Friday, May 17, 2013

Behind the Screen: We Be Goblins, Part 2

Available as a free PDF here
Spoiler Alert

The Behind the Screen series is intended for GMs looking for ideas on running We Be Goblins, or advice about running long-term campaigns. Posts will include information that my players already know about the We Be Goblins storyline, but may include spoilers for those who haven't played yet. You've been warned.

Item Cards

When Paizo first started publishing their item cards I thought they were pretty ridiculous and said so repeatedly. In those first few years they kept sending me free packs whenever I ordered maps and game books. Needless to say, their ploy worked! I have long since eaten crow and admit that I own hundreds of item cards. They are a brilliant way to bring life to your campaign and give players both a visual and tactile connection to their sessions.

The players can win these items at the start of We Be Goblins! by completing a series of gobliny dares:
Cloak of Useful Items, Horsebane Dogslicer, Ring of Climbing, Elixir of Dragon Breath
Before a game, I put together stacks of item cards for each of the encounters. I slip each card into an opaque-backed card sleeve. Protection isn't my goal here. Behind each item is a card that reveals what the item is, but the players aren't allowed to look at it until they correctly identify the item. Once they do, I let them read it themselves. The look on the player's face when they read the card, and the building curiosity of the other players, is far more intriguing than me saying: "You found a +2 dagger."
Once a player identifies an item they are welcome to pull out the card.
If they don't have time to identify items and want to use them anyway they are welcome to try; testing random magic items is often a recipe for hilarity, particularly when it involves potions. I pick item cards whose images give clues to their use when possible. Sometimes, though, I grab something random, or gross looking, just to keep them on their toes.

In the case of the Robe of Useful Items, I put four additional items in the sleeve.
The module mentioned several items I didn't have, so I included items of similar use (or uselessness)


Vorka's ship
Duplicating encounter sites using a range of maps, miniatures and items is one of my favorite parts of prepping for game. In We Be Goblins! the final encounter takes place on a Tienese ship that a hurricane planted a mile inland. The ship is now occupied by a crazed and cannibalistic goblin witch named Vorka.

The reverse side of the Flip-Mat: Forest was perfect for placing the large ship from the Boats and Ships map pack. The fence around the ship and ladder on the prow will be drawn in with dry-erase pen (see photos below).

Once the players board the ship, I'll break out the Flip-Mat: Ship to explore. It's pretty clear that the ship in the original map is smaller than the Boats and Ships map, and even that is slightly different than the Flip-Mat, but unless there is a compelling reason for the maps to be exact, roll with it. Once all the players are on board, I'll remove the map on the left and they won't know the difference.

A map on the table is what it is. Encounter sites in a module can be relocated 98% of the time with little change in excitement or plot. It just takes a little work.

For a summary of our We Be Goblins sessions and the rest of our Jade Regent campaign, check out the Campaign link above.


  1. Hey there, great work here on We be Goblins, good to see someone making use of all the available resources.
    Thought perhaps you would be interested in some custom cards I am working on for this Module, I am running this myself in a couple of weeks at a convention out here in New Zealand, and wanted something I figured on making some custom cards both for players and GM's. Player cards would be similar to the Paizo face cards with notes on reverse. GM cards will have creature stat blocks on reverse for quick reference. I have put a link below to first image of the first three, will update once I have added stat blocks if you are interested!? Cheers.

    1. Hi, Carl. Thanks for checking in. I'm sorry for the delay; for some reason I didn't get notified you'd posted a comment here. I'll definitely check out your link. Thanks for sharing.