D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: The Little Guys


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1of3

Explorer
Not much I like here. My kobolds are oviparous fanatic specieists and certainly not funny. And my goblins travel with worgs, a somewhat symbiotic relationship.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I haven't seen the controversy in this column until now, but now I get it. Dictating that goblins and kobolds must be comedic is way out of line for this kind of design work, whether you agree with the opinion or not.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Guys. Seriously. Do not turn a major monster race into comic relief. That's a decision for the individual DM to make, not for WotC to impose.

My take on goblins is that they're spiteful little bastards with an evil sense of humor. They're bullies, but not to one another--rather, they gang up to bully other creatures, using superior numbers and ingenious cruelty to cow foes who could easily squash an individual goblin. Their habit of riding wolves reflects this. The wolf is big and strong enough that it could rip its rider to shreds, but it's learned that such behavior results in swift, vicious punishment. Goblins love to stir up mischief and spread chaos.

Hobgoblins are goblins writ large, only better organized and with more focused goals. It's that focus, not physical size, that enables hobgoblins to dominate their smaller kin. The hobgoblins know what they want (conquest, usually) and keep their eyes on the ball, whereas goblins are easily distracted by the opportunity to wreak havoc.

As for kobolds, I don't use them much, but I like them as trapbuilders, tunnel-diggers, and engineers. Unlike goblins, they have no interest in cruelty for its own sake. They're cultish, with each kobold nest having its own strange religion that dictates its goals. (Dragon-worship is common but far from universal.) When kobolds attack human settlements, it's either for food or in pursuit of a religious calling. Otherwise, a kobold warren can often thrive quite close to a human town without anyone knowing it's there.
 

Klaus

First Post
My kobolds are similar to the oviraptors in Disney's Dinosaur: sneaky, darting in and out, and often fighting amongst themselves for whatever the other guy has:

[video=youtube;Jxr6t8lQyak]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxr6t8lQyak[/video]

My goblins take a page after Blix in the movie Legend. They are toady to strong masters, but always aspire to be stronger and to lord over those weaker than themselves. They associate with wargs, who relish the chance to wreak havoc.

legend6.jpg
 

Vyvyan Basterd

Adventurer
For the first time my answers to the poll questions don't match the majority.

Poll Question #5 (re: goblin mounts) had no good answer for me. I chose "should ride normal wolves with more hit points than them." I think the mount should reflect the goblin. Random goblins shouldn't be mounted at all. If they are, then the encounter is more about the wolves than goblins. Tougher goblins should ride wolves. And even tougher ones could have alliances with dire wolves or worgs.

I also see little humor is either gobins or kobolds. I've sometimes used comedy in the form of over-excited fanaticism with goblins, only to be starkly set off by depraved horror later. But I've never thought either race should be "Three-Stooges Like." That would ruin the tone of just about every D&D campaign I've played or DMed.
 

Kinak

First Post
I'm not a huge fan of these, but I have my own interpretations of each that I'll cheerfully keep using.

More importantly than personal dislike, I don't think it really met its stated goal: differentiating kobolds and goblins. Taking two monsters that are already too similar and making them both comic relief doesn't really help the situation.

Kobolds hating light is fine, but it doesn't have to be played for comic relief. It could be that they avoid light, keeping to the shadows and harrying intruders with ranged attacks. They could highly value shamans able to extinguish lights at a distance and worship black dragons above others for their darkness powers.

Similarly, goblins' cycle of bullying fits well, but it can matter instead of just being forced humor. They could very easily flee in disarray when the bully (or bullies) in the group is taken out. This even opens up a range of non-combat options to deal with them. The cycle explains surface raids to prove dominance, even when the goblins don't need resources. It also nicely explains dropping them into any low-level encounter or evil army.

Other than that, I'd play up the kobolds' relationship with dragons and the goblins' penchant for riding. Making the encounters play out differently is ninety percent of making the monsters feel different.

Cheers!
Kinak
 

wedgeski

Adventurer
I haven't seen the controversy in this column until now, but now I get it. Dictating that goblins and kobolds must be comedic is way out of line for this kind of design work, whether you agree with the opinion or not.
Don't agree. Deciding on a "headline" set of traits for your most common humanoid monsters is absolutely in the realm of D&D development. I would certainly prefer the designers/developers to take a stab and make the monsters interesting and flavourful, even if I don't agree with the direction, than just describe them as "evil three-foot humanoids with bad skin". Certainly in the latter case they'd immediately be accused of laziness and gamism on this board.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
For the first time my answers to the poll questions don't match the majority.

It doesn't help that they are terrible, terrible answers. They're nearly all phrased as "Yes, I agree with you," or "No, but your ideas are valid." What the hell.

Don't agree. Deciding on a "headline" set of traits for your most common humanoid monsters is absolutely in the realm of D&D development. I would certainly prefer the designers/developers to take a stab and make the monsters interesting and flavourful, even if I don't agree with the direction, than just describe them as "evil three-foot humanoids with bad skin". Certainly in the latter case they'd immediately be accused of laziness and gamism on this board.

"Comedic" isn't a species trait, it's a style of play.
 
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