When you ask most anyone to think of a fantasy setting or adventure, they tend to arrive at a fairly similar mental image. A mixed bag of swords and sorcery, in a medieval European-like setting, off to save the world from evil. It’s one of the greatest failings of the genre, really, just how predictable and oft-treaded many campaigns are. For some people, that’s all they've ever known.
And hey, if that’s what you enjoy, there’s nothing wrong with it. The chance to play hero has obvious appeal. But two weeks ago I played a game that was decidedly unheroic, and it was one of the most entertaining experiences I've had at any table.
Let me tell you about We Be Goblins.
We Be Goblins is a Pathfinder one-shot (meaning you finish the adventure in one sitting), starring a rag-tag and eccentric band of the titular little creatures. All the heavy lifting’s already been done for you: the characters are all pre-made, the setting, adventure path, and non-player characters have already been set for the GM. This is something that you can set up in no time if you’re familiar with the system, and a good place to learn if you’re not.
The goblins are bursting with personality, with illustrations, little songs, funny back-stories and all manners of strange personal items decorate their character sheets. From pet toads to a bottle of perfume (half-drunk), a lot of fun can be had just trying to find creative uses for these seemingly-useless odds and ends. And you’re going to have to be creative: as first-level goblins, everything in the world is bigger and stronger than you.
And that’s what’s so great about We Be Goblins: it forces you to look at a relatively standard fantasy setting from a completely new perspective. Without spoiling too much from the story, we at one point found ourselves fighting for our very lives when we accidentally spooked a lone, riderless horse, who took one look at our overlarge heads and decided they needed a stomping. Not exactly standard fantasy fare, right?
I've found that, for some people, this can make all the difference. A friend of mine, and one of the more recent additions to our gaming group, is just about the nicest person you’d ever meet. She’s unfailingly kind and bubbly, with a penchant for baking huge quantities of delicious treats. Yet the typical “do-gooders” narrative simply didn't engage her. It took a particularly bloody-minded assassin before she really caught the gaming bug, and she put that character to such alarming effect that it still sets the standard for “chaotic evil” at our table today.
At the end of the day, how you play will be up to you. But when considering your options, don’t be afraid to look at the unconventional. Because, like a fire-obsessed goblin who just discovered a big cache of fireworks, sometimes all it takes is a willingness to ask yourself “I wonder what’d happen if…”
Photo credit to Paizo
A steadfast avatar of failed potential, Sian took up writing when he discovered he didn't have the attention span to stick with anything else. A one-time optimist with a penchant for games of every description, he now sails the internet on a constant quest to slay his own towering cynicism.