Goblin Quest pitches itself as a game about slapstick violence and fatal ineptitude that will tell the story of your goblins greatest ever adventure (co-incidentally it is usually their only ever adventure before an untimely death). To say that it achieves this would be an understatement – Goblin Quest and its tales of comic incompetence is a consistently hilarious game that is perfect for pick up and play sessions or twisted takes on established genres.
The premise of the game, like many that have emerged from the mind of designer Grant Howitt, is simple but evocative. You are a group of Goblins out to complete a legendary quest. You are also hideously incompetent, so it is fortunate that each player has spare Goblins ready to step up after an untimely death. Complete the quest and become a legend (for a day) or fail spectacularly and become the laughing stock of the camp. Either way you’ll be famous. I first encountered the game at BurritoCon 4 last year and made a beeline to the Indie League stall to grab a physical copy when I was at Dragonmeet. Since then I’ve run the core version of the game, reskinned it to a Christmas theme (drunken Elves trying to give Santa a day off at Christmas) and I’m even writing my own Slasher movie hack (Party! Drink! Be eviscerated by a depraved killer!).
That hackability is one of the great points of the game and with a simple system the core game takes up only a small fraction of the rulebook. The remainder is a series of system hacks, including Sean Bean Quest (can he survive to the end of the film?), Space Interns (please ensure your redshirt is dry cleaned and returned after your death) and even Regency Ladies (Fall in love, made snide remarks and bluntly turn down yet another marriage proposal). Filling the space between the hacks are both a series of quest ideas from a range of writers and full colour art pieces that help reinforce the cartoony nature of the game.
But how does a game like this support so many hacks? Well it sticks to a simple system that rewards creativity and pushing your luck. Bonuses are as likely to kill you off as help you succeed while progress towards goals are tracked through the number of successes you achieve. Hit the threshold, narrate your victory and move on to the next challenge. Just try and do so before you run out of goblins. The game also encourages player input – while it is possible to run with a GM directing the flow of play it works just as well without one, with players building on each others ideas while being supported by a small number of random rolls.
Goblin Quest was an instant add to my list of last minute, low prep games. It’s great as a spacer between serious campaigns or for those sessions where a few people can’t make it but you still want to play. You can purchase Goblin Quest at the following locations: Direct from the publishers – Rowan, Rook & Decard Itch.io DrivethruRPG
Disclaimer: Links to driveThruRPG include the LunarShadow Designs affiliate ID. If you chose to purchase anything using these links I will earn a small commission from driveThruRPG at no cost to you.
All reviews are rated out of 10, with Natural 20s reserved for products that go above and beyond my expectations.
I’m going to put out a separate con report later this week but wanted to quickly talk about my purchases from the convention first.
Goblin Quest by Grant Howitt
Did I intend to purchase this: Yes
I first came across this delightfully silly game of incompetent Goblins only recently at BurritoCon. Inspired by how much fun I’d had, and working completely from memory, I then hacked it to run a slasher inspired Halloween game that was just as much fun. Based on all that and plans to run a Christmas themed Elf Quest I knew I needed to pick this up and had purchased it less than half an hour after arriving. Skimming over the various hacks included with the game and its clear that this is one I’ll be coming back to on a regular basis.
Scum and Villainy from Evil Hat
Did I intend to purchase this: Yes
I’ve been looking to pick up a copy of this for quite a while. I love sci-fi games but own relatively few of them while the Happy Jacks mini-campaign earlier this year piqued my interest in the system, especially given I’d yet to pick up any other Forged in the Dark games. I’ve not opened it yet and don’t know when I’ll play it but suspect this game will be a great reference during development of The Dyson Eclipse.
The Sprawl by Ardens Ludere
Did I intend to purchase this: No
Given I’d released The Synth Convergence only the day before Dragonmeet you might be surprised that I didn’t already own a physical copy of this book. The simple reason behind this is that I’d never seen it in print in the UK before this weekend so I jumped at the chance when I spotted it. Great game and one that I really need to introduce more players to.
Alien RPG corebook by Free League
Did I intend to purchase this: No
Ok, confession time. I have never watched Alien. Or Aliens. Or any other entry in the wider franchise. Despite that I ended up regretting not buying this during the pre-order period. Why? Firstly, Fria Ligan have put out consistently great products since exploding onto the gaming scene. Secondly, I listened to the Idle Red Hands actual play and really enjoyed what I saw. Finally, I saw the book which is absolutely stunning. The artwork alone would have made it a worthwhile (but expensive) purchase even if the game hadn’t looked so awesome. I can’t wait to run this next year and to see how the line develops.
Crystal Heart Action & Adventure Deck by Up to Four Players
Did I intend to purchase this: Sort of
I’d ummed and ahhed about picking this up during the Crystal Heart Kickstarter but decided against it for some reason. Then I saw the final artwork in the PDF and knew I wanted it so dropped by the stall to pick it up. The material put out by Eran and Aviv has been consistently awesome and I can see myself acquiring quite the collection as they release more material for the setting.
It feels like it was only yesterday that I was reporting on BurritoCon 3 (was it really all the way back in July?) yet I find myself back from BurritoCon 4, held once again at FanBoy 3 in Manchester. Organised by @OldScouserRPing I had another amazing day of gaming that just highlights what small events can achieve. Games were once again split into two three-hour slots with five tables a piece (though one morning game was unfortunately cancelled due to GM illness) and a host of systems on offer (none of which were D&D!).
For the morning slot I gravitated straight to Goblin Quest, a comedy, semi-narrative game of incompetent Goblins attempting to complete tasks that are beyond their feeble capabilities. It was an utter blast and I’ll be keeping an eye out for a copy of it in the future. Somehow, despite our many deaths (each player has a small contingent of goblins at their disposal) we completed our simple task of putting on a play and even avoided being fireballed by evil Wizards at the end.
For the afternoon slot I had volunteered to run a game and keeping with the comedy theme I went with Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors. I’ve been working on Talentless Hacks, the latest Slice of Life adventure starter, so this provided an excellent field test of the material.
With only 3 hours I chose to cut a number of the investigative elements, to the extent that I was worried about finishing early but we came in almost exactly on time. The game was great fun and all of the players really got into the characters and setting, culminating with the fight against REDACTED. There were definitely elements that could be improved and I don’t think the PCs were ever in any real danger (it is one of my consistent weaknesses as a GM) so I’ll be upping some of the threats during editing. Overall though the adventure works so it’ll be my priority once The Synth Convergence is released.
One of the nice touches of Fanboy 3 is their approach to supporting GMs, players pay £3 per session while the GM not only gets to run for free but receives £1 store credit per player! I’ve been consuming snippets of Cthulhu inspired material recently so my credit went towards the Mother’s Love hardback for The Cthulhu Hack, an excellent lightweight take on the genre. I don’t tend to run much in the way of prewritten material but flicking through the adventures in the book they grabbed my attention so hopefully I’ll get a chance to run some players through them soon.
While there are no immediate plans for the next BurritoCon I can say for sure that I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one as the event and venue have been excellent each time. My next and final convention attendance of the year will be DragonMeet at the end of November, an event I’ve not been to since moving away from the South East. If you’re going to be there give me a shout.