I ran this encounter as the first one my party ran into after completing the Beginner Box. The mayor of Sandpoint had a ceremony recognizing the party, and as they left the ceremony, they were approached by a man riding on a wagon with a treasure chest on the back. The encounter takes place on a stretch of road; to add spice to the encounter, add difficult terrain and/or cover on and around the road.
As the man approaches the party on his wagon, he says: “The heroes of Sandpoint! I missed the ceremony. My name is Erik Plowpusher, and I operate a farm just outside the town. The dragon Black Fang has attacked my livestock in the past, and now that I understand he is no more, please allow me to present you with a small token of my gratitude. I don’t have much, but it’s something that will aid you in your travels.”
If and only if a player asks for it, a DC 20 Sense Motive check will reveal that something’s up.
The treasure chest is actually a Mimic. The Mimic gets a Disguise check with a +30 bonus, and if anyone beats this with a Perception check, they recognize that he’s a Mimic. If the PCs do not recognize the Mimic as a monster, it gets a surprise round. In reality, there should be no way that a level 1-2 PC can beat the Mimic’s check, so this is a good advantage for the enemies.
In the wizard’s first turn, he will cast burning hands, then use hand of the apprentice to throw his staff, or strike anyone in melee if they come too close.
Tactics: As above, and generally as specified on the website/Bestiary.
XP Value: 1,400
Modifications: If you need to dial down the difficulty a little bit, apply the Young template to the Mimic.
Other possible intros to the encounter are that the man and the Mimic are in cahoots with each other, and that the Mimic gets to eat anything they kill, and the man gets the gear. The party might find the man along the road, “fixing” his “broken” wagon wheel. If the party helps him, they can have a reward from his “treasure chest.”
Or the schtick could be that the wizard uses ghost sound to produce a muffled sound of a child crying from the treasure chest to lure the party in.
I gave the party a small gold reward, about 50 gp, and some plot information, as the wizard and Mimic had been sent by the BBEG to stop the party before they could leave Sandpoint.