Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monster Monday: Goblins of the Dreaming Dimension

Regular readers of Kickassitan already know the disdain that I bear for cookie-cutter monsters. I dislike hobgoblins, can't stand kobolds and desperately search for cures to Not Another Orc Syndrome. Goblins are one of those sorts of monsters that I just don't like because they're seldom an interesting choice when stocking the dungeon. "Oop, it's dungeon level 1, there must be goblins there," just doesn't happen in my games. They'd be vermen, there'd be a reason they're there, half of them would be mutants or some crazy difference from the other vermen and my players wouldn't necessarily know what to do with them. When I get tired of the vermen, I'll use something else. Frogmen? (Not bullywugs.) Turtleguys? Dingodudes? Whatever. The point is, if I'm going to do goblins, there's going to be a point to them and it's not just going to be "they're murderous little jerks who like to poke your grandma with sticks and ride dogs to death because they're eeeEEEeeevil like the fru-its of the dev-il." 

Beyond the veil of sleep, the minds of human beings drift on the aether across impossible gulfs of space and time, ultimately to settle in that remote and unearthly land known as the Dreaming Dimension. Here, the beings of distilled dreamstuff that men call elves create wild, shifting vistas unbound by the laws of reality out of inchoate possibility, only to destroy them utterly and replace them with something new or warp them into some half-formed nightmare. Against these backdrops, elves cavort in the dreamspaces sleeping mortal minds entrust them with, active participants in the dreams of men, living for the experiences they may glean from their contact with mortals, giving over a small portion of their dreamland authority to their dreaming visitors. While the elves direct the scenes played out in the Dreaming Dimension, it is important to note that they do not create them; goblins do.

A race of multitudinous forms and sizes, goblins are closer to the raw substance of dreams than elves and, as such, have a much easier time shaping it and warping it to their wills. If elves are the architects of the Dreaming Dimension, goblins are the contractors, carpenters, laborers and skilled hands tasked with and eminently capable of turning those visions into (a sort of) reality. Though they have little sophistication as it is understood by men (and elves), goblins have an intuitive cleverness that makes them excellent problem solvers, builders and troubleshooters, much like fox who finds every weakness in a farmer's fences to abscond with chickens no matter how many times the fence is repaired. Working in crews or gangs, the goblins of the Dreaming Dimension change the scenery of Man's dreams like stagehands in a theater, building and tearing down set after set, changing a prop here or there, making details as consistent or inconsistent as direction calls for.

Most goblins belong to a crew that owes its allegiance to one or more elven nobles, playing their necessary part in the nocturnal dramas that play out for mind's eyes of every sleeping human. Since currency is practically unknown in the Dreaming Dimension (except as it figures into the dreams of mortals, which often means it is portrayed in a less-than-accurate light), and goblins can make any object they desire out of the unformed substance of the Dreaming Dimension, their loyalty is not compelled through material gain, but through the threat of corporal punishment and a several-fold reward system based around a sense of aesthetics. An elf might compose a song for his goblin work crew to sing through its labors, might teach them the location in the night sky of a new-born constellation, might show them a new shade of blue he'd just invented, might serve them a feast taken from dreams of sleeping mortals, anything that shares a new joy or pleasure with the goblins. The highest honor that an elf may bestow upon a goblin is a name, a real name that belongs to him and him alone, and not a title like "foreman" or "stagehand." Named goblins are regarded as elders among their kind, and their ability to shape the raw stuff of the dreamscape improves dramatically.

While the vast majority of goblins serve the elves who create and inhabit dreams, there are a goodly number in the employ of those degenerate elves responsible for nightmares. This Nightmare Court trades in horror and panic, teaching its goblins the pleasures of cruelty and wickedness. Few elves know the names of their cousins in the Nightmare Court as they remain masked and use cryptic aliases ("He Who Rings A Bell Upon The Finding Of A Pin" for one), but every goblin knows the name of the butcher and sadist goblins who earn their names from the Nightmare Court, for they will torture mortal and immortal alike with few prejudices. Still, unnamed goblins of the Nightmare Court may depart their gangs at the behest of their masters and take up life among the goblin crews, working to earn their names by subverting the crews, corrupting them from within and subtling teaching the pleasures of the darker passions. This interference has fostered a malignant streak which,uninterrupted by the indifference of their masters, is subtly changing the goblin species for the worse.

AC: 8
HD: d6
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: d6
Dexterity: 12
Move: 12
Alignment: Neutral (1 CE : 3 N)
Treasure: 12 (1)

For every 6 goblins, there will be one 2d6 HD foreman and for every 3 foreman there will be one 4d6 HD boss, who will directly answer to an elven master. In their home dimension, goblins are capable of minor magics and illusions (as well as the sorts of small magics that other rules sets might call "cantrips"). Foremen and bosses may cast spells as Magic-Users of a level equal to their hit dice.

[EDIT: Corrected the number of attacks.]