DGA2.06: The Slave Trade, part four – Goblin Grail Gang

Welcome back! sorcerer Pais Ullmann, rogue Lee Hunter, fighter Luth Starag and (minded by Lee’s player this session owing to transport problems) ranger Ya Nooskoi have just overcome an ambush to secure the entry to a goblin lair. The fight was loud, and the four of them pause to listen out for any reaction.

Pais [makes best active Perception: listen with 19] hears a whine, perhaps of fear, perhaps of a high-tension cord being pulled back. He signals to Ya to scout forward. To Ya’s darkvision, the area immediately beyond Luth’s light-coin-glow is perfectly visible. He can see a rock shelf next to a narrow passage right, and a notch or probably passage, left.

SPOILERS: This adventure uses MT Black’s Goblin Grail Gang one-pager. Although I have changed quite a number of elements, in most respects it is the same adventure.

Not wanting to leave danger behind him, Ya scouts left first(1). Here, he encounters a frightened little black bear, and a narrow passage past it. [Uses animal handling and nature, both near 20] Feeling as though being able to speak with animals might be really useful, he pulls back to report.

Ya’s initial scouting

The group decision is, it’s not doing any harm and it is a sort of barrier to goblins trying to circle round behind. Let’s go right!

Ya makes sure his bow won’t grate on the passage right but Lee first asks to be boosted up to the rock ledge there, where he crouches. Then Ya keep’s his left shoulder against the wall opposite Lee’s post…

Twang! Goblin nerves have been stretched tight and as soon as Ya shows himself, the archers posted opposite let fly! An arrow skips off the wall near him but a second finds its mark! [I ask for DEX SV since Ya could potentially duck back, but he makes only DC13. 5dmg].

Inits: Goblins, Lee, Ya, Pais/Luth

Out of a fairly broad cavern, four goblins charge Ya! Initially things look bad for Ya but the others join the fray, Luth tossing the light in then kicking it further, and the four in melee are put down. It costs Ya a Zephyr Strike and Luth a maneuver. Lee and Luth are wounded [Luth 14dmg]. Pais uses one Magic Missile. He is unwounded.

the second stage cavern, and water obstacle

The goblin archers retreat down to a raft and across a ponding stream to another cavern entrance. Lee, by this time up on the archer’s post, has time for two shots and Luth and Ya join for another. Pais even chips in with Ray of Frost! Despite the dim light, by the time the raft struggles to its destination, one goblin is dead and the other slowed.

A number of other goblins – and a huge hob – mill at the entrance securing the raft and deciding whether to fire. Ya, who can see that far, takes another shot, killing the second archer off the raft. Then Pais casts Light on an arrow-shaft and with a fine shot, Ya places it on the cavern wall behind the enemy and above easy hob-reach. Another round of fire convinces the enemy to get right away under total cover!

Ya next clambers down to chop at the raft’s rope tether, but slips [even with Inspiration, makes only 7 on acrobatics] and ends up in the water, losing his short-sword. As Luth reaches Ya’s longbow down to help him out, Ya’s pants are shredded by hungry cavern piranha or some similar denizens!

But it’s an ill wind… As he is pulled back up, Ya notices the Grail bowl the Horned Skull goblins asked them to retrieve. It’s on a rock downstream!

While they can certainly hear harsh goblin voices opposite, none of the four have the language, and none of the four have a safe way to cross and assault. The decision is to pull back out and begin making their own raft.

The goblin attack

While Lee and Ya put their meager tying-bits-of-wood-together skills into building a raft, Luth gets Gear down from the other gear up the nearest big tree, and Pais takes lookout up there. Luth carries some food back into the cavern and makes friends with the little bear, leading him back out. A helm full of precious water later, the bear seems quite happy to play with Gear and hang around indefinitely.

Then Pais yells a warning as goblins charge!

Inits: Hob/Scouts, Lee, Pais, Ya, other goblins, Luth

Lee and Ya scamper! Lee and Pais land enough shots on the hob – Pais burning all 3 sorcery points to jack in a higher-level Magic Missile – that he falls dead a few yards before reaching Luth and Ya. The huge two-hander the hob wielded cleaver skids along the dirt towards Ya.

The fall of the hob wrecks the scouts’ tactics, so they fall back, shooting. Ya nearly falls but his hidden reserves keep him on his feet! Pais clambers down with the healer kit and acts as Ya’s meat-shield. The goblin mooks swarm! Luth fights on using a maneuver – and second wind – to break the goblin attack as Lee fires in support. Then the last goblin mook is cut down!

The goblin boss and his two scouts are the last left standing, falling back through the scrub cover. Luth runs forward into action. Lee bravely shifts into melee to prevent them pulling back into the cavern. Luth burns through the last of his maneuvers and Lee the last of his Luck. It’s hard fighting but both scouts fall. Pais gets in on the action, using his famed Shocking Grasp to prevent the boss fleeing. Ya closes up to where he can support. Finally one-two-three they cut him down!

Although weary, it’s urgent to re-scout and determine whether any goblin reserve has been left with any captives. They take the raft across unmolested and find a barred cell below the level of the main cavern, holding two traumatized and terrified women. Off the main cavern is the goblin boss’s lair with three girls, also traumatized. No other survivors.

During this sweep there is much discussion of how to get the grail bowl, and assessment of value of various loot.

After gently removing the womenfolk and using pet therapy with Gear and the little bear to try to re-engage them with the outer world – and using all of the healer kit treating damaged eyes – they loot thoroughly.

The goblin boss’s lair had coin: they remove 7 pounds of it – 280 copper and 70 silver – and find more coin among the dead. The hobgoblin wore a hefty (2lb) silver armband. Goblin weaponry is not bad quality, and the arrows are usable for Lee.

Aside from the bowl – which they agree they will return to the Horned Skulls – they recover six healing potions (Ya uses one immediately) and one similar but superior potion. Then, carrying Gear, ushering the women and followed by a small bear, they trek out.

The Horned Skull shaman is happy to communicate the benevolent approval of his chief. The goblin tribe escorts the party in a direct line to Mardleton, and safety!

(1) I dropped one pretty significant menace at this point because I could not imagine the goblins NOT using this passage as a flanking passage. As things turned out the party did not sally up here and the goblins did not get time to sally down it before the party retreated outside.

XP: This significant adventure boosts Lee to Level 3. Pais is 1/3 the way to Level 4, and Ya and Luth are halfway.

Next session, at least at this stage after a brief canvass of options, we stick with the same party and the immediate aftermath of goblin fever. Stay tuned!


  1. Hi Andrew, a couple of things:

    1] Just wondering why Pais is lagging behind Ya and Luth on XP when all three of them had hit 3rd level simultaneously?

    2] Having just had a read of Expeditious Retreat to familiarise myself with it, I suspect your interpretation of it may have gimped the goblin chief – to me it looks as if your first Dash of the spell comes as soon as you cast it, and then in subsequent rounds you get the bonus action on your turn? From recall he was surrounded on three sides when he cast it though, so an AOO as he ran would probably have meant curtains for him anyway…

    • Hi Dave,
      1) Pais has lagged Ya and Luth throughout, ever since PC deaths kept the other 2 “in” longer than planned. He rose to lvl3 by DM fiat at the end of Natural Balance. Whereas the other two were “over” by the end.
      2) it’s really not worth relitigating.

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