Review of The Goblings, a 5e Slowquest adventure

The Goblings is a cute and quirky TTRPG about newborn goblins proving themselves by making a gift for The Goblin Queen!  Check out here for our review of this awesome game!

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The Goblings is great for any age (some reading and math required)

The Goblings uses D&D 5e mechanics in a unique setting and story of its own.  

With mechanics, D&D 5e is typically recommended for ages 8+ due to the strategy, rulebook reading, and math involved, however The Goblings parses down a lot of the character creation to make it easier for players to create a character and has several premade characters that greatly streamline the process. Players will still need to be able to find things on their character sheet, track a couple abilities, and be able to add modifiers to their rolls, but they won’t need to track a list of spells, multiple weapons, class abilities, etc.

For the story, it’s also pretty all ages friendly and is gruff in a silly and fun way.  There’s a heavy emphasis on social encounters and problem solving, especially since PCs are little toddler goblins who are still figuring things out, and the premise is pretty accessible for all ages (you’re out searching for a present for the queen). 

The Goblings is set in a world of goblins!

The Goblings starts out in a goblin nest where your characters are climbing out of a slime pool and getting ready to join the grown up goblins!  From there, they can explore the goblin warrens and then the surrounding area in their quest to impress the queen and earn their full fledged goblin title.

Throughout the goblin tunnels, there’s lots of cool rooms to explore and gather info or treasures (more on these later), and the surrounding area has locations ranging from swamps and caves to tree forts and a wizard’s tower that can be scouted and looted as your characters complete their quest.

Player characters in The Goblings

Player characters in The Goblings are all cute, and maybe also kind of gross, little newborn goblins (aka goblings) who must impress the queen with their offering from a day of scouting in order to earn a place with the other goblins and claim their title in the colony. 

To create your character, you’ll use D&D 5e stats and stat rolls as a base to make a non-classed level 1 character.  You can then add special feats specific to The Goblings for your character, like stinky, snappy, or snotty that give them a few extra options for their moves and abilities.  Once you’ve completed this, you are actually all set!  It takes maybe 10 minutes to set up a character, and you’re good to go!

If you’re having characters level up through the adventure, there is also a really fun leveling mechanic that I enjoyed for a number of reasons.  Goblings level up by going through a growth spurt, but different parts of them grow at different times, and it’s randomized.  These growth spurts also determine what stats improve.  So, if you level up, you roll from a table and maybe get EARS for your growth spurt, which can mean a +2 to WIS and +2 to Perception… and your character also now has giant ears compared to the rest of them until their other parts grow to match!  The randomization takes away the pressure of planning ahead of time while adding some fun chaos, and it gave kiddo and me a bit of a laugh when we tried drawing out our growing goblings.

Mechanics in The Goblings

The Goblings uses D&D 5e mechanics with some twists, as covered in the character section, so for this part, I want to cover some of the mechanics that drive the adventure itself, like figuring out what The Goblin Queen actually wants and working against a clock.

A picky Goblin Queen

The main goal for your characters is to create a gift that The Goblin Queen will like before your timer runs out.  However… you don’t know what she likes, and you can get punished instead of rewarded if you spend all your time making the wrong thing.  

Each game, The Goblin Queen has a different set of preferences for her gifts based on rolls by the GM at the start of the game.  Players will need to budget some time to talk to NPCs and explore in order to get clues about what The Goblin Queen likes.  What’s her current favorite color?  Does she like fish heads?  Does she prefer small fancy gifts or big showy gifts?  

Players often gather these clues by helping an NPC, completing a task, or investigating something, which pushes for social interactions and exploration, as well as determining how much time you want to spend on this knowledge phase and the actual collection phase of the game. 

Timed adventures

I mentioned time quite a bit above, and that’s because quite a bit of The Goblings has time limits.  This adds some tension and urgency to the game, making time consuming social interactions with difficult NPCs or tasks that cost time to successfully complete (like searching through a junk pile costing 5 minutes per roll) exciting and impactful to the adventure’s strategy. 

When exploring the large map of the area outside of the goblin caves, it costs time to go from tile to tile, creating a quantifiable resource to expend while exploring further and further away locations AND needing to budget for time to get back.  

This is a really simple mechanic that added SO MUCH to the game.  Small tasks became part of a risk/reward balance, and it got kiddo thinking about budgeting time and getting us to work through small problems to calculate what was possible to reach before the end of the game.  It’s essentially practicing the Common Core Standard “non standard unit of measurement” skill on the map but in the form of time management.  It’s a good learning opportunity and added quite a bit of excitement to the game.

Overall thoughts on The Goblings

I thought this game was the right amount of cute and whimsical mashed with gruff and surly that made it fun for both kiddo and me.  The mechanics were easy to jump into since I’m familiar with D&D and they were still accessible to my kid (5yo) with some fun unique spins that made them unique to this particular setting.  The whole premise is great, and the art throughout the book is also absolutely fantastic – it’s got a wonderful vibe, and all the derpy goblings with silly expressions drew my kid right in.  

Find a copy of The Goblings!

You can find a copy of The Goblings on DriveThruRPG or the Slowquest website!

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