Episode Five: Final Fight
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.
Final Fight (EL Variable)
The final part of the training grounds is a wooden table set 50 feet away from the end of the line of burning coals. Most of the PCs' equipment, weapons, and armor are on or around the table, although items that hobgoblins might recognize as powerful or have a use for are conspicuously absent.
For instance, jewelry and armor will probably be on the table, since most hobgoblins do not want to disturb their militaristic conformity with clashing appearances. Exotic weapons, spell component bags, spellbooks, and holy symbols are also present since the hobgoblins cannot use them. Potions will be here, except for healing potions, which they have identified and taken. Simple or martial weapons, on the other hand, especially high quality ones, will be not only absent, but possibly used against them by the onrushing hobgoblin warriors. Other items are present or absent depending on their apparent usefulness or value to an average hobgoblin.
Note that if in the course of your campaign, you have accidentally given the PCs unbalancing items, this is an excellent opportunity to remove them from the game. In the end, this Cliffhanger is a great way to bring down some of the treasure that the PCs might have. If your party already has balanced treasure for your campaign, then see the optional treasure listed at the end of the Cliffhanger.
Creatures: Captain Yornlheth sits on a high wooden surveying chair, 10 feet off the ground, and watches the proceedings at the end of the course. He does not move or intervene unless things turn very badly for the hobgoblins. All hobgoblins present will give their lives to protect their captain, but once PCs have access to spell components again, the captain might well become a target.
Additionally, the remaining living Fang Warband hobgoblins are ready for the final fight. They arm themselves fully with shortspears and clubs on their way to the fight if they don't already possess weapons.
Captain Yornlheth: Male hobgoblin Ftr4; CR 4; Medium-size humanoid (goblinoid); HD 4d10+8; hp 36; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 19 (touch 11, flat-footed 18); Atk +8 melee (1d8+4/19-20, masterwork longsword); SQ Darkvision 60 ft.; AL LE; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +3; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Climb +3, Jump +3, Listen +5, Move Silently +1, Ride (horse) +4, Spot +6; Alertness, Cleave, Dodge, Mobility, Power Attack.
Equipment: Masterwork full plate, masterwork longsword.
Fang Warband Members (varies): 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: All remaining Fang Warband hobgoblins from previous encounters band together and advance on the PCs as they leave the hot coals area. They give the PCs a sporting head start of one round to run to their equipment before pursuing with a double move. As before, the regular hobgoblins on the sides do not attack as the Fang Warband hobgoblins approach. Now it is down to the remaining Fang Warband hobgoblins and the partially armed PCs to finish the obstacle course.
After a few rounds of combat (or if the PCs are almost dead), Captain Yornlheth calls a halt to the combat. He laughs raucously and shouts from his surveying post, "You make miserable elves! But for your services, my warriors will not kill you outright. Leave this land and do not return uninvited."
Again, further attempts at negotiation fall on deaf ears. If the PCs press the point that not all of their equipment has been returned, Yornlheth simply calls for the hobgoblins to renew attacks, and they attempt to cut down all the ersatz elves who remain.
Optional Treasure Note: If your party actually lacks the level of treasure that they should probably have at their level and they don't try to attack once the captain tries to shoo them away, the captain makes the following offer only once: The PCs not only get enough food to get them to the nearest town, but they also receive 10 gp apiece, a vest of escape, and a glove of storing. The stash is about one mile from that particular area and is hidden in a decaying tree stump.