Saturday, April 25, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Goblin

Finally getting around to the perpetual Party menace at lower levels: Goblins.

Goblins are one of my favorite monsters (as hinted at in my Goblin Project posts). I have an extremely hard time just using them as frequent fodder due to my inordinate fondness for them, even though their one of the few Stat Blocks I’ve bothered to completely commit to memory. I definitely prefer a more folkloric, mythological take on them: Goblins as Unseelie Fair Folk, Bogey Men, mischievous Imps, but at least somewhat more corrupted by the evils of civilization than their sylvan bretheren.

A big touchstone for me is the movie the Labyrinth. Goblins come in all shapes, sizes, and even apparent clades. The only thing they have in common is their King, which can be literally anything.

Here’s one treatment I’ve used in the past: You see, no one’s every seen a Goblin being born, It’s almost like they just kind of spontaneously generate in dark, dank, and usually somewhat smelly places. Or maybe they come from orphaned Children, abandoned and unloved. Maybe they’re just the maggots that grow in the rotting wood of a dead Elf’s Grove. Without a King though (or should their King be slain), they typically function a little more like well-meaning, but not entirely helpful or competent Brownies. Until something happens that typically involves criticism of their disobliging, inconvenient, and sometimes unwarranted toil.

Should this occur, there is a Grand Feast and celebration. The Youngest Goblin is fed to the point of bursting (sometimes beyond). The Eldest will then consult the resultant regurgitation or entrails to interpret and divine the nature of their King. It could be an Old Shoe that the elder sees in the spew, or a Local Ogre, David Bowie, or even a Player Character.

Once these Goblins have Kings, a more formal society coalesces around them. Regardless of the King’s nature, if it’s sessile or stationary it will soon becomes motile, if it didn’t possess intelligence it will develop this. It will soon become Humanoid if it wasn’t before and capable of barking out orders to its subjects in flawless Goblin. Subjects who dream about Rabbits after a King’s coronation increase in in size and become Bodyguards. They become a more malignant, guided force that receives a somewhat equal footing with the other standard dungeon denizens. It’s also always tempting to use them to inject in a little comic relief, even if it’s sometimes on the darker side. I always make sure to give them something to sell.

There have been countless takes on Goblins over the years, so I’m sure I’m only adding to the noise here. But hopefully this d100 Encounter Table provides some inspiration for some undertakings above and beyond the standard “waiting around in a Guard Room” for the Players to interlope. Your Goblins deserve better than that!

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