Every year, as winter thaws into spring, the elders of Highwall Village perform the Dance of Rebirth. This ritual, derived from the teachings of druids who once trod the land before the coming of the Old Kingdom, celebrates the coming spring and prepares the earth for planting.
But this year, after a particularly harsh winter, the Dance of Rebirth is in danger. Two of Highwall’s three elders passed away during the cold months. The third has been training two younger villagers in the Dance, but he may be too late.
The PCs arrive in Highwall Village to learn that three days ago, the village was raided by goblinoids and the elder and his apprentices were abducted. The villagers plead with the party to track the raiders across the snowy hills and recover their captives. The party can easily track the goblinoids to their lair in a sturdy tower about 10 miles north of Highwall Village.
When the party draws within a mile of the tower, they risk being spotted by three bugbear scouts on patrol. The bugbears wear white fur cloaks and boots and know the terrain, giving them advantage on Stealth checks. Unless the PCs have taken special pains to camouflage themselves in the wintry terrain, they have disadvantage on Stealth checks.
If the bugbears can catch the party by surprise, they will attack, but they will not engage the party openly and will attempt to flee back to the tower if the PCs survive the first round.
The tower, a long-abandoned outpost of the Old Kingdom, has been fortified by the goblinoids over the winter. They’ve dug trenches and built barricades to slow movement from the south but have done little to protect the tower’s northern approach, if the heroes want to try sneaking in from an unexpected direction.
At all times, a squad of 6 goblins led by a hobgoblin lieutenant mans the defenses outside. They will warn off any visitors they see, but they will not engage unless strangers come within 80 feet.
The ground floor of the tower has entrances on the south and on the northeast. The cells here serve as barracks for goblins. A dozen goblins are inside, sleeping, eating, or carousing.
The largest room on the ground floor houses the hobgoblins and bugbears. Three hobgoblins will be here, guarding the stairs up to the tower above and down to the cellars.
The second floor of the tower is used for storage, including the goblinoids dwindling food supplies.
The third floor has been claimed by the leaders of this band, hobgoblin siblings named Leenia and Falor. However, the two are not here. A ladder leads up to the battlements.
Below the tower are two levels of worked stone cellars. The first level is more storage, through a tapestry from the Old Kingdom hangs on the northeast wall of the main room, surprisingly undamaged by the occupiers.
The second level of the cellars opens onto a small cave chamber. The two proper rooms are littered with broken furniture and debris from the Old Kingdom garrison that was stationed here long ago. In the cave, however, Leenia has built a small, sturdy altar to a goblin goddess of fertility.
When the PCs arrive, Leenia calls in common, wishing to speak with them. She claims to have taken the elder so that he would teach her the Dance of Rebirth. She wants to bring goblins down from the north to farm the land left unsettled since the Old Kingdom fell, and the Dance can bless the land for them. She will not tell the party where she’s hidden the captives unless they agree to convince the elder to accept her offer.
The villagers are kept behind the secret doors marked on the map. A DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check can find them, and a DC 15 Dexterity check can activate them. If the party agrees, Leenia will open the door in the cave and lets any number of them through. She closes the door behind them, however, and its mechanism seals again.
How the party chooses to resolve the situation is, of course, up to them. They may trust Leenia and seek peace between Highwall and its new goblin neighbors. They may fight their way out. Who can say?
Leenia and Falor: As hobgoblins, but increase hit points to 44 and increase attack bonuses by +2. Challenge 1 (200 XP).
Bugbear Scouts: As bugbears, but increase Wis to 14 (+2), increase Survival to +4, and add Perception +4. Each has three javelins.