Wandering Monsters: When Is a Goblin Not a Goblin?

Wandering Monsters: When Is a Goblin Not a Goblin?
James Wyatt

In 4th Edition, we included goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears under a general “goblin” entry, which caused our editors some consternation. You see, by doing things this way, the word “goblin” had to do double duty because it meant both the general class and the specific race—genus and species, as it were. When we did this, though, we were also extending a line of thinking that started back in the earliest years of D&D, when these monsters were grouped together into the broad category of goblinoid.


Talk about this article here.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

SSo yes it captures the stereotypical generic goblin, hobgoblin, and bugbear cultures, it leaves nothing it the DM were to switch or alter cultures. No biological information. No innate talents. No sensible favoritism of tactics, hobbies, or strategies. Though that is not the point of these articles, right? But it doesn't make me feel that 50% of the Monster Manual will be useless to me.




You answered your own concern.  It seems your position is "This article series doesn't interest me, so that means the game won't interest me"
  I like the idea that the various breeds of Goblinoid were "created", either by some god, some mad wizard (ala Sarumon and his Urukhai), or some self imposed eugenics program- which I could totally see Hobgoblins implementing.  Goblins as peasant infantry and skirmishers, Bugbears as shock troopers, and Hobgoblins as commanders and elite infantry.

   At some point, the original purpose/army for which they were created was lost and the three sub-races spread around and went "feral".  Some, particularly Hobgoblins, occasionally manage to whip up an organized force consisting of other Goblinoids and whatever other creatures they can rally into battle.



Yep, that's exaclty how I see it too. To me, hobgoblins are very much like the dark counterpart to humans: pragmatic, innovative, bold, and always expanding... if soley through conquest.

My minor annoyance is that most of the description is setting and culture dependant. For example, dwarves are slow poison resistant, mentally traditional, and are hindered little by heavy weight, no matter if they are the traditional axe wielding mountain folk, thieving pirates, noble warrior race, magic addicted cultist, pious monks, or mad scientists. These descriptions of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears gives only culture and ability adjustments as recognizable standards and constants that could be altered or shifted while keeping the majority of the racial entire intact.

Its not a real complaint as the point of the article is to describe the typical generic gobliniods. Just to me, it focuses too much on the parts DMs typically rip out first.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

I rather like the way they are handling goblinoids. I particularly like how they've changed goblins from the past couple editions. NE seems like a good place for goblins to me, and being primarily subterranean now feels right to me.
My minor annoyance is that most of the description is setting and culture dependant. For example, dwarves are slow poison resistant, mentally traditional, and are hindered little by heavy weight, no matter if they are the traditional axe wielding mountain folk, thieving pirates, noble warrior race, magic addicted cultist, pious monks, or mad scientists. These descriptions of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears gives only culture and ability adjustments as recognizable standards and constants that could be altered or shifted while keeping the majority of the racial entire intact. Its not a real complaint as the point of the article is to describe the typical generic gobliniods. Just to me, it focuses too much on the parts DMs typically rip out first.



As a DM, I have more in-game use for the cultural traits of any given humanoid species than I have for their mechanical traits. 
Wandering Monsters: When is a Goblin Not a Goblin?

I enjoyed this article, and the Wandering Monsters series. These three “goblinkin” are important to D&D, but the D&D tradition about them is conflictive. I appreciate sorting thru the identities of these monsters.

I think I prefer the term “goblinkin” over “goblinoid”. For one thing, the goblinkin are already “humanoid”. The suffix -kin, sounds more archaic. It also works better for parallel concepts, like “giantkin”, and so on.
 
In the article, the descriptions of the goblinkin are vivid enough. The problem is, these monsters seem too similar to other monsters.
• The Goblin is way too similar to the Kobold.
• Likewise, the Bugbear is way too similar to Gnoll.
• Even Hobgoblin would be too similar to Orc, except the high Charisma and tactical Intelligence are a saving grace to distinguish the charismatic Hobgoblin with its own identity.



In Reallife Folklore

Goblin

For the Goblin, it is important to play up their Fey nature. Altho Evil, the Goblin are playful, mischievious, frightning, even dangerous, and difficult to get rid of. They should probably wield cantrips, especially utility spells that they use to do mischief. Cowardly to the point of comical works well enough. But also Goblin scheme, and after running away from any threat, return to continue their plot.

Hobgoblin 

The Hobgoblin in the article is a Tolkeinism. In fact, a unique error from Tolkien, who misidentified the “Hob” goblin as a “large” goblin. Tolkien later corrected his error by instead renaming his larger creature Uruk-Hai.

In reallife folklore, the “Hob” is actually a friendly Goblin from the Seelie Court - one of the good Fey sotospeak. The most famous member of the Hobgoblins is Robin Goodfellow, as well as Puck from Shakespeares Midsummers Nights Dream. They are often helpful, and relate to Brownies and Gnomes, and other Fey folk.

At least, the Hobgoblin of the article has high Charisma. With Robin Goodfellow and Puck in mind, Charisma sounds right. Rather than Lawful Evil, it might make more sense to realign the Hobgoblin as Unaligned (Neutral), or even Lawful, Lawful Good, or Good are arguable. The Hobgoblin are important members of the Seelie Court, and on good terms with other Seelie Fey, including Elves.
 
The reason Goblins and Orc are so similar is because both of them derive from the same creature. The “Orc” of Tolkien, who he also called “Goblin”. To distinguish these races, let the Goblin draw more from the folklore stories, of Goblins as Unseelie Fey. Then let Orc continue the “army of evil” cannon-fodder flavor. As such, Hobgoblin can remain the leaders and strategists, but be more Fey.
 
Bugbear

Originally the Bugbear of folklore is a “scary bear” Bugge Bear - a kind of bogeyman - a creepy monstrous bear that lurked in the woods. It seems seemly to emphasize the bearish nature of the Bugbear, along with its hairiness. The link with Shaman makes sense, even Druid wildshaping, as well as smaller numbers. Stealth and predatory nature makes sense.



Goblinkin Racial Abilities
 
As noted, the abilities are too similar to other monsters, including sharing the same abilities as those monsters. The Goblin are too much like Kobold. The Bugbear are too much like Gnoll.

Here are racial abilities that sync with the article to help distinguish these goblinkin from the feel-alike races:

Goblin: +Dex +Int −Cha
Hobgoblin: +Cha +Int −Wis
Bugbear: +Str +Dex −Int



Goblin

Goblin make sense with low Charisma. Despite being dangerous, it is difficult to take them seriously. Even their frightning qualities are an extension of their silly troublemaking. Low Charisma makes sense. Likewise, their cowardliness and inability to be imposing resonates low Charisma.

The Goblins are small, agile, and stealthy, so high Dexterity.

They are Fey creatures with Fey magic, and seem to scheme, even if not particularly quickthinking, and the folklore seems to make them knowledgeable, especially about magic and treasure ... and especially magic treasure, so high Intelligence. Note, the Goblin is monstrous and relatively strong despite the small size.

By making the Goblin lowly in Charisma, but a bit stronger, they can distinguish themselves from the Kobold that are lowly in Strength, but a bit more charismatic.

Hobgoblin

The Hobgoblin is Charismatic. According to Tolkienesque D&D, the Hobgoblin is militaristic. This structure can make some sense with folklore, since Robin Goodfellow and Puck are leaders within the hierarchy of the Seelie royal court. At least as far as Fey can muster, the Hobgoblin has discipline.

It is tempting to represent the Hobgoblin as Intelligent, to express their strategic and tactical competence. But then portray them with low Wisdom, to convey something is not quite right. They make intelligent plans based on knowledgeable information, but dont necessarily think quick on their feet. (Maybe sort of like Borg?) The folklore seems to make them more leaders than warriors. The fact Hobgoblin enlist other races (or enslave them by charms) to serve in their armies, suggest the Hobgoblin themselves arent especially strong soldiers.

The Hobgoblin are magically powerful Fey.

Bugbear

Bugbear is yet another dim-witted brute. But it helps to emphasize the creepiness, the animalistic monstrosity. It is hard to imagine a bear with high Dexterity! Then again, perhaps this wrongness is part of what makes the Bugbear creepy. But the creepiness itself seems to convey high Charisma, in the sense of terrifying, uncanny, and unsettling. A bogeyman is spooky and compels attention.

Maybe just stick with the low Intelligence, and leave Charisma alone.

Bugbears seem exactly like Gnolls -both in personality and in abilities: +Str +Dex −Int −Cha. To distinguish between Gnoll and Bugbear, make the Gnoll nonimposing and skittish like a hyena, with low Charisma, but is relatively intelligent. Oppositely, make the Bugbear with low Intelligence, but more charismatic - disturbing, like the bogeyman bugge bear.



Fey

Most important of all, these goblinkin are Fey creatures. Faerie folk. Otherworldly spirits who wield magic, even if only playful minor magic.

I want to see Goblin with the perfect cantrips to make themselves a nuisance. Scheming to acquire (steal) magic items, also fits in with the Fey mischief. But for Goblin, work and play - are the same thing.
I rather like the way they are handling goblinoids. I particularly like how they've changed goblins from the past couple editions. NE seems like a good place for goblins to me, and being primarily subterranean now feels right to me.

I see Goblins as nocturnal forest dwellers, primarily. But living underground in warrens, like rabbits do, sounds right.
I think that the more superficially similar different races are, the more they should be divergent culturally.

I'd like to see something like this for Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears and Kobolds.

Goblins are manic idiots, occassionally showing bursts of inspiration but largely just behaving according to their own chaotic whims. They congregate in large groups less because they have any sort of functioning society and more because it's more fun to be around a big group of goblins. They're reckless and if they're enthusiastic about what they're doing (which they usually are), they're not at all afraid to die doing it (or to sacrifice a buddy). They're superstitious and quick to draw silly conclusions about things. They're almost childlike in some ways, and might almost be chaotic neutral if it weren't for their significant cruel streak. They tend to use broken and improvised weapons, and might discard a steel dagger for a twisty stick if the stick is more interesting. Their armor is usually just scraps tied around them and random trinkets they've attached value to. Even when they recognize something as a good weapon, they'll sometimes use it wrong in the heat of the moment, perhaps hurling a crossbow at an opponant or beating them about the ears with it. Because they're easily bluffed and bullied and don't care much for their own personal safety, they're sometimes used by hobgoblins as shock troops, although some hobgoblin centurions don't consider them worth the bother. Goblin spellcasters are somewhat rare, but they like spells that incite chaos on the battlefield and that look totally awesome.

Under this formulation, goblins lose some of the sneaky-ambushy stuff, which gets given to Kobolds to go along with their craven nature and affinity for traps.

Kobolds are only a little smarter than goblins, but they're much more cautious and are very craven. They tend to congregate together largely because other kobolds are somewhat less likely to kill them than strangers are, and there's safety in numbers. Unlike goblinoids, they venerate dragons, and artifacts from dragons (scales, claws) have significant talismanic value to them. A kobold is in all situations afraid of dying, and always has an escape plan, often one that involves making him difficult to follow. Kobolds think nothing of abandoning their allies if it means a better chance of survival. They live in a world that isn't particularly fond of them and also tends to be larger, stronger and better armed than they are, and as a result they avoid fair fights if at all possible, preferring stealthy ambushes. Their trump card is their mechanical traps - their knack for trapmaking greatly exceeds what you'd expect from creatures of their not-particularly-formidable intelligence. A kobold lair is nearly always heavily trapped, usually with mechanical traps. Kobold spellcasters like spells that allow them to emulate the dragons they revere. Kobolds tend to use fairly simple weapons and prefer armor that doesn't impede their ability to run away.

Hobgoblins may not have many permanent settlements, but they are in many senses a civilization nonetheless. They move not in roving warbands but in organized legions, soldiers and slaves moving in lockstep ready to lay siege to the vulnerable settlements of the softer races. Hobgoblins believe themselves to be superior to other races, whom they value in varying degrees based primarily on how useful they are as slaves; creatures that succumb to authority easily and can put up with rough labor are seen as at least superior to races that will waste time with resistance or simply collapse under the lash. An individual hobgoblin is an imposing figure; their charisma bonus is no joke, and their physical might combined with their natural presence make hobgoblins perhaps the most naturally intimidating race of the common humanoid races. Every hobgoblin knows his place, and their legions run like well-oiled machines. They immediately accept the legitimate authority of higher-ranking hobgoblins, and tend to obey orders unquestionably, although they may throw a bit more cruelty into some missions than their commanders may have strictly requested. Careful selective breeding among under the command of some forward-thinking hobgoblin legion commanders (combined with a contempt for other races that makes crossbreeding extraordinarily rare), besides making hobgoblins a lean, mean fighting force, has also led to them being less physically diverse than most other races. Hobgoblin spellcasters like spells that bolster armies, crumble city gates, or assst in gathering intel. Unlike Kobolds or other goblinoids, Hobgoblins are perfectly capable of forging their own weapons and armor, and don't hesistate to melt down whatever metal objects they plunder from cities in order to keep their armies in kit. Most legion commanders prefer to keep the rank-and-file outfitted identically, typically in the best arms and armor their mobile foundries can pump out. Whatever magical items the legion has access to will tend to stay in the hands of the centurions or perhaps hobgoblins serving commando functions.

Bugbears, unlike their goblinoid cousins, don't gather in particular large groups. Their clans tend to be little more than extended family units, and in many ways their bands more closely resemble a bear clan or a wolf pack than anything else. As groups, they're ambush predators that will generally keep to themselves, attacking other intelligent creatures only if they have a significant advantage in the situation. They're truly omnivorous, and have no compunctions about eating other intelligent creatures; they just typically don't because hunting them isn't worth the bother. Alone, the more ambitious sometimes work as mercenaries, and they're in general pretty happy working for pretty much anybody in exchange for decent pay, and are respected by the unsavory sorts who would tend to hire bugbears for not sticking their noses where they don't belong. "Wild" bugbears prefer clubs and other weapons that hold up well in the elements, and usually wear practical hunting gear. "Hired" bugbears are often outfitted by their employers, and have an affinity for morningstars and menacing-looking piecemeal armor. Bugbear spellcasters are very rare, and those that do exist might know nearly any spell.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
My minor annoyance is that most of the description is setting and culture dependant. For example, dwarves are slow poison resistant, mentally traditional, and are hindered little by heavy weight, no matter if they are the traditional axe wielding mountain folk, thieving pirates, noble warrior race, magic addicted cultist, pious monks, or mad scientists. These descriptions of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears gives only culture and ability adjustments as recognizable standards and constants that could be altered or shifted while keeping the majority of the racial entire intact. Its not a real complaint as the point of the article is to describe the typical generic gobliniods. Just to me, it focuses too much on the parts DMs typically rip out first.



As a DM, I have more in-game use for the cultural traits of any given humanoid species than I have for their mechanical traits. 



But culture is often setting specific. If you switch settings, culture goes bye bye and genetics is all that is left. And if the designers focus on culture with humaniods, most of the monster entries becomes ignorable and all that is left is bland nothingness on biology.

The articles get the generic D&D setting down completely. Like 95% correct.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Goblins are the official D&D scum, the best example of decadence and degeneration, but they have could survive by some reason. They can´t be only the comic evil boys from any cartoon show. They are weakest humanoid, but they have survived all attempts of genocide by enemies. 

Don´t forget a blue, little psionic goblinoid, can be a dangerous leader and tribal guide. (optional background: blues could be psionic mutant goblins, or pre-decadence ancestors of current goblins, like irdas and ogres from Dragonlance) (Second optional background: goblins are descendents from some infected little humanoid, like George Romero´s "the crazies", Danny Boyle´s  "28 gays later" (I´m sorry, I wanted say days) or Garth Ennis´comic "Crossed"). 

(and Derros could be the the D&D dwarf equivalent to "crossed" infected ones).

If DM can change background, could surprise better those players who have readen monster manuals.


* Kobolds are like a mixture of michiveous little dracoborns (their "big brother" of biological family) and gnomes. They are weak, but they can use brain. They are very good miners. Some "no-evil" kobold mines could be officialy allowed by human or dwarfs kings. (optional background) 


* Bugbears should be more inteligent that ogres but worse strategist that hobgoblins. I like the idea of grizzly-like bugbear archidemon (evil deity). Some bugbears could be evil werebears (and orc wereboars, and gnolls werehyenas, a great surprise for PCs when they didn´t imagine it) 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

But culture is often setting specific. If you switch settings, culture goes bye bye and genetics is all that is left. And if the designers focus on culture with humaniods, most of the monster entries becomes ignorable and all that is left is bland nothingness on biology.

The articles get the generic D&D setting down completely. Like 95% correct.



The culture is for people who don't want to have to create one.  If it becomes setting specific the changes will be addressed in the setting.  There needs to be a default, and it needs to be presented.  One of the biggest complaints I heard from people about the 4e Monster Manuals was that they presented virtually no culture information.  Now that didn't bother me because I've been reading goblin MM entries since 1979, but for someone new to the game it is essential.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

  I like the idea that the various breeds of Goblinoid were "created", either by some god, some mad wizard (ala Sarumon and his Urukhai), or some self imposed eugenics program- which I could totally see Hobgoblins implementing.  



In my homebrew campaign the 2nd is the case a self imposed eugenics program, they started as 1 race.

The hobgoblins have a society much like the spartans did totaly focused on war and dependend on their slave race the goblins who do tasks as farming.
Also the as a right of becoming an adult a hobgoblin must kill a gobling that has shown to stick out above the rest.
So kill the strongest smartest fastest goblin they can find.

This coused being strong or smart actualy became a evolutonay disadvantage to goblins as it increased the chance of being killed by a hobgoblin.
so basicly the goblin is the worst that dna set had to offer and the hobgoblin the best it has to offer)

bugbears are a race created by run away slaves to protect themselves from hobgoblins as a hopgoblin would not hesitate to kill a runawy slave.
But culture is often setting specific. If you switch settings, culture goes bye bye and genetics is all that is left. And if the designers focus on culture with humaniods, most of the monster entries becomes ignorable and all that is left is bland nothingness on biology.

The articles get the generic D&D setting down completely. Like 95% correct.



The culture is for people who don't want to have to create one.  If it becomes setting specific the changes will be addressed in the setting.  There needs to be a default, and it needs to be presented.  One of the biggest complaints I heard from people about the 4e Monster Manuals was that they presented virtually no culture information.  Now that didn't bother me because I've been reading goblin MM entries since 1979, but for someone new to the game it is essential.



Wel i almost always play homebrew campaigns so most of the fluff presented is not intresting to me.
so in 4th edition i basicly stoped buying books and just work DDI only.
But culture is often setting specific. If you switch settings, culture goes bye bye and genetics is all that is left. And if the designers focus on culture with humaniods, most of the monster entries becomes ignorable and all that is left is bland nothingness on biology.

The articles get the generic D&D setting down completely. Like 95% correct.



The culture is for people who don't want to have to create one.  If it becomes setting specific the changes will be addressed in the setting.  There needs to be a default, and it needs to be presented.  One of the biggest complaints I heard from people about the 4e Monster Manuals was that they presented virtually no culture information.  Now that didn't bother me because I've been reading goblin MM entries since 1979, but for someone new to the game it is essential.



Wel i almost always play homebrew campaigns so most of the fluff presented is not intresting to me.
so in 4th edition i basicly stoped buying books and just work DDI only.


Which may be one of the contributing factors to the death of 4e. 

On a different note, the art direction for goblins is exactly what I'd imagine a goblin to be. 
But culture is often setting specific. If you switch settings, culture goes bye bye and genetics is all that is left. And if the designers focus on culture with humaniods, most of the monster entries becomes ignorable and all that is left is bland nothingness on biology.

The articles get the generic D&D setting down completely. Like 95% correct.



So, do you want each creature in the MM to have a number of different mechanical widgits based on their biology or do you want combat options a'la 4e MM?

As an aside, I am biased in favor of the generic D&D setting simply because I like it and am happy to see it fleshed out a bit more.
I never said I didn't like information on culture. Not too much of it.

For example for goblins, the first paragraph could be about culture and ecology. The stereotypical single common barracks and their reverence of shamans. The second paragraph could talk about their ability scores. Their high Dex and low everything else.

The third paragraph goes into nonability features. How small size and dark vision affects how they act. Perhaps go into their natural talent at hiding.

Then wrap it all up in the last paragraph on tactics and worldviews. Explain how goblins, being a race of small ugly creatures, naturally drives into cheating and hiding. They are weak and downtrodden and seek a way to even the odds. The exceptional gravitate to rogues, assassins, barbarians, sorcerors, and warlocks as these are easiest ways to even the odds.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Half-Human races creates problems for me.  Is it just Humans that can reproduce with other humanoid races?  To me, if you have Half-Elfs, Half-orcs, 4e's Half-Everything, then the Hobgoblin starts to look a lot like a Half-Goblin. 


More often than not, in my home campaigns Hobgoblins are the goblins answer to humans.  They bred with them and produced Hobgoblin armies.


Now we are talking about genetics, which really gets confusing.  For this reason I don't like any of the Half-Human races.  How are Bugbears related to Goblins? 


Originally it sounded like Goblins were the lowest common denominator of Goblinoids or Goblinkin which basically meant monstrous humanoid.  Were they demi-humans?


I'd also like to see note about exceptional Goblins.  If there is are 10 Bugbears thugs and 100 Hobgoblin centurians than out of 1,000 Goblin scrubs there should be a few exceptional Goblins.  A Goblin wizard or Goblin warlord.  Personally I like the idea of a Goblin leader with an army of Hobgoblin soldiers defending a swamp full of goblin scrubs.

I never said I didn't like information on culture. Not too much of it. For example for goblins, the first paragraph could be about culture and ecology. The stereotypical single common barracks and their reverence of shamans. The second paragraph could talk about their ability scores. Their high Dex and low everything else. The third paragraph goes into nonability features. How small size and dark vision affects how they act. Perhaps go into their natural talent at hiding. Then wrap it all up in the last paragraph on tactics and worldviews. Explain how goblins, being a race of small ugly creatures, naturally drives into cheating and hiding. They are weak and downtrodden and seek a way to even the odds. The exceptional gravitate to rogues, assassins, barbarians, sorcerors, and warlocks as these are easiest ways to even the odds.



That sounds cool; I could get behind it.
I never said I didn't like information on culture. Not too much of it. For example for goblins, the first paragraph could be about culture and ecology. The stereotypical single common barracks and their reverence of shamans. The second paragraph could talk about their ability scores. Their high Dex and low everything else. The third paragraph goes into nonability features. How small size and dark vision affects how they act. Perhaps go into their natural talent at hiding. Then wrap it all up in the last paragraph on tactics and worldviews. Explain how goblins, being a race of small ugly creatures, naturally drives into cheating and hiding. They are weak and downtrodden and seek a way to even the odds. The exceptional gravitate to rogues, assassins, barbarians, sorcerors, and warlocks as these are easiest ways to even the odds.



Stat blocks speak for themselves if designed correctly, so the text of an entry should be all fluff.

I start to get the feeling you are complaining just to complain.  Your example above is still all fluff that can change from one campaign to another, but it is default fluff which makes sense to include in the default monster entry.  If things are going to change in the Forgotten Realms then that change will be in the Forgotten Realms source books, and so forth.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

@Kalex_the_Omen

But there isn't a state block. The article is supposed to explain to the design team how to make the state block via one page documents. These are not monster entries.

That is why I'd prefer that the document be:
1st Paragraph: Ecology and Culture
2nd Paragraph: Ability scores
3rd Paragraph: Other biology and physical traits
4th Paragraph: Tactics and mentality

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

That is why I'd prefer that the document be:

1st Paragraph: Ecology and Culture
2nd Paragraph: Ability scores
3rd Paragraph: Other biology and physical traits
4th Paragraph: Tactics and mentality



Works for me. The trick is to make all of these factors cohere well. If they are weak but agile, then their culture wont get longsword proficiency.

If the culture favors Bard, then most likely, it has high Charisma to give the race an edge to survive and flourish in this niche. Then the culture will value the Bard, granting prestige, organizing the social structure around the values that the Bard class values, and so on.