Session Date: May 20, 2019
Effective Character Level: 1
South in the Goblin Peaks, an array of connected caverns and outposts marks the territory of “King Blort,” a self-styled ruler of one goblin kingdom.
Nearby, in the foothills, an isolated warrens serves as a spawning ground for the future legions of the empire. These Warrens are only one of many that help support the nearby mountain goblin king’s domain, but human settlements have lately been encroaching at the bottom of the same foothills.
It was only a matter of time until a confrontation between the races ignited…
Beck and Call
“Hey! You bums!” Boss Mama Ogsa roared, butter churner in one hand and suckling pup in the other. “Get your lazy butts here in the kitchen and help me!”
The three goblins Nak, Flinger, and Plox tripped over each other in their response. These were the “Lashers,” essentially a lieutenant rank among goblins, charged with gathering food, patrolling the forest, whipping the other goblins into shape, and generally assisting with daily chores.
Still, at the end of the day, they were only goblins.
Ogsa glared at the three before her. She towered head-and-shoulders over them; next to her, they seemed like her children–which most everyone in the Warrens was. It had been said in jest (and never within her hearing) that her impressive size owed to hobgoblin blood somewhere in her ancestry.
Nak the rat milker was the first to answer. “Yes, Boss Mama? What is it? You called for us?”
(Nak was perhaps the only goblin not born in these Warrens. Originally from another goblin tribe conquered by King Blort, he survived the purge only because of his useful rat-milking skills…and his favored milk rat “Beth.”)
“Yes, there’s lots to do this morning! There’s food to be cooked, diapers to be washed, messes to clean–and, as you can see, I’m already a bit spoken for.”
“First, make those damn pups in the nursery stop crying for two goddamn seconds, I can’t even hear myself think anymore!”
His enthusiasm overwhelming his good sense, Nak raced into the nursery and roared at the pups to shut their putrid little mouths. While this tactic technically worked for two entire seconds, it was not until he brought in Beth, his milk rat, to act as a makeshift teddy bear that he had any lasting success.
“Ugh, this suckling baby just puked all up in my hair. Get it out, my hands are full.”
Flinger, fortunately, had more luck than Nak. Thanks to the months he’d spent practicing his darts, his fingers were deft and nimble; and they danced through Ogsa’s hair. In moments, her hair shone with an unnaturally healthy sheen, wafting on invisible currents.
“Ah, that’s more like it! See, I knew there was a reason I kept you around.”
“Look out! One of the milk rats ran off with my ladle, probably to go hide it somewhere. Go catch it and get it back, quick.”
Plox ran after the rat first, where it was attempting to bury it in a pile of straw. Outmaneuvered by the crafty rodent, Plox was finally able to reclaim the ladle when Nak helped herd the rat from the far side.
“That one pup got tangled in his onesie! Quick, go help the idiot before he strangles himself.”
Thanks to Rak and Plox’s quick thinking, the pup was rescued before it had wound itself too far inside the confusing outfit.
“Tell me…tell me I’m pretty. Say it like you mean it now.”
Flinger gulped. Sadly, though he had done wonders with her hair, his words were not as smooth, and he stumbled over himself trying to think of appropriate compliments.
“It’s okay, luv, I know you’re trying your best. I look pretty, but I just don’t…feel pretty.”
“All right, last chore and we can take a break. Get me some cream from the rats for making cheese!”
“Oh, that’s easy!” Nak replied. “I have some saved up already! Freshest there is! Only seven days old!”
“Half the work is already done, then!” Ogsa declared. “You scummy dears take off now. I’ll call you when I need you again.”
When Shrooms Go Bad
Their respite was not to last long. With the din in the kitchen quieted, they could now hear a distant voice calling from some corner of their caves.
“Hey! You! Guuuuuuys!”
The speaker was one “Nob,” of the “Nib and Nob” twin brothers. They were farmers, supplementing the warrens’ diet with mushroom bits and the occasional beetle found in the caves below the warrens.
“What’s the matter?” Plox shouted down, from the top of the rope ladder that led down into the mushroom caves.
“I was cutting up some mushrooms for Boss Mama, just like she said, but these mushrooms. They started cutting back!”
Now Plox was an oddity among goblins–a druid. He had taken up the ways of nature after his own father had been cured of a deadly illness by a passing druid.
Plox thought back long and hard on everything he knew about mushrooms. “Hmm. They’re not supposed to do that.”
The three Lancer goblins followed Nob down into the caves below. The mushroom farm that supplied the kitchen was across a small subterranean stream that bisected the current cavern.
Near one of the largest mushrooms, Nob’s brother Nib lay face-down in the water. He wasn’t moving.
“Is, uh…is Nib okay?” Nak asked.
“Oh yeah, he’s just fishing for fish. He has to wait in the water, perfectly still, until a fish swims right up and tickles his nose. Then he catches it!”
“He does this every day?”
“No, this is the first time. At least, I think that’s what he’s doing; I just found him like this a few hours ago. He hasn’t moved yet, though! Such stamina!”
Luckily, Nak had also spent some time down on this level, and he could already point out three very large “mushrooms” that hadn’t been there yesterday.
His memory now jogged, Plox could recall hearing of silent creatures that were usually found much deeper underground. As they resembled other mushrooms exactly, it was only by a stroke of luck that Nak had been able to pinpoint where they hid now.
“You gonna help us with these monsters?” Plox asked Nob. He’d noticed the mushroom farmer held a sickle for his job, and an extra blade might come in useful.
“Er, um, yeah, I mean, I guess. If you want me to. You’re the boss!”
Weapons in hand, the party approached the imposters from their side of the stream. As soon as Nak had sent the first arrow from his shortbow into a target, however, the mushroom creatures screamed in shrill anger. They approached as quickly as their legless forms would allow, their flanges flailing.
Fortunately for the goblins, the monsters were both slow and uncoordinated; and they fell quickly to the coordinated onslaught of shortbow, club, darts, and sickle. The goblins’ only injury came when the final mushroom, instead of collapsing, swelled and burst in an acidic cloud of spores.
“That’s a new trick,” Nob admitted. “Here, I found these juicy mushrooms earlier that should help you feel better!”
Whiles Plox and Nak nursed their bleeding wounds, a glimmer of light from the stream caught Flinger’s eye. The river that fed these caves originated from deeper up in the mountains, and the sewage and run-off from other goblin camps fed into it.
In this case, this proved to be in their favor, as the group recovered several useable items from the stream.
Items acquired: Oil lantern (serviceable), clay jug of grease, piano wire.
As Nak had suspected earlier, Nob’s brother Nib was not hunting for fish, but was in fact very dead. It appeared he’d succumbed to the mushroom monsters’ attacks and fallen into the stream. Nob sadly took up the sickle of his twin brother and prepared to work twice as hard.
Beware of Traps
Upstairs, Ogsa was taking some weight off her legs in a much-needed rest. Ogsa raised her eyebrows listlessly as the three Lancers tiptoed past.
It was possible she didn’t even recognize them as the same goblins from before. A goblin brood mother pumped out between five to ten baby goblin pups every two months. After a certain point, all goblins started looking the same.
The silence was again quickly broken. A rapidly-nearing screech could be heard from outside the front entrance of the Warrens.
“Hey! You! Guuuuuuys!”
It was Glib, another gatherer who’d been tasked with collecting berries and any small game he could catch in the nearby forest. However, something had seized him with a fierce urgency.
“What? What is it? What’s the matter?”
“There’s a big lumpy thing headed up the forest trail! Two legs, two arms, ugly beady eyes–“
“A human?” Nak bristled at the mere thought of his most-hated enemy, this close to home.
“I don’t know, all those humanoids all look the same to me! But it’s got two extra-big rats with it that look awful hungry, and they’re coming this way!”
After gathering that, from the enemy’s pace, they had perhaps an hour to prepare, Nak and the others hatched a quick plan. Goblins loved using traps, and they planned to make the most of the time available, ambushing their enemy before it could get close. First, they searched the boxes on the Warren’s main level for anything useful.
Items acquired: Fish net, Grappling hook + 20' of rope, Pickaxe.
Then, after a quick goodbye to Ogsa, they headed into the forest. They chose a spot in a thinly-wooded area to begin their work, where they had a good view of the hillside below them, and where the steep incline would benefit their ranged weapons.
For not the last time, Plox’s connection with the earth proved indispensable. With his ability to mold earth directly, he quickly established a 30-foot pit in the middle of the trail. Sharpened spikes were placed at the bottom, and the fishing net was laid over top. Leaves helped disguise the trap.
Directly in front of the pit, Flinger strung the piano wire between two trees, to help enemies along in falling into the pit.
Goblins only ever quit building a trap when they ran out of time, and the same was true today. Using his knowledge of nature, Plox was able to locate a nearby mud wasp nest. After placating its residents, he passed it off to Flinger to use as a projectile.
Nak too used his own skills to find and befriend a nearby badger. Instead of simply throwing it, however, he tied one end of their rope around it, and another to a tall branch overhead. For good measure, he wedged a couple rusty swords and arrows he had into the mixture.
If all went well, anything that evaded the tripwire and pit trap would get a face full of knighted badger.
Items acquired: Mud wasp nest, badger.
Favored Enemy: Goblin
It was just as Nak was finishing his badger touches that Plox hissed at them. “Quick! Here he comes!” Sure enough, not far down the trail, a human and two wolves hurried up the hillside. They were larger than the goblins, but they were still unfamiliar with the lay of the forest. The ranger seemed particularly vexed by this; the goblins could hear him complaining aloud to his wolves.
“Quick! Scent faster! The others got a head start, and we don’t want to be late to the battle!”
“The…’battle’?” Plox wondered to himself, but he had no time to think further. He dove into a nearby bush.
About twenty feet in the tree canopy above, Flinger “hid” with his wasp nest. In reality, he giggled loudly to himself and relayed to the others how close the “dirty, nasty human” was at each passing moment.
Looking around him, Nak began to feel a sinking sensation in his stomach. The piano trip wire glinted obviously in the sunlight, and the pit trap was a blatant pile of leaves in the center of the dirt path. Flinger’s loud sniggerings only clinched his feeling of dread: they were about to be massacred. He had to act quickly.
As soon as the ranger had turned the last corner to where the goblins hid, Nak jumped out from behind a tree, stood on the uphill side of their traps, and pulled down his pants.
“Stupid, ugly human! Just try getting me! These twin ridges are the only thing you’ll catch of me!”
While Nak failed to send the human into a bloodthirsty rage, he did divert his attention from the blatant traps. “Catch that one!” the ranger commanded his wolves, and they bounded eagerly away.
Unfortunately for the hounds, their attention was too focused on Nak’s jiggling buttocks to watch their step. A sudden crashing sound, along with quickly-tapering howls and whimpers, announced the sudden and grisly demise of both wolves.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST DO TO MY WOLVES?” the ranger roared in surprise and anger. He dashed uphill after his pets.
It was at this moment that Flinger struck. Having waited till the human was just within range, he hurled his mud wasp nest. Though it narrowly missed a direct hit across the chest, it still broke open on the ground.
A swarm of angry insects instantly arose. The ranger stumbled back with a cry and swatted blindly.
The three goblins continued to pelt their foe with rocks, darts, and an occasional arrow. Abruptly, the ranger held himself high, a volatile anger burning in his eyes. “You may have killed my dogs, but you do not get the last laugh here, goblins!”
A sudden breeze sprung up around the ranger, banishing the cloud of wasps. Before any of the goblins could react, the human had drawn his bow and fired. The arrow sailed through the only goblin daring enough to dance out in the open.
With a sudden, surprised squeak, Nak the rat farmer breathed his last.
Alas, poor Nak. We barely knew ye.
(Nearby, the gatherer Glib continued to harvest his berries peacefully, oblivious to the din of battle, death, and mayhem. However, his ears perked at the sound of the two copper coins in Nak’s pocket that jingled when his body hit the ground.
Somewhere, nearby, there was loot to be had.)
Witnessing Nak’s sudden demise, Plox and Flinger pressed their attack. Flinger threw darts from the treetops, and Plox drew his club. Charging the human, Plox moved his tiny goblin digits quickly, and the ranger was suddenly entangled by vines bursting from the ground.
“Leave now,” the goblin druid commanded, with surprisingly-good dictation, “and never come back, or–“
Glib erupted from the undergrowth with his ax held high. In a fever of rage, he severed the human’s head with a single swing.
“Ha!” he shouted in exultation. “It was a darn good thing I was here to save your butts, wasn’t it?”
Items acquired: Longbow, shortsword, leather armor, tinderbox, wanted poster scroll.
As goblins do, the three quickly pilfered the belongings of the now-deceased human. Flinger seized the shortsword, Plox jumped on the longbow, and Glib took trophies from the body of the human itself. What quickly caught their eye, however, was a rolled scroll from inside his jacket.
Though none of them could read Common, they knew a wanted poster when they saw one. This one had been adorned with stereotypical drawings of goblin heads, money signs adjacent, and…a crude map detailing the route from the humanoid villages all the way to their own Warrens.
“This is bad,” Glib decided. “Real bad. We’d better get back and tell Ogsa about this right away.”
They threw some quick dirt over the human remains, gathered up their loot and the body of Nak, and hurriedly returned to their Warrens. Their newest ally, the badger, bumbled slowly along behind.