nualia fails, the evil quasit will bide her time… later events should ensure the runewell is charged enough for her to produce additional sin spawn and eventually create her army. Ultimately, when she feels this army is strong enough, she will send it out of the Catacombs to destroy Sandpoint and ensure the safety of her domain for good.
Ousted as the spiritual leader of the goblin tribe by the arrival of Nualia, Gogmurt has his own plots and plans going to regain his place of honor.
What does the Bad Guy want? Gogmurt knows that Warchief Ripnugget has fallen under the sway of the longshanks Nualia, and he wants to rescue the chief and the tribe from her control. He also wants to save as many of his tribe's goblins as he can, and knows that the course Nualia is on will likely lead to the death of many goblins.
What does the Bad Guy do? There's not much Gogmurt can do – he's tried to tell the Warchief about Nualia and Tsuto's relationship, to no effect; he's withdrawn from the main camp to the thistle maze, but no one seems to care much. Gogmurt's reduced to pretty much hoping for a miracle.
What if the PCs do not stop the Bad Guy? In this case, it more or less a case of what will happen if the PCs don't help Gogmurt reclaim the tribe's soul. A lot of goblins will die, either when the PCs assault Thistletop, or when they defend Sandpoint. If they do help Gogmurt reclaim the tribe, then the goblins will leave Sandpoint alone for a few months… but the memories of goblins is short, and raiding will resume.
Malfeshnekor, the trapped barghest, is more or less the MacGuffin for Nualia in this adventure – she needs to free him to continue with her planned assault on Sandpoint. As such, he motivates her actions but doesn't directly play a role in the events.
The Warchief Ripnugget, while having some doubts, is thoroughly in Nualia's thrall and thus does not have the freedom of action to be treated as Bad Guys. The same goes for Bruthazmus, the bugbear. For Erylium, the mutated Koruvus plays a similar role.
Orik Vancaskerkin and Lyrie Akenja, the other henchmen Nualia has, have their own motivations, but these should not directly affect the flow of the adventure.
Next, a look at the overall structure of the adventure.