Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Dying Hard Drives and Goblins 2.0

My computer died three days ago. It's finished. Bought the farm. Gave up the ghost. Kicked the bucket. Gone to that great IKEA computer desk in the sky.

I booted it up on Sunday, whereupon after showing the usual Windows XP loading screen it made some horrible clunky noises, muttered something about dumping data, then cut off. Next time I booted it up all I got was a blank screen saying "Error: Cannot load operating system." Now, I might not be much of a computer nut, but even I know that ain't good. I think somebody Power Word: Killed my laptop.

With it went pretty much everything I've written, created, and downloaded for four years. This includes two papers I was just about ready to submit to some legal journals, umpteen files for the various PBEM games I run, my PhD thesis outline, dozens of papers and documents for my PhD research, loads of photos and mp3s, and just about everything I've written for OzCthulu. Yes, I'm wallowing in self-pity. I normally hate reading other bloggers whinge about problems in their personal lives, and look, here I am doing exactly the same thing. So sue me: I WANT MY DATA BACK!!!!

But, enough of the self-indulgence! Let's talk about Goblins.

D&D Goblins pretty generally bore me. They're overdone. They appear in too many games, and their ubiquity has ruined them - they're like vanilla ice cream, corn flakes, Manchester United; they are the storm troopers and the Klingons of D&D. They badly need an image overhaul in my games.

I can see two ways of doing this:

1. Turn them into malignant fairies, like Bogles or Redcaps. Wild Scottish spirits of murder and mischief, who curdle the milk, poison the pig feed, knock slates off the roof and rattle the windows in the night. Who kidnap babies, torture lonely travelers with ventriloquism and legerdemain, eat captives alive, and murder people with clubs. I particularly like the idea of the Redcaps, who according to legend could never let the blood staining their hats dry out, lest they themselves die... Mad Celtic monsters in blood soaked tartan, squatting in dark ruined castles waiting for fresh meat.

2. Turn them into Night Goblins. The Warhammer designers had a kind of genius for making all their races interesting - even their Elves, Dwarves and Halflings seemed approximately ten times larger than life when stood next to their D&D equivalents. The Goblins were no exception - a race of suicidal lunatics who catapult themselves at their enemies, drink poisonous fungal brews to drive themselves berserk, ride squigs into battle like giant Space Hoppers, eat troll meat to give themselves regenerative powers, and capture giant spiders to do their fighting for them.

The best thing about Warhammer Goblins is the fact that the entire race seems aware of its own worthlessness. And rather than accept that fate, they choose to throw away their own lives in pursuit of success. This is why they're so happy to drink their Mad Cap Mushroom brew, and why they don't mind turning themselves into living catapults: if they have a fun death which kills lots of enemies, who cares if they die? The gonzo weirdness that permeated the Warhammer universe reached a kind of apogee in the Night Goblins.

Anyway, it's been a while since I last posted anything in the way of rules or much of practical value on this blog. So I think, in the spirit of the series of elf variants I put up a while back, over the next few days I'll bash out some Stuff To Spice Up Your Older D&D Goblins. I doubt any of it will match up to Ripper X's excellent post on Goblins early last month, but I'll see what I can come up with. You never know; I might even do an Aboriginal Australian one...


  1. Wow. Am totally gutted for you...

    What are you doing for a computer then? Have you got another home system you can use, or are you using work computer for now?

  2. There are hard drive recovery services out there. A little pricey but worth it if you really want your data back.

  3. Also, I recommend Paizo's take on goblins in their Rise of The Runelords adventure path. Not extremely different in the Warhammer sense but different than vanilla goblins. They are more alive, fun yet nasty.

  4. proton mule: I might have a whirl with some hard drive recovery software. We'll see what happens.

    Funnily enough somebody else recommended the Paizo take on goblins to me. I'll have to take a look.

    zero_zero_one: Well, I was going to get a computer anyway, so I bought a one yesterday. It's a tiny little laptop, about the size of an a5 sheet of paper, 2gb of memory and 1.3ghz processor. The only snag is that it has a 40gb hard drive but 20 of those are secure online storage. It works well but you can never entirely trust those things...

    As a plus, it was dirt cheap because I got it on sale.

  5. What does the new laptop run? Is that a Windows machine or something Linux-y?

    I guess you never can be sure with online storage, but I imagine you could get a decent half-terabyte USB hard drive for a good price to help with backing up and storage.

  6. It sounds like your drive is actually damaged, so I'm not sure how useful drive recovery will be. This happened to us a couple of months ago, complete with the same grinding noises, and the same error messages. I hope I'm wrong though, and you can get your stuff back!

    Also, yes, Warhammer gobbos are the best, definitely.

  7. I had a tower that died on me, I don't know if you can dig the harddrive out, but if you can you can just slip it into a slave case which will turn that harddrive into a external one. They say that you need to reformat it, but that's not true. I had thousands of hours of music, tons of files that can't be replaced, and other bullcrap, it did take some working as I had to reclaim ownership on the whole lot, but I got it all back.

  8. Here's an idea: Make your goblins a bit of a joke. Give them a petty mentality where "L'hexl'tor stole 40 cakes. He stole forty cakes. That's as many as four tens. And that's terrible" is the height of brilliant nefarity. Make the PCs regard them as little more than a joke... whether they're capable of being craftier than that, of course, is up to you.
    You see my idea, right?

  9. kelvingreen: Yeah, I think the volume itself is actually dead. Bit of a pisser, but what can you do?

    ripper x: I'll give it a go but I don't hold out much hope. I think the drive itself is beyond repair.

    Rachel: Nice idea. So I see you have a blog now!

  10. Ah... the dead computer scenario has happened to me a couple of times now. I'm just waiting for the day when my current PC goes boom on me. I keep telling myself to do a big backup, and continually put it off or get distracted. I feel your pain.

    Cracking a few more Man. United jokes might help you feel a little better.

    - Matthew

  11. As a matter of fact I do, noisms! It's not much to look at yet, but I hopw it can provide others with as much insight as your writing has for me.