No Assembly Required: Hoarfrost Goblins

Welcome to the December 2011 Edition of No Assembly Required, a monthly column that provides DMs with a ready-to-use  monster for a Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. The monster can of course be adjusted for other gaming systems as well. Each monster in the series is displayed complete with Stat Block, Lore, Tactics, Power Descriptions and potential plotlines that a DM can use in a campaign. Visit This is My Game each month for a new monster presented in No Assembly Required. Batteries Included! This month, I present monsters for the very beginning of Heroic Tier, Hoarfrost Goblins.

Of special note is the spectacular artwork provided by Grant Gould. He previously designed the mascot for my blog, Iddy the Lich, and is illustrating each monster in the No Assembly Required series. He also developed the sweet logo above for the column. Visit his site to learn about commission pricing and view galleries of artwork.

Hoarfrost Goblins

Development

In the past, I have approached Grant about a specific design for a creature that I already have in mind or a villain that has already been featured in my home campaign. This month, Grant and I decided to do something a bit different. I told him to design a monster first and then I would develop a backstory and other gaming mechanics for the creature. One of his first ideas was to sketch “some winter goblins” and the idea integrated well with my desire to create early-level creatures for DMs who are just starting off at Level 1.

In creating a backstory for the Hoarfrost Goblins, I attempted to create a dynamic reason for the goblins to exist in the gaming world. Since Grant had specifically designed the goblins to reside in a cold-weather climate, I found it interesting to think about what would happen if the goblins were driven out of their home territory by an outside force. I considered several outside forces to drive the goblins from their homeland, and I believe an enterprising DM could use these goblins as the starting point of a multi-level campaign.  The result of that line of thinking is presented in the Origin below.

Origin

The Foulhand Goblins originally traveled to the mountainous region after opposing tribes drove them near extinction. Broken by the many civil wars in the ancient goblin empire, the few survivors from the Foulhand Clan fled to the farthest edge of the world. The clan was pursued by warring tribes until they disappeared into the treacherous landscape of freezing mountains. The rival tribes assumed the remnants of the Foulhand Clan were consumed by the harsh elements including freezing temperatures, howling winds and vicious predators. The Clan survived the early months in the mountains through the sheer will and strength of their leader, Monshek Foulhand.

Foulhand was convinced Bane would provide a boon to the remaining survivors of the clan, and his persistence and devotion inspired his haggard tribe to survive the brutal weather and lack of food. Many of the clan were lost to illness and attacks from hulking wolves in the mountains. Foulhand offered many a sacrifice to Bane, including the execution of several of his remaining clan members. He prayed for a way to tame the beasts so the Foulhand Clan could survive. A vision of battle flashed before eyes – blinding snow streaked with blood and a gleaming blade inscribed with ancient runes.

Hoarfrost Goblin Marauder with Chieftain, Merom

Foulhand climbed to the highest reaches of the mountain peak to battle the pack leader of the wolves. He was severely wounded quickly by the pack of wolves, led by a leader with a brilliant white coat of fur. As Foulhand lay bleeding to death in the snow, the vision once again flashed before his eyes. The snow held silent for a moment as snowflakes around the blade started to crystallize. White-hot runes seared the length of blade from within as the ice crystals became one with the blade. Foulhand rose from the earth once more and the pack leader descending on him with great ferocity. With a final swing, Foulhand’s blade sliced through the neck of the beast. The wound radiated an intense coldness as the beast bleed to death. Foulhand staggered back to his feet and brandished the ice blade. The remaining wolves immediately submitted to Foulhand.

His wounds killed him days later, but the wolves were tamed forever by the Foulhand goblin tribe, and agreed to do their bidding. He named his sword the Ice Blade of Bane, and his final dying command was to rename the tribe in honor of the blade that granted him victory over the wild beasts, and so the Hoarfrost Clan was born. The goblins, whom were aided by the hunting abilities and survival instincts of the wolves, became accustomed to the hazards of the mountains. And their tribe grew in numbers.

Over centuries, the Ice Blade of Bane and a cloak made from the fur of the great white beast slain by Foulhand have been passed down to each chieftain of the Hoarfrost Clan. The clan originally planned to gather their strength and strike out against the foes that had driven them deep into the mountains, but each attempt to set out from their newfound home was met with swift disaster. The clan adapted to the region’s climate and no longer felt suited to the warmer temperatures below. Rather than seek revenge against their enemies, the clan instead held fast to their territory and defended it violently from outside forces.

The Hoarfrost Mountains – as they came to be known – were considered off-limits to any soul with a shred of sense about them. Travelers avoided the mountains for fear of goblin attacks. Ambitious adventurers have set out to seek riches rumored to be held in the mountains only to return grievously injured with stories of gruesome death for other members of their party. The Hoarfrost Clan remained isolated in their little kingdom in the mountains, and while the mountains were not safe to pass, the goblins did not seek to expand their area of conquest. However, the clan can no longer safely lay claim to the Hoarfrost Mountains.

The current Chieftain of the clan is Merom Hoarfrost, who is quickly identified by his height compared to the rest of the tribe. In recent years, the Hoarfrost Mountains have changed as strange events have resulted in more avalanches and other abnormal occurrences. Warmer temperatures have crept throughout the mountain peaks, driving the goblins in search of the proper climate for the survival of their wolves. Merom has searched for the source of the disturbance but has been unsuccessful in locating the reason for their home to be melting away before his eyes. Scouts have reported waves of flame lashing out against the mountains and huge plumes of steam erupting from the hard earth. The network of caves throughout the mountains offer no clues or signs of volcanic activity.

Merom is convinced that Bane has grown tired of the clan’s lack of aggression and conquest. He believes the unnatural weather to be a sign of Bane’s displeasure with the Hoarfrost Clan. Unbeknownst to Merom, the disturbance in the Hoarfrost Mountains is actually caused by numerous forces creeping into the world from The Elemental Chaos, which presents a far greater danger than he could comprehend.

Merom has convinced the tribe that the time has come for the Hoarfrost Clan to settle old scores with warring tribes that still exist and conquer additional lands to appease Bane. Merom has started an exodus down the Hoarfrost Mountains in search of settlements to pillage and other goblin tribes to destroy. The Hoarfrost Clan travels with their wolves, which are trained to protect them to the death. Merom commands the goblins in his party with absolute power, and will stop at nothing – even sacrificing members of his own clan to gain additional power – to once again earn the respect of Bane.

Lore

Nature DC 8: It is unclear if the Hoarfrost Goblins derived their name from the Hoarfrost Mountains, or if the mountains are so named for the goblins that have inhabited the peaks for centuries. The goblins have resided in the highest reaches of the mountains while mostly staying away from civilized areas of the world. The climate in the Hoarfrost mountains features treacherous peaks, brutal cold and driving winds. The goblins have adapted to survive with the assistance of wolves accustomed to the landscape.

Nature DC 13: Recent reports indicate a great disturbance in the Hoarfrost Mountains. Several travelers have noted the base of the mountain is warmer than usual, and while the mountains are never safe due to the territorial goblins and other dangers, others have died by being buried in avalanches or smashed by falling blocks of ice the size of a large wagon. It is unknown what is causing the climate disturbance; some suspect a volcano preparing to erupt but other scholars are concerned about other unnatural causes.

History DC 12: The Foulhand Goblins were driven from their home and defeated during the many battles of warring goblin tribes. As their strength decreased, the clan was dispatched and forced to retreat from battle. Their few remaining numbers were forced to flee into the relative safety of the mountains. At some point in time, the clan changed its name from Foulhand to Hoarfrost and learned to survive the elements and dangers of the mountain region.

Religion DC 16: The Hoarfrost Goblins pay homage to the god, Bane. It is believed Bane intervened to allow the goblins to survive in such a harsh environment as the Hoarfrost Mountains. The Chieftain, Merom Hoarfrost, is a zealous devotee of Bane who is convinced he must lead his tribe on a march of terror to impress the evil god. He gains his strength from a variety of sacrifices to Bane.

Hoarfrost Goblins In Combat

The Hoarfrost Goblins rely on sheer numbers and the assistance of their deadly beasts. The goblins swarm foes and allow their wolves to assault enemies from behind. Merom Hoarfrost directs his tribe ruthlessly and their communion with Bane fuels them to merciless heights in battle.

Merom will immediately use the Ice Blade of Bane to cast Chill Cloud in the hopes to slow the party’s advance while his goblin allies move in for Mace attacks. The hoarfrost goblins will use Whirling Shield Bash and Rolling Snowball when flanked or otherwise surrounded by foes. Several goblins will remain at a distance and use Spear attacks until they are out of ammunition, then will join the fight in melee range.

After casting Chill Cloud, Merom will continue to direct the battle with Snowball’s Chance while moving into melee range. When Merom sees an opportunity to attack a bloodied enemy, he will use Cold-Blooded Sacrifice to increase the amount of damage for his next attack against the vulnerable target. Merom is fanatical and will fight to the death, although his fellow goblins may drop their arms and give information about the strange climate changes that forced them to leave their home.

Power Descriptions

Ice Blade: Merom wields a blade etched with ancient runes of evil. The runes glow a brilliant blue as the blade as the blade is covered in a razor-sharp mist of ice. Merom deftly strikes out with the blade to spill your blood. 

Cold-Blooded Sacrifice: Merom nimbly moves around the battlefield. You prepare for his incoming blow, but are appalled as he plunges his sword into another goblin. The blood coats the sword, which seep into the runes along the blade. Merom pulls the sword from his victims and offers what can only be described as a prayer, “Bane, I offer another sacrifice to you. Grant me the power to smite my enemies this day.” He strikes at you with a ferocious power and his prayer has been seemingly answered by the vile god of war and conquest.

Chill Could: Merom holds his sword aloft in the air. Icy winds gather around the blade as the runes pulsate white and blue. He points the sword in your direction and you and your allies are blasted with bitter cold air. A thin veil of ice now surrounds you, and the immediate area is treacherous to move through.

Snowball’s Chance: Merom is dismayed by his tribe’s lack of prowess on the battlefield. He sees your attack miss and screams at the fellow goblin, “Earn the respect of Bane. Strike out at your foes and kill them all!”

Mace: The hoarfrost goblin grips a small mace tightly in its hand. The attack breaks through your defenses and lands a deals a faint amount of damage. Suffering one of these attacks will not cause a great deal of harm, but being swarmed by these attacks could become a problem quickly!

Spear: The hoarfrost goblin lingers in the back of the battlefield, not yet ready to meet you in hand-to-hand combat. Instead, the goblin launches a spear in your direction, which cuts through the wind and penetrates your defenses. 

Whirling Shield Base: The hoarfrost goblin yelps as if overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies around it. It extends its shield and quickly whirls around to strike out with the small shield as a weapon. Anyone standing near the goblin and unable to dodge the attack suffers a minor wound but is forced away from the creature. The goblin snickers in delight as it has gained an advantage.

Rolling Snowball: The hoarfrost goblin clutches its furs tight around its body and rolls throughout the battlefield to dodge incoming attacks. In the blink of an eye, the goblin has moved from one place to another and is ready to strike out again.

Happy Holidays!


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.


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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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