Tales from the Table: Sartak the Mighty Goblin 3

Ages ago, I was running an AD&D 2e game in which we were using all of the core books, all of the gray books and all of the brown books. Life was good, though my bag was HEAVY with books, dice, pencils, paper, maps, minis, wet-erase battlemats and more. The group I ran was comprised of a goblin wizard (Sartak), a human fighter (Purlas) and an elven ranger (Killdash). The party ended up getting stopped at a door that was rusted shut. Of course, the fighter stepped up and tried to kick open the stuck door and ended up with a poor die roll. Fail. Next came the ranger with the same result. Sigh. The puny little goblin wizard then stepped up and rolled spectacularly. Success!

From that time forward, he was known as Sartak the Mighty Goblin and became the leader of the group. The human and elf, properly cowed by their failures, agreed to follow the goblin and went along with him.

Despite the success of the group and the need to get past the door, as a GM, this rubbed me a little bit the wrong way. If the big burly fighter couldn’t crack the door, then why would anyone think the weaker, smaller goblin wizard could accomplish the feat? I’ve seen this a great number of times in many different role playing situations. How do you, as GMs, put a stop to this kind of dice rolling behavior? Any advice other than to flat out stop the weaker characters from even attempting the die roll?

3 thoughts on “Tales from the Table: Sartak the Mighty Goblin

  1. Tourq Apr 15,2010 3:53 PM

    How to handle this better?

    Think differently. Is the rusted door a challenge for the players to get through, or simply to show that the door is old and rusted?

    What would have happened in my game: After traveling down a dark, damp corridor for what seems forever, you come across a closed, rusted door. It takes a few shoves and grunts, but the fighter will eventually jar it open.”

    Now, I know that because Ad&D has an “Open Doors” stat, you could have done the following: After the fighter failed his roll, simply stat that the ranger then joins the fighter, and the door becomes opened.

    You just have to figure out what the intention of the rusted door is. Is it there for flavor, or a challenge that the players have to get through?

    If it’s a challenge, make sure that the players have the tools necessary to eventually open the door, should their “break down door” rolls fail.

    If it’s not a challenge, why have a die roll in the first place? The fighter is surely strong, he should just be able to open it.

    Thank you. This post reminded me of some of the little things that can make a big difference.


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  3. Hungry Apr 16,2010 4:23 PM

    Thanks for the feedback, Tourq. It’s been a long time since I created/ran the adventure with door, so I don’t remember it’s exact purpose for being there. I think it was to redirect the group through a much more arduous pathway than taking the straight route through the door. I wasn’t upset that they made it through the door. I was irked by how it was done.

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