13 March 2011

I remember Goblins.

I've always had a thing for Goblins. They're like little orcs, with extra fierceness and double the crazy. But they kind of have to be to survive. You're a tiny guy with a skin condition in a world where you're still pretty likely to be beaten up by a guy twice your size because they don't like the way you look, or because they're bored and could use a good warm-up before tackling a dragon.

Life's rough as a Goblin.

I remember one time I was thinking about Goblins, and how they could possibly manage to survive in a world like that. I came up with two things that made sense:

1) Goblins have an incredibly fast birth rate, to put up with constant attempts at extermination and being the enemies or slaves of just about every intelligent species

2) Because they have generally short lives and many children, Goblins are more about the survival of the whole as opposed to their own personal survival. After all, there's going to be plenty more Goblins just like him. Possibly very soon, and probably twice as many.

So that leaves you with a fast-expanding, sort of tribalistic people. Not exactly groundbreaking, but it's a start. You have a picture of a Goblin who realizes that he's not very much of a person, and isn't crazy, just fanatical. He's willing to throw himself at his enemies to stall for time, to carry a knife as big as he is without bothering to wear armor because, well, fuck it. He's going to die sooner or later, he might as well take a "biggun" with him.

This makes a lot of Goblins that don't have any magical talent berserkers. It's one way to even the size difference, after all.

Which leads me to the other things I was thinking; How exactly do Goblins make up for the size difference?

Well, they've got to be smart and sneaky, so I'm imagining plenty of Goblin assassins and, especially, wizards. Goblins would love magic, because it's size agnostic. You can be as small as you like, this fireball's still going to hurt, and you're still going to be a frog when I'm done with you. So Goblins would respect and revere their magic users above just about everybody else. I'm picturing a system where all the young goblins form a militia, and are taught by the eldest, who's manage to survive actual combat. He teaches the youngsters everything he knows about the skirmishing tactics, flanks, ambushes, how to trip their larger combatants, everything. A goblin's fighting style (when they're not suicidal berserkers) focuses on mobility, weak points, and tripping.

The life of a Goblin is one of hope. They can live long enough to see three or four generations of Goblins born, if they're lucky, and they can see that no matter how many of their friends are dead, they're still alive. The constant attempted genocides that force the Goblins to live in caves have been weeding out the selfish, the stupid, and the non-magical. Every Goblin has the good of the group in mind, and they're biding their time, waiting for a time when they can come out of the caves and live in the open like the other races.

Some places accept Goblins even now. Goblins aren't homicidal maniacs and theives, they're just hungry and pushed to the brink of starvation. Goblin wizards even now petition the great schools of magic for representation, and for access to their libraries. Goblin culture is being accepted as a civilization older, even, than mankind's own, and every Goblin knows that it's long overdue. The time of Goblins is coming- they just need to bide their time, keep sticking together, working hard, and survive.

If you're playing Dungeonslayers, you can choose Goblin as a race.

Goblin Racial Abilities:
Short-lived (You were an adult at 8, middle-aged at 20, old at 30, won't live past 40 without magical intervention)
Small (You cannot use two-handed weapons or longbows.)
Flinch (You gain +1 Defense against creatures that are larger than yourself. Which is most of them.)

Goblin Racial Bonuses
Reason, Aura, or Toughness +1

How to roleplay a Goblin:
*You are fatalistic but bright. Your death is coming (probably soon), but you're used to the thought.
*You're ferociously loyal. You are willing to sacrifice yourself to your friends and to your clan.
*You respect magic and magic-users above all else. If you are a magic-user, you tend to be haughty.
*You were probably born in a cave or in some ruins, and are somewhat uncomfortable around dwarfs.
*You have no use for "valor" and aren't above ambushes, poison, and traps. You'll betray those who are not your friends, if it brings a benefit to your group.


  1. Strength in numbers too. I don't recall an encounter with goblins where there weren't at least a half dozen of them.

  2. Right you are. I pictured them as a sort of Roman-esque batallion sort of thing, with overlapping greek shields and long, long spears, but I figured that was better left for another time.

  3. I have always been fond of Goblins, too. Their sneakiness and tenacity vs all-comers, even if they have to run away and gut you later while you sleep, is not to be underestimated!