Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

GURPS Goblins – Cover

Samples from GURPS Goblins


On Offspring:

"At birth they have an unformed, foetal appearance, exactly 12 inches long and weighing exactly 3 lbs., with a coffee-and-cream complexion and no distinguishing features. Because they are all the same they are not given names, but instead are all known as Prole.

"From the moment of birth however, individual Proles start adapting to their environment, growing tall if food is found in high places; becoming tiny if safety is found in small nooks and crannies. Those brought up in dark places develop keen night vision, while those raised near the sea become sleek-bodied and proficient swimmers. By the age of six, the Proles have been stretched and warped into every conceivable shape and size by their unique histories and environments . . ."


On Reproduction:

"Goblins are a short-lived humanoid life form, of extraordinary physical variability, equalling the dog in variety of size and shape. Unlike the dog, the goblin is a product of asexual reproduction . . .

"Contrary to popular belief, [Proles] are not produced by a little piece of Mummy joining to a little piece of Daddy to make a little piece of Prole. Proles are created purely from a little piece of Mummy, sparked by stimulation of certain glands and creative processes. The stimulation usually comes from Daddy, by means which need not be discussed. Suffice it to say, it is not possible for female goblins to contract pregnancy from a dirty toilet seat, or by cleaning their teeth in someone else's bath water. It is possible for a female goblin to contract pregnancy by reading a particularly spicy novel."


On Character:

"Greed is the first great motivator behind the actions of goblins. The main point to a goblin's life is to achieve something within their own lifetimes, which they themselves can enjoy contemplating.

"Fear is the second great motivator . . . The possibilities of cripplings, maimings and destitution also stir powerful emotions in the goblin heart.

"Revenge is the third great motivator . . . particularly . . . when a goblin has lost everything, and has no hope of regaining it. At such times a goblin has nothing to sustain greed or fear, and is consumed entirely by the desire for revenge.

"Vanity is a strong emotion in goblins, and sometimes it can overcome greed, fear and revenge. A classic example is the public execution at Tyburn, to which quite a few condemned goblins go eagerly, relishing the opportunity to be the centre of attention of a crowd of thousands, wearing a well-tailored suit of clothes and showing devil-may-care courage in the face of Death.

"Superficially, lust is a strong emotion, particularly in more mature goblins. In fact it is usually just fear of Age and Death, or some form of greed, fear, revenge and vanity, masquerading as lust. Occasionally even young goblins may be driven to do foolish things out of lust, but usually they show a rapid change of heart if other motivators pull in a contrary direction. Green Sickness will sometimes smite a goblin, and fill him with irrational passions, resembling love. It is best cured with a strong dose of Dalby's Carminative (1s 9p per bottle) or Frampton's Pill of Health (1s 1p per box of 20)."


On Life in the City:

"The air is still clear over parts of the City. The clank, belch and clatter of the railway has not yet cut into the vicinity of London, and work around the home is performed by cheery servants rather than dull, infuriating contraptions and devices. The pace of life is leisurely. It is the best of times, with all the dreams of technology made real, and none of the grim realities.

"Gentlemen carry walking sticks. Ladies carry parasols. Guns are also prohibited in the street, although used by sporting folk against small birds and animals in the countryside, or in duels. It is a friendly, safe, happy time.

"Clothing is sensible but extremely stylish. Gentlemen wear comfortable, fetchingly tight trousers and simple, colourful coats of an elegant cut . . . Women's clothing is in a sensible interlude between the cumbersome hooped skirts, tall powdered wigs, beauty spots and perilous cleavages of the last hundred years, and the cumbersome hooped skirts, dreary colours, crippling corsets and high collars of the next hundred years. They wear mildly bolstered, colourful flowing skirts, and mildly perilous, mildly crippling bodices. Apart from the ridiculous hairstyles, it is a sensible but elegant time.

". . . It is a time for bold, healthy, hearty fun. Pure, open, honest fun. Elegant and cultured fun. Civilised fun.

"All in all, these are the very best of times."


On the Industrial Revolution:

"London is in the heart of the industrial revolution. Over the preceding century, industrialists appeared, flourished, and made machinery to perform every conceivable task, from spinning and weaving, to typing and cutting grass. They have yet to try to make the machines efficient, reliable or safe.

"To the average goblin on the street with nothing to do, the remarkable advances in technology frequently go unnoticed. The machines clank, belch and maim behind high factory walls, and the only outward signs of their operation are strange noises, smoke in the sky, the occasional horrifically injured victim of industrial accident, and large numbers of average goblins on the street with nothing to do."


On Servitude:

". . . servants are elevated by their employment, and need not be treated with quite the contempt their actual Status seems to deserve. Footmen in particular consider themselves elevated to such an extent that they hardly deign to be civil to anyone of a rank lower than their employer."


On the Law:

"The Law basically comprises a list of things which the upper classes do not want the lower classes to do, because they (the upper classes) would find it irritating, unpleasant, or inconvenient. These things are set out on paper so that the lower classes can readily find out what they are not supposed to be doing, and thereby avoid doing it."

"[I]t is widely believed that the last thing a murder victim sees is indelibly recorded as a reflection in his dead eyes. If murder must be done, therefore, it is wise to do it from behind in a dark room, to avoid subsequent detection and capture by the Bill . . ."


On Status:

"The driving force in a goblin's life is the desire to gain Status. Status massages the ego, and provides very real advantages in life. Upper-class goblins are simply better than lower-class goblins – they cringe less, have clearer eyes and cleaner limbs, sharper wits and firmer bowels . . .

"All goblins start life at the bottom, and rise through the ranks in the prime of their youth, to a social peak. They are then crushed by adversity, fall back, and usually remain at a more modest level for the rest of their bitter, twisted lives. Some rise much higher than others, or fall less far, but all live out their declining years consumed by envy for the exalted Status which they held in their prime. This is why old goblins are unpleasant."


On Names:

". . . Biblical names are chosen for a general fear that goblins with non-Biblical names might not get into Heaven, because St. Peter might not be sure how to spell it on his list at the Pearly Gates . . . Female goblins may be named after flowers instead, because there aren't enough women's names in The Bible to go around, and St. Peter is generally considered to know his flowers pretty well."


On the Devil:

"The powers of the Devil are probably only earthly – no more or less than any man or woman – but he is immortal, and has been here for a very long time. By dint of extended study and long experience he has learned and witnessed every trick in the book, and every convolution of the goblin mind. Perhaps he cannot see the future, or into the hearts and minds of ordinary folk, but he can make a shrewd guess most of the time, and this gives him the appearance of knowing what one is about to say or do . . . He is also wealthy, having made a number of wise investments over the past 5,000 years. Being immortal, he recovers eventually from even the soundest of thrashings. In short, those feeling a desire to deal with him should think very carefully indeed before doing so."


On Magic:

"All verbal rituals must be spoken in a foreign language . . . Most spells are known in several languages . . . but a short list are found only in Ancient Egyptian – a language which cannot be spoken today. The Devil might know one or two of these latter type, but to get them a goblin will, at the very least, have to perform some heinous sin . . .

"Magic is rare and spells are well guarded by those who claim to have them. Special social requirements are common, and many, many charlatans and fakes exist. Despite the scarcity and difficulty of magic, goblins are tolerant of it. It's just foreigners they don't like.

"Regarding style for mages: foreigners, as everyone is aware, have no sense of fashion, and might turn up wearing robes in odd places. Secret societies, elaborate rituals and theatrical props are de rigueur for the goblin spell caster."


On Combat:

"In goblin combat, keenness is what counts. The turn sequence is therefore decided by whichever of the participants first declares "I'll whack them." At that point, everyone on the same side as the declarer takes their turn, starting with the declarer of course, and then everyone on the other side takes their turn . . .

"When a goblin is injured, he is not only battered and bruised but also understandably downcast. It is this temporary loss of morale which is the most important feature of . . . combat. Forcing one's opponent to collapse into a blubbering heap, or to flee in terror first, is usually regarded as winning, and brings most of the advantages that killing your opponent might have, with none of the difficulties associated with murder . . .

". . . while participants may end up floating in the Thames nursing broken fingers, and perhaps wondering how to remove the fish-knife from their kidneys, actual, final, death should be difficult to arrive at."


On Disease and Medicine:

"Illnesses are caused by malignant Humours residing in the lymphatic system, their severity and resistance to treatment depending on their distance from the head. The place of residence of the Humour in the lymphatic system does not relate to the bodily characteristics damaged by the illness. It should be noted that any illness can be cured by waiting for the Humour to go into a particular extremity, and then cutting that part of the body off. For this reason Humours are somewhat disinclined to go into the arms and legs."


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