The party has got to clear the goblins. No way around it. Just look at the map.
They have to clear their six. If they go in The Other Dungeon beyond the Goblin Door, then they have no way out but fighting their out. That is not a recipe for success. That’s a recipe for the Colonel’s extra-crispy TKP.
The bad new is that they have a Boss, 2 thugs, a shaman, and 25 grunts left to deal with. That’s a lot of “roll to hit” to face in a single combat.
The good news is that the party already knows where the goblins are and they already killed the biggest weapon in the gerblin king’s aresenal when they poisoned the all their pretty little boars.
The better news is that this party might be slow, but they aren’t entirely stupid. One of the regulars was shaving his pet ferret when he remembered that they had heard goblintongue before way back during session one (or was it two). He suggested an appropriate search around previously explored portions of the cave for a back entrance. They loaded up on fresh retainers and went in through the south entrance. While poking around, they were interrupted by a squad of bugbears – hello wandering monster table – who E. Reagan realized had been brought in as mercenaries to help the goblins face the predations of the party.
The fight went well, and the wandering monster table is looking a little threadbare. Which is fine! One of the rewards for surviving and exploring one cave for so long is that parts of it get easier. The exploration speeds up as the wandering monster table gets depleted and fewer interruptions arise from the dice. See how that works? That’s some mighty fine game design right there, if you don’t tinker with it!
After thinning the wandering herd, the party found a wooden trap door in the ceiling of a back room and realized they had a second way into the goblin lair. One that the goblins didn’t know they knew about. They pulled back to discuss the matter. After some planning – like an hour of real time discussion (which is also fine! These planning sessions are a lot of fun, too, and they are easy on the DM) – they discarded the idea of trying to lure the owlbears into a fight with the goblins and opted to send the thief around to the front door to burn some oil and faggots (relax, SJWs, I mean bundles of dry sticks) at the door and bang away. The goblins, they figured, would leave by the back door and run headlong into a trap prepared by the party.
It was a great idea and would have worked great except they forgot about the other entrance through the boar pit. The opening stages of the plan worked, with the goblins getting caught in a pincer movement and their forces cut in half. They did some serious damage to the goblin numbers, but the goblins got impatient with this and ran back around through the boar pit door. This caught half the party in a pincer movement of their own.
Things got a little confusing at that point, with the party killing the Boss and one of his big (2HD) guards and most of the goblins. They were hurting pretty bad themselves, though, with the two fighters stationed at “Backup” falling to a series of bad rolls. The executed a fighting withdrawal at that point and got out. The downside was that they didn’t really recover any treasure, so the XP reward was pretty low.
No problem, right? Rest, recover, reload, and re-attack?
Yeah, this time they decided to go in through the boar entrance. What they didn’t count on was that the shaman, now the goblin’s leader, was able to lure one of the owlbears into the pit while they were out. So they had to deal with that, and that alerted the goblins to their presence, and so things devolved into two fights. One pitting the guys in the pit against a hungry owlbear and one pitting the guys above against the full panoply of the goblins.
The guys in the pit dealt with the owlbear thanks to a well aimed magic missile, then rushed through the goblin lair to hit the goblins upstairs from behind. They killed the shaman before he knew what hit him, and the remaining guard ran off along with six final goblins. The party was in no position to pursue, so they looted the goblin’s lair and got some fat loot (which didn’t go very far given how overloaded they were with henchmen). They learned about the peephole, and called it a night.
With two third level characters, on second level, and a bunch of loyal henchlings, the party feels pretty good about things right now. They thought about burning out the Oooze, but it was late so they decided to take a shot at that next week. Meanwhile, here’s the status of the Other Dungeon after four forays.
Happy Halloween, goobers!