D&D 5E [Let's Read] The Goblings



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Many portrayals of goblins show them as fearsome beginner-level foes, basically being orcs but short. But there have been more humorous takes on them, quite often in the form of adventures where they’re the protagonists. Pathfinder’s We Be Goblins is the most notable example, but there do exist such adventures for 5th Edition D&D, the Goblings being one of them.

Goblings is a one-shot adventure for 3-5 PCs where the players take on the roles of newborn goblins, or Goblings, tasked with venturing out into the forest to assemble ingredients to turn into a gift for their queen. Unlike regular 1st-level PCs (or PCs with the goblin race), Goblings use their own unique character creation system.

Goblins are similar to amphibians in that they are born from eggs incubated in a pool of slimy water, and they all share the same mother who is a goblin queen for their society. A rudimentary knowledge of the world is inherited from the queen, meaning that goblings just “know things” and can be fully functioning members of society fresh out of the pool, albeit personal experiences are still new to them.

Goblings are both a race and a class. They’re small creatures who roll 3d6 for all ability scores and can swap two of their results around. They have a d6 hit die, are proficient in light armor, shields, simple weapons, Dexterity and Constitution saves, and any two skills. Gobling is a 6-level class whose features are randomly determined: they start play with a Heirloom Item to aid them on their journey, which include “useless save in unusual circumstances” gear such as a handkerchief, a pet rock, or an old sandwich. They also begin play with 2 gobling feats and gain a new one at every odd level, being a d10 table of such results like being able to stretch their ears and nose up to 10 feet, being soft and bouncy that grants resistance to bludgeoning damage and automatically bounces them 15 feet away from the damaging source, or a once per day AoE squeal as a reaction that stuns enemies within 15 feet. At every even level they gain a Growth Spurt, where some portion of their body enlarges faster than the others. This grants +2 to an appropriate ability score along with a secondary bonus such as +1d4 max hit points or +5 to speed.

For DMs who want to turn their Gobling adventure into more than a one shot, Goblings gain a level every day at sunrise if sufficiently nourished, and at level 6 they achieve adulthood, becoming a regular level 3 character and keeping two of their gobling feats.

On their own, goblings aren’t very strong. While there are some upsides such as being proficient in two of the most common saving throws and choosing any two skills, the overall effectiveness of their build is purely at the whims of the dice and when balanced against real classes they come up short in every aspect. But fortunately the adventure is balanced around this.

The adventure begins with the PCs awakening and swimming up out of the slime pool with a dozen and a half other goblings. Shmaar, a goblin tasked with monitoring the newborns, gives a drill sergeant style speech telling them their duties. They have 30 minutes to explore the rest of the goblin nest to gather clues and make preparations, but after that they’re sent out into the forest to find ingredients for their eventual gift.

What the Queen desires as gifts are randomly generated via 3 d10 tables determining favored colors, shapes, and physical properties. The DM rolls four times for each table to determine likes, and two times to determine dislikes, with everything else being indifferent to her. There are multiple events during this chapter where the PCs can learn Clue Types revealing knowledge of the Queen’s tastes. As the Clue Type results are also randomly-determined (as are the locations and gifts), the overall difficulty and success of the Gobling’s quest differs widely from group to group. The book refers to these random ingredients as treasures, appropriately bolded for those which are randomly-determined. Some items may have a single facet generated by indicating what table to roll on in brackets, such as a “[color] shield.”


Goblings has a very cartoony art style and unique layout. The adventure almost reads like a children’s book but still has the accessibility and information required in an adventure. In other modules the goblin nest would be a dungeon crawl, but here it’s a community where the PCs can gather gear and be indirectly aided by helpful NPCs. For example, the Stuff Room serves as a dumping area for scavenged objects, and looking through the junk piles within 5 minutes and an Investigation check may net the PC a randomly-determinedtreasure. The prisoners in the dungeons range from Wondo the gnome wizard to Borze the Bee-folk, and given they don’t have many visitors they can offer the goblings more clues or treasure in exchange for a randomly-determined need, such as food or a whiff of the queen’s scent.


The next chapter has the Goblings leave the Nest, which in fact is a giant rock shaped like a goblin’s face.The surrounding terrain is a forest complete with random encounters as well as 13 specific areas. While it is a hex map, the hex lines are pretty faded, which makes them hard to see.

Of the 13 areas, most of them have some kind of challenge. While combat is possible, many don’t necessarily mandate rolling for initiative, or for the goblings to stick around and fight. Some of the more interesting locations include…

A multi-level tree fort riddles with traps as countermeasures, from swinging spiked sacks to rolling barrels that can cause damage on a failed save with treasure at the higher levels.

A swamp with muddy water that can attract sludge fish that will attempt to eat the goblings if they fail a Strength save. The sludge fish can’t deal damage, but swallowed targets are unable to breathe and suffer disadvantage on all actions while so swallowed. An island in the middle is home to a human ex-adventurer named Dross, who can give them a meal and some random treasures if they help out with gardening.

A tropical cave with fungi and ancient flowers with randomly determined [colors] and [properties] suitable for making the Queen’s gift. The cave is home to a dangerous acid-spitting giant caterpillar, and a scary-looking yet harmless golem made of moss who will slowly follow the goblings around the cave if they take the [color] gemstones that are his “eyes.”

A crooked tower home to a wizard scared of goblings, who will call down lightning bolts (1d4 damage thankfully) on the party if they don’t heed his warnings to leave. 4 random treasures can be found in the tower.

A training field owned by Polwin the gnome, who has treasures as prizes for goblings who can best her in various athletic competitions. There are four such contests provided (running race, blindfolded obstacle course, using a weapon to smash a barrel into as many pieces as possible) with their own rules and checks. Polwin will cheat on each one to give herself an advantage, and respects the PCs if they cheat as well.

A cawpaw nest with 6 cawpaw pups and 4 treasures. The pups are quite deadly and will attack and grapple living creatures, dealing a punishing 3d4+2 bludgeoning damage on a hit. Their screeches will alert their mother, who arrives in 2d10 rounds. The cawpaw adult is pretty much unbeatable, having 225 hit points and damaging multiattacks that can one-shot a gobling even if rolling minimum damage. The cawpaw will take unconscious prey back to its nest to feed the pups, so it may not be a full TPK, just whoever hits 0 hit points first.

A giant log that is the home for two fairy-folk (and 4 pieces of treasure) who invite the PCs in for tea and cake. Anyone who eats will go to sleep for an hour, and those who refuse will be attacked. Goblings who fall asleep will awaken in an adjacent hex missing one random item each, the fairy-folk having mysteriously absent from their log home if the goblings return.


The final chapter occurs when the goblings must return to the nest for the upcoming ceremony where people present gifts to the Queen. The PCs have 30 minutes to assemble the treasures into some kind of gift. This doesn’t require checks on the PC’s part, but the Queen’s reaction to their gift is determined by the total number of Likes and Dislikes, which in turn determines the amount of Punishment and Rewards she gives the party. Middling results can give both, and they’re appropriately goblinoid: rewards can range from choosing an individual the gobling dislikes to be put into the dungeon, a painted bent stick, or the Queen’s toenail clippings assembled into a crown. Punishments can range from having to clean the nest’s “poop pit” for the next year, being tattooed by the nest’s worst tattooist, or being poked with long sticks by the nest’s most elderly goblins. The PCs also each receive a randomly-determined two-part Title by the Queen. You could end up with names such as Snot-Chucker, Ear-Puncher, or Toe-Poker!

The product ends with 4 pages of illustrations for treasure found in the nest and forest, a bestiary of 15 new monsters and NPCs for this adventure, Additional Characters goblin and non-goblin in case the DM needs to come up with an NPC off the bat, and a character sheet for the Goblings.

As for the bestiary, they are pretty low-level opposition, rarely having more than 16 hit points and usually dealing 1 to 1d4 damage barring a few exceptions such as the Cawpaws. Some of the more generic entries include Rival Goblings (like goblins but weaker, attack with sticks and thrown rocks), a Caffeinated Kobold (like a kobold but must move its full speed each turn if able), and a Spitting Caterpillar (default attack acid spit, explodes in an AoE when it reaches 0 hit points). Some of the peaceful named NPCs are pretty tough: Dross has 18 hit points, 15 AC, and deals 1d6+4 damage with an unarmed strike, while Polwin has 24 hit points, an easier to hit 12 AC, and a giant hammer that can deal 1d8+1 damage.

We even have stats for the Goblin Queen herself. Needless to say fighting her is a bad idea, as she has 300 hit points, automatically emits a Stench that poisons hostile enemies within 100 feet every turn who fail a Wisdom save, and can make three attacks each turn ranging from an AoE splash attack, an AoE belch of toxic gasses, a grappling snatch attack, and chucking creatures or objects as a ranged attack.


Overall Thoughts: The Goblings is a charmingly creative adventure idea, suitable for an offbeat beer-and-pretzels session. The fact that the Queen’s rewards and punishments are mostly in the domain of embarrassing or trivial qualities and not “you’re flayed alive” keeps the stakes low, while preventing players from feeling too down if the randomly-generated treasure wasn’t kind to them. The layout and presentation of information is top-notch, where pretty much every encounter or set of rules can be found on 1 page. Or two pages for the large amount of treasure illustrated handouts.

It is a tad pricey for an adventure of its size, but with the effort and artwork put into it plus the novel concept, I’d say it’s well worth the price. The publisher also made two other mini-adventures using Gobling PC rules. While I don’t own them, it should let you continue playing as Goblings in case the players want to have more silly fun with them.

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