Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wyrd Greyhawk; "And the Goblins WILL get you, if you don't watch out!"



Fear stalks the land in many guises. There are few who know it not.

Great Lords sit their thrones with knotted brows, brooding upon the depredations of dragons, the glory to be won by victory, the ruin brought by defeat. Mighty wizards dwell upon the machinations of their rivals, and mull the limits of their own mastery of magic. Untrustworthy servant that it is, and quick to turn in the hand of he who overreaches. Even those who speak with the Gods themselves carry hidden fears, for with the gift of secret wisdom comes knowledge of the endless Infernal forces which threaten the very existence of all things.

The fears of the great and puissant are not, however, the fears of the common man. Dragons, devils, and malign magic are threats that most know, but vaguely. As fearsome tales told by fireside and distant fables from olden days.

When the plowman pauses in his work to gaze across the furrowed fields and into the shadows of the tulgey woods, it is not the appearance of a great and ravening scaled beast which he fears. When the washerwoman halts in her labor amongst the stones, and warily glances upstream towards the river bend, she does not watch for a warlock to arrive in a flash of reeking vapor. When the cooper wakes in the night and hearkens after sounds in the darkness, it’s not the lustful roar of demons that he listens for.

Such perils are the domain of warriors, wizards, and priests. The peasantry fear that which they know, that which they have suffered by all too often. What the rustics and villagers fear most is the furtive rustle amongst the dim-lit groves, the sudden spiteful black arrow, and the mad, cruel laughter of the Goblins.

The goblins of Wyrd Greyhawk are one race, but of two sorts, the High, and the Low. The Low Goblins retain the standard statistics of AD&D goblins with only a few changes.

Goblins prey upon all other races as the circumstances may allow. They are conscious-less creatures who see all other living things as toys to be tormented for their own amusement, and as food. Cruel mirth is the force which motivates them. Goblins exult in malignant jokes and tricks, usually lethal in nature, visited upon the unsuspecting and helpless. Outright murder is commonly engaged in, but given time to prepare, goblins will always prefer that the death be entertaining for them, and humiliating for the victims.

Low Goblins range between 3 and 5 feet in height, with gray-green warty skin, broad mouths filled with pointed teeth, and lambent yellow eyes. There is much variety amongst them as to general physical conformation. They may be stocky as dwarves, or thin as elves. Some have been told of as sporting horns, others as being as hairy as a ram. There are no reliable reports which can be used to discern the true aspects of their appearance. Those who are learned conjecture that so close is the goblin’s connection to primal chaos that their very forms are subject to change with each generation.

Goblins make very few things for themselves, instead dressing in the clothing of previous victims and employing the weapons of those who have died at their hands. Goblins of the Low sort are most often encountered in groups of 6-24. When more are encountered, they will always be lead by a High Goblin.

All goblins are Chaotic Evil and not Lawful Evil. They are, in fact, so resistant to any sort of order that Low Goblins must check moral every 6th round in any endeavor,(combat, a march, construction, etc..), for which they have no heart. Failure of the moral check does not indicate fear, for though the goblins live to bring terror to others, they themselves feel that emotion but little. Rather, their inner chaos is of such intensity that they are unable to remain dedicated to any task to which they are not driven.

This moral check may be dispensed with if the low goblins are captained, or otherwise commanded by a High Goblin. A High Goblin Lord they will obey with gleeful abandon, even to the point of taking obviously suicidal actions if so commanded.

High Goblins

Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1-6
Armor Class: 4, or by armor type.
Move: 12”, (120’ per round)
Hit Dice: 6
% In-Lair: 40%
Treasure Type: Nx4, Q
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: 1-6, or by weapon
Special Attacks: Seeming, Curse, see below
Special Defenses: Shadow Step
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Highly Intelligent
Alignment: Chaotic Evil, exemplary so
Size: M
Psionic Ability: Nil

The High Goblins are beings of greater intelligence, subtlety, and sophistication than the jeering and cackling Low Goblins. Terribly, this makes their evil humor horrific in its depth and depravity. Those who find themselves within the power of the High Goblins may come to consider their captors witty and insightful. They may feel them to be wildly entertaining and fascinating hosts. This gives their eventual and certain betrayal and death much greater savor and delight from the twisted perspective of the goblins. Sauce for the goose, as it were.

High Goblins are rarely met in large groups. They prefer to live as individuals, Lording over clans of Low Goblins where their will is uncontested. Sometimes families or cabals of High Goblins orbit a particularly powerful, malign, or expansive individual whose force of personality allows him to influence others of his kind. Rarely does a High Goblin appear who can force sufficient numbers of his race to submit to his Lordship and claim the ephemeral title of Goblin King.

The High Goblins are tall and spare of build. They have sharper features than the Low Goblins, skin of a lighter grey, and red-gold eyes shining with sardonic joy from beneath lank, green-black hair. This, the true visage of the High Goblins is rarely seen by others for the “Noble Goblins” posses the inherent magical ability to create a Seeming. The Seeming is both a charm, and a disguise. Those who fail to Save VS Magic will see the High Goblin in whatever form it has chosen, and will perceive it as non-threatening, a friend or possible ally. High Goblins employ the Seeming to gain information, or to lead the trusting astray. They often choose to appear as rangers, elves, or hermits, beguiling travelers or those lost in the wilderness. Once a being has been taken in by the Seeming, it will remain in effect through multiple encounters with the same goblin until it has been lifted by a remove curse, or the goblin himself negates it by attacking the victim. A person may labor for years beneath the delusion of the seeming if it amuses the goblin to continue to string him along, or else it furthers some dark and intricate plot.

The goblins are as closely linked to evil as they are to chaos. Acts of evil, committed by those of non-evil alignment due to instigation by the goblins, temporarily enhance the inborn powers of the goblins.

As an example, goblins may travel by stepping into and out of shadow once per day. This ability allows them to cross distances of up to a mile instantly if shadows exist at both locations. This is the reason that dusk is called, “the Goblin hour”, by villagers and woodsmen. Normally, goblins lack the power to cross boundary lines or circumvent magical wards by stepping through shadow. Even a closed door, or scribed rune prevents entry by the goblins to the most humble cottage by stepping from the shadows.

If, however, through careful machinations the goblins have manipulated the occupants into evil action in some way, they gain sufficient power to enable them to overcome their normal limitations and gain access through the shadows. It must be an actual evil act on the part of the occupants, and not simply a thought or attitude in order for the goblins to gain entry, though even so small a thing as a blasphemous curse uttered in a moment of anger may prove fatal. At the DM’s discretion of course.

Any weapon, magical or not, acts as though Of Wounding in the hands of a High Goblin. Wounds inflicted will not heal naturally and will require magical or divine intervention. Lost hit points will not be regained until the damage has been dealt with by a cleric or magical healing.

A High Goblin may Curse a victim a single time, but if the curse is removed, may never curse that creature again. The curse will be minor, but difficult to deal with. As examples, lameness in one leg, cutting Movement rate in half, deafness, increasing the victim’s chance of being surprised, Confusion, the victim will shortly become lost if not always accompanied, etc… The DM is encouraged to be creative and fitting in inventing goblin curses, and the remedies thereof.

All goblins, both the Low, and the High, receive +1 to hit with the short bow. Their black shafted, spiral fletched arrows are often, (35% chance), smeared with concoctions which cause hallucinations or madness, (50% chance of either). Those struck must Save VS Poison to avoid the effects. Victims who suffer hallucinations will imagine attack by random monsters or catastrophic natural events, (floods, storms, earthquakes), and will act accordingly. Those struck by madness may rave and tear their own cloths, randomly attacking anyone near or hurting themselves. Hallucinations will last for 1d10 rounds, Madness for 2d10 rounds. There is a 10% chance of madness becoming permanent and requiring magical healing to correct.

Each High Goblin encountered has a 25% chance of magic-use with a spell-like form. Goblin magic requires no material components or spell books, though the effects of the wyrd-work are similar in outcome to wizard’s magic. Goblin spells are cast by a short, eerie chant or song which takes 1 round to complete. If a goblin is capable of magic, he may work spells of power roughly commensurate with up to the 4th level of magic use. A goblins ability to work magic is static; it does not increase in levels as does a human magic-user’s. Instead, a goblin may cast 7 spells per day of whatever power level.

As shown above concerning the goblin’s ability to step in and out of shadow, a High Goblin can for a time increase the power of his magic by tricking non-evil aligned creatures into acts of evil. If a High Goblin, through deceit, convinced one party member to unjustly betray another, the power of the next spell he chose to cast would be doubled. This is a complex situation and no set of rules can be written to address all of the possibilities which may arise, so the DM must proceed with all due diligence.

In creating goblin spells, the DM may choose in some random fashion from the magic-user spells of the first to the fourth level. The mechanics of the spells will remain the same, excepting for the single round casting time and the lack of a need for material components, but the visual and/or auditory effects of the spell will be altered to make them strange and unfamiliar to the Player Characters. Magic Missile will function in the game in the standard manner as written; however the glowing darts of magical energy are replaced by a number of large, iridescent hummingbirds which flash through the air emitting a grating whine and impale the target on their needle beaks before vanishing in a spurt of foul ectoplasm.
----------------------------------

The new job, putting in my garden, shop projects, etc, have eaten up most of my time this past month. I only got to work on the goblins in fits and starts. Honestly, I've also been so fascinated in watching the disintegration of civilization in real time that my attention was directed away from D&D. Ridiculous, I know. The march of events in the real world is predictable, unlike the randomness of The Game, but still, it's hard to look away from the train wreck even when you know how it's going to play out.

Heh...

The pic is Blix from Legend, the only Tom Cruise movie which refrained from sucking.

13 comments:

Stuart said...

I like this very, very much. :)

xgametop said...

arcade arcade top

E.G.Palmer said...

Thank you, Stuart. You're obviously a man of taste and discernment. :)

Tom Fitzgerald said...

Thank you, this is very inspiring stuff. I've always been a huge fan of goblins and hate to see them portrayed as faceless mooks when they can be the very epitome of wickedness and the embodiment of fearful mischief.

E.G.Palmer said...

I'm finding your Middenmurk blog very much to my liking as well, Tom. It roils me imagination.

Chris Lowrance said...

I posted this yesterday, then tripped upon your post today. Your goblins and my goblins would like each other. :)

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, excellent, Chris. It seems that the goblin fever is going around lately.

Gray Mouser said...

I'm really enjoying your Wyrd Greyhawk material. Do you have any plans on collecting it all into a pdf, or maybe designing a Wyrd Greyhawk module to share on your blog?

E.G.Palmer said...

Yeah, I plan, or at least, intend to put it all in a pdf. If I know when to stop, heh.
Maybe just a series? Wyrd Greyhawk I, II, etc..

I do plan to put some adventure modules up here on the blog when I'm happy with them. I suppose I'll have to figure out the hosting thing for them.

Scott Edwards said...

It's funny, I was working on a writeup for Goblins for an Excalibur game that got abandoned. My intention had been to bring the AD&D versions closer to their mythological roots. In this case, the Boggart would have taken over the role of the traditional goblin (being the closest in size/temperament) with the Goblin replacing the Hobgoblin as the larger/smarter version. Both are allied with the UnSeelie Court.

The Hobgoblins are just variants of Goblins, except they are allied with the Seelie Court with a potential to be used as PCs.

E.G.Palmer said...

Hear,hear! Goblins all around! It's funny how these things come in waves, like celebrities croaking.

Tinman said...

I always wondered why Goblins were made to be so dumb in movies and games. Truly the crafting of this creature is priceless, I'm going to use this template for the prime NPC antagonist in my campaign. Thanks for having a great blog.

Maxwell Greer said...

Hrm. This just doesn't hit the right spot for me.

I guess I've never seen goblins as Chaotic; that always seemed more Orc territory.

To me, a goblins are calculated sadists . . . they rot your crops and kill your cows, and eat your children up; they put rats in the granary and play kickball with the priest's head.

Goblins exist to make all reason you have to live or find value in work die. They're the whims of ill fate made manifest.

But that's just me, I guess.

I can use some of these ideas, though, especially the 'benefiting from corruption' parts.