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RPG Superstar 2015

So Pathfinder Goblins are illiterate? How do spellbooks and scrolls work for them?


Rules Questions


Hey guys, just started a Goblin campaign and the question of having access to the Read Magic spell came up (we have three spellcasters - Sorcerer, Oracle and Summoner).

How does Read Magic work for an illiterate race?
How do Goblin spellcasters use scrolls?
How do Goblin Wizards/Bards/Alchemists spellbooks?

Thanks in advance
FDM


Yar!

Fractured DM wrote:

Hey guys, just started a Goblin campaign and the question of having access to the Read Magic spell came up (we have three spellcasters - Sorcerer, Oracle and Summoner).

How does Read Magic work for an illiterate race?

Magic Pictures? I'd also play up the fear and shock that every other goblin would have for witnessing such an act (reading steals words from your mind, after all).

Quote:
How do Goblin spellcasters use scrolls?

As flimsy clubs/projectiles? (or, see pictures instead of words)

Quote:
How do Goblin Wizards/Bards/Alchemists spellbooks?

As kindling for fires?

(note: Bard's do not use spellbooks. They just know their spells akin to sorcerers).

~P

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, for one Bards don't have spellbooks. I imagine that most goblin spellcasters are clerics, druids, sorcerers, and bards, and that they don't use scrolls much.

But just because the race is "illiterate" doesn't mean individual rogue goblins might learn to read and practice in the art of wizardry...they'd just be very rare.


Fractured DM wrote:

Hey guys, just started a Goblin campaign and the question of having access to the Read Magic spell came up (we have three spellcasters - Sorcerer, Oracle and Summoner).

How does Read Magic work for an illiterate race?
How do Goblin spellcasters use scrolls?
How do Goblin Wizards/Bards/Alchemists spellbooks?

Thanks in advance
FDM

Goblins exile/torture/eat those that can read, so normal things probably don't work for them, but I think they could paint scrolls and spels in pictures. They'd have to be inedible with poisonous paints however, lest some oter goblin might attempt to eat them.

See the free "We be goblins!" adventure that's available for downloads in the modules section. It deals with a goblin who could read as a part of the plot actually.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Just now, I wrote:

Goblin wizards

Goblins believe that writing is dark magic that steals words out of your head. In the case of magical writing, this isn't far from the truth. Even among civilized races, it's common knowledge that scribing a magical scroll "steals" the prepared spell from the "mind" of the scribe, and casting a spell from a scroll "steals" the writing from the page. Even the dimmest goblin understands that there can be power in the written word.

A rare few goblins choose to dabble in this black magic of writing, and explore the power of the written arcane word. This is a dangerous, solitary path, because other goblins tend to torture and devour anyone found reading or writing. An aspiring goblin wizard has no peers to study with, and is surrounded by deadly enemies. Even if he did meet another aspirant wizard, they would never collaborate; after all, reading, even if it's someone else's spellbook, steals ideas from your head forever.

Once a goblin does finally master the basics of wizardry, his written spells are idiosyncratic, even by the standard of arcane writing. They more closely resemble code than any written language, and generally aren't written in a bound tome. Instead, they're scratched on debris, scribbled all over the insides of his clothing, or etched into walls or a even decently solid expanse of earth. While most goblins don't scribe scrolls, a goblin scroll is usually scribed on a flammable object, which is set on fire as part of activating the scroll's spell. Without the use of read magic, it's difficult to even identify these writings as magical: a DC 21 Perception or Spellcraft check is required to even identify the marks as meaningful, and any Spellcraft check to decipher a goblin's "spellbook" has a +2 DC modifier.

A goblin sneaky enough to conceal these self-directed studies and cunning enough to discover the basics of arcane magic on their own, however, can quickly rise to the head of a tribe. While goblins fear and hate writing, they are awed and inspired by fire, and wizards are masters of the elements. Any goblin who can project fire with Burning Hands or even the dreaded Fireball will be held in an almost religious awe by his peers... as long as they never find out where the power is coming from.

Not perfect, but what the hell, I just tossed it off anyway.

Scarab Sages

Ya know "spell book" and the "writing" does not have to be well a book or writing of any type. Goblin "spellbooks" could easily be knotted cord, with its own "style" of arcane code. Wizards in DS did that very thing and it worked just like a book up wasn't written or in a form anyone who did not know what to look for would see as a "spellbook"

Scarab Sages

Zmar wrote:
Fractured DM wrote:

Hey guys, just started a Goblin campaign and the question of having access to the Read Magic spell came up (we have three spellcasters - Sorcerer, Oracle and Summoner).

How does Read Magic work for an illiterate race?
How do Goblin spellcasters use scrolls?
How do Goblin Wizards/Bards/Alchemists spellbooks?

Thanks in advance
FDM

Goblins exile/torture/eat those that can read, so normal things probably don't work for them, but I think they could paint scrolls and spels in pictures. They'd have to be inedible with poisonous paints however, lest some oter goblin might attempt to eat them.

See the free "We be goblins!" adventure that's available for downloads in the modules section. It deals with a goblin who could read as a part of the plot actually.

Yeah "Scribbleface" isn't treated as a hero, that's for sure.


I like the scratch n' sniff, blobby stains on paper method for goblin alchemists. Yeah, I played Mogmurch in "We Be Goblins."

Dark Archive

Lilith wrote:
I like the scratch n' sniff, blobby stains on paper method for goblin alchemists. Yeah, I played Mogmurch in "We Be Goblins."

i figured 2 leafs, a pinecone and a picture of a bat with an arrow pointing to its poop are basicall goblin alchemist formulae


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mechanically nothing stops them from using said spell or items. Culturally speaking they wouldn't use the Spell Read Magic or Scrolls. I do not think thru be a wizard either but a Bard casts more like a Sorceror aka not using a spell book. Alchemist? I think they are good, nothing in the stat block for the class says they are using words to put down their formulas. If the goblin is a rebel though, he might not about the whole no reading thing.

Star Voter 2013

These ideas for spellbooks are great. They're also the only spell books that I would actually agree with the rule that spell books can't be used as scrolls by other mages.


I basically figure that Goblins can't be wizards without breaking the taboo... It's easy to set up possible ways for their spellbooks to work, but at the same time, Wizardry is about study and I think at some point you'll have to read.... [Of course, you can be a secretly literate goblin who then has a spellbook or formula book filled with pictures, either because you cast a spell to obscure the text or that's your personal shorthand for spell formulae, but I'd probably make you drop a linguistics slot in your secret writing language...]

However, that's another reason the witch class is useful -- the familiar holds the spells and all is good.

When I played with such a character in the group, I allowed him to use scrolls, but only if he casts Read Magic first -- he can't read, but...

Detect Magic wrote:
You can decipher magical inscriptions on objects—books, scrolls, weapons, and the like—that would otherwise be unintelligible.

...and so, to him, the inscriptions and what not become symbols of power (and not words), and all is well.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Goblins of Golarion explains how things like spellbooks and formula books for wizards, magi, and alchemists work for goblins. A preview:

There's not a lot of goblin wizards, magi, and alchemists, but those who do generally follow one of two options:

1) They're one of the rare goblins who isn't afraid of writing and thus keep a normal spellbook or formula book. If they're loners, that's that. If they live in a goblin tribe, they have to keep their book well hidden and secret or they'll be exiled or worse.

2) Far more rare even than the goblin who's not afraid of words are the goblins who figure out alternative ways to recored spells and formulas. Generally, these "books" are more like picture books, filled with drawings and sketches of their spells and formulas. Books like these are generally useless to anyone other than the goblin who created them, but they can show them off in (goblin) public without getting "runoft", tied to a burning thing, fed to pets, flayed, poked lots with sharp stuff, held underwater, pressed with heavy stones, or whatever their tribe feels like doing to weirdos that day.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I haven't read Goblins of Golarion yet, but are we sure that goblins are actually illiterate? A writing taboo doesn't necessarily imply a reading taboo. Writing steals ideas from the heads of stupid humans. Goblins read human writing to steal their ideas (and spells!). Of course, only a few trusted tribe members might be allowed to read, since a reader can, in a moment of weakness, become a writer at any time.

Under this interpretation, a goblin wizard might get his spells exclusively by stealing spellbooks from others. As for the free spells they learn at each level, they would either need to figure out another way to encode spells, succumb to the temptation of writing, get them pre-written from GM-supplied sources, or go without.


Or, a powerful wizard is reincarnated into a goblin, and in living as one, he has come to pity them. So, he starts a "cult" with the intention of teaching his followers to read and write as a way to share ideas instead of stealing them (because he's smarter and very persuasive, especially when he can light things on fire). His cult grows into a tribe, and all of these literate goblins slowly become more civilized, and become feared by other, lesser tribes because of their ability to communicate more complex plans and ideas, not to mention their newfound ability to interact with magic on the same level as other more civilized races.

:D Blasphemy? Maybe. Do I care? Not a bit.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Fractured DM wrote:

Hey guys, just started a Goblin campaign and the question of having access to the Read Magic spell came up (we have three spellcasters - Sorcerer, Oracle and Summoner).

How does Read Magic work for an illiterate race?
How do Goblin spellcasters use scrolls?
How do Goblin Wizards/Bards/Alchemists spellbooks?

Thanks in advance
FDM

Some goblins might after all be the exception to the rule. For wizards this would have to be so.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

2) Far more rare even than the goblin who's not afraid of words are the goblins who figure out alternative ways to recored spells and formulas. Generally, these "books" are more like picture books, filled with drawings and sketches of their spells and formulas. Books like these are generally useless to anyone other than the goblin who created them,

Would this be an occasion that the seldom-used Read Magic spell might come into play?

For that matter, what use IS Read Magic if Spellcraft can do all it's heavy lifting?


Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My Goblin Rogue has a crazy high intelligence, 30+.. I roleplay him with the caviat that he is so smart, that new words flow in so fast if he doesn't regularly read/write to have the words stolen from his head.. his head would explode killing him in a gooey mess.. possibly taking out nearby goblins. :D

Liberty's Edge

Gloom wrote:
My Goblin Rogue has a crazy high intelligence, 30+.. I roleplay him with the caviat that he is so smart, that new words flow in so fast if he doesn't regularly read/write to have the words stolen from his head.. his head would explode killing him in a gooey mess.. possibly taking out nearby goblins. :D

30+? How?


Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Red Wullf wrote:
Gloom wrote:
My Goblin Rogue has a crazy high intelligence, 30+.. I roleplay him with the caviat that he is so smart, that new words flow in so fast if he doesn't regularly read/write to have the words stolen from his head.. his head would explode killing him in a gooey mess.. possibly taking out nearby goblins. :D
30+? How?

It's not a PFS game? Different rolling methods and some homebrew.

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