For regular readers (all 2 of you), you might remember that in November I took part in the Fall 2020 RPG Writer Workshop. I wrote a blog post about it a couple of weeks back where I talked about the first two weeks of writing, and notably the slump I got in before finding what I actually wanted to do. There is also a preview of the adventures map. Well, I released that adventure on the DMs Guild this week, so I thought I’d give you the lowdown of the adventure below, so you can see if it’s something that interests you. You can find it in the Fall 2020 RPG Writer Workshop bundle Vol 2, if you want to hold out for that. I hope to be able to review some of the other products from the bundle in the upcoming weeks, so look out for that if the bundle interests you. If the bundle doesn’t interest you however, you can pick up “What’s Mine is Ours” here.
Spoiler warning: I’ll be discussing details of the adventure below. If you are one of the 4 people in the world that will play this adventure then I’d advise against reading for the sake of your DM
The adventure breakdown
What’s Mine is Ours is a one-shot adventure (between 3 and 6 hours) for D&D 5e featuring the iconic goblin mine. In this case however, the characters are coming to the aid of the goblins, rather than exterminating them. The difficulty is designed for 4 level 3 characters, but should be quite easily modifiable to take into account other party compositions. The adventure is broken down into three chapters, plus an introduction and conclusion. The aim of the adventure is to help a tribe of goblins who have escaped the oppressive hobgoblin empire as they establish themselves in an iron mine. Most of the adventure is concerned with making the mine safe, thought the final chapter details what happens when the hobgoblin empire finally finds them.
The classic introduction to any D&D adventure: background story, adventure overview, and three story hooks to get your players involved. The plot hooks provided are the default one more deeply described in chapter 1, and two more allowing you to skip chapter 1 if you’re short on time, but which carry a higher risk of having your adventure go completely off book right from that start. This adventure is based on the idea of helping goblins, and the default assumption for a lot of players when they see a goblin is “kill”, so jumping right to chapter 2 with the secondary plot hooks might be tricky.
Chapter 1 presents a brief description of Cathric, the local town, and its Marquess, the default quest giver. This one page description exists mainly to provide players with a place to stock up on supplies, get the quest and possibly roll a few dice to negotiate better pay or get a hint that maybe the new mine owners aren’t quite what we might expect.
I originally created Cathric, and the initial idea that became this adventure, when designing my own setting for a “West Marches” style of game. I hope that one day I’ll finish fleshing out the area and maybe put it up on DrivThruRPG but that is a project for a much later date. For now, Cathric is simply a generic frontier town that provides the starting point for this adventure, or your very own campaign.
Ah, now for the real meat and potatoes of the adventure. This is where most of the action happens. Your characters arrive at the mine and discover the goblin tribe and notably it’s leaders: Grishelda, the nilbog who is leading them, and Hubruk, the goblin lasher trying to organise things. These two leaders detail the problems that they are facing, providing clear goals to the characters.
On a design level these can be broken down into three major interactions, and two minor. The three major interactions are:
- The spiders inhabiting the mine. These spiders should be a easy to medium fight for the characters. It is a way of getting the players eased into the adventure, with a little environmental effect of having to fight in a webbed room.
- The Umber Hulk at the end of the mine. This is the major fight for chapter 2. An Umber Hulk is quite a challenge for level 3 characters, even if they have the action economy on their side. They should have spent relatively few resources so far however, and have the possibility of escaping and coming back later, so it should be an engaging fight without leading to a TPK.
- The animated mining tools in the forge. There are two ways of dealing with these. The most straight forward is to fight and destroy them. The other way, and the way hinted at by the goblin leaders, is to repair the control circle that gives them commands, making them inoffensive and even potentially helpful to the goblins later. This can be done by solving a relatively simple puzzle, that the players can either try to figure out on their own, or can find the answer through either an arcana or investigation check.
The two minor interactions are:
- An injured Rust Monster. A single Rust Monster should be no problem for the characters, and this one has reduced hit points. It exists to warn the players about the danger of the Umber Hulk, and also because I couldn’t resist putting such an iconic monster in a place that it fit so well.
- Yakka, Wakka and Dat. These are three goblins that have been selected for training to help protect the tribe, and the goblin leaders ask that they be allowed to follow the PCs to learn something. These provide slight comic relief and can give the DM a way of providing the players with information as needed. They’re a roleplaying element. Their names might be slightly reminiscent of a trio of beloved childhood cartoon characters, however I will neither conform nor deny the likeness. While I leave the amount of their interactions up to DM discretion, you can be sure that I personally played up their chaotic nature to the max, occasionally cutting out of some scenes to describe what they were doing in the background.
There is also the option to cause a cave in too (though not of the “rocks falls everyone dies” variety, ot at least I hope not), if you want to spice things up a bit. Once the characters have dealt with these problems, the goblins tribe is more than happy to provide Cathric with the iron it needs, for a reasonable price, and throw a party to celebrate.
Your characters have helped the goblins and everything was going well… until the hobgoblins attacked. Yes that’s right, those pesky hobgoblins that we’ve been hinting at since the start finally turn up to cause havoc. This is the big dramatic final battle of the adventure. The DM is provided with options to make it harder or easier as they need but by default it is designed to be a difficult fight for the PCs, who wont have the action economy on their side this time either. The hobgoblins move in from several sides, and some of them go to face off the goblins, making sure that they can’t come to the aid of the heroes and upping the stakes of what will happen if they loose. If your characters pull through, congratulations they get their reward! If not, well it looks like you’ll have to make up an “escape from the hobgoblins” adventure next, sorry about that.
The conclusion section details what happens depending on the most likely paths that your PCs took, from the default setting to the “oops, you killed everyone” conclusion for those groups that just can’t conceive that goblins can be friends not foe.
Behind the DM Screen
As stated, Cathric was originally the safe location of my homebrew West Marches campaign, with some adjustments. The mine also theoretically existed in the setting, though the goblins are a new addition for this adventure, as is the map and, well, the adventure itself. This means that it should be pretty easy to slip into your own campaign, and there are a few hints as to how throughout the document. I hope to one day be able to flesh out the area more, and possibly publish it later as a seeding area for anyone wanting to run their own West Marches campaign, a style I personally appreciate a lot.
I hope that you like this adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is nothing particularly new or innovative in it, no exciting new monsters, no intricate puzzles, no amazing hand draw maps or illustrations, just a simple twist on an old classic. The goblins that you are usually trying to get rid of are now your friends and allies, and you’re trying to help them out in difficult times so that everyone is better for it. It’s a simple message of hope and friendship, with the aim of making us think a little bit more about our preconceived ideas on others. It is my wish that maybe, just maybe, that might be enough to make it worthwhile.
Until next time, be more kind,