Rappy’s RPG Reviews: The Slayer’s Guide to Goblins

21 Mar

Hey folks, Rappy here…sorta (long story short: I’m very busy today, so I have the auto-post feature on to post this for me while I’m away from the house). Yes, this blog is still alive, in spite of my life being so hectic, with friends and Pokemon Black being one of my only sources of comfort as of late. I was actually planning on doing a review earlier than this of Weird War II: Horrors of Weird War II, but…well…

Said bestiary includes undead kamikaze pilots and evil samurai ghosts. Considering the recent tragedy in Japan, I felt that reviewing said title, even if it’s only partially involving Japanese creatures, would be in bad taste. So instead, I’m going to be giving a small review of The Slayer’s Guide to Goblins, one of multiple titles in the “Slayer’s Guide” series by Mongoose Publishing. Expect more of these smaller reviews instead of me having to give long periods of update “droughts” to finish a large one.

What Makes a Goblin (Fluff-wise)

Like all of the Slayer’s Guides, this title begins with a look at the physiology of the classic Dungeons and Dragons monster it’s covering: in this case, the humble goblin. Don’t expect anything too revolutionary, though. While the anatomical drawings of a goblin skull and bone structure is enticing, and a more detailed look at the species draws you in, you start to notice certain words cropping up repeatedly. “Filth”, “despoiled”, “stench”. These are very much goblins as viewed through the eyes of an adventuring scholar that sees them as little more than monsters. The interpretation given here is of goblins as filth-ridden, smelly, parasite-plagued hordes that treat their females as little more than breeding stock for numerous children, kill and eat their own if they aren’t strong enough, enslave for the hell of it, and are intentionally made by a twisted god to be a ravenous horde because they couldn’t match the “good” qualities of the “better” breeds such as elves, dwarves, and halflings. They are described as misanthropic monsters that hate all life and all “beauty” (whatever measure “beauty” is supposed to mean in this case). The goblins presented here aren’t living things so much as they are strawmen built up to justify every goblin killed as purging the D&D world of a greater evil. Is this a bad thing? Well…that’s hard to say. If you want more depth and ambiguity or something more new and novel, then no. If you are happy with old school Lord of the Rings– and RPG cannon fodder-style goblins, at least this book helps you flesh out the stereotype’s details.

There are some pieces of the flavor text that aren’t too bogged down with stereotypes, though, and provide some useful ideas for both schools of thought on what a goblin is. The combat tactics section in particular makes for good DM reading, detailing such things as archer tactics, wolf cavalry, and battlefield spellcasters that sow chaos and discord in enemy ranks to allow their fellow warriors to make the finishing blow. This and other little tidbits make my time reading a bit more worth it.

What Makes a Goblin (Crunch-wise)

Scattered throughout the flavor of the book are some pieces of actual game rules. Of course, seeing as this is a review, it would be foolish to overlook these. So let’s get into that.

The Goblin Skulk Prestige Class: If you didn’t guess by its name, the Goblin Skulk is a sneak-based prestige class for goblins. While you would think such a prestige class would be Rogue-based, its requirements of things such as Track and Wilderness Lore seem to indicate that a goblin Ranger is who should be heading into this prestige class. Mechanically, it’s pretty much a Ranger-Rogue hybrid: 5 levels of “poison this, sneaking that, concealment and sneak attacks etc.”

Goblin Spells: Do you like blood sacrifices, darkness, or wolves? Then the handful of spells here are for you! W hile Vision of the Wolf (a “find worg” spell) seems definitely goblin-connected, the other spells such as Extinguish Light (does what it says on the tin) and Blood Glyph (literally making your enemies’ blood boil) seem more multi-species.

Goblins with Class: Class leveled goblins, including warriors and chieftains. Not much to say about those, really.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t mind wading through the stereotypical EEEEEEVIL stuff, you can actually find some nice little nuggets in this title. And hey, it’s short and cheap, so you don’t have to feel too bad about it. Still, due to the lack of major crunch, subjectivity, and my personal biases, I can only give The Slayer’s Guide to Goblins a slightly above-average score at 6/10.

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


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