After several weeks in the Goblins Hold Mountains, the characters are lost. They have seen no sign of any civilized beings for days and definitely no signs of their destination. They are climbing a steep ridge, as they come over the top they are delighted to find that this mountain top is a flat topped mesa. There is some plant life growing here and the rocky protrusions are not too steep. After a few minutes of exploring around they can see movement in the distance. Peering that way they can spot a large group of individuals (no details at this distance). The wind carries sounds of weeping voices and occasional pleas of mercy.
As the characters approach they can see a ragged group of about 20 being menaced by some goblins with wolves. Looks to be dozen or so goblins and wolves, exact amounts are 15 goblins and 11 wolves. The ragged group is huddled together while the goblins seem to be torturing or killing 1 of their number. A group of 4 goblins has surrounded 1 of the dwarves on the ground. The goblins will not spot the PCs till they: 1. make some loud noise, 2. attack from a distance, and 3. approach within 50 feet. If the PCs get closer before attacking they can see the ragged group seems to be composed of dwarves including some children (5 males, 8 females, 6 children). They also can see that the goblins are forcing a dwarven male (a 6th) to shave himself with a dagger. He has shaved most of his beard and hair off already, he is covered in small cuts and occasionally cries out in pain.
The goblins are armed with short swords MM 107 3E, and shields. 7 of them are armed with short bows and 12 arrows. The goblins are not interested in fighting, as soon as 2 are wounded or 1 is killed they will flee on the wolves. The PCs should not be able to catch them since they are on foot. If they do the goblins will turn and fight if cornered or surrender if no other choice presents itself.
The dwarves will weep with joy at their rescue , they will embarrass the characters with their gratitude. Things like kissing shoes or cloak hems, prostrating themselves before them, etc. It will take a few minutes before they can compose themselves enough to speak coherently with the party. The dwarf who was being shaved will introduce himself as Regner of the Stonefist clan.
He will thank the characters for their rescue, his cheeks will go red with shame as he then asks if they perhaps could spare some food for the children. If asked, he states that the goblins have taken all they have and their beards were the only thing left to take. The party can see that many of the dwarves are starving, wounded, sick, and dressed in little more than rags.
Regner will explain that they are trying to make it to a human town somewhere before the winter snows freeze them. Their homes have been taken over and they are the only ones to escape the slavery that claimed their families. He tells the party that 3 months ago they lived underground and one day without warning the cursed Duergar tunneled their way into the bottom levels of the cavern that as their clan home. They were led by a terrible being, “A great round and hideous orb that was covered with eyes. These eyes shot out beams of magic that killed or harmed those who stood against it.”
Note: Enjoy the looks of horror on the faces of your players as they assume the creature described is a beholder)
Regner will suddenly beg the characters for help. He tells them that the goblins will return and destroy them eventually, if the party could help them get to a place of safety they would be eternally grateful. He will promise any thing that seems conceivable to him. Wealth, food, maps of the area, being a guide, indentured servitude (himself), whatever might tempt the characters.
The problem here being that the party is lost and has no knowledge of a safe place. Regner asks if they can accompany them till a safe place is reached. The party will probably think this a bad idea. They are already lost and possibly low on supplies, adding a group of ragged refugees who have no food, warm clothing or weapons will slow them down considerably.
However the decision is forced quite quickly. While the debate is going on amongst the party. A goblin approaches bearing a white flag or some other symbol of truce, free passage, etc. If allowed to approach the goblin in halting common, states that “War leader Davrus wishes to speak to the mighty warriors.” If the players agree to a neutral parley, Davrus and 2 aides meet the party a short way always from the dwarves. Davrus approaches a warrior-type who has no facial hair, or the least amount if possible. After making compliments on their obvious battle prowess Davrus explains that he and his warriors hold no ill will toward the party BUT they must slay the dwarves and the party must stay out of the way…………