Content of the article: "Better Goblin Weapons for FUN and PROFIT"
So I have recently DMed two parties through LMOP, and if there's one thing I've noticed, it's that there are a lot of goblins in the written adventure. Boring, plain old goblins. Now, I used all the tricks I could to make them exciting; I had a goblin PC, so I underscored that the Cragmaws were vicious, cannibalistic, might-makes-right servants of dark gods. I have them fight smart, and fight dirty, using their hide abilities and disengage abilities as much as I can. But still. Still, after everything, my PCs kept engaging 15* goblins at once and it devolved to endless shortbows and scimitars. Tedious.
So, I thought, what sort of weapons would a goblin use? They are ingenious, if crude, builders, tinkerers, trap-makers, and ambushers, and like hobgoblins, have an affinity for using beasts and animals to fight with and for them. So, I invented the following goblin weapons, to add excitement, fun, and sweet, sweet chaos to my player's lives. Not all of them are effective, but all of them had the desired reaction from my players (e.g. "oh god please no").
this is an exaggeration, except for one particularly misguided attempt to convince the Cragmaw Castle guards they were traveling salesmen)
And you know what?
It went well.
It went SO VERY well.
"OH GOD, NOT THE WEASELS AGAIN"
"Did he seriously just splurt grey ooze on my face?"
"I refuse to accept them using my bear-traps as morningstars against me"
"I know I have two rabid weasels hanging from my face, but I have to kill the other one before he throws more bees at us."
My friends, I believe that this is what goblins were made for. Please use or adapt as you like, and add any other suggestions you have in the comments below!
Grey Ooze Slime-thrower:
This goblin wears arm-length cured leather gloves, and carries a massive clay pot on her back. A giant spoon sits half-inside the pot, and half-over her shoulder, and a strange grey ooze shifts, even moves, inside the pot. She grins at you, then pulls down hard on the spoon, launching a dollop of grey goo straight towards you.
This goblin carries a miniature grey ooze, stuck in a giant hardened clay pot on her back. A clay ladle is set up to reach backwards into the pot and launch a spoonful of ooze. On a successful hit, it deals 1d6+2 acid damage. The damage is corrosive, so unless the player takes an action to wipe off the ooze (carefully!) their armour will be corroded, dealing -1 permanent cumulative damage to their AC. For unarmoured characters, the ooze will continue to deal 1d4 damage each turn it is not wiped off. Range is 15/30.
A variant is the Armoured Corrosive Slime-thrower. I used this goblin to great effect against a higher-level party. He has regular goblin stats, except an AC of 18, and a bag-pipe like sac of goo under his arms that he uses to either (1) spray over a 10ft area, dealing 1d4+2 to all creatures who fail a DC14 dexterity check, or (2) upon a successful hit, deal 2d6+2 damage to a single target.
Serrated Weasel Launcher:
One of the goblins drops the mess of sticks and twine they were fiddling with and grabs a long, hollowed, wooden tube. Someone has stuck nails, barbs, and pointed rocks up and down its length. It has a crank attached to one end, along with a crude-looking slingshot that has been pulled back as far as it will go. This goblin has a large wicker basket beside them, which shakes and trembles as if there is a living creature(s) inside it. In one smooth motion, the goblin reaches down, opens the basket, and pulls out a struggling, foaming, furry creature. The goblin shoves the creature into the tube, aims it towards you, and releases the slingshot. It is only when the creature is flying at your head that you see it is a rabid weasel.
This weapon fires a weasel at a target. The weasel is not pleased, and will attempt to attack whoever it lands on, dealing 1d4+1 damage as it finds cracks in your armour or sinks its little teeth in further. A weasel can be removed on a DC 10 dex save using a bonus action (they're hard to grab). It will continue to bite you each round unless removed. In a pinch, this weapon can be used as a 1d6 club, doing either bludgeoning or slashing damage. Range is 30/60.
Frankly, I couldn't have gotten more mileage out of this one if I had tried. The abuse of small woodland creatures outraged some players, but they were way more terrified of the weasels than they had any need to be. It got to the point where they insisted I describe each goblin carefully to determine if any had something tubular or weaselly about them. With a few lucky hits, the amount of weasels can become overwhelming, and the players were terrified of it. In reality, however, this is just a goblin that deals less damage on average, but the PCs perceived it as being more dangerous and were proud of beating it, which is all that matters!
Thrown weapon, 30/60. Releases a "Swarm of Insects", who will deal 4d4 damage to the target upon a successful hit, and/or join the initiative order and attach the nearest target to their impact point on a miss. A 1-5 on the attack roll means the hive explodes on the poor goblin who was trying to throw it. If trying to find a random impact point, pick the intended target, roll a 1d4 to determine direction, and a 1d6 to determine the distance (in 5ft increments) away from the intended target.
A thrown weapon, 30/60. Two heavy stones tied together with rope. On a hit, deals 1d4 damage. Target must make dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone, as the grapeshot tangles itself around your legs. Removing the tangled grapeshot requires a bonus action.
A goblin runs towards you, twirling what seems to be an improvised flail. On closer inspection, it is a rusty armed bear-trap, large enough to clamp around your entire leg. With a mighty heave, the goblin throws the open trap towards you and pulls on the chain.
On a hit, the trap snaps shut, dealing 1d6+2 damage. Prying the bear-trap off takes a full action and a DC13 strength saving throw. Take 1 additional piercing damage on a failure. While the trap is attached, and as a free action on the same turn the attack is made, the goblin can attempt to pull the enemy prone with an opposed strength check as a bonus action. The goblin gains advantage if another goblin is nearby. Each additional goblin pulling on the chain adds +2 to their strength check. (I have found this is a great use for the mob of goblins in the Cragmaw Castle kitchens, who gleefully drag a PC away with dreams of dinner.)
TL;DR Goblins can be even more dynamic and terrifying for your players with just a little re-skinning or re-imagining of their abilities.
First, I find that forcing players to give up bonus actions or full actions to remove detrimental effects creates some tense, meaningful decisions in otherwise straightforward fights, and it also helps relieve some of the tedium of yet another "goblin with a shortbow deals 1d6". "Goblin with a weasel slingshot and a firecracker (1d10 damage copy of firebolt)" is much more interesting.
Second, most of these weapons can be operated by two, three, four goblins, at once, allowing you to give your players the feeling of fighting a terrifying goblin horde without the tedium of twenty separate goblin attacks, or fighting one goblin at a time in a choke-point. Give all those goblins a chain lasso, and suddenly they're dragging the fighter away to an open space where they have the advantage.
Let me know what you think!
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