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Rush awoke with a start, it was light yet there was no sun in the sky. He was beside a shimmering lake. In the middle of it was a female goblin with grimy yellow skin. As he watched she plunged a spear into the water quickly, lifting it back out with a fish struggling on its tip.

Turning towards Rush, she called out “This is sanctuary, a world between worlds. Those in Selunes favor are brought here when needed. Would you share a meal before you go back to the mortal realm?”

She looked strangely familiar to him, something about her pulling at the edges of his memory. Her voice was elegant too refined to be coming from a Goblin, speaking of which her clothing looked clean and well made.

Dropping into a combat crouch Rush hissed, “You might be tricky, but I am no fool, who … what are you?”

Ignoring the outburst she waded to the edge of the water and reached her hand up, imploring Rush for assistance in climbing out.

Rush paused for a long moment, considering. She looked like a Goblin lady, an attractive Goblin lady now he thought about it. Her hair was tangled artlessly like juicy seaweed and she had a lovely odious complexion, the warts on chin sparkled as water dripped from them. He mentally shook sternly this was no time for his loins to distract him. There was something wrong about everything and her casual confidence made him feel nervous.

He smiled nastily, she would discover that a nervous Goblin was a dangerous Goblin. Glancing down at the outstretched hand, he reached forward and hauled her bodily upwards throwing her onto the floor.

Baring teeth he dropped down quickly on top of her to savage her neck with his sharp fangs, only to find she had vanished and somehow avoided his grasp. Rush frantically twitched his head around trying to find her, expecting a retaliation.

Behind him, the woman coughed, she stood casually rolling her eyes at him and once again offered the fish.

He sighed his rumbling belly had finally won as it normally did. Goblins never survive long if they trusted people but food is food and it had been a long time since he had eaten anything but pulped mushroom stalk.

“Eat up, my name is Tymora and I have been ordered by Selune to assist you.” She stated as she handed over the cold, wet fish.

Rush snatched the fish then bit down, tearing the fish roughly in two and offering half back to her. Entrails drooped over the side of the fish enticingly and the fresh smell of its flesh made him drool. Still he hesitated from eating his portion, a Goblin knows to fear gifts as they’re never truly free. Watching he saw her face scrunch in disgust as she looked down, whatever she was she wasn’t one of the feral races, she was unused to eating her food raw and bloodied.

Rush edged away from her slightly waiting until she bit delicately into her portion. As she did he tore into his own share, pieces of gore and scales slopped out of his mouth as sharp teeth ripped into the still wet carcass. He eyed her warily watching nervously as he ate.

Tymora’s returned his stare, mouth curled slightly in disgust as she watched him eat. After a minute she stated “I have no idea why, but you seem intent on harming me, despite my having taken the form of your mother”.

Rush paused mouth open, half chewed fish remains visible in his maw, shocked at this. Suddenly he was lost in distant memories from his childhood. Fragments of younger days surfacing.

His mother teaching him the Goblin proverbs of caution and cowardice. Her shielding him with her body from the blows of cruel adventurers, that act of bravery both contradicted and proved those earlier teachings as she had bled to death from the wounds she had received. He wondered if she regretted her decision or was proud of his continued survival?

It had been a long time since he had thought of her and strange emotions warred in him. He shook himself physically bringing his attention back to the present and realised Tymora was still speaking the irritating woman apparently unaware he hadn’t been paying attention, “as an avatar of Selune I have been asked to be your mentor and help you adjust to your new life as one of Selunes chosen, all higher beings have chosen servants. Some are priests, others heroes but all advance their gods agenda. Why Selune chose an ungodly heathen such as yourself is beyond me.” she sighed again, “but she is wise beyond my knowledge and I must trust her,” she then rolled her eyes disrespectfully and muttered “even when her actions appear to make no sense.”

“You should be seeing information in front of you now, this will allow you to choose a class which will help map the path of your destiny.”

As she said this Rush’s vision was obscured by glowing symbols and patterns. Terrified he scrambled backwards trying to get away from them, all his life he had been warned ‘Magic kills Goblins.’

Regardless of where he turned though the sigils followed him, always firmly in front of his face.

More sighs echoed from Tymora and seconds later a shooting pain racked through Rush’s head, he knew it the bitch was killing him. Snatching up a rock from the floor he lurched towards her, determined to take her with him. Somehow though he wasn’t getting any closer to her, his feet were moving, but she always seemed just out of reach.

Suddenly the pain ceased as abruptly as it began and the symbols swam into focus, suddenly comprehensible. Framed by a rectangle in the center of his vision were the words

You have unlocked Reading, level 1 (Cost 1 point, you have 4 points remaining).”

“I know you’re a goblin and thus of limited intellect,” Tymora stated, “but, if you concentrate on the message and push with your mind, you should be able to close it.” In return, she received a guttural growl and an intense glare. All the same, Rush did as requested and was rewarded when the message did indeed disappear, though it was quickly replaced by another.

“It is time to decide your destiny adventurer. Will you choose the path of the Wizard, Priest, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger or Thief”

Rush blinked rapidly, confused. These were all professions that he recognised having been hunted by several of them, but no Goblin ever aspired to such things. A Goblin only ever expected to endure and hoped perhaps to finish the current day with a full belly and live to see another one.

Rush thought hard about them.

A Wizard was a being of power who could manipulate the ether bending magic to his will through sheer force of intellect and personality, while appealing that didn’t sound like something he could do.

A Druid lived in sync with nature, nurturing it and protecting it. Looking down at my torn clothing made of dog skin and remembering the fish he’d eaten raw Rush thought he lived in tune with nature. Perhaps this might be a reasonable choice?

Priests worshipped divine beings and received power from them in return for their sacrifice of independence. Rush snorted in laughter at the concept of becoming a Priest. Goblins do not pray, for they know it is best not to interfere with destiny. Goblin Gods are capricious and it is likely their prayers would be answered in ways which they would not expect nor welcome.

Fighters are brave warriors, often knights cased in steel armor, clanking forward impassively before slaughtering their foes. Rush liked the idea of striking fear into his enemies, but realistically with his muscles he’d probably find myself unable to move if clad in armor. He definitely wouldn’t be able to get up if he fell over. As such he’d be more likely to inspire laughter from his enemies than fear.

Three options discounted, that left the Druid, Thief, Paladin or the Ranger as possibilities.

As he understood it, a Druid tended to live apart from others communing with nature. Rush didn’t have friends but liked the safety of a group, besides if there weren’t others around to fleece at Poker how was he ever going to get any money?

A Thief is almost the definition of a Goblin. A timid scared person who steals from others and exploits them attacking only when they have the advantage, skulking in the shadows whenever possible. Yes that was a possibility.

A Paladin was a brave defender of the weak and downtrodden. They were generally seen as a force of good standing against injustice in the world.

The final option was Ranger is someone who survives on the edge of civilisation, knowing his environment and adapting to it. They know the weaknesses of his enemies and exploit them.

The Thief seemed the best match for who Rush was today and the Ranger appealed because it might help increase the odds of survival in the wilds of the underdark.

However he kept thinking of his mother and how she’d always stood up for him. If he’d been stronger and braver then he might have been able to save her when she needed help. Rush was fed up with being powerless and always running away, perhaps becoming a Paladin might allow him to become something more as the strange voice had suggested.

The decision made, Rush mentally pushed at the word “Paladin” and a chime rang in his head as the box disappeared. A new page of information appeared alongside a 3d picture of him, and intrigued he read the text beside it.

Rush - Paladin Level 1 (Gallant)
Strength - 8 (Your strength is below the average of most humanoid species but you are wiry and stronger than you appear)
Intelligence - 8 (You have a certain animal cunning but lack the ability to focus upon problems and make long-term plans)
Wisdom - 8 (You are cautious and cowardly by nature, but you make rash decisions and rarely think through the consequences of your actions)
Dexterity - 18 (An incredibly agile creature you are a fast runner, hard to hit and light on your feet)
Constitution - 15 (While small and skinny you have a robust stamina and heal quickly when injured)
Charisma - 8 (You aren’t the most attractive creature in the world, even to other Goblins)
Alignment - Evil (-35) - You are cowardly and will do anything to preserve your own life, even if it adversely affects others.
Predictability - Chaotic (-50) - You are unpredictable because you have no strong will of your own, instead you pander to more powerful individuals in an attempt to survive.
Experience - 25 (needs 100 for level 2)
Skill Points - 1 spent / 4 available
Health Points - 14/14
Status - Level 0, Indentured Servant (Pulchritude Guild) Balance - 150 silver pieces

This all made no sense and his head throbbed from having painstakingly pared through so many words. The words were bad enough, so many long ones he didn’t know the meaning to, but such big numbers as well. He was an intelligent Goblin, he could count as far as he had fingers, but after that ‘lots’ and ‘more than lots’ was sufficient for most things.

Instinctively Rush bared his teeth at the thought of having to do more thinking to try and work out was going on. He was a Goblin, a creature of action living its’ short life in the now. What use did he have for reading?

He had forgotten Tymora was watching until a snort of derision came from her. “A Goblin Paladin I’m amazed that option was actually available to you. You are only a Paladin in name everyone knows that Goblins are stupid creatures who only look after themselves,” she smiled wryly, “You probably won’t live long enough for your choices to matter anyway.”

Anger filled Rush, not least because she was probably right. He was just a Goblin, what did he know apart from how to skulk in the shadows and survive?

His head dropping he swallowed nervously before asking, “Can you help me?”

Tymora sniffed, “Of course, that is the first intelligent thing you’ve said since we met. It is Selunes will for me to assist you for the brief span of your life. What is it you wish to know?”

Rush’s shoulders slumped forward, “Can’t you just tell me what to do?” he asked, “I have no idea where I am, what I am doing and my head hurts”.

“Some hero you are” she snorted, then staring into the distance Tymora began to recite what Rush could only presume was a script she had recited many times before.

Many eons ago Risk World was created by the Gods and populated with creatures, some in their likeness and some from the depths of their limitless imaginations. While they are forbidden to directly interfere in the mortal realm some Gods still feel loyalty to their creations and attempt to influence it by bestowing special skills upon a chosen few mortals.”

“These mortals are gifted with special advantages and abilities. As they gain in experience of the world around them they will learn skills and abilities far faster than normal people and are able to grow in physical prowess far beyond their peers.”

“Even an ignorant Goblin such as yourself has undoubtedly heard of some of these heroes, most likely the infamous Dark General Khan or the Lyoness, Mistress of Light. Not all heroes reach such heights however and many die long before the world whispers their name in awe.”

“You asked my opinion, so I am obliged to give it. I am appalled at Selune choosing you as one of her heroes. You are stupid, ignorant and crude. On top of that you are quick to violence and easily spooked. There are things which natural to you as a Goblin and it is now you need to decide whether to embrace that self or to grow beyond it.”

Rush had listened passively to her lecture cradling his throbbing head in his hands. Ruminating on her words he realised that the pain in his head came from the lack of ability to digest information and learn, desperate to stop that pain he mentally clicked on the Intelligence rating allocating two of the available skill points to it.

Instantly his mind cleared, the migraine receding. he was able to recall her lecture with better clarity. With a braveness born of new found intelligence he stated “The will to survive isn’t evil, those without strength to resist the more powerful either become obedient or die. Don’t look down on the weak, we do what we must to survive.”

Her shocked expression as she heard the words was a reward in itself and Rush grinned as he concentrated on the character sheet. Looking further down it listed the skills already possessed.  

Goblin Traits -
Scavenger - You are able to find or create useful items from waste and debris.

Low Light Vision - You are accustomed to life underground and can see as well in very dim light as a human in sunshine.

Adaptable (Level 1) - Goblins are survivors and able to adapt to circumstances quickly. You are able to learn any skill you have aptitude for through practice alone. Level 1 of this skill will allow you to advance a skill from another class no further than level 1.

Common Skills -
Literacy (Level 1) - Your limited intellect only allows you to be able to read simple texts and your limited vocabulary means words such as “ignorant” are unknown to you despite your being part of its dictionary definition.

Speak Common Human tongue (Level 1) - You are able to communicate reasonably well using the human common tongue, although your vocabulary is somewhat crude and you would do well to avoid polite society.

Wield Dagger (Level 0) - You are able to wield a dagger without your incompetence making it a threat to your own health. Your lack of skill means that it is best to avoid a fair fight.

Stalk (Level 0) - You are able to make yourself small and blend into dark spaces with a mild degree of success. While moving you are able to follow someone without them noticing so long as the person isn’t particularly perceptive or cautious.

Gambling (Level 1) - You understand the basic rules of gambling and are able to dispose of considerable amount of funds by participating in such activities.

Rush noticed that some of the skill descriptions, while technically useful were quite pointed and barbed in nature. He hissed involuntarily, though he wasn’t surprised that Tymora disliked him. Goblins were used to being hated and they survived all the same.

Beneath the current skills was an indication that there were 2 points available to spend on self improvement and a long list of options split into two categories, class skills and general skills.

At first level you received 5 skill points and Rush had already spent the majority of his skill points on literacy (1 point) and improving intelligence (2 points), so there were only two points remaining. His brow furrowed as he realised that he was ironically now intelligent enough to realise that perhaps he should have invested the skill points elsewhere. The joy of being intelligent enough to realise when you’ve made a stupid decision.

Still the range of skills available was still quite daunting even with only two points available.

Paladin Skills:
Lay on hands ( 1 points - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s love to cause another creature to be healed slightly (4 points of health per level). This skill is usable once per day.
Protection from Evil (1 point - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s power to protect a person from Evil aligned creatures such as yourself. This skill is usable once per day and the protection lasts for one minute per level of the wielder.
Holy Smite (1 point - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s power to cause additional Holy damage against a creature. Selune will not allow this power to activate against creatures who are of Good alignment.
Hide from Evil (1 point - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s power to hide a creature from any Evil aligned creature in the area.

Common Skills:
Slippery (1 point - Level 1) - You are nimble and quick, hard to pin down and restrain.
Improved reactions (1 point - Level 1) - You react incredibly quickly when surprised.
Tactical Analysis (1 point - Level 1) - If an opponent is of much higher level than yourself then the information available to you about them will be limited. This skill will allow you to access information of creatures as if you were of ‘skill rank x 4’ levels higher.

There were many other skills listed, but these were greyed out, either costing more points than were available or having prerequisites which he had yet to obtain.

All of the skills looked useful in specific situations, Holy Smite seemed the one most likely to directly increase the chance of survival in a fight so Rush mentally selected that and then followed up by choosing Lay on Hands and confirmed the choices before once again reviewing his character sheet.

Rush - Goblin Paladin Level 1 (Gallant)
Strength - 8 (Your strength is below the average of most humanoid species but you are wiry and stronger than you appear)
Intelligence - 10** (You are of average intelligence for a human, a virtual genius in comparison to most Goblins. This statistic has been raised twice already and will cost 3 points to raise again)
Wisdom - 8 (You are cautious and cowardly by nature, but you make rash decisions and rarely think through the consequences of your actions)
Dexterity - 18 (An agile creature you are a fast runner, hard to hit and light on your feet)
Constitution - 15 (While small and skinny you have a robust stamina and heal quickly when injured)
Charisma - 8 (You aren’t the most attractive creature in the world, even to other Goblins)
Experience - 0 (needs 100 for level 2)
Alignment - Evil (-35) - You are cowardly and will do anything to preserve your own life, even if it adversely affects others.
Predictability - Chaotic (-50) - You are unpredictable because you have no strong will of your own, instead you pander to more powerful individuals in an attempt to survive.
Skill Points - 5 spent / 0 available
Health Points - 14/14
Status - Level 0, Indentured Servant (Pulchritude Guild) Balance - 150 silver pieces

Goblin Traits -
Scavenger - Raised as vermin you are able to find or create useful items from waste and debris.
Adaptable (Level 1) - Goblins are survivors and able to adapt to circumstances quickly. You are able to learn any skill you have aptitude for through practice alone. Level 1 of this skill will allow you to advance a skill from another class no further than level 1.
Low Light Vision - You are accustomed to life underground and can see as well in very dim light as a human in sunshine.

Common Skills -
Literacy (Level 1) - You are able to read most texts however the meaning of more advanced words such as kleptomania are unknown to you, even if you are likely to be subject to its effects.
Speak Common Human tongue (Level 1) - You are able to communicate reasonably well using the human common tongue, although your vocabulary is somewhat crude and you would do well to avoid polite society.
Wield Dagger (Level 0) - You are able to wield a dagger without your incompetence making it a threat to your own health. Your lack of skill means that it is best to avoid a fair fight.
Stalk (Level 0) - You are able to make yourself small and blend into dark spaces with a mild degree of success. While moving you are able to follow someone without them noticing so long as the person isn’t particularly perceptive or cautious.
Gambling (Level 1). You understand the basic rules of gambling and are able to dispose of considerable amount of funds by participating in such activities.

Paladin Skills:
Lay on hands ( 1 points - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s love to cause another creature to be healed slightly (4 points of health per level). This skill is usable once per day. As a despicable creature involving this power will cause damage to yourself as you channel Holy power through yourself to use this skill.
Holy Smite (1 point - Level 1) - You are able to call upon Selune’s power to cause additional Holy damage against a creature. Selune will not allow this power to activate against creatures who are of Good alignment. As a despicable creature involving this power will cause damage to yourself as you channel Holy power through yourself to use this skill.

“Hey, What is that about those Paladin skills injuring me?” Rush exclaimed, “That wasn’t in the description!”

“You are an evil creature Rush, choosing to be a Paladin hasn’t changed that and if you don’t alter your ways then your service to Selune is likely to be both short and painful.” The cold, arrogant tone of Tymora’s voice made Rush glare at her angrily. She paused briefly smiling icily back at him, then continued, “Well you’ve chosen your path Rush, normally I’d wish you luck and say I’d look forward to meeting you again when you reach Level 5 and get your options to specialise. All things considered however I’m just hoping that you don’t disgrace Selune’s gift to you before you die.”

With that peptalk ringing in his ears, the world faded out once more.

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About the author

Nole Moody

  • Not the coolest cat

Bio: Aspiring writer, inexperienced and would appreciated all feedback especially constructive comments.

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