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    Default Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    (forgive me for sucking this is my first day on this site)
    I just ran a session for my LV 1 players where they encountered a Goblin Lair. The Goblins were afraid and cowered in fear for what was at the end of the Goblin lair. They were so scared they didn't want to fight the players when they saw them so my players didn't bother slaughtering them.
    When they got to the end they saw what the Gooblins were so scared of, one of their Goblin brotheren had gone mad with power due to a crown on his head that gave him frost breath (a gem in the crown encapsuled a frost dragon born prisoner within it gave wearers of the crow the ability to use his frost breath). My players killed the crazy goblin (didn't free the Dragonborn as I hoped) and all the Goblins that were once scared in the Lair rejoiced and bowed down to them, so the players decided to stay a while and spend a long rest with them playing games and all that jazz.

    After the Long rest a player interrupted (out of character) and asked if it is realistic for that to happen with goblins. "Wouldn't they just want to kill us because of Goblins alignment?". All my players then admitted it was a fun encounter but they would rather it be realistic. The problem though is I think it is realistic.

    Due to their feed back I wont do an encounter like that again but I must know from you guys, is it realistic to befriend a Goblinoid creature after saving them?? Probably not a bug bear I would say but I can see a Goblin or a Hobgonblin...
    Last edited by Fappio64; 2018-01-11 at 09:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Goblinoids are intelligent humanoid creatures. They might be sneaky and prone to backstabbing by nature, but they aren't fundamentally evil. They're not demons or devils, which are literally made of evil. It's like saying that elves have to love nature and singing and dwarves have to be drunks who are always after gold and bar fights.
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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Short answer: there is no wrong way to play goblins.

    Long answer: It depends on the game, edition, setting and tone of the campaign.

    In most D&D settings Goblins are some variation of evil. As a general rule, they are spiteful little cowards. That doesn't mean that they all eat babies. I mean, sure, some of them do, but it's not exactly a racial ability. I would say that your goblins reacted in a pretty traditional manner. They cowered in fear, celebrated their saviors, and probably had a vicious fight for new leadership as soon as the big, tough PCs left.

    If your players are looking for a kill-all-greenskins kind of campaign, then they won't want you to humanize the monsterous humanoids. Most players don't enjoy "murder," but see killing goblins and the like as exterminating vermin. It looks like you would prefer more depth... Might be worth a conversation.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Yeah; for one thing, Goblins are just usually evil, not 100% evil. For another, while YMMV, I'd consider them the "lacks empathy" type of evil, not the "devoted to doing evil" kind. So they're not going to do evil stuff just for it's own sake.

    Also, even if they /were/ pure evil, they have average intelligence and aren't suicidally brave. They're not going to start a fight with a group that could clearly wipe them out,

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    You are 100% in the right here because YOU are the one running the campaign. If you decided or rolled that the goblins did not kill or attempt to kill the party for specific reasons, THAT is how it is.

    Further, evil is and always has been shades of grey. You DO need to explain to your players what your stance on alignment is and how its used in your world.

    I've used this outcome several times myself and even had one player hire an entire clan out for extra odd jobs and fly his banner. He knew they were evil in nature but understood that, properly motivated/trained, they could be a loyal workforce under his swat.
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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    You are the GM, you get to tell the players what goblins are like in your setting, or your interpretation of this setting.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    I am sensing much DM rage in this thread.

    Let's think about this a different way. If you invite friends over to play basketball in your driveway and they say that next time they want to play baseball, do you get upset?

    Just give the damn murder hobos some greenskins to kill.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Goblins are evil, they are not remorseless suicidal murderbots that only know peace when slain by an enemy. It's plausible that they will party with dangerous killers who solved a problem for them. Goblin bands are usually ruled by a strongman who the others suck up, so it's in character for their society not to attack the temporary biggest badasses in the room (at least until they show weakness).
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2018-01-11 at 10:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Some people like to look at evil humanoids as free moral actors who caught the short end of the stick, some people like to view them as having a strong inborn lean towards Evil that only the rarest can overcome. 3.0 has most evil humanoids as "usually evil", but orcs were downgraded from "usually" to "often" in 3.5 since they were the usual evil humanoid race that was talked about. (IOWs, even the developers had differences of opinion in just how they wanted to play them.)

    Personally speaking, I like to let basically humanoid things have a much broader moral range, saving the strong inborn evil for the bigger baddies. As such, I'd say that the normally evil humanoids could be brought back pretty easily, given an advocate an and opportunity. Other people think that this forces all Good characters to be social workers, and prefer cannon fodder who they can eradicate with no moral issues whatsoever. Neither choice is wrong. But keep in mind that either option will raise problems when you're around people who overthink in-game ethics.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    You are the GM, you get to tell the players what goblins are like in your setting, or your interpretation of this setting.
    I do do that. But if they dont like it i dont repeat it agian. If they arent liking the encounter and they let me know it during the encounter I wont rewind or change my mind on how things are done. Im not that insecure.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by redwizard007 View Post
    Just give the damn murder hobos some greenskins to kill.
    They kill enough green skins. I wanted to spice things up, apparently that was not ok. They're feeding into the cliches and how things otta be in fantasy role play.

    But like i said, if they didnt like it i usually dont repeat it. So I wont be making any more nice goblins for these guys. It's their loss...

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    I just...for my own sanity, I need to check.

    They're insisting, in a fantasy setting, an imaginary world, dictated by someone else, that a race of made-up creatures are not acting realistically?

    ...my head hurts.

    So, there's a gem of writing advice in here. The whole video is an excellent watch, but listen closely to the anecdote he shares about his father's advice on killing a vampire.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    I just...for my own sanity, I need to check.

    They're insisting, in a fantasy setting, an imaginary world, dictated by someone else, that a race of made-up creatures are not acting realistically?

    ...my head hurts.

    So, there's a gem of writing advice in here. The whole video is an excellent watch, but listen closely to the anecdote he shares about his father's advice on killing a vampire.
    What this guy said. Goblins do not exist outside of the imagination. How you imagine them is up to you. Woefully poorly written rulebooks shoehorn every race into a few, select stereotypes. If you feel like being better than the rulebooks, more power to you.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    I mean, goblins are conniving, grievious backstabbing son-of-a-bitches, but your characters basically saved them from a terrible fate, so I don't think it's unrealistic for them to act in gratitude.

    I don't think this attitude of the goblins extends necessarily to other humans unless one of the players decide to educate the goblins in civility. But if doing so, they could possibly change this group of goblins outlook on life and become a friendly tribe.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Arguing on the base on alignment is just weird, depending on the exact game and edition. Alignment doesn't always describe behaviour and IMHO is better when it doesn't. But when it does alignment is descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Alignment describes how a creature normally acts, it doesn't tell you. Darth Vader is chaotic evil, but he doesn't go around murdering Ewoks just because he can (a large tactical mistake on his part). Light Yagami is Lawful Evil, but behaves very differently to Emperor Palpatine who is also Lawful Evil. Lancelot is still Lawful Good despite (Arthurian myth spoilers incomings)
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    Despite what the books and various cartoons tend to say a Chaotic Evil person could value friendship or loyalty or honour, as long as it doesn't conflict with them being Chaotic. They normally don't in games, but there's no problem with it.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by Fappio64 View Post
    (forgive me for sucking this is my first day on this site)
    I just ran a session for my LV 1 players where they encountered a Goblin Lair. The Goblins were afraid and cowered in fear for what was at the end of the Goblin lair. They were so scared they didn't want to fight the players when they saw them so my players didn't bother slaughtering them.
    When they got to the end they saw what the Gooblins were so scared of, one of their Goblin brotheren had gone mad with power due to a crown on his head that gave him frost breath (a gem in the crown encapsuled a frost dragon born prisoner within it gave wearers of the crow the ability to use his frost breath). My players killed the crazy goblin (didn't free the Dragonborn as I hoped) and all the Goblins that were once scared in the Lair rejoiced and bowed down to them, so the players decided to stay a while and spend a long rest with them playing games and all that jazz.

    After the Long rest a player interrupted (out of character) and asked if it is realistic for that to happen with goblins. "Wouldn't they just want to kill us because of Goblins alignment?". All my players then admitted it was a fun encounter but they would rather it be realistic. The problem though is I think it is realistic.

    Due to their feed back I wont do an encounter like that again but I must know from you guys, is it realistic to befriend a Goblinoid creature after saving them?? Probably not a bug bear I would say but I can see a Goblin or a Hobgonblin...
    Let's break this down logically.

    A) The goblins are afraid of the mad frost breathing goblin
    B) The PC's kill the mad frost breathing goblin
    C) The PC's are friendly to the goblins

    So let's put this up like this

    A) I'm cowering in fear from a bear
    B) A dinosaur comes along and eats the bear
    C) The dinosaur is friendly towards me


    So would it be logical for me, who is afraid of a bear, to attack a freaking dinosaur? To me it seems monumentally stupid.

    And yes you are allowed to roleplay the goblins anyway you like and I think you are handling the situation intelligently. In most systems goblins aren't inherently evil as D&D is the only one that shoves objective morality down your throat.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    It depends on how you the DM depict them. Is the Goblin personality closer to that of an immoral human or to a blind force of destruction? Consider the tale of the Scorpion and the Frog.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Scorpion and the Frog by unknown
    The Scorpion and the Frog

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
    scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
    frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion
    says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

    The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
    the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
    paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
    but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

    Replies the scorpion: "Its my nature..."
    Even the most vile human (if in the form of the scorpion) would wait until they were across before it would consider stinging the frog (unless there was some history that would inspire enough spite to launch a suicidal attack). However the scorpion in this tale is a blind force of nature. This is the divide in how the savage races are cast. Either they are cast as stupid evil, or as evil but in a world where even evil people can have friends and gratitude.

    Of course this issue also expands out from the savage races. "That pauper stole a loaf of bread and must be locked away to rot in a dungeon cell" thru "Even The Devil should be offered the chance for redemption".


    Personally I see the savage races and even some monsters as being similar enough to humans that they become an analog for race relations. As such I go with the realistic evil (aka evil people can have friends, family, gratitude, and even act kindly towards some others) rather than cartoon evil (we killed them in their sleep because evil does that right?).
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2018-01-12 at 11:28 AM.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    I wanted to chime in again (because of wine,) to say that evil with depth. AKA, what you are doing, is my preference. I've DMd games where the players adopted goblin kids and raised them as cohorts. BUT I've also played at tables where everything that wasn't a PH race was to be insta-killed. Both were fun for different reasons.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    What you did was completely fine and I know many groups who'd have a blast with an adventure like that.

    But if your players prefer the designated evil races to be just cannon fodder to kill? That is fine too. I must also applaud you for taking player feedback and doing constructive things with it. In the end every group likes different things and as long as everyone is on the same page (in this example, no player feels bad that there won't be any more non-hostile goblinoids - and this includes you as well, the DM is the player!), the game is better off for it.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Personally I see the savage races and even some monsters as being similar enough to humans that they become an analog for race relations. As such I go with the realistic evil (aka evil people can have friends, family, gratitude, and even act kindly towards some others) rather than cartoon evil (we killed them in their sleep because evil does that right?).
    Do...do you not see how this is racist? You say that evil monsters can be an analog for race relations, meaning that some human ethnicities are good (inherently) while others are evil (inherently). Moreover, you define the inherently evil ones as "savage" and "monsters."

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Do...do you not see how this is racist? You say that evil monsters can be an analog for race relations, meaning that some human ethnicities are good (inherently) while others are evil (inherently). Moreover, you define the inherently evil ones as "savage" and "monsters."
    I assume you meant that as sarcasm, but just in case:

    The creatures commonly called the "savage races" (the "even some monsters" was in reference to "even some" undead & aberrations) do not have to live up to the stereotypes inflicted upon them by the "civilized races" or "goodly races". This is especially true when variance within a race is greater than the variance between races. Just because thousands of years of war have allowed the victor races to frame the narrative, does not mean the DM needs to turn that narrative into fact rather than play around with the complexities.

    Aka, no, I do not use "___ are inherently ___ or will always do ____" for the humanoid races.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2018-01-13 at 10:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by redwizard007 View Post
    I am sensing much DM rage in this thread.

    Let's think about this a different way. If you invite friends over to play basketball in your driveway and they say that next time they want to play baseball, do you get upset?

    Just give the damn murder hobos some greenskins to kill.
    If all of the players feel this way, you're probably right. But I"m not 100% sure we're reading the players correctly. I don't know if this was a just-asking-questions question by a player, or if this was a minor player revolt.

    Assuming it's not a full-scale player revolt (I don't think it is--I think the players who want to just kill things would have just murdered the cowering goblins in the first place on the way to the main combat encounter), then it's a reasonable question that can have a reasonable answer.

    Goblins aren't demons or devils, creatures made of primal Evil. They aren't depicted as especially enjoying suffering. They're cowardly, not terribly bright*, amoral, and treacherous. They're not diminutive Clone Troopers fanatically devoted to the cause of some Dark Lord. They can often be the comic relief in the campaign.

    At the beginning of the encounter, the goblins were afraid of Blarg, the Frost Lord. The PCs defeated the terrible Blarg, the Frost Lord, saving the tribe. So it's pretty logical that the goblins would be both A) genuinely grateful to the PCs for saving them and B) also terrified of the PCs, who could probably slaughter any or all of them without much difficulty. So the PCs may or may not sleep peacefully in the goblin lair, secure that the goblins won't have the courage to murder them in the night--but you never know. But, if the PCs are in danger from some greater threat, don't expect the Goblins to come charging in to save their friends--the goblins are more likely to sign up as minions of whatever is kicking the PCs butts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordaedil View Post
    I mean, goblins are conniving, grievious backstabbing son-of-a-bitches, but your characters basically saved them from a terrible fate, so I don't think it's unrealistic for them to act in gratitude.
    Agreed. It can be that simple, or it can be mixed with the fantasy flavor of inherent tendencies. (There is a strong argument that this is racist, but it's pretty hardwired into fantasy RPGs--if you want to fix that, just replace your humanoids and goblinoids with straight humans instead of Humans In Funny Suits. The argument is, in fact, so strong, that the idea of fantasy races cannot survive contact with it.)

    I don't think this attitude of the goblins extends necessarily to other humans unless one of the players decide to educate the goblins in civility. But if doing so, they could possibly change this group of goblins outlook on life and become a friendly tribe.
    Or the attempt could meet with very limited success. What the PCs are saying goes against everything in the goblins culture and upbringing. Depending on your worldbuilding as DM, it may be going against their inherent nature and possibly mental capabilities with the exception of the Cowardice trait, which will require them to attempt to do whatever their current Dark Lords and Masters--the PCs--say. Keep in mind the epilogue to Guardians of the Galaxy, where Drax and Rocket have serious difficulty comprehending the idea that they cannot steal or murder at their pleasure.

    * I just noticed that 3rd and 5th give Goblin Intelligence as 10, human average. I've been playing them dumber than that, in the 6-8 range. YMMV.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    A quick personal anecdote.

    The first Goblinoid (possibly only, come to think of it) I ever played was a Blue. These are Goblins who are, as a result of spontaneous prenatal mutation, (1) naturally Psionic, and (2) literally blue, hence the name. If I am remembering my lore correctly, Blues are hated, feared, and respected. Hated, because they are different and Goblins are, generally speaking, hateful and xenophobic little buggers. Feared, because they are more powerful than your average Goblin, and Goblins are, generally speaking, cowardly little buggers. And respected, because their power makes them useful to the community, and Goblins are, generally speaking, conniving little buggers who use whatever advantage they can get. So a Blue born to a Goblin community will generally rise to a position of leadership, or at least some authority, despite everyone hating him and not minding if he were to curl up and die, because he's dangerous.

    With me so far?

    In this scenario, there was the equivalent of a Blue. Mad, powerful, dangerous. He was hated, feared, and respected. And your PCs killed him.

    Now, generally speaking, nature abhors a vacuum. When an apex predator dies, something in the ecosystem fills the niche; alternatively, the ecosystem gradually collapses. One or the other; lifeforms bore me. My point is that the PCs killed the apex predator, proving themselves to be the new apex predators. Appropriately, even assuming that these Goblins are quite Evil, they now hate, fear, and respect the PCs, at least until said PCs are either (1) asleep, or (2) gone, at which point, you know, Goblins do what Goblins do.

    Because they are cowardly little buggers. Ain't complicated. And ain't nothing wrong with them going all Ewok on the PCs out of fear that the PCs might become their new Blue. Or whatever.
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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    In the ET novelization (and possibly the movie?) "befriending a goblin" is called out as one of the things the DM thinks is a big mistake for the players to do - and a justification for dropping a bunch of wandering monsters on the party.

    So even the mainstream media has had it as a D&D concept for a long time.
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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    OK, I've addressed this from a "Yes, your goblins acted well within the bounds of D&D goblin lore". Now I'd like to address it from a DM-ing perspective.

    On the one hand, yes, you are the DM, you are the ultimate authority over your game world. On the other hand, you're running a social game, which you can't do if you don't have players.

    I'd look at this out of character, pre-next-session conversation as an opportunity to strengthen your players respect for your DMing skill. Explain why the goblins did what they did, why how the goblins acted was within the parameters of your world's concept of goblins. Maybe sketch out how a band of orcs or hobgoblins wouldn't have reacted the same way--which is the whole point of having goblins and orcs and hobgoblins in the same setting (if you want to). That will also help nudge your players' perceptions of your monsters (including humanoids) from a statblock to adversaries with motivations.

    This doesn't mean your next 3-4 encounters can't all be mindlessly hostiles with no objectives larger than giving the party a cool fight. But it can help you to establish your DMing skillz in your players' minds.
    Last edited by johnbragg; 2018-01-13 at 10:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    You've got a DM-player imagination and envisioning disconnect. Figure out exactly how you view humanoids in your campaign, then communicate it to these players. And don't change it.

    It's one thing if your players think they're playing LotR humanoids and you're playing BECMI's known world humanoids. You can straighten that out with a conversation.

    But it's another if so far you've had all humanoids as irredeemably evil and suicidal enemies that fight to the last breath in service of an evil God. And you've suddenly switched them to sneaky, self-centered, untrustworthy evil, that are bullies and takes what they want when strong, and servile when weak, that mob up and destroy the land around them occasionally, putting them at odds with Demi-humans.

    Both are evil, but the latter can sometimes be worked with by adventurers if handled right. And will totally share a table, conflicting table manners notwithstanding. And will totally yuk it up in bad common, get drunk together. But adventurers can't trust them. They need to keep an eye on their belongings, post (sober) guards at night. And brutal crush the individuals that suddenly but inevitably betray them, but without blaming the entire tribe. Or at least, stick to the scapegoats handed over.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Arguing on the base on alignment is just weird, depending on the exact game and edition. Alignment doesn't always describe behaviour and IMHO is better when it doesn't. But when it does alignment is descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Alignment describes how a creature normally acts, it doesn't tell you. Darth Vader is chaotic evil, but he doesn't go around murdering Ewoks just because he can (a large tactical mistake on his part). Light Yagami is Lawful Evil, but behaves very differently to Emperor Palpatine who is also Lawful Evil. Lancelot is still Lawful Good despite (Arthurian myth spoilers incomings)
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    sleeping with his boss's wife.
    Darth Vader is Lawful Evil. Tarkin is Chaotic Evil. Palpatine, Kylo Ren, and Snoke are Neutral Evil.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by Fappio64 View Post
    After the Long rest a player interrupted (out of character) and asked if it is realistic for that to happen with goblins. "Wouldn't they just want to kill us because of Goblins alignment?". All my players then admitted it was a fun encounter but they would rather it be realistic. The problem though is I think it is realistic.
    Being evil does not preclude having friends. Hitler had friends, Stalin had friends, Jefferson Davis had friends, Dylann Roof has friends. Most people in crime syndicates have friends. Violent gangs are basically just social clubs whose group activities include beating people and extorting money

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    monsters can be an analog for race relations
    I think you're miss understanding him. He's saying they can be adjusted to have similar properties of other races. Nothing to do with the real world races.

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    Default Re: Is it unrealistic to befriend Goblinoids?? [Controversial?]

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    I'd look at this out of character, pre-next-session conversation as an opportunity to strengthen your players respect for your DMing skill. Explain why the goblins did what they did, why how the goblins acted was within the parameters of your world's concept of goblins. Maybe sketch out how a band of orcs or hobgoblins wouldn't have reacted the same way--which is the whole point of having goblins and orcs and hobgoblins in the same setting (if you want to). That will also help nudge your players' perceptions of your monsters (including humanoids) from a statblock to adversaries with motivations.
    That is a great Idea. I will definitively do this next time, becaus I thoroughly enjoyed the session and deep down I think they did they just didnt like what I did with he goblins. But this is a good idea.

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