**Note: the following material is copyright 1998 by Kenneth McDonald. Copying and/or distribution is allowed only on the condition that no part of the material be used or sold for profit. All other rights are reserved by the author. The following is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to real persons or events is purely coincidental.**
1) Brigand Hunt
Erron Laddrick is concerned that someone or something is preying upon travelers in the hill country to the northwest of Northpine. An old horse track leads through this region to a pass through the distant Kilmar Mountains, and although it has fallen into neglect since the opening of the main road to the coast, there are still some trappers, hunters, and miners who attempt this route. Trekking through the wilderness is always a little risky, especially when one leaves the patrolled areas of the main trade roads behind, but in the past two months several small groups have vanished in this area. Of the twenty or so who have disappeared, two were Northpiners, men who knew the hills and forests of the region well and who had trapped there for years. At first the villagers suspected that some sort of beast or monster was responsible, and for weeks rumors flew back and forth about what it was and what danger it posed to the town. A few days ago, though, a farmer found a third Northpiner, the hunter Romon Cordrim, lying dead at the edge of one of his fields. Romon had an arrow stuck through his shoulder, and another lodged in his satchel. It would seem, now, that the source of the disappearances is obvious: bandits!
Laddrick has sent a message to Adelmar reporting the situation to the Baron, but he knows it could be some time before he gets a response, if there is one at all. Northpine is, after all, small, poor, and far away. He knows that the militia is no match for seasoned brigands, even with his own not inconsiderable talents, and is looking for another option. Maybe a group of adventurers could be persuaded to solve Northpine's troubles...
The PCs might hear about the bandits by talking to the villagers, or they might run into Laddrick at the inn. If the adventurers seem interested, Laddrick will ask them to investigate the threat, offering them 200gp (it's not much, but a lot to the villagers) collected by the village council as a reward. If they are reluctant, he'll point out that bandits usually accumulate wealth, and the adventurers are of course free to keep whatever they take from them.
The attacks on travelers are being carried out by a band of kobolds. The creatures, fairly small in number and generally content to avoid trouble with their larger neighbors, had the misfortune of being discoverd by a pair of very nasty rogues traveling through the area. The little monsters were cowed by the two after a number of them were slain, and the pair decided to "integrate" themselves into the tribe. The kobolds, of course, resent this but have been unable so far to remove the cautious brigands.
The two rogues are a strange match: Jargo, a hulking half-ogre fighter, and Cthel Grulgar, a shifty hobgoblin thief. They have been instigating the raids against travelers and nearby encampments of humans that hunt and trap in the area. They hope to pick up a suitable amount of booty and then pack up and leave the kobolds to their fate (and whatever response their activities draws).
Check 2x/day and 1x/night, with an encounter on a 1 on d6. If an encounter occurs, roll 1d6 on the following table (reroll if the encounter rolled has already taken place):
(1) 4-7 (d4+3) Wild Dogs: Small animal, CR1/3, AC15 (+1 size, +3 dex, +1 natural, Init +3, Mv40, HD1d8+2, hp 5 each, Atk bite +2 melee, D 1d4+1, Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +1, S13, D17, C15, I2, W12, Cha6, Listen +5, Spot +5, Swim +5, Wilderness Lore +1, SA scent. These creatures are mangy, hungry, and aggressive, but can be driven off with fire, or the loss of half their number.
(2) 4 human mercenaries, led by a veteran named Gorus Tholrin. Each is armed with sword and dagger, and two carry shortbows as well. They are a rough lot, having made the difficult trek over the mountains, and they are en route to Crosspath to seek work for their swords. They don't know anything about banditry in the area and will be surly if questioned. Each carries only 1-6gp and 2-12sp.
Human Mercenaries: War1, CR½, AC14 (+3 studded leather, +1 small shield), Init +0, Mv30, HD1d8+1, hp6 each, Atk sword +3 melee (1d8+1) or bow +1 ranged (1d6), Fort +3, Ref +0, Will –1, S12, D10, C13, I10, W8, Ch8, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword), Climb +3, Jump +3, Ride +4
Gorus Tholrin: Ftr2, CR2, AC16 (+4 chain shirt, +1 small shield, +1 dex), Init +5, Mv30, HD2d10, hp14, Atk masterwork longsword +5 melee (1d8+1) or throwing dagger +3 ranged (1d4+1), Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0, S13, D12, C10, I10, W10, Ch11, Cleave, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword), Climb +2, Jump +2, Ride +6
(3) Wild boar: Medium-size animal, CR2, AC16 (+6 natural), Init +0, Mv40, HD3d8+9, hp19, Atk gore +4 melee, D1d8+3, SQ ferocity, scent, Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +2, S15, D10, C17, I2, W13, Ch4, Listen +7, Spot +5
(4) 6 kobolds. Each carries a halfspear and a sling with six lead bullets. They will attempt to avoid contact with a group with more than three persons, and will send a runner back to alert the base. Each carries 2-12cp.
Kobolds: Small humanoid, CR1/6, AC15 (+1 size, +1 dex, +1 natural, +2 leather), Init +1, Mv30, HD½d8, hp 3 each, Atk halfspear –1 melee (1d6-2) or sling +2 ranged (1d4-2), SQ darkvision 60’, light sensitivity, Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2, S6, D13, C11, I10, W10, Ch10, Alertness, Craft (trapmaking) +2, Hide +8, Listen +2, Move Silently +4, Search +2, Spot +2
(5) A trio of hunters from Northpine: Alec, Marius, and Corel (all Com2, hp6 each). They are clad in normal clothing and carry short bows and daggers. The three men are nervous and jumpy, and haven’t had much luck in their hunting. If parlayed with, Marius will report seeing “shadowy” figures in the forest that quickly disappeared, but his companions think that perhaps he was just seeing things. In any case, the three are on their way back to the village, empty-handed.
(6) A lone traveler: a short, thin-faced human named Orin C'tarl, who will parlay with any other humans and ask to travel/camp with them, "for safety." He is actually a wererat. Unlike most of his kind, Orin likes to be alone, perhaps because he is slightly unbalanced. Although he seems normal enough at first, he tends to giggle to himself every now and again, and asks himself questions that he then answers in a different voice. This might hinder his effort to gain the trust of the party, so that he can ambush them when they stop to rest for the night. He'll ask questions of party members like, "So, do you have any magical weapons?" or "Is that arrowhead silver?" that may give PCs cause for suspicion. If attacked he will change to man-rat form and attack, but will try to flee if wounded. He carries a sword and has 16gp and a gold necklace worth 80gp in his belt pouch.
Orin C’tarl, wererat Com2: CR2, AC12 (+2 natural), Init +0, Mv30, HD2d4+2+3, hp11, Atk sword +1 melee (1d8), Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4, S11, D10, C12, I9, W8, Ch5, Martial Weapon Proficiency (longsword), Toughness, Jump +2, Listen +5, Profession (farmer) +2, Spot +5, Search +4
Hybrid form: AC 16 (+3 dex, +3 natural), Init +3, Mv30, HD2d4+4+3, hp13, Atk sword +1 melee (1d8), bite +2 melee (1d4), Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4, S11, D16, C14, I9, W8, Ch5, Multiattack, Weapon Finesse (bite), Hide +7, Jump +2, Listen +5, Move Silently +6, Search +8, Spot +8
Rat form: AC17 (+1 size, +3 dex, +3 natural), Init +3, Mv40, HD2d4+4+3, hp13, Atk +5 melee (1d4), Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4, S11, D16, C14, I9, W8, Ch5, Weapon Finesse (bite), Climb +14, Hide +11, Jump +2, Listen +5, Move Silently +6, Search +8, Spot +8
Once the adventurers leave Northpine on the north road, they should have no trouble in finding the horse track that leads toward the mountains (no tracking check necessary). The going is easy for the first day, leading through open meadows, low hills, and thin stretches of woodland. On the second day, however, the trail becomes more difficult, entering an area of densely wooded and steeper hills. By the third day the trail begins switchbacking frequently as it gains altitude into the foothills of the Kilmar Mountains. The mountains loom ever larger in the distance, though they remain a good 3-4 days of travel away. On the third day (exact time of the encounter is left to the DM), the adventurers will come across an abandoned campsite near the trail.
The campsite is little more than a ring of boulders that provide shelter from the elements, with a small but sturdy wooden lean-to set up to one side. A firepit that shows signs of recent use is in the center of the place. If the players search the area, they will find bloodstains (less than a week old), a broken arrow, and small footprints that lead away to the east.
A ranger or character with the tracking feat can follow the tracks to the general area of the kobold lair. If the player group lacks this skill, the DM can arrange for an encounter with a wandering party of kobolds (see encounter #4 above) that can serve the same function of leading the adventurers to the lair.
The kobold lair is located inside a hill about 6 miles from the trappers' campsite. The hill has a rocky but passable slope leading up to its flat crest on the southwest side; the other sides are flanked by crumbling cliffs that range from 15' to 30' high and can only be climbed with difficulty (Climb DC20). The tracks lead up the slope of the hill toward the crest. Characters heading up the hill will come under fire from areas (1) below. Note that many of the kobold tunnels involve cramped spaces, and the DM may elect to apply a –2 circumstance penalty to the attacks, Reflex saves, and movement-related skill checks of tall characters in areas with ceilings lower than six feet (but don’t forget to apply the same penalty to Jargo and Cthel)
General kobold stats: Small humanoid, CR1/6, AC15 (+1 size, +1 dex, +1 natural, +2 leather), Init +1, Mv30, HD½d8, hp 3 each, Atk halfspear –1 melee (1d6-2) or sling +2 ranged (1d4-2), SQ darkvision 60’, light sensitivity, Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2, S6, D13, C11, I10, W10, Ch10, Alertness, Craft (trapmaking) +2, Hide +8, Listen +2, Move Silently +4, Search +2, Spot +2
Each male carries 2-12cp unless noted.
The hillside is covered with loose rocks (none large enough to provide more than 25% cover) and scattered brush. Hidden among the rocks and brush are two small cave openings that slope steeply down about 8' to two 4'x4' passages. The openings and drops have small handholds cut into them, and the passages, while rough hewn, are supported at frequent intervals by wooden pylings.
Concealed at each entrance are 2 kobolds (4 total). Each pair has one light crossbow with 8 bolts and one sling, and all carry hand axes. They will attack anyone moving up the slope, waiting until they move within 120 feet (that’s one range increment for the crossbows, two for the slings). Due to their concealment and distance, the Spot check DC to detect the kobolds before they attack is DC32 (assume that the kobolds are taking 10 on their Hide checks). If one watchpoint is attacked in melee the kobolds at the other station will retreat to area 2 and return with reinforcements.
This little chamber has a 5' high ceiling and is shored up by a few heavy planks. The east wall contains a simple wooden grate (latched on this side, although it can be easily opened from either side by someone with hands) that blocks off access to area 3. A crude table and benches occupy the center of the room. Four more kobolds armed with short spears and hand axes are here, drinking bad beer from a small 2 gallon keg on the table. They will respond to any calls for aid from area 1.
The staircase and passage from area 2 opens onto a ledge 6' above the floor of this room, where a few items can be found: a short (4') military fork, 3 leather harnesses, 40' of rope, a leather collar studded with brass knobs, and a pair of rusty knives.
The pit itself is used by the kobolds to hold captive boars. The only boar currently in the pit is a crippled old sow (AC13, MV5, HD3d8, hp5, A0, D0). The kobolds' "guests" dined on their other pets some time ago.
The passage from area 3 opens at the base of a 40' deep gully. The stone walls that surround this opening are almost vertical all around (Climb DC15), although if a search is made (Search DC10), enterprising characters may find a place where small handholds have been cut into the stone (reducing the Climb DC to 10). Note that kobolds in leather armor have a base Climb score of –3, but their familiarity with this ascent, and the fact that the handholds were cut specifically by them for them, gives them a +2 circumstance benefit to making this climb. Opposite the passage from area 3 are two other tunnel openings: one at ground level and one 15' above the ground. Standing on the high ledge is a young kobold (hp2) armed with a dagger, light crossbow, and 6 bolts. If he spots intruders he will shout a warning to the guards at area 5 and fire at the party from his vantage point, gaining 25% cover (+2 AC, +1 Ref saves) vs missile attacks from below.
This little room is sparsely outfitted with only a few piles of old straw and a long-unused firepit (the new leaders of the tribe take all of the fuel gathered by the kobolds for themselves). The room contains 2 healthy kobolds armed with short spears and one infirm (Mv15, hp0, no weapons) who tested Jargo’s patience (and is lucky to even be alive). The two healthy kobolds will run to area 4 to help repel intruders while the injured one limps to area 6 to alert the rest of the tribe. The bulk of the tribe will reach area 4 in four rounds.
This place has a low 5 1/2' ceiling, reinforced by wooden beams. A firepit with a small natural chimney is in the northeastern corner of the place, but does not appear to have been recently used. Several wooden barrels along the south wall contain water, stale biscuits, and about a gallon of really bad ale, respectively. Quantities of litter (bones, trash, refuse) cover the floor. The place contains most of the remainder of the tribe: seven males (armed with hand axes and slings), four females (hp1, will not fight), and the tribal subchief, now chieftain (hp5, armed with a scimitar). The former chieftain, a low-level sorcerer, was killed by Jargo when he attempted to resist the new administration, and the remaining kobolds live in fear of their new masters' anger. Note that a melee or other loud noises here will certainly bring Jargo and Cthel within 2 rounds.
This place has an even lower ceiling, only 4' high. More of the kobold non-combatants reside here, among yet more trash. There a six more females and eight young (all AC13, hp1, A0). Since Jargo and Cthel rarely come here (can't fit very well), the kobolds have hidden some treasures under a pile of dirty straw in the far corner. Buried there are 2 small sacks, holding 73 copper and 42 silver pieces respectively, a copper bowl (4gp), and an ornate sword pommel (no longer attached to a blade) detailed in silver worth perhaps 40gp.
This place once held supplies, but now all foodstuffs and other goods have been confiscated by the half-ogre and hobgoblin. A few wood splinters on the floor are all that remains.
This place has a slightly higher ceiling, 6' high. The entrance to the room has a tripwire trap set by Cthel to deter curious kobolds. The trap will drop a pile of rocks balanced on a ledge above the entrance upon the 1st character to enter the room if she doesn't detect the trap (Search DC20). The rocks do 2d4 points of damage, 1/2 if a Reflex save (DC15) is successfully made. The room itself contains two very large wooden chests reinforced with iron, locked securely (chests: Open DC25, Hardness 5, hp15, Break DC23). The first contains cured meats and bags of dried fruit, along with 4 pounds of salt and four stale loaves of bread. The other contains several crudely tanned furs (fox, ermine, and beaver, worth 2d6sp each), a bolt of fine cloth (20gp), a dozen pieces of pottery cookware (worth 2d8cp each), and a small carved wooden box containing fine unguents (worth possibly as much as 80gp in a big city).
This natural cave has an 8' high ceiling. Natural stone pillars throughout the place, along with assorted rubble, make the chamber appear smaller than it is. Two bed piles of old furs and coarse cloth lie on opposite sides of the place. A crude wall sconce usually holds a burning torch. A wooden box behind one of the pillars contains 45 pitch torches, a broken lamp, and a pouch holding tinder and flints.
It is likely that the two occupants of this place will have been encountered previously; they will let (i.e. force) the kobolds to do most of the fighting, but if overmatched and unable to escape via the gully (area 4), they will retreat here for a final stand.
Jargo, half-ogre fighter, level 2
CR2, AC 15 (hide armor, large wooden shield), Init +0, Mv20, HD2d10+6, hp19, Atk +7 melee (1d8+3 battleaxe), +2 ranged (1d6+3 throwing axe), Fort +6, Ref +0, Will –2, S17, D10, C16, I7, W6, Ch7, Cleave, Power Attack, Weapon focus (battleaxe).
hide armor, masterwork battleaxe, shortsword, two throwing axes
Treasure: 62gp, 8sp, 9cp in a belt pouch, potion of cure light wounds, keys to chests in area 9.
Cthel Grulgar, hobgoblin rogue, level 3
AC15 (studded leather, dex), Init +6, Mv30, HD3d6+3, hp14, Atk +4 melee (1d6+1
shortsword), +5 ranged (1d8+1 light crossbow), Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +1, S12,
D14, C12, I12, W10, Ch8, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Climb+6, Craft
(trapmaking) +7, Disable Device +7, Gather Information +5, Hide +7, Intimidate
+5, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Spot +6, SA evasion, sneak attack +2d6,
Equipment: masterwork studded leather armor, masterwork shortsword, 2 daggers, light crossbow, 6 +1 bolts, 6 bolts, thieves tools
Treasure: 14gp, 3 50gp bloodstones, silver brooch with inlaid obsidian chips (140gps).
Tactics: although selfish and evil, the pair knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and complement each other well in combat. If they manage to surprise opponents Cthel tries to use a sneak attack against an enemy spellcaster, while Jargo engages enemy fighters. They maneuver so that they can flank powerful enemies if possible to enable Cthel to employ sneak attacks. Jargo generally uses Power Attack in battle (-2 Atk/+2 damage) unless his opponent is wearing heavy armor. If the battle turns against them neither are above leaving the other to his fate and fleeing, but if they feel that there is no choice but surrender, they will fight to the death (they are wanted for murder in several neighboring lands, and know that capture would probably lead to their deaths anyway).
Note: although dangerous adversaries in melee, Jargo and Cthel suffer a -2 circumstance penalty to their attacks when fighting in the crowded kobold chambers (areas 1-3, 5-8 below).
Hidden under the floor in the back of the room (Search DC20 to find), under a particularly large rock (Strength check DC20 roll to lift, only one character can try at a time), is a bit more treasure. A large sack contains 210sp and 90gp, and a small wooden box contains 44 more loose gold pieces, a pair of silver trade bars (5 lbs, 25gp value each), and an ivory necklace worth 200gp.