4d4 Goblin Lair
by Creighton Broadhurst
August 13, 2019
Are you a busy GM? Does session prep take too long? Do you never have time to work on the cool little details that can bring your session to life? Well fear not! This article presents four tables to help you add depth and verisimilitude to the goblin lairs in your campaign.
Things to Find Outside a Goblin Lair
Goblins are not the tidiest or most subtle of creatures. The evidence of their presence litters the approaches to their lairs.
- Yellowing bones are tied to the branches of a stunted bush growing nearby the entrance to the tribe’s lair. Tied onto the bush with ribbons, bits of twine and thin strips of leather the bones clack together in the breeze.
- A gallimaufry of tracks mars the ground. Scraps of broken equipment lie scattered about.
- Scorch marks mar several trees in the immediate vicinity (showing where the goblins have practised with fire).
- A deep, wide fire pit has been dug into the ground a score of paces from the entrance tunnel. Ash and fragments of burnt wood fill the hole and on windy days, the ash fills the air like a fine mist. Inquisitive PCs also find bones of several animals (probably horses or ponies and suchlike) buried amongst the ash.
Things to Find in a Goblin’s Pouch
Peerless scavengers, goblins delight in searching through other races’ leavings to uncover lost “treasures”. In truth, such trinkets are normally nothing but rubbish. To the goblins, however, they have great value.
- A small book has had many of its pages torn out and others folded into various animal shapes, which have been crushed between the covers.
- This fragment of impressively‐wrought, supple chainmail is heavily rusted and tattered at the edges.
- A battered tin cup has been crushed out of shape. Its handle is crushed flat to the cup itself and is unusable.
- A small bar of lead, in a small wooden box.
Minor Goblin Encounters
Use these sample minor encounters, to breathe life into the PCs' explorations:
- The PCs hear whistling from the direction they are heading. A few moments later, a goblin female carrying an empty water jug wanders around the corner. If she gets the chance, she screams, hurls the jug at the nearest intruder's head and then flees.
- As #1, but the female has a young child with her. She screams for help and tries to hold off the PCs while her child escapes to raise the alarm.
- The PCs discover a goblin scratching some graffiti into the wall with a sharp stone. The goblin has not noticed them. Investigations reveal, the goblin is writing derogatory comments about the tribe's chief.
- These two young warriors have stolen a flask of wine and are enjoying it somewhere out of the way. They are drunk.
Goblins with Personality
There are few fantasy foes a low-level PC can face as iconic as the goblin. These lean, green killing machines can be anything from chillingly psychotic to hilariously inept.
- His lips are just fine; the nickname comes from the jagged scar across his throat that prevents him from speaking louder than a whisper.
- This matronly goblin is never seen without at least four of her babes in tow; she teaches her children how to fight by throwing them at enemies.
- Wearing a black tai-corn hat, with a skull hastily drawn on in chalk, and fighting with two meat hooks he holds in his hands, this goblin fancies himself a pirate, but is only really interested in plundering pastries.
- This goblin has over-long arms which hang down to her knees, and oversized hands. She kisses her victims just as they die, attempting to steal their last breath.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #17: Goblin Lair, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.