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Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Goblins might or might not be a race, as I've talked about before. In Men & Magic, there's no mention of goblin children or females, and the same goes for kobolds, hobgoblins, and gnolls, although orcs live in villages, operate wagon trains, and are organized into tribes. Orcs may be a race, but goblins don't need to be a race. But if you don't want to use goblins as a race, how could you portray them? Here are some ideas, derived from the base concept of goblins as a semi-demonic plague and influenced by scenes from Freaks and Gymkata.
Everything they need, rthey take from elsewhere. They creep through alleyways or sewers at night to take what they want. Some babies and toddlers are eaten for food, others are tortured and transformed into more goblinoids.
  • Goblinoids eat people or other goblinoids.
They have no funerals: they eat their dead and throw away the bones. They have no cemeteries, unless a non-goblin necromancer has demanded that they create one for other purposes. They will occasionally be found gnawing on other, inedible things.

These two facts are pretty much the limit of goblinoid biology. There are male and female goblinoids, based on the sex of the child kidnapped to create a new goblinoid, but they seem unaware of rtheir own gender.
  • Goblinoids have no culture.
Most of them barely speak more than a grunt, although they can spit out one-word commands or shout the name of an object or enemy in corrupt dwarvish (hobgoblins use corrupt elvish.) There's not much goblin negotiation; you could shake your fist at them or throw food/gold at them and shout "Passage" in dwarvish; they will either attack, shout "No!", flee, or be distracted.

If observed without their knowledge, their main entertainment seems to be poking, clubbing, or stabbing things, repeatedly, without a plan. Sometimes they do mock versions of human activities (weddings, funerals, trials, festivals, parades, church services.) The bride, corpse, judge, priest, or king is usually a random object. The goblins will pick one word and shout it over and over during the ceremony.
  • Goblinoids have no society.
There's not much organization to most goblinoid groups. The strong indicate what they want by snatching it out of another goblinoid's hands; that's about as much discourse as you get in goblinoid society. Whichever goblin is the biggest is boss.

There are rumors of weird exceptions, some of which seems to be aimed specifically to spread chaos in human society rather than to fulfill some necessary goblin need. The goblins don't have a market because they want to trade, but because they like to watch what happens when humans use goblin creations.
  • Goblinoids have no industry.
They will occasionally lash two or more objects together or make crude structures out of sticks or rocks, but even that is generally under the direct orders of another being. If they have been unable to steal weapons or armor and have made their own, the results will seem bizarre: a pole with a live chicken lashed to one end, a shoe worn as a helmet. Just about the only things that look normal are wooden cages, poles stuck in the ground, and piles of rocks used as a barrier.

Goblinoids don't normally farm or herd animals, although they may twist vegetation or wildlife for their own entertainment.
  • Goblinoids are sick.
Not just cruel, but insane. They may creepy into a village just to laugh maniacally outside a window, then run away. Or to beat livestock to death. Or stalk a villager, maybe to capture him, or maybe to just give up after a random length of time. If a goblin's hand or foot is injured or caught in a trap, they may decide to gnaw it off. Larger goblinoids may attack a town just to set fire to some property, or to tie the villagers to their own horses and cattle, or to play "catch the kitten." A single bugbear may creep silently through town surprise a couple strolling alone, and strangle one townie in front of the other, then leave.

If goblinoids are chasing or stalking a weak, unarmed opponent and either outnumber their victim or the victim is alone, a 5+ on 1d6 means a goblinoid goes into a frenzy, sort of like going berserk, except that the target is random and may be the goblinoid itself. A goblin may suddenly laugh and chop off its own hand, or bash its head against a wall.
  • Goblinoids are twisted.
In addition to the varieties of goblinoids based on the race of the child transformed, there are also random cross-breeds and mutations, like the gobloons. Goblins may be missing arms or legs, or have extra limbs, heads, eyes, eyes, mouths, or a tail... or these may be tiny, large, or so enormous that they prevent normal function.


  1. Here's my take on goblins, maybe. We'll see how it stands up.

  2. Actually, got that wrong. Here is where they come from.