- Ofi (Gobber Gun Mage 1, played by Jess)
- Snarf (Gobber Arcane Mechanic 1, played by Dave)
- Nikkit (Gobber Rogue 1, played by Ben)
- Rami (Bogrin Bodger 1, played by Squirrel, then Hark)
- Fran (Bogrin Fighter 1, played by Si)
After discovering that their civilian occupations were a bit held up by the complete lack of visitors to their part of Fisherbrook over the last few weeks (no-one to rob, no-one to show off your sharpshooting skills to, no-one to mend things for), the titular goblins decided to set off for town and see if the humans had actually decided to abandon the grotty decrepit hellhole after its brief but exciting spell as a warzone earlier in the year.
They travelled all of two hundred yards before running into trouble. Passing by Thorston’s Yard (small dock and warehouses abandoned after the owner decided living within a mile of the front line wasn’t his thing), they heard the sounds of looting and decided to investigate. Five armed and dangerous humans were inside, lugging crates of merchandise into one of the abandoned warehouses.
When two came out to investigate the sounds of bickering from the street, the goblins semi-successfully ambushed them; Snarf blowtorched one in the soft bits and set his pig familiar to finishing her off, while Ofi capped one with a well-placed headshot from the nearby alley where she was lurking. Rami didn’t do so well, suffering a malfunction on his bodged quad-iron repeating rifle (an excellent gun, in theory, but home made and thus suffering every drawback in the book) that sent the stock one way and the barrels the other.
Nikkit attempted to creep around on the river side of the yard and sneak in that way, but fell foul of a sixth and rather more competent looter who punted the wee gobber into the river and shot his ear off when he surfaced (a critical hit, and one that came so close to killing a PC in the first combat, but with one hit point left B decided to have Nikkit The One-Eared Wonder Rogue feign death and float downstream for a bit, and since he had just taken a headshot it was a pretty convincing impression).
After a long bomb attempt with his lucky piglet, which didn’t hurt anyone but did distract the looters somewhat – Rami charged in and floored one looter with a sort of elaborate diving charge involving teeth, groins, kneecaps and the stock of his broken rifle. (Couldn’t be arsed working out exactly what combat mano… mane… that word I can’t spell was involved there, and so fiat! Dex roll to aim the jump, one hit roll, with two damage rolls – one for teeth and one for improvised weapon – if it was successful. Which it was.)
Snarf grabbed a crossbow from one body and set about ineffectively shooting at boxes, Ofi had a spot of bother reloading and so resorted to channeling Rays of Frost across the yard into people’s noses, Fran did rather a poor job of waving a stolen axe in people’s faces and a better job of punching their noses off (“d2 plus 6?”)… and Nikkit the Wonder Rogue surfaced, bandana tied around his bleeding ear’ole, and proceeded to point-blank blunderbuss shot his way through the bastard who shot his ear off.
All well and good so far. In the ensuing and somewhat chaotic second half of the session, the goblins searched the boxes and sacks the looters had been carrying and found a substantial quantity of red and black powder – a hundred-odd gunner’s pounds of stuff that goes bang – plus some Cygnaran-standard cartridges (useless for any of their weapons) and a sack of military-grade porridge. Searching the warehouse also yielded an eleven-part Plot Device, as we’re calling it – a piece of mechanika like nothing Snarf had ever seen before – and a pile of crab pots and rope that would make for rather interesting improvised bombs.
They also engaged in the time-honoured pastime of looting the bodies – bottles of vodka repurposed as blowtorch fuel, fur hats rapidly dropped onto goblin heads, military rifles bodged into goblin-sized sawn-offs, leather armour cannibalised (so Fran could actually have an AC worth spitting on), a letter of marque carried by the leader of the looters indicating that he (and only he, it’s got his name on it) was empowered by the Khadoran Empire to seize assets for the greater good of same as he saw fit, and a military belt-buckle, which Ofi immediately took to wearing as a shiny badge.
Establishing a stash in one of the warehouses, they laid down their ill-gotten gains and turned their attention to injuries. Nikkit spent some quality time with Karro the surgeon back at home in the Gobbers’ Mill, while Fran and Snarf sorted out some properly refitted leather armour, an ear-patch for the daft rogue, and a muzzle for Snarf’s pig – he has designs on building a cyber-pig, starting with clockwork tusk extensions… During the bartering with Jaxniver, the Mill’s resident trader in goods and services, they also sourced a large bottle of something grey and murky that smelt a bit like meat and a lot like chemical unpleasantness.
It was generally agreed that the party should lie low for a day or so, waiting for injuries to heal and so on. Next session, they want to check the stash before they press on into Fisherbrook proper in case it’s been looted again…
So much for play: now for meta! First and foremost: the hot-seating. Porky said something about the best laid plans back there? Truth. I come up with this scheme to cope with members of the group not being able to make it and they all bloody well show up to the first session. I ask you! There was still one hand-over involved, though, as Squirrel had to leave early and so Hark took over his character. The bodger immediately became less interested in shooting things and more interested in custom weaponry and bickering, but since those are also legitimate interests of a goblin amateur mechanic that hardly had what I’d call a long-term impact. I know we’ll be at least one player short over the next two weeks, so the hot-seating may receive a proper test next time.
The first half – the big fight – was pretty damn smooth, with a good deal of out-of-the-box thinking and cunning employed, and a goodly amount of slapstick as weapons fell apart and stray bullets demolished crates. The second half was… less smooth. A biggish group of excitable players can lead to some issues with turn-taking and a compromise of the GM’s capacity to know exactly what’s going on (can’t pay attention to everyone at once), so I might conceivably introduce an initiative roll for out-of-combat situations too just so that there’s an established turn order for looting and asking the GM questions. There was also something of a cludge-up as people rolled, took 10, or improvised their way around die rolls – I definitely remember pointing out that “this is why I hate the skill system”, but not what actually made me point that out. I suspect I might be projecting an issue with the raggedy and hectic order of play onto the mechanics being employed, and the ‘roll initiative to search’ mechanic might be useful there.
I’m also a bit concerned about ensuring that opponents from members of PC races present an appropriate challenge. My bodge-it-as-you-go approach is fine for creating humans, elves or whatever that the party can handle with a little luck and skill, but if they run into something that’s meant to outclass them I think I’d better have a stat block handy for it. Might have to sit down with some miniatures and punch up some stats for opponents with class levels, I think. That’s why I’ve asked the players what they think they’ll want to do next; gives me a bit of a leg up. They’ll probably change their minds but at least I’ll have something to work from.