Supplement Review: That’s a Goblin!? by Mark L. Chance of Spes Magna Games

Though my review time has dropped a bit over the last few months, I occasionally stumble across supplements I can’t help but want to check out. That’s a Goblin!? by Mark L. Chance of Spes Magna Games is one such product I saw recently. Something about the “!?” in the title got my attention and by the first page of content I was already hooked and wondering how I could adapt it for use in games I run for my daughters. There’s a madness around random tables that’s tough for me to shake off at times!

That's a Goblin!? from Spes Magna GamesSo what’s That’s a Goblin!? about? Goblins, of course! These may not be your traditional goblins however. When I hear the word “goblin” I think of the grinning, far-too-many-teeth variety from Paizo‘s We Be Goblins! and the lovely beasties from the Lord of the Rings movies. Until now I’ve thought of them as largely a homogeneous group, all the same. After reading Chance’s supplement I think differently…

Two tables in the book – “Random Goblin Traits” and “Random Fey Goblin” – really made that uniqueness factor come to life. Though no goblin is a supermodel, each should have a unique quality that sets them apart from the rest. Maybe each is different in the size of their nose, the insaneness of their eyebrow hair (do goblins have eyebrows?), or the particular shade of green for their skin… but during a campaign or even a single battle, a goblin is a goblin, right? Maybe not!

Let’s take some “Random Goblin Traits” for example… What if a goblin has truly huge feet (maybe 4x larger than normal) that give it a boost in snowy climates or could grant a combat advantage (+1 to damage maybe?) if a character was wearing light shoes or going barefoot? Maybe one can frenzy and gains a +2 to attack rolls in the madness of battle? Or maybe one is chronically drunk with a beer gut and can belch to blind, deafen, or stun attackers? There are some truly entertaining features in the list and some grotesque ones as well (“Blood Sucker,” “Excessive Salivation,” and “Pustules” really stood out for me). Each trait is described in some detail.

The other table – “Random Fey Goblin” – offers a list of extraordinary traits for goblins of the fey realms. Imagine if some of the little buggers could turn invisible, entrance foes with music or dance, or even change shape and size. If an ogre-sized goblin charged into battle I suspect my characters might choose to go the other way.

Chance doesn’t stop there however. He also covers various “styles” of goblins, tactics, and weapons. As an example, the “Tainted Thurible” is my new favorite weapon for goblins. Let’s take a traditional vessel for burning incense and make it into a weapon for distributing an “oily cloud of poison” as a goblin takes off headlong through the middle of the fray…

Not to stop there, he also includes a mini-adventure called the “Tributary of Terror” that would be great for a low-level party. Some of the descriptive bits, such as the menu for a local inn, details on many of the local residents, and even descriptions of some of the local gods really offer some great tidbits for a GM to weave into fun stories. Plenty of juicy details to run with as is or adapt for your own campaign.

Though the supplement is written for Swords & Wizardry from Mythmere Games, with minor tweaking I think most of it would easily be translated to any fantasy RPG. Some stat blocks are included, but if you focus on the broad strokes instead of the specifics you should be fine.

Now I have to say that it’s not the prettiest book on the planet. The layout doesn’t compete with Kobold Press on any level. But if it’s creative content you’re looking for, there’s plenty to love in That’s a Goblin!?! And I love the fact that Chance included references to some of the sites and tools used to generate some of the names and other details, such as the generators at the Chaotic Shiny and sites like Behind the Name.

All in all a great resource!

For more about That’s a Goblin!?, Spes Magna Games, and Swords & Wizardry

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