Playing the race card: Goblins

February 28, 2019 at 7:12 pm

“Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Another less-common race listed as a character race in The Fantasy Trip is the goblin. These are not the rapaciously destructive goblins of the Hobbit, or even the disposable stock adversaries of adventure gaming. The TFT goblins are closer to the Harry Potter mold than Tolkien’s.

According to In the Labyrinth, goblins are short green-skinned humanoids with large noses and long fingers. They are “proud, intelligent, and crafty.” Most notably, a goblin can never go back on his word. That alone is more flavor than the other races listed.

Goblin characters start out with a higher IQ than any other playable race, standard DX and ST just slightly better than halflings. This gives the character a lot of flexibility, but its reputation as the “GM’s bad guys in the labyrinth” is going to follow it. How can we make our craft goblins a little more interesting? Here are a few packages that attempt just that.

Goblins claim (and it might be true) that they were created by the mighty pact demons as servitors, and their forefathers were released from this obligation at the end of their contracted term. The most important (and secret) holy works of the goblins are said to come from the stipulations of this contract. While they do not have to relinquish their souls at death like others bound to the pact demons, they do revere these mighty powers and work to emulate them.

Structure is the critical tenet of goblin philosophy. No success can come without a well-drawn plan, and knowing a foe’s weakness is more important than honing your own strength. A goblin is always true to its word, but word is never given lightly, and it is wise to question even the smallest details when it is given. When forced to fight, goblins prefer ranged attacks or weapons like fire or nets that immobilize or scare off enemies.

 

Rollers

These goblins can be found in small mobile groups or even large caravans roaming civilized lands. They are merchants, tinkers, moneychangers, and sellers of mysteries; bringing goods and special skills to even the smallest hamlet until they move on. Few folks truly welcome them, but they are widely known as excellent craftsmen and reliable merchants. Some people claim that the Rollers are spies for far-distant goblin kings planning to invade their lands.

Rollers freely mingle in other societies, unconcerned about what people think of their green skin or small stature. But they rarely share their true feelings with those they do business with. Goblins listen well, and are not above using what they hear to gain advantage in a negotiation. They believe that other races are thoughtless and gullible, and try to use this to sell them empty dreams or mortgage themselves for false hopes. These tactics have enriched the roller caravans, but leave most communities wary of their motives.

In larger cities stable Roller communities can form, usually centered around banking or specialty crafting (gunpowder and jinxes, below). These goblins are often heavily involved in racketeering and blackmail as well, but even then stand by their word.

Roller Goblin Starting Package: ST9 (+3), DX11 (+3), IQ12 (+2) Hero. Talents: Knife (1), Driver (1), Acute Hearing (2), Recognize Value (1), Streetwise (1), Business Sense (2), Mundane Skill (1-3), and Detect Lies (2). Suggested advancements include Skill Mastery, Assess Value, Writing, or even Pickpocket. While all goblins would be bound by their world (Minor Social drawback), Rollers can often be Greedy as well.

 

Jinxers

This is a uniquely goblin kind of wizard, often found traveling in Roller caravans. They are creators of minor magicks and performers of small miracles — for a price. Jinxers are one of the few groups that claim to know the secrets of black powder. They can repair all manner of tools and devices, and some can even create items and weapons of great power.

Some jinxes claim to be healers, and create elixirs and poultices to treat all manner of ailments. All of them are very secretive about their craft.

Jinxer Goblin (Hero) Starting Package: ST6 (+0), DX12 (+4), IQ14 (+4) Talents: Mundane Talents (1-2), Mechanician (2), Naturalist (2), Physicker (2), Chemist (3), Alchemist (3). Suggested advancements include Master Mechanician, Master Physicker and Expert Naturalist. .

Jinxer Goblin (Wizard) Starting Package: ST6 (+0), DX12 (+4), IQ14 (+4) Talents: Chemist (6), Alchemist (3). Spells: Staff I and II, Repair, Scour, and Explosive Gem. Suggested advancements include Restore Device, Enchant Weapon and Armor, Lesser and Greater Enchant Item, and Dissolve Enchantment. Jinxers commonly have the Secretive drawback, and their experiments can often lead to physical drawbacks (lame, one-hand, poor eyes, etc.).

New IQ 12 Talent: Cryptonaturalist (2) A figure with this talent is familiar with the exotic ingredients needed for chemical formulae and magical items, as well as general knowledge of magical uses for plants and animals. A cryptonaturalist can make a 3/IQ test to determine (a) special items needed for a formula, or (b) the common magical uses of an exotic ingredient. When pressed, a cryptonaturalist can make a 5/IQ test to determine a substitute for an ingredient in a formula or potion, or a 7/IQ test for a substitute ingredient in a lesser or greater magic item.

 

Binders

Following the footsteps of their pact demon forebears, Binders are goblin wizards focused on forcing summoned creatures to their will, and subverting the free will of their enemies. Their magic comes from the power of contracts, and they delight in dominating others. Most being their careers as lawyers, and are encouraged down this path by a secretive hierarchy of superiors.

Beyond collecting magical powers, the Binders (like all the gobbling types, their true titles are not widely known) seek worldly power as well. They use secrets to try an manipulate others, and work through cats-paws and subterfuge whenever they can. If there is an organization that unites the Binders, no one is willing to admit it.

Binder Goblin Starting Package: ST8 (+2), DX11 (+3), IQ13 (+3) Wizard. Talents: Mundane Skill/Lawyer (3). Spells: Staff I and II, Aid, Drop Weapon, Summon Scout, Summon Myrmidon, Persuasiveness, Control Elemental, Control Person and Summon Gargoyle. Suggested advancements include Summon Bear, Pentagram, Unnoticeability, Summon Demon and Create Gate. Binders feel like always need to win, leading to both Vindictiveness and Arrogance and (Minor or Major Psychological Drawbacks).

New IQ14 Spell: Blood Pact. This ritual spell allows the caster to create a magical contract with a willing target. It requires consideration on both sides, but the caster’s requirement is not specific. When complete, the caster spends ST as if casting the Control Person spell (3ST +1ST per additional turn). At any later time, the caster may destroy the contract to enact the spell. The target gets not IQ save unless ordered directly act against their nature (i.e, harm themselves or a love one). If they actions are specified in the contract, the caster need not be in the presence of the target for the spell to take effect.