Here's a picture of a Viking babe I found:
That picture is not directly relevant to the subject at hand. But, hey, Viking babe.
Below the line is the email I sent to my players earlier today.
Before I get into the weekly fluff, here's a question for all y'all. Is this module we're doing working for you? The find-the-clue aspects of the adventure have not been resonating with me and I can't quite make up my mind about the new monsters. There's a fine line between clever and stupid and I'm not sure where these monsters are in relation to it. I worry they're too much clever and not enough stupid. Unless there is a strong objection I'm going to hack the lower levels of the Ziggurat in a way that lets us hopefully end the adventure next session. Any objections?
Since you aren't currently welcome at the Keep, you'll have to stay elsewhere between visits to the Sunken Ziggurat. The civic-minded among you might opt to stay in Bartertown and help with the rebuilding after the savage duergar attack a few weeks ago. You're welcome to stay at the farmstead of Ollie Back-breaker, a jolly old fellow who lives on the very edge of Lord Beppo's lands. He likes getting visitors and hard-eyed adventurers like yourselves are handy to have around with all these evil spirits on the loose. He'd much rather feed fellow Northmen than be food for some damn ghost! A third option would be to hike back to Ingvoll, closest proper Viking settlement from the Keep. It's in the wrong direction but it also gives you the opportunity to spend d4x100gp on debauchery. Let me know where you stay prior to the next session. You can split up if you have varying interests. I'm not the kind of DM who is going to pimp you over every time your PC wants to go to take a leak without an armed escort.
It seems that Zoyd Sampson is the sole survivor of the poorly-organized and poorly-led Anti-Duergar Punitive Expedition. He stumbles out of the forest covered in blood and mud. He's wounded, diseased, poisoned, and hallucinating. He keeps mumbling something about 'the doomlizards'. Since Zoyd isn't on Sigurd Half-Jotun's grudge list he is nursed back to health at Beppo's Keep. Whether he will recover by next Wednesday is solely a function of whether Jason can make it to the run. Jason, please don't take my abuse of your character the wrong way. I'm just trying to come up with exciting adventury-type reasons why your guy is out of the action while you are unavailable.
As requested, Druzella the Witch sets up a meeting between Erik (and anyone else who wants to be there) and Stinky Murgo, an officer in the hobgoblin mercenary contigent currently camping in one of the caves of the Canyon of Chaos. The meeting is at the pond in the center of the Canyon, at a spot with some crude wooden benches and a totempolish sort of idol erected around a fire pit. This place is apparently considered neutral ground by most of the monsters living in the caves. Here are the going rates for hobgoblins-for-hire:
A basic company of 20 hobgoblin Warriors 1 costs 400gp per day of short-term service
Up to 2d4 companies could be ready to march in 3 weeks (the session after next), each week of delay adds d4 companies.
Each company requires at least one officer. A hobgoblin Warrior 3 officer costs 60gp a day. An elite hobgoblin Fighter 3 or Marshal 3 costs 85gp a day and expects a 1/2 share of any pillage.
5 companies will require a senior officer. A hobgoblin Warrior 6 will cost 140gp/day and expect a full share of treasure. A hobgoblin Fighter 5/Dragon Samurai 1 or Marshal 6 costs 185gp/day and requires a full share as well.
If you hire at least 5 companies the price for the basic troops goes down to 100gp per day per company.
Everyone will require a half-day's wage in advance.
As previously established in the campaign it is possible to travel from the Keep to the Canyon (or vice versa) in a few hours.
My numbers are based upon AEG's Mercenaries, by the way.
If Doug is planning what I think he's planning, feel free to consult a copy of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands when drawing up any plans. Not that the module exactly reflects local conditions. Instead think of the module as an intelligence summary. It's been a while since I checked out the Keep myself, so it will take me a while to answer any questions about.
Quick question to the audience: which of the following looks like the coolest pic for a hobgobbo merc?
This Roman Hobgoblin by Claudio Pozas fits in very nicely with the alt-history flavor of the campaign.
I had klingon ronin in mind when I first noted hobgoblin mercenaries in my dungeon key. The armor looks vaguely Japanese to me and I love the alien leg structure. This hobgoblin is not just a guy with latex on his face!
I love this picture, but it's almost too good for my needs. This guy's awesome helmet implies a whole alien hobgoblin culture. That pic would be aces in a rich setting like Tekumel or Glorantha, but for my little campaign it's a bit overwrought.