Wednesday, August 13, 2014

5th edtion Goblins, a review and criticism

Getting all critical on threw D&D 5th edition monster format as per the basic DM pdf with the Goblin.

Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil

Not lawful evil but neutral evil, hmmm maybe they are better as universal pawns of evil

Armor Class 15 (leather armor, shield)

Cool the Ac entry explains what armor is being worn, it doesn’t explain if there are other modifiers in place.

Hit Points 7 (2d6)

Not Hit Dice but hit point,  Urgh. I understand a lot of spells and such are keyed to HP totals now but HD was a useful way to estimate relative power over the years and in a level based game it served to eye-ball what level a monster was.

Speed 30 ft.
8 (−1) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 8 (−1) 8 (−1)
Skills Stealth +6

Mercifully short skill selection listed.

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
I gotta say I like the game functionality of “Passive Perception” but I hate the needlessly long name, would “awareness” or “Perception” have been too difficult a term to explain?  If everything has “Passive Perception” why not make “Perception” or “Awareness”  a standard ability score? This edition is ability score focused, why not introduce a new ability score? The formatting of the ability mods is sloppy in the post but more legible in the actual doc, I see why it's listed here but I really hope modules don't reprint the ability scores for every instance of a monster in that format.

Languages Common, Goblin
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
The challenge looks about right 4 goblins would be a challenge for small modern D&D party. 50 exp a whack is a lot at the low end of the pool given how fast one levels-up in 5th edition.  But, we don’t have a situation where a 1st level fighter would have to defeat 250 goblins to become a 2nd level fighter as in older editions.

Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.
What’s with the verbosity? Why not have the default assumption be 5ft reach unless otherwise noted.? Why does “one target” have to be spelled out? It’s a scimitar, of course it’s “slashing damage”, is it vital to put it here? Why are Goblins getting a +2 damage bonus with the scimitar, is weapon finesse is a property of the weapon not of training related to the weapon? Why bother listing the Strength modifier for goblins if the default weapon they use makes that modifier pointless ( they don't really have enough HP to make disarming them so they are forced to fall back on a different weapon to be meaningful) ?

Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Actually the short bow wouldn’t be doing piercing damage would it, the arrow would, I kid. While I am comfortable with old time short/medium/long ranges I don’t see listing normal (i.e. “effective” range) and long range as a bad idea at all, less fiddly by far compared to keeping track of every 80 foot increment. 

Goblins are small, black-hearted humanoids that lair in despoiled dungeons and other dismal settings. Individually weak, they gather in large numbers to torment other creatures.
Oh boy that just overflows with excitement doesn’t it. I hope the actual monster manual entry is a little more verbose in this area. Nothing about culture or organization beyond being black-hearted (they are neutral evil, didn’t that already get explained by mentioned they were neutral evil?) and using large numbers to torment other creatures. 

Well, they look like goblins with more HP, I suppose every D&D monster gets more HP at the shallow end of the pool without being as crazy as 4th edition was. The shift to neutral evil from lawful evil makes sense, if anyone ever bothered paying attention to monster alignments beyond good/neutral/evil. All in all curious verbosity here and thee but still leaving me wanting more: where do they like to live?, how many?, how common are they?, favorite loot?



  1. Yeah, the flavor text is far removed form the padded-out text form the 2e MM books, and short compared to all other editions. (Well, maybe not OD&D, as Monsters & Treasure was somewhat light in the descriptions.)

    The issue of the scant descriptions seems to be a desire to keep the monsters as generic as possible, so DMs could fill out their customs and behaviors. Its good in that it gives more latitude to help DM build their own world without bis from front-loaded racial assumptions. On the other hand, young gamers would see how little there are to the monsters, so they would see them as lifeless cannonfodder, bereft of personality, intelligence, self-interests or anything that remotely seems like a culture.

    One thing I really like about the new stats are how short and simple they are. Monster stats that can fill out an index card is OK by my book! And yeah, I totally agree with you about the long "Passive Perception" note, and the redundant notes that can be handled by default assumptions.

  2. I would have switched the hp and HD order so it read 2d6 (7), but either way it _does_ include HD.

    1. Yes they give a dice range for determining HP but does that dice range have any relevance elsewhere in the game as HD does in many older versions?