Castles & Crusades Diary: The Barrowmaze Campaign, Session 33.

Adventurers Defeat Hobgoblin Commander Skall Pankratius in an epic battle in the Barrowmoor.

When they heard that a Hobgoblin Centurion named Ludovic Krach was leading a small army to Ironguard Motte to take the town, and had sent his Commander, Skall Pankratius, and a smaller party to head to the Barrowmaze on some secret mission, the group decided to head out to take on the Commander.

The gnome bard sent his owl familiar out for reconnaissance. Discovering the hobgoblins were approach from the north west and the adventurers were south west they were able to get to a large rock outcropping to lie in wait due to a year of familiarity adventuring in the Barrowmoor. Pankratius arrived with a well-trained military-focused group of 30 soldiers, 4 lieutenants, and one manacled, beat-up prisoner who had been forced to lead them there. 10 soldiers, 2 lieutenants, and the prisoner entered the Barrowmaze and the the other 20 soldiers and 4 lieutenants set up a secure campsite as Pankratius surveyed the area under his veteran gaze to calmly take stock of the area.

The gnome used his communication with small animals to send a couple of rabbits toward the hobgoblin camp 100 yards north of them and try to lure some soldiers away for an ambush. Knowing they would need food, several hobgoblins did just that, and the group silently ambushed them. A lieutenant noticed their disappearance, notified Pankratius, and as the Commander had a circular defense set up around his camp (in case this was a diversion), the lieutenant and 5 soldiers carefully headed the 100 yards south through the swampy ground to where the adventurers hid behind the rock outcropping. Just 50 feet from the hobgoblin camp, the lieutenant observed that a rogue was hidden, but the rogue used his Eyes of Charming and managed to break through the officer’s strong will, and told him to continue, and he did so with his troops.

It was a slow and careful approach due to the strict military training the lawful evil hobgoblins follow, but one-by-one the hobgoblins were taken down, and the lieutenant went down. While this happened, Pankratius watched, silently. He had noticed that the lieutenant had initially paused 50 feet south of his camp, and then observed the battle that took place moments later with no emotion, taking note of the adventurers, their skills, and their tactics. When a spellcaster cast sleep on the final hobgoblins, the adventurers cirlced in to kill them, and it was then that Pankratius allowed a small smile to appear on his face, and he struck. He raised his arm in the air, and then pulled it down with force, and just above the group, a pillar of flame descended from the sky and enveloped half the group as they stood over the hobgoblins. The damage was devastating. The divine knight was burned to a charred, smoking mess, and the warrior priest would’ve experienced the same fate, but a player used a card they had from the deck of Dirty Tricks and the warrior priest was teleported behind the rock outcropping just behind where the inferno had hit. Other characters were also reduced to single digit hit points. And with that Pankratius ordered his remaining two groups of 5 soldiers and 1 lieutenant to head south toward the party from the west and east and he made his way down the middle…toward the rogue.

Dhekeon (the NPC fallen skeletal paladin seeking redemption from past sins) knew he needed to take action, and he charged toward the west group of hobgoblins with a roar, summoning forth a powerful fear ability he possessed and which the group had never seen before. Breaking through the hobgoblins resistance to fear, they turned and fled away through the swamp, Dhekeon then veered toward Pankratius, hoping he could reduce the mighty commander to raise the chances of success for the group. But Pankratius raised his Holy Symbol of Hades, and using clerical powers he possessed, summoned forth his powers and turned the undead warrior and he in turn fled into the swamp (again, this was something the group had never seen before).

The group managed to take down the remaining 5 soldiers and 1 lieutenant from the east flank, and Pankratius settled into a battle stance in the middle, ready to take them all on. The druid cast entangle, but the Commander shrugged and moved straight ahead out of the area of effect to where the paladin was standing and attacked him. The paladin was reduced to his final 3 hit points. The paladin attacked with his Saints Mace and missed. The players took a chance and used two cards from the Deck of Dirty Tricks (i) get two full rounds of action in one round, and (ii) weapon does double damage if it hits. The paladin swung for the second time this round – and rolled a natural 20! The critical hit die was rolled and declared 2x damage! Once they doubled it again due to the card, it was 48 points of damage! The supernatural blow from the weapon caved the Commander’s chest inward, blood sprayed out of his mouth. He was dead. Very dead. It was a stunning turn of events that no one had predicted!

And that was where we ended that adventure. The group is low on hit points, there are still 5 hobgoblin soldiers and 1 lieutenant that will return from being feared, there are also 10 soldiers and 2 lieutenants in the Barrowmaze, and you can be sure that with a screaming skeleton, and a roaring fiery inferno descending from the sky that charred characters to nothing, that monsters in the swamp heard, saw, and smelled this mayhem! Next Tuesday the action continues!

Hobgoblin Commander Skall Pankratius (art by MissSwarm, Deviant Art)