1) There are 8 players around the table. This is 2 more than my upper optimal positioning and because of that (even when people don't show), the momentum is difficult to get going some times.
2) The sandbox format for this group isn't working. Some groups respond well to sandbox, some respond well to rails and guides - this group is not a sandbox group. With no defining direction and too many trailing ends to grab at, the party has floundered everywhere with no direction. I am wrapping up this piece of it (3 goblin caves) and then establishing guides and rails to keep the party grounded.
3) Too much chaos. The party had a few members @ the onset who were having a great time doing the equivalent of running around naked yelling like a firetruck and this had us effectively slide off whatever path we wanted as a party at least 3 times and flounder about.
Not a problem - problems identified, solutions in place. As for this meeting, the group did enjoy some thinking and out thinking of the dwindling goblin forces.
Write up follows:
We burst into the next room, swords up and at the ready. It was some sort of barracks – the back corner of the room had been mounded with wooden pallets and mattresses, 2 goblins positioned behind with spears bristling outward. Two other goblins were charging out of the room to the west, legs pumping as they hastened down the corridor. Sparing the fleeing goblins only a brief glance, Fergus and Tempi hit the barricade with sword and trident. It shifted but held, with the paladin actually striking the goblin behind. The blow felt odd and when he withdrew his trident something spattered against his armor with a hiss.
Meanwhile arrows began flying DOWN the corridor towards us, clothyard goblin shafts striking around us and harrying our movements. A few shots were returned but the range was great and we could not see our opponent. Fergus was yelling as he tried to cool his heating armor and Flimflam was racing there with torch in hand, showing that some sort of greenish ooze was eating the paladin’s armor as well as the pallet and mattress barricade that had been set up. Tempi tried to douse the ooze but only succeeded in getting Fergus damp. We had to get his armor off as the slime was spreading.
Dagger in hand, he cut the leather straps holding the breastplate in place and hurled it away, vambraces and greaves following. The metal continued to smoke and was eventually eaten by the slime. As for the goblins behind the barrier, torch light revealed them to be dummies.
Unable to actually hit the distant goblins in the dark a torch was hurled there, showing the corridor sloping “down” some 15 paces, leveling out, and then sloping “up” on the other side – with 4 goblins there with bows. A few members ran back to the corner to watch for possible back attacks while the rest shot more arrows at the goblins, dropping one and making the rest flee.
We did our best to clean ourselves up and lamented the loss of Fergus’ armor – the paladin only wearing the padded underarmor for the time being. We then took two of the padded mattresses to use as impromptu tower shields (for arrows at least – some cover!) and retreated back the way we came to the eating area (we did not want to go down the sloping corridor). No goblins had come this way and Fergus was no longer to feel their evil emanations – either too far or rock/stone in the way.
We once again moved the table and buckets of urine and went down the corridor until we came to a room. Fairly sizable, it was some sort of market areas with counters, tables, and display racks – although almost all of it was empty. No goblins anywhere. We cautiously looked around until we spied upon a concealed door along the west wall. We cracked it slightly and a breeze was blowing our way. Fergus “felt” for evil and had a muted result through the narrow crack. This was it.
We opened it and saw that it was a cramped corridor, maybe 4 ½ feet tall and 2’ wide. It would not be possible for Tempi to go through easily (if at all) and Fergus would also have an issue or two. The rest of the party should fit. There was some trepidation as we noted there were goblins somewhere down the narrow cleft. We were drawn into a conversation with them and some back and forth followed until someone did something and a sleep spell hit the end of the corridor – and then radiated out amongst us – but due to circumstance, cover, and race – only Flimflam and Whosea were actually put to sleep!
Chase ordered us to be quiet and we all froze, weapons out and ready. The door was blocked by the mattresses and we listened to the slapping sounds of goblin feet as they crept closer. Three? Four? Who knew –but when they came within range we fell upon 1st one with arrows and steel – dropping him and sending the remaining greenskins fleeing back down the passage. With a snarl we gave chase. Fist’al and Marcus were first down the corridor, with Chase right behind. The rest of the party dragged the goblin out of the corridor and beat him to a pulp before trying to follow (only Flimflam and Enthir staying behind – asleep and trying to wake up the enchanted sleeping guy).
We charged through the dark, Fist’al’s infravision more than enough for the elf to see but Chase was charging blind, relying on his ranger skills and hearing to guide him. The scout saw 3 goblins running away and as they ran (eventually down a slope in the corridor), they hurled anything they could back at him – one of which was a bola that the elf snagged and whirled himself as he chased.
The ranger was running VERY fast, and quickly caught up to Fist’al and then passed him, sword scything back and forth as he charged, the elven scout trying to guide him as he ran. He did catch a goblin with the blade, slowing it down and Fist’al brained him with the bola. They were forced to jump and duck, the sloping corridor leveled out to a pool with a faint glow coming from it. We saw the goblins clearly and Chase barreled another one down as he tried to get the last fleeing one. It was the scout and his handy bola that actually tripped the goblin up, allowing the ranger to make a fast dispatch. Meanwhile, Marcus was making sure the bodies strewn behind were down and dead with fast thrusts as he ran along.
We had heard a number of remaining goblins clamoring to“get going!” and we came to an area where the cave opened to a large grotto. Some sort of chime and workshop area filled the left side, but the north end of the cave had a ring of mushrooms there, Bob the goblin carpenter straddling the circle with a pouch in his grasp and hand upraised, and the last few goblins (one of which we assumed was still Bonalak) running for the mushroom ring.
A single arrow shot out and hit Bob, making him gasp, and open his clenched fist – which dropped something and the mushroom ring flared briefly to phosphorous light and the goblins in the ring were gone – including half of Bob! The last goblin dropped to his knees and begged forgiveness and the group trussed him up.
During this time Tempi and Fergus had thought that there was another way OUT of the cave and had run back to the entrance – but after 10 minutes, decided they were mistaken and came back down. As for Flimflam and Enthir, they too joined the group down the narrow concealed corridor and eventually the grotto.
We spent some time looking over the grotto. The area to the left was a work area that had a variety of strange and interesting items on it. Herbs, powders, elixirs – eventually it was deduced that this was various raw ingredients in a series of stages for goblinwater. One of the items that we did discover though was something that was not on the herbalist’s list – and that was blood. Flimflam spent a longer than normal time looking over the blood and assured us it was collected from the heart itself – as evidenced by the coloring of it. There was something else bothering the gnome about it but he kept his council to himself. As for the other ingredient, it was an iridescent dust of some unknown origin – something we’d have to look into at some point.
As for the chimes, Fist’al assured us they were trapped. There were not mounted to the ceiling – but instead went INTO the ceiling – most likely onto some counterweight or balance. The chimes were a mass of brass and silver design and rung softly in the unseen breeze that seemed to originate from this chamber.
We then went to the pond that was glowing and looked it over. As long as there was a light source in the room, the water was normal and the rocks at the bottom were simple cracked and veiny looking mix of limestone covering basalt. It was when the light was removed that the water took on an eldritch look. There were green and purple faerie light coming from the cracks in the stone – and that was diffusing through the water and making it appear to have that glow. We didn’t know what it was and decided to leave it alone.
From here it was -do we screw with the chimes? It was decided on yes – but on Fist’al was going to stay – the rest of the group ran back to the market room at the top of the slope and the elf eventually triggered the chimes. A roaring wind took place and a strange rumbling – water was rushing along and Fist’al charged up the slope until he managed to halt his back slide into the water by aid of a trusty thrown rope. Once out a short time later the water seemed to have disappeared and he chanced going back down – seeing everything as it was (no bodies!) except of the 5 chimes – only 4 were making noise now. Deciding to avoid any possible issues he left and we all grabbed some of the sludgy goblin petroleum oil and then made our way back to Shakun.
At the gate we were told that Baron Taugis was interested in meeting with us but we opted to go home and clean up first, eventually going to Castle Canastal @ 4:15 and meeting with the baron and his councilors. We talked about what we had done, the goblinwater, Bonalak, and the disrupted goblin activity barely 3 miles from town. We were given 100 crowns for our efforts and then commissioned to find this Bonalak and bring him in – 300 crown alive, 150 crown if dead. We took the job and then Flim Flam was knighted for the group’s effort in doing what they’ve done as of late and we returned to the Hall of Heroes where we talked about going to one of the other goblin caves (there were 2) next and hit them now while we have momentum and they would not be expecting it.