Kobolds are the subterranean staple just about everywhere. They are numerous, simple, prone to using traps (pits and the like) and slings and spears figure big on their arsenal.
Orcs on the other hand are a surface race (that does get driven underground now and again). They are in my temperate to northern climes, are large, brutish, brutal, and even though appear to be simple - they are anything but. They delight in hurt and their superior strength and normal intelligence make them a danger. Their biggest downfall is the fact that when a tribe/gathering exceeds 70 members, they have internal bickering and backstabbing. It is not uncommon for subaltern orcs to screw over their leaders during combat with PC's just for a chance to grab the brass ring.
And that leaves goblins as the common trio. Goblins are (to me) another surface race and generally are found from tropical to temperate zones. My current party had never run into goblins before so this was an opportunity for them to see them in action.
To me, goblins are god damned crazy. They are twisted and sometimes do things that make no sense. They can eat most foods that would make a goat puke, can drink muddy water strained through their fingers, and have enough industrial know how to get the "job" done but safety and caution are unknown to them. They might gang up on a fighter, knock him down, and steal his shield, spikes, and underwear - leaving his alive and with all his money. They know every dirty adventurer trick and will use them against any PC they can run into. Also, it they are experiencing a hording sort of numerical advantage over their enemy du jour - they have a continuous chanting that gives them all the benefit of a bless spell.
So the group fought them, fell victim to their machinations, and were eventually chased OUT of the goblin cave. It was only through a series of lucky spells and planning that they turned the tide and were able to charge back into the fray.
We also met Bob. Or as he'd been called, Bob Goblin - the Builder. All those silly ladders and tools and stuff - someone had to make them. So the group encountered the goblin builder who I named simply - and he was launched into Goblin legend as he defied the party and raced off to reclaim the property the group had been attempting to steal.
Write up follows:
As our fighters held the front on the 4 goblins there, those of us in the back were shocked as the goblins there threw gourds filled with some sort of flaming petroleum at the corridor, setting it ablaze and hemming us in. With the fire burning from edge to edge, we found ourselves forced further down the passage towards the front. Hearing the problems behind, the warriors in the front made a concentrated effort to finish off the goblins, eventually breaking their morale and forcing them to retreat. We hacked them down as they fled only one of them actually escaping the melee.
From the other side we noted at least 3 goblins throwing the gourds with oil and from what we could hear, there was a finite amount available. Some of the goblins went back to get more. However, one of the goblins had thrown his gourd the wrong direction which caused the torch bearer to grow angry and beat the goblin with his light source. A lucky shot across the flaming hall from our boys buried a single arrow into that goblin’s eye before we all took refuge around the corner.
Some quick healing had us feeling better and then we all moved forward. There was a mass of fallen rocks blocking the corridor, not enough to fill it, only maybe a foot and a half high, but enough to slow down anyone daring to cross it. Beyond was a gathering room of some sort, currently empty. We heard goblin voices faintly in the distance and Fergus assured us the distinctive stink of the green skin evil was not too far from here. A light spell was cast on one of the fallen goblins but Tempi had an impossible time throwing the body over the barrier, eventually hurting himself in the process. We did get the light over and we able to better look around the corner.
On the other side of the room was a second exit, also with a pile of stones. And hiding behind it was a goblin hunched low with something in his grasp. Fist’al took a chance, whipped around the corner, and shot first – hitting the guy in the face. He pitched back and spilled the entire bucket of goblin urine on himself. He crawled away and we heard someone fall and breaking wood. The group entered the room now and Fist’al crept forward to scout the next exit.
A short hall, 15 paces or so long, then a drop of 12’ to the group below. We carefully looked around; two ladders were down there, one missing a rung or two, the corridor shaped like and “L”. What to do now? We decided that part of the party would go back to the flamed hall, make sure it was passable, and if not, make it so. This left 3 of the party members here, looking over the 12’ drop. We KNEW there were goblins down the hall, thanks to Fergus and his ability to sense evil. 5 figures. It was then that we thought, we could use those ladders. One, the help us climb down fast. And Two, to prevent the goblins from having them.
A grappling hook and rope was used to “fish” the ladder from below and Fist’al began pulling it up. This caused the goblins to exclaim in surprise and one of them demanded (in goblin) that we drop his ladder. This was the birth of the goblin legend of Bob the greenskin carpenter and his efforts to reclaim his ladder bore fruit at this point. Bob ran down the passage, dodging thrown spears and arrows, actually tackling the trailing far end of the ladder being hoisted away. Fergus and Tempi both grabbed Fist’al, holding him in place as Bob yanked, pulling the ladder free from the scout’s grasp.
As the ladder slithered away a hasty grab at the rope and grapple still entwined in the rungs followed but the weak wood snapped and the ladder was spirited away, only a single grazing blow by an errant arrow gave him any issue. The goblins cheered and we heard many derisive calls from the greenskins. Angry, the group fished the 2nd ladder up, taunting the goblins who did not race forward again.
Once at the top they made believe they were breaking it by smashing other furnishings which drove Bob to fury. Through the whispering echoes we heard that Bob was going to sneak back towards us to “teach us a lesson”. We watched the hall carefully but heard instead the sound of a door opening elsewhere and then after a long pause, another one opening closer. Ok –secret door of some sort.
Fist’al had the bow ready and was watching...and then he saw a heat source creeping closer, swinging a bag in a circular motion. Initiative…and he lost! The bag was thrown first, arcing up towards the group on the ledge, spinning slowly as it seemed to open. The elven scout forwent his shot and tried to catch the bag to hurl it back but instead it burst against his chest – and 5# of red ant spewed from the bag and all over him. The angered ants began biting and burrowing, getting under his armor and clothing. Tempi and Fergus dumped their waterskins on him and spent a few minutes smacking him as he shook the ants out of his belongings. Meanwhile Bob had run back to the goblins and there was more cheering from the greenskins.
During this time the rest of the group was struggling to move the sludgy goop that remained from the burned petroleum the goblins had used. Unable to do so, they settled for making a bridge of sorts across the tarry mess using tables, counters, and even the ladder we had gotten. Then it was time to start bring the less sure-footed members across first. Flimflam suggested we make for the exit as we seemed to be fighting the goblins in their element and it was not going to go well for us. We needed to get them, any of them to follow us outside.
While this was going on and the goblin’s realized that the party was not going to chance coming down the corridor after them, the group heard them talk about getting Bonalak here and to chase the group out. Then Fergus reported feeling more evil figures congregating down the hall: 6, 10, 14, 20 and then some. It was time to go.
We ran back towards the entrance, shouting to Flimflam and the rest of the group to run as fast as they could. As the party picked their way across the ramshackle mess of boards and furnishings, we could hear the cheering call of the goblins as they chanted loudly, running down the passages, chasing after us. We redoubled our efforts and ran harder. The group was spread out with Fergus and Tempi being in the back of the party.
Spears and bolas began soaring towards us, bursting on the grounds, hitting the two fighters. Fergus took to running backwards as he tried to intersperse his shield between the onslaught and the group, eventually throwing the broken shield aside after a series of terrible assaults. The rest of the group achieved sunlight and turned to the left, lining up with arrows and spells at the ready. The moment Tempi and Fergus emerged, a scant 30’ ahead of the greenskin horde, spells were shouted and hurled at the howling greenskins.
The front rank was stuck fast as the grasses lifted up and twined about their legs, holding them in place. Then a pair of sleep spells finished off the center and back ranks of the greenskins, ending their charge and silencing their song. The back of the goblins were thrown in disarray as the group then fired without cause into the massed goblin party. A retreat was called and of the charge that had come at us, only 8 goblins escaped back into the tunnels. We plied sword and knife on the frozen figures until they had all been slain.
From there we looted shields, bolas, and spears and talked about what was to happen next. We had escaped the possible goblin trap and caused terrible damage to them. But we also knew that Bonalak was in there somewhere (or was he killed out here? No one knew) and he had the secret of goblinwater that we needed to bring to a close. We dispensed what healing we had (goodberries and minors) and then rearmed and ready, returned to the caves.
We walked slowly, watching cautiously for any traps or ambushes. At the 1st intersection we noted the “bridge” across the sludgy ground had been disturbed and the ladder missing (damn you Bob Goblin!). We went down the stairs and looked over the room with exaggerated care. There was some natural petroleum here, dark and sludgy. Some gourds were piled as well but they were not hollowed out as of yet. Fist’al had informed us about Bob sneaking down through a secret door of sorts so the group began looking, finding one along the northern wall. We opened it, showing a cramped corridor that stretched northward. We opted not to follow it and instead continued along.
From here we passed under the 12’ rise to the corridor above (seeing no one) and then continued north from here until we stopped just outside an eating area. The room had been trashed and upended, furniture and tables scattered everywhere. It was shy of entering that Fist’al noted a tripwire stretched across the floor. He traced it to the inside of the door where two pedestals were tilted, each with a bucket of what was assumed to be goblin urine on it. Lovely.
He disarmed the trap and we entered. There were two ways out of here and Fergus was able to distantly sense goblin evil down each (distance and stone blurred his ability). We decided to go west and eventually down the corridor came to another area of fallen stone. While looking past we spotted some goblins and a few bow shots were traded until the goblins ran back around another corridor. We suspected they were going to circle about so we ran back to the dining area, set up a table and 2 piss buckets behind it, and went down the other corridor. From here we relied on Fergus to tell us of some evil presences not too far from here so we bolstered our strength and then charged down the corridor to do battle with the goblins there.