JOIN THE IRONFANG LEGION! (spoilers)


Ironfang Invasion


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So in light of the "canon" ending for this campaign, I thought it might behoove me to make Azaersi's tale known earlier to the players. This not only makes her feel more concrete and mitigates the common AP problem of "absent villain syndrome," but it also makes her more sympathetic-- which may lead to parties being more interested in negotiating a peace with her.

To do this, I've come up with an Ironfang recruitment speech, which the party can overhear while on the run, or be reported on by a militia action, or whatever is most narratively convenient. I see this speech being delivered to a massive assembly of different monsters, which can be fun to describe to folks. I also see there being periodic banging of shields to punctuate certain key moments, but I haven't decided exactly where to place those.

I've constructed this speech mostly by Frankensteining bits of text from Trail of the Hunted and Assault on the Onyx Citadel, so all credit goes to the respective authors of those books.

You all know change has come to this land. Humans, once so proud and ubiquitous, are being forced into pens and having their homes snatched from their pathetic fingers. You have seen our banners. What you have not seen is our destiny. The glory that awaits not just the Hobgoblins of our Legion, but all monsters who rally to our cause.

Let me tell you all the true story of our glorious General Azaersi. Some say she is the last surviving hobgoblin general of the Goblinblood Wars, while others insist she was the brutal Shrikewood Slayer who plundered Molthune’s great forest for a decade. Still others claim she cowed a great god of the Darklands and bent it to her service. I tell you now: she is all that and more. But her story begins when she was little more than a child named Aza.

Aza had not yet come of age during the fiercest fighting of the Goblinblood Wars. She saw the last true stand of her kin in the Valley of Iron Fangs. Human soldiers vastly outnumbered the hobgoblin troops, and 5 days of brutal fighting killed 8,000 humans and the remaining 2,000 stragglers of the goblinoid army, and every man, woman, and child too young to fight. That’s right. Even our BABES are terrors to the soft skins. Aza awoke at the bottom of a mass grave, an Eagle Knight’s spear still piercing her stomach. But our Aza was too stubbord to die. She dug her way out of the corpses of her family while the humans celebrated their slaughter, and limped deep into the Menador Mountains to recover.

Her travels brought her into contact with other retreating hobgoblins— many of them fellow survivors of the Goblinblood Wars or orphaned in the conflict. They were Soldiers in need of a leader, and teachers who saw promise in the stubborn young woman. Resourceful, clever, and absolutely fearless after clawing her way back from the brink of death, Aza rechristened herself Azaersi— or Aza the Immortal for those of you who don’t speak the goblin tongue.

The Mighty Azaersi who emerged in Molthune years later was a very different woman than the Aza who died on that muddy battlefield. She formed a bandit company called the Ironfangs and plundered the Shrikewood, striking like lightning and fading away like mist before the humans could raise a response. Her experience honed her mind and reflexes into a vicious blade. Eventually, Molthune too took notice of the bandit-queen’s success and dispatched a regiment of soldiers to end it. Even outnumbered and ill-equipped, Azaersi’s Ironfangs nonetheless slaughtered the well-drilled Molthuni troops. In a pique, the Molthuni commander offered the hobgoblin an accord: Molthune needed soldiers whose actions it could deny and would be happy to arm and train the Ironfangs and then turn them loose on Nirmathi targets. And here, The Ironfang Legion was born.

The Ironfang Legion served Molthune loyally as one of its infamous “monster regiments,” mercenary units of nonhuman creatures, hired without official sanction to pillage during the conflict between Molthune and Nirmathas. Utilizing her new contacts, she recruited great allies. They included Azlowe, who leads the Cult of the Witch Eater and grows stronger from sapping the marrow from the bones of elf magicians in the name of Hadregash. Azlowe wears chains forged in Hell that thrum with divine power, and his razor fangs and teeth are larger than daggers. But in Azaersi he found someone fiercer still, and he realized her coming was a sign from Hadregash himself.

And when Azaersi needed a cavalry, she recruited none other than Kraelos Dragonslayer, whose mounted raiders tore a legend across the Storval Plateau. Kraelos recognized much of the confidence and poise of his old teacher, Lung Tag, who hailed from a nation of hobgoblins on the far side of the globe, who had taught the eager youth the ways of honor, patience, and service—to be a leader and a warrior, rather than a mere killing machine. Surprised to see this cunning in such a young upstart, Kraelos challenged Azaersi to a duel to see if she was all she claimed to be. Kraelos meant to fight her on foot, but she insisted he be at his best, astride his vicious war yzobu Drakestomper. The legendary duo charged across the battlefield at the hobgoblin woman, whose twin blades flashed out and did the unthinkable: unseated the great Kraelos. He then pledged his loyalty to the Ironfang Legion.

And Azaersi traveled deep underground to match wits with the cunning World Serpent, Goddess of the Darklands. Even the serpent, for all its power and knowledge, bowed its head to the girl who was once Aza.

The Ironfang Legion served with distinction and earned a reputation for innovative tactics and fearless soldiers, culminating in a devastating rout of Nirmathi guerrillas assaulting Fort Ramgate (now referred to as the Ramgate Massacre by its few Nirmathi survivors). But even as she took the coin from Moltune and lives from Nirmathas, Azaersi’s keen mind planned to take more. Azaersi would take a homeland.
Without a word, the Ironfangs vanished shortly thereafter, soon followed by several other monster regiments, quickly depleting Molthune’s mercenary forces. But great soldiers rarely fade quietly into history. For you see, the girl who was once Aza is forging a nation. Not just a nation for Hobgoblins, like the one Lung Tag came from across the globe. But a homeland for all the so called monsters humans fear. Our people need only land to settle and enslaved hands to raise this empire.

General Azaersi learned brutal lessons from the failures of the Goblinblood Wars: stay mobile, keep your enemies confused, and build your infrastructure. Isger, for all its precious bolt-holes, offered little to support a true army— but Nirmathas, with its active mines and endless forests, could support an active war machine for centuries!

Join the Ironfang Legion! We shall help you take what is rightfully yours from the humans. Together, under our glorious general, we shall carve out a homeland where ferocity is honed, not culled for the sake of soft humans. Where our babes can grow strong, and then prove the humans are right to fear them! Where human hearts are cut out by our iron blades! Where we bind them to our will with our iron chains! Where we stomp out their descent with our iron boots! And where we shall rip out their f$**ing throats with our MIGHTY, IRON, FANGS!


I found the recruiting speech charmingly scary.

Its emphasis on humans as the enemy is also unintentionally amusing. When my player created their characters of my Ironfang Invasion campaign that started last week, the first four characters were elf, halfling, gnome, and goblin. The population of Phaendar, from page 67 of Trail of the Hunted, is 305 humans, 32 half-orcs, 21 dwarves, 17 half-elves, and 28 other. So my entire party was entirely from the 28 other. When I told the fifth player that, he made a lizardfolk character to keep to the trend. No humans, so the Ironfang Legion will be surprised.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Mathmuse wrote:

I found the recruiting speech charmingly scary.

Its emphasis on humans as the enemy is also unintentionally amusing. When my player created their characters of my Ironfang Invasion campaign that started last week, the first four characters were elf, halfling, gnome, and goblin. The population of Phaendar, from page 67 of Trail of the Hunted, is 305 humans, 32 half-orcs, 21 dwarves, 17 half-elves, and 28 other. So my entire party was entirely from the 28 other. When I told the fifth player that, he made a lizardfolk character to keep to the trend. No humans, so the Ironfang Legion will be surprised.

Ha, my initial party had a similar issue. Especially because I let them make NPCs to fill out the ranks of their refugees.

The book does clearly say Azaersi bears hatred for HUMANS, though. I guess the other ancestries weren't as involved in the Goblinoid Wars, and we know she doesn't share the same aversion for elf magic (and presumably elves) as her soldiers do.

That said, if you have a non-human party I could see modifying this speech to downplay that element. On the other hand, having a non-human party might be nice for helping to create a dialogue between the party and Azaersi.

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