Wow it's been a whole month since the last one of these. Time really does fly when you're incredibly busy organising a bunch of travel and then actually doing it. I'm sure I did other stuff to, but god knows what it was.
Anyway, it's time for another story inspired by my regular D&D shenanigans!
It might not be obvious given the sorts of stories that I've been writing, but the campaign that I run is not always about epic confrontations with villains bent on destruction or domination.
Sometimes it's just about giving a small business owner a helping hand.
If you're planning on playing through the Dungeon of the Mad Mage and want to go in blind, this blog post spoils some stuff on the second level.
You have been warned.
I Prefer The Real You
They never appreciated me. Always looked down on me. Thought I was stupid.
I showed them. I got away. Slipped out when it was my time to watch. Told the other goblin that I'd be right back. He was the stupid one. Not like me, I'm smart.
I'll find my own way.
Found a big room. Lots of trash. But it has a throne. I want to sit on that throne.
Must have been built by the hairy little people a long time ago. They are always so angry, but they knew how to build, that's for sure.
Found some other goblins in the hall, living in the trash. Stupider than me. Everyone is stupider than me. I said I was weak and dumb, and they believed me! So easy to lie. They let me stay.
Now I have to scrounge though! I'm too good for that. Too smart.
But I have somewhere to sleep now.
I can work with this.
Found a thing. Shiny. Like a ring. Too big for my fingers though.
Put it on my head.
I'm tall now. Taller than everyone else. I can look down on them and now when I speak, they listen. Told them to clean up the hall and they started doing it. Being tall is great!
Found a passageway under the trash behind the throne. Sent some of the others up to take a look. It leads to the city above!
I bet I could send the other goblins up there to scrounge. We could steal. Take things and bring them back.
Probably less dangerous than it is down here.
Maybe I could trade. I'll tall like the pink things, could learn to speak their words. Offer deals, sell things from down here.
I could make a market.
More goblins have come. From all sorts of places. Some big hairy goblins too. That was scary, thought they would hit me, but they listened because I'm tall and can yell loud.
Sometimes other goblins look at me from the corner of their eyes, watching me. I know they want to be tall, but the big ring is mine and they can't have it.
The hall has stalls now, with little boxes and awnings and goblins selling whatever they can scavenge. They pay me just to be here. I don't have to do anything!
I just have to sit here. On my throne.
Sometimes chittering blob things come into the hall, but there are lots of goblins now and they are easy to stab, even if their voices make my head hurt and the ground goes mushy where they blurmph.
I make some goblins guards, just like in the guild. Give them stabby things and thick shirts. Tell them to keep the riffraff out.
Things are going well.
Ugh, spider-face found me.
Wanted to claim the market for the guild, but I said no. I'm tall now so I could look him right in the face and I told him to go away.
He was angry but we have sharp things and pointy things and smashy things from the surface, so he couldn't do anything.
He was going to leave. Definitely would have come back later. Snuck in. Probably stabbed me a lot.
Then, a thought. Because I'm smart. I have thoughts.
Maybe spider-face needs things?
I tell him that I can get him things for a price. Supplies. Information. Cheap too. Just leave me be. Leave the market alone.
For now anyway. He'll try to kill me at some point. Can't trust elves. Can't trust spiders. Definitely can't trust half-spider half-elf.
What to do?
Scavenging team came back with a hairy little person. So angry. Killed some of them, which made me angry.
Asked him why he was down here. What he was doing. Kept spitting at me. Making angry noises.
I remember they like their beards, so I cut it off and burned it. Thought he was angry before!
Stupid bald thing. Constant yelling is making my ears hurt.
Keep him in separate room. No food. Some water. He'll get quiet eventually.
Hope he doesn't have friends that are looking for him.
Explorers from the surface are the last thing I need.
Wait. Maybe surface people could help with spider-idiot?
Bald angry little person is dead.
Torn apart by clawed death-smell human. Horrible mess. Some goblins and hairy goblins dead as well. Sad.
But, surface explorers! Big lizard thing, armoured human man, fire lady and human with rabbit. Brought dead-thing with them, but didn't help it murder bald angry man. Not sure what they want.
Offer them trade. Tell them they are welcome. Tell them to watch themselves. Push my luck.
Don't want them to loose dead-thing on market. Don't want more horrible mess.
They leave and I unclench.
Head back to throne.
Think about life choices.
When they come back I reclench, expecting the worst. Dead-thing is gone though and they give food. Good food.
They want to be friends. They respect me! Respect my position.
I'm a great leader.
Surface explorers come through market every now and then. Sometimes same. Sometimes different. Mostly play nice. Don't cause trouble.
Scavengers I send out come back more often now. Less deaths. Less disappearances. Less valuables too, surface explorers take most things they find.
They don't find everything though, still plenty of things they miss. Still have surface access. Trade with spider-face.
Business is good.
Armoured human man came by though, with shirtless fiend-blood, apron lizard and old man. Fiend-blood gave wine, but armoured man took big ring! Couldn't stop him.
Not tall anymore!
But helpers say they like me better this way. Don't need to be tall to lead. Just need to be me.
They love me!
Don't need big ring anymore. Perfect just the way I am.
Market getting bigger now. More surface explorers regularly come by each night, looking for directions, goods, advice.
I start dropping hints about spider-face.
Tell them he is bad. Not to be trusted. Eats babies.
If spider-face is gone I can claim tunnels down to port. Expand business.
I'm smart, so I have lots of plans.
Still, wonder why surface explorers don't just stab me repeatedly and kill all my friends. Take all our things.
Other goblins say that's what usually happens.
I Said The Real You
Though he may no longer be as beautiful and tall as he once was, the goblin in this story, (whose name is Yek by the way) still leads his market to this day. In fact, due to its position on the second level of Undermountain, my players pretty much have to travel through it every time they go exploring.
One of the things that I focus on a lot when I run a D&D campaign is building a world.
A world that is internally consistent and that keeps growing and changing, both based on the actions of my players and of the inhabitants of the world itself.
A world that feels alive.
A place within this world can have just as much personality as anything else.
Especially when it provides useful goods and services for a reasonable price.