Episode Two: Trench Warfare
By Jeff Quick
Training Grounds is a short adventure for four 5th-level characters. The adventure is set in a long field in the homelands of a hobgoblin army. Training Grounds requires very little adjustment for higher-level characters. If PCs are above 10th level, adjust by adding levels to the hobgoblin opponents.
The obstacles that the heroes must face are described in each individual Cliffhanger episode, but some commonalities exist from one episode to the next.
Regular Hobgoblins: The fifty regular hobgoblins move with the PCs, though they attack constantly only during the first Cliffhanger episode. In later episodes, the hobgoblins merely watch the PCs. This isn't their exercise. They're merely there to help keep the PCs along the track. Should a PC attempt to leave the exercise via means not mentioned anywhere, the hobgoblins on that side of the course attempt to push them back on course by attacking with javelins.
Captain Yornlheth: The captain of the Fang Warband hobgoblins makes his way to the end area of the training grounds while the PCs move through the course. He doesn't intercede in any way until the end.
Trench Warfare (EL 3)
The PCs are faced with crossing a 10-foot deep trench on two planks. The planks are 6 inches wide and 5 feet apart. The trench is 50 feet long and 15 feet wide. Two hobgoblins with shortspears wait below.
Walking across the plank requires a successful Balance check (DC 15). Characters attempting to balance must move at half speed. Failure means the character cannot move for 1 round. Failure by 5 or more means the character falls.
If a PC spends more than 1 round on the planks, the hobgoblins below get agitated and start banging on the planks with their spears. This increases the required Balance check to DC 20.
Strong and skilled jumpers could try to leap the trench with a running start. Characters who jump and fall short must succeed at a Balance check (DC 20) to land on a plank and keep moving. A PC who weighs more than 200 pounds who leaps onto a plank breaks it and falls into the trench, taking 1d6 points of damage.
If the PCs try to go around the trench, they must go through the wall of hobgoblins, who are waiting and watching the proceedings.
Creatures: The two Fang Warband hobgoblins await the PCs in the trench.
Fang Warband Members (2): Male hobgoblin Ftr1; CR 1; Medium-size humanoid (goblinoid); HD 1d10+1; hp 6; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 16 (touch 11, flat-footed 15); Atk +2 melee (1d8+1/x3, shortspear or 1d6+1, club); SQ Darkvision 60 ft.; AL LE; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Climb +0, Jump +0, Listen +3, Move Silently +0, Spot +3; Alertness, Dodge.
Possessions: Chainmail, shortspear.
Tactics: Assuming the entrenched hobgoblins aren't bumping the planks with their spears, both have readied partial attack actions to attack any PC who falls in. Once they knock a target unconscious, they stop attacking and wait for the next target to fall (or jump) in.
Past the trench, there's another short jog of grassy field, and then a 20-foot tall wooden wall stands in the PCs' way. It's hard to see what's beyond that.