Red Hand of Doom

Road Work Ahead
Days 13-14

A short, but decisive battle led to the deaths of the ogres and most of the hobgoblins in the roadblock palisade. In a startling change of MO, you let a couple of fleeing hobgoblins get away.

You continued north, until you encountered a track leading west into the marsh. Leaving your horses behind, you followed it for a while.

Before sunset, you saw a half-eaten owl up on a hill. You decided to leave it alone and kept moving.

Later, as you made camp, you were accosted by elves on living giant owls. They wanted to know what you were doing in the marsh, and they didn’t like sass.

They were looking for a giant owl. When you told them what you saw, they told you to stay put and flew away. Soem of you slept lightly, while others stayed up to watch. Four hours later, a bunch of owls returned, and they took you away.

A two hour flight, in near silence, set you at Starsong Hill, the village of Tiri Kitor elves.

These are the very elves you came to get help from, but when you explain about the army to the south, they were unmoved. They didn’t fear an army taking over human lands. Human kingdoms rose and fell without their long-lived involvement. Besides, they were busy themselves dealing with frequent lizardfolk attacks and hobgoblins at the ruined city of Rhest.

You know that there’s a wyrmlord in the swamp here. The elves also said there’s a black dragon, the size of a giant owl there. If you clear out that problem, they might have enough resources freed up to help with defense to the south.

You slept in surprisingly comfortable wicker beds that night, the first good sleep you’ve had in at least two weeks.

Everyone gains 1,350 experience points!

You now have 21,875 experience points. After a well-earned night of rest at Starsong Hill, you will all advance to 7th level!

Struck Gold
Days 12, 13

The night passed uneventfully, and you resumed riding up the road at first light. It wasn’t long before you saw a column of smoke off the road, to the south.

Naturally, you investigated. Two wagon tracks led off the road, and you followed a short distance to see an ettin and a band of goblins, burning a wagon, and toying with corpses dressed in Brindol colors.

After you defeated them, you found a note and two coffers full of gold bars. This wagon was sent to hire dwarf mercenaries from the Hammerfist Holds to the south.

Money Talks
After a lot of talk, you decided to take the money to Brindol, and continue north to the elves, instead of taking the gold south to the dwarves.

That took you about a day out of your way, and you were warned again of a roadblock on the Rhest trail northward.

You rode north on the Rhest trail, and soon, in the distance, saw an imposing wooden palisade stretched across the trail. Theos scouted in hawk form, and saw two bored hobgoblinson the roof, and two sleeping ogres inside.

This was a challenge for Brindol’s finest, but would probably be a cakewalk for the likes of you!


Everyone gains 800 experience points!

Days 8-11

On the road, moving back toward Drellin’s Ferry, you argued about what to do. Trap the road? Helpevacuate the town. Go back to the brdige and destroy it again?

As you deliberated, the goblins made it easy for you—they attacked you.

Sort Of
An anry red draconic… creature with a hobgoblin on its back charged out of the woods to your right. The hobgoblin was barely in control, and the raging drake soon threw him off its back. In its fighting frenzy, it killed the hobgoblin, and dealt a lot of damage to you.

Not far behind, two goblins on worgs followed up. Despite the lightning boltsone threw, they were less of a challenge, and with care and long range fire, you took them down as they fled.

Unfortunately, you had your own casualty—Shadowfax, the paladin’s warhorse, was slain, valiantly defending his master. Oh, crestfallen Elendil!

After a brief mourning period, you spent time laying traps for the army, and then beat it back to Drellin’s Ferry. There, you helped evacuate the town, and began to burn everything, leaving nothing for the army to travel on.

That night, an elite soldier of Brindol, Teyani Sura, rode into town, ragged and tired. She was part of a patrol going north to speak with the elves in the Blackfens. But they ran into a rout—a roadblock set up across the road to the north. Ogres and hobgoblins hidden in a fortification overwhelmed the patrol. Teyani was the only survivor.

She was already worn, but hearing your news gave her the energy to act anew.

Elendil and Teyani shared solace that night, before she rode away before dawn, returning to Brindol to deliver the news to Lord Jaarmath of how close the army was. She lft memories, and her bandana for Elendil.

You spent the next day helping townspeople finish packing, and then you sank the barge, and burned the remainder of the town.

The next morning you set out for Brindol. You got to Terrelton that day, where the head of the Merchant’s Council seemed underwhelmed by your news. It must have been a tough town… evevn the local cleric of St. Cuthbert, Leille, was rude.

You shook the dust off your feet ,and camped outside the town for the night, before heading toward Nimon Gap.

Everyone gains 1400 experience points!

The Enormity of the Problem
Days 6-8

After the bridge combat, you found it prudent to retreat and heal. Spending the next few minutes receiving heals from the paladin, you consulted Koth’s crude map. Eventually, you decided to travel west along the gorge to scout any other places the army might try to cross.

You walked protected within the treeline. It was safe, but slow going within the forest. After a day and a night of picking through the trees and underbrush, the drop on your right turned into a slant, and then a gentle slope. You rode down the slope, crossed the river, and walked back up the other side.

In the Army Now
Before you saw anything, you heard it. The steady stamp of boots, coming from the north. The leaves shook rhythmically, and and the ground trembled.

Theos scouted ahead and saw an army on the march. Thousands of goblinoids. Hundreds of ogres. Dozens of giants. Manticores. Chimeras. Some creatures you don’t even have names for. The army was ordered, but appeared to have no leading general.

This was not a threat you could charge into.

As you discussed next steps, three goblins on worgs and a hell hound found you and attacked. You killed them quickly, and took one goblin captive.

You took the prisoner back to Warklegnaw’s ruined fortress. It was night. The goblin told you the troop numbers. He told you that the horde would rebuild the bridge. He crowed that the sons and daughters of Tiamat would rule Elsir Vale.

Once you’d heard enough, you knew you couldn’t let him go free—the ranger wouldn’t have it. So you did the only honorable thing: Give the wounded goblin a weapon, and face him in one-on-one combat.

The goblin glanced around nervously as the combat began. Could he flee? Could he win his freedom with a display of martial mastery? Perhaps these adventurers were “honorable” enough to… All questions ended as Azureus won initiative and honorably bisected the goblin in the first round. High fives for everybody!

At the same time, Theos flew back to the gorge to investigate. He saw a goblin engineering team arrive and begin to survey the damage. You reckon that between a goblin engineering team and giants to help with construction, the horde will have a functional bridge up within days.

The Only Option
Wisely, San Te and Elendil went back to Drellin’s Ferry to tell them to evacuate. Though the town elders wanted to try fighting or negotiating, you convinced them that these were not viable options. Their only hope would be to fall back to Brindol, where Lord Jaarmath has an army and walled defenses. San Te also proposed an assault in the hill country at Nimon Gap as well.

Norro Wiston suggested that some elves to the north might also be enlisted to bolster the human army. The old wizard, Sertieren the Wise (no relation), also gave you all of his magic items to use in defense of the Vale.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party grappled with some difficult realities. You want to slow the horde, but you have neither the tools nor know-how to slow thousands of troops, some of who mare immensely strong, and some of whom don’t even walk. There seems little that six adventurers can do to slow an army of thousands who want to travel over flat land on a well established road.

Now what?


Did anyone loot the goblins? I don’t remember. Leave me a comment if you do.

Sertieren’s magic items are on the treasure page.


Everyone gains 500 experience points!

Bridge Out
Days 5, 6

Storming the Bridge
Next morning, Theos scouted the bridge ahead of the party in eagle form.

He was immediately spotted and set upon by a young green dragon, Ozyrrandion. Doing his best “startled eagle” impersonation, the druid wheeled around and left, only gathering a basic layout of the area.

Then San Te invisibly crept up to the bridge. As he approached, a hell hound at the tower base began sniffing the air, searching for a strange new scent. The monk quickly, quietly sprinted up the stairs, and dispatched the hobgoblin guard at the top of the tower. The hellhound was not far behind though, on the scent. Now visible, San Te kicked the devil dog off the 40 foot tower, and followed it down, landing on it with a bonecrushing finality.

This sort of astounding feat was also effective as an alarm, alerting the enemy that an assault had begun. Elendil bravely charged up to the bridge on his horse. Another hell hound raced across the expanse, and the hobgoblin in the other tower fired arrows. The rest of the party came charging up as well, with A’mar flying.

Ozyrrandion launched into the battle. Swooping in, he breathed a fan of acid on the paladin and his horse. You took a round to beat on him, but then he swooped away, back to his perch on the other side of the bridge. He drank potions, and then disappeared.

While everyone else provided cover, Theos and Az Magyar darted onto the bridge. The wizard cast obscuring mist, and the druid cast stone shape, creating a rift in the bridge’s structure.

The dragon continued his attack, and as the bridge collapsed, Ozyrrandion cried out in rage! “It will take us days to go around the gorge!” he hissed in A’mar’s face.

Bridge Oww!
With nothing left to defend, the dragon intensified his assault, darting in and out of cover using the party’s own obscuring mist. All the while, the hobgoblin archers on the other side of the gorge fired arrows at any available target. Most of them missed, but some did not.

A’mar fell under the green’s terrible claws (though resurrected in the heat of battle), and most other party members were in the single digits for hit points by the time one ragged, desperate stroke slayed the dragon. (Eldrich Bolt from the Az Magyar)

An angry roar came from the other side of the gorge, as you retreated, nearly dead, but victorious.

You didn’t stop to search for, or take treasure.


Everyone gains 1,200 experience points!

To the Bridge
Days 3-5

Immediately after the fight, you looted the bodies and explored the keep. In addition to various treasure items, you found several reports and a map in Koth’s war room, and a trap door in the floor of the tower.

The trap door lead down to a treasure trove, undisturbed by goblins or giants. A human skeleton, presumably the former Amery Vraath, lay on the floor with a giant arrow in its torso. Among the many treasures found here were Vraath’s cold-enchanted bastard sword, and a staff of life!

Heading back to the surface, A’mar identified two magic items, and you used the staff to resurrect Az. With a day’s rest and a second wizard, you identified much of the remainder of your finds, and distributed them among the party.

What You Learned
Koth’s map contains crude drawings and maneuver information for the horde that is clearly assembling against the humans of Elsir Vale. The reports indicate that the horde contains dozens of goblin, hobgoblin, bugbear, and ogre tribes from the Wyrmsmoke Mountains, all under the banner of the Red Hand, led by the High Wyrmlord, Azzar Kul, a cleric of Tiamat.

Four Wyrmlord commanders serve under Azzar Kul:

  • Saarvith, a goblin ranger—on a mission in the ruined city of Rhest
  • Ulwai Stormcaller, a hobgoblin bard—Koth does not know her whereabouts
  • Hravek Kharn, a hobgoblin Talon of Tiamat—in direct command of the horde
  • Koth, a bugbear sorcerer—was to lead the initial attack on Drellin’s Ferry, but you killed him

The map also contains a timeline of the horde’s invasion plans.

Next Steps
The next day, you sent Jorr back to Drellin’s Ferry to warn them of the coming horde. Then you struck out north toward the Skull Gorge Bridge, an obvious chokepoint for an army’s advancement on Elsir Vale. Next to the bridge on the map is a handwritten note:

“ozyrrendion holds until red hand crosses”

On the road, you encountered a trail forking away, marked by a crude giant effigy. This is how giants mark their territory, and the trail was wide enough for giants to travel. To avoid leaving potential enemies behind you, you followed the trail.

It ended at a ruined giant fortress, with one forest giant, Warklegnaw, roasting a giant boar on a spit. Once you showed him you were friendly, he offered you some roast boar, and you talked current events.

Warklegnaw doesn’t know much, but has encountered more hobgoblins than usual lately. When you showed him the giant-sized spiked gauntlet you found back at the keep, he smiled, and promised to get his distant relations in the mountains to help combat the hobgoblin threat.

It was late in the afternoon when you returned to the road, but you traveled a bit more before stopping to make camp. Theos surveyed the area in hawk form. He saw a gray render lurking in the area, but seemingly unaware of you. During the night however, it found you and did a fair amount of damage before you felled it. Like the hydra, gray renders are not common to the Witchwood.

You slept fitfully through the rest of the night.


You’ve already split up most of the treasure, but check the treasure page for changes and undeclared items.


Everyone gains 1,150 experience points!

Elendil gains a Hero Point for bravely attacking the gray render with no armor!

Finders Keepers
Days 2, 3

You continued on the road north throughout the afternoon. A couple of hours before sundown, you saw a ruined keep through the trees.

You quickly left the path while Theos scouted the keep in hawk form. The keep was ruined, with boulders scattered all around, and openings in the walls. You learned of a manticore, several goblinoids, and the corpse of some poor human used to simulate a haunting at the keep.

Later, after some exceptionally well-rendered drawings in the dirt, you had a plan:
  • Just before the hobgoblins began to stir, Theos would fly to the outer wall where the manticore was sleeping, and cave the wall on top of it using stone shape.
  • San Te would sneak around front and engage the hobgoblin on watch.
  • The rest of the group would then charge from the treeline, enter the opening Theos made, and take the keep!
  • Jorr would stay back with the horses.

The plan went well. The manticore was crushed by the toppled wall, and trapped by heavy stone. As you entered to finish it off, you noticed you were in a stables. The stables also contained two goblins and their worg mounts!

The goblins were asleep and unprepared, but the worgs were quickly awake. One howled an alarm, waking everyone in the keep.

You sicced your wolf companions on the worgs and moved to finish the manticore. It struggled free from the collapsed wall, and flew out a hole in the ceiling, firing spikes from its tail back down inside at you. Quick arrow fire finished what you had started though, and the manticore fell from the air, dead.

You had little time for celebration—the goblins were now awake, ready with weapons, and quarreling with the worgs. Before long, a minotaur and three more hobgoblins trundled toward the fight. The minotaur burst into the room with its enormous greataxe swinging, while two hobgoblins with no time to don armor, went out front with their swords to face the monk.

The minotaur sliced into Azureus immediately, and surely would have killed A’mar with one mighty blow had the elf not used his Hero Point. Instead, he tumbled under the axe, forcing the minotaur to swing wild, accidentally slaying a goblin instead.

Azureus knew something would have to be done. Spending his Hero Point, he kicked two of his dropped swords up into the minotaur’s chest, while hurling the two swords he was holding! Then somehow, with inhuman speed, he tried to drink two healing potions simultaneously.

The gambit paid off, as three swords felled the minotaur with a thud. Behind it stood your deadliest foe yet, Wyrmlord Koth.

Meanwhile, Theos changed to wolf form and joined San Te’s fight against the hobgoblin guards, who put up a surprising amount of fight. One dogged Theos for the rest of the encounter.

Back inside, Koth quickly spotted the spellcaster, and punished the fragile Az Magyar with a magic missile volley from his wand. He followed with a lightning bolt, killing the wizard outright!

The rest of the party pressed him, so he drank a potion of fly and zoomed up to the ceiling, where he continued to whittle your dwindling hit points with his wand of magic missile.

Arrows and thrown rocks dropped him eventually, and silence descended over the keep. At great cost, you won the day before the sun even came up.


You haven’t had time to search the keep or your defeated enemies yet.


Everyone gains 1,542 experience points! Remember, you need to rest before you can gain the level.

Theos gains a Hero Point for negating the manticore threat. Huzzah!

Day 2

Riding the final few miles into Drellin’s Ferry, you were met by the town militia, who were suitably impressed by your tale of hobgoblin skirmish, and your grisly trophies.

Word soon spread around the town that you had arrived, and you found welcome receptions as you visited various shopkeepers, sold items, and traded for more useful ones.

At the Old Toll House (rechristened the Hall of Justice), Norro Wiston spoke with you about the growing hobgoblin threat. He mentioned that until fairly recently, goblins and hobgoblins had been sticking to their homes in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains to the west. But in the last few weeks, more had been seen in the Witchwood, especially around Drellin’s Ferry.

There was also mention of forest giants, many years ago, but Wiston believes they’re all gone. Wiston also advised you to find old Jorr, a ranger in the Witchwood who knows his way around.

By then, it was getting dark, so you spent the night in the inn, where you all slept well and the halfling innkeepers did absolutely nothing to your horses.

At daybreak, you started up a thin trail rather than taking the road. After a few hours, and a strange beetle encounter, you found Jorr’s cabin. Impressed by your Sylvan-speaking ranger, who hates goblins as much as he does, Jorr agreed to act as your guide for a mere 3 gold pieces per day.

Jorr advised you that the old Vraath Keep would be a good place for goblins to hole up. On the road north toward it, Jorr told you the story of Vraath Keep:

A few generations back, Lord Amery Vraath claimed all of the Witchwood as his territory, and gathered a group of men at Vraath Keep to claim it. His top priority was ridding the forest of giants.

Amery’s men raided the giants’ steading, killed many, and drove the rest into the mountains. Two weeks later, the remaining giants returned and attacked Vraath Keep. The battle was fierce, but the giants won this time. There were no human survivors, but it is said that Amery Vraath’s spirit still haunts the keep.

Jorr is not one to believe in a bunch of “haunted keep” hooey, though.

Eventually, the road became a wooden causeway, running over a shallow, swampy stream. As you crossed, a couple of you noticed an unusually large snake in the water, near an overturned wagon.

That snake turned out to be one head of a hydra!

Hungry, and mean, the hydra advanced on you. Az Magyar used a Hero Point for a timely retreat before six terrible heads came crashing down on him. He pulled out in the nick of time! (In the quickening of battle, his use of the Hero Point also gave him a permanent +2 bonus to his Ride skill!)

Frustratingly tough, the hydra seemed to heal wounds almost as fast as you could deal them. One head was lopped off, but you were only whittling it down until San Te, using his own Hero Point, leaped onto the hydra’s back.

The remaining five heads of the hydra turned to face the monk, and struck at the irritation! A second leap carried San Te away from harm. However, the hydra did not fare so well… four vicious bites cut into its own back, and the beast died from self-inflicted wounds!

Jorr hasn’t been up this way in a while, but he knows hydras aren’t native to the Witchwood. This thing must have shown up since the hobgoblins started getting thicker in the area. That’s a bad sign.


You search the wagon, and find a magical mithral breastplate inside, along with some ruined hobgoblin armor and weapons, collected by the hydra.

Current treasury


Everyone gets 625 experience points!

Reminder: Everyone started at 12,500, so you have 13,933 total xp now. You’ll reach 6th level at 15,000 xp.

First Rumblings
Day 1

After slaying the black dragon, Nightscale, and mostly cleaning out the old dwarven fortress (Ezved will have to deal with the remaining troglodytes), you remembered a debt you had to pay.

In exchange for returning your fighter friend, Thor, to life, you had promised the church of Pelor that by summer you would go west and investigate reports of increasing hobgoblin activity in the settlements in Elsir Vale.

So you rested, stocked up, and headed west across a rocky desert to meet with Lord Kerden Jarmaath to learn more about the hobgoblin incursion.

Lord of the town of Brindol, Jarmaath welcomed you and introduced you to two new companions who had been recommended to him to deal with the threat: Elendil the paladin, and Az Magyar the wizard. In the interests of speed, he loaned you horses and sent you to Town Speaker Norro Wiston in Drellins Ferry, the westernmost settlement in Elsir Vale.

A few miles outside of Drellin’s Ferry, you were ambushed by a band of hobgoblins. They were clearly not expecting travelers of such competence, and though San Te took a beating, you gave a much, much harder beating.

After you finished the hobgoblin cleric, and his spiritual weapon dissipated, you inspected the farmhouse where they had made camp. Inside were the grisly remains of their day’s work. The hobgoblins had already killed five other travelers that day: a merchant and three bodyguards, and what looks like an unlucky farmer who stumbled across their camp.

This was bold aggression on the edge of Elsir Vale. Could Drellin’s Ferry already be under siege?


The hobgoblins had a number of good-quality weapons, armor, and a few other items. In the farmhouse, they also stored the money they took from the bodies of their victims.

Because A’mar and Az Magyar have the Arcanist ability, they can both sense magical auras, so you quickly sort out the magical items from the nonmagical ones. Determining the strength and abilities of these items requires an identify spell by one of your spellcasters, a process that could take a few hours.

Total treasure is here.


Everyone gets 808 experience points!


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