All Things DnD's Story Dungeon

D&D Story: How Teamwork Can Make Even An 'Unbeatable' Encounter 'Beatable'

January 11, 2021 All Things DnD
All Things DnD's Story Dungeon
D&D Story: How Teamwork Can Make Even An 'Unbeatable' Encounter 'Beatable'
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All Things DnD's Story Dungeon
D&D Story: How Teamwork Can Make Even An 'Unbeatable' Encounter 'Beatable'
Jan 11, 2021
All Things DnD

This was an epic display of quick thinking and teamwork and I love it. If I were DMing I would have snuck a worg into that hedge maze to really make things intense

Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)

Show Notes Transcript

This was an epic display of quick thinking and teamwork and I love it. If I were DMing I would have snuck a worg into that hedge maze to really make things intense

Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)

This story comes from my first real D&D campaign. I'd run a short game once before, but this was my first time creating the story myself.
In the opening adventure, the party had been sent to investigate the sudden silence of Therrilton, a small "village". It was more a merchant's private nobility fantasy, total population six that had been having trouble with goblin raiding parties. It turned out the place had been overrun by the goblins, leaving the PCs to have to retake it, kill the goblin raiders, and rescue the sole survivor. They were given the land as a reward, including the small fortified manor house.
Our heroes in this tale are:
Taelin, a battle-loving Cleric of Tempus, a war god that was built to out-Fighter a Fighter and who wanted to be a general in whatever war would inevitably come.
Trinity, a traveling Sorceress that served as the party's boomstick.
Eyarn, an anarchist Bard that fought with a bow and never entirely got over becoming a major part of the local government. 
"Kayem", a half-orc Ranger that specialized in big weapons .
The party had departed their new manor to do some shopping in the nearest real town. Unbeknownst to them, the goblin raiders that had originally sacked Therrilton were part of a much larger force, and had been sent to secure it as a forward base to strike against the town in the future. I'd determined when the next check-in from that force would come, a lone messenger for the party to fight and take as a sign that bigger things were afoot. Wouldn't you know it, he arrived while they were off shopping; he saw that his fellows had all been killed, and frantically rode back to report in.
So the PCs get home, and Kayem notices fresh worg tracks, putting the party on alert. They start securing the manor house as best they can. It wasn't a well-fortified manor house. They run ropes between the outer buildings to knock worg-riders out of their saddles. Because the house had been designed at least somewhat for defensibility and it was in a warm-ish climate, there was a large flat section accessed via trap-door from the sitting room that would provide a higher vantage to defenders even if it didn't have railings or battlements to give them cover.
 
They figured that the goblins, upon hearing that their advance group had been wiped out somehow, would send a scouting force to investigate. Scouts, like messengers, need to travel fast, so I put them on worgs as the stereotypical goblin mount. Ten goblins seemed like a reasonable scouting force, and a solid challenge to the party. There was just one little mistake I was making in my inexperience, an assumption that seemed perfectly sensible but turned out to be completely incorrect - that the goblins would be more dangerous than their mounts.
In D&D 3.5, goblins are Challenge Rating, one third. Worgs are CR two, enough for one of them to be a solid fight for a party of four level-two characters. By book rules, ten worg-riding goblins worked out to a strong CR NINE encounter.
 
The party was still first-level.
 
So the goblins arrive, and the PCs are as ready as they can be. The battle starts with an exchange of arrows, but the goblins are definitely getting the worse end of it: Their goblin-sized shortbows don't have the range or the power of the human-sized longbows wielded by Eyarn and Kayem or the crossbow used by Trinity. 
 
The windows through which the defenders are shooting give them substantial cover, and Eyarn's Bardic music is giving everyone bonuses. The party has an edge in range, accuracy, and damage, and the goblins notice that pretty quickly as they start to fall to the defenders' fire. Trinity does take an arrow or two from the goblins; this is the first of many times she'd get shot in the early days of that campaign, which is why she ended up taking Protection From Arrows as one of her second-level spells later on and got to learn a kobold obscenity, but that's another story for another day.
 
Realizing that their usual tactics aren't going to work here, the goblins and several now-riderless worgs rush in, hoping to use their superior numbers in close combat. The party had secured the front door as much as they could, but considering it had already been broken down at least once it wasn't as solid as it should have been. With the goblins and worgs slamming against the door the party continues raining pain from the windows, with Taelin dropping several pieces of furniture from the upper story. They focus on the goblins, figuring that once the brains of the operation were dead the worgs would retreat. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the party, the leader behind all of this is scarier to the worgs than the party is.
 
By the time they're able to break through the front doors, the goblins are all down as are some of the worgs, but the rest are mostly just pissed off and desperate. The party, meanwhile, retreated up a rope through the trapdoor to the roof rather than get mauled by worgs.
 
As the upstairs sitting room fills with worgs, the party peppers them with arrows through the trapdoor. Unfortunately, the worgs' hit points outlast the party's entire stock of ammunition and offensive spells.
 
Our heroes are now trapped on the roof of a two-story building with some very angry worgs inside.
After a bit of quiet plotting, Eyarn starts singing loudly to distract the worgs from Taelin and Kayem quietly using the rope to climb down the outside of the house. Their first stop is the front door, closing and barricading it from the outside this time. They then proceed to loot the dead goblins for more arrows and collect any intact misses they can find. Taelin also gathers up a bunch of stones throwing size.
 
Eyarn and Trinity sneak down as well eventually, and all four party members retreat to the hedge maze behind the house. One section of the hedges was enchanted to quickly regrow any damage and to be extremely difficult to climb or to cut with anything but a specific tool, which the party took inside with them. This gave them somewhere secure to rest and to recover a bit.
Next morning, they climb back to the roof, open the trapdoor again, and resume shooting arrows and spells at the worgs. Taelin throws his rocks while singing one of his god's battle hymns at the top of his lungs; the first few have a Magic Stone spell on them to make them really hurt. The worgs might not be geniuses, but they definitely realize that something's amiss given that their prey had previously run out of ammo. They flee downstairs, howling in rage when they find the doors blocked again. Taelin and Kayem jump back in to try fighting the remaining worgs using the stairs as a bottleneck. Kayem takes point, getting a boost to his reach and already prodigious strength courtesy of an Enlarge Person spell from Taelin.
 
Worgs surge back up the stairs, the first two falling quickly to a readied attack and an attack of opportunity by Kayem. From there it's a much more even fight, and Kayem starts taking damage while continuing to wield his falchion to devastating effect. Finally, with Taelin running low on spells, Kayem takes a hit that brings him down to exactly zero hit points.
 
Taelin rushes up the rope, then Kayem uses his increased size to just haul himself to the roof in a single heave before collapsing.
 
Taelin is able to stabilize Kayem, but the trapdoor is too small and the worgs too far away for him to use his enlarged reach to attack them effectively, and his hands are no longer the right size for his bow. Still, there are a lot fewer worgs than when they started this fight, and the survivors aren't exactly unscathed. With their prey once more out of reach and arrows still coming through the trapdoor, their morale finally fails for real and they again flee downstairs. Between the prior damage and the worgs' desperation, they're able to break through the doors once again and start running for home.
 
The party sees this, and while they're relieved at the end of the immediate threat they also know that if those worgs escape they might come back with reinforcements. Eyarn, the party's best archer, starts loosing arrow after arrow at the rapidly-fleeing worgs.
 
Only one worg is left, and it's badly wounded, but at this point the range is so great that Eyarn is eating some pretty huge penalties. It's far enough that only a natural twenty could hit. Eyarn takes his Hail-Mary shot…
 
Natural 19. 
 
One short. 
 
Then someone remembers that he's got a buff running, Inspire Courage. That meant his attack bonus was one higher, which was exactly, barely enough to hit. The worg goes down.
 
Cue relieved celebration.
 
This miraculously-salvaged debacle was the start of the party's campaign-long practice of never letting an enemy escape, no matter what insane stunts they had to pull to make that happen. One of those stunts is why to this day I call the spell "Expeditious Charge" rather than "Expeditious Retreat", but again, that's another story...