Free Adventure Friday: Hobgoblin Espionage
A large force of goblinoids has been ravaging the countryside for months from their fortified position in an occupied castle. The dashing halfling spy Hendo Mencea has been reporting on their movements, but has not reported in for several days. He is feared to be captured and held in the dungeon below the hobgoblin castle. Are you bad enough to rescue this halfling?
This is a stand-alone adventure intended for you to work into your campaign if you are experiencing writer's block, or if your players go somewhere unexpected. Feel free change names and other details around to best suit your world. This adventure works best if the party is traveling through a civilized area and they have reason to help out. It can also be used as a standard dungeon crawl, but it is designed for a more stealthy play-style.
This adventure is designed for three or more level 6 characters. Creatures from the Monster Manual (abbreviated MM) are used. Many of these creatures are listed in a range of numbers. Use the largest number for groups of five or more players, the smallest number for groups of three players, and the average for groups of four.
Warlord Inosh has many soldiers under his banner, and while few of the encounters listed will be challenging for a level 6 party, they could easily overwhelm the players. Make sure that the players are aware out of character that this is a rescue operation.
The spy is actually a double agent who has been working for Warlord Inosh for quite some time. He fears (incorrectly) that his cover has been blown and is now living under the protection of the goblinoid army. Most of the army knows that he is being held in the bugbear barracks (area 10), but only the bugbears guarding him and the hobgoblin leadership know of his allegiance.
The many creatures of the castle have widely varying levels of bravery and loyalty to their leader Inosh. Here are suggested DCs for characters to coerce or persuade them for assistance, depending on circumstances and your discretion.
Goblins, ettin: 10-15
Hobgoblins (including scouts and captain), ogre: 15-20
Bugbears, priest: 20-25
The castle bustles with activity. Any time the player characters take a rest or spend an extended period in one place, roll a d6 and consult this random encounter table. If a result has already been defeated or no longer makes sense, treat it as no encounter. If any of these groups are attacked, they will try and get the attention of creatures in nearby rooms.
1-3: No encounter
4: The goblins and hell hound from area 1 on interior patrol
5: Oot and Ogu, the ettin from area 13, arguing with itself about how to get back to its room
6: 4 hobgoblins from area 8 on patrol
The Castle of Warlord Inosh
The goblinoids did not build this castle; they invaded and have filled it from top to bottom with bloodthirsty soldiers. It is surrounded by a moat that it is 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep, but only half-full of water. A wooden bridge leads across toward the front gate (area 4).
The castle is constructed of thick masonry and smooth stone tile. The hobgoblins were able to capture it in fairly good condition.
1. Outer Patrol
The areas outside the moat are patrolled by a group of 3-7 goblins (MM pg. 166) accompanied by a hell hound (MM pg. 182). If care is taken, this squad is easily avoided, but remember that the hell hound has keen hearing and smell. If a fight does break out, the goblins will attempt to use the hell hound to tie the intruders up so they can run and warn the front gate guardians in area 5. Each goblin carries 1d20 copper pieces.
2. Castle Walls
Yasas, a female hobgoblin captain (MM pg. 186) usually stands guard along with 2-6 hobgoblin scouts (MM pg. 349), spread out and watching in all directions for trouble. Yasas is Inosh's second in command and wouldn't mind taking over the entire operation. Yasas has a key to area 12 and 1d20 gp. The scouts each have 1d10 sp.
If suspicious creatures are sighted outside the moat, they will inform the hobgoblins below in area 5. If attackers make it onto the wall itself, Yasas will try and make it to area 3 and warn Inosh and his bodyguards.
Crenellations along the wall grant defenders half cover against attacks from below. Ladders lead down holes in the floor to area 5.
3. Inosh's Tower
1-3 bugbears (MM pg. 33) act as the warlord's bodyguards, preventing anyone from going upstairs without just cause. One set of stairs leads down to area 9, the other upstairs to the warlord's chambers. Inosh (male hobgoblin warlord MM pg. 187) will come downstairs to fight alongside his bodyguards if he hears a commotion. The bugbears each carry 1d20 sp.
The warlord's chambers are decorated with the booty of his raids. Most of it is of sentimental value: trophies and enemy battle standards, but three tapestries are each worth 50 gp. A small chest under his bed contains 1d20x10 gp and a key to area 12.
4. Front Gate
The thick, wooden gate is barred on the inside, requiring a DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check to open.
5. Gate Guards
These utilitarian chambers are bare, with slits in the walls looking out toward the bridge and in toward the front gate. Each room contains 3-5 hobgoblins (MM pg. 186, armed with pikes dealing 1d10+1 damage). They can attack with either pike or longbow through the slits in the wall without penalty. They have three-quarters cover from attacks on the other side, which must be made with either a ranged or reach weapon. If attacked, one hobgoblin from each room will run to inform the others waiting in the barracks (area 8). Each hobgoblin carries 1d10 sp.
6. West Hall
Empty, with stairs leading down to area 11.
This was once a chapel to a good deity, but Kayau, the hobgoblin priestess of Maglubiyet, has desecrated it in honor of the mighty hobgoblin god. All of the holy trappings have been ripped or vandalized. 3-7 hobgoblins (MM pg. 186) are here praying. Each hobgoblin carries 1d10 sp.
There is a raised platform at the western end of the room, decorating with fresh skulls hanging from two poles. Any evil divine spellcaster has advantage on spell attack rolls made while standing on this platform, and saving throws against his or her spells are made with disadvantage. The skulls glow whenever this ability is activated. Pulling down the skulls removes this effect.
7a. Kayau's Quarters
Kayau (female hobgoblin priest MM pg. 348) has taken over the former priest's quarters for herself. She is not as ambitious as Yasas, content with her spiritual power. If a fight breaks out in the main chapel, she will run out to cast spells from the platform she has prepared. If things are going poorly, she will attempt to retreat to the bugbear barracks in area 10. She carries 1d20 sp.
7b. Chapel Storage
This supply room has been ransacked, but an overlooked box of incense is worth 50 gp and a silver holy symbol 25 gp.
8. Hobgoblin Barracks
A few dozen bunks line the walls, the picture of military discipline. 6-10 hobgoblins (MM pg. 186) rest in here, usually unarmed, although they keep their equipment close at hand. If attacked and unprepared, two will run through area 9 to warn Captain Yasas while the others grab their weapons to fight back. There are several extra suits of chain mail, shields, longswords, longbows, and arrows in racks agains the wall. Each hobgoblin carries 1d10 sp.
9. East Hall
This room stinks like an animal den due to a large pile of untreated and slightly rotted animal furs. This is where Oot and Ogu the male ettin lives, although they spend most of their time in the kitchen (area 13). Five gems are hidden among the stinking furs, each worth 25 gp.
The stairs lead up to area 3.
10. Bugbear Barracks
There are a dozen modest bunks here, occupied by 3-5 alert bugbears (MM pg. 33) and a male halfling (Hendo Mencea, a spy MM pg. 349) reading a book. The bugbears are under orders to stay here and guard Hendo. There are extra bugbear-sized suits of hide armor, shields, and morningstars racked on the wall. The bugbears each carry 1d20 sp, and Hendo has 100 gp.
These stairs lead up to area 6. The door to area 12 is locked.
These doors are always kept locked. Yasas, Inosh, and one of the goblin cooks each have a key. Inside are several cisterns of drinking water and weeks of rations.
1-3 unarmed goblin cooks (MM pg. 166) scurry about this kitchen, trying to prepare food for the entire castle, as well as the two heads of the male ettin (MM pg. 132) demanding more food.
Oot and Ogu, the two heads of the ettin, are working for Inosh in exchange for some shinies. They are easily tricked and even more easily bought out. Oot and Ogu are not fans of acting stealthily.
The back wall is lined with 10 by 10 cells containing several ragged captives. They are guarded by 1-3 bugbears (MM pg. 33) and a hell hound (MM pg. 182). The cells are locked, and one of the bugbears carries the key. Various torture implements hanging on the wall can be used to gain advantage when intimidating creatures in this room. Each bugbear carries 1d20 sp.
There are five corpses and seven living prisoners, all captured guards (MM pg. 347). They are willing to help, but have no equipment and make all ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls with disadvantage due to exhaustion and malnutrition. They have seen Hendo Mencea fraternizing with the hobgoblins and believe him to be a traitor.
15. Goblin Barracks
Unlike the other barracks areas, this room is a mess of loose cloth and fur used as bedding. 5-9 goblins (MM pg. 166) laze about without their armor, but one female ogre (MM pg. 237) named Toma sits with a bit more readiness. The goblins will assist Toma in attacking intruders, but immediately surrender if she is defeated. Small suits of leather armor, shields, scimitars, and shortbows are scattered about the room. Each goblin carries 1d20 cp and the ogre has 1d10 gp.