I am currently running a nautical style game with the PCs playing pirates (a powerful level 7). They're currently headed back towards the town of Folum, which they have visited before, on their way to try and rescue a cleric who has been imprisoned for political crimes.
Now the town of Folum is set up as basically a defensive fort against Sahuagin raiders, a place for the local Keleran (an amphibious race based on the Darfellen in Stormwrack) to retreat to when being attacked. It's a town built high up on a cliff (like 150-200' up) against the sea, and has been heavily fortified and refortified over the years. The last time the PCs were in town (about 3-4 months ago in game time), a group of clerics were basically trying to stir the otherwise peaceful populace into raiding the Sahuagin themselves in an attempt to wipe out the race once and for all. The PCs met with these clerics (discovering they had divine magic, which was otherwise unknown to them), but then left town because they were being chased as pirates. When I asked the players if they were interested in coming back to the town, they had indicated that they might be curious to see what's going on (and maybe catch this one guy that tried to sell them out).
My original thought in having them go back to Folum was to have the town be beseiged by the Sahuagin--a couple seen of constant magical attacks, and then PCs have to try and fight their way back to their ship and get out of there. The problem is, the way I've set up the town, the ships are at the bottom of the cliff, and I see no reason the Sahuagin wouldn't just attack and destroy the PCs boat. I don't want to do this. So now I'm trying to figure out what to do. I'd really like to run a "Sahuagin raid" encounter, as it offers possibility to fight some monsterous creatures (which hasn't happened yet) and a series of fights would fit nicely into the spread of combat/non-combat style encounters I've been running. So I'm trying to decide what I want to happen.
There is the option of having the PCs come upon the town when it is under seige already, and just have them get attacked by the back end of the Sahuagin force. But then they wouldn't be able to get into town, which the PCs kind of said they wanted to do (though they didn't seem super eager, so they probably wouldn't be too upset. They're good players). This would also make it only a single encounter--I want to see how they hold up to multiple fights during a day, which hasn't happened yet.
My current thought is that maybe just as the PCs are about to leave town, the Sahuagin attack--and the race is on to get back to their ship before it is attacked and destroyed along with any other ships down there. But it's also possible that maybe the priests have finally mobilized the townsfolk, and there's an ad-hoc fleet out there to be attacked. Or maybe the fleet left a few days ago, but what comes back is instead a fleet of Sahuagin (though I'd imagine the priests might instead win--divine magic is supposed to be becoming a new power in the world).
Any suggestions? I'd like to have the PCs be able to play in town, and then have to fight a bunch of Sahuagin before leaving, but I'm having some problems making it fit. Remember, the PCs are pirates (not really the good guys), so having them "save" people is not very likely (though I could always play them up as the unintentional heroes, but I'm not sure I want that effect yet).
Thanks for listening! Just writing that out helped :)