Thursday, 7 August 2008

Fat Tail Venom (Goblins 2.0, part I)

In the low wild mountains of the southern reaches of the Ural Mountains, a group of Goblins known as the Oren live. They are the remnants of a great family of Goblin tribes who once stretched from the Aral Sea to the Hungarian plain; their relatives have now long gone, however, crushed or chased away by more powerful and successful peoples. Now only the Oren remain, hidden in their mountain fastnesses. Into their thick forests and deep ravines no other race can enter.

The Oren enjoy a fearsome reputation in a fight. This is almost entirely due to their discovery of a species of scorpion, which lives in the sprawling cave systems in the roots of the mountains. Known as the Fat Tail by the Goblins, the scorpion has a potent venom which is more than strong enough to kill a human. On the hardier Goblins, though, it has a stimulatory effect.

Before a fight, Oren warriors take Fat Tail scorpions from a communal pot and deliberately sting themselves, usually on the tongue. This stuns the Goblins for up to a minute, and causes their ordinarily green faces to turn a deep purple in colour. Their eyes then become yellowed and blood begins to ooze from their tear ducts. By this time the creatures have regained consciousness and find their strength, endurance and pain-resistance increased hugely.

The purple face and bleeding tear ducts last as long as the poison remains in the Goblin's system; the effect of this grotesque appearance on enemy morale is often as important a weapon as the physical effects of the toxin itself.

Fat Tail Venom

When used on a human or other humanoid race, Fat Tail Venom results in severe pain and possible death. Those injected must immediately make a saving throw vs. death: failure means the victim dies over the course of d10 rounds. A successful save results in incapacitation from intense pain for d20 rounds, plus permanent Dexterity loss of 1d3 points.

On Goblins, however, the poison acts as a powerful drug, which enhances their physical abilities. When injected with Fat Tail Venom, a Goblin is stunned for 1 round, but in following rounds it enters the Fat Tail Frenzy. A goblin in this state gains a +1 bonus to hit and +2 bonus to damage. Their morale is boosted to Elite (13-14), and they gain a temporary hit point bonus of +d6. This Fat Tail Frenzy lasts for d3 hours.

Once the poison has worn off, the Goblin suddenly reverts to its normal state. This can result in death, but more often simply results in violent illness for a day or two. If the loss of the temporary hit point bonus results in the Goblin's hit points falling below 0, it dies; otherwise, the creature is sick (as if affected by a stinking cloud spell) for 1d6 rounds and then generally unable to do anything other than sleep and vomit for 1d3 days.

Fat Tail Venom has some use as a poison on humans and other humanoid races. For the poison to be most effective, it must be injected by the scorpion itself (whether the creature is dead or alive). The Oren are sometimes known to use the venom to coat their weapons, but this is considerably less potent - those affected must make a successful saving throw vs. death or be stunned for d10 rounds and suffer temporary Dexterity loss of 1d3 points. Ingested poison (for example, that put into a drink or food) merely results in severe illness - vomiting and diarrhea for 1d3 days. A single Fat Tail scorpion can fetch 50 gold pieces when dead, or 250 gold pieces when alive, when sold to a potential assassin. A dead scorpion contains one 'dose'; a living one can use its sting once per week.

It is unknown whether Fat Tail Venom affects Hobgoblins or Bugbears.


  1. I like it. It is a nice "night goblin" touch that can be used for PC nightmare fuel, and GM setting fodder. Talk about a "war on drugs", what will people do if/when they realize the goblins are using Fat Tails to pump themselves up?

    I imagine goblin scorpion farms, human Fat Tail extermination squads, and just maybe a Fat Tail venom cartel run by wizards.

  2. zweihander: Yeah, it's a bit of a rip off the night goblin mushroom brew. But plagiarism is the highest form of flattery, right?

  3. I think the Warhammer Forest Goblins did something similar too; the shamans would let the poisonous spiders bite them, although it was for communing with the gods rather than combat.

    I like this a lot. I can imagine the ever-present D&D sages sending some players off to test the venom on some hobgoblins...

  4. kelvingreen: You know, I'd forgotten all about Warhammer forest goblins. That's weird. And yet they must have been in my subconscious when coming up with the Fat Tail idea.

  5. I'd forgotten about them too (and let's face it, they're the poor undeveloped cousins of the manic Night Goblins) until I read your piece. :)

  6. Once upon a time I held dreams of an all-forest goblin army, complete with Giant Spider and River Troll pets. I think the fact that there were no plastic forest goblin sets, only lead ones, put me off, given that I was only about 15 at the time and had no money. The night goblins and regular goblins had packs of 12 plastic miniatures for a fiver, whereas for the same amount of money you were looking at maybe 4 forest goblins.

  7. Yep, the same exact reason why I never built a 40K Gretchin army. :)