Quick Review: Goblin Quest by Grant Howitt

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.

Dragonmeet: The Loot Report

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.