Help me with Tucker's kobolds scenario


Advice


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Tomorrow I am hosting a game for my friends in which they will go into a goblin dungeon with a small military group to wipe out the goblins.

I want this to be a Tucker's Kobolds type of scenario that will humble (but NOT KILL) the heroes.

Does anyone have any advice for how to polish up just such a dungeon (largely just a big burrow under a forest)?

The tunnels will be made for small characters, forcing the entire party to squeeze all the time. Lots of bends and turns will limit line of sight and ranged abilities. Traps and murder holes aplenty will mean the PCs will be under constant attack. Tiny-sized escape tunnels will allow embattled goblins to flee where they cannot be pursued and also allow them to circle around the intruders.

Beyond that, I don't have much. Please help me keep it interesting for the players.

Here is a list of the player characters (with PDF character sheets):

Hihachi Belecqua (human fighter 9)

Selfane Goldbound (human sorcerer 5/dragon disciple 4)

Trinse Woodman (half-elf sorcerer 1/ranger 6/arcane archer 2)

They will be in command of up to 60 foot soldiers and military adepts.

From my experiences hosting past games for this crew, I fully expect them to do something fairly idiotic like burn the whole forest down prior to entering the goblin den. They might even split up. I want them to succeed, eventually, but their power has gone to their heads lately and I want them to be brought down to earth a little.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Oh, and the den will be dark unless the PCs bring light with them (goblins have darkvision, PCs don't).

Here is a list of the player characters (with PDF character sheets):

Hihachi Belecqua (human fighter 9)

Selfane Goldbound (human sorcerer 5/dragon disciple 4)

Trinse Woodman (half-elf sorcerer 1/ranger 6/arcane archer 2)

They will be in command of up to 60 foot soldiers and military adepts.

From my experiences hosting past games for this crew, I fully expect them to do something fairly idiotic like burn the whole forest down prior to entering the goblin den. They might even split up. I want them to succeed, eventually, but their power has gone to their heads lately and I want them to be brought down to earth a little.


Well, it might strain the paradigm a bit for goblins to be treated as Tucker's kobolds, but I did a kobold lair once that was very much like Tucker's kobolds. Here are some of the things I did in that campaign.

1. Lots of spear and arrow holes with kobolds stationed behind them. The lair had a layout which allowed guards to trap the invaders between kobolds stabbing spears through the holes adjacent and firing crossbow bolts down the hallway. A typical technique was to have a stone fall down behind the party as they made their way down a dead end, and have kobolds unload on them.

2. If they got past that they had to deal with a couple of pit traps, the pits were actually openings into a nasty underground cave with some pretty nasty custom monsters, but the idea doesn't require custom monsters. The party almost lost one member to one of those traps.

3. My favorite trap was the hallway with oil-soaked straw all over the floor, a stone dropping behind the party, crossbows blasting from ahead, and a torch thrown amidst the party to light the straw on fire. That was major fun.

4. Some rooms were specifically designed to be traps, including one which the party went into and the kobolds slammed the door and locked them in with the giant spiders.

5. I had a set of "elite kobold guards" who had class levels in fighter, ranger and monk, all first level, but I had two second level casters, one sorcerer and one "shaman" (was a druid). The first time they encountered the shaman he cast a fear spell which sent two of the party fleeing in panic for a few rounds.

6. Crude "crossbow" traps were set up all over the place, but since they were really just a bent stick with a crossbow bolt, they had very poor attack rolls, still they scared the heck out of the party even if I don't think I ever actually hit a party member with one of the crossbow traps.

7. The kobolds had tamed some dinosaurs which were more or less equivalent to wolves, and those were sent into the party as melee meat shields when the elite kobolds engaged the party.

I used a lot of sneaking, hiding and surprise against the party. When they holed up in the torture room to "sleep" I had kobolds harass them unmercifully to keep them from regaining spells. Eventually they figured out how to ambush the kobolds that were keeping them awake and killed a few of them, which finally allowed them enough time to sleep and regain spells.

I played it all dead straight. At one point the party found the kobold women and children, and that led to some very interesting role playing.


brassbaboon wrote:
I used a lot of sneaking, hiding and surprise against the party. When they holed up in the torture room to "sleep" I had kobolds harass them unmercifully to keep them from regaining spells. Eventually they figured out how to ambush the kobolds that were keeping them awake and killed a few of them, which finally allowed them enough time to sleep and regain spells.

Aw man, I hate PCs that are sleep-crazy. Promotes wasting their resources because they can "kick back and relax" for the day. Luckily, I always manage to come up with creative ways to punish that sort of game-playing ... heh.


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Yar.

If you have a copy lying around, the old 2e boxed module "Dragon Mountain" has some good ideas. The last two books detailed the mountain itself, which was basically Tucker's Kobolds with plot.

It combines cowardly trap invested tactics with dwarven engineering with red dragon ruler malevolence. The series of traps after traps after traps with no break between them at the end of a smoke filled maze while being chased by xbow bolt firing kobolds that always disappear when you turn to face them, magic firing kobold shamans, their champion that is actually a Fire Giant permanently polymorphed into a kobold, and their psionic assassin that doesn't need a small sized escape route in the wall to be able to go through it.

The entrance is your typical hallway lines with murder holes and arrow slits, arrows from the sides, fire and acid from above. But they key is that the hallway is not straight. It is a series of portcullis sealed blocks at 90 degree angles from each other. You can't just run by, and you have to break through iron bars before going into the next block of death, and you need to do this several times before finally entering the main hall/audience chamber, which is filled with more angry snipers and two towers in the middle filled with more snipers and balista.

One of the traps at the end is a section walled off by large slabs or iron handing down from the ceiling (so you need to crawl under it go continue... you're still being shot at by constantly retreating snipers too). There is a slab like this at each end of the section. In the middle is a deep pit with only a single thin blank connecting the two ends. The air above, should you stand, is a lighter than air vaporous poison that lingers here, stuck between the two iron slabs. Above and below is also an anti-magic field. The walls of the pit are smooth. After you fall many feet, the anti-magic ends, and a field that casts "reduce person" on you is entered. The pit then funnels into a thin tube for a few hundred feet. In the middle of which is another anti-magic zone (to enlarge you again, trapping you by squeezing you in the tube). Up is back to that crappy room (and the kobolds above are likely pouring acid down the pit from above), and below is a hundred foot drop into a dank pit filled with stagnant rotting water rife with disease and no natural exit.

Just as an example.

~P


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Unfortunately, my game was canceled for today.

On the up side, however, it gives me more time to prepare some interesting encounters.

Let me have em'!


Try Hero Snare, written by Ari Marmell. It's almost literally Tucker's Kobolds. It was a high point of a previous campaign I did: the players loved it. It's on rpgnow's web site as a pdf.


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Ravingdork wrote:

Tomorrow I am hosting a game for my friends in which they will go into a goblin dungeon with a small military group to wipe out the goblins.

I want this to be a Tucker's Kobolds type of scenario that will humble (but NOT KILL) the heroes.

Does anyone have any advice for how to polish up just such a dungeon (largely just a big burrow under a forest)?

The tunnels will be made for small characters, forcing the entire party to squeeze all the time. Lots of bends and turns will limit line of sight and ranged abilities. Traps and murder holes aplenty will mean the PCs will be under constant attack. Tiny-sized escape tunnels will allow embattled goblins to flee where they cannot be pursued and also allow them to circle around the intruders.

Beyond that, I don't have much. Please help me keep it interesting for the players.

Here is a list of the player characters (with PDF character sheets):

Hihachi Belecqua (human fighter 9)

Selfane Goldbound (human sorcerer 5/dragon disciple 4)

Trinse Woodman (half-elf sorcerer 1/ranger 6/arcane archer 2)

They will be in command of up to 60 foot soldiers and military adepts.

From my experiences hosting past games for this crew, I fully expect them to do something fairly idiotic like burn the whole forest down prior to entering the goblin den. They might even split up. I want them to succeed, eventually, but their power has gone to their heads lately and I want them to be brought down to earth a little.

Oh boy, this will be awesome. ^.^

Goblins are widely considered one of the weeny monsters. Often seen as the enemies that party's stomp all over on their way to 2nd level, they have developed a reputation in most gaming groups as being small, weak, and easily defeated. That reasoning just seems to make good, good sense. Well reasoning be damned because goblins, like their kobold cousins, are in fact one of the nastiest enemies you can run across, right up to mid-levels, and make your players beg for mercy.

Let us begin!

The Six Million Dollar Goblin
We have the technology to rebuild him...

Pathfinder saw fit to really give goblins a boost. Now they are easily on par with other humanoid races of their challenge rating. Let's look at some of the things that goblins have going for themselves.


  • Abilities: -2 Str, -2 Cha, +4 Dexterity. Oh heck yes. Goblins are the kings of Dexterity as far as core humanoid races goes.
  • Small Size: Small is a good thing for goblins. It's a +4 to Stealth, +1 to hit, +1 to AC. Goblins should avoid being close enough to suffer for the -1 combat maneuver problem. This is great.
  • Darkvision: This is just another wonderful way for goblins to ambush the heck out of people. Goblins can comfortably lurk in areas of darkness, even leaving entire dungeons or lairs dark. Invaders who lack darkvision will quickly forfeit any element of surprise with their lights in the dark.
  • Speed: Goblins have a 30ft speed. Not a big deal but it means they're as fast as medium creatures. Excellent.
  • Racial Skills: Goblins get a +4 to Stealth and Ride. This combined with their +4 Dex, and +4 Stealth due to size, and goblins quickly become kings of not being seen.

So what can we determine by looking at their stats? They're suited for ranged combat, don't really want to fight with things bigger than they are in melee, are quick and stealthy, and will excel at ambushes. Perfect.

Ability Scores: NPC-classed NPCs are built using 3 PB. You can use the sample ability scores found in the goblin statistics or you can customize your goblins a bit for their suited role. Not every goblin is going to have the same ability scores, for example. Consider playing around with their stat allotments, or trying a few 3 PB builds.

In general, if you're making soldier goblins, you might consider dropping their Charisma deep into the negatives to reflect the amount of their willpower that is beaten out of them, while having a comparatively higher Dexterity to represent their increased focus on things like shooting.

Sample Ability Score Arrays (3 PB)
13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8.
14, 12, 12, 10, 9, and 7.
14, 12, 12, 12, 7, and 7.

I personally recommend stat array #2 for general purposes, prioritizing Dex>Str>Con>Int>Wis>Cha, resulting in a goblin with Str 10, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, and Cha 5 after racial modifiers.

Equipment: By default, each goblin will have about 260 gold pieces worth of NPC equipment for a standard campaign on the medium XP progression. For a fast XP progression, the value of their gear moves up to 390 gp. If the campaign is high-fantasy then you double these values. I will be using the standard NPC wealth for this guide, and if your campaign allows for additional equipment you may use your judgment.

The first question is, "What would a goblin use"? Well goblins are naturally predisposed to ranged weaponry at the expense of melee combat. Especially since they are excellent ambushers with naturally amazing Stealth results. The second would most assuredly fire. At least in Golarion, goblins seem to love fire because it doesn't require strength to be effective (makes total sense).

So let's look at a sample equipment list for some 1st level goblin warriors.


  • Melee Weapons (0 gp): For melee, clubs (0 gp). They're simple, cheap, and goblins should be avoiding melee anyway against anything but commoners.
  • Ranged Weapons (100 gp): I'd swap a bit of the goblin's protection fund (-30 gp) over into their weapons and go for longbow (75 gp) plus a hundred arrows (5 gp). It's important to remember that small-sized equipment is half as heavy as medium, so that's not a lot of weight in arrows (only about 7.5 lbs which is easy for our gobbo to pack).
  • Other Weapons (100 gp):We'll funnel a bit more of our protections (-20 gp), consumables, and gear fund into purchasing some alchemical items to use as weapons. Against creatures larger than themselves, goblin soldiers should outright thrive on items like alchemist fire, tanglefoot bags, and acid flasks.

    I'd recommend at least two alchemical weapons per goblin (like standard issue grenades). With a budget of 100 gp, we should be able to purchase our grenade-like weapons comfortably. Two alchemist fire plus 1 acid flask and a tanglefoot bag should be a good bet for most goblins, providing both offensive and control options to our little goblins (slapping someone with a tanglefoot bag means slowing them down while also making them much easier to hit with a gratuitous barrage of fire and acid). Keep in mind you can change it up a bit. 3 flasks of acid, an alchemist fire, and a 1st level potion (such as a magic weapon oil, longstrider, and even reduce person are good bets).

  • Armor (10 gp): Goblins will likely favor leather armor because it's cheap and efficient for them. It lacks check penalties that would hamper their ability to ambush targets, and their naturally higher Dexterity modifiers and small size ensure their AC will be suitably high (an 18 Dex goblin will have a 17 AC in leather).
  • Other Funds (50 gp): With the last 50 gp, I'd recommend either a potion, or a masterwork tool (such as boots or cloak) for +2 Stealth. If the goblins are out of reach of such conveniences, you can also purchase gear such as canteens, rations, and other useful tools (perhaps a masterwork survival kit which provides a +2 to Survival), allowing them to easily take-10 and survive extended periods away from their village or burrows.

Of course, you can switch it up a bit. A goblin adept probably has no use for a longbow but might carry a small light crossbow instead (35 gp), or maybe not carry any weapons beyond clubs and slings, and instead carry a few scrolls, a partially charged wand, or a larger payload of alchemy items.

Sample Adept Gear (260 gp): Club or Staff (0 gp), Sling (0 gp), rocks for sling (0 gp), leather armor (10 gp), wand of scorching ray (2 charges, 90 gp each), wand of obscuring mist (1 charge, 15 gp), wand of bless (1 charge, 15 gp), acid flask (4, 40 gp), 15 gp remaining.

Feats: Most goblins are probably going to have feats that help them do what they do best. I highly recommend Point Blank Shot for most goblins, Skill Focus (Stealth) for excessively ambush-intensive groups, and Skill Focus (Perception) on the occasional goblin lookout or hunter.

Combat and Encounters: Goblins will naturally gravitate towards what they excel at. Specifically, goblins will gravitate towards ambush tactics, ranged weapons, grenade-like weapons, and small spaces. Here we'll discuss some options that goblins have to put all but the most prepared of heroes in their place.


  • Those Dirty Goblins!: Goblins are often described as uncultured and filthy. True or not, it wouldn't be surprising to see goblins who leave their arrow tips dipped in feces (such as goblin-dog excrement) out of spite. Historically, many archery wounds actually killed due to infections from where archers stuck arrows in the ground and then pulled them up for faster firing (as opposed to a quiver). Same general concept here.

    These goblin arrows are covered in filth fever, so every arrow that hits an enemy forces a DC 12 fortitude save or it could become infected. Such might warrant raising the CR of the goblins from CR 1/3 to CR 1/2, but since unlike poison disease doesn't stack and has no immediate effects, I'd probably not bother and just consider it something of a situational hazard (at best perhaps award XP as though the encounter had favorable conditions for the goblins). Personally, if I was a player, I'd not really expect a CR-increase for filth fever on dirty arrows, and just appreciate the fact I grabbed a +5 vs Disease alchemical item (see D20PRD.com).

    This makes the encounter a little bit more personal. Disease basically means the goblins will be remembered a little longer if someone gets infected. Over the course of an entire goblin warren, somebody is likely to get unlucky and fail a save, and you can inform them that a nasty infection is setting in later.

  • Focus Fire!: Goblins should treat everything they fight like they were fighting Giants. Focus on one at a time and bring them down, thinning the ranks. A group of 12 goblins with ranged attacks focusing on a single opponent is actually quite scary for a surprising number of levels. At low levels it is almost an assured death sentence unless you're a tank with a high AC.

    However, against heavily armored or special enemies (such as adventurers) the goblins should pull out their alchemical weapons. In tight spaces like a goblin warren full of tunnels, you will make your players feel like they stepped into the first layer of hell. Twelve goblins shooting at a guy is scary. Twelve goblins lobbing alchemist fire at one guy is terrifying (12 ranged attacks vs touch AC dealing 1d6 energy damage immediately, 1d6 energy damage each round after until doused, and inflicting 12 points of splash damage in a 10ft radius is nasty). For those at home, goblins with Point Blank Shot would inflict 12d6+12 fire damage on round 1, and hit for another 12d6 fire damage on round 2 from the burning.

    Stuff like resist energy will block this tactic entirely, but that's when the goblins swap to acid flasks and continue their rein of terror. If your party casts resist energy twice on everyone in the party, they are sufficiently fearful of them.

    Looking at the NPCs you provided, your party's Fighter - Hihachi Belacqua - has 109 hit points and a 14 touch AC. If a group of 12 goblins with Point blank shot were to attack him with touch weapons from around 20ft away they'd inflict some serious pain (+4 dex, +1 base attack, +1 point blank shot, +1 size, -2 range = 60% chance to hit, or 70% if within 10ft). He'd be looking at a statistical 32.4 points of damage from the ones that hit him directly, about 3-4 points of splash damage from the ones that missed him, and another 25.2 points of damage on the following round. With his max HP being 109, this will most assuredly get his attention.

    Meanwhile, Selfane would be able to enjoy his Fire Resistance 10, though he would suffer lesser damage at the hands of acid flasks, though he'd find a nice use for that resist energy spell on his sorcerer list, allowing him to burn through his 2nd level spell slots to protect the party from getting slaughtered. However, due to his lower HP, I assured that the 32.4 points of acid damage from our hypothetical 1 dozen kobolds would get his attention just fine.

    Poor Trinse only has about half the hit points of Hihachi according to your pdf, and could actually be reduced to negative HP values in the first two rounds from the same volley that Hihachi would have suffered, and he lacks resistances to either fire or acid, meaning that he would definitely need to rely on Selfane to provide resistances. To make the entire party immune to grenade-bombs, Selfane would need to cast resist energy 5 times (twice for Hihachi, twice for Trinse, and once for himself). If the kobolds were also packing alchemist frost or similar, he might even have to resort to scrolls or recharging spell-trigger items.

  • Home Field Advantage: Goblins (like kobolds) rely on ambushes and unfair advantages. Their small size can be a pain for larger characters. A goblin warren can easily be just large enough to fit small characters comfortably, forcing medium sized creatures to squeeze (-4 attacks and AC), putting them at the mercy of the goblins (who now have a near 100% chance to hit the party's Fighter, pushing that alchemist fire damage through the very low-roof).

    Furthermore, goblins can use small tunnels that they can squeeze through that medium creatures have no hope of entering at all. This can let goblins (or kobolds) move about in little sub-tunnels (like air ducts), while the medium PCs have to deal with squeezing through the main levels of the dungeon. This can allow the goblins to surround and flank parties while keeping everything very tight. Imagine for a moment that you're walking down a small-sized hallway that's mostly strait, but every 5ft there's a tiny tunnel where goblins can emerge from or flee into at any time, or even cast spells through.

    Cross this with a few simple traps at inconvenient locations, such as a collapsing floor (pit trap) that is located in an area that makes walking around it a pain (such as a 10x10 room with a 10x10 pit trap, with tunnels connecting to it from different sides). This might put the party in a position where going from point A to point B is really difficult, as you have to deal with a low-ceiling and a 10ft gap. A 10ft gap with goblins shooting little 1d6 arrows at you from the other side. You can fill the pits with other nasty things as well. This is a great place for a swarm of spiders, snakes, or a various molds and/or hazardous fungi.

    If you're really mean, allot a portion of wealth from a group of goblins towards several barrels of oil. Have the goblins use these barrels of unidentified contents as cover (+4 to AC) while shooting over them at the hapless adventurers on the other side. When the adventurers close to melee with the goblins, they fall into the pit trap. At this point, the goblins push the barrels into the pit, busting them and filling the pit with oil. Now a goblin tosses an alchemist fire into the pit, and the Barbecue commences! It's a pain to try and climb out of a 20ft pit trap at 1/3rd your speed while being unable to take your time for being on fire and having arrows shot into the hole at you.

    Don't forget that burning smoke in the area causes inhalation issues, which causes the suffocation rules to come into play as well. At this point, the kobolds will be nickle and diming the players to death, and the players will definitely feel the heat (no pun intended) as they are put in a position where remaining put is hazardous, moving is hazardous, the air is hazardous, their enemies are surrounding them (and also hazardous), and they can't easily move around, etc. We're basically talking combination claustrophobia plus increasing feelings of dread and helplessness. Go-goblins!

  • Terrain Advantages: Goblin warrens likely have a number of twists and turns. This can mean that centering AoEs to kill or incap many of them can be difficult. Spells like fireball don't fill out a tunnel, so anything behind total cover (corners) is effectively safe. Worse yet, if the party is ambushed from different directions in tight corners, they may literally be unable to get line of sight or effects without catching the party in the blast or spell radius as well!

    Imagine you're walking through a tunnel when you come across a room with a bunch of little murder holes that the goblins are shooting through. Meanwhile, the tunnel is shaped like two interconnecting letter "L's", and more goblins ambush you from the front and behind. You might be able to wipe out all the goblins (including the ones with cover via murder holes) but none around the corners, and due to the corners and walls you are literally incapable of aiming your fireball or black tentacles spell without catching the party in the area too! Fear the goblins!

    Speaking of murder holes, that's another one that's mean. Walls with holes in 'em that you can shoot out of. You have cover (+4 AC) while your opponent has pretty much nothing. Like shooting adventurers in a barrel. The adventurers could even break into the small hallways on the other side of the holes (which are connected to tiny tunnels that the goblins move through the warren with), which can be pretty awesome. However, if the adventurers start tearing down too many of the walls in a single area, they might causes a cave in, which can cause them to be pinned under rubble with no save or hope of freedom (see cave-ins and avalanches in "additional rules" on the PRD).

  • Casualties of War: While your 9th level party can probably come through, the soldiers and adepts they are bringing along might be a whole different story. All those splash weapons will likely wear on them badly. Most might require some convincing (via Diplomacy) to continue deeper into the warren after encountering worrisome odds, such as losing half their hit points to splash damage (the sorcerer has no way to cast resist energy on everybody).

    Essentially, even if our illustrious heroes make it out, the casualty count will be enormous. It would not be surprising if virtually every warrior and adept was dead to the last before the end of the adventure, or at least fleeing the warren after suffering heavy losses.

  • Advanced Goblins: Occasionally you might want to introduce specialist goblins into the mix. No frequently, but a goblin warrior 2/alchemist 1 could be a crazed bomber. A set of goblin rogue/sorcerers with acid splash and ray of frost who spam ranged-touch cantrips with sneak attack added on might frighten them a bit (1d3+1d6+1 cold damage each round). A 3rd level goblin druid or sorcerer that keeps spamming summon swarm from the other side of a murder hole and keeps following the party using Stealth and holding concentration on the summon swarm spells is another way to mess with them. It doesn't really matter what their AC is. A spider swarm is immune to weapons and inflicts 1d6 damage every round plus a save vs poison. In such tight spaces, it can be a pain.

    A class level here or their can just be devastating. A goblin warrior 5 / assassin 3, maxed Stealth, Ability Focus (Death Attack), and a way to reliably gain cover or concealment to use Stealth is just cruel and unusual. The goblin's Death Attack would easily be a DC 16 save or die along with an additional +2d6 sneak attack, while only being about CR 4 or 5.

  • Goblin Tactics: A single goblin adept in a group can crank up the effectiveness of groups of goblins. A single bless spell over a group of goblins effectively gives them +1 level of warrior for the purposes of hitting. All those nice +6 ranged attacks just became +7 ranged attacks. Likewise, using obscuring mist wands can cause the party to either go blindly into areas (possibly trapped areas) or waste valuable time (read: buffs) waiting to progress.

    Of course, goblins should also mob enemies. Aid-another should be a common action in many cases (you can have goblins use longspears and aid-another to increase the AC of the goblin in front of them). Likewise, flanking is a given. A few goblins with longspears on each side of a room who are poking the spears through the tiny ducts in the walls are flanking the party in the middle (so while the goblins do get -4 to attacks and AC from squeezing in the ducts, they are likely immune to reprisal and get a +2 flanking bonus to hit, just to be annoying). Double the fun if you make the goblins 1st level warrior/sorcerers with guisarmes who spam true strike to trip the party members in the main hallway from inside the tunnel (that's +1 BAB, +1 size, +2 flanking, +20 true strike, -4 squeezing, -1 size = +19 CMB to trip). For extra poops and giggles, give one or two a ranseur and disarm them instead.

    A well placed grease spell on a steep incline can introduce a party of adventurers to a world of suckitude as they cascade down into a room of awful and terrible disaster (at this point it could just be a swarm of goblins, a swarm of swarms, a burning pit of doom, a gelatinous cube, or anything else that tickles your sadistic fantasies).

GMing Advice: When dealing with such mass clusters of NPCs, I'd seriously advise using a few tricks to speed gameplay. The "take average" approach is probably the best one. Unless something funny is going on, instead of rolling a horde of different initiatives, have all the goblins go at once. Instead of rolling a horde of different Stealth or Perception checks, set the DCs at 10 + Modifiers. That way you can quickly determine the DC for the players to notice the goblin ambush up ahead (if the entire group all has a +12 Stealth, then the Perception DC to notice them is DC 22, for example).

This will drastically speed up your gameplay, and also help you gauge the expected success/fail ratio much better, as opposed to extremely erratic results or pointless rolls (if you have 12 goblins in ambush and one of those twelve roll a 1, it likely doesn't matter, while the reverse is likely true for the players as well).

This should be enough ideas to get you started. Also to show I'm a good sport, here's an NPC bestiary for you to play around with, to save you some time (as well as some sample encounter builds).


    NPC BESTIARY

  • Goblin Guerrilla Soldier (CR 1/3, 135 XP)
    Small goblin warrior 1
    Init +4, Perception +0, Darkvision 60ft
    ================================================
    AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 13
    Hp 5 (1d10)
    Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0
    ================================================
    Speed 30 ft
    Melee Club +2 (1d4)
    Ranged Longbow +5 (1d6/x3 plus filth fever)
    Ranged Grenade +5 touch (varies)
    Special - If within 30 ft, +1 to attack and damage
    with ranged weapons.
    ================================================
    Str 10, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 5
    Base Atk +1, CMB +0, CMD 15
    Skills - Ride +12, Stealth +15;
    Racial Mods +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
    Feats - Point Blank Shot
    ================================================
    Equipment (260 gp) - club, longbow (w/100 arrows),
    leather armor, alchemist fire (2), acid flask (1),
    tanglefoot bag (1), masterwork cloak (+2 stealth)

  • Goblin Adept (CR 1/3, 135 XP)
    Small goblin adept 1
    Init +7, Perception +2, Darkvision 60ft
    ================================================
    AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 13
    Hp 4 (1d6+1)
    Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +2
    ================================================
    Speed 30 ft
    Melee Club -1 (1d4-3)
    Ranged Sling +5 (1d3-3 plus filth fever)
    Ranged Grenade +5 touch (varies)
    Ranged Scorching Ray +5 touch (4d6 fire)

    Adept Spells (CL 1st, DC 11 + level)
    1st - comprehend languages
    0 - create water, detect magic, ghost sound
    ================================================
    Str 6, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 8
    Base Atk +0, CMB -3, CMD 11
    Skills - Spellcraft +2, Stealth +12;
    Racial Mods +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
    Feats - Improved Initiative
    ================================================
    Equipment (260 gp) - Club or Staff (0 gp), Sling (0 gp),
    rocks for sling (0 gp), leather armor (10 gp),
    wand of scorching ray (2 charges, 90 gp each),
    wand of obscuring mist (1 charge, 15 gp),
    wand of bless (1 charge, 15 gp), acid flask (4, 40 gp),
    15 gp remaining.

  • Goblin Shadowcasters (CR 1, 400 XP)
    Small goblin rogue 1 / sorcerer 1
    Init +6, Perception +5, Darkvision 60ft
    ================================================
    AC 17, touch 17, flat-footed 11
    Hp 13 (1d8+1d6+2)
    Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +3
    ================================================
    Speed 30 ft
    Melee Club -2 (1d4-3)
    Ranged Sling +7 (1d3-3 plus filth fever)
    Ranged Grenade +7 touch (varies)
    Ranged Cantrip +7 touch (1d3 acid or cold)
    Special Attacks - sneak attack (+1d6)

    Sorcerer Spells (CL 1st, DC 10 + level)
    1st (3/day) - Magic Missile, Grease (11)
    0 - Acid Splash, Ray of Frost, Message, Prestidigitation
    ================================================
    Str 5, Dex 22, Con 11, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 11
    Base Atk +0, CMB -3, CMD 13
    Skills - Acrobatics +10, Appraise +2, Diplomacy +4,
    Perception +5, Spellcraft +2, Stealth +25,
    Use Magic Device +4,
    Racial Mods +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
    Feats - Skill Focus (Stealth)
    ================================================
    Equipment (780 gp) - masterwork backpack,
    masterwork tool (+2 stealth),
    wand of scorching ray (2 charges, 180 gp),
    wand of blur (2 charges, 180 gp),
    wand of summon swarm (1 charge, 90 gp),
    wand of web (1 charge, 90 gp),
    wand of invisibility (1 charge, 90 gp),
    acid flask (3)

  • Goblin Assassin (CR 5, 1,600 XP)
    Small goblin warrior 5 / assassin 3
    Init +10, Perception +2, Darkvision 60ft
    ================================================
    AC 19, touch 17, flat-footed 13
    Hp 40 (5d10+3d8+8)
    Fort +6, Ref +11, Will +3; +1 vs Poison
    Special - Uncanny Dodge
    ================================================
    Speed 30 ft
    Melee Club +5 (1d6-2)
    Ranged Mwk light crossbow +14 (1d6/19-20/x2)
    Ranged Acid Splash +13 touch (1d3 acid)
    Special - If within 30 ft, +1 to attack and damage
    with ranged weapons.
    Special Attacks - sneak attack (+2d6),
    Death Attack (DC 19), Poison Use
    ================================================
    Str 7, Dex 22, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 8, Cha 5
    Base Atk +7, CMB +5, CMD 20
    Skills - Acrobatics +15, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +6,
    Disguise +6, Perception +8, Sense Motive +3,
    Stealth +26, Use Magic Device +6
    Racial Mods +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
    Feats - Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot,
    Ability Focus (death attack), Improved Initiative
    ================================================
    Equipment (3,450 gp) - mwk light crossbow, club,
    bolts (100), masterwork tool (+2 stealth),
    cloak of resistance +1, amulet of health +1,
    rod of acid splash (1,000 gp)
    ================================================
    Rod of Acid Splash (Su, Item): This rod is wielded in one
    hand just as a weapon. It allows the wearer to throw
    globs of acid as per the cantrip acid splash.

    Death Attack (Ex): If an assassin studies his victim for 3 rounds and then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly either paralyzing or killing the target (assassin's choice). Studying the victim is a standard action. The death attack fails if the target detects the assassin or recognizes the assassin as an enemy (although the attack might still be a sneak attack if the target is denied his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class or is flanked). If the victim of such a death attack fails a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the assassin's class level + the assassin's Int modifier) against the kill effect, she dies. If the saving throw fails against the paralysis effect, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per level of the assassin. If the victim's saving throw succeeds, the attack is just a normal sneak attack. Once the assassin has completed the 3 rounds of study, he must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds.

    If a death attack is attempted and fails (the victim makes her save) or if the assassin does not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before he can attempt another death attack.

I hope you enjoy it. If you liked this, feel free to check out my blog for more random RPG stuff.


Ashiel, that is sheer awesomeness...


Hero Snare used a lot of these tricks. I can testify to the effectiveness of murder holes, tiny sized passages and touch attacks. In addition, consider the following.

Once the PCs have experience a few ceiling murder holes and really want to get the goblins. Introduce a very obvious ceiling trapdoor. Which opens up to a 5' sealed space filled with green slime.

Trap them inside. Murder holes works great in combination with a narrow passage way, locked and barred doors, and fire. Lots of burning oil. It's a classic.

Grease spell on a cliff face walkway is lots of fun. Make not having feather fall a pain.

Hero Snare also included the use of banging pots and pans to prevent the party from sleeping and regaining spells or healing. Suicide runs in the middle of the night help too. Of course, in the module, a boulder trap had you trapped with the kobolds in their den.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I. JUST. CAN'T. STOP. SMILING.

Thank you SO much Ashiel!

Now, how do I leave them a logical out? I want them to be able to escape and not want to go back. Remember, they are to be humbled, not killed.

Also, I think it worth noting that these same heroes have attacked the Goblin Wood above the warren before, effectively annihilating 3 tribes. In other words, the goblins have some idea of who they are and have likely readied for their return.

The heroes caught the goblins unawares above ground last time, however. This time they will be forced to go underground to finish them all off, which they must, as it is a royal decree from their Emperor. The goblins are to be destroyed and the Emperor's three newest military captains are expected to be able to accomplish this "simple task."

I like to think that the goblins weren't always so fierce and instead developed these defenses since they were last attacked. In fact, attacking the goblins before wasn't even related to the main story arc, it was the players getting totally off track. I like to think of this as karma biting them in the ass for the unnecessary slaughter in the past.

I have little doubt the PCs will kill goblin babies and mothers.


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brassbaboon wrote:
Ashiel, that is sheer awesomeness...

Thank you Brassbaboon. I appreciate it. ^-^

Ravingdork wrote:

I. JUST. CAN'T. STOP. SMILING.

Thank you SO much Ashiel!

You're very welcome Ravingdork. I'm exceedingly happy that you enjoy it.

Ravingdork wrote:
Now, how do I leave them a logical out? I want them to be able to escape and not want to go back. Remember, they are to be humbled, not killed.

Well they should definitely be humbled. On a side note, you could put some 1st level cure light wounds potions on the goblins who have a single 1st level potion, allowing them to loot heals off their enemies (at about 5hp per potion). My group uses average healing (so 1d8+1 = 5hp) for simplicity (plus it sucks worse rolling 2 hp than it helps rolling 9 most of the time).

Likewise, after the goblins have suffered an extreme number of casualties (perhaps like 70% of their combat force) it might be time to abandon the burrows entirely. At this point, I'd have the goblins make for small exit tunnels to escape (starting with the women and children first). Go Helm's Deep crossed with 300 with those little goblins, and have your goblins exodus to the surface and beat-feet while the heroes are still trying to get out of the warren.

Quote:

Also, I think it worth noting that these same heroes have attacked the Goblin Wood above the warren before, effectively annihilating 3 tribes. In other words, the goblins have some idea of who they are and have likely readied for their return.

The heroes caught the goblins unawares above ground last time, however. This time they will be forced to go underground to finish them all off, which they must, as it is a royal decree from their Emperor. The goblins are to be destroyed and the Emperor's three newest military captains are expected to be able to accomplish this "simple task."

This is pretty much what I meant in my post when I said that goblins are rarely thought of in most adventuring groups as being more than something to beat on between 1st and 2nd level. It kind of makes me chuckle to think of tribal-wide genocide as being a "simple task" (especially against creatures that supposedly thrive on stealing and/or raiding for stuff). :P

The evasiveness, rapid breeding, and tenacity ensures that the goblins will more than likely not only survive after the battle is lost, but will probably return in a year or two and be just as terrible as before, except now with veterans from the "goblin purge" at the forefront leading the new goblins as chieftains and warlords. ^.^

Quote:

I like to think that the goblins weren't always so fierce and instead developed these defenses since they were last attacked. In fact, attacking the goblins before wasn't even related to the main story arc, it was the players getting totally off track. I like to think of this as karma biting them in the ass for the unnecessary slaughter in the past.

I have little doubt the PCs will kill goblin babies and mothers.

Hmmm, suddenly I want to suggest using those goblin assassins a bit more liberally. Does that make me a good GM or an evil GM? :P

I'm just kidding though. But yeah, it sounds very personal for the goblins at this point. I'd almost half suggest to let the party take their licks and suffer defeat if they can't complete the mission. Success is tempered by the stress of failure. Without it, then success is not success. I ran a kobold dungeon a little while back with a group of maybe 20 kobolds in the whole dungeon. It took the party 3 attempts at the dungeon before they made it to the 2nd area of the dungeon, and ended up fighting the same 4 kobolds each time before having to retreat.

When they finally made it through the dungeon (on the 4th time, now heavily cautious and prepared for whatever they could think of) they whupped up on the kobolds, chased out the remaining kobolds, claimed the dungeon as their own, and celebrated their very hard earned success. :P

=======================

On a side note, you should have them attempt orcs next. I've pretty much decided that orcs are the absolute nastiest simple humanoid enemy in Pathfinder right now. The nastiest by CR is definitely my "Orc Berserkers", featured below.

Orc Berserker CR 1/4 (100 XP)
Medium orc warrior 1
Init +2, Perception -3, Darkvision 60ft
================================================
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10
Hp 10 (1d10+2+3); Ferocity (14)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will -3
================================================
Speed 30 ft
Melee great club +5 (1d10+6)
Ranged Sling +3 (1d3+3)
================================================
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 5, Cha 5
Base Atk +1, CMB +0, CMD 15
Skills - Linguistics -2
Feats - Toughness
================================================
Equipment - greatclub (5 gp), sling (0 gp), rocks (0 gp)

Information: The orc berserker is modeled after the Berserkers. These hyped up orcs are ravenous and work themselves into frenzies and stay on edge constantly. They are powerfully muscled, fit, killing machines, with little patience or contemplative action. They rush into battle stark naked (or wearing a loin cloth) while painted with blood of hunted beasts, or the other paints. Some even prefer the blood of specific animals for the belief that they carry with them the animal spirit, granting them the strength or endurance of things like bear, moose, or even cougars.

Unlike orc hunters and soldiers, berserkers rely entirely on their tribes and/or raiding to acquire food and other resources. Lacking anything resembling practical skill application due to literally and intentionally psyching themselves up to be mindless killing machines. Most orc tribes however can scavenge or provide enough to support them, and their usefulness in times of war is undeniable. These are the frightening orcs that people tell their children stories of.

In combat the orc berserker is a devastating opponent. Fearless and arguably insane, they charge at every opportunity to destroy their opponents. They fight with little more than sticks and stones, but they are almost unnaturally tough and their ferocity keeps them fighting long after most warriors would have fallen to wounds and battle fatigue. Unlike most warriors, heavily wounding an orc berserker actually reduces the odds that they will flee from combat, preferring to die fighting if they suffer critical wounds.

Statistical Information: The orc berserker is a CR 1/4 creature due to having a base CR of 1/3. The severe lack of equipment makes them noticeably less powerful than an orc who is properly equipped, dropping their individual CR to 1/4 (see Gamemastering). They are incredible durable for their CR range, having a racial ability equivalent to the Diehard feat, coupled with toughness gives them about 23 hit points worth of killing time. When dropped to -1 Hp or lower, the orcs almost assuredly charge as a standard action (30ft movement, one attack), and just don't stop coming until put down.

Protips - Avoid melee at all cost, attempt to disable or engage solely with ranged weapons, avoid open ground that can be used for charging, use spells like sleep, charm person, or colorspray to engage. If all else fails, run.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Welcome back everyone. It's been a long time, but my game has finally been rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Short of an emergency or life-and-death situation, it's on.

Some changes you should be aware of, before offering additional advice, however. The player of Trinse Woodman is no longer playing within our group due to irreconcilable differences.

Instead, we have a new (veteran) player who will be joining us as Chandra Go, a 9th-level ifrit summoner.

Said character will literally replace the former character, as though Trinse never existed and that it was always Chandra in his place.

I find it kind of funny that she will not be able to take her eidolon into the goblin warrens and that many of her summons will be similarly too large. :)


Smart players will not enter the lair. Barricade the entrances (if the goblins resist, they are easy game in open ground) and then smoke them out. This requires some numbers - which the NPCs provide, and some measure of Knowledge (dungeoneering), but its not too complex. Humans and other PC races can be just as crafty as goblins.

I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.


Dot, I love this kind of stuff.


Look forward to hearing about how it goes.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
HappyDaze wrote:

Smart players will not enter the lair. Barricade the entrances (if the goblins resist, they are easy game in open ground) and then smoke them out. This requires some numbers - which the NPCs provide, and some measure of Knowledge (dungeoneering), but its not too complex. Humans and other PC races can be just as crafty as goblins.

I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

This won't work. If they set a fire near the entrance the smoke will only get in as far as the nearest (well hidden) ventilation shafts. The shoots will be narrow and plentiful, allowing otherwise dark smoke plumes to be dispersed enough that the heroes won't notice that it is being redirected (with the dense foliage of the jungle, that last part isn't even needed unless they burn down the trees).


HappyDaze wrote:
I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

That's the point. The GM's aim is to set a scene that will almost certainly meet the intent. Another intent might be "challenge but not kill". Do we call that scripting? Nah, it's just the GM wanting to set a tricky encounter. :)

Also, don't forget the #1 solution: secret back entrance. Gotta have the secret back entrance. Starve them out? Smoke them out? They can escape, if they have to. Most you can hope for is to force them out, except you won't know you forced them out until they've got a substantial lead. Plus, they probably aren't wearing as much armor as the soldiers, and can probably outpace them anyways.
So no tricks. You'll need swords and arrows to kill the goblins.
Or magic. Or bullets. Or bolts. Or halberds...


Ravingdork wrote:
HappyDaze wrote:

Smart players will not enter the lair. Barricade the entrances (if the goblins resist, they are easy game in open ground) and then smoke them out. This requires some numbers - which the NPCs provide, and some measure of Knowledge (dungeoneering), but its not too complex. Humans and other PC races can be just as crafty as goblins.

I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

This won't work. If they set a fire near the entrance the smoke will only get in as far as the nearest (well hidden) ventilation shafts. The shoots will be narrow and plentiful, allowing otherwise dark smoke plumes to be dispersed enough that the heroes won't notice that it is being redirected (with the dense foliage of the jungle, that last part isn't even needed unless they burn down the trees).

If the goblins can hide it, the PCs can (try to) find it and counter it. Saying it simply won't work is railroading of the bad kind. Remember that goblins are of average intelligence - they are not stupid, but they are also not exceptionally bright and are certainly not known for their fantastic lair engineering capabilities.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
HappyDaze wrote:
I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

That's the point. The GM's aim is to set a scene that will almost certainly meet the intent. Another intent might be "challenge but not kill". Do we call that scripting? Nah, it's just the GM wanting to set a tricky encounter. :)

Also, don't forget the #1 solution: secret back entrance. Gotta have the secret back entrance. Starve them out? Smoke them out? They can escape, if they have to. Most you can hope for is to force them out, except you won't know you forced them out until they've got a substantial lead. Plus, they probably aren't wearing as much armor as the soldiers, and can probably outpace them anyways.
So no tricks. You'll need swords and arrows to kill the goblins.
Or magic. Or bullets. Or bolts. Or halberds...

That secret back entrance probably won't stay a secret. Besides, if you force them out of their lair, then they are much easier to deal with, and that was the whole point of what I suggested.


Earth elemental scout with earth glide and tremor sense? Cloud kill? Cloud Kill doesn't rise.


Mr.Fishy wrote:
Earth elemental scout with earth glide and tremor sense? Cloud kill? Cloud Kill doesn't rise.

With a Wizard 9, these would be really good options. The Summoner 9 can pull off the earth elemental.

Good use of resources is something that is often overlooked with these silly 'death lair' scenarios. PCs really have a great deal of options other than boldly charging in like fools. The only way I've seen these work as intended (and sometimes that's hard as levels go up) is to have captives in the lair that have to be rescued very quickly, leaving the "bold and unprepared" approach as the only option.


HappyDaze wrote:


That secret back entrance probably won't stay a secret. Besides, if you force them out of their lair, then they are much easier to deal with, and that was the whole point of what I suggested.

Right. I'm not saying the smoking out tactic isn't useful. But it's not going to be easy to properly exterminate the goblins.

Really, it depends on the terrain. The goblins' secret escape tunnel could be anywhere, after all. It could be hidden in a forest, or behind a mountain. Not so easy to find.
And goblins are traditionally good at guerilla warfare. Even if they're forced out. For some reason, I'm picturing a forest. If I've developed cybertelepathy or something, have maybe ten goblins hide in the trees. Shoot guards. Run off. Repeat until there are lots of dead guards. :)
I agree, though. PCs aren't idiots. But these guys seem to be quite confident. With any luck, they'll march their forces right inside.
Destroy the entrance. The goblins will be crazy enough to do it. Now there's no quick way out for the army. Less chance to be tactical. Little chance to be methodical. That one blunder can make a huge difference.
If the PCs don't run in, things'll still be tricky for them, but they won't be in too much danger. It'll be more of a stalemate.
But if they're as confident as implied...this should be fun. >;D


look up records of viet cong tactics from the vietnam war.

Among major tactics is the u bend tunnel filled with water, an effective airlock for fire and gasses.

I also recomend small sized tunnels- they should be squeezing the entire battle.
Lots of secret tunnels for ambushes.
Disease and poision from traps.

Random ruins and rubish in the construction can stop some shenanigans. Iron bars randomly shoring up walls stops earthgliding.

Shoddy/ collapsable construction, and false goals. Halfway through, you realize youre in the wrong warren. Then the roof falls on you.


One of my favorite goblin/kobold/kenku/whatever tricks is the hornets' nest down the chute trap. Wait until the group is climbing up a chute of some kind (the side of a ravine perhaps or maybe they need to traverse a pit of some type). Then the (goblins in this case) chuck a nest full of angry hornets down the chute for some instant swarming fun!

The wasp swarm from the Bestiary is only CR 3 but in a tight area where the party can't use their fireballs or whatnot it can be a real kicker.


Brambleman wrote:
u bend tunnel filled with water, an effective airlock for fire and gasses.

Flammable gas pockets can do nasty things to people with torches or lanterns.


Now I want to run this scenario just for kicks.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Goblin Tricks and Tactics Compiled So Far*


  • angular twisting halls - cuts off line of sight and line of effect
  • boiling tar - with which to smooth the party's messy hair
  • boiling water - to get rid of the longshanks' stench and to put out torches
  • collapsing ceilings - gotta watch out for those weak beams (with pull string tied to them)
  • darkness - make good use of darkvision, make the party bring their own light
  • difficult terrain - a party that is squeezing in the dark over difficult terrain isn't getting anywhere fast
  • digit slicers - the door has three holes. one opens it, the other two are cigar slicers
  • dividing water - water-filled dips in the tunnel creat permeable barriers that stop gas attacks and can hide nasty surprises (such as oozes)
  • double doors - this door has an upper portion and a lower portion which can be opened independently, opening either one (by kick or by handle) causes a spring blade to slide or or down within the frame, PC may lose a foot or a nose
  • fecal matter - arrows and bolts will cause disease, as will any other sharp objects the PCs encounter
  • fecal pit - a simple fit full of feces can make for foul-smelling, diseased adventures that are also easy to detect via scent
  • fire hall - the goblin's straw-filled sleeping chamber is laced with oil and turned into a giant oven, with the PCs trapped inside
  • green top door - a false hatch into the goblin sub-tunnels, drops green slime when opened
  • monster lairs - holes in the ground or side passages lead to larger open monster lairs
  • murder room - lots of actively used murder holes and a barred entrance/exit
  • narrow spaces - party will have to squeeze in most areas making them easier to hit while making the goblins harder to hit
  • poisoned knob - any activation method (such as a door knob) will be coated in poison
  • slope ooze - a slick slope in the dark may cause one or more PCs to take a tumble away from their companions into a deadly ooze at the bottom
  • smoke inhalation - when dealing with fire, the PCs will also have to deal with smoke, which can deal nonlethal damage and even slow them down
  • pyramid spikes - a room with a wall of spikes on either side and a vertical row of rusty swords bisecting the room down the middle, PCs must cross to get to the exit, only by straddling the center spikes will they be safe from the mouse-trap-like side-walls (as they fall inward and steeple upon each other); going along either side of the spikes gets an adventurer impaled by only one wall
  • pit swarm - a deep pit full of rot grubs (CR 7 con damage swarm)
  • terinav root ropes - the pit swarm will have an easy out (to avoid much con damage), but the roots that allow one to climb out are terinav roots which expose climbers to contact poison each round of climbing

* Some borrowed, some mine

Just a little over an hour before the fun begins. :D


+ 1 for size tiny hallways. The goblins will have to squeeze, and bigger creatures will just have to find another way around.

**As far as humiliate, I'm sure the goblins have realized by now that 'adventurers' bring all sorts of valuable gear with them. Steal all of their stuff, and then send the big guys home to get more.

And don't overlook grapple. It's not easy to outgrapple 12 opponents, even if it is better than the old 1e days.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Are there any variant goblins, kobolds, gremlins, etc., that have the morlock's swarming ability? Or a feat for Small creatures that grants this ability? (It lets 2 creatures share the same space--and treat opponents they attack as if they were flanked!)

Liberty's Edge

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Mud. Don't underestimate the humbling power of mud. It's really easy to make, slows PCs down. So if a PC were to, say, pull open a trap door that is chained to another that has mud behind it... well, light sources would go out (mud covers the magic, snuffs torches), it might damage them (it's heavy), and, if there's enough, it might just suffocate them. It would get in and on their gear, making it heavy, increasing encumbrance or forcing them to leave gear behind. I'm sure there's so much more an evil person could think of.


Ravingdork wrote:
HappyDaze wrote:

Smart players will not enter the lair. Barricade the entrances (if the goblins resist, they are easy game in open ground) and then smoke them out. This requires some numbers - which the NPCs provide, and some measure of Knowledge (dungeoneering), but its not too complex. Humans and other PC races can be just as crafty as goblins.

I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

This won't work. If they set a fire near the entrance the smoke will only get in as far as the nearest (well hidden) ventilation shafts. The shoots will be narrow and plentiful, allowing otherwise dark smoke plumes to be dispersed enough that the heroes won't notice that it is being redirected (with the dense foliage of the jungle, that last part isn't even needed unless they burn down the trees).

Scroll of Cloudkill. Remember, just call Goblinex for all your varmint extermination needs (WARNING: exposure to the green misty vapors can be lethal. Proper precautions and hazardous materials safety garments should always be used in case of a sudden shift in ambient wind conditions. Children, pregnant women, and adults with chronic medical conditions should not use or handle these scrolls; check with your local wizard's guild if you have any additional questions).


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
master arminas wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
HappyDaze wrote:

Smart players will not enter the lair. Barricade the entrances (if the goblins resist, they are easy game in open ground) and then smoke them out. This requires some numbers - which the NPCs provide, and some measure of Knowledge (dungeoneering), but its not too complex. Humans and other PC races can be just as crafty as goblins.

I don't recommend setting intent like "humble but not kill" because it seems tip scripted to me. Set the scene and then see where it goes.

This won't work. If they set a fire near the entrance the smoke will only get in as far as the nearest (well hidden) ventilation shafts. The shoots will be narrow and plentiful, allowing otherwise dark smoke plumes to be dispersed enough that the heroes won't notice that it is being redirected (with the dense foliage of the jungle, that last part isn't even needed unless they burn down the trees).
Scroll of Cloudkill. Remember, just call Goblinex for all your varmint extermination needs (WARNING: exposure to the green misty vapors can be lethal. Proper precautions and hazardous materials safety garments should always be used in case of a sudden shift in ambient wind conditions. Children, pregnant women, and adults with chronic medical conditions should not use or handle these scrolls; check with your local wizard's guild if you have any additional questions).

I can't believe this one still gets recommended against Tucker's swarms despite being shot down repeatedly.

A simple dip in the cave network stops this one cold. It also serves to create a temporarily impassible barrier that the PCs can't cross so easily. A dip in the tunnel filled with water from floor to ceiling also creates an effective air-tight seal against such attacks.


Reduce person mass.


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Mr.Fishy wrote:
Reduce person mass.

Ooh, that's a good one. Shame none of the PCs in this particular group know it.


I see someone's been reading Grimtooth.


Eventually, be prepared for a proven vermin killing tactic to be brought out.

Start at the top and dig. Then they must come into the open to reach you, and it bypasses many defences, putting you back on a more even footing.

Best case senario, the Summoner gets an earth elemental to dig, and the soldiers kill any goblin that shows themself to stop it. Its hard, time consuming but proven. If they have too much trouble, an NPC could suggest the approach.

By no means is this foolproof, you can't dig it ALL up.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Mr.Fishy wrote:
Reduce person mass.
Ooh, that's a good one. Shame none of the PCs in this particular group know it.

But what if a Goblin knows this?!


Brambleman wrote:

Eventually, be prepared for a proven vermin killing tactic to be brought out.

Start at the top and dig. Then they must come into the open to reach you, and it bypasses many defences, putting you back on a more even footing.

Best case senario, the Summoner gets an earth elemental to dig, and the soldiers kill any goblin that shows themself to stop it. Its hard, time consuming but proven. If they have too much trouble, an NPC could suggest the approach.

By no means is this foolproof, you can't dig it ALL up.

Yep. If you've got a death-trap lair, they lay siege to it. Don't walk in there like a bunch of fools. As a GM, don't intentionally manipulate the PCs into being that bunch of fools if they know better and want to take a different approach.


Scrolls...Wait.

Are you running for we are the "Princes of this World" players?
Because if you are you're striking matches on a gas can. This can go bad very very fast.

Some players enjoy being...um..."challenged". Others take any intellgent resistance or logical reaction to abuse as a personal attack.

Mr. Fishy would advise you keep a straight face and play it to the book.


There can be only one!


So how did it go?!


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vuvu wrote:
So how did it go?!

It could have been better.

The party and their forces (consisting of about 60 foot soldiers, 20 cavalry, and 20 adepts) left the military city of Ranburry under orders to travel to their hometown of Landintown and investigate reports of increased goblin activity that had been interfering with reconstruction projects within the town. More specifically, the goblins had grown to be too much of a nuisance, and the PCs (newly appointed captains all) were to go in and annihilate the goblins within the nearby Goblinwood.

Their first encounter was only a few hours outside of Landintown. Their forces had encountered a hobgoblin warband traveling from the Goblinwood on a direct course to Landintown. The enemy force had been caught unawares out in the open and was quickly dispatched by the summoner riding atop his dragon-like eidolon utilizing his wand of fireballs to great effect.

The party then traveled to Landintown where they were apprised of the situation (goblins had been making near-daily raids against the town and had all but stopped the supply lines needed for the town's reconstruction). Their objective clear, the PCs enlisted volunteer militia from the townsfolk and set out to the Goblinwood to wage a little war.

They started by flying over the forest during the day (when they figured the goblins would be least active) and starting massive forest fires in strategic locations designed to not only be nearly impossible to extinguish, but to also trap and route the goblins towards their waiting forces. Thousands of goblins died with but a few soldiers suffering injuries all the while.

A day later, after the fires had subsided due to rain, they marched their soldiers in to finish off the remaining goblinoids. They spent another day extinguishing the lives of a few hundred goblins and fighting off minor skirmishes and ambushes. Though much of the forest had been destroyed, there was still enough surviving foliage and charred debris to make things difficult on everyone.

When they discovered the entrance to the abandoned mine, the moment I said "it looked a little narrow" one of my players jumped up and shouted "Tucker's kobolds!? You want us to go in there so you can run us through a Tucker's kobold scenario for your own sick enjoyment!? F8ck you! I will not be railroaded into any such thing!"

I (calmly) accused him of metagaming as there was nothing going on in-game to indicate any such thing to the characters (the characters themselves obviously had no knowledge of "Tucker's kobolds"). I also told him that I hadn't rail-roaded anyone as they had not been forced into the mine against their will.

He claimed that he wasn't metagaming because, as "experienced captains of the Imperial military," (a fine example of the hubris I mentioned earlier in the thread) none of the PCs would be retarded enough to go into a tight enemy bunker where enemy forces would clearly have every possible advantage. I agreed with that line of logic and that seemed to calm him down.

"So don't go in" I said, "but remember that you ARE under direct orders from the emperor to wipe out ALL of the goblins within the goblinwood--you will have to kill them somehow."

The PCs and their forces collapsed the mine entrance (killing a goblin in the process) and fell back to what they believed to be a safe location (well, at least as safe as you can be in the Goblinwood). They set up camp for the night, put dozens of soldiers on guard, and attempted to get some rest.

It never came. The goblins could be heard in the distance banging on pans and drums and making similar loud noises in order to keep them awake and aware. No ambushes ever came, though when the dragon sorcerer flew up into the night sky and cast light in hopes of finding out how close the goblins were, he got several arrows and few answers for his trouble.

Goblin shouts could be heard in the distance by some of the scouts. When translated, much of it involved statements like "the murderers of the central tribes have returned!?" and "they must die for their crimes!" and...well, a number of horrible goblin curses I'll not post here.

It was obvious the goblins were surrounding and massing around the camp. The already weary captains and their forces were readying for a massive assault on their position and had since used magic message spells to call for backup from forces that had been left behind to guard the parameter of the forest.

The attack never came. Instead, patrols and parameter guards began to disappear, seemingly at random. Finally, when the dragon sorcerer captain went to check on one of his lieutenants (who was standing guard near the parameter) the lieutenant (an NPC the sorcerer had come to know in some detail) fell through a sink hole into a small cavern below. As the party fighter and the sorcerer rushed to get a rope and throw it down to their dwarven comrade below, he was dragged away out of sight by a large band of goblins who (judging from the mad shouts of the dwarven lieutenant) had come through a secret tunnel passage.

There was a brief debate as to whether they should go after him at all, or simply suffer the loss. Finally, the PCs hopped down (surprisingly, the player who objected earlier, was the first to volunteer, albeit reluctantly).

They also took five soldiers with them. Once below they began tracking the trail of the goblins and dwarf (easy enough as the struggle seemed to be ongoing) through the myriad tunnels and caverns. Before long, one of the soldiers triggered a trap which caused the ceiling to collapse, killing all five soldiers and burying the summoner alive. While the fighter was forced to dig out the summoner with his bare hands, the sorcerer was forced to fend off a number of goblins who came down the tunnel to take advantage of the situation.

In short order they rescued their summoner and defeated the goblin attackers, though their five soldiers had been killed instantly by the trap.

Three PCs, alone, in the goblin delve, with one guest PC above leading the men against the goblins who, once the "murderers of the central tribes" were "right where they wanted them" had brought on their swarms upon the Imperial Army in full fury.

The PCs below convinced themselves that moving forward was the only way to go (despite the fact that the summoner could have used dimension door to move the entire party out at any time). They had a dwarf to save, many more goblins to kill, and a mission to complete.

They encountered a great many hazards, which I've outlined below for you, chronologically, in spoiler blocks.

The Watery Dip:
The PCs encountered a narrow corridor, tilted at a downard angle, that led to a pool of filthy water that completely blocked off the passage. The PCs spent a long moment making sure there wasn't an ooze or similar hazard in the murky depths. Finally, when they determined that it was safe (albeit filthy) they swam through it to the other side (the corridor angled up again a short ways away), finding the drowned corpse of their dwarven comrade in the process.

The Double Door Trap:
They then encountered a winding corridor that led to a wooden door that seemed wholly out of place. It was split into a lower part and an upper part, both of which looked like they might open independently of one another. There were no door knobs or handles, merely a trio of holes set into each door in a vertical column (totaling six holes). The PCs investigated the holes, concluding that it was some kind of specialized opening mechanism (not a lock). So they used open/close to trigger the mechanism and open the top door. The moment it opened wide enough, a miniature guillotine blade rushed down into the lower door--anyone peering through the top or smashing it down would likely have lost a nose, or limb. They similarly opened the bottom door. A similar spring blade bounced upwards, smashing into the top blade much like the blades on a pair of scissors--anyone kicking in the door would have lost a foot. The trap did not appear to reset, so they smashed it apart and moved onwards.

The Death Room:
The tunnel opened up slightly, allowing the party some breathing room. It lead to a small cavern. Before the PCs knew it, a pair of crude portcullises slammed down trapping one of them and separating all three (their movement was staggered and so the goblins could not trap them all). The dragon sorcerer was trapped in the room as dozens of murder holes and ceiling hatches opened up and open fired upon him with alchemist fire, arrows, bolts, darts, and needles. The fighter was just past the room's exit. He drew out his magic sword and began trying to cut his way past the portcullis. The summoner was caught behind the opposite portcullis, not yet in the room. He dimension door'd to the fighter. The sorcerer pulled out a scroll of protection from arrows and successfully cast it despite taking a dart to the neck (I don't know how it got there, I thought I checked all the sheets closely for that spell). Combined with his natural fire resistance, he took only minor damage from the neck dart and from some acid the cieling goblins switch to after a few rounds. The goblins cursed him, calling hima murderer. He confidently promised them all death in time. The sorcerer and the fighter together were able to lift the portcullis, allowing him to escape.

Finger Lost:
Yet again in a narrow corridor the PCs had to fight off a line of determined goblins coming from the death room as they encountered a dead end. The fighter (an accomplished engineer) came to realize that the dead end wasn't a dead end at all, but a boulder that was blocking the passage. It, like the door earlier, had three holes set in a column. The summoner, in his haste to get away from the goblins, stuck three fingers into the holes to open the "door." He felt three buttons inside and pressed all three, triggering a cigar-cutter like device which severed his middle finger. As the summoner bled and the sorcerer held off the goblins, the fighter used daggers and tools to press the three buttons in different order and in different combinations. After several rounds, the door rolled away and back again, allowing the PCs to slip through and get a brief reprieve from the goblins.

Burning Beds:
This new corridor led to a fork in the roads. One direction clearly opened up to a small cavern which narrowed again into a tunnel on the far side. The other was simply a narrow tunnel that turned a corner. They opted to check out the chamber first. There they found straw, dry leaves, and similar debri. The room smelled strangely pungent and the debri stuck to their feet as though damp. They concluded that it was a bedding chamber for the goblins, and began rummaging through it for treasure. They found a dirty silver necklace which they appraised at 5gp (it was actually worth 20gp). As they turned to leave, they found a small child goblin standing before them with a torch. I cried "die monsthas!" before throwing the torch down into the bedding. The PCs quickly realized that the pungeant odor they smelled was not refuse, but kerosine oil looted from the supply lines. The room exploded in fire, leaving the dragon sorcerer completely unharmed and dealing 1 damage to the summoner (the fighter, susceptible to fire unlike the others, had not yet entered the room and was fortunately spared). Though the sorcerer hesitated in murdering a goblin child, once the boy's intentions were clear, he burned the bastard alive with his breath weapon. The tunnel at the far end of the chamber merged with the original tunnel making the previous fork relatively meaningless.

Slimy Door of Doom:
Continuing forward through the narrow, winding tunnels, with only their everburning torch to guide them, they party came upon a shaft and ladder leading directly upwards into a ceiling hatch. The fighter cautiously climbed up the ladder. He then inspected the hatch for traps, raised his shield over his head as a precaution and, while carefully balancing himself on the ladder, used his other hand to slowly turn the latch and open the hatch. Green slime came rushing down smashing into his shield and over his exposed left arm (which had to reach over the shield to open the hatch). The brunt of the impact caused him to lose his balance and fall off the ladder, taking minor falling damage. The green slime began eating away at the flesh on his arm as well as devouring the materials of his shield. In his terror and confusion he threw the shield and the brunt of the green slime away from himself causing it to slam against the ladder. He drew his sword and, as best he could in the narrow space, began slicing it off of his arm, dealing substantial amounts of damage to himself in addition to a few points of constitution damage from the slime. He will forever bear the scars of that slime upon his left arm. Seeing that the slime had moved from the fighter's arm to his sword (slowly destroying the enchanted blade) and that near panic had caused the green slime to be splattered over the floor and surrounding walls, the sorcerer stepped in and cast burning hands over the entire party, engulfing the entirety of the tight corridor. The green slime was eradicated, the fighter scorched and hurting (others fine thanks to resistance) and sword and shield broken, but spared destruction. Unfortunately, between the green slime and the engulfing flames, much of the ladder's integrity had been destroyed.

The Swarm Pit:
Fearing it might fall apart completely, they decided to climb the ladder one at a time. The summoner went up first, slowly inching his way up the tight shaft until it came to a level corridor with some breathing room. As the other climbed the ladder, the summoner took a few steps down the corridor and fell through a trap door. The resulting pit dropped him into a chamber beneath where they encountered the green slime. The other characters, still on the ladder with a wall between them, were quite confused when they heard their comrade fall past them and yet not be seen.

The summoner found himself in a natural looking chamber. With his darkvision, he could see a swarm of grubs hungrily moving towards him, revealing a pile of humanoid bones beneath them as it did so. Despite there being thick lengthy vines leading up the way he came (actually natural terinav roots that would have poisoned with him with a single dose of poison for each round of climbing) he instead used dimension door and teleported back to the top of the pit just in time to warn his companions of it. Had it reached him, the rot grub swarm (Bestiary III) would have burrowed their way into his skin and dealt constitution damage for each round he was within the swarm and for 1d6 rounds afterwards, in addition to the normal effects of the swarm.

Fecal Matters:
Once all the PCs were atop the ladder and had jumped over the swarm pit, the summoner promptly fell through another pit trap into a pool of feces and dead animals. The pit was full and too shallow to fit the summoner, causing the sewage and offal to run over and envelope the other PCs' ankles and into the swarm pit behind them. Unharmed, the summoner climbed out and the party continued onwards in awkward silence.

Door Knobbers:
After going through some miles of twisting winding passages, fighting goblins squeezing out of tiny side tunnels, the party soon came to a larger corridor that ended in a set of double doors sized for medium creatures. Still frustrated and enraged at the humiliation of the offal pit, the summoner rushed forward, grabbed both door handles, and swung the door open read to visit his wrath upon whatever may be on the other side. He was immediately poisoned by two doses of terinav root poison that had been smeared over the handles. though he knew he got something on his hands, he knew not what (the poison doesn't take immediate effect). More disappointingly, he found nothing in the next room with which to visit his wrath upon.

Room of Blades:
This large room, unlike the natural-looking chambers and cave networks they had seen before, was clearly carved out into a room about 20 feet wide, 10 feet tall, and 40 feet long. On the far end, was another set of double doors. More interestingly, however, were the shortswords embedded into the floor and ceiling, running in a narrow line down the center of the room from one door to the other, effectively bisecting it into two parts. Along the side walls to the left and right, were what looked like detached spiked portcullises, leaning against the walls with their spikes pointing inwards towards the center of the room.

The party didn't know what to make of it. The otherwise solid emptiness of the room stifled even the summoner's fury. Cautious as ever, the summoner conjured up some dire rats and sent them into the room to trigger any possible traps. They ran across the room for several minutes and came back completely unharmed.

Still wary, the summoner inched his way into the room, following the left path, keeping well away from the horizontal spikes along the portcullis on the wall and the vertical sword blades jutting out of the floor to his right. Suddenly, the spiked portcullis to his left slammed down atop him (like a mouse trap), revealing a pair of tiny tunnels in the wall that had been concealed behind it. In these tunnels were goblins who had squeezed up behind the portcullises. They waited, quietly watching the rats run around, and then when the "loathed murderer" entered the room, they pushed it over on him, impaling him beneath it. The goblins then hopped out of their tunnels atop the poor summoner to do battle with the other two characters. The goblins were soon dispatched and the heavy portcullis, through team effort, was lifted just enough to allow the bloodied summoner to crawl out form under it.

They then used a lasso to rope the spikes on the other portcullis in the room and pull them down away from the walls.

The trick to this room was supposed to be to straddle the swords down the middle of the room to the far door. When the goblins push both portcullises over, they would steeple in the middle, leaving the character unharmed and relatively safe from the goblins trying to come into the room. Obviously, it didn't work out that way.

At this point, I started having the summoner roll saves against the terinav root poison in his system. He failed, taking minor dexterity damage.

A Muddy Situation:
They drew straws to see who would open the next door. The poor summoner lost. As the other two PCs readied on opposite sides of the door ready for whatever might decide to come through, the summoner stood directly in front of it, sighed, and turned the handle.

Nothing happened. It appeared to be locked. The fighter asked to have a look at it and found that it was not locked, but jammed. Standing there in front of the door with the summoner, he pulled with all his strength. After a moment's struggle, the door gave way and exploded open as thousands of gallons of thick viscous mud flooded into the room burying the summoner and fighter in a miniature crushing avalanche. A team of goblins then jumped into the room from the wall tunnels and through the entrance door to attack the summoner while his friends suffocated under the mud. He killed them all swiftly with fire, but in the course of doing so, hardened the mud, entombing his friends beneath it. During the brief battle, one of the goblins dropped a feather token near the entrance of the room, causing a tree to grow up, blocking all escape from the room (with a mountain of hardened mud in one doorway and a tree tightly sealing the other).

Nevertheless, the sorcerer began trying to break up the hardened mud to dig his friends out before they ran out of air.

As he did so, thick volumes of dark gas began to poor into the room through the wall tunnels. The goblins were going to gas them to death with fire smoke!

As he held his own breath, he quickened his digging pace. By the time he freed the summoner, the smoke was so thick that no one could see for their burning eyes. The summoner did not get a chance to hold his breath, taking big gasps of deadly smoke upon becoming freed from the mud. The sorcerer yelled at him to dig the fighter free as he tried to "get us some breathing room." He then turned towards the tree and, risking the smoke, blasted it apart with several staggered rounds of scorching ray.

The fighter wasted rounds choking more often than not, but nevertheless dug (blindly) as fast as he the choking smoke would allow, all the while hoping he wasn't already too late to save Hihachi from drowning in the mud.

Blasting a large whole through the center of the tree gave them a little bit of breathing room, giving them precious few seconds to save themselves.

After freeing the fighter, the party began digging at the mud wall at the exit door hoping to move forward. Despite the large air hole blasted through the tree, the smoke pouring into the room wasmuch too thick, and was quickly beginning to build up in the room again. While he could still somewhat gasp for breath, the summoner took the opportunity to summon a large earth elemental to find them away out. Coincidentally, it formed out of the hardened mud, clearing the exit door.

Split Decisions:
The heroes rushed out of the smoke filled room, encountering a swarm of goblins ahead of them as they did so. Between their swords, blades, and earth elemental, they made short work of the enraged little green men. Soon after, the tunnel network lead them to another fork. A large central tunnel, with two smaller tunnels (which they would have to squeeze through) on either side. Tired of squeezing, they entered the central tunnel knowing full well it was likely another trap. As a precaution, the summoner sent the earth elemental down the left tunnel as well (though much too large to fit, its ability to earth glide made this possible).

The central tunnel bubbled into an extremely rough natural cavern (difficult terrain) where they were beset by goblins coming from the way they came as well as a large number of murder holes to the left and right. Fearing for their lives, the summoner called for his earth elemental to join them in the central cavern. Rather than follow the tunnel back and around into the central chamber, the earth elemental glided from one adjacent room to the other. The creature unintentionally caught several goblins (behind the murder holes) as it did so, crushing the foul vermin through their own murder holes like a some kind of gruesome spaghetti. Seeing what had happened (and more than a little disturbed by it) the summoner nevertheless ordered the earth elemental to do the same thing to the goblins in the right wall murder holes while he and the others fended off the swarms coming through the cavern entrance. When the battle concluded, they found another chute and ladder leading upwards out of the far end of the cavern. A goblin waiting at the top of the ladder dropped boiling water on the fire-resistant sorcerer before being killed ("When will they ever learn?"), but the room had otherwise been cleared.

They found their way to a ladder which led to the surface (though that fact was not immediately apparent to them as they had since lost all sense of direction and depth). After much precaution (checking for traps, detecting magic, looking for goblins and green slime), the summoner sent his earth elemental up through the cavern ceiling with instructions to "eradicate anything that moves above."

After a few moments, the cavern began to shake as a violent battle overhead ensued. Obviously, the elemental had found something. The pounding of the battle above soon became so fierce that the ceiling cracked. Fearing yet another cave-in, the PCs rushed up the ladder one by one, stopping only to undue the hatch at the top and, much to their surprise and joy, opening it to sun-filled skies and green (slightly burned) canopies.

The joy was short-lived, however. As they came up into a small clearing, they found themselves in the middle of a full scale battle with various goblinoids on one side, their men on the other, and the earth elemental in the middle killing absolutely everything in sight. The summoner, realizing his mistake to his horror, commanded the earth elemental to ignore the soldiers and focus on the goblinoids. The other PCs commanded their men to cease attacking the elemental and likewise focus on the goblin forces.

Moments after the last PC made it up the ladder, the shaft collapsed behind them and the cavern below caved-in causing a sink hole to open up, swallowing several allied soldiers. It was later determined that this sink hole and the earth elemental were responsible for more loss of life against Imperial forces than the entirety of the Goblinwood during the conflict.

When all was said and done, the PCs were all suffering from filth fever, a wide variety of ability damage from poisons encountered below, a large number of minor injuries (though the summoner nearly died) ranging from cuts to bruises to burns, and were covered from head to toe in dirt, grime, ash, blood, and sewage.

And yet, the PCs slew close to 5,000 goblins (over ten-fold what was expected) with less than a hundred men. They lost less than 1/3 of their force in the process. They came to be hailed as heroes within the empire and to the citizens of Landintown (who had all but exiled them previously).

And that's how it went.

The guest player who commanded the forces on the surface had a miserable time, as he chose not to go into the caverns with the other players. Much of the focus was on the other players (being the larger group) and he eventually wondered off and fell asleep on a couch. On one hand, I regret not including him more, but on the other hand, he chose to stay outside the forest (clearly where the mission was) until he left, was NPC'd, and came in as reinforcements to the surface camp. (One of my other players, who had to take him home, later complained about the guest player's incessant whining attitude the whole way home about the game.)

The one who accused me of a "Tucker scenario" continued to give me some nasty stares after the game (more or less having confirmed his suspicions), but otherwise made no further fuss.

Another player, about mid-way through the dungeon, exclaimed "this is beginning to grow tedious!"

Despite all of that...after the game they all claimed to have had a great deal of fun (with the exception of the guest player who, in my opinion, CHOSE to sit it out because "it's what the character would have done" and then complained about it like it was my fault).


Very nice. A shame about the guest player, but you played the goblins fairly. You didn't kill as many folk as you hoped, but I think the players might look at goblins with a bit more respect after this. Or loathing. Either way, it's a win.
Very entertaining read. I'd love to play in a game like that. :D


dot


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Very nice. A shame about the guest player, but you played the goblins fairly. You didn't kill as many folk as you hoped, but I think the players might look at goblins with a bit more respect after this. Or loathing. Either way, it's a win.

Very entertaining read. I'd love to play in a game like that. :D

Just wanted to be clear that I hadn't set out to kill anybody. Having that aas a goal from the beginning is a hallmark of a TERRIBLE GM.


This struck me while spelunking IRL.

The figure-8 corridor.

The passage is shaped like a figure 8...@ your waist, the passage is only about 3 feet wide. This causes M size characters to need to squeeze (technically) and is a huge pain for shield-carrying characters (not sure how to reflect this in-game.)

This doesn't bother kobolds at all. (or other small characters, obviously.)

@ above the narrow spot is enough of a ledge (with enough headroom) for kobolds to stand.

Below it, it ALSO enough headroom for kobolds to stand.

Kobolds have small tunnels accessing both the "top" channel and the "bottom" channel, they have to squeeze to enter/exit many of these, and they are designed so they are concealed in niches in the rock from the likely direction of travel.

M PC's have to fight while squeezing and kobolds in the lower channel have cover, unless the PC bends down to fight, taking additional penalty.

S PCs (at least) give up higher ground to kobolds in the top channel, and higher channel kobolds have cover also.

I would expect most S PC's walk in the top channel.

Kobolds can also setup areas where they alternately use the high/low or left/right channels exclusively....because the other channels are trapped! This way you can put traps in a trafficked area w/o needing to worry about bypass mechanisms. I would have some sort of kobold-perceivable signage that tells them, though. Draconic runes, or just a set of lines in the floor, or "trailsigns" with stones. Make this decipherable/deducible by PC's, perhaps after a couple of trial and errors.

I've seen this in natural caverns, so it's not "cheating" by the DM...and once kobolds have seen it in natural caves, why WOULDN'T they mine things like this also.

To the extent they need M-height-fitting tunnels in the first place, of course.


Ravingdork wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Very nice. A shame about the guest player, but you played the goblins fairly. You didn't kill as many folk as you hoped, but I think the players might look at goblins with a bit more respect after this. Or loathing. Either way, it's a win.

Very entertaining read. I'd love to play in a game like that. :D
Just wanted to be clear that I hadn't set out to kill anybody. Having that aas a goal from the beginning is a hallmark of a TERRIBLE GM.

Sorry about the necromance, just reading back. I was referencing soldiers. You seemed to expect more NPC fatalities than what took place. :P

The Exchange

I had very good luck just by keeping the experience as annoying as possible. Baskets full of scorpions that could be dropped on PCs as they came through the door. Inaccessible ledges where kobolds could fling cheap incendiaries (balls of dried dung dipped in oil) in hopes of setting PCs on fire. Virtually all the sharp objects in the compound smeared with filth, to raise the hazard of disease. Crawlways and walkways too narrow for Medium characters. Lots of pits and nuisance monsters. And my crowning favorite, a ramp liberally sprayed with lamp oil. While the PCs were casting resist fire on each other, the kobolds released the giant rolling boulder.

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