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Monday, September 17, 2012

Goblin hordes should be more dangerous

For D&D, it just seems to me that goblin hordes should be something terrifying to everyone. Instead, a group of six mid-level adventurers could probably kick their butt. Most people work around this by including ogres and hobgoblins, but I think it would make more sense that even though goblins are little runts, if you have 200 of them rushing at you, you shouldn't just yawn and tell the mage to nuke them.

I might be able to pull it off if I had a bunch of self-made goblin mages, and a bunch of archers shooting a thousand arrows. It seems kind of goofy, though, as any decent-sized group of humans will have more than enough leveled adventurers to slaughter the little green guys.

I know this would work fine in Gurps or Runequest, but it just bugs me a bit that D&D kind of falls flat on such an obvious situation.


Talysman said...

Give 'em the thief's backstab ability. It fits better with the image of them as murderous opportunists instead of aggressive brutes.

Goblins shouldn't attack en masse unless the odds are 4 to 1 or better, in which case at least one goblin would do greater than normal damage, if you give 'em backstab. Otherwise, they prey on the weak, sneak up on sleeping victims and stab/strangle them (coup de grace.)

Dan said...

That's a really good idea!

Anonymous said...

Instead of treating 200 goblins as 200 1-1 HD creatures, why not treat it as, say, a dozen 10 HD monsters [the goblin platoon (or gaggle or whatever)]?

The Jovial Priest said...

I totally agree.

The non Maths option - goblins see in the dark - goblins only attack on dark nights and the first object of their attack are light sources - which I bet aren't being protected well - lanterns grappled, torches doused, fires blanketed. Now we fight on.

Maths option - my suggested mass combat rules
See my blog March 2012.
Essentially 200 goblins can't miss and will always do a proportion of their damage based on the number they need to hit and their d20 roll.

Anonymous said...

I think, even if the goblins were stupid enough (and they are kinda stupid, generally) to attack en masse a well equipped party, if you would roll 200 times for attack for goblin archers, they would hit around 10 times every round if they need a 20 to hit. That's 10d6, or d4 depending on system, or 2 dice of damage per head in a 5 headed adventurer group. Slightly more if the systems adds more damage for crits.
That would hinder spellslingers in casting and hurt even buffed fighters a little... and as the goblin body count starts to mount it's getting less, but yeah, the reason additional monsters like ogres and worgs and (in AD&D at least) higher level goblins are added is that the goblins are a force to be reckoned with - even as whimsy they are as a single creature.

And as I don't see goblins going forward as a tight formation, how many could be killed by a single fireball in a given round? Surely less than 20? 10?

Of course, they are not likely to go all the way and morale will falter propably rather fast, but 5th to 6th level PCs in the wilderness should be concerned about ressources, so even then... it is no meaningless encounter even if the PCs win rather easily.

Dan said...

Good points, everyone.

Charles Taylor (Charles Angus) said...

One thing D&D fails at (IMO) is non-one-on-one combat. As a fighter can defend themself equally well against one foe or 4, 4:1 odds don't seem so bad.

If your AC was always 10 against opponents beyond the first, people would think twice about engaging lots of little foes.

And it seems to me that with little guys like goblins, more could attack one person than with full-sized folk like humans.

Add those two things together, and suddenly goblins got a lot scarier, even if their stats are low.

That's how things work in the system I'm working on - only higher-level fighters can take on more than one opponent with full defense.