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Friday 28 June 2019

Free RPG Day 2019: We Be Heroes?

Now in its twelfth year, Saturday, June 15th was Free RPG Day and with it came an array of new and interesting little releases. Invariably they are tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. Over the years, Paizo Inc. has supported Free RPG Day with numerous modules, the most notable of which—We Be Goblins!, We Be Goblins Too!, We Be Goblins Free!, We B4 Goblins!, and We Be 5uper Goblins!—all feature the publisher’s signature race, Goblins, for its highly popular Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Free RPG Day 2019 is no different in that Paizo Inc. is supporting it with a scenario for First Level player characters, a scenario which involves Goblins, and a scenario designed to be played by four players, plus the Game Master. It is though, a very different module to those previous five scenarios.

First and foremost, We Be Heroes? is ‘A Pathfinder Playtest Adventure for Level 1’ and so is designed to showcase the new rules in Pathfinder Playtest, the version of the rules being tested in preparation for the forthcoming Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Second Edition, to be released at GenCon 2019 and which are designed to be easier to learn and faster to play. To play We Be Heroes?, the Game Master will access to both the Pathfinder Playtest and the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary, the latter as the creatures encountered in the module are all drawn from that book.

Second, the pre-generated player characters are not the Goblins of the previous five modules for Free RPG Day. Goblins in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game are raucous, rambunctious, and rapacious, green bundles of teeth and anarchy. No so in We Be Heroes? As the title suggests, the module makes its Goblins would-be heroes and thus very different in that whilst the player characters are Goblins, they are community minded, they think of others rather than just themselves, and some of them have begun to read!

Set in the Southern Fangwood forest in Nirmathas, recent events have seen the Whispering Tyrant unleash an undead army on the region, forcing both the local inhabitants and the local animals to flee in terror. This includes the goblins of the Crookedtoes tribe, survivors of the Goblinblood Wars who have retreated as far from other Goblins as possible and under the radical leadership of Velkik, they have taken up hunting rather than raiding, let their young loose instead of caging them, let their tribe members actually learn to read and write, and taken up worship of the Sun! With the local animals having fled in terror, the tribe’s members suddenly find their bellies rumbling with hunger and worse, the tribe’s best scout has gone missing. So Chief Velkik has tasked the Crookedtoes’ four brightest members to go out and search for him.

This mission is quickly fulfilled with an encounter designed to test the Pathfinder Playtest’s combat mechanics, the player characters returning after to inform Chief Velkik of both the scout’s death and the proximity of the undead army. He has another task for them, one for which any other group of Goblins would be all but impossible, but for members of the reformed Crookedtoes might just be possible. This is to locate “... [A] group of longshanks in shiny armour trapped in the valley on the other side of this hill.” By ‘longshanks, the Chief Velkik means Humans and by shiny armour, he means knights and he thinks that by working together, both the shiny armoured longshanks and the Goblins of the Crookedtoes tribe might just survive. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the valley is via set of tunnels through the hill which has not been used in years.

The main part of the adventure is thus a short dungeon crawl. Consisting of just eight locations, the encounters here are designed to be challenging rather than deadly, a mix of small combat encounters, unstable environments, and opportunities to roleplay. The tunnel complex actually packs in a lot of game play for just eight locations, and with good gameplay, the Goblins should come away with a little treasure and possibly even an ally.

We Be Heroes? saves its best encounter for last and it is a roleplaying encounter! By now the player characters will have made their way through the tunnel and into the adjacent valley where the shiny armoured longshanks are camped out. Not only do the Goblins have to work out how to get into the shiny armoured longshanks’ camp, they also have to persuade them that although they are Goblins, they are not the nasty, evil destructive Goblins that everyone knows of and hates, but good Goblins, trying to do better—trying to be heroes! This is a really fun challenge, one that any roleplayer would be keen to get his teeth into, and the module includes plenty of advice as to handle this situation and the shiny armoured longshanks’ response to the weirdly mannered Goblins.

As befitting the heroic nature of the scenario, the four pre-generated player characters are all of heroic intent, but of a Goblin nature. To anyone but a member of the Crookedtoes tribe—and even then—they are a weird lot. They include a Ranger with a heavy crossbow and penchant for tinkering, a Barbarian in a rabbit fur costume, a tuxedo-wearing Bard hated for his exceptionally fine, but non-Goblin voice, but loved for his penny-whistle, and a Druid whose animal companion is a classic French poodle, complete with ribbons! All four come with a great illustration and their own song, each of which sums up each Goblin rather smartly.

Physically, We Be Heroes? is a Paizo Inc. book. So the production values are high, the sixteen pages of the booklet being done in full colour with high quality illustrations. The writing is also good and covers most eventualities.

We Be Heroes? is a short adventure, suitable for a single four hour session. Alongside all of the action, there is plenty of opportunity for solid roleplaying within its sixteen pages and the opportunity to play Goblins is always fun. Especially if they are reformed Goblins looking to prove themselves heroes. Hopefully we will get to see the further adventures of Crimsi, Girenek, Pizaazz, and Siathorn—with her pet ‘wolf’, Mitzi—in future releases for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Second Edition.


We Be Heroes? will be available to download from the Paizo Inc. website from Monday, July 1st, 2019.

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