Sunday, April 24, 2011

Howling Wilderness Map

Now that the party's adventures in the distant North have come to a fiery conclusion, resulting in their map becoming a gentle rain of ash in a dragon's lair, I thought I post my surviving copy as a reminder of all the fun we had under Hob's Hill.

That sound is my players lighting torches, sharpening pitchforks, and howling for my blood.

Next week: It's new 1st level characters back in Stonehell. The dungeon has some surprises in store for these hungry young adventurers. I can't wait to see what we come up with this time around (other than the octopus that is).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watchfires & Thrones Session #43

After their brief but ferocious encounter with the giant killer shrews, the party headed south down a newly discovered tunnel. Before long, the fetid smell of mold and large carnivore was detected in the air, under which was the scent of fresh water, and Grumble and Kejair, as the demi-humans of the party were sent ahead to scout. The party had come to believe that water would lead them out of the caves underneath Hob’s Hill and were now dedicated to finding that precious liquid.

Grumble and Kejair progressed a short distance before coming to a cave, one which seemed to have a small grotto located behind it. The smell was thicker here and the duo crossed the cave cautiously towards the smaller opening. Their progress was halted by the snuffling, growling hulk of an owlbear who emerged from the cave and hooted at them menacingly. The two turned and ran; the owlbear dropping to all fours in pursuit. As the dwarf and elf reached the party, the owlbear’s claws tore apart Kejair, splattering the walls of the tunnel with gore.

The owlbear was a tough opponent, but volleys of arrows and the fact that it could not connect with both its claws to rend the party to pieces led to its ultimate defeat. The party returned to its lair and found a small clean pool of water inside, the source of the smell they had detected, but not a way out. Taking a new path, the party found themselves once again near the throne room of King Don III and decided not to deal with his madness again unless absolutely necessary. They returned to the octagonal entry chamber to pursue one of the few remaining paths left open to them.

This tunnel brought them south, past were a side passage branched off from the main path. The party trudged along, intending to continue down the main thoroughfare when a translucent pseudopod emerged to swipe at Baragkus. The blow missed, but a large cubic form followed close behind, threatening to envelop the entire party. Gelatinous cube!

The band turned and fled, but poor Baragkus was overtaken by the cube and devoured. Hoping to retrieve his corpse before it was completely dissolved so as to raise him from the dead, the party turned to battle the beast. Axe blows, arrows, and a finely time flask of oil and thrown torch defeated the beast, allowing the party to recovered the fighting man’s body and collect a score or two of gold coins. Hardly an equal trade.

Now burdened with Baragkus’ body, the party turned down the side tunnel and again detected the smell of water, although this time it bore a slightly sulfurous taint. In a small cave adjacent to the passage the party discovered a mineral laden pool of water, which again provided no egress from the caves. Continuing along, they became excited to see a doorway ahead of them, the first they had encountered outside the eight that stood in the octagonal chamber. After examining the door, the party opened it and almost began to cry.

It was an octagonal chamber.

Luckily, the party noticed that this one lacked the “N” they had inscribed on the northernmost door way in the first octagonal room they had found themselves in. This led them to suspect they had either encountered a second such chamber or that the door had been replaced in their absence. Either was a likely scenario at this point. They sat scrutinizing Mars’ map and concluded that unless there had been grievous errors, they had indeed found a second chamber.

Deciding to finish their explorations before tackling a new batch of doors, the party headed towards the main tunnel, only to hear the heavy sounds of footfalls. They ran into the two ogres they had previously encountered, who expressed their distress of coming to watch over them only to find them gone after their initial encounter. The party explained that they had gotten lost and the ogres offered to lead them back, but the party dismissed the help. The ogres shrugged, filled their waterskins from the sulfurous water of the cave, and departed.

The party took a left at the side tunnel-main tunnel junction and found that the main tunnel terminated in a dead end, exactly as the ogres had told them it would. Some poking around revealed another false wall, one that led back into the grotto that held the slain wizard and the treasure trove. The party decided to rest again in this sanctuary before exploring the doors in the second octagonal room and rested without incident.

Healed and prepared for new challenges, the party ventured back to the octagonal chamber, encountering a quartet of flying piranha birds as they went. After dispatching the avian killers, the party found that the door to the chamber was open, as were three of the doors within. From one came the smell of water and the sound of churning rapids. Could it be?

Yes, it could. The party found themselves on a rocky beach, a roiling subterranean river heading to the east away from the labyrinth of caverns. Knowing the river they had crossed to reach the hill lay in that direction, the party followed a narrow rocky ledge that abutted the water and came across another rocky beach and wide tunnel some 500 feet down the watercourse. They ventured into the tunnel with both caution and exasperation. Would this underground hell never end?

Taking one of the tunnel’s forks by whim, the party headed on an east and southern route that took them to the site of a large rock fall. The tunnel continued on at the top of the rocky incline and the fall appeared to be relatively stable and climbable. Seeing as up was the direction they wished to go, the band elected Gareth to scale the slope first and the dwarf began his ascent.

Halfway up the slope, a giant rattler was disturbed by the climber and struck out at the dwarf. With no weapon at hand and poison fangs in his face, Gareth threw himself back and into the air, tumbling down the slope and damaging himself in the fall. The great snake advanced on the party, slithering down the rocky course, but was slain by arrows and daggers before it got close enough to strike. The snake dead, the party scaled the slope without incident and continued along the tunnel that awaited them at its apex.

As the group followed this new tunnel, exhaustion had taken its toll on their senses and they were surprised by an old and hated foe: the crab spider. Dropping from the ceiling above into their very midst, the arachnid sank its fangs into Grumble, pumping poison into the wrestler’s bloodstream. A blown saving throw later, the dwarf lay dead on the ground and a potion of human control in his gut, the last ditch effort of pouring unidentified potions into a dying party member having failed a second time.

Now down another fighter (and burdened by his corpse as well as Baragkus’), the party continued down the passage, praying for the sight of daylight. They instead found a large cavern occupied by the motionless forms of two large iguana-like lizards. The reptiles lay stretched out; their eye shut tight, and taking no notice of the party. So the adventures naturally decided to kill them.

To do so, Korlack drank a potion of invisibility and his elven cloak was given to Cullen. The plan was to sneak up to the lizards and stab them in their sleep. The two crept forward (assumingly) and Korlack plunged his dagger into the slumbering lizard, which immediately awoke and was peppered by arrows. As each struck, the beast’s back grew redder and redder and waves of heat flowed off the animal. One last arrow struck home and the lizard died, expelling a blast of fiery breath into the air as it collapsed onto the ground.

That’s when the party noticed that the second lizard remained unmoving. “Cullen,” they called out, but not reply came. That sonofabitch! He had taken the cloak and snuck off, obviously thinking that he had a better chance of getting out of this place alone with a magical cloak than with these trouble magnets. Oh, the party was pissed.

At the far end of the lizard cave stood a stone, slab-like door, which the party pried open despite its great weight. In the small cave beyond it lay a decrepit living quarters. A skeleton dressed in plate armor lay slumped on a creaking chair, a longsword near it bony hand. A quiver of five arrows hung on its back and a broken longbow lay under an ancient table. The party helped themselves to armor, arrows, and sword and continued to search the room, finding a secret door in one wall. This led to a narrow, slightly upward heading passage that ended in a blank wall. Further searching found the secret door at this dead end, and the concealed portal was opened to reveal an awesome sight beyond it.

A great cavern stretched out before the party. At the far end was a wide tunnel from which the dim light of the surface world shone. At long last the exit had been found! One problem: Between them and the exit lay the great form of a red dragon!!!

The party returned to the skeleton’s room and planned their egress as best as they could. It was decided that Mars Markus would cloak them all in a silence spell to cover their crossing. Marlowe would bear the magical arms they had found and equip himself with one of the rings of fire resistance. If all turned bad, Marlowe would try and fight the beast while the others ran with their slain comrades, hopefully buying them time to escape. The party rested fitfully and then prepared. Slinking back up the tunnel, they entered the cavern.

The party followed the southern wall, slipping past the dragon’s body until they reached the midway point of the cavern. That’s when the dragon’s head rose, its neck pivoting to place the party directly in the wyrm’s line of sight…and more importantly, breath.

The dragon inquired as to whom was sneaking into his home and the party was forced to try and talk their way out of their dire predicament. Shedding the silence spell since it no longer did them any good, the band began to tell the dragon their story—their arrival in this world, their exploits in Stonehell, their involvement in the Hobgoblin War—anything to keep the beast’s attention and win mercy from it.

As Mars recounted their tale, the dragon listened with interest at first, but as the story dragged on, it became less entertained and began to drum its talons impatiently. The party pressed on, hoping for a streak of luck that would save them. The dragon, eventually deciding that these interlopers needed a reminder of the prowess of its kind, shifted its great bulk, inhaled, and incinerated the party.

Watchfires & Thrones Session #42

Baragkus, Grumble, Marlowe, Lyrax, and Kejair tumbled down a long, twisting slope, their bodies battered by the stone walls and floor of the slide. Their descent ended abruptly when they fell through a hinged door to land on the floor of an octagonal room shrouded in darkness. As they collected themselves and nursed their new bruises, Grumble and Kejair were able to determine that the chamber they now resided in contained a series of eight identical doors, one set in each wall. The party began to kindle a light so that its human contingent could see as well.

Meanwhile, back above, Mars, Korlack, and the rest began to plan how to extradite their compatriots from the shaft. From the faintness of their voices, it seemed as if the unlucky adventurers had tumbled hundreds of feet and the boys upstairs had a mere 50’ or so of cord amongst them. They decided that they needed to cross the 20’ wide chute mouth and reach the hobgoblin storeroom they had discovered earlier. At least 700’ of stout hemp rope awaited them there.

The upstairs group managed to string a line across the open chute mouth and started crossing over. Mars, Fisk, Cleopos, and Cullen had reached the far side when a trio of bugbears appeared from out of the gloom and charged down the corridor. Fisk and Mars did their best to defeat the hulky brutes, but Mars was knocked to the ground and wounds began to accumulate. Rather than perish, Mars dove into the chute, followed swiftly by the other three, leaving just Korlack and Gareth in the hallway—but on the far side of the cute from the bugbear menaces.

While this pitched combat was taking place, the boys down below had managed to get a torch going and started to examine the chamber in more detail. Their search was interrupted by two pale, wild-eyed madmen who charged into the room from one of its many doors and attacked the newcomers, jabbering gibberish and frothing spittle. The fight was brief, but painful for the party who found themselves nursing new wounds on top of their recent bruises.

The downstairs group proceeded to examine all the doors, opening each in turn to see what lay beyond them. Each stretched off into darkness: long twisting tunnels that vanished into the gloom without a clue of where they may lead. Grumble and Kejair took the chance at venturing down one to scout ahead and discovered it eventually lead to a large cave; one that their infravision determined was occupied by at least three dog-sized heat sources. They retreated back to the octagonal chamber just in time to witness Mars Markus, Fisk, Cleopos, and Cullen come crashing down the chute to join them.

Upstairs, Korlack and Gareth watched as the bugbears slinked away into the gloom and were forced to decide whether to join their companions or continue with the rescue effort. This debate was interrupted by the sound of large, running feet that herald the charge of the largest of the bugbears attempting the leap the chute and slay the two remaining interlopers. The hulking beast launched itself into the air, broadsword held high to chop down its first victim—only to miss the far end of the chute’s open mouth by three feet. Tumbling, ass over teakettle, the bugbear disappeared out of sight down the slide. Fearing this to be the first of such assaults, Korlack and Gareth sighed, pulled out the mage’s bedroll and proceeded to use it as a sled as they too entered the chute to rejoin their companions.

The party below was busy watching the doors for danger when one dropped right into their midst. The bugbear surprised all of them, but was too stunned to take advantage of his literal drop on them. Getting to its feet, it was quickly engaged by the rest of the band, dying under their blows as Korlack and Gareth came sliding into the room to reunite the party once again.

Battered, lost, and uncertain of their next step, the party chose to drink wine and bind their wounds as they planned. This rest was unfortunately interrupted by two more subterranean madmen charging into the room via the door closest to Fisk, making the much wounded hired sword their first target. Their hacking attacks were more than enough to slay the injured fighter and the party suffered their first death beneath Hob’s Hill. It would not be their last.

The party was able to defeat the two madmen in the moments afterward, but they had lost a valuable ally and were still horribly injured, tired, and desperate so they again chose to take time to bind their wounds and recoup. THIS rest was interrupted by the tramp of heavy boot steps and yet another door opened to reveal TWO ogres!

Marlowe stepped to forefront and engaged the ogres in conversation using their own tongue, an effort the giants appreciated. They revealed that they had fallen down the very same chute some time ago and were currently working for King Don III, the lord of the Underworld. They were in fact on their way to report to him right then and the party could follow them if they wished. Suspicious, but with no better options, the party joined the ogres.

Through another door and down a new tunnel, the party was brought into the audience chamber of King Don III, a pale and obviously insane potentate who sat upon a stone chair and wrapped himself in an unraveling purple rug. The party tried to gain assistance from the so-called king, but they were unable to decipher his twisted thought process and treaded very close to outright treason to the king’s thinking. He offered to allow them to rest in the octagonal chamber with the ogres as watchmen and told the party to go back to that place and await the return of the two hulking brutes. King Don III had to speak with the ogres first…

Suspecting their doom was being plotted, the party returned to the octagonal room and departed immediately after leaving Fisk’s body in the center of the room and an “N” inscribed on the northernmost door. In the hours ahead, the party would wind their way through several corridors, finding nothing but empty caves, bugbears who were willing to fight them to the death over the ownership of their pants, and a dead-end cave where ghouls were dining on the (later revealed) corpse of Fisk. All these passages eventually lead back to the octagonal room!

A side note: Jack, the player who runs Mars Markus and Anwar, loves to map out any and every subterranean space the party explores, sometime to the point of distraction. One of the reasons I decided to run Horror on the Hill (which is the basis of this part of the campaign) was because this part of it is a twisting labyrinth designed to make mappers crazy. All my directions and descriptions were vague and rapid-fire, leaving poor Jack to try and keep up with my narration of the labyrinth. At one point the rest of the group was in hysterics at Jack’s frantic effort to draw my verbal account of the dungeon. Some swear steam was actually seen rising from his ears.

The party’s exploratory efforts were finally rewarded when they discovered a dead-end tunnel, one that appeared a little too dead-end if you catch my drift. Sure enough, Grumble’s inspection of the stone revealed a false wall and the almost empty cave beyond it. In this obviously undisturbed grotto lay a long-dead wizard clutching a spellbook and bag. A page of the spellbook contained his last message to the world:

6th Day of The Blaze, 1098 GCR

To think that it ends this way: Prydaree Kuhlth, Master of Wands and Agent of the Cerulean Flame, perishes in a gods’ forsaken cave beneath the site of his greatest victory. Should anyone find my missive, please let it be known that I was successful in my task and bury me where I shall not be found and my grave remain unriled.

Four days ago, I was summoned into the presence of His Exalted Supremacy,Draz Stephan Hastane and tasked with a great service to the empire: the recovery of the Hypnopsychomachina. This device, a creation of His Supremacy’s debased but genius sister, Isodore, had fallen into the possession of the Whelps of Tsathoggua and was spirited away to their noxious fane in the hinterlands of the Empire. With the Retreat to occur in less than three faces, it was imperative that the device be recovered before the Hastane dynastic line vacated this mortal realm for good. As the most trusted agent of the Imperial Secret Watch, it fell to me to recover it.

The journey northeast into the Howling Wilderness took but hours with the Modi Goats and I located the profane temple in short order. With no time or desire for subtlety, lightning was my harbinger and the lower initiates of the Great Sloth-Bat fell twitching before my assault. Their faith was no match for my spells and I hewed them down like wheat before the whirlwind.

Locating the High Foulness’ inner sanctum was no more difficult, but I nearly underestimated my opponent. Our battle—my spells against his prayers—was fierce and I nearly perished in the combat. Nevertheless, I prevailed, albeit injured, and took possession of the Hypnopsychomachina. I prepared to return back to His Supremacy in triumph.

In my hubris, I failed to detect a simple trap that sent me tumbling in this subterranean hell. My abrupt descent was arrested by a collision with the rocky floor that shattered my left arm and right leg. Drained of spells and lacking healing draughts, I crawled about in the darkness for a seeming eternity before finding this small refuge. There are other things down here with me and it is only a matter of time before I’m found or I die from my wounds. Even if I could rest and replenish my spells, my injuries make it impossible for me to make the intricate gestures needed to perform all by the slightest of magics.

I’ve produced one final spell, a simple illumination cantrip by which I might pen this final message on a blank page within my traveling spellbook. I hope the light lasts long enough for me to finish my work.

If another practitioner of the Ineffable Path finds this, my work is given unto you free of geas or curse. Use what you may with my blessings and I regret I leave but a minor tome to you rather than my master workbook of spells. Oh what mysteries I have in those pages!

It is likely that the Retreat will have passed before this is found. If such be the case, I also entrust the Hypnopsychomachina to whomever finds my remains. Its power is ingenious if subtle. When used correctly, the device

It appeared that poor Prydaree’s light spell did indeed expire before he could complete his missive.

While this was being deciphered, Marlowe opened the bag to find an iron skull, one the size of a nine year-old child’s. Ten indentations where arranged around the skull, five to a side, and the object has black glass-like lenses for eye. Placing his fingers in the indentations and staring into the eyes, the world fell away from Marlowe…

The next thing he knew, he was standing along a roadside with various other highway men, awaiting a fat priest and his load of church gold. Robbing the cleric, the freebooter’s vision shifted to a dingy bar tavern where a fight erupted over a stolen pouch. Next he experienced a knife in that back at the hands of an “ally” and died in a pool of blood, only to find himself again plundering a chest from aboard a burning merchant ship. These visions were indistinguishable from reality and the freebooter seemed to pass several days of his life engaged in his chosen career. Then, without warning, Marlowe found himself back in the cave with the skull in hand. Less than a second had passed, but Marlowe was now a more experienced freebooter, having been trained to second level. From the skull came an indistinct voice that said “fourteen.”

The rest of the party was suspicious about Marlowe following this, but didn’t press the issue and the freebooter took full possession of the skull. The party rested, confident (and correct) that they’d be undisturbed in the cave, allowing them to heal and regain spells for the first time in seemingly forever. The next morning, Grumble discovered another false wall in the cave that led to a hidden treasure trove of coins, jewels, objects d’art, magical plate mail, sword, a ring of fire resistance, and potions of healing.

Rest, armed, and feeling confident, the party left the cave and returned to the octagonal room. They were running out of doors and tunnels and so decided to proceed down the path that Grumble and Kejair had explored much earlier. This led to back to the cave and they learned that the heat-producing forms were in truth giant killer shrews that proved to be more dangerous than they initially seemed. Baragkus took several mean wounds in the fight, but the three vicious beasts were overcome…which unfortunately meant the party had orphaned the naked, pink offspring they discovered immediately afterwards in the shrews’ nest. Despite an attempt on Mars’ part to adopt and raise the newborns, some poison was dispensed and a quiet murder in the dark settled the issue in time for the session to come to a close.

Monday, April 11, 2011

“Give Us Your Pants!”

True story: The party had a run in with a trio of bugbears during yesterday’s session who attacked them solely because they were jealous that the party owned pants when they themselves were pantsless.

I’d like to thank Otherworld Miniatures for putting this idea in the back of my head some time ago when they released their line of old school pantsless bugbears. I think I know what my next Otherworld purchase had to be now that I’ve completed my set of OW Hobgoblins.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Watchfires & Thrones Session #41

The band made it back the evil priest’s hidden quarters without encountering any opposition. The Citadel seemed quiet—perhaps too much so. Once they closed the secret door behind them, the party collapsed to the floor, exhausted. It had been a long and draining day. Mars and Korlack tucked themselves in for a long sleep so they could recover their spells while the rest of the band divided up a watch schedule.

Grumble was on alert first and towards the end of his vigil he heard the sounds of hobgoblin voices from seemingly on the other side of the priest’s western wall. For a brief moment, he heard what sounded like a voice speaking Common, but it was abruptly cut off. The voices faded as quickly as they had appeared, and the dwarven wrestler woke Lyrax to take his shift.

The human archer sat quietly in the dim room, his eyes and ears sharp to catch the sound of any approaching danger. His watchfulness was rewarded at the middle of his shift when he heard a “click” come from the western wall of the room. A section of wall swung open on concealed hinges to reveal a pair of very surprised hobgoblins coming to fetch their priest. A party of hardened adventurers was not what they expected!

Before they could raise a hue and cry, Lyrax nocked an arrow and fired. His first shot rammed its way through the lead hobgoblin’s right eye, slaying it on the spot. The fighting man immediately nocked a second missile and sent it into the remaining hobgoblin’s heart, dropping him to the ground with the clatter of splint mail. His actions failed to awaken his exhausted companions. Dragging the two dead hobgoblins into the room, he shut the secret door and barricaded it with their corpses.

An hour later, Baragkus awoke to take his shift and was surprised to find the room a bit more crowded than it was when he went to sleep. Lyrax filled him in on the events that took place during his watch and then settled down to catch some rest in the corner by the room’s only visible door.

Baragkus leaned against his great sword and proceeded to count the minutes until it was time to wake the rest of the band and get back to slaying hobgoblins. The gods, perhaps sensing his impatience, were kind enough to send another band of hobgoblins, this time accompanied by a pair of goblins, to the priest’s quarters. The previous duo had been dispatched to fetch the evil cleric and someone was beginning to wonder what happened to them.

The door to the room swung open and Baragkus charged towards the opening portal, catching the two hobgoblins off guard. The opening door thumped into Lyrax, jostling him awake and he looked up to see Baragkus swinging a sword right above him. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he too caught sight of the hobgoblins and shoved the door fiercely back at the orange-skinned intruders.

Baragkus wounded his first foe and Lyrax’s shove sent the second off balance. From behind the hobgoblins, one of their goblin lackeys hurled a knife into the fray, but missed. It clattered to the floor, awakening Cullen, who sprang to his feet and readied his short bow.

The melee in the doorway continued, but the noise was insufficient to wake most of the party. Mars looked up for a moment before turning over and drawing his blanket over his head. Korlack snored away. Grumble nuzzled closer to Cleopos, dreaming of hairy, short women. Cullen and the goblin continued to exchange missiles and the thief finally dropped his target.

At this time, Baragkus slew his own foe and Lyrax climbed to his feet and drew his sword, backing up the burly warrior. The remaining goblin stepped up to close the gap and was swiftly dispatched, leaving only the second hobgoblin. That poor soul barely had time to consider retreat before it too collapsed in its death throes in a pool of blood. Baragkus and Lyrax dragged the corpses into the increasingly crowded room, mopped up the blood in the hall as best they could, and waited out the last remaining hour of the “night’s” watch.

The rest of the band woke up shortly thereafter and wine was drunk, spells prepared, prayers said, and weapons readied. Once set, the band departed the room through the newly revealed secret door and found themselves in the temple they had recently stumbled upon. Their map indicated that unopened door stood waiting in the hall outside and the party vacated the fane to continue their search for the hobgoblin command.

Out in the hall they found the first door locked, but Cullen was able to pick the simple security measure. Behind the door lay a dining hall, gloomy and empty. Half the party had ventured into it when the sound of a door opening at the room’s dark southern end was heard. This was immediately followed by a yelp of surprise, the dropping of crockery, and the sound of the door slamming shut. Goblin servants, the party surmised.

A moment later, Gareth shouted, “Dere makin’ a ruun for it!” and pointed down the hallway. A second door had opened south of the party’s position and a quartet of goblin servants were running down the corridor. Gareth, torch in hand and murder in his eyes, took off after them and the rest of the party swiftly followed.

The four goblins reached a third door and began shouting for aid. The door swung open and they vanished inside with the party hot on their heels. Mars and Gareth reached the door first and saw that the chamber beyond held four hobgoblin guards in addition to the goblin servants. The two clashed in the doorway with the first pair of hobgoblin guards while the rest of the group fell into position behind the cleric and dwarf, readying missile weapons or moving to strike around the two combatants.

The party’s missiles quickly dropped the goblins, but the two remaining hobgoblins flipped a pair of tables over and took cover behind their thick oaken tops. Gareth took a near fatal blow and was forced to retreat, allowing Grumble to move forward and press his own attack. Moments later, Mars and Grumble had cleared the doorway and the party slowly edged into the room, eyes peeled and weapons ready.

Fisk and Baragkus were the first to catch sight of the two remaining hobgoblins crawling across the floor behind their impromptu barricades, making their way towards a door on the opposite end of the room. They fired and killed one of the slinking guards, but the second reached the door and rushed through it with the party close behind. The door opened into another north-south corridor and their quarry turned south, reaching another closed door just a short distance from the guard room. As the hobgoblin threw open the door and tried to escape, he was cut down and the party stood triumphant yet again. Plus, they now suspected that their ultimate goal, the hobgoblin warlord and his inner circle, lay to the south in the direction of the guard’s flight.

The party collected themselves and continued along to the south. The corridor split and they took the southern fork before finding themselves in a long east-west corridor. Two side passages split off from the main corridor. The northern one ended in a single door, one held shut by a wooden wedge kicked under the portal, and the southern one terminated in two doors on either side of the hall. The wedged door seemed the more interesting and, after making sure it was quiet beyond and untrapped, the party burst into the room ready for anything.

Anything except of a pair of gagged prisoners tied to two chairs, that is.

The party freed the duo, a human freebooter named Marlowe Freemann and an elf named Kejair. The two had been hired by one of the local homesteads to determine where the spate of current attacks against the frontier forts had come from. The two arrived on Hob’s Hill to find that the knoll was alive with hobgoblin patrols. Someone had stirred up the hornets’ nest and they were themselves captured by one of the search parties. They were dragged back to the Citadel and question by the hobgoblin warlord before being stowed away in this room while the hobgoblins awaited the Citadel’s evil priest to come and assist their questioning. But, for some reason, the sinister minister never showed up…

Passing out weapons to the armored but unarmed adventurers, the party learned that the warlord’s throne room lay just down the hall and that he was there holding court with a half-dozen or so other hobgoblins. A rough sketch was made and the party, now two members stronger, left the room and headed back to the main corridor.

Fearing a rush of reinforcements at their back during their assault, the party turned down the southern passage to see what lay in those rooms. Both turned out to be barracks, but only one was currently occupied. A six-count of sleeping hobgoblins lay in the bunks of the manned quarters and they were quietly dispatched with knives across their throats. With that bloody work finished, the party headed to the hobgoblin court and, plan prepared, threw open the room’s massive double doors to rain holy hell down on the unsuspecting occupants within.

The party rushed in to confront a quartet of hobgoblins who stood around a fire pit in the center of the cross-shaped room. At the opposite end, atop a great stone and wood throne, sat a hulking, scarred specimen of hobgoblinkind that could only be Warlord Zoka; a pair of brawny bodyguards flanked his throne, spears clenched in calluses hands.

Baragkus, Grumble, and Kejair charged up to face the quartet of hobgoblins while Korlack and Mars intoned magic words to drop incapacitating enchantments upon the hobgoblins. Mars successfully held Warlord Zoka as he sprung to his feet and pointed at the intruders; Korlack’s sleep spell put three of the hobgoblins—and the elf, Kejair—into supernatural slumber.

One of the Warlord’s bodyguards raced into the fray and another pair of hobgoblins appeared from the southern wing of the room where they had been drinking draughts of fearsomely bad rot gut from a large keg. The other bodyguard stood his ground to defend his motionless commander.

Lyrax and Fisk began sending flight after flight of arrows towards the Warlord, many of which struck home with bloody thuds. Gareth, nearly incapacitated from his wounds, and Korlack, now spell-less, waited in the hall outside, shouting encouragement to their companions. Marlowe and Cullen slinked into the room, looking to position themselves for the best sneak attack.

The bodyguard kicked one of the sleeping hobgoblins awake as he reached the battle and the other two charged in to clash with the two fighting men and the spider priest. Blows were exchanged with ferocity and accuracy, and the floor was soon awash with blood hobgoblin, dwarf, and human. Marlowe approached the inert commander and was blocked by the second bodyguard—and he soon found himself in trouble! The bodyguard was more than a match for the highwayman, and only by sacrificing his shield did he survive a blow that would have surely slain him. Baragkus and Grumble both downed their foes and rushed to their new comrade’s assistance. Mars held his ground, keeping the remaining hobgoblin from slaying the sleeping Kejair, while Cullen, off in one corner, began lobbing shafts at the hobgoblin commander as well. Soon, Warlord Zoka looked like a porcupine, but still refused to fall (I wonder why?)

The combined forces of Baragkus and Grumble were enough to drop the second bodyguard, saving Marlowe, and Mars downed his own foe immediately thereafter. When the last of the remaining hobgoblins fell, the party approached Zoka with the intent to dispatch or capture him. They then learned that he was very dead, having been slain by an arrow sometime ago, but unable to collapse due to Mars’ magical hold. Victory! The Hobgoblin Menace was no more!

The party searched the room, finding both the Warlord’s and the bodyguards’ chambers attached to the throne room. Coin was located, a necklace looted, and a curious crimson ring adorned the Warlord’s finger. Yet, something was missing.

A renewed and more intensive search finally uncovered a secret treasure vault containing two very trapped chests. The Warlord’s key easily bypassed their protections, however, and a bevy of coins and several muddy brown and gray potion bottles were found within them. The party encumbered themselves with this loot and started back towards the surface, looking forward to the trip back to Blackpool with word of their victory.

It was about that time when the floor opened up underneath Baragkus, Grumble, Marlowe, and Lyrax, sending them tumbling down a concealed chute in the corridor outside the throne room. Mars and Kejair teetered on the edge of the precipice before them for a moment before the elf went tumbling after the foursome. Mars, his own plunge arrested by Korlack, looked first at the mage, Cullen, Gareth, Fisk, and Cleopos, and then down at the long, dark, sloping chute in front of them…

Gareth Ironhead

Level 2 Dwarf of the Ironhead Vein

STR: 13 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 12
CON: 16 (+2 hit points)
INT: 10
WIS: 9
CHA: 8 (+1 reaction)

Hit Points: 13
Armor Class: 8

Special Traits/Abilities: Infravision 60', detect traps, false walls, hidden construction, and sloped passages 2/6. Blacksmith, weaponsmith, and Ferrumic smith.

Languages: Common, Dwarven,Gobbelty, Gnome, Kobold

Weapons: Big hammer, small hammer
Armor: Leather apron
Magic Items: None Objects of questionable value:

Experience: 3,045 (+5%)
Last Update: 04/09/11

Cullen D'Filch

Level 2 Human Thief

STR: 10
DEX: 16 (-2 AC, +2 missile, +1 initiative)
CON: 9
INT: 8
WIS: 13 (+1 save vs. spells)
CHA: 10

Hit Points: 7
Armor Class: 5 (7 surprised)

Special Traits/Abilities: Pick Locks 28%, F/R Traps 22%, Pick Pockets 32%, Move Silently 32%, Climb Walls 93%, Hide in Shadows 22%, Hear Noise 2/6, Backstab (+4, x2 damage)

Languages: Common, Thieves Cant

Weapons: Short bow, short sword
Armor: Studded leather armor
Magic Items: None

Objects of questionable value: Thieves tools

Experience: 2,666 (+10%)
Last Update: 04/09/11

Marlowe Freemann

Neutral Level 1 Freebooter
Played by: Mark

STR: 14 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 15 (-1 AC, +1 missile/initiative)
CON: 12
INT: 18 (+3 additional languages)
WIS: 8 (-1 to saves vs. mind-affecting magic)
CHA: 13 (-1 reaction, 5 retainers, 8 morale)

Hit Points: 4
Armor Class: 4 (5 suprised/shieldless)

Special Traits/Abilities: Hide in Shadows 13%, Move Silently 27%, Climb Walls 87%, Backstab (+4, x2 damage)

Languages: Common, Thieves Cant, Bugbear, Goblin, Ogre

Weapons: Short bow, short sword, dagger, longsword
Armor: Scale mail & shield
Magic Items: None

Objects of questionable value: 3 hobgoblin longswords

Experience: 1849 (+5%)
Last Update: 4/9/11


Neutral Level 1 Elf
Played by: Matt


Hit Points:
Armor Class:

Special Traits/Abilities: 60' infravision, detect secret doors 2/6, immune to ghoul paralysis.

Languages: Common, Elvish, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, and Orc

Spellbook: floating disk, protection from evil, levitate

Weapons: Longsword, long bow
Armor: Splint mail & shield
Magic Items: None

Objects of questionable value: 3 hobgoblin longswords

Last Update: 4/9/11