D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: The Little Guys

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
The /joke/, or caricature, is the problem, not the characterization. Which brings us back to James Wyatt's assertion that these creatures are comedic. Comedy is not a racial trait, /it is a style of play/!
Still not seeing why a caricature is bad other than your assertion. Monsters have no need for nuance. Developed NPCs do, but those are free to deviate from the caricature as much or as little as needed.
 

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Kinak

First Post
I think the comparison between Pathfinder goblins and the goblins in this article is kind of interesting.

I was introduced to Pathfinder's goblins through Rise of the Runelords, so they never seemed especially silly to me. They're certainly enjoying themselves, but that's part of what makes them threatening.

I mean, charging into a town singing is silly. But charging into a town singing about how you're going to kill and eat the residents, their children, and their pets? That's sort of a different story. Especially when they're going out of their way to sing the song in a language the residents understand, even though most of them don't.

Obviously that's not to everyone's tastes, but there's a world of difference between a monster being humorous because it's acting in a way you don't expect and a monster being humorous because it's ineffectual. The goblins in the article are explicitly trying to be the latter, which just makes you wonder why you're even fighting them.

Cheers!
Kinak
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I wouldn't literally expect a constant reminder, of course. The difference between these two sentences is the difference I'm talking about:

"Goblins are stupid."

"The goblins of the Nentir Vale are stupid."

POOF. You've magically turned your overly broad categorical statement about all goblins in the game into a specific statement about these specific goblins.

And what does it gain us? A whole bunch of people complaining that since they don't use the Nentir Vale... then how do all the other goblins behave? *Plus* you get a whole bunch of people complaining that obviously WotC thinks the Nentir Vale is the default setting of D&D because why else would they describe these specific goblins instead of a more generic one? So you haven't GAINED anything. You still have whole masses of people using their own descriptions of goblins for their own settings. All you've done is hold the hand of the poor soul who just somehow is unable to grasp that what is written in any book is not a hard and fast rule, and that they can adapt anything they read as they see fit.

I'd rather give my fellow players a little more credit than that.

That's not what I'm advocating, and I thought that was pretty clear when I put that "And, heck, if there's room," right there in black and white for everyone to to see. So you can take down that strawman.

Do you REALLY believe there's room? That there will ever be room? That when given the choice between using page space in a MM to include Description and Ecology *or* Two Descriptions, that someone at WotC will actually go with the dual scrips? Or do you instead just keep rolling this d1000 over and over and over again on the minute chance someone at WotC will finally see things the way you see it?
 

Wicht

Hero
I think the comparison between Pathfinder goblins and the goblins in this article is kind of interesting.

I was introduced to Pathfinder's goblins through Rise of the Runelords, so they never seemed especially silly to me. They're certainly enjoying themselves, but that's part of what makes them threatening.

I mean, charging into a town singing is silly. But charging into a town singing about how you're going to kill and eat the residents, their children, and their pets? That's sort of a different story. Especially when they're going out of their way to sing the song in a language the residents understand, even though most of them don't.

Obviously that's not to everyone's tastes, but there's a world of difference between a monster being humorous because it's acting in a way you don't expect and a monster being humorous because it's ineffectual. The goblins in the article are explicitly trying to be the latter, which just makes you wonder why you're even fighting them.

Cheers!
Kinak

My players regularly charge into battle with the bard singing.

I agree that pathfinder goblins are not silly. They are a bit twisted and capricious. They actually remind me of the gremlins from the first gremlin movie: wanton destruction, malicious glee, and cruel humor all combined into one small bundle of teeth and blades.

I also didn't think much of Mr. Wyatt's trying to make the goblins and kobolds into official comic relief.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I like my goblins as creepy, ex-Unseelie, ex-fey with animal connections and my kobolds as fanatical trapsters and miners with a devotion to a Big Boss and his goal.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
To be fair, I will absolutely pay money for a book of ideas from other books that I like that are bound together. I don't have the time or the patience to put together my "BIG BOOK OF HOUSE RULES", and honestly, most groups have no desire to play that. Give me a game with a tone I like that I can then say to my group "We're using this book to play, go buy it."

Well, short of dictating to someone exactly what you want from every book of D&D you own to create this BIG BOOK OF HOUSERULES... what exactly are the odds of someone else creating it for you and getting it exactly right? I think odds lie somewhere between None and None. So you're going to be using your own ideas and pulling in photocopies from other books regardless. So at that point, why not just let the designers throw in some new ideas or twists on old ideas to freshen things up for the est of us? Give us something new instead of something rehashed? You're going to be using your own ideas anyway, so it's no skin off your nose, right?
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
So you're going to be using your own ideas and pulling in photocopies from other books regardless.
Nah, if I like the rest enough, I'll just use theirs. If I don't like it, why should I care if it's old or new?
So at that point, why not just let the designers throw in some new ideas or twists on old ideas to freshen things up for the est of us? Give us something new instead of something rehashed? You're going to be using your own ideas anyway, so it's no skin off your nose, right?
Sure, why not? I just said I'd pay for something old that's recompiled in a pleasing manner. I didn't say I won't ALSO buy something new that I like. The important part is that it's a) compiled, and b) I like it.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
And what does it gain us? A whole bunch of people complaining that since they don't use the Nentir Vale... then how do all the other goblins behave?

That's actually part of the positive effect here: it helps people think about the goblins that they WANT to use.

If they just want to use some statblocks, sure, fine, Nentir Vale goblins are as good as any, they'll go for it. It meets the needs of the folks who just want a frickin' goblin. No reason NOT to use them, really.

If they want to put more thought into their encounter, they'll think about how they might tweak the Nentir Vale goblins to be the goblins in their own game. Maybe it's just RPing them differently, maybe it's a re-skin, maybe they'll steal goblins from Harry Potter, whatever. So it meets the needs of the homebrewer by being clear that these goblins aren't the only kind of goblin out there.

It also jigsaws into other elements of the D&D experience. If someone really likes the goblins from Dragonlance, maybe when they later see "The halflings of Krynn are called Kender..." they'll start thinking that Dragonlance is something they're interested in maybe digging deeper into -- que the novels, the movies, the campaign setting, the board game... So it meets the needs of the setting fan by roping more people into the setting by giving them digestible breadcrumbs of interesting lore.

It also encourages DMs to steal ideas, which is what they're doing anyway. Maybe you don't use anything from the Nentir Vale except for the stupid goblins -- congrats, you engaged in the time-honored D&D tradition of stealing liberally from others, as just like Gary! So it meets the needs of anyone who just likes those particular goblins, too.

About the only people who might stumble on those references are people who see those words and just shut down, and refuse to read any further, somehow convinced that nothing that involves the Nentir Vale could ever appeal to them. And those folks are basically just shooting themselves in the foot -- if they want to then cry about how that monster entry is useless for them, because they don't play in the Nentir Vale, they're ignoring the fact that they don't play in Middle-Earth and yet, here's a dwarf and and elf and a halfling. Those criticisms, essentially, aren't really about not being able to use the monster, they're about the bias of the reader, and those folks ain't gonna be happy with any creature that doesn't appeal to them personally anyway.

*Plus* you get a whole bunch of people complaining that obviously WotC thinks the Nentir Vale is the default setting of D&D because why else would they describe these specific goblins instead of a more generic one?

There is no such thing as a generic goblin. There are only specific goblins that acknowledge the fact that they're specific, and specific goblins who try to be everyone's specific goblin.

And this particular objection is dodged quite nicely by the page next to Goblin, which is maybe, I dunno, Gibbering Mouther and it begins with the sentence, "In the Underdark below Waterdeep...."

So monster entries reference many different settings, because those are ALL part of D&D.

So you haven't GAINED anything. You still have whole masses of people using their own descriptions of goblins for their own settings. All you've done is hold the hand of the poor soul who just somehow is unable to grasp that what is written in any book is not a hard and fast rule, and that they can adapt anything they read as they see fit.

You've gained much of what I've laid out above -- four different kinds of players with competing, often mutually-exclusive interests, have their needs met by this idea. Furthermore, it enhances D&D's reputation as a game of imagination that gives you the power to play your own fantasy worlds with your friends, and diminishes the heavy-handed branding that tries too hard to define what a million different tables define for themselves anyway.

I'd rather give my fellow players a little more credit than that.

And yet, you're not willing to give them credit for being able to look at a cool monster entry and say "I'm going to use that!" regardless of the fact that it references the Flanaess?

Weird.

Do you REALLY believe there's room? That there will ever be room? That when given the choice between using page space in a MM to include Description and Ecology *or* Two Descriptions, that someone at WotC will actually go with the dual scrips? Or do you instead just keep rolling this d1000 over and over and over again on the minute chance someone at WotC will finally see things the way you see it?

Depends on the priorities of the publisher, really.

And for me personally, it's less about if WotC embraces the idea, and more about identifying the strengths and weaknesses of this idea by talking about it.
 
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JamesonCourage

Adventurer
James Wyatt said:
Well, I suspected last week's column would be controversial. I'm glad—lots of interesting conversation came out of it. But this week I'm going to move on to what I hope is safer ground.
Swing and a miss, from all appearances.
 

Wicht

Hero
Swing and a miss, from all appearances.

I'm not sure why Mr. Wyatt would think that goblins and kobolds, and especially redefining them into comic relief, would be non-controversial. They are among the most iconic of monsters. If he wants safer territory he should deal with flumphs or green slime.
 

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