Sunday, January 15, 2012

Magic Realm: Anatomy Of A Goblin

Goblins have serious old-school credibility. They have been a staple of fantasy literature and folk-tales, and appear in the earliest Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks. So if I appear to be less than enamoured with the Pathfinder RPG goblins, it is that Paizo neutered them, making them seem less menacing and more cutesy.

Not so for the goblins of Magic Realm. These guys are ugly and dangerous.

There are three goblin tribes in Magic Realm: the axe goblins (above), the spear goblins and the sword goblins. The axe goblins are the least formidable, but because of their move speed (3, 4 when alert) and their numbers (there are six of them), they can easily tie up and overwhelm any character, even heavy hitters like the White Knight and the Dwarf.

The axe goblins are pretty straight-forward. They inflict either medium (light + sharpness star) or heavy (medium + sharpness star) damage, depending on whether they are unready, or alert.

The threat the spear goblins pose is less obvious. Let's have a closer look at the spear goblins.

Every denizen in the Magic Realm is represented by a cardboard counter, printed on both sides. The front side represents the denizen when it is unready. The back of the counter represents the denizen when it is alert.

The above counter is the front (unready) side of the spear goblin. When the spear goblin is front-side up, it poses little threat to the character.

The unready spear goblin can prevent you from running away (with a move speed of 3, very few characters have the necessary move speed of 2 to avoid it). But the spear goblin inflicts no damage while unready (there is no damage information printed on the spear goblin's front, unready side).

When the spear goblin flips to its alerted side (the black bar across the bottom of the counter tells you that the denizen is now alert), it becomes much more dangerous. While the spear goblin's move speed drops from 3 to 5 (making it easier to run away from) the harm it dishes out increases to tremendous (heavy + sharpness star).

Normally, this would be a good time to run from the spear goblin. But not all of the spear goblins will become alert at the same time: some will still be speed 3, preventing you from running away. The entire goblin tribe battles you when you stumble on their den, but only a few of those six goblins will be alert during a particular combat round. So while a few, unready spear goblins prevent you from running away, the rest skewer you with their spears. Not a pretty way to die.

The sword goblins are the most dangerous of the three goblin tribes. On their unready side, above, their move speed of 3 prevents you from running away, and they inflict tremendous (heavy + sharpness) harm when they hit you.

And when they flip to their alerted side, above, they can kill anything, including that armored warhorse you purchased, for a not inconsiderable sum of gold.

No, like the knights of the order, you do not want to tangle with the sword goblins, not unless you are the sorceror, who can scorch them with the fiery blast spell and then fade into mist.


Anonymous said...

For me the Pathfinder goblins notched the creepiness a lot higher than the previous incantations... because in (A)D&D goblins were mostly canonfodder without any distinctive personality, at least for me. YMMV.

That said, if you call your sword goblins hobgoblins...

Aaron E. Steele said...

The Pathfinder goblins never grew on me, but you're not the first person to share that perspective. But I have a hard time with several of the Pathfinder humanoid monsters.

ghostofmarx said...

If you compare SRDs (Pathfinder and 3.5) you'll note PF goblins are actually tougher, more agile and more skillful than their D&D counterpart. The art direction and depiction are different but to say their neutered I don't agree with. Maybe I was doing it wrong but even when I first started playing(late 2e) I remember using goblins as buffoons.

JoeGKushner said...

The Pathfinder Goblins may appear to be 'goofy' in phsyical appearance, but there is a lot of other factors that go into making them more than just the weak victims they have been in previous editions. One of the things that Pathfinder did was give them some distinct traits that you can use in the game. If you read the very first Pathfinder adventure, you'll find a sense of menace as well as some dread.