Hard Core Adventurers- KOTS 20.06 The Cathedral of Shadows


KOTS Part 8: The Goblin Chieftain’s Lair.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

Tonka with his +1 Healing Brooch.​


Around the corner is a rough-hewn table and chairs; close by a pair of goblins, both dressed in leather armour and clutching spears, each with a quiver of javelins on their backs. The pair seems to be deep in conversation, although Jimmy guesses they ought to be keeping an eye out for miscreants like, well... him.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy listens and learns]


“So Jumbatty say we should eat sausage only.”
“Sausage only?”
The first goblin nods.
“No bun with sausage.”
The first goblin shakes his head.
“Sausage but no bun?”
The first goblin nods again.
“Jumbatty say we should eat much sausage- but no bun.”
It's the second goblin's turn to nod.

Behind Jimmy Gokan hisses, the halfling turns and gestures for the half-orc to remain silent, Jimmy wants to hear more of the goblins’ conversation, he's intrigued.

“And Jumbatty lose weight?”
The first goblin nods- enthusiastically.
“Jumbatty lose plenty weight.” It adds
“And Jumbatty eat plenty sausage?” The second goblin enquires.
“Plenty sausage.” The first concurs.

Jimmy is amazed.

Gokan hisses again.

“Shut up hissing...” Jimmy whispers back.

“He call it sausage no bun diet.”
“Sausage no bun diet.” The second goblin agrees.
Both goblins nod.

Jimmy finds himself nodding too.

Suddenly there's a screaming sound from behind the halfling- Gokan charges...

Gokan smashes both of his axes in to the first goblin warrior, who is caught completely off-guard, still nodding along to his compatriot’s wise words. The goblin staggers back, one arm slashed beyond use, its ribs broken and chest pouring with blood.

[sblock=Goblin Warrior]

Goblin Warrior
Skirmisher Level 1



Gokan’s opening assault- Charge Howling Strike and Furious Assault hits for 30 points of damage, the Goblin has 32 hit points- not good, for the Goblin.


The forlorn creature slips and slithers on its own blood, almost falls.

“Sausage...” The goblin states, and then sprouts a dagger from its chest- Jimmy's vicious dagger.

The goblin is dead before it hits the floor.

“...with no bun”, Jimmy and the remaining goblin state in unison.

Behind the halfling the other adventurers rush forward, closer to the action.

[sblock=Picture- Not good odds...]


Gokan shakes his head at Jimmy, screams again and rushes at the second goblin, which dodges back- its spear before it, but too late. The half-orc's hand axe smashes through the spear, while Gokan's vanguard battleaxe smashes through the goblin- making an incredible mess of the small humanoid’s skull, almost shattering in to a thousand pieces.

The bloody goblin flops to the floor.


Gokan's second Charge Howling Strike is a Crit for 38 hit points damage- he's a terror that Gokan.


“Goblin come,” Gokan states, and points to a set of thick curtains close-by which block what looks to be an exit to the east. Another set of equally thick curtains blocks a second exit- just to the south of the first.

At the exact same moment the second set of curtains are ripped open, a goblin stands in the opening, a long lit passage beyond the creature, leading to an open door.

Gokan quickly shifts so that he's pointing at the right set of curtains.

The goblin takes in the situation, screams- “Breeyark!” And then rushes forward and spears Hal.

Hal notices movement further down the corridor, there's another goblin down there.

“Kill it!” Jimmy screams, and launches his dagger- the lone goblin cutter dodges the vicious blade- and then for good measure shimmies to avoid Tonka's wild swing.

[sblock=Goblin Cutter]

Goblin Cutter
Minion Skirmisher Level 1


“Breeyark!” The goblin screams again.

And is answered by the noise of charging feet- here come the reinforcements.

[sblock=Picture- Reinforcements]


The curtains to the northern most passage are ripped down, more goblins; more cutters- the creatures rush in screaming and stabbing. In the midst of the wild melee Tonka suddenly clasps his hand to his chest, the dragonborn falls- a nasty looking crossbow bolt protruding from his armour.

[sblock=Picture- Tonka is down]


Jimmy blanches and gulps.


Tonka is reduced to -2 hit points, from full. Balgron the Fat's Crossbow attack, a Crit, deals 33 hit points damage. The PCs are shocked and a little terrified- I did say it was going to be hard core didn't I?


Hal is speared again.

Three ghostly hands rush out, aimed at the nearest three goblin cutters. Sigur attempts to clear his colleagues a little space to work in- the dwarven invoker grumbles and mumbles, and... and all three ghostly appendages fail to find their targets.

“Dirty Goblins!”

The dwarf screams and scurries forward, he quickly crouches next to the fallen Tonka and rips the offending crossbow bolt free, which causes a geyser of blood. Sigur slaps the gusher down; bandages ready in hand, he tucks as much wadding as he can find inside the dragonborn's punctured breast plate- including a pair of his old socks, and then slaps Tonka in the face as hard as he can.

“Get up you good for nothing bloody ugly lizard!” Sigur screams.

Tonka opens his eyes.

“Where am I?” The dragonborn asks.
“You're in the bloody way...” Sigur screams back and then pulls the dragonborn out of the fracas.
“Thank the platinum dragon, you saved my...” Tonka starts, but suddenly stops when Sigur, having dragged him out of trouble, duly drops him- THUNK.

The dragonborn grimaces and clutches at the back of his head.

“Get up!” Sigur adds and kicks Tonka for good measure.

A moment later Jimmy, mid-grin, takes an arrow to the chest- Balgron it seems has a friend with him in the corridor, beyond the cutters.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy gets shot]


“We must struggle to overcome our foe.” Hal declares, as far as battle-cries go its needs a little work.
“We are struggling...” Jimmy adds.

Hal's greatsword swings, and two of the goblin cutters fall.

A third goblin warrior rushes in to the chamber from the northern passage, sights Gokan with a javelin and throws. The half-orc screams as the missile skewers him piercing his right thigh, he staggers forward but the goblin as swiftly retreats.

Another cutter rushes in; slashes at Gokan- only the sudden appearance of a spectral shield bearing the markings of the platinum dragon prevent the half-orc from taking another hit.

And yet another goblin strides from a side chamber in to the southern passage, an odd looking goblin- wearing only a hooded cloak and a loin cloth, with a battleaxe in one hand. The strange goblin dances and struts on the spot making odd sounds.

[sblock=Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet]

Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet
Minion Controller Level 1


“Mag-LU-Buy-IT! Mag-LU-Buy-IT! Mag-LU-Buy-IT!” It chants and screams, then punches the air before it with its free hand- twice.

Cinder black fists instantly form with each punch, zoom unerringly towards their targets- the first smashes in to Hal, the second Jimmy, both stagger but manage to stay on their feet. Then, at the same time, the pair realise they are somehow prevented from moving, their feet are rooted to the stone floor.


Hal and Jimmy are both bloodied, as well as being Immobilised.


The goblin acolyte of Maglubiyet capers and dances.

“We're in bad shape...” Sigur whispers, to himself, and looks behind him- at the exit.

[sblock=Picture- Things look bad...]


Another goblin cutter charges in to the fray, aiming for Gokan- the half-orc is too quick however, and cuts the creature down before it can get close in.

Gokan whirls forward, his axes blazing a path through the goblin crowd, or else... Gokan spins again, and again... the effect is- nothing. In a mad flurry of attacks Gokan fails to connect once, the goblins stand firm, no matter how loud the half-orc howls.

[sblock=Picture- The Goblins hold the line]


Jimmy can't move, but he can kill- his vicious dagger spirals out, once- thudding in to the closest goblin cutter and sending it flopping down to the cold stone floor. Then again, as soon as the blade reappears in his tiny hands the halfling sends it spinning.

The vicious blade thumps in to the acolyte of Maglubiyet, the creature hops from foot to foot, clearly unhappy.

The opposition artillery reply- not one, but two, crossbow bolts ping and ricochet from the ceiling, missing the adventurers by a good margin, it's difficult to tell who the attacks were aimed at.


Balgron the Fat misses Hal with his Crossbow with a '3', spends an Action Point and rolls... a '2'- some days the dice just hate me, still nice Crit on Tonka earlier.


“Hold the line you bunch of dogs!” Balgron shouts out and scurries back in to the chamber at the end of the corridor.

[sblock=Goblin Chieftain- Balgron the Fat]

Goblin Chieftain- Balgron the Fat
Elite Lurker Level 5


Tonka is quickly to his feet, “Bahamut preserve...” he whispers as his wounds heal over, the dragonborn takes a moment to assay the situation. Tonka grins, and then screams- “to the DEATH!”

He charges in to the acolyte, a weak hit but a hit nevertheless... the mad looking goblin however is keen to get away.

Gokan meantime is sliced again, one of the cutters he's facing manages to get through the half-orc's defences.

“If you want something doing...” Sigur grumbles, and yet another trio of ghostly hands suddenly appear and rush to their targets- the nearest goblin cutter falls, and the acolyte of Maglubiyet survives by will alone.

“Come on! Come on you lazy good for nothing fools!” Sigur urges, almost friendly in his admonishment.

An arrow thumps in to the ceiling above Tonka's head, but the dragonborn doesn't care, he continues to slash and hack at the acolyte which blocks and parries with its battleaxe.

[sblock=Goblin Archer]

Goblin Archer
Skirmisher Level 1


Hal, still rooted to the spot, forlornly searches for something, anything... the metal man's eyes light up, he snatches a dagger from Jimmy's belt and flings it at the acolyte- a spectacular miss, although very close to taking Tonka out.

Hal shrugs- throwing things is not his forte.

The effect is enough however; the goblin acolyte of Maglubiyet ducks another of Tonka's ill-timed attacks and then scurries off- back in to the chamber at the end of the passage, its master's lair.

Hal and Jimmy are able to move again- the pair grin.

“Come on- we've got them on the run...” Tonka screams back at his colleagues, grinning- then turns back to see a new arrival, a goblin warrior which moments earlier managed to evade Gokan's attack.

The creature launches another javelin, this time at the dragonborn, Tonka staggers as he attempts to rip the missile from his gut, the wound pours with blood. He staggers.

[sblock=Picture- The Goblins give as good as they get]



Tonka is back to being bloodied, actually reduced to 7 hit points, after taking 15 hit points damage from the Goblin Warrior’s Javelin attack.


Gokan faces off against the two goblin cutters, the fight is furious and yet, and yet the half-orc is flailing and failing to land a single blow- the goblins have the normally murderous half-orc tied down.

Jimmy rushes forward to support Tonka, throws out his dagger again at the retreating goblin warrior, and again fails to find his target.

Balgron appears in the doorway, aims and...

“Troll turds!” The goblin chief screams and retreats back in to the chamber.

“Bahamut Preserve!” Tonka screams for the last time, and then rushes in to the goblin warrior- longsword and shield to the fore, hoping to smash the creature through the doors and in to the chamber beyond. Somehow the goblin manages to parry and deflect the blow- stopping Tonka in his tracks.

Sigur, thank Erathis, heads over to the northern passage, spies Gokan still fighting for his life, the dwarf mumbles and invokes- duel thunderclaps burst and both of the cutters are sent sprawling.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur to the rescue]


“Get a bloody move on...” Sigur shouts at Gokan, who looks back and nods, but the dwarf is gone- heading back to the southern passageway- just in time.

“Push forwar...” Sigur starts and then takes an arrow to the chest.


Sigur is bloodied.


“Right, that bloody does it.” The dwarf declares, staggering slightly.

Hal meantime lumbers forward, straight for the goblin warrior- swings hard with his greatsword, not once but twice- the first attack cuts through the goblin's defences, and its right arm. The second decapitates the creature.

“Bahamut!” Tonka observes, and gingerly slaps Hal on the shoulder.
“Affirmative.” Hal concurs, and then is hit by another of the cinder black fists, the metal man rocks on his feet a moment, and then suddenly finds himself once again stuck to the spot.
“It seems I am somehow affixed to this position.” Hal declares. “Perhaps you could render me some assistance...”


Alas Lee, who plays Hal, actually added some words that are unrepeatable even among grown ups- Hal is Immobilised, oh and bloodied again.


But the metal man’s words are lost in Tonka's scream- “Gokan!”

Gokan reacts, and comes rushing forward- not quite knowing where the fight is at, so disorientated and out of sorts is the half-orc that he fails to find any enemies to menace with his axes. He does however end his wandering by flinging the doors to the chamber ahead wide open- and presenting himself as an ideal target to all within.

Jimmy scurries forward too, taking a second to get his breath back en route, he feels better for the moment away from the chaos.

The halfling grins at Gokan, who looks a little confused, and then turns to grin at the enemies ahead of the pair. Jimmy follows the half-orc’s gaze and suddenly looks less impressed.

A second later Gokan stumbles and suddenly hiccups up a great gout of blood, a crossbow bolt protruding from his chest. The half-orc grips tight to the door, which swings open slightly, almost taking him off his feet.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan is out of sorts]



Gokan is bloodied, actually reduced to 3 hit points. It’s going to go to the wire.


The chamber ahead is a simple bedroom, a curtained area to the south, the drapes pulled back to reveal a grinning Balgron the Fat, who swiftly reloads his crossbow, and then steps back.

Tonka steps in to the chamber, flailing wildly with his longsword, all to no great effect. The dragonborn suddenly lurches; shifts his head back- makes some sort of throaty gargling noise and then breathes out a fan of violent blue-white lightning.

The air slowly clears, the goblins within the chamber scour themselves, and then each other, looking for blast marks- the pair emerge completely unscathed.

Back behind the curtain, Balgron giggles- “Kill the fools!” The goblin chief simply states.

Sigur scurries forwards- a good way down the passageway, grumbling and mumbling all the while- another pair of ghostly hands dart forward, and deliver death.

At least to the already staggering acolyte of Maglubiyet whose smoking body thumps on to the cold stone floor. The goblin archer is briefly scorched by the second hand's radiant touch.

Sigur quickly forgets his wounds, and grins- the tide has quite definitely turned.

The goblin archer however is not for giving up, it casts aside its bow- draws its shortsword and slashes and cuts Tonka; the dragonborn staggers, close to unconsciousness again.


Tonka is bloodied, for the third time in this fight.


Hal meanwhile, recharges his batteries and grips his greatsword tight to him- he’s going nowhere for the moment. Even when his feet become free, the metal man is learning caution it seems, or else he’s frightened.

[sblock=Picture- Just two to go...]


Gokan steps forward, screaming all the while, and swinging his axes in a furious arc. The goblin archer ducks the first blade and parries the second, knocking the half-orc slightly off-balance in the process.

Gokan shakes his head, unsure of exactly what is going wrong...

The goblin meanwhile grins- the half-orc is an easy target, it slashes with its shortsword and at the last moment falls short as Jimmy's vicious dagger tags the creature, the goblin gives ground- opportunity gone.

From the southern section of the chamber comes a massive grinding sound- stone on stone, Tonka can just see, although the curtains that surround the bed slightly obscure his vision. A section of the wall suddenly shifts hard right, disappears from view to reveal another passage, unlit at present...

“He's getting away!” Tonka screams and waves his longsword vaguely in the direction of the newly revealed secret door.

“Hold the line. I shall fetch the dirty demons...” Balgron the Fat shouts and then scurries out of sight.

“He's getting away...” Tonka screams again and slashes hard at the goblin before him, another wound but the creature holds station, although it’s almost spent. Gokan shuffles forward in the confusion, effectively cutting the goblin off from its master.

The goblin archer however is not done, it cuts back- wounding the dragonborn again, Tonka breathes hard- aware that he is almost done for, and has already expended all of his healing powers.

Hal, newly invigorated, charges and smashes in to the creature, slicing through the goblinoid's defence and almost cutting the creature in two, the remains of the goblin flop to the cold stone floor.

The way is clear.

Sigur rushes in...

“Not so fast you dirty fat bloody goblin”, the dwarf wheezes as he struggles forward, bruised and battered. Sigur spies the goblin ahead, down a set of stairs in the secret passage, Balgron is manipulating some mechanism in the stone wall at the end of the corridor.

“Another secret door...” Sigur shouts back, providing a running commentary.

“Come on you lazy arses!” The dwarf adds, helpfully.

[sblock=Picture- He’s getting away...]


Gokan is the first to react, the half-orc grins at Jimmy, “leave him to me brother...” Gokan states, and then rushes off after Balgron. The athletic and agile half-orc takes the stairs in great bounds and... oh, misjudges his last leap and almost slams in to the paved stone floor.

Gokan recovers quickly and half-charges, half-stumbles on- brandishing both of his axes menacingly. Balgron is still hard at work trying to make some unseen mechanism work.

Gokan screams, his howling charge, and Balgron spins around, a short club with a nail in it in the goblin chief's hands.


The nail pierces Gokan's left shoulder.


Balgron wrenches the weapon free of the half-orc. Gokan drops to the floor unconscious.


Gokan is reduced to -10 hit points. He's not had a great run in this encounter- a good 75% of his rolls have been '5' or below, although no critical failures to talk about.


Balgron turns back and thumps the stone wall, which slides open, the goblin darts through the newly revealed opening and screams.

“To me. TO ME! Fight for your lives you...”

Balgron's stirring speech tails off, the excavation chamber is empty, and as silent as the grave.

“Oh sh...” Balgron notes.

But is interrupted by the arrival of Sigur, Jimmy and Hal, the latter at full pace. The metal man smashes in to Balgron his greatsword slicing the goblin- the chief's first wound.

“Fight me!” Hal declares.

Balgron glances behind him- there's no one home.

“Like I have a choice.” The goblin declares, spits on his hands, and adopts a low combat crouch. “Come on then metal-mickey; give it your best shot...”

[sblock=Picture- Balgron vs Hal]


Gokan's wound bleeds profusely, Tonka is quickly to the half-orc, but not quick enough- the blood spews and spurts, Gokan fades.


Gokan fails a Death Save, continuing a long line of excellent rolls.


“Come on then... All of you!” Balgron screams, and gestures with his club- baiting the assembled adventurers.

The halfling and the dwarf share a look, then a shrug.

Jimmy's dagger flies, a ghostly hand suddenly forms in front of the chanting Sigur- the vicious blade thumps in to Balgron, the radiant hands delivers the slightest of touches.

Balgron bleeds, and burns.


Hal suddenly cuts with his greatsword, having to bend forward and down to do so, however it’s no more than a glancing blow.


Balgron's stick with a nail in it comes up and round and thumps in to the side of Hal's head- nail first, piercing his shiny metal skull.


Hal is bloodied again, actually reduced to 3 hit points.


Hal straightens instantly, Balgron grips tight to his club, which is ripped free from its new home.

“Missed.” Hal declares, as sparks fly from the great rent in the side of the warforged's head.

“Apricots!” Hal declares.

“Apricots! Apricots! Apricots!” The metal man states more certain than ever.

Back at the bottom of the stairs Gokan opens his eyes, Tonka grins at him...

“Is he dead?” Gokan asks.
Tonka stops grinning, just in time to hear Hal's battlecry.


Tonka shakes his head.

[sblock=Picture- Apricots!]


Gokan staggers to his feet, grabs up his axes and lurches towards the fracas, meantime Jimmy's vicious dagger comes again and Balgron bleeds some more.

The goblins looks more annoyed than anything.

“Fight me- like warriors, like heroes; or are you too...” The goblin starts, but is interrupted mid-flow.
“Apricots!” Hal screams, and raises his greatsword.


The club with nail comes again, this time an overhand blow- straight in to Hal's face, nail first of course. Balgron wrenches his club free again.

“April... Goat?” Hal declares, and then looks confused.

The metal man has a hole the size of a gold piece in his forehead, sparks crackle and fly from within, there's a burning smell.

“Apres... Coats?” Hal states, savouring the shape of the words, clearly deep in thought.

The metal man suddenly turns and looks back at his fellow adventurers.

“I fear I have suffered some malfunction- I cannot remember how to say Apricots...”

Hal suddenly grins, he just said... and then collapses.


Hal is reduced to -10 hit points.


“Bastard!” Sigur screams.
“For Bahamut!” Tonka shouts.

Balgron gets his wish.

The pair charge in to the goblin, flailing wildly with their weapons, Balgron- grinning all the while, keeps both of his attackers at bay.

[sblock=Picture- Balgron fights to the death]


Jimmy's dagger spins out again, the halfling is staying well back- out of trouble, alas his aim is way off, he curses.

Gokan moves forward, risking life and limb to get in to the fight, the half-orc shuffles to the front of the queue unscathed, and yet even then his aim is off.

As is Tonka's.

Sigur catches Balgron, the goblin chief, with a wavering hit with his mace, off-balance, and ill-equipped for melee, it's simply not enough.

“Is. That. It?” Balgron punctures his words with expert attacks with his club- Gokan parries the first, Tonka the second, the third alas almost brains Sigur- the dwarf visibly sags.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur sags]



Sigur is bloodied again, actually reduced to 4 hit points.


“Surrender?” Jimmy asks.
“After I have killed the fat dwarf and the stupid orc I will allow you to surrender little one- you will be my pet.” The goblin chief states.

Jimmy looks confused.

“Oh” Gokan declares, and suddenly juggles his weapons in his hands.

The half-orc smashes his battleaxe around and in to Balgron- decapitating the foul goblin.

Balgron falls.

The chamber goes silent.

Only the sound of the goblin chief's head still spinning on the spot.

“Oh?” Jimmy asks Gokan.
“I had my axes in the wrong hands.” The half-orc grins.
“Fu…” Jimmy starts.
Gokan shrugs.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan FTW]


[sblock=Encounter #8 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

Encounter #8 The Goblin Chief’s Lair, starring-

Goblin Cutter (Minion Skirmisher 1) x7
Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet (Controller 1) x1
Goblin Archer (Skirmisher 1) x1
Goblin Warrior (Skirmisher 1) x3
Goblin Chief- Balgron the Fat (Elite Lurker 5) x1

1075 XP Level 5 Encounter

A change of personnel, as with the other encounters, to make it a bit more interesting, and provide a variety of enemies with different tricks that the PCs have to account for. I also sacrificed a few extra low level bad guys so that I could use the XP to pump up Balgron the Fat to make him badass.


215 XP each for a total of 1309 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

And the PCs run is over, time to settle down and get in an extended rest- Level 2 in the morning.

DM Thoughts-

While I’m not directing the players (well not too much) they seem to be content to do things in stages- first off the Kobolds, second up the Goblins. So in this run, equivalent to a Dungeon Delve style scenario, the guys hacked their way through a trio of low level encounters (3 x Level 2), and then face off against the end of level/delve bad guy for the climax.

The guys loved and hated Balgron equally, when he took Tonka down in one hit there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. That said when they eventually chased the bad guy down and slew him then the scenes were glorious.

In short, all was forgiven, they loved it.

I am of course deliberately bulking up some of the bad guys to serve as effective end of level/delve bosses. I figure the players should get that we’ve achieved something feeling, a series of small climaxes leading up to the big finale.

Obviously you need to manage the players a little to achieve this, but as long as it doesn’t seem too overt, well… I don’t mind so much. If they had made different choices I would have endeavoured to do something similar, to provide them with meaningful goals which can be celebrated when reached or overcome.

It’s going okay so far, and yes it’s mainly by the book- but I promise things change, in fact very soon…

Last note that run of four encounters took it out of a few of the PCs, a quick look at Healing Surges left at this point, and-

Gokan, Sigur & Hal 5, Jimmy & Tonka 1.

That’s pretty dangerous, maybe even fatal if something bad were to happen, something Hard Core.


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KOTS Part 8a: Sleep, perchance to dream.

An hour or so later the five adventurers, including a now upright and mobile- and compos mentis, Hal; are ensconced in the former goblin chief's bedchamber.

The bodies of the fallen goblins have been hidden away in another chamber nearby, after being thoroughly searched of course. The secret doors have been investigated by Sigur, who has a degree of expertise in the area, they are at present closed- as are all the doors leading to the chief's chamber.

The adventurers want, make that need, to rest- particularly Jimmy and Tonka who are both on their last legs.

They have however made a number of discoveries in the last sixty or so minutes, the first a greatsword of marvellous manufacture, hidden beneath the chief's bed, Hal in idle moments admires his new blade.

[sblock=Hal 5000]

Hal 5000, Male Warforged Great Weapon Fighter Level 1

Played by Lee

Hal is loving his +1 Greatsword.​


Also located beneath the bed is a chest, formerly locked and trapped with a poison needle- neither a match for a curious Jimmy. Within is another vast pile of gold coins- it seems the adventurers are rich, well... should they escape this place with their lives.

More importantly they locate a swathe of letters and notices, written in a mixture of the goblin tongue and crude common. The author of the dozen or so pieces of parchment appears to be someone called Commander Gark. It seems Balgron was assigned to guard the entrance to the catacombs, as explained previously by the goblin prisoners. Gark makes lots of threats should Balgron fail, clearly Gark is in charge here.

Nobody is pleased to hear that Balgron has a boss, the goblin bastard was hard enough to kill.

Two of the notes also make mention of the ‘messengers', whoever or whatever they may be. Balgron, it transpires, was also charged with looking after them...

“The messengers?” Tonka wonders out loud, having read all of the missives to his compatriots.
“What do you think people?” The dragonborn asks, while lying on his bedroll.

Jimmy, on watch at the door, looks back.

“Where?” Gokan looks up hungry.
“Noooo!” Tonka whines, “not pigeons.”

Jimmy thinks some more, as does Hal- Gokan blinks twice.

Sigur on the bed, under the covers, and still clutching half a bottle of dwarven whisky, snores loudly.

“What then?” Jimmy asks.
“Perhaps the kobolds?” Tonka tries.

Gokan blinks- just once this time.

“It doesn't sound right- besides that was Irontooth's job...” Tonka answers his own question.

The chamber goes silent again.

Except for Sigur's rasping snores.

“Mess-en-gers...” Tonka sounds every syllable.

“It is clear that whoever or whatever these messengers are their role was to move between the various groups within the area- delivering the aforementioned messages. To date we have investigated the burial site, the kobolds’ lair and here- therefore the messengers’ job would be to move between these sites unopposed- perhaps even secretly. Yes, that's probably it.”

Hal stops to think.

Jimmy and Tonka hang on the metal man's words.

Gokan blinks.

“It is therefore logical to conclude that the messengers are a group of creatures we have yet to meet, who specialise in moving between the various groups using stealth, or else using some other form of disguise, or chicanery.”

“Chicanery?” Jimmy whispers at Tonka.
“It's a herb used to flavour pastries.” Tonka elucidates.
“Thanks.” Jimmy nods.

“Logically.” Hal finishes.
“Good work Hal.” Tonka remarks, and then begins snoring.

Several hours later, and Jimmy is back on watch, sitting by the doors- the rota having been decided by Sigur, of course.


Hal stands in a corner of the chamber- head down, lights off, recharging his batteries. Gokan hasn't changed position- every now and then the half-orc blinks; his brother sleeps with both eyes open, Jimmy wonders about this, and about why he wasn't aware of this odd fact- until now.

Sigur, swaddled in blankets still- in Balgron's bed, sleeps on- the dwarf has stopped snoring.

Jimmy completes a circuit of the chamber- looks down at Tonka, the nearest of his companions- the dragonborn opens his eyes, stretches, and then whispers.

“Is it me yet?”

Jimmy looks at the candle, there's still a little way for it to burn down, the halfling shakes his head.

The silence returns.

But only for a little while.

“Jimmy.” Tonka whispers.
The halfling turns to stare.
“What's with the brother thing?” Tonka nods at Gokan, and then Hal.
“How can they be your brothers? And Douvern, your dad. He's human? I don't...”
“He's not really my dad, I mean, our dad, not...” Jimmy tries to find the words.

“Go on...” Tonka whispers.
“Douvern, I mean dad- it never felt right, calling him Douvern.”
Tonka nods.
“Dad took me in, twenty-eight years ago, found me on the streets of Fallcrest- or rather the City Watch did. One of the Watch guys, Sgt. Murgeddin, a dwarf, he found me- took me to Dad, they're friends.”
Tonka nods some more.
“My parents were barge folk, or at least... well, best guess- they didn't want me. But dad, and mum- Gerda, they wanted me. So they brought me up. I was only a baby.”


“I've never known any other parents, they're just... Mum and dad, always have been.”

Tonka nods some more, then looks over at Gokan again, “and Gokan?”

“Same deal, mum and dad took him in twenty years past, he was older than I was, and more, y'know... Orcish back then. Erathis knows how he ended up in Fallcrest but he'd seen some hard times. Dad saw him working on the docks- asked around, don't know why, he's just like that. Anyway Gokan was sleeping rough, dad invited him home for a meal- he came back, and again, and again, they made him up a room eventually.”

Jimmy shrugs, looks over at his half-orc brother.

“He doesn't say much, just every now and then- mostly he talks to mum. I don't know the whole story, as I say, bad things... He's always looked out for me though- I didn't mind, I always wanted a big brother...”

Jimmy shrugs again.

And then pointedly looks at Hal.

“Hal's the strange one. Dad found him- he'd got in to excavating ruins and the like, he's always been interested in the past. Anyway one day, about ten years ago, he comes back from some dig site on the outskirts of the Witchlight Fens- creepy place, and he's got Hal with him.”

Tonka looks confused.

“He'd dug him up, says he uncovered his head first, and Hal just started talking- a lot of nonsense dad says but... a bit strange, anyway he dug him out. At first, when he came home with dad, Hal didn't say anything, not after that first time... He was just always there- in the house, wherever dad went Hal went.”

Tonka nods.

“Dad says he's ancient, from before the old empire even, maybe 500 years old- imagine that...”

Tonka and Jimmy stare at Hal, the warforged doesn't move.

“Dad reckons he doesn't say anything ‘less he's thought about it- said he's had plenty of time to think about things.”

Jimmy stares vacantly.

“I like him... but he's a bit, odd. Mum doesn’t get on with him, she never did anything to make him unwelcome but... It's always been difficult with Hal and mum. But he's my brother, I guess... My bigger, much older, brother.”

Jimmy grins.

“That's it really- none of us are related, and yet... Mum and dad brought us together- a family.”

Jimmy grins again, content.

Silence for a while, then Tonka stirs again.

“And the dwarf, I mean Sigur?”
“He's a bloody lunatic. One of dad’s friends- but even he thought he was a bit tapped. Avandra knows how he ended up coming with us, I don't think mum told him that dad was missing- no idea how he found out, how he ended up here. Him and dad adventured together but that was...” Jimmy exhales loudly, “... forty or more years ago. An age. And he was old then dad said.” Jimmy nods towards Sigur.

Tonka nods- satisfied.

The silence goes on for a while.

Eventually Jimmy asks.

“What's this all about?” The halfling asks.
“What d'you mean?” Tonka looks a little confused.
“This place, the goblins, the messengers, the stuff that the old geezer- the sage, told us about- Sir Keegan slaying his family, all that?” Jimmy looks nonplussed.

Tonka thinks about his answer.

“You know the difference between right and wrong, Jimmy? Don't you? Between good and bad?”
Jimmy nods.
“Well, all I know is there's something bad here, probably buried deep- beneath a pile of goblins, and worse probably. We're here to find the bad thing and make it go away- kill it, maybe, or else...” Tonka shrugs.

Jimmy continues to stare, perhaps a little unsure.

“I know why I'm here, it’s my job Jimmy. It’s what I was born to do, trained to do- in the service of my great and glorious lord, the platinum dragon, Bahamut, who will rise again.”

“It’s easy for me Jimmy.” Tonka adds with a smile.

Jimmy nods, once.

“Why you're here Jimmy. That's not for me to say, or even guess at- only you can answer that. But there's one thing I'm certain of...”

Jimmy leans in a little, eager to share the secret.

“We're the good guys. You're a good guy. As is Gokan, and Hal- and even Sigur. I'm certain of that, that's not a bad place to start.”

Jimmy nods.
Tonka nods back, and grins.
Jimmy grins back.

The pair continue to smile at each other, and then... and then.

“What was that?”
Jimmy sits up quickly, puts his eye to the door, slightly ajar- he spies in to the darkened corridor leading away from the chamber.

Rats, scurrying, skittering, sniffing, scratching...


Jimmy is on his feet.

He screams a warning.


“Hundreds of them...” Jimmy whispers as the chamber behind him bursts in to life.

Last edited:


KOTS Part 9: The Rat Pack.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 1

Hal with his +1 Greatsword.​


[sblock=Picture- Jimmy shouts a warning]


“Rats!” Jimmy screams again, and spins out his vicious dagger while taking a step back in to the chamber. His blade finds its mark, one of a pair of much larger rats in the corridor, each perhaps four feet long whiskers-to-tail. The creature bleeds profusely but bounds on- towards the adventurers.

[sblock=Rat Dire]

Rat Dire
Brute Level 1


A sudden loud snort and Sigur awakes, leaps to his feet, already mumbling and invoking- the wrathful dwarf’s familiar, and favourite, trio of radiant hands spring in to life- and rush out to find their targets. Alas only one of the ghostly appendages finds its mark, the same dire rat that Jimmy wounded, the creature squeaks as it burns, and yet still it comes on.

Tonka and Hal charge through the doors, swords drawn- the front-line, the pair swing furiously at the skittish little terrors before them, and yet both fail to connect. Gokan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, is the last to his feet- the half-orc is forced to wait for an opening to appear, there’s no room for him to get at the foe.

And still the rats come on…

“Hold the line”, Tonka cries, brandishing his blade, “… just a few pesky rodents.” The dragonborn warlord concludes.

[sblock=Picture- Pesky rodents vs pesky adventurers]


Jimmy’s dagger comes again, and the closest of the dire rats, already terribly wounded, finally slumps on to its side- dead; however more rats filter either side and over their fallen cousin.

“There’re a lot of them…” Jimmy worries.
“Hold the line.” Tonka simply states, and then winks at his friend.

Sigur has other ideas. The dwarf glances over his shoulder at Gokan- nods at the half-orc and then steps back- still mumbling and invoking as another trio of ghostly hands suddenly appear and head off to find more vermin to radiate. But again the dwarf’s aim is off- only one hit, on a smallish rat, however the radiant burn is enough to slay the creature.

As Sigur steps back Gokan rushes in- his axes whirl and spin as the half-orc charges and howls- in to the thick of the action. The rats however are far too quick it seems, or else Gokan is still out of sorts, his twin axes fail to draw blood.


It’s now Gokan’s turn to scream, not in anger but in pain- the rats react instantly to the whirling barbarian’s arrival- they swarm, even turning away from their previously intended targets to attack the now isolated half-orc. Gokan continues to screech, and hop from foot to foot, trying desperately to stay on his feet as his lower limbs are ravaged by a horde of tiny sharp teeth.

[sblock=Rat Swarm]

Rat Swarm
Skirmisher Level 2


Seconds later he’s bleeding from a myriad painful wounds.

“Bahamut save us!”
“Oh Sh-!”

Jimmy, Tonka and Sigur cry out in unison, Hal and Gokan remain close-lipped. The sudden expressions of anxiety are due to the fact that one of the smaller rats scurrying towards Tonka suddenly warps and shapes, and a moment later is transformed in to a particularly hairy, rat-featured, human brandishing a wicked looking blade.

[sblock=Wererat Scum]

Wererat Scum
Minion Skirmisher Level 5


“Holy Sh… Lycanthropes!” Tonka screams, panic in the dragonborn’s voice.

“He-he…” The wererat scum giggles, and then stabs its blade in to the dragonborn’s gut. “Rat-attack!” it declares, and then hisses and giggles some more.

The remaining dire rat bustles forward through its hairy brethren to the front of the queue, and then springs at Tonka, leaping in to his arms. The dragonborn wrestles with the creature but to no avail, the beastly vermin sinks its teeth in to Tonka’s neck- blood bursts, bubbles and flows.


Tonka is bloodied, actually reduced to 8 hit points, after the Dire Rat scores a Crit on its Bite Charge attack for 16 points of damage.


Another of the smaller rats scurries through Tonka’s legs; the dragonborn swings half-heartedly but is still contending with the dire rat in his embrace, he misses. The small rat undergoes the same transformation- the wererats are through the adventurers’ front line. Tonka is stabbed in the back, again, for good measure.

[sblock=Picture- Tonka’s on his last legs]



Tonka is down to 1 hit point- that didn’t take long; he has only one Healing Surge remaining.


Tonka mumbles half-remembered prayers, on the very edge of consciousness; he finally manages to dislodge the dire rat from its precarious perch- the verminous villain however lands adeptly at his feet, and renews its assault.

And yet another of the smaller rats makes its way through the front-line, moments later it too has transformed in to a blade wielding rat man.

“Pull back! Pull back!” Sigur screams, but the wrathful invoker already knows that it’s too late- if they cannot kill the rat men quickly… Sigur prefers not to think about the possible outcome.

“Pull Back!” Sigur calls again.

“Bahamut Preserve!” Tonka cries out as his wounds close over- or at least many of them do. He swings heartily with his blade- but again to no great affect, all the while trying to find a way out of the melee and back in to the chamber.


Suddenly the air before Tonka is filled with forked lightning, another of the smaller rats is frazzled, the dire rat singed, but still there’s no retreat for the dragonborn.

Gokan is the rats’ next target, again the transformations occur; only this time of the three rats that make it through the half-orc’s defences two of them re-shape in to the familiar ratty humans, the third in to a more vicious version of the same.

[sblock=Wererat Scurrying]

Wererat Scurrying
Skirmisher Level 3


“Dessstroy them.” The newly revealed scurrying wererat hisses.

Gokan is stabbed, again, and again, and again- even the flickering appearance of Tonka’s Bahamut-emblazoned shield is not enough, it serves only to prolong the agony- the half-orc staggers and falls.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan falls]



Gokan is reduced to -7 hit points, in a matter of seconds by the Wererats. The players are beginning to panic.


“Feast my brothers. Feast!” The scurrying wererat cries out.

Hal unleashes hell, slashes at the back of the wererat leader with his magical greatsword, the blow almost levels the rodent-man, who spins around to face its aggressor; the lycanthrope’s back is torn open, cut to the bone- it bleeds furiously.

“Fight me!” Hal declares and then swings again, hacking in to the rodent-man’s right leg, the creature screams in terror and anger. Another wererat quickly moves forward to menace Hal with its dagger; the metal man is having none of it. Hal thumps the pommel of his greatsword in to the threatening lycanthrope’s face, the beast’s head snaps back and it sinks to the floor.

“FIGHT ME!” Hal shouts, insistent now, and clearly very angry.


Hal unleashes his Daily Lasting Threat on the Scurrying Wererat, combined with his Inevitable Strike, he follows up with his Hack & Hew- inflicting 30 hit points damage in total to the creature, and also smashing one of the Wererat Scum down.


Suddenly another rat morphs and shapes, a second terrifying scurrying wererat, the creature snarls.

“Time to die, metal man!” It hisses and cackles, and then stabs Hal hard in his abdomen.

[sblock=Picture- Fighting for their lives]


“Get out! Get out!” Jimmy screams imploring his fellow adventurers to retreat; the halfling unleashes a barrage of daggers at all of the wererats he can see in the corridor, although he’s not helped by the fact that the fiendish creatures are hidden amongst his friends.

The first, the closest, of the wererat leaders takes a dagger to the face, the blood gushes as the creature flails wildly screaming in its odd high-pitched voice. The remaining dire rat is likewise struck; the huge rat lurches and scurries randomly, unable to get its directions, alas Jimmy’s aim is otherwise off.

The adventurers have barely scratched the surface, and they’re suffering terribly.

“Come on! The secret door…” Jimmy wails forlornly, as soon as his vicious dagger reappears in his hand he flings it again- the flailing, scurrying wererat falls.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy’s barrage]



Jimmy with his Daily Blinding Barrage, followed up with a Sly Flourish, and all he does is take out the already bloodied Scurrying Wererat and wound the last remaining Dire Rat.


Sigur scurries forward a little way, the dwarf sounds frantic, “… give ground, give ground…” he advises, while mumbling and grumbling as he invokes.

The packed passage is suddenly choked with glowing radiant purple clouds which, moments later burst and swoop down upon the dwarf’s enemies, bathing each of his foes in a terrible radiant glow.

The clouds and the glow slowly fade, the effect is somewhat underwhelming, the last dire rat is sorely burnt, missing great swathes of its coarse fur, the remaining scurrying wererat is somewhat singed, alas none of the other creatures seem to be affected in any way.

“Oh Moradin- please Lord!” Sigur whispers, then swallowing hard, wades in to the thick of the battle, his mace turns to stone in his hands as he swings it at the closest enemy, the wererat alas is much too fast.

Sigur’s face betrays his fear.


Sigur’s Daily Angelic Echelon followed up by his Stone Panoply and all he has to show for it is a slightly singed Scurrying Wererat and a bloodied Dire Rat. The players are bordering on the terrified.

At this point, in-game, I don’t think they have worked out that the Wererat Scum are just Minions.


The swarm of rats continues to gnaw on the unconscious Gokan, that is until the remaining scurrying wererat leader makes a series of high-pitched squeaking sounds. The frenzied swarm rushes forward, so fast is it and so large that Sigur has to give ground. The dwarf suddenly takes to swatting furiously at his leg, and arms- trying to bat the rats off of him, hundreds more continue to gnaw on the dwarf.

Sigur shakes and shudders, and stomps, and roars his disapproval, all the while the rats scratch, claw and bite. His armour suddenly glows, the burning light coalesces and bursts in to the storm, although again with little effect, several smoking blackened rat corpses lie smouldering on the floor, but the dwarf is still almost overcome.

To make matters worse the blinded dire rat charges forward through Tonka’s legs, although the dragonborn warlord manages to get a little of his blade on the beast en route - but not enough to stop it. The rat launches itself at Sigur, sinks its great teeth in to the dwarf’s leg and hangs on.


The Rat Swarm Crits Sigur for 14 points of damage, instantly bloodying the Dwarf- things are not going the PCs way, big time.

The blind Dire Rat charges (at a random target) Sigur, and even with a -5 penalty to hit manages to connect. Sigur is on 2 hit points- things are really not going well for the PCs


Tonka quickly orientates himself, turns to face his comrades back in the former goblin chieftain’s chamber, “Bahamut preserve!” the dragonborn declares, and Sigur is no longer at death’s door.

“Thank you Moradin!” The dwarf whispers, his prayers partially answered.

Tonka meantime lashes out at the nearest wererat, which ducks and evades his clumsy attack, another of the creatures dodges Hal’s equally fumbling attack and rushes forward- stabbing out at Sigur, the dwarf is cut again, and once more forced to give ground.


Sigur is bloodied again, actually reduced to 7 hit points, things are really not going well.


The remaining scurrying wererat leader steps back out of the action, and again produces a series of high-pitched whistles and squeaks- the creature’s rodent brothers manoeuvre; Tonka is being separated from his fellow adventurers- who are being forced back in to Balgron’s bedchamber.

“Ssssoooon we feast my lovelies, soon we feast!” the foul creature croons.

Hal tries again with his greatsword, smashing his weapon down and through one of the wererat scum, and then dragging the blade down further to scrape on the stone floor and slice through the rat swarm. The wererat falls, but the rat swarm is merely momentarily inconvenienced.

[sblock=Picture- Still fighting for their lives...]


Gokan, seemingly forgotten about, lies still on the cold stone floor, all around him chaos and despair.

Jimmy has nowhere to go but back, away from his friends. The halfling dashes to the secret door, all the while throwing daggers in to the swarm as he retreats- to little effect. He thumps the wall, a grinding noise and the passageway and stairs are revealed.

“Come on! Please!” Jimmy begs.


Jimmy actually Crits the Rat Swarm with his Sly Flourish, however after the maths is done it works out to 7 hit points damage, the Rat Swarm isn’t even bloodied yet. The initial squeal of excitement when the ‘20’ showed on the dice soon fades- back to despair for the players.


The furious bustling bundle of rats swarms over Sigur…

“Mora…” Sigur starts.
“Nooooooo!” Jimmy screams

As the grumbling dwarf collapses to the cold stone floor, the swarm continues in its frenzy to circle and bite. Although moments later after yet another series of squeaks and hisses, delivered again by the last remaining scurrying wererat, the swarm moves off.

Heading straight for Jimmy.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy’s leaving and Sigur’s down]


The forlorn, broken Sigur bleeds and lies still.


Sigur is swiftly reduced to -5 hit points by the Rat Swarm, the player- next in turn then fails his first Death Save.


The last remaining, badly injured, dire rat recovers its senses and rushes at Hal, the metal man is bested- slammed back in to the wall by the force of the huge rodent’s charge.


Hal is now bloodied, actually reduced to 9 hit points after the Dire Rat’s Bite attack.


Tonka finally retreats, back in to the bedchamber, fending off opportune attacks from a number of wererats en route; the dragonborn is lucky, or else he’s getting much better with his longsword. Tonka makes his way back to Jimmy and the swarm without suffering a hit.

Once there he unleashes hell, or else the force of Bahamut- his god and saviour, alas hell is postponed, his luck runs out and his effort is wasted, his attack is pathetic, he misses by a mile.


Tonka’s Daily Leader’s Instinct is a critical fumble, thank Bahamut it’s Reliable, although will he even get time to try it again?


The two remaining wererat scum change form again, back in to tiny rats, they dodge and duck and run circles around Hal- eventually manoeuvring before and behind the metal man, from which positions they launch their attacks.

Hal is bitten, and scratched and clawed some more- almost spent.

[sblock=Picture- Hal is surrounded]



Hal is reduced to 2 hit points. Keep this in mind, it may prove to be important.


The scurrying wererat rushes over to the flustered Hal, who doesn’t know quite where to turn, and slams its blade in to the metal man’s face.

The effect in instantaneous.

Hal stops, makes one last sudden rasping grinding sound, and then speaks.

“I have failed.”

His last words, Hal collapses, dead.

[sblock=Picture- Hal is slain]



Hal is hit by the Scurrying Wererat for 22 damage, a Crit, the metal man was on 2 hit points, he’s now on -20 hit points, which is beyond his negative bloodied value. Hal 5000 is dead- forever.


Tonka and Jimmy are suddenly aware that they’re all that’s left.


And the players know they’re heading for a TPK. There’s more laughter than anger around the table, which I’m very much thankful for- sometimes TPKs can be awkward, even terrible moments to share with friends… Here we go then.


Tonka and Jimmy retreat down the stairs, the rats come on, behind the verminous trio the scurrying wererat squeaks and hisses its orders.

“Not long now my lovelies…” It hisses and grins.

Jimmy suddenly steps forward, lashes out with his vicious blade at all three targets before him - the two wererat scum, in rodent form, and the swarm.

He fails to connect with any of his enemies.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy misses]



Three attack rolls- the highest is a ‘4’. When your luck is gone, it’s gone.


The swarm gnaws and bites at the halfling’s lower legs and feet- Jimmy bleeds and dances back.

The last dire rat mean time darts out of the corridor and forward in to the action, charging straight for Tonka, the dragonborn’s aim is straight and true - he cuts the brute down.

The distraction is enough however.

The two remaining tiny rats scurry and scuttle, till they’re in position, both simultaneously morph in to rat man shape- either side of Tonka. Moments later the dragonborn is swiftly, and expertly, cut down.


Tonka is reduced to -1 hit point. Stu, the player (Hedda & Tonka), doesn’t look very happy- perhaps he’s contemplating what his third PC will be.


The scurrying wererat leader dashes in to the opening and stabs Jimmy in the gut, the halfling staggers and squirms… the end is close.

[sblock=Picture- The end is nigh...]



Jimmy is bloodied, actually reduced to 9 hit points. The end really is close.


Jimmy staggers back, down the stairs, almost spills his blade, one hand clutched to his gut- the blood sticky red pulses and flows.

“But… But… We’re the good guys…”

Jimmy blinks, unable to take in the events.

The vermin close in for the kill.

Jimmy steps back again, his legs almost giving way- fear, raw fear… terror.

The young halfling’s mind whirrs.

“Four thousand gold- ransom them, to me…” Jimmy holds up his hand, the one not holding his vicious dagger.

The wereat scum and the rat swarm come on- hissing and squeaking respectively.

The scurrying wererat, the leader, suddenly squeaks once, loud and commanding.

Everything stops.

Except Jimmy.

“Four thousand gold- from my father, it’ll take a couple of days… three days. He’s in Fallcrest, he’s a rich man, an adventurer, or else he was… He has money though, I promise.”

The scurrying wererat barges forward past the two scum.

“Convince me.” It hisses.


Later Dan, who plays Jimmy, said that he knew he couldn't win and didn't fancy his chances getting away- 4,000gp just seemed like the right amount- 1,000gp each; of course he hadn’t accounted for Hal being dead already at the time.

How could I, as a kindly DM, fail to grasp this opportunity?

But I didn’t want to make it too easy.

Jimmy’s in a Skill Challenge- no XP reward just the chance to get his comrades out of a tight spot- alive. The rules are, made up on the spot; he has to gain four successes before three failures. The DC is set at 15, he can use any skill, although never the same skill twice in a row. One skill check takes a round (although, see below), and has to be role-played of course, if he succeeds at a check then he can try for a second skill check in the same round, if he fails he cannot try again that round.

Furthermore each round the three dying adventurers- Gokan, Sigur & Tonka, have to continue to make their Death Saves.

It’s agreed, and we begin…


“My father used to work for the Lord Markelhay, you’ve heard of him… yes?” Jimmy gabbles.
The wererat nods.
“He paid him well for his services, before that- as I said, he made his money adventuring; I mean he’s not as rich as some of the folk in the city, or the guilds of Hammerfast, but… He has money, he can get four thousand quickly, get it here- to Winterhaven, and then…”
“The dragon burial site.” The wererat calmly states fingering the edge of its blade.
“Yes. Yes, I mean… all you’d have to do is let me go- I mean, I don’t know how you ended up here…” Jimmy looks about himself, indicating the catacombs of the Keep.
“You’re probably paid badly, I mean… you’re just, messengers!” Jimmy hangs the last word out, and shivers.
The wererat’s whiskers quiver, its eyes flash in anger.
“I mean- messengers, that’s beneath you, but with money- well, you could start again, somewhere else. Maybe in a city… not in a filthy, wet, smelly dungeon.”

The wererat sniffs and wrinkles his nose, seemingly aware for the first time of the stink and dirt about him.


And that’s a Bluff 25 followed by a Diplomacy 19, all in one round- and what’s more the three remaining PCs all manage to make their Death Saves.


“Well… What do you think? Three days- four thousand gold coins?” Jimmy begs.

Jimmy presses on, afraid of the silence. “You don’t have to tell your bosses, the… goblins?”
“Hobgoblins.” The scurrying wererat snarls.
“Hobgoblins, goblins- no matter, they don’t have to know. The money’s for you, you and your men, I mean- rat men, all for you. ‘Messengers’, you’re better than that- much bet…”

Jimmy is cut off, a moan loud and terrible from back up the stairs- Jimmy recognises it instantly- Gokan. Gokan’s dying Jimmy thinks, and frets.


Gokan fails his first Death Save.


“I… “
But the halfling’s words are cut off again, this time by the grinding groaning sound of the second secret door sliding open.

Jimmy watches, nervous, his blade ready- looking front and back- he’s surrounded.

The second secret door opens all the way, to reveal- nothing. The torches have been extinguished in the excavation chamber beyond it seems- it’s dark, shadowy, there’s something…

Suddenly a cacophony of furious squeaks from the wererats, the trio- even the scurrying wererat leader, bows low and backs away a little. The rat swarm plunges down the stairs in a mad rush, filtering around and through Jimmy’s feet.

Jimmy grips his blade even tighter.

“Little ones…” A whispering voice which purrs with pleasure comes from the darkness at the bottom of the stairs. The rat swarm is a maelstrom, rats leaping and climbing over each other to be close to… A pair of thickset ratty legs, and an equally thick ridged and wormlike tail which curls and scoops and slides through the skittering joyous swarm.

That’s all Jimmy can see, the shadows limit his vision.

The scurrying wererat, squeaks again- rapidly, and then half-salutes and bows once more.

“I… I… “ Jimmy stammers, unsure as to what comes next.
“I am so very pleased to eat you, I mean of course- meet, you.” The voice is as rich as chocolate, and husky with it. The joke, such as it is, provokes an instant reaction- a chorus of squeaks and squeals- Jimmy estimates there are at least another half-dozen wererats ahead of him, down the stair.

“Four thousand gold coins- that’s a lot to offer, even if you had the money what guarantee would I have of your return?” The voice comes again, followed by a hint of a massively built wererat’s snout and whiskers from the shadows.
“My word… “ Jimmy tries, and then swiftly changes tack.
“You have my brothers- up there, Gokan, the half-orc and Hal, the metal man… I would never abandon my brothers, and nor would my father. Even if we wanted to our mother wouldn’t let us- she would sell everything we owned…” Jimmy tails off, and then finds his way again, “ I swear this.” He snivels.

Silence for a while.

“I believe you little one… only now you have whetted my appetite- four thousand is a princely sum, and yet, for your brothers? Family is everything, don’t you agree?” The honeyed voice asks.
Jimmy nods, sniffs some more, wipes a tear or two away with his sleeve.
“And yet my brothers lie still now, victims of your blades and your spells- what price my brothers, little one?”

It’s Jimmy’s turn for silence.
“How much?” The halfling eventually asks.
“Six thousand.”
“Five…” Jimmy snaps back, perhaps a little too hastily.

There’s a sudden flurry of movement, several more wererats lurch out of the shadows, an array of them- all sizes, some as small as Jimmy, all wielding nasty looking blades of every variety.

“Five thousand.” The wererat leader purrs. “We have a deal.”
The creature offers from the shadows its huge, hairy clawed hand.


Another two successes for the win- Bluff and Diplomacy again, the later equally exactly the DC required. The wererat chief is convinced.

The dying PCs are quickly stabilised by the wererats, see below.


Jimmy gingerly reaches out and grasps the proffered hand.

Moments later a wererat rushes past him- up the stair, towards the fallen, and with a snarl, then another, and another and…

“Five thousand, three days time- at the burial site your father so favoured… Go now, little brother.” The voice comes with an echo- already at a distance, the wererat leader it seems has also moved away- the passage is clear.

Less than sixty seconds later Jimmy is back out in to the cold air, out of the catacombs and back in to the wilds.

He runs.

[sblock=Encounter #9 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

Encounter #9 The Rat Pack, starring-

Wererat Scum (Minion Skirmisher 5) x6
Rat Dire (Brute 1) x2
Rat Swarm (Skirmisher 2) x1
Wererat Scurrying (Skirmisher 3) x2

925 XP Level 4 Encounter

I decided to ditch the myriad creatures in the lower caves- giant rats, ochre jelly, blue slime and kruthik- I wanted something with a bit more bite, and story, although as it turns out, I quite liked the rats...

Doing away with all of the other guys in the caves also gave me some more XP to play with to bulk out a few of the other encounters in the Keep, remember I want to make this Hard Core.


110 XP each for a total of 1419 XP in total (PCs Level 1).

Quite a disparity, as previously- I do not award XP for creatures that make it out alive from the encounters. I appreciate that this sounds a little churlish but 4e can sometimes seem like it’s playing too fast, or rather the PCs advance very quickly.

Back when I was playing 3/3.5e or even AD&D I ran campaigns that lasted for 4-5 years that ended with the PCs at level 15 or so, lower usually. I’ve played several 4e campaigns to date- the longest maybe a little more than eighteen months saw the PCs reach Level 14. While the desire to reach level 30 remains we don’t want to miss out on a single level, the deal is we’re going to play this to the end- not missing out on anything.

Just a hint of the present- this write up is very much behind the actual game, we started playing this campaign in March 2012, the date today is the 12th of November 2012, the PCs are at present a whisker away from 9th level- a level a month seems to be about the right pace.

And so back to the present- the PCs were denied the XP for the Rat Swarm, two of the Wererat Scum and the Scurrying Wererat, they survived to fight another day- what a meanie I am.

DM Thoughts-

I started off apologising to the players for this encounter; in the immediate aftermath- two of the PCs only had one Healing Surge left and… But my players didn’t buy it; they let me off the hook very quickly.

Their dice rolls were terrible, mine were great- I seemed to not roll anything below a 14, they seemed to have problems breaking 10, and for Gokan- again, a nightmare. The second encounter in a row in which he has proved to be almost unable to hit anything- Hal we’re used to failing and falling over, it’s become a standing joke at the table, but Gokan… unheard of.

But, save for the terminated Hal, the guys have a chance to affect a rescue.

So now it’s time to roll up some secondary characters, for the exchange, you’ll see.


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KOTS Part 9a: Jimmy’s return.

Soon after, Jimmy’s breathing hard, stumbling, and…


The halfling yelps and tumbles down a slight incline, his foot thumping hard in to a half buried stone.

Jimmy sprawls on the packed earth, gasping- gulping down hot lungfuls of air, blinking furiously as the tears sting his eyes.


He vomits as he tries to stand, sinks back onto his haunches, and vomits again- one side of his leather armour has been torn away at the shoulder, split at the seams. The other side is lathered with blood- mostly his own.

His hands and forearms are covered by a network of scratches and tiny cuts- pricked by thorns and burning from nettle stings.

The halfling rocks back and forth, every now and then he spews or dry retches.

“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to… go back. To go back...”

Jimmy levers himself to his feet, steadies himself for a moment, he’s woozy, not right, not… the sun is getting low- dusk is approaching.

I know the way. I know the way. He repeats the phrase in his head.

Jimmy heads off again, a stumbling jog.

“I didn’t want to…” Every now and then he whispers it; at least twice he stops for a moment to shout out the phrase as loud as he can and then, realising what he’s done, anxiously scan the horizon.

He cries a lot.

He falls over once or twice more, repeats his previous performance, including the spewing and staggering, but he goes on.

He goes on.

Because it’s all he can do.

Because it’s all there is to do.

“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to…”
“Hold him down.” Rond’s voice is stern.

The guardsman isn’t so sure, or else…

“I said ‘hold him down’ guardsman.” Rond shouts, but remains in control.
“He’s raving…” It’s Lord Padraig’s voice.
“Yes sir, as you say.” Rond comes again.
“What happened to hi…”
“Death, sir.” Rond simply states with as much ire as his position, and Lord Padraig’s authority, allow him to muster.

“I didn’t…” Jimmy blinks open his eyes- the Inn, Wrafton’s Inn. A strange point of view- the ceiling, looking up- he’s looking up. Someone, some things, are holding him down- got to get up. Got to get up, get free, get back to… Jimmy fights.

“Here we go again, hold him guardsman- for Erathis’ sake he’s just a halfling, hold him!”

“No! NO! They’ve got them- the rat men. The rats! RATS! My brother… my brother- little brother. I’ve got to- LET GO OF ME!” Jimmy rambles, screams and shouts.

He scrabbles to be free, scrambles to reach for his dagger- the guardsman struggles, they can’t hold him- Lord Padraig suddenly recoils- Rond jumps in to the gap, but Jimmy is alive- with pain, with anger, with hatred- his dagger’s out.

Jimmy hisses and spits, like a madman, he’s free of their grasp…

“KEEP BACK!” Rond screams, as guardsmen and gawkers scramble for cover.

Jimmy leaps to his feet, the enemy all around him; somehow they’re in Winterhaven- the goblins, the kobolds, the rat men, the monsters- all arrayed before him in the Inn...

“You’ll not take me… Never! I didn’t want to go back!” The last phrase half shout, half scream, all terror.

Jimmy makes for a forlorn sight, dagger in hand- madness in his eyes, standing on a table in the middle of Wrafton’s Inn, surrounded by the citizens of the town.

Suddenly a minotaur appears before Jimmy, steps out of the monstrous crowd.

It’s… It’s… It’s… Jimmy thinks.

The minotaur grins, and approaches.

“Hedda!” Jimmy grins back, holds out his empty hand in greeting.

And then takes the full force of the flat of the great minotaur’s axe in his chest- the halfling sails fifteen feet, slams in to a wall and thumps down on to the floor.

Jimmy’s last thought- “You’re not Hedda.” Then oblivion.

“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora perches on the edge of the bed.
“Shhh… Rest little one.”
“Little one?” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.

The door to the bedchamber opens- Douvern, it’s Douvern, and… “Mum!” Jimmy leaps into Gerda’s embrace.

Two hours later and Jimmy, Douvern, Gerda, Rond and Lord Padraig are all seated around a well-appointed table, in the Lord’s manor house. The food has hardly been touched, no one feels like eating…

“But how did…” Jimmy starts, staring at his father, it’s Rond that answers.
“When you arrived back at the Inn, well- we thought you were dying, we…” Rond looks about him for a moment, “we managed to get you settled, then I sent two men on fast horses to Fallcrest- dangerous in the night, but I had Sgt. Ramm lead the way; I figure he owed you that. I thought that your father should know of your return, and the circumstances...” Rond nods at Douvern, who takes over.
“We.” Gerda states.
“We travelled through the night- got here early this morning, about an hour before you awoke.” Douvern grins.
Gerda grins.
Jimmy blushes.
“I’m sorry…” Jimmy starts, and then puts his head down quickly- the tears come again.

“Jimmy.” Gerda speaks.
Jimmy sniffs and then looks up.
“Tell us- tell us everything you remember…”
Jimmy gulps, nods his head, and then starts to speak.

It takes a while, breaks for tears, anger and moments of comfort, but eventually Jimmy gets it said- his story is told.

“Five thousand!” Rond whistles.
Lord Padraig shakes his head.
Douvern is however already counting- his chair scrapes back. The ex-adventurer is quickly to his feet, smiling, almost.

“Five thousand- you did well Jimmy, you did great. You saved them! I’m proud of you…” Douvern is at Jimmy, his hand on the halfling’s shoulder, squeezing tight- Jimmy sobs and is comforted by Gerda, who strokes his hair and coos.

“I need to make use of your men- I need swift riders, we need to go to Fallcrest and back, today preferably…” Douvern addresses first Lord Padraig and then Rond, the ex-adventurer perversely seems to be enjoying himself.
Lord Padraig nods at Douvern and then Rond.
“I’ll organise things.” Rond states and bustles for the door. “They’ll be ready to depart within the hour…” The guard captain heads out.

Douvern nods back at his wife, and then grins at Jimmy.
“You did right. We can get them back. I’ll be back today with the money.”
The ex-adventurer nods again, and the heads off after Rond.

“Mom?” Jimmy asks.
“Let your dad take care of it- rest Jimmy, rest. You need to get better.” Gerda states and hugs the halfling to her.

“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora has been replaced on the edge of his bed, instead it’s Douvern that perches there.
“Shhh… Rest.” His dad leans in and strokes the young halfling’s warm brow.
“Hal’s…” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.
“I know… I know- there’s nothing you could have done. We’ll get Gokan back, don’t you worry.”
“But Hal…” Jimmy starts again.
“Hal was a strange one- even I could see that, all that time in the ground- centuries… He was…” Douvern wipes his eyes.
“There was something about Hal, Jimmy. All the time he spent at home, with me, with us… I’d wake up every day and see him and think that it was going to be today, that today was the day he’d finally tell me…” Douvern looks away.
Jimmy sits up, through the window he can see the moon, almost full in the black sky.

“What do you mean that he was going to tell you?” Jimmy asks.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. It was just something I felt, every day- every time I saw him. He had this air, a sort of expectancy. It was like he had a secret.” Douvern shakes his head, and then goes on.
“I know it sounds silly but… Gerda, your mother felt it too, only she was afraid of it- we spoke about it at first, the feeling we had, when Hal first came home with me. We’d argue about it- she said that there was something wrong with Hal, something not right, something… dangerous. I don’t know!” Douvern gives up, exasperated.
It’s Jimmy’s turn, he rests his hand on his father’s arm.

Finally Douvern looks up.
“Hal had a secret, it’s a strange thing to say- I know. The thing I hate most is the feeling that he never told anyone, or at least- he never told me.”
Douvern sags, stays silent for a while longer.

“I miss him Jimmy- I miss him already. I’m sure you miss him too- we all will, but he died doing the thing he was created for, for fighting- for defending, for keeping others safe. He gave his life to keep you safe Jimmy.” Douvern stares in to his son’s glistening eyes.

“I need to pay him back…” Jimmy states and stares back out the window.
“You’ve already paid him back, don’t you see- you survived, that’s what Hal would have wanted,” Douvern states and intercepts Jimmy’s gaze.
“Understand Jimmy? It’s not your job to get ‘revenge’, don’t do anything silly- bring Gokan back, if you can. But you need to come back- in one piece, that’s what Hal would have wanted- he was your big brother…”

The two clutch each other; Jimmy sobs a little, but does his best to hide his tears.

An hour or so later, Douvern tucks the sleeping halfling back in to the bed, and then as quietly as he can creeps to the door of the chamber, silently opens it, easier done because it’s slightly ajar.

“Oh!” Standing in the now open doorway is Gerda, she looks at him, she looks serious.
“And when Jimmy comes back?” Gerda enquires.
Douvern sags again, looks old- older than his years even. He shrugs, and then begins to move off- back to the room he shares with Gerda.
“And that’s it? You’d send him back?” Gerda voice betrays her emotion.
Douvern turns to face his wife, he shrugs again.
“It’s his choice?” He offers.
“Adventuring!” Gerda sarcastically replies, with as much dismay, and anger, as she can muster.
“It’s in his blood.” Douvern states, and changes direction, heading for the stairs.
“Where are you going now?” Gerda snaps.

Douvern waits till he’s almost out of sight before replying.
“I’m going to make sure he comes back alive. I’m going to make sure that he gets a chance to make his own decision.”
Gerda goes to speak, but Douvern cuts her off.
“Get some sleep. I won’t be long, and I promise you- here and now, that Jimmy will return, with Gokan. I’ll take care of it.” And with that, Douvern heads down the stairs and out of sight.

Leaving Gerda alone in the corridor, fretting and wiping her eyes, stood outside of her son’s room.
“Old fool” Gerda hisses, and then shuffles off back to their room.

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KOTS Part 9b: New Blood.

The 27th day of the third month of the year 2012, upstairs in Wrafton’s Inn- the assembled group stare a while longer at the chest full of gold coins, then the huge minotaur closes the chest, hefts it on to his shoulder and goes to depart the room.

The brute stops before Jimmy, hesitates a moment.
Jimmy looks up, and up, and…
“Sorry.” The minotaur states and nods his head a little.
Jimmy looks worried.
The minotaur stomps off.

“What was that about?” Jimmy asks after the creature has departed.
“Sergeant Ramm helped to… err, subdue you when you came round in the Inn, you were a little…” Rond tails off, shakes his head. “Anyway, Ramm’ll carry the money for the exchange tomorrow, if anything bad happens he’ll do his job.”


Ramm, Male Minotaur Guardian Fighter Level 2

Played by Lee (who played Hal)

Ramm, like Gokan, favours his +1 Vanguard Battleaxe.​


“’Ow you mean, zumthing bad ‘appen?” The speaker uncrosses her legs and stands, she has short dark hair framing her elven face, she is… Jimmy searches for the right word- beautiful?
“We ‘appen. Zat iz bad. For zem!” Eko declares, the half-elven beauty grasps the pommel of her longsword.
“What?” Jimmy asks and gawps.
“My chere… Zer iz no need to worry. Everyzing iz how you say ‘underz control.’ Bon?”
“Douvern?” Gerda sounds worried, and annoyed.
“What are you planning?” She finishes.
Jimmy looks from his mum to his dad.


Eko, Female Half-Elf Valorous Bard Level 2

Played by Steve (who also plays Sigur)

Eko totes her +1 Orium Wand.​


The second elf is on his feet, tall and extremely handsome, dashing even- with a red neckerchief.
“A little surprise! Zat iz all.” The Red Baron, the good-looking male elf, adds to the mix, and winks at Jimmy while miming firing the great bow slung on his back.

[sblock=The Red Baron]

The Red Baron, Male Wood Elf Archer Ranger Level 2

Played by Dave (who also plays Gokan)

The Red Baron grips tight to his +1 Retributive Longbow.​


“Douvern!” Gerda comes again, the worry in her voice now replaced entirely with anger.
“What!” Douvern spreads his hands, tries his best to appear entirely innocent.


“Sorry old chap!” Clomping in to the room, and barging in to Rond en route, comes a third stranger, a much older dragonborn- clearly a warrior, wearing a battered suit of plate armour and lugging a heavy shield, with a longsword at his belt.

The dragonborn, and his equipment, have clearly seen better days.
Gerda looks up- astonished. “Sir Garlik!” She’s quickly to her feet, she fusses her hair a little.
“I… Douvern!” She turns to stare at her husband.
Who continues to spread his arms wide and mime his innocence.

“Don’t worry Gerda- you’re looking as divine as ever by the way.” Sir Garlik, the dragonborn knight, schmoozes. “The young lad’ll give the signal…” He nods at Jimmy. “We’ll rush in, slay the vermin, get the money back, and be back to the Inn with the fellows in time for hot buttered crumpets, and a medicinal snifter or two.” The dragonborn concludes.

[sblock=Sir Garlik]

Sir Garlik, Male Dragonborn Avenging Paladin Level 2

Played by Stu (who also plays Tonka, and previously Hedda)

Sir Garlik wields his +1 Longsword Sentinel Martial Honour Blade, a family heirloom.​


“What?” Gerda gawps.
Douvern tries to stay out of his wife’s line of sight, he hides behind Sir Garlik.
“What!” Gerda tries again.
Jimmy gulps.

“We’ll…” Sir Garlik starts back up.
“I know what you said Sir Garlik…” Gerda cuts the dragonborn knight off.
“Let me exp…” Douvern starts, but he too is truncated.
“I think you’d better- not here…” Gerda stomps out of the room. “Douvern!” She calls back.
Douvern follows, head down. “Yes, dear.”
SLAM and the door’s shut.

Silence, except for Gerda’s raised voice - muffled by the closed door.

Jimmy winces.

The dragonborn mean time fetches out a ready rolled cigarette, screws it in to the corner of his mouth, and lights it.
Jimmy looks at the three adventurers before him- finally gawps up at Sir Garlik.
The dragonborn roots around inside his armour, searching for some…
“Bang on!” Sir Garlik grins and fetches out a silver hip flask, a moment later he’s gulping the liquid down.
Jimmy still stares.
“Sorry, not done the intro’s.” Sir Garlik wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Chap with the bow’s the Red Baron…” The Red Baron smartly comes to attention and then grins.
“Lady with the blade’s Eko.” Eko grins- Jimmy melts.
“They’re…” Sir Garlik searches for the right word, finally settles on, “Elves.”
“I’m Sir Garlik, Knight Protector of etcetera etcetera…” Sir Garlik bows slightly, and then raises the flask once more to his lips.
The dragonborn suddenly stops, looks puzzled.
“I say little chap- you don’t know where there’s any ice do you?” Sir Garlik waves the flask about.
Jimmy shakes his head, mouth-open wide, still gawping.
“Pity.” Sir Garlik states and then adds, “just have to make do, chin-chin.” He salutes with his flask and then tilts it back and drains it.


Jimmy is also Level 2 now.


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KOTS Part 9c: In the Dark.

“When I get… oooff!” Sigur’s head thumps hard in to the wall- a great hairy clawed foot against his face- pressing down, crushing him in to the stone.
“Get off… Me.” The dwarf gasps.

The pressure subsides.
“Soooon. Soooon…” A lilting voice hisses and croons from the darkness.
“Filthy…” But that’s as far as Sigur gets.

It’s nearly an hour later when the dwarf comes around.
“… I don’t know why you do it- that’s all. You continue to make it worse for yourself, and for us, if you’d just shut up- stop antagonising them. Sigur? Sigur, are you listening to me?” Tonka asks.
Sigur shakes his head, to clear the cobwebs. “No!” He finally states.
“Clearly you are listening, your reply just another example of your churlish nature. What is it with you Sigur, hmm? Do you crave attention; do you always have to have the last word? Always?” Tonka asks, clearly exasperated with the dwarf.

The silence extends.

“I said…”
“I heard what you said- I was just proving my point.” Sigur snaps back.
“And your point is?”
“I don’t have to have the last word- I don’t have to reply to you at all; in fact I’d probably be better off not listening to a word you said, as a rule.” The cranky dwarf goes on.
“Well, I’ve never been spoken to…” Tonka replies but is cut off.
“That I doubt. I bet people are telling you all the time to shut up- but you just go on and on and on. But the difference between me and you, dragonborn, is that I’ve actually been, seen and done things- I didn’t get my life experiences from reading books at some goddamn seminary at the arse end of nowhere.” The last line is delivered with malice and at volume.

The silence returns- for a good while, maybe thirty minutes.

Eventually Tonka, still angry, decides to try again- there’s nothing else to do.

“Why do you do it then? Why antagonise the wererats?” Tonka asks, genuinely desperate to know.
“So that they beat me!” Sigur replies sarcastically, as if the answer is obvious.
“So that they beat you?” Tonka parrots back, confused.
“You really don’t get it do you?” Sigur asks exasperated.
“No.” Tonka confirms.
“So that they beat me- and not you, or the bloody half-orc. You idiot.” Sigur explains.

The silence returns, goes on a while, again it’s Tonka that breaks it.

“That’s possibly the bravest thing I’ve ever heard.” Tonka states with emotion.
“Shut up!” Sigur snaps back.
“I’d not thought of it that way. Thank you, Sigur. Thank you.” Tonka’s voice wobbles a little.
“Gah!” Sigur spits.

Tonka goes to speak again but his words are drowned out by the sound of grinding stone, the wall ahead slides aside and light floods in to the chamber.

It’s a rough cavern, maybe ten feet square, no exit save for the secret door just opened.

The chamber is natural stone, shaped a little here and there, but uncomfortable. In the far corner lie the three adventurers, their arms and legs tied tightly, Tonka squints in the light- takes a moment to check out his companions.

Gokan lies silent still; the half-orc’s cuts have at last stopped bleeding, although Tonka is certain they are infected. Gokan has only been conscious twice, and then only briefly, in the last- Tonka estimates - 48 hours. The half-orc is hovering at death’s door.

Sigur is a mess, perhaps even more of a mess than Gokan; one eye is completely shut, blood covers the dwarf’s face and mats his beard and hair. There are at least a half-dozen of the dwarf’s teeth scattered on the floor around him, his mouth is a ragged bloody mess. Sigur has been stabbed, at least twice, and beaten- Tonka estimates, at least five times- he must have broken ribs, the dwarf wheezes when he breathes.

Tonka has been beaten once- he has a black eye. Gokan has not been touched.

Standing in the light are four halfling-sized wererats, grinning- several of them produce crude wooden clubs, one of them hefts a rock, the last a dagger. The vermin shuffle forward, grinning and hissing their pleasure.

Tonka knows what comes next.

Sigur snarls and… gets a dig in the ribs, which takes the dwarf’s breath away.

“You’re nothing but nasty mice. You’re cowards, horrible cowards. Yes, that’s it- horrible cheese-eating cowards! If I were free of these bonds…”

Tonka’s speech is quickly curtailed, or rather brutally curtailed; the wererats beat the dragonborn warlord severely, and stab him once in the leg for good measure.

They leave Sigur and Gokan be.

Tonka regains consciousness two hours later, the dragonborn’s moans and groans wake Sigur, even Gokan stirs a little. The light is gone- the door is shut, they’re back in the pitch black- and still with no food, or water.

“I feel terrible” Tonka finally mutters.
“So do I. Most of the time.” Sigur states, and then giggles.

The giggle turns to laughter

And after a moment’s hesitation Tonka joins in.


Note, because these guys have been captured they are still level 1- in all the time in captivity they have not been allowed to rest properly. I also made each player make an Endurance check and Constitution check each day, for three days, mainly because it added tension and also helped me to craft the story dependent on their dice rolls and the PCs role-play, of course.

Tonka’s checks started well and then went downhill, although never terrible. Sigur’s checks started average and then got better. Gokan on the other hand had a critical failure on his first and second day- and thus remained unconscious. In contrast on the third day his checks were, unadjusted, ‘20’ and a ‘19’. The half-orc got better quickly.

All three characters are bloodied still, and have half their maximum healing surges, although they cannot access their surges as of yet- because of sleep deprivation, illness and constant beatings.

The rule is they can only access their healing surges again when they’re free, you’ll see.


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KOTS Part 10: The Exchange.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Rescue Team Level 2

See Character Sheets for stats and magic items.​


The 28th day of the third month of the year 2012, and the wind whips around the ancient burial site- Jimmy stands statue, behind him- every now and then the huff and snort of Sgt. Ramm, the great minotaur.

“Here we go…” Jimmy says out loud, but doesn’t move.

On the opposite side of the depression a mixture of rats and rat men scurry down the slope, leading the prisoners, there are- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven… there are a lot of them. Too many? Jimmy worries and frets.

Jimmy’s fellow adventurers, the wererats’ prisoners, shamble, stumble and almost fall time and again. Tonka leads the way- their hands are tied behind their backs, Jimmy notes. Tonka and Sigur look the worst for wear- Tonka is cradling his right hand, it looks broken. Jimmy seethes, they’ve clearly been beaten badly.

Gokan, Jimmy’s brother, however looks remarkably well, odd that.

Eventually the scurrying rats fan out across the depression, and then at some squeaky signal stop, and hold station. In the middle of the pack the much larger wererat suddenly shapes and forms.

The wererat mugger, the chief of the vermin, stretches and yawns a moment. The foul creature is massive - perhaps six-and-a-half feet tall - and thick-set; Jimmy continues to fret. The foul vermin wields a blood-stained morningstar, at least Jimmy hopes that’s blood, if not… the halfling wonders.

“Well?” The wererat chief proclaims and leans on his weapon.

Jimmy turns and nods at Ramm, the minotaur strides forward- snorting all the way, then in one swift action lifts the great chest off his shoulder and lets it go. The box thumps in to the hard earth, and rocks back and forth for a moment- spilling much of its contents.

The minotaur reaches for his battleaxe.

“Ah-ah!” The wererat chief warns pointing at Ramm’s weapon with his morningstar.

Ramm sucks in air and bellows, long and loud… and terrifying. The minotaur is not in the least bit cowed, Ramm hefts his axe, snorts again and stomps back to stand alongside Jimmy.

“Send them to us…” Jimmy states.

The wererat chief nods back to his rat men, a pair of scurrying wererats head forward, and after a short time spent sniffing and tinkering with the chest flip the lid open- gold, lots and lots of gold, more of it spills out.

The pair squeal with delight, take it in turns to nod furiously at the chief, and then attempt to drag the chest back to their lines.

Meantime the three prisoners are lead forward by four smaller wererat minions, the creatures ready for action with daggers drawn.

“You’ve done the right thing…” The wererat chief starts up, but Jimmy isn’t listening.

The halfling stares intently at Gokan, waiting, wanting the half-orc to look up and meet his gaze.

“… but you do realise there are only two of you…”

The wererats leading the prisoners forward suddenly come to a halt, preventing further progress- menacing the trio with their blades. Another pair of the smaller wererats rush over to help the drag the chest away.

Jimmy tries desperately to catch Gokan’s eye- the half-orc is for some reason staring hard at a bush over the far side of the depression.

“… so, five thousand gold- that’s enough for one of them.” The wererat chief grins. “Choose!”

Jimmy suddenly looks over at the chief, puzzled.

“I said choose- five thousand buys you one of your brothers.” The last word is uttered with such disdain…

Jimmy starts to curse but then, at last, locks eyes on Gokan.

The half-orc winks and then grins at his brother, and in the same moment Tonka and Sigur also meet the halfling’s gaze- all three of them are grinning.

Involuntarily Jimmy finds himself smiling back.

“Stick it up yer arse! For Douvern!” Jimmy screams, and all hell breaks loose.

[sblock=Picture- The Exchange]


The Red Baron calmly stands and aims, previously hidden in a swathe of vegetation on the edge of the depression. A wererat suddenly sprouts two arrows, it staggers as the blood spurts from its wounds- screaming in its odd high-pitched voice.

[sblock=Picture- The Red Baron in action]



Skirmisher Level 2


A patch of ground to the side of Jimmy erupts, Sir Garlik launches himself up and forward, the dragonborn paladin is covered in dirt, he spits out the hollowed reed he has been using to breath while buried in the earth, and shouts out.

“Have at them chaps!”

Sir Garlik charges at the closest enemy, a shocked looking scurrying wererat, and connects.

[sblock=Scurrying Wererat]

Scurrying Wererat
Skirmisher Level 3


Another patch of earth explodes and Eko stands, spitting dirt, and with her off-hand trying to frizz the muck and detritus from her hair.

“Mon dieu! It iz filthy!”

The half-elf makes shapes with her wand and shouts over at the wererat Sir Garlik is facing, “but not az filthy as you, although you were born in a litter!”

The wererat staggers, Eko’s vicious magical mockery somehow winnowing away its strength, it’s mortally offended by the half-elf’s casual racism. Jimmy grins and chuckles, takes a step back, and spins out his vicious dagger- the scurrying wererat falls, the rescuers’ first victim.


Eko’s opening Vicious Mockery attack is a Crit for 21 Psychic damage.


Ramm bellows, hefts his axe and charges with his battered shield to the fore, the minotaur crashes in to another wererat, smashing and flattening the creature’s nose- sending it sprawling on its back in to the dirt.

[sblock=Picture- Surprise!]



And Ramm Crits too, 15 points of damage from his Shield Bash, and knocking the wererat back and prone.


Sigur, Gokan and Tonka scream and shout and scrabble furiously with their bonds trying to tear themselves free, alas all to no avail.


The three prisoners can attempt to break free of their bonds with a DC20 check- using a suitable skill (convince me)- the check is a Move Action, furthermore the DC is reduced by 1 each round.

Remember they cannot use Healing Surges until they’re free, by which I mean free of their bonds.


The wererat chief screams up a storm, interspersed with numerous high-pitched squeaks, all of the rats and wererats scurry in to battle- a chaotic rag-tag charge in to the adventurers.

Sir Garlik is quickly surrounded, or else harried on all sides- a vast swarm of rats nibble at the paladin’s feet while a pair of wererats, one tall and one small, stab and bite at him.

[sblock=Picture- Sir Garlik is surrounded]


[sblock=Rat Swarm]

Rat Swarm
Skirmisher Level 2


[sblock=Wererat Scum]

Wererat Scum
Minion Skirmisher Level 5


[sblock=Wererat Minion]

Wererat Minion
Minion Skirmisher Level 1


“Damn your eyes, you verminous cad!” Garlik yelps and parries again, he manages just to keep the creatures at bay, but is wounded twice in quick succession.

A tide of wererats make for the three prisoners, the easy targets, Gokan however is straight in to action.

“Raaaaghh!” The half-orc rages and breaks his bonds, a wererat charges forward and is kicked in the face. A wererat scum scurries forward and takes an elbow to the throat, the foul vermin sinks to the floor clutching at the spot- it takes an age to choke and die.

The injured wererat breaks off its assault, bruised and battered; the half-orc is as of yet unharmed, although still suffering from his time in captivity. Another wererat minion dashes in to the fray, but is brusquely cuffed and knocked aside.


The three prisoners are unarmed, I have therefore allowed them were possible to use their existing Martial (and other) powers either unarmed or else with improvised weapons- with penalties on their To Hit chances, and reduced damage of course.

Gokan however, it seems, is back on top form- the dice love him.


Sigur, still tied up, manages to use his bonds to parry a wererat’s dagger thrust. Tonka alas is not so fortunate, or else less adept; the dragonborn warlord is gnawed on by a pair of wererat minions- he staggers.

[sblock=Picture- The Prisoners try to fight their way out]



Tonka finds himself very quickly reduced to 3 hit points.


“Kill them all! Kill the traitors!” The wererat mugger chief yells out to his verminous companions.

The Red Baron calmly notches an arrow, and then another, both shots thump in to the same wererat he pin-cushioned previously, the squealing creature sinks to its knees and then pitches forward.

Garlik meantime is still struggling to keep his attackers at bay. The rat swarm is beginning to slow him down, the creatures are doing their best to climb and bite at his legs, the dragonborn swoons and staggers. Then suddenly shifts his head back and lets loose a spray of fizzing acid from his mouth- portions of the rat swarm are instantly blackened, reduced to smoking formless lumps of scalded flesh.

A wererat minion is likewise caught in the acid arc, blobs of the foul expectorate smoke and burn in to the screaming vermin’s fur and flesh- the creature drops down dead.

Garlik holds his sword aloft for a moment, and then yells to his god- “I am Bahamut’s revenge, hear me roar…” and then in one swift motion brings his magical honour blade around and down- in to the midst of the rat swarm, a whirlwind of cuts and slices, like a threshing machine.

Decapitated, or else cut clean in two, tens if not hundreds of rats fall to his blade which is a blur, in the midst of the mayhem Garlik takes a moment to point at his new dragonborn companion- Tonka, “Bahamut preserve, my lad. Bahamut preserve!”

Many of Tonka’s wounds instantly heal, the hurt is gone.

“Yes he does! Yes he does!” Tonka yelps back, nodding his thanks and twisting aside from a wererat’s dagger.

[sblock=Picture- Sir Garlik- the rat slaying paladin]



Sir Garlik is a thing of beauty when he gets in to action, and is being played expertly here- or so it seemed to us at the time.

Although bloodied by the swarm the dragonborn paladin fights back with his Daily Paladin’s Judgement, the swarm is also bloodied, while Tonka is healed and back in the action.


The wererat chief is being out done in the leadership stakes, the furious vermin screams and points at the Red Baron; a bunch of wererat minions scurry towards the elf, although the ranger is fairly safe for now, atop the depression.

Tonka snarls and grimaces, and… wonder of wonders, breaks his bonds. The dragonborn inhales, and then exhales a fan of lightning. One of the two wererat minions menacing the dragonborn is caught in the blast- frazzled and fried. The dragonborn grabs up what’s left of the creature and uses it as a club- smashing the broken burnt body in to a wererat that strays too close, almost killing it in his frenzy.

“Bahamut preserve!” Tonka yells and more of his wounds disappear.

Eko rushes forward a little way, towards the enemy’s front line, she swats with her sword ineffectively and then suddenly calls out, a warrior’s battlecry.

“Zword and Bow!
Zpell and Prayer!
Vanquish ze Vermin!
For Harken!
For Harken!

Alas her shout of triumph is lost in the noise of the battle, the wererats unaffected by her call. The half-elf harrumphs, and steps back a little way, it’s time for her wand to do its work.

“I am ze clever cat. Ze clever cat eats cheese, and breaths down rat holez wiz baited breath!”

Eko stands on tip-toe, arches her back and makes claws of her hands- she hisses like a fearsome feline ready to pounce. The effect is instantaneous; a good third of the remaining rat swarm takes fright and scurries away.

The last remaining wererat scum clutches at its chest and keels over dead, frightened to death by the half-elf’s vicious mockery.

“Mwah!” Eko kisses her Orium wand, its power enabling her to repeat her trick on the wererat scum. “Bon.” She declares.

The fighting is still furious however, in the midst of the melee Gokan and Tonka are both bitten by wererat scum, the little bastards are everywhere.

[sblock=Picture- It’s getting deadly...]



Gokan is bloodied.


“Enough of this!” The wererat mugger mutters, and strides over to Gokan, the half-orc quickly turns to meet his new opponent, the first swing of the chief’s morningstar is wild, Gokan easily parries it. The second attack takes all of his skill to turn aside, the third… The third Gokan doesn’t even see.

[sblock=Wererat Mugger, the Chief]

Wererat Mugger
Elite Brute Level 5


The morningstar crashes in to the side of Gokan’s unprotected skull, almost smashing it- worse still the studs of the great weapon exude some viscous fast-acting toxin. Gokan suddenly stands tall, goes rigid, and then wordlessly collapses.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan’s down]



Gokan is reduced to -5 hit points after taking 16 damage and 5 Poison damage from the Wererat Mugger’s Poisoned Morningstar attack.


“Noooooo!” Jimmy cries out as his brother falls, the halfling moves forward flinging daggers as he goes, a wererat minion clutches at its throat briefly and then sinks to its knees, clawing at the gaping wound which spurts and gushes blood.

“You bastard!” Jimmy yells again, now marching straight towards the wererat chief, a second wererat minion dives towards the halfling, another of Jimmy’s daggers spins out and skewers the vermin’s heart.

“You’re the double-crossing rat bastard.” Jimmy’s vicious dagger spins out.


A horrible watery sound as the vicious blade slams in to the wererat mugger’s right eye socket- destroying the orb within entirely.

The chief screams and flails wildly as it staggers.

“We’re Hard Core, don’t mess with us!” Jimmy states as his magical dagger reappears in his hand, with a sly flourish he darts in and stabs the wererat mugger, as hard as he can, leaving a great jagged rent in the vermin’s gut.


Jimmy with his Blinding Barrage Daily, followed by an Action Point and a Sly Flourish- all hits.


Yet another pair of wererat minions are quickly on the scene, the pair get between Jimmy and their chief, stabbing and squeaking- snapping and biting, Jimmy is nipped once in the fracas, but manages to keep the pair at bay.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy with a bullseye, make that rat’s eye...]


Tonka continues also to menace the wererats before him- swinging the dead wererat about him, alas he too is bitten for his efforts. Sigur meanwhile, manoeuvres as best he can- dodging and ducking to avoid the various melees. All the while the dwarf continues to try to break his bonds.

Alas the old dwarf, exasperated and swearing furiously and constantly does not possess the strength to free himself

Ramm, the great minotaur sergeant is the last to wade in to the action, he sees his opportunity at last. His half-run turns in to a charge, casually cutting down an already battered wererat en route to the blinded chief.

He slams his axe in to the wererat leader, digging another great rent in to the foul creature’s body, and then gets in close.

“You’re dead meat, scumbag!”

He whispers in to the wererat chief’s ear.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm does his thing]


The rat swarm moves off a little way and menaces Eko, the elven bard dodges back and kicks out at the vermin, she keeps away from harm.

Meanwhile the Red Baron similarly manoeuvres and gets clear of the wererat minions scrabbling up the steep bank, sent by the chief to menace him. The elf’s hands are a blur on his bow; his first arrow thumps in to the chief, delivering further hurt. His second almost ends another nearby wererat, his third arrow misses the chief by inches, his fourth however finds the spot.


The Red Baron with his Daily Split the Tree, followed by an Action Point and a Twin Strike- three hits out of four attacks.

Although it needs to be said the Wererat Mugger (Chief) is still not bloodied.


Garlik, still bleeding from a myriad bites, calls out to the swarm.

“Fight me verminous scum!” Then lashes out, his magical sword momentarily wreathed in radiant power- he cuts another swathe through the now vastly depleted vermin menace.

A wererat rushes towards Tonka, squeaking furiously as it comes, the dragonborn spills the broken body he was using as a club- looks about him for a new weapon but sees nothing suitable to hand. The wererat closes fast, and then launches itself at the dragonborn, who cocks his right hand and steps aside at the very last moment; Tonka punches the foul creature in the side of its head as it rushes past him. The wererat lands in a crumpled heap- neck broken, dead.

“Bahamut preserve!” Tonka calls out, and Gokan’s eyes flutter open.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan’s conscious]


Eko’s freedom meanwhile is short lived, the rat swarm tracks her down, ignoring Garlik’s threats and menaces- the elven bard takes bites and scratches to her feet and lower legs. She fights back however, and manages to cut a few more of the vermin down. The dragonborn paladin likewise cuts again and despatches several more members of the rodent gang. The swarm is all but gone- tens, rather than hundreds, of rats are all that’s left.

Yet again Eko dodges back and gets herself free of the swarm; she concentrates her efforts on a new target, the still blind wererat chief.

Eko hollers at the flailing chief- “You’re not a rat; you’re a mouse wiz dreamz. We’re here to CRUSH YOUR DREAMZ!”

The effect is instantaneous; the great rat man cowers and just for a moment seems to shrink in size.

“DEZTROY ZE VERMIN!” Eko shouts out to her fellow adventurers, and then off-handedly calls back to Sir Garlik, “Mon chere, up, up- in to ze fight!”

The dragonborn paladin grins as his wounds and hurt disappear in an instant after Eko’s majestic words.

[sblock=Picture- DEZTROY ZE VERMIN!]



Eko with her Daily Stirring Shout, the Wererat Mugger (Chief) takes a little Psychic damage but even better every hit on the creature restores five hit points to the attacker.


Not everyone on the side of right is happy with their situation however…

“Great big dangly wobbly troll cobblers!”
“If I… <Gnah!> When I… <Ghah!>”

And other exhortations, Sigur continues to attempt to free himself from his bonds, a wererat minion spots the dwarf’s predicament and clambers on to Sigur’s back to gnaw at his neck.

He’s not happy.

Not happy at all.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur and friend…]



Sigur is, of course, bloodied.


The wererat chief, still flailing wildly and sans one eye, lashes out at his main tormentor- Jimmy; the sneaky halfling scurries aside at the last moment- avoiding the wild swish of the creature’s morningstar, and its follow up gnashing bite.

Alas Jimmy’s own attacks, a spinning effort aimed at the wererat chief and another of the seemingly ever-present minions, are also well wide of the mark. The halfling momentarily juggles his vicious dagger and on the third attempt manages to grab the blade, and prevent it from escaping his grasp.


Jimmy with Acrobat’s Blade rolls ‘1’, and, ‘1’. We don’t have critical fumbles in game but I made him make a Dex check to keep hold of his weapon- it seemed right.


The wererat minions continue to snipe, and stab, and bite at the adventurers- Gokan and Tonka both fail to keep the pesky miscreants at bay, and are further cut, sliced and slashed.


Gokan is back to bloodied, as is Tonka.


Sigur at last gets free, after gnawing at his bonds.

“Moradin’s undergarments… at last!”
The dwarf cries and then invokes, the wererat minion gripped tight to the dwarf’s back is suddenly swamped by dark and bloody thoughts of its own demise.

“Kill me! Kill me now!”

The wererat yelps, Sigur grabs the creature and twists its neck violently, there’s a sickening CRUNCH as something snaps, the dwarf is happy to oblige.

Ramm meantime puts his head, and horns down, takes a step back and launches himself at the wererat chief, the vermin leader is skewered- the hurt not that great, although enough to leave the lycanthrope sprawling in the dirt.

Ramm bellows, and stomps and paws the dirt.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm- rams!]



The Wererat Mugger may be down, but it’s still not bloodied.


The rat swarm turns its attention back to Sir Garlik, but the paladin is in no mood to play. Again and again he slashes at the scurrying menace, until finally, eventually- the few remaining rodents scarper, the swarm dissipates- destroyed.

Not content Garlik lumbers forward and grabs Gokan and pulls him up to his feet, stating in a clear voice- “Bahamut preserve you, my lad. Bahamut preserve you.”

The half-orc grunts in acknowledgement and grins, his wounds heal over- and just in time.

A pair of wererat minions dash at Gokan, the first is subject to a roundhouse kick which sends the verminous fellow flying, only to land in an unmoving crumpled heap. The second however gets a grip on the half-orc, but not for long; Gokan grapples and wrestles it, eventually grabs and throws the small wererat over his shoulder, hard on to the ground. He unceremoniously finishes the move by stamping repeatedly on the wererat’s head, face and neck- till it’s dead.

Two down- Gokan thinks, and grins.

[sblock=Picture- Sir Garlik and Gokan in action]


The Red Baron scurries back, having to duck and dodge a wererat minion assailant, the elf takes a nip to his right wrist during the manoeuvre, although he manages to free himself of the wererat’s attention. His first arrow ends the creature, his second thuds in to the wererat chief, who screams and hollers. The shot is made more difficult by the fact the wererat is lying on the floor in the midst of the melee.


The Wererat Mugger is at last bloodied.


The battle field is clearing- the wererats are almost spent. As if to prove the point Tonka moves forward and lashes out at yet another minion with his longsword, the miserable wretch is gutted, it dies in less than a minute.

“Fortune favourz zose zat favour fortune…” Eko states cryptically as she sidles closer to Tonka, the dragonborn nods- as if he understands, his wounds also heal over- the half-elf’s majestic words make him smile.

“You dirty, double-crossing rat!” Eko yells out at the wererat chief, alas her vicious mockery falls on deaf ears- the foul creature, even with its one-eye, can see the destruction that has been wrought on its followers.

The wererat mugger leaps to its feet and flees, and at top speed.

Although not fast enough to out run Jimmy’s vicious dagger, which briefly lodges in the vermin leader’s back, before reappearing in the halfling’s hand.


We have a rule in our games, if the bad guy (or PC) can get off the game board (on-line map, or whatever) then they are considered to have escaped. Note many of the maps we use, particularly on-line via Maptools are very big, as in the whole dungeon is mapped out. It’s therefore easy to get away in the great outdoors, or else in the streets of the city, more difficult to escape in the dungeon.

Regardless the Wererat Mugger is one square away from the edge of the map, having spent its Action Point to make a triple move…


Sigur, hands free at last, mumbles and invokes as he strides forward over the body-strewn battlefield. Thunder rumbles and rolls, for a second, and then explodes- a titanic thunderclap which slams in to the wererat mugger, leaving the creature disorientated and dazed, and clutching at its ears.

Ramm, the minotaur sergeant, hefts his axe and rushes off in pursuit of the wererat chief.

[sblock=Picture- The Rat Race!]



The Wererat Mugger is Dazed and reduced to 40 hit points, can it escape with its life?


Gokan screams and charges, smashing in to the unprotected back of the wererat chief, his twin axes THUNK in to the creature, leaving it sprawling in the dirt. And yet still it scrabbles trying to be up and away.

The Red Baron skitters closer, and even though the mugger makes a poor target- it being very close to the ground, the elf still manages to sink two arrows in to the foul vermin.

[sblock=Picture- Wererat Mugger take down.]



The Wererat Mugger is still Dazed but is now on only 3 hit points.


“Peace! PEACE!”

The wererat chief screams as it gets to its feet, hands out before it.

Ramm realising he’s not going to get there in time grabs out a javelin and sends it high in to the air, briefly, the missile ends its journey by skewering the wererat mugger’s remaining working oracle.

Although the loss of the wererat’s vision proves to be only a minor inconvenience, the javelin protrudes all the way through the lycanthrope’s skull, the foul vermin sinks to its knees and then flops forward- dead.

[sblock=Picture- Where Rat?]



Ramm ends it with a Crit.


The wererats are dead, the rescue is complete.

[sblock=Encounter #10 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

Encounter #10 The Rat Pack, starring-

Wererat Minion (Minion Skirmisher 1) x10
Wererat Scum (Minion Skirmisher 5) x2
Rat Swarm (Skirmisher 2) x1
Wererat (Skirmisher 2) x3
Wererat Scurrying (Skirmisher 3) x1
Wererat Mugger (Elite Brute 5) x1

1400 XP Level 6 Encounter.

However when the PCs get their comrades free- Gokan, Sigur & Tonka, then there's going to be 8 good guys in play.


175 XP each for a total of 1594 XP in total (PCs Level 2).

Eight PCs in play at the end, hence only 175 XP each- I am of course going to ensure that all PCs have the same amount of XP at all times.

DM Thoughts-

The PCs are back on form, a cracking combat in which I allowed the PCs to get the drop on the bad guys because this was their chance to shine; all the guys had to do was come up with a good workable idea for how to hide the troops.

It’s a real shame that the Wererat Mugger (Chief) got tagged early in to the fight, after dropping Gokan with one good hit I thought I’d get the chance to make merry. That didn’t work out.

On reflection an easy fight, what with the players having a free run with their Daily powers- they’re going to take an Extended Rest next.

I don’t mind a few easy victories here and there, besides if the dice had rolled different I figure I could have taken another PC down.


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KOTS Part 10a: Clearing up the mess.

The prisoners, now ex-prisoners are embraced- each in turn by Jimmy, the halfling is most pleased to see his brother, Gokan. The half-orc is less emotional of course, and quickly back in to action.

The bodies of the dead wererats are searched thoroughly, a little gold and silver is recovered- which is put in the chest with the rest of the money brought to the exchange. Two other items of note are found; the first a set of leather bracers inscribed with magical runes of some sort- these are taken by Sigur, “Flaming Bracers”, the dwarf states and slips the magical items on.

“Nice!” Sigur crows and admires his new look.

[sblock=Sigur of Hammerfast]

Sigur, Male Dwarf Wrathful Invoker Level 1

Played by Steve

Sigur is loving his new Flaming Bracers.​


The second thing of interest, discovered on the body of the wererat mugger, the chief of the messengers, is a key. Not a new looking key, an old, maybe ancient key- large and ornate, made of some dark metal which even Sigur has difficulty identifying.

The best the dwarf can come up with is that it’s, “not from the ground… something else, something strange!” It’s not often that Sigur is stumped, and willing to admit to it.

The wererat bodies are hurriedly buried, the turned earth covered by bushes and scrub, hopefully they will not be found- if indeed anyone should come looking for them.

The burial site cleared up, the adventurers head back to Winterhaven- job done.

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KOTS Part 10b: Celebration.

Time seems to speed up and then slow down, at least for Jimmy. The return to Winterhaven is glorious- Wrafton’s is packed for the occasion, everyone in the town wants to buy them a drink. The locals are still jubilant after the defeat of the Kobolds, Jimmy’s not even sure they know anything about the Shadow Keep and its skulking inhabitants.

Jimmy tries to put the bad things from his mind, he plasters a smile to his face and accepts drink after drink. Gokan of course is a little more subdued, perhaps even a little downcast- perhaps he’s missing his big metal brother. The half-orc disappears early on from the celebration, slips upstairs with Gerda- it seems the pair have things to talk about.

The elves, or rather the elf and the half-elf, the Red Baron and Eko are in the centre of the celebration- relaxed and affable, drinking in moderation but partying hard. Eko has a beautiful voice it seems; the locals are very soon bewitched and delighted by her rousing ballads and songs. The Red Baron accompanies her for a while, borrowing a five stringed lute-like instrument from behind the bar.

Garlik also entertains with tall tales of high adventure; the dragonborn paladin has a rich and sonorous voice, which enthrals all within earshot.

Ramm drinks hard, doesn’t leave the bar, consuming pint after pint- the minotaur has a day off tomorrow but the day after, he’s back in on duty in the Winterhaven Guard. Sigur joins the minotaur- the pair say little to each other, just steadily drink themselves in to unconsciousness.

Tonka is a little lost, part of his evening is spent with Jimmy, glad to see his little friend again, later it occurs to the dragonborn that things have changed now. He’s aware that he must return to the Shadow Keep, a mixture of dread, fear and excitement affects him, and yet he’s conscious that now is not the time to speak of their return.

Later still he worries further, will any of the adventurers want to return to the Keep- is this it, are they done? Tonka frets, drinks too much perhaps, and becomes a little maudlin.

The evening ends as the revellers, one by one, head upstairs to their rooms or else home to their families.


Douvern is the last to retire, even taking the time to clear a little of the debris of the evening away, he doesn’t want to go to sleep yet.

Tomorrow is going to be difficult, decisions are going to have to be made, Gerda is probably not going to be happy, or worse still- he’s going to be disappointed.

They must go back, Douvern thinks. They must finish the job, or else what was it all for… the loss of his son, Hal.

Adventuring is in the blood, he thinks, and finally- with the fingers of dawn glistening in the window, the party over, he trudges upstairs to sleep if only for a little while.

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KOTS Part 10c: Fever!

The next day, of course, doesn’t go as Douvern planned- no decisions are made.

Filth Fever strikes.

By midday on the 29th day of the third month of 2012 three of the adventurers have been declared sick- very sick, by Sister Lenora. Jimmy, Tonka and the Red Baron are bed-ridden, the trio are beset by a terrible fever, alternatively freezing and boiling. The priestess of Avandra has her work cut out, although Garlik and Eko are on hand to help with her ministrations.

The day passes oh-so slowly, no-one it seems is talking about the future, about what happens next.

Back in the bar Ramm goes back to drinking, Sigur joins him.

Gokan stays out of the Inn, the half-orc accompanies a local tracker, an elf by the name of Ninaran in to the wilds- hunting for sport and for game for the pot. Gokan wants to be away from the black cloud that seems to hang over the town, the tavern, and his friends.

Douvern and Gerda are not talking, at all. Both, however, take it in turns to visit Jimmy, to hold his hand and fret some more over their fragile son.

The day passes, subdued- with no one asking the obvious question- what now?

The next day is less quiet, Jimmy and Tonka are better, at least their fever is almost gone- they’re ordered to spend another day in bed resting but Sister Lenora is certain they will make a full recovery very quickly- up and about the next day perhaps.

The Red Baron is not so fortunate, his fever worsens, the elf spends much of the day delirious, muttering and shaking, beset by phantom itches and aches. He struggles to eat, or else take water- he’s very sick, Sister Lenora worries; she confesses to Garlik that if the fever doesn’t break in the next two days then the elf’s life may be in the balance.

She prays that fortune favours the brave.

And thus it continues…

For the next day.

And the next day.

And the next.

It’s not until the 3rd day of the fourth month in the year 2012 that things change.

The Red Baron’s fever has still not fully broken, although Sister Lenora is now confident that the danger has passed, the elf will need a good deal more rest, but the worst is over.

And with this news the dam bursts.

In style.

Ramm smashes his tankard in to the bar, fracturing the vessel and spilling the last of his ale; the minotaur has been excused duties in the town, somehow ‘attached’ to the adventurers that skulk around the inn.

“Gods! What the hell are we still doing here?” The minotaur turns to address the bar, all of the adventurers, save the Red Baron, are present, as are Douvern and Gerda.

“I don’t know what you saw there? What you’re frightened of? I’ve only lived here for three years, but even I know what you’ve done.”

Ramm has an audience; the minotaur gesticulates and points furiously, a little drunk.

“You’ve stirred up a nest of vipers. I’ve heard you speak about the Shadow Keep- about the creatures you fought there- goblins, hobgoblins, wolves… demons!”

Ramm hiccups.

“Is that how you’re going to leave it? Leave us?”

Ramm spreads his arms out wide, exasperated.

“Oh what heroes you are… You rescue your friend…” Ramm points at Douvern. “Then you take care of the kobolds. Then you head off to the Keep, start to make your mark… It all goes wrong of course, but now!”

Ramm shakes his head furiously.

“Now! You just sit here, and worry over the elf.” Ramm tails off, and then suddenly turns and shouts again. “They’re out there, at the Keep still, and if we don’t go back and get them, then they’ll come here- for us!”

Ramm grabs out his battleaxe, spins it in the air and catches the haft, just.


He sinks the blade in to the table at which Sigur and Tonka sit.

“I will go to the Keep. I will see the job done.” Ramm declares, jabbing himself in the chest, he suddenly grabs for his axe and attempts to lever it out from the table, he struggles and after a moment has to flop down in to a chair, which groans under the sudden weight.

“Bloody fools!”

Ramm plainly states, and then head down slumps in to unconsciousness.

“I’ll go…”

Jimmy and Gokan state in unison, the pair look at each- grin. Douvern grins back, thinks better of it and tries to hide his smile, Gerda scowls.

“Count me in.” Sigur states.
“And me.” Declares a grinning Tonka.

Gerda heads for the door, stomping all the way.

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