D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: The Little Guys

I definitely have a very different interpretation of Goblins and Kobolds where they aren't mostly evil like in the default assumptions and are allowable as PC races. And I find to make them more sympathetic as PC material, being comic relief is essential.
 

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Moorcrys

Explorer
It's all opinion, of course.

Personally I don't like cutesie goblins. I don't like cutesie kobolds. Well, unless it's a ruse to convince a compassionate group of PCs to let their guard down so their throats can be slit while they sleep. A comic goblin contrasting what is a wicked and sadistic race of baby-snatching torturing thieving murderous vermin might be interesting to me. How they were presented in column was a turnoff. And I generally really like those columns.

A more interesting question to pose about these two races in my opinion is to what lengths of cunning depravity must they go to survive and thrive in a world where they are surrounded by and typically dominated by so much stronger wickedness. It has gotta be more than 'they're comic relief with cute voices and they're kinda occasionally unpleasant when they're not being stupid... Oh and kobolds use traps.'. They should be vicious, scheming, selfish, hateful things in general. And utterly, remorselessly brutal when they think they can get away with it. I don't want my players to have qualms about killing them.

Goblins should ride wargs because they're a match for them in some way. They both enjoy killing and torturing in the same way? Goblins brutalize wargs from an early age so the wargs instinctually fear them and wargs showing alpha behavior are killed before they get too strong? Wargs cull the old and/or the weak from a goblin tribe and hang out with them because they're well-fed? They both have a similar taste for elvish flesh? Or perhaps wargs like the parts of halflings that goblins won't eat. Who knows? I don't want to see goblins riding dogs because wargs don't fit the cute, keystone cops wash that the article seems to be going for. Dogs? Not in my world.

IMHO ;-)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Again -- and I reread the article just to be sure -- this is a /very generous/ reading of Wyatt's words.

Honestly, I tend to run a pretty funny game. I draw a lot of inspiration from Terry Pratchett and Hajime Kanzaka. I still think Wyatt is way out of line.

I'm simply amazed how someone could look at a situation where you have a 3 foot, squashed-faced, hairy, green goblin with bad teeth and ratty clothes trying to push around a 6 foot human, getting all up into his grill, acting as bullyish as possible... and *not* see the inherent humor in that. I mean c'mon... do you see the "tough guys" Munchkins of the Lollypop Guild in The Wizard of Oz and not laugh your ass off?

It's all about who they are and how they act... and when you combine how goblins are traditionally run with how they look and behave... we're going to find it darkly amusing more often than not.

To NOT have that happen... you would need to change how goblins are described, and how they behave and how they act as part of the goblinoid hierarchy. Now sure, maybe that's what you all are advocating... that goblins get written up to become just as dangerous and jerkish as orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls... but the thing is, we already HAVE orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls. We don't need more. We need different types of humanoids to encounter. ALL types of humanoids. And yes... some humanoids that at first glance we'd think of as a potential joke. Ones where we think "Pff! Pushover! Stupid, little, rat-face gits!". That is, UNTIL a dozen more show up and they all gang up and pigpile on you, ripping you limb from limb. Then, it's not so funny anymore.

But at least it wasn't the same "badass" dangerous humanoid archtype and encounter we get as with all the other humanoids. If you don't want "funny" humanoids... you've got another dozen different choices in the monster manual already to use instead.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I'm simply amazed how someone could look at a situation where you have a 3 foot, squashed-faced, hairy, green goblin with bad teeth and ratty clothes trying to push around a 6 foot human, getting all up into his grill, acting as bullyish as possible... and *not* see the inherent humor in that. I mean c'mon... do you see the "tough guys" Munchkins of the Lollypop Guild in The Wizard of Oz and not laugh your ass off?

It's all about who they are and how they act... and when you combine how goblins are traditionally run with how they look and behave... we're going to find it darkly amusing more often than not.

Not everyone has "traditionally run" goblins the same way.

And as for not laughing my ass off...well, a 60lb dog can kill a man, and that's without holding a knife in the vicinity of his femoral artery.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I'm simply amazed how someone could look at a situation where you have a 3 foot, squashed-faced, hairy, green goblin with bad teeth and ratty clothes trying to push around a 6 foot human, getting all up into his grill, acting as bullyish as possible... and *not* see the inherent humor in that. I mean c'mon... do you see the "tough guys" Munchkins of the Lollypop Guild in The Wizard of Oz and not laugh your ass off?

I don't run goblins this way, neither do most of the people I see posting in this thread, and nothing in the description of the goblin suggests it ought to be run this way. Goblins are usually described as cowardly. Why would a solitary, individual goblin get in a human's grill? That would be like a human getting in an ogre's grill; unless the human is a mid- to high-level warrior, it's suicidally stupid.

What the individual goblin does is scamper off into the dark. An hour later, it comes back with a hundred friends and they swarm you and eat you alive. From their point of view, it's hilarious. From yours, not so much.

But at least it wasn't the same "badass" dangerous humanoid archtype and encounter we get as with all the other humanoids. If you don't want "funny" humanoids... you've got another dozen different choices in the monster manual already to use instead.

I want some non-funny options for small, swarming humanoids that bury you in numbers and eat your face. That's what goblins are for.
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
DEFCON 1 said:
But at least it wasn't the same "badass" dangerous humanoid archtype and encounter we get as with all the other humanoids. If you don't want "funny" humanoids... you've got another dozen different choices in the monster manual already to use instead.

Hey, I'm with you, I want goofy encounters. Bring on the flumphs and the campestri and even the goblins that throw vegetables at you.

But don't auto-enroll me for that plan. Let me opt into it.

Dannyalcatraz said:
And as for not laughing my ass off...well, a 60lb dog can kill a man, and that's without holding a knife in the vicinity of his femoral artery.

Yar, there's a lot of deadly wee beasties, so it's not necessarily "obvious" that these creatures should be comic relief.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I want some non-funny options for small, swarming humanoids that bury you in numbers and eat your face. If not goblins, what should that option be?

Swarming goblins that bury you in numbers and eat your face *aren't* funny. That's the point.

One goblin though by himself... he pops out of the darkness, shouts some curses at you like a big man, and then he fires his crossbow... and then when the shot bounces off your armor and doesn't bother you at all, he screams in panic and runs off back into the darkness.

And that's not supposed to be amusing?

Sure... anyone can run these monsters however they want... you could make every goblin in your game the biggest a-hole in the world who stands up to all threats and won't be kowtowed to anyone... but that's not D&D history. Unless WotC itself makes a conscious choice and decision to rewrite how goblins have been portrayed in the annals of D&D... there's no reason why pointing out this fairly obvious portrayal shouldn't be done. You're pointing out the obvious. We're not idiots. If goblins will attack us from the darkness but then run screaming because it has no affect, to ignore the idea that that isn't occasionally funny is to bury your head in the sand.

It's the same complaint people had when 4E made explicit the fact that a fighter in platemail and holding a shield that runs up to absorb attacks from the unarmored friends behind him was a "Defender". They gave a name to something we already knew. Defender. Tank. Meat Shield. It's been in the game from beginning of time... but when 4E dared to actually attach a word to it, suddenly bunches of players got all upset about having "roles" in the game. Like the game would've been any different if they didn't use the terminology.

To deny that is to just put your head in the sand.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Not everyone has "traditionally run" goblins the same way.

And as for not laughing my ass off...well, a 60lb dog can kill a man, and that's without holding a knife in the vicinity of his femoral artery.

And I run my dragons as idiots. Does that mean that's what should be put in the Monster Manual?

You purposely have changed the portrayal of how goblins have traditionally behaved and been run in the game for your own campaign. That's great. No one's saying you shouldn't. And if you think WotC should purposely change the portrayal of how goblins have traditionally behaved and been run... that's fine too. That's your opinion.

But if goblins are going to maintain their traditional place in the pecking order of the game... described and treated in the same way they always have been... to NOT just say "yeah, they occasionally will behave foolishly" is to pretend what we all are going to be reading with our own eyes isn't actually there. It's burying our heads in the sand.

If it talks like a duck and walks like a duck and sounds like a duck... just call it a duck. And then make it a point to say that just cause it's a duck, it doesn't mean the duck won't rip your face off in certain situations.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I'm simply amazed how someone could look at a situation where you have a 3 foot, squashed-faced, hairy, green goblin with bad teeth and ratty clothes trying to push around a 6 foot human, getting all up into his grill, acting as bullyish as possible... and *not* see the inherent humor in that.

...Did you intend to summon up a mental image of Yoda? Because while I realize Yoda is a special case, that description you have there is not helping your cause.

I don't disagree that we need more variety in our humanoid monster stable. But I do not think the answer to that problem is to label some of them "hilarious." There is no empirical reason, within the rules of D&D, why hobgoblins could not be as frightened of goblins as goblins are of hobgoblins. Nature is full of disproportionately small hunting carnivores. If it is valid to suggest that goblins have to be foolish and ridiculous because of their size, it is equally valid to say the same about the halfling PC race, and I doubt that would get much traction.

In fact, I know it wouldn't, because last year Wyatt did this exact same thing to halflings and the world exploded.
 

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