Where Angels Fear
5 min readAug 29, 2022


The Hoppy Pops

For reasons I shan’t bore us all with right now, I have been investigating tabletop RPG systems; the darker and more twisted the better — there’s really no need for nauseating fairytale allegory of big, bad wolves when a hirsute man infamous for assaulting three (obesely corpulent) men in their homes and luring a prepubescent girl into the bed in which he only moments before murdered her grandmother (the bed still warm from the corpse unceremoniously stuffed into the adjacent wardrobe) … and Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs: a Pornhub tale of an orphan girl desperate for even so much as a roof over her head, let alone money … will do just fine.

During the course of said investigations, I stumbled upon GURPS Goblins … which is just heartbreaking:

Life in London is nasty, brutish, and short.
So are you.

This game more or less relates to the sad lives and hard times of persons living in late Georgian London – that is, the city is more or less London, the individuals concerned are more or less persons, and King George is more or less late. The year is 1830.

A roleplaying game usually sends characters on an exploration in which they seek elusive treasure through uncharted jungles, ruins, and dungeons – overcoming obstacles and whacking monsters with magic or astounding technology.

Such things are sadly rare in this game. GURPS Goblins is set in a city where every square inch has been trodden by one and a half million pairs of feet, and all obstacles are marked on a handy street map. The ruins and dungeons are far from uncharted – the only creature who never explores them is the landlord who rents them out. The magic is dubious. The technology isn't astounding.

There are, however, plenty of monsters – in every conceivable shape and size. They live in the characters' houses, eat their food, and buy groceries at the same market. Many of them are relatives. The characters of GURPS Goblins roam well-worn, familiar streets in a sea of unwashed, diseased rogues and villains. The characters are unwashed, diseased rogues and villains. They seek the same elusive treasures that all do – gin, glory, and bags of money.

GURPS Goblins was designed with the following philosophies in mind:

Death should be difficult to come by, and murder is discouraged, unless an individual works at it pretty seriously. Our dubious heroes may fling themselves boldly into the most perilous of endeavours, secure in the knowledge that at worst they will be horribly and permanently maimed.

Characters improve and advance themselves with social interaction, and by gaining social level. The aim of every goblin should be to gain security and power with improved social level, faster than he degenerates physically through disease, age, and the aforementioned maiming.


Courage governs the actions of characters, more than physical endurance. It is intended that goblins should end a violent dispute by running away or begging piteously, rather than by being beaten to a small pulp.

Being beaten to a small pulp is, after all, the worst that can happen.

Except for catching French Pox. Or tetters.

The last time I read anything as sad was the moment in Terry Pratchett’s Snuff … when Vimes remarks that the brutally murdered girl was named after the colours of a flower ¹.

I also discovered one designed for Forrest the Great … who is, as it happens, a bit of goblin too …

But then I found the holy grail: the sickest, most twisted game ever invented …

That’s just evil.

Seriously .. think about it: just as I reject the notion of sugarcoated whimsy when it comes to instilling lifelong PTSD by way of faerietales (see here), so there is nothing in the description of the game that says the experience need be anything other than hellish.

Quite apart from the ignominy of a career as a Teletubby (or whatever), not only has a portal to Hell been opened in your place of work, but …

No … wait.

Let’s put that in perspective:

Not only has a portal to Hell been opened in the place where you publicly humiliate yourself on television every working day (possibly even internationally)

… but, furthermore, just to add insult to injury, you have an utterly useless, one-shot ‘power’ and, moreover, either can’t communicate with anyone and/or make so much noise, just by moving an arm or a leg, that any infernal entity within earshot is immediately going to make a beeline for you (guess who the other crew-members will be abandoning to a horrific fate quicker than you can inanely squeak “Eh-oh … Uh-oh!”).

The Hoppy Pops, Oscar and Kris, is RPGs and improv at their absolute finest … and you should be looking to introduce them to your respective groups at the earliest opportunity.


¹ Her name was The Pleasant Contrast of the Orange and Yellow Petals in the Flower of the Gorse ².

² I had to go and re-read the book until she was named in it, because searching for things like “name of goblin murdered in terry pratchett snuff” turns up any number of results in which nobody bothers to mention her name — which is, sadly, rather appropriate, really … because, when when you stop and think about it, that’s what the story is about.



Where Angels Fear

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.