The Bardic Chef

Broiled Beholder and Other Dungeon Delicacies

For my first full article on the new blog, and in honor of the recent Goblin Week , I thought I would review one of my favorite Free RP...

Greg Reviews: We Be Goblins!

By 8:37 PM , , ,

For my first full article on the new blog, and in honor of the recent Goblin Week, I thought I would review one of my favorite Free RPG Day adventures... Or more precisely four of them. That's right we will be looking at the 'We Be Goblins!'  series by Paizo Publishing. Warning there will be some spoilers ahead.

Before we get into the adventure a quick primer on Paizo goblins, as they aren't quite what other RPGs and literature portray them as. In Golarion, Paizo's world, gobs are short maniacal creatures with comically huge heads, wide mouths full of razor sharp teeth, and who have an unfortunate love affair with fire. They like to sing catchy nightmarish songs, set off fireworks and get into as much trouble as possible.  They also have a racial enemy in dogs and horses, which I have always thought an interesting design feature. Basically they're the gremlins from Gremlins 2 but with less morals.

Paizo seems to love their gobs and in 2011 decided to give them their own adventures so we can see how the other half lives.

The Books.

To start off lets look at the books themselves as each adventure and book follows a similar layout. The covers feature fantastic and colorful art of goblin mischief which for those art buffs is repeated on the inside back cover without any of the obscuring text. On the inside of the front cover of every book you will find a detailed gridded map of the adventure's most important area, either where the final confrontation takes place or for the Goblin Dares.

Speaking of Dares they are always next in the book. After giving you a quick adventure background and introduction to the setting for one reason or another the goblins decide to have some fun.  And Dares are how goblins let loose. Dares such as 'Hide or Get Clubbed' or 'The Blind Bird Shoot'. These essentially boil down to an awesome thematic chance to do some roleplaying with a simple skill check system used for events that require resolution. It is also a way for the PC's to gain a few extra bonuses or items that can help them survive their adventure.

Finally once the Dares have been completed and the goblins equipped the more traditional 'dungeon crawl'-esc part of the adventure begins. In general this usually involves a half dozen monsters typically spread out over a couple different adventure points. Unfortunately this is where my only real negative comment with the adventures are.  You are supplied with pretty much everything you need to run this adventure from the book. You don't even need any other Paizo books if you are a DM familiar with the mechanics. Except when it comes to the monsters.

The only monster stat blocks you get are for new creatures or the boss monster. Everything else just gets the typical Paizo short block. Monster name, CR rating, XP, HP and Monster identity and what page to find it on in the Bestiary. I dislike having to flip to another book to find my monster stats, especially when there IS room in the book to do it.  They could have easily moved the credits to the inside back covers and gotten rid of the full page art. This would have left enough space for monster stat blocks without adding to the cost by requiring more pages.  Its a small issue, but still annoying.

At last, assuming they survived, its time for loot and rewards. They also leave a few details that would let you continue the adventure with these characters.  However in my opinion its more fun to run the next We Be Goblins! adventure instead. In this final section of the book they also list the stats and descriptions of any new feats or items which is an awesome feature.  These adventures have managed to come up with a few items I wouldn't hesitate to throw into my home games.

We Be Goblins!

Now lets take a look at the individual adventures themselves and we'll start with the original adventure 'We Be Goblins!' written by Richard Pett for 1st level adventurers way back in 2011. I was lucky enough to snag this when it originally came out in print for Free RPG Day, but don't worry you can still pick up a PDF of it for free from the Paizo webstore (unfortunately print copies are no longer available). Just looking at the beautiful artwork of gobs fighting a giant spider on the cover made me fall instantly in love with the slightly insane romp through a monstrous adventure.  I say monstrous instead of evil because while goblins are evil creatures, they don't actually come into conflict with non-evil characters in the adventure, so I wouldn't classify it as an evil adventure. 

We are introduced to the Licktoad tribe and their 'heroes' Rita Bigbad (who likes to torment small, harmless animals), Chuffy Lickwound (who enjoys both stabbing things and setting them on fire), Poog of Zarongel (worshipper of the sacred god of dog-killing, fire and mounted combat) and Mogmurch (who has an unfortunate love of explosives).  Each of these characters are given beautiful detail in the back of the short 15 page book. They also have a few new traits and feats which would later be released in the Goblins of Golarion source book. So you can create your own group of goblins to run this adventure with little trouble. I really like that the character stats section not only got great full color pictures of the characters but a lot of care to make them flavorful and flesh them out.

They each even get a song! Because as we know goblins love to chant songs and if your aren't while playing this adventure you sir, are doing it wrong.  Even the tribe has a song;
"We be Licktoads! We Make Raid
Put the Longshanks to the blade!
Burn them up from feet to head,
Make them hurt, then make them dead!

Cut the parents into ham,
Smush the babes into jam,
All the rest in pot get stewed,
We be Licktoads - you be food!"

In this adventure it is assumed you are playing goblins that have grown up in the tribe and have impressed the group so much as to be gobs of note. When a goblin heretic known as Scribbleface is exiled a supply of fireworks is found along with a map that promises more! Think of all the mischief the tribe could make with those. And who else would Chief Gutwad send than the tribal heroes.

So to celebrate finding the fireworks a big goblin bash is thrown with lots of Dares proposed to pass the time. This is your character's first real chance to get to experience what goblin life is like and as an added bonus there is some useful magical items to be had if they win a challenge.

The first actual monster you face is Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many, which is just a simple ambush spider but the lore that surrounds this creature makes it so much better. What better way to earn more renown with the tribe than eliminating one of the areas most feared monsters (and of course loot all the useful toys from its victims). It also sets the bar fairly high because what could be worse than a legendary monster that has preyed upon your tribe for years?

When you finally get to the X on your treasure map it turns out to be an old Chelish vessel that ran aground. And while it was mostly looted a long time ago, it is most decidedly not uninhabited. Inside we finally get a taste of the other side of Goblin society in their racial enemies. Namely a horse named Stomp and a group of guard dogs. While this might sound easy enough, there is every likelihood that if the characters aren't careful they'll get beaten into the ground.

Of course these minions are there primarily as prep for the finale.  If the goblins don't sneak in the boss will hear them coming and have time to prepare to make the final fight even harder.  And this final boss is a crazed goblin druid with a taste for goblin flesh.  Its possible the PC's have already heard of Vorka through interactions with the world, but this fight can be tough.  If she has time to prep she'll have barkskin, spider climb and produce flame on which makes her tough to damage and full control of the battlefield.  This is important because her preferred tactic is to stay out of range and use Summon Nature's Ally to swamp the PCs. To further irritate things her animal companion is a giant frog that can use its tongue to grapple PCs that are too threatening to its master. Luckily Vorka is very territorial and won't pursue the PC's if they manage to escape, as this makes hit and run attacks a viable tactic.

After they defeat Vorka they'll be able to look the firework stash.  Now here's the rub where reality and roleplaying cross. Mr. Pett as smart enough to write an addendum into the conclusion.  Because some players, especially if they got into character, could very well set off the fireworks in celebration (or against any additional enemies you might make them face on the walk home) and if they do the Chief will be so pissed that it'll mean their end.

Assuming that the PC's complete their mission and bring back the fireworks you can play the next adventure as written.  If not don't worry as the opening would also allow for the PC's having to live as exiles for failing their chief, you would just have to change the opening introduction slightly. Alternatively this adventure works as a sort of background prequel to the Jade Regent Adventure Path. While you don't play as goblins in that adventure, part of the loot you find in Vorka's lair makes an appearance at the start of the AP, so if your tired of goblins you could try a normal adventure for a while. (But we know you wanna see more goblins)

We Be Goblins Too!

In 2013 Richard Pett returned to give us We Be Goblins Too! which saw the return of our Goblin heroes as 3rd level characters. However tragedy has struck the Licktoads! While the party was out of camp a group of Adventurers came and wiped out the tribe. Dirty Longshanks. Now the party has a problem.  While they are obviously the best-est goblins around, there are only four of them and that can be dangerous.  So the decide to travel to the nearest tribe they know and ask to join.  Thus we meet the Birdcrunchers.

Unfortunately the Birdcrunchers have problems of their own with fire-breathing pigs belonging to a mean Ogre named Pa Munchmeat. Ever since one of their Chiefs swore to go and finish off Pa Munchmeat only to never return, every Chief after has been expected to go and avenge that first Chief. Now no one in the tribe wants the job! Luckily Wise Mummy Sprattleharsh has a brilliant idea. They'll make one of these new goblins a Chief and send THEM after Pa Munchmeat.. But who should it be?

That's right its time for more Goblin Dares, though this time they're referred to as Trials. Sprattleharsh's plan is to subject the players to three separate dares where the PC's will earn points.  At the end they elect the player with the most points Chief and promptly sends them off to avenge their previous chiefs! But don't worry you will have the chance to loot the tribe's stash of equipment and weapons.

Pa Munchmeat's farm is an interesting design choice. While obviously taking something as simple as a pig farm and making them fire breathing monsters instantly changes the setting, but this is a real change from the first adventure where you were essentially just fighting natural creatures and rival goblins.  Here a much larger threat has appeared and Ogres are often protrayed as enslaving goblin tribes in a lot of literature, so ti can also be viewed as a bit of payback. However I also find it interesting that once again the boss monster is a druid.  Maybe Mr. Pett has an axe to grind?

Once the PC's decide to invade the farm they instantly come across the new fire breathing monsters who stat block has been included for convenience. However among these angry flammable pigs is a surprise guest.  In the first adventure the Licktoads kept a massive angry pig named Squealy Nord.  He is mostly a side note (though one dare does include him) but it appears he escaped before the tribe was destroyed.  If the PC's recognize him they can recruit the pig as a companion to help fight Munchmeat, but if they make sure to keep him alive they will gain a bunch of extra XP for bringing him home to the Birdcrunchers.

There does seem to be more encounters than the previous one, but that is to be expected in a higher level adventure.  When the PC's finally face off against the bad ass that is Pa Munchmeat they're likely running low on both HP and items at this point.  However Pett has done away with one Paizo trope that annoys me in their written adventures.  In a Paizo monster stat block is a Morale condition. In general this is under what conditions a monster will flee.  Usually in one of their adventures a Boss or powerful monster will never flee, even if you slaughter all its friends and it has 1 HP left. Often they use cop-out reasons as well like 'insanity' or 'fanatical'. In this adventure you can still win by making the Ogres flee home, because they will retreat if badly wounded. All the Birdcrunchers want is the Orges gone so you can still come out of this a hero, however for a long running game this also gives the DM options of having a new Nemesis to play with.

We Be Goblins Free!

Next on the list we have We Be Goblins Free! which was release in 2015 and has the distinction of being technically the last We Be Goblins! adventure and is the last We Be Goblins! written by Richard Pett (as of this publication. I hold out hope for part 5).  The adventure is for level 4 adventurers and takes up the story line where it last left off.

There are some minor changes to this one, mostly layout and art to bring it more in line with recent Paizo publications. I personally think the art is a little too dark and removes a little of the maniacal whimsy of Golarion goblins, but that's primarily a taste thing.  I also feel the intro song pretty much sums up the adventure for me;

"We be Chiefs, but we get bored.
Want Adventure! Want a Hoard!
Make one happen, or you'll pay.
Bring us treasure! Go! Obey!"

We're bored so here's an adventure.  There just doesn't seem to be the same care and attention put into this one. If this was a TV show I feel this is the filler episode mid season no one really remembers and skips while watching on Netflix.  That's not to say its a bad adventure, on the contrary it fits the theme that has been established and shows us what its like to actually run a goblin tribe.  However its just another bog standard adventure with no real surprises and doesn't even include any new items or abilities. Even the new named villain is just a standard Harpy, they even reference you to the bestiary instead of giving her unique or interesting stats.  The best part of this adventure in the final Boss, but I'll talk about that momentarily.

After returning victoriously from Pa Munchmeat's farm the PC's have spent some time settling into the leadership role of the tribe.  Unfortunately goblins have a pretty short attention span and have gotten bored. So you have decided that your minions must either entertain you or find you an adventure.  They prepare a great feast in your honor and set up a round of Dares, called Amusements in this adventure, for your entertainment. They're kinda basic and mostly just an excuse to put some lore in the game and give you magic items so you survive later.

Once these are done Squealy Nord bursts into camp which creates my first issue with the adventure. There is a very good chance that Nord did not survive Pa Munchmeat's farm, especially if you used him to fight, without some DM intervention. Yet as written this requires him to have survived.  However in this adventure Poog has replaced his starting animal companion with Nord so that could be an out if your Nord did not survive.  Of course these are goblins so there is every possibility this is a new pig they inventively called Squealy Nord. Anyway by using Poog's Speak with Animals Nord tells you that while he was helping some goblins find truffles at 'the Best Truffle Spot', humans showed up and attacked them.

Perfect! you wanted adventure and here it is. Unfortunately they are simple bandits and there isn't anything special here.  Though rules to use campfire logs and iron pokers and weapons is included in the area description, which is a nice touch. Once the bandits are dealt with though you have to gather your own truffles if you want a special treat when you get back and this means fighting Isidra the standard harpy and some assassin vines.

Finally we come to what I think is the only interesting part of the story... And again I take issues with it or more specifically with the lore they used. In your honor a couple of your goblins have built a effigy in your honor from junk laying around, a pumpkin some fireworks and Vorka's skull.  Yeah Vorka.   The insane cannibal from the first adventure. Somehow despite Vorka's lair being in an entire different region of the local country AND the fact its stated everyone avoided the area like the plague because they were scared of her, SOMEHOW one of these goblins retrieved her skull and decided to use it as part of a statue depicting your glorious conquests.  Its a leap, but I guess I can put up with it.  But only because I love this monster. The artwork for it is fantastic and its such an interesting dark fantasy monster. It isn't all that special besides the fact its a haunted construct but it can burn you and every time it moves it sets off fireworks that attack random creatures. I really feel its kinda wasted with how mundane the rest of the adventure is, but I am most certainly stealing it for my own table.

With the conclusion of the adventure you have now made all of the Birdcruncher tribe fanatically loyal. However there are no more adventures to continue this story.  That being said it would be easy enough to  continue along.  Perhaps raiding and absorbing other tribes, starting a war or raiding nearby human settlements.  Anyone else see visions of lumbering goblin effigies spitting fireworks at the enemies of the tribe. No? Just me? Fine...

We Be4 Goblins!

Now I know I said there were no more adventures of We Be Goblins! to continue the story arc of the Birdcruncher tribe.  And that is true.  However for 2016 the reins were handed over to Crystal Fraiser who gave us a prequel story and with it an entirely new feel to We Be Goblins! Now while this is a first level adventure its slightly different because the characters are using NPC classes not PC classes.  This ensures that you can run this before We Be Goblins! without worrying that they will be above the power curve for it.  At worst they end up with a little extra equipment to help them survive.

Now obviously when you have a new writer take over established work there is always a small change in tone, but I do think that Fraiser has delivered an adventure worthy of being included in the series, especially after how lack luster the last one was. It is also the most 'evil' adventure of the series as instead of fighting monsters you are attacking a halfling wedding... Granted its a mob wedding but still.  The layout is the same to the last one and the artwork is slightly different, likely because they needed younger versions of the character art (now they REALLY look like the gremlins). My only complaint with the art or layout is the map on the inside cover. While the other books had characterful maps, this one feels like something a fan made using a free mapmaker program. It has all the info you need for the wedding scene, but just looks so out of place, especially with how much better an area map inside the adventure looks.

In this adventure we get to not only see how our heroes rose to prominence in the Licktoad tribe, but we also get to see a bit about how children are raised in goblin society. So once your goblin whelp chews their way out of the cage they have kept you in (because goblin babies are apparently even more amoral and will devour anything), you are inducted into the goblin version of boyscouts.

I know how that sounds, but this is Fraiser's replacement for the Goblin Dares. You are given four different challenges which loosely corresponds to what each of the pregens are good at. If you win you get a Licktoad Badge which works as a consumable magic item to level the playing field when you undertake your coming of age ritual.

Once the challenges are complete you are informed you have to venture out into Tadpole Bog and retrieve a toad.  You must them take that toad and present it to the evil forces that dwell in the Cave of Darkfear to prove you have what it takes to be a Licktoad. Retrieving the toad is fairly straight forward, although you can end up getting high off them and essentially serves as another place for you to upgrade your equipment and have some fun before the conflict begins.

As you try to leave a whelp named Kettlehead (care to guess why?) appears to steal your hard earned toad. This is a pretty straight forward fight that shouldn't be too difficult and you end up with some sweet loot for your trouble.

The Cave of Darkfear turns out to be a raccoon infested trapper's shack. The raccoons are an interesting choice of enemy and fits the theme that you are still goblin children. However my favorite part is that to complete your coming of age ritual you must hold your toad up before an ancient skeleton and announce themselves by singing their personal goblin song.  While each of the pregens has their own song already made it can be fun to have non pregen characters come up with their own song.

To cap off this part of the adventure we end up coming in contact with an alchemist to round off our equipment hall with some potions and magical items. You also recover a wedding invitation which serves as the hook for the last part of the adventure.  When they return the PC's are welcomed as adults and given the chance to heal up and trade their new found items for other things they may want.

Finally the Chief declares that strangers have brought sparkly words into your swamp that they must be  up to something horrible.  There is only one course of action.  A raid! Overall this is a fairly straight forward ordeal where you cause as much mischief as possible and slay anyone that gets in your way. The only real thing that stands out for me is the fact that in the animal pens you find a fearless little piglet named Squealy Nord. Origin stories all around!

While I was originally hesitant about the fact a new author had written this final entry in the saga I think she did a fantastic job.  It is everything I have come to expect from a WBG adventure. Comically maniacal hijinks combined with insights into how goblin society operates. Honestly I wish more game designers would take the opportunity to write adventures like this that let us see how the other side lives.  Paizo seems best set up for this considering how many playable monster races there are for PCs.

Overall We Be Goblins! is a fantastic series of adventures that I recommend every gaming group give a try. They're short enough to run in just a few hours as written and have so much potential for DMs to expand on.

My personal rating for these adventures are a collective 3.5 out of 5. This would have been higher but I was disappointed in how We Be Goblins Free! developed.  I look forward to seeing Paizo coming out with another installment in the future, or better yet another racial adventure series.

You Might Also Like