Approach to Llorkh
After several days of dangerous travel and a battle with goblin raiders, the Sacred Blades were in sight of the isolated mining town Llorkh. They believed it to be the source of many slaves and a base for the Zhentarim. The Blades were eager to get inside and strike at their hated foes.
Sitting in the foothills of the Greypeaks, Llorkh was surrounded by a simple wooden palisade. Smoke from forges rose into the winter air and guards stood watch at the gates. Just outside the walls, an army of some sort was encamped. Beyond the town, foothills became mountains and a steep canyon divided the nearest peak. There sat a squat dwarven compound of three towers, an ancient ruin still standing as proof of the quality of dwarven construction.
Upon close inspection, the guards and army were revealed to be hobgoblins. This town was occupied, with little traffic coming in or out. Occasional wagon traffic could be seen going between the town and stronghold. After watching for a few hours, a hooded prisoner was seen escorted out of the town gates in the custody of human guards, then transferred to the goblins and dragged to their camp. A few hours later it happened again. Something strange was going on.
Fibbit decided to take a closer look, and stealthily climbed the wall to investigate. Inside, no hobgoblins were to be seen. Citizens went about their business but seemed wary of spies. The whole town had an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion. Following one patron home, he questioned the drunk and discovered the town had been sold out. A wealthy merchant had cut a deal with Zhentarim and was installed as the town Administrator in return. Some of the local militia supported him, becoming little more than armed thugs. Locals that resisted were ‘disappeared’, sold into slavery or worse. The Zhents were using the town as a base for their mercenary armies of hobgoblins, and had some sort of deal with whatever lived in the stronghold. Llorkh did have a resistance movement, but the man didnt know them and seemed unwilling to get involved. Fibbit returned to the Blades and reported his findings.
Deciding to enter the town directly, the Blades confronted the few hobgoblins at the front gate. Expecting battle, they were instead greeted by a simple “State your business!”, and allowed inside after paying a fee. It seemed word of the Blades’ deeds in Loudwater and Zelbross did not precede them – or they were being watched.
Now inside, the Blades headed for an Inn while gathering what information they could. They quickly met the local resistance leader, Nathan, leader of the militia before things ‘went bad’. He had been notified by Captain Harrowleaf of Loudwater, and was ready for the Blades’ arrival. He already had an ambitious plan to liberate Llorkh and needed help to see it to completion. He had around 80 armed citizens waiting in their homes, many more doubtless to join in once victory was certain. He planned to ambush the traitor militia and their leader, destroy the hobgoblin camp and drive the beasts into the forest.
It was a flawless plan with only one thing blocking total victory: the dwarven stronghold. The Zhents were renting the place out, so to speak, to a group of duergar from deep in the Underdark. Why the Zhents didn’t just occupy the tower themselves, or what duergar wanted on the surface world was not clear. The duergar were known for evil magic, demon summoning, slavetaking, baby eating and all manner of horrors. The militia had no chance in a direct siege of the stronghold, but an elite strike force like the Blades might be able to sneak in. If an attack on the stronghold was coordinated with an attack on the occupiers, Llorkh could soon be free. It was a chance worth taking, the Blades agreed, and made plans to assault the stronghold.
The Blades hid in a rickety wagon, delivering ‘weapons’ to the stronghold. Orc thralls opened the gates, letting the wagon inside for its routine delivery. The Blades leapt out, quickly felling the guards before killing their way through the stronghold. The duergar were wily opponents, and along the way the Blades battled orc warrior-slaves, invisible duergar rogues, powerful mages, dwarves who could enrage and enlarge to the size of an ogre, and even the odd mechanical construct. Human slaves were freed from kitchen duty, and the slaves warned of others chained deeper in the fortress.
During battle, orcs and dwarves seemed convinced that the Blades were in fact soldiers from Netheril. Why they expected attack from that nation of shadows and Shar worshipers far to the east of Llorkh was not clear. The Blades knew the Zhents battled Netheril long ago, ending with the Zhents soundly defeated, their capital city at Zhentil Keep smashed into dust. Would the Netherese take issue with a city openly occupied by their old foes? In a town full of hobgoblins, duergar and local traitors, where exactly were the Zhents?
After several heated battles, the Blades rested for a moment in the final tower of the stronghold. Repeated battle was taking its tole; they were getting tired but had to press on. Far down the hill, flames were already rising from Llorkh, and it was clear the liberation had begun. It was going to be a long day.
|Gain Entrance to Llorkh, meet the resistance – noncombat/stealthy option: 900 (level 3 major quest)|
|Portcullis Room: 875 (level 2 encounter)|
|Duergar Workshop: 900 (level 3 encounter)|
|Great Hall: 1200 (level 5 encounter)|
|3875xp total, 645xp per person|
|Grand Total XP per character: 3980 (5500 total needed for 5th level)|
DM’s Notes: This session as an example of giving the players almost too many options. Llorkh was a large sandbox with many ways to get around or overcome the obstacles – and it caused paralysis in the players, unsure of what to do next.
The ‘duergar stronghold’ was an altered version of H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth’s Horned Hold. I wasnt happy with the 4E duergar, and changed things like their ‘beard quills’ (are you kidding me?!) to just a ‘poisoned dagger throw’.