Episode Three: Up and Over
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.
Up and Over (EL 3)
Past the trenches, the PCs must cover 20 feet of open ground with high grass as before (but no gopher holes). Then they must scale the wall. This wooden wall is 20 feet high and 20 feet wide -- a huge square slab of hardwood. On the other side, two Fang Warband hobgoblins wait with longspears.
Player characters must succeed at a Climb check (DC 15) to scale the wall. It is roughly hewn and tree-like, but otherwise has no ropes or netting to help anyone climb over. Climbing characters move at half speed as a full-round action. Failing the Climb check means that they make no progress. A check that fails by more than 5 means that the character falls.
The top of the wall is lined with jagged metal and broken pottery. When going over, PCs must make a Climb check (DC 10) or take 1 point of damage from the jagged edge at the top.
Coming down on the other side requires another Climb check (DC 15). Anyone who climbs down 10 feet may also make a Jump check at (DC 15) to land safely at the bottom.
Creatures: The two Fang Warband hobgoblins await the PCs on the other side of the wall.
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: The two hobgoblins with longspears take jabs at the first two PCs down the wall, but after that, quickly back off so that their reach weapon does not hinder their ability to defend themselves. If an aggressive PC gets inside a hobgoblin's reach, he drops the spear and attempts to fight with his fists.
If the PCs attempt to run around the wall instead of going over it, the hobgoblins have readied partial attack actions to attack as soon as they see a PC come around the side. If they see someone come over the top before they see someone come around the side, they drop their readied actions at the next opportunity and attack as necessary either to bedevil PCs coming over the wall or to defend themselves from someone coming around the side.
As they turn to face the next challenge, the hapless PCs can see a short stretch of turf and a long bed of hot coals running down the center of the course. In the distance is a table -- is their equipment at hand?