This goblin cave is not quite as straight up as the party had been in before. This isn't a "home" base to the greenskins, they are doing something specific here until a certain time and then moving on. Having Sisspak with them for the last 2 months has been a boon for the goblins.
So when I planned this out, I thought, "Say? Why not have a dungeon where one of the main goals is right there at the entrance?" Hence, Sisspak showing up for the main assault at room encounter marked #2 on my map (#1 was the entrance of the cave and the stack of travois poles).
The other 30 odd greenskins only make the fight a bit more "one sided" for the goblins. It is their lair, damned if they aren't going to limit themselves to 1 10'x10' room armed with a sword and guarding a chest.
Write up follows:
The group hit the trail out of Shakun one more time after getting a stipend of coins from Farthing Leatherworkers, heading north once more into the Grassy Hills to find the trail of Whelan, the goblin who took him out, and eventually Sisspak. The dwindling trail was melting away in the warmer weather but signs of our passage were easy enough to spot. By 10:30 we were in the vicinity of where we had the warg attack, and could see carrion birds wheeling in the sky. We decided NOT to visit the area and moved around the valley to the tune of an eighth a mile at least.
It was about 1 PM and we were some 4 hours north of Shakun when it was decided that we should break for lunch. A fast meal of cold trail rations was all we could do for now and it was shortly after that that we were once again trucking our way through the barely seen trail. Tranis kept us heading along, weaving our way about as we searched for a decent place to make camp.
Finally about 4:30 or so, perhaps 6 miles from Shakun, we settled on a section of hill with some tree cover. A large hole was dug for a fire pit, branches were gathered, camp was established, and we settled down for the night. Marcus attempted to write a copy of the Summon Monster 3 spell but failed. It was 7 or so, after sundown, when we settled in for the night and posted watch to keep guard.
Outside of a distant pack of wolves out hunting but gave us a wide berth during the night thanks to a banked fire, the night was uneventful.
Restmonth the 28th dawned cold, the temperature had dropped to the mid-teens during the night and the low clouds in the sky did not bode well for the temperature to rise far beyond the mid or late 20’s. After breaking our fast, praying, and breaking camp we were walking once again by 6:30, the terrain becoming difficult to walk on due to the refreezing thin layer of snow that had become ice.
It was around 9 AM that we arrived at what we assumed was the area known as Shadowfeet Crossing. There was an oily scent to the air and upon climbing one of the hills we looked into the next valley. A section of the hillside on the east had sloughed away, running down to the valley and revealed a blackish gravel to the elements. Also, what trees and grasses were here were not growing in gentle mixed natural patterns but showed clear lines where the oily ground ran beneath the surface.
It was thought that this was oil shale and that would explain why the goblins would be in the area. We had seen before how the Du’uk Sarathians would collect or mine for the black petroleum so its presence here was not too surprising. But as of now, no goblin or yuan-ti sign. Flimflam spoke to the 2 birds (owl and raven), informed them to go up and search for ½ mile or so NE and NW and then return and let us know what they discovered.
The rest of us got a closer look of the gravel. It was slick feeling and left a residue on our fingers but did fade after a few moments of touching. Also, the residue seemed to be flammable as Link tested out for us, but it was short lived and left behind only a charred scent.
The birds returned and Flimflam conferred with them. There were 3 other hills showing this sort of oil shale gravel about, but one of them had some sticks with cloth tied to it. Most likely a goblin fetish marking. We gathered the direction to travel and set off.
It was 15 minutes of hard walking over icy grasses and gentle slopes before we came to the crest of a hill and looked down. The valley was densely packed with trees that ran up part of one slope where a goblin fetish marker had been erected out of bones, metal plates, and lengths of wood; dangling from two skeletal trees lashed together. There were 4 wooden poles set in the ground and lengths of red cloth fluttered from it. We let Avidius sneak down to investigate the fetish; it was 4’ around and hung a few feet from the ground. It clattered slightly in the breeze and some searching showed a pit trap situated beneath it. Sharpened stakes 15’ down and the scent of goblin feces made the trap a potentially nasty one. Once the rest of the group came down the hill Flimflam was able to let the party know that the fetish had the feel of “Hades” upon it.
Since this was not a residential fetish, we knew the goblins were not going to stay in the area. But we still wanted to find them out, take care of Sisspak, and maybe see what happened to the other 3 hunters. We fanned out and searched the area, Tranis discovering travois or cart tracks running out of the woods. We back tracked the tracks into the trees and discovered a natural opening in the earth, 7’ wide by 6’, sloping down in the oily scented gloom.
We queued up for exploration purposes, Avidius in the front to check the area for traps, and proceeded down. The slope ran for almost a dozen paces and then the ground became chipped crude steps that ran a bit longer, ending at a landing. A half dozen travois poles were stacked here and some lengths of leather as well. But we did note the steady yellow glow of an oil lamp coming from the somewhere below as the steps kept going. We had our own lantern out (thanks Link) and Ben had a lodestone with a continual light spell attached to the front of his shield.
We went down slow and took a look at the base of the stairs. The chamber was sizeable, 9’ ceilings, 30’x50’ with 5 other exits out of here (NE, SE, S, SW, and NW). There was an iron chandelier looking like 2 squares suspended off the ground, the guide rope ran to the east and was tied off on a cleat. Otherwise, nothing. The room was clean, unmarked, not even grit or dust seemed to mar the place.
Avidius gave the room a 10 minute search, heard some faint echoes from elsewhere in the place and the thin moaning sound of distant breezes, but found no traps and the party came in. We then lowered the chandelier until it was about 4’ off the ground, retying the rope in place. The group spread out sort of listening around in order to hear anyone coming.
As we were trying to take the oil lamps off the chandelier and put them out someone heard a faint single wooden squeak coming down the NW corridor, and then what sounded like something spinning coming from the south. Already on edge and expecting something, the group was not surprised by the goblin attack but it was obvious the greenskins had waited for the entire party to enter before springing their trap.
From the south darkness 4 ceramic oil flasks shot across the chamber from spinning slings, three of them hitting the steps and ceiling by the entrance, a 4th unlucky one shattering on Link’s shoulder and coating the torchbearer in oil. Then 2 flaming crossbow bolts shot from the darkness and set the entrance on fire. The resulting wall of 4’ fire forced those party members still by the steps to stumble away or risk getting burned. We then heard roars and goblin forces started charging down the OTHER FOUR corridors! Fuck fuck fuck.
Caidius slid to the SW corridor and took to the closest corner, blackened blade in his hand. Ben ran to help out, shield up and ready. A few of us tried to grab a couple oil lamps from the chandelier and Flimflam was roaring for the group to huddle together now. Geld and Steiner who were situated the furthest from the room heard Sisspak’s sibilant hissing coming from the SE corridor and ran as fast as they could, warning the party of the yuan-ti’s approach. And coming down the two northern corridors were goblins pushing a wooden platform and rack with spears sticking out of it, while other slingers and spearmen were safely behind. Even more goblins could be seen behind and they were clamoring for a fight.
Flimflam and Marcus were calling out spells while the group made their way to the SW corridor where Ben and Caidius had set themselves up…to see over a half dozen shield and axe wielding greenskins yelling their heads off as they made their way to hit the party. Marcus’ spell went off…summoning a ghoul! Which he sent towards’ Sisspak and the goblin running before the yuan-ti who had 5’ lengths of chains and manacles on his wrists. It bit, scratched, and clawed at the goblin who dodged most of the ghouls’ assault, then wrapped it’s chain around the undead’s throat and beat the hell out of the ghoul with the other. And then Flimflam’s spell went off and he summoned a 400 lb. gorilla who charged down the NE corridor as Sisspak came alongside the ghoul and two sweeps of his sword ended the ghoul threat with a simplistic ease.
The gorilla struck the goblin wooden barricade and tore it to pieces as he was then struck and stabbed by the goblin spearmen and battle line there. The gorilla was a pale furred figure in the dark but we did hear the bloodcurdling roar it gave a its wounds drove it to blood-searching frenzy.
We were gathering along the SW section of the chamber but weren’t together yet, goblins were filling the room with furious speed and well-practiced efficiency. Link was covered in oil, and there were 7 goblin axe men holding the front of the battle line with only Caidius and Ben there to rail against them.