The Hills Have Ettins is the second to the last adventure in the Thelsikar’s Ambition campaign arc. As such, I wanted it to have a strong climax and wrap up a storyline which started with the first adventure, the presence of Black Fang in the Sandpoint Hinterlands.
Here are the notes I have so far:
It’s a wilderness adventure, with set-piece areas instead of rooms. It’s inspired in part by “Fortress of the Stone Giants”, part of Rise of the Runelords. I’m thinking a pack of Goblins with class levels, a band of Orc mercenaries from Urglin with class levels, a patrol of Red Raider Hobgoblin mercenary veterans for the Easy encounters. For the Average encounters, three families of Kreeg Ogre Degenerates with class levels (see Classic Monsters Revisited in the Ogre chapter) and a Camouflaged Spiked Pit Trap (CR 8). For the Challenging encounters, a mated pair of Rocs (with nest nearby, one at a time,3-5 eggs for treasure) and an Air Elemental (Greater) summoned by Thelsikar (Summon Monster VII). For the boss encounter, Black Fang (Young Adult Advanced Black Dragon).
If they try to push on into the mountains after defeating Black Fang, they’re getting into Giant territory. There is a group of three Stone Giants allied with Thelsikar ready for them. This is CR 11. They had better be prepared or better be ready to run. The kid gloves are coming off for my adventure design. They had better learn about the area they’re adventuring in before going in.
*- All creatures allied with Thelsikar wear a badge with the Lamashtu demonic rune on it. The exception is the Red Raider Hobgoblins who wear red armor and Orc mercenaries from Urglin. They are Black Sun tribe and wear armor with an eclipsed sun painted on it. They are based in Urglin.
The adventure is set in the Fogscar Mountains north of Sandpoint. It starts with news of a coming raid by a Goblin tribe on Galduria, Erevel’s small town. Some members of the faculty of the Twilight Academy have scried it and sent a message to their former student. That’s the pack of Goblins I first described. They are the remnants of the Thistletop Goblins.
The player characters did not engage the Thistletop Goblins since I didn’t use that part of Burnt Offerings from Rise of the Runelords for inspiration. Instead, an insane Nualia screwed up the ritual she was performing and was unable to release the Barghest trapped under Thistletop. The magical backlash damaged the chapel to Lamashtu and killed most of the Thistletop Goblins. Nualia booked it for Magnimar, where the Skinsaw Cultists took her in. This will allow me to use material from The Skinsaw Murders should the player characters go looking for Nualia in Magnimar. The Skinsaw Cultists are in alliance of convenience with Thelsikar’s Cult. *spoiler* Instead of being loyal to Karzoug, Xanesha is one of Thelsikar’s growing cadre of lieutenants.