Tinderbox: Faction Overview 2- Savage Goblins

I couldn’t resist the perfect straight-man comment on my last Tinderbox post; to whit, how nice it was to see goblins who weren’t “filth-encrusted cave beasties with bone clubs.”

The Savage Goblins are filthy monsters who wield crude weapons, often constructed from the corpses of their foes. But…I think they’re cool?

Savage Goblins

The Savage Goblins represent those goblins who chafed under dwarfish rule, but have no desire to take control of the civilization while the Tran are out of power. Instead, the Savage Goblins are attempting to tear down as much of the city as possible, and kill any Loyalist or Despot goblins they locate. They murder or enslave citizens, eating most of the slaves eventually. Savage Goblins lack most of the military organization possessed by other members of their race, but their violent rejection of millennia of training grants them two advantages. The first is the sudden resurgence of Throwbacks amongst their ranks; traditionally, Throwbacks were exterminated in Tran society. The goblin military was so assiduous about killing potential throwbacks that their manifestation itself became unusual. Throwbacks are elite warriors, commanders, and trackers (bugbear/hobgoblin/goblin) who have rediscovered their races’ ancestral links with forest predators like wolves and weasels. Another advantage the Savage Goblins have is a specialization in negation; rather than relying on the sophisticated arcane constructions and protections of the Tran, the Savages excel at unmaking them. Bugbears with a talent for the arcane, already extremely rare, are often trained to physically destroy arcane material, and set to work smashing through buildings and walls as the Savages increase their areas of control. Both of these gifts, along with many of their other unique powers, are a product of the Savages’ alliance with some of the same Primordial forces that empower the Beastmen. Like Beastmen, any Savage with an altered form has the Abomination keyword.

Both of the creatures below have the Unchained keyword, which provides the following effects:

Unchained: Most creatures with the Savage keyword react with unthinking violence when exposed to an effect that stuns, dazes, or renders them unconscious. When subject to such an effect, the goblin makes a saving throw as a free action (even if the effect does not grant a save). If the save is successful, the goblin gains +2 to attack and damage until EoItsNT and can charge the creator of the effect as an immediate reaction.

A couple factions have keywords like this, which provide tactical considerations that apply to most conflicts with that group. In some campaigns I might be hesitant about applying such a broad quality to a faction, but since players are usually going to have a choice as to what they’re fighting, I don’t see it crippling any builds. Unchained fits the frenetic, slavering nature of the Savages (in fact, one of the creatures in the faction has an ability called slaver).

As much as I love creating new things, I don’t want to expend too much of my energy reinventing perfectly serviceable monster-wheels. As such, I’m reskinning or slightly altering numerous extant creatures for service in these various factions; the core grunt of the Savages is basically a Goblin Skullcleaver, for instance, while modified Goblin Cutters and Warriors serve similar roles for the Despots. Filling the roster for each faction with a number of simple substitutions leaves me free to create stranger, more iconic creatures for the remaining spots.

For instance, the following two creatures are from the Elementalist cycle of Savage creatures. Savages do not traffic with Primal spirits, drawing their powers directly from their Primordial masters instead; this is reflected in the way their powers interact with whatever elements they’re associated with. The Primordial angle puts the Savages in direct conflict with many of the Orcs, but allows them to have somewhat a pleasant (or at least non-combattive) relationship with the Beastmen.

Savage Soilfeeder

Savage Soilfeeders are slovenly bugbears with matted, filthy fur and pitted yellow fangs. Their eyes are red and bloodshot, and their stench is stomach-churning. Soilfeeders wear stained tunics and robes, torn breeches, and occasionally just scraps of leather wound over their genitals; all of their clothing is selected for its chemical resistance above all other qualities. In addition to bits of undigested food and waste caught in their fur, Soilfeeders are covered in patches of moss and tendrils of fungus.

The Soilfeeder represents the natural cycle of microbial breakdown and decay, and their goal is to nourish the earth– by breaking their opponents down into a nutrient-rich sludge as quickly as possible. The bugbears accomplish this by expelling great gouts of greenish-brown bile, the streams traveling incredible distances and clinging to their targets in a disgusting, sizzling soup. In addition to the acidic effects of the bile, targets are covered with insidious fungi that flourish in the acid, spreading more quickly with repeated baths of the substance but dying quickly once a creature has torn them from its body.

Although Soilfeeders attempt to engage foes from a distance, their low-slung jaws can deliver brutal wounds that smoke with acidic saliva and the fungi that swim within the creatures’ mouths. Their mere presence also destabilizes rock and stone (both worked and unworked) in their vicinity. Stone surfaces become slightly spongy and yielding, and tendrils of slimy soil and fungus grip the legs and ankles of enemies, giving the Soilfeeders’ allies a powerful advantage.

Savage Soilfeeder (Lvl 4 Artillery, Natural Humanoid, Savage, Bugbear, Unchained)
Initiative: 6 Exp: 175
Resistances and Vulnerabilities: Resist Acid 10
Special Qualities: Roiling Earth (Aura 5): Creatures within the aura taking ongoing acid damage grant combat advantage to the Savage Soilfeeder’s allies.
HP: 45; Bloodied: 22
AC: 16 Fortitude: 16 Reflex: 17 Will: 16
Attack bonus vs. AC: +9
Attack bonus vs. other defenses: +7
Action points: 0

Str: 15 (+4) Dex: 18 (+6) Wis: 15 (+4)
Con: 15 (+4) Int: 18 (+6) Cha: 15 (+4)

Skills: Endurance +9, Nature +9, Dungeoneering +10

[+] Putrid Bite: +9 v AC; 1d8+5 and ongoing 5 acid (save ends)
[(-] Bile Spray: +8 v Ref, Ranged 10; 2d6+5 acid damage and ongoing 5 acid (save ends). Special: Bile Spray does 1d6 extra acid damage against creatures already taking ongoing acid damage.
\|/ Bile Cloud: +8 v Ref, Close Blast 3, Encounter; 1d10+5 acid damage, ongoing 5 acid damage and blinded (save ends both).

Savage Skyripper

Savage Skyrippers are violent, aggressive casters alter the battlefield in order to isolate opponents. They are the most meticulously dressed of all the Savages, favoring stolen finery and often wearing nothing beyond silk robes with the sleeves cut away, cinched at the waist and open at the chest to expose as much of their bodies as possible to the elements. Skyrippers are constantly surrounded by the lightest hint of cold mist, and their lips and fingertips bear a bluish-purple tinge. Skyrippers wield batons of solid iron, both ends sharpened to a crude yet effective point.

Skyrippers assault their enemies with vast clouds of frozen needles, which shred flesh and leech heat as they’re propelled outward from the goblin. The needles then spread across the ground, melting and re-freezing into a thick, uneven coating of ice. The ice is coldly, cruelly sentient, twisting and undulating when creatures attempt to cross it, twisting ankles and bringing combatants crashing to the earth. The Skyripper uses its needles to isolate targets in patches of this ice, then strikes prone targets with thick bolts of pulsating, screaming lightning. Killing a Skyripper releases the eternal storm swirling through their veins, which explodes outward in a crackling hailstorm of hateful cold.

Savage Skyripper (Lvl 4 Controller, Natural Humanoid, Savage, Goblin, Unchained)
Initiative: 6 Exp: 175
Resistances and Vulnerabilities: Resist Cold 5, Resist Lightning 5
HP: 55; Bloodied: 27
AC: 18 Fortitude: 16 Reflex: 17 Will: 16
Attack bonus vs. AC: +9
Attack bonus vs. other defenses: +7
Action points: 0

Str: 15 (+4) Dex: 18 (+6) Wis: 15 (+4)
Con: 15 (+4) Int: 18 (+6) Cha: 15 (+4)

Skills: Acrobatics +11, Nature +9

[+] Divining Spear: +9 v AC, Standard, At-Will; 1d8+5 damage and target gains vulnerable 5 lightning (save ends).
\|/ Frozen Needles: +7 v Fort, Close Blast 3, Standard, At-Will; 1d8+5 cold damage. Special: This attack creates a zone 3 in the affected area until the end of the Savage Skyripper’s next turn. All squares within the zone are Rime terrain.
(- Rending Bolt: +7 v Ref, Ranged 10, Standard, Recharge 5-6; 2d6+5 lightning damage. Special: This attack deals 1d8 extra thunder damage to prone targets.
\|/ Skyrip: +7 v Fort, Close Blast 5, Free (When reduced to 0 hp); 2d8+5 cold and lightning damage and the target is slowed and cannot shift (save ends both). Special: This attack creates a zone 5 in the affected area that lasts until the end of the encounter. All squares within the zone are Rime terrain. The Savage Skyripper is destroyed.

Special Notes: Rime Terrain: Creatures entering a square of Rime terrain without shifting are subject to an attack (+7 v Ref; target falls prone). A character may substitute an Acrobatics check for their Reflex defense.

3 thoughts on “Tinderbox: Faction Overview 2- Savage Goblins

  1. >So not only are they goblins… they're mutant primordial goblins? They hate dwarves SO MUCH that they've decided to ally themselves with oozes and balls of living fire so that they can chew buildings apart with their bare teeth? I can be down with that! From what I hear of Beastmen, though, I'm going out on a limb and guessing they're just savages infused with Primordial power. Either they're mutated animals, or they're animal-humanoid hybrids, or just mutated humanoids that LOOK like animals… either way, it sounds as if they're fueled by primordial nastiness and want to tear the city down too. Which makes me wonder why they're a separate faction? Is it just that Savage Goblins are goblins and Savage Squirrelmen are squirrels? If two factions have the same objectives and the same power theme and are on friendly terms with one another, to the extent that they're pretty much synonymous and interchangeable and will never be found fighting against one another, I question what value the setting gets out of them being separate factions…Of course, this is all foundation-less speculation.

  2. >The key to understanding why the Beastmen are a separate faction is remembering that this campaign has -no- humans. What -were- humans became beastmen (or a sort of proto-beastman that resembles a shifter), and this happened thousands of years ago, when the dwarves made it clear they were going to subjugate their human allies once the orc tribes on the surface had been brought to heel. By the time the dwarves emerged and met the humans, as well, goblins had already been part of the nascent dwarven empire for several generations.Between then and now, the beastmen have remained a constant threat across the surface of the empire, forever prowling outside the walls of the cities and making overland travel foolish if not impossible. The goblinoids have remained mostly within the cities except during massed military campaigns. The two races have never mingled on anything resembling friendly terms (and since most domestic surface combat falls to the orcs, they've hardly mingled).Now that there is a group of goblins drawing from the same puckered teat as the beastmen, there's a chance for some tenuous alliances to be formed; but overall they still have wholly different histories and ultimately motivations. While the two races might not go out of their way to fight each other, they are chaotic factions and, realistically, they won't be able to coexist forever.

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