Hard Core Adventurers- KOTS 20.06 The Cathedral of Shadows


KOTS Part 10d: Return to the Shadow Keep.

“So there are two of them with names beginning with ‘K’?” Jimmy states.
Valthruin nods, “that’s right- Sir Keegan was in charge of the Keep, he went mad- slew his family and men. He was eventually trapped in the catacombs by his second in command, a holy warrior of Bahamut- Sir Kalarel, a brave young man who fought valiantly to bring the Keep back under control.”

The room goes silent. Ramm shrugs, “what do we care?” The minotaur huffs.
Sigur grins and whispers to Tonka, “I like him, good attitude, better than the metal one… ”

Valthruin, the sage of Winterhaven, has been hired again, at Gerda’s insistence- just to run through the history of the Keep once more, ensure there’s no clue to be found.

Tonka grins at Sigur’s aside- Hal was a little difficult to talk to after all, the dragonborn looks around only to be met by Gerda’s gaze- she’s not grinning, or smiling, or… Tonka puts his head down and admires his boots.

Sister Lenora has also been visited by Gerda, the two women it seem have much in common- certainly their opinions on foolish men folk that seem to think they have something to prove…

The Priestess of Avandra, at Gerda’s insistence, brews up a fresh batch of healing potions, enough for each of the adventurers to take one; Gerda’s spending Douvern’s money in an effort to ensure that her remaining sons return from their next venture in to the Keep.

She’s not happy but she’s going to make damn sure that Gokan and Jimmy do not want for anything. In fact unbeknownst to Douvern, or indeed any of the other adventurers, both receive a stern lecture from Gerda about staying safe in the dungeon.

For Gokan it goes a little like this-

“And keep warm…”
Gokan nods as Gerda roughly grabs his leather surcoat and attempts to drag it over any gaps where the wind or chill could get in.
“And look after your brother; he may think he’s tough but…” Gerda sighs.
Gokan nods.
“Have you sharpened that?” Gerda nods at Gokan’s hand axe.
Gokan grunts, grins and nods.
“Make sure you have.”
Gokan nods again.
Gokan proffers his hands out flat before him.
“Nails! Cut them! I don’t know” Gerda slaps the back of Gokan’s right hand.
Gokan winces and then nods.
Gokan turns his rough hands over.
Gerda stares down at them.

For too long, a tear falls on to Gokan’s open palm.
The half-orc grunts, gently, more like a sigh.

Jimmy’s experience is a lot less subtle.

“Mwarm” Jimmy tries again.
“Mwarm!” He tries again, insistent.

Jimmy’s face is bright red.

“MWARM!” Once more, this time a mixture of anger and fear…
Gerda steps back, releasing Jimmy from her bear hug.

Jimmy gulps in air, able to breathe again.

“I don’t know why you worry so much, I can take care of myself- I’m a lot tougher than Gok…OOF!”

Followed a moment later by-


Eventually the adventurers are on their way, the journey back to the Shadow Keep is very familiar for four of the five, Ramm follows his companions.

Their passage is silent, or at least quiet, a little chatter here and there- mostly Tonka keeping everyone’s spirit up.

Just before midday on the 4th day of the fourth month in the year 2012 the Hard Core adventurers return to the ruins of the Keep on the Shadowfell.

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KOTS Part 11: Return to the Shadow Keep.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 2

They’re back...​


The adventurers soon discover the partially eaten remains of one of the goblin prisoners they took on their first venture in to the dungeons, last seen tied to a tree.

The goblin, Gokan confirms, has been savaged by some wild, but probably natural, predator- the creature had little defence what with its broken arm, multiple fractures- wrist, jaw and skull; and probable concussion.

Sigur grins, “Got what it deserved.” The dwarf spits on the shredded remains of the dead goblin, chuckling still.

The other prisoner is gone, although the rope that bound it is still there, the creature looks to have untied itself, or else it had help…

Gokan noses around the spot- the half-orc’s not certain, many days have passed and there’s been a lot of rain, but he thinks the creature headed back in to the lair. Alone, probably.

The next step is to get closer, back in to the ruins proper and to the stairs down to the catacombs.

Jimmy heads forward, Gokan shadowing the halfling- their first task is to scout out the upper region of the ruins, the fallen stone and blasted masonry of the original keep, just in case.

The pair quarter and search the area quickly, all is safe and secure. They locate the stairs down, and after directing their colleagues to the spot, Jimmy heads down- Gokan a little behind the halfling.

The pair pull up short, voices- or rather one raised voice- not happy, a second voice only apparent every now and then.

“It waste! It all waste. Bun good. Bun make strong- fight, fight… Grrr!” The first voice is loud, insistent.
“But Jum…” The second voice wheedling, on shakier ground.
“BUN GOOD! Bun make strong. Bugsquash eat plenty bun. Fight-fight! Good bun!”
“Jumbatty say…”
“Who Jumbatty? Jumbatty strong? Jumbatty fight-fight?”
“Jumbatty say…”
“Jumbatty dead-dead. Jumbatty no strong- Jumbatty no bun. No bun bad! Jumbatty bad!”
“Bugsquash dead-dead. Bugsquash eat bun?”

There’s a murmur, other voices, seemingly grunting and agreeing with the last speaker.

Jimmy is at the bottom of the stairs now, Gokan only half way down, while the other adventurers wait at the top. The chamber is much as it was the last time they entered here, only this time there are hobgoblins present, at least six of them that Jimmy can see.

Five of the hobgoblins wear thick cured hide armour and tote longswords, the last- the stern voiced leader - is clad in scale armour, with a nasty looking flail and an equally nasty spiked shield.

[sblock=Picture- Hobgoblins!]


Six is more than enough hobgoblins, the halfling thinks.

The creatures are guards, that much is obvious from their armour and weapons. Jimmy presumes they should be guarding the entrance, he’s thankful they’re not.

[sblock=Hobgoblin Grunt]

Hobgoblin Grunt
Minion Level 3


[sblock=Hobgoblin Soldier]

Hobgoblin Soldier
Soldier Level 3


The foremost of the hobgoblins facing the leader seems to be clutching a misshapen, and squashed, handful of bread rolls. Two of the other grunts are eating sausages and following the action intently, every now and then gesticulating with their sausages to reinforce or back up a point.

“How Jumbatty know this?”
“Jumbatty hear it in book.”
“What Jumbatty hear in book?”
“Bread bad. Bun bad!”
“Why bread bad? Why bun bad?”
“Jumbatty say bread made of cardiganhighhats…” The grunt trails off.
“Cardiganhigh… hats?”
“Cardiganhighhats.” The formerly wheedling hobgoblin grunt confirms.
“Cardiganhighhats.” The leader states again.
The other hobgoblin nods, his fellow guards join in.

Jimmy scratches his chin, tries the word, “cardiganhighhats…” I wonder what… the halfling thinks.

“What cardiganhighhats?” The hobgoblin leader asks.

Jimmy nods.

And leans in a little closer to listen further…

“Aaaarggghhhhhh!” Gokan screams and rushes at the closest hobgoblin, the grunt holding the conversation with the hobgoblin soldier leader as it happens.

“Ohhhhh…” Jimmy sighs, followed by, “… don’t…”

Gokan flails wildly with both axes… and conspires to miss with both attacks.

Phew- Jimmy thinks, and then starts up again, “… don’t kill…”

Alas the last of the halfling’s statement is cut off by the sounds, and shouts and grumbles, of Tonka and Sigur moving at pace down the stairs - neither of them gets close enough to the action but they both put a lot of effort in to sounding threatening and dangerous.

“I just wanted…” Jimmy tries, but then looks up to see the hobgoblin soldier beginning to hoist its nasty looking flail in to action. The halfling’s vicious blade spins out and takes the creature by surprise…

The hobgoblin forgets its weapon and clutches, briefly, on to the pommel of the blade which nestles in its gut- briefly because the blade, moments later, disappears only to reappear in Jimmy’s hand. The hobgoblin soldier, dazed by the spectacle of its own blood, stands station- still clutching at the spot.

[sblock=Picture- Jimmy hits the spot]



Jimmy’s Sly Flourish combined with Surprise Strike, with Combat Advantage of course- 17 damage and the Hobgoblin Soldier is Dazed, nice one.


Jimmy grins.

“What’s cardiganhighhats?” The halfling shouts at the hobgoblin grunt who knows so much… The forlorn goblinoid turns, mouth open, to gawp at Jimmy.

“Cardiganhighhats are…”

And is then decapitated by a rushing, hollering, slicing Ramm.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm preserves the mystery]


“Fu…” Jimmy begins.

Suddenly a second hobgoblin soldier appears from the corridor to the south.

“What’s going on…” The creature begins but then spots its comrade clutching its gut, and the decapitated grunt, and then last of all Jimmy…

The great armoured hobgoblin charges, it takes all of Jimmy’s skill to duck and dodge the creature’s whirling flail, which smashes instead in to the pillar behind which the halfling now hides.

Another hobgoblin grunt suddenly springs in to life- it screams and lashes out at Gokan with its longsword, the half-orc easily parries the blow and with his hand axe cuts the creature down. Gokan cuts again at the bleeding soldier clutching at its gut, but as with his opening charge contrives to miss.

Tonka smashes in to the side of the same soldier, who is now vainly and badly trying to defend itself, the hobgoblin somehow manages to keep Tonka at bay. Yet another grunt gets in on the action and lashes at the dragonborn, but Tonka’s too quick and easily deflects the blow with his shield.

Down the corridor another pair of hobgoblins scurry in to the light, and begin to move forwards, towards the sounds of fighting.

Jimmy is suddenly menaced by yet another grunt, the hobgoblin cuts and the halfling dodges.

Back in the fracas the bloody soldier finally gets the hang of things, it screams and swings wildly at Gokan, the half-orc deftly avoids the creature’s flail.

[sblock=Picture- Hard Core hold the line]


Sigur stomps forward, so he can get a good look at the situation, the dwarf grumbles and his favourite three ghostly grasping hands appear- the first gut-punches the injured soldier, who blanches and almost falls.

The second slaps and leaves a radiant burn on the face of the second soldier, while the third clutches and chokes the life out of the grunt formerly menacing Jimmy.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur strikes]


Jimmy proffers a thumbs up, Sigur smirks unimpressed, and then rumbles and grumbles on, making pounding fists with his hands.

Thunder rolls and a pair of thunderclaps burst- the first leaves the already battered hobgoblin soldier clutching desperately on to a pillar, the second explodes within the body of the last but one grunt- there’s hobgoblin viscera everywhere.

Gokan catches an ear, and quickly drops it.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur strikes again]


Jimmy stabs at the soldier still menacing him, alas the warrior is too quick although in dodging the halfling’s dagger it steps back and in to Ramm’s range- the minotaur smashes his vanguard battleaxe in to the creature, and then follows up with a shield slam. All the air goes out of the hobgoblin soldier as it’s flung back hard in to the wall of the chamber.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm attacks]


Ramm’s opponent is quick to respond however, the hobgoblin soldier seems to bounce back off the wall and straight at the minotaur, flailing wildly- but Ramm’s too quick, his shield’s up and in the way. The hobgoblins pushes forward regardless and Ramm catches it with a glancing blow.

“To me!” The soldier screams and links shields with the last remaining grunt to form a small, but effective, shield wall.

[sblock=Picture- Hobgoblins in defence]


Alas the defensive stance is short lived, Gokan whirls as his axes sing, his hand axe slashes the throat of the last hobgoblin grunt, his vanguard battleaxe decapitates the forlorn looking hobgoblin soldier clutching at the pillar.


Gokan with a Whirling Frenzy- ‘19’ on the Hobgoblin Grunt, and ‘20’ on the Hobgoblin Soldier, a Crit for 30 points of damage, alas it only had 3 hit points left.


[sblock=Picture- Gokan Whirls]


Tonka rushes in to the newly formed gap, making for the southern corridor, just as another menacing looking hobgoblin soldier exits; this fellow is armed with a deadly looking greatspear- which it expertly stabs in to the dragonborn’s right thigh. Tonka cuts back with his longsword and scores a hit but the goblinoid fares better in the exchange, Tonka limps badly, while his leg gushes with blood.

[sblock=Hobgoblin Spear Soldier]

Hobgoblin Spear Soldier
Skirmisher Level 4


The hobgoblin spear soldier grins and feints and then stabs Tonka in the other thigh, the warlord gasps with pain and staggers.


Tonka is bloodied- and surprisingly quickly.


[sblock=Picture- Tonka gets stabbed]


Meantime the now friendless hobgoblin soldier catches Gokan with a hearty swing, the half-orc clutches at his side in agony, almost unable to catch his breath.

The last hobgoblin, still a little way down the corridor, takes in the scene.

“Guard, orderly retreat- by the numbers, phalanx move. One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three.” It yells, and sure enough the two remaining hobgoblins comply, moving back in unison to protect their warmonger leader.

[sblock=Hobgoblin Warmonger]

Hobgoblin Warmonger
Artillery Level 5


Not done, the guard commander notches an arrow to the greatbow it’s toting and sights Tonka, it fires- the arrow thuds in to Tonka’s chest, the dragonborn wordlessly falls forward and clatters on to the cold stone floor- dying.


Tonka is reduced to -2 hit points after being hit for 16 points of damage by the Hobgoblin Warmonger’s Greatbow attack.


[sblock=Picture- Tonka’s down]


“Next.” The hobgoblin warmonger simply states.

At the same moment a wretched figure lurches out of the eastern passage, a hunched hobgoblin wearing rags, its pale skin pockmarked with pustules, its fingernails long and talon-like.

“Undead!” Sigur shouts.

[sblock=Hobgoblin Wight]

Hobgoblin Wight
Skirmisher Level 5


The hobgoblin wight rakes and claws Ramm, the great minotaur snuffles and snorts as an icy coldness washes over him. Ramm bellows forlornly as he feels his life-essence flicker and wane.

Sigur bustles closer.

“Foul spawn, get ye back to whence yer came. Shove off ya nasty git!”

The dwarf hollers, making sense- albeit for a brief moment, a radiant light settles on the wight, its skin crisps and burns, but the effect is short lived. The foul creature grins at Sigur.

[sblock=Picture- All Wight]


Jimmy hustles forward, keen to get away from the undead abomination; the Halfling sees a gap and spins out his vicious dagger, aiming for the warmonger in the back row. A miss.

In the blink of an eye Jimmy’s vicious dagger reappears in his hand- he sends it spinning again, this time it connects, the same target- the warmonger grabs at the blade but too late as it disappears again.

“Kill the halfling!” The hobgoblin leader states.

Ramm all the while fights back, with his axe, and then with his shield, and yet the hobgoblin wight stands the test- dodges every one of the minotaur’s attacks and every time comes up grinning.

“Come on!” Sigur half-shouts, half-gripes. The dwarf knows it’s in the balance.

[sblock=Picture- The bad guys get organised]


Gokan, still clutching at his side, staggers forward a little to menace the hobgoblin line, he steadies himself and then brings his axes around again- this time with much greater success. He cuts the remaining hobgoblin soldier down.

“That’s it!” Sigur hurrahs, and manoeuvres next to the fallen Tonka.

The spear soldier dodges forward and thrusts its greatspear at Jimmy, under orders, alas the agile halfling is much too quick and light on his feet, Jimmy skips aside.

The warmonger, in the background, grunts its discontent.

“Attack! Kill the halfling I said!” It orders the spear soldier again, and again the creature complies… and yet still Jimmy is too quick.

The halfling grins, he can’t help himself- he laughs, caught up in the excitement, and the fear, and the fact he keeps managing to evade the spear-wielding hobgoblin.

The warmonger however… the hobgoblin stares intently at the halfling, Jimmy… Jimmy… Jimmy is suddenly mesmerised, the hobgoblin seems to be mouthing words, hard to comprehend, hard to understand, words nevertheless.

Jimmy gives over all his energy, cranes to hear or else make sense- the warmonger is talking about him, the hobgoblin…

[sblock=Picture- Look in to my eyes...]


“Your brother Hal is dead already- his body smashed and broken lying in the dark… You will die next, you will not survive, you cannot survive… Then your brother Gokan, Gokan is next, after you to die… Then your mother, then your father…” The hobgoblin goes on but Jimmy’s no longer listening, the red mist has descended.

Jimmy stabs, hard and fast, for the gut- a painful death, long, slow, bloody… KILL!

Jimmy stabs. And at the very last moment possible Gokan moves an inch to his right and lives.

The hobgoblin warmonger grins.

Jimmy looks down at the dagger in his hands, at his brother Gokan with both axes poised, moments away from attacking him.

[sblock=Picture- Oh Brother!]


“He…” Jimmy tries, and points at the warmonger. Gokan nods and turns back to the fight.

“Bastard!” Jimmy spits, “I’m coming for you…”

The hobgoblin warmonger grins.

Ramm meantime keeps the hobgoblin wight at bay, the undead flails and claws but the minotaur fighter’s shield is always in the way. Suddenly a ghostly spectral hand appears and upper-cuts the foul creature, leaving a smoking fist mark on the right side of its face, the wight yowls and curses with the pain, and for a second drops its defence.

Ramm’s axe bites, and tears, the hobgoblin wight staggers back.

Sigur grumbles as his two other spectral appendages fail to connect with their targets. Jimmy meantime, back in the world of the living, ducks under the spear soldier’s attack and stabs the hobgoblin in its lower left leg, and then ducks back and out- all in one swift manoeuvre.

The halfling rogue grabs a potion flask from his belt and scuttles back to Sigur, the dwarf still stands over the body of the fallen Tonka.

[sblock=Picture- The war of attrition]


Gokan dodges forward, hoping to make his way around the spear soldier, alas the hobgoblin is expecting the manoeuvre, it dodges back in time with Gokan’s move, and stabs its greatspear out. Gokan is skewered briefly, the half-orc thuds in to the wall of the corridor, and then with a supreme effort pushes himself off and forward, wrenching himself free.

The howling half-orc rushes forward, beyond the spear soldier’s reach, he smashes in to the backtracking warmonger, with both axes. Alas the hobgoblin leader proves too adept, even with its greatbow in hand, it manages to parry or else deflect Gokan’s blows, it even manages to give the half-orc the slip, backing out of combat and readying its bow in one smooth motion.

It fires, at almost point-blank range, it cannot miss.

And yet it does.

At the last moment Gokan twists and turns, the arrow flies inches wide- the second close miss in this fracas. Alas the reason for Gokan’s expert dodge is soon revealed- the spear soldier has stabbed the half-orc again, this time in the back, the tip of its greatspear protruding through just below his collar bone.

Gokan screams.


Gokan is bloodied, actually reduced to 8 hit points.


[sblock=Picture- Gokan’s speared good]


The spear soldier lurches forward, pins Gokan face first in to the wall of the corridor, and then pivots around until it stands next to its commander, the warmonger.

Sigur quickly shuffles to a better position, so that he can see all of the adventurer’s assailants.

“Get him up shortstuff!” The dwarf barks at Jimmy and nods towards Tonka. “Before your fanged brother falls over…”

Sigur grumbles some more and a trio of ghostly hands appear, and shoot out towards their respective targets, The dwarven invoker is back on form. All three of the radiant hands strike home- the spear soldier is scorched. The warmonger is slapped and singed, causing the great hobgoblin to stagger a little, while the wight is punched again, the undead goblinoid screeches and hollers, not long for this world.

Jimmy doesn’t hesitate, he swiftly kneels- grabs Tonka and forces his healing potion between the dragonborn’s lips. He pours. Tonka’s eyes flash open, he grins, but Jimmy’s away- the dragonborn’s smile soon disappears as his head thunks in to the stone floor. Again.

Jimmy spins out his vicious dagger again, as he scurries forward towards his brother, the blade bites and the warmonger has to grab for the wall to stay upright.

Back in the first chamber the wight at last manages to escape Ramm’s menacing slashes- it lurches back, and then quickly, and unexpectedly, leaps forward, clawed hands extended- aiming to rip the minotaur’s throat out. To wallow and wade in the great beast’s blood.


“Too slow!” Ramm states and stomps off towards the other fight, the broken wight briefly reaches up and tries to grab at Ramm’s foot, too late- again. Ramm’s gone, seconds later so is the undead menace- forever.

[sblock=Picture- Only two left]


Tonka gets quickly to his feet.

“Bahamut preserve.” The sheepish dragonborn observes, as Gokan’s wounds heal over.
“Go get ‘em…” Tonka offers.

The half-orc grins, screams and then charges forward, evading the spear soldier’s thrust- Gokan smashes in to the hobgoblin warmonger, his duel axes a blur- he cuts the leader down.

“That’s the spirit! For the platinum dragon.” Tonka cries, and charges after Gokan, again dodging the spear soldier’s, now forlorn, thrust. Tonka cuts at the last remaining hobgoblin with his longsword, grins as the creature bleeds and staggers.

“Onward Bahamut’s soldiers, marching as to…”

At which point the haft of the hobgoblin’s greatspear comes full circle and smashes Tonka in the face.

The dragonborn spins on the spot, like a child’s top, and then gurning all the way down crashes in to the floor.

Out cold.


And dying again. Tonka is reduced to -6 hit points after the Hobgoblin Spear Soldier lands a Crit with its Greatspear for 16 points of damage. When will he learn?


[sblock=Picture- Tonka’s down again]


“Moradin’s hairy balls!” Sigur states, and stomps forward, en route his magical wristbands flare and begin to smoke and burn. Moments later a single ghostly hand appears, although this time it’s also wreathed in flame, the appendage darts forward and thumps in to the last hobgoblin standing.

The creature staggers back, spits out a stream of blood, and then crouches low ready for further attacks; it stabs its greatspear before it, and snarls. It’s not giving up the fight. Even Jimmy’s vicious dagger, which spins out and pierces the goblinoid’s side- and makes it grimace - is not enough to make the creature back down.


I usually have the last bad guy surrender at this point, however the PCs are level two now, and the Hobgoblins are much more ferocious, and less likely to back down than the guys previous opponents. I figure for the most part that if they want to take prisoners then they’re going to have to do the hard work themselves.

The Hobgoblin Spear Soldier is of course very bloodied at this point, down to 10 hit points, in fact.


Ramm stomps in to the corridor, bellows- long and loud.

Suddenly the last hobgoblin standing looks less sure.

[sblock=Picture- Here comes Ramm]


As it turns out Ramm is not the one the hobgoblin needs to be frightened of; Gokan darts at the goblinoid, who’s quick enough to wheel round and catch the half-orc with its greatspear, a glancing blow- it’s not enough.

Gokan’s vanguard axe comes down and ends the hobgoblin spear soldier.

[sblock=Picture- Triumph]


“Get up!” Sigur grouches and nudges Tonka repeatedly with his boot, moments later the dragonborn comes around.

“Where am I?” Tonka states.
“On your arse, like you always are.” Sigur states and wanders off.

The adventurers are back in the Shadow Keep.

[sblock=Encounter #11 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

And so the guys are back in the ruined Keep, re-entering the place for a second attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery...

Encounter #11 The Hobgoblin Guards (Upgraded), starring-

Hobgoblin Grunt (Minion 3) x5
Hobgoblin Soldier (Soldier 3) x2
Hobgoblin Spear Soldier (Skirmisher 4) x1
Hobgoblin Warmonger (Artillery 5) x1
Wight Hobgoblin (Skirmisher 5) x1

1065 XP Level 5 Encounter.

Map: Back to the first encounter in the Keep on the Shadowfell, last seen in encounter 5, The Goblin Guard Room- this time the goblins have been replaced with hobgoblins however- it seems the place is still worth guarding from intruders.


213 XP each for a total of 1807 XP in total (PCs Level 2).

DM Thoughts-

While the outcome was never really in question there were some good moments, Tonka taking a dirt nap twice in the encounter was just wonderful, although Stu who plays Tonka seems to be suffering a little. He’s convinced that the Dragonborn is somewhat lacking- truth is he’s not front line, he’s more Skirmisher than Soldier.

Rumour has it Stu has a soft spot for Sir Garlik, a Dragonborn Paladin with chutzpah and style, I think we can look forward to more moments of madness- Stu may be taking Tonka to the wire, playing him to death as it were.

I also enjoyed the moment where the Hobgoblin Warmonger gave Jimmy the nod- the Halfling duly backstabbed his brother Gokan, only the dice prevented what could have been a beautiful show of brotherly love- the players were WTF?

All in all a nice welcome back to the Shadow Keep, with tougher enemies, Hobgoblins are a nice step up from Kobolds and Goblins.


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KOTS Part 11a: The Blame Game.

“They’re keen to keep us out!” Tonka states, wiping down his blade.
“You seem intent on helping them. How about trying to stay conscious in the future?” Sigur states.
“That’s ridiculous… I’ll have you know I’m an expert with my longsword…” Tonka fires back.
“At what?” Sigur responds, “… opening jars, levering the lids off things… Warlord! My arse…”
“I’ve never been so insul…”
“Stick around! There’s plenty more coming your way if you carry on being a liability.”
“Li…” Tonka exclaims, but is cut off in his prime.
“… Ability! Which is pretty much what you lack.” Sigur notes and wanders off.

Tonka stands and fumes.

Gokan and Ramm stand statue and continue to stare at Tonka.

“What?” Tonka finally explodes, and then instantly regrets shouting- “sorry, good work back there- now let’s search this place, and them.” Tonka points at one of the fallen hobgoblins.

Five or so minutes later the three chambers that make up the entrance complex have been searched, nothing of any real note has been found- a few shinies courtesy of the hobgoblins, but that’s it.

The five reassemble in the goblin bunk room.

“We press on.” Sigur states and points with his mace at the far door, the door the goblin wizard tried to flee through during the adventurers’ first sortie in to the Keep.
“No. Not yet.” Tonka states, certain. “Before we go on we’ll search the other chambers we’ve been to previously.”
“Hn!” Sigur offers, clearly unhappy.
Tonka goes on, “… for two reasons- one, so that we don’t have any surprises later on. I’d hate to find a band of goblins before us and another behind.”
“Mmm.” Sigur, concurs, perhaps.
“And second, we need to find the body of our fallen brother…” Tonka pointedly looks at Gokan and then Jimmy, the young halfling nods and wipes his eyes.
Sigur sighs, and whispers, “… waste of bloody time.”

And so thirty minutes later the adventurers have revisited the sites of their previous battles here, in the torture chamber, against the goblin chief- Balgron the Fat, and finally through the secret doors to the excavation site. The chambers are pretty much as they were left, although with one very noticeable difference.

“All the bodies have gone…” Jimmy declares.
“Mmm.” Tonka notes, and thinks.
Even Sigur seems interested in this new fact.
“Well?” Tonka asks.
“Tidying up?” Jimmy offers.
“Alas no, little one.” Tonka offers.
“I think we’re going to be seeing these guys again…” Sigur states, hands on hips.
“How do you mean?” Jimmy wonders.
“Undead.” Tonka confirms.
“Oh.” Jimmy states, followed by, “… that’s not good.”

Having completed the circuit, and found nothing untoward- not even the body of their fallen comrade Hal, the adventurers are momentarily at a loss. Until…

“What’s down there…” Jimmy points to a set of stone steps, leading down in to a cavern, this from the excavation site.
“That’s where they kept us.” Sigur states.
Gokan nods.
“Well then, let’s take a look…” Tonka commands.

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KOTS Part 11b: Heads, you lose.

Jimmy and Gokan head down the stairs, as silently as they can, in to a large cavern; something squeaks.

“Rats!” Jimmy hisses.

Something moves in the shadows ahead.

The pair hold station for a minute- taking a good look at the area before them, then cautiously head forward, staying as best as they can in the shadows, and close to the walls- Jimmy to the east, Gokan to the west.

A minute or so later and they have circumnavigated the chamber, there are two exits - both heading south.

There are rats here, every now and then one hoves briefly in to view, or else a shadow darts away.

“Cave rats.” Gokan whispers, Jimmy nods.
“Clear?” The halfling asks- it’s Gokan’s turn to nod back.

A minute later and the chamber is flooded with light; Tonka has placed a lantern down in the centre of the cavern, causing many more rats to scurry away, as far away as they can get from the light.

“They lead us back through here- we came from that way, I think…” Sigur points to one of the passages to the south.
“We’ll try that way then.” Tonka nods and Jimmy and Gokan head forward again.

It takes the adventurers another twenty or so minutes to map out the caves; they encounter only three things of interest in their journey.

The first is another secret door, expertly spotted by Sigur, it takes a moment for Jimmy to get the thing open, it’s a crude affair but heavy- Ramm has to help the halfling in the end. A short excavated tunnel leads in to a pocket chamber, which is quickly identified.

“This is where they kept us.” Sigur states.
Gokan and Tonka nod.

The secret chamber is briefly searched, there’s not much to it- it’s empty.

The adventurers move on.

The second thing, or rather place, of note comes in the shape of a large warped metal studded wooden door, warped because of the damp. A crude sign has been affixed to the door, in scrawled common it reads “Stay Out!”

On the third try Ramm’s shoulder smashes open the door, which is beginning to crumble and come apart in places- the wood is waterlogged.

There’s another natural cavern ahead, smaller and rounder, with a sunken floor and slippery stone steps leading down to a very still looking pool of water.

“I don’t like it.” Tonka states, and shakes his head.
“That’s because you’re a big baby.” Sigur fires back and points with his mace down the stairs; there’s a pile of something down there, by the pool.
“I think we’ve found tin legs…” The dwarf finishes.

Gokan and Jimmy are quickly, but carefully, down the stairs and in to the chamber proper- there’s a small bank, the rest- water.

“It looks deep.” Jimmy adds, peering in to the cold dark pool.
“Very deep.” He adds.

Gokan meanwhile is at the pile that Sigur indicated, sorting through twisted metal. The half-orc shivers, then looks at the pool, he shivers again. Gokan feels… frightened, perhaps that’s too strong a word, uneasy, that’ll do it.

The half-orc grabs out a sack and begins to fill it with Hal’s remains, job done Gokan creeps back up the stairs, now and then looking over his shoulder at the still water.

Jimmy remains below, grabs up a stone and hoys it up and PLOOOP! In to the pool, concentric circles spread from the spot, Jimmy dips a toe.

“Bloody hell, it’s freezing…”
“Come away from it, brother.” Gokan calmly, but firmly, states.

Jimmy stares at Gokan for a moment, trying to read the half-orc’s thoughts, then with one last look at the pool the halfling scurries up the steps, and out of the room.

“Close the door please Ramm.” Gokan adds, once the adventurers are out of the chamber.
The great minotaur shrugs and then gets to work, the area is sealed, although the door itself is beginning to break apart, it’s far from impassable.

“Well? Is he in there?” Sigur asks.
“Most of him.” Gokan states.
“Most of him?” Tonka and Jimmy ask in unison.
“Mmm.” Gokan affirms.
“… missing?” The pair collude again to ask.
“His head.” Gokan calmly states.
“His head?” The pair come again.
“Mmm.” Gokan affirms again.

Sigur giggles.

The other four adventurers turn to stare.

“Sorry, just thought of something funny…” Sigur covers his mouth with his hand and looks suitably contrite.
Gokan and Jimmy look less than pleased, Jimmy particularly.
“He was our brother.” The halfling states, sharply.
Sigur clears his throat, and then coughs.
“Sorry, but…” The dwarf adds, and then trails off.
“But what?” Jimmy asks and steps up to Sigur, hand on his blade.

Sigur’s demeanour changes, instantly, Jimmy swears later he could see pinpricks of fire in the dwarf’s eyes.
“Why would anyone want the tin man’s head, it was probably the least important part of him, although…”, Sigur thinks for a short moment before ploughing on with his insult. “Although, that’d be a close fought race- the least important part of the tin man. Like that one…”, Sigur points at Tonka, “… he had a habit of spending time on the floor.” The dwarf finishes by puffing out his chest and squaring up to Jimmy.

The halfling and the dwarf glare at each other for a moment.

“Do you have any friends?” Jimmy bites off.
“Your dad.” Sigur snaps back.
“He thinks you’re a nutter!” Jimmy sneers.
“Then no, I don’t have any friends.” Sigur calmly states.

Ramm shakes his head and snorts, then stomps off.

After a few more moments spent glaring, the adventurers file after the minotaur.

The third and final discovery is a little more mundane in comparison; a section of the cave complex which was obviously the lair of the wererats the adventurers fought previously. The cavern curves around, with nests and rat-holes either side, and… well, mess, and stink.

The adventurers follow the path, Ramm to the fore, generally rooting through the nests with his axe, or else slamming the blade in to the wall here and there to collapse an area. The curved cavern opens at last in to a slightly wider chamber.

In the centre of this final chamber is a larger nest, probably the former home of the wererat chief, now of course deceased.

No new creatures are encountered, although a myriad cave rats scurry and squeak, but do not seem intent on any harm.

“Spread out. Search the place.” Tonka states.
“Ramm, stay back a way- keep a look out.” The dragonborn continues, Ramm nods and takes up position back down the corridor, axe at the ready.

The nests are constructed of all manner of detritus, from sticks and mud to gnawed and scavenged pieces of furniture, wood, cloth and other found objects. There’s little of any real interest to be found, although here and there the odd coin or two turns up.

The only item of any real note is a small amount of paper; this located in the largest nest- the one right at the very end of the corridor. The paper is shredded in places; certainly it has seen better days… Tonka is intrigued.

“It seems to be all from the same sheet of paper, perhaps if we could piece it together.”
Tonka notes Sigur’s look, the dwarf looks less ‘intrigued’.
“It could be something important.” Tonka states.
“It could.” Sigur agrees, “but I doubt it.”

Tonka shoves the papers inside a pouch at his belt.
“Okay. I’ll try my best to piece it together later, but for now…”
Tonka points back down the corridor, back the way they came.

The caverns have been searched, most of Hal has been located, the adventurers press on- back to the rest room beyond the entrance chamber, the door through which the goblin wizard tried to flee.

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KOTS Part 12: The Dead Centre.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 2


Through the door and down the discoloured stairs, this section of the catacombs seems somehow older; certainly less travelled. There’s a damp smell of rot and ruin in the air.

Jimmy, of course, and Gokan lead the way, their comrade’s wait on the stair.

There are a maze of passages ahead; from the foot of the stairs the wide passages head north, south and west- furthermore each of these corridors seems to branch at some point.

“A maze?” Jimmy whispers to his brother.

The pair move a little way in and then stop again to whisper.
“Look!” Gokan points down the north passage, at the floor a little way down the corridor.
“Ohh!” Jimmy murmurs.
There seems to be a dull white furze on the ground- illuminating the spot, but only slightly.
Jimmy peers around to look down the west corridor.
“Another!” The halfling whispers and points.
Gokan nods.

The pair watch for a moment, until…

[sblock=Picture- Down the Stair]


“A shadow…” Jimmy hisses.
“What?” Gokan questions.
“Something just moved in front of the light. I…” Jimmy adds.
“Are you…” Gokan begins.


A footstep.

“It’s coming…” Jimmy hisses.
“Trouble!” Gokan states, loud enough for his friends to hear, while drawing his axe and moving forward, down the western passage.

The other adventurers move down the stair and make ready.

Gokan moves quicker now, his eyes adjusting to the gloom, picking out details- two figures approach. Closer, the half-orc suddenly screams aloud, a guttural sound; coming in to view before him are a pair of shambling humanoids.

“Zombies!” Gokan hollers, and then his axes dance in his hands, and slice and cut- the first rotter falls, and then the second.

[sblock=Zombie Rotters]

Zombie Rotter
Minion Level 3


“Zombies!” Gokan calls again, as he squints ahead to see, something much larger approaches.

Jimmy is quickly to his brother’s side, “What’s…”

Out of the furze ahead staggers a large humanoid, perhaps an ogre, or at least it must have once been an ogre- now a great hulking zombie, its body torn and ragged in places with gory breaches in its flesh.

“Avandra!” Jimmy screeches and flings out his vicious dagger, the blade misses- and such a large target.
“Come on. Come on…” Jimmy worries, at last his blade reappears in his hand, he flings it again, this time burying it to the hilt in the zombie hulk’s capacious chest, the huge undead creature doesn’t falter, or indeed miss a step, it comes on…

[sblock=Zombie Hulk]

Zombie Hulk
Brute Level 8


“Braynz!” The Zombie Hulk hollers as it staggers forward.

[sblock=Picture- Zombies!]


Suddenly the sound of movement, all around- from the myriad passages and openings that lead from the stair, the noise is heard by all- Jimmy and Gokan, and their colleagues still at the stairs.

“Make ready!” Sigur grumbles.
“Here they come!” Tonka concurs, while Ramm hefts his axe and grunts.

“Aaaargghh!” Jimmy screeches, lurching out of the darkness comes a smaller humanoid-sized zombie, the foul creature has a misshapen head and is surrounded by a cloud of buzzing flies, the smell of rot is almost overpowering. The creature flails at Jimmy, who at the last moment side-steps the blow…

[sblock=Tainted Zombie]

Zombie Tainted
Brute Level 1


Phew, close. Jimmy frets.


Jimmy turns a certain hit in to a miss with a Second Chance.


At the same moment the zombie hulk brings around one meaty fist and smashes Gokan down.


Gokan is bloodied, actually reduced to only 5 hit points by the Zombie Hulk’s Zombie Smash attack for 26 points of damage, which also leaves the half-orc prone.


Tonka moves forward, towards Gokan- “Hold the line!” The dragonborn hollers; from a side passage another zombie rotter lurches in to view- set to grab Tonka, he slices and the undead critter slumps to the floor.
“Bahamut preserve!” Tonka declares in a loud voice, the prone and bleeding Gokan grins up at the dragonborn, many of his wounds are healed in an instant.

[sblock=Picture- Tonka to the rescue!]


“Make way!” Sigur grumbles and stomps forward, the dwarf continues to mutter, his favourite three ghostly hands appear. The first grabs at yet another zombie rotter closing in on the adventurers- the undead creature’s head seems to melt in the spectral appendage’s radiant grasp, it expires. The second hand burns as it presses itself against the tainted zombie’s flesh, the foul-smelling undead creature menacing Jimmy. The last punches the zombie hulk in the face- burning a fresh cavity in the creature’s flesh.

But Sigur’s not done yet.

“Mighty Moradin hear my call!” The dwarf holds his magical rod aloft; he’s suddenly bathed in a glorious purplish holy light, which pulses once and then shoots out in fine strands, or rays, at the undead creatures surrounding him.

Yet another zombie rotter falls as the radiant light rays leave smoking holes in its torso, the tainted zombie and the hulk are likewise affected; the pair stagger backwards, desperate to get away from the light show. Their smoking remains stagger and sway, they’re still in the fight, but both are somewhat diminished by Sigur’s attack.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur Strikes Back]


An arrow skims Sigur’s shoulder, the dwarf spies a sad-looking goblin further down one of the corridors, the goblin is grey and rotten, another zombie.

[sblock=Goblin Zombie Archer]

Zombie Goblin Archer
Artillery Level 2


And yet more movement, the sound of moaning, groaning accompanied by the further flat slap of footfalls- more of the creatures approach.

“Hold the line!” Tonka yells again, as Ramm- disobeying orders rushes past the dragonborn and smashes his shield and axe in to the staggering zombie hulk. The large humanoid is pushed backward, unable to keep its feet, it falls, it thumps hard on to the cold stone floor.

Not dead yet, but clearly almost spent.

Ramm bellows, raises his sword and shield above his head and with snorts and grunts challenges the undead brute to fight him.

“I’m glad he’s on our side…” Tonka whispers at Jimmy, the halfling grins back.

Gokan is quickly back to his feet, thanks to a helping hand from Tonka, the action has passed him by somewhat- Ramm’s a little way ahead of him, the zombie hulk a little way ahead of Ramm.

The half-orc grins again at Jimmy and Tonka, clearly enjoying the challenge. He spits on his hands- takes a fresh grip of his twin axes, and hollering all the way charges back towards the zombie hulk, which is still struggling to rise.


Gokan’s axe smashes down in to the hulk’s head, the great brute goes still- halfway to its feet, a shiver runs through the creature as Gokan rips the axe free. He’s about to deliver another blow when the undead menace moans once- long and loud, a keening holler, and then collapses.

“Dead.” Gokan declares, Ramm nods.

Jimmy meanwhile scurries and dodges, still being menaced by the tainted zombie surrounded by its buzzing cloud of flies, the halfling gags and dry wretches as he gets in close to the undead humanoid, he stabs hard, a gout of black filth spews out.

The zombie turns to look at the rent, feels with one hand for the spot, and then seemingly bewildered puts its hand inside. All the while the foul undead stares blankly at Jimmy. The tainted zombie’s legs fold beneath it, it slithers down to the floor to squirm a while before finally expiring.

A second arrow flies out of the dark, another goblin zombie archer, the missile thunks in to Tonka- the dragonborn grimaces.

“Get him!” Tonka declares, and then following his own order heads back to the stairs and towards the offending zombie. Shuffling forward he encounters another pair of zombie rotters en route, the foul undead flail as they stagger towards him.

They don’t get close, the duo are suddenly bathed in crackling blue lightning as Tonka breathes out a fan of electrical fury. The zombie rotters complete a short but entertaining dance routine and then flop to the floor, all life gone from them.

[sblock=Picture- More Zombies]


“For Bahamut!” Tonka declares, stabs the air with his longsword, and then rushes forward towards the offending zombie archer. The dragonborn warlord slams in to the creature and slices hard; the undead is cut but far from finished.

Sigur heads a little way in, so that he can see down both of the main passages, more zombie rotters move in to view, still coming at the adventurers from all directions. Three more ghostly hands spring in to being- the first pair hunt down a pair of rotters, punch and slap the undead and leave them on the floor. The last menaces the first of the goblin zombie archers, leaving a radiant stripe down the thing’s face.

The undead goblin is provoked, it hisses, notches another arrow and lets fly- Sigur yelps as the arrow buries itself in his right thigh.

“Damn your eyes!” The dwarf snarls.
“The archers next. Kill the archers.” Sigur adds.

Ramm nods and then does his duty; he charges forward and smashes in to the first of the bow-wielding zombie goblins, leaving the creature bent, broken and out of shape -although the hellish fire in its eyes has not gone out.

The great minotaur hollers and bellows some more, making it clear to the foul undead that Ramm is in for the kill.

[sblock=Picture- The dead keep coming]


Gokan, noting that Ramm has the first goblin archer covered, turns face and rushes back towards the stairs and then beyond- down the northern passage. The half-orc lopes forward, axes at the ready, eventually speeds up and charges howling out his fury at the second bow-wielding goblin, already being menaced by Tonka.

Gokan smashes the undead archer down- both axes tearing and shredding the fragile goblin’s already broken body.

Jimmy too is on the move, the halfling heads further in to the chamber he’s in, the former residence of the tainted zombie. He shimmies around to get a better attack at the last goblin archer, which is still being menaced by Ramm.

He stabs hard, while still manoeuvring, and the last of the goblin archers is left sprawled upon the ground.

Tonka stares ahead, as yet another zombie rotter lurches toward him, the dragonborn smiles at Gokan, who nods back in an ‘after you…’ style.

The dragonborn takes a step forward, swings hard, and cuts the zombie rotter down.

It’s at this point that Sigur screams.

“Sodding Raven Queen!” Sigur cries, as a way before him the great zombie hulk clambers to its feet, and then grinning all the while shuffles forward towards the dwarf.

Sigur is of course alone in the corridor- the other four adventurers having been despatched to deal with the goblin archer menace.

A single ghostly radiant hand suddenly appears, rushes forward and somewhat feebly attempts to keep the hulk at bay; alas its burning radiant shove is not enough.

The hulk comes on.

“The hulk’s back up! The hulk’s coming!” The dwarf shouts, his words elicit strange looks and shrugs from his companions.

Sigur turns face and runs away a little- seeking to get plenty of distance between himself and the great undead brute.

[sblock=Picture- Hulk Smash!]


The adventurers are an organised bunch though, and the zombie hulk is slow- far too slow.

Jimmy and Ramm spy the brute as it passes the entrance to the chamber in which they stand- the pair shrug at each other, then Jimmy spins out his vicious dagger which thuds in to the zombie’s side.

Ramm rushes forward, around the corner as it passes on, smashing the hulk in the back, and sending it down to its knees. Gokan moving quickly and coming from the other side of the creature is suddenly presented with a kneeling undead ogre, for his delight.

The half-orc swings and almost decapitates the beast.

The hulk flops to the cold stone floor- dead again.

Ramm and Gokan hack.

The undead are vanquished- no footsteps, no moans, or groans. The fight is over.

[sblock=Encounter #12 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

And so the guys are moving in to the Keep on the Shadowfell.

Encounter #12 The Dead Centre, starring-

Zombie Rotter (Minion 3) x10
Zombie Tainted (Brute 1) x1
Zombie Goblin Archer (Artillery 2) x2
Zombie Hulk (Brute 8) x1

1080 XP Level 5 Encounter.


216 XP each for a total of 2023 XP in total (PCs Level 2).

DM Thoughts-

A nice moment when the Zombie Hulk got back up again but the PCs just made mincemeat of the encounter, the Hulk was smashed back down in a matter of seconds.


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KOTS Part 12a: The Pretty Lights.

Tonka and Sigur spend a moment staring down at the pretty lights on the floor- some kind of glyph, the pair look up- at each other, and then look back down again, at the glyph once more.

Gokan and Ramm are wandering around the corridors of the maze-like chamber; while Jimmy is close at hand- grinning.

“Well?” The halfling asks.
“Complex.” Tonka offers in reply.
“Hmmm!” Sigur confirms.


Tonka’s Religion check is an adjusted ‘7’, Sigur’s Arcana check is an adjusted ‘8’- either way neither of the pair know anything much about the glyph they’re staring at, the game afoot is to see who will admit this first.


“It’s…” Tonka strokes his chin and nods slowly.
“… complex.” Sigur confirms, while nodding slowly- and stroking his chin.

“Let me have a look then.” Jimmy tries to get closer to see the glyph- Tonka and Sigur instantly close ranks, try to keep the rogue away.

“It could be dangerous.” Tonka warns and waves Jimmy away.
“Hmmm!” Sigur adds.
“Really, dangerous how?” Jimmy asks.

Tonka and Sigur turn back to the glyph, frown and try desperately to think of a suitable answer.

“It’s…” They both chorus, and then stop.
“After you.” Tonka quickly states, and smiles at Sigur, the dwarf seethes back.

“It’s…” Sigur begins, at which point Gokan and Ramm arrive back.

“There are more of the glyphs down the other passages- all ways are blocked, save one- there’s a clear passage to the south, it leads to a set of stone doors- another crypt, Gokan thinks.” The half-orc nods, as Ramm reports the pair’s findings.

“Fortunate.” Tonka declares, “this way is impassable, the glyphs…” The sentence tails off.
“We could jump them.” Jimmy plainly states, “they’re not that wide.” The halfling helpfully declares.
“Regardless- south it is.” Tonka states and points the way.

Jimmy scurries ahead; Gokan and Ramm head after, leaving Sigur and Tonka, and the glyph.

The pair share a look, and then look again at the glyph desperate for a flash of insight, anything.

“Glyphs!” Tonka suddenly states.
“Complex.” Sigur adds.
“That’s right- really complex glyphs.” Tonka declares.
“Hmmm! Really, really complex…” Sigur suddenly looks up at Tonka, catches the dragonborn’s eye- the ancient dwarf winks, and then pointedly looks at the other members of the adventuring party- they’re a good way away.
Tonka follows Sigur’s gaze.
The pair look back- stare at each other again.
Sigur nods.
Tonka nods back.


“Did you…?” Sigur asks and nods at the glyph.
“Not a sausage- I mean nothing, I wasn’t even sure it was a glyph at first.” Tonka chuckles.
“Moradin’s earlobes, thank the lord for that- my mind just went blank, for a while I was just staring at the pretty patterns- I mean they’re magic and all but what they’re for…” Sigur grins and hides a smile.
“Oh yes, magic- and there’s some sort of religious aspect to them, but what they actually do- nothing.” Tonka taps his empty head and makes a clonking sound to stress the point, he continues, “for all I know they might just be the lighting system for the area- not dangerous at all.”
“You’re not sure of that though…” Sigur starts.
“Oh no! Nothing- nada, zip, zilch, zero.” Tonka grins.
“We’ll get the halfling to check them out.” Sigur grins back. Tonka nods enthusiastically.
“Tell him we’ve conducted a ritual and the magic has been… subdued- that’s it.” Sigur finishes.
“Nice work.” Tonka agrees. The pair grin and nod at each other some more.

“Are you coming?” Jimmy shouts back.

“Not a word to them.” Tonka nods at Jimmy and the others.
“D’ya think I’d bother those imbeciles with discussions about arcane and magical matters, it’s bad enough I have to talk to you, you lily-livered son of a drake.” Sigur replies, the latter half of the sentence at a much increased volume.
Tonka’s eyes go wide, “why you…” Sigur winks at Tonka, and after a brief but nervous moment the dragonborn gets it, “… son of a gnome…”

“Come on!” Jimmy shouts, stern.

The adventurers are soon at the doors.

“They’re safe.” Jimmy adds and nods at the doors.
“Well go on then…” Tonka and Sigur push the halfling to the door, Jimmy shrugs- opens the door and silently slips in to the shadows within.

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KOTS Part 13: The Catacombs.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 2


Jimmy heads in to the chamber, actually a short corridor which quickly comes to a t-junction, a wide passage running west to east, there are no lights here. He looks and listens; the place is quiet, although… the halfling’s senses are on a knife edge- danger. Both sides of the passage are measured with matching pairs of upright sarcophagi- Jimmy shakes his head- he thinks he can hear scratching sounds coming from the nearest one. Slightly unnerved Jimmy creeps back the way he came.

A minute or two later, and with weapons drawn, the adventurers creep in; the chamber is bathed in torchlight. They move forward to the intersection of the two passages. The sarcophagi are old, crumbling in places; the chamber opens out to the east.

“Creepy” Tonka states, and is quickly shushed in to silence.

The group move forward again- Ramm and Gokan taking the lead.

“Watch out for the…” Tonka starts up again.

[sblock=Picture- The chamber]



The lids of the sarcophagi explode outwards, all twelve of them, shrapnel and flying pieces of masonry fill the air- Ramm takes a chunk of rock to the side of his head, it almost tumbles the minotaur warrior.


I decided to give the exploding sarcophagi a chance to hit the PCs- one attack roll for each PC +6 vs AC, the trap didn’t do much damage but it left the PCs hit unable to act for the surprise round that followed. It was somewhat disappointing that I only managed to hit Ramm however.


Skeletons leap in to the chamber, springing from the now open sarcophagi, there are nearly a dozen of them. A majority of the undead enemies are decrepit looking skeletons, wearing rags and the remnants of armour, wielding longswords- with longbows on their backs.

[sblock=Decrepit Skeleton]

Skeleton Decrepit
Minion Skirmisher Level 1


The first pair are smashed down before they can complete their attacks, Gokan whirls and spins like a top.

Sigur, towards the rear of the adventurers, is alas not so quick to react- the dwarf is stabbed twice in the back, his armour flares and bursts, radiant energy courses along the second decrepit skeleton’s longsword- the creature explodes. Jimmy spins out his vicious dagger which thunks in to another of the undead minions shattering its skull- that’s four down in a matter of seconds.

A pair of smaller, thick-set skeletons with beards- dwarves clearly, charge in to Ramm. The pair wear ancient chainmail and are armed with longswords and light shields. They gut the minotaur fighter. Ramm is caught completely unaware, he roars and bellows his pain.

Another of the decrepit skeletons takes its opportunity and carves some more. Ramm staggers, almost falls.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm takes a beating]



Ramm suffers two critical hits for 14 points of damage each, along with the hit from the flying masonry, and a hit from a minion; the fighter is quickly down to six hit points in the surprise round.


[sblock=Skeleton Warrior]

Skeleton Warrior
Soldier Level 3


Another decrepit skeleton slashes at Sigur; Tonka mutters and points and a hazy shield bearing the symbol of the platinum dragon appears before the surly dwarf and deflects the blow. Sigur grunts his thanks and then he too is muttering- dark words this time, which are accompanied by a dark red wave of power which settles over the skeletons closest- two of the fiends clutch at their skulls briefly, which implode, and then sink to the floor. Tonka helps out by cutting down the last of the skeletons menacing Sigur with his longsword.

A final skeleton, the leader of the pack, appears from a sarcophagi- the one furthest away from the adventurers; the undead fiend is swathed in robes and sports a wizard’s pointy hat.

[sblock=Skeleton Mage]

Skeleton Mage
Elite Controller Level 3


The foul mage points and an icy ray bathes Ramm who suddenly sprouts crackling blue-white ice, the cold numbs the fighter; although it inflicts no damage, Ramm is slowed.

“For the Platinum Dragon”, Tonka screams- the dragonborn attempts to spur the adventurers on.

[sblock=Picture- The adventurers cut a swathe through their enemies]


Gokan continues to whirl and rend, his axes to the fore, the half-orc smashes in to the first of the dwarven skeletons, his vicious battleaxe severing the warrior’s shield arm with his first hit; a second hit follows, then a third- the half-orc is in a frenzy. The first skeleton warrior is smashed to pieces in a matter of moments, for good measure a decrepit skeleton gets a little too close and is taken out in the maelstrom.


Gokan connects, and crits, with his Whirling Rend, follows up with Rampage, then Furious Assault and Takedown Strike, spends an Action Point and goes for a Howling Strike- the Skeleton Warrior takes 49 damage in total- not too shabby!

We tend to think, or else visualise, Gokan as Taz, the Tasmanian Devil of Bugs Bunny cartoon fame.


Jimmy’s vicious dagger arcs out and the second dwarf skeleton warrior is suddenly limping badly, now sans several important bones from its left leg, the halfling rogue scurries quickly out of sight. Ramm, bruised and battered sucks up the hurt and then smashes his shield in to the remaining skeleton warrior, which is left sprawled before him- the minotaur bellows at the prone undead figure, mostly anger but mixed with a fair amount of frustration.

Sigur backs away a little, chanting and grumbling, “Destroy, my beauties…” a fluttering array of grasping radiant hands head out to deliver death and destruction- not content with just three, the dwarven invoker conjures again- six of the appendages take to the air and whiz to their targets. Alas only the two remaining decrepit skeletons fall prey to Sigur’s holy missiles.

“Damnation!” Sigur snaps and stamps his foot.

[sblock=Picture- The odds are shortening]


The skeleton mage motions and conjures, working its foul magic, a fan of electric blue lightning bolts, like claws or terrible talons, scour the adventurers- Jimmy somehow manages to dodge a bolt that should have struck him in the middle of his chest. Remarkably only Gokan is struck by the myriad lightning talons, the half-orc staggers, and is left clutching at the wall- dazed and disorientated.

The mage sees its chance and conjures again- an icy dart zooms out at the lumbering half-orc, somehow Gokan manages to scurry aside at the last moment, although like Ramm he is iced- teeth chattering and shaking his movements are slowed.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan is left frazzled]


Tonka moves forward, the dragonborn seems to be in his element, he even has time for a short speech, much to Sigur’s chagrin.

“Onward chaps, onward- with stout hearts and furious blades, let us put paid to the foul undead menace…”
“Oh shut up!” Sigur finishes.

Tonka slices at the sprawling warrior skeleton Ramm knocked to the floor, the creature is almost spent- the dragonborn grins, the creature however is less than impressed; it leaps back to its feet and slashes back- Tonka gives ground, his grin is the only thing vanquished, for now.

[sblock=Picture- Tonka!]


Gokan is still good for nothing; dazed, disorientated and stumbling- the half-orc grips tight to one of the shattered sarcophagi and gets his second wind, clearing his head and making ready to re-join the attack.

Jimmy scurries forward, tumbles under the flashing blade of the remaining skeleton warrior and comes up behind the undead fighter, his vicious dagger is slammed and raked down the back of the skeleton. The effect is instantaneous; all of the life goes out of the creature- it collapses in to a pile of bones on the floor.

“That vanquished enuff for yer?” Jimmy grins at Tonka; the dragonborn offers a wry smile and a thumbs up.

[sblock=Picture- Skeleton Warrior take down]


There’s only one enemy left- the skeleton mage.

Ramm bellows again, lopes forward, the undead wizard does its best to get out of the way of the minotaur’s blade, it fails spectacularly. Ramm smashes his greataxe in to the skeleton, shards and splinters of bone go flying- but that’s not all. Ramm is suddenly engulfed in a gout of shadowy mist which freezes like ice crystals in the air, and in an instant dissipates- the minotaur is unmoved, unaffected by the necrotic burst.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm strikes]



Ramm’s Weapon Master’s Strike is a critical hit for 29 hit points damage.


Sigur strides forward, brandishing his magical rod and muttering dark words-

“Get the feck away, yer dirty undead scumbag!”

The skeleton mage is lifted three feet in to the air- bathed in radiant light and then slammed in to the nearest wall, head down. The undead spell caster is left staggering, barely able to keep its balance.

Suddenly the creature looks up… meets Sigur’s eye.

“Ware… My master comes!”

An icy dart flies from its fingertips, leaves Ramm uninjured but again slowed and swathed in ice.

Tonka steps up and slashes hard at the skeleton mage, the creature staggers back, almost spent.

[sblock=Picture- Undead rebuked]


Gokan, having cleared his head, suddenly leaps in to the fray- hollering as he charges back down the wide passage; the half-orc slams his axe in to the remaining undead menace.

Alas Jimmy’s dagger is way off target and Ramm, limbs still locked in ice, is unable to catch up with his prey- the skeleton mage back-pedals furiously and finds some space to deliver its next attack. A bolt of ragged blue lightning slams in to Ramm’s chest, the minotaur warrior spins on the spot- left staggering and dazed, out of sync with reality.

The skeleton’s grin disappears as Tonka strides forward- a helping hand and a few inspiring words en route and Ramm is much steadier on his feet; the dragonborn warlord slashes hard at the skeleton mage- bones and splinters fly. The inky burst comes again- from the remaining enemy, Tonka is engulfed but emerges seconds later completely unharmed. He grins.

“Time to end this!”

Tonka spies something out of the corner of his eye; the altar to the left bears a bas-relief of his deity- Bahamut, the platinum dragon. The altar to the right- the same, what’s more neither has been defaced- Tonka feels a surge of power.

“Let your master come- we’re ready for him!”

He declares in a strong and proud voice.

“Sheesh!” Sigur grimaces.

[sblock=Picture- Skeleton Mage is almost spent]


“My master will destroy you where you stand; he will have his revenge- he will rip your still beating hearts from…” The skeleton mage straightens to deliver its final speech. “… your chests. He will…”

Alas the soliloquy is swiftly curtailed- Jimmy dodges out from behind Tonka and flings his vicious dagger, the blade shatters the skeleton mage’s skull.

The undead menace’s body follows suit and collapses.

“Shut up already.” Jimmy adds.

The fight is won.

[sblock=Encounter #13 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

And that’s two undead encounters in a row.

Encounter #13 The Skeleton Legion, starring-

Skeleton Decrepit (Minion Skirmisher 1) x8
Skeleton Warrior (Soldier 3) x2
Skeleton Mage (Elite Controller 3) x1

800 XP Level 3 Encounter.


160 XP each for a total of 2183 XP in total (PCs Level 2), that’s just short of level 3- already.

DM Thoughts-

An easy encounter for the guys but they really love making a mess of the undead, iconic enemies- I think swapping in the elite mage was an excellent move- easily worth the loss of a bunch more of decrepit one-hit minions.

I like encounters to have a leader, and in particular an ‘elite’ monster- someone that can do a bit of damage, or else be the focus of the PCs ire- preferable again if I can give the guy a speaking voice, just adds a bit more to the story here and there, or else as in this case provides a preamble to the next encounter.


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KOTS Part 13a: That’s odd.

“That’s odd.” Tonka states and straightens, the dragonborn a moment earlier was crouched before one of the two altars in the decrepit chamber- the smashed remains of the skeletons litter the floor.

“What’s odd?” Sigur harrumphs.
“It says…” Tonka reads aloud the text carved in to the altar, “…the Platinum Dragon is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. He is my stronghold, my refuge, and my armour against the foes of life—I need only kneel and offer him my praise.”

Tonka scratches his chin, if only to emphasise the oddness.
“So what?” Sigur offers in response, clearly uninterested, Jimmy comes over to take a look at the altar.

Tonka looks a little peeved, “you don’t think it’s odd then? Fighting undead creatures in a catacomb that is clearly dedicated to Bahamut, the place may be old and rotten but it has not been desecrated, I can feel it…” Tonka looks about the chamber again, and then continues.

“I don’t think the goblins come here- I don’t think they’ve ever been here, or else if they’ve tried they’ve been repulsed; the creatures we fought- the skeletons, I think they too were dedicated to the platinum dragon, in some fashion.”
Sigur’s finally hooked- the surly dwarf wanders over.
“That’s…”, Sigur’s got nowhere else to go with the statement, “… odd.” He finishes.
Tonka nods back, and then looks down at Jimmy- the halfling is doing a grand tour of the altar; prodding, pushing, poking.

“Anything?” Tonka asks.
“A minute.” Jimmy continues his searching.

Ramm and Gokan stand at the T-junction, on look-out, just in case anything should approach from the rear.

“Got it.” Jimmy grins, a moment later there’s an audible click, a side panel on the altar hinges open, the halfling delves in to the newly revealed compartment.

“Oh yes!” Jimmy holds in his hands a beautifully made statuette of a dragon, the thing shines, “a dragon.” Jimmy adds.
“The dragon.” Tonka counters, and then adds, “the lord Bahamut- the statuette is of THE platinum dragon- Bahamut.”
Jimmy hands it over, even Sigur’s interested now; Gokan and Ramm wander back towards the action.

“Is it magical?” Sigur asks, the dwarf suddenly gets a funny look in his eye- he bustles off at speed, straight to the other altar.

Jimmy and Tonka are not paying any attention to Sigur, the pair admire the craftsmanship.
“It must be worth a mint.” Jimmy remarks.
Tonka looks put out- “this is holy, we can’t sell it. I will return it to the temple in Fallcrest, it will serve as a beacon to the people, drawing them closer to the one, the true divinity- Bahamut, who is lord and master.”
Jimmy looks crestfallen, Tonka notices.
“Don’t fret Jimmy, there will be other treasures for us to find- this however…” Tonka holds the statuette up, torchlight glitters on each of the dragon’s scales.
Jimmy, Gokan and Ramm admire that statuette, mesmerised for a moment.
“This is a sign Jimmy- a sign to us all, we’re on the right path Jimmy, we’ve suffered on the way but our cause is true. We will succeed, we will get to the bottom of this mystery, and we will right the wrongs that happened here. I am sure of it- and the Bahamut dragon declares it with this gift- my Lord wanted us to find it. It is…” Tonka struggles for the right word.
Jimmy, Gokan and Ramm remain entranced.
“It is… Unique!” Tonka declares and holds the beautiful statuette aloft.

“That’s odd.” Sigur states and straightens, the dwarf a moment earlier was crouched before the other altar in the decrepit chamber- the smashed remains of the skeletons, still, litter the floor.

“What’s odd?” Tonka harrumphs.
“You said unique.” Sigur grins and lifts up the second statuette, which is of course identical to the first; both are exquisite depictions of Bahamut, the platinum dragon.

“I…” is about as far as Tonka gets.
“No, don’t worry- you can keep yours- it’s a sign after all, I’ll be selling mine though.” Sigur grins at Tonka, it’s the kind of grin that starts fights.

“You miserable old…” Tonka wonders where to go with the insult, but not for long- “bastard.”
Sigur’s grin spreads a little wider.

At that moment the double doors to the east creek open, that’s the doors that the adventurers have -up until this point - paid no attention to…

All eyes turn to see.

Standing in the shadows in the doorway is a seven foot tall skeletal knight, wearing heavy armour including a full helm- an eerie red light lances out like a beam from the great helm’s eye slit. The skeleton knight wields a wicked looking longsword in one-hand; its other hand is obscured by a smouldering wisp of dark energy.

[sblock=Skeleton Knight]

Skeleton Lord- Sir Keegan
Solo Brute Level 4


“Grave-robbers! Thieves! Abominations!” The skeleton spits out with as much contempt as it can muster.

Tonka is about to reply when the undead knight, with lightning fast speed, rushes forward and slashes hard at the dragonborn warlord.
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KOTS Part 14: The Skeleton Lord.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 2


[sblock=Picture- The Skeleton Knight enters]


And yet somehow Gokan is there, before Tonka, battleaxe raised to meet the skeleton knight’s sword- the half-orc’s face barely registers the effort - that is until the barbarian’s axes begin to sing- Gokan grins as he whirls, and cuts, and slashes.

The skeleton knight is hit three times in quick succession, the first a hefty blow almost turns it around; the second dents its helm and rattles its skull, the last sweeps a leg and sends the formidable fiend down to the floor.

“But…” It begins, the rattler rattled.


Gokan has a way with his axes, a Charge followed by Furious Assault and Takedown Strike- it’s a shame his Action Point Howling Strike missed the spot- and with Combat Advantage (he rolled a ‘2’), still that’s 36 points of damage, not too shabby.


Jimmy scurries in to the action, dodging and manoeuvring, the halfling rogue stabs not once but twice, both times finding weak spots or else joins in the skeleton’s heavy armour.

“It can’t be…” The skeleton whispers, clearly out of sorts.


Jimmy’s Sly Flourish, Action Point and the same again- both hits, delivers another 34 points of damage to the prone skeleton knight- blimey, what an opening salvo.


“CEASE!” The skeleton screams… and everything does, sort of.

A circle of force shoots out from the undead creature as it leaps back to its feet- pushing all of the adventurers away, no exceptions- even Sigur, the dwarf, gives ground. The air around the adventurers seems to thicken, to take on a semi-solid state; their movements are ponderous, in slow motion.

[sblock=Picture- Time stop]


“I am Sir Keegan, Lord of the Shadow Keep. I am sworn to defend this place against the foul interlopers that even in death haunt me still. Know this, foul miscreants, my sword is true. Who are you?”


This encounter combines combat and a skill challenge in to one; every time the PCs reduce Sir Keegan’s (the Skeleton Lord) hit points by 25% the fighting stops- all effects and conditions on Sir Keegan end (including Marks/Oaths et al), he stands as a Free Action (if Prone), and time stops for a moment.

Obviously I didn’t tell the PCs what was going on- just made it clear that this guy was talking to them, and giving them a moment to answer- they figured it out pretty quick, and loved the idea- at least some of them, Ramm and Gokan are not that sociable.

Regardless, they’re each going to get the chance to make a little speech, or two.


Tonka, as always, is inclined to speech-making.

“I am Tantalus Orontor Ne-an Koriolis Arbon, second lieutenant of the holy order of the Knights of the Bahamut. I have sworn an oath to serve my master in all things- I have been sent here to put an end to the abominations which dwell within this place, to destroy the evil cult that broods here within the shadows. Do not test me foul knight for I will end thee!”

Tonka attempts to perform a flourish with his sword, alas the air is too thick; he almost spills his blade in the attempt.

The skeleton staggers as if struck by a great blow; it looks around itself, as if unsure of what should follow next.

Jimmy steps in, or rather shouts out.

“I don’t care who you are you stinking undead fiend, I’m here to take you down- and any others that get in my way. My brother was killed here, in this filthy hole full of stinking goblins and diseased rats. His death will be avenged.”

By the time Jimmy finishes his speech he’s spitting and screaming, clearly upset and angry.

The skeleton knight is sent staggering back; it crashes hard in to one of the doors behind it.

“This cannot…” The skeleton stutters, “I too…” Alas the rest of the undead creature’s speech is curtailed as the time-stop suddenly ends; the action goes back to full-pace. A glowing radiant hand rushes forward and slaps the fiend.

Sigur steps forward, his magical rod before him- the surly dwarf mutters and grins- a beam of radiant light arcs out and slams in to the skeleton knight, sending it shooting back through the open doors and in to the chamber beyond.

Instinctively the adventurers scurry forward, following on through the doors, the skeleton sprawls against the side of an ornate sarcophagus- the newly revealed chamber is a well-constructed tomb, clearly belonging to someone important.

The skeleton knight staggers to its feet, dazed and disorientated.

“I… that is…” It begins, but again it doesn’t get to finish its sentence- Tonka and Ramm charge in to the undead fiend- cutting and slicing as they go- both connect, Ramm with a hefty blow with his battleaxe and a follow up smash to the face with his shield. The skeleton knight is sent sprawling on to the floor, yet again.

It’s on its feet and back at its attackers in the blink of an eye.


Oh yeah, and Sir Keegan the Skeleton Lord at the start of its round ends all effects and conditions (as previous) and gets back to its feet as a Free Action.

I added this bit on the fly in game because the PCs had my guy just short of bloodied and we were only in the first round- Sir Keegan hadn’t even hit yet.


The skeleton cuts at Ramm, the minotaur bellows and dodges back- too late, its longsword opens up a deep wound in Ramm’s chest, a curtain of blood slicks from it; to make matters worse the blade’s bite leaves him numb- necrotic energy turns the wound in to a virulent ragged furrow.


Ramm is bloodied in an instant- I rolled maximum damage, that’s 25 hit points in total.


“Fight me!” The skeleton roars at Ramm.

“Kill me!” It roars again at all of the adventurers.

“End this charade.” It mutters to itself.

But Tonka and Jimmy hear- the dragonborn warlord looks confused, and then moments later enlightened.

[sblock=Picture- Kill me!]



There was a little chatter around the table after the Skeleton Knight’s speech- the fact that this was Sir Keegan, however the PCs have Sir Keegan pegged as the bad guy, the contents of the speech seemed to slip past some of them.

Stu, who plays Tonka, figured it out however- this guy might not be the bad guy, he voiced his concerns- which got the adventurers thinking, not necessarily a bad thing.


Gokan charges in to the skeleton knight, his axes whirl and smash- and again he manages to connect, the undead fiend is knocked back once more.


The fiend shouts and raises its hand again- a circle of force shoots out knocking the adventurers back, the skeleton knight recovers quickly- time slows as previously.

[sblock=Picture- Bloodied]


“Why are you here? Answer me quickly or pay with your blood?” The skeleton knight points its blade at Ramm.

The minotaur shrugs, looks confused for a moment, straightens and then speaks.

“Sgt. Ramm, Winterhaven Guard. My job is to protect the little one.” Ramm nods towards Jimmy, the halfling looks pleased and a little surprised. Ramm continues, “There are bad things here- I’m here to put an end to them, it’s what I do- it’s my duty.” Ramm nods once; the skeleton knight straightens its back and nods back- a salute of sorts.

“And you, offspring of a dark union?” Sir Keegan points at Gokan.

Gokan looks suitably put out, while Jimmy grimaces- his eyes flash anger.

“You’re in no position to judge me- look at you.” Gokan points with his battleaxe at the skeleton knight’s lower limbs, the only part of the creature not encased in heavy armour.

“An undead fiend. I had no say in my ancestry- and yet I am proud of both of my parents, but I did not choose them. What path did you choose? Why were you punished so when you came to your end?”

The skeleton knight adopts a thoughtful pose; clearly the confrontation has taken an unexpected route.

“Answer my brother.” Jimmy snaps, still in a fury, the halfling rogue tumbles forward as time suddenly runs true once more; the skeleton knight’s sword flashes out, but too high for the tumbling rogue.

Suddenly a thunderclap rings out, centred above the undead fiend, the creature staggers back dazed and disorientated, sword flailing wildly- Jimmy’s already behind the creature, his vicious dagger scores a hit, smashing bones.

“Fiend!” The skeleton knight screams in agony, half-turns to get at Jimmy but has to suddenly turn back again- Tonka screams, “for the platinum dragon!” He and Ramm, the minotaur’s wounds now mostly healed, charge forward and smash in to the skeleton.


And already Sir Keegan is down to 67 hit points (from 268), that’s less than 25% left, and we’re only in the second round of combat.


[sblock=Picture- Almost...]


Again the adventurers are pushed back, with the same slowing of time as before, although the skeleton knight is now looking battered and bruised- bones scored and in places shattered or missing.

“Traitors! There were traitors in my keep- they wanted power, they were tempted by the dark side, my lieutenant, my second- Kalarel, he led the rebellion, he opened the gate and in the darkness poured.” The skeleton knight sags, then looks up, and goes on.

“This is all that is left, they sealed the catacombs and left us to die, me and what was left of my men, those that remained loyal at the end. I am fated to remain, until… until…”

The skeleton knight stands tall again, looks at the assembled adventurers and asks.

“I paid with my life, what would you give? How far will you go to prevent the darkness spreading? You.” Sir Keegan points at Sigur. “You have not spoken.” Sigur grins.
Tonka looks at the dwarf, hisses- Sigur looks over, still grinning, Tonka shakes his head, mouths “No…”, and “Don’t”, all the while shaking his head. Sigur continues to grin, he even chuckles a little.

“I don’t give a goblin’s arse about you and yours, or even what happened here- you’re dead son, D-E-A-D.” Sigur spells it out.
“And in a moment you’re going to join the other shattered bones on the floor of this tomb- your tomb if I’m not mistaken. I heard you killed your wife and kids you stupid homicidal bastard. Now shut up, and put up your sword!” Sigur screams the last sentence.

Tonka continues to shake his head- time returns in a rush, the skeleton warrior is a blur- his blade lashes out in a series of complex arcs, in the process slicing through Ramm’s and Tonka’s armour, the pair are left bleeding and bloodied in an instant.

“For that… you will die!” Sir Keegan hisses at Sigur.

A sudden burst of freezing inky black energy shoots from Sir Keegan’s off-hand, engulfs all of the adventurers and yet only Ramm emerges from the shadow numb and bellowing in pain, the others somehow escape all hurt.

The minotaur fighter however is left staggering, barely able to keep its feet.


Ramm’s down to 5 hit points only.


“To the last then!” The skeleton knight confirms, and rushes to attack again.

[sblock=Picture- To The Last]


Gokan intercedes once again, gets between the skeleton knight and Sigur, who seems to have tipped the creature over the edge; the half-orc defends stoically and keeps the undead fiend at bay.

“D-E-A-D!” Sigur spells it out again, with volume, as one of his favourite radiant hands slaps the skeleton around the face once more, which does nothing for Sir Keegan’s mood.

Tonka is quickly forward, the dragonborn warlord sings-

“Onward Bahamut’s soldiers…” Ramm suddenly stirs, drags himself up and makes ready to attack, Tonka breathes out a fan of lightning- between verses, alas the skeleton knight is much too quick, and it barely notices the lightning’s burn.

The creature however is forced to move swiftly- ducking and dodging Tonka and Gokan’s attacks, which leaves it once again susceptible to Jimmy’s deft strike- delivered at the same time as Tonka’s formidable attack.

The warlord abruptly stops singing.

“Destroy it!” The dragonborn screeches and points the way.

The staggering skeleton steps aside, trying to extricate itself from the melee, alas it merely steps in to Ramm’s charge; the bellowing minotaur smashes the creature down, one last time.

The skeleton knight does not stir.

Sigur grumbles, Tonka bristles- the latter heads for the former at speed.

“You stupid old dwarf!” Tonka screams in Sigur’s face.
Sigur puffs out his chest and spits on the floor, then grins.
“Do you have to upset and insult everyone?” Tonka asks.
“You want me to play nice with the undead, now?” Sigur leers back.

Ramm nudges Tonka.

“I think he was going to tell us what went on here- it could have been important…” Tonka continues; Ramm nudges the dragonborn again- the minotaur is duly ignored.

“Look, if you don’t have anything reasonable to say then try just shutting up.” Tonka plainly states.
And then is nudged again by Ramm.
“What?” Tonka turns to see - Sir Keegan is of course back on his feet, this time with his helm removed.

[sblock=Picture- Sir Keegan]


Tonka swallows hard.

“I thought you were dead… again.” Tonka states.
“That’s what I’ve been saying.” Sigur adds.

“The man you seek is Kalarel, my lieutenant- the traitor, he works his magic for his dark lord, he lairs below in the shadow- go to him, end him.”

The skeleton knight turns and pointedly stares at Gokan, and then for the longest time at Jimmy.

“He killed my family, he left me here to die, he made me what I am!” The skeleton knight indicates his present, unflattering, form.

“Save me! Save us!”

The skeleton knight begins to fade from existence.

“Wait!” Tonka cries.

“You have one… memory left to collect- find it… the portal… please!”

And Sir Keegan is gone.

Just his armour and sword left on the floor where he stood.

[sblock=Encounter #14 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

Encounter #14 Sir Keegan, starring-

Skeleton Lord- Sir Keegan (Solo Brute 4) x1
Combined with a Skill Challenge (of sorts)

875 XP Level 4 Encounter.


175 XP each for a total of 2358 XP in total (PCs Level 2), that is however enough XP for level 3, already.

DM Thoughts-

In game this encounter played really well, and proved the prototype for two or three similar encounters in later campaigns- the combination of combat and skill challenge, with the players being drafted in to make one cool speech each. It has proved to be an excellent tactic- particularly effective to outline a twist in the plot.

I used a very similar encounter with a Solo Lich Necromancer, in a higher level game of course, the Lich got to deliver some excellent speeches in between the bouts of combat- it transpired, as in this encounter, that the Lich was actually a good guy- or at least he wasn’t the adventurer’s true enemy.

As dumb as it sounds having the bad guy ask a question and then point to a random PC works, I know- I said it sounded dumb.

The encounter aside the players are about to take another extended rest, the reason for this is twofold-

1) They all have enough XP for level three, I realise there have only been a few encounters at this level but the guys were on a roll on level 1 and put off levelling up.
2) Tonka has not got any healing surges left, again- a recurring theme.

And so next time, an extended rest is in order, and a little catch-up, which is pretty much how it went in game; I make it rule to give the players half-an-hour during extended rests (if needed) to chat about what they know so far.


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KOTS Part 14a: The fight after the fight.

The adventurers make a thorough search of the chamber, not speaking to each other, at least not very much- the mood is subdued, although in reality Tonka is still seething, nothing gets said- at least for a while.

The chamber is made safe, fortified- the doors shut, the bones of the smashed skeletons swept away- as best they can, a guard rota is drawn up, and…

Things finally kick off.

“I’ve had enough” Tonka stamps his foot, petulant.
“I won’t put up with any more of your behaviour, you seem to be trying to make things difficult for us, for you even- are you mad? - is that it? - it might explain it.” Tonka finishes.

The other adventurers save Sigur stop and stare, at Tonka, and then at Sigur.

The dwarf carries on, about his normal business- seemingly unaware that Tonka is speaking to him, eventually he notices, “oh, you’re talking to me. How silly of me, I didn’t realise. Sorry Tonka, what was it you were saying?” Sigur grins at the dragonborn.
“You heard me. And you’re still doing it- finding new ways to piss me off.” Tonka replies curtly.
“I didn’t realise it was about you…” Sigur starts but Tonka jumps back in.
“It isn’t about me, it’s about you Sigur, we’re all trying to do the right thing, to say the right thing- trying not to make a situation worse, trying to get on…” It’s Sigur’s turn to leap in.
“Get on. Pah!”
Tonka goes to respond but thinks better of it, at least for the moment.
“He’s got a point.” Jimmy states, Gokan nods.
Sigur momentarily looks worried.
“We get on.” Sigur tries.
“Not really.” Jimmy states, his brother nods again.
“We try to get on but you always say something, or do something to make people angry, or wary, or at least… I don’t know- Tonka’s right I suppose, you just piss people off.” Jimmy finishes.
Gokan nods.
Sigur’s face reddens.
“That’s not true- I just say what I think, sometimes it might come out wrong, but… Oh what the hell, why am I trying to explain myself to you- do you know how old I am?” Sigur moves from semi-apologetic to indignant in a matter of seconds.
“Moradin’s britches, can’t you stupid people just get on with it, or else fight back a little- I’m not apologising for who I am, I’ve been around longer than any of you. And here’s my lesson for today- warlord, toughen up- grow some, you’ll amount to nothing if all you do is spend your time whining or else lying unconscious on the floor.” Sigur finishes his speech shouting, and puffing and panting- he’s built up a real head of steam.

There’s a moment when nothing happens, the other four adventurers stand and stare at Sigur, and at Tonka.

Then Tonka chins Sigur.

It’s not a great shot but it connects with a fair amount of force, certainly not enough to put the dwarf down, but enough to get him to take notice.

The two go at it- Sigur gets a rabbit punch in, Tonka warms the dwarf’s ear.

Jimmy moves to intervene, Gokan grabs his brother.

Sigur head butts the dragonborn warlord, Tonka staggers back, his nose gushing with blood- Sigur puts his head down and charges.

“Ooof!” Tonka looks up from his bloody nose just in time for the dwarf to ram him in the belly, the warlord is almost down, staggering and flailing wildly.

He catches Sigur with a wicked wild swipe, the force of the blow turns the dwarf around- he spits out a tooth.

The two are breathing hard, Sigur with the exertion, Tonka more winded and with what looks to be a broken nose.

“Sigur, stop.” Ramm states- loud enough for everyone to hear.

Jimmy and Gokan look at the minotaur.

Sigur and Tonka only have eyes for each.

The pair go at it again, a huddled mauling frenzy- although completely lacking in finesse, and force and direction. It’s a war of attrition.

The ruck goes on for thirty seconds or so, the pair taking it in turns to get the upper hand, the odd good shot here and there- more by accident than design. Eventually Sigur manages to connect with a flailing punch to the side of Tonka’s head, the dragonborn staggers- the dwarf pounces, connects again- suddenly there’s movement behind him.

Sigur spins around.

Behind him a flailing Tonka thumps hard- shoulder first in to the floor.

Before him Ramm draws to a halt.

The minotaur’s face is impassive- no emotion.

Sigur wipes the blood from his lips with the back of his hand and stares at the three other adventurers in turn.

“Does anyone else want some of this?” Sigur proffers a bruised fist.

Ramm takes a step forward and punches Sigur in to early next week.

“Stop.” Ramm states.

But Sigur is out for the count.

A little while later the watch rota has been re-written; Ramm, Gokan and Jimmy each have a double shift; Tonka and Sigur are unconscious.


In game we had a little falling out between two of the players, you know the score one guy decides his PC is an obnoxious bastard (at times) and so plays him that way- sometimes all the time. Another PC thinks it’s his job to tell the PC (sometimes on behalf of the other players) that he’s being an idiot.

Anyway when Stu, who plays Tonka, said “I punch Sigur”, I thought why not- I’ve been here before, with other players that didn’t get on etc. I figured we’d sort things out I the end- even if we had to curtail the session to thrash it all out. So we played the fight out, we improvised rules for non-lethal unarmed (and untrained), we may have been using the right rules, I certainly didn’t look anything up however.

The act of figuring out the rules, declaring this a contest et al seemed in a way to calm things down- even though both players wanted to win the humour started to creep back in with both guys trying to get bonuses to their fighting skills due to prayer, racial skills and attributes et al. The fact that both combatants were incredibly bad at hitting and inflicting damage to each other also took a lot of heat out of the situation- at one point both guys missed something like five times in a row.

The other three players even got in a few catcalls.

Of course Steve, who plays Sigur, was left in no doubt at the end- he may have knocked Tonka down but the three other players were queuing up to knock him down.

In the end we had a sit down and a drink and sorted it all out, like grown-ups do.


Much later, when everyone is conscious, rested and feeling much more experienced.

“Sorry” Sigur looks up.
“There, I’ve said it.”
“And that’s it…” Jimmy starts up.
“Jimmy!” Tonka snaps, and then looks kindly at the halfling.

Sigur mopes a little.

“I am sorry.” He states, certain- he nods his head to reassure his audience.
“I’m a lot older than you lot…”
“What does that matter?” Ramm snaps.
Sigur looks up, meets the minotaur’s eye.
“I am 279 years old.” Sigur starts and the stops, all of the other adventurers gasp, choke or else catch their breath.
“Two-hundred-and…” Jimmy starts, “I’m twenty-one.” Jimmy grins.
“Twenty-nine.” Ramm snorts, even the minotaur smiles.
“Nineteen.” Gokan states.
“Sixty-three.” Tonka states- to stares.
“What does age matter?” Ramm asks again.
“I adventured with your dad.” Sigur remarks and looks at Jimmy and Gokan, and before that- well, I worked in the mines for about thirty or forty years- deep beneath Hammerfast. I didn’t see the surface until I was…” Sigur thinks hard, “maybe 180-something years old.”
“And?” Ramm asks again, not letting the dwarf off the hook.
“I’ve seen a lot of friends dead.” To emphasise the point Sigur says the sentence again.
“My family- my wife Farva, our daughter Hartha; they were both killed in a cave-in, that was a century ago, almost to the day…”

The adventurers go silent for a bit.

Sigur has something in his eye.

Eventually he looks up.

“Everyone I get close to… they die. I don’t…” Sigur thinks about the next word, “… I don’t want any more friends.”

The chamber returns to silence.

Eventually Tonka gets up.

Starts back about his business- all eyes are on the dragonborn, eventually he speaks.

“Tough!” Tonka states, still slightly annoyed.
“What?” Sigur barks back.
“I said- tough, you miserable bloody dwarf. We’re your friends, you can keep on putting us down or you can accept it. I don’t care. We have a job to do.”
Tonka folds his sleeping blanket roughly.
“I shall attempt not to take offence at anything you say in future, Sigur. But remember this…” Tonka is in Sigur’s face, “we’re in this together. Okay- all of us, to-ge-th-er. ” Tonka pronounces every syllable of the last word of the sentence.

“Right then, this is mine.” Tonka grabs the sword abandoned by Sir Keegan, “Ramm- the armour should about fit you. Get it on. Quick-smart.” Ramm stands and gets to work, Gokan helps the minotaur wrestle the platemail on.

“We’re going to have a quick chat- go over what we know, while we eat- Jimmy.” The halfling snaps to attention and then scurries for his brother’s pack and the last of the fresh food.

“What should I do?” Sigur asks.
“Take it easy Sigur, just for a little while more- it’s going to be difficult, you might want to take a moment and think about that.” Tonka finishes, and then thinks of a better ending, “Please.” The dragonborn asks.

Fifteen minutes later Tonka has completed a short practice session; his new sword seems to be of excellent manufacture.

[sblock=Picture- Tonka’s new blade]

Tonka admires his +1 Vengeful Longsword.​


Ramm has likewise not been idle, his new armour has had to be let out a little but it seems to fit, the minotaur fighter wears it well.

[sblock=Picture- Ramm’s new armour]

Ramm’s sporting a set +1 Black Iron Plate.​


“Dinner’s up.” Jimmy declares, the adventurers get comfy to eat and chat.
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