Bulmahn on Pathfinder 2's Goblin Ancestry
  • Bulmahn on Pathfinder 2's Goblin Ancestry


    Some folks have been less than happy about the inclusion of the Goblin in Pathfinder's 2nd Edition core ancestry lineup. Designer Jason Bulmahn offered some comment, while Vic Wertz comments on the physical size and weight of the playtest products due in August.





    Concerning goblins and how they fit in Golarion: Times change and so do people's opinions. Goblins as PCs have been a part of our world since the first "We Be Goblins" adventure. Many of the comments here echo those from back during the launch of 3.0 when Half-Orcs returned to the game as a player choice. There was a lot of conflict at first, but the tone of them shifted over time.

    We always knew this would be a bit controversial and that there were some who would loudly proclaim "not at my table" and I get that. It's your table and your game after all. We are moving forward, trying to allow players to explore these characters, their culture, and their viewpoint. We are hoping to give you plenty of reasons, both mechanically and story-driven, to allow goblins in your game.


    Bulmahn also addressed some of the complaints being made:

    I want to add a few notes to the discussion.


    1. NO decision in this game is final. We have ordered art, its true, but that does not mean that anything is set in stone. We playtest because we want your feedback, we want your ideas, and yes, we want your criticism. Anyone who played through the Alpha and Beta of the first version knows that the comments made significant changes to the game... the fighter got reworked from the ground up, the skill system got replaced. We take playtesting very seriously and we will be incorporating the feedback the surveys and these boards when making our final decisions. This includes feedback on the goblin.

    2. That said, these previews are just that. Previews. We are still in the process of finalizing the book right now (he says with the ancestry chapter open right now). We do not collecting data at this point to help inform our decisions. There will be a time for that once the playtest begins. This is not me trying to squash comments, I just want to manage expectations.

    3. There is more to the shift in goblins that I can honestly talk about here. Some of it would be a spoiler for things that are still in the planning phases, making them way to premature to talk about. Even if I could, I would not want to ruin the reveals.

    4. Finally, there have been a lot of comments here about more appropriate ancestries to add to the game, and from the perspective of what would make an easier player character addition, you are absolutely right. Goblins are a bit of a challenge, but of all the creatures in the game, there is none that is more iconic to our world, our game, than they are. This is not a marketing ploy (I know, because I made the argument for their inclusion), this is us looking at the world that we have made and picking the thing that most exemplifies us. Giving it a lift in prominence is going to require some work, and some changes, but it is another step in making this game, this world, this amazing thing that all of you have helped us make, truly ours.

    I get that not everyone will agree, but I hope that you can give us the chance to show you what we've got in store.


    He went on to comment:

    We have never said that there would be some magical event that changed everyone's opinions of goblins overnight. In fact, we expect that some areas might not be too welcoming of them, even after any events that might occur to change some perspective on them.

    And here is the thing...

    I think a slower shift is good. I think that playing a character trying to find redemption in a world that doesn't trust them is a story worth telling. That is part of the reason we are doing this. We don't want to ruin our goblins, making them something they are not, but we do want to make them more than what they are. Giving them room for mischief, while still allowing them the space to be a hero.

    That change is not going to happen overnight. Its not going to happen by decree. The best we can do with this story, is give you the tools to make it part of your game, your world. As with everything else we make, whether or not you decide to use it, is up to you.


    Vic Wertz confirms that goblins are definitely in:

    Goblins will be an ancestry in the Playtest Rulebook; that much we are committed to.

    We are going to ask for your feedback after playing with them during the playtest, and that feedback will contribute to how, when, and where they are presented in the Second Edition rule system.




    • Vic Wertz talks about the physical playtest products:
      • Book size -- "Page size for the adventure and all 3 editions of the Playtest Rulebook are our standard size (approximately 8.5"x11")."
      • Flip-mat scale -- "The product image is a mockup using existing art, since the all-new maps are not ready yet. And I can guarantee you that we're not going to change the game in a way that makes you buy all new maps and minis. Flip-Mats will continue to be 1":5' scale."
      • ​Rulebook page count -- "The Playtest Rulebook is 416 pages."

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    Comments 58 Comments
    1. Rocky777's Avatar
      Rocky777 -
      I never played pathfinder but their Artwork has always captivated me, I should give it or Starfinder a try soon
    1. dm4hire's Avatar
      dm4hire -
      Book size -- "Page size for the adventure and all 3 editions of the Playtest Rulebook are our standard size (approximately 8.5"x11")."
      I wonder if it wouldn't be better to do the playtest books in digest format? Since it is a limited run series it would save paper for a product that will be used for a few months and then sit on a shelf from then on once the testing is done. There would be just as much collectible value for a digest sized book as for full size.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      Starfinder is a lot of fun, with some wonderful worldbuilding. The art is pretty top-notch, too. For my part, I think it also made solid strides in doing away with some of the things in Pathfinder I found to be ďun-fun.Ē

      On the subject of Goblins as core, Iím perfectly happy with it. Iíve long wanted to play one, but since I only do Pathfinder as part of organized play, I never qualified for the cert to allow it. I do get peopleís concerns, though. Thereís only so much of a PC using ďIím just role-playing my characterĒ as an excuse for being disruptive that people can tolerate.

      Quote Originally Posted by Rocky777 View Post
      I never played pathfinder but their Artwork has always captivated me, I should give it or Starfinder a try soon
    1. DMMike's Avatar
      DMMike -
      What's the pushback against goblins? Are people afraid that all-goblin PC groups will be the new norm? Or maybe, goblins will lose their minion status if the game endorses them as playable characters? The horror...
    1. Anthro78 -
      Some of the pushback comes from PFS, where goblins have been only available via hard to get boons, usually charity ones that people spent a lot of money on. There are complaints that this makes their spend invalid. It's nonsense to me, since any money spent on a charity is good, even if the benefit proved to be less eternal than expected.
    1. Aephix's Avatar
      Aephix -
      A fair amount of the pushback is just from folks who don't like "monsters" as playable characters, even if the creatures have variable ethics and morality that can allow them to be heroic. It breaks verisimilitude for them to see goblins as PC's, but honestly, I think that part of the appeal of playing one would be trying to break other player's and NPC's preconceived notions while still playing with the goblin's cultural identity.
    1. tigycho's Avatar
      tigycho -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aephix View Post
      I think that part of the appeal of playing one would be trying to break other player's and NPC's preconceived notions while still playing with the goblin's cultural identity.
      I play a goblin cleric in D&D 5e Adventurer's League, and that's exactly how I play Woody. He was 'rescued' as an orphan baby after adventurers wiped out his clan in Cragmaw Hideout, and raised as a 'civilized' goblin.

      He tries, VERY HARD, to present the appearance of cleanliness and civility he thinks is expected... but, under pressure, tends to revert to a much less predictable and civil behavior. He's always very sorry for this, of course...

      The worst is when he has to deal with 'wild' goblinkin. They tend to hate him on sight, and he has yet to convince any of them that there is another, better way, to live.
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Goblins are the future!
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      Hasbro D&D is a branch of D&D which became infused with a "Dragon race" (Dragonborn) and a "Dungeons Deep" race (Tieflings...Deeplings). Which is symbolic.
      Paizo D&D is a branch of D&D which became infused with Pathfinder's iconic...Golarion Goblins. Which is symbolic of Paizo.

      It's fitting.

      I'd add a Golem PC, inspired by Paizo's logo. (What kind of golem is that?...Iron Golem?)
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
      What's the pushback against goblins? Are people afraid that all-goblin PC groups will be the new norm? Or maybe, goblins will lose their minion status if the game endorses them as playable characters? The horror...
      Many people also don't like Dragonborn or Tieflings being part of the core of D&D either.

      There are folks who play the game as "if its in the core rulebook, it's allowed" and they get irritated when new things are added between editions because their campaign has no room for those things. To them these are fundamental changes to the game that are worse than mere mechanical rules changes because they are core setting changes they never asked for and now have to deal with one way or the other in their own games (either by disallowing them via a house rule to keep the setting consistent or stay with "anything core is allowed" and be forced to make setting changes).

      I don't personally play the game that way - I'm a kitchen sink GM and most of the worlds I run are kitchen sink worlds - but I can understand the irritation at feeling like you're caught between three bad choices - house rule, change your setting, or stick with an old edition that might be feeling its age a bit.
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Kender 2: Goblins!
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Nothing to see here.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      The irony of being opposed to goblins joining the ranks is that even in the more restrictive Pathfinder Society, Iíve come across far stranger. There are just so many options, I fail to see that the goblin is more than a drop in a bucket.

      Quote Originally Posted by Aephix View Post
      A fair amount of the pushback is just from folks who don't like "monsters" as playable characters, even if the creatures have variable ethics and morality that can allow them to be heroic. It breaks verisimilitude for them to see goblins as PC's, but honestly, I think that part of the appeal of playing one would be trying to break other player's and NPC's preconceived notions while still playing with the goblin's cultural identity.
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      One of my favorite homebrew PCs is a psionic blueskin goblin. I don't like goblins from Golarion but I don't mind because if I play Pathfinder, I don't play Golarion but my own homebrew worlds.

      And who would want to play a PC goblin? Somebody who wish to play the fantasy version of a "problematic chidl".
    1. ZeshinX's Avatar
      ZeshinX -
      Not a fan of them (or any 'monster' race) as a core option, but as playtest material, sure.

      'Drizzt Syndrome' has always been a sort of tangential thing...but including monster races as core will only up that. I mean, the concept of the occasionally non-stereotypical member of the monster races that finds acceptance in society is cool...but when it's core and rampant...especially after all the work put in by Paizo to make goblins despicable, dangerous little verminous nuisances...kinda undermines the flavor of Golarion (to me).

      Ultimately, won't impact me if they include it in core. It will be ignored in my group anyway (we all got well and truly over the humanoid/monster PC races thing in D&D 2e after Humanoids Handbook).
    1. Alzrius's Avatar
      Alzrius -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      Kender 2: Goblins!
      In all honesty, this seems to be the big complaint, from what I've seen.

      For those who aren't Pathfinder aficionados, Paizo has gone out of its way to give their goblins a very distinctive flair. The easiest way to summarize them is that they're a lot like the signature creatures from the Gremlins film, in terms of how they act. They come across as semi-intelligent, frenetic trickster/killers who hate dogs, fear fire, and love rhyming. I suspect that's great in small doses, but imagine having one of those in your party game-in and game-out.
    1. BryonD's Avatar
      BryonD -
      FWIW, I think Vic's comments are pretty carefully stated.
      Goblins will be in the playtest and they will ultimately be in PF2. But clearly that statement allows for them being pushed out to a supplement not unlike their current existence in the Advanced Race Guide. Which isn't to claim he is suggesting that they will be moved either.
    1. snickersnax's Avatar
      snickersnax -
      Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
      What's the pushback against goblins? Are people afraid that all-goblin PC groups will be the new norm? Or maybe, goblins will lose their minion status if the game endorses them as playable characters? The horror...
      I'll have to admit that my pushback stems from paizo goblins seeming like mis-behaved kick-me dogs that the owner thinks is cute and should be treated like a king and insists that you should too. In fact they should be getting a gold medal for choir competition because, you know...they can sing.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      I don't mind goblins in Core.

      I probably won't let people play them, but that's on me, not on Paizo. (I mean, unless it says "Each player must play a Goblin once or we're going to burn your books!" then it's on them.)

      I do object to a charisma bonus. But I don't think highly enough of myself to believe anyone else cares what I think.
    1. Mark Craddock's Avatar
      Mark Craddock -
      I find it amusing that Jason say anything can change and Vic says goblins are in.

      This will be an interesting playtest.
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