D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: The Little Guys

Dausuul

Legend
Swarming goblins that bury you in numbers and eat your face *aren't* funny.

"Swarming goblins that bury you in numbers and eat your face" is redundant. You can just say "goblins."

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.

No, he doesn't. He sees you and scampers off into the dark, without stupidly announcing his presence, in a manner consistent with how he's described in the Monster Manual. The 3E SRD, which is the only version of the Monster Manual I've got access to right this instant, describes goblins as "cowardly" and "maliciously ingenious." An ingenious coward does not try to take on a (relative) giant singlehandedly with a crossbow unless he's desperate. He's not going to act like a moron for the sake of comedy.

Individual adventure writers can do what they like, but we're talking about how goblins will be portrayed in the core material here, so I'm basing my take on how they've been portrayed in the core material of past editions. I'm not aware of any Monster Manual that suggests goblins think they can bully humans one-on-one. Quite the contrary, in fact. We've got plenty of comic relief monsters, from the flumph to the duckbunny. We don't need another one.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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."

And if Wyatt had actually said that... then maybe you'd have a point.

But what he said was they had "elements of comedy pretty much inherent to them", that it's "hard to take too seriously" and that goblins were "sort of darkly amusing". At no point was "hilarious" ever used, nor "laugh riot", nor "funniest time I ever had in the theater".

Do I think people saw his selection of "Three Stooges-like" as a turn of phrase and then began missing the forest for the trees? Absolutely. That happens all the time. People take one thing that gets said in ALL of the information WotC puts out there and blows it completely out of proportion.

And all of a sudden, goblins become "hilarious".
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The 3E SRD, which is the only version of the Monster Manual I've got access to right this instant, describes goblins as "cowardly" and "maliciously ingenious."

Hey... if you can visualize a goblin and then have him acting "maliciously ingenious"... and NOT find how that behavior coming out of the little rat-faced git is not amusing... then so be it.

But there's a reason why we oftentimes see them portrayed in that way in all kinds of other material. Because I suspect many people DO see the combination of "goblin" and "maliciously ingenious" and come up with the same image. One that, yes, can occasionally be seen as funny.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Do I think people saw his selection of "Three Stooges-like" as a turn of phrase and then began missing the forest for the trees? Absolutely. That happens all the time. People take one thing that gets said in ALL of the information WotC puts out there and blows it completely out of proportion.

And all of a sudden, goblins become "hilarious".

Okay, well, I never even mentioned the use of the Three Stooges reference, but as you have, I think it's worth noting that in a straw poll of any hundred people off the street, you're going to get a statistically significant majority who consider "Three Stooges-like" to be synonymous with "hilarious."

That aside, I have been /very clear/ throughout this thread that my problem is with this statement, and the sentiment that follows it throughout the article:

"Both goblins and kobolds have elements of comedy pretty much inherent to them."

This sentence is overwritten. It can be simplified as follows: "Both goblins and kobolds are inherently comedic."

No one is blowing anything out of proportion. The section of the article is /titled/ "Comic Relief," for gods' sake. Wyatt was trying to make a point, and he made it. None of this was accidental.

I am now done going back and forth with you on this.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Hey... if you can visualize a goblin and then have him acting "maliciously ingenious"... and NOT find how that behavior coming out of the little rat-faced git is not amusing... then so be it.

My point is that you are describing goblins as psychotic morons, and your description doesn't match the one given in the Monster Manual. At all.

Goblin "malicious ingenuity" would likely take the form of traps, ambushes, and other such trickery. I don't see what the size of the goblin has to do with whether this is funny. Of course such trickery can be highly entertaining... but it's seldom funny for the folks on the receiving end. If you're the Joker, or the audience, the disappearing pencil trick is a riot. If you're the guy with the pencil in his brain? Not so much.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I ran a large group of Kobold Dragonshields against a second level group of adventurers last night.

Let me just say there was nothing at all funny about the encounter, from the perspective of my players.

There were 12 Kobold Dragonshields against 6 PCs, in fairly tight quarters.

The combination of Pack Tactics (+1 attack for each ally in 5 feet of target to max +5) and Shield Block (impose disadvantage as reaction to any attack on ally next to you) was devastating! They became extremely hard to hit (AC 16 is already high for a 1HD creature) with the disadvantage on almost every attack, and they hit almost any party member (+3 attack and then usually +3 or even +4 from pack tactics).

Once my group figured out how they worked, they started to focus on "the target on the end", and had the weakest attack go first to absorb the shield block. So, eventually, they were not getting disadvantage on more than half their attacks. Still, it was really quite rough for the party, and a bunch of first level creatures "felt" like a much harder encounter than even the Mummy they'd fought earlier.

Part of that was because I intentionally upped the difficulty by hitting them with 2-to-1 quantity of creatures. But, part of it was because those suckers were very difficult to fight. They functioned like I imagined roman soldiers would fight, locking shields and hitting in rhythm.

My players didn't find Kobolds to be comic relief. Not one bit!
 

Tovec

Explorer
Dannyalcatraz said:
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.

Dannyalcatraz wasn't advocating you should put your idiot dragons in the book, nor was he advocating putting any homebrewer's version in the book. He was saying there is no traditional goblin. I disagree to an extent but you seem to be mischaracterizing his comments DEFCON.

Further, where did he change the portrayal? He commented that a 60lb dog can kill a man, that someone equally 60 pounds (and with a knife) can kill you better. Again, seems like a mischaracterization to me.

I think Danny's point is valid though - just because they are physically small does not make them inherently weak or inherently comedic. No more than being size medium makes humans inherently weak or comedic. Ogres are bigger than us, and when we (humans/elves,dwarves,halflings) fire arrows/crossbows at the ogres/giants/dragons, etc. they bounce off. Does that make humans (& etc.) inherently weak or comedic? No, it just means that you might have to use other tactics to defeat something that is so much larger.

Similarly, goblins that are physically smaller can realize this and apparently often choose to group up to take down their enemy. I think there are differences in tactics, styles and mindsets between goblins and kobolds but I think it makes sense to define them as needing a posse to defeat adventurers. The differences as far as the Monster Manual goes should be in HOW. What the differences in mindset for these creatures are. But there is no reason that size small should equate to uselessness, inability or comedy for its own sake. I'll echo what others have said, allow me to characterize them as funny if my game warrants it - there is nothing inherently funny about the creature that sneaks up form the shadows with a bunch of its friends that wants to eat your face - you know goblins.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
You purposely have changed the portrayal of how goblins have traditionally behaved and been run in the game for your own campaign.

Umm...no I haven't.

I've been playing since '77, and most of the portrayals of Kobolds and Goblins I've encountered in campaigns (on either side of the screen) have been anything but comedic. Nothing in the AD&D MM implies they should be played thus. Ditto the 2Ed or 3.X ones. See also Tucker's Kobolds and LotR Goblins.

Note: I'm not claiming that my experience is the norm, just that your "traditional" seems extremely anomalous to me.

In addition, discounting a foe as a joke because he's small is probably a mistake...and one some foes may actively encourage that idea of small = harmless in their demeanor. In fiction, we have examples in the muderous street urchins in the Hostel movies. But the real-world Pygmies with poison darts are no less dangerous.
 
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MarkB

Legend
And if Wyatt had actually said that... then maybe you'd have a point.

But what he said was they had "elements of comedy pretty much inherent to them", that it's "hard to take too seriously" and that goblins were "sort of darkly amusing". At no point was "hilarious" ever used, nor "laugh riot", nor "funniest time I ever had in the theater".

If there's one thing more useless than comedic goblins and kobolds who are hilarious, it would be comedic goblins and kobolds who aren't hilarious.
 


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