Did you ever want to change the scenery of the adventure but found you couldn't due to the constraints you placed upon yourself?
When I first rethought about this group and putting adventures together, I had envisioned smaller pieces, say 8-10 meetings tops, and then move on. And for the most part I had done that - until Dargan's Folly.
I fell victim to my own past here, and that was to over plan a big piece. I like big dungeons, huge and sprawling - but for a group it's a pain in the ass. And after a while, I as the DM want to get out of the dungeon. So here I was, stuck on a place I wanted to be free of, and needing to get the group's ass up two levels.
If I was smarter, I would have trashed the 3rd level entirely and had the group come out at the stairs. I thought about it after I had them already up, and felt the need to play it through. From now on, going back to my preferred style - fast and loose.
Write up follows:
The smells of burned hobgoblins and something large and lizardlike were wafting closer as part of the group went down the corridor. A large room to the right had some sibilant hissing within and to the left ahead was the sign of dead hobgoblin children. A barricade of piled stones and metal barred an easy passage and from past there we could hear other hobgoblins moving about.
Soren, Gwyn, and Arnog finished off the hobgoblins in the chamber, the ranger limping along but gathering up what arrows he could. As for the hall, the area past the barricade revealed a ballista being set up and a well armored hobgoblin with a spyglass watching the group. It was then that the large room to the right was dropped open and a 7 headed hydra stormed to the doorway and began biting the party members closest to it! Other hobgoblins with spears were aiding and the party prepared themselves for the fight.
Gwyn was summoned to the front and he readied his scimitar with some wyvern poison while the other members attacked heads and tried pot shots beyond. Arrows hit some of us and then it was with some skill that the hydra was struck and slain. Other hobgoblins emerged with carnivorous apes on chains and still others hit us with halberds while the hobgoblin leader was reading spell scrolls to fire magic at the party.
Detheron slammed the contingent with a flaming sphere spell and Coruth’tae hit them with a lightning bolt. The fight was brought closer to the enemy and Soren discovered a secret door illusionary between the two rooms (obvious now which way the retreating hobgoblins had been moving too). With the battle turning and some of the Hobgoblins trying to douse the flaming sphere spell morale was fading and some of the enemy ran through a secret door (also illusioned). A sleep spell dropped Gwyn and one of the hobgobs. Zoltan and Olthar snuck into some of the now abandoned chambers the enemy had fled from (the hydra’s room and the chief’s room) and it was only a bit longer to mop up what was left and over.
We spent some time tending wounds and gathering what we could find (lots of food stuffs and a sizeable amount of treasures). Detheron and Coruth’tae had some VERY heated words about spell use and the party being burned and whatnot. An uneasy peace settled after some time and the group opted not to stay any longer than they had to.
From here we looked over the nearby areas and wanted to move on, heading in the direction the hobgobs had gone. Soren looked at the floor (the room was preternaturally dark and spooky) and informed us that the humanoids had avoided a 10’ carved circle in the floor on their way to the stairs. Hmmm, just like in the toad room. A simple spell was cast near it and the circle became flared in light and a 12’ horned and winged deamon appeared.
It offered to sell us wares (for a sizeable price) and even to train us (those that needed to go up) again for a sizeable price. The group was discussing the possibility of doing it when Zoltan said he would have no trafficking with a deamonic and that turned the party against taking the chance. He said he would hope to meet us again and disappeared.
The group then continued on, the stairs spiraling up 3 times to the next level, Olthar informing us that there were some hobgoblins up there and they were most likely waiting for us. We changed positions on the stairs with Arnog and Gwyn taking point and proceeded up. A single table was here with the remains of a card game and a small pile of spilled coins.
Then hobgoblins came out and threw flaming oil at us. Shields deflected some of it but we were hit in the crossfire and some of it hit Gwyn on the side. We had a blind lucky shot and caught one of the thrown oils! Norris used his bardic skill and charmed one of the hobgoblins to fight for us and we stormed the enemy making short work of them.
We took some rest and learned from the one hobgob we had befriended that there were some drow around here that the hobgob’s had traded with on and off over the last number of months but hadn’t seen for some weeks now. There were also some ogres nearby but they were considered to be untrustworthy and dangerous (always on the lookout for something/someone new to eat).