As the party travels and passes the base of a hill, they come upon a group of wounded merchants surrounded by broken barrels. “Ahhhhh, here comes another!” One merchant points up the hill as a barrel comes bouncing down. The party must make a DEX save of 10, otherwise they are likely to be hit by the barrel.
Depending on the result, the barrel slams into a rock directly next to a cobbler and spills its contents all over the ground.
Another merchant shrieks and two horses sprint away, carrying some of the goods with them. “This is insane, what could be happening up there?” The male half-elf introduces himself as Jan Puman, a merchant that primarily deals in plumbing supplies and other sewer necessities.
He runs his hands through his hair as he looks over the crippled group of merchants and then to the party. “We’ve been traveling this same road for years, and this is the first time we’ve had any issues. Would you be able to run up that hill and see why they’re throwing barrels at us? It’s about a mile up there, and in our current state, none of us feels comfortable risking the journey.”
Thunder In Our Hearts
If the party decides to run up the road, they’ll need to make DEX checks along the way to dodge incoming barrels. If they miss, the barrels do 3d6 bludgeoning damage, with the impact differing based on what is in the barrel itself.
Mechanically, think of the hill as a 200-400ft climb (or longer if the party was mean to you recently), and consider using a 40-foot-wide road to give the party some room to spread out, but not too much room. We’ve created a hastily made map here for you to use [Inkarnate link]. Roll a d8 to determine which column to place the barrel in and then use the below table to determine barrel contents. Barrels will roll down the hill at a rate of 50 ft per round. Barrel contents table:
- Fresh fish in water, no additional damage
- Amber Ale, the road becomes difficult terrain from the liquid
- Thunder wear, some items of clothing that on impact let loose a Thunder Wave spell. Each creature in a 15-foot cube originating from you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet away from you. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t pushed.
- Lead, add an additional 1d6 bludgeoning damage
- Biggle Balls ball bearings, additional 1d4 damage and the road becomes difficult terrain
- So many baguettes
- Smaller barrels, each filled with some sort of tree sap
- A man trying to escape whatever is happening in the town at the top of the hill.
As the party works their way up the hill, you can launch as many barrels as you see fit per round, but through play-testing, three feels like the max per round. At the end of the day it’s entirely up to you!
All standard rules are in effect, but no enemies are involved on the upward run other than the barrels themselves.
Making A Deal With Gawhd
Approaching the top of the hill, the party will see the source of the barrels. There seems to be a fire brigade of goblins (8 standard goblins) carrying barrels out of a storage center and handing them off to two larger goblins (that take on the Hobgoblin Captain stat block). Once the barrels reach the hulking gobbos, they gleefully roar as the chuck the barrels down the hill.
To the side is a Hobgoblin Warlord threatening a small crowd of townsfolk and explaining his version of Trickle Down Goblinomics. The Warlord yells, “you have foregone your payments to me, Gawhd, and we seek restitution. If we do not receive our payment, Kayht and Buwsch will continue chucking your goods down the hill.”
At this point the party can hop straight into fighting, or they can take a more diplomatic route.
Roughly two weeks ago, the goblins rampaged through the town with a larger army. Led by a leader more interested in gold than murder, the town struck a deal where they would pay a weekly sum of 1000gp to the goblins. The town’s GDP is only 500gp, so they were never planning on paying, hoping the goblins would forget or the town would figure out a way to stop the goblins in the mean time. Gawhd was sent with his small crew to collect payment, which brings us to current times.
- If the party pays the goblins to go away, they will buy the town an extra week and work with them to set up defenses or some other plan to prevent the need to pay the goblins in the future
- If the party unalives the goblin crew, they will likely run into other Hobgoblin Warlord crews in the future, especially if one goblin escapes
- If the party does nothing, the townsfolk will pay what they can and the DM must decide what fate they meet if it’s not paid in full
The only positive outcome for the party is if they fend off the goblins and save the town. If they are able to do that, the town will grant them the rights to any of the barrels the goblins were throwing, as well as a heavy discount for any of the merchants that are now able to visit the town.
Other reward ideas could be Hounds of Love, or Synth Pop. We’re not sure what stats we’d give those, but they fit with the title, so do your best/worst.