29 July 2020

Praise the Nilbog!

I so often talk about the adventures and escapades of my Sunday D&D group, that I neglect to really mention my Wednesday game. This isn't because of favouritism, or because they don't have some hilarious stories (one of the party has made it their mission to build a pair of exploding gauntlets, but that's a story for another time), or anything else. It's simply that I haven't been running it as long, and haven't had as many sessions with them yet! This week, however, my free adventure will be using one of my favourite monsters of all time in 5e: The Nilbog.

The Nilbog can be found in Volo's Guide to Monsters (an incredible fifth edition book, if you don't own it, treat yourself), on page 182. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Goblin. It is also going to drive your party mad. For a CR 1 monster, it has some of the most fun and ridiculous abilities, that could prove a challenge to even higher level parties. When I ran the Nilbog in my game, I used it as part of a larger goblin ambush: There were two Worg riding Goblins, 6 Goblins on foot, a Hobgoblin, a Bugbear, and the Nilbog (I don't do things by halves when I want to challenge my parties).

The combat began pretty normally, when the party had their train (mildly steampunk setting, mostly still high fantasy - alchemical engines instead of actual steam ones) was stopped and raided by a tribe of goblins known to be living in the area. The Hobgoblin lead the assault, commanding the troops to where they needed to be. All the while, the Nilbog was doing... well? Not very much. I even wasted its entire first round of initiative to describe it dancing on the spot, laughing maniacally. I made sure the party heard the description of its Fool's Scepter (a reflavoured Mace), it's oddly coloured jesters garb, and the crazed look in its eye.

The party began to quickly pick off the first wave (the riders and two of the goblins on foot) before I decided to unleash what would soon become the funniest monster I have ever used in a game. Everything was going perfectly for the party, until I uttered those fateful words: You want to shoot the Nilbog? Great! I'll need a Charisma Save. As luck would have it (for me, not the party), the save was a fail. A bad one at that (they rolled 4 or 5 I believe). When I told them about the Nilbog's trait: Nilbogism, everyone fell about laughing, having learned that the gunslinger now had to spend her entire action (for two rounds of combat!) praising the Nilbog, instead of killing it.

Fate did not smile on the party for a long while in that encounter, with every single player managing to fail at least one Charisma (only DC 12) Save. A lot of rounds were spent praising the Nilbog, and a lot of very funny and new ways of complimenting him were thought up. My favourite was something to do with his nose being ripe like a juicy pear that the character (human rogue) could just eat up. It was hilarious (and the entire party still talk about it 10 sessions later).

Eventually, a player managed to pass the save (hallelujah), and land a direct hit on the Nilbog. Unfortunately, for them at least, it had one more trick up its sleeve: Reversal of Fortune. In essence, the Nilbog can (as a reaction to taking damage) reduce incoming damage to zero, and heal itself for 1d6 hit points.

The party did, eventually, manage to kill the annoying little Goblinoid, but that is definitely the only time I have ever had 4-5 rounds of combat dedicated solely to killing a single CR 1 monster (all the rest were dead by this point). For a low level beastie, it can do some wonderful things; from casting vicious mockery and hideous laughter at will, with no required components, to being able to cast Confusion once per day (that had the cleric literally walking around in circles for a couple of rounds). All I can do is implore you to try running a Nilbog at some point, they're amazing fun, great for role-pay, and will provide the party with a memorable encounter. Be sure to check out my new adventure, coming this Saturday at 09:30 GMT, for a Goblin themed adventure, using my favourite little friend, the Nilbog.

(Unfortunately, due to personal issues, this adventure was never published. It is still on the back-burner, and will definitely be something I get around to at some point - but don't get your hopes up looking for it)

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