Monday, 17 October 2016

Custom Wild Dice

As mentioned last month, I recently ordered some custom laser-engraved Wild Dice for Saga of the Goblin Horde - 16mm green oblivion dice with my goblin logo in place of the 6 spot. I promised I'd post a picture when they arrived, so here it is:

There are various companies in the US that offer custom dice, but I was only able to find one in the UK (Dice & Games), although fortunately their prices are very reasonable, and the minimum order is just 25 dice. I'd originally been thinking of handing out custom Wild Dice at Con games as a promotional thing.

It was a bit of a toss-up between green oblivion dice with gold dots/logo (which fits the color scheme for Saga of the Goblin Horde) and white pearl dice with black dots/logo (which is the more traditional black-on-white color scheme used by Pinnacle), but in the end I went with the green and gold, and I think it looks really good, although I'm still curious what the black and white would look like.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Samhain Surprise: Halloween One Sheet

Trick or treat, trick or treat,
Give me someone good to eat!
Trick or treat, trick or treat,
Someone meaty, someone sweet!

Once a year, the young children in the human town of Yellowbrick dress themselves up as goblins, visiting homes to collect candy while playing a strange game they call “Trick or Treat”. The goblins think this is a grand idea, and have decided to use the opportunity to sneak into town, play some vicious pranks, and enjoy some delicious treats. And better still, they won't even need to wear any stupid disguises!

With two weeks to go until Halloween, I thought it was about time to release my next One Sheet for Saga of the Goblin Horde. You can get it from here:

For this One Sheet I also teamed up with Frank Turfler of Middle Kingdoms Adventure & Trading Company, who has created a set of free maps designed to go with the adventure. You can download the maps from here:

As always, you can download the goblin archetypes from here, and the older adventures from here, here and here.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Goblin Psychonaut

I had originally planned to release the Barghest Whelp archetype for October, but last month Rick Hershey started a new Fantasy Character Subscription, and as he was accepting suggestions I proposed a goblin - which he promptly added. So I decided to use it for the October archetype.

So here is the eleventh archetype: the goblin psychonaut!

This particular archetype is a tribute to my friend David Teeder, who played a character called Squiggle on my MUD many years ago (the hair is inspired by his real haircut!).

As usual you can get the archetypes from here, and the three One Sheet adventures here, here and here.

The fourth One Sheet, Samhain Surprise, will be released on Monday. Frank Turfler of Middle Kingdoms Adventure & Trading Company is creating a set of free maps to go with the adventure, and has already released the first two here and here. The third and final map will be released on the same day as the One Sheet.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Successful Playtest

Ten brave adventurers set forth from the frontier town of Riverside, investigating rumors of a nest of vile goblins living in the nearby mountains. They expected to find gold and glory, but found only death, as the pint-sized fiends lured them into one ambush after another. Only the bard survived, but he had been tortured physically and psychologically by the goblins, and never sang again.
Two days later, the town itself came under attack, presumably by the same group of goblins. The vicious creatures destroyed two of the town's taverns and stole the third, smashing its supports so that it slid into the water. They rode the stolen tavern down the river and surfed it over a waterfall, escaping into the night.
At the weekend I ran Saga of the Goblin Horde for a group of six players. Half of them were already familiar with Savage Worlds, but I was still a bit nervous about running a game for such a large group, particularly as each player would be controlling five characters (a Wild Card boss, and four goblin gang member Extras). That's a total of 30 characters under player control!

However everything went surprisingly smoothly, and I was able to run two adventures back-to-back in about six hours. The adventures I ran were Dungeon Squat and Pub Crawl, which will be the first two episodes of the Plot Point Campaign. Manuel Sambs has written a very detailed report of the game here:

The Saga of the Goblin Horde continues

So make sure you check out the above link if you're interested in the setting!

The adventures involved my usual mixture of Interludes, Chases, Dramatic Tasks and Quick Combats, as well as two traditional combat scenes. I also introduced a simple two-stage mechanic for preparing and triggering traps, using a small deck of custom cards, and the players seemed to have great fun with it, so that's definitely a concept I'll look into using again in the future.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Chronicles of the Goblin Princess: Preview

The goblin princess, armed with an ogre sword,
a heavy golden ball, and steel-toed slippers.
Rick Hershey has completed the custom illustration that I commissioned for Chronicles of the Goblin Princess (in just two days!), and I'm really pleased with it, so I thought I'd share it and give a brief overview of the first three adventures.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Chronicles of the Goblin Princess is a series of adventures that can be treated as Savage Tales in the main Saga of the Goblin Horde campaign, or run as their own mini Plot Point Campaign.


Once upon a time, the chieftain of the Redfang tribe had a daughter who was so dangerous that he feared she would usurp him, so he called upon seven swamp hags to share their wisdom and advice, and together they hatched a plan.

On her sixteenth Birthday, the princess pricked her back on several poisoned arrows, and fell asleep just long enough for her father to drag her to a nearby tower, lock her up, and throw away the key. Thick metal bars across the windows prevented her from escaping, and most of the tribe forgot about her, but she managed to survive on insects, rats, birds, and the occasional suitor foolish enough to scale the tower. And there she remained, trapped in the tower for 100 days...

The Princess and the Peabrain

The foolish leader of a band of ogres has kidnapped the goblin princess from her tower, only to discover that she'd been locked away to protect others, rather than for her own safety. With the ransom demand laughed off by the chieftain, and the ogre body count steadily rising, the kidnapper becomes increasingly desperate to return the princess.

The Frogfolk Prince

While frolicking through the forest one day, the goblin princess encountered one of the frogfolk sitting in a pond, claiming to be a prince. The princess immediately hurled her heavy golden ball at him, crushing his skull like an overripe melon, then dragged his corpse home to have it stuffed and mounted as a trophy. With the recent alliance between the frogfolk and the Redfang tribe now in tatters, the chieftain will need to call upon his top negotiators.

The Steel-Toed Slipper

One day, the chief decided that he needed more gang bosses, so he held a Grand Brawl and invited the most aggressive goblins in the tribe to participate. At the last minute, a mysterious masked candidate entered the fray, and everyone was entranced by her brutal moves. But when the Grand Brawl ended at the final stroke of midnight, the mysterious goblin left, leaving behind a single steel-toed slipper embedded in the head of her final victim. Can the chieftain find the owner of the slipper, and grant her the promotion she so richly deserves?

Further adventures

The original plan was to have three adventures based around the goblin princess as an NPC, but I've decided to expand the series with a few more adventures where she can be either an NPC or a PC. So far I've sketched up some ideas for "Little Red Riding Dress" and "Bloodylocks and the Three Bugbears", but I'm open to more suggestions!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Latest News

I've got a load of new stuff coming up for Saga of the Goblin Horde over the next few weeks, so I thought I'd give an overview for those following the development of the setting.

Samhain Surprise

My fourth goblin One Sheet is finished, and I'm planning to release it a couple of weeks before Halloween. Frank Turfler (of Middle Kingdoms Adventure & Trading Company) will also be releasing a set of free maps to go with the adventure! His final map will be released at the same time as the One Sheet.

You can read more about the free maps here. As usual, hi-res versions of the maps will also be available to his Patron supporters.

Next Archetype

The majority of the artwork used in Saga of the Goblin Horde was created by Rick Hershey. Many other Savage Worlds products use his work as well, but I think it's a particularly good fit for my goblin setting (and not just because his company is called Fat Goblin Games!).

Rick recently started a new art subscription, this time for fantasy characters. Figure illustrations are pretty versatile pieces in general, useful for both covers and interior filler, but they're particularly good for archetypes - and better still, subscribers can post suggestions. I really like the other two subscriptions I've bought, so I decided to get this one too, and of course I posted a suggestion for a crazy goblin concept. You can imagine my delight when Rick added my suggestion a week later!

So as a result, I've decided I'm going to use Squiggle Mushroomhead for the October archetype: the goblin psychonaut (a tribute to an old friend of mine!). This will give me the opportunity to delve into some previously unexplored aspects of the setting, and reference a couple of new abilities from the main book.

Goblin Princess

After seeing the Squiggle artwork, I decided it was about time to commission a private piece as well, so I contacted Rick yesterday and he's already sent me a first sketch. The new illustration will be used for Chronicles of the Goblin Princess, a series of side adventures that can be treated as Savage Tales in the main campaign, or run as their own mini Plot Point Campaign.

One of the advantages of releasing Chronicles of the Goblin Princess as a separate PDF is that I can make it system-neutral if necessary. The same approach could be used for other adventures as well.

Playtest Session

A few months ago I ran a session of Saga of the Goblin Horde for Manuel Sambs and his girlfriend. As Manuel was already familiar with my other One Sheets, I ran one of my unreleased adventures, Root of the Problem. The game worked out great and we all had fun, although it was shorter than I'd planned.

Next weekend I'm going to run another game. This time it'll be a larger group, and I've prepared two adventures that can be run back-to-back if necessary (Dungeon Squat and Pub Crawl, which are also the first two episodes of the PPC - both are humorous spins on the traditional dungeon crawl concept). Manuel has prepared some of his awesome table tents for the goblin archetypes, so hopefully we'll get some pictures to post after the game!

Custom Wild Dice

Inspired by Kristian Serrano's SBN Wild Dice, I decided to order some custom laser-engraved Wild Dice for Saga of the Goblin Horde. They're 16mm green Oblivion dice with a goblin head in place of the 6 spot, and I will post pictures as soon as I get them (although this may take a few weeks).

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Setting Design: Wild Card Symbols

Characters in Savage Worlds are divided into two categories: Wild Cards and Extras. The PCs are Wild Cards, as are important allies, major villains, special monsters, and so on; as a rough rule of thumb, if an NPC is important enough to have a name, background, and plot protection, they're probably a Wild Card. On the other hand, if your ally wears a red shirt without a name tag, they're almost certainly an Extra.

Wild Cards traditionally have a symbol beside their name to indicate their Wild Card status, with the precise symbol changing from setting to setting. However it'll be a recurring theme throughout the book, and repetition is one of the major principles of graphic design, so I think the subject is worthy of a blog post.

The precise choice of Wild Card symbol is obviously going to be a matter of personal (and artistic) taste, so I will instead focus on the technical aspects.

File Format

There are three typical file formats for Wild Card symbols, as follows:

Raster Image
Ideally using a lossless format such as png or tiff, this option is preferable for highly detailed Wild Card symbols, such as the Joker in Pinnacle's older supplements, or the witchmark symbol in Accursed. The downside is that the image will become pixelated when enlarged.

Vector Image
This is used in much the same way as a raster image, but is calculated with vectors instead of drawing pixels, allowing the image to be scaled without losing quality. The downside is that it sometimes doesn't work too well with complex images, or those with subtle color gradation.

Dingbat Font
The third option is to use a dingbat font, such as wingdings. The downside of a font is that the image will be monochrome, however it scales like a vector image, and doesn't need to be precisely positioned on the page like an image.

Comparison of raster and vector/font images, with
the enlarged Wild Card symbol on the right.


I decided to take a quick look through a variety of different Savage Worlds PDFs, and see what sort of Wild Card symbols and file formats they used. Here's what I found:

Core Rulebook
Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition: SW Joker (raster image).
Savage Worlds Deluxe: Cross (wingdings font).

Official Companions
Fantasy Companion: SW Joker (raster image).
Horror Companion: Monstrous skull (raster image).
Science Fiction Companion: Star (dingbat font).
Super Powers Companion: Explosion (vector image).

Old Pinnacle Settings
50 Fathoms: Skull and crossbones (dingbat font).
Evernight: SW Joker (raster image).
Necessary Evil: SW Joker (raster image).
Rippers: SW Joker (raster image).
Sundered Skies: SW Joker (raster image).

New Pinnacle Settings
East Texas University: Pentagram (raster image).
Lankhmar: Blade (dingbat font).
Rippers Resurrected: Mask (WildCard font).
Savage Tales of Horror: Skull (WildCard font).
Weird Wars Rome: Blade (dingbat font, same symbol as Lankhmar).

Licensee Settings
Agents of Oblivion: Martini glass (raster image).
Hellfrost: Dragon head (raster image).
Drakonheim Savage Companion: Skull (vector image).
Accursed: Witchmark (raster image).
Realms of Cthulhu: Elder Sign (raster image).

Pinnacle frequently used the Savage Worlds joker (a raster image) in many of their earlier books, but appear to have created a custom WildCard font for some of their newer books, which is a rather elegant solution.

My Solution

In the past I've mostly used dingbat fonts for Wild Card symbols, although some of my recent releases used raster images. Since then I've moved on to vector images, and finally back to fonts.

When I commissioned my cover from Lord Zsezse Works, they also provided me with the title text, which included a small goblin head to dot the letter 'i'. The goblin head is also a perfect fit for the Wild Card symbol, so I decided to use it for that as well. The only problem was that it looked a bit blurry around the edges when I tried to shrink it.

Fortunately there's a free vector graphics editor called Inkscape, which I was able to use to convert the icon from a raster image to a vector image. I've also used the vector image for some custom laser-engraved Wild Dice, which I'll discuss in a future post (once they arrive).

However the vector images still need to be manually positioned to make sure they're all lined up, which is fiddly and annoying - and worse still, Scribus doesn't seem to have any way to anchor images to a specific location in the text, so whenever the layout changes, all the Wild Card symbols need to be manually repositioned!

My final solution was therefore to use to create a new font, with the goblin head as one of the characters. In theory I could extend the font with other symbols in the future, and create my own WildCard font like Pinnacle have done, and that's certainly something to consider. But for the time being, I only need the one symbol, so my custom dingbat font only has one character.