The first encounter of Escape from White Cliff starts with the characters locked in a teacher’s office, when a series of explosions rocks the school. As they struggle to disable the Arcane Lock on the door (hard skill challenge, complexity 2), the east wall explodes, dealing medium fire damage to everyone it hits (half to those it misses) and deafening them (save ends), and throwing them to the floor. Then they get to roll for initiative.

The first thing the characters see when combat begins is a shimmering spatial distortion manifest in the middle of the adjoining room (they can see through the wall, rubble is strewn about the floor and bookcases have been knocked to the floor). Three hideous, twisted creatures shimmer into view around the distortion and assault the party. A moment later, they’re joined by more than half a dozen lesser-such creatures.

If the characters are able to disable the Arcane Lock before the end of the encounter (quite a feat, since they need at least six successes, which generally means at least two characters working on it), they escape into the hallways and avoid the next big skill challenge, which involves escaping the room through the collapsed ceiling. (The party works together to navigate the burning wreckage of the room above them.)