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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Simple Humanoid Solution

Problem: Raiding the homes of goblins and other creatures with families, perhaps even murdering their babies, just to take their treasure, strikes many people as just plain wrong. I've read at least two posts today talking about this, and it's been a topic of long debate.

Consideration: Way back when, goblins, bugbears, and other such things didn't have families, but were more like monstrous plagues, sometimes spawned by parthenogenesis, like horse hairs in water troughs turning into snakes. You could have goblins reproduce by stealing children abd twisting them with magic... but that still leaves a feeling of goblins as victims.

Suggestion: Goblins -- perhaps all monsters -- are not the result of natural life processes; they are created by Monster Summoning spells. Give a small chance that monsters created by such a spell do not disappear when the spell ends, but merely flee into the wilderness to find their own lairs. Intelligent creatures like goblins figure out ways to summon more of their own kind, but their numbers (fortunately) are still small. Monsters are rare, but dangerous -- and unnatural.


  1. I'm going with the "evil wizard did it" for most humanoids. Except goblins. They're natural.

  2. For me, orcs seem like the natural ones, especially since (by the book) they're available for hire as mercenaries, and cheaper than rare dwarven mercenaries. Plus, half-orcs indicate that orcs are able to breed. They feel more like borderline but possibly redeemable savages, to me.

    Not that I haven't considered an all-goblin game, or even GURPS Goblin.

  3. The Summoning idea is interesting, as it suggest the possibility that human PCs could be Summoned back the other way to bugbear universe and suddenly they're the ones fleeing off into the wilderness. Hmm.

  4. This is very neat. Although I really love Spawn of Endra's suggestion, which I'm afraid rather undoes your solution: how did you get to Barsoom/The Land/Greyhawk? Summoning. Why? To fight summoned demons? Hmmmm... Could be the start of a great game.

    My problem with the violence is more structural; why do we develop a fantasy of killing at all? Whole campaign settings are built around this central premise/activity, to justify and naturalize it, but is it that important? I'm wondering what we get specifically from D&D and whether that can be got in ways other than "kill the monsters and swipe their stuff."

  5. Spawn of Endra's idea is technically by-the-book (Manual of the Planes.) Most of us just don't think about that...

    But I'm leaning more towards actual *creation*, in most cases, rather than summoning bugbears from Bugbear World.

    As for toning down violence, I think an emphasis on XP for treasure, making treasure ill-gotten gains, and allowing XP for defeating (not just killing) monsters (or even for helping, where appropriate) helps a bit.