The battle took too long.
I like to tweak, change, alter, and add - it's part of the hobby roots for me and I've never forgotten it. One of the most poignant memories I had from the early early days of me playing (30+ years ago) was sitting down after we had first learned how to play and the DM did something that wasn't canon in the book. So I called him on it, he nodded his head, flipped through the DMG, and then tossed it behind him and said, "It's a guide. Read it. Don't live it."
I never forgot it and have let that incident shape the way I play and DM ever since.
But, I have 7 around the table (soon to be 6 - sniff sniff) plus myself and the battle was big and long and I didn't like it.
Initiative was the culprit, followed by the general chitchat that we do.
Roll D6 - the round is split into 4 sections: Flee, Missile, Back Rank weapons, Melee/Spells. Improved initiative moves you up a rank. Dex has no impact.
I think I will try for a going forward on being more mindful of the time constraints - when I started it - it was 1 minute to get your shit together and then battle commences. I'm going to add that back. Gonna pick up a big assed digital stopwatch thing and hang it from the DM screen - see how that works.
Write up follows:
The party discussed the matter for some time and eventually decided they were going to try and get out of the cave and run back to town. We didn’t know how many were out there, if any of the invisible ones were nearby, and what our chances were. We were going to need some information.
We moved the bound up goblins we had captured further back into the cave and went over plans. Curufin was pretty sure there was a goblin up the slope and listening, hidden in the shadows or possibly invisible. How to verify? We decided to use Marcus and his ESP spell. The elven wizard and the two thieves went up the slope, talking the entire time about the goblins and how many and what not while Marcus had his ESP spell pushed ahead – and then he encountered goblin thoughts but there was no one there visibly. He gleaned all the surface thoughts and we then went back to the cave where he let us know maybe 6 or 7 goblins invisibly were here, there were over 20 other goblins in the area, and more were coming. At sunset they were going to storm the cave and capture us/kill us.
So, we had a plan – it was going to be bust out and run for Shakun as soon as the way was clear. Short, sweet, easy. Also, keep the fire to a minimum.
So we slit the throats of the 5 worker goblins, left the goblinwater fucked up druggy one alone, and cut the bonds on the one who had helped us. Then at 4:30 PM we lined up and stormed our way out – Erd and Tranis taking the lead, shields lowered and the rest of the party racing with them. The invisible goblin got tangled up and was expelled from the cave and the group immediately started fanning out.
There was a 5 or six count right near the entrance, with another 20, two sets of 10, bow users further down the hill in the grasses. We hit the local spear and axe guys full on, and the group did their damndest to take the combat to them.
Arrows fell about the party and even though many of us were armored up, the tall grasses gave us further cover. Our side had a bless spell go off, followed by a fairy fire spell to illuminate the closest goblins.
More withering archer fire fell about the group but an entangle spell neutralized about half the archers. The enemy had a spell caster as well and tried to take it against us but Steiner used his staff of fear and the shaman turned and ran.
Invisible goblins kept appearing, back stabbing the party all over the place. Marcus was getting pretty hurt and the group then tried to clear the goblins up over the cave entrance (3 or 4 count there). The combat was fast and furious but we eventually broke the goblins assault and sent many of the bow users to run. However, we were in no position for a protracted battle, goblin drums were in the distance and closing, Marcus was down and was going to need Hospice care to be of any use, and our stores of arrows and spells was depleted. We needed to leave and leave now.
The trip back to Shakun took over 4 hours, with the party switching off on toting Marcus along as well as keeping a weather eye on the land before us. The goblin drums stayed with us for hours until we left them further behind (but never quiet). And it was almost 8:30 when we saw the lights of Shakun growing closer and we knew we had a half hour or so to go before making it home.