Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Stolen Skin of Sun - The Goblin Market

An extension of Part One. With apologies to Christina Rossetti because the poetry is hers.

At the Goblin Market it is not dark, it is not light. Night dew beads the grass and the sky is red and violet. The place is packed with Goblins of every sort.

One like a large jackdaw in a Generals uniform. Some like Gentlemen in wigs and frock coats, sneering and spitting tobacco. Some pretending to be puppets with stiff rods as strings. Goblins doing yoga, their joints squishing and cracking. Goblins making a documentary film. Terrorist Goblins being chased by police Goblins with blue-painted heads. A Goblin owned by a huge frog. A Goblin with the head of a frog. A small Goblin in a golden vest riding a goose-sized blue giraffe, it holds a golden lead to a giraffe-sized goose. A Goblin in a space-suit next to a rotating U.F.O, but the U.F.O is wood spray-painted silver and is driven by Goblins giggling inside on stationary bicycles. One with a cats face. One with a tail. One tramps at a rats pace. one crawls like a snail. one like a wombat prowls obtuse and furry. One like a ratel tumbles hurry skurry. Goblins everywhere crawling, capering, sleeping, marching, pulling, carrying, buying, selling, stealing and lying.

You hear a voice like voice of doves, cooing all together;

"All ripe together
In summer weather,-
Fari eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:"

You must remind the players seriously and directly;

"Their offers should not charm you,
Their evil gifts would harm you."


The PC's are looking for the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold.

As part of the magic of that Auction, no one person can remember everything about it. It is definitely here, but any individual can only recall either its smell, its sound, its sight, its guard or the password to get in. No-one can recall more than one of these.

There are five Goblin vendors and each Goblin knows one thing about the Auction, but they will not surrender this information easily. You must buy from them, and all of their objects are cursed. That, or solve their riddle.


Getting Around

It is so strange and busy in the Goblin Market that is is impossible to find your way. Trying to get anywhere leads you somewhere random instead;

1. The stall of Mark Me Unreasonable.
2. The small black house.
3. The stall of Doctor Distinguished Green.
4. The Tower of Tomes.
5. The stall of Magnus Intractable.
6. The Black Tortoiseshell House.
7. The stall of Noted Groan.
8. The Palace of the Caterpillar King. 
9. The stall of Lord Captain Pilots Voice-Recording.
10. The stump of the Storm-Toppled Tree.


But, if they listen (or a Goblin may inform them) the PC's can hear the Goblin vendors singing. If they close their eyes and listen for a song, they can hear different tunes wafting through the crowd and can find their way to a particular stall. 

There are five songs and five stalls.


"Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I"

"An Emerald holds green like a leaf"

"I run but have no feet"

"Brown and furry
In a hurry"

"What are heavy? Sea sand and sorrow:"


The Five Goblin Vendors

1. "Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I
I know the trees have seen it pass
Why? Why? Why?"

This leads you to a Goblin with a gigantic orange eye bulging from his face. A small Goblin with a head like a full moon sits in the shadow of his shoulder and drips solution onto it with a long glass pipette.

They are called Mark Me Unreasonable.

He wishes to sell you a tiny tiger in a glass jar "fit to befoul any foe!"

If you buy the Tiger he will whisper one secret of the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold - "If you listen to it very carefully, you may hear a chewing sound."

Anyone who holds the Tiger in the jar finds themselves getting gradually angrier and angrier until they cannot restrain themselves and smash the jar on the floor. The Tiger escapes and attacks everyone. It will not leave the owner alone.

If you can answer his song he will owe you a secret. The answer is that the trees bow and wave when they see the wind.

2. "An Emerald holds green like a leaf,
A Ruby holds red blood,
A sapphire holds the sky's blue grief.
A Flint lies in the mud.
A Diamond holds white from a star,
To catch the world's desire,
An Opal holds a firey spark
But flint holds..
What does a flint hold?"

This leads you to four Goblins carrying a sedan chair and sniggering. inside is the shadow of an enormous cat who pokes a pistol barrel out of the curtains.

The cat calls themselves Doctor Distinguished Green.

He wishes to sell you a beautiful Green Pearl which he says will make you "desired above all".

If you buy the pearl he will whisper one secret of the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold - "It is held somewhere low and somewhat black."

Anyone who wears the pearl will be desired more each time they are seen with it and for as long as they wear it, but only that long. If they ever do not wear it, they will be despised now as much as they were desired before.

If you can answer his song he will owe you a secret. The answer is that the flint holds fire.

If you do either the Goblins break into laughter and run away. The sedan chair falls apart and a huge, black, but quite normal cat leaps out.

3. "I run but have no feet,
I will not sleep and cannot eat,
I can lose but never win,
I have a face without a chin."

This leads you to a Goblin who is a reflection in a mirror held up by a very grey and ancient man.

They name themselves 'Magnus Intractable'

They wish to sell you a Magic Mirror "a glass oracle to lend you wisdom!"

If you buy the Mirror he will whisper one secret of the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold - "It is guarded by a Hedge-Hog."

The Mirror will answer three questions in terse but truthful fashion. On the third the figure will run out of the mirror and caper about saying "free free free!" and whoever asked the last question will be trapped in the mirror.

If you can answer his song he will owe you a secret. The answer is 'a clock'.

4. "Brown and furry,
In a Hurry,
Take your walk,
To the stalk,
Toad not spy you,
Bird pass by you,
Spin and die,
To live again..."

This leads you to a Goblin in a fine red jacket with brass buttons who has eyes like a fox.

They name themselves 'Noted Groan'.

They wish to sell you a pair of Fox-Gloves "to lend you craft and cunning!"

If you buy the gloves Groan will whisper one secret of the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold - "It smells of dry parchment."

The Fox Gloves fill the wearer with lies. Their lies are likely to be believed but they cannot stop lying. Only someone who has never lied can remove them from the wearers hands.

If you can answer his song Groan will owe you a secret. The answer is 'a butterfly'.

5. "What are heavy? Sea sand and sorrow:
"What are brief? Today and tomorrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
But what are deep?"

This leads you to a blind and crippled goblin walking with two bone canes. He has a huge peacocks tail and the eyes in the tail stare and blink at you.

They call themselves 'Lord Captain Pilots Voice-Recording'.

They wish to sell you a silver Cod-Skin Cloak "to make you as swift and silent as a fish in the sea!". 

If you buy the cloak he will whisper one secret of the Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold - "The password is - nuts are falling."

The wearer is completely silent and can swin through the air as if it were water. If they ever remove the cloak they suffocate.

If you can answer his song the Lord Captain will owe you a secret. The answer is 'the ocean and truth'.

The Five Possible Places

There are five places in the Goblin Market which might be the Auction of Places That Cannot Be Sold.

1. A Small Black House. This house smells of liquorice (in fact it is made of it). It is guarded by a an extremely tuff hedgehog that will knock you about in a terrible way.

2. The Tower of Tomes. This tower is tall and pale, it smells of parchment and is guarded by an animated topiary Hog. Inside it is full of boring scholars.

3. The Black Tortoiseshell House. This smells of parchment and you can hear chewing coming from inside. In fact this is a sleeping Black Tortoise Sorcerer and not a building. They are not pleased to be disturbed and will cast Slow Magics.

4. The Palace of the Caterpillar King. This mansion is small and green in colour. You can hear chewing from inside. It is guarded by a wooden cat carved into a log. The password to pass the cat is 'Nuts are falling' but inside is only the sleepy, hungry and opium-addicted Caterpillar King who will ban intruders from all trees forever.

5. The stump of the Storm-Toppled Tree. This is low and black, it smells of parchment and you can hear chewing coming from inside. It is guarded by an Angry Hedgehog and if you give the password 'Nuts are falling' he will give you an acorn-cup with the size-altering drink to get you in.

This is the Auction of Impossible Things.


  1. Patrick this is so, so, so good.

  2. There are several typos in 'The Five Goblin Vendors' section, section 1: the goblin sells a tiger but the line says 'If you buy the pearl'. Similar typo repeats in vendor 3 (should be 'mirror') and in section 5 (should be 'cloak' instead of 'gloves)

    Thank you for posting this. I am glad to see Black Tortoise Sorcerer making their (slow) way here from the Shore.

  3. On the other note, I really like everything about the Goblin Market, and the only riddle that didn't give troubles was the one about the flint. I especially like the items (I wish there was more of them, as knowing my adventurers they would want to buy something, warnings ir not) and UFO goblins on bicycles.

  4. Seconded! More things to buy and try and die from please!

  5. I just ran this as a wicked faerie lord's game given to the players to get back the soul of a noble lady. It occurs to me that players will just keep body surfing on the goblins to and from random locations as many times as possible without some kind of penalty. Maybe some Goblin Market Mishaps would be a good idea, penalties good enough to really make the players try to figure out a more precise way to get around, leading them to listen to the songs.

    1. I mean, trying to body surf a goblin crowd should probably get you stabbed, robbed and groped I think.