The Reclamation of Nentir Vale

Kobold Hall, part 2

Weary after their battles, the intrepid adventurers decided to encamp within Kobold Hall, relying on Tweep’s keen elven senses to alert them to any danger. Unfortunately, kobolds are very stealthy, and a small group of them attempted an ambush on the sleeping party. Tweep shouted a warning in time for most of the group to get on their feet to meet the attack, but Durthin, being a sound sleeper, did not wake immediately. As kobolds rushed in, many in the party panicked and began a retreat, but stalwart Durthin, once he was roused, met the monsters head-on to guard the group’s reorganization.

Durthin’s warhammer made quick work of two of the kobolds, while Adran’s spells did for a third. Velarkis seized on the sudden change in fortune, dashing toward the small group attempting to hold onto a retreat corridor. Two sling-wielding kobolds were unable to deter her from tearing into the guard drake that protected them. While Tweep eliminated the last remaining kobold from the initial wave, Durthin joined Velarkis in her assault on the guard drake. The two remaining kobolds, realizing that their ambush had failed utterly, retreated back down the steps into a deeper part of the dungeon, just as Velarkis finished off the drake.

The group briefly considered pursuing the fleeing kobolds, but concluded that their decisive victory would serve to prevent further attacks. They returned to the camp and finished resting up.

In the morning, the party once again pushed onward into the depths of Kobold Hall’s crypts. The next room had been converted into a sort of sports field, where the kobolds played a strange game called “Skull-skull,” which involved a large rock tethered by a long rope to the ceiling. The rock was covered in glue, and the object was to swing it toward any of several piles of skulls stacked atop the sarcophagi in the center of the room. A point was scored for every skull that stuck to the rock long enough for it to return to the raised platforms from which the rock was swung.

The two slingers who had survived the previous night’s ambush attempted to use the rock to knock the adventurers into a sludge-filled pit in the midst of the sarcophagi. They were unsuccessful, and they quickly fell to the group’s missile weapons and spells.

Finally, the party approached one of their objectives: the lair of the kobolds’ leader. Throwing caution to the wind, they charged into a large room, arrows and spells flying. In no time, the kobolds had set off their final trap: a large boulder crashed into the room, rolling around in a groove cut into the floor. In addition, the kobold leader’s pet wind drake, Velarkis’ arrow in its shoulder, managed to snatch Adran’s wand out of his hand, depriving the wizard of his focus. Tweep stepped in and knocked the drake right out of the air with a single blow of her longsword, allowing Adran to retrieve his wand swiftly.

Durthin evaded the rolling boulder by scaling a wall in the center of the room, allowing him to engage a kobold who was wielding a sling from atop the wall. In the meantime, Velarkis bashed in a door so the rest of the group could hide while the boulder rolled by. As he dodged into the room, Adran blasted the kobold leader with a ray of frost, slowing it down and preventing it from entering the battle quickly enough to make a difference. Velarkis, Adran and Tweep slaughtered the single kobold trapped in the small room with them, then emerged after the boulder had rolled by to engage the kobold leader’s bodyguard.

Durthin jumped down off the wall behind the bodyguard, distracting it so that Velarkis could deliver a death blow just as the kobold leader finally got in position to begin casting spells. Tweep called on her Feywild heritage to teleport directly behind the kobold, and Durthin turned to face it, forcing it to pay attention to him while the warlord attacked from behind. The kobold priest could not deal with two powerful warriors simultaneously and expired.

Searching the room and the kobolds, Adran was overjoyed to discover that the priest had a magic wand far superior to his own. He also found a crude note written in Draconic, which Velarkis translated as instructions about how to pierce an illusion that hid a secret door in the room. Evidently, the priest could not remember the instructions, so he wrote them down, entirely defeating the purpose of hiding the door to begin with.

Eager to find out what the kobolds were hiding, Velarkis opened the door and was met by a blast of frigid air. Quipping about how ridiculous it would be to find a dragon in the basement, Adran led the group downward yet again to a natural cavern. A shallow pond in the center of the cave was frozen solid, and Adran realized the depth of his error as a small white dragon attempted to ambush the group.

Keen eyesight and the dragon’s bulk prevented most of the adventurers from being surprised as the dragon hurtled out of the darkness toward them. Adran’s new wand flashed red, and a huge ball of fire materialized between the dragon and the party. Velarkis threw herself in its path, her swords whirling, and Tweep drew up beside her. The dragon roared its challenge, but the stalwart party was unimpressed, meeting its approach with steely eyes.

The dragon spewed its icy breath at the warriors before it, but both Tweep and Velarkis avoided it handily. Supported by Tweep’s shouts of encouragement, Velarkis carved huge pieces of flesh from the dragon’s body. Durthin, recovering from his surprise, stepped forward to Tweep’s other side and joined the fight. Meanwhile, Adran sank into a trance, sending gouts of flame from the sphere he had summoned at the dragon’s flanks.

The dragon, assessing its foes, decided to attack the lightly armored Velarkis rather than dealing with either of the two metal-clad warriors. Its claws raked over Velarkis, but she bore up under the pain and struck again and again, each time exacting a terrible price in blood.

More swiftly than could be expected, the dragon was slain, and our heroes were at last victorious. A search of the cavern turned up a chest containing the dragon skin wanted by Teldorthin, a magic longsword, a note from someone named “Irontooth” and some money.

The Irontooth note is written in draconic and reads as follows: “Your skull kickers raids on trains to winterhaven have made things easyer for us. our spy says that the adventur collectors are coming. you should kill them befor they get strong. then we are allies and help each other. send kobold to blood eater tribe when adventerers are dead. Irontooth”

Descent Into Kobold Hall

The Adventurers’ Collective: a fledgling organization of heroes with a mandate to help reclaim border land for “King” Tynian, who has proclaimed himself the new King of Nerath. Few communities recognize Tynian’s authority, as his military sway ends less than a day’s ride from his own walls, but the Collective is generally well-received and supported.

The Collective has established a chapterhouse outside the small city of Fallcrest, and a small band of adventurers has been dispatched from Nerath to join the dwarves Douven and Durthin, who have spent the last two months outfitting the place. Douven is an experienced explorer who retired from his life of adventure to settle in Fallcrest with his wife and train a new generation of heroes. Durthin the Headstrong is his nephew. Several other prospective adventurers have already gathered at the chapterhouse to learn from Douven, but none are quite ready for the tasks the Collective needs to undertake.

Tweep McRoar, an eladrin warlord, led the contingent from Nerath through Fallcrest to the doors of the Collective’s new enclave, only to find the brand new building a smoldering ruin. Adran, a half-elf wizard, and Velarakis, a dragonborn ranger immediately set about searching the surrounding area while Tweep gathered the story of what had happened from Durthin.

The chapterhouse had just been attacked by an unusually aggressive band of kobolds. The kobolds had set traps around the area and on all the doors and windows of the building, then set it on fire. As adventurers fled the burning structure, the traps killed or wounded most of them, and the kobolds ambushed the rest. Only Durthin survived relatively unscathed and vowed to join the rest of the party in tracking down and exterminating the vermin who had wrought such destruction.

The group immediately elected to pursue the kobolds into the Cloak Wood, leading to the first skill challenge, which was interrupted after the first two successful tracking rolls by an ambush from the kobolds’ rear-guard. Since I had only four characters (including my NPC dwarf), I’d cut some monsters out of the Kobold Hall encounters. I relocated some of them here.

As the group approached a small gully through which the trail ran, Tweep spotted a flicker of movement behind a tree upslope. She decided to investigate and got the jump on a kobold who was watching the gully. The rest of the group piled on to that one poor kobold, side-stepping the trap placed on the trail. The kobold tried to run away, but a Ray of Frost slowed him down so that missile fire could finish him off right before the other kobold and a guard drake joined the fray from behind the group. The drake got a powerful hit in on Durthin but went down swiftly thanks to Velarakis’s warlord-powered sneak attack Jaws of the Wolf (1d6 from the short sword, +1d6 for Hunter’s Quarry, +2d6 for Sneak Attack, +3 STR, +3 from Tweep’s Furious Smash, +1d8 from the longsword, +3 STR). Even her mediocre damage roll took half the drake’s hit points with that single attack. After that, it was simple mop-up duty to finish off both drake and kobold. They never discovered the trap.

After recovering from the battle, the ranger resumed tracking the rest of the kobolds but lost the trail. We spent two days roaming around the forest in vain before heading back to Fallcrest to gather information. The players wisely decided to split up and happened to pick all three of the plot hook sites to investigate. So now they know they can get gold from the Lord Warden for bringing back proof that they’ve killed the kobolds’ leader, gold from the local dwarven smith, Teldorthan, for returning his stolen dragon hide, and use of a teleportation circle for bringing information to the local wizard, Nimozaran. Both the Lord Warden and the wizard also knew where Kobold Hall is. They also made contact with a tiefling noble who wants to find a place to build his new manor. In exchange for doing a few odd jobs for him from time to time, he’ll give them free lodging.

Armed with their new knowledge, the party headed back out into the woods to locate and invade Kobold Hall. They descended into the warrens beneath the ruins and immediately spotted a kobold. Tweep foolishly rushed in first, drawing fire from two sling-wielding kobolds and attention from a spear-wielder. Durthin and Velarakis swiftly intervened, however, pinning the melee kobold between them and making short work of it. In the meantime, Adran traded missile fire with one of the slingers. The other spear-wielder caught Velarakis in the back just once before she killed the first kobold she’d engaged, and she turned and did for the second with only two blows. Tweep teleported behind the other slinger, forcing it into the open where Durthin was able to reduce it to so much paste.

Only two kobolds waited in the next room, confidently hiding behind a pair of hidden traps. Unfortunately for the kobolds, Adran’s sharp eyes spotted two of the trigger stones immediately, allowing the group to move up one side of the room and clear it out quite efficiently. They then spent a bit of time smashing up the dart traps and extracting the darts before setting up camp for an extended rest.

Unwise to try to rest in the dungeon, but smart to try to prevent the kobolds from setting any more traps. We broke for the night at that point.

I ran this session using MapTool on my wife’s (Tweep) laptop, which was connected via HDMI to our high-def TV. I displayed a second instance of MapTool on the television while keeping the GM’s view on the laptop screen. The players liked the nice visuals, and I liked being able to keep track of the combat so efficiently. It saves time, space, and expense, since I don’t have to concern myself with printing costs, buying tiles, drawing maps on the fly, or minis.

For combat stats tracking, I’m remaining low-tech. Each combatant gets an index card with a stat block written on one side, and its gear and xp value on the other. I write the initiative rolls in the corner, put them in order, and then just go through the stack each round. It takes a bit more prep time, but it saves so much work at the table that I find it more than makes up for it.

We played for about three and a half hours, and we got through three combat encounters, a skill challenge, five short social encounters, and the time wandering around in the forest. We were slowed somewhat by having to look up rules now and again, and by fleshing out some combat stats on the fly. That’s about on par with the Star Wars game I used to run, so I’m guessing that 4th edition will run quite quickly by the time we get the wrinkles smoothed out. And it’s lightning-quick compared to Rolemaster.


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