Review of Adorablins, a cute goblin-themed tabletop RPG that fits in a tin!
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Adorablins is great for kids and all ages!
The range on the tin (and it literally is a cute little tin) says 8+, however, I played Adorablins with my 3.5 year old! It took about a couple rolls for my child to pick up the mechanics, and then we were very much off on adventure and able to follow along with only a tiny bit of my assistance with adding my kid’s modifiers.
Because this is a system with a story that you generate as you play, the material should naturally match the content-rating for your group. In addition, Adorablins comes with a safety card! I was very appreciative of this being included as a solid tool within the game, and it’s a great way to help moderate the content levels between multiple kids who have different comfort levels.
Adorablins is set in a universe of magical portals
The premise for Adorablins is that you are a cute little goblin! You are going about your business and… a portal opens and pulls *something* or *someone* from your world through the portal to another world! You need to jump in and save them!
From here, the game leader and the players generate the story based on questions, dice rolls, and ideas. From the games I played with my kid, some of our adventures involved:
- Saving a cat’s birthday cake from the top of a New York City skyscraper (and some pigeons)
- Rescuing a baby water dragon from a giant fish in a stormy ocean
- Recovering a talking cow that landed at the top of a volcano in the middle of Dinosaur Island
- Brought back a little slime monster that had escaped onto a space station
The game is very imagination-forward and asks questions to the players, so it naturally trended towards my kid’s interests to create a setting that really clicked.
Your goblin character in Adorablins
Your character is a cute little goblin! The tin comes with a whole bunch of character cards that you can pick from, so you have a variety of choices without worrying about walking your kids through character creation. My kid immediately wanted to play as the goblin (who my kid named Dipping Sauce, or “Dipper” for short) with the colander hat and the actual meat shield.
The stats for your goblin are on your card already along with some abilities on the back of the card that are unique to each character and give your team a boost. You also get an adorable companion to tag along with you and give you a boost when you need it!
So, you pick your goblin, name them, pick a companion, and you are ready to go!
Mechanics in Adorablins are easy to pick up and great for young ones
Spotlight and safety cards
For games with kids, especially for those new to tabletop RPG, it can be hard to make sure everyone is taking turns and being heard in the midst of the table getting excited.
I use a safety “block” with my kid whenever we play a game (my kid can grab the block when it’s necessary to pause the game), and having this tangible object at the table helps so much to both give an option for non-verbal expression when feelings are too big and to allow your players to feel in control.
Adorablins does this too – the tin includes a spotlight card to designate whose turn it is and a safety card to let players non-verbally pause the game when something makes them uncomfortable. We used both throughout the game. The safety card helped pause things when it was a little too scary for Dipper the goblin to climb down a skyscraper, and the spotlight card helped my child know that I was listening when it was difficult for my kid to describe a difficult scene.
Success, struggle, stuck!
To determine what the result of your actions are, you roll two dice, add your modifiers from your character card, and check the result versus the success, struggle, and stuck ranges on the actions card.
On a success, you do the thing you wanted! For example, my kid wanted to have Dipper the goblin to grab a fish out of the water and rolled REALLY high. So, my kid got to describe epically tackling this massive rainbow fish onto the boat!
For a struggle, you kind of get to do what you wanted, and some new challenge is introduced by the game master. When we played, this happened when my kid’s character was climbing a building – the roll was high enough to climb, but I also introduced that some pigeons flew over and started pestering my child’s character! This meant a second set of ideas and rolls to deal with the pigeons before finishing the climb.
Then comes… STUCK! If you roll really low, you can get stuck and something troubling happens (like your group gets split up and you can’t use all your skills). This actually very much advances the story (like when my kid rolled low sneaking around a T-Rex, which led to an exciting chase scene). You can mitigate this by using snacks or getting some help from your friends, so it also promotes teamwork and creative problem solving in addition to learning that failures don’t need to be “bad”.
Another really fun mechanic was snacks; you get a couple snacks each game that you can use to help you out of tough spots! This lets players combat low rolls and help each other out.
This gave some player control, even when the dice were not cooperating, and it taught to balance risk. Players need to weigh… is it worth using a snack on this? Should I save it for later, or do I really need the boost right now?
Plus, snacks are just fun! My kid, having an extra snack towards the end, really liked giving them out to non-player characters (like an amenable pterodactyl) to help make more friends, which was just super cute.
What did my kid think about Adorablins?
This game was a big win with my kid! I think we played six or seven games in only the first three days of trying it out, and, after the initial introductory game, they were all per my kid’s request. Between being enamored with the goblin and companion characters, being able to understand the mechanics, and being able to control the story, Adorablins was a big hit!
Overall thoughts on Adorablins
This game is just awesome. The art (by Amber who you can also find on twitter) is amazing and super cute, the game is very easy to set up, learning to play is low pressure, and with it being in a little tin, I do plan on taking this with me in case I need to entertain my kid with a quick game while we are out and about. I also plan on busting this out when we can resume board game nights with our friends again – I think adults would also have a fun time getting up to some goblin themed shenanigans, and it is an easy, low pressure way to start introducing some creative role-playing games to new players. I very much enjoyed playing Adorablins, and this is definitely a repeat game.
Where to find a copy of Adorablins
Adorablins successfully funded their kickstarter in 2021 and can now be found on DriveThruRPG as a digital copy or Dice Up Games for physical preorder.
Also, check out my interview with Kristin and Tim, the creators of Adorablins where we talk about their journey through tabletop RPG and the care and passion they put into this game, which they originally designed for their own kids.
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