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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Goblin Hunters

Goblins are pretty common fare in fantasy gaming. Here's a small encounter with some potential hooks for additional adventure.

The encounter takes place in a wilderness setting, though no specific terrain is required. There should be sufficient cover (trees, scrub, or rocks) to allow for a surprise confrontation. There should also be sufficient game around to justify the hunting party's presence.

The Goblin Hunters
  • 10 beaters - these goblins are arrayed in a broad V-shaped formation, and advance in unison, funneling any game toward the bottom of the V. The beaters are armed with cudgels and short bows (Average skill). Since their goal is to drive prey toward the hunters, they're not particularly quiet as they advance. Each beater carries a small whistle, which they can use to alert the others of danger.
  • 4 archers - strung out at the base of the V-formation these hunters pick off any game flushed by the beaters. They're each armed with a short bow (Fair skill) and 20 arrows. 5 of their arrows have red fletches and are treated with a soporific poison (Average test of resistance or suffer a Fair action penalty for 1-6 rounds).
  • 2 skinners - these goblins follow the archers, finishing off any wounded prey and loading it onto the crude travois they pull. Each is armed with a sharp knife (Fair skill).
  • 1 hound master - "Murgel" is a short, squat goblin who stinks of his hounds. He has Good animal handling skills and Fair strength. He carries a heavy cudgel (Average skill), but prefers to use his fists (Good brawling).
  • 2 large large wolfhounds commanded by Murgel, that the goblins hold in reserve to deal with large or aggressive prey. The hounds are vicious creatures with Good toughness and bite attacks and Great running speed and endurance.
  • 1 head hunter - "Garch" is a clever goblin with Good woodland and hunting skills. He is armed with a Good short bow (Good skill) and carries a whistle that he uses to alert and direct the beaters. Garch has good judgment and Fair bluff skills, and will avoid or negotiate his way out of encounters that are out of his league. He's not above a bit of banditry however, and a weak party could well find themselves out of luck.
The most likely encounter is accidentally running into one of the beaters. The goblin will attempt to flee and sound the alarm, alerting the rest of the hunting party. The remaining beaters will fall back to the main party, then investigate the threat under the direction of Garch.

Garch will use sound tactics to put up the best fight possible if it comes to blows. Murgel will commit the hounds to battle early, focusing their attacks on the weakest-seeming member of the opposition. He'll reluctantly sacrifice the hounds as a diversion if the goblins are clearly out-gunned.

Should the adventurers prove victorious, any slain goblins will have a few bits of copper and silver, and little else of value. Garch wears a tarnished bronze armband of Fair value, and Murgel has a thin gold ring, also of Fair value.

Potential Followups

  • The goblins are part of a larger group, who have set up housekeeping in a supposedly haunted wood nearby, using a small cave network as their home. They wish only to live in peace.
  • The goblins are part of a larger war band passing through. The main force is a few days behind and the hunting party has been establishing food caches along their planned path. The war band is intent on pillaging a nearby settlement for loot and slaves.
  • Murgel's gold ring is actually an old wedding band. The inscription provides a clue to the former owner, long dead. Their son, however, is a minor noble in a nearby province.
  • One of the goblins has an ancient map of the locale drawn on fine calf's hide. Several trails have been marked in a crude hand over the original map. There's also a large skull and crossbones marked on a nearby hill.
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