My Hobgoblins

 

As I mentioned on my recent podcast

I have a slight issue with the depiction of Hobgoblins as samurai, which , while cool, and based a little on the images of the battle masks found in some kits,4892447-historic-samurai-armor-on-black

There is something a little racist about that, and there is also a cool European tradition of scale armor worn by raidersmedieval-lamellar-stainless-steel-armor-body-suit.jpg

Vikings, and other warriors of northern and northeastern Europe had some really cool looking armor. I think the blank looking mail mask and pointy helmet combo evokes something menacing, like these psychos from Frostgrave.frostgrave-cultists

There is nothing that says “Bad Guys” who need to get murdered by your Adventurers like a good pointy mask.cultists0001.png

 

While in Northport, Hobgoblins are a player character option, and most of their tribe is involved in the hemp and rope making trades, as well as in the local jugga league, I am going to be running a sequel adventure to Beneath the Fallen Tower.

The hobgoblins in this scenario are pretty much the AD&D ones, as I am dealing with a table of mostly non-GURPS players, I wanted some simplified tropes. The women of this tribe, which has claimed ownership of an abandoned silver mine, are pretty tough as well, although they wear a lot of embroidered clothing that is more central European than the kimonos that would go with samurai style hobgoblins ala Sutherland.

The adventure will feature a heist, betrayal, fire breathing lizards, hobgoblins and enslaved goblins.

 

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Malign or Misunderstood?

It is a common point of contention between tabletop gamers as to whether or not monstrous non humans in games are aligned with fell forces, and therefore inherently evil, or if theyare simply ‘other’ and victims of a bad rap.

I grew up with AD&D, after starting with the magenta box. When we played B2, we slaughtered everyone. The damn hobgoblins had a larder full of human heads, and the DMG had that whole “nits make lice” essay about orcs.

Some of this stems from the fiction in Appendix N, like the extremely anti-human nature of the creatures of Faerie and Chaos in The Broken Sword, or the origin story of Orcs in LotR.

My preferred game system doesn’t have alignments, except for specialty characters that recieve powers from extraplanar entities, like clerics, and holy/unholy warriors, and half -infernals and half-celestials. On the other hand, even someone with demonic heritage can be forgiven by the gods, but they still detect as evil.

So, in a game where only the card carrying servants of hell actually detect as evil, the moral circumstances of inhuman creatures are subject to question.  Now, that said, there are creatures that (at least in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, my preferred game) have severely negative character traits, like bully, bloodlust, intolerance, and sadism. The kind of people you can’t win an argument with, or negotiate a lasting peace with.

In my personal game, goblins and orcs are members of society, although there are regional territorial disputes and percieved political slights that become protracted wars with atrocities committed by both sides, human and inhuman, largely because of the nature of mercenary soldiers, as opposed to the overall moral or amoral nature of entire species.

In my convention game, where I am demonstrating DF to an audience more familiar with D&D, my hobgoblins are devil worshipping slave takers that delight in torture, as opposed to the hemp growing sports fanatics and rope makers that they are in my home game.

Will they detect as evil? They will certainly detect as foes, although the priest may, as he is empowered by demons, but the bulk of the tribe will not. Are they villains who must be stopped? Yes. Is it possible that the young may be innocent? Perhaps. In this case, they were raised in a society that believes strongly in corporal punishment, reveres cruelty and revenge, and respect for their elders, (or at least those who hold positions of rank in the tribe). The young who are old enough to know the members of their group will certainly resent whoever murders their family, without seeing their personal exclusion from slaughter as an act of mercy.

Just the same,  adventurers with personal codes of honor or a sense of duty that extends beyond their friends and community (not entirely common in this game system, and actually lacking amongst the pre-gens for the con game, who are mostly murder-hobos) would feel some qualms about putting them to the sword. Those with bloodlust, callousness or the dwarven code of honor will not.

My home game is not so cut and dried, as seen here.

How do you treat the foes of mankind? Are they hellspawn, aligned spiritually with the lower planes, or are they a people with their own agendas and culture?

Divergence and Parallel Thinking

One of the blogs I follow is Bloodof Prokopius, written by a gamer who , like me, started questioning aspects of his spirituality around the same time he started playing D&D. Also like me, he sees that some form of mildly oppressive and ubiquitous religion is essential to the medeival mindset, and therefore to the implied setting of AD&D.

My questioning of spirituality and study of religions led me along the path from a Catholic to a Neopagan spiritual identity. This blogger, on the other hand, went from an agnostic to an Orthodox Christian.

We do agree on many points, particularly in the depth religions bring to games. I personally favor a L. Sprague de Camp style of polytheism in my game, however there are some truly innovative ideas in his exploration of Monotheism vs Demonic cults, one of which, while specifically derived from scripture in this post lead to a description of an oppressive empire ruled by ghasts, the same idea came about independently over here, in a more secular manner, a couple years ago on the RPG Knights blog. The adventure in question, Tomb of the Ghast Queen, is a DCC funnel sort of adventure where the PC’s are competing with a couple dozen rivals to escape imprisonment by beating a dungeon that is part puzzle, part gladiator pit.

I would expect that player death would be handled by playing the other survivors, which I imagine would lead to fairly random characters loaded with the spoils (particularly healing potions) of the defeated. I can see the adventure being run for a number of systems, (it is written for 5e, where survivability is kinda high) with different results based on expected lethality of systems.

On another topic, I am preparing to run another low point DF game at Manhattan Minicon, this time for 125 point “leveled up” versions of the 75 point characters I ran through Beath the Fallen Tower at the last minicon. The builds are similar, but not identical to those of DF15, and the adventure will feature an abandoned mine overrun by hobgoblins, and some hidden treasure, and is called Shame of the DeepGuard. You can find more about the DeepGuard on this blog, although I have made some modifications to the equipment of Nether Flight, based on my perusal of common armor types worn by 14th century mercenaries on Pintrest.

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In addition to various projects I am working on for Gabor Lux, John Stater just released Nod 35, which explores a Greek mythology themed area of his neverending hexcrawl, including art by me and maps by Dyson.

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Additionally, Malrex and Merciless Merchants released Tar Pits of the Bone Toilers, a level 5-8 adventure for Labyrinth Lord and featuring a piece of art from one of my earliest stock art packs, currently on sale for a mere $0.75 , and they used my Xorn!

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DemiHumans of Dolmenwood

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Gavin Norman, Author of the B/X Essentials and one of the minds (along with Greg Gorgonmilk) behind Dolmenwood. 

The Dolmenwood is the campaign setting described in the most excellent zine, Wormskin. The setting is a twisted fairytale woods, a little Brian Froud flavored with a little bit of Princess Mononoke , with a very Dunsanyan feel to it, Which is no wonder, as Greg has published a collection of Lord Dunsany’s writing.

Prior to this setting’s release, the closest to it in feel was a cross between John Stater’s Bloody Basic: Mother Goose Edition and Bloody Basic:Weird Fantasy Edition, both of which I enjoy.

The 1st issue of Wormskin is now accompanied by the above Demihumans of Dolmenwood, and it is just great. The takes on elves and dwarves are stange and endearing;  elves seem alien and cruel, like those in The Broken Sword by Pihn Anderson. Dwarves are part plant druids,  there is a Puss in Boots/Cheshire Cat creature called a Grimalkin, and the bat faced goblins called Woodgrue are absolutely delightful gremlins.

I wrote up a DF conversion of them HERE For Free!

I used several DF books, DF3, DF5, DF9, DF15, and Pyramid #3/50 along with Magic to perform the conversion.

For further play I would recommend GURPS Thaumatology: Urban Magics  For its Ley Line spells, and DF16 Wilderness Adventures

All of these are on sale today at Warehouse 23!

I fucking love Woodgrues!

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Podcast: History of Northport

Listen to the newest episode of my podcast,

Ramblings Of A Gamer And Artist: History of Northport

Had some recent shout outs from other anchorites, Tim Shorts

And Larry Hamilton

At some point, I will figure out how to include call ins to the podcast.

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This was a big inspiration, and had a review of GURPS Horror I looked at what it considered to be the weakness of the game, lack of a highly detailed setting, and just kitbashed CoC for it.

GURPS Classic Fantasy

This was a book I used for years, and I borrowed a lot of the setting, Yrth, later released as Banestorm in 4e. Real world medeival folk, complete with religions and all that jazz

Also mentioned: Stonehell Dungeon

Michael Curtis had some stuff I plagerized, like the Plated Mage

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The Glass Harmonica

Seriously, Amazon lists two for sale- jump on this!

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The Giant Under the Snow

You can get this on Kindle now. Giant earth elementals, witches, liches, armies of undead!

Cappadocia

Enormous Turkish underground city

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Ruins of the Undercity

My first OSR purchase! A great way to solo play by Kabuki Kaiser

Lesserton and Mor

What happens after the orcs win the war.

Daggerspell

Katherine Kerr wrote an epic series about a cursed wizard and incidentally did some world building that inspired me.

Swords Against Wizardry

Fritz Lieber describes a megadungeon in the Lords of Quarmall. Gotta have air circulation !

The Chronicles of Prydain

Lloyd Alexander introduced me to fantasy, and to the Gwythaint from which I draw my moniker.

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Hit points

In my latest anchor podcast

I discuss hit points, energy drain, and the basics of GURPS combat. For more worked examples, see what The Mook  has to offer.

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Seven with one blow, grab it here

Dungeon Synth: Kobold

Maximus, from Gladiator

ST 14 DX 14 IQ 12 HT 14

Hp 15 Per 12 Will 14 Fp 14

Basic Speed 6 MV 6 Dodge 10

Parry (sword) 14 (other) 13 Block 13

Adv:

combat reflexes, high pain tolerance, toughness, hard to kill +2, born warleader 3, charisma+2, attractive, luck, weapon master(all), armor mastery, rapid healing, Enhanced parry 1, indomitable

(formerly rank 8, social status 2, wealthy, huge ally group)

Disad:

Stubborn, code of honor: soldier’s, status-4, dead broke, Enemy:Emperor

Skills:

Shortsword 18 spear 16 bow 16 knife 16 shield 18 axe/mace 16 brawling 16 wrestling 15, Armory: melee weapons 12, connosieur: melee weapons:12, tactics 14, strategy 14, leadership 17, intimidate 14, teaching 12, riding 14, Animal handling (equine) 14, swiming 13, hiking 14, observation 12

 

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