(This is a follow-up to the Wandering Plot Hook story)
The players had arranged to help a rich and somewhat crooked merchant family (the Buoanottis) takeover a black onyx mine that had been occupied by a company of hobgoblins. The deal was that the adventurers were interested in loot and riches but not necessarily operations, whereas the Buoanottis were interested in riches and operations but not in getting them or their people killed.
So, the PCs agreed to escort a small mining crew with a supplementary squad of
redshirts mercenaries back to the cove, attack the mine, clear out the hobgoblins, ???, and PROFIT!
What ensued was a fairly typical bug hunt\dungeon crawl, and, in the end, the PCs discovered a cache of correspondence between the hobgoblin chieftain\death priest and his superiors.
Turns out that this was also just a prospecting party sent out to test the vein for potential on behalf of an evil monster empire run by a rakshasa with a more than passing interest in necromancy. Since black onyx is a vital spell component in animate dead spells, it is needless to say that the rakshasa emperor was very interested in sending out a full-fledged war party to help secure the mine.
The PCs did the math between when the letters were sent, how far the known borders of the rakshasa empire were, and how long it might take a goblinoid war party to march through the terrain, and figured that they only had about a week.
Cue preparation and logistics montage as the party sets up pit traps and avalanche zones and digs some trenches and fortifications all A-Team style. The goblins show up a day early and the PCs scramble to man their defenses with their mercenary allies. Drums can be heard and everyone gets tense.
Traps go off, attackers impale themselves on stakes planted in front of the trenches, and generally it seems like a plan is coming together.
Then, a boulder flies out of the darkness and hurtles over the fortifications. Drums change their beat ever so slightly, and another boulder comes out and slams into the ramshackle wall, splintering it. Drum tempo changes again and a third boulder flies and shatters the wall.
Then the hill giant shows up, roaring and hefting a new boulder to hurl at someone.
The party is, like, 4th level and a hill giant, by itself, is a 7th level encounter. Backed up by 20 wounded and murderous hobgoblins, it’s TPK territory. So the party retreats and sets off their avalanche failsafe to buy themselves some time.
Over the next couple of sessions as the PCs fight a series of running battles with the hobgoblins, they piece together a couple of things. The giant itself appears to be a juvenile and not a full adult, and it dotes on the hobgoblin drummer (2nd lvl bard, btw) who also appears to be acting as a forward observer (essentially using his drumbeats to guide the giant’s rock hurling).
So, fast forward to the last stand where the PCs have been cutoff from their beach exit and have withdrawn to the mouth of their mine and the remains of the hobgoblins show up with their hill giant artillery. The players figure out fairly quickly that they need to take down the bard and so concentrate all of their efforts on him. The person who kills the bard?
The party wizard.
One hit from the hill giant’s pinky would’ve turned him into paste.
The hill giant loses his shit and starts chasing the wizard around. The wizard has spent most of his firepower on the battle already and is exhausted (we use a spell point system where you can cast more spells in a day but a lot of casting in an encounter will make you fatigued and exhausted).
So he uses a scroll of Expeditious Retreat to essentially kite the giant, interposing squads of goblins between the giant and him and letting the giant trample them on its way to killing him, while the rest of the party does their best to use ranged weapons to whittle away at the mountain of HP that is a hill giant with 8 HD.
The remaining mercenaries try their best to just survive.
The wizard also realizes that once he runs out of goblins to sucker, the giant can very likely charge and kill him.
Eventually, after five rounds of this hilarity, the hill giant finally goes down and the player running the wizard just collapses in his chair, exhausted and weakly high fiving everyone, like he just spent that last hour running around himself and not just moving a piece of plastic across a table.
(submitted by spokenword)