I have acquired an office whiteboard, which is more or less the width of our playing table. This, along with a couple of marker pens serves us very well as our battlemat – ideal for sessions when the action takes place outdoors or in areas that would not really work with conventional dungeon floor plans.
Readers should note that this session is based on the Spider Farm module from Dragonsfoot.
Having received the alert from the escaped farm worker about the seizure of the farm by goblins, the party set off up the trackway towards the Spider Farm. Pretty soon, they were there – the distance was only about three or four miles.
I sketched out the overall layout on the whiteboard and the party decided on their strategy. They were accompanied by Sergeant Subaras and Trooper Prebor from the West Gate, with whom they had adventured before and Trooper Frell from the East Gate detachment.
Again, they decided on a three-pronged approach, with Alurax and Akurath and Subaras heading towards the central spider pit to see what it was, Elise and Prebor taking the right flank and Zhastar and Frell on the left.
As it was daylight, the party did not encounter any goblins out and about, since they were not aware that their presence was yet known in town. Zhastar and Frell were the first to find something; listening at the wall of one of the dormitories, they heard some groaning and whimpering, some harsh voices and the sound of punches. They scurried off and got the rest of the party together and, with weapons drawn, they burst in to find two goblins busy beating up the farmer while another four stood around watching.
Sergeant Subaras and Prebor took the goblins wholly by surprise and took down a couple. On the next round, the party came hurtling through in strength (apart from Zhastar and Frell, who were keeping an eye on the outside). Some vicious fighting took place, with the four observer goblins hacked down and backed into a corner where they were soon finished off. Subaras and Prebor made short work of the torturer goblins. In all, I don’t think that anyone in the party even suffered a hit.
Alurax was on the point of getting Elise to give the farmer a Cure Light when Zhastar and Frell arrived back with bad news – there were shouts of alarm and the sound of movement from the farm’s dining hall, the next building up.
No time for regrouping, the party made straight for the main doors and as they burst in, they met goblins in serious numbers coming out. Battle was joined in the doorway. Elise felled one with her Lucerne hammer, Alurax went blade to blade with what looked like a goblin leader. As the goblin facing Elise fell, two goblin archers popped up from behind the counter at the back and opened fire, hitting Elise and taking her down to –2. Prebor dragged her to safety as Subaras manfully stepped into the breach.
Meanwhile, unnoticed by the party, two goblins who had been near the kitchen area vanished form the table. Where had they gone? We’ll see.
The melee in the doorway was going the party’s way now, with Subaras weighing in, taking down another goblin and Alurax opening fire with his bow on the goblin archers. Several goblin arrows came very close to hitting either Subaras or Alurax but none did.
As the fighting inside the dining hall came to an end, Akurath was taken wholly by surprise as the two goblins that had sneaked out of the back door came hurtling round the corner of the building and attacked. Fortunately, they both missed, and Akurath and Frell took them out with little effort.
The final goblin archer tossed down his weapon and offered to surrender but Alurax was having none of it and Elise, having been the recipient of the only Cure Light of the whole game, was sent in to finish him off with her hammer.
As the party regrouped, they came under bow fire from the corner of the next building. Four goblin archers had appeared and were busy trying to turn our heroes into pincushions. Alurax, Akurath with his newly-purchased heavy crossbow and Trooper Frell with his crossbow were returning fire. It must have looked like some sort of Western gunfight, as neither side made any attempt to close, just exchanged missile fire.
Eventually, the party’s superior to hits told and two of the goblins fell. Only Akurath had taken any hits and as his HP were 10 to start with, he wasn’t that bothered. The two surviving goblins took off into the forest surrounding the farm.
It was then that Zhastar mentioned that he thought that he had heard muffled voices whilst in the dining hall. The party headed back there and soon fond a trapdoor at the back near the kitchen. When they opened it, there were five surviving farm workers, very glad to be rescued.
A cursory search of the outbuildings revealed the bodies of five other workers in two buildings, and the party was on the verge of investigating the pit in the centre of the farm when the farmer told them that this was where they kept the spiders, and there was definitely no need for them to go down there.
Flushed with the success of their mission, the party headed back to Antiar’s Landing with the chink of gold in their pockets (the farmer had rewarded them with 100gp) and some hard-earned experience points; okay, only goblins, but every little helps where you’re first level and in the case of Alurax and Elise, multi-classed as well.
We will see in the next session what happens when the party gets back to town.
I had downgraded the opposition from Shadow Goblins to normal goblins, because I surmised that with their illusionist and thief abilities, they would be able to run rings round JG and his party, even using Subaras as the DM proxy. As luck would have it, they managed to locate and kill two of the goblin leaders and four of their men in the first fight and the second large group of goblins were only in the next building so it was a simple follow-on for a party that was already fired up. If they had been obliged to split up and search the farm again, they might have fallen prey to goblin ambushes, but even then I would probably not have consigned any of them to certain death; I would have had them captured and prepared for sacrifice to the spiders, with a generous chance to escape if they had used their heads and not done anything stupid. As it was, I didn’t have to worry about that. If a DM wants to run this adventure with younger players, I think that this is probably a good choice to take; it gives the party a chance, there is mortal peril and the players are encouraged to think up ways of escaping with what is lying around.