The next and final quadrant of Level Two is now available. You can download it here.
It was time to introduce an organized foe to challenge the explorers of Stonehell. Up until now, the adventurers have had to face the standard collection of humanoid threats and undead menaces, mixed with the ubiquitous vermin, that tend to collect in the upper levels of most megadungeon complexes. While they’ve no doubt run into some humanoids and human-like creatures that employ rudimentary tactics to defend their holdings, they’ve yet to encounter a threat that’s organized, disciplined, and takes utmost advantage of the dungeon terrain.
Enter the hobgoblins.
Despite their portrayal in the Monster Manual as having an Asian motif to their weapons and armor, hobgoblins to me have always been more Roman than anything else. They take territory and hold it. They fight in organized groups led by competent military minds and they use the best tactics available to them to overcome less disciplined opponents. My hobgoblins form shield walls, launch volleys of missile fire, and utilize weapons like pole-arms to present the greatest threat to those who challenge them. A party that doesn’t respond with equal acumen is due for a sound defeat on the field of battle.
The hobgoblins of Stonehell are recent arrivals. Having discovered a back door into the second level, they’ve quickly seized a defendable section of the dungeon and added improvements to ensure they have a fortified position from which to launch military excursions. They seek to eventually take control of the entire second level – already scouting out and preparing to engage the lizard men – and move upwards to control as much as level one as possible. If their plan succeeds, they’ll turn Stonehell into a fortress from which to launch attacks on the neighboring towns and villages in an effort to bring the frontier under the iron rule of their race. If the adventurers can’t dislodge them now, while the hobgoblins await further reinforcements, they’re going to have an ongoing challenge in their efforts to explore the dungeon.
Removing this threat isn’t going to be easy. In addition to being well organized, the hobgoblins maintain a number of mountain lions to assist them in battle, as well as having discovered a cunning way to employ a decanter of endless water as a defense weapon. A direct assault on their redoubt is via a very nasty killing field; a place where the party will most likely be cut to pieces as they run through an extremely tight gauntlet to attack.
This section is one that will reward stealth, reconnaissance, and good planning, while punishing those foolish enough to believe they can achieve victory solely on the merits of being the “heroes” of the story. I hope it doesn’t take too many PC deaths for this lesson to sink in.
Viva la Old School!
As an aside, I realize that I’ve had a much busier posting week than I originally predicted. Depending on how much of Level Three I get in the can, and if I finally manage to put one of my submissions to bed over the course of the weekend, I might be taking it easy next week. I’ll have a better idea by Sunday night as to how drained my creative batteries are.