In my game I swapped out Centaurs for Goliaths. I'm not really a fan of Centaurs and have been wanting to introduce Goliaths into my game for a while. I wrote up a bit of a story about them having had a city in the mountains on one of the spurs leading to the Valley of the Dead. When the Taldan army came across the mountains 3000 years ago, they clashed. The goliath civilization was destroyed excepting a few that escaped the sacking of the city and those who lived on the plains raising horses, although the Taldan army was mortally wounded as well.
The goliaths became a nomadic people for a few generations (they have lifespans similar to dwarves in my game) before establishing a semi-permanent camp near the only mountain on the plains. The goliaths had worshiped their ancestors, but many family shrines had been lost or destroyed when their city fell (they weren't able to recover those that might still be there due to monsters that settled in the ruins, including a tribe of ogres.) With their shrines scattered, rupturing many of their conduits with their ancestor spirits, many took to worshiping elemental spirits, although some families were able to save their ancestral shrines. They re-established those in a cave in the mountains.
The others revered Kankerata as an earth spirit. Unfortunately, my PCs killed it on the way to the Nomen camp. This doesn't bode well for them, but they have a chance to redeem themselves if they use the scroll of raise dead they found in Varnhold. This could cost them later, but it will be an interesting choice. I think them raising Kankerata is the only way forward here. The PCs will be escorted from the plains and told not to return or there will be war. They will have to search the mountains to get find Vodakai's tomb and they won't even have any info on him to go off of since they didn't make the knowledge (history) check when the found the notes in the village.
Side note: I also made the ogre tribe into a bigger threat for the future. They hadn't been much more than a nuisance for many generations, but that changed a decade or so ago. A smaller tribe of Skullcrusher ogres (also from 3.5) lead by an Ogre Mage took over and started making trouble for the goliaths. A couple of years prior, a Skullcrusher anti-paladin killed the goliath warmaster and stole stole his weapon: a Legacy weapon goliath greathammer that had been passed down to each warleader after the fall. It's one of their greatest remaining relics from their era of glory. That's for the future, however. Probably after this adventure is finished.
I'm about to run this and though this would be a great resource (we had to move my game up a couple of weeks and I'm short on prep time) but drobox says this is either private or deleted. Any chance you could repost these?
Steps to war:
Upon returning to their capital, Stagfall, the PCs are met with a very worried population. The people and the guards line the street as they enter the town and every one has a worried look on their face. The PCs go to the market square and address the people. They say admit that there was an emerging threat, but they had believed they could contain it. Had they not been good leaders thus far? They admitted to being defeated by Hargulka, but said they were winning before trickery on the monsters' part. After a successful bluff check, the crowd was mollified. The PCs promised to work with the rest of the council (their kingdom is an oligarchy with the council more or less equal) and that this threat would be dealt with. With this successful speech, the PCs mitigated some of the unrest (2 instead of 4.)
Now they have to figure out what to do about this new threat. They don't have a large enough army to fight them directly, a single medium army of 100 4th level fighters (ACR 3). They just had their last kingdom turn prior to meeting Hargulka, so nothing can really be done right now, but they can make plans. They plan to recruit another medium army from their reserve militia. Keston, who is the general at this point, also mentions hiring some mercenary companies and they agree to put the word out.
They also decide to put the word out to the local fey that are friendly to the kingdom. Previously, they had rescued a nymph from beneath the Candlemere Tower. The nymph had been in stasis for centuries, but resumes being the leader of the local fey. She lived with Tyressa at her grove. They send the centaur PC to go speak with her, but when he got there, all he found was carnage. Tyressa's tree had been burnt down and there were satyr bodies all around. The nymph was nowhere to be found. He returned with the rest of the party and they tracked the attackers to they tower of the Dancing Lady.
The Dancing Lady's Demesne:
They spy out the tower and the walls, noting the large figures on the walls. The large hole in the wall had been crudely repaired, but would hold long enough for the inhabitants to muster a defense. They were spotted and one PC lost a short, one on one, battle with the quickling. They heal her and beat a retreat for a few miles while they use a familiar to send for the army. After a few days, the army arrives with Munguk in tow. They devise a plan of attack in which the army would distract the defenders and allow the PCs to come in from the back. It works and they rout the 25 trolls and 25 spriggans that were defending the place. They also killed the quickling and the grimstalker on the way in.
The tower itself is locked up, so the PCs decide they will tackle it on their own. They send the army back with some rescued dwarven and human slaves who had been used to make repairs. The party decides to use one of the windows part way up the tower to get in. After fumbling through some traps, they get to the top of the tower, One PC barges in to a room lit in red to find the Dancing Lady and two anthropomorphic animals waiting. In the background, the nymph Tirenae is suspended in some sort of ritual. They take the Dancing lady down with some difficulty as most of the party failed their Will saves, leaving 3 out of 7 to fight. The ritual ends with the death of the DL but Tirenae is unconscious from a lot of CON damage since the ritual was fueled by her blood. They also rescue an elven magus that the DL was keeping alive to feed on. Just before they left, they discover the secret room that turned out to be the nursery for Hargulka's heir. They take the infant, which Tirenae claims when she regains consciousness.
Up next: Victorious Return!
Thanks for this wonderful idea! I was also unsatisfied with the trolls as written. I thought I would also share what my party has made of your wonderful idea.
We had already played a significant portion of the adventure before I had found this, however. They had done a lot of hex-crawling and taken care of several problems.
What they did before:
Tiresa and the Scythe Tree
Narthropple's expedition (hired to do hexcrawling)
Corax and the Nixie
Howl of the North Wind
The Wandering Giant (Munguk was recruited for booze)
The Slain Townsfolk
The Rabble Rouser
I made Hargulka into a much bigger threat than you did. The PCs have advanced quite a bit and would have little trouble with him as you've written him. Allow me to cast Wall of Text to explain.
I made him a half-black dragon troll Warlord 8 (Dreamscarred Press Path of War class). I replaced all his racial HD with class levels, which is something I tend to do with monster as I hate RHD.
As far as his Kingdom goes, it's a little more stable than one would expect from a group of trolls. The reason? Hargulka's children. He is around 150 years old and has several dozen children leading over 300 trolls. Being stronger and tougher than normal trolls, they can impose order on the normally unruly creatures.
Hargulka has a vision for his people, one imparted to him by Nyrissa. He wants to create a kingdom where the "monsters" rule and the traditional races are hunted like vermin or are slaves. He's actually made a decent go of it. He claimed 3 hexes and cleared them for farming using normal PC races as slave labor. He has named this nation Unsnearklund, which is Giant for The Land of Change.
He's been raiding trade routes for several months and has a lot of slaves. He even captured a small clan of dwarves traveling to recover an old dwarven outpost. Unfortunately for them, that just happens to be the location the trolls have used as their base. They've expanded this outpost into a small town that has several "normal" businesses and even supports mines (iron ore and gemstones). This capital city is called Iggacrord, meaning Crown Jewel.
Hargulka isn't doing this alone. The Warlord has had the backing of Pitax from the start. King Irovetti doesn't like the idea of a new River Kingdom upsetting the balance of power. He's been financing Harlgulka with 20 build points a month (much of his kingdom's surplus earnings.) He believes that he can use Hargulka to destroy the PC's kingdom indirectly as he fears direct action will provoke Restov, and more importantly, Mivon to action.
In addition to Pitax's financing, the Warlord has made an alliance with the Dancing Lady and her fey. He has even married her and made her his consort; they even have had an heir. The Dancing Lady has used her influence with the local evil fey to increase the crop yield of the farms in the 3 hexes.
The PCs had encountered some trolls in their wanderings and there had been some rumors of troll activity to the south (where the trolls had set up some roving patrols to stop the few independent traders that traveled in that direction. They got curious and started to investigate. The determined that the heaviest activity was in the SW, so they headed that way to investigate. They eventually reached the hex adjacent to Unsnearklund. The troll signs are much more common here. Just before the border, they ran into a patrol of them.
After a hard fight, they kill all of the trolls except for one of the patrol leaders. This troll looks different than the others. It's bigger, stronger, and has black scales mottling it's green hide. They attempt to interrogate him, but he laughs in their faces and tells them that they should just kill him and get it over with. Y'larra, a Kellid Barbarian princess, informs him that they won't be killing him. No, instead they will deliver him home quite safely, dressed and swaddled as a baby human girl. The thought of such humiliation before his father terrifies the troll and he spills all he knows in exchange for a quick death. They learn about the size of the troll force and that they occupy a fortified position. He didn't know about the Dancing Lady, so he couldn't tell them about that. Armed with this information, they kill the troll and head back to their capital.
A little over a week later, a frantic kobold from the Sootscale mines enters the town bearing a message from Chief Sootscale. They must come to the mine in one week's time or the kobolds will be lost. They PCs make haste to the mine, as Hargulka anticipated. He is introduced to the party by a very nervous Sootscale, who invites the PCs to join them for a feast. Hargulka warns that any attempt to break the peace of the guest-right will result in him dismembering Chief Sootscale first (he does this in Draconic so as to not alarm the kobold.)
At a large table just outside the entrance to the mine, Halgulka explains to the PCs the futility of trying to civilize the Greenbelt. It's always belonged to the "monsters" and any attempt to claim it for the "civilized races" is doomed to fail. He offers them 3 months to evacuate the lands or he will reclaim it in the name of the monsters. He also offers Chief Sootscale and his kobolds a place in his new monstrous kingdom.
After much back and forth, the PCs manage to get him to admit the inherent racism and slavery that lies at the foundation of Unsnearklund. Using this information, they convince Chief Sootscale that his best interest lies with the party. Also, because I made Hargulka's escort too small, they challenge him to a fight. Since the challenge was made formally, he does not consider the peace to be broken. They move to one side, where the PCs throw up some quick buffs while the trolls get ready to fight.
The fight is actually pretty long. The PCs were unaware of the fey sorceress that accompanied the trolls and their spellcasters got shut down by a stinking cloud spell. After that, its a knock down-drag out fight that the PCs barely lose. They might have won had the sorceress not surprised them. In the end, however, they are all knocked unconscious.
After a bit, Maeve the oracle comes to when the Chief poors a potion down her throat. She revives the rest of the party and they gather themselves. Apparently the kobolds had used some trapdoors they made in the side of the cliff and ambushed the trolls with some alchemist's fire they used in the mine and drove them away. Unfortunately for the party, the sorceress used major image to broadcast their defeated bodies in the skies over the nearest farms, the settlement at Oleg's, and the capital at the Stag Lord's former fort. They also discover that they were all missing 1000gp each that the trolls had stolen.
Now they must go back to their people and face them with hard news.
Sorry for being so long-winded. Brevity has never had much of a place in my writings...
Up next: Preparing for War!