D&D Ideas — Goblins
Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is goblins, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of goblins in Aces High a gang of goblins led by a resourceful boss take to the skies on giant bats to launch aerial assaults with an explosive new weapon — grenados! This fan favorite encounter and map flies off the page and into your games along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here.
Explore some new dimensions for the week that was! Dip into another direction with your characters, hop into funky new magic apparel and swear an oath to sail the seas plus more including new live chats with creative folks and industry pros and live play RPGs rounding out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
This week we talk about a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons monster and player race near and dear to many gamers’ hearts. I feel like goblins skyrocketed in popularity due to the way they are portrayed in World of Warcraft and Pathfinder. They made them kind of cute.
For my part of the newsletter this week I give you an NPC, Grok the Packmaster.
A Bargain Struck. Grok was a failing goblin chieftain. Not only that they were dying after their tribe had just been decimated by a group of adventurers. Grok lay dying beneath the full moon when they heard a voice in the darkness call to them and ask how badly they wanted to live. Grok promised to do anything. An enormous wolf shaped patch of darkness stepped into the moonlight with crimson glowing eyes, padded over to Grok and bit them on their shoulder. The darkness evaporated on the wind after the bite. This was the last thing Grok saw before fading into darkness.
The Pack. Grok awoke the next morning to something wet and rough being dragged across their face. Opening their eyes they met the red eyes of a worg. Sleeping all around Grok were worgs. Laying at their feet was a freshly killed deer. As Grok arose the worgs began to bow before them and howl their fealty to Grok.
Reborn. Grok’s wounds were healed all but a silver scar of a wolf bite upon their shoulder. Invigorated and stronger than ever Grok begins to plot their revenge against the adventurers who slew their kin and nearly did them in.
Running Down a Dream. Grok’s dreams are now haunted with visions of their new dark lord’s desires. In some Grok is with goblins and wolves running through the forest and hunting together. In other dreams a line of goblins stands before Grok waiting to receive the kiss of the wolf.
Grok the Packmaster
Small humanoid (goblinoid, shapechanger), chaotic evil
Armor Class 17 (Chain Shirt, Shield) in goblin form, 13 in wolf or hybrid form
Hit Points 49 (9d6 + 18)
Speed 30 ft., 40 ft. in wolf form
- Strength 15 (+2)
- Dexterity 14 (+2)
- Constitution 14 (+2)
- Intelligence 10 (+0)
- Wisdom 8 (-1)
- Charisma 10 (+0)
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +6
Damage Immunities Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren’t Silvered
Senses Passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Goblin, Worg
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Shapechanger. Grok can use their action to polymorph into a wolf-goblin hybrid or into a wolf, or back into its true form, which is goblin. Its statistics, other than its AC, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
Keen Hearing and Smell. Grok has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Multiattack (Goblin or Hybrid Form Only). Grok makes two attacks: two with their scimitar (goblin form) or one with their bite and one with their claws (hybrid form).
Bite (Wolf or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with werewolf lycanthropy.
Claws. (Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage.
Scimitar (Goblin Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.
Javelin (Goblin Form Only). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Redirect Attack. When a creature Grok can see targets it with an attack, they choose another goblin, wolf or worg within 5 feet of them. Grok and the chosen create swap places, and the chosen creature becomes the target instead.
From Ted’s Head
As we celebrate this time of year I look at one side and the other. We have Halloween and Thanksgiving, for those of us in the US anyway. Looking at the core of these holidays they have almost nothing in common but if we look past this to the periphery both holidays have angles of over eating for sure. I know this is supposed to be about goblins, so bear with me. I will get there. With Halloween, kids for years have gorged themselves on candy until they make themselves sick. When we look at Thanksgiving, for many this is an all day feast. Course after course shared between family and friends. People overeat on both of these holidays so with this in mind may I get you Hooked on Adventure with Gobble-ins.
Yep, you heard me right. I just had to make the pun. This little adventure is best run in a small town but can be adjusted to fit anywhere and can be for any level. You just need to adjust the threat and DCs to be an appropriate challenge for your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons group.
The premise is some goblins have been cursed. It could be from enchanted food, from a hag, a wrongly mixed potion or whatever you feel is most fun for your group. But these goblins — now gobble-ins — are cursed with an insatiable appetite. For lower tiers they can leave many clues behind as the scrabble over the ground tearing open containers eating everything they can. At higher levels perhaps magical abilities allow doors to open magically as this bizarre gobble-in floats along leaving almost no clue. It opens its maw and food flies into its mouth as if being drawn into a portal.
The adventure has the potential for characters running all over the place talking to people who grossly exaggerate the story, increasing the numbers or the damage done. Charisma and Wisdom checks can be used to calm them down and get the correct story.
Once the full story of what is happening can be corroborated the gobble-ins’ antics can be backtracked to the point of where it all started. So have fun with these guys who may or may not have a stat block some time later on…
From the Nerditor’s desk
During the live chat Nerdarchist Ted and I discussed the potential for playing a party of goblins in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. And I love this idea! The most appealing feature for this sort of game applies to any tabletop roleplaying game. When all the characters share a particular trait I’ve found this to make for a terrific campaign. This could be a mechanical component like everyone sharing the same character class, background or race. Or the party might share a narrative component, like how we all played half siblings in Those Bastards!
I explored the concept of an all goblin party deeper as part of the Secret History series on the website, which you can check out here. For a more practical piece of goblin content you can drop right into your 5E D&D game I’m leaning into goblin lore and taking a closer look at the chief goblin deity Maglubiyet. The Mighty One compels goblinoids to battle and goblins faced with deadly foes might contend with the forceful presence of their cruel god spurring them to carry on the fight with vicious power.
Whenever a goblin drops to 0 hit points, another goblin within 10 feet may become the target of Maglubiyet’s Will. A goblin targeted by Maglubiyet’s Will must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or become possessed. If the save succeeds, Maglubiyet’s Will can’t possess that goblin for 24 hours. If its host is killed or the possession is ended by a spell such as hallow, magic circle, dispel evil and good or protection from evil and good, Maglubiyet’s Will searches for another goblin to possess. Maglubiyet’s Will can leave its host at any time, but it won’t do so willingly unless it knows there’s another potential host nearby. A goblin stripped of Maglubiyet’s Will reverts to its normal statistics and loses the traits it gained while possessed.
While possessed by Maglubiyet’s Will it gains the following traits:
- The goblin can use its action to summon a spirit that assumes the form of a worg, creating a long lasting bond with it. Appearing in an unoccupied space within 30 feet, the worg serves the goblin as a mount, both in combat and out, and they share an instinctive bond that allows them to fight as a seamless unit. While mounted on the worg, the goblin can make any spell it casts that targets only itself also target the worg. When the worg drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form. The goblin can also dismiss the worg at any time as an action, causing it to disappear. In either case, using this feature again summons the same worg, restored to its hit point maximum. While the worg is within 1 mile of the goblin, they can communicate with each other telepathically.
- One creature the goblin can see within 30 feet must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is drawn to the goblin, compelled by Maglubiyet’s Will. For 1 minute, it has disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures other than the goblin, and must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw each time it attempts to move to a space that is more than 30 feet away from the goblin. If it succeeds on this saving throw Maglubiyet’s Will doesn’t restrict the target’s movement for that turn. The effect ends if the goblin attacks any other creature, if it casts a spell that targets a hostile creature other than the target, if a creature friendly to the goblin damages the target or casts a harmful spell on it, or if the goblin ends its turn more than 30 feet away from the target.
- When another goblin within 30 feet drops to 0 hit points, the possessed goblin can use its reaction to give that goblin a final act of aggression. That goblin immediately makes a single weapon attack against a target of the possessed goblin’s choice within its attack range.
Now whenever adventurers engage in battle with goblins there’s potential for an unexpected turning of tables. I dig the notion of Maglubiyet’s Will being similar to nilbogism in the sense there’s supernatural forces surrounding goblins capable of possessing them and granting unusual traits. This might become a source of interest for characters curious about strange phenomena surrounding goblins. Maglubiyet’s Will might also create an ongoing antagonist for adventurers if the target of possession runs away to fight another day (although would the Mighty One allow such battlefield cowardice?).