Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

These classic encounters can be more than just a run-of-the-mill experience.

Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

Your party is almost guaranteed to run into a goblin at some point in their Dungeons & Dragons campaign. They are a staple of not just the fantasy genre as a whole but definitely as D&D. With a very low challenge rating, these are some of the first creatures that could appear in your world for your party and potentially be what introduces them to your world. It is important to make this moment memorable.

With very basic statistics of 15 Armor Class and just seven hitpoints, many player characters can take these little guys out with a single blow. However, perhaps combat isn’t always the best way to introduce goblins. After all, you are the Dungeon Master (DM). You’re in charge!

Intellectual Goblins

Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

Far too often, goblins are represented as small humanoid creatures who live in disgusting settings and can’t tell a bear apart from a lion. However, something that stood out to us was that their Intelligence score is actually higher than their Strength score and the same as their Constitution.

While goblins gather in numbers to make up for their strength, could they gather in numbers to try to read and write? They absolutely could in your campaign.

By taking something as simple as a goblin and flipping it on its head, you could create an incredibly memorable experience for your party. Goblins are already capable of speaking Common, the most common language among players in most campaign settings, so why not make the encounter a more intellectual one?

Perhaps the group of goblins that your party runs into are actually in the middle of their book club or reading on how to harness magic. Not every creature you run has to be cannon fodder for your party, and goblins are no different. Just think of the interesting conversations your party could have with the goblin leader.

They may start to see goblins differently and explain to the mayor of the next town over that these little creatures are just trying to live their best life.

Goblin Raiders On Mounts

Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

Let’s put aside the goblin stereotypes again for a moment as we shape and mold a new goblin raider encounter. So, you want to have a goblin battle, but let’s toughen things up a little bit for the new adventurers.

As we mentioned, goblins are relatively weak, even with a shield and armor. So, how can we beef them up a little? Simply by giving them some mounts. Not only do we increase their movement speed and allow them to move around the battlefield more easily, but that gives them more hit points to hit away and more monsters to think about.

Worgs are the typical go-to for goblin mounts and are a bit beefier with 26 hitpoints, even knowing the goblin language. However, let’s make the encounter more terrifying and add another element to the battle. Flight.

Aerial combat can be a daunting endeavor at first, but one that will absolutely make your party enjoy the battle a little bit more and add more dynamics that weren’t there. Imagine a horde of goblin raiders swooping down from a mountainside cavern on a giant bat or fighting inside an enormous cave with these things flying around.

It’s not going to be the first thing people imagine when you say goblin raider, but they will definitely be talking about that fight months down the line.

There are several beasts and monsters that a goblin could ride with their small stature . Find the one that makes the most sense in your campaign setting and create a lore that would tie them together. Why would the goblins be riding bats? How did they tame them?

Small details like this help build the campaign, and we all know there will be that one player who is dying to know.

Goblin Rebellion

Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

It may come as first nature to want to fight goblins. They’re always described as terrible creatures who have nothing but evil in their heart. However, what if they’re just misunderstood?

Could you find yourself on their side and helping them? This is exactly what you could do with goblins who are rebelling against their oppressive leaders. They would be seeking allies, so who better to stroll by than your party?

While the goblin tribe has lived in their village for hundreds of years, a new warlord in the territory is attempting to take the land for himself. Now, a brave group of goblin rebels are rising to the challenge to bring freedom to their people. After all, what’s worse than a warlord? Surely not some peaceful goblins trying to live off the land.

By partnering with the goblin tribe, not only could the party create allies, but finding someone else to join in the battle against the warlord could prove valuable. Of course, the party could always stick to the status quo and go against the goblins, but then they’re left alone against the warlord.

This could prove to be a pivotal moment for a young party as this allegiance or betrayal could greatly shape the way of the campaign for many sessions to come.

Goblin Pirates

Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

What makes everything cooler? You said it: pirates! Taking a larger leap from the typical goblin lore, putting them on a ship in the middle of the water plundering and pillaging could be a welcomed change of pace and lead to a funny and interesting encounter.

While a young party finding a ship may be more difficult, this could be geared more toward those special seafaring campaigns.

Armed with stolen ships and salvaged weapons, these goblin pirates would go from port to port, looting and causing mayhem wherever they went. Finding most of their solace on remote and uninhabited islands where they could live without fear of repercussions.

Perhaps your young party wakes up, shipwrecked on a strange island, and finds themselves face-to-face with the pirates. Will they make a deal with them while they have a rusty rapier to their neck, or will they fight back against the horde of goblin pirates, commandeering their ship and sailing away into their adventure?


Dungeons & Dragons: DM Tips For Making A Memorable Goblin Encounter

Want to really scare the pants off of your party? Remind them that they are in a fantasy world of magic, potions, and enchantments. While the base goblin is, as we mentioned, very weak. That’s just a suggestion—a guideline. You can superpower these little guys to become walking tanks or cannons.

By simply adding some unique abilities to the goblin or making them a bit bigger, you can create a battle that your party remembers being challenged by and realizing that this world is now what they thought it was.

Simply add a potion that the goblins found while raiding a traveling salesman or equip them with an uncommon magic item for a statistical boost to their stature.

You can get really hectic by simply doubling their hit points, giving them more damage on their attacks or magical spells. If these super-goblins were experimented on by a malevolent sorcerer, perhaps some of that magical energy got passed down to them and they can now cast Thunderclap as a result.

By adding magic to a goblin , it catches the players completely by surprise. Even if we try our best not to meta-game (knowing mechanics that our player characters would not know), it's difficult not to know a typical goblin stat block.

However, by simply adding in a few cantrips or 1st-level spells to a few goblins , players will enjoy the surprise and realize that everything they think they know about Dungeons and Dragons may be useless in this campaign.

By mixing and matching some of these tactics, you can turn your run-of-the-mill early campaign goblin encounter into something more special and memorable. And perhaps the decisions that your party takes early will affect the story itself.

By incorporating unique elements like these into your goblin encounters, you can provide your players with fresh and engaging challenges that they'll remember long after the game is over.

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