Goblins: His Forsaken Children

Howdy fellow role-players! I’m still deeply buried with my prep work, but the DM needs a break from such matters. Today I want to talk about something about the game that has always bugged me. A race that just doesn’t seem to get the respect that it should, and I really don’t know why?

When I was a boy, my grandmother used to come visit from Washington State once or twice a year, and stay at our house. Being that young my internal clock demanded that I wake up at some ungodly hour of the morning that is totally beyond me now, but back then I’d be up at the crack of dawn, and there would be my grandmother, sitting at the kitchen table with a full ashtray and a cup of coffee. The stories that she would tell me! Nothing about where I came from, or why Uncle Jack can’t seem to ever stay sober for more then a day or two, but fiction stories that she’d just kind of make up as she went along. To me, however, these little yarns of hers were gods good truths! I even had to defend her honor with my fists a couple of times out at the school yard.

Tales of knights battling evil wizards seemed to be her favorite . . . Or more then likely, she sensed that they were MY favorite, so she told lots of them. This is where I first got exposed to many beings of fantasy, especially the most fearsome beast imaginable, the GOBLIN!!!

Now goblins weren’t ever the masterminds of evil plots, but they were the life-blood of those whom weaved them. They weren’t giants, such as the trolls of my grandmother’s yarns, but they were the perfect size to crawl into the places where boys hid from the monsters who fed upon them. I don’t know if she ever described them to me, I’m sure she did, but it was the very idea of them that entertained and scared me.

Of course, it wasn’t my grandmother that made them up off the top of her head, back in that orange and brown kitchen. Goblins have been in myths and legends for years! I am by no means a master of the subject, but just a simple student. You don’t have to be surprised when I tell you how let down I felt when I got to fight goblins in a game. D&D goblins are, in a word, pathetic. They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, wooden doors have more hit points then they do. Even to 1st level PC’s these poor creatures are boring, just there to give experience points and slow you down. BORING!!! But the question that I pose to anyone how may have an answer is, Why? Why have these things which have haunted our collective subconscious for centuries become low level adventure fodder?

You can tell a million stories about a prince falling in love with a princess, but just watch the young ears perk up as soon as a goblin enters the story! It turns a boring romance into a thing of awe and wonder. Now goblins are pussies? Why?

Well, THIS has to be changed. Things can’t just sit the way they are. Goblins have influenced to many good stories, art, cartoons, and spooky campfire stories to be left to rot by RPG geeks who dictate that they are simply as annoying as some two legged insect without any special attacks beyond digging. DIGGING!!! How pathetic is that?


In my grandmothers stories, the goblin wasn’t a little pest who rode on the backs of wolves, they were servants of evil! At one point, they had been human, however they were cursed by weavers of evil magic!

Somewhere between undead and the living, the victims of this spell were trapped! Their minds were not their own, for they will only act when their masters tell them. They don’t tire, they don’t get bored, and they never question, but they do feed! This isn’t an act that keeps them alive, a goblin can live for centuries without food or drink, but these habits are an addiction to them. Hunger is perpetual and always hangs over them like the stench of filth that surrounds them. Hunger that won’t kill them if it goes unanswered, however when the opportunity arises, they feed with terrifying abandon, and only upon human flesh. The mere sight of witnessing this terrible act has driven strong men permanently mad!

THIS is what the goblin should be, at least in my opinion.

CREATE GOBLIN (8th Level Wizard‘s Spell-ALTERATION)

Range: 5 yards/level
Components: V, S, M
Duration: Variable
Casting Time: 1 round
Area of Effect: Special
Saving Throw: Special

This spell changes one human into a goblin. Victims who are engaged in committing an evil act during the time that the spell is being cast will automatically fail their saving throw, those who are not committing an act of evil at the time of casting are allowed a saving throw vs. polymorph with a -4 penalty to their roll.

Those that become Goblins will begin to polymorph immediately, and will not be able to perform any act until the metamorphosis is complete, which takes 2-12 rounds. The caster will have full control over the goblin, and able to instruct the creature through a telepathic link. The goblin will retain this form until the caster dies, at which time the Goblin will (if it has been kept alive beyond it’s normal life cycle) die as well, else revert back to being human and remember nothing.

There is no limit upon how many goblins a wizard can control at one time. The components of this spell requires the tooth of a hobgoblin, a raven’s eye, and a whole fingernail from the caster, (or, in the case of a lich, the nail of someone in his bloodline will suffice)


Traditionally the goblin has always been magical in nature, this is, or course, intended for 2nd Edition, but you can alter it to fit with any campaign system in which the goblin isn’t quite up to par with his mythic counter-part. This is based entirely off of the Goblyn which was created for the Ravenloft setting and is now in the public domain.


DIET: Carnivorous
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil

NO. APPEARING: 3-24 (3d8)
THAC0: 13
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 or 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d6/1d6 or 2d6
SIZE: M (4-6’)
MORALE: Special/Fearless (20)

Goblins are hideous creatures with slightly bloated heads, pointed ears, and glowing red eyes. Their skins are greenish grey and pulled taunt against their twisted skeletons and powerful muscles. They have long, mangy hair which grows only on the back of their head and necks. About half of their face is taken up with a wide mouth full of needle-sharp teeth.
These creatures are formed by powerful evil magicians which has transformed them into these twisted beings. This transformation causes them to become very evil and totally submissive to their master’s every whim.
Goblins have a telepathic link with their master and, through him, with all of the other goblins that he controls.

Combat: Goblins are very nimble creatures causing a -2 adjustment to their opponent’s surprise roll. Furthermore, when a goblin is unexpectedly encountered, it will suddenly flash its teeth and glare into its opponent’s face in a terribly frightening manner, this action causes a -4 penalty to surprise. Those surprised will be so stricken with fear that they will be unable to move that round.

Goblins seldom attack with weapons. Instead, they strike at their victim’s throat with their clawed hands. Each successful claw attack inflicts 1d6 points of damage. If both of their claws hit, the goblin is assumed to have gotten a solid hold on the target’s neck. On each subsequent round, the victim will be bitten (usually in the face) for an additional 2-12 points. In addition, the victim will have difficulty breathing and must make a saving throw vs. spells or suffer an additional 1d4 points of suffocation damage. Both of these attacks are assumed to be automatic hits. The goblins refer to this as “feasting” and it is so frightening to observe that all who see someone attacked in this manner must make a saving throw vs. spells suffer the same effects as the 4th level Wizard spell Fear.

In addition, for every 10 points of feasting damage done, the victim will suffer a permanent -1 adjustment to their CHARISMA due to facial scars and deformities.

Any attacks made by someone who has a goblin at his throat suffers a -3 penalty on all attack or damage rolls and saving throws. Others who are striking at a goblin which is “feasting”, gain a +2 on their attack and damage rolls while its attentions are focused on its victim.

Goblins are similar to undead creatures in that they never check morale.

All goblins have the ability to move silently (80%), hide in shadows (70%), and climb walls (25%). They have infravision which functions at a range of 90 feet.

Habitat/Society: Goblins are totally controlled by their master’s desires. If they are told to attack another of their kind, they do so without pity. They never instigate combat on their own, but eagerly leap to the attack if challenged or instructed to so. (Alternatively, DM’s can roll a saving throw for the creature against spell, else its hunger gets the best of it.) Goblins have no apparent desires, other than to fulfill their master’s every whim with an emotionless devotion.

Goblins do not sleep, tire, or become bored. Furthermore, they can go for a considerable amount of time without food or drink.

Ecology: Goblins are strict carnivores. They will eat only freshly killed meat, in addition to drinking the blood of their victims.

Goblins are often sought after by certain wizards and priests, for they are useful as components in spells and magical items that control humans.

See, now this is something better, more fitting for these awesome creatures! Maybe it is just me, but I’ve always thought that the goblin was cool as hell. This reminds me of the classic movie Phantasm!

Well, I had best get back to work now, let me know what you think . . . Well, if your master will allow it.


Alexis Smolensk said...

That's fine and all, no problem with upgrading the goblin to something more frightening.

What exactly do you suggest first levels should fight? Obviously, something must continue to be used as fodder.

Unknown said...

wow.. just wow..

Now Goblyns can put fear in the PC's eyes !

Consider it "yoinked". It will be perfect for Splug in the KotS adventure. He will now be a human being, transformed into a Goblyn by Kalarel. He was planted and acts as described, but will finally betray the adventurers at the end. If they kill Kalarel first, he will revert back to a young farmhand from Winterhaven that went missing for more than a year.

Thx !

RipperX said...

re: alexis: I have never used the lower end monsters, even for lower end PC's. Threats of doom, powerful monsters that have a crazy way to kill it, murder investigations, body-guarding, saving kidnapped victims, the possibilities are nearly endless without having to revert back to slaughtering 1/2 level monsters.

re: francois b: Welcome to the blog! Just out of curiosity, what is KotS? I gather that it must be a module . . .

Unknown said...

KotS is Keep on the Shadowfell, the 4e module. The BBG is Kalarel, priest of Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead.

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