Re-Imagining of "Goblin Arrows"

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I am reworking The Lost Mine of Phandelver from the Starter Set by giving it a Wild West / Spaghetti Western / Zorro-esque spin to it and calling it...

 

 

Starring

 

Chuck Dagger, human rogue

Marshal Heeling, human cleric

Vanciana Feyzalez, elf wizard

 

With

 

Mucho Cerveza, dwarf fighter

 

Act I, Scene 1: Las Flechas Del Duende

 

 

(Map made using tools available in Roll20. Here is a screen shot sans grid, tokens, and labels.)

 

Featuring the Duende ("Greenjuns," pejoratively): Festering Wound, Running Wart, Oozing Boil, Pulsing Pimple - goblins, as per Starter Set. Their motivation is to steal the crowbars, miner's picks, and shovels, kill the oxen, and burn the wagon, then escape up the Duende Trail. (Goblins have 23 lbs. of gear including a tinderbox each, so they can carry another 97 lbs.) If the duende can make it off the map through the spot marked "Duende Trail," they are considered to have escaped with whatever goods they were carrying so the PCs will have to deal with them in a future scene. The duende will only spend actions attacking if they have no other options such as if the PCs are completely blocking their ability to steal from the wagon. In all other cases, they pursue their motivation unto death.

 

Don't forget their bonus action to Disengage and Hide - this will likely provide quite useful in pilfering from the PCs. They can also force the oxen to move into a better position by attacking them. The dry brush will be a great advantage to the duende as well. And, of course, if they are attacking with shortbows, they don't benefit from their shield's AC bonus!

 

Setting is hot and dry badlands on a dangerous trail to the frontier town of Fandango. The oxen and wagon treat anything off the trail as difficult terrain and cannot move over the dead horses. Dry brush - quite flammable, actually - offers half cover for any Medium-sized or smaller creature standing in it (2 x 2 squares). For other details, see the Starter Set.

 

 

* Late edition: If either Auroch or Bullock are killed, the remaining ox will not pull the wagon.

 

Even if you don't re-theme the adventure as I have, consider using this way of approaching the encounter. I think it will make for a much more dynamic scene than a straight-up ranged/melee battle, possibly providing greater impetus for the PCs to follow the goblin trail to recover stolen wares. At the end of the scene, calculate how much value was stolen or destroyed and see how far in arrears this puts the characters - that's just more motivation to get to earnin'!

 

How would you handle this scene if you were a PC? How about as DM? What constructive feedback do you have to improve this scene?

 

Good luck and have fun, pardners!

 

Go to Act I, Scene 2 (?): El Camino Del Duende

Woah, this is awesome. I like how you went that step further to relate the encounter to the frontier flavor of the town. Personally, I'm planning on just using TotM for this encounter, but I fully appreciate the work put into this and the final product is just totally amusing. Excellent job!

 

P.S. - Chuck Dagger just sounds so much like an 80's action star that I can hardly imagine it without a low volume chuckle.

AD&D is powergaming – powergaming for the DM. And back then, DM stood for "Dire Munchkin."

 

I suppose people are entitled to their uninformed opinions; I just don’t see the point when that opinion won’t be respected. Proper research can be the difference in appearing a fool vs. a respectable dissident. 

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/3.jpg)

Hmmm...

 

Seems to me that the goblins would want to shoot one of the Oxen dead right away to stop/slow down the cart and then scatter (running in different directions and going into hiding) hopefully leading the PCs away from protection of the wagon.

 

If the PCs do follow one of the goblins on the wild goose chase, the others would rush to loot the wagon during their absence. Or, if the PCs stay close to the wagon then they would harrass them with arrows and alternatively hiding to either try to wear them down or, again, draw them away from the wagon.

 

If any of the goblins lose hit points but manage to survive the blow, I have to imagine they would dash with full speed towards the trail and try to make it back to their meet-up point alive.

 

And if half the goblins go down within view of the other two, I think the remaining two would flee since they'd have no chance of achieving their objective once outnumbered. Particularly if they managed to kill one ox as it gives them a chance to go find reinforcements and then catch up to the wagon for a second raid.

I have added a link to Mucho Cerveza's stats above.

 

Oulak wrote:

Woah, this is awesome. I like how you went that step further to relate the encounter to the frontier flavor of the town. Personally, I'm planning on just using TotM for this encounter, but I fully appreciate the work put into this and the final product is just totally amusing. Excellent job!

 

P.S. - Chuck Dagger just sounds so much like an 80's action star that I can hardly imagine it without a low volume chuckle.

 

Thanks! You could likely do the same kind of goblin tactics in ToTM, but it's likely easier to manage with a grid (in my view anyway).

 

Hebitsuikaza wrote:

Hmmm...

 

Seems to me that the goblins would want to shoot one of the Oxen dead right away to stop/slow down the cart and then scatter (running in different directions and going into hiding) hopefully leading the PCs away from protection of the wagon.

 

If the PCs do follow one of the goblins on the wild goose chase, the others would rush to loot the wagon during their absence. Or, if the PCs stay close to the wagon then they would harrass them with arrows and alternatively hiding to either try to wear them down or, again, draw them away from the wagon.

 

If any of the goblins lose hit points but manage to survive the blow, I have to imagine they would dash with full speed towards the trail and try to make it back to their meet-up point alive.

 

And if half the goblins go down within view of the other two, I think the remaining two would flee since they'd have no chance of achieving their objective once outnumbered. Particularly if they managed to kill one ox as it gives them a chance to go find reinforcements and then catch up to the wagon for a second raid.

 

Sure! How would you as a player respond to the tactics you're suggesting if your DM was using them?

Brilliant. I like it

 

We played it TotM, but I'm not sure it went to plan:

 

Chuck: Hey goblns! Want a hand?

Festering: Uh?

Vanciana: We'll help you clear the dead horses, so you can get the cart up the trail.

Oozing: Dis wrong. Dis a trick?

Chuck: No trick. We just want the five bullseye lanterns. Deal?

(aside: Guys, those five lanterns alone are worth more than the 10gp we were promised. It's win-win.)

Oozing: We not need stoopid lanterns. We's got darkvision. It deal.

Festering: You drive ox cart. We behind you. No tricks or we shoot.

Mucho: I have vehicles(land) proficiency. I'll drive.

Marshal: I have grave doubts about the legality of this.

Vanciana: Do you not see the meaningful way the horses are placed?

Marshal: No?

Vanciana: Look, man, look ! Coyolxauhqui has sent us an omen. She is telling us to help the goblins.

Chuck: Heh.

 

DM: great roleplaying. Inspiration point for Vanciana.

...

 

Where did we go wrong?

B I

Sounds about right.

I like this idea. I will probably use it (not the reflavor though). I may still have them a bit more aggressive vs. the PCs to make sure they stay engaged with the decoy golbins, while the others go in for the steal. I'll probably start the encounter off with some arrows in an ox and killing an innocent or two that is travelling with the caravan. My group is 8 PCs so I'll have lots of goblins to work with. I also increased it to 2 wagons.

Thanks! Eight PCs is quite a tall order, but that should allow for a pretty big group of goblins, making it a bit easier to steal and get away in the resulting chaos, I would think.

 

If you do use it, please let me know how it goes!

I'm working on re-imagining Phandalin into Fandango (stay tuned!) and something caught my eye:

 

Page 14:

 

"When the characters explore Phandalin, you don't need to keep track of how much time is spent at each location. Instead, imagine that you're directing an old-style western movie."

 

CAN DO!

That's pretty cool and original spin on the adventure!

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

As someone who loves both the Western genre and high fantasy... this is absolutely off the charts. I love this. One quick question... were the oxen given stats in the adventure? I don't recall and don't have it with me at the moment.

 

If not, what stats would you use?

Zarithar wrote:

As someone who loves both the Western genre and high fantasy... this is absolutely off the charts. I love this. One quick question... were the oxen given stats in the adventure? I don't recall and don't have it with me at the moment.

 

If not, what stats would you use?

 

1. Thanks! (And to Plaguescarred as well!)

 

2. That is a badass avatar. So awesome.

 

3. The oxen don't have stats in the Starter Set. I gave the oxen an AC 12 and 15 hit points, very roughly based on the Horse stats from the playtest Bestiary. I set the hit points at 15 because I figured 3 average hits with a shortbow (at 5 piercing damage a piece) should be enough to kill them, which means the goblins get 2 to 4 shots on average to maneuver the cart where they want it. (Optimally, they should split their shots over both oxen for the most forced movement, which is a tradeoff for costing the PCs more gold for dead oxen. I think it works well balance-wise.)

I really like the re-theming and that is a nice map, although I also will play it TotM.

 

I agree with the others that making the goblins a bit more agressive would be an improvement - half harassing the PCs and half trying to steal the equipment sounds perfect.

 

In fact, just thinking about it now I will probably play my goblins a bit more cunning but still less lethal than the original encounter:  two goblins down the road in front of the horses fire at the PCs and then back up and fire again, trying to lure the PCs forward and away from the cart.   The other two will then ambush from the rear - if they can they will head straight for the back of the cart, grab some equipment and flee down the trail towards the hideout.  Otherwise, they will target an Ox.

 

Thanks for the great ideas!

BoldItalic wrote:

Brilliant. I like it

 

We played it TotM, but I'm not sure it went to plan:

 

Chuck: Hey goblns! Want a hand?

Festering: Uh?

Vanciana: We'll help you clear the dead horses, so you can get the cart up the trail.

Oozing: Dis wrong. Dis a trick?

Chuck: No trick. We just want the five bullseye lanterns. Deal?

(aside: Guys, those five lanterns alone are worth more than the 10gp we were promised. It's win-win.)

Oozing: We not need stoopid lanterns. We's got darkvision. It deal.

Festering: You drive ox cart. We behind you. No tricks or we shoot.

Mucho: I have vehicles(land) proficiency. I'll drive.

Marshal: I have grave doubts about the legality of this.

Vanciana: Do you not see the meaningful way the horses are placed?

Marshal: No?

Vanciana: Look, man, look ! Coyolxauhqui has sent us an omen. She is telling us to help the goblins.

Chuck: Heh.

 

DM: great roleplaying. Inspiration point for Vanciana.

...

 

Where did we go wrong?

 

 

Can I borrow your players for a session or three? XD

Ansbach wrote:
I really like the re-theming and that is a nice map, although I also will play it TotM.

 

Thanks! I prefer the tableau vivant over theater of the mind. It makes spatial stuff a little easier in my experience. Less questions and reframing.

 

Ansbach wrote:
I agree with the others that making the goblins a bit more agressive would be an improvement - half harassing the PCs and half trying to steal the equipment sounds perfect.

 

In fact, just thinking about it now I will probably play my goblins a bit more cunning but still less lethal than the original encounter:  two goblins down the road in front of the horses fire at the PCs and then back up and fire again, trying to lure the PCs forward and away from the cart.   The other two will then ambush from the rear - if they can they will head straight for the back of the cart, grab some equipment and flee down the trail towards the hideout.  Otherwise, they will target an Ox.

 

Thanks for the great ideas!

 

Partly I changed the goals of the goblins because I saw a lot of PCs going down in podcasts and actual play reports. But also because I like alternate goals in combat scenes. In the module it even says that they leave the PCs unconscious and steal their stuff if they best them and I thought that might be a little unsatisfying. So my answer was to split the difference - they don't attack unless they have to and they steal from the wagon which the PCs are responsible for. This creates a situation where the players can still "lose," but in a way that really drives further adventure rather than sets them back a lot. (The theft of only mining equipment was a happy accident of math - it was a weight the goblins could reasonably carry and has a good deal of value but also foreshadows the goblin's involvement in Black Spider's mining concern.)

 

I like your idea of having the two goblins ambushing from the rear. I set it up as closely to the module's specifications as possible, but your idea is better. I'm running this on August 30 so I might change up the map and do that. I think the trick is to have the goblins on the east side of the map fire at the oxen to draw them in. PCs will likely return fire or move eastward. That leaves an opening on the west that the goblins hiding on that side can potentially exploit.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

You just gave me another idea too - think about how the oxen would react when they get hit with a goblin arrow.  They wouldn't just sit and wait to die, right? They would probably bolt. With the cart. Maybe they run past the horses, or maybe off the trail. Either way, what if the cart tips over and spills the equipment across the ground? Maybe along with a player or two, or perhaps if someone is still at the reins they can stop it from crashing. With the cart sideways and the contents spilled all over, it would probably be easier for the goblins to grab stuff and run, so at that point they ignore the party and go for the snatch-and-grab. You could even add another goblin or two that only try to grab loot without really tipping the difficulty too much. Increase the odds that one takes off down the trail with stolen loot. 

 

Also, maybe a wagon wheel breaks, or falls off and needs to be repaired. How would the party handle that? A little extra adventure without combat. 

 

Here's another idea, without equipment stealing:

 

(right before you are about to spring the ambush, read, paraphrase or rewrite the following)

 

A few hours ago, in another part of the land a larger goblin is addressing a smaller one. "If there is just one or two, ya kill 'em.  If there's more, ya take this," he holds up a wicked arrow with red fletching and dark green sap on the point, "... and ya kill their cart-beast. Then ya come git Klarg and the gang and we'll go 'ave some fun."

 

Back on the road, an arrow whizzes past you and thumps into the shoulder of the ox. You notice red fletching on the arrow as the creature roars in pain. Roll for initiative!

Cool concept.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Ansbach wrote:

You just gave me another idea too - think about how the oxen would react when they get hit with a goblin arrow.  They wouldn't just sit and wait to die, right? They would probably bolt. With the cart. Maybe they run past the horses, or maybe off the trail. Either way, what if the cart tips over and spills the equipment across the ground? Maybe along with a player or two, or perhaps if someone is still at the reins they can stop it from crashing. With the cart sideways and the contents spilled all over, it would probably be easier for the goblins to grab stuff and run, so at that point they ignore the party and go for the snatch-and-grab. You could even add another goblin or two that only try to grab loot without really tipping the difficulty too much. Increase the odds that one takes off down the trail with stolen loot. 

 

Also, maybe a wagon wheel breaks, or falls off and needs to be repaired. How would the party handle that? A little extra adventure without combat.

 

Yes, I have represented this with a mechanic in the original post: If the oxen are hit with an attack, they move 20 feet in a direction decided by the attacker. Given the two oxen and their number of hit points, they can be hit and moved (on average) 4 times for a total of 80 feet of movement. So what you could do is use that to have the goblins put the wagon where it's most advantageous for them to steal. I think it would be fair to rule that in addition to the difficult terrain off the trail, the wagon may turn over. If someone is in the driver's seat when it goes off the road, perhaps they can use a reaction to make an Animal Handling or Land Vehicles check to stop that from happening.

 

Ansbach wrote:
Here's another idea, without equipment stealing:

 

(right before you are about to spring the ambush, read, paraphrase or rewrite the following)

 

A few hours ago, in another part of the land a larger goblin is addressing a smaller one. "If there is just one or two, ya kill 'em.  If there's more, ya take this," he holds up a wicked arrow with red fletching and dark green sap on the point, "... and ya kill their cart-beast. Then ya come git Klarg and the gang and we'll go 'ave some fun."

 

Back on the road, an arrow whizzes past you and thumps into the shoulder of the ox. You notice red fletching on the arrow as the creature roars in pain. Roll for initiative!

 

Sure. In this case, you telegraph it, shoot one oxen to start the scene, and then now it becomes a situation where they want to protect the other ox and/or a chase scene when the goblins take out the second ox and make a break for the Cragmaw Hideout. (Or La Colina de Las Termitas if you're using my re-imagining of their lair.) Players can try to save the poisoned ox with healing or Medicine use or whatever while others fight. It would be a cool scene. Goblins only want to kill oxen, PCs want to save oxen. Nice alternate goal there and it segues nicely into a potential chase scene.

 

Valdark wrote:

Cool concept.

 

Thanks!

I'm running this on August 30th for an in-person group. The party so far is:

 

Dirty Sanchez, human fighter (criminal)

Doc Rockspear, dwarf wizard (noble)

 

I might be running some pickup games (probably 4e) this weekend online if anyone's interested. Stay tuned!

Third PC has been introduced:

 

Reverend Willie Cheatem, human cleric - "Lost his faith, but found salvation in still playing the part."

 

You ever get that feeling on the lead-up to a game where you know it's just going to be AWESOME?!