"A sad tale's best for winter. I have one of sprites and goblins."
- William Shakespeare
As I go through all my miniatures and plan encounters, I've started to notice one thing:
The more goblins I get, the more and more different they begin to look.
This isn't a bad thing, but as I'm expanding my campaign world and creating backgrounds and histories, I want t be able to explain all sorts of these different goblins. I am, after all, a huge goblin fan.
|I snapped a pic of this banner at Gen Con just for the goblin.|
Back when I was in high school and the NoteBook world was being brainstormed and created, I really wanted to find a way to incorporate goblins, but it never happened. I had sketches and ideas, but nothing ever really took root, and goblins were never a creature that we talked about. However, I did tinker around with different cultures and tribes and looks to the specific goblins. With all the miniatures that I have right now, such a thing makes excellent timing for that.
|I drew this back in '06. I like my notes about Billy Idol|
With all the diversity among goblins, I think that it makes sense for there to be different tribes in my campaign world. Goblin tribes that have long dwelt in woodland realms would look much different than those that spent a long time in volcanic areas. This is not evolution, it's adaptation. Different looking goblinoids gives a better idea of a living, breathing campaign environment. With the way the combat math is shaping up in D&DNext, goblins can always be foes that players can fight. They just get easier, but they can still be relevant in swarms. So when your high level PCs go to confront an elder red dragon in her volcanic lair, the goblins that serve the dragon will look much different than the goblin bandits that were raiding the town back in civilization.
So here's where I'm at with my miniatures.
These guys come from the Pathfinder miniatures. The middle one is the miniature I've started to use for my goblin character Kov Nitikki (when I get a chance to play). I have to figure out Kov's culture, though I've pretty much stuck to the idea that his homeland is a mountainous region. Looking at this style of goblin, I can come up with creative ways for that all to make sense. The hats keep their heads warm, their large ears allow them to pick up sounds that might echo throughout the region. You can see where I'm getting at.
I also love this picture of the Pathfinder goblins chasing the piggy.
|I believe this is done by Andrew Hou|
The next clear batch of goblins that I have are Moria goblins I painted back in the day. These guys are based off the look for the Lord of the Rings movies.
I like these guys a lot, but they just seem radically different from the goblins above, don't they? I think I will use these goblins for underground lairs and dungeons (go figure...they're from Moria). However, I think that works. Underground, they have no sunlight, so they're eyes are a bit larger, and they're a bit leaner from all the added movement they need from hunting and scavenging. Their weapons are made with cruder chunks of metal, and their armor is hooked and jagged. Whatever cloth/leather they have is patchwork and crudely woven together.
The next set of goblins came directly from the Dungeon Command set Tyranny of Goblins. These guys are a nice dark shade of green.
These guys are the woodland raiders/threaten the caravan type goblin. Their skin gives them some camouflage in treelines and shrubbery.
So, does this mean that I can never just grab some goblin minis and throw them together for a combat encounter? Absolutely not. However, miniature selection gives a huge feel for the encounter (as well as descriptions, roleplaying, etc). "Tribing" out your various miniature monsters (orcs, kobolds, gnolls) will do the same thing.
I also have some other random goblins that don't seem to fit anywhere.
The Goblin Barbarian is in a league of his own. Maybe he's a mercenary hired by the goblin tribe. Maybe he's an NPC the heroes have to go and negotiate with. Maybe a new player will show and want to use him as PC. Whatever the reason, this goblin is different. Figure out his story to do him justice.
I already came up with a story for this little dude. I was going to use him in an adventure that never took place (all my players cancelled except my fiancee). His name was Tilch, and he was a little runty goblin that would take a liking to the party and serve them. I was counting on the PC's being kind to him though, so who knows how that would've gone down.
As you can see, there's lots of inspiration for world building within your miniatures. Asking yourself "why?" is probably one of the best ways to start diving into new ideas and new story launch points. As you can see, I have about three different goblin types now for my campaigns.
On one last note, I have to show off this Magic the Gathering card I got signed by the artist, Pete Venters. I asked him to make me one of the goblins in the art, and he did so. This is one of my favorite little souvenirs of geeky stuff I have.
As always, be sure to leave comments and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf