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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Sun Gnome View Post
    I actually preferred the old lore of the gnolls. In the Forgotten Realms, one of their strongholds is the nation of Thay, and gnolls are the overseers of slaves, form units in the armies of the Zulkirs and do some of the dirtiest work in that nation. The new lore makes them pretty unsuited for the role of heavies in that nation.
    What in the 5e fluff makes them unsuited to that stuff? Is it just the whole chaotic pillage and burn stuff?
    Tales from the Trashcan

  2. - Top - End - #152
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Gnome, Deep (Svirfneblin)

    Introduction

    As Drow are to Elves and Duergar are to Dwarves, Deep Gnomes are to Gnomes. Stubborn and distrustful of outsiders, the Deep Gnomes are rarely ever seen on the surface world. A subrace of the Gnome, Svirfneblin can be just as kind-hearted and compassionate as their surface cousins. These characters play a large part in some classic D&D literature and they play a central role in the 5E module Out of the Abyss. Their first appearance in D&D appears to be the module D2 Shrine of Kuo-Toa (1978) and D3 Vault of the Drow (1978) and then the original Fiend Folio (1981). They first became a playable race in AD&D’s Unearthed Arcana (1985) and have stayed firmly on the NPC/PC side of things ever since.

    Art

    The Deep Gnome art is fairly sparse in the 5E Monster Manual; more can be seen in the aforementioned Out of the Abyss module. They are said to have grayish hued skin that resembles stone. The Deep Gnome presented is determined looking, standing defiant with a scowl on his face. He stands wide-legged with a hand on his hip, looking for all the world like he’s watching a careful negotiation, just waiting to smack somebody with that pickaxe. A portly looking fellow; he has a big, hard-looking belly and muscled arms that communicate a sense of solidness. I would have liked more art; something that also communicates their ‘gnomish’ and compassionate side but I think the picture as presented clearly shows a no-nonsense folk, not afraid to defend themselves.

    Purpose and Tactics

    Miners, scouts, tradesmen and elementalists, Deep Gnomes can be encountered in the wild Underdark or in their communities. The standard Deep Gnome presented in the MM has a bonus to stealth, a very good dark vision, a natural ability to camouflage with stone, the usual Gnome resistance to spellcasting and they have their own proclivity to naturally cast spells. Their natural ability to cast spells gives them access to Nondetection, Blur, Blindness/Deafness, and Disguise Self; not overly powerful but definitely useful. For combat purposes they have a war pick and a poisoned dart attack.

    Fluff

    The Deep Gnomes love their mines and tunnels and are very close to the Earth Elements; even having the power to summon Earth Elementals and other type of creatures (though it’s not presented in the actual stat block). It’s difficult to imagine them serving as much other than NPC’s and a safe-space in the horrors of the Underdark. Not the most iconic D&D creature, they do play a significant role in several Drizzt Do’Urden books and the aforementioned modules.

    Hooks

    During your travels through the Underdark you come across a lone Deep Gnome scout. Upon winning his trust he tells you of his people’s struggle to reclaim their home, Blingdenstone, which was lost to the Drow over a hundred years ago. Can the party muster the courage to help the Deep Gnomes retake their ancient home? (Thanks to Out of the Abyss and R.A. Salvatore for this idea).

    A band of Zhent’s approach your group in the tavern and begin to complain of a group of mean-mouthed little buggers who stole their newly acquired map. They claim the map is rightfully theirs and leads to special gems that can be used to store and unleash spells. Can you help the Zhents recover the map and claim the gems? (AKA can you really spot who the bad guys are here, despite appearances?)

    Verdict

    Deep Gnomes definitely seem like the lone non-slaver, non-evil refuge in the Underdark. Presented as dour and suspicious but kind-hearted when you earn their trust, they seem like good NPC’s for an Underdark adventure where they can serve as NPC quest givers, allies or as a compassionate place in the Underdark to recover.
    Last edited by INDYSTAR188; 2017-03-27 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Needed a title!

  3. - Top - End - #153
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    The Deep Gnomes have always seemed like a "Hey we need an Underdark Race that's not evil" afterthought to me; but then, I've never seen a real place for gnomes, either. Maybe I'm just anti-gnome at heart.
    This ... is my signature finishing move!

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  4. - Top - End - #154
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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Shining Wrath View Post
    The Deep Gnomes have always seemed like a "Hey we need an Underdark Race that's not evil" afterthought to me; but then, I've never seen a real place for gnomes, either. Maybe I'm just anti-gnome at heart.
    I'm not a huge fan of gnomes either (too similar to halflings, I personally feel one of them should go). That being said, Deep Gnomes are the exception. They're not kooky, not annoying, they're just sneaky and no-nonsense. They also have a fairly decent PC race with the Elemental Evil Player's companion.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Spellbreaker26 View Post
    I'm not a huge fan of gnomes either (too similar to halflings, I personally feel one of them should go). That being said, Deep Gnomes are the exception. They're not kooky, not annoying, they're just sneaky and no-nonsense. They also have a fairly decent PC race with the Elemental Evil Player's companion.
    How'd I do on my first write-up? I have never played pre-3rd edition so I had to do a touch of background research. I think Deep Gnomes make excellent NPC's and can make a decent 'outlander'-type PC. I think of Halflings more as "Human-lite" and I think of Gnomes more as "Elf-lite". They seem much more fey, much more 'aligned' with nature whereas Halfling seems to be 'plucky adventurer; good natured, lucky and brave'.

  6. - Top - End - #156
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    How'd I do on my first write-up? I have never played pre-3rd edition so I had to do a touch of background research. I think Deep Gnomes make excellent NPC's and can make a decent 'outlander'-type PC. I think of Halflings more as "Human-lite" and I think of Gnomes more as "Elf-lite". They seem much more fey, much more 'aligned' with nature whereas Halfling seems to be 'plucky adventurer; good natured, lucky and brave'.
    You did well, Padawan.

    A minor criticism: bold header words like Art.
    This ... is my signature finishing move!

    "It's never good when you make a fiend cringe" - MadGrady

    According to some online quiz, I'm a 6th level TN Wizard. They didn't give me full XP for all the monsters I've defeated while daydreaming.
    http://easydamus.com/character.html

    I am a Ranger Archetype: Gleaming Warden (thx to Ninja Prawn)

  7. - Top - End - #157
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Shining Wrath View Post
    You did well, Padawan.

    A minor criticism: bold header words like Art.
    Thanks for your feedback, I went and updated the post. Reads much better now!

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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    How'd I do on my first write-up? I have never played pre-3rd edition so I had to do a touch of background research. I think Deep Gnomes make excellent NPC's and can make a decent 'outlander'-type PC. I think of Halflings more as "Human-lite" and I think of Gnomes more as "Elf-lite". They seem much more fey, much more 'aligned' with nature whereas Halfling seems to be 'plucky adventurer; good natured, lucky and brave'.
    You did fairly well. One point of constructive criticism, though, is that when doing the write-ups don't just repeat stuff in the manual, but comment on it. E.G. Instead of saying "they have a war pick and poison darts", because someone who reads that part of the monster manual can see that, say what that implies - for example, "poison darts along with their stealth bonuses make them excellent ambushers".

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Spellbreaker26 View Post
    You did fairly well. One point of constructive criticism, though, is that when doing the write-ups don't just repeat stuff in the manual, but comment on it. E.G. Instead of saying "they have a war pick and poison darts", because someone who reads that part of the monster manual can see that, say what that implies - for example, "poison darts along with their stealth bonuses make them excellent ambushers".
    Thanks! I'm in the UI/User Experience community professionally so criticism is appreciated and expected. What else could you expand on in that section regarding tactics? Aside from ambush, which they seem absolutely made for, how else can they be deadly? Maybe using tunnels and traps a la Tucker's kobolds?

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftcheese View Post
    What in the 5e fluff makes them unsuited to that stuff? Is it just the whole chaotic pillage and burn stuff?
    Pretty much. A race like that could never work as the heavies (or at least one set of them) in a nation like Thay. The description of Gnolls in 3.5 was far better suited to the political setup of Thay, where the different Zulkirs are plotting against each other and Szass Tam all the time. The gnolls tendency for fighting each other was useful to stop them from making too much trouble in that land.

    As for the gnolls, aside from the lore, as hyenas have jaws that are designed to crush bones and have an incredibly powerful bite, I always thought the damage from their bite attack should be bludgeoning and should be 2d6, as 1d4 seems a bit on the weak side.
    Gnome Wizard by DarkCorax

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Sun Gnome View Post
    Pretty much. A race like that could never work as the heavies (or at least one set of them) in a nation like Thay. The description of Gnolls in 3.5 was far better suited to the political setup of Thay, where the different Zulkirs are plotting against each other and Szass Tam all the time. The gnolls tendency for fighting each other was useful to stop them from making too much trouble in that land.

    As for the gnolls, aside from the lore, as hyenas have jaws that are designed to crush bones and have an incredibly powerful bite, I always thought the damage from their bite attack should be bludgeoning and should be 2d6, as 1d4 seems a bit on the weak side.
    They lose a little of the hyena's bite power with the humanoid skull - there just aren't the anchor points for those massive muscles that a canine skull provides. At least, if you want to handwave it away, that's justification. Of course, I don't allow physics or chemistry at my table, except for hilarity. Letting the Conjurer conjure 10 pounds of sodium into a pot full of water = funny, once.

    As a comparison, I wrote up a Big Book of Bigger Beasts (DMsGuild), and the estimated bite force of Megalodon is something like 30x that of Tyrannosaurus Rex; so if I had wanted to keep things right in terms of "physics", Megalodon would be biting for ~500 HP per bite. Even by CR 30 standards that would be absurd. Instead I gave it about 50 HP / bite but its bite attack ignores armor.
    This ... is my signature finishing move!

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  12. - Top - End - #162
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    To go back to the Gnoll a bit, I had an idea that might be an interesting encounter for a Druid, Ranger or natuer-inclined adventurer

    The group meets a hyena that needs help. Be it sickness, wounds, pregnancy, etc, ... the hyena is not hostile, and will die if not helped.

    If helped, the hyena will eventually be found by a gnoll band, and transform into a Gnoll.

    And if the adventurers' path cross the one of the band, this Gnoll will recognize their savior. And even be grateful.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    To go back to the Gnoll a bit, I had an idea that might be an interesting encounter for a Druid, Ranger or natuer-inclined adventurer

    The group meets a hyena that needs help. Be it sickness, wounds, pregnancy, etc, ... the hyena is not hostile, and will die if not helped.

    If helped, the hyena will eventually be found by a gnoll band, and transform into a Gnoll.

    And if the adventurers' path cross the one of the band, this Gnoll will recognize their savior. And even be grateful.
    This idea is cool and I think my party's resident druid would really like it.
    However my twisted mind can't help but think of this;

    The party meets a hyena that needs help, after helping it the hyena follows them and even helps/ bonds with them(how long this goes on is in direct proportion with how evil you are as a DM). Then Gnolls attack, capture, and forcibly transform the Hyena into a Fang of Yeeonghu as the PCs watch, seeing in gruesome detail just how these savage creatures are created. After this the new Fang is no longer the pet they once knew but a monster of pure hunger for flesh- and the party's flesh just happens to be nearby.

  14. - Top - End - #164
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Arimm View Post
    This idea is cool and I think my party's resident druid would really like it.
    However my twisted mind can't help but think of this;

    The party meets a hyena that needs help, after helping it the hyena follows them and even helps/ bonds with them(how long this goes on is in direct proportion with how evil you are as a DM). Then Gnolls attack, capture, and forcibly transform the Hyena into a Fang of Yeeonghu as the PCs watch, seeing in gruesome detail just how these savage creatures are created. After this the new Fang is no longer the pet they once knew but a monster of pure hunger for flesh- and the party's flesh just happens to be nearby.
    That's the despair porn version.

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by Arimm View Post
    This idea is cool and I think my party's resident druid would really like it.
    However my twisted mind can't help but think of this;

    The party meets a hyena that needs help, after helping it the hyena follows them and even helps/ bonds with them(how long this goes on is in direct proportion with how evil you are as a DM). Then Gnolls attack, capture, and forcibly transform the Hyena into a Fang of Yeeonghu as the PCs watch, seeing in gruesome detail just how these savage creatures are created. After this the new Fang is no longer the pet they once knew but a monster of pure hunger for flesh- and the party's flesh just happens to be nearby.
    To be technical, the Fang Of Yeenoguh is the mechanism which allows a hyena to become a gnoll simply by consuming the flesh of the Fang's victim. A regular gnoll is converted into a Fang by the "favor" of Yeenoguh.

    Now, you could have gnolls attacking travelers etc. and capturing every hyena they can, because they have a Fang; and so the gnolls attack, seize the hyena, and carry it off to become a gnoll. Later the party meets some gnolls, one does recognize them and doesn't want to fight - so the other gnolls slaughter it as a weakling before the party's eyes.

    This is one of those moments where the entire party rages, not just the barbarian.
    This ... is my signature finishing move!

    "It's never good when you make a fiend cringe" - MadGrady

    According to some online quiz, I'm a 6th level TN Wizard. They didn't give me full XP for all the monsters I've defeated while daydreaming.
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  16. - Top - End - #166
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    I'd rather have the hyena-turned-Gnoll slaughter the other Gnolls, maybe with help from the MCs.

    Maybe there could be hints dropped that the Gnolls are hunting and have been seen bringing back preys (hyenas, in particular) alive to their camp.

    And then, this encounter.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    I haven't played Out of the Abyss or read any of the Drizzt fiction, but I like the Monster Manual svirfneblin entry for its efficiency in conveying the idea of a no-nonsense, reclusive race both in the stats and the fluff. For svirfneblin in an antagonist role, I could see them being a moderately formidable obstacle if a party were to trespass through their tunnels (knowingly or unknowingly). Between Blur, Camoflage, and their saves they seem pretty durable for their CR and those poison darts could extend their survivability, particularly if the gnomes stick to guerrilla tactics and leave the melee to their earth elemental allies.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Also, does anyone know where the name "svirfneblin" comes from? Does it have roots in folklore?

    I ask because the name sounds just a little bit like "Smurf", which I thought was smurfed in the 20th century.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by not_a_fish View Post
    Also, does anyone know where the name "svirfneblin" comes from? Does it have roots in folklore?

    I ask because the name sounds just a little bit like "Smurf", which I thought was smurfed in the 20th century.
    quick google search found some guesses, but nothing certain.

    possibility 1: svart + nibel (that's dark or black + mist, apparently?)

    possibility 2: neblin is apparently pretty similar to the name of a specific dwarf from the story of siegfried, whose name is sometimes used as a stand-in for dwarves in general. combining it with the guess of "svirf" coming from "svart", that would make it "dark dwarf" which, provided you interpret dark as referring to the places they live rather than any predisposition towards evil deeds, is honestly not a terrible description of a svirfneblin. probably even more so if you think of them in terms of norse mythology.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by not_a_fish View Post
    I haven't played Out of the Abyss or read any of the Drizzt fiction, but I like the Monster Manual svirfneblin entry for its efficiency in conveying the idea of a no-nonsense, reclusive race both in the stats and the fluff. For svirfneblin in an antagonist role, I could see them being a moderately formidable obstacle if a party were to trespass through their tunnels (knowingly or unknowingly). Between Blur, Camoflage, and their saves they seem pretty durable for their CR and those poison darts could extend their survivability, particularly if the gnomes stick to guerrilla tactics and leave the melee to their earth elemental allies.
    The "earth elemental allies" bit of their entry is the bit that fires up my imagination tbh.

    Are they carrying out the will of a Dao lord in the Prime Material? Do the beings from the Elemental Plane of Earth enslave them, do elementals work for the gnomes or do they see the svirfneblin as equals and have a mutually beneficial relationship? Were the svirfneblin created or shaped by influences from the Plane of Earth?
    Tales from the Trashcan

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Goblins

    Introduction

    As if they need one. These little monsters, along with orcs and kobolds, are included in almost every campaign that passes through level 1. They've been around since first edition days, they've appeared in every edition since then, and they are always suitable foes for that first encounter.

    Art
    I like it! It's almost too good for a goblin, actually. It ought to be dirtier and more rusty. The expression on the face, though, is pure gold. Malicious little jerk, is malicious.

    Purpose and Tactics
    Purpose? CR 1/4 mook. Tactics? Ah, now you're getting somewhere. The 5e goblin has Nimble Escape, and that lets them use their overwhelming numbers to give them a hope of victory. The 4e goblin had a shift when missed ability, but Nimble Escape is the real deal. The dread Goblin Conga Line can be used by a somewhat cheesy DM to swarm the squishy guys in the back row; it is possible to Withdraw forward, after all.

    Fluff
    One of the headings is Rat Keepers and Wolf Riders, and that's not a bad introduction to these guys. Little, nasty, aggressive when they have the advantage, run away when they don't. And there's this delightful quote:
    If you want soldiers or thugs, hire hobgoblins. If you want someone clubbed to death in their sleep, hire bugbears. If you want mean little fools, hire goblins.
    Hooks

    Seriously? You need me to tell you how to use goblins? OK.

    Classic #1: Someone is raiding the outlying farms and stealing sheep. Farmers report sightings of little people riding wolves.

    Classic #2: You near your very first dungeon. There's guards at the front gate. Guess what? Goblins!

    More sophisticated: You are tracking orc raiders. You discover goblins are also tracking the orcs, as goblins hate orcs. Can you make an alliance of convenience with the mean little jerks?

    Verdict
    The addition of Nimble Escape moves goblins out of the "bag of HP with weapon" category of 3rd edition and gives them a smidgen of flavor. The goblin boss, with Redirect Attack, adds more. Volo's provides more fluff and more goblins, including the justly despised Nilbog. Overall a monster so iconic that they dare not leave it out of any edition, given a good treatment in this book.
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    I notice that Volo's has a lot more monsters designed to irritate or punish the players. The nilbog is just one of them. But onto goblins.

    My paladin has a goblin servant he's mistreating. I look forward to the retribution.
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    One thing I noticed is that the goblins are yellow, rather than green, this edition. Combined with the hairstyle and partial armor and I think they're trying to bring the art in line to suggest a familial relationship with Hobgoblins more than previous editions.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by ShikomeKidoMi View Post
    One thing I noticed is that the goblins are yellow, rather than green, this edition. Combined with the hairstyle and partial armor and I think they're trying to bring the art in line to suggest a familial relationship with Hobgoblins more than previous editions.
    Was it the d&d goblins that were green? I thought that was various semi-humorous computer RPGs, not d&d.
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by ShikomeKidoMi View Post
    One thing I noticed is that the goblins are yellow, rather than green, this edition. Combined with the hairstyle and partial armor and I think they're trying to bring the art in line to suggest a familial relationship with Hobgoblins more than previous editions.
    3.5e goblins were brown in the picture and described as being anything from yellow through various shades of orange to deep red. I think the only edition with green goblins was 4e.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    The skin of all the standard mook humanoids tends to vary between shades of grey, green, yellow, and red. Personally, I just attribute it to some sort of orc/goblinoid equivalent of melanin.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    The only edition where goblins are green is 4e. Probably to be closer to the Warhammer/Warcraft-inspired ones.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    That goblin quote is the best
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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    Quote Originally Posted by JackPhoenix View Post
    3.5e goblins were brown in the picture and described as being anything from yellow through various shades of orange to deep red. I think the only edition with green goblins was 4e.
    Fair enough, but this guy is exactly the same shade of yellow as the hobgoblins and has the same color hair. They weren't that coordinated before.
    Last edited by ShikomeKidoMi; 2017-03-30 at 06:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Let's Read The Monster Manual II: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Fight Them

    The ancient hobgoblin empire had breeding programmes to produce the goblin and bugbear races. Hence why they all look very similar. Either that or goblins are the halfling to the hobgoblin's human and the bugbear's orc.
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