Never Give Up, Never Surrender

There is a reason I hate kobolds, especially in the hands of a creative DM, and this story is a reminder that epic things can still happen with low-level encounters.


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Being a level 1 adventurer in Pathfinder is never easy. At any moment, even the smallest little screw up can turn you into goblin food, leaving your dreams of becoming a legendary hero completely in the dust. Sometimes bad dice rolls are the culprit, and other times the DM just has it out for you. However, I’m here today to share with you all an epic series of events that occurred during one of my older sessions with a bunch of level 1 characters.

At the time, the party consisted of an elf (ranger), a tiefling (rogue), a human (wizard), a dwarf (inquisitor), and myself as a suli (paladin). Our group had recently been offered the task of climbing up a mountain in order to eliminate a kobold infestation that dwelled within the abandoned mines somewhere near the peak. Being a bunch of level 1 adventurers, and desperate for gold to boot, we decided to take the job and prepare ourselves accordingly. We purchased some spelunking gear and managed to acquire a few potions, and after checking our supply of food and water, we finally started our journey and made our way up the mountain.

Thankfully, reaching the mines proved to be rather easy since all we had to do was follow the mountain trail up to the peak. The weather was clear and sunny, and the path was easily wide enough to accommodate a large horse (or two medium-sized characters). When the DM asked for marching order, the rogue and I decided to take point while our wizard followed behind us, and our ranger and inquisitor brought up the rear. I figured that since I had the highest hit points (as well as the best charisma), taking the lead was probably a good idea if the party ever decided to take a more diplomatic approach (or if they just needed a tough body to tank some extra damage).

For the first few minutes up the trail nothing eventful happened, as most of us took this time to talk amongst the group and flush out our characters. However, after making it about half-way up the mountain, the DM suddenly called for perception checks (which admittedly had me slightly concerned since perception wasn’t exactly something that my paladin excelled at). Five dice rolls later and we all quickly discovered that the entire party may as well have been sleep-walking up this mountain, since none of us managed to make the DC 10 perception check needed to notice the large stone boulder rolling down the hill about 30 feet above us.

Predictably, the boulder ended up slamming into myself, the rogue, and the wizard, which instantly caused our DM to ask for reflex saves. Thankfully the rogue and I managed to roll well, but our wizard friend wasn’t so lucky, and after the DM ended up rolling damage (which resulted in a whopping 10 points on a failed save), our wizard was promptly knocked unconscious while the rogue and I only took half that amount.

Things weren’t going well.

To make matters worse, the DM then asked myself and the rogue which direction we rolled when we made our saves. Our options were to roll forward further along the path, or to roll backwards towards the party. The rogue opted to take the roll backwards, hoping to stay in range of our inquisitor in order to get healed. I, on the other hand, decided to take a more aggressive approach and roll forward instead, as I figured that there really wasn’t much difference in either option to begin with.

Oh, how wrong I was.

As soon as I moved my character further up the path, the DM then asked me to make ANOTHER reflex save as the ground beneath my feet suddenly gave way. After failing my save to try and grab the edge, I ended up taking an additional 4 points of falling damage as I fell 10 feet down into a fucking pit. At this point, I was reminded with startling clarity why I hated kobolds so much, for while the little bastards weren’t very hard to kill, their obsessive love for traps made them especially annoying.

Speaking of kobolds, our DM suddenly asked the party (with the exception of myself and the unconscious wizard of course) to make another set of perception checks. Thankfully this time around, our ranger and rogue managed to roll pretty well, but to our surprise, we still weren’t able to notice the two little kobolds entrenched on a ledge nearly 30 feet above us (which was obviously where the boulder had come from). One surprise round later and our ranger was now sporting two small arrows stuck in his shoulder (which inevitably brought him down to about half health as well). At this point, the DM FINALLY asked us to roll for initiative and we all prepared for battle.

Now, I’d like to take a moment and remind everyone that before this fight EVEN started, our wizard was already unconscious and dying, our rogue and ranger were both at half health, the enemy was in an entrenched position about 30 feet above us, and I was stuck in a 10-foot-deep hole with about a quarter of my health left. The only one sitting pretty was our dwarven inquisitor, and given the current state of the party, it was clear that he was going to have his hands full just keeping us alive.

Fortunately (or rather by the grace of God) our ranger actually managed to act first in combat, and after pulling out his bow and taking a shot at the kobolds (rolling a 10 on his attack no less), we soon discovered that a small creature with natural armor, a high dexterity, and entrenched behind cover was a VERY hard target to hit. The arrow just barely missed the damn things, and after doing some quick calculations in our heads, we realized that these kobolds were probably sporting an AC of around 16. This essentially meant that our ranger had about a 50% chance of hitting the little monsters, while our rogue and myself had about a 40% chance of success.

Not that I could actually hit anything in my position of course, since I was currently still trapped in this godforsaken hole.

Our rogue was up next in combat, and rather than pulling out his short bow and taking a shot, he decided instead to run up the mountain path in order to engage the kobolds in melee combat. Now, in all fairness, this wasn’t a terrible idea since it would only take him about 2 rounds of running to reach their entrenched position (and the only thing standing in his way was the six-foot-wide hole that I was currently stuck in). After taking a quick moment to get a running start, the rogue dashed forward and prepared to jump the hole…rolling a natural fucking 1 on his acrobatics check.

Yes, he actually rolled a natural 1.

To add insult to injury, the rogue then proceeded to fail his reflex save in order to grab the side of the ledge, and after tumbling down the hole (and nearly falling on me), he ended up taking the maximum amount of 6 falling damage and knocked himself out cold.

At this point, I wanted to cry.

Our inquisitor was up next, and as you might imagine, he pretty much used his turn to draw his longbow before casting ‘Cure Light Wounds’ on our wizard (and as luck would have it, he ended up healing him for an incredible 3 points of damage…just barely enough to get him back on his feet). The kobolds went next, and although the first one ended up missing his shot, the second one managed to land another hit on our ranger, reducing him to about a third of his health.

When it came time for me to go, I briefly considered kicking the stupid rogue for fucking up the simple task of jumping over a hole, but since I was playing a ‘good-guy’, I decided to take a more noble approach and retrieve one of my ‘Cure Light Wounds’ potions and stuff it down his throat. After healing him for a massive 4 points of damage, I begrudgingly ended my turn and waited for the wizard to go.

As it turns out, our wizard ended up being a total bitch and spent his entire turn getting up to his feet before running back down the hill. Apparently, when a spellcaster only has 2 hit points left, they really don’t like the idea of engaging anyone in combat anymore. Who knew?

In our next round of combat, our ranger promptly fired another arrow at one of the little kobolds, and after making yet another miraculous miss, he did the only thing that a courageous adventurer in the heat of combat could possibly do: he started running down the mountain as well.

Cowardness, as it seems, is a very contagious disease.

The rogue was up next, and after spending a move action to get back to his feet, he quickly made a climb check to scramble out of the hole. At this point, I half expected him to fuck this up as well, but to my surprise, he actually rolled well enough to climb completely out. With his turn finally finished, our inquisitor (who was pretty much the only party member left who had any semblance of a spine) decided to move towards our rogue and heal him up as well.

Unfortunately, the kobolds were up next, and these little bastards were out for fucking blood.

After training their eyes on our unsuspecting rogue, the kobolds promptly shot their arrows directly into his chest, knocking him out again and nearly killing him in the process.

Oh joy.

Now that it was my turn to act, I figured that my first propriety was to try and make it out of this Goddamn hole. However, seeing as how I am a paladin with no ranks in climb, I knew that crawling out of this bitch was going to be a pretty tall order. On the plus side, my suli was rocking an impressive 18 strength, so I knew there was a pretty good chance that I could succeed either way.

On my first climb check, I rolled a 2 and made no progress.

Alright, fine. Fair enough. I’ll just use a second move action and try it again.

For my second climb check, I rolled a 3.

This mountain had clearly been cursed by all the Lords of Hell.

As you might imagine, our wizard predictably spent his entire turn running down the mountain at a breakneck speed, for he had clearly left his balls somewhere back in town and was now off to go find them. On the following round, our ranger (who was obviously inspired by our wizard’s display of heroism), decided to engage in race to see who could get down the mountain quicker and claim the title of ‘Cowardly Bitch’ first.

Meanwhile, our rogue spent his entire turn trying not to die, although to his credit, he did manage to stabilize himself after rolling an 18 on his constitution check. Still, at this point, it probably didn’t matter since the kobolds were now completely free to attack us at their leisure. With the rogue being unconscious and me being stuck in a hole, the only person left who could fight was our dwarven inquisitor, and he was basically spending his turns acting as a medic.

Realizing that our chances of survival were quickly running out, I decided to bite the bullet and do the only thing that a noble paladin could do in a situation like this.

“Just take the tiefling and go,” I yelled. “Don’t worry about me. I just need some time to drink a few potions and then I’ll follow right behind you.”

Our inquisitor (who I swear was one of the most fearless motherfuckers that the dwarven race could ever produce) reluctantly agreed and proceeded to spend his turn picking up the rogue’s body and heading down the mountain, although not before shouting back at me to ‘Hurry the fuck up or he’ll come back up this mountain and introduce his foot to my colon’.

At that moment, I silently vowed that if I made it out of this alive, I’d definitely be buying that dwarf a very expensive drink.

The kobolds were up next, but rather than attempting to shot at the retreating inquisitor, the DM politely informed me that it was my turn once again. In that moment, I realized that the kobolds were probably readying their actions to shoot at me as soon as I climbed out of this pit. With that in mind, I decided to spend my turn drinking down my last potion of ‘Cure Light Wounds’ (which thankfully healed me back to full after rolling an 8 on the dice).

From there, I told the DM that my character had no intention of climbing out of the hole just yet, as I instead pulled out a javelin and prepared to ready an action to throw it at the first kobold that came into view. The DM then asked me how long I was willing to wait, and I figured that about ten minutes would be enough do the trick. After all, the kobolds couldn’t shoot me from their current position, which meant that they needed to come in closer in order to inspect the hole.

And as soon as they did, I’d make them regret it.

After waiting for about 5 minutes of in-game time, my patience was finally rewarded as a kobold slowly approached the hole and peaked its head over the side.

“DIE FOUL CREATURE!!!” I roared in a mighty voice, as I activated my ‘Smite Evil’ ability before hurling my javelin with righteous fury straight into the mouth of that ugly little monster.

Thankfully I managed to hit it, and as an added bonus, I even rolled max damage on the attack as well (which was ironically just enough to drop the damn kobold in a single blow).

“Who’s next!” I yelled out, as I retrieved another javelin and prepared to throw it again.

To my surprise though, rather than rolling for initiative, my challenge was swiftly answered by a loud commanding voice coming from somewhere near the top of the pit.

“That will be enough of that,” a kobold stated in common, in a tone that practically oozed with arrogance and pride. “Come on out of there and we ‘might’ let you live.”

Not seeing much choice in the matter (and wanting to get out of the hole anyway), I decided to take the kobold up on his offer as I proceeded to roll my climb check and crawl out of the pit (and thankfully I rolled well enough to actually do it this time).

However, as soon as I reached the top, I quickly discovered that my character was now well and truly fucked, for rather than facing down a single kobold archer, I was now staring down the barrel of six kobold warriors (armed with longbows no less) who surrounded a regal-looking kobold wearing an expensive purple cloak.

“Well shit,” I groaned, as I calmly pulled myself up to my feet.

The regal-looking kobold merely smiled at me, as his minions continued to point their arrows directly at my chest.

“I suggest you surrender,” the arrogant kobold said. “Disarm yourself and remove your armor, and I might just consider showing you mercy.”

At this point, I realized that this was probably the DM’s way of giving my character a chance to survive. However, as much as I wanted to take it, I knew that submitting to my enemy simply wasn’t an option. I was a paladin after all, a holy warrior of righteousness, and I’d be damned if I’d let this kobold take me as his prisoner. And so, after muttering a quick prayer to my God, I decided to roll an intimidate check while delivering an epic speech.

“Hear me now, you wicked abomination, for I swear that as long as I have breath in my lungs I will never surrender to you. I am a champion of the righteous, and defender of the weak, and I shall suffer no evil to live so long as I have the strength to fight it. So do your worst, you degenerate excuse for a dragon, for I promise that your day of judgement is very close at hand!”

After rolling a 14, I was pretty sure the kobold immediately pissed itself, yet despite my success, the damn thing still managed to utter out one final command.

“Kill him!” the kobold screamed in draconic, it’s voice clearly shaken from my fearsome and empowered speech.

Unfortunately, when it came time to roll for initiative, the dice Gods still refused to show me any love, as I ended up rolling a 6 and going last in combat. I realized that this outcome was pretty much a death sentence since there was almost no way for me to survive an entire round of enemy attacks, and I was also pretty sure that the arrogant kobold was a spellcaster to boot.

Still, there was nothing I could do now but sit back and watch as the kobolds aimed their bows and unleashed their attacks.

One by one the arrows found their mark, and after four successful hits, my paladin was left standing with only 3 hit points left. Now it was finally time for the arrogant kobold to finish me off for good, and as he slowly raised his hand and muttered some arcane gibberish, my character was suddenly enveloped in a torrent magical fire.

The kobold had apparently cast the spell ‘Burning Hands’, and after rolling for damage, my paladin ended up taking 14 points of fire damage (or half of that if he made his reflex save).

Either way, I was dead.

Or rather, I ‘would’ have been dead, had the DM not forgotten one very important fact: sulis have energy resistance. In fact, sulis have energy resistance 5 against acid, cold, electricity, and fire attacks, and as it just so happens, I also took a trait that increased all of my energy resistances by 2. Therefore, after making a successful reflex save, my paladin ended up taking no damage at all from the kobold’s mighty spell.

Needless to say, both the kobolds and the DM were at a total loss for words, and now it was finally my turn to act in combat as well.

For the briefest of moments, I idly considered turning on my heels and racing down the mountain, as I realized that there was still a chance for me to make a grand escape. However, I quickly dismissed that idea and focused my sights on the arrogant kobold leader instead, knowing that it was now or never to strike the final blow.

As I drew my greatsword, I decided to offer up one final prayer in the form of a popular paladin quote that I had found on the internet, and while I always imagined that I’d end up using this quote in a much more epic fight, I figured that if was going to die, I might as well die with these words upon my lips. And so, with that in mind, I offered up this prayer:

“Blade with whom I have lived, blade with whom I now die, serve right and justice one last time, seek one last heart of evil, still one last life of pain, cut well old friend, and then farewell.”

With a roar of defiance, I raised up my sword and charged the kobold leader, while at the same time using my swift action to activate my ‘Elemental Assault’ ability (which was essentially a once per day ability that allowed a suli to envelop their weapon in an elemental energy of their choice for one round, adding 1d6 points of extra damage to their attacks).

With my sword now blazing in a cone of fire, I rolled my attack dice and hoped for the best.

And no, before you ask, I didn’t roll a natural 20…but I did end up rolling a 19 instead (and for a greatsword, that meant that I threatened a critical hit).

After rolling to confirm and adding up the dice, the final result had me dealing an insane amount of 34 points of damage, which basically meant that I eviscerated the kobold sorcerer with a single fucking strike!

For the second time during that session, both the kobolds and the DM were stunned into silence.

I can only imagine how frightening my paladin must have looked to the other kobolds as I finished cleaving their leader in half. After all, here was an enemy who had survived being hit by a boulder, falling into a pit, tanking a hail of arrows, and shrugging off a torrent of magical fire…only to eventually slay their leader with just a single swing of his sword.

As you might imagine, those little kobolds were fucking terrified of me.

“You will all die!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, to which the kobolds instantly responded by dropping their weapons and screaming in terror, before racing back up the mountain as fast as their legs would carry them.

The DM then asked me if I wished to pursue them, to which a simply shook my head and let out a sigh of relief.

I did it. I actually fucking did it.

Despite all the odds, I managed to survive.

After taking a few moments to gather up the loot, my paladin slowly walked his way back down the mountain and immediately made a beeline directly to the local tavern. Upon entering the establishment, I quickly spotted the rest of my party tending to their wounds and gathering up their equipment, as they were all currently in the process of mounting some sort of rescue mission in the hopes of saving my life. Of course, upon seeing me walk through door with my body riddled with wounds, they all stopped and stared in astonishment as I took a seat at the table.

“Go and get me a healer,” I said, pointing at the ranger, before turning my attention over to the wizard and addressing him in a commanding tone. “And you…buy me a drink.”

From there, my gaze slowly shifted over to the dwarf, and my voice quickly softened as a smile formed on my lips.

“And you my friend, please take a seat and let me buy you a drink, and I’ll tell you an epic tale of how a lowly paladin managed to defeat a mighty kobold sorcerer.”

Needless to say, the story I told him was an epic one indeed.


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