The Kobold Lair
As the PC's are hanging about in the Stone Boar (one of the more popular taverns in town of Tilwen) when two npc's enter, a human paladin and a dwarf cleric, announcing that they are looking to hire help. Their intention is to raid a kobold lair beyond the nearby wood that has been harassing the southern trade road. The PC's make their way over but are discouraged to find most of the patrons of the bar doing the same. It soon becomes apparent that they will have to consent to interviews in order to determine their worth. The PC's, at this time, are barely acquainted with one another and end up standing in line to speak with the two would-be employers individually.
Bearwatcher is more drunk than he realizes and flubs his interview. He is politely turned away. (He sloshes ale on the paladin and challenges the dwarf to a wrestling match to display his martial prowess.)
Cloven manages to keep from being turned away out of hand and barely manages to pass the interview. The paladin, at least, is aware that she isn't evil. (She is very diplomatic, speaks intelligently and encourages the paladin to test her aura. She also details her work with the local temple and refers the heroes to the local priest for a reference.)
Ashheart passes the interview despite her chaotic nature. The heroes find her very entertaining. (She does get a little out of hand demonstrating her talents, though..."I can do this! [Entropic Shield] And this! [Dazes the bartender] Oh! And this! [Mage Hand, knocking the dwarf's helmet off the table]...)
As the interviews continue, an uproar is heard outside. When everyone goes out they see several of the townsfolk surge toward the edge of town. They learn from the crowd that a young child is trapped atop an unusually tall tree nearby...and the limb he's clinging to is cracking! Following the crowd they arrive and see the child dangling more than forty feet in the air, barely hanging on. The two npc heroes are already trying to figure a way to save him but can come up with nothing better than organizing a trampoline team to catch him, which may not be quick enough...
Naturally Bearwatcher hustles right up the tree and snatches the boy before he falls (though it takes two tries to nab him). He climbs back down easily, just as the branch above snaps and falls to rest against the trunk of the tree.
While the parents beat the boy and chase him back home (and several others castigate their own children for daring the foolish youngster to climb the tree) Bearwatcher is approached by the heroes and gets another chance to get on the team (which he does).
The PC's have the rest of the evening and that night to make arrangements and gear up, as they leaving at first light. Cloven gives the last of her meager wealth to the local temple, relying on her pay from the upcoming job for future wealth.
Ashheart gets Distracted and stays up too late drinking with the humans in the inn. She oversleeps and the party leaves without her. Catching up outside of town she attempts to convince the two heroes to take her back on but fails. They firmly reject her offer to join them. She tags along dejectedly a bit behind the group hoping for an opportunity to win their favor again.
The two hirelings (Bearwatcher and Cloven only, as Ashheart is still trailing along behind) are disgruntled to find they are expected to carry all the gear. And there's a lot of it. When it becomes clear that she will become fatigued from carrying it for much longer, Bearwatcher is kind enough to take half of Cloven's load. He is able to bear it with some effort.
The trip takes five hours through the local fields and around a small wood to the hill where the kobold lair is said to be. Spending the next three hours searching they finally locate the partially hidden entrance to the lair...but not before coming upon a large brown bear in the process.
Cloven spots the bear and points it out. No one else has spotted it.
No one charges the bear, as the two npc's seem content with arming their weapons and waiting to see what the beast will do. When it charges the Paladin, Ashheart takes the opportunity to pitch in (and hopefully win back the two npc's favor) by hitting it with her natural Flare ability. It has no effect.
Bearwatcher pitches in, charging the bear and delivering a mighty blow while Cloven close to within range of her chain and misses badly with her strike.
The Paladin is dropped almost immediately when the Bear follows up on it's charge attack by latching onto him with both paws, crushing him. To everyone's surprise the Cleric turns his attentions to the PC's, Silencing Ashheart and wasting time dropping Sanctuary spells on Bearwatcher and Cloven, which they promptly dispel by continuing to attack the bear. When this fails to keep the PC's out of battle he drops an Obscuring Mist spell on the scene...but by this time both Bearwatcher and Cloven are already down and dying. When he finally gets around to striking at the bear he drops it with one hit, as the PC's have already weakened it significantly.
The Cleric expends the last of his spells and healing potions on the PC's and the Paladin, then the two of them light into the PC's for distracting them during the fight. Heated words are exchanged but Cloven manages to make peace and the group eventually proceeds on to the nearby kobold lair.
At the entrance to the lair the PC's balk when they discover they are expected to stay behind and guard the gear while the Paladin and Cleric enter the lair. An argument again breaks out, which Cloven attempts to mediate, until the two Heroes move to subdue Bearwatcher and Ashheart, at which point she sides with the other PC's and jumps the Paladin from behind.
Surprised, the Paladin is unable to defend himself properly and quickly finds himself with a determined Tiefling on his back. Bearwatcher immediately joins the grapple and has no difficulty getting a solid grip on the Paladin. Ashheart helps out by Dazing the Cleric for a moment. Shaking this off, he readies his mace and faces her but she promptly tosses up her hands in surrender. When he turns to threaten the other two PC's he finds they've already beaten the paladin unconscious and are coming for him.
Despite landing a nice bruise on Cloven's hip, the Cleric is likewise quickly overpowered and rendered unconscious.
Once the two NPC's are down the PC's tie them up with rope and wait for them waken. Within half an hour it's clear they won't be coming around on their own anytime soon. Searching the two doesn't uncover any more healing potions (or anything else of interest) and the PC's are unwilling to use Ashheart's healing potion on either of them. The PC's simply drag them into the nearby woods to wait, keeping an eye on the entrance to the kobold lair.
One half hour later the Cleric rouses. Ashheart is able to convince him to beat it and the PC's toss him his dagger to use in cutting himself free. With the Paladin still unconscious they are confident neither of them will be bothering them any time soon, so they set off for the entrance to the lair again.
Entering the short entrance tunnel  they find a large iron gate [1a] guards the entrance to the lair beyond but is being held up about three feet off the tunnel floor by a thick, upright log. From the looks of the gate and the large room beyond the lair the kobolds now inhabit was likely built by someone else in the distance past and has simply been taken over. In the wide tunnel leading up to the gate Ashheart spots murder holes [1b] in one side of the wall and points them out to the others. Peering and listen cautiously they aren't able to detect any movement beyond, though.
The large room  the gate opens into is found empty, with only bits and pieces of rotted wood and few brackets in the walls. An iron bell hangs over the eastern door they entered through but the rope that rang it has long since rotted away. Doors lead west and south, with yipping and yapping sounds coming from the southern door . After consulting quietly, the PC's take position on either side of the door while Ashheart knocks and steps back to fire on whomever opens it. To their chagrin the squeaky voice beyond yells out something none of them can understand. Getting the nod from her teammates, Ashheart knocks again before stepping back to wait.
After a bit of snarling from the other side the door opens revealing a single kobold. Ashheart is able to see another just a few steps behind peering curiously out. Ashheart immediately fires her sling.
Ashheart stone strikes the kobold firmly between the eyes, dropping him instantly. Bearwatcher and Cloven quickly bound into the room to engage the second one but neither is able to land a blow on the little bugger at first. One mighty blow from Bearwatcher soon drops him though and Cloven swings her chain about to lay low the third and last kobold, who's just rousing from a nap in the corner.
After listening for coming trouble and perceiving none, the team searches the room and the corpses, noting the cramped tunnel running along the entryway [3a] in the process. They find nothing of interest but a couple of cheap spears on the kobolds.
Going back outside, to the door to the west, they hear nothing on the other side and venture beyond. There they note the hall runs north and south  but can't make out anything more than a single door opposite them as the entire place is without light of any kind.
Hearing nothing inside, Bearwatcher opens the door and the team peers inside . There they immediately spot a lit furnace, an anvil and a large workbench, upon which a fresh, bloody kobold corpse and several torture implements reside. Near the furnace a large, blood splattered ogre bearing a cleaver turns toward them.
Bearwatcher and Cloven move into the room, preceded by a nice sling shot from Ashheart. Having already developed an effective synergy, the two warriors take up position just out of reach of the ogre, forcing it to come to them. When it roars and does so, Bearwatcher lays a respectable gash along it's side but hardly stops it from laying into Cloven. She, on the other hand, misses her strike and suffers a horrible wound from the ogre's cleaver. She falls, dying.
Ashheart, dismayed, fires a Magic Missile into the brute's chest as Bearwatcher drives his sword between it's ribs in a massive critical strike, felling it.
Ashheart administers her only healing potion on Cloven, rousing her. The team then searches the room and the dead ogre but find nothing of any worth. The team exits the room the way they came and proceed north to the point where the hall quickly turns west with several doors lining the northern side. The team notes the closest doorway , the first on the side of the hall, has no door and is blocked only by a hanging old blanket. Deep snoring can clearly be heard from beyond it. Peer inside Bearwatcher sees another Ogre sleeping in a chair. Motioning to the others to stay put he sneaks inside and performs a coup de grace on the Ogre, killing it.
The next room up the hall has a set of double doors, which are closed . The PC's can already hearing low growling and scuffling from the room and Cloven decides the sounds beyond belong to at least two large creatures, probably two more Ogres. The PC's continue on for now. One more open doorway  (revealing another empty room beyond) occupies that side of the hall before the PC's come to a huge, worn tapestry hung haphazardly across the width of the hall . One door on the southern side of the hall opens into a large kitchen , devoid of anything of interest. Check the two connecting rooms leading from it they find a pantry  (long since picked bare) and a wine cellar  which still contains well over a hundred bottles of wine.
Deciding to continue on past the tapestry they find the hall turns south again with the northern side of the corner holding two lavatory closets, side by side  (recently and excessively used, judging by the smell). A large panel with a handle high upon it occupies the west side of the hallway corner [19a]. The PC's carefully open the panel and are surprised to find the low room beyond full of rotting kobold corpses. Judging that it was probably a water reservoir or something similar in the distant past, they leave it be.
Down the hallway toward the south, where it turns again east (likely returning to where the PC's entered the place) they find two identical doors, both open, leading into a large room . Finding it empty and bearing signs of repeated vandalism against the now destroyed frescoes along the walls, they continue on. In the corner of the hallway, where it turns back east again, they find two more lavatories  set into the walls. Each is in a similar state as those to the north.
Scouting the length of the hallway  back to where they first entered the area they find three doors on the northern side (likely leading into rooms adjacent to the torture chamber and kitchen they found on the opposite side of the lair) and four along the southern side. Deciding first to check all the doors to the north they listen at the first one at hand  and hear yelling and repeated thuds coming from beyond. The door farthest east on the northern side is apparently bolted closed from this side . Nothing can be heard from it.
Still wanting to scout the place as much as possible before engaging in further combat, the PC's decide to check the bolted door. Quietly unlatching it they are surprised to find three ragged humans cowering in the far corner. Judging from the empty weapon racks along the walls, this was once the armory. As the cowering humans recognize that the PC's aren't orcs or ogres they being calling out for them to help. The PC's quickly shush them and take a moment to lead them out through the entrance of the place and point them in the direction of the Cleric and Paladin they left in the woods nearby.
Returning inside they listen at each of the other two doors along the northern wall , hearing the same sounds of yelling and thumping from within. Deciding that both doors must lead into one large room they decide they will enter that room next and then finish scouting this side of the complex. Before doing so, however, they drop back to the large empty room to the west  and look it over, hoping to create a place to fall back to, if needs be.
Examining the remains of the stone table and the low stone altar they find that both can be moved. Working together, Bearwatcher and Cloven are able to block the northern door into the hall with the large, flat stone table top, bracing it with the solid stone altar. With the one entrance left open they decide it will have to do for a fallback spot and proceed back to the door they just left.
Deciding a quick and vicious assault is best, the PC's storm through the door...and find one lone orc, clearly badly wounded, standing amongst the corpses of several others. On spying them, it immediately cries out and flees toward the east door, out into the hall. Giving chase, Bearwatcher is able to catch it and fell it at the entryway  with one mighty blow.
After checking the last of the rooms in this area [5,6,7,8,10] they find nothing of value other than a small number of silver coins on the corpses of the orcs. Their weapons, armor and gear all appear to be substandard. With the last unknown area of the lair being the room they left to the north , they proceed there.
Taking a moment to make whispered plans in the hall outside the team then takes position. Ashheart readies a flask of oil, quietly cutting a section of her wool robe to make a Molotov cocktail and lighting it. Bearwatcher readies his blade and takes up position around the corner to the west. On Cloven's nod Ashheart throws open the doors to the room and the two spy the two very large orcs within. Taking advantage of their surprise, Cloven moves into the room and attacks.
As Ashheart throws open the double doors, Cloven steps in and lashes her chain around the most menacing of the two orc's feet and snatches him to the ground. Ashheart follows up by tossing the oil flask at the fallen orc, setting him ablaze. To their horror the great orc takes to his feet and draws his blade again, completely ignoring the fact that he is on fire, while the second large orc charges Cloven. Taking a terrible slice from the large orc, Cloven disengages and retreats around the corner, followed behind by Ashheart who bravely tosses a Magic Missile into the great orc before fleeing.
With the two orcs hot on Ashheart's heel, Cloven takes up position to Bearwatcher's flank. As the orcs round the corner he steps forward to engage the great orc, taking a jab from it's sword but landing a resounding blow in the process. Cloven likewise follows and attempts to trip the great orc again but misses. Ashheart lights her last Magic Missile into the hulking orc as well.
The fight ends abruptly as the second large orc attempts to join the fight with Bearwatcher and is skewered in the process and Cloven swings her chain into a great orc, gashing open his throat.
Checking over the Orc Boss the team finds a nice bow and long sword (masterwork items, both), looting them. Interestingly they find a plate-sized gold plate engraved with indecipherable glyphs hidden deep and wrapped in a rag in the Captain's pack. Searching the room the two huge orcs occupied, after extinguishing the fire set by Ashheart oil flask, the team searches and finds just over 400sp beneath a layer of junk in an old, rotted chest. They also discover that a covered torch in a sconce on the wall is an everburning torch.
After a quick once-over to insure the whole place is free of evil humanoids, the PC's devote a couple of hours scouring the lair for secrets they may have overlooked. They find nothing. Taking their leave of the place they exit to find the Cleric (still standing over the unconscious Paladin and looking none too happy about it) as well as the prisoners they rescued waiting outside. The prisoners, munching happily on the rations the Cleric has provided them, greet them cheerfully and shower them with thanks. The Cleric, on the other hand, launches into an intense interrogation concerning what the team found inside the lair. At least until Bearwatcher shuts him down.
At the request of the freed prisoners the team escorts them safely back to town, leaving the Cleric to watch over the Paladin and pick through the bones in the lair.
Later that evening, back in Tilwen, the PC's grit their teeth as the Cleric and Paladin triumphantly return brandishing two eye-catching relics they retrieved from the lair; one a glowing war hammer and the other a silvery helm.
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