A Tunnels & Trolls Solitaire Mini-Adventure
By James Fallows
Madame Shakasha, the renowned merchant, has hired you collect a shipment of cabbages from the goblin farms of Jabbersnatch Gulley. You have received a 2gp retainer and will receive a balance of 8gp upon safe delivery of the cabbages to the trading depot at Hulgar’s Fort. This is hardly the most glorious of assignments – the pay is trifling, goblin farmers are notoriously irksome to do business with, and Jabbersnatch cabbage is well known for its particularly pungent aroma. Unbeknown to your employer, however, you have an ulterior motive for taking on this assignment …
Two weeks ago, a travelling minstrel, one Lusty Legs Lem of Lammeroon, had his throat slit after beating a goblin at knucklebones in the “Wastrel’s Chance” tavern in Murlingport. Whilst Lem had no doubt cheated the goblin, he had been a friend to you, and you have taken it upon yourself to avenge him. The goblin, you have learned, goes by the name of Two-Belly Gunder, and following the minstrel’s murder, has fled to hole-up amongst his kin in Jabbersnatch Gulley. Travelling there in the guise of a cabbage courier, you hope to catch this Two-Belly unawares, and pay him in kind for his foul deed. Now Read 1.
The road from Hulgar’s Fort has taken you for many miles across bleak moorland. Chilly mists surround you, as almost without warning, the road begins a rapid descent into a deep, darkly-shadowed cleft in the earth. Marking the beginning of this incline is a stone post with a crudely carved “J” rune on it, and three elf skulls at the base. A sickly miasma rises from the darkness before you: the unmistakable aroma of Jabbersnatch cabbage. If you wish, you may take a red-spotted handkerchief (the gift of an admirer at the Wastrel’s Chance) from your pocket and tie it around your face to lessen somewhat the unpleasant aroma.
Checking that you still carry the receipt Madame Shakasha entrusted you with to present at the Moot-hall of the Jabbersnatch Gulley Cabbage-wallahs, you descend into the gloomy depths…
The road twists and turns, and the gulley widens a little as it gets deeper. Before long you arrive at the first homestead: a shambolic collection of wooden huts clinging to the base of the rocky cliffs, around which large, sickly cabbages grow in abundance. From within the dark windows of the huts, small red eyes regard you intently.
Do you wish to pay this farm a visit, perhaps to casually enquire the whereabouts of Two-Belly Gunder? Read 4
Or will you continue hurriedly on your way, to wherever the commercial centre of this foul place may be? Read 7
You knock at the door of the “Moot-hall of the Jabbersnatch Gulley Cabbage-wallahs”. A goblin warder scrutinises the receipt Madame Shakasha entrusted you with, then begrudgingly gives you admittance to the hallowed confines. A tallish, venerable goblin with a plaited beard and somewhat ridiculous robes greets you, introducing himself as Grand Cabbage-wallah Hurvle Tranglewhang. He takes the receipt, and inspects it haughtily down the length of his nose. Three goblin farmers, whom you presume to have business of their own with the Cabbage-wallah, stand about scratching themselves in loutish fashion. They seem to be amused at Tranglewhang’s airs and graces. How will you respond to this situation?
Demand that Madame Shakasha’s goods be brought to you without any further delay, as you wish to be out of this foul-smelling hole as quickly as you are able? Read 5
Wink at the farmers to show that you are in on the joke, then wait with apparent servile patience on the Grand Cabbage-wallah’s pleasure? Read 18
You quickly surmise that Two-Belly Gunder is a large, fat goblin, who laughs and cajoles the smaller, miserable goblins against which he is having uncommon good fortune at knucklebones. Before too long, his opponents quit the game in disgust, begrudgingly paying the boorish Gunder his winnings. Grinning in delight, Gunder drains his mug of Black Ale, then strides belching through a dark doorway. Without hesitation you slip after him. In a foul-smelling chamber, Two-Belly stands with his back to you, urinating into a trough. Smiling bitterly to yourself you draw your weapon and despatch Two-Belly Gunder before he has time to even notice your presence. You rifle through the pockets of his corpse, taking 27gps, 22sps, a set of loaded knucklebones, and a small brooch containing the portrait of a smiling, elderly woman. Your grasp on the brooch tightens involuntarily as you recognise from familial resemblance that the portrait must be the mother of your murdered friend.
Revenge is sweet – in addition to the Goblin’s belongings, you earn 150ap. Before your crime can be discovered, you leave “The Diseased Crotch”, and make haste to the Moot Hall. Read 2.
You stride boldly up to the door and knock to rouse the inhabitants.
If you are an elf, or if you are wearing a red-spotted handkerchief to cover your face, read12.
Otherwise, read on:
The door remains closed, but from within a bad-tempered voice demands “State your business or get off my property sharpish, uplander!”
Do you say you are looking for a dear friend by the name of Two-Belly Gunder? Read 14.
Demand that the inhabitants surrender their wealth to you? Read 12.
Or will rush back to the road and proceed on your way? Read 7
Tranglewhang is taken aback by your vehement demand! The goblin farmers snigger at his discomfiture. “B-b-b-but there are procedures!” he stammers. “It is my s-s-s-solomn d-d-duty to inspect any and all ch-ch-chits and orders…”
Do you apologise to the Cabbage-wallah and ask him to forgive your impatience? Read 18
Or will you instead draw your weapon and threaten him with extinction lest he comply immediately with your demand? Read 9
The Black Ale is rather sour-tasting, but otherwise not too offensive a beverage. If you drink more than two mugs, it will have the effect of lowering your DEX and INT by 3 but raising your CHA (amongst goblinfolk only) by 5 for the next 24 hours.
The “Verry Fyne Wyne” is, perhaps unsurprisingly, utterly foul and undrinkable. You will lose 1 CON for taking a sip, and then be best advised to leave the remainder untouched – although you may call out the Ogre barkeep for a poisoning swine if you wish – in which case read 10.
The cabbage soup is surprisingly wholesome, it will temporarily increase your STR and CON scores by 10 each for the next 48 hours (although the accompanying flatulence will reduce your CHA by 5 amongst non-goblinfolk for the same period).
Whilst you fortify yourself, you happen to overhear a remark that “Two-Belly Gunder is having cursedly good luck at the knucklebones again.”
Do you wish to join the knucklebones game to ingratiate yourself with your quarry? Read 15
Will you instead announce your presence and demand vengeance? Read 8
Or will you observe Two-Belly from the corner of your eye, hoping for an opportunity to exact revenge more discreetly? Read 3
The deep, gloomy chasm abounds with the untypically industrious activity of goblinfolk. Armed with hoes they till the grey earth, carpenters repair the roof of one leaning shack, a blacksmith shoes an enormous hog that is harnessed to cart overloaded with bulbous, stinking cabbages. Your pass unnoticed, and at length you find yourself at the floor of the gulley, where a market square teems with life.
Two buildings dominate the square – one, a wooden structure with a steep shingled roof bears the sign “The Diseased Crotch”. The other building is small but quite splendid, built of well-dressed stone, with ornate columns supporting the façade, and above the sign reads “Moot Hall of the Jabbersnatch Cabbage-wallahs”. In the square itself, shrill-voiced goblinwives hawk cabbages, gangleshoots, fried rat and mushrooms, a troupe of goblin acrobats entertain the idle, and a sombre goblin demagogue garbed in black utters grave admonishment to almost no listeners at all.
Will you head straight to the Moot Hall to present Madame Shakasha’s receipt? Read 2
Seek refreshment in “The Diseased Crotch”? Read 13
Wander into the market square to listen to what the gloomy goblin is preaching about? Read 17
You leap to your feet, crying words to the effect that Two-Belly Gunder must face the justice of your blade/hammer/axe/pointy thing. Two-Belly responds by appealing to assembled goblinkind to take arms against this murderous uplander in their midst. Eyes flash murderously, blades are drawn, and you face a room full of enraged goblins, whilst your quarry escapes through a back door. Read 10.
Tranglewhang shrinks back, shrieking in terror. The farmers’ laughter suddenly stops, and they hiss in anger, drawing short curved knives. You must fight the three goblins (combined MR 30). If they defeat you, your adventure ends here – go and have a lie down or something. If you slay them, Tranglewhang, quaking with fear, begs you to spare his life and promise to fetch you a wagonload of the finest cabbages at once. He leads you out to the street, and then screams “Goblinslayer!” at the top of his voice! You curse your folly as every goblin within earshot comes running to deliver mob justice! Read 10
The inhabitants of Jabbersnatch Gulley have been aroused into a screaming, bloodthirsty horde intent only upon rending you limb from limb. Your only recourse is to flee as quickly as possible, but in the meantime you will have to fight every goblin that stands in your way.
Each goblin of the mob opposing you has MR 10. Initially, you face just one opponent.For the first 3 combat rounds, one additional goblin will join the fray (adding their MR to the surviving total, if any). For the next 3 combat rounds, you will face 2 additional goblins per round. The following 3 combat rounds, 3 goblins per round will join – and so on, until you have either slain 1274 goblins, been slain yourself, or escaped.
To escape, you must make a save against either LUCK or DEX or SPEED at the end of a combat round. For the first three rounds of combat this must be an L1 save. For the second three rounds of combat an L2 save – and so on.
Live or die, you have failed to complete your job for Madame Shakasha. If you have also failed to exact revenge for your murdered companion, then your adventure has ended in utter ignominy. Frowny face.
If, however, you managed to root out and kill Two-Belly Gunder, then congratulations! Your methods may have been a little heavy-handed, but you have accomplished your goal, and may take 250 a.p. as reward for your troubles. You owe Madame Shakasha 2gp, however, and it might be wiser to steer clear of Hulgar’s Fort for a while… it should go without saying that Jabbersnatch Gulley is definitely off your itinerary for the foreseeable future.
The three goblins hiss in anger, and draw their own weapons, throwing themselves upon you! You must fight them to the death, at combined MR 30. During your fight, Tranglewhang returns, gasps in shock, then flees the room screaming. Should you defeat the farmers, read 10.
Whether taking you for a bandit (rightly or wrongly), or enraged at the sight of a hated elf, the inhabitants of the hut pour out to attack you, in a fury of slashing claws and wicked blades.
Goblin Farmers! MR 35
If you had a ranged weapon ready you may fire once before the Goblins attack. If you survive the first round of combat but wish to flee, you may make a level 1 DEX save to escape from combat (in which case read 10).
Should you defeat the goblins, you may help yourself to their meagre possessions: four brass mugs worth perhaps 1sp each, two goblin daggers (each the equivalent to dirks, 2d+1), 5gp, 12sp, and a bag of knucklebones. There is also a woolly cap which an elf can wear pulled down over the ears – not the best disguise, but goblins aren’t exactly the brightest of creatures.
You may now either flee Jabbersnatch Gulley in case you are discovered as a murderer of innocent goblin farmers (in which case your Adventure Ends Here), or else continue on your business hoping that your crime has gone unnoticed. Make an L1 SR against LUCK. If you fail, read 10, should you succeed, Read 7.
You are in the smoke-filled, noisy interior of “The Diseased Crotch”. At the counter a burly ogre sells Black Ale at 1sp a mug, ”Verry Fyne Wyne” at 5sp a glass and bowls of cabbage soup at 2sp a bowl.In a side room, several goblins play knucklebones, amidst curses and shouts of glee.
If you wish to eat or drink, make a note of any purchases and proceed to read 6 to discover the consequences.
You may join the goblins in the side room if you wish to try your hand at their sport, Read 15.
Or if you think you had better get yourself to the Moot Hall to be about Madame Shakasha’s business, Read 2
“Two-Belly Gunder!” roars the voice from within, “a friend of that poxy swine! He cheated me of 3 silvers at knucklebones in The Diseased Crotch last night! A friend of Gunder is no friend of mine! Get off my land!”
If you make a sharp exit, read 7.
Should you linger, read 12.
You enter the gaming room, and ask the goblins if you may join them at their game. Two small, surly goblins mutter at your insolence, but the large, fat goblin laughs and welcomes you. “Take a seat!” he calls “Two-Belly Gunder is always happy to win uplander coin!”
Had you already learned that you would find Two-Belly Gunder playing knucklebones here? If not, you are unable to conceal your reaction, and must read 19. If however you already had good reason to suspect that one of these goblins was the one you are seeking, you are able to carry on with feigned nonchalance – read 20.
After subjecting you to a tedious wait, Tranglewhang returns, apologizing profusely for the delay, and ushers you out onto the street. There stands a wagon loaded with stinking cabbages. In the harnesses are two huge, black-skinned hogs. Dozens of goblins crowd around. Some of their ugly faces are merely curious, most glower with murderous hostility directed at the stranger in their midst. Tranglewhang seems oblivious of the attention.
“Please be sure to pass on my compliments to Madame Shakasha,” he begs in an ingratiating tone.
You take your seat in the wagon rather awkwardly, and flick at the reins. The hogs ignore your efforts – then spring to life as a scrawny goblin child throws a stone, yelling “Get outta here, stinkin’ uplander!” You fairly race up the road out of Jabbersnatch Gulley, with boos and insults echoing behind you, the hogs hauling you and your load along at a surprisingly swift pace.
Did you find and wreak bloody vengeance on Two-Belly Gunder? If you did, you may take a reward of 250 a.p. for doing so and getting away with it. If not, your chance has now passed, and the murder of poor Lusty Legs Lem must go unavenged.
Regardless, Madame Shakasha will be pleased with your work, and pay you the 8gp owed, and an additional 10gp “for your troubles.” Not exactly big money, but what do you expect for delivering cabbages? Completing this task also earns you 150 a.p.
If you killed any goblins at all, you had probably best steer well clear of Jabbersnatch Gulley for the foreseeable future, although you will always have the respect and esteem of Grand Cabbage-wallah Hurvle Tranglewhang.
In spite of the bustling crowds in the market, you comprise the sole audience of the goblin orator. He harangues all and sundry for their dissolute, ungoblinly ways. He has particularly biting remarks to make concerning Grand Cabbage-wallah Hurvle Tranglewhang, who apparently apes the manners and fashions of uplanders, and thinks he is better than he is. At length, the demagogue realises that his only audience is a foul perfidious uplander, and he is choked in an apoplexy of foaming rage. You shake your head at the sorry spectacle, and decide that you had better be about your business, by either proceeding to The Diseased Crotch or the Moot Hall. Whilst listening to the speechifying, however, you became the target of a cutpurse. Make an L2 LUCK save: if you fail, you lose half of any coinage carried on your person (unless you have previously specified a secure place such as the sole of a boot or a secret pocket to carry it).
To enter “The Diseased Crotch” read 13.
To enter the Moot Hall, read 2
The Cabbage-wallah is reassured by your apparent humility, but the farmers seem to find your behaviour contemptible. “This, er, seems to be in order,” he says of your receipt. One moment while I get the wagon prepared.” Tranglewhang departs leaving you in the company of the three goblin farmers. They do not seem to be particularly well-inclined towards you, and mutter some complaint to each other about “preffy-renshill treatmint.”
Do you wish to draw your weapon and demand that they tell you the whereabouts of Two-Belly Gunder? Read 11
Or do you have nothing to say to these creatures, instead preferring to wait until Cabbage-wallah Tranglewhang returns? Read 16
Hatred and surprise flash unmistakably across your eyes! The fat goblin reacts instantly – producing a dagger almost from thin air and hurling at you with deadly aim! Make an L1 DEX save or take 2d+10 damage. If you yet live, read on:
Gunder upturns the table and yells at the top of his voice “Help! Murther! Uplander scum!” The other patrons of “The Diseased Crotch” are aroused by his cries, and draw weapons and unsheathe claws. Gunder himself vanishes into the press. Thinking quickly you may draw your weapon and defend yourself (read 10) or flee as quickly as you can. Make an L2 SPEED save – DEX if you do not have that statistic – to slip out and into the Moot Hall before the mob is fully aroused. Read 2 if successful, read 10 if you fail the save.
The stakes at knucklebones will be 5sp per game – rising to 2gp after the first game if you wish to increase the stakes. If you do not have your own set of knucklebones, Gunder lends you a pair. Each round, throw 2 dice for each player (yourself, Gunder, and the other two Goblins). You will not be surprised to learn that Gunder is playing with loaded bones. To simulate this, if he rolls doubles, he gets to ‘add and roll over’. The player who gets the highest total wins that round. Furthermore, if you are playing with the bones Gunder kindly provides, any roll of doubles count as zero.
After four games of ‘bones, the two smaller goblins quit the table, muttering about the “nasty smell of uplanders”. Gunder laughs, drains his ale mug, then belching loudly makes his way through a dark doorway to relieve himself. Quick as a snake, you follow. But Gunder is waiting for you in the darkness! He throws a dagger at you with deadly aim (make an L3 DEX save, or take 2d+10 CON damage), then (if you live) launches himself at you with sharp, scrabbling claws!
Two-Belly Gunder, MR 20
Should you defeat your enemy, read on: You rifle through the pockets of his corpse, taking 27gps, 22sps (plus any winnings and minus any losses from the games that you played with him), a set of loaded knucklebones, and a small brooch containing the portrait of a smiling, elderly woman. Your grasp on the brooch tightens involuntarily as you recognise from familial resemblance that the portrait must be the mother of your murdered friend.
Revenge is sweet – in addition to the Goblin’s belongings, you earn 150ap. Before your crime can be discovered, you leave “The Diseased Crotch”, and make haste to the Moot Hall. Read 2.