Monday, January 7, 2013

Little Encounters – The Goblin Curse (Goblin)

And Now for Something Completely Different… a return to my Little Encounters series. As usual, I’m totally incapable of consistency. I started this series to create short, easy to “plug-n-play” encounters for each monster of the Pathfinder Bestiary 2. Well, I got an idea for a goblin encounter – a very weird one. So here it goes. Have in mind that this is actually a trap, not an encounter. However, the players will get a fair warning first.

The Goblin Curse (CR 1/3, ideally for groups between levels 1-6)

This encounters starts when the party finds the long decomposed body of an unfortunate wizard. There’s nothing of interest in the skeletal corpse (maybe 1d4 scrolls if you’re feeling generous, a potion or alchemical item and a good dagger). It should be closed to a barred door or sealed cave entrance. Close examination of it reveal several small cuts and bite marks – especially in the hands and feet [If you’re afraid of PCs using speak with the dead, remember that this is a skeleton, without a tongue].

At the aforementioned barriers lies a warning (maybe even a rune of danger or arcane mark): “Beware the unfailing beast!”

Behind the door/barrier the party can clearly hear small snarls, gibberish and scratches. This encounter assumes that the party has faced goblins before – as the noise comes clearly from what appears to be a lone (and mad) goblin. The gibberish – when it can be understood – is punctuated by phrases like “Kill! Kill!”, “Me hunger…” or “Charge!”.

If the party removes the barriers they find indeed a lone goblin, armed with a small rusted blade. The creature instantly attacks and fight to the end, never retreating. The only unusual thing about the critter is a strange flaming red serpentine eye tattooed over the goblin’s chest. Detect magic reveals an unidentifiable dweomer of overwhelming strenght.

Things start to get weird 1d4 hours later. Two goblins – suddenly and unprovoked – attack the party, coming out of nowhere. Both goblins have the same tattoo in different parts of their bodies. Guess what happens 1d4 hours later? 4 goblins attack. Then 8, 16, 32, 64, 128… The vermin always appear 1d4 hours later, at a random location at 90 ft. of the party. They always know the direction of the party and fight to the death.

What the heck is going on?

I don’t have a clue. This encounter is here simply to annoy (or kill) the PCs and satisfy my cruel GM urges. Apparently the only to get rid of the “unfailing goblins” is to contain the vermin somehow. If this is accomplished, then the goblins will slowly disappear after a few days, until only one remain again. After a week, the “curse” is lifted; the lonely goblin will wait for its next killers.

If you care enough about this sadistic trap to search for a reason (and if seeing you players’ reaction doesn’t give you any ideas), here are 1d4 suggestions:

1 . The “Unfailing Goblin” is actually the diminished and mad avatar of a long dead goblin deity (maybe the race’s creator!). The only way to get rid of the curse is to send the goblin(s) back to their original demesne – the Other Planes. The catch: This will actually resurrect the goblin god, who will be very happy and thankful of the PC’s assistance. He will probably “bless” them with “powerful” goblin shapes (or send goblin minions to assist them). Knock yourself out with this new patron.

2 . This is actually a curse from a dead archmage of a bygone age. He unleashed it on the king (and his followers) who ransacked his tower. The goblins eventually formed a horde and destroyed that realm. To remove the curse, the party must find the archmage’s body and bury it properly inside the ruined tower.  The catch:  The party now has the ghost of the king haunting them; he wants his long dead realm restored. Good luck.

3 . There’s actually an entire goblin horde contained here. The first goblin faced is just the living gate for the rest (that waits in suspended animation in a pocket demiplane). The get rid of the curse, simply put the goblin(s) in contact with any other extradimensional space or portal (even a dimensional door will suffice). The catch: Doing this will actually destroy the demiplane, releasing 10.000 goblins on your world.

4 . The “unfailing goblin” is actually a unique, potent and very bizarre dweomer – treat it as a special 6th level arcane spell. Trapping the critters in an area of dead magic, an antimagic field; or using dispel magic (DC 35) or mage’s disjunction, will revert the goblin(s) to its (their) original form – an ancient scroll. This dweomer can’t be transcribed to a grimoire (or known by a sorcerer), but it can be “cast” at a target within 30 ft. with a successful caster level check (DC 25) or use magic device (DC 30). The catch:  None. The gods love you! (However, if the check to cast the scrolls fails, the GM is encouraged to come up with all kinds of troubles over the party – like cursing them to goblinoid form etc.)