Episode Four: Hotfoot
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.
Hotfoot (EL Variable)
This 100-foot stretch of field has a 20-foot-wide strip of hot coals running down the center of it. The PCs can see a table in the distance with armor and various other indistinguishable items on it. The hobgoblins on the sides continue to pepper them with javelins.
Creatures: Six unarmed Fang Warband hobgoblins await the PCs as they make their way to the end of the exercise.
Fang Warband Members (6): 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 (1d3+1, unarmed strike); 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.
Tactics: Fang Warband hobgoblins wait at intervals just behind the line of javelineer hobgoblins, one at 30 feet down the strip, one at 60, and one at 90, with three on each side. They have readied actions to partial bull rush when a PC passes their position. If a hobgoblin does not push his target into the coals, he continues trying, but attempts to set up bull rushes instead, on subsequent rounds until he succeeds in pushing a PC into the coals.
As soon as the first PC reaches the 30-foot mark and the first Fang Warband hobgoblin runs out to attempt a bull rush, the javelineers stop throwing javelins. They don't want to risk hitting one of their own troops. Since each side has only three attacking hobgoblins, the PCs might outnumber the attackers if they all stay on one side. If the PCs stay together, the elite hobgoblins from the other side do not run around. Instead, they prepare themselves for the final assault after this one.
Anyone pushed into the hot coals takes 1d6 points of fire damage each round until he or she gets back out. Note that it is very possible for a PC to turn on the attacker and shove the hobgoblin into the hot coals, too, if he or she thinks quickly.
Fifty feet ahead stands a wooden table with the PCs' equipment,weapons, and armor on it. Can they get there before the Fang Warband hobgoblins cut them down?