Tag Archives: monster

Giants of Pahvelorn

Image from Dark Classics

Before the coming of Lord Arios, giants ruled the Whiskerknife Hills and surrounding areas. The giant-bane Arios, along with his companion the wizard Ismahir, drove the big folk away and built the fortress of Pahvelorn. Some say the giants retreated to the dark places of the earth, others that they were driven south into the Cobramurk Mountains.

The giants themselves believe that they came from the sky. Each glittering star in the evening night, they say, is a palace of their forbearers. The terrestrial giants are divided about the events which brought them to the ground world. Some believe there was a civil war above, and that the giants of the hills and mountains are the remnants of the defeated. Others aver that the over-world was menaced by some great doom, forcing its dwellers into the imperfect world below.

Giants have two uses for humans: meat and slave labor. In the legends, they keep and breed humans like humans keep cattle and dogs. The dull and small ones are intended from the start for the cook pot, but they have also developed a hardier breed which they use for other tasks. These are called drudges. They are large compared to most humans, often seven or eight feet tall, with tough skill and thick, ropy muscles. They cannot speak, and only usually understand a few crude words. Even the best drudges grow old however, at which point they too are destined for the great cleavers of the giant kitchens.

Drudges roll 12 + 1d6 for strength and constitution each, 2d6 for dexterity, and 2 + 1d6 for intelligence (other ability scores are 3d6). They worship all giants as gods incarnate and have no talent for sorcery.

Random robot generator

Jack’s recent random robot generator post reminded me of another free generator that I had been meaning to blog about. You can find a PDF of it here:


I don’t remember originally how I came across this. It’s a “roll all the dice” system. I am coming to greatly appreciate the convenience of this format.

Image from Space Detective #2

Here is a sample robot.

Model 4-6-4-9-9-1

HD 8, AC as plate, Atk 2d6 or restrain

This model is unique and was designed to serve as an escort. In appearance, the robot is a 12 foot tall metal construct that is vaguely humanoid. Instead of a head, it has a large round featureless dome which seems to grow out of what would be the shoulders on a human. The robot’s normal attack mode is a powerful smash with its metal arms that does 2d6 damage and may optionally push or throw human-sized enemies up to 20 feet in addition to dealing damage. The chest plate also opens, revealing 6 metal tentacles which have a range of ten feet and can grab and restrain a target on a successful melee attack.

Mission (roll 1d6):

  1. Collector: designed to gather specimens for the mothership
  2. Jailor: designed to transport prisoners to the mothership (chest cavity is prison)
  3. Protector: designed to defend alien explorers (robot is almost like exoskeleton)
  4. Excavator: designed to explore the underworld; knows 1d3 interesting locations
  5. Maintainer: recovers and repairs other robots (chest cavity is repair chamber)
  6. Autopsier: chest cavity contains other tools for automated analysis and autopsy

Legends of Pahvelorn: Doorcreeper

Image from Wikimedia (cropped)

Doorcreepers are small, wicked demons. They are not bouncing, gibbering imps, however. They move purposefully, and with malign intelligence, often draped in dark rags or swathed in cloaks. Doorcreepers range from malicious (stealing pies, reversing or garbling the text in books) to pure wickedness (poisoning wells, removing the eyes from children, turning pets inside out). They are said to love sweets and fresh blood. In the stories, they have no head for wine.

Their vocalizations are a combination of hisses, growls, and booming bass tones which seem to echo from far-off places with little correspondence to their actual size or location. They are said to be able to speak through the mouths of others, leading to the saying “that was a doorcreeper talking”, often used after having spoken something one wishes to retract. They speak their own language which sages connect to no other existing tongue, but also parrot arbitrary snippets of other languages, often said to be inconvenient secrets.

The scariest thing about the doorcreepers? Once they have gone through a door, any other door they walk through can lead back to that previously traversed threshold. Thus, once they get into a town, it is almost impossible to get rid of a doorcreeper haunting without finding and killing the whole group. If the affected structure is known, it will be ritually destroyed, though it is said that the residents of a building infected by doorcreepers may have some strange influence over them, leading some dark magicians to attempt luring the creepers (a burn-worthy offence, if discovered).

Chaos Titans

Chaos titans are powerful beings from other worlds or dimensions who derive pleasure and nourishment from strife and conflict. They are not gods. Thus, they cannot shape reality in the way that a true god has authority over a domain such as light, or love, or death. Nor do they exist outside the bounds or rules of the material universe. However, in most cases, practically speaking, they are immortal and invulnerable.

It is possible to destroy them, but the correct rituals to do so are difficult to obtain and may even have been truly lost. It is easier to banish or imprison them, but even such limited tasks are the work of a legendary hero. It is unknown whether chaos titans were created by mad gods, ancient sorcerers, or are birthed naturally from maelstroms of chaos.

Chaos titans can grant powers to mortal servants in the manner of divinities. They favor powers of destruction and awe. They are often the patron of rebels, and may pretend to be gods unconnected to chaos. They communicate only telepathically, at a range of several thousand feet. Thus, they often reside in caverns deep below populated areas, where they can cultivate followers, though they have also been known to hide in storm clouds, volcanoes, or powerful rivers. They enjoy causing natural disasters periodically.

The physical presence of a chaos titan may mutate creatures nearby, though this radius will vary from titan to titan and can be controlled to some degree. Chaos titans dislike any kind of stability, and are likely to betray followers if they feel like their power is being used in the service of order. They will also use their followers to undermine any other source of law. They have little sense of time of consciousness, and thus little ability to plan; they exist mostly in the moment.

When in physical form, chaos titans often appear as giant chitin-plated humanoids, 50 feet or more in height, but may take any form that pleases them of approximately the same size. Metamorphosis between forms takes one turn, and is terrifying to behold. Anyone witnessing such a transformation must succeed on a morale check or flee (this does not apply to PCs, but does apply to all retainers and NPCs).

AC as plate, HD 20, # attacks 2, damage 3d6, immune to non-magical damage, movement 24 (levitation). They may cast the following spells at will: ESP, confusion, invisibility, levitate, pyrotechnics, lightning bolt, transmute rock to mud, part water, all cure spells. They can also grant these spells to followers of the appropriate level that are within telepathy range. Individual titans may also have access to other spells; this list is merely a suggestion.

If defeated in combat without the proper destruction ritual being performed, the chaos titan will reform in 1d4 weeks, often growing in a surviving follower or nearby beast.

Confined Zombie Horde

Image from Wikipedia

The players in my current campaign are deep in the crypts of Death Frost Doom. They have woken the dead, and spurned the friendship of one creature that might have been able to help them. I’ve heard the players talk about wading into the undead horde and attempting to cut their way to the surface, so I decided I needed to know how I would handle that in game mechanical terms. The basic idea that I settled on is to treat the entire horde as a single creature with a huge number of HP and a variable number of attacks depending on the disposition of the undead horde front lines.

Assuming Moldvay stats for zombies, the horde will have 2 HD (9 HP on average) times the number of undead in total. The undead are shoulder to shoulder, approximately 2.5 per five feet of front (round up). So if a horde was surging up a corridor 10 feet wide, the front would be 5 zombies wide. Putting down an HP total of zombies equal to the front line of undead will push back the horde five feet and create terrain difficult for PCs (movement rate is halved), though the terrain is not considered difficult for the horde. The horde will advance 15 feet per round.

The horde will surge as one toward any source of life and flesh. Due to the close nature of the horde, it will take extra damage from area attack or grenade-like weapons, as they are more likely to catch more undead within their blast radius. The horde should be considered to automatically fail any saving throw associated with such an attack, and any damage is doubled. Examples of such attacks are flaming oil, explosives, and fireballs. The confined zombie horde should only be treated like a single monster while it is confined; if it breaks out into the open for whatever reason, encounters should again be run as with individual undead.

Horde attacks:

  • The horde front line gets six attacks against any adventurer foolhardy enough to engage in melee. This number of attacks increases as the horde advances around the character. For example, 10 attacks if the throng advances five feet, 16 once the character is surrounded.
  • Surge and trample: if at least two front line attacks hit, the enemy is knocked prone and pulled under the horde. On the next turn the monsters will advance over the character as if the area was unoccupied, and the horde will make nine attacks against the overwhelmed target. These attacks are in addition to the standard attacks made by the horde front lines against any other targets.
  • Jumper: once per round, optionally, 1d4 zombies (adjust for situational logic) from the rear ranks will clamber over the shoulders of the front lines and fling themselves at any living creature nearby. Range is 20 feet, and if the attack hits it will do double damage.
  • Any PCs overcome and reduced to 0 HP by the horde will be torn apart and eaten, and thus the PC corpse will not be recoverable.
Holding a line against the horde is difficult to impossible, as the undead will just sacrifice their front line in order to overcome the defense (for example, zombies will impale themselves on set spears, probably disarming and spear wielders in the process). Make sure to deduct HP from the horde whenever individual undead detach themselves in addition to when the horde itself is damaged.

The Death Frost Doom horde (at least the part underground) is 9885.5 HD, or 44,484 HP (assuming the average of 4.5 HP per die). I was nice and rounded down.

What do you think, is this horrific enough to represent a zombie multitude?

Image from Wikipedia

Vaguely Fourth Edition Conversion Details

Any advance movement by the horde is considered to be shifting (that is, it does not provoke opportunity attacks). Forced movement that would move the horde away from characters is ineffective (the mass of undead behind preventing any reversal), though at the referee’s discretion such forced movement may decrease the number of horde attacks during the next turn as the “fleeing” undead will act as an obstacle to other zombies. Single zombies may be pulled away from the horde as normal and should then be treated like individual creatures again until they rejoin the horde (which should be considered to happen automatically if the horde advances).

Characters enveloped by the horde are considered prone and restrained (and grant combat advantage to the horde). Zombies may also target any defense (AC, fortitude, reflex, or will) when attacking characters that have been overcome, and will generally target the most vulnerable defense. Normal attacks are +5 versus AC, and the horde defense are AC 17, fortitude 20, reflex 10, and will 15.

I consider each hit die to be worth 10-15 HP in Fourth Edition, so total horde HP is 98,855.

Two Monsters

The blog Dungeons & Drawings has had several noteworthy monster illustration entries recently. First is the siege crab, which is:

[A] half-living tank, forged by the Kuo Toa (or any other evil sea-dwelling race, should you wish) by surgical and magical means. A live giant crab is taken and a chunk of its insides are taken out to create a small transportation area where its handlers can sit.

Then there is the elder brain, which is sort of like a cylon basestar for illithids, in function if not appearance:

The life of the mind flayer begins and ends in the tank of the Elder Brain. As little tadpoles, they’re placed in its tank, where it feeds off their psychic energy. Those who survive get to become fully formed mind flayers. At the end of an mind flayer’s life, the brain is removed from the creature’s head and placed in the tank, where it’s absorbed by their leader.

I believe both of these monsters were introduced in 3E and are official D&D monsters (though they were new to me). They are both great ideas. I have still never run a heavily aquatic scenario, and it’s something I would like to try at some point. I can imagine rather than tanks, what if the elder brains inhabited great airless flooded caverns and tunnels? This would necessitate descending into the watery depths to actually defeat an illithid colony; sort of like a fantasy Lovecraftian version of The Abyss.

Nalfeshnee hack monsters

The way Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons handles monster design is problematic for a game run in an old school style. There are a number of reasons for this, which I will explain below, and a few tweaks that I have come up with to make the system work better for the kind of game I am running while still working for players who are familiar with 4E rules. Hopefully, people who don’t play 4E directly may still be interested in the game design discussion.

In traditional D&D, armor class (the only defense rating) is not tied directly to level at all. A twentieth level character with no equipment and average dexterity has the same AC as a similar first level character. Characters do get harder to kill as they progress in levels (by accumulating hit points and getting better saving throws), but they don’t get inherently harder to hit.

In Fourth Edition, defenses are tied directly to level, and there are four of them (armor class, fortitude, reflex, and will). This is true for both for characters and monsters. Characters add one half of their level to each defense and monster creation guidelines also derive defenses from level rather than from concept.

This game design means that all four of the defenses have similar values for any particular monster. It results in absurdities such as high level giants having a reflex of 30 and low level pixies having a reflex of 15. What’s the point of having multiple defenses if they are all within spitting distance of each other? In general, AC will be slightly higher than the other three defenses, but (according to the 4E DMG monster creation guidelines) attacks that target AC also often have a slightly higher attack bonus! So it’s a complete wash. I actually like the concept of being able to learn about monsters and target their weaknesses, but as written 4E defenses don’t really allow that. They just end up being multiple numbers in the stat block or on the character sheet.

Here’s another problem. Hit points (both obvious and hidden in the form of healing surges) have ballooned tremendously in 4E. So players and monsters aren’t doing that much more damage, but they have a lot more hit points. This can make combat take a long time, especially if players don’t invest time in discovering the synergies between build options that allow for damage optimization.

This game design, as eloquently explained by -C over at Hack & Slash, comes from starting with the result required mechanically by the game entity (for example, a monster that is challenge rating N). Then, appropriate cosmetic details are are attached. This is what -C calls a dissociated mechanic:

Dissociated Mechanic: Result => Effect
Associated Mechanic: Effect => Result

This is also why most bestiary entries have several different “levels” of the same monster (often three: one for each tier of game play). These entries are generally not identical other than scaled numbers (the more powerful monsters will often have more abilities too), but they are close. Combined with the fact that monster defenses scale with PC attack bonuses, this means that balanced encounters are mathematically similar in all cases (this is what the 4E designers meant by “expanding the sweet spot” of D&D play). Further, because of the variance of the d20 and the level of bonuses (one-half level is a good default assumption, but in reality there will be more bonuses), we are talking about a 75% change from first to thirtieth level, which means though encounters are balanced, that balance is fragile. A little too low, and foes will be trivial. A little to high, and they will be untouchable.

Here are some of my techniques for tweaking monsters to dampen the above-mentioned dynamics without totally scrapping the system. If I’m using a monster from the monster manual, my default method is to cut the HP in half and double all damage dice (before bonuses). This makes battles of attrition less likely and also produces a credible threat. When PCs are equipped with healing surges and piles of HP, doing 1d6 or 1d8 damage is just not scary. If I use minions, I make their damage variable so that it is not obvious to the players which enemies are minions (though I have been using minions less recently; they end up just feeling like clutter).

This is how I create my own monsters. Required stats for a basic monster are hit dice, AC, primary attack, secondary attack, and movement speed. I ignore the other three defenses most of the time and just use AC. I also don’t bother with ability scores or skills. Hit points are around 10 to 15 HP per hit die, depending on the monster concept (and adjusted to taste). Equipment and treasure depend on the situation. I would like to experiment with treasure tables more, but so far I have mostly just been placing treasure as I see fit (or relying on modules). XP is 100 * HD + bonus for special abilities sometimes.

AC is based on the 4E armor bonus values, which are similar to AC values in earlier editions. The values are: unarmored 10, leather 12, chain 16, plate 18, +1 or +2 for a shield, and +1 to +5 for agility. I also add a one-half hit dice bonus to keep up with the Joneses. I would like to just do away with all one-half level bonuses across the board, in the entire game, but I think that the logistics of that would be inconvenient. I’m trying to affect the player interface to the game as little as possible, as my players use the published books and the character builder program.

Thus, a 15 hit die (level) dragon would have 225 HP and a AC of 25 (18 from plate + 7 from inflation). Primary attack: claw/claw/bite +10 vs AC (2d8/2d8/2d12, each +7 for inflation). Secondary attack: breath weapon (fire): 10×10 area, 15d10 (luck throw for half damage, no hit roll required). Speed 10, fly 20. For a dragon, I might add one more special attack as well (because, you know, dragon). XP 2000 (15 * 10 + 500 for flying and fire breathing). I’m still experimenting with the relationship between hit dice and attack bonus.

Compare to the Adult Blue Dragon from the Monster Manual (page 78), which is a level 13 solo artillery monster. HP 655, AC 30, XP 4000, claw +16 vs. AC 1d6 + 6, lightning breath +18 vs. reflex 2d12 + 10 (miss is half damage). The dragon created using my house rules is easier to hit and has fewer HP, but has much more destructive attacks. This requires more planning and less direct assault, and also cuts down on the time required for combat, which is exactly what I want.

Dragon Draft

HD 3-18+, AC as plate, 3 attacks or breath, move 90′, fly 240′, morale 9, # 1

A dragon’s age and power are reflected by hit dice. To determine dragon hit dice randomly, roll 3d6. If the result is all sixes, roll another d6, adding the result to the previous total. Continue this procedure as long as sixes are rolled.

Hit dice also determines the damage inflicted by a dragon’s fiery breath. For example, a 12 hit die dragon will do 12 dice of damage to all in the area of effect (half damage if a save is made). Once a dragon has breathed fire, they must wait 1-3 rounds before they can breath again. Breath weapon damage dice, like standard hit dice, are always d8s. The breath weapon range is equal to the number of hit dice multiplied by 10 feet, and it spreads out like a cone (the dragon has approximate control over the cone width).

Dragons may either breath fire or make up to three physical attacks (these could be bites, claws, tail slams, or any other kind of attack that makes sense in the situation at hand). Each physical attack does one die of damage. The die used should be that closest to the total number of hit dice the dragon possesses. For example, an 8 hit die dragon does d8 damage per hit. A 9 hit die dragon would do either d8 or d10 damage per hit (decide beforehand, determine randomly, or alternate).

Dragons are huge, scaled, lizard-like, fire-breathing monsters of great cunning, greed, and intelligence. Their intelligence, however, is of an alien sort. Being almost entirely self-sufficient, they have little use for society or technology, and are unable to relate (other than superficially) with lesser beings regarding these matters. They seek only treasure, ever growing domain, and occasionally worship. Unlike most creatures, age only adds to a dragon’s power. Surviving wyrmlings become ever more dangerous.

The youngest dragons are pony-sized, and generally grow until they reach the size of an elephant in body (though their length from nose to tail and wing span will be much greater). Though there seems to be no absolute limit on dragon size, the rate of their growth does slow significantly once they have reached that size. In color, their scales are inky black, earthy brown, mouldy green, rocky gray, or bloody crimson (or some combination thereof). Dragons enjoy eating any kind of meat, particularly living meat, though they do not require it for sustenance. A dragon deprived of meat for too long, however, will become surly.

Dragon reproduction is mysterious. They are thought to hatch from eggs, but have never been found in mated pairs and will rarely cooperate. They are by nature agents of chaos, and logic suggests that they would burn themselves out over time. However, this has not happened.

A dragon can be subdued by nonlethal damage. A subdued dragon will turn on their master if they perceive weakness, but will otherwise continue to serve as long as they are fed well and rewarded with treasure (a good rule of thumb would be about half of treasure accumulated). Dragons will also generally challenge their master when they have grown into another hit die, but this will sometimes take longer than their master’s lifespan. Such dragon lords often become petty tyrants, though their rule rarely lasts long due to the inherent instability of the relationship.

Source: Ljubljana Dragon

Design Notes

I think that in later versions of D&D, dragons have come to be somewhat deified. I don’t like this. I think that dragons should be fearsome and terrifying, but I don’t think you should need to be a demigod to challenge one. A young dragon should be something that could be run down by a fourth level fighter with a lance (given some luck), or even found on the first level of a dungeon.

In terms of style, there is a tension between the monstrous dragon and the sleek panther-like dragon. The sleek dragon has come to dominate fantasy art. The monstrous dragon tends to look more like it came from a fairy tale, and is often (though not always) fat. For examples, see the Holmes basic set dragon, the Rankin/Bass Smaug, the animated Flight of Dragons movie, or almost any painting of St. George and the dragon. For examples of the sleek dragon, see current D&D dragons and the work of Jeff Easley. I am interested in portraying a more mythic dragon, though still influenced by Tolkien’s Smaug. None of the gimmicky multicolored D&D chromatic dragons. My dragons all breath fire.

Regarding behavior, I want to emphasize that dragons do not live by the same rules as mortal races. I picture dragons as intelligent, but alien and prone to underestimating others.

Incidentally, I didn’t stick that bit in their about dragons not needing food for sustenance with any particular goal in mind; it just felt right given their embodiment of ever-growing power and danger. This, in concert with the growth of dragons due to increasing hit dice, might however explain why dragons sometimes get stuck underground. I’m not going to look that gift horse in the mouth. Maybe they even originate in the underworld and must reach the surface before they grow too big. Or maybe, like adventurers, they go underground in search of treasure, but sometimes outgrow their entrance.

In OD&D, total hit dice varied by dragon type, but age (and hit points per die) were determined by one d6 roll (1 being very young, 6 being very old). A similar procedure is used by the original Monster Manual, though a d8 is used instead. This is interesting, but odd. It means that given a 10 hit die dragon, there only exist dragons with hit point totals in a multiple of 10. I like the identification of age with hit dice, but rather than vary the HP per hit die (is that done with any other monster?), why not vary the number of hit dice for age? This also scales the attack bonus, which makes sense to me.

Traditionally, in both OD&D and B/X, breath weapon damage is non-random. It does automatic damage equal to the dragon’s remaining HP. I changed this because I like uncertainty, I like to roll dice, and I don’t like to expose monster health meters.

The rules for dragons take up an inordinate amount of space in pretty much all the editions I have looked at. Despite that, I still feel like my draft is a bit too wordy. Three paragraphs of rules and four of flavor. Any tips or suggestions are welcome (as always).

D&D Walking Dead

Christian wrote up a World of Darkness zombie inspired by AMC’s The Walking Dead (see Loviator #5). This is a B/X version. The basic idea is to make zombies more terrifying by using something like the save-or-die mechanic. In D&D, zombies are often just perceived as (slow) moving bags of HP and XP. They are only scary to the degree that they can overwhelm with numbers, and overwhelming with numbers is not very practical in D&D. Anyone who has tried to run a hoard of 40 or more monsters in D&D without some sort of simplification or handwaving should know this. This zombie is scary because it is a carrier. One bite, and you could be infected. This taps into a deep fear of contagion.

Walking dead are meant more as obstacles to avoid than as combattants to take out (though of course they can be taken out). As such, consider rewarding 0 XP for defeating walking dead in combat. Perhaps all monsters with powers such as deadly poison or level drain should actually award no combat XP? This is probably not necessary for players steeped in the old ways, but might be helpful for players coming from more recent games.

Walking Dead – HD 1, AC 9, damage 1d6 + infection, move 60′ (20′), morale 12, # 3-36

The walking dead are zombies that carry an undead plague of unknown origin. If hit by one of the walking dead, save vs. poison or be bitten. Characters bitten will become one of them in 2d6 hours. If one of the walking dead is reduced to 0 HP, it becomes immobile, but is still dangerous to anyone that comes within its reach (its reach will vary based on physical integrity). A head shot is required for actual destruction. Referees are encouraged to allow creative methods for head shots during combat.

Goblins as Corruption

Folkloric, mythical goblins are much more interesting than the “monster ecology” goblinkind that is standard in D&D. I think there is a lot to be gained from trying to access some aspect of the “bogeyman” tradition that originally led to the goblin, rather than the “evil stormtrooper” depiction that has become more common. However, when using goblins, there are a whole set of player assumptions that you have to deal with. If you say “you see 5 goblins”, that will produce a certain quantity of unavoidable meanings in your players’ heads that you probably wish were not there. The first step, I think, is to not mark them as goblins initially, and only later allow the players to identify them. But that still begs the question, what are a more fantastic form of goblinkind that would still work in the context of the game? I don’t think it works to say that they are “really scary” and leave it at that.

Well, who started this modern fantasy trope to begin with? Let’s go back to Tolkien and see what his example actually says, rather than the examples of his imitators. From Wikipedia, on Tolkien’s goblins:

In an essay on Elven languages, written in 1954, Tolkien gives meaning of “orc” as “evil spirit or bogey” and goes on to state that the origin of the Old English word is the Latin name Orcus — god of the underworld.

The article goes on to list 7 possible origins for goblinkind:

  1. Made from the earth
  2. East Elves (Avari)
  3. Sentient beasts
  4. Fallen Maiar
  5. Corrupted Men
  6. A mix of corrupted Elves and Men
  7. Some cross-bred with Men

As is often the case, the banal cliches that have come down to us from the followers of Tolkien are not much connected to the actual ideas behind Middle-earth. None of these examples are close to “just some other race that evolved (or was created by a rival god) and came to be opposed to the PC races”. They all focus on the idea of falling from grace, or corruption.

So let’s say that a goblin is a human that has been corrupted by arcane forces, perhaps to be the slave of some wicked magic-user, or demon. Having a savage, id-like, but still clever, servant would be more than a little useful to such a patron. In addition to creation through dark rituals, perhaps there are locations that are sources of arcane pollution which cause nearby residents to slowly become goblins.

Note that this conception does not preclude a dark lord like Sauron from actually raising a horde of goblins, but it does ensure that they are not “just another race”.

And what happens when the corruptor dies before the goblin? Does the goblin slowly revert to his past self? Or does the goblin start to regain his past mind, but remain corrupted in body?

It is also possible that this would still allow for the use of goblins as a PC race to replace halflings, though it would have to be handled carefully to preserve the desired style.