16 December, 2012

Goblin Pocketmod Development


I’ve been tinkering with the goblin game again. In this case, it means putting together lists of skills that are meaningful for career paths. I’m working off the warhammer fantasy model for this, because it provides a gritty play experience where character have to really struggle, and often engage in outlandish progressions before they can rise above the chaos to become true heroes among their people.

A goblin youngling might start out as a “thug”, work their way up through the criminal ranks as an “enforcer” then a “crime boss” before finally reaching “Mastermind”. In the highly accelerated world of the goblins, each of these steps would only take a couple of weeks to progress through, because a goblin dies after a couple of months.

 I’m setting up three tiers of occupations.
  1. Basic occupations that almost any goblin can start out on (negligible attribute requirements on some of these).
  2. Advanced occupations that have a range of basic skills, moderate attribute requirements and earned status that must be acquired before a goblin may proceed.
  3. Legendary occupations that have a few high attribute requirements, some more complicated skill requirements and high degrees of status that must be earned.


Everything needed for an advanced occupation can be acquired by completing one or two basic occupational career paths, but by the time a goblin as reached an advanced career path, they’ll have reached maturity and it’s basically a downhill struggle against the forces of aging, the accumulation of scars and the dodging of petty vendettas. Most goblins will have been poisoned, slaughtered, withdrawn from society or simply died of old age before they have the chance to reach a legendary occupation. Luckily there are the 1 in 1000 goblin heroes who have a heightened degree of regeneration and a longer lifespan (due to magical intervention), most player characters will take on the role of goblin heroes while the world around them are short-lived regular goblins.

It’s a rat race stacked against the young, but the heroic characters of the setting can hold out, accumulate enough knowledge, and eventually transcend the masses to become truly legendary.

I’m drawing on a few sources for this career concept.

One source of inspiration comes from prestige classes in D&D 3.0/3.5. Classes in typical D&D are linear progressions, sure you can “dual-class” to become something a bit different, but even then you’re stuck with a pair of linear progressions to choose from. Prestige classes offered a unique branching point, providing a new range of skills and abilities to those characters who met the criteria to enter into them. Once on a prestige path it is basically a new linear progression, but the idea is there.

A second source of inspiration is obviously Warhammer; I’ve even mentioned this already in the post. In warhammer there are scores (perhaps even hundreds) of careers available. Each career has required entry criteria, perhaps a few skills need to be known, perhaps a couple of minimum attributes, some equipment that is needed and maybe a quest that needs to be completed. Once in the career path, it is capable of raising aspects of the character’s attributes, it teaches a few skills and it provides something special while you are on the path (and you get to keep afterwards, only if you complete the path by picking up all of its advances and skills).

A third source of inspiration comes from Savage Worlds, where there are a number of special Edges that become available as long as you have particular attribute levels. They basically open up skill effects that the usual range of skills can’t handle…as an example “Acrobat” requires a moderate strength and a high agility, but gives bonuses reflecting someone with acrobatic skill.

Something I like about this concept of character progression is that all characters start pretty simple. You don’t walk into a game with a bunch of powers that don’t make sense unless you cross reference two different pages, then compare how those two rules impact on a third. You just get a simple basic character; if you want to progress along a specific path toward a specific heroic persona, you gradually accumulate the rules necessary and you as a player learn how they interact as the character gradually picks up the knowledge. You only need to know the intricate combat moves if you’re playing a warrior goblin, you only need to know the elaborate games of goblin status if you’re playing a courtier. A courtier probably doesn’t need to know how combat works (they’ve got bodyguards to look after that), a warrior doesn’t need to know the intrigues of court while they are on the front lines of a warzone. A general would probably need t know a bit of both, and as they’ve reached this rank they’ve accumulated the knowledge they need to survive in both worlds (probably not excel as well as a specialist, but certainly survive).

There’s still a lot of work to do, but I think I’m on to something.

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