An intrepid young kobold by the name of Grubber has managed, through a mixture of luck and guile, to seize control of a town’s magical protectors: several suits of animated armor. The town now cowers beneath her tyrannical rule, as the misguided new mayor attempts to “improve” the town.
The encounters take place in a town square, in a settlement big enough to justify a small magical boon like the animated guards, but too small to resist when the guards have been compromised. Grubber has control of 6 suits of animated armor, which obey her every telepathic command while she holds the stone of iron command.
Grubber saunters into the area with some suits of animated armor at her back, making various demands depending on the encounter. She wears a fine silk robe, and rides on the back of one of the massive suits of armor. The kobold has a small green stone around her neck with strange runes carved into it, pulsing slightly. She’s loud and obnoxious. The suits shove citizens around roughly. The people in the area are clearly upset but generally too fearful to object.
Stone of Iron Command
Wonderous Item, Rare (requires attunement)
This small iron sphere is engraved with images of suits of armor. While holding it, any of the corresponding suits of armor made in tandem with this item obey your telepathic commands, which you can issue while within 1 mile of them. They obey your commands to the best of their ability.
There are three main parties interested in Grubber and her suits of armor:
- Grubber wants to rule the little town as a queen, and sit in the lap of luxury while doing it. She hopes to cement her rule by earning the goodwill of the people through a misguided series of renovations to the town, mostly through leveling existing buildings and using the rubble to make aboveground warrens. Grubber’s power comes entirely from the suits of armor—they’re flashy and intimidating, but could be overwhelmed with planning and overcoming their intimidating nature. Grubber looks to have a clear upper hand, but that may just be a matter of perception.
- Peasant bystanders want to keep their homes, shops, and other buildings intact. They’d also like the suits of armor nearby to take several long steps away. They don’t care for the old rulers, but they don’t like Grubber trying to rip things up. The peasant’s don’t have much political influence or power, but there’s a lot of them and they’re getting fed up with both the nobles and Grubber.
- The local nobles are horrified at this loss of power, particularly as no one has done anything major to stop it yet. They want Grubber dead or exiled, no matter the cost, and they want the stone back in the hands of the nobility. The nobles still have some of their former power—connections and a few loyal guards—but the playing field has been leveled.
All of the below encounters use this battle map (consider opening it in a separate tab for easy access).
If the animated armors start destroying buildings, they target the top left building first, then work their way around counter-clockwise from there.
In this encounter, Grubber wastes no time getting the buildings destroyed, and battle is likely to follow quickly on the heels of the chaos.
Setting up this Encounter
This encounter involves the armored suits leveling a building or two. If you have player characters who are pious or helpful, describe how the peasants within flee as the constructs destroy their home.
If you have players who must curry favor with nobles, or who are looking to make a quick buck, describe a prominent noble’s cry of dismay as a fine-looking shop is leveled—a profitable business owned by their family. The noble (suggested name: Lord or Lady Crimsonmarrow) then rounds on the crowd and demands they stop this madness. No one steps forward.
If the player characters are heroic and bold, describe the suits leveling the shacks with single, well-placed blows to supporting beams. Make them powerful, threatening, and formidable. You may also wish to increase the number of suits of armor and decrease the hit points of each one, depending on the level of the party.
As the party passes by, Grubber arrives with an entourage of 5 animated armors. She loudly declares she’ll be overseeing renovations in town before 3 of the suits charge forward and begin ripping into the wood and stone of the nearby buildings, causing peasants to flee in terror. A small crowd forms to watch.
If no one interferes, Grubber levels about 10 buildings before departing on her merry way. No one is hurt, but many have their homes and livelihoods destroyed. If the players choose to fight, the battle begins in earnest. Grubber flees to save her own hide if she’s injured too badly.
Many nearby buildings are rickety from the damage they’ve taken so far. On Initiative count 20 (losing ties) roll a d4. On an even number, a house collapses. If any creatures are near it, they must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity Saving Throw or take 1d8 bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone, slightly buried beneath rubble.
Bystanders don’t intervene, unless rallied appropriately. Such interaction is best for Encounter B.
Resolving this Encounter
When this encounter finishes, players who are pious or helpful should have the opportunity to assist a few of the people whose houses were damaged in the battle. They can also be rewarded for their efforts with gold appropriate for their level, and perhaps access to some of the armor of the defeated constructs.
If your players must curry favor with nobles, or are looking to make a quick buck, they’re rewarded accordingly: nobles in the crowd step forth, grateful for the assistance, and grant the group a hefty reward in gold for their efforts. The nobles may be a good jumping point for future encounters, offering copious amounts of the gold the PCs seek to solve their various issues. They’re also great sources of information, if the PCs are pursuing a particular line of inquiry.
If the player characters are heroic and bold, they’re hailed as heroes by the townsfolk. They’re likely armed up to the teeth in equipment by grateful folk, and if they ask around on leads to their various goals, the people are eager to be as helpful as possible.
In this encounter, Grubber attempts to intimidate the peasants into moving out of the way, placing the emphasis on the bystanders.
Setting up this Encounter
Grubber arrives with a much larger entourage—double or even triple the number of animated armors, depending on how brave your party might be feeling. The way this encounter is set up, this fight is probably impossible…if the group fights alone. Luckily, there are a large number of enraged people nearby.
If your players enjoy inspiring others or are raising allies for a cause, emphasize the peasant’s urge to fight back—describe them as having clenched fists, wielding pitchforks, shouting obscenities, and so on. The mob won’t attack on their own, unless the PCs rally them forward to victory.
If your players are manipulative and cunning, describe the peasants as more uncertain and naive. The clever PCs can thus maneuver these folk into pawns in their great game, possibly to devastating results for both sides.
Grubber arrives in destructive fashion, declaring that she’s taken the noble’s system for herself and will be incorporating new management, but with a massive number of suits of animated armor instead of a small force. She doesn’t attack the buildings outright, instead trying to corral the locals out of her way. The peasants are uncertain of a course of action and nervous.
Wise characters will realize that there are far too many suits of armor to face on their own, but should they attempt such a course of action, they could be killed, but Grubber could just as well take them hostage and make examples of them to the others. It’s also possible they can inspire the peasants to take up the fight, based on their actions.
PCs can make social checks to persuade peasants to fight, such as Persuasion, Intimidation, and so on. The base DC for the checks is 14 to get the peasants to revolt, but rolling higher by five lowers the number of animated armors in the final fight by 1. Exceeding the roll by 10 or more means 2 animated armors are removed from the fight as more peasants join the fray.
Any PC that has convinced a peasant to flee the fray can use a Bonus Action to urge them forward. Any suit of armor within 5 feet of peasants must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or fall prone as peasants surge forth and overwhelm them.
Resolving this Encounter
When this encounter is concluded, player characters who enjoy inspiring others or are raising allies for a cause may gain prolonged support from the peasants, or even have a few that swear allegiance to them, inspired to pick up their fight elsewhere.
Player characters who are manipulative and cunning may be able to swindle a few hundred gold pieces out of the grateful peasants. A few well-placed skill checks with the local weaponsmith (suggested names: Orm Fellwinter, Tailor Oaktallow) could earn a +1 weapon of their choice.
In this encounter, the players can ally themselves with Grubber instead, taking down the more believed nobles in the area to stop a resistance before it even begins.
Setting up this Encounter
This encounter involves assassinating a noble. If your players are greedy or uncaring, or who want to crush those noble bastards, Grubber sends a note offering a hefty prize based on their personal goals (see Resolving This Encounter) to kill a certain noble. She’s up front about the task, trusting greed will overwhelm the good intentions of anyone she approaches.
If the player characters need powerful allies, they hear of Grubber’s activity from afar…and that she’s looking for some hired help. If they decide to approach Grubber looking for the job, she’s more than happy to sic them on the noble.
If the players are manipulative and cunning, then they may be able to maneuver Grubber into publicly killing the noble herself (via her animated armor, of course). This could be done for a variety of reasons—to stir the nobles into a frenzy, to eliminate a power base or weaken a faction, or simply to cause a large, chaotic distraction.
Taking down the noble (suggested name: Lord or Lady Crimsonmarrow) is no easy task. They always surround themself with at least 8 thugs, and they have a hired veteran they keep on staff. However, they enjoy holding fine dinners with interesting folk. A clever group could use this opportunity to try to separate the noble from their guards.
A potential moment to strike could be at a small party thrown by the noble on their manor—a party that has made a name for themselves, even if a very small one—could likely secure an invitation. The dinner has the typical guards mentioned above keeping watch, but an additional 10 nobles that are liable to panic and swoon when confronted with danger.
A group could also conceivably concoct some clever plan to separate the guards from each other and pick them off one by one. They could also try to acquire a poison to slip into the noble’s food.
If the party executes the noble openly, they’re charged with murder, but the charges in the town itself are quickly dropped when Grubber seizes control officially. Other settlements nearby that hear this news might not take this into consideration, however.
Resolving this Encounter
When the noble is dead, players who are greedy or uncaring, or even manipulative and cunning, they ****are paid cold hard cash, pure and simple, varying based on their level. They might also be able to acquire some other material goods—a suit of armor (unenchanted), for example. There are plenty of ways for them to reap some greater reward from the situation, with the right negotiation tactics. Of course, information is another powerful reward they can get in exchange for this job, though it might be difficult to get out of Grubber after she goes mad with power.
If your players need powerful allies, they have gained one. Grubber is happy with any successful group willing to work under her, and the efforts of the PC’s could certainly qualify. She has a powerful group of soldiers at her beck and call, and if the job goes well, control of a small town. That said, if they botch the job or turn on her, she’ll be extremely unhappy, probably to the point of violence.
Player characters who want to crush those noble bastards are rewarded with absolute anarchy in town and the complete destruction of the noble class in the town. They might make a few noble enemies in response from other towns.