Goblins!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Ever since the goblin song from page 12 of 2007's Pathfinder Adventure Path #1: Burnt Offerings, goblins have been a key part of what makes Pathfinder recognizable as Pathfinder. When we first started looking at what would become the ancestries in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we knew that we wanted to add something to the mix, to broaden the horizon of what it meant to be a hero in Pathfinder. That naturally brought us to goblins.

The trick was finding a way to let you play a goblin who has the feel of a Pathfinder goblin, but who is also a little bit softer around the edges—a character who has a reason to work with a group of "longshanks," as opposed to trying to light them on fire at the first opportunity. Let's look at an excerpt from the goblin ancestry to find out a bit more.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

As a people, goblins have spent millennia feared, maligned, and even hunted—and sometimes for understandable reasons, as some rural goblin tribes still often direct cruelty, raiding, and mayhem toward wandering or vulnerable creatures. In recent decades, however, a new sort of hero has emerged from among these rough-and-tumble tribes. Such goblins bear the same oversized heads, pointed ears, red eyes, and jagged teeth of their crueler kin, but they have a noble or savvy streak that other goblins can't even imagine, let alone understand. These erstwhile heroes roam Golarion, often maintaining their distinctive cultural habits while spreading the enthusiasm, inscrutable quirkiness, love of puns and song, and unique mirth that mark goblin adventurers.

Despite breaking from their destructive past, goblin adventurers often subtly perpetuate some of the qualities that have been characteristics of the creatures for millennia. They tend to flock to strong leaders, and fiercely protect those companions who have protected them from physical harm or who offer a sympathetic ear and sage advice when they learn of the goblins' woes. Some goblins remain deeply fascinated with fire, or fearlessly devour meals that might turn others' stomachs. Others are inveterate tinkerers and view their companions' trash as components of gadgets yet to be made. Occasionally, fellow adventurers find these proclivities unsettling or odd, but more often than not goblins' friends consider these qualities endearing.

The entry in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook has plenty more to say on the topic, but that should give you a sense of where we are taking Pathfinder's favorite troublemakers.

In addition to the story behind the goblin, its ancestry entry has a lot of other information as well to help you make a goblin player character. It includes the base goblin ability boosts (Dexterity and Charisma), ability flaw (Wisdom), bonus Hit Points (6), base speed (25 feet), and starting languages (Common and Goblin), as well as the rules for darkvision (an ability that lets goblins see in the dark just as well as they can see in normal light). Those are just the basics—the rules shared by all goblins. Beyond that, your goblin's unique ancestry allows you to choose one ability score other than Dexterity or Charisma to receive a boost. Perhaps you have some hobgoblin blood and have an additional boost to Constitution, or you descend from a long line of goblin alchemists and have a boost to Intelligence. You could even gain a boost in Wisdom to negate your flaw!

Then you get into the goblin ancestry feats, which allow you to decide what type of goblin you want to play. Starting off, let's look at Burn It. This feat gives you a bonus to damage whenever you cast a fire spell or deal fire damage with an alchemical item. On top of that, it also increases any persistent fire damage you deal by 1. Goblins still love watching things burn.

Next up is one of my favorites, Junk Tinkerer. A goblin with this feat can craft ordinary items and weapons out of junk and scrap they can find almost anywhere. Sure, the items are of poor quality and break easily, but you will never be without a weapon if you have this feat.

We could not have goblins in the game without adding the Razor Teeth feat. This grants you an attack with your mouthful of razor-sharp teeth that deals 1d6 piercing damage. To be honest, the target of your attack should probably also attempt a Fortitude save against whatever you ate last night that is still stuck between your teeth, but we'll leave that for the GM to decide.

Finally, there is the appropriately named feat Very Sneaky. This lets you move 5 feet farther when you take an action to sneak (which normally lets you move at only half your normal speed) and potentially renders your target flat-footed against a follow-up strike!

There are plenty of other goblin feats for you to choose from, but that's all we have time for today. Come back on Friday when we'll look at some of the feats from the other ancestries in the game!

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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eddv wrote:
In fact the very fact that you need to 'mutate them' to even make them suitable PCs is a pretty solid reason that aren't suitable for such a role.

Well, we do this all the time with tieflings and changelings and half-orcs too. We just have a lot of practice at that.

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I think you will find that the portrayal of changelings, tieflings and orcs is quite a bit different in settings where they are intended to be a player race than in ones where they are not.

Greyhawk vs Golarion vs Eberron being a pretty good rundown of the levels of integrated into the core assumptions of the setting. If you want to shift towards Eberron style cosmopolitanism that's cool, but that does necessarily mean changing the way certain races behave and that IS a cost.

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eddv wrote:

Someone can and someone has - but that doesn't mean they're suitable for the core rulebook.

In fact the very fact that you need to 'mutate them' to even make them suitable PCs is a pretty solid reason that aren't suitable for such a role.

Here's the original 10 fun facts about goblins:

Ten Fun Facts About Goblins

Spoiler:

    [1]: Horse Hate: Goblins excel at riding animals, but they don't quite get horses. In fact, their hatred of all things horse is matched only by their fear of horses, who tend to step on goblins who get too close.

    [2]: Dog Hate: Although goblins raise horrible rat-faced doglike creatures to use as mounts (and ride wolves or worgs if they can get them—goblins are quick to explain that wolves are NOT dogs), their hatred of ordinary dogs nearly matches their hatred of horses. The feeling is mutual, so if your dog's barking at the woodpile for no reason, chances are good he smells a frightened goblin hiding in there somewhere.

    [3]: Goblins Raid Junkyards: Garbage pits, gutters, sewers… anywhere there's garbage, you can bet goblins are nearby. They're weirdly adept at crafting weapons and armor from refuse, and are fond of killing people with what they throw away.

    [4]: Goblins Love to Sing: Unfortunately, as catchy as their lyrics can be, goblin songs tend to be a bit too creepy and disturbing to catch on in mainstream society.

    [5]: They're Sneaky: An excited or angry goblin is a noisy, chattering, toothy menace, but even then, they can drop into an unsettling silence in a heartbeat. This, matched with their diminutive size, makes them unnervingly adept at hiding in places you'd never expect… stacks of firewood, rain barrels, under logs, under chicken coops, in ovens, etc.

    [6]: They're A Little Crazy: The fact that goblins think of things like ovens as good hiding places reveals much about their inability to think plans through to the most likely outcome. That, and they tend to be easily distracted, particularly by shiny things and animals smaller than them that might make good eating.

    [7]: They're Voracious: Given enough supplies, a goblin generally takes nearly a dozen meals a day. Most goblin tribes don't have enough supplies to accommodate such ravenous appetites, which is why the little menaces are so prone to going on raids.

    [8]: They Like Fire: Burning things is one of the great goblin pastimes, although they're generally pretty careful about lighting fires in their own lairs, especially since goblins tend to live in large tangled thistle patches and sleep in beds of dried leaves and grass. But give a goblin a torch and someone else's home and you've got trouble.

    [9]: They Get Stuck Easily: Goblins have wiry frames but wide heads, and live in cramped warrens. Sometimes too cramped.

    [10]: Goblins Believe Paintings and Writing Steal Your Soul: The walls of goblin lairs and ruins of towns goblins have raided are littered with pictures of their enemies. They never draw pictures of goblins, though—that's mean. Writing steals words out of your head. You can't get them back.

Nothing here really needs to change to make them player characters, and in-fact that's part of what will make them fun to play as PCs.


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My only problem with goblin PCs being in Core is because there are *dozens* of better, more played races available that in my opinion deserve to be in Core FAR more than the little green CE Kinder.

Seriously...the majority of the Advance Race Guide would be a better Core choice than Goblins. And Charisma? Really?

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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eddv wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

People keep saying this waters down goblins. I don't see it.

I've played a PC goblin. Many of you have played goblin PCs. Were they any less goblin-y for being nonevil adventurers?

I mean, go back and check out the classic "10 things you might know about goblins" article from Rise of the Rune Lords. You won't find "they eat babies" or "they're irredeemable psychopaths" on that list.

Goblins can be core and still be afraid of dogs and horses. They can love raiding junkyards to craft slapdash equipment, and love making up creepy songs. They'll still be sneaky little bastards, who are easily distracted and make crazy, poorly thought-out choices. Being core doesn't meant they won't be voracious eaters, or that they won't love fire (hell, gnomes can also by pyromaniacs). They can still get their big dumb heads stuck in places. The only one that might change is their aversion to reading and writing, but even then that's not guaranteed.

That just doesn't feel like a watered down goblin to me.

You mean other than the fact that Jason has come into this very thread saying that goblins will in fact be changing to suit the needs of them becoming more PC-oriented right?

Jason Buhlman wrote:


We are moving forward, trying to allow players to explore these characters, their culture, and their viewpoint. We are hoping to give you plenty of reasons, both mechanically and story-driven, to allow goblins in your game.

He said we'd be getting goblins with different cultures and viewpoints. That doesn't necessarily make them less goblin-y.

In other words, I'm saying "psychopathic baby-eater" is not nearly as central to the goblin concept as people are making out.

Goblin PCs will certainly be different from, say, the enemy goblins you face in an adventure like Burnt Offerings, but they will still be goblins, with plenty of rich goblin flavor.

Silver Crusade

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Also people keep calling Goblins Chaotic Evil, but that's not the case. Bugbears are the Chaotic Evil goblinoids. Goblins are Neutral Evil.


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MMM rich goblin flavor...

Silver Crusade

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The main villains in the first Pathfinder 1e Adventure Path were Tieflings, those tiefling bandits were real Bastards if I remember correctly. Yet, tieflings are seen as a viable PC race.

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
eddv wrote:

Someone can and someone has - but that doesn't mean they're suitable for the core rulebook.

In fact the very fact that you need to 'mutate them' to even make them suitable PCs is a pretty solid reason that aren't suitable for such a role.

Here's the original 10 fun facts about goblins:

Ten Fun Facts About Goblins
** spoiler omitted **...

I feel like your games of We Be Goblins went much differently from mine - that's pretty much the only way I can think that we can be talking about the same iconic goblin characteristics and be coming up with such different levels of 'this is okay behavior for a core adventurer'.

I personally have never had a goblin PC in any game I have ran because generally its accepted that golarion goblins don't make good PCs in the circles I run in. Looking around this thread and elsewhere on the net I see that I am not alone.


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GentleGiant wrote:

Look, goblins are going to be a PF2 core ancestry. There's art for the iconic goblin alchemist and he's even got a name (although Jason hasn't revealed it yet, I believe). So the continued b#%+!ing is going to change zilch about that.

Can people now move on and focus on the mechanics revealed?
Seriously, get over it. Or make a separate thread where you can whine and gnash your teeth over it to your heart's content.

What no one's asking is now that goblins are core, will the We Be Goblins Free RPG Day modules be discontinuing?

If so, I hearby nominate Paizo start making We Be 'Wampis! We wampis are easily much more infamous troublemakers than those amateur goblins ever were. Plus, we promise to never ever ever turn into a core race. You can keep hating us until you're old and grey.

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eddv wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
eddv wrote:

Someone can and someone has - but that doesn't mean they're suitable for the core rulebook.

In fact the very fact that you need to 'mutate them' to even make them suitable PCs is a pretty solid reason that aren't suitable for such a role.

Here's the original 10 fun facts about goblins:

Ten Fun Facts About Goblins
** spoiler omitted **...

I feel like your games of We Be Goblins went much differently from mine - that's pretty much the only way I can think that we can be talking about the same iconic goblin characteristics and be coming up with such different levels of 'this is okay behavior for a core adventurer'.

I personally have never had a goblin PC in any game I have ran because generally its accepted that golarion goblins don't make good PCs in the circles I run in. Looking around this thread and elsewhere on the net I see that I am not alone.

At the end of our first We Be Goblins game the goblins all TPK'd because

Spoiler:
they all started fighting over who got to take the fireworks back and a stray fire spell set the whole box off killing the party.

It was a fantastic one-shot.

If you go back in the thread in my Jade Regent game my party recruited a goblin named Mogo who was being attacked by the Soggy River Monster, and over time became less evil and more of a useful member of the party. Yes sometimes they had to deal with the repercussions of being raised among a tribe of nasty goblins, but a Paladin of Sarenrae who saw a chance to redeem a soul, and the half-elf druid who appreciated fire magic and his wild nature showed him not all Longshanks are scary monsters looking to kill every goblin on sight.


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I think I figured out how the Charisma penalty turned into a Charisma bonus-

Clever goblins figured out that in order to stop getting things thrown at them every time they get caught digging through people's garbage, they needed to be charming. So they worked at it and figured it out.

One thing about an incredibly fecund species that is willing to try almost anything, consequences be damned, is that you can enact cultural change (at least on a local level) *really* quickly in case they accidentally discover a really good idea.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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I mean that's fine and all, but to put it another way would redeeming Mogo have been fun or interesting in any way if a member or three of the party was already a goblin or if goblins weren't as rare in civilized society as they are currently?

Because the answer to me FEELS like a big no.

Again though, I have laid my cards on the table, the only reason I have a horse in this race at all is Pathfinder Society. If I had the option to just excise goblins as a player option in that setting then I wouldn't really give a big wet fart about this.

Grand Lodge

As for anyone that's against Goblins, because they'd be attacked on sight.. (untrue, as people in cities wouldn't ever have seen a hostile/destructive wild Goblin)

How do people react in your campaign against other "bad" races?

- Dhampir
- Drow
- Fetchling
- Ifrit (AAAH DEMON)
- Tiefling


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I'm still not sure why "core" is considered a really big deal as though non-core races weren't incredibly popular in PF1.

But "bring what you like, as long as it's legal" already went through some rough patches with the Summoner, Leadership, Blood Money, Sacred Geometry, the Gunslinger, etc.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I think I figured out how the Charisma penalty turned into a Charisma bonus-

Clever goblins figured out that in order to stop getting things thrown at them every time they get caught digging through people's garbage, they needed to be charming. So they worked at it and figured it out.

One thing about an incredibly fecund species that is willing to try almost anything, consequences be damned, is that you can enact cultural change (at least on a local level) *really* quickly in case they accidentally discover a really good idea.

Yes, we clever goblins learn to be charming. We are garbage-digging, fecund, entertaining charmers... think of us as cockroaches. Except with 'SPLODEY BOMBS goodness.

Silver Crusade

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eddv wrote:

I mean that's fine and all, but to put it another way would redeeming Mogo have been fun or interesting in any way if a member or three of the party was already a goblin or if goblins weren't as rare in civilized society as they are currently?

Because the answer to me FEELS like a big no.

Again though, I have laid my cards on the table, the only reason I have a horse in this race at all is Pathfinder Society. If I had the option to just excise goblins as a player option in that setting then I wouldn't really give a big wet fart about this.

Except that the majority of goblins are still going to be violent jerks from a horrible society of thieves etc.

The PLAYER CHARACTERS are by definition exceptions to the rule, they are atypical. That is why for example as a human you are not forced to play a dirt-farmer, but can in fact be a dragon-blooded sorcerer, or paladin.

Goblins in the core rulebook are the rules for Goblin Adventurers, not goblin raiders.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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Possibly because a new edition already needing the "play whatever you want as long its not XYZ" from its first printing doesn't sound all that appealing.


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I mean, if you sell it correctly people will be really happy to see you taking away their garbage...

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
eddv wrote:

I mean that's fine and all, but to put it another way would redeeming Mogo have been fun or interesting in any way if a member or three of the party was already a goblin or if goblins weren't as rare in civilized society as they are currently?

Because the answer to me FEELS like a big no.

Again though, I have laid my cards on the table, the only reason I have a horse in this race at all is Pathfinder Society. If I had the option to just excise goblins as a player option in that setting then I wouldn't really give a big wet fart about this.

Except that the majority of goblins are still going to be violent jerks from a horrible society of thieves etc.

The PLAYER CHARACTERS are by definition exceptions to the rule, they are atypical. That is why for example as a human you are not forced to play a dirt-farmer, but can in fact be a dragon-blooded sorcerer, or paladin.

Goblins in the core rulebook are the rules for Goblin Adventurers, not goblin raiders.

You really think they're going to go through the design work of having monstrous goblins AND PC Goblins as different things?

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Folks, this is what many of you have been going on about: big sales of stuff = more stuff.

Goblins went big. Like, "every goblin-focused product outsells a regular product from the category 5 times over" big, if incidental evidence from few friendly retailers is any indication.

This is the moment when you kick yourself for mostly talking about how there "has to be more" high level adventures, Far Eastern stuff or one-off modules while not really buying any of that, while Jack and Jill voted with their wallets and bags full of goblin-related stuff.

Silver Crusade

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eddv wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
eddv wrote:

I mean that's fine and all, but to put it another way would redeeming Mogo have been fun or interesting in any way if a member or three of the party was already a goblin or if goblins weren't as rare in civilized society as they are currently?

Because the answer to me FEELS like a big no.

Again though, I have laid my cards on the table, the only reason I have a horse in this race at all is Pathfinder Society. If I had the option to just excise goblins as a player option in that setting then I wouldn't really give a big wet fart about this.

Except that the majority of goblins are still going to be violent jerks from a horrible society of thieves etc.

The PLAYER CHARACTERS are by definition exceptions to the rule, they are atypical. That is why for example as a human you are not forced to play a dirt-farmer, but can in fact be a dragon-blooded sorcerer, or paladin.

Goblins in the core rulebook are the rules for Goblin Adventurers, not goblin raiders.

You really think they're going to go through the design work of having monstrous goblins AND PC Goblins as different things?

Monsters are already confirmed as using different rules from player characters. So, yes.


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Like I have played with people who I would not feel comfortable if they played Chaotic Neutral Human Rogues. But that's not really a problem with CN, Humans, or Rogues.


eddv wrote:

Possibly because a new edition already needing the "play whatever you want as long its not XYZ" from its first printing doesn't sound all that appealing.

See my former post about Leadership (or other people's posts about "Well, I'm certainly not going to use the criticals/resonance/personal pet peeve rule"). There's always going to be stuff like that.

Silver Crusade

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The thing about naysayers is that they tend to be more vocal than people who are happy with a thing.

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GentleGiant wrote:
eddv wrote:

Possibly because a new edition already needing the "play whatever you want as long its not XYZ" from its first printing doesn't sound all that appealing.

See my former post about Leadership (or other people's posts about "Well, I'm certainly not going to use the criticals/resonance/personal pet peeve rule"). There's always going to be stuff like that.

Well its certainly my hope that they're not going to include the same broken leadership rules again!

The point is crits/resonance/etc all of that has a pretty strong possibility of winning people over once they see it in action. With goblins there is a much lesser chance of that happening because so many of the objections are based in experiences with having players who play chaotic stupid/kenders/etc prior to this or in it seeming to not gel with the established lore which isn't something time at the table is really going to be able to fix.


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Gorbacz wrote:
I'm sorry. Goblins are just super-popular. They sell. Like hot cupcakes.

Like hot cockroach cupcakes. Mmmm...

Silver Crusade

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eddv wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
eddv wrote:

Possibly because a new edition already needing the "play whatever you want as long its not XYZ" from its first printing doesn't sound all that appealing.

See my former post about Leadership (or other people's posts about "Well, I'm certainly not going to use the criticals/resonance/personal pet peeve rule"). There's always going to be stuff like that.

Well its certainly my hope that they're not going to include the same broken leadership rules again!

The point is crits/resonance/etc all of that has a pretty strong possibility of winning people over once they see it in action. With goblins there is a much lesser chance of that happening because so many of the objections are based in experiences with having players who play chaotic stupid/kenders/etc prior to this or in it seeming to not gel with the established lore which isn't something time at the table is really going to be able to fix.

Sadly there is no rules system that can be invented to fix crappy players.


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Here's the question I really want answered: if enough people say "goblins as a core race is a bad idea and I wouldn't allow it at my table" will Paizo be willing to admit they made a bad call and remove them from the core rules in PF2?

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Monsters are already confirmed as using different rules from player characters. So, yes.

So we will never again fight enemies with class levels? That seems really unlikely, but if thats what you need to believe right now then fine.


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eddv wrote:
With goblins there is a much lesser chance of that happening because so many of the objections are based in experiences with having players who play chaotic stupid/kenders/etc prior to this or in it seeming to not gel with the established lore which isn't something time at the table is really going to be able to fix.

So you have a problem with your fellow players it seems. That's unfortunately something you have to take up with them.

Edit: Damnit, ninja'ed!

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