“That Ol’ Goblin Magic”

A Rune RPG encounter for four heroes of any strength

Cushion Encounter
The heroes make their way through a remote goblin outpost and must defeat a goblin shaman.
Event #1: The Cavern of Danger
Event #2: Old Man Troll and the Sea
Event #3: The Shaman’s Lair
Encounter Cost Table

Event #1: The Cavern of Danger

Narration Narration

The heroes, traveling through a small and round tunnel, emerge into a large, hot cavern. The ceiling has been growing stalactites, though the floor has only chopped-away remains of stalagmites, as if a stone forest had been cleared away. The air is filled with an odd haze.

At their feet, and scattered throughout the cavern, are the remains of other stalwart Norsemen, long dead. Were they trying to enter or flee this cavern? What could have sent so many brave warriors to Valhalla?

Background Background

This is the outer hall of the goblin’s lair, and it is guarded by three traps. Two of these are meant to halt intruders, and the third is an alarm.

Carrot—Trap Avoidance

Singular, No-Fault; roll Awareness vs. Difficulty 8. If any single hero rolls successfully, all of the heroes gain a +2 on the next Dodge and Jump rolls when they note the following:

Closer Inspection Closer Inspection

The floor looks like it has been scoured with a woman’s washing stone. Here and there can be seen small cracks in the floor, as if an unbreakable sword had been thrust into the rock and removed at each of these places. Many of the fallen Vikings rest on these holes.

Points Spent
20 (Difficulty 8)
Points Earned
−15 (Awareness No-Fault)
−20 (+2 to 2 rolls @ 5 points each)

Trap—Field of Blades

Narration Narration

As the heroes walk into the cavern and among the disintegrating remains of the Viking skeletons, parts of the floor seem to shift. Suddenly, sharp blades come screaming out of the ground, each twice as tall as a Norseman!

Standard; roll Dodge vs. Difficulty 8 or suffer Dam 30.

Background Background

This trap was originally engineered by Dwarf slaves. There is no way goblins could have come up with it on their own.

Points Spent
20 (Difficulty 8)
45 (Dam rating 30)

Trap—The Acid River

Narration Narration

The heroes have dodged their way through the field of blades until they reach the middle of the cavern. Here, the blade holes vanish and a long ledge juts out of the cavern wall, seven feet above the floor. Just as they sigh in relief, one of them steps on another shifting rock, and a secret panel in the wall high above their heads opens, sending smoking acid pouring out and gushing straight toward them!

Standard (roll to avoid); roll Jump vs. Difficulty 7; failure means the hero failed to jump up and catch onto the ledge, and suffers Dam 10, recurring. This acid is strong enough to injure the heroes, but will not affect their gear. The acid would harm gear too in the long term, but the heroes will spend only a little time in it, if at all.

Singular: No-Fault (roll to end, multiple rerolls allowed); roll Climb vs. Difficulty 9 to climb the rough wall out of which the acid river is gushing and to close the mechanism.

Points Spent
10 (Jump vs. Difficulty 7)
25 (Dam rating 10, recurring)
30 (Climb vs. Difficulty 9)
Points Earned
−15 (Singular: No-Fault)

When all of the heroes have avoided the river, or when someone closes the trap mechanism by climbing the wall, or when everyone who stayed in the acid river has died (in other words, when no one will be taking any more damage from this trap):

Narration Narration

Slowly, the acid drains through cracks and holes in the cavern floor. Soon it is safe to walk upon again.

Toward the back of the cavern, near the exit and further tunnels, the heroes spot a burlap bag hanging from a thick rope attached to the ceiling. From the bag wafts the putrid odor of rotting meat, but visible through the burlap is a tantalizing gleam of silver.

Background Background

This trap was set here by the cleverest of the goblins as a temptation to any kind of intruder. It is carefully balanced and, if disturbed in any way, will suddenly unbalance, releasing a store of thin metal objects from a secret hollow in the ceiling. If these metal bits hit the floor, they will set up a horribly loud clattering which will alert the goblins farther down the tunnel. The springing of the trap is automatic, but the effects can be stopped by grabbing the rope and carefully tying it off to something. This is a very delicate process.

Stick—Bait and Alarm

Singular: Dogpile, conditionally avoidable (don’t touch the bag); roll Dexterity vs. Difficulty 6. Any heroes who say they’re going for the sack must make this roll, as they are the only ones close enough to try. Successes indicate the rope was caught in time, but any single failure means the failing hero jostled his companions in reaching for it, making them lose what grip they might have had, and the trap is sprung. This gives a stick of a bonus of +3 to each of the five goblin warriors’ INIT rolls in the first round of the upcoming combat with the goblins. The goblin shaman does not get this bonus, as he will cower in the shadows, afraid to fight hand-to-hand.

Gain—Bait and Alarm

No roll required, conditionally available (only if you touch the sack). Category A treasure.

Points Spent
20 (Exotic Roll, Dex
5 (+3 INIT to goblin foes’ 1st action)
Points Earned
−10 (Category A treasure)
−20 (Conditionally available singular roll)

Event #2: Old Man Troll and the Sea

Narration Narration

Having worked their way through the dangerous chamber of traps, the heroes cautiously inch down the tunnel as it winds through the hard earth. Soon they can hear a murmuring voice up ahead.

The heroes peer out of the tunnel into another, smaller, chamber. This one is occupied by a being of enormous size and ugliness. It’s a troll! The ten-foot tall creature sits by itself in a corner, looking out over an underground lake. It talks quietly to itself in its harsh tongue. It is obviously very old and very tired.

It looks like the only way ahead is over the underground lake.

Background Background

This troll is harmless, and will not fight. His name is Gorn, and he was once wise in wizardry. He lost his book of magic years ago, stolen by a nasty, thieving goblin. He has finally located it again: on the island in the middle of the underground lake. The only problem is: trolls cannot swim! He wants the heroes to retrieve it for him, and then he’ll repay them by casting a spell on them that will protect them from goblin magic, as well as help them find the secret door into the goblin lair. He doesn’t care if the heroes keep any treasure they find on the island; all he wants is his magic book.

Two Carrots—Deal with Gorn

Singular, conditionally available (must bargain with Gorn); roll Bargain vs. Difficulty 4 to get Gorn to agree to cast the protective spell and give directions in exchange for finding his book. The spell gives all of the heroes a +3 weird magic bonus to during the combat with the goblins only. This bonus will cancel out the weird goblin magic in the goblin combat. When Gorn shows them the secret door’s location, this provides a +3 bonus to the Traps rolls needed to locate the means to open the door.

Note that the gains associated with helping Gorn are won by making the deal with him, but the heroes do not acquire them until after they go to the island and return. The gains will be dealt with here, but the runner will have to return to this section at the appropriate time. This doesn’t violate any rules of Rune; it just moves things in an unusual order. Whatever happens on the island, the heroes have already earned Gorn’s gains, and he will certainly pay up.


Gorn smiles with a toothy grin. “Thank you, brave ones. As promised, here is your reward.” He opens his book, finds a particular passage in it, and begins a trollish chant while waving his hands before the heroes. When he stops he says, “You are now protected from the magic of the goblin shaman.

“Now, where was that secret door? Ah, here it is!” The troll gestures to a flat section of the wall. “I don’t know exactly how to open it, but goblins come through here all the time.”

With that, the troll opens his book again, finds another page, and says something rough and throaty. With a sparkle of dark blue light, he vanishes!

Points Earned
−20 (Conditionally available singular roll)
−30 (+3 weird magic ATK bonus in next combat with goblins)
−15 (+3 to Traps to find door)
0 (Combo gain)

Whether they agreed to Gorn’s task or not, the heroes have no choice but to go to the lake and see what they may see. They will have no way to find the secret door until they’ve gone to the island and returned. There is no other way forward.

Narration Narration

When the heroes walk to the lake’s edge, all they can see out on it is mist. Is there really an island out there?

Through the mist they notice a small rowboat sitting on the shore. It is just large enough for the entire horde to use. It looks safer than swimming these unknown waters. The Vikings drag the boat onto the water, and set out.

As they slowly row out onto the lake, the heroes begin to hear splashing noises, not coming from their oars. Could there be fish in this forsaken water?

Gain—What’s in the Water?

Freestanding; roll Lore vs. Difficulty 10 to realize that the noise comes from Aquatic Sucker Plants. These are tentacle-like plants that bite and suck on their victims like leeches. They swarm around anything on or in the waters they live in. This information won’t help the heroes avoid them, of course, but they’ll get Victory Points if they figure it out.

Points Earned
−5 (Freestanding roll Difficulty 10)

As soon as the heroes are more than halfway out to the island:

Hazard—Aquatic Sucker Plants

Standard; roll Stamina vs. Difficulty 6 or suffer Dam rating 10, armor-ignoring. This represents the cumulative effects of many sucker bites for the duration of the trip to the island. Heroes who make their rolls are too tough to be hurt by the suckers.

Narration Narration

The horde lands on the small island and hastily drags the boat onto the shore. Looking back, they can see a lakeful of hungry tentacles undulating over the surface of the water. The heroes look at each other, hoping it’s easier to get back!

Points Spent
20 (Exotic Roll, Stamina)
10 (Dam rating 10)
10 (Armor-ignoring hazard)

Narration Narration

The island is rocky, damp, and lonely. It’s also small, perhaps a hundred paces across. Near the center stands a low pile of stones. The stones look like they’ve been placed there intentionally. Strangely enough, it looks as though the thick mist enshrouding this whole enormous cavern is emanating from the pile of stones.

Background Background

This is the former home of Audun, an exiled Viking warrior who turned against his fellows for the sake of treasure. Most of the treasure is gone, and the Viking died mourning his loss of honor, skulking in the Underground. He has arisen again as one of the Dishonored and haunts his old hovel.

When the heroes approach the stones, the hear a horrible moan echo forth from it, and they are attacked by Audun.

Event #2 Combat Opponent—The Dishonored
Name Type Mix Move Threat Category Adjusts Predictable/Self-Willed?
Andun Dishonored 2 15 Equal None Predictable

See the combat map.

Andun does not use missile weapons.

Points Earned
−10 (doesn’t use missile weapons)


The heroes suffer a −2 penalty on all rolls based on Strength, Dexterity, Quickness, Perception, Communication, or Presence because of obscured vision. Audun can see through the mist and does not suffer any penalties.

Points Spent
10 (obscured vision −2 penalty to heroes only, cannot address)


The low pile of stones may be used as a barrier for protection against attacks (Rune pp. 120–121), Difficulty 6. Its top is too jagged and unstable to be used as a combat level.

Points Earned
−3 (Barrier)

When the heroes elimiate Audun:

Closer Inspection Closer Inspection

This hovel is dark and dank. There seems to be little of value here. Suddenly, one of the heroes spots a leaping figure! After a moment of panic, it becomes clear that the figure is the hanging skeleton of a long-dead goblin, its feet resting on an old, wooden trunk.

When the heroes open the trunk, they will find the book of magic. It is unreadable, as it is written in the troll tongue. (Note that if they refused to bargain with Gorn, but try to bring him the book anyway, he won’t help them, even for the book.) They also find:

Gain—Audun’s Treasure

No roll required, conditionally available (open the chest); Category C treasure; and 8 oz. liar’s silver.

Points Spent
8 (8 oz. liar’s silver)
Points Earned
−30 (Category C treasure)

Gain—Loot Cache

This island is a safe place to store treasure, since it is protected by the Aquatic Sucker Plants. When the heroes return, the plants will probably not be around to bother them, so this cache has a Recovery Difficulty 4.

Points Earned
−40 (loot cache difficulty 4)

When the heroes are ready to return to Gorn:

Narration Narration

Warily, the heroes return to the island’s shore. A sudden, echoing, bloodcurding cry from an unknown source bounces around the cavernous chamber. The heroes then see the strange tentacles in the water vanish with a “plop!”

Background Background

Whatever cave beast made that sound, the Aquatic Sucker Plants have learned to avoid it: it feeds on them. It is now completely safe for the heroes to return to Gorn.

Once they return and deal with Gorn, they must locate the secret door to continue on to the heart of the shaman’s lair. Remember, the heroes may not make the attempt to find the secret door until they’ve gone to the island and returned—they shouldn’t even know there’s a secret door until Gorn tells them (and he’ll mention one if they didn’t bargain with him, but he won’t show them where it is).

Stick—Locate the Secret Door

Singular; roll Traps vs. Difficulty 9 to locate the hidden lever that opens the secret door. Failure produces a stick of a −2 penalty to the next INIT roll in the upcoming combat with the goblins.

If the heroes all fail at this roll:

Narration Narration

Just as the heroes are about to give up looking for the secret door, a flat area of rock suddenly opens up, and an ugly goblin head peers out. It spots the horde, then lets out a shriek and disappears inside the rock again. The Vikings weren’t able to catch the creature, but were able to see the hidden lever which operates the door. They curse themselves for being unable to locate such a simple catch. Their confidence in their abilities begins to waver.

Points Spent
30 (Difficulty 9)
10 (−2 penalty to INIT for all heroes in goblin combat)

Event #3: The Shaman’s Lair

Narration Narration

As the heroes wind their way through the narrow goblin-tunnels, they begin to hear the sound of beating drums. A putrid smell fills their nostrils. Finally, the tunnels begin to brighten with the shine of firelight up ahead. Soon, the heroes see the lair of the goblins.

This seems to be a ceremonial chamber, as well as the place the foul goblins sleep. Metal braziers burn foul incense, and the smoke rises to choke the ceiling. Near the back of the cave, an alcove with two entrances hides unknown evils. The entire place is eerily lit by torches along the walls.

Five hideous goblins lurk around an almost-dead fire in the center of the room. Two of them are beating drums, while the other three draw their weapons as soon as they see you. An additional, smaller goblin, decorated in various charms and bones, stands on a rock platform before an altar at the far end of the chamber.

Event #3: Combat Opponents — Goblins
Name Type Mix Move Threat Category Adjusts Predictable/Self-Willed
Grisher Goblin Shaman 0.5 15 Weak None Self-Willed
Plook Goblin Warrior 0.7 15 Inferior None Predictable
Ackrak Goblin Warrior 0.7 15 Inferior None Predictable
Rerrerk Goblin Warrior 0.7 15 Inferior None Predictable
Hallep Goblin Warrior 0.7 15 Inferior None Predictable
Gant Goblin Warrior 0.7 15 Inferior None Predictable

See the combat map.

Any of the foes may use missile weapons. The shaman certainly will, cowering by the altar. He may be described as using a blowgun shooting feathered darts.

Points Spent
5 (Self-willed weak foe)

Terrain—Limited Exits

The heroes may only exit the way they came, or via a passage near the altar. These are small enough that only one hero may flee at a time.

Points Earned
−10 (Limited exits, 2)

Terrain—Multiple Levels

Characters may stand on the three foot high rock platform around the altar, and they may enter the alcove another two feet up and fight anyone on the platform. Though there are two entrances to the alcove, the whole thing only counts as one level.

Points Earned
−10 (two additional levels)


The slope cuts across the entire cave between where the heroes enter and where the foes are. The slopes grade is about 30%. The goblin warriors will try to fight the heroes on this slope, attempting to keep the high ground. Failing this, some may move toward the altar, to get another high ground. (Thus, the runner may make use of the various terrain levels.)

Points Earned
−5 (one small sloping area)

Hazard—Weird Goblin Magic

−3 penalty to heroes’ ATK scores. This is caused by the four braziers burning in the corners of the cave. It takes one action to douse one brazier, provided the hero already has a bucket of water or sand handy (there are no such materials in the combat area). When the heroes begin to fight, eerie ghosts and spirits will emerge from the rock walls, howling in terrible voices, and coming between the heroes’ weapons and the foes, making it difficult to strike. Once the combat is over, assuming the goblins are all slain, the ghosts will disappear. If the heroes have had Gorn’s spell placed on them, the ghosts will be unable to approach the heroes, and will scream helplessly at them.

Points Spent
30 (weird goblin magic, −3 to heroes’ ATK during combat)

Gain—Goblin Treasure

No roll required; Category E treasure. This is hidden among the skins and refuse of the alcove, where the shaman has his quarters.

Points Earned
−50 (Category E treasure)
Encounter Cost Table
Item Points Spent Item Points Earned
Encounter Points Spent 308 Encounter Points Earned −308
Balance 0
Trap Avoidance: Difficulty 8 20 Trap Avoidance: No-Fault −15
Field of Blades: Dodge Difficulty 8 20 Trap Avoidance: +2 on two rolls @ 5 each −20
Field of Blades: Dodge Difficulty 8 20 Acid River: No-Fault −15
Field of Blades: Dam Rating 30 45 Bait and Alarm: Category A treasure −10
Acid River: Jump to Avoid Difficulty 7 10 Bait and Alarm: Conditionally available: singular roll −20
Acid River: Dam rating 10, recurring 25 Deal with Gorn: Conditionally Available, singular roll −20
Acid River: Climb Difficulty 9 30 Deal with Gorn: +3 to ATK in goblin combat −30
Bait and Alarm: Exotic Roll, Dex 20 Deal with Gorn: +3 to Traps when looking for secret door −15
Bait and Alarm: Stick, +3 INIT for goblin foes’ first action 5 What’s in the Water?: Freestanding roll, Difficulty 10 −5
Aquatic Sucker Plants: Exotic roll, Stamina 20 Combat Opponent: Doesn’t use missile weapons −10
Aquatic Sucker Plants: Dam rating 10 10 Combat Terrain: Barrier, pile of stones −3
Aquatic Sucker Plants: Armor-ignoring hazard 10 Audun’s Treasure: Category C treasure −30
Combat Terrain: Mist, −2 penalty from obscured vision 10 Audun’s Treasure: Loot cache, Difficulty 4 −40
Audun’s Treasure: Liar’s Silver 8 Combat Terrain: Limited Exits (2) −10
Locate the Secret Door: Difficulty 9 30 Combat Terrain: Multiple Levels (2) −10
Locate the Secret Door: Stick, −2 INIT first round 10 Combat Terrain: Slope −5
Combat Hazard: Weird Goblin Magic, −3 ATK 30 Goblin Treasure: Category E treasure −50
Combat Opponents: Self-Willed Weak Foe 5


This has been my very first Rune encounter. I hope you enjoy it. I was concentrating on just learning the system, and haven’t made too many attempts to maximize the runner’s Victory Points or get too fancy.

If you have any comments or want to point out my errors, please send me e-mail.

Last updated September 25, 2005

David Trimboli | Index