Friday, 8 August 2008

The Mad Macnaghtens (Goblins 2.0, Part II)

In an abandoned holdfast up on Innismoor live three brothers. Known as the Mad Macnaghtens, they terrorise the local populace and prey upon travelers on the road, especially in spring and summer when traffic is relatively frequent. No ordinary highway robbers, they are Redcaps, and their interest is not in gold or silver but blood and blood alone. For if ever the blood they use to colour their woolen hats should run dry, they would quickly die.

Rab, Jeb and Morgan are their names, and they call themselves the Lairds of Innismoor. They long ago bullied the local people of Clan Maclachlan into submission; the Redcaps allow the clan to live in peace so long as they do not warn away travelers passing through the moor. The Maclachlans know better than to break this agreement, lest the Macnaghtens find out and seek retribution.

The brothers keep a constant watch on the road from their tower. Once they have spotted a potential victim they descend from the tower and hide in a low copse of fir trees, from where they can launch their ambushes. Captives are dragged to the cellar of the holdfast for the Macnaghtens to do with as they please.

Goblin (Redcap)

A Redcap is a particularly large, fierce and sadistic form of Goblin. Almost as big as a man and much stronger, their only purpose in life is violence and bloodshed. For them murder is a sport and a kind of art form, and in a fight they spur each other on to ever more grotesque and brutal deeds. If possible, they prefer to disable an opponent so they can dispatch him or her at will.

In appearance, a Redcap is a stocky, tautly muscled figure, with pasty white features and sunken eyes which glow a faint red at night. Its fang-like teeth are black and its long pink tongue frequently hangs out like a hungry dog's, oozing drool.

They typically inhabit abandoned castles and other ruins, where they style themselves 'Lairds' of the surrounding areas. Their equipment is often pilfered from their victims, with preference for great, two-handed claymores.

Redcaps gain special succor from their woolen hats. So long as the hat is wet with blood, they can regenerate at a rate of 1hp per round in the manner of a troll. If their hat ever runs dry or is lost, they lose this ability and become stricken as if by a weakness spell.


Frequency: Rare
Habitat: Ruined castles on Highland moors and heaths
Intelligence: Average (8-10)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 4 (chain mail)
Movement: 12
HD: 5+5
THAC0: 15
No. of attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: By weapon +2
Special Attacks: None
Special Defenses: Regeneration (1 hp / round)
Morale: Elite (13-14)
Size: Medium (5' tall)
Other: Characters who know about the Redcap's weakness can attempt to remove the hat and destroy it. They can do this through a natural 19 or 20 on a called shot, or through overbearing the creature.


  1. I'm really digging this series of posts. I don't play fantasy all that much, but these entries are making me yearn to strap on my bastard sword and hit the woods. Cheers!

  2. While I like them I think maybe they go too far to still be goblins.

    Yesterday's post I understand how they were still goblins in the D&D sense, but your redcaps seem totally unrelated.

    That said, I copied them into my notes, although my current game is designed to not really have goblins (or orcs or hobgoblins and so on).

  3. patrickwr: Glad you're enjoying them. If I can get more people into fantasy gaming, then my work is done. ;)

    herb: Thanks for the comment. You're probably right that my Redcaps aren't much at all like D&D goblins. I'm taking artistic license to an extreme here. ;)

  4. throughly loving this series on Goblins. Hopefully you will do a roundup of all your goblin articles when you are done? Oh, and by the way, have you thought about any Undead Goblins? They would make a great addition to the carnival I'm starting this month, eh?

  5. Johnathan: Thanks. Yeah, I might bundle the entries together when I'm finished (whenever that is).

    The carnival is a nice idea by the way. I'll see if I can come up with something...

  6. I like this a lot. I do think that if it were me, I would just have them think that they'll die if they don't keep the hats seeped in blood, like some nasty cross between Dumbo and Dr Lektor [sic].

  7. kelvingreen: Then you could have a scene in which a Redcap's hat dries out, and nothing happens... which means the Redcaps realise their deadly weakness is no weakness at all. Cue Redcap conquest of the world.

  8. which point, the players have to track down the Dried Out Redcap before he gets back to the family and tells them what he's discovered.

  9. Apropos of nothing it occurs to me how well this translates to Shadowrun, if the Mcnaughtens emigrate to the American midwest*.

    More to the point, excellent work on this series. It could make a cool piece for Fight On! if you were so inclined.

    *Since American baseball may not translate -- had to look it up myself! -- thats a Cincinnati Reds cap.

  10. Max: That's actually a very nice idea.

    On a similar subject, many Scottish highlanders emigrated to the American west after the clearances. Many of them married into native American tribes, and ended up becoming involved in the Creek Red Stick Wars. Now there would be a cool idea for a game - Creek Red Stick Red Caps causing all kinds of trouble on the wild frontier.

  11. As I go through my Google Reader starred list for entries - this one and the whole goblin series - is a sure fire must read. I've submitted it to OPEN GAME TABLE for consideration. Truly excellent stuff here.

  12. There's been some concern that blogger's work is being submitted without their consent - so I just want to clarify: Nothing will be published in Open Game Table unless the author releases the material for inclusion in the Anthology. This post was simply submitted for consideration; which is the first step towards identifying the best in RPG blogging. Let me know if you have any questions over at the The Core Mechanic or in the OPEN GAME TABLE google group.

  13. Jonathan: No problem at all. Thanks for the consideration!