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Author Topic: Using Goblins in the Campaign!  (Read 776 times)

SHARK

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Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« on: October 19, 2021, 04:15:35 PM »
Greetings!

In my campaign world of Thandor, I don't tend to use "Monocultures" when detailing various races and cratures. Much like humans, while perhaps less diverse, the Elves, Dwarves, and so on generally do not have merely one racial culture that predominates them, though despite sharing many features and traits, most such humanoid races also embrace some differentiation through having at least a few cultural variations. In this manner, I also have applied these concepts to Goblins. I have a barbaric, savage Goblin culture--mostly typified by Gremlins; Green-skinned Goblins with larger heads, and wide mouths full of savage teeth, much like sharks. The Gremlins are warlike and hateful, and embrace all manner of evil and wickedness. Then, I have a "Civilized" Goblin culture--I suppose they are a subrace related to the Gremlins, though physiologically similar, but also different. The "Civilized" Goblins have more refined physiques and features, and are in general more civilized. The "civilized" Goblins have a broader range of alignments typically available to them, and they are also more technologically and magically advanced than their Gremlin relatives. In short, I suppose the Gremlins are definitely Dark Faerie/Grim Dark, while the Urban Goblins are more Light Faerie/Whimsical.

These distinctions provide me as the DM with some neat racialized and cultural distinctions for the goblins, as well as a wide selection of character types and styles of play, whether as NPC opponents or some kind of allies for Player Characters. In addition, such flexibility and scope also provides space for a Player Character to have a Goblin character if they desired such a character. I think Goblins offer some different approaches and styles from Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes. In general, obviously, they share some commonalities especially with the Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes, and yet are still able to be fresh and distinctly different.

How have you used Goblins in your campaigns? Have you done something different with Goblins? Or are they merely the masses of Green-skinned lawn-mower fodder for bands of adventurers? Have you played as a Goblin character? Have any of your players played Goblin characters?

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
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GeekyBugle

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2021, 04:18:12 PM »
As cannon foder. If I'm being honest I rather preffer human only PCs and everything else is a monster. Just like in the original folk tales that inspired the Brothers Grim.
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Godfather Punk

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2021, 04:39:05 PM »
The only time I used goblins as not-monster NPC's was in an Eberron campaign, where said goblins were a civilisation in decline (but thanks to the players now back on the rise).

Otherwise... They're just like Shankas. Cut 'em, smash 'em, burn 'em to a crisp.

RandyB

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2021, 04:48:32 PM »
Goblins are pre-adults. Hobgoblins are adults. Bugbears are post-adults ala Niven's Protectors, only not as radically advanced past hobgoblins as the Protectors are past human adults.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2021, 04:54:18 PM »
Goblins are pre-adults. Hobgoblins are adults. Bugbears are post-adults ala Niven's Protectors, only not as radically advanced past hobgoblins as the Protectors are past human adults.

That's a nice take, are they evil or not?
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jhkim

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2021, 05:06:58 PM »
I've typically had goblins as minorly evil - or at least mischievous - adversaries. In my post-fantasy-apocalypse campaign, the PCs ended up with a bunch of goblin prisoners and recruited some of them to be servants for the group.

As a change of pace, I did have a recent-ish one-shot adventure and a short campaign where humans and demihumans were evil, and orcs, goblins, and related races were good. I had a pregen goblin bard PC for those games, but I think none of the players ended up taking it. The description I had was:

Quote
● The merry little goblins are often dismissed as frivolous jokers. The caverns rings with their songs - and they prize humor especially. "Where there's a wit, there's a way" goes the old goblin song. But there is more to them than that. Goblins also prize stories, and keep a rich oral tradition. They are also quick and sly. Sometimes they will play pranks on others, but they also sometimes give unseen help to those in need - like mending tools or shoes.

● You are a storyteller and loremaster among your people. One of the oldest stories was of the great Temple of the Elements - a structure to many gods grouped by the elements of the world. There was cooperation between all the civilized races, and its good influence spread wide across both the Underdark and the surface world. But armies of humans and other evil races massed to destroy the temple long ago, and it passed from memory. You have worked to gather others in your quest to find and help restore the temple.

RandyB

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2021, 05:26:33 PM »
Goblins are pre-adults. Hobgoblins are adults. Bugbears are post-adults ala Niven's Protectors, only not as radically advanced past hobgoblins as the Protectors are past human adults.

That's a nice take, are they evil or not?

Depends on the alignment system in use. Three point Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic, they're Chaotic. Nine-point, they're Evil. Goblins are CE, because fuck you, dad. Hobgoblins are LE, just because. Bugbears are NE to CE, because they are the ones who survived adulthood, and there ain't many of them.

SHARK

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2021, 05:51:46 PM »
I've typically had goblins as minorly evil - or at least mischievous - adversaries. In my post-fantasy-apocalypse campaign, the PCs ended up with a bunch of goblin prisoners and recruited some of them to be servants for the group.

As a change of pace, I did have a recent-ish one-shot adventure and a short campaign where humans and demihumans were evil, and orcs, goblins, and related races were good. I had a pregen goblin bard PC for those games, but I think none of the players ended up taking it. The description I had was:

Quote
● The merry little goblins are often dismissed as frivolous jokers. The caverns rings with their songs - and they prize humor especially. "Where there's a wit, there's a way" goes the old goblin song. But there is more to them than that. Goblins also prize stories, and keep a rich oral tradition. They are also quick and sly. Sometimes they will play pranks on others, but they also sometimes give unseen help to those in need - like mending tools or shoes.

● You are a storyteller and loremaster among your people. One of the oldest stories was of the great Temple of the Elements - a structure to many gods grouped by the elements of the world. There was cooperation between all the civilized races, and its good influence spread wide across both the Underdark and the surface world. But armies of humans and other evil races massed to destroy the temple long ago, and it passed from memory. You have worked to gather others in your quest to find and help restore the temple.

Greetings!

*Laughing* NICE, Jhkim! "Where there's a wit, there's a way!" Yeah! I remember the old song, "Where there's a whip, there's a way!" Nice touch!

I have the Gremlins to be the savage, evil bastards, more typified in myths for the hordes of evil, sadistic Goblins. Then, for some difference and variation, I have the more civilized "Urban Goblins" that are more comical, light-hearted, and admittedly, somewhat likeable. They oftentimes trade with other races, though of course they are the chief bankers, financiers, alchemists, mages, and specialized craftsmen that often do lots of work for Orcs, Hobgoblins, Ogres, Giants, Gnolls, Bugbears, and Beastmen. They also make deals with Lizard men and Troglodytes, in addition to more civilized races and communities.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

Steven Mitchell

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2021, 06:42:06 PM »
I'm all over the place with goblins, except I don't think I've ever used them as PCs.  I've had a few NPCs (usually as a fish out of water character trying to escape his tribe).  Done the catapult fodder thing of course. Had them be the ultra tricky types (long before people started doing that with Kobolds). Did one campaign where goblins and gnomes were two sides of the same coin, basically crazy chaotic evil versus crazy chaotic neutral, with the party stuck in the middle.

I think my favorite way to use goblins is as feral hobbits.  Though you can get a lot of mileage out of just dropping them altogether and having actual feral hobbits, too. 

Pat

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2021, 10:29:58 PM »
Bugbears are broodmothers. All that fur? It's covering dozens of teats, and on each teat is a spindly, naked goblin baby. When the baby is grown enough, it falls off and scampers into the tiny rat tunnels that infest the goblin warrens. There, the bands of baby goblins get together, and play. Their play of course isn't fun for those who are the victims, though older goblin types tolerate it. These baby gangs are sometimes called jermlaine or jinxkins.

The goblins grow up, and retain a lot of their childhood characteristics. Big heads, expressive faces. Thin arms and legs, relatively small though several times the size of the jermaline. And they play dominance games. Instead of targeting others for misery in the name of play, they plot and connive, and fight like vicious like rats, rolling around on the ground and tearing off ears and pieces of skin.

The most successful tend to be the ones who can play the politics game well enough to keep the other goblins off their backs, and can then shank their enemies when they're alone. After a while, the goblin gang-chiefs start to change, grow. Become larger, stronger, and more solidly built. In other words, the winners in the creche game become hobgoblins.

The hobgoblins then vie for status, but it's no longer backstabbing and skullduggery. All the ascended goblins are good enough at that to keep the hobgoblins at bay. And it's not really about strength, either. Because they're all big and strong. It's mostly about martial prowess. This is where the goblinoids learn to fight, really fight. They practice, drill, go out on raids, and try to prove their skill at arms.

Because those who are most successful and most celebrated are rewarded, and given the privilege of mating with the giant bugbear broodmothers, and to hopefully father a few of the scrawy naked and mostly blind baby gobbles.

Greywolf76

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2021, 08:32:57 AM »

How have you used Goblins in your campaigns? Have you done something different with Goblins? Or are they merely the masses of Green-skinned lawn-mower fodder for bands of adventurers? Have you played as a Goblin character? Have any of your players played Goblin characters?


Absolutely. I tend to use them a lot.

And they are as diverse as any other demi-human race. In my homebrew world goblins were exiled from Tír na nóg after trying to topple the Sídhe Monarchs.

They are divided in many different subspecies: hill/green goblins (the run-of-the mill AD&D goblin, but with greenish skin), hobgoblins (bigger, stronger, LE goblins who often act as mercenaries, pirates or raiders), sea goblins (koalinth), jungle goblins (tasloi), mountain goblins (norkers) and two subspecies of my own, shadow goblins and swamp goblins.

They usually live in distinct habitat, except that hobgoblins sometimes employ green goblins as worg riders, scouts or light infantry.

When I started a new Forgotten Realms campaign sometime ago I transplanted this idea to FR. It makes them much more rich and varied as enemies than a simple monoculture.

Now I'm trying to adapt Pathfinder's goblins (you know, the sharp-toothed, dastardly arsonists), too. Perhaps I'll make them red goblins, fire goblins (given their love of fire), or something like that.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2021, 09:39:15 AM »
Greetings!

In my campaign world of Thandor, I don't tend to use "Monocultures" when detailing various races and cratures.
Thinking about it.....Alien species are likely much more to be effectively a mono-culture from a human perspective then just be humans with green skin.
Slight changes in location makes radically different cultures, and factor massive biological differences what their baseline for 'avarage' is, would be radically different then our baseline. There would be variants within that baseline, but to a alien outsider, it would largely look like a mono-culture.

To aliens our species may be 'The sex crazed planet', while to use they may be 'the planet obsessed with honor'.

As for Goblins....They just work best as enemy bioweapons effectively. Otherwise I wouldn't have them look like corrupted elves.

KingCheops

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2021, 09:49:31 AM »
Current campaign they are tribal groups and are being forced across the mountains into the marches of the Human civilization due to upheavals amongst the Gnolls and Orks on the prairies beyond the mountains.

Chris24601

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2021, 10:13:41 AM »
I don’t do monocultures, but the only area of my world that I detail is only about the size of the Netherlands. In that area there are pretty much two varieties of goblins.

First, a word on what goblins are biologically in the setting. Humans are the only naturally-occurring and native sapient species in the world. Everyone else was either created from or by Men or are supernaturals from elsewhere in the cosmos. Goblins are a species of beastman; animals transformed by Men through the lost art of biomancy into sapient humanoids to serve as slaves. The animal from which goblins were created was bats. In their natural state they are small humanoids with arm-wings ending in two-fingered (plus a thumb) hands and brown-to-black fur who can fly, echo-locate and cling to solid surfaces. Like all beastmen, they reach maturity in about two years and live for about sixty.

The two varieties of goblins boil down to Free and Slave. The free are as described above and tend to be fairly mechanically inclined and generally benevolent (in keeping with the hobgoblins of actual myth and legend). These can be PCs.

The vast majority of goblins in the region though were taken as slaves by the orcs of the Bloodspear Empire who have brutalized them over the course of a hundred generations (200 years at 2 years per generation) until they are little more than feral beasts who are so mistreated and malnourished that fewer than 1-in-100 has more than vestigal wings on their arms (the membranes of which are routinely amputated). They are every bit as savage as their masters and even the free goblins consider killing their bestial kin to be a mercy. A few maintain enough sense of self to be made the equivalent of noncoms who oversee their feral kin.

The orcs, incidentally, are line of humans mutated by the Cataclysm into super-predators. They are stronger and faster than Men with keener senses and all the intellect. Some of them even keep growing as adults until they’re 8-9’ tall and 800-1000 lb… becoming what are commonly called ogres (and are in turn even more aggressive); only the fact that they’re basically on a perpetual adrenaline rush (they don’t do calm and reasoned very well; fight or flight is where it’s at) and will fight for dominance among themselves keeps them overwhelming mankind and becoming the dominant species.

In other words, most goblins function as the lowest tier of slave-soldiers for the Orcish Legions (with Ogres as elite warriors and living siege engines). Stylistically, the whole assembly has lots of Imperial Roman elements and amounts to a sort of Imperial Remnant state in the setting while the humans are mostly represented by a rough alliance of barbarian tribes and a confederation of free cities.

Ghostmaker

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Re: Using Goblins in the Campaign!
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2021, 10:15:43 AM »
I admit, I always liked Paizo's refluff of goblins as barely-sapient psychotic eating machines. They were just dangerous enough to be taken seriously, but not without a kind of absurd humor in their disjointed actions.

If you want intelligent humanoid opponents, opt for orcs or hobgoblins.