Red Box Workshop: The Goblin PC


These small humanoids are gnarled and ugly. Their temperaments tend toward cowardice, cruelty and greed, but a few exhibit nobler qualities. Goblins come in many hues, from dull tan and ashen gray to various shades of green. Their red eyes shine in dim light like a rat’s.

The prime requisite for a goblin is Dexterity. A goblin character whose Dexterity score is 13 or higher will receive a bonus on earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Goblins use four-sided dice (d4) to determine their hit points. They may advance to a maximum of 10th level of experience. Goblins may use any type of weapon that has been “cut down” to their size. Thus, they cannot use a two-handed sword or long bow, but may use a sword or short bow. They may wear nothing more protective than leather armor, and cannot use a shield. Goblins fear and hate bright light. Goblins of third level or lower suffer a -1 penalty to all “to hit” rolls in full sunlight or its equivalent. At fourth level, goblins overcome their fear and no longer suffer a penalty. Goblins must have a minimum score of 9 in Dexterity.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Goblins live in underground caverns and warrens, and have infravision (heat-sensing sight) which allows them to see 60 feet in the dark. A goblin’s sneaky nature allows it to move silently and hide in shadows as a thief. Likewise, when attacking unnoticed from behind, a goblin gains a bonus of +4 on “to hit” rolls and inflicts double the usual amount of damage. All goblins speak Common, Goblin and the alignment language or dialect of the character, plus the languages of hobgoblins and bugbears.

SAVING THROWS: As thieves.


ADVANCEMENT: As per the thief advancement table.

14 Responses to “Red Box Workshop: The Goblin PC”

  1. April 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Sounds good to me!

  2. 2 James_Nostack
    April 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    So it’s a Thief minus 5-6 skills, poor daylight vision, and infravision?

  3. April 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    There’s a very strong synergy between infravision and the backstab ability. Three bonus languages are also handy.

  4. 4 Lord Bodacious
    April 9, 2010 at 3:06 am

    I’m a bit wary of “balance” in an old school minded game – the early classes were totally imbalanced at various levels. 4E classes very balanced and poorer for it (and before you call me a hypocrite for suggesting balance with the gnome class, recall that I have a gnome pc, but no goblin, see?).

    That being said, I might consider bumping up the toughness a little, via improved armor and/or shields, hit dice, or saves. Functionally it’s a great scout class with a focus on one aspect of thievish abilities. Come to think of it, thievish listen might also be a nice fit, although all of this combined would be too much.

    On some level the goblin is a foil to the gnome, each representing different aspects of thievery with a demihuman flair. Great stuff in any case!

  5. April 9, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Lots of flavor. Dig it!

  6. 6 Eric W
    April 9, 2010 at 7:03 am

    How about raised immunity to toxins and poisons? Goblins not only often hang out with snakes and vermin, they are used to consuming meat and mead others find atrocious. I’d suggest a hardier constitution versus poison and disease (e.g. saving throws).

    Also, given diminutive stature, maybe give them a halfling’s AC bonus against larger than man-sized creatures?

    If that’s not enough, maybe something to do with trap-setting. Goblins are venal, cowardly, sniveling creatures. A graduating skill in setting traps — or detecting them — might give added flavor to the class.

  7. April 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I’d been waffling about whether to give the goblin a fighter’s saving throws. The halfling’s AC bonus against large foes is probably a better bet; it fits well and is nicely situational.

  8. 8 Bargle
    April 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I think it’s easy to forget the beneficience of advancement to 10th level compared to the halfling and dwarf which balances things just a bit.

    Make them immune to disease instead of the tired “bonus vs large foes” which only serves to cheapen said ability for dwarves/halflings (who after all have a history of enmity and fighting with giants– which goblins don’t.

  9. April 9, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Dwarves do not, in fact, get the bonus against large foes in Red Box. Halflings explicitly receive the bonus because of their “small size and skill at dodging”; no reference is made to a history of enmity and fighting with giants.

  10. 10 Bargle
    April 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    I think I need to brush up on my mentzer…

  11. 11 Eric W
    April 12, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    In which I find I have too much invested in goblins…

    I bid again for goblins having a more-or-less innate trap sense. Somewhere in the red book it says Dwarves have a greater chance of detecting traps (I guess from knowing earth and stoneworks). Since goblins are tribal and underhanded, I propose goblins have the same adjustment given they’ve seen a lot of pranks before, deadly and otherwise.

  12. 12 Lord Bodacious
    April 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Eric W, I suffer similarly.

    A big part of the challenge is that goblin’s have been represented in SO many ways across sources/genres that it becomes tricky to agree what traits are the most “goblin”.

    Even within Glantri there are multiple sub-species, with urban and forest gobbies being very different critters.

    – Tough gob: increased armor and/or saves
    – Scrappy gob: add bonus vs. big ‘uns
    – Trappy gob: increased trap sense
    – Scouty gob: add listen to thief list
    – Toxic gob: add poison/disease resistance
    – Wimpy gob: leave as-is

    Theoretically, the spirit of preserving “red box authenticity” has our goblin stick as closely as possible to the monster entry (don’t have this on me). Unfortunately I believe this makes him pretty vanilla/weak. With the gnome eric added in the nice spellcaster flair, so far the gob is getting the scouty side of the thief stick.

  13. April 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I like how easy it is in OD&D and Red Box to redesign a class to suit your needs. If you don’t like the extant Goblin class (or Fighter, or Cleric, or Elf), just design a modified version and go to town.

    If I recall correctly, there were rules for this in the core books for AD&D 2e.

  14. 14 Lord Bodacious
    April 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I like it!

    Updated Glantrian Henchmen Goblin, as written BUT:

    – Use d6 for hit dice
    – can wear chain armor & use shields
    – saves as dwarf
    – shoots lazers
    – fireproof

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Past Adventures of the Mule

April 2010

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