What in world sea change took place to move Goblins from “Kill on sight” to viable PCs?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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James gives us a Paizo history lesson:
James Jacobs wrote:

Behind the scenes history glimpse:

When we launched the first Pathfinder Adventure Path two years BEFORE we launched the Pathfinder RPG, we were desperate to establish ourselves as our own company and game studio APART from Wizards of the Coast.

With the first volume of the first Adventure Path, "Burnt Offerings," we decided to focus on a monster that, for decades in D&D, had been regulated to the role of "speed bump encounter" in adventures… the lowly goblin. Our goal was to breathe new life into goblins, give them personality, and make them into memorable foes for low-level PCs to fight against and to remember. I took equal parts gremlin (from the movie Gremlins), Stitch (from the movie Lilo and Stitch), Wayne Reynolds' now iconic cover and first illustration of our goblins, mythological real-world tales of evil/sinister little spirits/monsters, and my own twisted sense of humor as inspiration and came up with the goblins that starred in that adventure.

They became wildly popular beyond any of our expectations.

Fast-forward 12 years, and we are launching a 2nd edition of Pathfinder. This is a game that, unlike 1st edition, wasn't so much a re-skin of the 3rd Edition D&D rules but a complete and total rebuild of the rules. There's more of our design philosophy in 2nd edition than in 1st edition, and that reflects all we learned over the course of those 12 years in between.

While we wanted to retain the core ancestry and class options from 1st edition Pathfinder (themselves the core ancestry and class options from D&D), we wanted to take this chance to introduce a new class and a new ancestry that WE built up, not something we inherited from D&D.

For the classes, this was the Alchemist class.

For the ancestries, the notion of adding a new one to the mix of Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, and Gnome was in the mix from the start... and NO other ancestry other than Goblin came or comes close to being so completely identifiable as "PAIZO" than anything else. Graduating them to a PC option was, in...

And the history of PC goblins goes way, way back in the history of RPGs. Already in 1976 D&D's first competitor, Tunnels & Trolls, came out with a game called "Monsters! Monsters!" where players took on the role of typical monsters like goblins.

Anti-goblins, or "Nilbogs", appeared as early as a 1978 issue of the UK-based RPG magazine White Dwarf, and made it into the 1981 Fiend Folio, so the precedent for "good goblins" is there from an early date.

Green Ronin put goblins in one of the slums of Freeport somewhere around 2000 or so (not sure if they actually featured in the 2000 Death in Freeport), but IIRC this was only slightly before the founding of Paizo and the backstory that James gave us (again) today.

For me, the high points on the Paizo love story with Goblins are the Rise of the Runelords campaign (2007) and We Be Goblins (2011). The first established Paizo goblins as maniacal yet bumbling, cruel but at times endearing, in a twisted way, while the second asked players to step out of their heroic personas to become pickle-juggling, seagull-torturing, pyromaniac pranksters for the space of a one-shot RPG-day afternoon.

It seems almost inevitable that goblins should become a core Pathfinder race in this new edition.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
I really hope I'm misremembering and you're not one of the people who has repeatedly told me to be happy with orcs just converting to Sarenrae if they're going to be Good.

My position has always been- any sapient species which has had culture for thousands of years and has spread all over the planet will have considered a bunch of different philosophies- some good, some evil, some of it adapted from stuff they picked up from other people, some of it home grown. So absolutely there should be orcs, who of their own volition, have developed religious practices which are neutral or good- so let's hear about those practices.

Like there's tension here between "the core 20 gods are super important, and people all over worship all of them for a variety of reasons" and "there are lots of gods and no reason there shouldn't just be more if we want another one for something." So Sarenrae is an appropriate choice for all manner of "evil ancestries", particularly ones who are fond of fire or the sun, who are going good since "redemption" is her thing. But Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, etc. should all have their own divinities who are an exception to the "normal" alignments for those people. If nothing else, let there be one to be analogous to the NE Dwarf deity or the NE Halfling deity.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Gnomes and Elves have no known Evil deity apparently.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Gnomes and Elves have no known Evil deity apparently.

Gnomes only have two in the big PF1 gods book, but worshiping any of the Eldest probably makes sense for a gnome, and the Green Mother is particularly appropriate for an evil gnome option.


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Goblins were crossbred with skittermanders.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:


Clearly, we need a non-evil goblin to TAKE THE TEST OF THE STARSTONE AND ASCEND TO GODHOOD AS AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL GOBLINKIND TO ASPIRE TO!

I VOLUNTEER, I'LL DO IT!


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Meh the star stone test isn't THAT hard.

Silver Crusade

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Pun-Pun wrote:
Meh the star stone test isn't THAT hard.

If there's reading involved, then no goblin will EVER succeed.


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RangerWickett wrote:
CyderGnome wrote:

Prior to 2nd Edition, a Goblin walking openly into most any town or village was asking to be killed rather quickly unless there we’re extreme extenuating circumstances and it could somehow convince people to pause long enough to even think before releasing the hounds. Now Goblins have become the party ‘s comic relief...

What’s the in-world explanation?

It would have been nice if they had written, like, a troop of goblin adventurers in as side characters during The Tyrant's Grasp adventure path, and had them play pivotal roles in the background defeating the minions of Tar-Bapheon while you deal with the big bad. That way word of them could spread, other goblins could be inspired to be heroic, and civilized people would be willing to be a bit more forgiving since four of the green bastards helped save the world.

Even better if they were themed after the four Goblin Hero Gods, representing a rejection of the evil barghests and an intentional choice to reject their evil ways.

  • Scion of Hadregash (now LN), the greatest supreme chieftain boss, represented by a ranger with a flail and a cougar. Instead of being cruel, he's actually interested in his tribe prospering.
  • Scion of Venkelvore (now N), the most glorious neverfull, represented by a spear-wielding wizard who is an expert at controlling and destroying undead, ever since she was nearly turned into a ghoul. She struggles with her hungry urges, but uses her arcane studies to distract.
  • Scion of Zarongel (now N), the bark breaker, god of fire, mounted combat, and, um, dog-killing, represented by a druid riding a goblin dog. Unlike his namesake, he represents understanding and respecting nature, not just leashing it and whipping it.
  • And my personal favorite, Scion of Zogmugot (now CN), lady lastbreath, goddess of drowning, flotsam, and scavenging, represented by a witch (occult sorcerer in PF2) who piloted ships across Lake Encarthan to get heroes to where they needed to...
  • Our Tyrant's Grasp group has a goblin Warpriest of Desna.


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    Voltron64 wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
    Well the CRB recommended Cayden Cailean, but I strongly feel goblins would go for Gorum and Calistria too.

    Not sure what to think of goblins following Calistria.

    "The goblin winks at you seductively." just doesn't sound right.


    Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:
    Voltron64 wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
    Well the CRB recommended Cayden Cailean, but I strongly feel goblins would go for Gorum and Calistria too.

    Not sure what to think of goblins following Calistria.

    "The goblin winks at you seductively." just doesn't sound right.

    >.>.... are you sure you'r not a kitsune?


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:
    Voltron64 wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
    Well the CRB recommended Cayden Cailean, but I strongly feel goblins would go for Gorum and Calistria too.

    Not sure what to think of goblins following Calistria.

    "The goblin winks at you seductively." just doesn't sound right.

    If you look in the spells chapter of Inner Sea Gods you'll find a goblin priestess of Calistria.


    captain yesterday wrote:
    If you look in the spells chapter of Inner Sea Gods you'll find a goblin priestess of Calistria.

    …I'm not sure if they're a priest or -ess (or just a witch/summoner following Calistria), but they're indeed shown using a spell primarily associated with Calistria, and I assume the artists/editors would priorize the "spells as used by members of the faith" over the "but other people can use them, too" part.

    So yeah, prepare for seductively winking goblins.

    And regarding not being a kitsune…:
    Definitely NOT a certain Kobold wrote:
    >.>.... are you sure you'r not a kitsune?

    I was originally planned to have Human Guise to prove it, but my build plan changed, and now I will have to rely on Fool Magic, which is not as throughout or as "automatic", but in turn allows me to be all kinds of creatures that definitely aren't kitsune.

    (Nondetection does the rest.)


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    I really enjoyed Qundle in Oblivion Oath. It would be great if The White Wolf became a thing.

    Silver Crusade

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    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:
    Voltron64 wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
    Well the CRB recommended Cayden Cailean, but I strongly feel goblins would go for Gorum and Calistria too.

    Not sure what to think of goblins following Calistria.

    "The goblin winks at you seductively." just doesn't sound right.

    Type Goblin Shortstack into the internet with the safe search off.


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    Rysky wrote:
    Type Goblin Shortstack into the internet with the safe search off.

    I've played Corruption of Champions, so "sexy goblin" isn't really strange to me. It just doesn't mesh all that well with Paizo's depiction of goblins. "[…] they often bear scars, boils, and rashes. […] Their jagged teeth fall out and regrow constantly, […]. Mutations are also more common among goblins than other peoples, […]"

    (…but really, the minute looking that up was already to much effort for a cheap "Goblins are ugly and Calistrians are seductive" joke.
    Goblins can easily worship her for general hedonism and revenge.)


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    The Raven Black wrote:
    Gnomes and Elves have no known Evil deity apparently.

    I can get behind a tribe of Goblins worshipping Elves in belief they are Evil Demigods.


    Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:
    Voltron64 wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?
    Well the CRB recommended Cayden Cailean, but I strongly feel goblins would go for Gorum and Calistria too.

    Not sure what to think of goblins following Calistria.

    "The goblin winks at you seductively." just doesn't sound right.

    I was thinking more following the revenge aspect over the lust aspect.


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    I question the fundamental premise of this thread. Goblins as a viable PC race is something from 2012 and the ARG putting them in main line Pathfinder, but the OP is treating the idea of player goblins as something brand new. That seems weird.


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    They wrote exactly how. They expected us to read exactly how. Not their fault when we don't.


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    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    CyderGnome wrote:


    About the only explanation I can come up with can be summed up by this quote...

    George Orwell, 1984 wrote:
    The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

    Doublespeak sells books! :D. I have to admit that they are cute critters in their own right. Pathfinder makes them easy to root for. Their artwork and minis are great!


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    Big Lemon wrote:
    They wrote exactly how. They expected us to read exactly how. Not their fault when we don't.

    But writing steals words out of your head! That's why we is universally illiterate! That's why we don't know why they not killing us so much no more!


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    The answer is clear. Rovagug found all of the evil goblins and started goblin them up.

    ...I'm sorry.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Quandary wrote:
    The Raven Black wrote:
    Gnomes and Elves have no known Evil deity apparently.
    I can get behind a tribe of Goblins worshipping Elves in belief they are Evil Demigods.

    I am not sure Elves need such a boost to their ego ;-D


    The Raven Black wrote:
    I am not sure Elves need such a boost to their ego ;-D

    Don't worry, they'll get bored of it eventually. Probably... pretty quickly.


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    Snowcaster elves apparently enjoy a reputation as "nomadic demon-worshipping cannibals who can freeze a man's blood with a glance".

    And by "enjoy", I mean "as long as it keeps annoying visitors away, sure, let's keep that story around." - they're actually predominantly Chaotic Good.

    Seems like prime "goblins heard stories, thought it sounded awesome, now the snowcasters can't get rid of them" material.


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    More Goblins x Snowcasters ideas:
    They call themselves Frostburn Goblins (under the assumption that "Frostburn" means "burning up the frost"), and their motto is "Elves can't freeze you if you're on fire!"
    Since none of them were frozen by an elf so far, and the elves are clearly distressed by the sight of burning goblins, instantly start trying to put them out, and are generally wary the moment the goblins start playing with fire, the goblins must be doing something right!


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    Well, it seems like goblins were considered as vermin, and yes, those can be kill on sight, that''s how cats came to hang out with humans.

    Sovereign Court

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    Pan, definitely not a Kitsune wrote:
    Rysky wrote:
    Type Goblin Shortstack into the internet with the safe search off.
    I've played Corruption of Champions, so "sexy goblin" isn't really strange to me.

    Indeed.

    It's going to make for some very interesting third-party content, too, what with that Charisma bonus. ^_^

    Dark Archive

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    Don't forget the LN wannabe hellknight Goblin from Westcrown :D I find that one funny because Hellknights gave him armor in order to guard sewers underneath their keep

    Liberty's Edge

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    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    In terms of goblin history, that was grandpa's time.

    Grampa was a fussy old sod who used to kill babies and laughed. Grandpa got killed by adventurers. Pap-pap wanted to eat babies too, but he didn't want to be killed by adventurers. Now I am here, and I'd rather be an adventurer than be killed by one.


    I just learned of Avistan's newest kingdom--Oprak, ruled by hobgoblins. Perhaps this figures into goblins new status.


    To be fair, the only goblin I ever played was CN, and was press-ganged in Skull & Shackles. My intent was for him to drift to evil for a while, but work with the GM to give him a "come to Cayden Cailean" moment so he could finish up CG and be a hero he'd always wanted to be.

    Then we got TPKed by underwater combat rules.


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    I think Goblins are a shoo-in to get picked up by Nocticula. How much more Redeemed can you get?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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    The very first published nonevil goblin in Golarion appeared in Dark Markets: A Guide to Katapesh in the form of Krebble-Jeggle, a CN goblin who ran his own casino.

    The second nonevil goblin appeared in our very first adventure path for the Pathfinder rules set: Jinkoo, the Hell Knight sewer goblin, LN defender of Hell Knight basements and blower of loud horns.

    Since that time goblins have had a diverse and checkered history with the people of Golarion, but there's some key turning points that helped further integrate them into society:

    The Frostfur goblins of Irrisen became wards of the Pathfinder Society about 7 years ago and some of them are now functioning members of the organization, with many more who consider themselves to be Pathfinders despite not having been formally accepted.

    The Dragonskull tribe of Iobaria were "adopted" by the Farheavens, a clan of Sarkorians currently working to reclaim their former home in what was once the Worldwound. Experts in navigating burns, the Dragonskull goblins have found that their skills make them excellent scouts and earn them some prestige amongst the other ancestries. Several Dragonskull members also accompanied Pathfinder agents for a time, and their association with the organization opened a few doors for them in places where the Society is held in high regard.

    The Mudchewers of Magnimar, a city that has long shrugged and accepted that the goblins occupying its sewers are less dangerous than the things they keep out, were rescued by a group of adventurers from a parasitic monster and have had nearly a decade of slow integration into society.

    Swinging back down to Katapesh, the goblin Yigrig Moneymaker and his extended "family" of freed goblin slaves (read more about the atrocious practice of enslaving goblins in Dark Markets: A Guide to Katapesh and comics from our friends at IDW written by the fine folks here at Paizo) has long been a member of Katapeshi society but recently made connections with the wider world when he helped the Pathfinder Society root out a traitor from within their own ranks.

    And perhaps most notably, the Crookedtoes tribe of Isger earned themselves a home in Absalom, the City at the Center of the World itself, when they allied with the last remaining Knights of Lastwall to fight their way through Tar-Baphon's undead hordes.


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    Some of y'all seem like you've been watching too much Goblin Slayer.


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    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    If goblins are the canonical "naturally CN" PC ancestry, can we please get some goblin deities who are CG, CN, or N?

    Why? (if I may ask)

    I mean technically the gods they have aren't even goblin gods. Personally I think it suits the race better to be co-opting and "scavenging" faiths more than having actual gods.

    ...But the "Goblin Hero Gods" are LE, NE, and CE while all the Orc deities are CE. It feels like "a more nuanced presentation of the 'evil ancestries'"would offer a diversity of "specific to this culture" faiths like others have.

    1d4 ⇒ 2 of us goblin babies say our nighty-night prayers to the half-orc Empyreal Lord of redemption, Mi'kaz.

    Silver Crusade

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    Yeah, we’re talking about from a setting perspective, not “we’re all playing psychopaths” perspective.


    This reminds of a time when I played a good-aligned Goblin Samurai who was raised as a slave to Hobgoblins. As part of his backstory I wanted him to discover a long forgotten goblin god of freedom and begun worshipping him. I don't remember if he was supposed to be a good-aligned deity, but he definitely wasn't evil-aligned.

    The DM let my character choose to worship and believe in said deity, but explicitly told me that the god didn't exist. Gods did exist in that setting, but not that one.


    I blame Tup the Terrible. He rebranded himself as Tup the Terrific in our campaign. It's all his fault. He's just so darn likable, as long as you keep babies and doggies away from him!

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