Vergwild

Outside the Kobold's Lair

You have defeated a group of Kobolds outside their lair - it appears that Lord Pradaig’s map was accurate after all.

You owe a lot of your success thus far to your tactical improvements: more conservative movement and tighter formations. This was a much more diverse group of Kobolds … there were tough, disciplined soldier types mixed with a lot of smaller, less capable enemies. Quite a difference from the two groups that ambushed you on the Kings Road.

After dispatching them, you took a knee and rested, breathing hard and wiping the sweat from your brow in the morning light. The ominous drum beat that rose over the roar of the waterfall died away and left in its place a tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. Syrzan’s observation of red eyes peering back at you from behind a curtain of vines confirmed your feelings that you are being watched.

Now that you have caught your breath, THE QUESTION IS: What next? You are aware that there are more Kobolds inside the cliff somewhere, and they are certainly aware of you. Therefore, it is too late to flee back to Vergwild unassailed. So, what will your strategy be then?

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Kobold Standoff

You’ve followed Lord Padraig’s map to a cliffside waterfall in the forest that appears to be the site of a Kobold lair. You defeated most of the Kobolds that were outside, although at least one got away and ran back inside.

You are now in a tense standoff.

Syrzan has observed red eyes peering at her from the darkness behind the vines that cover the cliff face.

Rhea has discovered the tracks of many kobolds in the area, and believes that she may have also found the footprints of at least one large goblin.

Bralm has discreetly searched the bodies of your fallen enemies and found coin in the amount of 4 gp and 17 sp. Most of it is stamped with Lord Pradaig’s likeness, indicating that it is local money. The remains of the kobold that appeared to be the leader and who was standing within the stone circle (and who Iados dispatched with a massive blast of dark energy) also has a curious tatoo of a skeletal ram’s head on his throat. It reminds Bralm of the necklace that Iados took from the kobold priest (the one who hurled energy orbs at Rhea and ended up breathing Acid breath on her before being defeated). The necklace was black obsidian and depicted a skeletal ram’s head.

The waterfall roars on … the rest of the forest is quiet … awaiting your next move.

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Pitched Battle with Kobolds in their Lair

As the last Kobold slumps to the ground, your attention immediately turns to your downed companions, Iados and Syrzan. While Aloysius and Rhea kneel down and carefully bind their wounds, Bralm uses his divine powers to bathe them in a golden healing light. Within a few minutes, they are able to stand again and move slowly around the damp cave, surveying the damage.

The Kobolds and their Goblin leader, Irontooth, fought ferociously and very effectively to defend their home turf. Like any great adventure, the battle was touch-and-go, and could have easily gone either way at any time. Irontooth’s strategy seems to have been to draw your party as deep into the lair as possible before attacking, presumably to make it easier to surround you, flank you, and to cut off any escape.

Furthermore, Irontooth seemed to use ranged attacks to draw your party apart and separate you, preventing you from aiding one another: to divide and conquer. This strategy was aided by many lucky breaks for the evil Kobold defenders, not the least of which was to immobilize and then re-immobilize the stout dwarf Aloysius. An early knock down of your dwarf cleric Bralm also cut off a key source of strength for your party.

The mobility and lethality of Syrzan’s and Rhea’s attacks as well as Iados’ powerful capabilities were all that remained to hold off the full strength of the Kobold assault. At one point, the Kobolds appeared to think that the tide had turned so decisively in their favor that they tried to capture you alive; for what evil purposes you dare not guess.

Once Bralm and Aloysius were able to rejoin the fight, Irontooth’s brutal strength and total commitment made him the toughest Goblin warrior you have ever encountered by far. You were able to finally defeat him and his Kobold comrades by mustering your combined strength. As the death blows were about to be struck against him, he looked down and cried out, “Kalarel and Lord Orcus, prepare my way!”

And with that, you sent him on his way …

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Bralm Searches Irontooth in the Kobold Lair

Bralm’s Search of the Goblin Irontooth:

You examine Irontooth’s armor and believe it could be worn by a dwarf (with the usual adjustments a blacksmith would make to fit armor to a new wearer). The chain shirt and battleaxe are good quality, especially for a Goblin, but any testing for special properties would take a few minutes and require the attention of the whole party.

You then furtively pluck the small pouch from Irontooth’s belt and walk away from the group, heading to a torchlit area around the corner. As you occasionally glance over your shoulder, you untie the drawstrings and open the bag under the flickering glow of a torch. Inside there is a small silver key and a rolled up piece of parchment.

You unroll the parchment and read the following words (the handwriting is over-inked and angular … as if it were written by a serial killer):

“Irontooth: Be aware, and don’t let your Kobolds slack or I will have all your eyeballs in my SOUP for dinner. My spy in Vergwild suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. Really, it is too late for them now anyway! In just a few more days, I’ll completely open The Rift. Then Vergwild’s people will serve as slaves or worse for all those Lord Orcus sends TO DO MY BIDDING. Remember, serve me tirelessly now and you will be at my right hand when my day comes. (Signed) Kalarel”

You quickly put the parchment and key back into the pouch and tuck it into your chainmail before rejoining the group.

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A Secret Message from Kalarel...

From your examination of the Kobold Lair, you can conclude that the Kobolds had been camped here for a long time. There are bedrolls, scurrying mice, the remains of various small campfires, and a small stash of food. There are no stocks, irons, chains, cages or other signs that prisoners were taken during Kobold raids.

In the northeast corner, there is an area where loot was kept; there is a small locked chest jammed into a hollow in the rock. From the size of the bedroll, that area also appears to have been Irontooth’s quarters.

Your search of the Kobolds turns up coin consisting of 12 gp and 48 sp. Bralm and Aloysius have examined Irontooth’s armor and believe it could be worn by a dwarf (with the usual adjustments a blacksmith would make to fit armor to a new wearer). His chain shirt and battleaxe are good quality, especially for a Goblin, but an extended examination by various party members does not indicate that they have magical powers.

As you are examining Irontooth’s arms and armament, Bralm calls the party’s attention to a small cloth bag that he found on Irontooth. He moves to a torchlit area and loosens its drawstrings in the flickering light. Inside there is a small silver key and a rolled up piece of parchment.

Bralm unrolls the parchment, and you can see by looking over his shoulder that it is a handwritten note. The handwriting is over-inked and angular, as if it were written by a serial killer. Bralm reads the chilling words aloud to you :

“Irontooth: Be aware, and don’t let your Kobolds slack or I will have all your eyeballs in my SOUP for dinner. My spy in Vergwild suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. Really, it is too late for them now anyway! In just a few more days, I’ll completely open The Rift. Then Vergwild’s people will serve as slaves or worse for all those Lord Orcus sends TO DO MY BIDDING. Remember, serve me tirelessly now and you will be at my right hand when my day comes. (Signed) Kalarel”

You all stand in silence, pondering the gravity of what you have just heard.

Your experiences thus far in your characters’ journeys can be summed up as follows:
1st Kobold/King’s Road Ambush: 100 XP each
Vergwild and Lord Pradaig: 50 XP each
2nd Kobold/King’s Road Ambush: 125 XP each
Kobold Lair, Outside: 105 XP each
Kobold Lair, Inside: 250 XP each

TOTAL: 630 XP, more than halfway to 2nd level!

After spending the night in the Kobold Lair recuperating (it is a pretty neat place to hole up—-once you get rid of the Kobolds), you have the option of going straight back to Vergwild or following Iados’ map to the spot marked as a dragon’s tomb.

Finally, it occurs to you that bundling up the kobolds weapons and armor and bringing it all back to Vergwild would be an excellent way to demonstrate that the Kobold problem has been dealt with.

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Irontooth Search and Seizure

Syrzan has carefully checked the area around Irontooth’s bedroll, the hollow containing the locked chest, and the chest itself for any traps (her street savvy past comes in handy). She is satisfied that the area has not been booby trapped.

Aloysius picks up the chest and finds that it is extremely heavy, perhaps filled almost to the top with metal. He can hear a jingling rattle as he turns it this way and that. Bralm then has a look at the lock on the chest and realizes that the small silver key that he found on Irontooth might fit it.

Aloysius sets the chest down. After everyone else backs away, Bralm inserts the key into the lock. As he turns the key, the chest suddenly pops open, and everyone instinctively winces. However, there are no traps or other ill effects. Its owner must have relied on the defense of the lair itself to protect these belongings…

The chest contains stacks and stacks of gold coins. Aloysius then reaches down into the chest and lifts up a brilliant suit of dwarven chain mail; each of the tiny metal rings catches the flickering torch light. Clearly, Irontooth and the Kobolds have claimed at least one dwarven life during their raids. The chainmail is of exquisite quality. Bralm and Aloysius immediately recognize the craftsmanship and value of the armor; the other party members observe that Bralm’s and Aloysius’ dwarven avarice has kicked in and that they both desire the armor intensely.

Iados kicks over the chest of gold to spill the coins across the floor. Everyone sits down on the floor of the cave to count their booty … the final tally is 420 gold Padraigs.

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Dwarven Chain Mail

Aloysius and Bralm take turns trying on the dwarven chain mail and putting it through its paces by doing their normal daily weapons practice while wearing it. They can tell that the armor is clearly magical. Not only does it provide magical protection against enemy blows, it fortifies its wearer against fatigue, loss of morale, and even bodily injury to some extent.

(In exact terms, the armor provides a +1 AC bonus, a +1 bonus on Endurance checks, and as a daily power, allows the wearer to regain hit points as if a healing surge had been spent, as a free action.)

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Bralm's Agenda

That name: Kalarel. This is the one the High Priest Marlah was telling Bralm about. So, Bralm thinks, the church’s spies were right. There really is an evil cult operating in the Borderlands. Bralm resolves to find out everything he can about their activities, and then find and destroy them.

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Dragon Burial Site

You have discovered the site of a dragon buried at the bottom of a crater and were subsequently attacked by the group you encountered there: an evil gnome, his henchmen, and their two guard Drakes. The gnome, Agrid, tried to appear non-hostile at first, then ordered his crew to attack. Syrzan was nearly killed by the Drakes who set upon her with their razor sharp teeth. Bralm then intervened with his healing powers and Syrzan was able to use her Fey Step to get away from the kill zone.

A brief but vicious battle ensued. Aloysius dealt with Agrid and most of the henchmen, while Bralm, Syrzan, Iados and Rhea defeated the guard Drakes and the stone-slinging halfling who roamed the lip of the crater.

Once the battle ended, a search of Agrid turned up an unusual mirror and an amulet with a woman’s picture inside.

Syrzan and Rhea began searching the tents because they heard muffled sounds coming from one of them. In the last tent, Syrzan discovered her former mentor, Douven Stahl, bound and gagged under a blanket. Douven was disoriented but was finally able to describe how he had been forced to travel to the area and aid in the search for the burial ground. He explained that an evil cultist named Kalarel needed the mirror for a ritual that he is working on, and that the amulet originally belonged to him (Douven). Upon hearing that Syrzan intends to go to the Old Keep, he suggests that she take the amulet, and that it will protect her.

(In exact terms, it is a +1 Amulet of Health, and bestows upon its wearer a +1 bonus to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will defense, as well as Resist poison 5.)

Douven explained that he can’t return to his family without putting them in grave danger from Kalarel’s spies. In essence, he can’t go home again, or even show his face in public as long as Kalarel is alive. His intention is to somehow get the message that he is ok back to his family, then to return to the Vergwild area to assist Syrzan and the rest of the party if possible. You have discussed purchasing some supplies for Douven in order to see him on his way.

Ok … Bralm has the mirror … Iados has an excavated dragon skull … Syrzan has rescued her former mentor … next stop Vergwild

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Vergwild Darkening .. First Contact in the Old Keep

Your return to Vergwild has been somewhat shocking, as the character of the town has begun to change rapidly for the worse. Everyone is on edge, the crops are failing, and a sense of impending doom is everywhere. Stories of your defeat of the Kobold raiders spread rapidly about the town, and many villagers have come to see your party as their last and only hope against a fate that is beyond their imaginations.

Your journey to the old Keep began with great fanfare, with the town’s guards even gathering at the main gates to shower you with applause as you set off. You followed the Old Road all day and, upon arrival at the Keep, you made your way through the rubble on a narrow pathway that someone (or something) has maintained. The path lead to a staircase that led down into the darkness.

The stairway consisted of finely crafted stone, perhaps the work of dwarves. A breeze chilled you to the bones as you took each step down. The flicker of torchlight spilled from a room at the bottom of the stairs.

Syrzan entered first, relying on her stealth to conceal and protect her. She found a lone goblin, slumped against a wall, apparently on guard duty but snoozing instead. One quick thrust of her sword dispatched the sleeping goblin, but his cry alerted others nearby.

Aloysius advanced down the stairs to take up a position near Syrzan, but in the process stepped into a trap set by the goblins: a thin plaster cover over a pit filled with a seething swarm of rats, hungry for a meal. The rats immedately set upon Aloysius, and began to climb the rope that Bralm dropped down for him, but the vermin were soon disappointed as Aloysius’ powerful athleticism enabled him to regain his feet and climb right back out of the pit, almost immediately.

A brief battle ensued, and although Aloysius received the worst of the goblins’ counterattack, they were quickly overwhelmed. A search of your fallen enemies revealed that they were carrying quite a bit of loot for such filthy creatures.

Silence has fallen once again. You now have a moment to catch your breath and begin your exploration of the old Keep, to hopefully reveal the secrets that it has kept for over a hundred years.

What is (or was) the Keep? Is a set of catacombs? A tomb? A cathedral? A military outpost? A storage depot? Why was it abandoned? Who (or what) inhabits these dark depths after all these years, and for what purpose? Who is Kalarel, where is he, what is he up to, and how can he be stopped?

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