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1. Entry Hall (EL 2 and 2)
Summary: This small complex of rooms houses a mixed group of goblins, kobolds, hobgoblins, and humans that are members of a religious faction called the Bestial Host. There's a bell alarm on a string on the floor. The creatures are here to guard their temple in area 6. Their leader lives in area 5.
Sights and Sounds: A single, guttering torch provides dim illumination between the doorways leading to areas 1B and 1C. If the PCs don't bring their own light and don't have low-light vision or darkvision, they suffer a 20% miss chance here.
An ancient hall of mortared stone stretches before you, littered with small bits of rotten, splintered wood and grimy tatters of cloth. A dim torch in a sconce ahead reveals a number of wooden doors, all closed. It stinks of urine and sweat here.
Trap: A string runs between the east and west walls between areas 4 and 5; it has small bells on it. A DC 19 Spot check (DC 19 Perception check for Pathfinder) is required to see it before an advancing PC will ring the bells and alert the horde members in areas 1B and 1C. A PC actively looking for traps automatically finds it.
Inhabitants: Various members of the Bestial Host dwell in these chambers. The Host is a strange religious cult dedicated to a deity known simply as the Beast God. Dark and savage, the Beast God calls upon the primal, bestial nature of his followers, encouraging them to revel in blood and violence.
The host is a mixture of goblins, kobolds, hobgoblins, orcs, bugbears, and degenerate humans (basically, Neanderthals). They emulate the savagery of their god, and usually fight with little fear of pain or death. Not all the members of the host speak the same language, but most speak either Common or Goblin.
The members of the host here are no strangers to explorers and adventurers coming down into their demesne. In fact, their numbers are currently reduced due to just such an incursion, and they expect reinforcements soon.
In battle, they shout, "Protect the temple!" "For the glory of the Beast God!" and "Blood for the Beast God!" in Goblin and Common. Also read the blog entry, Using the Bestial Host.
Tactics: The host's fighting style is very straightforward. They attack with brutality and savagery, and they fight to the death.
1A: Empty living quarters. There are eight rather crude beds with straw mattresses here. Even the most rudimentary search produces a serviceable longbow, 9 arrows, and 9 cp scattered beneath a bed. This should give the PCs a clue that there are more host members than just the ones they encounter here.
1B: Living quarters. Three goblins, two kobolds, and two degenerate humans live here. They are awake and ready (even eager) for battle. One of the goblins seems to be the leader of the group and wears a number of animal claws on his breast.
The room contains seven crude beds and a few sacks of food. None of the inhabitants have coins, but a DC 17 Search check reveals a small bag of 34 sp under some old animal pelts.
1C: Living quarters. Two hobgoblins and three goblins live here. They are either asleep or preoccupied, and require 3 rounds to rouse and arm themselves. Once up and ready to go, the goblins do as the hobgoblins tell them. They are all scarred and obviously mistreated by their larger cousins.
The room contains five crude beds and a few sacks of food. The two hobgoblins each have masterwork weapons (+1 to their attack rolls). None of the inhabitants here are armored, however, so the goblins are AC 13 and the hobgoblins are AC 12.
Development: If the PCs make noise in the central hall (including triggering the bell alarm trap), the host members in area 1B will come out to attack them 2 rounds later. If the creatures in area 1B are attacked, they are ready and those in area 1C come to join them in 3 rounds. If the creatures in 1C are attacked, they are not ready, giving the PCs a full round of action, and then have to spend their own first round grabbing weapons or resorting to unarmed attacks. However, the inhabitants of 1B will be able to come to their aid almost immediately upon hearing cries or combat.
Tactics: These guards do not work all that well together. They attack in a confused, shouting mass. They don't cooperate to utilize flanking positions or aid one another. They're just not that smart.They primarily defend the door to area 6. They do not follow if the PCs retreat or move into area 4, although they do jeer and mock them as they go, praising the might of the Beast God. As stated previously, they will not flee or surrender themselves.
Upping the Ante: One of the hobgoblins in 1C is actually a doppelganger spy. (For Pathfinder, use this doppelganger.) He observes the humanoids here on behalf of his brethren on Level 2, simply gathering information. He also keeps an eye on who or what comes down into the dungeon. If at all seriously threatened, the doppelganger flees rather than fights (he has no interest in defending the temple after all). He will run up to area 7, and attempt to go through area 10 to eventually get to area 12, where he will wait until the doppelgangers from Level 2 open the door in the pit so that he can get back to them. His presence, however, makes that encounter EL 4 rather than 2.
Revisit (EL variable)
The Bestial Host, as a whole, maintains a large roving camp in the nearby hills. Because their temple is here, they continue to station more of their warriors if the guards perish. The host numbers in the hundreds and grows every day, so this could continue for a very long time, if not indefinitely.
Any time the PCs leave and come back, this area should be replenished with some number of goblins, kobolds, orcs, hobgoblins, degenerate humans, or even bugbears. At full complement, there should be 12-20 guards spread out in the various rooms.
Within a week of the PCs "clearing" this room, place four kobolds and two degenerate humans in 1A, four goblins and two hobgoblins in 1B, and four orcs in 1C. This will be three encounters of EL 2 each, although it could quickly become much tougher (EL 5) if the PCs draw out all three groups at once, so they'll have to be careful. These guards work together a bit better than the ones the PCs meet the first time. The hobgoblins command the goblins to use the aid another ability to help their attacks. The kobolds hang back and use missile weapons.
Later, throw a few bugbears into the mix to make things harder. (For Pathfinder, use these bugbears.) Consider giving some of the guards masterwork weapons or even warrior class levels. (The quick and dirty way of doing the later is to add +8 hit points and +1 attack and damage and call it good. Alternatively, don't give them a bonus to damage but give them an additional, useful feat.) They could also have some wolves or worgs used as guard dogs. (For Pathfinder, use these wolves or worgs.)
Further, as time passes, these guardians begin to do what they can to prevent further incursions, including setting up guards or crude traps on the stairs, building barricades to block passage from the stairs, or even covering the entrance into the dungeon altogether with debris in the hopes of blocking it or hiding it. These attempts won't pose too much difficulty for the PCs, but they demonstrate the host's continued attempts at warding them off.
Basically, the idea is that every time the PCs leave and come back down the steps into the dungeon, they should worry about what's waiting for them here. Plenty of times, it should be nothing--reinforcements haven't yet arrived. But sometimes there should be guards here, and they should be at least somewhat different each time.
Eventually (say, by the time the PCs reach level 5 or 6), the Bestial Host may stage a major ambush in the ruin if the PCs are still using this entrance. This should be an encounter that really challenges the party. Alternatively--or perhaps additionally--they could launch an all-out offensive against the nearby town of Brindenford in hopes of getting at the PCs. This can lead to an entire side adventure involving defending the town and going to take on the host (and their troll priest-king, Scrall).