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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Sovereign Court

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Dracovar wrote:
Baby Samurai wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Just a nod to the Succubus thread.
And Redeemed Mind Flayers!
Eltacolibre wrote:
I remember this comic with a good mindflayer in dragon magazine with the drow main character ... It was a fun little comic strip. Believe the comic ended right before wotc switched to 4th edition.
I think I read some of that one, it's called Downer, right?

Yeah downer indeed it was pretty fun


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
If my Paladin serves a follower of Sarenrae a delicious bouillabaisse, unaware that the Sarenrite is allergic to shellfish, and they die from anaphylaxis should my Paladin fall?

Fall into a bout of depression, maybe. Can you imagine the luck?


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This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)

Silver Crusade

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Ckorik wrote:
This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)

Even without Alignment we’d still be having this thread due to designated monsters and foes.

Liberty's Edge

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For the record, I agree pretty much entirely with Rysky here.

It's not hard to provide actual justifications for the PCs to kill X and having them kill X 'because they're an X' where X is a species gets into unfortunate implications real quick.

But that hardly restricts PC behavior meaningfully in most APs or other adventures. Even PFS, which is on the 'tomb-rad-y' end of things, you're seldom there specifically to kill anyone (in particular, definitely not anyone who doesn't have it coming). In the above Ogre example, you could easily yell out 'We come in peace!' as they proceed towards you. If they respond, you talk, if they laugh and keep coming, killing is self defense.


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Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)
Even without Alignment we’d still be having this thread due to designated monsters and foes.

There wouldn't be a label associated with things used to designate something as 'kill' or 'not kill'

You keep talking about sentient humanoids and 'evil' vs 'neutral' none of that matters - either you have the right (through authority, law, or whatever) to kill something or not - taking a life is an *imposed* moral code put onto something - regardless of the reason.

The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

Liberty's Edge

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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?

i can think of a few adventures where there were goblin npcs in city's

there have been goblin pc's since at least the inner sea world guide.
heck even in sandpoint goblins are mocked more then feared by most residents

Liberty's Edge

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Fromper wrote:
Pun-Pun wrote:
Meh the star stone test isn't THAT hard.
If there's reading involved, then no goblin will EVER succeed.

i guess my goblin wizard/barrister azik the souless will need to be the 1st one to do so then :P

Silver Crusade

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jimthegray 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?

i can think of a few adventures where there were goblin npcs in city's

there have been goblin pc's since at least the inner sea world guide.
heck even in sandpoint goblins are mocked more then feared by most residents

I think that's a good point: even in Rise of the Runelords, Sandpoint more regards goblins as an occasional annoyance than a genuine threat. The attack at the start of Burnt Offerings is immediately regarded with suspicion by the main protectors of Sandpoint because it's much more aggressive and organized than their local goblins have EVER been.

By contrast, the Licktoads in Jade Regent are treated with much less seriousness, since the threat they pose isn't organized and the fireworks they've found are basically as much of a danger to the Licktoads themselves. You just want them to stop before someone else gets hurt or they accidentally start a forest fire or something because they got careless.

Throughout Golarion's history, the biggest conflicts with goblins have always been when the goblins were organized and spurred on by something bigger and more tactical than them. Usually hobgoblins or barghests. Without that kind of influence, there's a lot more opportunities for the goblins to enter other communities and get influenced by them instead.

Liberty's Edge

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SuperBidi wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
From kind of a personal and anecdotal perspective, I've played in far more groups (going back to long before I worked at Paizo) where the players/PCs were more interested in recruiting allies and focusing their more violent efforts against clear evils (undead, demons, etc.)

That's exactly what I say. As long as the line between good and evil is clear you can kill stuff without a thought.

FowlJ wrote:
If the party has no good reason to be invading the dungeon and is just crashing someone's house and murdering everyone they are in fact the bad guys in this scenario.

Last PFS scenario I DMed, the players were supposed to explore a tomb. They entered the tomb and found 2 ogres who decided to make it their home. The ogres attacked, the PCs killed them. Why? Because they are ogres and ogres are evil so killing them is ok. If they had been elves, for example, the players would have tried to ask questions or make non lethal damage. Because elves are not evil, you can't kill them without remorse.

80% of PFS modules send you to remote locations. And in general you'll have 3 fights. And in at least half of them, the PCs are the guys who are not supposed to be there. So, yes, PFS assumes your party is a bunch of murderhobos. But what makes it ok is that the enemies are monsters, so it's ok to kill them.

to be fair i have wacked an elf or 2 on general principle :P


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

Which is why I had this idea about a bunch of Golarion goblins fighting the infamous Goblins from Goblin Slayer.

With the former WRECKING the latter.

Inglorious Basterds-style.

The Exchange

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Ckorik wrote:
The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

You' re right but then alignment was never implemented as an indicator for "things you can kill on sight" (at least not since I've played D&D). AD&D 2nd defined monster alignment as the "general behavior" and stated that "Exceptions, though uncommon, may be encountered".

3E then differentiated between "usually" and "always" [alignment]. So even before Pathfinder was a thing, Goblins couldn't be just "killed on sight", when you wanted to behave according to a "good" alignment.

Sure, that can be ignored if you don't want to make that differentiation, but I agree with Rysky, even without alignment, people that play this way, would most probably still argue that, "they are evil, so they deserve this anyways". So removing alignment does nothing in this regard.

Silver Crusade

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Ckorik wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)
Even without Alignment we’d still be having this thread due to designated monsters and foes.

There wouldn't be a label associated with things used to designate something as 'kill' or 'not kill'

You keep talking about sentient humanoids and 'evil' vs 'neutral' none of that matters - either you have the right (through authority, law, or whatever) to kill something or not - taking a life is an *imposed* moral code put onto something - regardless of the reason.

The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

The label would be “not-human” and go into specifics from there. People would still say it’s okay to kill Goblins because they’re Goblins.


Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)
Even without Alignment we’d still be having this thread due to designated monsters and foes.

There wouldn't be a label associated with things used to designate something as 'kill' or 'not kill'

You keep talking about sentient humanoids and 'evil' vs 'neutral' none of that matters - either you have the right (through authority, law, or whatever) to kill something or not - taking a life is an *imposed* moral code put onto something - regardless of the reason.

The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

The label would be “not-human” and go into specifics from there. People would still say it’s okay to kill Goblins because they’re Goblins.

Yeah - but that's a harder argument to make if everything can't be cut into black and white /good/evil lines.

I'm not saying you are wrong - I just think it makes the justification much harder is all.


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WormysQueue wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

You' re right but then alignment was never implemented as an indicator for "things you can kill on sight" (at least not since I've played D&D). AD&D 2nd defined monster alignment as the "general behavior" and stated that "Exceptions, though uncommon, may be encountered".

3E then differentiated between "usually" and "always" [alignment]. So even before Pathfinder was a thing, Goblins couldn't be just "killed on sight", when you wanted to behave according to a "good" alignment.

Sure, that can be ignored if you don't want to make that differentiation, but I agree with Rysky, even without alignment, people that play this way, would most probably still argue that, "they are evil, so they deserve this anyways". So removing alignment does nothing in this regard.

Well the original rules listed Goblins as Lawful Evil. That carried into AD&D. Basic rules changed them to 'chaotic' which was 'evil' roughly. Oddly it was 2nd ed. that made them 'Goblins hate most other humanoids, gnome and dwarves in particular, and work to exterminate them whenever possible.' Until then they didn't have a 'works to kill humans' vibe. 3rd ed. is when they change to 'usually neutral evil' - and that leads us to here.

I think for many people - goblins and orcs (used interchangeably by Tolkien - Orcrest translates to Goblin-cleaver) are evil because Lord of the Rings is how so many people were introduced to Fantasy. Orcs/goblins in Lord of the Rings were created from elves through black magic - and thus evil - very black and white - going against that grain is not an easy ask for many - the idea will rub the wrong way just because the idea of what they *know* about goblins is challenged.

And ... well sorry for getting a bit long winded there - I just find it interesting to talk about.


jimthegray wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Pun-Pun wrote:
Meh the star stone test isn't THAT hard.
If there's reading involved, then no goblin will EVER succeed.
i guess my goblin wizard/barrister azik the souless will need to be the 1st one to do so then :P

Were they a 'lawyer' in their goblin tribe or are they a Goblin Rights Activist or something else. I wish to know more of the goblin lawyer.


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Fromper wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

In general though, I can't think of many straight examples of Paizo adventure assuming you attack a tribe of people without provocation just because you assume they are evil :P

Like, that is a D&D trope, but in Paizo's adventures you usually attack someone who has already attacked someone or they have big bloody "We are evil look at this mutilated body hanging over the wall" type signs :p

(I think closest examples might have been in ironfang somewhere or kingmaker? I can't really remember, but I recall it possibly happening in some wilderness adventure)

Playing Kingmaker now. Our party's "battle cry" (later became our national motto) is to wave and call out "HELLO, FRIEND!" as soon as we're close enough to see anything that might have language skills.

So far, we've made friends with four faeries, two tribes of kobolds, a tribe of mites, a boggard, a ghost, a werewolf, and a group of travelling gnomes. I think the gnomes were actually the shiftiest of the bunch, and we didn't quite trust them.

My character is a total nerd who spent years preparing for this expedition (elf with high int). He heard that there might be fae, kobolds, and/or mites in the area (info from the Kingmaker Player's Guide), so he made a point of learning the sylvan, draconic, and undercommon languages in advance, just to be prepared. So the fact that we could talk to all these critters, and tried to make peace, was something the printed adventure didn't anticipate in all cases, but we managed to do it.

Of course, we've killed plenty of non-friendlies along the way, as well, including other werewolves, boggards, and even humans.

Sounds like a fun group, and one that fits in with my own style. For the past few years our games have been in a shared world around our Wrath of the Righteous campaign. Drezen is basically an Island of Misfit toys were all sorts of weirdos can come live in peace. We've got an Otyugh shopkeeper (canonical character from another AP who got directed there by another party), friendly tentacle monsters form the shadow plane, a CN Qlipoth cleric of Desna. He figures if more people worshiped Desna, they wouldn't become demons, so then he can have the Abyss back. Converting demons an even higher priority because it makes them non-demons Yeah, he's nuts, but fun. Said Qlipoth has also had a lot of successes. There is a choir of redeemed Quasits and even a massive siege demon who now just wants to build things in peace. And more recently a bunch of skittermanders have been unleashed in the area. Cheerful technicolor chaos will ensue.

And this style of play apparently isn't even uncommon. I remember when the devs talked about the survey results from the playtest, they found that the majority of parties in Part 4, Mirrored Moon, peacefully negotiated with the Cyclops tribe (normally an evil race) and became allies. This is a strong data-point against the idea that most Pathfinder players are murderhobos (at least among playtest survey participants). I don't recall if the percentage was mentioned or not, but I think it was a strong majority.


I'm happy to allow the players to redeem a goblin chief if that seems like an appropriate way for the story to go, but sometimes it's nice to relax and have some fun fighting foes that can be presumed evil and killed.

Let's say the party have been tasked with investigating some caves to see if the sacred book stolen from a recently looted temple is there.

The cave is full of aberrations (Chuuls, Will-o’-Wisps), ruled over by an Aboleth. The Aboleth is also controlling a tribe of ogres.

Everything in the cave is evil, wants to kill the PCs (or paralyze them and lay eggs in their bodies), and has no interest in talking to them.

However, from the viewpoint of the PCs, this is not 100% certain. Maybe the monsters are just minding their own business and attacking the people who invaded their home in self-defence. Maybe the ogres are redeemable. Maybe the Aboleth can be negotiated with. Maybe the Chuul is just misunderstood.

For a good party, should they follow the rules of morality we'd like to see in our own world? If so, use nonlethal damage only. Bring plenty of ropes and chains so we can capture our foes. Learn their language. Question them. Keep them fed. Use divination to identify which of them have committed murderer of their own free will. Decide whether to permanently imprison, execute, or release them, as justice dictates. If there is no suitable prison, build one and hire people to run it.

Or is it more fun and safer to just kill anything that seems like it's probably evil?

Both types of game seem valid, but a general policy of "there's no such thing as an evil species" seems like it would dictate the first kind of game and mean that anyone who wants to play the second kind should forbid Good-aligned PCs from their party.

Liberty's Edge

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Making it unambiguously fine for the PCs to kill the inhabitants of the cave is easy, though.

You either have the PCs go to the cave because they've heard about the inhabitants raiding and attacking others, or make it clear from the bones of small children they've eaten that they, well, eat small children.

Either of these solutions can take less than 1 minute of game time to implement, and remove all meaningful moral ambiguity.


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I mean if the PCs ask "Hey Chuuls, mind if we come in your cave?" and the response is violence, then the response to the response can be violence.


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Ckorik wrote:
Well the original rules listed Goblins as Lawful Evil. That carried into AD&D. Basic rules changed them to 'chaotic' which was 'evil' roughly. Oddly it was 2nd ed. that made them 'Goblins hate most other humanoids, gnome and dwarves in particular, and work to exterminate them whenever possible.' Until then they didn't have a 'works to kill humans' vibe. 3rd ed. is when they change to 'usually neutral evil' - and that leads us to here.

Part of that was that when making 3e, the designers realized that the low-level "cannon fodder" was heavily skewed toward Lawful Evil - both goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, and orcs were LE. So orcs were pushed toward the Chaotic end of the spectrum, and goblins became Neutral.

I believe the dearth of Neutral Evil monsters can be traced to the original AD&D Monster Manual, which was published before the Player's Handbook, and sort of worked on a five-alignment system: Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, Chaotic Good, and Neutral - the latter possibly with tendencies toward good or evil. So the Lich, for example, has an alignment of "Neutral (evil)", indicating that they are primarily amoral but not above doing some evil stuff if they need to, instead of "Neutral Evil" indicating a level of dedication to being evil.

Silver Crusade

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Ckorik wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
This entire thread is why I argued alignment needed to be removed from the game :)
Even without Alignment we’d still be having this thread due to designated monsters and foes.

There wouldn't be a label associated with things used to designate something as 'kill' or 'not kill'

You keep talking about sentient humanoids and 'evil' vs 'neutral' none of that matters - either you have the right (through authority, law, or whatever) to kill something or not - taking a life is an *imposed* moral code put onto something - regardless of the reason.

The alignment of whatever it is you are killing doesn't matter - the reason does (according to modern society anyway).

The label would be “not-human” and go into specifics from there. People would still say it’s okay to kill Goblins because they’re Goblins.

Yeah - but that's a harder argument to make if everything can't be cut into black and white /good/evil lines.

I'm not saying you are wrong - I just think it makes the justification much harder is all.

It’s as hard as “Goblins (a humanoid race with free will that can be any Alignment) are evil, its okay to kill evil things on sight.”

Which is ti say, not hard in the slightest.

Silver Crusade

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Besides, none of us here are arguing that because goblins are now an option for PCs they can no longer be villains. All the other PC ancestries are more than capable of having evil alignments and opposing your PCs. What the game is moving away from, overall, is an assumption that all non-human ancestries have a mono-culture.

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