Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Goblin

Goblins in Paizo’s Golarion world are funny yet absolutely insane little creatures, and in most cases you probably won’t get the chance to play as a goblin. However, there is a boon floating around for a few lucky PFS players that lets them play as one, and of course some GMs will allow strange races for their home games. So, with all that in mind, let’s see how goblins stack up!
Racial Traits:

Ability Scores: +4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma. This is a pretty painful set of ability mods to start off with, but it does lend to a great Rogue or ranged build, and bomb-focused Alchemists are also an excellent choice.

Type: Goblins are humanoids with the goblinoid subtype. This sadly means that many NPCs Rangers will probably have bonuses against you, so that could be a bad thing.

Size: Goblins are Small size, so they get a boost to attack, AC, and Stealth. They aren’t slow like other Small creatures, though, so being small is all good for the goblin. Combined with their extra bonus to Stealth, goblins are just as stealthy as Tiny creatures!

Speed: Goblins are fast for their size, and have a 30 foot base speed.

Skilled: Goblins have a +4 racial bonus to both Ride and Stealth, so this makes them great choices for mounted archers or sneaky builds.

Darkvision: Darkvision is always helpful, so no complaints here!

Alternate Racial Traits:

Cave Crawler [Fast Movement]: A climb speed can come in handy, but there are cheap spells that give you this benefit (spider climb, much?) and losing that +10 to your base speed is too much of a penalty to make this worth it.

City Scavenger [Skilled]: You know that I love bonuses to Perception, but trading away a +4 to two skills is almost never worth doing for a +2 in two others. If you’re not planning to ride anything or sneak EVER, you might want to consider this, but it’s straight-up worse than the ability it’s replacing.

Eat Anything [Skilled]: This option is a little more interesting, as you’re trading a +4 bonus to Ride and Stealth (both situational skills) for a +4 to Survival AND a +4 versus any effects that cause the sickened or nauseated conditions (which there are a LOT of in the game). If you’re not planning to ride into battle or sneak around, this is a really good choice.

Hard Head, Big Teeth [Skilled]: If you’re doing a melee build of any type, you might want to consider picking this up. A bite attack that only deals 1d4 damage doesn’t seem like a huge boost, but for a Barbarian or mutagen-focused Alchemist it could come in really handy.

Over-Sized Ears [Skilled]: If you’re not going to be a stealthy creature, this is DEFINITELY worth your time. A +4 to Perception is a huge bonus, especially at lower levels, and it will allow you to be good at noticing things without having a good Wisdom score. There is also a trait called Big Ears which can stack with this bonus for another +2 to Perception. I definitely recommend this one for anyone other than a Rogue or Cavalier.

Oversized Goblin [Ability Distribution, Size]: This is pretty idea for melee characters. You gain +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma and grow to medium size. I would recommend this for a wide range of goblin classes.

Tree Runner [Skilled]: Of the options to replace your racial skill bonuses with, this one’s not bad. A +4 to both Acrobatics and Climb will definitely come in handy for a highly-mobile Rogue build (such as one using the Scout archetype), and you’ll still be good at sneaking thanks to the +4 size bonus to Stealth. This is a good option overall, though I’d personally pick up the +4 Perception bonus instead.

Weapon Familiarity [Skilled]: If you’re playing a class that is going into melee, then you’re already going to be proficient with all martial weapons (with the exception perhaps of the melee Alchemist). This one is definitely a trap, causing you to lose two excellent skill bonuses for proficiency in weapons you probably won’t want to use anyway.


Alchemist: Goblins make excellent bomb-focused Alchemists, and even have their own racial archetype, the Fire Bomber, and several goblin-specific feats and discoveries available to them that build on this. I’ll discuss those feats and discoveries when I talk more about the Fire Bomber later on, but these options really make Alchemist a great choice for goblins, and in fact I’m going to say it’s the best choice.

Barbarian: Despite the goblin’s -2 racial penalty to Strength, they can make really decent Barbarians through a combination of being insane and their racial archetype, the Feral Gnasher. This archetype focuses on using a bite attack to deal damage and grapple opponents, as well as using improvised weapons to devastating effect, and you should definitely combine this with the Animal Fury rage power which will essentially give your gobo-barian a free bite attack during a grapple before checking to see if the grapple is even maintained! This is a fun, flavorful option for a goblin, although definitely not an optimal Barbarian build.

Bard: With a Charisma penalty, a goblin is just not going to ever make an optimal Bard. There is a racial feat called Battle Singer, but it only helps other goblins, so unless you’re playing in a goblin-only party, it’s definitely not worth your time.

Cavalier [Samurai]: Thanks to their +4 bonus to Ride and Small size, a Goblin can actually make a pretty decent Cavalier, but an even better Samurai thanks to the Mounted Archer ability and their huge racial bonus to Dexterity.

Cleric: A goblin Cleric probably isn’t one of the first things you would think of, but if you go with a fire-based domain like the goblin-specific Arson subdomain, combining it with the Flame Heart feat that gives you a +1 on caster level for fire-based spells, you can make a pretty powerful battle cleric!

Druid: Like the Cleric, a fire-based druid is a good choice for a goblin, and having an animal companion you can ride around can be super helpful. The Flame Heart feat will also be useful to boost those fire-based Druid spells, so picking a fire-based domain is also a great option.

Fighter: A ranged Fighter build is an excellent option for a goblin, and obviously the Archer archetype will be helpful in that regard.

Gunslinger: With their huge bonus to Dex, goblins can make for seriously awesome Gunslingers, and they even have a racial feat available, aptly named Goblin Gunslinger, which lets them use firearms that are sized for Medium creatures while still getting the bonus to attack rolls from being Small!

Inquisitor: Like the Cleric and Druid, a goblin Inquisitor focusing on Fire spells will be a force to be reckoned with, and using a ranged weapon will make it even better. I would strongly recommend the Black Powder inquisition in concert with the Goblin Gunslinger feat, letting you strike down your foes from far away using a gun that is comically large for your size!

Magus: The melee-focused nature of a Magus normally wouldn’t lend itself to goblin ideals, but a Dexterity-based Magus is a great build for a goblin. There are all kinds of guides out there to optimizing Dex-based Magi, so I’m not going to go into detail, but definitely pick up Flame Heart and use as many fire-based spells as possible to maximize your damage output!

Monk: I have a hard time imagining a goblin Monk... discipline isn’t one of their strong points. However, if you can find a way to roleplay it that your GM will accept, a Dex-based goblin Monk will be a seriously powerful option. You’ll definitely want to look at the Ankle Biter and Tangle Feet feat to trip up your opponents and get extra attacks against them when you move through their squares.

Oracle: A goblin Oracle of Flames will be seriously bad-ass when combined with the Flame Heart feat, so I don’t think I need to say anything else here at all. Even despite having a -2 on your primary casting stat, this is a good choice.

Paladin [Antipaladin]: The Lawful Good nature of Paladins just doesn’t make any sense for a goblin at all, and the Strength and Charisma penalties aren’t helping either. If you really want to go there, the Holy Gun or Divine Hunter archetypes will definitely make it less painful, however. Antipaladin makes considerable more sense thematically, but there aren’t any good ranged options for them, so again, not a great choice.

Ranger: A ranged Ranger build is perfect for a goblin, and picking favored enemies goes along nicely with their insanity, in my opinion. As spellcasting doesn’t seem quite as in-line with a goblin Ranger to me, you might consider the Skirmisher archetype to replace the weak spellcasting of your Ranger with something more useful and thematic.

Rogue [Ninja]: With the HUGE bonus to Stealth (+8 total!) a sneaky Rogue or Ninja is a no-brainer choice for a goblin. The Ankle Biter and Tangle Feet feats fit well with a highly Acrobatic build, and to go along with that you might consider the Scout archetype.

Sorcerer: The penalty to Charisma hurts a Sorcerer, though if you really want to go there you could consider one of the bloodlines that changes your casting stat, either Empyreal or Sage. Each of these options give up the usefulness of a bloodline arcana, though, so overall Sorcerer is just never going to be an optimal choice for a goblin.

Summoner: This is an even worse choice for a goblin than Sorcerer was, since you can’t change your casting stat. Go with a Witch or Oracle instead if you want to be a caster.

Witch: I can imagine a goblin Witch throwing hexes around and just generally being super annoying to her enemies. While there aren’t any SPECIFIC options that make Witch a better choice than Wizard, it seems more thematic, and some of the hexes fit right in with the goblin mindset (such as Child Scent and Cook People!).

Wizard: Goblins in Golarion hate reading almost as much as they hate dogs, so it’s hard to imagine a goblin Wizard. However, there’s nothing mechanically wrong with it, so if you can roleplay it, go for it!

Racial Favored Class Options:
Alchemist: This option is only good if you don’t choose the Flame Heart feat, and you’re going to want that feat, so grab a skill point or hit point instead.

Barbarian: Bonuses to critical hits can be really nice, so if you’re using natural weapons with your Barbarian, definitely take this option at every level until you hit that +4, then get a hit point afterward.

Bard: Goblin bards stink, and extra performance rounds aren’t going to offset that.

Cavalier: Extra hit points for your mount means less chance of it dying, so I like this one. Remember that a Samurai can also choose this alternate option.

Druid: If you chose an animal companion, giving it extra hit points is a no-brainer. If you went with a fire-based Domain instead, however, ignore this.

Gunslinger: Critical hits with firearms are super powerful, so confirming them is very important. Grab this every level until you get to that maximum of +5, then get hit points after that!

Oracle: You’re hopefully not going to be in melee often to need concentration checks, but this still isn’t a bad option for those times when you get pinned down. I like it.

Ranger: Extra damage on dogs and horses? Only in a goblin-only party in a goblin-oriented campaign, thank you very much!

Rogue: More sneak damage? Seriously? How could you not choose this at EVERY level??? This could give you up to +20 on sneak attack damage rolls, which is just insane! Make sure to grab Improved Initiative to maximize your use of this.

Sorcerer: Extra spells known are great for spontaneous casters, so if you inexplicably decided to make a goblin Sorcerer, you’ll want this instead of a skill or hit point.

Summoner: Extra evolution points are nice, but having to spend them specifically on things that add fire damage is too specific, and could cause issues when casting spells like evolution surge or transmogrify. Besides, goblin Summoners are just no good!

Witch: This, like other favored class bonuses giving extra spells in spell books or familiars, is a trap. You can spend gold to get the exact same effect! Pick a skill point instead.

Racial Archetypes:

Feral Gnasher (Barbarian): This is a fun, flavorful archetype that focuses on bite attacks and improvised weapons. I wouldn’t say that it’s extremely powerful, but when combined with the Hard Head, Big Teeth racial trait and the Ankle Biter feat, it’s not a bad option.

Fire Bomber (Alchemist): This is the archetype that the goblin race was born for. You get extra splash damage on your fire-based bombs, can split damage from bombs that have secondary effects with fire damage, and can turn into a freaking fire elemental! You’ll want to pick up the Flame Heart feat for sure, and maybe Burn! Burn! Burn! as well, even though it doesn’t apply to your bombs. Make sure to check out the goblin-only Alchemist Discoveries Fire Brand, Rag Doll Mutagen, Rocket Bomb and Scrap Bomb, each of which I talk about after the racial feats section.This archetype is why I rated Alchemist as sky blue, and I’m sure you can understand why!

Winged Marauder (Alchemist): Whee!  You can no longer mutagen, but instead you get to ride around on a big bat or vulture!  Flying is particularly fantastic for Alchemists, who can rain death down from above.  Besides, you also now have an animal companion as if you were a druid.

Racial Feats:
Ankle Biter: This is a fun feat for any type of movement-focused character, like a Rogue, Ninja or Monk. It also works well with the Feral Gnasher Barbarian or any goblin that picked up the Hard Head, Big Teeth racial trait.

Battle Singer: This feat is pretty much a trap unless you’re in a group of nothing but Goblins, and goblin Bards are a bad option to begin with, so this isn’t a very good feat.

Burn! Burn! Burn!: If you plan to use Alchemist’s Fire often (and at low levels, a goblin Alchemist will probably want to) you might want to pick up this feat to give you a little extra damage. It’s not great, but it’s decent.

Dog Killer, Horse Hunter: While very thematic, this isn’t the most useful feat out there, essentially giving you a static favored enemy bonus but only against dog-like and horse-like creatures. Not terribly useful.

Fire Hand: Wielding a torch as a weapon just isn’t optimal, and if you really wanted to do so you should just be a Feral Gnasher Barbarian, who can use torches as simple weapons. This is a trap.

Fire Tamer: If you worry about being targeted with fire spells, as opposed to casting them yourself, this might be a good option for you, but it’s definitely not great.

Flame Heart: Holy CRAP is this amazing for a goblin Alchemist or ANY spellcaster. Fire resistance 5 and increasing your caster level for fire-related spells and bombs? Seriously, this is golden. Grab it.

Goblin Gunslinger: If you’re going to be using guns as a goblin, there is absolutely not reason not to get this feat, as it will increase your damage output. Plus it’s hilarious to think of a goblin wielding a gun that looks way to big for him!

Lead From the Back: I actually like this feat for a caster class, since it gives you something to do when you don’t want to waste a spell on an almost-knocked-out opponent. It essentially lets you give a limited bardic music-style bonus to all your allies, though you need to use a standard action to do it.

Letter Fury: This is a really weird feat, and obviously only for Barbarians, but it could come in handy if you come up against a lot of spellcasters. Instead of having to wait until your own turn to rage, you can gain those hit points in the middle of a spellcaster reading from a scroll. However, just to get extra rounds of rage each day, you’re better off taking Extra Rage.

Roll With It: I don’t see a player characters spending a feat on this, though it can certainly save you from a critical hit that would otherwise kill you. Instead, this feat is something I’m going to give to EVERY goblin I put up against players in games that I GM, because this can make a few goblins a much more formidable threat. Overall, it’s a very useful feat, but most characters aren’t going to have an extra feat slot to use on it.

Tangle Feet: For a highly mobile character, especially a Monk or Rogue, this is a great choice, letting you trip up characters bigger than you when you use Acrobatics to move through their squares.

Racial Alchemist Discoveries:

Fire Brand: This may seem lackluster at first but once you realize its applications it is actually quite nice. Firstly, if you want to hold a charge and dont want to accidentally set it off prematurely you can wear something flammable like a silk glove. When you want to deliver the touch attack, its a swift action to burn the glove off and away you go. Secondly it works great with feral mutagen. Over the corse of 3 turns you steadily increase the damage you do, and who dosen't like the image of a self-immolating goblin charging down a foe with fire coming out of its mouth? It is a lot more feasible with your favored class bonus or the Flame Heart feat granting fire resistance. Sadly, you can’t combine this with the Vivisectionist archetype, as that replaces your bombs.

Rag Doll Mutagen: This grants you 3 bonuses when you use a mutagen. A bonus to escape artist checks, a bonus to squeezing and a bonus to falling. While nice, none of these are actually all that helpful unless you are building for it. I guess counting as a diminutive creature for squeezing is kinda neat.

Rocket Bomb: This is an amazing discovery. This trades direct hits for extra range and AOE. Your range goes up to 50 feet meaning you could hit someone 250 feet away with your bombs! This also increases the blast radius to 20 feet meaning a giant 40 foot explosion. While this is nice with effects like grease bomb or tanglefoot bomb its real benefit comes with the cloud bomb discoveries. A 40 foot stinking cloud or inferno cloud? Yes please! Its biggest drawback comes from not being usable with fast bombs so only 1 a round, but still this is just crazy good for a goblin Alchemist!

Scrap Bomb: This simply adds extra damage in the form of bleed, 1 bleed damage for each d6 of bomb damage. Simple, effective and stacks with everything. A good way to add damage to a frost bomb or such if you have the discovery to spare.

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