We didn't have a sheet for Shawn's warlord, so he was temporarily replaced with a somewhat similar cleric, and we sort of had a sheet for Tom's ranger.
As previously noted, the party headed first to take care of the kobold menace. They sent the ranger ahead to scout out their cave, and decided that their best bet was to charge in hard and fast, trying to flank the slingers to keep them from retreating into the caves to get reinforcements.
Unfortunately, they lost initiative. Fortunately, the kobold melee tried to hold in their defensive positions, where the party's vast assortment of ranged attacks was able to thin the ranks a bit... until they gave up and charged in masse. At which point the wizard toasted them all with his burning hands. And when I say 'them all' I mean 'every single (remaining) minion, dead in one spell'.
Meanwhile, the ranger and dwarf had managed to move up to try to take out the slingers. The ranger and one of the kobolds both hid in the forest, taking potshots whenever they spotted each other, while the dwarf charged the slinger, and... got his feet glued to the ground. Bore was almost as good with his throwing hammers as with his axe, though, and the warlock finished off the few remaining melee and zapped the slinger into ashes from long range.
So the alarm was not raised! The party decided to cross the river and come in the far cave (on a whim), which proved to be a good choice since that entrance had better choke-points. The cave was full of a metric ton of kobold minions and skirmishers, but the cleric and dwarf *tried* to guard the bottleneck against them. Unfortunately, they were a little too shifty for that to work... the wizard managed to toast most of the minions from long range, but two of the three slingers were still alive when the boss kobolds managed to finish putting on their armor (or whatever was taking them so long) and join the fight.
The boss kobolds were pretty damn scary -- two dragonshields, one cleric, and one... goblin? Irontooth, a goblin berzerker, as hard to hit as the dragonshields and a lot more durable, but not very deadly. So the party basically left him for last.
The wizard tried a risky tactic, casting sleep on all the enemies despite that also hitting the party's cleric (who'd gotten himself surrounded by shifty kobolds and was getting pounded). Now, a wizard's sleep spell isn't very reliable, and of the five enemies in the area only one of them went to sleep. Of the one friendly in the area effect... yeah, you guessed it. Naptime for cleric.
The dwarf did manage to coup-de-grace the one sleeping dragonshield and kill it, at least -- axes are good for coup-de-grace. The rest of the party plinked the cleric and remaning dragonshield to death, while getting plinked in return by irontooth (actually, he got some good hits in) and the others. Then, it was time to finally take down the goblin, after all the kobolds were dead.
Once he was bloodied, OH MAN. He went insane, slashing around and doing huge, huge amounts of damage, dropping the dwarf in one hit, and then... falling over, because focused fire on him by four party members took him down pretty quickly. They bandaged up the dwarf, and praised their lucky stars that they'd left the berzerker for last.
That was all the kobolds. They found some treasure, and some magic dwarven scale that the dwarf claimed for himself, in the name of being the only PC who wore scale mail whose player was actually present. They headed back to town to get paid and level up... the wizard bought a magic wand that one of the shops in town was selling. No magic axe for the dwarf, though.
A note on the goblin berzerker had also pointed to the ritual to open the shadowfell, indicating that it would be open in 'a few days', so they probably didn't need to kill the 'visitors', obviously referring to the party, because they wouldn't be able to interfere in time. SIGH. Apparently, it *was* up to them to save the world, or at least Winterhaven.
So they headed to the old keep, where the monsters had quite sensibly (in the dwarf's opinion) decided to forgo repairing the keep proper, and instead had just fixed up the keep's dungeons. Some goblins were guarding the entryway, but there weren't very many of them, and despite the *nasty* crossbows they were using, they didn't manage to do much. They had a pit set up, but the warlock who fell into it was able to teleport right back out, instead of being stuck and getting eaten by rats.
An auspicious beginning, but they still hadn't seen any sign of the mysterious Calabash who wanted to open the gate to the Shadowfell and summon the hordes of Orcus' undead, so there was obviously worse to come.
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It was really easy to see how the Irontooth encounter could have turned into a TPK -- if the party had focused on the 'big threat' first instead of clearing away the trash, it probably would have been. Combined with using ranged attacks to draw the melee out of their defensive positions, and the previous 'don't attack the gnome' plan from the last session, that makes three times they've randomly screwed up the enemies' plans by what would have been good tactics if they'd been done on purpose.