Friday, 17 July 2020

Goose-Gold & Goblins

My 'Soft D&D' OSR-alike has a provisional name; (see above)

Char Gen
Crappy 1st attempt at Shinto
Shinto in Cumbria
A World Without Violence
Monster Brainstorm

Anne-Lise and The Goose Witch SFA Drawing Illustration Canvas _ Etsy

Reasoning On The Name

Opening structure is that of course it has to be a "This" ampersand "This" name, and it has to alliterate. Preferably it has the same number of syllables, so that's accomplished.

It’s not a double trochee though. GOOSE GOLD & GOBlins vs DUNgeons & DRAGons. There is just no way that either of the single syllable words of GOOSE or GOLD could ever be pronounced without the magnificence of a hard stress.

The Goblins are the easiest part to explain. I wanted something emblematic of D&D (see my previous post) and Goblins are a perfect fit for my idea of this game. They are non-trademarked so I can't get sued. Everyone has an idea of what they are, so no problems with recognition. And they fit real nicely into a non or less violent OSR style game as they are famously full of tricks, deceptions, mischief and hammery. They also make relatively good opponents for child PCs.

But GOOSE-GOLD? That will take some explaining.

Firstly, imagining the game to start with being based around a static community (if PCs "grow up" somewhere and have to deal with the same people and relationships over time they are more likely to invest in them and a lot less likely to be sociopaths as they can't just move on and escape the results of negative actions), I want there to be a pastoral or farming-esque Honobono element. Something from the home or the farm.

However, I also want it to be interesting and fun, and to sound cool. Which, unless you know a lot about farming, it’s hard to find that. Plus it also need to start with a "G" and have no more than two syllables.

I settled upon Geese, and as "GOOSE" has a stronger sound, and matches well with "GOLD", I picked that.

Geese As Nuclear Weapons

In Goose-Gold & Goblins, Geese themselves are both the primary treasure, the sought-for item of the early game, and also poses a monopoly on the use of force.

I will explain all this later on.

The geese of the Capitol by Henri-Paul Motte, 1889

Family, The Honobono Thing

Game starts, your Mum is sick and the Geese are missing.

(Oh and Dad is busy, missing, drunk or dead).

Lets assume you are all from the same family, or are close friends of the family. rothers and sisters likely.


I imagine the game being played including children, and maybe including parents and children. All being siblings in a family solves a lot of the decision paralysis and 'why are we doing this' stuff from sandbox games, or from people experiencing sandboxes for the first time and gives you a solid relationship in a way immediately intelligible to children, or anyone.

In a wider sense it embeds you in the village/community and gives you something to defend (your mum) and a place to adventure from.

Probably not the only way to play the game but a good opener.

(Could steal from Chris McDowall and say the family is in debt to the Vampire Bank).

Arthur Rackham

Freedom And Violence

is it even really possible to create a game with the levels of freedom, challenge and object orientation, with a genuine risk of loss or death, and not have it turn into violence?

Probably, maybe it is.

The means I am using to do this are;

> 'Set and Setting' (like Ryuutama) - the art, background, aesthetic, the way the world is described. Like in storygames this would also have a meta-effect as Goose-Gold & Goblins would be known as the 'less or non-violent' OSR-like game, and that would affect the people who bought and ran it and the kind of culture they created around themselves.

> Options available - so no specific weapons even allowed for starting characters, or accessible in the early game.

> Nature of opponents - they will almost never default to violence, using tricks and bullshit first.

> Any possible violence is clearly 'warning ringed' or 'escalation ringed', its very hard to get close to anything that might kill you without being warned multiple times. Hopefully three times at least, by diegetic elements in the campaign world. Warnings from Loregivers, the environment, the element itself and whatever else I can come up with.

> Your mum explicitly tells you "don't hurt anyone", and she's SICK and in BED. She NEEDS YOU MAN.

> A more high-level Diegetic reason perhaps? Like a Old king who is beloved but dying and doesn't want any violence, or the spirits of the land or something? Not sure yet. (More negative version, maybe there's a dark god or plague god who feeds off bloodshed?)

> THE GEESE - This is the key point. Nothing is more dangerous, frightening or terrible or upsetting than a violent Goose. All beings and spirits fear their wrath.

Geese become angry when they see or sense violence.

So if you are violent around a Goose, you are about to unleash a demon of Berserker rage. (Possibly they also grow in size in a Slaine-Like fashion during this).

(Otherwise, unlike in our world, the Geese are quite tractable.)

I want to avoid placing lots of explicit rules about 'do or don't do this' onto the players so only one element is an actual rule, and that a request from your sick mum, in the game, rather than from the DM

Set and setting is tacit, lack of weapons is a void rather than a rule, warning rings are part of the process of play, if there's an old king, or spirits who sicken from violence then.. still not sure about that. Could actually leave it up to the process of long-term play.

And of course, the Geese. And what could be more natural or reasonable than being unwilling to enrage a Goose?

Geese As Treasure

I don't yet know why geese are so valuable to this society/reality. it might have something to do with Golden Eggs. maybe each Goose is like a Lottery Ticket and will occasionally bang one out, maybe one in every 100 eggs is a golden egg, and maybe golden eggs (or slices of them) are the main currency of the Realm.

Or maybe these eggs have some magical property, which is why Goblins want them. OR - maybe there is a one in so many chance each time of a Magic Egg or something, so eggs are spells?

so obviously, everyone wants to get each others Geese, and having a Goose, or Geese is a big deal for anyone - if someone gets a special egg, that’s a big deal for the village.

BUT - because Geese have a monopoly on the use of force, you can't just murder someone and take their geese (at least not directly), you have to be subtle and use crime, trickery, persuasion and misdirection.

> Geese as ambulatory treasure/threats/problems.

As well as this, Geese can move around on their own, and they can co-operate or not with whoever wants to move them.

Maybe you need to calm or seduce them with an unguent or flute or something. Likely there are multiple ways to do this and you can find them out in-setting.

Thing is, within reason you can have Geese be a settled thing or you can have them breaking out and wandering etc

PLUS -I really like the idea of some child-sized chibi hero picking up a GOOSE in both arms, like a huge bag of shopping, and fucking running for it while being chased by Goblins.

I also like the idea of Geese in Goose-Gold and Goblins being really big though. Maybe they grow in response to violence, like magically, instantly.

Idea for cover is a bunch of adventurers and goblins running like fuck from a giant goose. Goose is in back field of image, people sprinting like hell in burst pattern towards the p.o.v. Goblins and adventurers intermixed. They were formerly scheming against each other but someone punched another in the nose. Maybe one Gob has a black eye and hero has a broken nose, and now the titan goose hurls itself upon them, their schemes shattered.



  1. Untitled Goose Gold Game no more!

  2. Indirect violence is another solution.

    Firing a blunderbuss would not hit and kill; the kick from the shot will knock you down and the boom of the explosion is such a forceful crack that it immediately terrifies the intended target into fleeing.
    Overcoming a rabid wolf isn't a matter of arming yourself with kitchen pots and a sharp stick... you need to trick it into chasing you into a rickety shed that you can collapse, or over the edge of a cliff.

  3. I think you’re spot on with your family/community/mischief approach to this.

    Perhaps magical geese sometime dwell in the wildest riverlands. Maybe some have unusual colors and patterns; blood red with black henna-like trim, for example, or jade and covered with golden spirals. Some may perhaps be gem-encrusted, made of an element, ethereal, or have a Masonic-looking burning eye floating above a featureless face. The lesser lay Faberge eggs of splendid design; the greater lay vast eggs with powers divine. In keeping with the goose’s numinous splendor, they do not deign to speak, nor do they suffer the presence of knaves.

    If goose eggs are a staple food, communities might have preferred methods of acquiring regular geese; a community governed by sober graybeards might send out itinerant lawspeakers who return after hearing a case with a mating pair of geese on their shoulders. A bucolic community trades milk and honey for geese and raises them on fluting and heavy cream, and holds legendary feasts for which a fat goose is the price of admission. A hairy-chested tribe might rustle geese, sending their boys out as a coming of age ritual to return with a goose, ideally without being detected for therein lies real skill; maybe a bloody-nosed scuffle with a gosherd boy is forgivable, especially if this kind of thing is expected, but if you’re caught then it’s YOUR tribe that will lose out on geese.

    1. I might have you write the 'Legendary Geese' section for this.

    2. That would be an honor! If you like, send me an email and I’ll return you a gosish tuatha

  4. even kids understand that violence is necessary when facing hard trouble. Forcing it out is violent itself. I'd still go with making it happen by "debilitating" the monsters if it happens (at 0hp they cannot act, fluff it as a beating)

    1. Conflating the schoolyard violence of children with the terminal violence of adults is a false equivalency.

      You absolutely don't need violence as a solution, because when anything in a children's situation faces terminal violence the solution should be to run away and/or hide.

    2. I think 'terminal' is the important bit here. Most violence in the world and (ideally) any violence in a young child's life is nonlethal. That is a pretty big difference to regular DnD and should be facilitated in GnG in some way. Whacking a gobbo into actual submission with a bamboo cane is violence but doesn't even come close to attempting to kill/maim anyone. Perhaps instead of Hp you'd have to attack the resolve to fight.

    3. Fear of violence is increased in adults who have never had to resort to it than in kids.
      Given the same situation of a goblin getting into your garden, the kid is much faster to shoot him down (and have no bad thoughts about it later) than in an adult with no combat experience. They just understand violence is natural and have not had to justify the opposite to themselves as many of us do on adulthood.
      It is OK to kill. Every animal kills when his security is threatened, and we are animals. Adults often think they're not but kids know.

    4. Im not talking about schoolyard violence. Every animal resorts to terminal violence when the own wellbeing or territory is threatened. We are animals too, but many of us have the commodity of not having to experience violence in our daily lives. This is so that we often justify it as not being the normal state.

      Kids are much closer to the natural order as they've not built "civilization approved" assumptions around it. Let's put it like this: If a hungry goblin got into your yard, a kid would shoot him much faster and have much less bad afterthoughts about it than an adult who is not trained to combat (who probably would question things as "what will they think of me if i shoot the goblin", "can i be punished by law or god if i do this" or "maybe the goblin just wants to ask for directions")

      Kid would probably only be hindered by what his parents would think about the thing. But dont be fooled trying to think that a kid would try to befriend the goblin or try to talk him out of eating his parents instead of shooting him: only an adult is so worn out by doubt to do that.

    5. The assumption that kids are natural sociopaths is, in my experience, completely wrong. But if you're the kind of guy who assumes it's normal to give a child a firearm...

    6. lions are not sociopaths neither stags nor chickens are and both kill to live

    7. What a wild conversation.

      "If you make a game without violence, aren't you FORCING that violence out, and thus, being violent yourself???" no. Of course not. "Forcing violence out is violent itself" what a wild take.

      "If a kid saw a goblin they would immediately murder that goblin on sight, no questions asked."

      absolutely wild

  5. Geese as universally feared has a good fairy-tale logic to it. The perils of the farmyard to a child, the wild thing that must be kept.

    The Geese of the Capitol is a fun painting.

    The other Goose theme that occurs is the 'Wild Goose' - poetically indicating exiled Irish mercenaries, but more direct depictions of wild geese point would include TH White's Sword in the Stone and The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (not read the latter). Could this indicate a potential for rootlessness or sporadic periods of travel for the household geese of GG&G?

  6. Assuming the "and" is like a grace note, is that not THREE strong emphasises in a row? Hardcore. As compared with "Goblins and Goose Gold", which splits them up.

  7. Yeah its stress-stress-soft-stress-soft, all with the deepest vowel as well. Imagine Martin Luther King announcing it.

  8. Wonderful. Some thoughts:

    1. As others have said, violence should be okay as long as there’s a distinction drawn between fighting for dominance vs fighting to injure or kill. The injury/kill kind should be treated like any other hazard: a cliff, a fire, etc. It’s a hard barrier that must be circumvented somehow. You can’t go toe to toe with the hungry wolf, any more than you can walk through the fire or jump off the cliff. Other means must be used.

    2. Siblings is of course the default PC party structure, but how about animal PCs, eg the family dog or a talking frog they meet? Maybe other exceptional sibling-alikes, eg the adopted orphan.

    3. Speaking of animals: I love the goose thing but it maybe results in a very goose-heavy narrative. What about other domesticated livestock: sheep, or (better for the goose-like temperament) goats? If the party is understood to be recovering their flock of sheep (a la Bo Peep) then any violence will scatter the flock and/or send the goats into a frenzy. Maybe the family dog has a limited ability to keep the sheep herded together? Maybe the sweet innocent littlest sibling is he one the sheep naturally follow? Ideas for PC “classes” emerge from this mechanic.

    Keep it coming. I’m eating this up.

    1. A goose heavy narrative sounds pretty awesome actually, and gives this game a signature flavor all its own beyond "kinda Ghibli".

      It could also be that the importance of geese = riches is a template that can be extended to other animals in the setting. Maybe sheep's wool is the only thing that protects against Deep Winter, goat milk will cure baldness, etc. Each animal could have some well known usefulness beyond the normal "fun to look at, can be eaten also".

    2. This is a solid call Salinday

  9. Two potential ways you could go with the geese.  1) Like the Sankara stones in Temple of Doom. I.e. generally linked to healthy crops, good weather, lack of disease.  2)  Providers of material wealth for the community, allowing plentiful goods to be imported in.  The latter fits the idea of a distant feudalist/mercantilist realm, to contrast the utopian setting of the game. It is the wealth the geese create that preserves the naivety of the game realm (inside the realm, gold is not used in exchange).  Perhaps weapons only come from the external place (or are relics from a past civilisation).  Perhaps weapons can't even be bought, or it is an entirely barter/scrip system in the game realm.  

    To me, it evokes a wilderness setting, where families are separated by physical geography.  Maybe not even villages, or just a central one.  In my own game, I am exploring the practice of a potlatch for community decision making (as used by indigenous native American and Canadian populations).  I think it could work well in your setting, as a possible alternative to the benevolent king.  

  10. Goblins and Goose Gold is better. Sorry.

  11. Goblins and Goose Gold is better. Sorry.

  12. Thank you for the comments everyone. Some good ideas here.

    But you are not getting the varied alternate forms of violence you all seem to immediately desire. Violence will exist. It will be quick, it will be lethal and it will have long term consequences.

  13. This is a clever development on the idea. Golden goose eggs feels thematically appropriate and creates a diegetic reason to be nonviolent.

    I'm already thinking about the Undertale-style hack for this...

  14. Random Hungarian here.
    We have an epic poem about a gooseherd written by Mihály Fazekas in 1804. It is basically a nonviolent revenge story. Nonviolent as the protagonist beats up the greedy and dumb noble a bit (three times).

    The poem is only for people with much spare time.
    But there is an animated movie about it (Mattie the Goose-boy, 1977). It is pure gold. Highly recommended.

    Also, Nils Holgerson.
    Maybe more available for the English speaking audience.


    1. Thank you! I found Mattie on Youtube, the full thing is there.

      St Werburgh, who was the patron saint of Chester, had multiple goose-related incidents, including one where she restored an eaten goose to life.

  15. I love this more with each blog post. First child is on the way and I would love to introduce her to role playing with something like this.

  16. roll to not lose temper in front of goose and thereby begin the apocalypse