Goblinville GV2 Following the Fiction in Conflicts

I ran across Goblinville the other day. It’s a fascinating amalgam of indie rpg game ideas. The designers took many great ideas and melded them into a coherent whole.

One design stance of the game is to remove all stats, replacing them with moves, tags, and conditions. There are given evocative names, and it’s really up to the GM and players to bring these names to life in the fiction.

In GV2: Monsters and Mazes, there is an essay by one of the designers on this topic, using an encounter with a dwarf lord as an example (page 9):

But the Danger Happens, so the dwarf lunges forward and grabs the goblin by the shoulders.

However, this “danger” does not affect the rest of the encounter. As far as I can tell, the fiction was not followed, and I’m curious as to what the design intent is.

(Background: In conflict situations, Goblinville adopts a kind of “our team vs your team” approach, reminiscent of Torchbearer though not the same. So even though one goblin has been grabbed and another is acting, I would expect the “danger” to have an impact.)

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I ran a campaign of Goblinville. Conflicts were a bit awkward at first but once I got used to them they worked great. The danger not having an impact is likely the result of one of:

  • the GM didn’t remember to follow up, oops!
  • the players changed actions based on the fiction such that the danger was no longer a danger
  • the GM decided the opportunity cost of following up on that danger was too high; a better danger was indicated

Now to go actually read the example in the book… :smiley:

After reading, here’s my commentary on what I would be thinking as GM during the example.

  • I’ve got a goblin grabbed, but I’m disoriented; following up with physical muscle-memory instincts is out
  • The goblins will not flee, they have to respond to the physical threat of this dwarf, he’s got a goblin
  • Shout for backup?
  • Ah there’s a goblin on his back now, fine plan, positionally okay too since his hands were busy, now he can really only deal with one of the two, hm, not sure if I want to give them good position and keep the grab or ignore the grab and no position change
  • “Good idea” escaping the danger, though I’ll keep in mind that until they narrate a change, I can easily re-grab either goblin

So the danger had effects on the story even if they weren’t obvious; if we take the goblins actions as scripted in advance regardless of what the danger on the first action was going to be, then the danger had no effect, but without the danger or with a different danger the goblins may have chosen different actions.


Exactly so : the product of a story and a rpg even more so is not only “what happens”, but the corridors and mazes of shifting possibilities. Paraphrasing Aristotle : (remembrance, witnessing or) anticipation of bad or good things happening to villains, heroes or ordinary persons.