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SJS1 Goblin's Return (2e)

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Hundreds of years ago, the elves and goblinkin fought for control of known space in the Unhuman War. The elves emerged victorious and the goblinkin were driven out to lick their wounds an plot revenge for another day.

That day has come.

After centuries of plotting and building, a new race of advanced orcs known as the scro have rallied the goblins, hobgoblins, and kobolds. It is only a matter of time before they infiltrate known space to wreak destruction on the inhabited planets.

The elves are looking for a few good adventurers to infiltrate a scro base and steal any information valuable to the war effort. Your PCs are offered the chance to become heroes?or die trying.

Goblin's Return is a 64-page adventure set in the second Unhuman War. The first of a two-part module series, it can later be linked with Heart of the Enemy or it can be played as a stand-alone adventure.

Goblin's Revenge is designed for four to six characters of levels 7 to 10.

Product History

SJS1: "Goblins' Return" (1991), by Bruce Nesmith, is the 5th Spelljammer adventure, and the beginning of the Second Unhuman War! It was published in November 1991.

Beginning the "SJS" Series. The first four Spelljammer adventures all used the "SJA" code, but with "Goblins' Return", TSR switched to "SJS". As for what that "S" stands for … who knows? Perhaps Special, to mark the beginning of a notable Spelljammer event, or perhaps Saga? Things got even more confusing when TSR published the sequel to "Goblins' Return" as SJQ1: "Heart of the Enemy" (1992). It demonstrated how TSR's module codes were becoming increasingly incomprehensible before they flew apart entirely at the end of 1993.

Adventure Tropes. The special event in "Goblins' Return" is the introduction of metaplot to the Spelljammer line: though the goblinkin was chased from Wildspace at the end of the Unhuman War, now they're ready to return. In other words, the Second Unhuman War is revving up.

D&D has long fought with the problem of how to best integrate metaplot with individual adventures in a way that doesn't make the player characters feel superfluous. "Goblins' Return" manages this problem rather cleverly by using the metaplot as the precipitating event: an orcish fleet has destroyed an elven world. The players are now asked to infiltrate an orcish base to figure out what is going on.

This wasn't the first (or last) infiltration adventure for AD&D. Other notable examples include DL9: "Dragons of Deceit" (1985) and WGR6: "The City of Skulls" (1993). However, "Goblins' Return" offers some variation on the formula since the players are infiltrating an enemy (space) base, not a city. (The trope is also a pretty rare one!)

Expanding Wildspace. "Goblins' Return" considerably expands the Spelljammer universe by putting the Unhuman War front and center. Players get to meet the arrogant elf victors and are introduced to the new scro race — a subspecies of orcs. (Spell the name backward.)

"Goblins' Return" also details the sphere of Moragspace, with the focus on Gamaro Base. The base would return in SJQ1: "Heart of the Enemy".

Monsters of Note. The scro and their secret weapon, the witchlight marauders, both debuted early in the year in MC9: "Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix II" (1991). This was their first adventure appearance. "Goblins' Return" also makes fun use of the gammaroids from that Compendium by imagining a whole crystal sphere destroyed by these 100 HD monstrosities.

Future History. SJQ1: "Heart of the Enemy" followed three months later in February 1992. The two adventures were probably prepared together, as the sequel is referenced in this book.

About the Creators. Nesmith had been writing for TSR since the mid '80s. Though this was his first and only work on Spelljammer, he had plenty of science fantasy and science fiction experience thanks to work on the Gamma World and Star Frontiers lines.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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