Sunday, August 23, 2020

D&D Tactics -Goblin Arrows Part 1, the Ambush


This is first post of this series where I am going to demo the combat  of the Introductory scene of  the D&D 5e Adventure, The Lost Mines of Phandelver.  This is in preparation of running the RPG session but for purposes of this log, I’m just going to run the combat with some generic characters and models I like,  No idea who the characters will in the  RPG session are yet but I assume similar since we are only using The basic profiles or the pre gens if they wish.  

Pre Game Notes

I’m running 5 characters as that’s what  we will be running in the session and characters are starting off at level 2 because I am going to level  them up as a milestone before  they hit the road. After watching  several good ‘advice” videos on running the game , it seems it still no fun to die in the first 20 mins of the game as a 1st level noob -even all these years later.

I wont  be using a grid, while some of my terrain is constructed with a built in grid, much isnt , I've been doing this long enough that I can accurately measure 1"-5' scale without need of a grid.

 The Characters for our combat sim all are level 2.

 Folke Hillsharp  - Human Ranger

Grond Mudrock- Half Orc Fighter

Brother Hammond- Human Cleric

Swift Felhand- Human Rogue

Vatanis Darkwhisper- Tiefling Warlock


Hired to deliver a wagon full  of supplies to the small mining town of Phandalin. The group’s employer is the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker who with his companion Sildar Hallwinter, rode out ahead of the group  the previous day to arrange for  the sale and delivery  of the goods. About a half day into groups  journey , they stop to  find what appears to be the pairs  horses, dead –  blocking the road.

Goblins- are the bad guys in the scenario, weak and cowardly they are alot tougher for low level characters in 5e because of the action/bonus action mechanic, the can attack, use stealth and hide all in the same turn , so they are not excellent at hit and run tactics.

Set up

Since the Character are level 2, I have increased the difficulty by adding two things”

+2 Goblins to a Total of 6

The goblins automatically all have Surprise on the Heroes the 1st round.

I unfortunately don’t have any dead horse models sans riders so the overturned cart is the scene of the fight while

Combat begins as soon as the PC’s approach either of the clue markers to investigate the dead horses

 About Surprise- The Goblins stealth check is +6 none of Characters passive perception is higher then  14, so for the initial encounter,  I gave them a 14 +6 = 20. Surprise in  5e simply means Characters who are Surprised do not act.


Our Rogue , Swift triggers the Ambush by investigating the saddle bags on one of the dead horses ,

Initiative is rolled

21 Swift Felhand, Rogue

20 Goblin #1 bow

16 Grond Mudrock, Fighter

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper, Warlock

15 Goblin # 2 bow

13 Goblin # 3  

11 Brother Hammond, Cleric

10 Goblin # 4 bow

9 Goblin # 5 bow

7 Folke Hillsharp, Ranger

6 Goblin # 6

 Goblins  # 1 and # 2 are on the hilltop to the upper left of the wreck , they both have bows and will shoot and then hide, they have advantage due to elevation shoot at the closest hero, Grond our Half orc fighter, who is 60 feet away . Grond is going to get +2 to his AC due to “half cover” from the Wagon

 Goblin  # 1  Fires an Arrow with Advantage , (highest of 2 dice)  Roll 8 +4  = 12 vs AC 21 miss

Goblin Hides  Roll 7 +6 = 13

Goblin # 2 Fires an Arrow with Advantage  Roll  17+4 = 21 vs AC 21 hit!

Grond gets hit early and keeps taking the hits, he's the only one thats damaged.

Grond  takes 5 damage.

Goblin then Hides Roll 17 =6 = 23!!

Goblin # 3 charges out some nearby brush  Dashing behind the Cart opposite Swift and Grond,

He will also try to hide under the cart and just out and attack anyone passing by , due to the proximity of the PC’s I give him a disadvantage (lowest of two dice) he rolls a 10 +6 = 16

Goblins # 4 and # 5 are on lower right side on a hillslope

Goblin # 4 has a shot at Swift , I give her half cover due to the trees, so shes AC 16

He shoots Roll 1, Miss

Hides 6 +6 =14

 Goblin #5 takes a Shot at Folke our Ranger, he has a clean line of sight at a 60 foot range

Against  AC 16

Roll 9 + 4= 13 miss!

Hides 10+6 = 16.

Goblins , bad aim..

 Goblin # 6 moves 20  feet  behind a log and starts jumping and down banging on his shield yelling obscenities in Goblin hoping to draw someone toward him so the the Goblin hiding behind the cart can attack,,

End of Round.



(Numbers are Initiative)

21 Swift Felhand, The Rogue she has a dagger, shortsword, light crossbow and leather armor.

goblin #4 is hidden on a 16, she must make a perception check against that at +4 , Roll  20 +4 +24…and spots him easily.

Swift ‘s action is to  shoot her light crossbow and Goblin # 4 who fired at her roll 18+5 =23 , even giving the goblin the same +2 she got as half cover  that is a Hit.. for 8+3= 11 piercing damage,,,that goblin takes in the face and drop dead…1 down.

She then can take a bonus action which is to DASH past Folke the Ranger to heavy cover and engage the Goblins on the big hill

The rogue with the 1st of 2 kills, no backstabbing necessary.


20 Goblin #1 bow

Comes out of Hiding to take another shot at Grond,, 9+4 =13 versus AC 21 with cover.  MISS
he hides again 18+6..=24 !!

16 Grond Mudrock, Grond has a Battle Axe, 3  Javelins, Chainmail and Shield.

Grond has had enough and is going to charge the hill,  his action is too  DASH 60 feet up the hill and right into those two goblin bowman , though they are hidden and he cant see them  even with great spot roll of 18 they are hidden on a 23 and 24

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper  has a staff, dagger and wears studded leather armor.

Has cover from the wagon between himself the hidden archer on the low hill, He sees the Goblin jumping up and down trying to draw attention to itself 80 feet away , he uses his bonus action to cast HEX, and then follows it up with an Eldritch Blast  roll 6 +5 =11, but against AC 17 with cover that’s a miss

15 Goblin # 2 bow

Comes out of hiding and shoot grond almost point blank roll 20+4 = 24 Critical hit! Ooof!

Grond  takes 10 damage from a goblin arrow.

Goblin tries to hide but at disadvantage this time Since Grond is right there..

Roll 2=4= 6…he’s attempt to hide is terrible..all the characters passive perception will see him


13 Goblin # 3   realizing he isn’t going to get anyone to fall for his ruse..DASHs up the hill and into mele with the badly wounded Grond he cant attack he used his full action to engage

Healing Word with a 60ft range is going to be handy.

11 Brother Hammond  Our Cleric who was driving the supply wagon , has a quarterstaff, a sling and wears Ringmail under his robes…he immediately use DASH to head toward Grond who is in trouble with low Health.  He get within 50 feet of Grond and uses his bonus action to cast Healing Word which heals Grond for  5 Hit Points!

10 Goblin # 4 bow  DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2

9 Goblin # 5 bow

Takes and another shot at Folke the Ranger  11+4 =15 vs AC 16 , miss just barely

The goblin moves 30 feet behind the large treeline and hides  7+4= 11..

 7 Folke Hillsharp Move over to the wagon and fires an arrow at the goblin on the hill Roll 7+5=12

It misses.

6 Goblin #6   moves up to the wagon keeping heavy cover

And hides hoping to sneak up on someone next round,  Hides 10+6 = 16.

End of Round




21 Swift Felhand

Her action is try to shoot the terribly hidden Goblin# 2 who hit Grond with the Critical, shes got a clean line of Sight Rolls a 11=5 for 16 vs Ac 15 then rolls 10 damage,

More lucky crossbow sniping from the Rogue., she actually has the "lucky' feat..didnt need it.

Shes got two kills…

20 Goblin #1 bow

Comes out of hiding to engage Grond on the hill as they now flank him on the hilltop and have advantage in their attacks,  Attacking with Advantage the Goblin gets the second critical hit of the game on poor Grond  doing 10 damage, Grond is barely standing at 2 Hp

16 Grond Mudrock

Finally some payback.

Grond Responds with an attack on Goblin # 1 from his battle axe roll 10+5 vs  AC 15  HIT!, 11 Slashing Damage cuts the Goblin down..

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper

Hex and Eldritch Blast = Vaporized Goblin

Vantanis moves up 30 feet  make a perception check and rolls 20..he seems him easily and corresponding Eldritch Blast is a hit with 17+5 for 22!  With this goblin already being Hexed  by Vantanis last round..the extra D6 basically vaporize this goblin with 16 damage!

15 Goblin # 2 bow DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 3

13 Goblin # 3   At this point this Goblin would normally try to flee but its engaged with Grond whose barely standing so he attacks 19+ 4= 22 , Grond takes 5 damage and collapses.. Goblin Runs off over the hill and hides  badly with a “6”

11 Brother Hammond

Again the Cleric uses DASH to reach the fallen Grond, and his Bonus action to cast Healing Word again and healing him 5 points again bringing back to 2 Hp

10 Goblin # 4 bow DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2


9 Goblin # 5 bow moves Hides again 22, Flees combat

this was the smart goblin, he ran.

7 Folke Hillsharp  quickly moves 30 feet to get a line of sight on the fleeing  goblin # 3 that put Grond down, since the goblin is fleeing , unhidden and he has clear LOS  I give Folke advantage on the shot, he rolls a 16 +5 for 21 vs AC 15 a Hit, and 8 damage  just puts the goblin down.

Very classic fantasy, shooting the fleeing guy in back as he runs away to warn the hideout, though one still got away

6 Goblin # 6  DEAD- Eldritch Blast, Hex, Vantanis Rnd 3

End of Round.


Combat Ends -Quick Recap

So 3 Full rounds in real time that battle lasted  less than 30 secs, Goblins opened fire via Ambush,  wounding Grond.

Swift Immediately returned fire killing the goblin shot at her and  moves to cover.

Grond Charges the Hill he was ambushed from , splitting the two goblins who were  moving  to melee shaving one follow him to engage while the other was blown to bits by Vantanis

3 goblins on the Hill engage Grond  where he takes two critical hits, he kills one of them, Swift shoots another, Despite Brother Hammond stepping up to support Grond with some Healing  the third Goblin manages to put Grond down but flees when Folke the Ranger puts an arrow into hits fleeing backside from about 80 feet killing him , Brother Hammond heals Grond before he even needs to begin making death saves while  the last goblin in good hiding position flees, and sulks off back to the hideout.

The Ranger then finds the Trail to the Goblin Hideout.

Nominibus Mortuorum

Cragmaw Tribe Goblins.-

#1 DEAD- Battle Axe, Grond, Rnd 3

#2 DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 3

#3 DEAD- Shot in the back while fleeing, Longbow, Folke. Rnd 3

#4 DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2

#5 Escaped/ Fled

#6 DEAD- Eldritch Blast, Hex, Vantanis Rnd 3


Final thoughts , smooth and  fast, I was using an online die roller and they sometimes get a bit wonky I rolled 4 or 5 , 20’s in those quick 3 rounds every damage roll I did to a goblin was more than their 7 HP and that’s just luck…I’m going to run the next one with real dice, its lacks some of nuance of the usual skirmish games I play, but that because the GM involvement creates more wiggle room  than these games that are built to be competitive or even semi competitive.

Regardless its great practice for laying out what might happen in encounters in a real D&D games session, I suspect with bunch of rookie kids , I’ll need watch my aggression with the bad guys…

I’ll move on to the Cragmaw Hideout next,  I spent about 20 hours or so building the board , finally finding a use for the foam carving tools I got last Christmas, should be a fun one.

L to R  "The Crew" Grond, Brother Hammond, Folke, Swift, and Vatanis.

 To be continued....... 


freddyboomboom said...

I came here from a link over at Dungeon Fantastic.

I started playing in 1981, but unlike you I did play 2nd edition, as well as 3/3.5. I did skip 4th, mostly, but I did play it once at a convention.

But the reason I'm commenting is a couple of things.

I wouldn't have given the goblins firing bows from a height Advantage on their rolls. It isn't in the Players Handbook or the version of the Basic Rules that I have. It's a judgement call by the GM. I would do it for a variance in height for melee, but not for a ranged attack. You can run it the way you want, to, though. That's part of the fun. :)

Negative hit points aren't a thing in 5e. You just drop to zero and go unconscious. Then you get "Death Saves", fail three and die, pass three and live (unless a 1 or 20 is rolled). So in round 3 when Grond went down, he just went down to 0 HP, not -3. So when he was healed for 5 points later, he would have been up to 5. This didn't have an effect in this encounter, but in a longer encounter it could mean the difference between the party winning or losing. If you want to run negative hit points, go ahead, but it's not rules as written (RAW as people call it).

When I first ran Lost Mines, the first time the party came upon the dead horses (as first level characters), they went through the four goblins pretty quickly. They then delivered the wagon to town, and came back to follow the goblin trail. I had the goblins reset the ambush, and this time the party was surprised. All party members went down, and only a good death save by one of them kept it from being a total party kill.

I mentioned earlier the Basic Rules. That's a PDF that Wizards publishes with all the rules for playing, with the four "core" races and four "core" classes. Basically a stripped down version of the Player's Handbook. It's a free download: Basic Rules link. They also have some example characters, as well as printable Starter Set characters, so you don't have to give out the originals: Character Sheets link.

I hope you enjoy 5th Edition. There are a lot of things well thought out to make it easier to run. said...

Thanks for the pointers, kinda of just flying the seat of my pants here, when I ran this for the kids I definitely did not use advantage for the height , I did it for myself because the whole Advantage/Disadvantage is so DM subjective and that a normal wargamey type rule and I am into from a skirmish perspective. Thanks for clearing up the hit points thing I thought you kept track of negative just in case of death by massive damage..where you go negative 2x your current HP..then you're just dead, no death saves...or am I remembering that wrong?..anyway appreciate the comment part 2 is rolling up soon..

freddyboomboom said...

When the attack that brings you to 0 HP has damage left over, and the remaining damage equals or exceeds your normal hit point maximum, then you are instantly killed.

Also, if you take more damage after you are at 0 HP, then it counts as a failed death saving throw. When at 0 HP, if you take a critical hit, it counts as two failed death saving throws.

I've not kept track of negative HP when using 5e, and usually not had enough damage left over to kill a character outright.

Alandre said...
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Alandre said...
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