GOBLIN DESSERTERS, a micro-RPG about trying to not get eaten by ogres / by Matthew Marchitto

I felt inspired by HONEY HEIST and CRASH PANDAS, and CriticalRole’s one-shots of the former and the latter, so I decided to go ahead and try to whip up my own micro-RPG. I had a lot of fun writing it, and hopefully it’s also fun to play. This is my first time doing something like this, so I’m sure there are plenty of flaws in it. But, I figure the only way to get better is to put it out there and see what people think. If you give it a try please do send me a message and let me know how it went!!


Welcome to GOBLIN DESSERTERS, a world where monsters rule and humans are at the bottom of the food chain. You are a goblin soldier on the frontlines of the century long goblin and ogre war. But you’ve had enough, what’s the point in dying for a war that never ends? You’re going to desert and find yourself a nice little haven where there’s all the human meat you can eat. But you’ve got to make it out of the frontlines first.

Creating Your Character

Name: Are you Grimgut Orgreslayer? Hexa Wolfsbane? Canker Cutthroat? Or maybe just Bob, there’s nothing wrong with Bob. Give your goblin a name!

Motive: Why are you deserting? Are you afraid of dying? A pacifist? Or a veteran who’s seen enough? Or maybe you’re just looking to settle down on a nice human farm. What’s your motive for deserting the war? And do you have an end goal?

Appearance: Goblins in GOBLIN DESSERTERS come in all shapes and sizes, whether it be scrawny, rotund, burly, sinewy or anything in-between. One thing they all have in common is green skin and big pointy ears.

Stats: You have three stats:

  • BRAWN: This is all things physical, like pushing, lifting, jumping, biting, punching, kicking, swimming, and climbing.

  • BRAINS: This is all things that require mental aptitude, that includes dexterous tinkering, discerning some clever bit of information, and being able to manipulate a conversation.

  • RESOLVE: This is your ability to resist fear. Each goblin has three fear points, when you fail a resolve check, you lose a fear point. Lose all three fear points and you become scared.

Assign one of the following numbers to each stat of your choice. 4 (this is what you’re good at), 2 (this is what you’re okay at), and 1 (this is what you’re bad at).

When you do anything in the game, you make either a BRAWN, BRAINS, or RESOLVE check. Roll a number of d6 equal to your stat. Dice that roll 1s, 2s, and 3s are failures. Dice that roll 4s, 5s, and 6s are successes.

Difficulty of Checks:

  • Normal - 1 success needed

  • Hard - 2 successes needed

  • Very Hard - 3 successes needed

Fear and being Scared

Goblins are prone to being chickenshits. You have 3 fear points. Whenever something really fucked up happens, the GM will call for a RESOLVE check, if you fail you lose 1 fear point. When you lose all your fear points you become scared, and start screaming and flailing and running, and generally having a very loud freakout.

Your goblin friends can attempt to restore a fear point to you. They can either slap the shit out of you (BRAWN check), or try to talk you out of it (BRAINS check). They make a BRAWN or BRAINS check versus your RESOLVE check, if they have more successes than you have failures, you regain a fear point, if not then you continue to have a meltdown.

Ogres want to EAT YOU

Goblins might be easy to kick around, but they’re damn tough to kill. The only way to kill a goblin is to get eaten by an ogre.

Ogres are giants that tower over goblins, and they’re also really hard to kill. Cut off a limb and it’ll still try and wobble toward you. The only way to kill an ogre and all its appendages is to crush its skull.

When an ogre grapples you, you and your goblin friends will have a series of chances (at your GM’s discretion) to break free. But if you pass the threshold of an ogre’s gaping maw, you enter last chance.

Last Chance: Once you’ve passed the toothy threshold you have one last chance to save yourself. Your friends can’t help you with this, you’re on your own. Describe what you want to do, roll whatever check the GM deems appropriate, and pray to your goblin gods. If you fail, that’s it, your goblin’s dead.

Optional Rule: If your goblin dies, then you take control of an ogre. Your ogre has 5 BRAWN, 1 BRAINS, and no RESOLVE because they cannot become scared.*

Bonus Dice

There are a few ways to gain additional bonus dice to your rolls.

  • Do something cool.

  • Use an item creatively.

  • Be especially savage.

  • Get weird.

  • Impress the GM.


Your body is littered with little pouches, sacks, and hidey holes. You can carry as many items as you want. Choose three items to start with, or roll a d20 three times.

  1. Broken sword hilt: It would be nice if it had a blade, but you could still use it to bludgeon someone to death.

  2. Wooden shield: It’s really just the top third of a tree stump with a bit of rope, but it’ll get the job done.

  3. Metal armour: You’ve tied old, dented pots and pans together to make...armour?

  4. Food rations: Dried manflesh is a great post-cry pick-me-up.

  5. Ogre heart: You’ve heard this can be used with old magic, but you’re not sure how.

  6. Werewolf skull: A trophy or heirloom? Either way, it’s dang cool.

  7. Black powder: Who thought it was a good idea to trust you with explosives?

  8. Chicken: An adorable live chicken. You’ve heard that humans used to eat them, barbaric.

  9. Gyrocopter certificate: You won it in a raffle, so you’re pretty sure that means you’re a qualified pilot.

  10. Vinno homme: Delicious wine made from the finest pulped human meat. You can even taste the bone fragments.

  11. Map: A map of the surrounding area. Handy.

  12. Tinker box: A little box filled with precision tools, good for fixing gizmos and picking locks.

  13. Hungry sac: A membranous sac filled with teeth, it’ll eat anything you put inside. It’s kind of scary.

  14. Orb of annihilation: Cool name, it’s a black marble.

  15. Executioner’s axe: It’s big, mean, and sharp.

  16. Crossbow: It’s string is made of unicorn hair, and anything shot from it catches fire.

  17. Lightning rod: It’s a long metal pole.

  18. Jewelry: A handful of rings, earrings, and necklaces. Pretty.

  19. Your baby teeth: Why would you keep these?

  20. Incubus snot: Snorting this stuff gives you a hell of a high.

Special Items

Special items are unique, often magical, and usually do something cool. These are hidden throughout the world, good luck finding them!

Magic wand: Six inches of hard oak laced with pixie dust and dipped in a phoenix’s earwax. Point in a direction and hope something good happens. Roll 1d6 and see what happens from the list below.

  1. A lightning bolt shoots down from the sky.

  2. Whatever you’re pointing at turns into a bunny.

  3. Whoever you’re pointing at develops really bad indigestion.

  4. Summon Cerberus, the three headed hellhound of Hades.

  5. Your pouches are filled to bursting with gold coins.

  6. Teleport the ogre king to your location.

Excalibur: A legendary magical sword, used back when humans thought they were tough shit. This blade can cut through anything, literally.

Warhorn: A hollowed out Minotaur’s horn covered in magical runes. When blown, every creature within earshot becomes horribly confused, as though they’re trapped in a labyrinth.

Sunspot lantern: An elegant brass lantern that never goes out. There’s a piece of the sun trapped inside, so don’t open it—ever. (When opened everything in the vicinity catches fire.)

Dragon scale armour: Not only is it protective, but it also lets its wearer breathe fire. And it’s cozy.

Alchemical concoction: A vial filled with peculiar rainbow coloured fluid, it’s unsettlingly viscous. Drink it and roll 1d6 to see what happens from the list below.

  1. You’re filled with adrenaline, too much of it. You go into a rabid rage.

  2. You see the entire universe, the end times, and the beginning of it all. You immediately learn the solution to one problem you are facing.

  3. Everything around you slows down, time has stopped. Wait, no, time hasn’t stopped, but you’re moving incredibly fast. You gain super speed for a short duration.

  4. You feel light, like you weigh nothing. And why’s the ground  receding beneath you? For a short duration you’re as light as a feather.

  5. You feel heavy, like you weigh a ton. And why are you sinking into the ground? For a short duration you weigh a metric fuck-ton.

  6. This potion thingy isn’t agreeing with you, and you feel sick. You vomit acrid sputum in a direction of your choice, slathering the area in acidic fluid.

*Edited on July 10, 2019: Changed this to be an optional rule. I realized that having players take on adversarial roles against each other isn’t fun for all groups.