What a stroke of fortune! I've managed to find some more of my notes, right where I had an itchy feeling I'd find them, even though it was a place I would never normally store such things: Inside the false lid of my clothing chest! (I didn't know it had a false lid in the first place, so this was doubly surprising.) These notes pertain to my reasonably recent meeting with the eye-wateringly-smelly Runty the Goblin, my "dead drop" contact with the Goblin tribe. (The notes may or may not be completely in the correct order, I didn't number the pages, so the related events may be slightly out of order, I'm not sure, but they all happened, just the same. I'll record them here in the order I found them.) In effect he's almost more like a spy, reporting their findings to me on places and people of interest, and being given money to take back with him. The smell largely comes from having to remain in the one spot for days or weeks on end, until either I turn up looking for news, or he runs out of food and has to return to the tribe. He doesn't seem to mind at all though; I get the distinct impression that he's very used to being on his own and fending for himself. He's remarkably strong and well equipped for survival, especially with his more recent equipment "upgrades". But more on that in a bit.
I had the idea of using a Potion of Mind Reading on him to get a clearer picture of his and the tribe's comings and goings, since what he has in the Brawn department seems to have been well-balanced by drawing from the Brains account, leaving it with little. I suppose it could be said that I'm the near-opposite; although I have excellent Intelligence, both my Wisdom and Strength are rather low. Stereotypical squishy wizard hm? But I can wear armor and shields now too, so ha! Maybe less "squishy" and more "firm" nowadays. Anyway, it turns out the Potion was an excellent idea; with a bit of divination magic to augment, I was able to watch along for one of their adventures as if I was a nearby observer. And if what I saw is any indication of their day-to-day life, the Goblins are far more interesting creatures than history would give them credit for. Their resourcefulness has certainly impressed me.
The adventure started at a trading camp a considerable distance away, in the foothills. This trading camp is not somewhere you would generally find anyone from "civil" society - It's run by the Wildmen of the foothills, and is a gather and trade spot for just about every humanoid race you could think of. Goblins, gnomes, trolls, hobgoblins, bugbears, orcs, humans, Wildmen of course, Giants, lizardfolk, Dragonborn; the good, the bad and the horrifying all mingle here without virtually any of the usual infighting you would expect. It seems to me, an unfamiliar observer, that there is an unwritten but immediately-understood agreement that anyone who steps foot into this territory is there under the distinct covenant of non-violence, and that any major disturbances would be very quickly dealt with by the other visitors. At the least, everyone there has a vested interest in keeping it peaceable for the purposes of not only ongoing trade, but also not attracting the attention of Lawful Stupid types who would love a good excuse to go on a cleansing crusade or other such nonsense. It's far enough out of the way that such types are unlikely to even find it, and if they did turn up to start trouble without good reason, they'd soon find themselves badly overwhelmed.
One of the main attractions of the place is the huge, bearded Ettin who is chained to a steel spike in the middle of a large clearing. He's been there for so long now that barely anyone remembers how he got there, but the local story is that he was causing trouble in the area, and managed to get on the bad side of some sort of witch or mage who, once he'd been captured and chained in place, enchanted the chain and spike to be virtually unbreakable. He's been stuck there ever since, although the local populace keep him fed and clothed, and have built a sleeping quarters for him nearby so he doesn't have to stay out in the elements; they now regard him as a local celebrity of sorts. He's huge:
Scrimjaw, the hyper-intelligent Goblin I first had contact with, and his close-second-in-brainpower friend Rockjaw (who I initially mistranslated from Goblin as "Lockjaw", I'm certain) were with Runty on an expedition to this camp to better equip themselves using some of the cash I've been funnelling their way. Runty is the obvious packhorse of the group; he carries a huge sack over his shoulder, larger in size to the one his crew had when they first leapt out of my inn room all that time ago (his memories show me that Runty was the only one that managed to escape my vengeance that fateful night where I captured Scrimjaw and Rocktooth for interrogation, and killed the others... A possible waste, now I think about it) and Scrimjaw rides on top of the sack whenever he's tired or otherwise feels like doing so. His weapon of choice is some sort of soup ladle which he wields like a mace (a ladle of all things!), and his armor consists of a saucepan worn on his head like a helmet. I found a drawing by some local talent that gives a good idea of what he looks like.
Scrimjaw and Rocktooth are both dressed in very low-quality, tattered, moth-eaten hide armor, no better than normal clothing in terms of combat protection, but this doesn't seem to bother them overmuch as they use Runty as a very solid meatshield. It would appear that after my rain of fire and death from the window, they rethought their careers as typical thieving Goblin Rogues, and decided to work on other career options. Runty, with his high strength and constitution and low intelligence, turns out to make an excellent Barbarian: Triggering his rage, the already-stocky Goblin becomes resistant to weapon damage and hits harder than ever with the ladle; a sight I found to be utterly hilarious. Scrimjaw and Rocktooth have both decided that although magic is generally a terrifying and taboo concept (they call it "booyagh"), if it can be used against them so effectively, then it can be used by them just as effectively. In essence, they are now both Goblin Wizards, and their huge Intelligence scores assist them greatly in this regard, although this has caused them (and their insistance on travelling with Runty) to become the object of minor suspicion within the tribe for a while.
Arriving in the camp, my Goblin friends set about locating some armor and weapon upgrades if possible. They came upon a large longhouse, with a blacksmith, armorer and other stores within. While Goblins aren't unheard of here, they are a rarity, and are known to get into a lot of trouble at short notice due to their lack of discipline and common sense, so they're viewed with suspicion... Especially so when Scrimjaw enquires, in perfectly normal Common, about where to get arms and armor suitable to them; normally if a Goblin speaks Common at all, it's badly broken and barely makes sense! The armorer, who looks like he's just woken up from a VERY bad night and suffering a horrible hangover, looks them over slowly, muttering. Through the following conversations with the armorer and blacksmith, in which much head-shaking is done and "...fuckin' goblins..." is often muttered, the trio get some suitable studded leather armor and decent shortswords for the two rogue-mages, and Runty acquires a huge pot lid from a soup pot that he can't stop licking the flavour off, gets VERY excited and starts slamming the ladle against his pot-helmet and nearly gets them all chucked out. (One thing you DON'T want when you have a hangover is some bloody Goblin making a godawful racket, apparently). The pot lid stands nearly as tall off the ground as Runty himself (it comes up to about his chin), and for a bit of extra cash they convince the blacksmith to weld a handle to it. He complies, grudgingly; it's not difficult work, but it's probably the weirdest request he's ever had: "Turn this soup pot lid into a mini tower shield for a ladle-wielding Goblin barbarian". Ta-da! Now it's a huge, tasty shield! (Cue more mutterings about the utter idiocy of Goblins, this time from the blacksmith, especially when Runty gets excited and starts slamming the ladle on his new shield before being asked in no uncertain terms to leave the longhouse.) Before they leave, Scrimjaw asks the armorer if he can make a suitably "wizardy" pointy hat, with stars and moons etc; the armorsmith sighs theatrically and says fine, but indicates that the Goblins really, really should be leaving, and to come back in a couple of days or so for the hat. Payment is made, and they leave.
Outside, Rocktooth spots a group of Orcs eyeing them off; he decides to use his Rogue skills to sneak after them and see what they're doing, while Scrimjaw and Runty look for a place to rest. Later, Rockjaw finds the other two in a tavern, and relays that he heard the Orcs planning an ambush for the Goblin trio. "That big sack looks like it's full of goodies that those Goblins probably don't need, right boys?" etc etc. The Orcs have followed the Goblins into the tavern, and are now lazing around and drinking quite heavily, getting thoroughly smashed. Having heard somewhere that Orcs have a particular dislike of horses, Scrimjaw uses a Minor Illusion cantrip to create the illusion of a constantly color-shifting horse that wanders past the Orcs and out the door. You can bet that this gets their attention, and they get up to follow it, with the Goblins sneaking and following them soon after to maintain the illusion's movement to the treeline outside the camp's clearing. After a short battle in which the Orcs learn to their extreme detriment that these Goblins are either magic-users or an amazingly hard to damage, ladle-wielding barbarian, they're all dead and Runty is in very bad shape, even with his Rage reducing his incoming damage, the Goblins take a rest and heal up.
Near the end of their rest, they see a strange, gnome-sized creature dragging a heavy sack and carrying a huge scythe.
Following it out of curiosity, its tracks seem to vanish at the base of a very large boulder. Runty puts down the carrysack and scales the boulder without too much trouble, while Rocktooth and Scrimjaw watch from the bottom. On top of the boulder, inside a large crack, a Redcap hisses nastily. Runty hisses back, causing the vile creature to attack without warning, slamming into him with a vicious kick using its ironshod boots. Not expecting this, Runty takes a significant amount of damage from the kick, before once again enacting his Rage. Some back-and-forth combat later, he tries to throw the Redcap off the boulder, but it grabs hold of him and drags him off as well; down they both come. The Redcap hits the ground first, losing his scythe; Runty lands on top of him and absolutely goes to town with the ladle on the Redcap's head. Some Firebolt spells from the two wizard Goblins and sufficient ladling soon finish off the creature, which melts away into a puddle of horrible mess.
The sack turned out to contain most of an unfortunate local whose friends were looking for him, having heard that he'd been dragged off by "an evil little Santa Claus with an evil big scythe". After Scrimjaw proudly described how they'd made short work of the Santa, they directed his friends to the top of the boulder where the sack was stored within the large crack. Unfortunately, his head and body had parted ways some time prior, so they'll need to Resurrect him if they want him back. Scrimjaw claims the red hat, taking it back to the armorer at the longhouse and asking him to use Redcap's hat as part of the wizard hat. The armorer simply takes it, looks it over, rolls his eyes nearly out of his head at the sheer absurdity of how his day is panning out, says yet another "Fuckin' Goblins, for shit sake... Seriously... Why me..." and other constant mutterings under his breath, and agrees to integrate the red cap into the design... Somehow.
While resting, Runty notices the Ettin in what could be called the camp's "town square" or maybe "central courtyard", and decides that he wants to wrestle it. Yes, this Goblin who is short even by Goblin standards wants to wrestle an Ettin. He wanders over to the sleeping Ettin and starts slamming himself in the pot-helmet with the ladle, making an atrocious racket. The Ettin wakes up immediately, looking around for the source of the noise, and spots Runty. He reaches down and attempts to pick up Runty, who sandbags himself, making a successful Strength check to resist being picked up. This seems to impress our large friend, who wasn't expecting any real resistance. Then Runty grabs hold of his hand, braces himself and holds onto the Ettin as if daring him to try again.
"Ooo, little Goblin wants to play!"
The Ettin tries to break free of Runty's grip with a bit more effort this time, Runty makes another opposed Strength check... And again, he succeeds in sandbagging enough to keep the Ettin in place! This has started to get the attention of some of the locals, who are now standing and staring, clearly impressed by this small Goblin's daring and determination. The Ettin laughs, also obviously impressed but also slightly annoyed at being shown up in this manner. He tries to pick up Runty, and succeeds this time... Only to have Runty run up his arm and start slamming the ladle into his pot-helmet again, right beside one of the head's ears. The Ettin's amusement turns to absolute annoyance, and he grabs at Runty... Only for Runty to scamper across to the other side and do the same to the other head! The Ettin bellows, furious now, and makes another grab, while the ever-growing crowd watches on in amazement. Runty makes a flying leap for the beard of the first head, swinging off it with one hand and still slamming the ladle on the pot-helmet with the other, laughing maniacally the whole time. The head owning the beard being swung from makes a wild swinging grab for Runty, missing him by inches... Then the other head uses the arm on its side of the shared body to do the same, only to aim too high, miss Runty entirely and smash the first head in the nose.
[OOC: For context, the DM said "if the Ettin misses his grab attempt by more than 5, he'll hit himself instead", not expecting it to happen, because it would have to be an abysmally low roll for that to happen... The first grab attempt missed by 2, the second one missed by 6. All of the above theatrics were only accomplished with the appropriate roll checks (Strength, Acrobatics, Athletics etc) being made by Runty or failed by the DM rolling for the Ettin; there were no rerolls, number fudges or the like. If they'd rolled differently at any point, the resulting tale would of course be different, and probably less entertaining.]
With the first head now bellowing with rage, Runty decides that this would be an excellent time to dismount the Ettin and get out of there, having well and truly proven that he can wrestle an Ettin... And win by having it hit itself. He jumps down from the Ettin's beard, bows to the gathered crowd who are going absolutely wild with cheers and applause, grabs his carrysack, and wanders off with the other two Goblins to somewhere a bit quieter while the Ettin's heads argue with each other.