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 Post subject: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #12a
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
HARD CORE

And so, after trying to wade through WOTCs Core Modules (KOTS and on...) on several occasions I, or rather we (me and five other fools), thought we'd give it one more go. I've DMed the first four modules previously, I've actually DMed KOTS half-a-dozen times, several of the players had also attempted KOTS previously- although for two of them it ended in a TPK courtesy of that tough Goblin SOB- Irontooth. Another of the players got as far as Thunderspire...

Anyway, we'd had a few drinks when we made the promise, to do it all H, P and E- to the bitter end, as the title says- Hard Core.

We're also Hard Core in that we're going to try and get through the adventures as quickly as possible, to aid us in this venture we have added in the following house rules-

Monster damage increased to MM3, erring on more rather than less.

Action Point every encounter- no saving them, i.e. a PC can only ever have a maximum of one.

Fewer but more difficult encounters.

Fights, so far, have been for the most part short and bloody, although we've had a fair few epic affairs- you'll see.

I've also made some changes to the Heroic tier modules, simply put they're not that great (although I've a soft spot for Thunderspire), and I've DMed them too many times already to just do the same again.

Last point we're playing this game more or less constantly, there have been the odd sessions around the table, but a majority of the play is via maptools, however in-between these scheduled sessions via Skype, text, e-mail etc. the game has pressed on. The players have conducted their characters from some pretty strange places so far- european ski slopes, asian beaches, or else wandering the streets of strange towns laptop in hand trying to locate a signal, or yelling draconic obscenities in the middle of internet cafes in far flung places... it's been a blast.

And so here goes...


Last edited by goonalan on Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:41 am, edited 27 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:55 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
HARD CORE

On the 19th day of the third month of the year 2012, at number six Jepperson Street, in Upper Fallcrest- a rather well-to-do area of the city, a strange meeting takes place, well... strange-ish. The meeting is 'chaired', if that indeed is the correct word, by Gerda Staul, wife of Douvern Staul- ex-adventurer, ex-royal advisor to the Markelhay family and at present ex-of Fallcrest...

“He set out for Winterhaven four weeks past, another one of his darn 'digs'”, Gerda looks across the table at a large metal man, a warforged, she tuts; the warforged raises an eyebrow, or at least does the best it can not having eyebrows and being entirely made of unyielding metal.

Gerda continues, “... some burial site, he said- outside of Winterhaven, from the time of the old Empire- he said. And so off he went... not a care in the world, I said to him...” Gerda stops talking, fetches a handkerchief from her sleeve and blows her nose. She takes a moment and composes herself.

“I'm rambling, sorry, but I miss the silly old bugger- and I know nothing bad has happened to him, he always comes back, he's just stuck in a hole somewhere- getting dirty and excited about old bones and even older junk.”

A pair of small but hairy hands snake out and grasp Gerda's right hand, do their best to enfold it, Gerda smiles down at her son Jimmy, and sniffs.

“I'd just like you to make sure- go to Winterhaven, find him and tell him to come home. He's getting too old for...” Gerda tails off, “... I just miss him.” She finishes.

Silence for a moment, save Gerda's sniffles, “Will you? Please.” She asks and looks plaintively at the others sat at the table.

Jimmy, holding his mother's hand still, grins up at her and nods his head- almost eager- “We'll find dad, don't worry mum,” the smartly dressed young halfling resolutely states.

Sat awkwardly next to Jimmy is a bulky bull-headed female, a member of the minotaur race- Hedda, dressed in purple-robed finery and bearing the holy symbol of the platinum dragon- Bahamut, she too nods, with nothing to add to the conversation.

Next around the table, barely balanced on his seat, is the warforged, battered and ancient looking- Hal, the metal man's eyes flash his agreement. He opens his mouth to speak, then thinks better of it, shuts his mouth and bows his head a little, unable to meet Gerda's gaze.

The fifth chair is occupied by a monstrous looking, scarred, half-orc, with a thick head of hair, dressed for hard labour in worn and oft-repaired clothes- Gokan nods once- definite, and grunts his assent.

The last member of the assembled group is a bald and stern looking dwarf, old even by his long-lived race's counting- Sigur of Hammerfast, growls, stands- almost knocking over his chair, and in his gruff voice speaks. “Well! Let's get going then!” The dwarf declares with a hint of impatience.

Gerda grins, sniffles and then grins some more- her eyes glisten.

The others noisily stand, and one by one troop from the room, each taking a moment to make eye contact with Gerda as they file past her.

Sigur nods curtly and thumps his chest with his right hand, some sort of dwarven salute no doubt. Hedda does her best to smile as she bows low to Gerda- “May Bahamut bless our undertaking” she adds; in the background Sigur hisses and harrumphs.

Hal, the warforged, files past with only a sideward glance at the woman.

Gokan next in line stops for a second, reaches out with one of his large calloused hands and gently touches the middle-aged human woman's cheek- Gerda nestles against Gokan's hand and smiles up at the half-orc. Gokan makes a low, content, animal-like sound and then quickly moves off- leaving Gerda and Jimmy.

The halfling tightens his grip on his mother's hand, leans in and plants a kiss on Gerda's cheek, she smiles as the tears fall, and then Jimmy is gone too. Just Gerda, alone in her room, and the darkness outside.

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Last edited by goonalan on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:32 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:03 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
The Adventurers

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Gokan

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Gokan, level 1
Half-Orc, Barbarian
Build: Whirling Barbarian
Feral Might Option: Whirling Slayer
Recent Life - Mercenary Work (+2 to Athletics)
Theme: Mercenary

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 20, CON 13, DEX 15, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 13, DEX 13, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10

AC: 16 Fort: 17 Ref: 13 Will: 10
HP: 28 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +6, Athletics +11, Perception +5

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana –1, Bluff +0, Diplomacy +0, Dungeoneering +0, Endurance +2, Heal +0, History –1, Insight +0, Intimidate +2, Nature +0, Religion –1, Stealth +1, Streetwise +0, Thievery +1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mercenary Attack: Takedown Strike
Half-Orc Racial Power: Furious Assault
Barbarian Feature: Whirling Lunge
Barbarian Attack 1: Whirling Rend
Barbarian Attack 1: Howling Strike
Barbarian Attack 1: Whirling Frenzy
Barbarian Attack 1: Macetail's Rage

FEATS
Level 1: Thirst for Battle

ITEMS
Hide Armor x1
Adventurer's Kit
Battleaxe
Handaxe x5
====== End ======


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Hedda

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Hedda, level 1
Minotaur, Cleric (Templar)
Build: Battle Cleric
Cleric Option: Healer's Lore
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Ordained Priest

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 11, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 18, CHA 13

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 16, CON 11, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 16, CHA 13

AC: 16 Fort: 14 Ref: 10 Will: 16
HP: 30 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Diplomacy +6, Heal +9, Insight +9, Religion +4

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics –1, Arcana –1, Athletics +3, Bluff +1, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance –1, History –1, Intimidate +1, Nature +6, Perception +6, Stealth –1, Streetwise +1, Thievery –1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Ordained Priest Attack: Shining Symbol
Minotaur Racial Power: Goring Charge
Cleric Feature: Divine Fortune
Cleric Feature: Turn Undead
Cleric Utility: Healing Word
Cleric Attack 1: Righteous Brand
Cleric Attack 1: Gaze of Defiance
Cleric Attack 1: War Priest's Strike
Cleric Attack 1: Avenging Flame

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Weapon Expertise (Mace)

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Comrades' Succor
Comprehend Language
Chainmail x1
Adventurer's Kit
Morningstar x1
Holy Symbol x1
Sling
====== End ======


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Sigur

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Sigur of Hammerfast, level 1
Dwarf, Invoker
Build: Wrathful Invoker
Divine Covenant Option: Covenant of Wrath
Early Life - Imprisoned (Thievery class skill)
Theme: Earthforger

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 16, DEX 11, INT 10, WIS 20, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 14, DEX 11, INT 10, WIS 18, CHA 8

AC: 16 Fort: 14 Ref: 11 Will: 16
HP: 26 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 6

TRAINED SKILLS
Endurance +9, Insight +10, Religion +5, Thievery +4

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics –1, Arcana +0, Athletics –1, Bluff –1, Diplomacy –1, Dungeoneering +7, Heal +5, History +0, Intimidate –1, Nature +5, Perception +5, Stealth –1, Streetwise –1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Earthforger Attack: Stone Panoply
Dwarf Racial Power: Dwarven Resilience
Invoker Feature: Rebuke Undead
Covenant of Wrath: Power: Armor of Wrath
Invoker Attack 1: Visions of Blood
Invoker Attack 1: Hand of Radiance
Invoker Attack 1: Thunder of Judgment
Invoker Attack 1: Angelic Echelon

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Implement Expertise (Rod)

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Hand of Fate
Pass Without Trace
Chainmail x1
Adventurer's Kit
Mace x1
Hand crossbow
Rod Implement
====== End ======


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Hal 5000

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Hal 5000, level 1
Warforged, Fighter (Weaponmaster)
Build: Great Weapon Fighter
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: Two-handed Weapon Talent
Thousand Yard Stare (Perception class skill)
Theme: Ironwrought

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 20, CON 15, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 13, CHA 10

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 13, CHA 10

AC: 17 Fort: 17 Ref: 10 Will: 12
HP: 30 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +11, Endurance +10, Perception +6

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +0, Arcana –1, Bluff +0, Diplomacy +0, Dungeoneering +1, Heal +1, History –1, Insight +1, Intimidate +2, Nature +1, Religion –1, Stealth +0, Streetwise +0, Thievery +0

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Ironwrought Attack: Inevitable Strike
Warforged Racial Power: Warforged Resolve
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Cleave
Fighter Attack 1: Reaping Strike
Fighter Attack 1: Hack and Hew
Fighter Attack 1: Lasting Threat

FEATS
Level 1: Two-Handed Weapon Expertise

ITEMS
Scale Armor x1
Adventurer's Kit
Greatsword
====== End ======


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Jimmy Hoofenburger

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Sammy Hoofenburger, level 1
Halfling, Rogue (Scoundrel)
Build: Trickster Rogue
Rogue Tactics Option: Cunning Sneak
Rogue Option: Scoundrel Weapon Talent
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Outlaw

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 10, DEX 20, INT 10, WIS 11, CHA 16

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 10, DEX 18, INT 10, WIS 11, CHA 14

AC: 17 Fort: 10 Ref: 17 Will: 13
HP: 32 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 8

TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +12, Bluff +8, Perception +5, Stealth +10, Streetwise +8, Thievery +12

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +0, Athletics –1, Diplomacy +3, Dungeoneering +0, Endurance +0, Heal +0, History +0, Insight +0, Intimidate +3, Nature +0, Religion +0

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Outlaw Attack: Surprise Strike
Halfling Racial Power: Second Chance
Rogue Attack 1: Deft Strike
Rogue Attack 1: Sly Flourish
Rogue Attack 1: Acrobat's Blade Trick
Rogue Attack 1: Blinding Barrage

FEATS
Level 1: Light Blade Expertise

ITEMS
Leather Armor x1
Adventurer's Kit
Dagger x6
Shuriken
====== End ======


None of the PCs are 'optimised' of course, that's not what we're about, although if you have suggestions then don't hesitate to shout out- but don't be disappointed if we ignore them, or else the character doesn't change for a good while. This write up is way behind the actual action in-game, the guys are almost Paragon level at the moment.

Last point, I make notes- lots of notes, I'm a little OCD that way- that's what I'm going to share with you here, or else a version of the action. I'll also tell you how the plot's going, and changes I've made to encounters et al. Y'know, just for kicks.

Happy hunting.


Last edited by goonalan on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:02 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 1: On the Road to Winterhaven.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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The King's Road to Winterhaven, a cart’s width- perhaps a little more, of dried mud that snakes north through the Gardbury Downs. Either side of the track are low bluffs- in parts thinly forested, between vast stretches of gorse and sage bushes which tumble down to the track. Here and there isolated boulders and outcroppings of rock- the road climbs slightly. Travellers often say 'it’s all uphill to Winterhaven.'

Today is the 20th day of the third month, early-afternoon, and the sun is high in the sky, and except for the breeze nothing stirs.

Save the five adventurers; sworn to locate their friend, or master, or father- Douvern Staul, the group have made good time, another hour and they will be in Winterhaven. They travel quickly, eager to be at their task.

“I do not understand your request...” Hal, the warforged warrior stares down at Jimmy; the metal man's almost featureless face somehow manages to express confusion.

Jimmy continues to grin- “humour me.” The halfling simply states, and goes back to grinning some more.

The pair continues to stride down the track that passes for the King's Road this far north of the Gardbury Downs. Eventually Hal looks down at Jimmy again; the halfling is, as always, grinning back up at him.

“I wish to make sense of your request.” Hal intones. Jimmy nods, and grins back.
“You want me to visit a merchant, or shop, or market stall, or similar- and procure from the vendor a lengthy weight?” Hal's metal face develops worry-lines.
“Ask for a long weight- that's it.” Jimmy grins back.
“A long weight?” Hal echoes.
“That's right.” Jimmy concludes with a friendly wink.

Hal faces forward and strides on, every now and then over the next two minutes he surreptitiously glances down at his halfling companion- only to be met, every time, by Jimmy's waiting grin.

Slightly ahead of the odd pair, Gokan, the half-orc moves forward in short loping trots, each burst followed by a moment of stillness in which the lithe barbarian sniffs and open-mouthed, tastes the air. All the while looking and listening intently.

Hedda, the minotaur Priestess of Bahamut, strides forward trying, and failing, to keep up with Gokan. Wrapped tight in her thick cloak to ward off the chill- she is unused to the climate, she strides on, does her best not to shiver too much.

Hedda chews anxiously- partially to stop her teeth from chattering, Gokan has already given her one annoyed look. And yet the half-orc says nothing about the metal man and the halfling's inane chatter- 'may all your troubles be little ones', something she'd heard back at the temple. Hedda reflects on the veracity of the statement, and glances back at Jimmy with furrowed brows.

Jimmy, of course, meets her gaze- it’s as if he'd known she was going to look back at just that moment, the halfling grins- he's always grinning. Hedda snorts and looks forward again, strides on, shaking her great horned head slightly.

At the very rear of the group of adventurers is Sigur, dawdling somewhat; the dwarven Invoker's old and filthy travel cloak trails in the dirt- too big for him, or at least too long, the dwarf being nearly as round as he is tall. Sigur grumbles and mumbles half-forgotten words, not for any particular reason, every now and then he has to race a little to keep up with the others- he makes sure none of them are watching when he does this.

“A long weight.” Hal intones.
Jimmy nods, and grins.

Winterhaven should be in sight soon, in an hour or so, Hedda thinks- thank the platinum dragon.

Back in the midst of the party Hal turns again to look down at the- yes, grinning Jimmy... then, suddenly, something strange happens.

The pair instantly, and simultaneously, look away again- Jimmy hard right, Hal hard left; the pair come to an abrupt halt.

At exactly the same moment Gokan screams furiously and launches himself off the beaten track and in to what looks to be a fairly unremarkable bramble thicket.

Sigur grumbles, louder now, and in a slightly more coherent manner barks- “Ambush!” Although as Jimmy states later, when Sigur isn't around, it sounded more like “hambush”.

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Kobold Minion
Minion Level 1


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Less than three seconds later a pair of wide-eyed, ill-equipped and poorly armoured kobolds yap their final yap, and then slump on to the now bloody turf - Gokan's twin axes continue to circle and dart. The half-orc whirls on, moving through the bushes towards a second panicked gaggle of equally shocked-looking kobolds- one of which, Gokan notes, is wearing what looks to be a large roasting tin as a breast plate.

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And has a saucepan strapped to its head. Gokan thinks about this, a little unsure as to what it signifies, the moment however soon passes- he whirls on, eager to be at his prey.

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Kobold Guttersnipe
Artillery Level 1


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Back on the road waves of spear wielding kobolds rush from the undergrowth, yapping, yelling and babbling excitedly in their strange tongue.

Sigur, at the very rear of the group, and somewhat separated from his comrades, is suddenly surrounded, and stabbed- repeatedly. The dwarf's right leg folds under him, he staggers, grumbles loudly and then finds his feet.

The dwarf feels light-headed, he begins to notice the patches of red showing through his cloak, he looks up and spies Hedda who has turned around to face him. The minotaur priestess brandishes her shiny holy symbol, and calls forth in a bellowing and yet sonorous voice- “May the light of the platinum dragon burn the unbelievers.”

Sigur is bloodied by the Kobold Minion onslaught.

Three of the Kobolds are struck by glowing rays of scalding silvery-purple light, seconds later the three reptilians are nothing more than ash in the wind- their bodies instantaneously consumed by Hedda's radiant power. The minotaur nods once at Sigur, and then turns back to see what comes next.

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Jimmy, the halfling, meantime spins out a dagger- the sixth kobold minion falls, clutching at the short blade buried deep in its chest.

Either side of the road bushes shiver and shake, or else are grabbed and pulled aside- more kobolds approach, but these are not the minions the adventurers have so far faced.

In the bush Gokan continues his bloody dance, his blades flashing about him- the half-orc slices in to the gaggle of cowering kobolds. His battleaxe bites in to the saucepan helmed reptilian's roasting tin-style breastplate- slicing through the thin metal. The effect is instantaneous, the guttersnipe's armour, such as it is, peels away from its body- some important tie or tether has been severed. A second later the forlorn looking humanoid is left standing naked amidst a small pile of saucepan lids.

Gokan's hand axe follows after his battleaxe, the embarrassed kobold clutches at its throat and staggers backwards, and falls- gurgling and forlornly waving it soon expires. Gokan however seems almost not to notice, the half-orc whirls and spins on, smashing in to the last two minions- again both of the his blades find their targets, the pair follow the guttersnipe down in to the dirt.

Back on the road, Jimmy is being menaced by a kobold skirmisher, clad in leather armour and expertly wielding a spear. Jimmy dances and, with his dagger, blocks the reptilian creature's repeated stabbing attacks.

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Kobold Skirmisher
Skirmisher Level 1


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Further up the road a skull-masked kobold dodges out from behind a huge boulder, the creature mutters strange yapping phrases and with circling hands conjures a greenish ball of flickering energy. The wyrmpriest leaps a little and with one hand launches the energy orb towards the adventurers on the road.

Hal, the warforged fighter, watches the odd looking missile in, and at the last moment dodges right, straight in to the acid grenade- the metal man sizzles and smokes as he burns.

Hal is bloodied by the Kobold Wyrmpriest’s Energy Orb taking 15 acid damage.

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Kobold Wyrmpriest
Artillery Level 3


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Moving out to join the wyrmpriest comes another kobold; this creature is armed with a lengthy, and dangerous-looking, pike. The creature snarls, grips the haft of the weapon tightly, and readies it to keep all enemies at bay- guarding its master.

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Kobold Pikeman
Brute Level 2


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Yet another kobold clanks out from cover, dashes across the road- straight for the still sizzling and spitting warforged. The scale armoured dragonshield ducks and dodges- yaps and suddenly points up and to the right. Hal foolishly follows the creature's gesture- looking away from his opponent for just a second- which is incidentally all the time the kobold needs. The dragonshield slices with its short sword. The blade pierces both of the Hal's knee-caps, sparks fly as the metal man staggers and totters. He windmills his hands furiously, trying desperately to maintain his balance, he fails, and falls- landing hard on the packed earth.

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Kobold Dragonshield
Soldier Level 2


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The light goes out of Hal's eyes.

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Hal is reduced to -12 hit points by the Kobold Dragonshield’s Dirty Tactics attack taking 22 damage, on a Crit. Three more damage and Hal is dead forever (negative bloodied hit points).

Sigur, still at the rear of the group, sucks up the hurt and shouts a lot while pointing skywards furiously with his rod- his words are indecipherable, more angular barked gruff sounds. A dark cloud forms in an instant high overhead, there follows a low grumbling sound which rumbles on for a second or two before ending in three staccato thunderclaps that suck the air from the assembled combatant's lungs.

Ahead of Sigur one of the kobold minions suddenly concertinas and collapses, all the life gone from it. The pair of kobolds facing Jimmy, and the fallen Hal, are likewise affected by the thunderclaps- the dragonshield staggers a little, its scale armour rent and broken in places. While the skirmisher has to plant its spear in the ground, and clutch on to it- in an effort to stay on its feet.

Sigur however doesn't stop invoking, or pointing, a pair of ghostly glowing hands suddenly appear and move swiftly towards their targets, swooping and diving through the melee. The first hand bursts against the dragonshield's breast, causing the creature to stagger further. The second slams in to the skirmisher, who spins around his planted spear, trying desperately to avoid collapse.

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Jimmy sees his opening, shimmies over to the skirmisher and on his second attempt stabs the kobold in its side; the creature slides down its spear further, and then closes its eyes and falls lifeless on to the ground.

Hedda meantime gestures and chants towards Hal, the fallen metal man, “Bahamut preserve!” She yells over the noise of the battle. Hal's eyes half-open, the warforged flickers back in to life.

The minotaur priestess turns back again and strides towards Sigur, she flails wildly with her mace at a pair of kobold minions; she fails to connect with either of the sneaky dexterous reptiles.

Suddenly bursting back from the bushes comes Gokan, the half-orc is screaming again- his battle cry, he spins with his battleaxe and... THUK! The dragonshield is cleanly decapitated; the kobold's head spirals in to the air only to fall neatly at Gokan's feet.

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A terrified kobold minion gawps at Gokan in action, the small reptilian humanoid braces for impact as the whirling half-orc whirls on. Gokan smashes in to the creature, the kobold falls. The barbarian comes to a halt, grins back at his compatriots and then looks ahead at the kobold pikeman and wyrmpriest- pointing the way with his battleaxe, he roars.

Hal lurches to his feet and strides back a little to help Sigur and Hedda, the warforged's greatsword cleaves clean through one of the minions and in to the last of the creatures- all of the lesser kobolds are vanquished.

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Back up the road the kobold pikeman acknowledges Gokan's challenge and scurries forwards, manages to dodge the half-orcs defence, and stabs Gokan in the side; although the half-orc twists at the last moment and deflects most of the force of the attack.

The kobold wyrmpriest chants and gesticulates as waves of positive energy fan from its hands; the pikeman is outlined in a protective furze. The spell-casting reptilian conjures again- another green grenade which it flings at Jimmy, the halfling reacts quickly, and yet still fails to avoid the burst- he screams as he burns, desperately trying to wipe the acid from his face and upper body.

Bad Derek, the kobold wyrmpriest, scurries back a little way- ready to flee in an instant, with only the kobold pikeman between it and the adventurers.

The kobold pikeman stabs at Gokan again, this time a hearty blow which punctures the half-orc's armour, and body. Gokan bleeds profusely but is far from beaten- he smashes his hand axe down on the kobold's pike, shattering the haft of the weapon. He spins forward, and whirls, his battleaxe comes full circle and bites deep in to the kobold's body.

An instant later Jimmy's dagger spirals out and thuds in to the pikeman's gut, a second later Hedda's mace whacks in to the side of the reptilian's head- the creature attempts to back away but is much too slow. Hal steps forward and almost cuts the kobold in two.

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The adventurers collectively look up, just in time to see the sneaky wyrmpriest sprinting out of sight...

The battle is won, the war has just begun.

Encounter #1 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts


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Encounter #1 The Kobold Ambush, starring-

Kobold Minion (Minion Level 1) x12
Kobold Guttersnipe (Artillery Level 1) x1
Kobold Skirmisher (Skirmisher Level 1) x1
Kobold Dragonshield (Soldier Level 2) x1
Kobold Pikeman (Brute Level 2) x1
Kobold Wyrmpriest (Artillery Level 3) x1

Total 900 XP for a Level 4 Encounter.

A beefed up version of the original encounter in the module, basically I’ve condensed the four kobold encounters in to three and shared out the XP to make them a little tougher, although I’ve obviously not made the Irontooth encounter any tougher.

PC XP

150 XP each for a total of 150 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

Note because the Kobold Wyrmpriest Bad Derek fled, and without taking a single hit, then I didn’t give the guys the XP for the little guy, for three reasons-
1) Because I told the PCs the above and now they want revenge (and their missing XP).
2) Because they’re going to get another crack at Bad Derek.
3) Because I’m bad.

DM Thoughts-

Three of the five PCs have played this module before, although one of them only got as far as a TPK courtesy of Irontooth. I like the opening encounters so I didn’t want to mess with them too much, besides kobolds always play well in low level games- I tend to RP them as a mixture of sneaky, cruel and stupid. I also tend to throw lots of minions at low level players; the mook count is high because I think it always looks good on the map with piles of dead bad guys.

The encounter played well, particularly when Hal almost got cut in two; we’re using boosted to MM3 damage, erring on the nasty side. We agreed at the start of the campaign that the thing that was missing quite a lot of the time in 4e play was the threat. Therefore the knowledge that one bad hit from a non-minion type can leave a PC bloodied or worse certainly concentrates the mind.

To counter this PCs have one action point per encounter- they’re not allowed to save these up so they know to use them, and tend to make good use of them early on in an attempt to take out as many enemies as they can quickly.

I was of course overjoyed that the Wyrmpriest managed to get away.

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Last edited by goonalan on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:47 pm
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This is really great. :)

I think that WotC would be in much better shape if they had YOU in charge of selling 4e, instead of...idunno, whoever the hell actually is in charge of such stuff over there.


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:24 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
ScrivenerB wrote:
This is really great. :)

I think that WotC would be in much better shape if they had YOU in charge of selling 4e, instead of...idunno, whoever the hell actually is in charge of such stuff over there.



Why thank you, but come on, there wasn't anybody really in charge of selling 4e, that's just silly- there can't have been.

Cheers PDR


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:46 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 1a: Winterhaven, briefly.

An hour later and the adventurers are in Winterhaven, a small fortified settlement, having nodded their way past the two guardsmen at the gate. Before them a small gathering of market stalls, two dozen or so natives of the town take a moment to stare at the strange-looking newcomers. Jimmy grins at Hal and nods towards one of the stalls, the metal man's eyes flash red, the warforged moves off in the opposite direction, towards a timber and stucco two storey building, the sign says 'Wrafton's Inn'.

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Moments later the adventurers are within; a cosy wide-open chamber, with a dozen or so tables, half of which are occupied, at the far end a long bar and a set of stairs leading up to the second floor. The occupants of the Inn stop to stare, while a well-dressed young man wearing a symbol of office stands up and clears his throat...

“Welcome to Winterhaven, I'm Padraig- Lord Padraig, and you are?”

The young man offers his hand, “Hedda.” Hedda states, and shakes the proffered hand- the minotaur priestess nods to each of her compatriots as she introduces them to the young Lord. The assembled adventurers nod, or else likewise shake his Lordship’s hand, drinks are called for and eventually the buzz of conversation returns, although the adventurers are still subject to many curious side-long glances.

“Well, what brings you to our pleasant town?” Padraig asks.

Hedda scans her compatriots’ faces before fielding the enquiry, “we're seeking a friend- Douvern Staul, an ex-adventurer, he came this way perhaps a month past....”

Padraig suddenly interrupts spotting the acid scars on Hal's metal body, the blood on Sigur's robes, and Jimmy's burnt and blackened hands, “It seems your journey was not without incident- Kobolds?” The young lord ventures.

“Aye.” Sigur curtly nods, “bloody little devils...” The dwarf trails off.
“How did you...” Jimmy begins, again Lord Padraig interrupts.
“We've been having a few... err, problems with the little... rascals, on the King's Road- I've posted a reward for their destruction...”
“We're not here for piffling kobold scum- we're here for our friend!” Sigur declares, punctuating his statement by slamming his tankard repeatedly on to the table.

The Inn goes silent again, behind Lord Padraig a large bearded man puts his hand on the hilt of his sword, and swaggers closer... “Watch your tongue, dwarf!”
Sigur stands; his chair spins back and clatters in to a nearby table spilling drinks.
“I'll say what I like to who I like- you long tall streak of p...”
“Gentlemen!” Hedda rises, hands out- proffering peace, “we came here to find our friend, not to cause trouble- if you help us with our mission, we will- time permitting - help you with your kobold problem. After all- one good turn deserves another.”

The silence sharpens, Sigur continues to bristle, the hefty looking man behind Padraig bites his beard and bristles back.

In the silence a badly-dressed older human staggers to his feet- gripping hard on to the edge of the nearest table, “I know... I mean, I knew... That is...” The old drunk tries for the third time to make himself understood. “He's working at the old burial site- Dougan, to the south east of here, not far- about three miles outside the town walls, I sent him there- or at least I told him...”

The five adventurers instantly forget their conversation with Lord Padraig and his lackey, they wordlessly excuse themselves from the table- Sigur grabs one of the drunk’s arms, Hal the other- the old guy's feet don't touch the floor until the gaggle are back outside the gates of Winterhaven.

“Where?” Hedda demands.
“I'm thirsty...” The old man starts.
“You will be rewarded well, should you tell the truth.” Hedda declares and fetches out her money pouch.
“Talk you dirty bastard.” Sigur spits and violently shakes the drunk.
“Over there.” The startled human points, “three miles or so- you can't miss it, a big hole in the ground circled by gorse bushes, he's down there. I promise, now...”
“When did you see Douvern last?” Hedda asks.
Sigur begins to shake the drunk when he hesitates.
“Douv..? Oh, you mean Dougan; he came in to town ten days back- bought food and drink from the store...”
“How did he seem?” Hedda snorts and gets in the drunk’s face, awaiting his reply- watching him intently.
The drunk shrugs, “alright, I guess- he had a drink and a meal at Wrafton's 'fore he left- bought me one for pointing 'im in the right direction.” The drunk looks momentarily wounded, he mutters to himself, “not right treating me like this...” Sigur snarls at the guy, whose face turns white.

“Let him go.” Hedda states, Hal and Sigur comply, the latter reluctantly- the drunk staggers some more as the minotaur priestess of Bahamut presses a single gold coin in to his hand. The old man grins as the coin catches the light revealing its value, all it seems is instantly forgiven.

“Bless you sirs”, the drunk states and goes to kiss Sigur, then thinks better of it, and hot foots it back through the town gate, heading at speed for the Inn.

The adventurers take a moment- each gazing off in to the distance, eventually Sigur breaks the silence, “Well!” the dwarf bellows, tuts loudly and then strides off towards the burial site, the others quickly follow after...

Hedda worries- too easy, she thinks, far too easy.

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Last edited by goonalan on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:39 pm 
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KOTS Part 2: The Ancient Burial Site.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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The adventurers find the burial site with ease, and in good time- they don't think to mask their approach, which leaves them a little surprised when they encounter not Douvern Staul but a jolly gnome and a bunch of human workers; the group seem to be set on excavating the site.

“Where's...” Jimmy begins, which causes the gnome to look up, the four workers likewise cease their shovelling, and take the opportunity to lean on their spades and rest up a while.

“Agrid.” The gnome states, clearly referring to himself, he waves- “can I help you folk?” Agrid grins.

Hedda takes a moment; the area before them is quite clearly the excavation site the drunk spoke of. The minotaur priestess has never seen an excavation site in truth, but it’s exactly as she imagined. Steep banks lead ten to fifteen feet down in to a depression, in the centre of which is a low wooden-fenced area- clearly the area that is being excavated, and indeed investigated. Low level vegetation dots the hollow, and circles the sides of the decline- Hedda is fairly certain there's no-one else present, most odd- she thinks.

“Where's Douvern?” Sigur breaks the silence, less of a question, more of a demand to know.
“What's a Douvern?” Agrid the gnome asks, grins a little and squints into the low sun behind the adventurers.
“Our friend Douvern Staul was investigating this place- he went back to Winterhaven ten days past for more supplies, then returned here.” Hedda takes the reins.
“Are you sure?” Agrid asks by way of reply.
“Are we sure of what?” Hedda sighs, fearing the conversation is wilfully being steered off course.
“Are you sure this Douvern fellow came back here, or indeed was ever here- we've not seen him.” Agrid replies, the workers shake their heads echoing the gnome’s point, while continuing to lean on their spades.

“Where else could he have gone?” Sigur snarls.
“Where indeed?” Comes the gnome's reply, the small humanoid shrugs.

The silence stretches, a bird calls in the breeze and receives its reply. Hedda shivers, thinks for a moment, and then presses on.

“What're you looking for?” She asks.
The gnome squints again in the sun, cocks his head at a slight angle, “that's our business.” He states, before adding the epithet, “friend”, almost as an afterthought.

“We're coming down to take a look...”, and before Agrid can respond the five adventurers make the bottom of the slope in a rush, save for Sigur who ingloriously slides and stumbles down, much of the way on his backside.

“No closer now, this is private”, Agrid attempts to wave Hedda and the others back, although the minotaur priestess notes the gnome is doing little to close the distance, he's staying back. The workers on the other hand seem to be shifting their weight- taking up combat stances, albeit they're armed at present with shovels.

“What're the clubs for?” Jimmy asks, indicating the wooden cudgels hanging from the workers’ belts.
“Wild animals.” Agrid offers, realising that the game is almost played out.

Suddenly a burst of inky blackness soundlessly explodes in the centre of the fenced-off section. The black hissing mist is whipped away by the breeze, to reveal the shadowy outline of a wild-haired, robed figure; a human.

“Fools!” The shadowy apparition exclaims, and then turning to Agrid bellows in a rasping voice- “destroy them!”
“Yes, master.” Agrid mutters, and then screams, “Attack!”

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Before any of the adventurers can act, a shadowy monstrous clawed-hand suddenly materialises before Gokan, lashes forward aiming to rip out the half-orc's throat- Gokan dodges back just in the nick of time, the shadowy appendage as suddenly fades away.

Only Jimmy has the reflexes to react, the halfling takes a step backwards and in the same motion spins out one of his many daggers- the short blade THUNKS in to the chest of the closest member of the human rabble; the man goes down clutching at the halfling's dagger buried in his heart.

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Human Rabble
Minion Level 2

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“One.” Jimmy plainly states.

The odds are evened.

The adventurers leap in to action, Gokan moves quickly towards the spectral apparition; however the half-orc's path is expertly blocked. The fallen human worker stirs and rises, in the process the flesh around the wound inflicted by Jimmy's dagger visibly rots and falls away.

Gokan can see all the way through the hole in the worker's abdomen. Beyond, the apparition floats backwards a few steps, all the while gesturing and shaping with its spectral hands- the rotten zombie is under its control it seems. The shambling undead lashes out, but the half-orc is too quick for the creature's lumbering attack.

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Spectral Apparition
Lurker Level 4

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Gokan dodges right, trying still to find a route through to the spectral figure; at the same moment bursting from a stand of bushes close by comes a strutting lizard, a guardian drake- as tall as Jimmy. The scaly beast rushes forward, hurls itself the last few feet- straight at Gokan. It snaps its jaws shut around the half-orc's right forearm, and tugs. Gokan instinctively pulls back and rips his now lacerated arm free from the beast's bite- he feels faint, he's already lost a lot of blood and the battle has barely begun.

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Drake Guard
Brute Level 2

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His instincts take over, a moment later Gokan is whirling in to action, his twin blades describe a furious arc as his battleaxe smashes in to the side of the drake's reptilian skull, sending it momentarily spinning, while his hand axe crunches in to the rotten zombie's face. He levers his off-hand blade free as the undead creature folds and falls- Gokan howls, head back, he screams and then launches himself forward intent on repeating the trick.

Both blades come again, both connect with the drake this time- the battleaxe crushing the creature's short forelimbs, the hand axe rips through the beast's scaly side plunging in to its internal organs. The drake staggers makes pathetic yawping sounds and dances like a tottering drunk in a forlorn effort to stay on its feet.

Gokan’s attack- Whirling Rend (Crit for 15 damage) with added Furious Assault, followed by an Action Point and a Howling Strike manages to reduce the Guard Drake from 48 hit points to one- not bad for first level.

Jimmy sidles closer, finishes the beast with an expertly thrown dagger, “That's two to me!” The halfling grins at the dumbstruck Gokan.

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One of the human rabble breaks ranks- rushes full speed screaming at Sigur and brings its club down hard on the dwarven invoker's shoulder. Sigur barely flinches, the dwarf's armour however instantly flares with a metallic bluish light which coalesces to a point, and then bursts and engulfs the club-wielding human. The man staggers backwards, his limbs seemingly not his to control, the human falls- twitches a while, and then lies still.

“Next.” Sigur declares, and invokes- a trio of ghostly glowing hands shimmer in to life and race forward to their targets, they twist and turn through the melee. One of the club-wielding workers is momentarily gripped by one of the ghostly appendages, another ducks at the last moment and scurries clear. The human gripped, falls lifeless to the dirty ground. The third ghostly appendage attempts to repeat the feat on the spectral human commander- the effect is disappointing; the shimmering apparition seems not to suffer any hurt.

Sigur spits and curses, invokes again- raging as he waves his fist and rod implement at the darkening clouds above- soon after come the thunderclaps- a pair of powerful bursts, but once more the effect is disappointing. Agrid and the apparition survive the blast with seemingly not a single hair out of place.

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Gnome Skulk- Agrid
Lurker Level 2

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From cover a second guardian drake emerges, stalks forward like some strutting peacock, and then launches itself at the dagger wielding Jimmy, the halfling staggers as the beast's teeth rake his shoulder but luckily fail to find purchase. Seconds later the halfling has to crouch and jump as Agrid's crossbow sings- the bolt THUCKS into the ground in exactly the spot he was standing a second ago. Jimmy lands expertly, and the drake comes again, it snaps and bites at him- the halfling gives ground.

The last of the human workers still standing sees his opportunity, shuffles closer and clubs Jimmy in the back- the halfling swears and curses for a second, then manoeuvres desperately in an attempt to keep both enemies at bay.

“A little help here- if you could!” Jimmy screams over the sounds of battle.

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Hedda gestures and chants in Gokan's direction, “Bahamut preserve!” And in an instant almost all of the half-orc's wounds close over- Gokan grins his thanks.

Seconds later Jimmy is relieved when the uninjured guardian drake he is facing suddenly takes to cowering, attempting somehow to hide its eyes from... Jimmy glances over his shoulder- Hedda has her eyes locked on the beast, her holy symbol before her, muttering some unheard prayer. The drake looks confused, somehow hurt by the strange display, the halfling grins- help it seems has arrived.

A moment later Hedda dashes past Jimmy, quickly at full speed, head down she makes a raucous lowing sound as she thumps head-first, or rather horns-first, in to the remaining guardian drake. The beast is gored, it twists and turns as Hedda shakes it, and herself, free.

“Now that's what I call a Bull Rush!” Jimmy quips.
Hedda lows again, louder still, the halfling decides to save the witty banter for after the fight.

Hal finally lumbers forward, the warforged's greatsword dances in his hands, the metal man breaks in to a short trot, swings hard, and slices clean through the last of the human workers. Hal's momentum carries him forward, his greatsword finally coming to rest in the flank of the guardian drake. Hal swings again, the beast suffers only a glancing blow this time, but it’s almost enough. The guardian drake, like its partner, makes yawping sounds like some terrified beast, clearly not long for this world.

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Agrid meantime dashes behind the low wooden fence surrounding the dig-site, doubles back on himself, and hides.

Suddenly Hal is gripped, a shadowy clawed hand appears from nowhere and begins to throttle the metal man. Hal is often described by the folk of Fallcrest as a 'big unit', and yet the warforged is lifted a good six inches into the air. He fights to free himself from the monstrous shadowy appendage's grab...

Hal is Bloodied, and Grabbed, by the Spectral Apparition’s Shadow Claws attack, which hits for 16 Necrotic damage.

Gokan looks at Jimmy, nods towards the last mewling guardian drake, and then charges screaming at the spectral figure, which seems to fade out of existence at just the moment his twin blades are set to connect with it- the half-orc stumbles, staggers on, trips and almost falls.

The apparition appears again.

“Foolish creature- do you not know who I am?” It intones and hisses at the flailing half-orc.

Jimmy meantime sees to his part of the bargain, the guardian drake seeing only the halfling before it, suddenly gets its courage back, and limping slightly stalks forward- its over-confidence proves to be fatal. A pair of daggers spin out and thump in to the small drake's scaly breast, it scrabbles for a second when the first hits- the second is enough however to end the beast.

“Three!” Jimmy shouts to anyone that will listen, grins a while and then has a thought- “get that bastard gnome!” He cries, as an afterthought.

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Hedda locks her gaze on the apparition, which instinctively turns to stare back at the priestess of Bahamut- the moment stretches as the minotaur priestess uses a mix of her faith and will in an attempt to overpower the spectral figure... the strain is terrible. The minotaur offers fresh prayers and devotions to the platinum dragon in order to boost her power.

“Ha!” The apparition triumphs, Hedda is forced to break its gaze, she staggers a little unsure of her step. Then suddenly throws her arms up and out, stumbles forwards bellowing, almost falling to the earth, then rights herself- spins round, all the while attempting to claw free the crossbow bolt sunk deep in to her back.

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Hedda is Bloodied by Agrid’s sneaky Hand Crossbow attack (with Combat Advantage), which hits for 19 points of damage.

Agrid however is nowhere to be seen.

“Kill that damn gnome! Now!” The priestess of Bahamut screams.

Sigur stays back, spies the battlefield- things are much clearer now, although the only enemy in sight is of course the horrid spectral figure- the dwarf invokes yet another of his spectral hands, alas the result is all too familiar.

Sigur shouts at the smiling apparition- “Don't make me come over there!”

Hal meantime levers his metal fingers inside the shadowy clawed hand's tightening grip, applies all his strength, and bursts free- his fall to earth turns in to a charge, he hurtles at the spectral figure- which once more fades to nothing at the just the right moment. Hal is sent sprawling in the dirt.

“You fools! You puny fools; scrabbling in the dirt- I shall destroy you!” The spectral figure seems to be enjoying itself.

Agrid scurries on all fours around the low wooden fence, still hidden from sight; the gnome chuckles a little, and makes sure his crossbow is cocked and loaded- ready to fire.

The spectral figure turns back to Gokan, gestures once, and the monstrous clawed hand that recently gripped Hal, reappears- this time with its great digits wrapped tightly around the throat of the half-orc. Gokan is wrenched in to the air- throttled, shaken like a doll, his eyes roll over to show white...

“You insolent dogs, now you will feel my pow...”

But the moment is enough, Gokan may not be as strong as Hal, but the half-orc is agile- he somehow manages to wriggle and slip his way free of the choking shadow hand, which fades to nothing on his escape.

Gokan is a blur, as are his blades- his battleaxe lashes out and connects with the spectral figure, his hand axe smashes down in to the apparition's left leg, shattering bone. The figure collapses, bleeding furiously from its wounds.

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A dagger thuds in to the hard-packed earth by the ghostly human's side, Jimmy curses.

“Bahamut preserve me!” Hedda intones, as her wounds heal over, the minotaur priestess looks over to see better progress being made with the spectral figure. “Now for that damn gnome”, she mutters, and mace swinging before her, stomps around the outside of the low wooden fence.

Hedda turns a corner and, PERCHANG! A crossbow bolt ricochets off her armour and away, she grins and smashes her mace down on the scuttling gnome, who at the last moment dives out of harm’s way. Hedda's attack smashes completely through a section of the wooden fence.

Sigur grumbles, mumbles and curses- and then Agrid pops in to view- the dwarf grins, almost claps his hands- again two ghostly hands are despatched, and again both fail to find their targets. Sigur makes a noise like a strangled cat.

“Stand BLOODY still!” The irate invoker roars.

Hal leaps back to his feet and stalks the scrabbling spectral figure, swings hard with his greatsword, but only just manages to produce the merest trace of red.

The spectral figure is quickly to its feet, although clearly shaken; the figure bows its head, looks beaten, but as Hal closes in darts one hand out to deliver the lightest of touches. The effect is instantaneous, the spot touched darkens, the darkness swiftly grows until it engulfs the upper half of the warforged warrior.

Hal stops moving, stops... everything, totters, and then collapses.

Hal is reduced to -2 hit points, after the Spectral Apparition hits the metal man with its Shadow Touch attack for 15 Necrotic damage. The second time a PC has been reduced to negative hit points- both times it’s been Hal.

“That will befall you all!” The spirit figure shrieks and points at the unmoving automaton.

“Fear my next visit... I will be...” But that's as far as the spectral figure gets.

Gokan winks at Jimmy, Jimmy returns the compliment- the pair dash forward; Gokan to the fore, Jimmy to the rear. The half-orc's battleaxe thuds in to the ghostly figure’s all too solid body, his hand axe follows- at the same time Jimmy's dagger is plunged in to the creature's spine.

“... back?” Jimmy offers as the spectral figure gargles and slumps to the ground, a second or two later the body fades to nothing.

“Four!” The halfling adds, and grins at a bemused looking Gokan.

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Agrid suddenly makes for the exit, breaks cover and heads for the nearest slope, Sigur- closest to the gnome, grumbles and begins his favourite invocation. A crossbow bolt suddenly THUDS in to the dwarf's side; he staggers, but continues his casting.

Yet another ghostly hand appears, dashes forward and unerringly punches Agrid square in his face, BLINK, and the gnome is gone- disappeared.

Hedda is quickly at Hal's side, she knows little of the warforged's physiognomy, but she recognises the necrotic power which has caused Hal to falter. She sets to her ministrations, and in moments the metal man is levering himself back on to his feet.

Gokan sniffs and tastes the air, listening intently, watching like a hawk... screaming the half-orc charges, swings both of his weapons and THUNK!

Sprawling in the dirt before him is Agrid the gnome, bruised and battered- jaw broken, front teeth missing, and now sporting a terrible rent in his right shoulder.

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Gokan picks the right spot, and even at -5 to hit, connects and delivers 18 points of damage with his Charge attack, Bloodying Agrid in an instant.

“Thurwender.” Agrid mumbles, and drops his crossbow and short sword.

Encounter #2 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #2 The Ancient Burial Site, starring-

Human Rabble (Minion Level 2) x4
Drake Guard (Brute Level 2) x2
Gnome Skulk- Agrid (Lurker Level 2) x1
Spectral Apparition (Lurker Level 4) x1

Total 674 XP for a Level 2 Encounter.

Unchanged from the original module- I just like this encounter as it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not supposed to be titanic, and it serves my purpose- see later. It also gets the players thinking- ‘what’s happening here?’

PC XP

134 XP each for a total of 284 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

DM Thoughts-

This is the gateway encounter, the guys have come to Winterhaven to rescue Douvern, which proves simple enough, but in rescuing their friend they uncover something else- something bigger. This is the hook- there’s something else going on here.

And again Hal suffers- the metal man always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s defenders for you. All told the Spectral Apparition dished out 38 points of Necrotic damage to the metal man over the course of the encounter. The player- Lee, wonders aloud whether he has built Hal to last.

It was, of course, my intention to ensure that Agrid was captured alive, so he can tell his strange tale.

SPOILERS- the Spectral Apparition is of course a projection of the final enemy in this scenario, Kalarel; but you knew that. The players of course do not, except for two of them that have played KOTS all the way through before- but they have been sworn to silence.

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Last edited by goonalan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE Last attempt to play through the WOTC Core Mod
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:39 pm 
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KOTS Part 2a: A quiet chat with Agrid.

Ten or so minutes later, after Hedda has seen to the adventurers’ wounds, and done a little to make Agrid slightly more comfortable, it seems it’s time for the gnome to tell them what he knows.

“Where's Douvern?” Jimmy asks.
“Whathh a Ouv...” Agrid starts.
CRUNCH!
Sigur finishes, head-butting the restrained gnome in the face.

Five minutes later, when Agrid has been cleaned up for a second time, and while Sigur has been tasked with inspecting the fallen, Agrid tells his story; after of course leading Hedda to the unconscious Douvern- hidden in a particularly thick clump of bushes.

“I wath hired in Thallcresthh, a week ago by a low lifthh thuman- I downt know hith name. Before you askth. I wasth given money and thtold to get a gang togethhher- ththosthe guysth...”

Agrid points at sprawling dead humans, whose bodies are being kicked about by the grumbling Sigur.

“I wasthh thold tho thrack Douvern Stthaul down, sthhomewhere outshhide Winterthaven, tho capthhure thim- which wasth theasthy. Then thatth ththing thurned up...”

Agrid vaguely waves towards where the adventurers fought the spectral figure.

“Andth no- I donth thnow who he wasthhh eithther. He thsaid to carry on digging... didn't thsay whath we were looking for ththough. The thsaid thsome goblinsth would come andth bring usth more money and sthome guardth. They turned up yesthherday, withh the money, and them drakesth. Then they leftth again.”

“Go on...” Hedda advises, and pointedly looks at Sigur.

“Then the sththpirit guy comesth back- saysth sthomeone called Irontooth would come for Douvern... and to keep digging. He sthhaid he'd be watchthing usth. That'sth thit... Oh excthept we found thisth, I didn't get a chthhancthe to tell him...”

Agrid fetches out an ornate, and old fashioned looking, small silvered hand-mirror, perhaps a child's plaything- clearly valuable.

Douvern alas remains unconscious- Hedda ascertains the old man's life is not at risk, however he has taken quite a beating it seems- the ex-adventurer desperately needs food, warmth and bed rest.

After a brief chat Agrid is tied, and gripped by Hal, while Gokan and Hedda carry Douvern on a makeshift bier constructed from the remnants of the low wooden fence.

The adventurers head back unmolested, and at a brisk pace, to Winterhaven.

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Last edited by goonalan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS!
PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:10 pm 
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 2b: Winterhaven whistle-stop.

Once again the adventurers’ stay in Winterhaven is a short affair, rooms are rented at the Inn, and Douvern who is now awake but still very groggy is put to bed. Sister Lenora is called for, from the church of Avandra situated within the town. Lord Padraig who is being very helpful implores the priestess to care for Douvern- she agrees.

Rond Kelfram, Lord Padraig's back-up in the bar earlier, is introduced to the adventurers, Sigur has nothing good to say and so keeps his peace. Rond functions as the watch captain here in Winterhaven; he takes charge of the miscreant gnome, Agrid, and then after a brief discussion between Hedda and Lord Padraig tells the adventurers all about Winterhaven's kobold problem.

Rond fears that the kobolds are being directed by some greater power, Lord Padraig however is not convinced- either way the reptilian humanoids are said to lair nearby- in a cave located behind a waterfall, at the confluence of two minor rivers. The little beasts, it seems, have been targeting caravans bound for Winterhaven, also attacking farmsteads close to the town- the citizens are beginning to feel a little isolated.

Hedda suggests that they solve the kobold problem immediately- there's still light left in the day and if need be they can always camp out in the wilds. The minotaur priestess of Bahamut's suggestion is swiftly approved- Lord Padraig grins a lot, shakes hands, and generally does a lot of back-slapping, he's delighted.

The adventurers refill their canteens, check their equipment and are about to head off again when Sister Lenora comes running down the stairs-

“Your friend, he wishes to speak with you.”

Five minutes later, after lots of warm embraces, the adventurers sit around in Douvern's room, the old man is awake, weak still, but much clearer-headed.

“I should've known... That bloody gnome- bushwhacked by one of the little folk, no offence my lad.” Douvern winks at Jimmy, who grins back at his father.

Douvern delivers a short account of his activities, which mostly consists of days spent digging, until he was jumped by Agrid and his friends. He recalls snatches of happenings during his captivity- it seems he was beaten several times, he certainly remembers some goblins turning up, and even repeats the name 'Irontooth.'

The adventurers however learn nothing new, but as it turns out telling his tale wasn't the reason Douvern called them back. The old man has a present it seems, for Gokan, something he procured from the merchant he travelled with to Winterhaven.

The dumbstruck half-orc is presented with a beautifully crafted, but clearly used, battleaxe-

“It is said to possess great power, in the hands of the right wielder.” Douvern adds.

The half-orc feels the weight of the blade, practises a few experimental swings, which causes the other assembled adventurers to scatter. The axe is clearly of expert manufacture; Gokan greatly approves, and in a heart-warming moment crushes Douvern to him.

Gokan, Male Half-Orc Whirling Barbarian Level 1
Played by Dave

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Now with +1 Vanguard Battleaxe

Each of the players initially supplied me with a comprehensive wish list as regards magic items. Throughout this campaign I have badgered them to maintain this list, with three items minimum/level up to PC Level +5.

Ten minutes later, having lost another hour of light, the adventurers say their goodbyes, and head off again. The sun is setting and they've a five mile journey yet to make, buoyed by their successes and Douvern's words, they cover the distance in less than an hour, following Rond's directions and the river all the way.

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Last edited by goonalan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 2b
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:31 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 3: Outside the Kobold Lair.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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Gokan holds up his hand; in the last dying rays of the sunset the adventurers draw to a halt, the half-orc puts a finger to his lips for silence, makes a fist with his raised hand and then moves off in to the woods ahead. The four remaining adventurers stand as still as statues, listening intently, anxiously watching and waiting.

Gokan makes his way through the copse of trees, towards the sound of fast running water, slowly- cautiously, he approaches a clearing.

The half-orc stands swarmed in shadow; ahead a grassy bank slopes down to a fast flowing stream. Gokan spies two kobold minions, both armed and armoured as the ones that lead the attack on the King's Road. The stream bisects the scene ahead- from a plunging waterfall to his right it rushes in to the darkness of the woods to his left.

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Kobold Minion
Minion Level 1

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Across the other side of the stream is a much larger grassy area, hemmed in again by trees and forest. Another four kobolds, similarly armed and armoured, patrol this area- or else loiter there. Also over the far side is a rough circle of standing stones, Gokan strains to listen.

A mumbling yapping sound comes from this direction, he shades his eyes to see- there are two more kobolds within the confines of the stone circle- one he's certain is another of the bastard wyrmpriests, the other looks to be a guard or warrior.

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Kobold Wyrmpriest
Artillery Level 3

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Gokan waits a while longer, till he's certain he has seen all there is to see, and then silently slips back through the trees...

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“Ready” Jimmy whispers- Hedda, barely visible in the fast approaching gloom, nods.

Jimmy throws his dagger out with all his might, the target- the chanting kobold, presumed to be another wyrmpriest, is far over on the other side of the stream, and only visible now and then as it moves within the confines of the stone circle.

“YAWK!”

Jimmy's target screams as from just short of fifty feet the halfling scores a terrible hit, the short blade burying itself up to its hilt between the wyrmpriest's shoulder blades.

Jimmy’s Sly Flourish attack is at long range and against the concealed Kobold Wyrmpriest, he needs to roll a 19 to hit- or something like that, and he rolls… a 19, of course. And in keeping with the theme does 19 points of damage to the now terrified Kobold.

The kobolds stir but too late, a double thunderclap makes the air fizz within the stone circle, both kobolds within are staggered and have to grip on to the standing stones to stay on their feet. The wyrmpriest is almost done for- blood gushes from its mouth, ears, eyes and nose. Sigur grins.

Hal lurches out of the tree line, his greatsword flashes and a kobold minion falls; Hedda meantime pops her head out of the woods and stares defiantly at the second kobold on this side of the stream. The terrified reptilian drops its weapon and with its panicked hands before it backs up at speed, trying desperately to escape the minotaur's horrifying gaze. Alas it backs up too fast and too far, the wretch tumbles off the bank and in to the stream- snapping its neck as it slams down on to the rocks there.

Gokan sets off at pace howling for all he's worth, all the while whirling his twin axes above his head- the half-orc reaches the waters-edge, leaps on to a rock midstream and bounds again on to the far side. Even then Gokan doesn't dawdle, the half-orc's charge continues, as he smashes in to the nearest enemies.

His axes dance and two more minions fall.

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Jimmy dives headlong down the bank, dances across stones protruding from the rocky stream bed and makes the other side- the halfing scurries forward, target in sight. A spear wielding kobold minion approaches, while from within the standing stones the wounded warrior, another kobold dragonshield, emerges- the pair close in on the halfling, squawking and yapping their delight at having cornered Jimmy.

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Kobold Dragonshield
Soldier Level 2

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Exactly where Jimmy wants them.

The halfling spins on the spot, his dagger thrust out before him, creates a bloody arc as he twists and turns, the minion staggers back- throat cut, it tumbles down the bank and in to the stream- drowning while it bleeds to death. The dragonshield is sliced across the brow- the armoured kobold staggers back in to the circle of stones, blood in its eyes, flailing with its short sword wildly. Jimmy grins, dodges forward- the dragonshield swings, and then backs up further, the kobold suddenly thumps in to one of the standing stones, ricochets forward- Jimmy dances in and stabs it in the gut. The kobold is almost, but not quite, done for.

The dragonshield screams and surges forward, throws its shield at Jimmy, clearly desperate, as it slices- connects and leaves a great scar down the halfling's now numbed right leg.

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From the forest beyond the standing stones a pair of previously hidden kobolds emerge, the first slinks from its hiding place unseen, sneaks around the inside of the standing stones and in to position behind Gokan. The sneaky reptilian stabs out with its spear and skewers the half-orc, who is taken completely by surprise.

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Kobold Slink
Lurker Level 1

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The second sly kobold leaps from the shadows to land silently just behind Jimmy, the creature wields a short sword in each hand- both blades are plunged in to the halfling's body.

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Kobold Slyblade
Lurker Level 4

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Jimmy instinctively attempts to twist, to somehow lessen the blows’ effect, but too late, he gasps for air with a punctured lung. The pain is all too much, he falls face forward on to the cold damp earth- blood oozes from his wounds, the halfling has mere seconds left to live.

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Jimmy is reduced to -11 HP and taking ongoing 5 damage, he will be at negative bloodied at the start of his next turn. The Kobold Slyblade hits twice, even after Jimmy employed his Second Chance (the Slyblade just hit again), for 16 and 18 damage respectively. The players are terrified- Jimmy might die.

Hal moves forward across the stream striding unhindered by the fast flowing water, the metal man climbs the bank as another half-dozen or so kobolds come rushing along the river's edge, hidden further downstream and therefore unaccounted for.

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One of the creatures charges screaming at Hal, manages to stab and dent the metal man's right thigh, another rushes further on and joins the kobold slink menacing Gokan, the half-orc is nicked and cut again, he feels a little light-headed.

Gokan is bloodied.

Hal cuts down the minion he faces, and then moves on in to the circle of stones to stand over Jimmy's fallen body, the metal man lashes out twice more- backhand and forehand. The former causes the dragonshield to shift awkwardly to avoid the attack, the latter cuts - but only slightly - the kobold slyblade that did for Jimmy.

Two of the closing kobold minions pull up short, draw javelins and send them arcing towards Gokan. The half-orc swats aside one of the missiles with his battleaxe, but misses the other and takes yet another wound.

And yet another hidden kobold emerges from the trees, this fellow is positioned much closer to the waterfall- a little away from the action. The kobold detaches a grenade-like object from its belt, places it in in his sling- whirls up a storm and sends the odd-looking missile spinning. Alas the kobold slinger's aim is off- the grenade shatters on one of the rocks in the river, and bursts briefly in to flames.

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Kobold Slinger
Artillery Level 1

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The staggering wyrmpriest chants and whines, a wave of shadowy energy pulses out and forms a dull sheen on its closest allies. The kobolds affected yap and screech their defiance, buoyed by their spiritual leader's protective magic.

The wyrmpriest is not done however; it circles its hands and conjures a glowing acid ball, which is sent sailing in to the air. The energy orb smashes in to Hal's chest-plate which, as in the first encounter, hisses spits and smokes as the acid gets to work. Hal staggers, barely able to keep his feet.

Hal is bloodied, actually reduced to 4 HP, after taking 16 Acid damage from the Wyrmpriest’s Energy Orb attack.

Sigur rushes out of the woods- he needs to get closer to the action; the dwarf grumbles and mumbles as he jogs forward in to the stream. He dodges hard left, backs up a little way, and avoids a minion's spear attack from the bank, then jogs on to a clear space between two of the standing stones.

The dwarf bows his head for a moment, mumbles something dark and dangerous, and then screaming punches his arms in to the air. A blanket of silvery purple light bursts from the dwarf- the glittering light seems to coalesce around each of his enemies- the radiant burst burns the kobolds. The slink, the slinger and the slyblade dodge and duck for cover and receive only minor wounds. The wyrmpriest receives the full force of the blast, and yet somehow manages to survive the attack, but is left barely standing- the kobold attempts to limp away. The kobold dragonshield meantime thumps in to the hard-packed dirt, deceased.

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Sigur unleashes his Angelic Echelon, his Daily Power, which does 56 points of radiant damage in total- kick ass!

The dwarven invoker however is not yet done, a pair of ghostly radiant hands rush to their targets- the wyrmpriest is scragged and falls, while the slink staggers and looks very ill.

Hedda heads over to join the action, she rushes over the stream, and gruffly barks at the fallen halfling, “Bahamut Preserve!” Jimmy blinks open his eyes, and grins- that was close. The minotaur priestess bows her head and charges, bellowing all the way, she thumps in to the slyblade, leaving the kobold bruised and bloodied and on its backside- Hedda swings hard with her mace, attempting to end the creature, but somehow contrives to miss her target.

A stray minion rushes at Gokan and the half-orc is stabbed again, he staggers, the kobold is however cut down for its pains, but it is the only enemy to fall to Gokan's axes; the slink is far too quick for him.

Hedda stands in the midst of the action; it’s going to be close, she frets, real close...

“For Bahamut!” The minotaur priestess screams, Jimmy still lying on the floor takes up the call- “HARD CORE!” The halfling rogue yells.

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Jimmy manoeuvres, although still bleeding badly and clutching at his side; leaden footed the halfling sprawls forward the last few feet, and lunges at the kobold slyblade- a palpable hit. The kobold attempts to withdraw, but stumbles; the effect raises Jimmy's spirits - the halfling's wounds are temporarily forgotten.

“Come on!” Jimmy screams, clearly enthused, the halfling grins.

Gokan and Hal dodge fresh kobold attacks while Hedda is cut again, but not badly- a slight wound from yet another javelin flung in to the melee. Hal fights back, another glancing blow and the slyblade is almost out for the count- now leaning heavily on one of the standing stones, the upright is slick with its blood.

Gokan staggers forward, bats a minion aside- narrowly misses being speared again, and moves on. A second strange grenade-like object flies through the air missing Hedda by inches, THUNKS in to a standing stone and bounces off to plop harmlessly in to the stream.

The kobold slinger makes fists of its hands and jumps and yaps furiously on the spot- clearly unhappy with its aim.

Sigur conjures a trio of radiant spectral hands, two minions in the melee are picked out- plucked or else slapped, and sent spiralling to the dirt. The third ghostly appendage fizzes angrily against the kobold slink, and yet the hurt is still not enough to lay the creature down.

Hedda strides forward, “Bahamut preserve!” the minotaur priestess roars, Hal nods slightly registering his thanks. The minotaur strides on, brandishing her mace before her. Hedda closes on the kobold slyblade, dodges once and then smashes her weapon down, through the kobold's defences, and on to the top of the reptilian's skull, which CRACKS and breaks- the slyblade falls.

Gokan matches Hedda's efforts; his twin axes smash in to the kobold slink, which sinks down forever.

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There are only three kobolds left on the field of battle, the pair of javelin flinging minions who are even now backing cautiously towards the waterfall, and the short-sighted- it seems, slinger.

Hedda whirls her mace above her head, “No prisoners! No prisoners!” she yells, which produces a bloodthirsty chorus from her compatriots...

Jimmy dashes forwards and tangles with the kobold slinger, the creature has to spill its weapon to keep the halfling at bay. A javelin thuds in to the still screaming and pointing Hedda, a second just misses a ducking Gokan- the remaining kobold minions break ranks and turn tail and run straight towards the waterfall.

Hal charges and slices in to the slinger, the kobold staggers and squawks, seemingly outclassed as it’s harassed by the halfling and the metal man. The small humanoid manages however to draw its dagger and with a sneaky attack plunges the blade in to Hal's side; the warforged fights on- unconcerned.

Sigur grins, walks a little way forward and invokes another trio of his favourite spectral hands- the ghostly appendages seek out their targets, in quick succession the slinger falls, followed by one of the fleeing kobold minions. The lone survivor dodges at the last moment, and then rushes on and begins to clamber up and in to the waterfall, seconds away from safety...

Foolishly the kobold turns back to stare, about to plunge through the curtain of water, and is met by Hedda's defiant stare- the creature’s limited will is easily overcome, its hands slip and fail to grip- the creature falls backwards and smashes on to the rocks below the falls.

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Moments later the broken body of the adventurers’ last enemy floats away downstream.

“Quickly, check the bodies and then dump them in the stream... Quickly, our true enemy awaits within.” Hedda is all business-like, her fellow adventurers scurry to comply.

The adventurers get to work, each of the dead kobolds are briefly examined, or at least their possessions checked, a smattering of coin is collected- mostly copper and silver, but nothing else of interest. The foul reptilians’ bodies are then tossed unceremoniously in to the stream.

Job done, Hedda calls her colleagues over. The light is almost gone, the priestess of Bahamut does her best to ensure that all of the adventurers are at full health, patching wounds here and there. She nods once at Gokan after she has completed her work.

The half-orc grins, nudges Jimmy- the pair scurry over to the waterfall, pressed tight against the rock they climb up a way, and then peer- as best they can, through the shimmering curtain of water.

Lights within, torches illuminate a large natural cavern with a number of shadowy exits- within the chamber are half-a-dozen or more kobolds, all but one look to be minions. The pair look back to their fellows, gesture for them to approach.

Moments later they’re ready to launch their attack...

Encounter #3 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #3 Outside the Kobold Lair, starring-

Kobold Minion (Minion Level 1) x11
Kobold Slinger (Artillery Level 1) x1
Kobold Slink (Lurker Level 1) x1
Kobold Dragonshield (Soldier Level 2) x1
Kobold Wyrmpriest (Artillery Level 3) x1
Kobold Slyblade (Lurker Level 4) x1

Total 925 XP for a Level 4 Encounter.

Only slightly changed from the original module, as I stated previously I just had a little bit more XP to play with after condensing the four Kobold encounters in to three. Who needs two ambushes anyway- particularly as they’re supposed to played out on the same map.

PC XP

185 XP each for a total of 469 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

DM Thoughts-

Three encounters in and in every one I’ve reduced a PC to 0 hit points or below, Jimmy came awfully close this time. Towards the end the players were also fretting when it seemed just for a moment that the Kobolds were going to flee in to their lair to warn their friends.

All in all a jolly little fracas that needed Sigur to spend his Daily Power in order to turn the tide in the PCs favour.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 3
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:45 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 4: The Kobold Lair- Irontooth.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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Gokan charges in to the thick of the kobolds, screaming for all he’s worth. The terrified creatures react badly- not at all like front line soldiers, they shriek and yap fumbling for their weapons, their defences down. The half-orc lashes out with his battleaxe as he rushes forward, a kobold minion falls, and with his hand axe, and another falls, then pulls up short before a worthy enemy.

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Kobold Minion
Minion Level 1

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The kobold skirmisher stands his ground not in the least intimidated, or else frightened by the snarling barbarian- Gokan winks at the kobold, who for a moment is at a loss. Then he swings his hand axe, full force, the skirmisher juggles its spear and with great skill intercepts Gokan's attack. It yaps, and is about to wink back when it notices for the first time the trajectory of its enemy’s battleaxe.

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Kobold Skirmisher
Skirmisher Level 1

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Gokan's almost lazy over-hand swing comes down, crunches in to the kobold's skull and splits its head in two, the skirmisher flops to the cold stone floor.

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Gokan Crits with his brand new +1 Vanguard Battleaxe for 33 HP damage, the Kobold Skirmisher had 32 HP- bingo, result!

Hedda pokes her head through the waterfall, ahead of her- with its back to her -is another kobold minion. She taps the reptilian on its shoulder, it jumps with fright and turns around only to meet the minotaur priestess’s terrifying gaze. The minion's legs turn to jelly; Hedda with her hand still on the creature's shoulder applies just a little pressure, drawing the petrified kobold towards her. She deftly steps aside, the kobold keeps on coming, and with a flick of Hedda’s wrist the reptilian is ushered through the waterfall and over the edge- crashing down on to the rocks below, it lies still.

Hal charges a little way in, swishes once with his greatsword and cuts another kobold minion down; Jimmy steps in to the chamber and spins a dagger out- and yet another minion falls. Sigur grumbles, mumbles and invokes and a single ghostly hand appears and gets to work, the last kobold still standing is tagged- it bursts in to ash, scorched by radiant energy.

The cavern has a number of shadowy exits, barely visible in the guttering torch light.

Gokan sniggers and crouches- footsteps, more kobold defenders approach, the half-orc turns to shush his compatriots.

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A pair of kobolds lurch around the corner, straight in front of Gokan, the half-orc whirls and smashes in to them, but not before being stabbed in the thigh. The first kobold- a minion - falls, the second- another skirmisher - is left bleeding, bruised and battered. Gokan howls- ecstatic in the thick of battle.

The skirmisher however has other ideas, it lances its spear forward at just the right moment and skewers Gokan through his shoulder, the half-orc gulps and staggers as the blood spurts and gushes, he breathes in hard and then growls and screams some more.

Gokan is bloodied.

Another minion rushes in from one of the myriad exits from the chamber, Hedda tries to shout a warning but spots movement close to her and has to turn away. Gokan is speared again- this time in his left thigh, the half-orc staggers and almost falls.

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The minotaur priestess of Bahamut, having taken a few steps in to the chamber, has to suddenly give ground, as out of another of the exits a third kobold skirmisher comes running- spear in hand. Too slow, the minotaur is much too slow- she takes the full force of the blow and is left flailing, gasping for air.

But there's no time, another minion follows the skirmisher’s rush, this time Hedda is ready- her mace deflects the reptilian’s spear, even as she gives ground again- she can feel the cold of the water on her back, one more step and she's over the edge.

Hedda scrabbles at her chest, grabs her holy symbol and holds it aloft, she bellows as glowing rays spring from the symbol of the platinum dragon. The nearest skirmisher ducks just in time and is merely singed, the other targets are either much too quick or else the minotaur’s aim is off.

Yet another minion dashes in from the opposite side of the chamber and Hedda is speared again, she lurches forward but stays on her feet- slightly away from the edge, “Bahamut preserve!” Her healing energies wash over Gokan; she sacrifices herself so that the half-orc can carry on his work.

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Hedda is bloodied.

Gokan has no time to acknowledge the minotaur’s aid, the half-orc is struggling to keep his enemies at bay, alas he fails and is speared again.

Hal rushes over to help Hedda, the metal man lashes out with his greatsword, and in one stroke almost severs the kobold skirmisher’s right arm, which is left broken and cut to the bone. Hal reverses his blade, and suddenly stabs behind him, a kobold minion is skewered, and falls.

The reinforcements arrive just in the nick of time, while Gokan continues to hold the line, one of Jimmy’s daggers suddenly appears in the middle of a kobold minion’s chest, it slumps to the cold wet stone floor- dead.

In the same instance yet another trio of ghostly radiant hands are invoked, one misses its target, another takes out the last minion left standing, the third hand leaves the skirmisher Gokan is facing with radiant energy burns- yawping and staggering, and not long for this world.

Sigur marches in to the centre of the chamber and shouts for all to hear- “Is that the best you’ve got? Is it? Pathetic.”

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Over the sounds of battle Gokan, by far the furthest forward, can hear yet more hurried footsteps approaching- the battle is clearly far from over.

Gokan stares at the staggering kobold skirmisher before him, the creature sways under the half-orc’s gaze, he grunts, looks right- a shadowy cavern leads further in to the cave complex, sounds. Gokan listens intently- just for a second, he can hear the sound of footsteps, armoured footsteps, worthy enemies- in the moment he decides.

The half-orc glances over his shoulder, spots Hal and nods back towards the staggering skirmisher he was fighting, the metal man nods back and moves forward to engage the creature, Jimmy meanwhile rushes to Hedda's side to take Hal's place.

Gokan lopes forward, into the darkness; the half-orc disappears from sight.

Hal grips his greatsword tight and faces the skirmisher, which staggers, and yet somehow manages to connect with its spear- the metal man is again scratched and dented, not happy he cuts with his blade and the skirmisher falls.

The last kobold skirmisher, facing Jimmy and Hedda, tries for the smaller less well-armoured attacker, but the Halfling rogue is much too quick. The kobold's attack provides the minotaur with the opening she needs- her mace arcs up, and swiftly down, smashing in to the kobold’s chest, caving in its ribcage and sending it sprawling to the floor. The creature wheezes and tries desperately to suck in air, to no avail, like a fish out of water it flops and wriggles for the next ten or so seconds and then lies still.

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Gokan follows the passage, there are lights ahead; around a corner, he turns in to a smaller torch-lit cavern chamber. Two short sword wielding kobolds dressed in scale armour- denwardens, adept soldiers, approach- yapping and snarling. Over the far side of the chamber, standing in an opening to yet another cavern is a skull-mask wearing kobold wyrmpriest. Gokan recognises the creature, from the first encounter with the kobolds on the road to Winterhaven.

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Kobold Denwarden
Soldier Level 2

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Bad Derek is back.

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Kobold Wyrmpriest
Artillery Level 3

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Gokan smirks, makes a rumbling sound in his throat and then bursts in to action, rage fills him and he is lost to the world- he becomes a killing machine. The half-orc leaps at the denwardens, his battleaxe whirls low, smashing into the reptilians’ armoured legs, the pair are sent sprawling on to the floor.

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The half-orc lurches over and between the stranded prone denwardens, he continues to whirl, his blades oscillate high and low, both kobolds are smashed, and bashed, and slashed- they flounder, moan and pathetically wave their blades.

Gokan unleashes his Macetail Rage on the Kobold Denwardens, his Daily power, followed by an Action Point and Whirling Frenzy- four attacks, four hits. The Kobold Denwardens take 27 HP damage each, and are both left prone.

Jimmy, having followed Gokan out of the chamber, peeks around the corner to watch the half-orc in action.

The wyrmpriest reacts quickly, yaps and gestures furiously; a shadowy protective layer outlines the denwardens on the floor. The creature continues to shape and circle its hands- an all too familiar looking acid green ball is conjured. The kobold spell-caster launches the energy orb at Gokan who, flat-footed by his rage, is unable to dodge the burning missile.

Gokan screams in pain as the acid burns, he looks up but the wyrmpriest is gone.

In the main chamber, now empty save for Hedda, Hal and Sigur, all breathing hard, and looking triumphant, the moment of respite is suddenly shattered. Screaming from one of the darkened passages comes a... goblin, armed with a pair of nasty-looking battleaxes, the charging terror looks half-crazed.

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Goblin Chief- Irontooth
Elite Brute Level 3

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The goblinoid smashes in to Sigur, who takes an axe blow to his chest; the dwarf's armour suddenly shines brilliant purple and strikes back, although the goblin seems not to notice. Sigur flails wildly, and staggers, trying to stay on his feet.

Sigur is bloodied, in one hit.

Hal dashes across the chamber, slams his greatsword in to the goblin’s side, spinning the creature around to face him- “Fight me squishy one!” The warforged intones with all the threat and menace he can muster. The goblin seems immune- to pain or threat, it blinks once, twice in reply, and then curtly nods.

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“Irontooth kill.” The goblin simply states.

Several of the players around the table (three to be exact) have been through KOTS before, they know all about Irontooth. I don't mind this, and I didn't want to change the encounter- it's a terror. I figured- who cares that they know what's coming; it doesn't make Irontooth any less of a killer. Which is why Hal opened up with his Daily- Lasting Threat on the goblin, and for 20 damage, it seems the metal man is keen to take some hits- let's see how that works out for him.

Sigur, hammer in hand, spins like a top- mumbling odd-shaped words as he does so- his warhammer turns to solid stone in his hands, it thumps in to Irontooth, with all the force the dwarf can muster. The goblin barely reacts to a blow that would have sent any one of the other enemies sprawling.

Sigur's face betrays a new emotion- fear, or else trepidation. The dwarf takes a step back, out of the melee, concentrates hard- desperately trying to figure out what to do next. The dwarf gets his second wind, and then looking up to the damp stone ceiling, he intones angular words- a thunderclap sends flecks of rock spitting out as it bursts above the crazy goblin- Irontooth doesn't even blink, Sigur's invocation has no effect.

Jimmy, still peering around the cavern corner at Gokan in action, decides that now is the moment- two daggers fly in out quick succession- both denwardens are hit with pinpoint accuracy- in their faces. The effect is nearly too much for Jimmy, the halfling almost has to look away; the creatures are wailing, screaming, flailing- blinded by their own blood- or worse.

Jimmy shrinks inside a little, makes himself look again at the terrible wounds he has inflicted- “hard core”, the halfling whispers, and then launches a third dagger which catches one of the denwardens in the throat. It stops screaming and flailing, forever.

Jimmy goes for his Daily- Blinding Barrage there, to great effect.

The remaining denwarden waves its short sword feebly, vaguely in Gokan's direction, the half-orc snarls and watches the pathetic display, treads on the kobold's arm and with his other foot stamps down on its hand- breaking fingers and smashing the reptilian's wrist- the kobold spills its blade.

Gokan hawks, and spits at the pitiful, but seemingly not pitiable, broken reptilian.

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Gokan stares down, grins and smashes his battleaxe in to the blind and broken denwarden. The half-orc still overcome by blood-lust lopes forward- searching for the wyrmpriest, Jimmy gulps and watches him disappear in to the dark of the exit opposite.

Hedda bellows, “Bahamut preserve!” Many of her wounds instantly heal over- she mutters a simple prayer to the platinum dragon and then unleashes her best shot. The minotaur priestess’s mace leaps in to furious flame, she dodges left and then swings heartily- thumping the blunt weapon in to Irontooth's side, the goblin's armour blackens and begins to burn, seconds later the creature is on fire.

Hedda goes for her Daily power- Avenging Flame and hits Irontooth for 16 damage and ongoing 5 Fire- good hit.

The minotaur swings again, her follow up attack thumps in to Irontooth's opposite side, the goblin's eyes flicker rapidly, its grin fades a little, for the first time the terrifying creature looks worried, if only a little.

Irontooth is bloodied.

The goblin reacts with fury, its twin battleaxes lash out in a flurry- the first blow crashes in to Hal, cutting clean through the metal man's right arm and following through to rip in to his chest. The lights go out of Hal's eyes instantly, he concertinas and collapses.

Hal is down again, and on -7 HP after being hit for 23 damage with one attack. Irontooth's battleaxes deal 2d8+6 damage with an extra 1d10 when, as now, the goblin is bloodied- nasty.

The next axe attack is aimed at Hedda, the minotaur blocks with her mace but it’s not enough, her weapon is shattered and broken. Irontooth's axe thuds in to the minotaur's chest, splitting her armour- she staggers.

Hedda is bloodied, actually reduced to 7 HP, after being hit for 18 damage.

Hedda bellows forlornly, tries desperately to turn side on, to make herself a smaller target, her eyes widen as she watches Irontooth's battleaxe come again- she has no defence, the blade crashes in to her shoulder, she falls.

Hedda is on -9 HP after taken a second hit for 16 damage- Irontooth rocks.

Sigur, now alone in the chamber with Irontooth looks terrified, the goblin- still burning, stomps forward as the dwarf scuttles back.

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“Irontooth kill.” The goblin simply states as his armour continues to blacken and smoke.

Gokan dodges around another corner, staggers out in to yet another large torch-lit chamber; an acid green energy orb bursts on the cavern wall a few feet to the half-orc's right. Gokan spies the fleeing wyrmpriest- lopes off after the deadly spell-caster.

Jimmy meantime scurries back along the passage, back towards the first chamber- the halfling crouched low spies within and takes in the scene of destruction- only Sigur still standing, with a strange looking goblin stalking the dwarf.

Jimmy reacts in an instant, his dagger flies and thuds in to the goblin's back, Irontooth stops, looks back over his shoulder at the halfling and grins.

“Irontooth kill.” The goblin points with one of its axes at Jimmy, the halfling’s legs quiver and shake, like jelly.

“You will fall!” Sigur suddenly declares, with certainty- Irontooth turns back to the dwarf as a hazy red curtain blasts out from the wrathful invoker. The goblin takes a hurried step backwards as its mind is suddenly filled with terrifying bloody visions- Irontooth's broken bloodied body shattered and bleeding on the cold stone floor.

For a second, perhaps less than second, Irontooth doubts. Then the goblin grins and begins to spin its twin battleaxes.

“Irontooth kill.” The goblin reaffirms and stalks forward.

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Ahead of Gokan the kobold wyrmpriest scurries in to the waterfall chamber, and once again around a corner and out of sight. Gokan stops, shakes his head, flecks of spittle fall from the half-orc's lips, he can see the destruction meted on his friends.

Screaming, Gokan lurches in to a charge, full pace he smashes in to Irontooth's back- both axes biting deep and levering the flaming goblin to its knees.

Irontooth is on 6 HP after being hit for 28 damage by Gokan's Howling Strike combined with Takedown Strike to knock the Goblin prone- surely the end is in sight...

Hedda meantime lying on her back blinks her eyes open- staring up at the stone ceiling of the cavern, she coughs and chokes, the minotaur is surrounded by a slick of her own blood.

Hedda fails her first Death Save.

Irontooth is not beaten however, the goblin levers himself to his feet- fighting Gokan every inch of the way, the half-orc trying desperately to push the goblin back down. The goblin’s armour is still smouldering and burning, at last Irontooth stands- facing Gokan.

“Irontooth kill.” The goblin declares one more time and lashes his twin battleaxes round in a low arc. The leading blade smashes in to Gokan's legs, shattering one of the half-orc's knee caps. Gokan falls- thumps hard on to the cold stone floor, unconscious before he hits the deck.

Gokan is on -10 HP after taking 22 damage in a single hit, note each time Irontooth connects, the goblin heals 5 hit points.

The kobold wyrmpriest grins and sends yet another acid energy orb thudding in to Sigur's chest, the dwarven invoker staggers backwards- his robes and armour burnt, blasted and smoking.

“Surrender and my master will let you live...” The wyrmpriest states in perfect common.

Sigur is bloodied, again.

Jimmy, still hidden from sight, makes his decision- the halfling creeps forward and with both hands plunges his dagger deep in to the crazy goblin's back. Irontooth blinks once, and then without a sound falls forward and slaps hard on to the wet stone-dead.

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Sigur staggers backwards, the dwarf mumbles and grumbles again as a shadowy red curtain bursts from him and engulfs the wyrmpriest- the kobold suddenly looks terrified as it experiences dark visions of its bloody death, the moment passes in an instant but the creature still looks panicked.

“Throw down your weapons, you stupid stinking lizard.” Sigur spits and snarls.

The kobold wyrmpriest looks left at Jimmy, then right at Sigur- the mouthy dwarf, its hands all the while circle and shape to form yet another green orb- the creature lets fly and moments later the acid missile bursts on to Sigur's body.

The dwarf looks down at his singed and blackened form, his armour and robes now completely burnt away from his chest and upper body, Sigur opens his mouth as if to speak, looks up at Jimmy, and then topples forward and crashes head first in to the cold stone floor.

Sigur is on -2 HP, it’s just Jimmy and the Kobold Wyrmpriest left.

Jimmy gulps, grips tight to his dagger, dashes forward and stabs out- the kobold wyrmpriest twists and turns and avoids the blow; Jimmy pulls up just short of the waterfall, close to the edge. To the right of the halfling Sigur violently and suddenly shivers and shakes, the dwarf convulses, his body and spirit almost fatally broken.

Sigur fails his Death Save.

Jimmy takes a step to his side, intent on trying to do something to aid the fallen dwarf.

“I wouldn't do that...” The kobold states, again in perfect common, the creature grins and stalks forward drawing a jagged-edged vicious looking dagger from its belt.

“Two can play that game, little one…” The wyrmpriest spins the blade from hand to hand, expertly.

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Jimmy and the wyrmpriest manoeuvre, the pair circle each other- both having to step gingerly between the myriad fallen bodies.

The wyrmpriest with its vicious-looking curved dagger darts forward and strikes, Jimmy twists and turns and avoids the blade. The halfling stabs back but the wyrmpriest is no slouch, the kobold's reactions are lightning fast- it dodges the halfling's deft strike.

The pair break and go back to circling, a few feet away from Jimmy Hedda suddenly coughs and splutters, lets loose a slick of dark red blood- it sounds like she is choking, drowning.

Hedda fails her second Death Save.

Jimmy looks terrified as he watches the minotaur's dying breaths. The kobold wyrmpriest stops too, to take in the moment.

“You could try to save her.” The wyrmpriest nods at the fallen Hedda, “or we could watch her die?”

Jimmy turns back, grimaces at the wyrmpriest, who smiles back and spins its dagger in its hand, the halfling watches, waits, and then pounces...

Jimmy catches his foot on a dead kobold minion's bloody hand, the halfling stumbles, and the wyrmpriest darts forward and slashes with its vicious blade. The two desperate combatants collide, Jimmy's off hand grips tight to the kobold's wrist- preventing its blade from completing its terrible arc. The kobold's free hand is likewise employed- keeping Jimmy's dagger at bay.

Jimmy pushes, grits his teeth and strains, the kobold pushes back, the pair wrestle and circle, the kobold's blade inches closer to Jimmy's neck. The halfling suddenly shifts his weight, trying to turn the blade aside; the wyrmpriest however is ready and twists in time to the halfling's movement.

Its vicious dagger inches closer still, until its keen edge pricks the halfling’s skin. This time it’s the kobold which shifts and redistributes its weight, drawing a line of red across the halfling's throat.

Blood wells, and drips, or rather slicks in a curtain down Jimmy's leather armour- the halfling gasps as his blood bubbles and froths in his throat.

“Noooo!” Jimmy screams and suddenly lurches forward. The pair clash, and then as suddenly pull apart; Jimmy staggers backwards clutching at his wound, blood seeping through his fingers.

The kobold takes two steadying steps backwards, and grins as the halfling staggers.

“Not long now...” The kobold spits out, and nods towards Jimmy, “there's no shame- you fought well.”

Jimmy sinks to one knee, looks down at the pooling blood, then looks up, breathes hard, and nods at the kobold- the wyrmpriest follows Jimmy's gaze.

The halfling's dagger is lodged deep in the small reptilian humanoid's gut; the wyrmpriest drops his vicious blade, staggers backwards and forlornly hisses. The kobold takes another step back, now clutching on to the hilt of the blade- with a gasp he draws Jimmy’s dagger out, gasps, and steps backwards through the waterfall and off the edge.

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Jimmy drops to one knee, then all fours, and then somehow with the last of his strength propels himself forward towards salvation- Hedda.

Jimmy arrives just in time. Hedda's eyes blink open, the minotaur grabs out and clutches the halfling's hand, with an iron grip, she chokes and spits, and speaks in a harsh wet whisper “the keep... cultists...”

The minotaur's body suddenly shudders, as if seized and squeezed by some terrible foe. Jimmy struggles to control the convulsions- Hedda gasps, her eyes suddenly wide-open in absolute terror, and then she dies.

That’s her third failure and Hedda is gone, Stu needs a new PC.

But we’re not finished yet…


“NOOOO!” Jimmy screams again, louder this time, his tiny fists thump in to Hedda's chest- the great bull-headed priestess does not stir. Jimmy cries- great jagged sobs, goes to strike Hedda again and then suddenly looks about him- Gokan is the next nearest.

The halfling, now with a greater impetus, crawls over to the half-orc as fast as he can, desperately feels for a pulse, his hands shaking, it takes a while. Jimmy works methodically now, he fetches out water and bandages from his pack, his hands search out Gokan's wounds- staunch the flow of the half-orc’s slick red blood.

The result is startling, Gokan stirs, blinks hard and then nods, very slightly, at the halfling- Jimmy grins and sobs.

Through his tears Jimmy looks up to see Sigur, slumped in the corner, the dwarf's eyes suddenly blink open- he goes to speak but as with Hedda is beset by tremors. The dwarf's head thwoks repeatedly in to the stone cavern wall, the quake passes and Sigur’s eyes close again. The dwarf slumps forward- no longer breathing.

Sigur fails his second Death Save.

Jimmy is back in action, the halfling shuffles over as quick as he can to Sigur, behind him Gokan manages to roll on to his side, and then slowly, with one leg hanging limp, crawl forward. The half-orc follows Jimmy over.

The pair combine their efforts, Jimmy having already ascertained that Sigur has a pulse, although it’s fading fast. The pair work together, quickly and quietly, to patch and staunch the dwarf's myriad wounds, and yet...

Sigur seems not to be responding, his pulse continues to fade, now and then it skips a beat.

Jimmy's tears come again, the halfling rocks back and forth making mewling sounds as he continues to work.

And still Sigur's pulse fades, and fluctuates.

Until...

Until it’s gone.

The forlorn pair, the halfling and the half-orc look down at Sigur's broken body. Jimmy continues to rock back on forth, still crying quietly.

Gokan slides himself next to Jimmy, the half-orc's expression serene.

“He's gone.” Jimmy snuffles.

Gokan suddenly and unexpectedly acts; the half-orc with lightning speed locks his hand together raises them high above his head and then thumps them down, as hard as he can, on to Sigur's chest- a thudding hammer blow.

The effect is instantaneous.

Sigur coughs.

Once.

Twice.

And then blinks open his eyes.

“Do that again, and I'll kill ya.” The dwarf states in a voice with such menace that even Gokan's face registers, for a brief moment, fear.

Then Sigur grins.

Encounter #4 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #4 The Kobold Lair, starring-

Kobold Minion (Minion Level 1) x10
Kobold Skirmisher (Skirmisher Level 1) x3
Kobold Denwarden (Soldier Level 2) x2
Kobold Wyrmpriest (Artillery Level 3) x1
Goblin Chief- Irontooth (Elite Brute Level 3) x1

Total 1250 XP for a Level 6 Encounter.

The same as the module, why mess with this encounter when 75% of the time it’s a PC killer.

That said I did dock the PCs 150 XP- why you ask, well that’s because Bad Derek the Kobold Wyrmpriest… well, you’ll see.

PC XP

220 XP each for a total of 689 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

DM Thoughts-

It’s never dull the Irontooth encounter, but for this run it played out like a dream. In game the guys were constantly aware that the big bad goblin- Irontooth, would be coming out to play some time very soon- and they knew I’d fixed the damage (more not less). As I’ve stated previously three of the players have been in this encounter before, although for one of them it proved to be terminal. The other two players were aware of this encounter also- it seems to have taken on an almost legendary (good or bad- you decide) status.

A fantastic outcome, I couldn’t have asked for any more- obviously the death of Hedda is a bad thing, but in some ways I enjoy it when one or two PCs die, particularly at low level, it emphasises to the players just how tough the game can be. The fact that the encounter was almost a TPK- but for Jimmy none of them would be around was also excellent.

The encounter lit a fire beneath the players- no bad thing, you’ll hear more about this in the story. The guys were mad (Hedda’s dead) and excited (I killed Irontooth/Jimmy saved us) in about equal quantity.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 4
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:01 am 
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KOTS Part 4a: Aftermath.

“What will you do?” Jimmy asks staring over the fire at Gokan.
The half-orc shrugs and goes back to poking the embers.
“I mean, we've got Douvern back...” Jimmy tails off as he notices Sigur's stare.

Jimmy follows the dwarf's gaze, in the back of the cave Hedda's body lies, wrapped in blankets; the minotaur priestesses’ horns protruding slightly from the make-shift burial shroud.

Hal, breaks his reverie, the metal man's eyes light up, slowly- flickering slightly.
“We should return to Douvern, tomorrow. He will know what to do. We should take the priestesses’ body home... Wherever that is.” The metal man falls silent, then turns and goes back to reconnecting the various strange metallic ropes and cables which twist and snake within his exposed upper arm- now reconnected to his body.

Sigur nods.

Jimmy shrugs. Then nods.

Time passes oh so slowly, just the sound of the fire and the plashing susurrus of the waterfall, every now and then a toenail of the moon shines and shows through the blue-silver curtain of water.

“What about this stuff?” Jimmy grabs out a clutch of crudely written notes- found earlier in the search of the lair, along with a chest containing more gold than any of the assembled adventurers has ever seen.

“Who's behind this- don't you want to know?” Jimmy continues to wave the papers, anger in his voice, the halfling's eyes blazing.

Gokan and Hal stop to stare at Jimmy.

Sigur awkwardly gets to his feet, gingerly- clearly in a great deal of pain, the dwarf circles the fire and his friends till he stands next to the halfling.

The dwarf kneels gritting his teeth in pain, then sits.

“What are we going to do?” Jimmy asks again, his anger directed at Sigur.

The dwarf says nothing just levers one of his massive arms around the halfling's shoulders and leaves it there. Jimmy sobs for a good while longer.

Every now and then each of the adventurers takes a moment, when they think their friends are not looking, to stare again at the broken Hedda.

Then, beset by nightmares, in terrible pain, hungry and desperately sad, they eventually sleep.


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 4a
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 4:56 am 
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KOTS Part 4b: Back to Winterhaven.

The journey back to Winterhaven is slow going, Gokan and Hal tote a make-shift bier, lashed to which is Hedda, or rather Hedda's broken body. They make regular breaks, only Sigur looks impatient to get back to the fortified town, all of them are quiet.

The only chatter comes at the start of their journey, while exiting the waterfall cave...

Gokan points at a scuffed and stained patch of grass, and then wonder of wonders, speaks- “blood trail...” The half-orc shields his eyes in the low morning sun, scans the clearing and the tree-line.

Jimmy looks about him, slowly at first, cautiously, the halfling's pace quickens until he's frantically searching for something, or rather someone.

“The wyrmpriest's body is gone.” Jimmy finally offers, exasperated.
“Current took it.” Sigur states with a shrug.
The quartet scans the stream for a while.
“I don't know.” Jimmy worries.

The halfling rests his hand on the ornate and vicious looking dagger at his belt, the wyrmpriest's blade- magical, Sigur has already ascertained.

“Come on.” Sigur states, remarkably calmly, and then leads them off...

The guardsmen at the gates to Winterhaven jump in to action the moment they see the approaching adventurers. After much shouting a pair of men race out to help the wanderers home- and are duly shooed away by Sigur.

The dwarf glares at the pair when they attempt to wrest the bier from Hal and Gokan, the guardsmen scurry off back to the gate.

Rond is quickly found, as is Sister Lenora, the pair crowd around. The market place falls to silence as the odd-looking group trudges across the cobbled area to Wrafton's Inn. Douvern emerges just in time to open the door.

“Oh Erathis!” The old man exclaims and is quickly to the stretcher, it soon becomes apparent to the ex-adventurer that Hedda has paid the ultimate price.

“Oh Erathis!” The old man continues to say at regular intervals, between clutching Jimmy to him, patting and tenderly touching Gokan and Hal, and every now and then looking sad-eyed at the dour looking Sigur.

The group head inside, bringing chaos with them.

There's a lot of fuss, a lot of townsfolk ferrying drinks, and food, and kind words, and... Jimmy eventually finds a chair by the fire and falls asleep. Gokan excuses himself a little later and heads upstairs, Hal on the other hand shuts down soon after entering the Inn.

The metal man stands as still as a statue in a shadowy corner while people continue to come and go, to worry over the body of the minotaur priestess.

Only Sigur stays awake, keeping a close eye on the activity in the Inn, the locals however give the dwarf a wide berth.

And so it goes for the rest of the day, the 21st day of the third month of 2012 passes, a terrible landmark in the lives of the Hard Core adventurers.


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 4b
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:30 am 
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KOTS Part 4c: Decisions.

The 23rd day of the third month of the year 2012, after sleep, after food, after healing, after rest, after the funeral- then comes the argument.

“We should investigate further.” Douvern states.
“We?” Sigur harrumphs.
“You’re not going anywhere dad.” Jimmy finishes.

Douvern looks crestfallen, and yet...

“We're taking you home- to mom. The next caravan out of here.” Jimmy adds.
Douvern bangs his tankard down on the table, rises and heads off to the bar.

Silence, then...

Gokan grunts and shakes his head.

Jimmy gets the feeling he's being... somethinged, mocked maybe.
“What?” The halfling snaps at the half-orc.

Gokan rubs his chin.
“Dad's right.”

Jimmy exhales loudly leans hard back in his chair, exhales again- louder still.

“Oh and you know best?” The halfling states leaning forward and staring at Gokan.

The half-orc shrugs.
“Dad's right.”
It’s as simple as that- or so it seems to Gokan.

Sigur drains the last of his tankard, looks over at Douvern at the bar- his friend appears suddenly to have grown old- very old, and... he knows it. The dwarf looks down at the spider's web of straps and bandages which cover his chest. I know how you feel, Sigur thinks.

“We should send him back. On the next caravan. Like you said.” Sigur states.
“Then what? Investigate? Us?” Jimmy does little to hide the sarcasm in his voice.
“Yes.” Sigur and Gokan chorus back.
The halfling goes to speak- thinks better of it, he closes his mouth.

Jimmy stares at his father, at the bar.

Gokan and Sigur follow his gaze.

Outside it’s raining, although the market is in full swing.

Jimmy gets up and wanders over to the window, wipes a pane of glass with his sleeve and then stares out.

Eventually the halfling turns back to his companions, he’s smiling, “he's still stood there.” Jimmy declares.
Sigur rumbles- laughter, he chokes briefly and coughs loudly all the while holding his chest, the dwarf's eyes water a little.

Gokan doesn't know quite where to look, the half-orc grins, makes a strange-strangled noise, a shivering hissing sound, then puffs out his cheeks and desperately tries not to laugh out loud.

Jimmy bends double, his tears sting as he is overcome by lilting giggles.

“He's still stood there.” The halfling repeats, when he can, and slip-slides on to the floor, clutching at his sides.

Out in the market place, in the driving rain, Hal stands- waiting, patiently.

The metal man has been trying, and repeatedly failing, to purchase a 'long weight' for the last three-and-a-half hours. Hal is however, as always, determined.

The 24th day of the third month of the year 2012, and the adventurers are still at the Inn. Although decisions have been made, in many ways it has been an odd day.

It all started very early, before anybody, and in particular the night guard at the Winterhaven gate, was ready...

“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of Bahamut...”

The armed and armoured dragonborn tuts, and rattles the gate - again. It's the third time he's repeated his speech in the last fifteen minutes, and still no-one comes.

Tantalus stands outside the gates of Winterhaven, which are firmly shut- it being only a few minutes after sunrise. In the rain- that fine rain which seems not to penetrate clothing, but on closer inspection has in fact soaked you to the skin.

The dragonborn rests his head on the gate, and sighs.

It continues to rain, somewhere beyond the walls of Winterhaven a cock crows.

“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of...”
CLUNK! Tantalus looks up, a badly dressed guardsman yawns and looks down on him leaning over the battlements above. “What?” The guardsman casually asks.
“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant...”
“Yeah. Got that. What d'you want?” The guardsman asks and yawns again.
“I wish to enter; I bear important communications from High Priest Nedveid Allastor...”
“Who?” The guard spits on his hand, removes his helmet, and proceeds to slick his bed-head hair down.
“High Priest Nedveid Allastor Fortunata...” Tantalus tries again, and once more fails to conclude his speech.
“We open in thirty minutes...” The guardsman suddenly moves off, out of sight.

Tantalus looks confused, the dragonborn has lead a sheltered life, surrounded for most of it by his fellow adherents- Tantalus was born in to the service of Bahamut. He is used to order, bound by rules, tradition and faith.

“Hello...” Tantalus tries again.

Silence.

“Hello...” And again.

Silence.

“I said 'Hello'” Tantalus adjusts the volume, from loud to very loud.

A sound, the guardsman appears once more, leans his folded arms on the battlements and yawns again, and eventually asks, “what?”
“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of...” Tantalus gabbles in a rush.
“We open in the thirty minutes, I told you- don't make me come down there...” The guard warns and looks cock-eyed at the dragonborn. The guard goes to move away.

“You are not fit to wear the uniform, you rude and irritating little man.” Tantalus states, and stares up at the guardsman. “Now open this gate or I will be forced to open it myself.”

The guardsman goes through a dozen emotions very quickly, the first and most prominent of which is good old 'anger'.

“Go on then. Open the gate.” The guard finally states when he has mastered his thoughts.

Before the guard can finish his sentence Tantalus takes a step back, breathes in, and then breathes out- with devastating effect. Bolts of lightning fizz and crackle- spat from the dragonborn's maw, they smash in to the gate. Wood splinters and shatters, the damage is superficial but the effect is instant…

“Why you, dirty...” The rest of the guard's words are lost as the human scurries out of sight. Moments later from the other side of the gate comes the sound of fast approaching footsteps, followed by more sounds, a great mechanism being unlocked or else...

THUNK!

The next bit happens very quickly. A crack of light appears in the centre of the gate, Tantalus slams in to the gate with all his might- the newly unlatched gate in turn slams in to the human guardsman standing directly behind it.

The guardsman slumps to the cobbled stone floor, and does not stir.

The next bit is a little more leisurely, Tantalus slips in to Winterhaven- pushes the gate shut, reapplies the latch and then drags the guardsman's unconscious body out of the rain.

The dragonborn looks around, spots the Inn, and marches over to it.

The door to the hostel is shut.

“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of Bahamut... ” The dragonborn states, and then trails off, “... forget it.”

He plonks himself down on the front step of the Inn, fetches out a pipe, wraps his cloak around him and on his third attempt lights the briar. It’s going to be a long day- the dragonborn decides.

Several hours later, after a brief visit to the authorities, an argument with an upstart young human Lord, and a series of humble apologies Tantalus finds himself at last in the right place, upstairs in Wrafton’s Inn.

Seated around a tastefully decorated living room, belonging to Serena Wrafton- owner of the Inn, are Jimmy, Sigur, Hal, Gokan, Douvern, Rond and Lord Padraig; standing before them is… Tantalus, of course.

The dragonborn tries again.

“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of Bahamut...”
“What?” Jimmy stares.
The dragonborn replies, slowly- “I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of Bahamut...”
“Never mind that, get on with it.” Douvern waves his hand impatiently.
“I was sent here by High Priest…” Tantalus trails off for a moment, and then plunges on, “I was sent here by my order, to root out the evil cultists who have infected this region. My masters fear that some event is about to take place here that will have far-reaching consequences; I have been sent to guide you brave adventurers in to the depths of the Shadow Keep. There we will risk all to turn the tide, to battle unholy abominations in order to bring an end to the terror that broods there.” Tantalus finishes his dramatic speech.
“Abom…” Gokan wonders.
“Did he say Tantalus?” Jimmy asks still uncertain.
Sigur grins, Hal doesn’t even blink- just stares straight ahead.
Lord Padraig and Rond look worried, Douvern beats them all to the next line.
“Why turn up now?”
“My comrade, Hedda, has fallen- yes?”
Douvern nods.
“My master was monitoring her progress, he sent me… as a replacement.” Tantalus finishes.

The room falls silent for a moment.

The moment stretches.

“What cultists? There are no cultists around here.” Lord Padraig starts with a question and ends with a statement.
“My Lord the cultists are within the Keep, foul creatures- goblins mostly, although we believe a number of undead are also present. The leader of the cult is alas unknown to us, and yet he lurks there- within the shattered remains of the Keep, we are certain.”
“This is nonsense…” Padraig splutters, Rond looks less sure.

The silence returns, for a while.

Eventually Sigur fetches from a pouch at his belt a bunch of papers, the dwarf grunts and then proffers them to Tantalus.

While the dragonborn reads, Sigur speaks- “they’re orders, to the Kobolds, actually to the kobolds’ leader- Irontooth, the goblin, the one that we told you about- the one who slew Hedda.” Sigur looks suddenly sick.

“They’re all signed with a ‘K’. They could be from the Keep, I reckon they’re from somewhere close by. They’re orders for attacks on caravans, and in particular on adventurers, in fact anyone wanting to get to Winterhaven.”
“I didn’t…” Lord Padriag starts, “let me see those…” The young Lord is passed the papers.

Sigur goes on, “when we fought the gnome and the humans, when we rescued you my friend”, Sigur nods at Douvern, the old man smiles back, “a spectral figure appeared- a human, he ordered the gnome to attack us.”

Jimmy, Hal and Gokan nod.

Sigur has more, “the gnome was told by the spectral figure that he would be visited by goblins…” The dwarf leaves it there.

Gokan nods then grunts. “We should at least find out.” The half-orc states.

“That’s what Hedda meant…” Jimmy whispers, to stares, he elaborates, “before she died, Hedda said something about the Keep… and cultists.”

The silence returns.

Hal suddenly stands, “I am unsure of the veracity of your statements”, Hal addresses Tantalus, the dragonborn nods- while Jimmy looks confused and mouths the word ‘veracity’. Hal continues, “but I fear there is some semblance of truth- I think it behoves us to venture in to this place and reconnoitre the locale.”

It’s Gokan’s turn to look confused- the Halfling and the half-orc share questioning glances and shrugs.

Sigur shakes his head, grumbles, and translates, “the metal man reckons we should pay a visit on this ‘K’- kick his backside.”

Hal nods.

Jimmy and Gokan nod too.

Douvern looks concerned.

Suddenly the dragonborn draws his longsword, which leads to a flurry of activity; Tantalus however swiftly kneels, bows his head and prays, aloud.

“Lord Bahamut, protector of the innocent, I swear this day to lead these stalwart adventurers…”
Jimmy looks at Gokan, the Halfling points at himself- the half-orc nods his head, Jimmy grins and mimes laughter.
“… in to the hellish depths of the foul construction known as Shadow Keep. I will lead them valiantly to victory against the abominations that lurk there- I will not turn from the light oh Lord…”
Jimmy makes circling movements at the side of his head.
“… I swear this Lord, with my heart, with my soul, with my blood- for I am Tantalus Oron…”
“Got it- Tonka.” Jimmy shouts, the dragonborn looks up. “What?”
“Tonka- Tantalus-whatsit-whatsit-whatsit-whatsit. Your name- Tonka.” Jimmy looks around the room, encounters only grins.

Sigur breaks the spell. “Come on then… Tonka. Get done with your praying, we’re going to the Keep tomorrow. And you.” The dwarf motions towards Douvern. “You’re going home- to Gerda.”
Douvern bows his head, but says nothing.

Tonka, Male Dragonborn Inspiring Warlord Level 1
Played by Stu

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And so on the 25th day, of the third month of the year 2012 the adventurers, after teary farewells to Douvern, set out for the Keep, led by Tonka- whose grin is a mile wide.

Before heading out they of course spend a little time and money in town- replenishing supplies, finding out what they can, and making ready for the trials ahead.

They procure two healing drafts from Sister Lenora at the church of Avandra.

They visit briefly with a local sage by the name of Valthruin who, for an extortionate amount of money, tells the tale of the Keep- centuries old, a bastion of the old Nerath empire. The fortress fell to internal strife over a century ago when the master of the Keep- Lord Keegan, ran amok and slew his family and many of his men. The Keep's salvation came in the form of the terrible Lord's deputy, whose name is alas lost to history. The unnamed hero, it is said, rallied the men left alive and contrived to corner Lord Keegan in the catacombs of the Keep. They trapped him there, collapsing the exits, entombing forever their former Lord. The Keep was soon after abandoned- considered cursed and haunted, even before the great wars and the fall of the Nerath empire.

They also learn a little more from Douvern, before the old man heads back to Fallcrest on the weekly trade caravan. It seems the mirror Agrid the gnome and his men found at the burial site is an heirloom of the Keegan family. Although certainly not a possession of Lord Keegan, it is a child’s trinket.

The adventurers put two and two together- 'K' for Keegan, entombed in the catacombs of the Keep- it looks increasingly like Tonka knows what he is talking about.

The journey is easily accomplished in only three hours, directions having been obtained from Rond, Lord Padraig's man.

The Keep, when they see it, is disappointing- an ancient ruin, overgrown by brambles, thistles and long grasses.

Tonka backs away a little, whispers his new colleagues over, crouched a hundred or so yards from the haphazard piles of broken stone, the dragonborn begins his speech- “I suggest a diamond formation, I am unfamiliar with your individual strengths and weaknesses…”

Jimmy looks at the faces of his companions- Hal seems to be listening, Gokan already looks confused, while Sigur looks… irritated.

Tonka continues “… we need to consider our spacing when it comes to close quarters, that’s where a good tactical deployment will serve us best. We nee…” The dragonborn suddenly draws to a halt; having taken account of his compatriots’ confused looks- perhaps he needs to simplify…

“Jimmy, when it comes to fighting where will you position yourself?” Tonka asks plainly.
The Halfling draws the vicious magical dagger the wyrmpriest left behind, “behind you.” Jimmy states and grins as the blade catches the light.

Jimmy Hoofenburger, Male Halfling Trickster Rogue Level 1
Played by Dan

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Now with +1 Vicious Dagger.

Gokan nods once, and moves forward at a crouch, towards the ruins of the Keep.

“Where’s he…” Tonka begins.
“Shut up or I will burn you.” Sigur states without a flicker of emotion.

Five minutes later the half-orc returns, and leads the group quickly and quietly through the tall grass to a set of stairs leading down in to the darkness.

“Wh…” Tonka starts, but is silenced instantly by a duo of menacing stares- courtesy of Gokan and Jimmy, and a rabbit punch to the gut- courtesy of Sigur. Hal all the while watches the stairs.

Jimmy grins, fingers the edge of his blade briefly, and then heads down in to the shadows...


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc 4c
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:31 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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KOTS Part 5: In to the Shadow Keep.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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Jimmy scans the stairs ahead, spots a number of scattered dried bones on the steps- points them out to his compatriots and then, hugging the wall, descends out of sight.

The halfling emerges in to a square chamber; perhaps thirty or more feet to a side, four great stone pillars support the ceiling- ancient and crumbling. The floor of the chamber is heaped with rubble in places and pooled with water in others.

There are three exits, darkened corridors to the east and west, the third corridor heading south is faintly highlighted, the glow of torches further down the passage- it seems to open out a little way ahead.

Jimmy takes a step forward and then suddenly stops, there's something in the south corridor- something on the floor, an animal.

Jimmy squints to see, he can't make it out, with tiny steps he moves forward- towards the nearest pillar.

He makes it.

Takes a moment and breathes hard, he can smell something odd, an animal smell, like wet fur. Jimmy keeps his eyes on the stairs and his back to the pillar- the halfling watches as Gokan creeps silently to the bottom of the steps. The half-orc grins, and nods towards the southern passage.

Cautiously the halfling leans around the pillar and looks again- wolf, it’s a wolf, a mangy hound but a wolf all the same.

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Wolf Packmate
Minion Skirmisher Level 1

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Jimmy gulps air, holds it, and with cheeks puffed nods at Gokan- the half-orc raises his hand signalling to those behind him.

The halfling rogue quietly steps out from behind the pillar and flings his new found vicious dagger.

The dagger spirals madly in the air and then thumps in to the mangy wolf's side; the animal yowls once, half-rises and then slumps to the floor.

“Yesss.” Jimmy hisses and pumps his fist.

Rising from the shadow of the wolf is another equally mangy beast. The second wolf yowls- again and again, and then launches itself towards the now terrified halfling, bounding over its fallen mate, to get at Jimmy.

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The halfling's new magical dagger suddenly reappears in his hand, just at the moment the wolf packmate snaps, bites, tears and shreds Jimmy's right thigh.

It’s the halfling's turn to yowl.

A third wolf suddenly appears in the southern corridor, trots forward, and then breaks in to a charge- Gokan surges from the stair, hollering and screaming at the top of his lungs. The half-orc en route to his enemy slashes out with his hand axe, which thumps in to the flank of the wolf latched on to Jimmy- the creature lets go of the halfling, half-turns and then falls, whimpering- not long for this world.

Gokan rushes on towards the fast approaching lupine, which leaps... and is swatted out of the air by the half-orc's magical battleaxe- the dead wolf lands some fifteen feet away, just short of the corridor exiting to the east of the chamber.

Gokan slows his pace, and squints ahead, there's definitely another chamber down the southern passage, and something moving...

Suddenly skittering in to the corridor comes yet another wolf, this one however is a proper wolf, at least that's what Gokan thinks, a massive snarling grey furred beast. The beast lopes forward, spurred on by the martial looking goblin riding on its back.

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Goblin Beast Rider & Grey Wolf
Skirmisher Level 1 & Skirmisher Level 2

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The goblin rider readies its javelin, like a lance, and digs its heels in to the wolf’s flanks, the creature yowls and charges forward. The terrible duo burst in to the first chamber and smash in to Gokan, who is much too slow.

The goblin's javelin skewers the half-orc, the tip of the makeshift lance protruding from the rear of Gokan's left shoulder. The goblin beast rider lets go of its weapon as Gokan staggers back, the half-orc coughs and splutters, and then vomits blood. The goblin fetches out another javelin from a quiver strapped to the wolf's flank, the small humanoid snarls.

“Durty Orc. Yes? Die soon. Yes!” It struggles with the common tongue but makes itself understood, all the while manoeuvring its mount so that Gokan is left pressed hard against the wall.

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Gokan is bloodied, taking 16 points of damage from the charging mounted Goblin Beast Rider.

Jimmy scurries between the pillars, unseen- behind the wolf and its goblin rider, the halfling braces his dagger and then leaps, twirls his blade in a jagged arc. The vicious blade cuts deep in to the beast rider's back- the goblin yelps and tries desperately to steady his mount as Jimmy's dagger arcs down and slashes at the wolf's rear, leaving a great tear in the beast's flesh.

Jimmy comes full circle, breathing hard, he's not done- the halfling clasps his off-hand around the handle of his blade, leaps up, and two-handed plunges the vicious weapon in to the goblin rider's back, again.

The jagged edge of his dagger rips through the goblin's rib cage and chest, cutting the foul creature's heart in two en route. Jimmy lands perfectly, his momentum levering the dead beast rider from his perch, the goblin thumps on to the floor and sprawls and bleeds.

Jimmy with an Acrobat’s Strike, followed by an Action Point Sly Flourish, the later for 23 points of damage to the Goblin Beast Rider, killing the creature.

Sigur stomps down the stairs, the dwarf has only one target- a ghostly hand suddenly appears, scuttles forward and slaps and burns the wolf's rear- the lupine staggers, twists and turns, and yowls in terrible pain.

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Hal rushes from the stair way, Tonka following on behind- there's no way in to the fight with the wolf, the pair run between the pillars, out of the now flailing, snarling wolf's reach, and on...

Down the southern corridor the pair clank at speed, and in to another chamber- a guard chamber, in slightly better shape than the pillared entrance. There are bunk beds against the north wall, a pair of half-opened doors on the east wall- leading in to what looks to be a large store room. A short corridor to the west ends in another pair of doors, although these are tight shut. Guttering torches illuminate the place, and two of the goblins who lair here.

The first, the closest- dressed in leather armour fumbles with a hand crossbow, vainly attempts to load the thing. The second leaps from one of the bunks and scurries away- towards the far doors, the creature wears dirty robes and has some sort of rod or wand in its hand. The strange goblin also seems to have faint glowing runes somehow etched in to the side of its face.

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Goblin Sharpshooter
Artillery Level 2

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Goblin Wizard
Artillery Level 2

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Hal completes his dash by thumping his greatsword in to the goblin sharpshooter, smashing the hand crossbow from the creature's grasp, the goblin bleeds and scrabbles furiously trying to draw its short sword.

The doors to the store room suddenly open wider, a third goblin hoves in to view, armed with a spear and wearing thick wolf hides, with a patch over one eye.

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Goblin Beast Marshal
Skirmisher Level 1

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“Make dead- quick, quick.” The goblin beast marshal declares.
“For Bahamut!” Tonka counters and slashes with his longsword, the dragonborn cuts the goblin, although only a glancing blow.

The creature retaliates, instantly, stabbing its spear through Tonka's right thigh, the dragonborn yelps and snarls.

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The robe wearing, rune etched goblin wizard folds and shapes its hand, as if gripping tight to some invisible force- the creature lurches forward, as if pushing something quickly away from it. Tonka and Hal are engulfed in a fiery blast, which somehow stings like acid- miraculously neither of the scalded pair are badly hurt. The goblin wizard continues to back away- heading for the closed doors.

The goblin sharpshooter finally locates its short sword and frees the blade, it stabs hard at Hal - and would have scored a terrible hit, but for the fact that at the last moment a platinum dragon adorned shield suddenly appears to block much of the force of the blow. Tonka smiles at Hal, and then continues to mutter prayers to his holy master.

The dragonborn however pays the price, the goblin before him whistles sharply and a fourth member of the wolf pack darts out of the deep shadows in the storeroom and bites Tonka, ripping a hunk of flesh from his side.

Tonka has to grab at the wall to stop himself from falling.

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Tonka is bloodied.

Back in the entrance chamber Gokan, grimacing terribly, levers himself away from the wall- swings once with both his blades, screaming all the while- the grey wolf skips aside, but fails to account for the half-orc's follow up slash.

Both blades come again, slam in to the lupine’s skull and right foreleg, severing the later and smashing the former, the dead body of the beast slaps hard in to the cold stone floor.

Gokan gurns, grips tight to his twin blades, and then with his hand axe shatters the haft of the javelin that still protrudes from his shoulder.

Jimmy's face shows the pain that Gokan feels, but does not register. The halfling looks away, down the corridor, and then sneaks forward, hidden in the shadows, toward the second chamber.

Tonka it seems is having a little trouble with the spear-wielding goblin beast marshal, and its pet wolf. Time to even the odds, Jimmy thinks, and spins his vicious dagger out again. The goblin is caught off-guard, the blade THUNKS in to its chest- the creature visibly sags as its blood spurts. The beast marshal staggers, as if suddenly intoxicated, a moment later Jimmy's magical blade disappears leaving a great rent in the goblin’s body. Another gout of blood bursts out, the goblin’s legs seems to slip and slide suddenly, the creature THUDS in to one of the storeroom doors, only just manages to keep its feet.

Jimmy’s Sly Flourish with added Surprise Strike leaves the Goblin Beast Marshal Dazed, as well as nearly dead.

A ghostly hand suddenly appears before the wretched goblin, and slaps it in the face; the creature screams- drops its weapon and clutching desperately at its radiant burnt face manages to collide with every hard surface available on its way down to the floor.

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“Dirty little goblin scum.” Sigur mutters as he stomps forward past Jimmy. The dwarf winks at the halfling, strides on, and then shouts- at no one in particular, “DIRTY!”

Hal's greatsword smashes in to the goblin sharpshooter, now reduced to fencing with the metal man, the creature screams as Hal goes to strike again... but something catches his eye.

The goblin wizard has had enough, its steady retreat turns in to a rout- it turns and runs for the secured set of double doors. Hal reacts instantly, he charges- parrying the sharpshooter’s feeble attempt to slash at him, alas his effort is all for nothing.

Hal's overhead greatsword blow, the culmination of his heroic charge, never materialises- the warforged is over six feet tall, his greatsword almost as long again- the ceilings of the chamber are about ten feet overhead. Hal's greatsword THUNKS in to a crevice in the ceiling and is ripped from his hands- which continue their forward arc. From a distance it looks like an act of devotion, the warforged bowing low to the goblin wizard, his hands clasped together as if in prayer.

Meanwhile Hal's greatsword juts down, firmly lodged in the ceiling. The metal man spins to look about- scanning the floor nearby, desperately trying to spot his lost weapon.

Tonka, meantime, makes short work of the last wolf, and then with fancy footwork turns and menaces the bewildered short sword wielding goblin sharpshooter. The dragonborn states in a loud voice, “Bahamut preserve!” His wounds close over- healed.

The warlord cuts and parries, at last finds a weak spot, and with his longsword runs the sharpshooter through, just one enemy left...

The goblin wizard looks behind him, at the closed doors, then ahead at Hal- the metal man has his back to the wizard. The small humanoid shrugs, and then tip-toes over to the massive metal golem, and touches it.

BZZZT!

Hal attempts four different dance steps at once, and then moments later takes to smoking, from his ears.

“Rabbits! RABBITS!” Hal declares, loudly and with as much menace as the word can muster.

Hal is hit for 15 Lightning damage by the Goblin Wizard's Shocking Grasp, a Crit, the metal man is bloodied, actually reduced to 6 HP.

The goblin wizard turns tail and rushes back to the doors, and freedom.

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The goblin wizard turns the handle on the door and opens it...

“Neeeaaaarrrrggghhhhhh!”

The terrible noise starts quietly, and builds, and builds, and builds.

And builds.

Until the small goblinoid turns around to see- and is instantly smashed down by Gokan's twin axes, the half-orc has covered just short of eighty feet to arrive just in the nick of time.

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The wizard falls to its knees as a grinning Gokan uses his axes to lever the creature around and away from the doors.

Hal finally rips his greatsword from the ceiling, and is briefly showered with dirt, sheepishly the warforged strides past Gokan and the goblin to the open door- takes a brief look beyond, a set of stairs leading down in to yet another corridor, and then shuts it.

Hal stands behind the wizard, folds his arms and leans on his greatsword- menacing.

Jimmy and Tonka saunter forward to stand next to Gokan, the trio stare down at the forlorn looking wizard.

Tonka is suddenly shoved aside, the dragonborn shuffles to make room- Sigur hoves in to view, stomps up to the goblin wizard, until the creature has to tilt its head all the way back to see up to the dwarf's face.

Sigur grins.

The goblin gulps.

Encounter #5 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #5 The Goblin Guards, starring-

Wolf Packmate (Minion Skirmisher 1) x4
Goblin Beast Marshal (Skirmisher 1) x1
Goblin Beast Rider (Skirmisher 1) x1
Goblin Sharpshooter (Artillery 2) x1
Goblin Wizard (Artillery 2) x1
Wolf Grey (Skirmisher 2) x1

675 XP Level 2 Encounter

Again only a few changes- mainly just bulking out the encounter and making it a little different from previous plays- I did away with the pit trap and added in some doggies for fun.

PC XP

135 XP each for a total of 824 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

DM Thoughts-

Not much to say, a simple low level encounter with a variety of Goblins and their lupine friends, now the PCs are in the ‘dungeon’ proper I wanted to give them a chance to play through a few encounters.

It obviously suited my purpose to have the Wizard surrender, I do this a lot, or else at least when I have something to say to the PCs- usually setting up the next set of encounters or adding to the story.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #5
PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:52 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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KOTS Part 5a: We need to talk about Sigur.

The goblin wizard goes to speak...

“Shhhh!” Sigur puts his finger to his lips.

“Now listen. We're going to ask questions.” The dwarf nods his head, the goblin nods back.

“And you're going to answer them.” Sigur continues to nod; the goblin continues to nod back.

“And you're not going to lie, or try anything stupid- you're just going to answer the questions.” More nodding from both parties.

“Truthfully.” Sigur adds, with menace, and stops nodding his head- the goblin stops too.

“Good. Because if I think you’re lying, or not telling us everything...” Sigur grins, “I'll hurt you- bad, real bad... Understand?” The goblin wizard, bright for his race, nods back furiously, enthusiastically.

Sigur grins and then punches the creature in the face, smashing its nose and rocking its head back, the goblin flops on to the floor.

“I think we're going to get on.” Sigur remarks, and then grabs a crate to sit on, “he's all yours...” the dwarf declares magnanimously.

Fifteen minutes later Gokan and Jimmy are back on the surface, a little way from the ruins of the Keep in the thickest part of the brambles, the hog-tied and gagged goblin wizard is tethered to a tree, unconscious, its arm bent at an unnatural angle.

The pair finish their work.

Gokan turns to head back to the lair; Jimmy grabs the half-orc.

“He's...” Jimmy desperately racks his brain trying to find the right word to describe Sigur.
“...on our side.” Gokan finishes, and strides off back in to the catacombs.

But for how long- Jimmy worries and then rushes to catch up with Gokan.

Back in the entrance chamber the bodies of the wolves and goblins are gone, as are all signs of the melee, save the splatters and pools of blood.

Sigur, Tonka and Hal are waiting.

The dragonborn speaks, “... and so in summary- east a bunch of goblins digging for something, what something we don't know alas...” Tonka winces a little remembering the noise the goblin's arm made when Sigur broke it, the first time.

“... to the west a torture chamber, not good, with a hobgoblin commander in charge there...” Tonka shakes his head disapprovingly, “... through the doors to the south, a bunch of 'rotten humans', I can only think our goblin friend was referring to zombies- best guess.” Tonka shakes his head.

“Also not good. But best of all there's a goblin chief around these parts- apparently charged with protecting the entrance to the catacombs...”
“Balgron...” Jimmy adds.
“...the Fat.” Tonka completes his summary.

“So...” Tonka is about to ask.
“Digging.” Hal states, and not waiting for a response moves towards the east corridor.

Leaving his compatriots slightly confused- Sigur shrugs, “makes no difference to me- they're all going to die...” the dwarf adds, and follows after the metal man.

Gokan, Jimmy and Tonka head off.

The adventurers trail after the metal man.

“He was dug up.” Jimmy whispers to Tonka, and nods towards Hal.
“What?” Tonka whispers back.
“Dad, dug him up.” Jimmy whispers again, and nods towards Hal, again.
“Your dad dug who up?” Tonka hisses- not getting it.
“My big brother- Hal.” Jimmy replies.
“Oh.” Tonka remarks, and thinks about Jimmy's last statement- my big brother?

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #5a
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:27 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 6: The Excavation Site.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1


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Jimmy looks around the corner again, the chamber ahead - illuminated by torch light - is strange indeed. The large chamber, sixty or more feet square, has been excavated- the floor dug away- mostly, leaving odd islands of stone- connected by long planks of wood. A ramp of packed earth seems to lead down to the lower level, which is mostly obscured from Jimmy's view, the angles are all wrong.

Sounds of digging come from the lower level, or at least some-things are scrabbling around down there, again Jimmy can't be certain.

What he is certain of is the goblins- there are three of them; on the closest island- maybe twenty five to thirty feet away from the halfling is a warrior or guard of some sort- armed with a nasty looking spear, and wearing metal armour. The other two goblins are on the island furthest away- the pair seem to be in discussion, or else one of them seems to be issuing orders.

The one being ordered about appears to be another sharpshooter, a crossbow wielding specialist- a menace. The goblin giving the orders looks pretty frightening, the same strange runes on the creature's face, and its wearing robes- a spell-caster no doubt, Jimmy thinks.

The halfling waits a while longer, it seems the discussion is over on the far island, the sharpshooter hands something over to the goblin caster, the volume goes up- the caster seems displeased.

Jimmy shrugs, sneaks back to tell his friends.

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A minute or two later and Jimmy is already back in situ, at his corner, peering in to the room- the goblins are in the same places as previous.

Behind Jimmy the four other adventurers creep forward, trying to get as close as the can to the corner, around which, Jimmy peers.

Jimmy holds his breath.

“WONG-GA-GA-ga”

Freeze-frame, Jimmy turns to see- Gokan, Sigur and Hal are all starring at Tonka, the dragonborn's shield continues to rock back and forth on the floor- where he dropped it.

“Sorry.” Tonka mouths.

Jimmy turns back, the sounds of digging continue, at the far side of the room the two goblins are still in discussion. The goblin guard however is staring in his direction; the halfling draws back, for a moment, and then looks again. The goblin is already across the wooden plank and on to the ledge on which Jimmy and his fellow adventurers await.

The goblin comes on, maybe fifteen feet from the corner now.

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Goblin Guard
Soldier Level 2

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“Oh... fiddlesticks!” Jimmy hisses, and steps out and flings his vicious dagger- high, wide and handsome, a terrible shot. The goblin guard screams.

“INTREWDERS!”

And everything goes bad.

The uninjured goblin guard scurries forward a little further, and thrusts out its spear, low- at Jimmy's feet, the creature is clearly adept with the weapon. Jimmy dodges and hops from foot to foot, trying to avoid the creature's stabs, it gets frantic quickly- the guard is determined.

Finally the goblin sweeps young Jimmy's feet away with a sideward manoeuvre, the halfling sprawls, having landed hard, but almost instantly bounds back on to his feet and takes a step back.

Jimmy's magical dagger, having reappeared in his hand, spins out again, and again the halfling misses.

“Dammit!” Jimmy screeches.

Sigur steps forward a little, mutters, a thunderclap bursts above the creature's head sending down a shower of soil and stone- none of which seem to have any effect on the stalwart goblin.

“Dirty Goblin bastard!” Sigur adds, frustrated.

Luckily Gokan is at hand, the half-orc swings around the corner- howling and screaming, his axes dance and smash in to the goblin's breast- shattering its armour, both axes wedged in to the creature's chest.

Gokan levers the goblin to its knees, and then at lightning speed rips free his battleaxe and swings again, decapitating the guard. The half-orc kicks the remains of the goblin off the ledge and down in to the excavated section. The creature crashes down, out of sight.

Gokan hits with a Howling Strike, combined with his Furious Assault and Takedown Strike- the Goblin Guard is smashed for 26 hit points damage, and is bloodied and on his knees. A second Howling Strike finishes it off.

Jimmy looks relieved, but only for a second, staggering up the hard-packed dirt ramp is a foul wretch.

“Demon!” Tonka yells, and points with his sword.

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Demon Dretch
Brute Level 2

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The demon is not that impressive; standing only four or so feet tall the grinning, horned humanoid-shaped elemental is surrounded by a cloud of buzzing angry flies. The creature’s great clawed shovel-like hands, ideal for digging, drag along the ground, seemingly too big for its body.

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“Mow-mow-mow.” The wretch sounds, making chewing like noises, it rushes on and flails wildly at Gokan- the half-orc is momentarily outmatched, he has to give ground, desperately parrying the squat brute's threshing blows.

Jimmy gawps, backs in to the wall, trying to get away from this new and terrible adversary, THUKKA, a crossbow bolt thunks in to the stone, inches above the halfling's head, and ricochets away.

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Goblin Sharpshooter
Artillery Level 2

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Jimmy scans the chamber, the sharpshooter has moved to a closer island, the other goblin - the caster - scurries after the artillery expert, drawing forth a nasty looking carved knife and a wand en route; Jimmy's worst fears are confirmed- another caster.

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Goblin Cursespewer
Artillery Level 2

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The cursespewer steadies itself a second, and then gabbles strange broken words, only the last of which is audible-

“... DOOM!”

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A billowing black fog bursts around the demon; Sigur and Gokan begin to choke and cough, flailing wildly in the poisonous gas.

Taking ongoing 5 Poison damage from the Goblin Cursespewer’s Goblin Doom power.

A second dretch stomps up the ramp and rushes forward, this time at Jimmy- the halfling is no match for the creature, its great claws tear through his leather armour and in to his flesh.

For a brief second Tonka's shimmering shield appears and fends off a blow or two, but the respite is short-lived, Jimmy sags, and staggers.

Jimmy is bloodied.

Hal and Tonka are unable to act, the pair are bottle-necked in the corridor leading to the chamber proper, the dretches have effectively formed a fleshy demonic barrier.

“Kill one of them!” Tonka shouts, alas Sigur, Gokan and Jimmy seem somewhat preoccupied.

“Let us in!” The dragonborn demands.

But the three are not listening- they're fighting for their lives.

Hal and Tonka make ready to rush forward in to action should the opportunity arise.

Sigur chokes, this shouldn't be happening, the dwarf thinks- he trundles backwards, elbows out, shoving Tonka and Hal out of the way.

The dwarf mutters, mumbles and grumbles- his favourite ghostly hands are invoked, both dretches are rapped or else slapped, the demons burn with radiant hurt. Sigur nods to himself, satisfied with his skills, the dwarf repeats the trick- conjuring another pair of ghostly hands, and to the same effect.

Although battered and burnt the demonic brutes hold the line- they don't back down, or give an inch.

“Step aside Jimmy, step aside little one...” Tonka shouts over the hullabaloo, the halfling obliges- trying desperately to cover his mouth with his off-hand, there's poison in the air.

Hal steps in to the gap, swings his greatsword, backhand, forehand carving in to the demonic wall- both creatures are sliced, they bleed some foul green smoking viscous fluid, which pools and begins to burn through the tiled floor.

Both dretches simultaneously descend in to some mindless scrabbling fury, their attacks come on apace- the pair flail wildly at the adventurers’ front line, although only Hal is scratched and clawed.

The Dretches Sickening Miasma (Aura 1) delivers one hit point damage to PCs making a move or standard action, cumulative if the PC is in the aura of both Demons. Some of the guys are taking 4 HP damage/round (Move & Standard) as well as the ongoing 5 Poison- not good.

Hal is desperate to clear the way; he cuts again with his greatsword, cleaving his blade from one creature in to the other. More smoking green gunk spews from the demons’ wounds, and yet the pair fight on, although both are staggered, and seemingly less accurate with their attacks.

Jimmy skitters and dodges and stabs at the nearest demon's side, and yet more smoking gloop spills out, the halfling tries again; the dretch suddenly staggers and lurches back a little, causing Jimmy to miss his attack, but breaking the demonic barrier.

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Gokan, still choking, coughing and spluttering, begins to whirl- he gathers speed and then smashes in to the demons; the effect is beautiful and frightening. The half-orc's blades whirl, and slash, and whirl, and cut, and whirl, and slice- it's like some terrible hypnotic dance.

At some point critical mass is reached within the demons, as Gokan's axes continue to bite - one, then the other, explodes. A shower of fizzing, frothing, stinking, smouldering green goo bursts out and over the adventurers- the smell is... even Sigur wretches, eyes watering, the dwarf screams his fury.

“DIRTY!”

When reduced to 0 hit points the Dretches explode with Vile Death, a Close Burst 1 zone- doing 5 Poison damage to any creature in it.

A vast greenish cloud engulfs the ledge, engulfs the adventurers- the goblin sharpshooter and the cursespewer scuttle closer, to the next island along- trying to see in to the choking poisonous mist.

Suddenly bursting from the sickening cloud, screaming all the way, comes Gokan- the half-orc rushes forward to the edge of the ledge- a flimsy looking wooden plank bridges the gap to the next island, on which the two goblins stand.

The half-orc leaps, and expertly lands on the island- avoiding the flimsy plank altogether, he slashes and bashes madly with his blades. The goblin cursespewer is cut once, twice- and staggers back, almost over the side, it looks nearly beaten, certainly broken and battered.

Gokan with a natural ‘20’ on his Athletics check.

Gokan shakes, growls and howls some more- glad to be out of the poison cloud- the half-orc sucks in lungfuls of fresh, or at least fresher, air.

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“Bahamut preserve!” Tonka nods at Jimmy, the halfling's hurts fade, the dragonborn lifts high his longsword, and screams.

“For the platinum dragon!”

Then charges forward to the edge of the ledge and out on to the flimsy plank- which bows and strains, and...

“I bring you… Vengeance!”

Tonka leaps the last ten or so feet on to the island, as the plank shatters and tumbles down in to the excavated area. For all his effort Tonka's attack is way off the mark, and yet the dragonborn isn't done, he lurches forward- sword and shield together- smashing in to the goblin cursespewer, which has nowhere to go, except over the side.

The goblin lands with a sickening thud, neck broken.

“For Bahamut!” Tonka reaffirms.

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The last goblin standing shuffles back a way, or rather as far away as it can get, back to the furthest island. The sharpshooter sets itself, and then opens fire at its nearest enemy. The bolt slams in to Tonka's shield, lodges there- the dragonborn grins and rages- pointing with its longsword at the goblin.

“I come for you.”

Back in the poisonous mist Sigur harrumphs and mumbles- “bloody Bahamut this, Bahamut that...”, clearly unimpressed.

Sigur stumbles out of the poisonous mist; the grumbling dwarf seems to have suffered little harm, his race’s inbuilt immunities keeping him safe. Yet another ghostly hand flutters forth and attempts to slap the goblin sharpshooter, illuminated in the torch light over the far side of the chamber.

The goblin alas is much too quick.

Sigur grumpily mumbles as Jimmy and Hal follow the dwarf out of the poisonous haze. Jimmy tries with his dagger, even though he's at an incredible distance, it worked against the wyrmpriest in the stone circle, the halfling remembers.

His blade clatters well short, and soon after reappears back in his hand.

Hal is much too far away, the metal man thinks for a moment, and then shouts over at the sharpshooter, in an oddly piping voice- “I would advise you to lay down your weapons, any further actions which could be interpreted as manifestations of violence will be met with force, this could have dire consequences for you.”

“Wha...” The goblin manages, and then Gokan smashes in to it, the half-orc's battleaxe removes the lower six inches of the goblin's arm and hand- the one that was formerly clutching its crossbow.

The creature screams “Surrender...” and stares at its newly acquired bloody stump.

“You were warned.” Hal adds.

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Even Sigur grins.

Moments later the dwarf calls over to Gokan, “bring him over- it’s question time.” Then sits down on the edge of the ledge, looking down in to the excavated depths; he swings his stumpy little legs and whistles a happy tune.

Encounter #6 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #6 The Goblin Excavators, starring-

Goblin Sharpshooter (Artillery 2) x1
Goblin Cursespewer (Artillery 2) x1
Goblin Guard* (Soldier 2) x1
Demon Dretch (Brute 2) x2

*Converted/Adapted Town Guard- I think.

625 XP Level 2 Encounter

Again just a change of personnel really, I think the addition of the Demon Dretches also upped the ante with atmosphere- first level PCs battling Demons seems suitably heroic to me.

PC XP

125 XP each for a total of 949 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

One more encounter and they’ll have enough XP for level 2.

DM Thoughts-

I got lucky bottle-necking the PCs in the corridor; it just fell right in the initiative order, reducing Hal and Tonka to bystanders for a round of the action.

Gokan however is proving to be a terror, there’s almost nowhere on the map that the half-orc can’t get to, particularly if it involves an Athletics checks en route.

It also suited my purpose to have the goblin surrender again, it also just makes sense to get the fight finished sooner rather than have it drag on.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #6
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:23 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 6a: We need to talk about Sigur, revisited.

Twenty or so minutes later Gokan and Jimmy are back above ground again, tying their second goblin prisoner, similarly bound and broken et al to a different tree.

“He's a bit of a nutter though.” Jimmy talks as he ties.
Gokan shrugs.
“Did dad ever say anything about him?”
Gokan shrugs again, although with less emphasis this time.
“Go on...”
Gokan shrugs again, and looks away- deliberately.
“Gokan... ”, the half-orc reluctantly turns back.
“What did dad say about him?” Jimmy whines.
Gokan goes to shrug, stops himself, and sighs.
“He said he was a bit of a nutter.” The half-orc plainly states.
Jimmy grins.
“I told you.”

The pair head back to the catacombs.

Just in time for their second lecture; back in the entrance chamber Tonka is again in full flow- “...so, there's another one of those cursespewer-types in with the hobgoblin commander in the torture chamber- that's really not good.” Tonka states.

“Balgron the Fat it seems is really very fat, and deadly accurate with a crossbow- that's certainly worth knowing. We should endeavour to avoid this character until we can get close to him- in to melee range, if at all possible, got that.”

Gokan grunts, Jimmy nods- Hal and Sigur stand stoic, the latter barely listening- the dwarf is far more interested in the item he holds in his hands, a magical rod, he has already determined, of immense power.

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Now with +1 Rod of Absorption.

The +1 Rod of Absorption was recently located by the Dretches and Goblins while excavating the chamber, but that’s not all- read on.

Sigur turns the thing over, and over in his hands- admiring it from all angles.

“Nasty.” The dwarf adds and chuckles, and then stops, suddenly aware he is the centre of attention.

Sigur clears his throat- “you were saying...”

“The demon dretches were summoned by someone 'below', sent to help the goblins search for 'old shiny stuff'- it would have been so much better if we had kept the spell-caster alive don't you think?” Tonka looks hard at Gokan.
The half-orc looks confused.
“You killed the caster.” Jimmy states, helpfully.
“Yes, I mean. Yes. Sorry. I did didn't I- and what a hit that was...”

Tonka draws his longsword and cuts and slices, in mock battle, the onlookers stop to stare.

Jimmy shakes his head.

“Bahamut's bloody trousers, put that thing away and get on with it...” Sigur shouts.

Tonka, a little disappointed, complies.

“Yes, well... They were looking for 'old shiny stuff', like this... Which they’d apparently just found.” Tonka opens his hand to reveal an ancient looking tarnished silver bracelet, sized for someone with a very small wrist.

The piece of jewellery, Sigur has already ascertained, bares a remarkable similarity to the mirror found at Douvern’s burial site. Certainly it appears to be the same age, style, and as with the mirror- made for a child.

“So... Where does that leave us?” Tonka asks.
“Torture chamber.” Jimmy states, “torture is...”, Jimmy suddenly realises he's staring at Sigur, the dwarf for his part seems not to have noticed, or else is unconcerned. Jimmy trails off, then picks up the thread again, “... bad. Torture is bad.” The halfling adds, certain.

They head off, this time down the western passage.

It needs to be said at this point that none of the players make mention of the set of stairs leading down in to a natural cavern from this chamber, even though I pointed out this fact out once or twice, nor is the goblin asked about them- an oversight?

The players are so wrapped up in finding out all of the Goblin enemies identified by their first prisoner; they seem to have dismissed all other options.


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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #6a
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:08 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 7: Torture is bad.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1


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Jimmy and Gokan take the lead, the pair get a head-start on the other adventurers, moving as silently as they can down the western passage, which soon turns to head north. The corridor ends in a slightly more open area with three possible exits- Jimmy and Gokan get to work as the rest of the group stay back- observing and watching the rear.

Finally the two return to the fold.

“Well?” Sigur barks.
“No noise from the door to the east and west- dunno about them, door to the north sounds of goblins- having fun, exactly as both goblin prisoners said.” Jimmy reports, and mock salutes Sigur.
The dwarf lets it pass, although as usual fails to look happy.

“Torture chamber- north then...” Sigur states.

The adventurers creep forward as best they can, although with a closed door and the sounds of a creature shouting orders beyond the door, they're pretty safe.

They form a half-circle around the door- make ready their weapons, or spells, and one-by-one nod to Jimmy to indicate they're ready for action.

Hal is the last to confirm.

Jimmy has already checked the door is unlocked, the halfling barges it open and leaps in to the chamber...

The torture chamber is large but poorly appointed, Sigur is a little disappointed.

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There are only four goblinoids in sight- the closest armed with a short sword and wearing leather armour, further back another hand crossbow wielding goblin sharpshooter. In the centre of the chamber is a rack behind which are a third goblin- similarly armed and attired as the first goblin, except also clutching a shield in its off hand.

The fourth goblinoid, also behind the rack- formerly barking orders it seems, is a hulking hobgoblin commander- clad in thick scale armour, toting a heavy shield and grasping a wicked spear.

“Time to kick ass!” Jimmy adds, somewhat mischievously...

Jimmy's dagger thuds in to the closest goblin, the blackblade; the creature is mid-turn to face the halfling, it staggers backwards, flailing- trying to stay on its feet.

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Goblin Blackblade
Lurker Level 1

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Gokan surges past Jimmy, covers the distance to the goblin cutthroat in an instant and unleashes hell; the half-orc's axes take the goblinoid completely by surprise. Gokan's hand axe smashes in to the goblin's spine, his battleaxe in the cleft between the creature's shoulder and neck.

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Goblin Cutthroat
Skirmisher Level 1

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The cutthroat's eyes flutter madly, “a battleaxe”, it mutters- looking down at the blade, and then flops to the floor to slither in its own blood for a little while.

Gokan does a massive 37 hit points damage with his Charge Howling Strike and Furious Assault.

Gokan, grinning and howling, moves on- slashes at the hobgoblin, and growls his displeasure. The commander is made of sterner stuff; it somehow finds the wherewithal to parry a majority of the half-orc's attacks.

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Hobgoblin Subcommander
Elite Soldier Level 2

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“Fight me!” The hobgoblin roars, and puffs out its chest.
“I am!” Gokan hisses.

Tonka lurches in to the chamber, dashes forward, “for Bahamut!” the dragonborn screams, as it cuts down the already injured goblin blackblade.

Sigur grumbles and the room is suddenly rocked by twin thunderclaps, the two remaining goblinoids suffer in the explosions; both are sent spinning backwards, scrabbling furiously to stay on their feet and pointing in the right direction.

Hal heads in full pelt; the metal man vaults the rack and then smashes his greatsword in to the hobgoblin commander, although the goblinoid is adept enough to deflect much of the force of the blow with its shield.

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“Fight me, squishy one.” Hal simply states.

The hobgoblin maintains its calm demeanour- it merely nods and grunts at the metal man.

Jimmy is all action, instantly spotting the opening, the halfling scurries forward- crouched low beneath the rack, and the hobgoblin commander's eye-line. Then forward again- the halfling pops up unseen and unheard behind the great goblin- and stabs it in the back. The creature staggers, drops its defences, and seems incapable of standing still- woozy on its feet.

Jimmy's Sly Flourish with added Surprise Strike leaves the Hobgoblin Subcommander Dazed.

The creature yells out- “To me!” Staggers some more, as if drunk and thrusts its spear in Hal's general direction, the metal man easily parries the weak attack. Gokan continues to menace the hobgoblin, but the creature has enough about it to avoid the half-orc’s bumbling attacks.

The sharpshooter scuttles back, leaps on top of a table, screaming all the while- “ABRAKEBABRA!”

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Goblin Sharpshooter
Artillery Level 2

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Its hand crossbow sings, Jimmy suddenly clutches at his arm, although a fast fading shield bearing the emblem of the platinum dragon seems to have taken much of the force out of the shot.

Jimmy hollers- “nice one Tonka.” But the dragonborn has other concerns...

Tonka spies west, a passage heads from the torture chamber, with a myriad cells set on the north wall- that's not the problem however. The problem is the goblin with a wand in one hand and a nasty looking knife in the other. The creature has the same ritualistic runes tattooed on its head.

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“Wizard!” Tonka screams, which gets more or less everyone's attention.

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Goblin Cursespewer
Artillery Level 3

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“Abrakebabra!” The sharpshooter on the table leaps in to the air and clicks its heels together, in celebration.

Tonka lopes forward, chewing and swallowing furiously en route to the goblin caster. The dragonborn pulls up short and violently exhales- great jagged bolts of lightning buzz and harry the goblin, although when the smoke clears it seems almost unhurt.

Tonka shrugs, and the charges the foul creature, which ducks and dodges just in the nick of time, the dragonborn is forced to quickly manoeuvre to save himself from rushing on. Tonka skids to a halt, and then with shield and sword to the fore, turns and slams in to the cursespewer, the goblin lurches and yelps and grumbles- bruised and battered.

Sigur bumbles forward, positions himself deliberately in the centre of the chamber, and swiftly invokes a trio of ghostly hands- each of which streaks to its target. All three goblinoids are slapped and scorched by the invoker’s radiant appendages.

“If you want a job doing...” Sigur grumbles and repeats the trick- with similar results, it seems the dwarf has his eye in.

The effects of Sigur's invocations are terrible- for the goblins. The sharpshooter is left clinging on to the table and its life, the cursespewer has one arm out braced against the wall trying to prop itself up while it keeps Tonka at bay with its dagger- no mean feat.

The hobgoblin, already dazed and drooling after Jimmy's strike, is now possessed of dancing legs and feet. It looks like it could collapse at any moment, and worse still one side of its head and face smokes as its flesh burns and crisps in the shape of one Sigur's radiant hands.

A lesser creature would surrender, but that word is not in the hobgoblin subcommander's dictionary.

“To the death...” The creature mumbles.

And is duly cut down by Hal.

“Affirmative.” The metal man confirms.

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The goblin cursespewer manages to push itself away from the wall- back on to its feet, it scrambles backwards, avoiding Tonka's wild swing.

The cursespewer does what it does best- chants and curses, directing its sting at Tonka, for a second nothing happens as the goblin finishes its strange garbled phrases and points at the dragonborn.

Tonka stands statue.

Then looks about himself.

“Nope. Nothing.” The dragonborn grins and stomps forward, longsword in hand.

The end is nigh- for the goblins.

Jimmy turns to face his assailant; the sharpshooter continues to make hard work of standing on a table. Suddenly the goblin sprouts a dagger from its chest, it stumbles, fumbles and spills its weapon, then sits down hard on the table to bleed out, and die.

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Gokan kicks in to action, screams and howls and launches himself around the rack and down the corridor. The cursespewer frantically yelps and attempts to unleash its foul magic as the half-orc barrels down the passageway towards it.

While the goblin is distracted, Tonka shuffles forward and to the side of the spell-caster and runs it through...

“Aaaaaeeeghhhh...Oh!”

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Gokan slows to a trot, to a walk and then finally to a saunter as he reaches Tonka and the last fallen goblin.

The half-orc grunts and nods at the dragonborn- satisfied, it seems Tonka has earned his stripes.

Tonka beams.

“Right then- clear this place up, and search the bodies...” Tonka declares and claps his hands for emphasis. Sigur gives the dragonborn a long hard stare, and then thinks better of it- the dwarf gets busy.

Encounter #7 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts.

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Encounter #7 The Torture Chamber, starring-

Goblin Blackblade (Lurker 1) x1
Goblin Cutthroat (Skirmisher 1) x1
Goblin Sharpshooter (Artillery 2) x1
Goblin Cursespewer (Artillery 3) x1
Hobgoblin Subcommander (Elite Soldier 2) x1

725 XP Level 2 Encounter

Again just a change of personnel really, I hoped that the 3rd Level Cursespewer, hidden away, would prove its worth- alas the PCs never really missed an attack.

PC XP

145 XP each for a total of 1094 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

Enough XP for Level 2 but the players are on the Goblin’s trail… after a short discussion they decide to press on.

DM Thoughts-

I, of course, realise that some of these encounters are proving to be very one-sided affairs- but the tough ones, believe me... well, they're tough- it does the PCs good to think themselves invulnerable every now and then. It also plays quick around the table with all the guys getting a chance to unload multiple attacks and kill a bunch of bad guys.

As you can see we're still pretty much sticking to the story-line in the module, as I said earlier it gets weird later on. Also so far we've played the encounters like delves-

1. Kobold Ambush, followed by 2. The Ancient Burial Site, then on to 3. Outside the Kobold Lair, and inevitably 4. The Kobold Lair.

We're obviously doing the same again in the Keep-

5. The Goblin Guardroom, followed by 6. The Excavation Site, and 7. The Torture Chamber, which obviously leads us to 8. The Goblin Chief.

Which is where we're going next, be aware however I'm still going to push them to the limit, make it tough going, as you'll see.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #6a
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:12 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 7a: Tonka is accepted.

The goblins have little of value, the hobgoblin a little silver and gold, but that's not what Tonka is over-joyed about.

Moments earlier, Jimmy- while inspecting the cells down the western passage, spots something shinning on the floor in one of them. The halfling breaks in to the cell in moments- even though Sigur has the keys, taken from the hobgoblin in his search.

He discovers an ornate brooch, what's even more surprising is the fact that Jimmy tells his friends.

The item turns out to be magical, and specifically attuned to those who practice the healing arts; and so it comes to pass that Tonka wears a magical brooch. The dragonborn rubs and shines the emblem often, he sees it as a token of his acceptance- a rite of passage has been endured, the dragonborn continues to beam with delight.

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Tonka polishes his +1 Healer’s Brooch, and grins a lot.

“We should check the other two doors- Jimmy, if you would.” Tonka orders.
“Aye-aye cap'n.” Jimmy salutes the dragonborn.

Sigur shivers and shakes his head.

While Tonka smiles some more.

The first door leads in to a store room, which is given a thorough inspection. Apart from some mouldy food, a scattering of well-used weapons- short sword and spears mostly, and a pile of festering goblin-sized leather armour- the chamber is empty.

Jimmy meantime has opened the last door to be inspected, the halfling shuffles in- silent as the grave; there are lights ahead, around a corner, Jimmy spies…

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #7a
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:56 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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KOTS Part 8: The Goblin Chieftain’s Lair.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1


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Tonka with his +1 Healing Brooch.

Around the corner is a rough-hewn table and chairs; close by a pair of goblins, both dressed in leather armour and clutching spears, each with a quiver of javelins on their backs. The pair seems to be deep in conversation, although Jimmy guesses they ought to be keeping an eye out for miscreants like, well... him.

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“So Jumbatty say we should eat sausage only.”
“Sausage only?”
The first goblin nods.
“No bun with sausage.”
The first goblin shakes his head.
“Sausage but no bun?”
The first goblin nods again.
“Jumbatty say we should eat much sausage- but no bun.”
It's the second goblin's turn to nod.

Behind Jimmy Gokan hisses, the halfling turns and gestures for the half-orc to remain silent, Jimmy wants to hear more of the goblins’ conversation, he's intrigued.

“And Jumbatty lose weight?”
The first goblin nods- enthusiastically.
“Jumbatty lose plenty weight.” It adds
“And Jumbatty eat plenty sausage?” The second goblin enquires.
“Plenty sausage.” The first concurs.

Jimmy is amazed.

Gokan hisses again.

“Shut up hissing...” Jimmy whispers back.

“He call it sausage no bun diet.”
“Sausage no bun diet.” The second goblin agrees.
Both goblins nod.

Jimmy finds himself nodding too.

Suddenly there's a screaming sound from behind the halfling- Gokan charges...

Gokan smashes both of his axes in to the first goblin warrior, who is caught completely off-guard, still nodding along to his compatriot’s wise words. The goblin staggers back, one arm slashed beyond use, its ribs broken and chest pouring with blood.

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Goblin Warrior
Skirmisher Level 1

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Gokan’s opening assault- Charge Howling Strike and Furious Assault hits for 30 points of damage, the Goblin has 32 hit points- not good, for the Goblin.

The forlorn creature slips and slithers on its own blood, almost falls.

“Sausage...” The goblin states, and then sprouts a dagger from its chest- Jimmy's vicious dagger.

The goblin is dead before it hits the floor.

“...with no bun”, Jimmy and the remaining goblin state in unison.

Behind the halfling the other adventurers rush forward, closer to the action.

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Gokan shakes his head at Jimmy, screams again and rushes at the second goblin, which dodges back- its spear before it, but too late. The half-orc's hand axe smashes through the spear, while Gokan's vanguard battleaxe smashes through the goblin- making an incredible mess of the small humanoid’s skull, almost shattering in to a thousand pieces.

The bloody goblin flops to the floor.

Gokan's second Charge Howling Strike is a Crit for 38 hit points damage- he's a terror that Gokan.

“Goblin come,” Gokan states, and points to a set of thick curtains close-by which block what looks to be an exit to the east. Another set of equally thick curtains blocks a second exit- just to the south of the first.

At the exact same moment the second set of curtains are ripped open, a goblin stands in the opening, a long lit passage beyond the creature, leading to an open door.

Gokan quickly shifts so that he's pointing at the right set of curtains.

The goblin takes in the situation, screams- “Breeyark!” And then rushes forward and spears Hal.

Hal notices movement further down the corridor, there's another goblin down there.

“Kill it!” Jimmy screams, and launches his dagger- the lone goblin cutter dodges the vicious blade- and then for good measure shimmies to avoid Tonka's wild swing.

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Goblin Cutter
Minion Skirmisher Level 1

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“Breeyark!” The goblin screams again.

And is answered by the noise of charging feet- here come the reinforcements.

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The curtains to the northern most passage are ripped down, more goblins; more cutters- the creatures rush in screaming and stabbing. In the midst of the wild melee Tonka suddenly clasps his hand to his chest, the dragonborn falls- a nasty looking crossbow bolt protruding from his armour.

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Jimmy blanches and gulps.

Tonka is reduced to -2 hit points, from full. Balgron the Fat's Crossbow attack, a Crit, deals 33 hit points damage. The PCs are shocked and a little terrified- I did say it was going to be hard core didn't I?

Hal is speared again.

Three ghostly hands rush out, aimed at the nearest three goblin cutters. Sigur attempts to clear his colleagues a little space to work in- the dwarven invoker grumbles and mumbles, and... and all three ghostly appendages fail to find their targets.

“Dirty Goblins!”

The dwarf screams and scurries forward, he quickly crouches next to the fallen Tonka and rips the offending crossbow bolt free, which causes a geyser of blood. Sigur slaps the gusher down; bandages ready in hand, he tucks as much wadding as he can find inside the dragonborn's punctured breast plate- including a pair of his old socks, and then slaps Tonka in the face as hard as he can.

“Get up you good for nothing bloody ugly lizard!” Sigur screams.

Tonka opens his eyes.

“Where am I?” The dragonborn asks.
“You're in the bloody way...” Sigur screams back and then pulls the dragonborn out of the fracas.
“Thank the platinum dragon, you saved my...” Tonka starts, but suddenly stops when Sigur, having dragged him out of trouble, duly drops him- THUNK.

The dragonborn grimaces and clutches at the back of his head.

“Get up!” Sigur adds and kicks Tonka for good measure.

A moment later Jimmy, mid-grin, takes an arrow to the chest- Balgron it seems has a friend with him in the corridor, beyond the cutters.

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“We must struggle to overcome our foe.” Hal declares, as far as battle-cries go its needs a little work.
“We are struggling...” Jimmy adds.

Hal's greatsword swings, and two of the goblin cutters fall.

A third goblin warrior rushes in to the chamber from the northern passage, sights Gokan with a javelin and throws. The half-orc screams as the missile skewers him piercing his right thigh, he staggers forward but the goblin as swiftly retreats.

Another cutter rushes in; slashes at Gokan- only the sudden appearance of a spectral shield bearing the markings of the platinum dragon prevent the half-orc from taking another hit.

And yet another goblin strides from a side chamber in to the southern passage, an odd looking goblin- wearing only a hooded cloak and a loin cloth, with a battleaxe in one hand. The strange goblin dances and struts on the spot making odd sounds.

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Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet
Minion Controller Level 1

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“Mag-LU-Buy-IT! Mag-LU-Buy-IT! Mag-LU-Buy-IT!” It chants and screams, then punches the air before it with its free hand- twice.

Cinder black fists instantly form with each punch, zoom unerringly towards their targets- the first smashes in to Hal, the second Jimmy, both stagger but manage to stay on their feet. Then, at the same time, the pair realise they are somehow prevented from moving, their feet are rooted to the stone floor.

Hal and Jimmy are both bloodied, as well as being Immobilised.

The goblin acolyte of Maglubiyet capers and dances.

“We're in bad shape...” Sigur whispers, to himself, and looks behind him- at the exit.

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Another goblin cutter charges in to the fray, aiming for Gokan- the half-orc is too quick however, and cuts the creature down before it can get close in.

Gokan whirls forward, his axes blazing a path through the goblin crowd, or else... Gokan spins again, and again... the effect is- nothing. In a mad flurry of attacks Gokan fails to connect once, the goblins stand firm, no matter how loud the half-orc howls.

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Jimmy can't move, but he can kill- his vicious dagger spirals out, once- thudding in to the closest goblin cutter and sending it flopping down to the cold stone floor. Then again, as soon as the blade reappears in his tiny hands the halfling sends it spinning.

The vicious blade thumps in to the acolyte of Maglubiyet, the creature hops from foot to foot, clearly unhappy.

The opposition artillery reply- not one, but two, crossbow bolts ping and ricochet from the ceiling, missing the adventurers by a good margin, it's difficult to tell who the attacks were aimed at.

Balgron the Fat misses Hal with his Crossbow with a '3', spends an Action Point and rolls... a '2'- some days the dice just hate me, still nice Crit on Tonka earlier.

“Hold the line you bunch of dogs!” Balgron shouts out and scurries back in to the chamber at the end of the corridor.

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Goblin Chieftain- Balgron the Fat
Elite Lurker Level 5

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Tonka is quickly to his feet, “Bahamut preserve...” he whispers as his wounds heal over, the dragonborn takes a moment to assay the situation. Tonka grins, and then screams- “to the DEATH!”

He charges in to the acolyte, a weak hit but a hit nevertheless... the mad looking goblin however is keen to get away.

Gokan meantime is sliced again, one of the cutters he's facing manages to get through the half-orc's defences.

“If you want something doing...” Sigur grumbles, and yet another trio of ghostly hands suddenly appear and rush to their targets- the nearest goblin cutter falls, and the acolyte of Maglubiyet survives by will alone.

“Come on! Come on you lazy good for nothing fools!” Sigur urges, almost friendly in his admonishment.

An arrow thumps in to the ceiling above Tonka's head, but the dragonborn doesn't care, he continues to slash and hack at the acolyte which blocks and parries with its battleaxe.

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Goblin Archer
Skirmisher Level 1

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Hal, still rooted to the spot, forlornly searches for something, anything... the metal man's eyes light up, he snatches a dagger from Jimmy's belt and flings it at the acolyte- a spectacular miss, although very close to taking Tonka out.

Hal shrugs- throwing things is not his forte.

The effect is enough however; the goblin acolyte of Maglubiyet ducks another of Tonka's ill-timed attacks and then scurries off- back in to the chamber at the end of the passage, its master's lair.

Hal and Jimmy are able to move again- the pair grin.

“Come on- we've got them on the run...” Tonka screams back at his colleagues, grinning- then turns back to see a new arrival, a goblin warrior which moments earlier managed to evade Gokan's attack.

The creature launches another javelin, this time at the dragonborn, Tonka staggers as he attempts to rip the missile from his gut, the wound pours with blood. He staggers.

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Tonka is back to being bloodied, actually reduced to 7 hit points, after taking 15 hit points damage from the Goblin Warrior’s Javelin attack.

Gokan faces off against the two goblin cutters, the fight is furious and yet, and yet the half-orc is flailing and failing to land a single blow- the goblins have the normally murderous half-orc tied down.

Jimmy rushes forward to support Tonka, throws out his dagger again at the retreating goblin warrior, and again fails to find his target.

Balgron appears in the doorway, aims and...

“Troll turds!” The goblin chief screams and retreats back in to the chamber.

“Bahamut Preserve!” Tonka screams for the last time, and then rushes in to the goblin warrior- longsword and shield to the fore, hoping to smash the creature through the doors and in to the chamber beyond. Somehow the goblin manages to parry and deflect the blow- stopping Tonka in his tracks.

Sigur, thank Erathis, heads over to the northern passage, spies Gokan still fighting for his life, the dwarf mumbles and invokes- duel thunderclaps burst and both of the cutters are sent sprawling.

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“Get a bloody move on...” Sigur shouts at Gokan, who looks back and nods, but the dwarf is gone- heading back to the southern passageway- just in time.

“Push forwar...” Sigur starts and then takes an arrow to the chest.

Sigur is bloodied.

“Right, that bloody does it.” The dwarf declares, staggering slightly.

Hal meantime lumbers forward, straight for the goblin warrior- swings hard with his greatsword, not once but twice- the first attack cuts through the goblin's defences, and its right arm. The second decapitates the creature.

“Bahamut!” Tonka observes, and gingerly slaps Hal on the shoulder.
“Affirmative.” Hal concurs, and then is hit by another of the cinder black fists, the metal man rocks on his feet a moment, and then suddenly finds himself once again stuck to the spot.
“It seems I am somehow affixed to this position.” Hal declares. “Perhaps you could render me some assistance...”

Alas Lee, who plays Hal, actually added some words that are unrepeatable even among grown ups- Hal is Immobilised, oh and bloodied again.

But the metal man’s words are lost in Tonka's scream- “Gokan!”

Gokan reacts, and comes rushing forward- not quite knowing where the fight is at, so disorientated and out of sorts is the half-orc that he fails to find any enemies to menace with his axes. He does however end his wandering by flinging the doors to the chamber ahead wide open- and presenting himself as an ideal target to all within.

Jimmy scurries forward too, taking a second to get his breath back en route, he feels better for the moment away from the chaos.

The halfling grins at Gokan, who looks a little confused, and then turns to grin at the enemies ahead of the pair. Jimmy follows the half-orc’s gaze and suddenly looks less impressed.

A second later Gokan stumbles and suddenly hiccups up a great gout of blood, a crossbow bolt protruding from his chest. The half-orc grips tight to the door, which swings open slightly, almost taking him off his feet.

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Gokan is bloodied, actually reduced to 3 hit points. It’s going to go to the wire.

The chamber ahead is a simple bedroom, a curtained area to the south, the drapes pulled back to reveal a grinning Balgron the Fat, who swiftly reloads his crossbow, and then steps back.

Tonka steps in to the chamber, flailing wildly with his longsword, all to no great effect. The dragonborn suddenly lurches; shifts his head back- makes some sort of throaty gargling noise and then breathes out a fan of violent blue-white lightning.

The air slowly clears, the goblins within the chamber scour themselves, and then each other, looking for blast marks- the pair emerge completely unscathed.

Back behind the curtain, Balgron giggles- “Kill the fools!” The goblin chief simply states.

Sigur scurries forwards- a good way down the passageway, grumbling and mumbling all the while- another pair of ghostly hands dart forward, and deliver death.

At least to the already staggering acolyte of Maglubiyet whose smoking body thumps on to the cold stone floor. The goblin archer is briefly scorched by the second hand's radiant touch.

Sigur quickly forgets his wounds, and grins- the tide has quite definitely turned.

The goblin archer however is not for giving up, it casts aside its bow- draws its shortsword and slashes and cuts Tonka; the dragonborn staggers, close to unconsciousness again.

Tonka is bloodied, for the third time in this fight.

Hal meanwhile, recharges his batteries and grips his greatsword tight to him- he’s going nowhere for the moment. Even when his feet become free, the metal man is learning caution it seems, or else he’s frightened.

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Gokan steps forward, screaming all the while, and swinging his axes in a furious arc. The goblin archer ducks the first blade and parries the second, knocking the half-orc slightly off-balance in the process.

Gokan shakes his head, unsure of exactly what is going wrong...

The goblin meanwhile grins- the half-orc is an easy target, it slashes with its shortsword and at the last moment falls short as Jimmy's vicious dagger tags the creature, the goblin gives ground- opportunity gone.

From the southern section of the chamber comes a massive grinding sound- stone on stone, Tonka can just see, although the curtains that surround the bed slightly obscure his vision. A section of the wall suddenly shifts hard right, disappears from view to reveal another passage, unlit at present...

“He's getting away!” Tonka screams and waves his longsword vaguely in the direction of the newly revealed secret door.

“Hold the line. I shall fetch the dirty demons...” Balgron the Fat shouts and then scurries out of sight.

“He's getting away...” Tonka screams again and slashes hard at the goblin before him, another wound but the creature holds station, although it’s almost spent. Gokan shuffles forward in the confusion, effectively cutting the goblin off from its master.

The goblin archer however is not done, it cuts back- wounding the dragonborn again, Tonka breathes hard- aware that he is almost done for, and has already expended all of his healing powers.

Hal, newly invigorated, charges and smashes in to the creature, slicing through the goblinoid's defence and almost cutting the creature in two, the remains of the goblin flop to the cold stone floor.

The way is clear.

Sigur rushes in...

“Not so fast you dirty fat bloody goblin”, the dwarf wheezes as he struggles forward, bruised and battered. Sigur spies the goblin ahead, down a set of stairs in the secret passage, Balgron is manipulating some mechanism in the stone wall at the end of the corridor.

“Another secret door...” Sigur shouts back, providing a running commentary.

“Come on you lazy arses!” The dwarf adds, helpfully.

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Gokan is the first to react, the half-orc grins at Jimmy, “leave him to me brother...” Gokan states, and then rushes off after Balgron. The athletic and agile half-orc takes the stairs in great bounds and... oh, misjudges his last leap and almost slams in to the paved stone floor.

Gokan recovers quickly and half-charges, half-stumbles on- brandishing both of his axes menacingly. Balgron is still hard at work trying to make some unseen mechanism work.

Gokan screams, his howling charge, and Balgron spins around, a short club with a nail in it in the goblin chief's hands.

THUNK!

The nail pierces Gokan's left shoulder.

SQWWERK!

Balgron wrenches the weapon free of the half-orc. Gokan drops to the floor unconscious.

Gokan is reduced to -10 hit points. He's not had a great run in this encounter- a good 75% of his rolls have been '5' or below, although no critical failures to talk about.

Balgron turns back and thumps the stone wall, which slides open, the goblin darts through the newly revealed opening and screams.

“To me. TO ME! Fight for your lives you...”

Balgron's stirring speech tails off, the excavation chamber is empty, and as silent as the grave.

“Oh sh...” Balgron notes.

But is interrupted by the arrival of Sigur, Jimmy and Hal, the latter at full pace. The metal man smashes in to Balgron his greatsword slicing the goblin- the chief's first wound.

“Fight me!” Hal declares.

Balgron glances behind him- there's no one home.

“Like I have a choice.” The goblin declares, spits on his hands, and adopts a low combat crouch. “Come on then metal-mickey; give it your best shot...”

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Gokan's wound bleeds profusely, Tonka is quickly to the half-orc, but not quick enough- the blood spews and spurts, Gokan fades.

Gokan fails a Death Save, continuing a long line of excellent rolls.

“Come on then... All of you!” Balgron screams, and gestures with his club- baiting the assembled adventurers.

The halfling and the dwarf share a look, then a shrug.

Jimmy's dagger flies, a ghostly hand suddenly forms in front of the chanting Sigur- the vicious blade thumps in to Balgron, the radiant hands delivers the slightest of touches.

Balgron bleeds, and burns.

“Cowards...”

Hal suddenly cuts with his greatsword, having to bend forward and down to do so, however it’s no more than a glancing blow.

THUNG!

Balgron's stick with a nail in it comes up and round and thumps in to the side of Hal's head- nail first, piercing his shiny metal skull.

Hal is bloodied again, actually reduced to 3 hit points.

Hal straightens instantly, Balgron grips tight to his club, which is ripped free from its new home.

“Missed.” Hal declares, as sparks fly from the great rent in the side of the warforged's head.

“Apricots!” Hal declares.

“Apricots! Apricots! Apricots!” The metal man states more certain than ever.

Back at the bottom of the stairs Gokan opens his eyes, Tonka grins at him...

“Is he dead?” Gokan asks.
Tonka stops grinning, just in time to hear Hal's battlecry.

“Apricots!”

Tonka shakes his head.

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Gokan staggers to his feet, grabs up his axes and lurches towards the fracas, meantime Jimmy's vicious dagger comes again and Balgron bleeds some more.

The goblins looks more annoyed than anything.

“Fight me- like warriors, like heroes; or are you too...” The goblin starts, but is interrupted mid-flow.
“Apricots!” Hal screams, and raises his greatsword.

WHUNG!

The club with nail comes again, this time an overhand blow- straight in to Hal's face, nail first of course. Balgron wrenches his club free again.

“April... Goat?” Hal declares, and then looks confused.

The metal man has a hole the size of a gold piece in his forehead, sparks crackle and fly from within, there's a burning smell.

“Apres... Coats?” Hal states, savouring the shape of the words, clearly deep in thought.

The metal man suddenly turns and looks back at his fellow adventurers.

“I fear I have suffered some malfunction- I cannot remember how to say Apricots...”

Hal suddenly grins, he just said... and then collapses.

Hal is reduced to -10 hit points.

“Bastard!” Sigur screams.
“For Bahamut!” Tonka shouts.

Balgron gets his wish.

The pair charge in to the goblin, flailing wildly with their weapons, Balgron- grinning all the while, keeps both of his attackers at bay.

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Jimmy's dagger spins out again, the halfling is staying well back- out of trouble, alas his aim is way off, he curses.

Gokan moves forward, risking life and limb to get in to the fight, the half-orc shuffles to the front of the queue unscathed, and yet even then his aim is off.

As is Tonka's.

Sigur catches Balgron, the goblin chief, with a wavering hit with his mace, off-balance, and ill-equipped for melee, it's simply not enough.

“Is. That. It?” Balgron punctures his words with expert attacks with his club- Gokan parries the first, Tonka the second, the third alas almost brains Sigur- the dwarf visibly sags.

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Sigur is bloodied again, actually reduced to 4 hit points.

“Surrender?” Jimmy asks.
“After I have killed the fat dwarf and the stupid orc I will allow you to surrender little one- you will be my pet.” The goblin chief states.

Jimmy looks confused.

“Oh” Gokan declares, and suddenly juggles his weapons in his hands.

The half-orc smashes his battleaxe around and in to Balgron- decapitating the foul goblin.

Balgron falls.

The chamber goes silent.

Only the sound of the goblin chief's head still spinning on the spot.

“Oh?” Jimmy asks Gokan.
“I had my axes in the wrong hands.” The half-orc grins.
“Fu…” Jimmy starts.
Gokan shrugs.

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Encounter #8 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #8 The Goblin Chief’s Lair, starring-

Goblin Cutter (Minion Skirmisher 1) x7
Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet (Controller 1) x1
Goblin Archer (Skirmisher 1) x1
Goblin Warrior (Skirmisher 1) x3
Goblin Chief- Balgron the Fat (Elite Lurker 5) x1

1075 XP Level 5 Encounter

A change of personnel, as with the other encounters, to make it a bit more interesting, and provide a variety of enemies with different tricks that the PCs have to account for. I also sacrificed a few extra low level bad guys so that I could use the XP to pump up Balgron the Fat to make him badass.

PC XP

215 XP each for a total of 1309 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

And the PCs run is over, time to settle down and get in an extended rest- Level 2 in the morning.

DM Thoughts-

While I’m not directing the players (well not too much) they seem to be content to do things in stages- first off the Kobolds, second up the Goblins. So in this run, equivalent to a Dungeon Delve style scenario, the guys hacked their way through a trio of low level encounters (3 x Level 2), and then face off against the end of level/delve bad guy for the climax.

The guys loved and hated Balgron equally, when he took Tonka down in one hit there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. That said when they eventually chased the bad guy down and slew him then the scenes were glorious.

In short, all was forgiven, they loved it.

I am of course deliberately bulking up some of the bad guys to serve as effective end of level/delve bosses. I figure the players should get that we’ve achieved something feeling, a series of small climaxes leading up to the big finale.

Obviously you need to manage the players a little to achieve this, but as long as it doesn’t seem too overt, well… I don’t mind so much. If they had made different choices I would have endeavoured to do something similar, to provide them with meaningful goals which can be celebrated when reached or overcome.

It’s going okay so far, and yes it’s mainly by the book- but I promise things change, in fact very soon…

Last note that run of four encounters took it out of a few of the PCs, a quick look at Healing Surges left at this point, and-

Gokan, Sigur & Hal 5, Jimmy & Tonka 1.

That’s pretty dangerous, maybe even fatal if something bad were to happen, something Hard Core.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #8
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:56 am 
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KOTS Part 8a: Sleep, perchance to dream.

An hour or so later the five adventurers, including a now upright and mobile- and compos mentis, Hal; are ensconced in the former goblin chief's bedchamber.

The bodies of the fallen goblins have been hidden away in another chamber nearby, after being thoroughly searched of course. The secret doors have been investigated by Sigur, who has a degree of expertise in the area, they are at present closed- as are all the doors leading to the chief's chamber.

The adventurers want, make that need, to rest- particularly Jimmy and Tonka who are both on their last legs.

They have however made a number of discoveries in the last sixty or so minutes, the first a greatsword of marvellous manufacture, hidden beneath the chief's bed, Hal in idle moments admires his new blade.

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Hal is loving his +1 Greatsword.

Also located beneath the bed is a chest, formerly locked and trapped with a poison needle- neither a match for a curious Jimmy. Within is another vast pile of gold coins- it seems the adventurers are rich, well... should they escape this place with their lives.

More importantly they locate a swathe of letters and notices, written in a mixture of the goblin tongue and crude common. The author of the dozen or so pieces of parchment appears to be someone called Commander Gark. It seems Balgron was assigned to guard the entrance to the catacombs, as explained previously by the goblin prisoners. Gark makes lots of threats should Balgron fail, clearly Gark is in charge here.

Nobody is pleased to hear that Balgron has a boss, the goblin bastard was hard enough to kill.

Two of the notes also make mention of the ‘messengers', whoever or whatever they may be. Balgron, it transpires, was also charged with looking after them...

“The messengers?” Tonka wonders out loud, having read all of the missives to his compatriots.
“What do you think people?” The dragonborn asks, while lying on his bedroll.

Jimmy, on watch at the door, looks back.

“Pigeons?”
“Where?” Gokan looks up hungry.
“Noooo!” Tonka whines, “not pigeons.”

Jimmy thinks some more, as does Hal- Gokan blinks twice.

Sigur on the bed, under the covers, and still clutching half a bottle of dwarven whisky, snores loudly.

“What then?” Jimmy asks.
“Perhaps the kobolds?” Tonka tries.

Gokan blinks- just once this time.

“It doesn't sound right- besides that was Irontooth's job...” Tonka answers his own question.

The chamber goes silent again.

Except for Sigur's rasping snores.

“Mess-en-gers...” Tonka sounds every syllable.

“It is clear that whoever or whatever these messengers are their role was to move between the various groups within the area- delivering the aforementioned messages. To date we have investigated the burial site, the kobolds’ lair and here- therefore the messengers’ job would be to move between these sites unopposed- perhaps even secretly. Yes, that's probably it.”

Hal stops to think.

Jimmy and Tonka hang on the metal man's words.

Gokan blinks.

“It is therefore logical to conclude that the messengers are a group of creatures we have yet to meet, who specialise in moving between the various groups using stealth, or else using some other form of disguise, or chicanery.”

“Chicanery?” Jimmy whispers at Tonka.
“It's a herb used to flavour pastries.” Tonka elucidates.
“Thanks.” Jimmy nods.

“Logically.” Hal finishes.
“Good work Hal.” Tonka remarks, and then begins snoring.

Several hours later, and Jimmy is back on watch, sitting by the doors- the rota having been decided by Sigur, of course.

Silence.

Hal stands in a corner of the chamber- head down, lights off, recharging his batteries. Gokan hasn't changed position- every now and then the half-orc blinks; his brother sleeps with both eyes open, Jimmy wonders about this, and about why he wasn't aware of this odd fact- until now.

Sigur, swaddled in blankets still- in Balgron's bed, sleeps on- the dwarf has stopped snoring.

Jimmy completes a circuit of the chamber- looks down at Tonka, the nearest of his companions- the dragonborn opens his eyes, stretches, and then whispers.

“Is it me yet?”

Jimmy looks at the candle, there's still a little way for it to burn down, the halfling shakes his head.

The silence returns.

But only for a little while.

“Jimmy.” Tonka whispers.
The halfling turns to stare.
“What's with the brother thing?” Tonka nods at Gokan, and then Hal.
“How can they be your brothers? And Douvern, your dad. He's human? I don't...”
“He's not really my dad, I mean, our dad, not...” Jimmy tries to find the words.

“Go on...” Tonka whispers.
“Douvern, I mean dad- it never felt right, calling him Douvern.”
Tonka nods.
“Dad took me in, twenty-eight years ago, found me on the streets of Fallcrest- or rather the City Watch did. One of the Watch guys, Sgt. Murgeddin, a dwarf, he found me- took me to Dad, they're friends.”
Tonka nods some more.
“My parents were barge folk, or at least... well, best guess- they didn't want me. But dad, and mum- Gerda, they wanted me. So they brought me up. I was only a baby.”

Silence.

“I've never known any other parents, they're just... Mum and dad, always have been.”

Tonka nods some more, then looks over at Gokan again, “and Gokan?”

“Same deal, mum and dad took him in twenty years past, he was older than I was, and more, y'know... Orcish back then. Erathis knows how he ended up in Fallcrest but he'd seen some hard times. Dad saw him working on the docks- asked around, don't know why, he's just like that. Anyway Gokan was sleeping rough, dad invited him home for a meal- he came back, and again, and again, they made him up a room eventually.”

Jimmy shrugs, looks over at his half-orc brother.

“He doesn't say much, just every now and then- mostly he talks to mum. I don't know the whole story, as I say, bad things... He's always looked out for me though- I didn't mind, I always wanted a big brother...”

Jimmy shrugs again.

And then pointedly looks at Hal.

“Hal's the strange one. Dad found him- he'd got in to excavating ruins and the like, he's always been interested in the past. Anyway one day, about ten years ago, he comes back from some dig site on the outskirts of the Witchlight Fens- creepy place, and he's got Hal with him.”

Tonka looks confused.

“He'd dug him up, says he uncovered his head first, and Hal just started talking- a lot of nonsense dad says but... a bit strange, anyway he dug him out. At first, when he came home with dad, Hal didn't say anything, not after that first time... He was just always there- in the house, wherever dad went Hal went.”

Tonka nods.

“Dad says he's ancient, from before the old empire even, maybe 500 years old- imagine that...”

Tonka and Jimmy stare at Hal, the warforged doesn't move.

“Dad reckons he doesn't say anything ‘less he's thought about it- said he's had plenty of time to think about things.”

Jimmy stares vacantly.

“I like him... but he's a bit, odd. Mum doesn’t get on with him, she never did anything to make him unwelcome but... It's always been difficult with Hal and mum. But he's my brother, I guess... My bigger, much older, brother.”

Jimmy grins.

“That's it really- none of us are related, and yet... Mum and dad brought us together- a family.”

Jimmy grins again, content.

Silence for a while, then Tonka stirs again.

“And the dwarf, I mean Sigur?”
“He's a bloody lunatic. One of dad’s friends- but even he thought he was a bit tapped. Avandra knows how he ended up coming with us, I don't think mum told him that dad was missing- no idea how he found out, how he ended up here. Him and dad adventured together but that was...” Jimmy exhales loudly, “... forty or more years ago. An age. And he was old then dad said.” Jimmy nods towards Sigur.

Tonka nods- satisfied.

The silence goes on for a while.

Eventually Jimmy asks.

“What's this all about?” The halfling asks.
“What d'you mean?” Tonka looks a little confused.
“This place, the goblins, the messengers, the stuff that the old geezer- the sage, told us about- Sir Keegan slaying his family, all that?” Jimmy looks nonplussed.

Tonka thinks about his answer.

“You know the difference between right and wrong, Jimmy? Don't you? Between good and bad?”
Jimmy nods.
“Well, all I know is there's something bad here, probably buried deep- beneath a pile of goblins, and worse probably. We're here to find the bad thing and make it go away- kill it, maybe, or else...” Tonka shrugs.

Jimmy continues to stare, perhaps a little unsure.

“I know why I'm here, it’s my job Jimmy. It’s what I was born to do, trained to do- in the service of my great and glorious lord, the platinum dragon, Bahamut, who will rise again.”

“It’s easy for me Jimmy.” Tonka adds with a smile.

Jimmy nods, once.

“Why you're here Jimmy. That's not for me to say, or even guess at- only you can answer that. But there's one thing I'm certain of...”

Jimmy leans in a little, eager to share the secret.

“We're the good guys. You're a good guy. As is Gokan, and Hal- and even Sigur. I'm certain of that, that's not a bad place to start.”

Jimmy nods.
Tonka nods back, and grins.
Jimmy grins back.

The pair continue to smile at each other, and then... and then.

“What was that?”
Jimmy sits up quickly, puts his eye to the door, slightly ajar- he spies in to the darkened corridor leading away from the chamber.

Rats, scurrying, skittering, sniffing, scratching...

Rats!

Jimmy is on his feet.

He screams a warning.

“RATS!”

“Hundreds of them...” Jimmy whispers as the chamber behind him bursts in to life.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #8a
PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:33 am 
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KOTS Part 9: The Rat Pack.

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

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Hal with his +1 Greatsword.

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“Rats!” Jimmy screams again, and spins out his vicious dagger while taking a step back in to the chamber. His blade finds its mark, one of a pair of much larger rats in the corridor, each perhaps four feet long whiskers-to-tail. The creature bleeds profusely but bounds on- towards the adventurers.

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Rat Dire
Brute Level 1

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A sudden loud snort and Sigur awakes, leaps to his feet, already mumbling and invoking- the wrathful dwarf’s familiar, and favourite, trio of radiant hands spring in to life- and rush out to find their targets. Alas only one of the ghostly appendages finds its mark, the same dire rat that Jimmy wounded, the creature squeaks as it burns, and yet still it comes on.

Tonka and Hal charge through the doors, swords drawn- the front-line, the pair swing furiously at the skittish little terrors before them, and yet both fail to connect. Gokan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, is the last to his feet- the half-orc is forced to wait for an opening to appear, there’s no room for him to get at the foe.

And still the rats come on…

“Hold the line”, Tonka cries, brandishing his blade, “… just a few pesky rodents.” The dragonborn warlord concludes.

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Jimmy’s dagger comes again, and the closest of the dire rats, already terribly wounded, finally slumps on to its side- dead; however more rats filter either side and over their fallen cousin.

“There’re a lot of them…” Jimmy worries.
“Hold the line.” Tonka simply states, and then winks at his friend.

Sigur has other ideas. The dwarf glances over his shoulder at Gokan- nods at the half-orc and then steps back- still mumbling and invoking as another trio of ghostly hands suddenly appear and head off to find more vermin to radiate. But again the dwarf’s aim is off- only one hit, on a smallish rat, however the radiant burn is enough to slay the creature.

As Sigur steps back Gokan rushes in- his axes whirl and spin as the half-orc charges and howls- in to the thick of the action. The rats however are far too quick it seems, or else Gokan is still out of sorts, his twin axes fail to draw blood.

Although…

It’s now Gokan’s turn to scream, not in anger but in pain- the rats react instantly to the whirling barbarian’s arrival- they swarm, even turning away from their previously intended targets to attack the now isolated half-orc. Gokan continues to screech, and hop from foot to foot, trying desperately to stay on his feet as his lower limbs are ravaged by a horde of tiny sharp teeth.

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Rat Swarm
Skirmisher Level 2

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Seconds later he’s bleeding from a myriad painful wounds.

“Avandra!”
“Bahamut save us!”
“Oh Sh-!”

Jimmy, Tonka and Sigur cry out in unison, Hal and Gokan remain close-lipped. The sudden expressions of anxiety are due to the fact that one of the smaller rats scurrying towards Tonka suddenly warps and shapes, and a moment later is transformed in to a particularly hairy, rat-featured, human brandishing a wicked looking blade.

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Wererat Scum
Minion Skirmisher Level 5

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“Holy Sh… Lycanthropes!” Tonka screams, panic in the dragonborn’s voice.

“He-he…” The wererat scum giggles, and then stabs its blade in to the dragonborn’s gut. “Rat-attack!” it declares, and then hisses and giggles some more.

The remaining dire rat bustles forward through its hairy brethren to the front of the queue, and then springs at Tonka, leaping in to his arms. The dragonborn wrestles with the creature but to no avail, the beastly vermin sinks its teeth in to Tonka’s neck- blood bursts, bubbles and flows.

Tonka is bloodied, actually reduced to 8 hit points, after the Dire Rat scores a Crit on its Bite Charge attack for 16 points of damage.

Another of the smaller rats scurries through Tonka’s legs; the dragonborn swings half-heartedly but is still contending with the dire rat in his embrace, he misses. The small rat undergoes the same transformation- the wererats are through the adventurers’ front line. Tonka is stabbed in the back, again, for good measure.

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Tonka is down to 1 hit point- that didn’t take long; he has only one Healing Surge remaining.

Tonka mumbles half-remembered prayers, on the very edge of consciousness; he finally manages to dislodge the dire rat from its precarious perch- the verminous villain however lands adeptly at his feet, and renews its assault.

And yet another of the smaller rats makes its way through the front-line, moments later it too has transformed in to a blade wielding rat man.

“Pull back! Pull back!” Sigur screams, but the wrathful invoker already knows that it’s too late- if they cannot kill the rat men quickly… Sigur prefers not to think about the possible outcome.

“Pull Back!” Sigur calls again.

“Bahamut Preserve!” Tonka cries out as his wounds close over- or at least many of them do. He swings heartily with his blade- but again to no great affect, all the while trying to find a way out of the melee and back in to the chamber.

“Gaaaarrhhhh!”

Suddenly the air before Tonka is filled with forked lightning, another of the smaller rats is frazzled, the dire rat singed, but still there’s no retreat for the dragonborn.

Gokan is the rats’ next target, again the transformations occur; only this time of the three rats that make it through the half-orc’s defences two of them re-shape in to the familiar ratty humans, the third in to a more vicious version of the same.

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Wererat Scurrying
Skirmisher Level 3

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“Dessstroy them.” The newly revealed scurrying wererat hisses.

Gokan is stabbed, again, and again, and again- even the flickering appearance of Tonka’s Bahamut-emblazoned shield is not enough, it serves only to prolong the agony- the half-orc staggers and falls.

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Gokan is reduced to -7 hit points, in a matter of seconds by the Wererats. The players are beginning to panic.

“Feast my brothers. Feast!” The scurrying wererat cries out.

Hal unleashes hell, slashes at the back of the wererat leader with his magical greatsword, the blow almost levels the rodent-man, who spins around to face its aggressor; the lycanthrope’s back is torn open, cut to the bone- it bleeds furiously.

“Fight me!” Hal declares and then swings again, hacking in to the rodent-man’s right leg, the creature screams in terror and anger. Another wererat quickly moves forward to menace Hal with its dagger; the metal man is having none of it. Hal thumps the pommel of his greatsword in to the threatening lycanthrope’s face, the beast’s head snaps back and it sinks to the floor.

“FIGHT ME!” Hal shouts, insistent now, and clearly very angry.

Hal unleashes his Daily Lasting Threat on the Scurrying Wererat, combined with his Inevitable Strike, he follows up with his Hack & Hew- inflicting 30 hit points damage in total to the creature, and also smashing one of the Wererat Scum down.

Suddenly another rat morphs and shapes, a second terrifying scurrying wererat, the creature snarls.

“Time to die, metal man!” It hisses and cackles, and then stabs Hal hard in his abdomen.

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“Get out! Get out!” Jimmy screams imploring his fellow adventurers to retreat; the halfling unleashes a barrage of daggers at all of the wererats he can see in the corridor, although he’s not helped by the fact that the fiendish creatures are hidden amongst his friends.

The first, the closest, of the wererat leaders takes a dagger to the face, the blood gushes as the creature flails wildly screaming in its odd high-pitched voice. The remaining dire rat is likewise struck; the huge rat lurches and scurries randomly, unable to get its directions, alas Jimmy’s aim is otherwise off.

The adventurers have barely scratched the surface, and they’re suffering terribly.

“Come on! The secret door…” Jimmy wails forlornly, as soon as his vicious dagger reappears in his hand he flings it again- the flailing, scurrying wererat falls.

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Jimmy with his Daily Blinding Barrage, followed up with a Sly Flourish, and all he does is take out the already bloodied Scurrying Wererat and wound the last remaining Dire Rat.

Sigur scurries forward a little way, the dwarf sounds frantic, “… give ground, give ground…” he advises, while mumbling and grumbling as he invokes.

The packed passage is suddenly choked with glowing radiant purple clouds which, moments later burst and swoop down upon the dwarf’s enemies, bathing each of his foes in a terrible radiant glow.

The clouds and the glow slowly fade, the effect is somewhat underwhelming, the last dire rat is sorely burnt, missing great swathes of its coarse fur, the remaining scurrying wererat is somewhat singed, alas none of the other creatures seem to be affected in any way.

“Oh Moradin- please Lord!” Sigur whispers, then swallowing hard, wades in to the thick of the battle, his mace turns to stone in his hands as he swings it at the closest enemy, the wererat alas is much too fast.

Sigur’s face betrays his fear.

Sigur’s Daily Angelic Echelon followed up by his Stone Panoply and all he has to show for it is a slightly singed Scurrying Wererat and a bloodied Dire Rat. The players are bordering on the terrified.

At this point, in-game, I don’t think they have worked out that the Wererat Scum are just Minions.


The swarm of rats continues to gnaw on the unconscious Gokan, that is until the remaining scurrying wererat leader makes a series of high-pitched squeaking sounds. The frenzied swarm rushes forward, so fast is it and so large that Sigur has to give ground. The dwarf suddenly takes to swatting furiously at his leg, and arms- trying to bat the rats off of him, hundreds more continue to gnaw on the dwarf.

Sigur shakes and shudders, and stomps, and roars his disapproval, all the while the rats scratch, claw and bite. His armour suddenly glows, the burning light coalesces and bursts in to the storm, although again with little effect, several smoking blackened rat corpses lie smouldering on the floor, but the dwarf is still almost overcome.

To make matters worse the blinded dire rat charges forward through Tonka’s legs, although the dragonborn warlord manages to get a little of his blade on the beast en route - but not enough to stop it. The rat launches itself at Sigur, sinks its great teeth in to the dwarf’s leg and hangs on.

The Rat Swarm Crits Sigur for 14 points of damage, instantly bloodying the Dwarf- things are not going the PCs way, big time.

The blind Dire Rat charges (at a random target) Sigur, and even with a -5 penalty to hit manages to connect. Sigur is on 2 hit points- things are really not going well for the PCs.


Tonka quickly orientates himself, turns to face his comrades back in the former goblin chieftain’s chamber, “Bahamut preserve!” the dragonborn declares, and Sigur is no longer at death’s door.

“Thank you Moradin!” The dwarf whispers, his prayers partially answered.

Tonka meantime lashes out at the nearest wererat, which ducks and evades his clumsy attack, another of the creatures dodges Hal’s equally fumbling attack and rushes forward- stabbing out at Sigur, the dwarf is cut again, and once more forced to give ground.

Sigur is bloodied again, actually reduced to 7 hit points, things are really not going well.

The remaining scurrying wererat leader steps back out of the action, and again produces a series of high-pitched whistles and squeaks- the creature’s rodent brothers manoeuvre; Tonka is being separated from his fellow adventurers- who are being forced back in to Balgron’s bedchamber.

“Ssssoooon we feast my lovelies, soon we feast!” the foul creature croons.

Hal tries again with his greatsword, smashing his weapon down and through one of the wererat scum, and then dragging the blade down further to scrape on the stone floor and slice through the rat swarm. The wererat falls, but the rat swarm is merely momentarily inconvenienced.

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Gokan, seemingly forgotten about, lies still on the cold stone floor, all around him chaos and despair.

Jimmy has nowhere to go but back, away from his friends. The halfling dashes to the secret door, all the while throwing daggers in to the swarm as he retreats- to little effect. He thumps the wall, a grinding noise and the passageway and stairs are revealed.

“Come on! Please!” Jimmy begs.

Jimmy actually Crits the Rat Swarm with his Sly Flourish, however after the maths is done it works out to 7 hit points damage, the Rat Swarm isn’t even bloodied yet. The initial squeal of excitement when the ‘20’ showed on the dice soon fades- back to despair for the players.

The furious bustling bundle of rats swarms over Sigur…

“Mora…” Sigur starts.
“Nooooooo!” Jimmy screams

As the grumbling dwarf collapses to the cold stone floor, the swarm continues in its frenzy to circle and bite. Although moments later after yet another series of squeaks and hisses, delivered again by the last remaining scurrying wererat, the swarm moves off.

Heading straight for Jimmy.

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The forlorn, broken Sigur bleeds and lies still.

Sigur is swiftly reduced to -5 hit points by the Rat Swarm, the player- next in turn then fails his first Death Save.

The last remaining, badly injured, dire rat recovers its senses and rushes at Hal, the metal man is bested- slammed back in to the wall by the force of the huge rodent’s charge.

Hal is now bloodied, actually reduced to 9 hit points after the Dire Rat’s Bite attack.

Tonka finally retreats, back in to the bedchamber, fending off opportune attacks from a number of wererats en route; the dragonborn is lucky, or else he’s getting much better with his longsword. Tonka makes his way back to Jimmy and the swarm without suffering a hit.

Once there he unleashes hell, or else the force of Bahamut- his god and saviour, alas hell is postponed, his luck runs out and his effort is wasted, his attack is pathetic, he misses by a mile.

Tonka’s Daily Leader’s Instinct is a critical fumble, thank Bahamut it’s Reliable, although will he even get time to try it again?

The two remaining wererat scum change form again, back in to tiny rats, they dodge and duck and run circles around Hal- eventually manoeuvring before and behind the metal man, from which positions they launch their attacks.

Hal is bitten, and scratched and clawed some more- almost spent.

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Hal is reduced to 2 hit points. Keep this in mind, it may prove to be important.

The scurrying wererat rushes over to the flustered Hal, who doesn’t know quite where to turn, and slams its blade in to the metal man’s face.

The effect in instantaneous.

Hal stops, makes one last sudden rasping grinding sound, and then speaks.

“I have failed.”

His last words, Hal collapses, dead.

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Hal is hit by the Scurrying Wererat for 22 damage, a Crit, the metal man was on 2 hit points, he’s now on -20 hit points, which is beyond his negative bloodied value. Hal 5000 is dead- forever.

Tonka and Jimmy are suddenly aware that they’re all that’s left.

And the players know they’re heading for a TPK. There’s more laughter than anger around the table, which I’m very much thankful for- sometimes TPKs can be awkward, even terrible moments to share with friends… Here we go then.

Tonka and Jimmy retreat down the stairs, the rats come on, behind the verminous trio the scurrying wererat squeaks and hisses its orders.

“Not long now my lovelies…” It hisses and grins.

Jimmy suddenly steps forward, lashes out with his vicious blade at all three targets before him - the two wererat scum, in rodent form, and the swarm.

He fails to connect with any of his enemies.

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Three attack rolls- the highest is a ‘4’. When your luck is gone, it’s gone.

The swarm gnaws and bites at the halfling’s lower legs and feet- Jimmy bleeds and dances back.

The last dire rat mean time darts out of the corridor and forward in to the action, charging straight for Tonka, the dragonborn’s aim is straight and true - he cuts the brute down.

The distraction is enough however.

The two remaining tiny rats scurry and scuttle, till they’re in position, both simultaneously morph in to rat man shape- either side of Tonka. Moments later the dragonborn is swiftly, and expertly, cut down.

Tonka is reduced to -1 hit point. Stu, the player (Hedda & Tonka), doesn’t look very happy- perhaps he’s contemplating what his third PC will be.

The scurrying wererat leader dashes in to the opening and stabs Jimmy in the gut, the halfling staggers and squirms… the end is close.

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Jimmy is bloodied, actually reduced to 9 hit points. The end really is close.

Jimmy staggers back, down the stairs, almost spills his blade, one hand clutched to his gut- the blood sticky red pulses and flows.

“But… But… We’re the good guys…”

Jimmy blinks, unable to take in the events.

The vermin close in for the kill.

Jimmy steps back again, his legs almost giving way- fear, raw fear… terror.

The young halfling’s mind whirrs.

“Four thousand gold- ransom them, to me…” Jimmy holds up his hand, the one not holding his vicious dagger.

The wereat scum and the rat swarm come on- hissing and squeaking respectively.

The scurrying wererat, the leader, suddenly squeaks once, loud and commanding.

Everything stops.

Except Jimmy.

“Four thousand gold- from my father, it’ll take a couple of days… three days. He’s in Fallcrest, he’s a rich man, an adventurer, or else he was… He has money though, I promise.”

The scurrying wererat barges forward past the two scum.

“Convince me.” It hisses.

Later Dan, who plays Jimmy, said that he knew he couldn't win and didn't fancy his chances getting away- 4,000gp just seemed like the right amount- 1,000gp each; of course he hadn’t accounted for Hal being dead already at the time.

How could I, as a kindly DM, fail to grasp this opportunity?

But I didn’t want to make it too easy.

Jimmy’s in a Skill Challenge- no XP reward just the chance to get his comrades out of a tight spot- alive. The rules are, made up on the spot; he has to gain four successes before three failures. The DC is set at 15, he can use any skill, although never the same skill twice in a row. One skill check takes a round (although, see below), and has to be role-played of course, if he succeeds at a check then he can try for a second skill check in the same round, if he fails he cannot try again that round.

Furthermore each round the three dying adventurers- Gokan, Sigur & Tonka, have to continue to make their Death Saves.

It’s agreed, and we begin…


“My father used to work for the Lord Markelhay, you’ve heard of him… yes?” Jimmy gabbles.
The wererat nods.
“He paid him well for his services, before that- as I said, he made his money adventuring; I mean he’s not as rich as some of the folk in the city, or the guilds of Hammerfast, but… He has money, he can get four thousand quickly, get it here- to Winterhaven, and then…”
“The dragon burial site.” The wererat calmly states fingering the edge of its blade.
“Yes. Yes, I mean… all you’d have to do is let me go- I mean, I don’t know how you ended up here…” Jimmy looks about himself, indicating the catacombs of the Keep.
“You’re probably paid badly, I mean… you’re just, messengers!” Jimmy hangs the last word out, and shivers.
The wererat’s whiskers quiver, its eyes flash in anger.
“I mean- messengers, that’s beneath you, but with money- well, you could start again, somewhere else. Maybe in a city… not in a filthy, wet, smelly dungeon.”

The wererat sniffs and wrinkles his nose, seemingly aware for the first time of the stink and dirt about him.

And that’s a Bluff 25 followed by a Diplomacy 19, all in one round- and what’s more the three remaining PCs all manage to make their Death Saves.

“Well… What do you think? Three days- four thousand gold coins?” Jimmy begs.

Jimmy presses on, afraid of the silence. “You don’t have to tell your bosses, the… goblins?”
“Hobgoblins.” The scurrying wererat snarls.
“Hobgoblins, goblins- no matter, they don’t have to know. The money’s for you, you and your men, I mean- rat men, all for you. ‘Messengers’, you’re better than that- much bet…”

Jimmy is cut off, a moan loud and terrible from back up the stairs- Jimmy recognises it instantly- Gokan. Gokan’s dying Jimmy thinks, and frets.

Gokan fails his first Death Save.

“I… “
But the halfling’s words are cut off again, this time by the grinding groaning sound of the second secret door sliding open.

Jimmy watches, nervous, his blade ready- looking front and back- he’s surrounded.

The second secret door opens all the way, to reveal- nothing. The torches have been extinguished in the excavation chamber beyond it seems- it’s dark, shadowy, there’s something…

Suddenly a cacophony of furious squeaks from the wererats, the trio- even the scurrying wererat leader, bows low and backs away a little. The rat swarm plunges down the stairs in a mad rush, filtering around and through Jimmy’s feet.

Jimmy grips his blade even tighter.

“Little ones…” A whispering voice which purrs with pleasure comes from the darkness at the bottom of the stairs. The rat swarm is a maelstrom, rats leaping and climbing over each other to be close to… A pair of thickset ratty legs, and an equally thick ridged and wormlike tail which curls and scoops and slides through the skittering joyous swarm.

That’s all Jimmy can see, the shadows limit his vision.

The scurrying wererat, squeaks again- rapidly, and then half-salutes and bows once more.

“I… I… “ Jimmy stammers, unsure as to what comes next.
“I am so very pleased to eat you, I mean of course- meet, you.” The voice is as rich as chocolate, and husky with it. The joke, such as it is, provokes an instant reaction- a chorus of squeaks and squeals- Jimmy estimates there are at least another half-dozen wererats ahead of him, down the stair.

“Four thousand gold coins- that’s a lot to offer, even if you had the money what guarantee would I have of your return?” The voice comes again, followed by a hint of a massively built wererat’s snout and whiskers from the shadows.
“My word… “ Jimmy tries, and then swiftly changes tack.
“You have my brothers- up there, Gokan, the half-orc and Hal, the metal man… I would never abandon my brothers, and nor would my father. Even if we wanted to our mother wouldn’t let us- she would sell everything we owned…” Jimmy tails off, and then finds his way again, “ I swear this.” He snivels.

Silence for a while.

“I believe you little one… only now you have whetted my appetite- four thousand is a princely sum, and yet, for your brothers? Family is everything, don’t you agree?” The honeyed voice asks.
Jimmy nods, sniffs some more, wipes a tear or two away with his sleeve.
“And yet my brothers lie still now, victims of your blades and your spells- what price my brothers, little one?”

It’s Jimmy’s turn for silence.
“How much?” The halfling eventually asks.
“Six thousand.”
“Five…” Jimmy snaps back, perhaps a little too hastily.

There’s a sudden flurry of movement, several more wererats lurch out of the shadows, an array of them- all sizes, some as small as Jimmy, all wielding nasty looking blades of every variety.

“Five thousand.” The wererat leader purrs. “We have a deal.”
The creature offers from the shadows its huge, hairy clawed hand.

Another two successes for the win- Bluff and Diplomacy again, the later equally exactly the DC required. The wererat chief is convinced.

The dying PCs are quickly stabilised by the wererats, see below.


Jimmy gingerly reaches out and grasps the proffered hand.

Moments later a wererat rushes past him- up the stair, towards the fallen, and with a snarl, then another, and another and…

“Five thousand, three days time- at the burial site your father so favoured… Go now, little brother.” The voice comes with an echo- already at a distance, the wererat leader it seems has also moved away- the passage is clear.

Less than sixty seconds later Jimmy is back out in to the cold air, out of the catacombs and back in to the wilds.

He runs.

Encounter #9 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts

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Encounter #9 The Rat Pack, starring-

Wererat Scum (Minion Skirmisher 5) x6
Rat Dire (Brute 1) x2
Rat Swarm (Skirmisher 2) x1
Wererat Scurrying (Skirmisher 3) x2

925 XP Level 4 Encounter

I decided to ditch the myriad creatures in the lower caves- giant rats, ochre jelly, blue slime and kruthik- I wanted something with a bit more bite, and story, although as it turns out, I quite liked the rats...

Doing away with all of the other guys in the caves also gave me some more XP to play with to bulk out a few of the other encounters in the Keep, remember I want to make this Hard Core.

PC XP

110 XP each for a total of 1419 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

Quite a disparity, as previously- I do not award XP for creatures that make it out alive from the encounters. I appreciate that this sounds a little churlish but 4e can sometimes seem like it’s playing too fast, or rather the PCs advance very quickly.

Back when I was playing 3/3.5e or even AD&D I ran campaigns that lasted for 4-5 years that ended with the PCs at level 15 or so, lower usually. I’ve played several 4e campaigns to date- the longest maybe a little more than eighteen months saw the PCs reach Level 14. While the desire to reach level 30 remains we don’t want to miss out on a single level, the deal is we’re going to play this to the end- not missing out on anything.

Just a hint of the present- this write up is very much behind the actual game, we started playing this campaign in March 2012, the date today is the 12th of November 2012, the PCs are at present a whisker away from 9th level- a level a month seems to be about the right pace.

And so back to the present- the PCs were denied the XP for the Rat Swarm, two of the Wererat Scum and the Scurrying Wererat, they survived to fight another day- what a meanie I am.

DM Thoughts-

I started off apologising to the players for this encounter; in the immediate aftermath- two of the PCs only had one Healing Surge left and… But my players didn’t buy it; they let me off the hook very quickly.

Their dice rolls were terrible, mine were great- I seemed to not roll anything below a 14, they seemed to have problems breaking 10, and for Gokan- again, a nightmare. The second encounter in a row in which he has proved to be almost unable to hit anything- Hal we’re used to failing and falling over, it’s become a standing joke at the table, but Gokan… unheard of.

But, save for the terminated Hal, the guys have a chance to affect a rescue.

So now it’s time to roll up some secondary characters, for the exchange, you’ll see.

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 Post subject: Re: HARD CORE H1 KOTS- REWRITTEN and with PICS! Enc #9
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:47 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Grimbo
KOTS Part 9a: Jimmy’s return.

Soon after, Jimmy’s breathing hard, stumbling, and…

“Damn!”

The halfling yelps and tumbles down a slight incline, his foot thumping hard in to a half buried stone.

Jimmy sprawls on the packed earth, gasping- gulping down hot lungfuls of air, blinking furiously as the tears sting his eyes.

“Gurppp!”

He vomits as he tries to stand, sinks back onto his haunches, and vomits again- one side of his leather armour has been torn away at the shoulder, split at the seams. The other side is lathered with blood- mostly his own.

His hands and forearms are covered by a network of scratches and tiny cuts- pricked by thorns and burning from nettle stings.

The halfling rocks back and forth, every now and then he spews or dry retches.

“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to… go back. To go back...”

Jimmy levers himself to his feet, steadies himself for a moment, he’s woozy, not right, not… the sun is getting low- dusk is approaching.

I know the way. I know the way. He repeats the phrase in his head.

Jimmy heads off again, a stumbling jog.

“I didn’t want to…” Every now and then he whispers it; at least twice he stops for a moment to shout out the phrase as loud as he can and then, realising what he’s done, anxiously scan the horizon.

He cries a lot.

He falls over once or twice more, repeats his previous performance, including the spewing and staggering, but he goes on.

He goes on.

Because it’s all he can do.

Because it’s all there is to do.

“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to…”
“Hold him down.” Rond’s voice is stern.

The guardsman isn’t so sure, or else…

“I said ‘hold him down’ guardsman.” Rond shouts, but remains in control.
“He’s raving…” It’s Lord Padraig’s voice.
“Yes sir, as you say.” Rond comes again.
“What happened to hi…”
“Death, sir.” Rond simply states with as much ire as his position, and Lord Padraig’s authority, allow him to muster.

“I didn’t…” Jimmy blinks open his eyes- the Inn, Wrafton’s Inn. A strange point of view- the ceiling, looking up- he’s looking up. Someone, some things, are holding him down- got to get up. Got to get up, get free, get back to… Jimmy fights.

“Here we go again, hold him guardsman- for Erathis’ sake he’s just a halfling, hold him!”

“No! NO! They’ve got them- the rat men. The rats! RATS! My brother… my brother- little brother. I’ve got to- LET GO OF ME!” Jimmy rambles, screams and shouts.

He scrabbles to be free, scrambles to reach for his dagger- the guardsman struggles, they can’t hold him- Lord Padraig suddenly recoils- Rond jumps in to the gap, but Jimmy is alive- with pain, with anger, with hatred- his dagger’s out.

Jimmy hisses and spits, like a madman, he’s free of their grasp…

“KEEP BACK!” Rond screams, as guardsmen and gawkers scramble for cover.

Jimmy leaps to his feet, the enemy all around him; somehow they’re in Winterhaven- the goblins, the kobolds, the rat men, the monsters- all arrayed before him in the Inn...

“You’ll not take me… Never! I didn’t want to go back!” The last phrase half shout, half scream, all terror.

Jimmy makes for a forlorn sight, dagger in hand- madness in his eyes, standing on a table in the middle of Wrafton’s Inn, surrounded by the citizens of the town.

Suddenly a minotaur appears before Jimmy, steps out of the monstrous crowd.

It’s… It’s… It’s… Jimmy thinks.

The minotaur grins, and approaches.

“Hedda!” Jimmy grins back, holds out his empty hand in greeting.

And then takes the full force of the flat of the great minotaur’s axe in his chest- the halfling sails fifteen feet, slams in to a wall and thumps down on to the floor.

Jimmy’s last thought- “You’re not Hedda.” Then oblivion.

“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora perches on the edge of the bed.
“Shhh… Rest little one.”
“Little one?” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.

The door to the bedchamber opens- Douvern, it’s Douvern, and… “Mum!” Jimmy leaps into Gerda’s embrace.

Two hours later and Jimmy, Douvern, Gerda, Rond and Lord Padraig are all seated around a well-appointed table, in the Lord’s manor house. The food has hardly been touched, no one feels like eating…

“But how did…” Jimmy starts, staring at his father, it’s Rond that answers.
“When you arrived back at the Inn, well- we thought you were dying, we…” Rond looks about him for a moment, “we managed to get you settled, then I sent two men on fast horses to Fallcrest- dangerous in the night, but I had Sgt. Ramm lead the way; I figure he owed you that. I thought that your father should know of your return, and the circumstances...” Rond nods at Douvern, who takes over.
“I…”
“We.” Gerda states.
“We travelled through the night- got here early this morning, about an hour before you awoke.” Douvern grins.
Gerda grins.
Jimmy blushes.
“I’m sorry…” Jimmy starts, and then puts his head down quickly- the tears come again.

“Jimmy.” Gerda speaks.
Jimmy sniffs and then looks up.
“Tell us- tell us everything you remember…”
Jimmy gulps, nods his head, and then starts to speak.

It takes a while, breaks for tears, anger and moments of comfort, but eventually Jimmy gets it said- his story is told.

“Five thousand!” Rond whistles.
Lord Padraig shakes his head.
Douvern is however already counting- his chair scrapes back. The ex-adventurer is quickly to his feet, smiling, almost.

“Five thousand- you did well Jimmy, you did great. You saved them! I’m proud of you…” Douvern is at Jimmy, his hand on the halfling’s shoulder, squeezing tight- Jimmy sobs and is comforted by Gerda, who strokes his hair and coos.

“I need to make use of your men- I need swift riders, we need to go to Fallcrest and back, today preferably…” Douvern addresses first Lord Padraig and then Rond, the ex-adventurer perversely seems to be enjoying himself.
Lord Padraig nods at Douvern and then Rond.
“I’ll organise things.” Rond states and bustles for the door. “They’ll be ready to depart within the hour…” The guard captain heads out.

Douvern nods back at his wife, and then grins at Jimmy.
“You did right. We can get them back. I’ll be back today with the money.”
The ex-adventurer nods again, and the heads off after Rond.

“Mom?” Jimmy asks.
“Let your dad take care of it- rest Jimmy, rest. You need to get better.” Gerda states and hugs the halfling to her.

“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora has been replaced on the edge of his bed, instead it’s Douvern that perches there.
“Shhh… Rest.” His dad leans in and strokes the young halfling’s warm brow.
“Hal’s…” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.
“I know… I know- there’s nothing you could have done. We’ll get Gokan back, don’t you worry.”
“But Hal…” Jimmy starts again.
“Hal was a strange one- even I could see that, all that time in the ground- centuries… He was…” Douvern wipes his eyes.
“There was something about Hal, Jimmy. All the time he spent at home, with me, with us… I’d wake up every day and see him and think that it was going to be today, that today was the day he’d finally tell me…” Douvern looks away.
Jimmy sits up, through the window he can see the moon, almost full in the black sky.

“What do you mean that he was going to tell you?” Jimmy asks.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. It was just something I felt, every day- every time I saw him. He had this air, a sort of expectancy. It was like he had a secret.” Douvern shakes his head, and then goes on.
“I know it sounds silly but… Gerda, your mother felt it too, only she was afraid of it- we spoke about it at first, the feeling we had, when Hal first came home with me. We’d argue about it- she said that there was something wrong with Hal, something not right, something… dangerous. I don’t know!” Douvern gives up, exasperated.
It’s Jimmy’s turn, he rests his hand on his father’s arm.

Finally Douvern looks up.
“Hal had a secret, it’s a strange thing to say- I know. The thing I hate most is the feeling that he never told anyone, or at least- he never told me.”
Douvern sags, stays silent for a while longer.

“I miss him Jimmy- I miss him already. I’m sure you miss him too- we all will, but he died doing the thing he was created for, for fighting- for defending, for keeping others safe. He gave his life to keep you safe Jimmy.” Douvern stares in to his son’s glistening eyes.

“I need to pay him back…” Jimmy states and stares back out the window.
“You’ve already paid him back, don’t you see- you survived, that’s what Hal would have wanted,” Douvern states and intercepts Jimmy’s gaze.
“Understand Jimmy? It’s not your job to get ‘revenge’, don’t do anything silly- bring Gokan back, if you can. But you need to come back- in one piece, that’s what Hal would have wanted- he was your big brother…”

The two clutch each other; Jimmy sobs a little, but does his best to hide his tears.

An hour or so later, Douvern tucks the sleeping halfling back in to the bed, and then as quietly as he can creeps to the door of the chamber, silently opens it, easier done because it’s slightly ajar.

“Oh!” Standing in the now open doorway is Gerda, she looks at him, she looks serious.
“And when Jimmy comes back?” Gerda enquires.
Douvern sags again, looks old- older than his years even. He shrugs, and then begins to move off- back to the room he shares with Gerda.
“And that’s it? You’d send him back?” Gerda voice betrays her emotion.
Douvern turns to face his wife, he shrugs again.
“It’s his choice?” He offers.
“Adventuring!” Gerda sarcastically replies, with as much dismay, and anger, as she can muster.
“It’s in his blood.” Douvern states, and changes direction, heading for the stairs.
“Where are you going now?” Gerda snaps.

Douvern waits till he’s almost out of sight before replying.
“I’m going to make sure he comes back alive. I’m going to make sure that he gets a chance to make his own decision.”
Gerda goes to speak, but Douvern cuts her off.
“Get some sleep. I won’t be long, and I promise you- here and now, that Jimmy will return, with Gokan. I’ll take care of it.” And with that, Douvern heads down the stairs and out of sight.

Leaving Gerda alone in the corridor, fretting and wiping her eyes, stood outside of her son’s room.
“Old fool” Gerda hisses, and then shuffles off back to their room.

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