Adam Koebel - Goblinville First Look

Adam Koebel is streaming a First Look at Goblinville tomorrow (Tuesday, December 17th) at 2 pm EST. This series is both a great showcase for indie titles and a window into Adam’s unique design perspective.

I’m really excited about this and it seemed like a good opportunity to open a conversation for Goblinville design questions.

Potential Topics:

I’ll have a forum tab open during the stream if folks want to post questions and discussion points. Looking forward to it!


Stream starts in about an hour!

I guess the First Look immediately follows this episode of Office Hours?

I love this current question on NPC diversity.

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Yeah, should be up right after!

I sure hope the goblins in this game are still nasty little buggers. It would be sad to see them civilized in the way that orcs often have been.

Oh man, I am really digging these dice mechanisms. This might end up being what I use to bring my boardgaming family into RPGs. Many of them are big fans of Yahtzee and the like.


I’ve been sporadically running Goblinville for my usual group ever since Issue #1 came out. It’s been a lot of fun! Not 100% “great session!” hit rate, but quite high. A sampling of stuff:

  • our Goblinville started with latrines, and this is special
  • in 2 (almost 3) of our adventures, our goblins have aborted way before the “end” of a scenario, getting away with plenty of loot (for goblins). The fact that the PCs are goblins makes better-part-of-valor very palatable, and force an interestingly different perspective on prewritten adventures. I’ve run 5 adventures (plus town phases) so far and they’ve each taken 2 sessions of ~2-3 hours apiece.
  • the otherkind-ish system is really a sweet spot, just enough choice to be relevant but not much beyond that
  • lots of little incidental flavor. In town, once a goblin has reached Boss rank, they still roll to work and get paid, but if they want to actually work instead of just bully other smaller goblins then they get an extra die and risk something. The implication being that usually goblin bosses don’t work, they just tell everyone else to. :smiley: And purchasing gear is good - everything seems cheap, but there’s still never enough scratch to gear up as you’d like to, because cheap x 20 is nowhere near cheap.
  • they found (“liberated”) a pack last session and it was maybe the most excited they’ve been for any single piece of loot thus far :laughing:
  • the titles work well for personality progression, just a few words to help guide your tone through the session, and they change each session but not by a lot, and all the changes come from you deciding what story to tell and others deciding how to commemorate your story…

All in all a great work. Excited to see Issue #4 soon. :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing all that @GuySrinivasan. I love to hear about folks digging into the campaign structure!

The First Look is now up on YouTube if folks want to check it out:

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Hello, It’s nice visibility, to be read by Adam Koebel. The game tone zone and clever design gets through.
It looks like Picaresque is not getting the love it deserves. Maybe it could benefit from a specific spin : Vancian glib, Commedia buffoonery, whatever.


As someone who was involved quite heavily in the early stages of this game, I am thrilled to see it getting so much well-deserved attention. Excellent!

Michael, I’m curious if you ever ended up including any of these possibilities in the game - whether in the final text, or in various playtests and/or house rules? (I’m just going to copy a bit of an old post from Story Games, since those will disappear soon…)

  1. “If an action resolves for the whole group, then Danger is also shared (all the goblins are lost, or they all drop an item from their hands). Harm is always individual, so only the lead has to mark a condition.”

I’m curious why you specified this. I like the idea of all the goblins tumbling off a cliff, for example, and one being Injured, another Angry, and so forth… I can imagine some situations where just the lead goblin being affected makes sense (e.g. one steps forward to pull the lever, hoping to open the trap door) and others where everyone might be (trying to climb out of a pool of piranhas, tumbling down a cliff, stepping through a portal which has the potential to curse anyone passing through).

(On a total sidenote, and a potentially distracting one, I could also envision a mechanic where each goblin contributes a die to the main roll, and then the lead goblin has to give them each one die back after the roll, to place on the appropriate spot - whether Success, Danger, Harm, or whatever.)

(This could have some interesting flexibility. For instance, four goblins are trying to get through a big dungeon door before it slams shut, and there are monsters firing arrows at them from nearby. They hope to get through the door and to safety! Success here is clearly getting through the door, and everyone is helping. However, one goblin is carrying a valuable urn, another is using his mechanical arm to hold the door open for just a second longer, and the third is standing guard, hoping to block any incoming arrows. Each of the helping goblins gives one die to the “lead goblin”, but each has a different concern: for the first helper, it’s a Danger - will the urn break in the mad scramble?; for the second, it’s that he could get his mechanical arm crushed and trapped in the door - a personal Twist; and for the third, he’s clearly risking Harm from the arrows. The roll is made and the dice are returned, giving each goblin a personal stake and different possible outcomes. Heck, maybe one of the goblins is slow and fat, and so he must place his own Success die or end up trapped on the other side of the door…)


Hey @Paul_T!

Yeah the feedback you, @DeReel, and others provided over on was invaluable. Good questions here.

We kept the rule that Harm from a group action only impacts the goblin in the lead. The reasoning is that it makes taking the lead on risky rolls feel more significant. Leading the party across that narrow chasm feels significant because most of the risk is on you.

We also found that allowing too many ways for you to get conditions on other players’ turns can feel rough: you are suffering consequences without getting to make an interesting choice.

However, in your cliff example, it’s still possible for multiple goblins to mark conditions. The lead goblin is the only one rolling for Harm, but another goblin can put their own conditions on the line as a twist. Maybe your goblin is leading but I tell you I might Panic. I get to pass you a die for the Twist. That way, there are multiple conditions on the line but there’s more clear buy-in from all the affected players.

I think your example of everyone putting dice in for a roll would likely increase handling time. I could see folks forgetting what each resolution point was. However, situations like the one you describe do come up: especially when someone makes Progress on an Action roll. For example: I’m trying to force my way through a door without breaking my urn. Another player says their goblin will cover me from the arrows and adds the Twist that they might be injured. If I make Progress on my Action, then I get through but the rest of the party is on the other side. So next the goblin with the mechanical arm tries (with the new Danger that their arm gets stuck) and another player offers the Twist that they might not be able to fit through, seperating themself from the party. Since the first goblin made progress on their action, this second roll is in a Good Position, making them very likely to succeed. Players get the shared stakes it sounds like your example was looking for, without too much confusion in passing dice back and forth.

Another way that having the acting player resolve all the dice really works is that it lets players get to have their own goblin take consequences to protect their friends. I three sessions at PAX Unplugged and in two of them, a player took a condition rather than letting a Twist happen that impacted someone else. Like: “I know how much that urn means to you; there’s no way am I letting it break.” Those are the kind of moments folks remember when it’s time to give new traits.


This game sounds like it’s right up my alley! I have issues with old versions of D&D and I never managed to get into Torchbearer, but this sounds like it has the things I want from those games and more besides.

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I had the pleasure of playing Picaresque at Gauntlet con. The setting and system really appealed to me and I look forward to running it for some friends in the new year.

Also, my physical copy just arrived from Exalted Funeral !

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Something Adam mentioned is wanting to see examples of Actual Play. I got to be a guest on the Party of One Podcast recently and we did a duet one-shot:

It was really fun to do, and I think gives a clear example of the system in a dense package (61 minutes).

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Tnat was a really fun session. Looking forward to hearing how it goes!