We Be Goblins is one of the most beloved Pathfinder scenarios ever published. Many new players are ushered into organized play by the adventure, and many old players return to play or run it again and again.
When Paizo announced that a sequel, We Be Goblins Too, would be the company’s offering for Free RPG Day 2013, naturally expectations were high. But does the sequel manage to live up to these expectations, or does it fall flat on its face?
The answer is neither. Although We Be Goblins Too is brimming with great set pieces and insane goblin lore, the adventures suffers from recycling its source material a little too gratuitously
You are the champions of the Licktoad tribe, the bravest goblins to ever haunt Brinestump Marsh. Unfortunately, while on an expedition to forage for fireworks, your entire tribe is wiped out by a band of adventurers. Now homeless, you head out to find the Birdcruncher tribe, your nearest neighbours, in hopes of joining them. However, it seems the Birdcruncher goblins have troubles of their own – an ogre named Pa Munchmeat and his fire-breathing boars.
It’s up to you to defeat Pa Munchmeat and return peace to the Birdcruncher tribe. Being goblins, of course, you have carte blanche to do so in the least peaceful manner possible.
The progression of We Be Goblins Too is almost identical to the original. The players participate in a goblin festival, get ambushed on the road, then infiltrate the antagonist’s hideout. It’s a simple formula, and it works, but it feels like the author played it a bit safe.
It’s a bit of the shame, considering how novel the original felt when it came out.
The first act, the chieftain’s moot, is probably the most entertaining. Like the original, the players must compete in three consecutive events in order to determine who will become the new chieftain. Each event is patently ridiculous, ranging from firing arrows blindly, to stomping stirges, to escaping a gigantic pie.
What elevates these encounters is the leeway for the game master to entertain imaginative solutions. Rather than stomping on the stirges directly, I had a goblin at my table stuff a bomb inside one of his boots and hurl it at a group of them. It’s great to have an outlet for players to goof around outside of the normal restraints of Pathfinder Society play.
What drags these encounters down is the wealth of magical items the goblin pregens have at their disposal. In We Be Goblins, the players had to improvise solutions with the limited menagerie of obtuse gear they began with. In We Be Goblins 2, the players begin with magical items as powerful as animal bane arrows, beads of force, and wands of fireball, and the adventure constantly heaps more loot on them.
The glut of magical items not only trivializes elements of the moot, but it makes the combat encounters in the scenario very, very easy.
Most of the fights pit the goblins against large animals, ranging from mangy guard dogs to the fire breathing boars the Birdcruncher goblins spoke of in hushed voices. These fights aren’t particularly interesting or challenging and perhaps a bit too numerous.
Pa Munchmeat himself is a fairly interesting opponent. Having him begin the fight with energy resistance against fire active was a cunning choice, making him all but impervious to typical goblin tactics.
Despite this advantage and his high damage output, the ogre can be taken down fairly easily. His claustrophobic bedroom doesn’t accommodate his reach or his spellcasting very well, and he’s likely going to eat the devastating bead of force handed to the players after the chieftain moot.
Even though he’s a bit of a pushover, I do like him as an antagonist. He’s intimidating, and his character portrait is fantastic. In fact, I like all the new NPCs the scenario introduces: the terrifying and endearing goblin shaman Wise Mummy Sprattleharsh, the grotesque ogrekin taxidermist Guffy, and her improbably ferocious giant ferret Spike.
The most challenging encounter isn’t with a named NPC though, but with the owlbear that lurks in the basement of Pa Munchmeat’s farmhouse. A goblin who impulsively hops into the monster’s pen – a pretty typical goblin tactic – can be dropped in a single round of attacks.
More thoughtful goblins might hurl fireballs down the trapdoor in the ceiling, but I’d hardly consider that sporting.
There’s also a dust cloud effect in the room that acts as an obscuring mist spell, making the thing almost impossible to hit with ranged attacks. Most game masters I’ve talked to have eschewed this environmental factor though, as it makes the fight drag on entirely too long.
And scenario length is a problem with We Be Goblins Too. The chieftain moot is a huge time sink, and there are a total of seven combat encounters (although a few can be avoided). A game master has to consider skimming over or cutting a few of these fights in order to fit the adventure in a standard Pathfinder Society slot.
Despite being rougher around the edges than its predecessor, We Be Goblins Too is a fun romp. The memorable set pieces, solid NPCs, and always ridiculous goblin lore ensure that your table will never be in want for good roleplaying opportunities. Still, the whole adventure suffers from a sense of deja vu, preventing it from being as novel or exceptional as the original.
I hope that Paizo plays it a little less safe with their offering for Free RPG Day next year.