Skip to main content

Little Monsters

"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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

D&DNext and the Despair Deck

"Fear attracts the fearful." - Darth Maul
In May of 2011 (which seems like forever ago), Wizards of the Coast released a 4th Edition supplement entitled The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond.  One of the coolest things to come in the box set was a deck of 30 cards called the Despair Deck.  The deck, to quote from the campaign guide, "represents the unnatural behaviors and neuroses that can come over those who visit the Shadowfell."  I would like to that statement one step farther and say that the deck represents behaviors and neuroses that come over those who visit any place of horror.  Flipping through the deck, the cards are separated into three main categories: Fear, Apathy, and Madness.  Such traits create good roleplaying opportunities, as well as further demonstrating the horrors that adventurers face on a regular basis.

I thought the Despair Deck was a great addition to special encounters and events for D&D, and I've really wanted to c…

Revisiting the Trinket Lord

As I’ve gone back to dive into the options that are 4e D&D, I took another hard look at something near and dear to my heart: my 4e published article, The Trinket Lord. Published in Dungeon 205 (August 2012), it was another article in the Court of Stars series about the Archfey. With GenCon 2017 occurring right now, I figured it's a good time to talk about such things again.  I had always found the Court of Stars articles extremely intriguing and full of adventure hooks, but when I pitched this article, only two existed, The Prince of Frost (Dragon 374) and the Bramble Queen (Dungeon 185).
The Trinket Lord was originally pitched back in April 2012, when WotC accepted article submissions for their Dragon and Dungeon magazines. My contact for the entire process was Greg Bilsland (which was a major “whoa!” moment for me). I consider my relatively short interactions with Greg to have been extremely insightful, as he gave me a good mix of compliments and critiques and helped me im…

The Evils of Fey

"They were big and little creatures. Some were hairy with long, thin tails, and some had noses long as pokers. Some had bulging eyes and some had 20 toes. In they came -- crashing through the door, sliding down the chimney, crawling through the windows. They shouted and cried. They banged pots and pans. They twirled their tails and tapped their toes upon the wooden floor. He watched as the trolls gobbled the food and threw the plates and drank everything in sight. They continued to shout and scream, to scratch the walls and pound the floors and slap their tails upon the table. The tiny trolls were the worst of all. They screamed at the top of their lungs and pulled each others' tails." - The Brothers Grimm
In the previous post, I wrote about broadening the use of monsters in my campaigns.  I mentioned my love for the fey and the Feywild, and how I was trying to step away from it.  In today's post, I want to embrace the fey, and write about all of the wild i…