The Lair of the Goblin Warlord:
An example of an encounter based role playing adventure. In writing this adventure I tried to make it as 'generic' as possible. It can easily be used for any version of Dungeons and Dragons that you wish. You will need to look up statistics for monsters and do a little homework there fleshing things out. Primarily I have given structure and story and characters.
This could also be used for any other RPG system with a little homework on your part.
The first part of the game is in the village of Watford. There are no scheduled encounters in Watford. This is a roleplaying and information gathering segment. The idea here is to get the players interested in getting jobs as road marshals for the local lord.
The village of Watford:
This consists of an inn, a blacksmith, a town constable and an area for a farmer's market that has minor merchants there full time but has many merchants on market day.
Posted around the town are wanted posters for the Goblin Warlord Pitstain.
Pitstain is wanted for stealing livestock, disrupting the general peace, and for crimes upon the high road. The reward for the capture of Pitstain is 35 gold pieces and there is a further bounty for each pair of goblin ears returned to the constable's office of 10 sp per pair.
Players have access to typical items from the player's handbook in the market area so may stock up or replace gear. Master crafted simple weapons are available at the blacksmith.
Also posted around the town are posters recruiting marshals of the road. Applicants who wish to be hired as marshals of the road should report to the innkeeper at the
Tattered Trout Inn.
The adventure hook is to have the players become marshals of the road. Adventure-wise there is very little else going on in this village. Just remember: The hook is in the Trout!!
The Tattered Trout Inn:
The owner of the Tattered Trout is Wendal Watford. On market day the inn is rather busy as Wendal has regular customers among the more rich farmers and merchants who travel to the farmer's market. When it is not market day things are slow and the inn is seldom crowded.
If asked about the jobs for marshals, Wendal can give this information:
1. The person who actually hires the marshalls is the wizard, Merganzer.
2. Wendal can give directions to Merganzer's tower.
3. The duties of the marshals is to keep the roads leading into town safe from wild animals and from the goblin warlord, Pitstain.
4. Marshals make their living via a monthly stipend from Merganzer and from collecting bounties and turning them in to the local constable. The constable is in charge of law and order in the town and is a government official.
5. The constable is not a skilled enough warrior or organizer to keep the roads clear. Also he does not see that as his responsibility. His responsibility is keeping the peace within the area of town where things are often much more peaceful.
6. Anyone interested in the job as road marshall must meet with Merganzer, himself.
Oaken Anvil Blacksmith Shop:
The owner of the Oaken Anvil is Gertrude Hamfist. Gertrude is a mother of four young men who work with her in the smithy. She is also the grandmother of two young children who run errands for the shop.
Gertrude's main business is caring for the horses of the local and visiting farmers as well as taking care of the smithing needs for the town. She does make fine simple weapons and has a selection of all simple weapons of master crafted quality. She does make shields of various types that are wooden shields and perhaps some are covered with hides or metal. She and her boys do not make armor or other adventuring supplies. These items would however be easily found in the market place.
Gertrude will not stand for someone wasting her time but she is not unfriendly.
What she can tell you about the town is this:
1. There is money to be made on market day. Watford is the busiest market in the region.
2. The constable is old and slow. He wasn't really that great when he was young and spry either.
3. The inn is a safe place to stay and Wendal is a fair trader. He is not a cheat.
4. There hasn't been a road warden who has stayed alive for quite a while. Pitstain and his tribe have been in the area for generations. Over the last few seasons they have become quite aggressive. This is unusual. Perhaps it is because Pitstain is a new chieftain and is trying to prove something.
5. Merganzer is the lord of this region. He keeps to himself in his tower and keeps his nose in his books too much. He hires the road wardens but few of them ever stay around and none of them have done much good.
6. Since summer has ended Pitstain and his raiders have become more and more aggressive. Since the last market day of the season is coming soon I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to raid the village itself.
Constable MacGruder is a portly gentleman in his 50's. He lives on a stipend from the king. Although he might be a lazy constable and quick to point out that his jurisdiction stops at the edge of the fairgrounds he is a shrewd man. He has kept his job as constable for the better part of two decades and knows how to keep the peace.
If trouble starts he will send a runner to the gate house at Merganzer's tower where the runner will get the help from the guards at the gate house. MacGruder will keep an eye on the trouble makers but will not make a move until the guards have arrived.
Once the guards have arrived he will then dispatch the guards to break heads. If the trouble makers are subdued he will place them in the cells in the constable's office and start negotiating fines for release for minor crimes. If the prisoners commit capital crimes he will dispatch a messenger for transfer and allow a magistrate to take over.
If the guards fail to subdue the troublemakers then MacGruder will leave town and seek greater help from a neighboring city. He has scrolls from Merganzer that cast a powerful ranged version of the Arcane Mark spell that will mark the trouble makers as criminals so they can be properly recognized and dealt with when sufficient force is sent their way.
This is the news about the area that MacGruder is willing to share:
1. Pitstain keeps out of the village so he is not my problem.
2. I will pay a bounty for the head of Pitstain and also for each pair of Goblin ears.
3. If trouble comes to this village then that trouble will be matched with greater trouble. From the king's own regiment if needed.
4. Pickpocketing will only be allowed on market day and only by licensed pickpockets bearing the proper warrants from the constable. Warrants cost 5 GP and 20% of the take.
5. Murder, rape, assault with weapons or spells, kidnapping and unlicensed pickpocketing are punishable by hanging.
News about the area that MacGruder will not be keen to share:
1. Burglary may also be licensed in advance if he gets a deep enough cut of the proceeds.
2. He will thoroughly verify all bounties before paying out any money. Too many people have tried to go into the business of 'manufacturing' goblin ears for him to open his purse strings too quickly. He will ask questions about the warpaint and markings of the goblins and these questions must be answered precisely before he will pay out. Although he does nothing about the goblins he knows quite a bit about them from being a long term resident of Watford.
The journey to Merganzer's Tower:
Merganzer's tower is a few miles outside of the village. It is on a road through a forest and away from the farms or any help from the city.
Encounter -- A Bear in the Road:
About half way to the tower the group will come upon a bear that is in the road that stands over the fresh kill of a deer.
There will also be one bear cub per each two players.
The bear will stand its ground and be aggressive. It will charge the group in defense of its kill.
Should any player attack a bear cub before the bear itself is killed or subdued then the bear will go into a frenzy and gain bonuses to its attacks and damage.
Encounter -- The Gate House:
Merganzer's Tower is surrounded by a sturdy stone wall. In the wall is a gate and it is protected by a gate house. Inside the gate house are soldiers hired by Merganzer.
The soldiers are used to any scruffy ruffian who is full of themselves applying for the job of being a road marshall. The captain of the guard has left standing orders that applicants must prove themselves in order to apply for the job. Too many underprepared people have been wasting his master's precious time.
There are two possible trials. The first is a trial by combat. The second is a trial by deed. The players are allowed to choose which trial they wish to complete.
Trial by combat:
The players choose a member of the party to duel the captain of the guard. This is a duel to measure skill and not a duel to the death. The captain is a veteran soldier and trained fighter. He is also well equipped. He is wearing plate mail, he carries a shield and uses a one handed axe in combat. He also has his cloak of office, The Cloak of Merganzer, which gives a +1 to reflex savings throws.
The Captain will yield to the other dueler if he is below half of his health. The dueler may yield at any time. If things turn mean and hostile then the party is most likely out of a job and the guards from the gatehouse will pour out and settle accounts. The Captain will fight fairly and honorably.
The Captain has no news to share. If he wins the duel, he will laugh and taunt and shame the loser. If he loses the duel he will direct the party to his master, Merganzer, in the central tower.
Trial by deed.
If the party chooses trial by deed then the deed is simple to explain. With the gates locked and the guards in the guard house posted and on duty a party member must infiltrate past the walls and ring the bell at the door to the tower.
This is not a combat challenge. Killing guards will be considered cheating and the guards will once again pour out of the guard house and settle accounts if the players are detected cheating.
Any guards who 'mysteriously go missing' will indeed be missed and this will also count as cheating and bring bad stuff down on the heads of the party.
This trial will be conducted honorably by the Captain of the guard. Players spotted prior to the completion of the objective will have the opportunity to escape and evade. The object is to ring the bell not to kill anyone.
Meeting with Merganzer:
Assuming that the players have completed one of the trials they will meet with Merganzer.
Upon taking the job as a marshall of the road each character will receive 5 gp monthly stipend in advance, a Cloak of Merganzer (with a +1 to reflex saves) as a mark of their employment and if needed they may revceive a master crafted simple or martial weapon as a further token from their Lord.
Merganzer has the following information about the area.
1. Pitstain is a new chieftain of the goblins and since he has risen to power the usually wily but peaceful goblins have become aggressive. They have raided travelers and some remote farm houses.
2. As winter is approaching the goblins have become more bold than ever.
3. Their favorite ambush spot is a bridge over the gorge of the Watford river a few miles down the road.
4. Watford the innkeeper is a good man and a fair one.
5. Smith Hamfist is a fine craftsperson and undoubtably the reason the village of Watford is so prosperous.
6. Constable MacGruder is probably the biggest thief in the region but he keeps the peace.
Encounter -- Battle of Watford Bridge:
At the advice of Merganzer the party heads to the bridge over the gorge of the Watford river.
At the bridge they will meet the Goblin Warlord Pitstain and his raiders.
The raiders are in full warpaint and battle gear. Their weapons are crude and with the exception of Pitstain will consist mostly of pointy sticks (short spears) and clubs. The goblin raiders wear tribal totems and garb but this is not considered to be armor.
Pitstain has a suit of goblin sized hide armor, a wooden shield and a short sword.
The raiders will fight on the bridge. There are four goblins for each party member. They will fight in ranks of four across. Pitstain will fight in the back. The goblins will not retreat and will fight to the last 'man'. Goblins will not advance off the bridge unless the entire party starts attacking from range. Pitstain will shout encouragement to them and will not allow any to retreat. Once he is the last goblin, he will stand and fight. He will not retreat.
The point of this fight is for every goblin to stand and fight and lose. And to fight to the death and to the last man.
Aftermath of the Battle of Watford Bridge:
In Pitstain's personal effects there is a map marking the roads into and out of Watford. Also on the map is Merganzer's tower, Watford bridge, Snell's Swamp and a cave in the hills on the edge of the swamp.
Now is a good logical time to take a break if players need one. It is also a good time for a break in the session if players need one.
Players may also wish to return to town and re-outfit themselves and cash in their bounties with the constable or report to Merganzer.
This adventure will continue after Grim Darkness Pod-Cast #3 when we discuss running games in the "bread crumbs" method.