Sunday, January 25, 2015

Concerning Goblins

Evan Dahm runs a cool little thing called Goblin Week. For this year I've opted to write-up some Goblin lore and such for use with D&D/OSR/WhatHaveYou type games. To be followed up with Hobgoblins, Orcs, and Bugbears. 

I'm a big fan of goblins being wicked fey types without having a moral compass or making players deal with the issue of "goblin babies and widows." Goblins are nasty little blights of corrupted faeries, and each goblin comes from the corrupted lineage of fey. A lot are so muddled they look like a bog-standard goblin, but some are a bit more pure and mysterious. 


Concerning Goblins.

Goblins are foul little cretins, the current offshoot of a long and ancient line of corrupted fey. Goblins are generally unaware of this fact, though it might explain their desire to act cruelly to the tiniest of the fair folk. As a result of their ancient corrupted blood they share an ancestral bond to the Orcish race, who were Elves corrupted by the forces of darkness when the world was young.

Goblins run a wide gamut of types, colors, and features that seem almost random in their atrocious placement. The ancient fey blood still flows in their veins and as such a group of goblins who were once tiny winged fey of the springtime meadows will carry on some of the perverted features of these ancestors. Such goblins are usually small, no larger than a child, with an emaciated and waifish build. Their hair is brittle and long, like dead flowers that will be forever caught in perpetual winter. Their eyes will be as radiant and beautiful as few drops catching sunlight, but filled with ocular parasites and catching a red tint in the night.

Goblins also seem to defy the notion of gender or sex. Goblin offshoots of ancient dryad blood will show off signs of the female anatomy, though rather than virginal purity that leads men astray the goblin will make use of latent glamour to seduce wayward souls into a trap. Though to call a dryad-blooded goblinoid a mere goblin may be oversimplification. Overly masculine type fey such as the Firbolg have some alleged goblin offshoot, though these may be better classified as Hobgoblins (High Goblins), or some other matter of terribleness altogether. But to refer to a goblin as a man or a woman does a disservice to humanity and insults mankind at its core. No matter what features a goblin displays, it (much like an elf) does not obey the biological rules of the mortal world.

To the best of our research, goblins breed in two ways: by kidnapping mortal children, and by the will of Evil. The first example is far rarer (for which we should all be thankful) but produces new stock and therefore new unknown quantities to the ranks of goblins. The child is stolen away as an infant and over-time ceases to be a human and becomes a goblin. This differs from the Orcish corruption upon mortal men because it seems not to be virulent and more akin to a willfully accepted curse. The goblin-child will note its differences and either willingly engage in terrible acts of mayham and hedonism to better be a goblin, or it will deny itself this and likely be devoured by the group.

Goblins bred by the will of Evil seem to emerge from whatever method the dark forces desire. Huge brewing pots, tainted and rotten vegetable life, from the mud of a graveyard, or whatever other type of Hellmouth is conjured up.

Unlike the Orcish race, the goblins have not spited the Gods. This may be due to their inability to fully understand the concept of the Divine, but the reason is irrelevant to this explanation. Unlike the Orcish race, goblins are able to have a society that is not doomed to atrophy and collapse by the will of fate. But to say their society is civilized would be giving them far more credit than they are due.

Goblin civilization is a crude and cruel mockery of the various Fey Courts, though they're likely unaware of this as well. Goblins will naturally form their own ranks by way of a cruel meritocracy, with the mighty and the clever leading the group with impunity. Those who have active abilities in their bloodline usually occupy a higher rank in society, though rarely do they hold command. Goblin social mobility is comparable to a pirate crew, with a leader who is clever and crafty and able to promise wealth rising up through the ranks; while those who can't keep their promises are cast down or betrayed.

Hobgoblins, when they appear, are the natural rulers of goblins. Hobgoblins possess a certain acumen for leadership, often possess a powerful bloodline ability, and have a certain charisma that can cow any number of lesser goblinoids into obedience. But Hobgoblins are a rare and mysterious breed to be better examined in the future.

If there is one quality of goblin society that the denizens of Humanity might appreciate it would be the lawless and easily profitable "Goblin Markets" that crop up from time to time. A Goblin Market is a gathering, often in a place of former Fey importance, where goblins and other foul fey come to trade goods. All creatures who enter a Goblin Market are of a cruel disposition, and the constant aura of being a predator among predators keeps everyone on edge and well-behaved (if only for fear of mutually assured destruction). Dealings are made in favors and goods, gold rarely changes hand.

Goblins value gold and treasure as much as any dwarf, though they have little practical use for it. Goblins seem to simply enjoy hoarding it because of the power other races put into it. Goblins may think that gold itself is a magical thing that clouds minds and corrupts hearts, and thus having it allows them to weaken their enemies. They may also simply enjoy the aesthetic of it. Whatever the case, goblins tend to hoard wealth and that hoarded wealth takes on a greased and gritty appearance when held by goblins.

Goblins in general don't make use of armor due to their twisted and various physiques. While an Orc can manufacture a uniform type of armor for his warband, a goblin must take the measurements of every goblin independently. If one ever encounters a goblin who seems to wear armor that fits, that goblin is likely a clever and important figure to its people. Goblin wardrobe is utilitarian with the purpose generally being to show ones allegiances (as a form of intimidation), keep out the elements, and to hold other items. A well-dressed goblin may be clothed only in rags and leather strips, but every goblin around him knows he's well dressed and presenting vital information about his rank. This detail is generally lost on anyone who isn't a scholar of goblins.

Goblin weapons are cruel and impractical. Goblins subscribe to the idea that something that looks cruel and scary will be able to inflict damage in a similar manner. Goblins also seem to fear smooth and well-made weapons of other races, finding their simplicity a cruel deception. The latent fey blood makes holding all but the most poorly-made iron tools uncomfortable, and this likely plays into their fears.

Goblins tend to be polarized in their emotions, shifting from miserable to jubilant at an alarming speed. Goblins do not universally enjoy wanton murder and bloodshed, but they never seem to show regret for their actions. A goblin enjoys killing and hurting things when it directly benefits the goblin in some way, such as implying dominance or leading to instant gratifications like food or alcohol. A goblin will weep and cry (a horrible sound akin to strangling a seagull) if he is ever captured, though this seems to be a ruse so that they may be able to appear less capable of revenge than they truly are.

Goblins are petty. Goblins slighting one another seems to be common practice to establish who is control, but non-goblins who slight are considered to be insulting the entirety of their people. Goblins hold grudges for as long as they live, and nothing brings them greater joy than devastatingly avenging a slight against them. These slights tend to be poetic on some level, though they are always crude and often poorly analyzable by those who witness the aftermath. A fat man who slights a goblin may be found with his forelimbs cut off and the stumps burned black so he might resembled a hoofed pig. This makes sense to the goblins, but to those who see the aftermath it will look more like a botched and terrible atrocity rather than "poetic justice." The nature of avenging slights might be due to their fey ancestry, or perhaps simply because they're cruel and disturbed creatures.

Goblins cannot love, though they can obsess. A goblin who obsesses tends to "collect" the objects of his obsession and keep them in his pit. These objects of obsession can be living or inanimate, though if they're living they'll likely be dead very soon after obtaining. Stealing an object of a goblin's obsession (or simply having one to begin with) is sure to be considered a slight against the goblin and something that will drive them to no ends of anger.

Goblins are often commanded by Orcs, and the truly terrible goblin civilizations are run by Hobgoblins. Goblins have been known to serve ogres, though often as cooks (and occasionally meals) and rarely as anything of note. An Orc-led Goblin band is warlike and well-equipped, though ultimately doomed to collapse due to the curse of Orckind. Such groups fight until they get what they want and then they cut their loses and run. A Hobgoblin-led Goblin group can reach a level of power and organization that few can comprehend and even less would appreciate. Hobgoblin-led Goblins are expendable citizens of a would-be Imperator, using tactics and pursuing goals they don't understand. An Ogre-led group of goblins are glorified sous chefs who can at least enjoy the fact that they get to eat the large scraps their master leaves for them.

While goblins are low on the social totem-pole, they do command some creatures. Rats can be driven feral and flesh-hungry by spending time with goblins, something that is a real problem when goblins infest an urban environment. Goblins are also able to incite this same sort of fervor in wolves, though never more than a few rogue wolves at a time. Wolves answer to other entities, spiritual or otherwise, and only those who fall away from the pack are so easily corrupted. And even then, wolves will grow irritated by the noise, stench and poor hygiene of goblins in a manner of weeks.

Worgs are the only beast who really seem to enjoy the company of goblins and this is because they are treated like beautiful stallions. Worgs are well-fed, well-groomed (in the goblin sense of the word), and kept appeased because of their great intelligence, craftiness, and viciousness. A worg considers it a small price to let a gibbering puppet-despot ride atop it when he is truly able to control the goblin society. Worgs also tend to serve greater Evil entities and this means they are more able to get goblins constant employment for the purpose of gathering wealth, food, and keeping the Worg happy.

The lair of a goblin is usually a kitbashed combination of the destroyed structures of another race and a large series of dugouts. Goblins are not exceptionally proficient with traps but they will make use of them if given notice of an approaching threat. Goblins try not keep constant traps in their lairs for fear of accidentally tripping it themselves if they have too much to drink or return home too wounded to step over every little trip-wire.

But even with a lack of traps, a goblin lair is not a safe place. The dugouts are generally safe enough for a goblin group to move through and constantly reinforce, while most would-be goblinslayers won't take notice of this and may find themselves caught in a collapsing tunnel. The fallen structures used for an exterior is also likely to collapse if it sees too much combat. These facts can be of use to a goblinslayer if he can attack the lair from a distance and possibly bring it all down on the goblins dwelling within.

Goblins tend to make numerous outposts which follow the above pattern. A true goblin "city", called a warren or a pit, is usually built someplace far more stable. This can mean an undercity of goblins lurking beneath a civilization and making hovels in the sewers; or more likely holing up in large mountainous caves (or lost dwarfholds) and slagging together their shacks from the scraps. A goblin warren is a well-protected secret and rarely do goblins stage their raids from such a place. Finding the warren is the key to ending a goblin occupation in a land and goblins are aware of this much. Sometimes a crafty goblin leader will stock an outpost with many soldiers and stolen loot as a suicide group so that the warren will remain hidden. These martyrs don't seem to know their purpose and are often deluded into fighting with greater ambition because they've been entrusted with so much manpower and wealth.

A goblin outpost has the following effects in place:
  • The first time a non-goblin enters a goblin outpost the character must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or take 1d4 damage from slightly collapsing earth and crumbling structures falling upon the character. This should hopefully alert adventurers to the threat of collapse.
  • There is a 1 in 3 chance that any dugout tunnel also serves as a goblin filth/detritus passage. These tunnels are filled with scraps of jagged metal, old rotting meat and other "organic material", and tepid water. Unless characters take extra precaution to avoid the filth they have a 5% chance of getting attacked by 1d3 rotgrubs. 
  • Goblins gain a burrow speed equal to half their movement speed when digging to the surface within their lair. Any damage from collapsing ceilings are reduced by one dice. 1d8 damage would be reduced to 1d6, 1d6 to a minimum of 1d3.

The effects of goblins upon a region are not benign, though specifically discerning the effects as being caused by goblins can be hard to do. The presence of a goblin infestation or warren are as follows:
  • Upon the establishment of a warren all goodly fey folk will begin fleeing from the land until they are at least five leagues away from the central location of the warren. Elves will feel uncomfortable within two miles of the warren or outpost, their clothing will be itchy and it will feel like fleas are biting at their ears. Gnomes will feel a lingering frustration whenever they wake from sleep. 
  • After a week of the warren being established trade in the regional will become more dangerous, with 1 out of every 6 caravans or traveling merchants being waylaid by goblin raiders. These raiders will have established outposts within five miles of their attack sites.
  • Within a month of a warren being established, strange beings of exotic races will begin to appear in the region. They are paranoid about being followed and if confronted they will dismiss any character as being beneath them. These individuals are searching for the location to a Goblin Market, and only by offering to do this being a favor will the players be given this information. 
  • After two months of a warren being established, 2d6 infants will be stolen within a ten league radius of the warren. These infants will not all be taken at one night, but within a few days of each other. The abductions will likely be messy and violent, appearing more like cultist work than simple kidnappings if the adventurers don't know what they're looking for.
  • After a year of a warren being established, multiple factions within the warren will spill out and attempt to conquer and colonize an area to create a second warren. This colonization force will likely be led by a hobgoblin who is served by orc warriors (at least 20) and a half dozen worg who are keen on the thought of being little lordlings.

After the elimination of the goblin warren it takes 2d6 weeks for the goodly fey folk to make their returns, for traders to consider walking the roads without a platoon of armed guards, and for strangers to leave the area in search of a new Goblin Market. Lost children may be rehabilitated if they have not been held for over two years (an infant held for over two years will be little more than a feral goblin in a babe's skin).

1. Grig - Goblin's born of corrupted ancient Grig blood are exceptionally small, thin, and hairy. These sorts of goblins take disadvantage against spells involving music, which if they fail their save causes them to dance wildly. 1 in 100 Grig-lineage goblins can create faerie fire as an innate ability

2. Nixie - Goblin's born of corrupted Nixie blood are slim, slimy, and coated in scales. They have eyes like a dead fish and have exceptionally poor memories concerning anything they aren't obsessed with. All these goblins have an obsession. 1 in 100 Nixie-lineage goblins can breathe water as well as air and charm amphibians as an innate ability. 

3. Brownie - Goblin's with tainted Brownie-blood are exceptionally manic and seem to laugh like awkward hyenas, snickering to fill the silence. These goblins have mottled skin, coated in liverspots and they stink like rotting wood. 1 in 100 of these goblins possesses the eyes of a true sinner which cause wolves, dogs, and foxes to suffer the effects of Fear.

4. Atomie - This corrupted bloodline makes the goblins born of it attractive to insects and vermin. These sorts of goblins appear moldy, rotten, and sickly. Their teeth are yellow, their gums are black, and any patch of skin that might be healthy is covered in roaches, beetles, and maggots. 1 in 100 of these goblins is infested with 2d6 rotgrubs which do no harm to the host and allow him to Speak With Dead to the spirit of any corpse infested with rotgrubs.

5. Dryad - These sorts of goblins are feminine and twisted, looking much like Hags upon closer inspection. They have nasty claws, smooth green skin, and a single aspect that would be beautiful if not for the horrifying corruption of every other feature beyond that single aspect. 1 in 100 of these goblins can Charm Person, as long as that goblin is in contact with a tree which bares its "mark." That mark is a pock mark of rot and blight upon the tree, intentionally placed there by the goblin.

6. Faun - These goblins are brown, shaggy, often beer-gutted and reeking of alcohol. They have the eyes of a goat and the teeth of the village punching bag crossed with a rat. 1 in 100 of these goblins possess horns, a fact that often makes them seek out fiendish patronage because that seems to be a logical step for them. 

7. Jermlaine - These goblins are fat, tiny, and ugly beyond all belief. They have large lips that are coated with boils and herpes, a nose as big as a sausage that constantly leaks fluids, and ragged ears that are clogged with hair, wax and bugs. 1 in 100 of these goblins can cause items to rust by simply touching them, and these goblins are either used as saboteurs or cast out of society.

8. Clurichaun - These goblins are much like the standard view of a goblin, but they are consumed entirely by greed. These goblins care only about hoarding wealth, stealing gold, and making sure they have the most gold. These goblins keen on using bribery if it'll save their lives and 1 in 100 of these goblins can curse an individual with bad luck, usually saving this for the individual they've had to bribe.

9. Nymph - These goblins look like drowned children. They are pale, bloated, with tired and sleepy eyes and constantly reeking of pond scum. These goblins try to flood their warrens and outposts as it makes them feel more comfortable to wade in a foot or two of mud and tepid water. These goblins are amphibious. 1 in 100 of these goblins can taint water simply by looking at it.

10. Snowhair - The tainted lineage of the Snowhairs are dangerous and crafty. These goblins have craggy and tumorous skin, white patches of hair, and a great skill at rigging rock-based traps. These sorts of goblins are fond of causing rock-slides, collapses, and implosions and for this reason most other goblins dislike them. 1 in 100 of these goblins can turn rocks to snow and withstand any non-magical form of cold damage.

11. Pixie - These smaller goblins have a webbing between their arms and torso, terrible hunched backs, and crazy eyes that never look in the same direction. Pixie-corrupted goblins enjoy eating bones and they're obsessed with obtaining all forms of bones to eat (even if it doesn't provide them with any real benefit). 1 in 100 of these goblins lacks the webbing and actually possesses awkward bat wings instead of arms, allowing it to fly.

12. Petal - These are the goblins mentioned earlier who have the brittle hair like flowers who will never see spring. 1 in 100 of them can cause crops to fail, meat to rot, milk to curdle, and 1d3 days of nonstop rain. These goblins with such abilities can use them once a year.

13. Thorn - These goblins walk in a strange and prickly matter. Everything about these sorts of goblins is sharp and unpleasant, predatory and uncouth. They are otherwise like a standard stock goblin whose bloodline is so muddled it is beyond notice. 1 in 100 of these goblins can turn their hands into rock-hard knives that do damage equal to that of a dagger.

14. Treant - Rarest of the bloodlines but certainly one to note is that of a corrupted treant among the goblins. These goblins are nearly Orcish in size, with skin that flakes off like a constant cloud of rot and filth. They have horrible faces that lack proper definition of features, best described as being like the faces a person might see in bark of trees late at night. These goblins do not open their mouths to speak, and their voices are like hoarse whispers. 1 in 100 of these rare goblins can see and feel anything that any tree within one mile of his area could "see" or "feel". Use of this ability has a 1 in 10 chance of driving the goblin insane.

15. Swanmay - One of the more tragic corrupted bloodlines is that of the twisted swanmay. These goblins are alabaster in color and are obsessed with killing birds and kidnapping women. They do not know why they are compelled to do this, but it brings them joy to deface and destroy anything that is beautiful. 1 in 100 of these goblins can polymorph the faces of other humanoids, often making them more attractive so they can better enjoy mutilating the victim.

16. Redcap - These goblins are enemies of Gnomes, much like redcaps are enemies of Gnomes. These goblins lack actual redcaps, but their scalps are red and bloody and unable to grow upon. These sorts of goblins enjoy working with Orcs as these sorts of goblins are exceptionally sadistic. 1 in 100 of these goblins has inherited the ancient combat skill of the corrupted Redcap, granting the goblin the ability to enter a Barbarian Rage. If these goblins encounter Redcaps they will try to kill one another until none remain. Those who flee will be hunted.

17. Dullahan - On rare occasion a fallen Dullahan's corrupted blood will be manifested in the realm of goblins rather than hobgoblins. These goblins always try to wear hoods or helmets to hide their lack of heads. The space where the head of the goblin would be is instead a constantly billowing cloud of smoke. Their skin is grey and cold and the voices that emerge from the smoke is dreadful and cackling. 1 in 250 of any goblin will be a Dullahan-corrupted goblin. Dullahan-corrupted goblins can phase into spirits once per day.

18. Worg - Sometimes a worg will demand a goblin mount it in a way that doesn't require a saddle. These goblins have long hair that trails down their backs, razor-sharp teeth, demonic eyes, and are often great hunters and trackers. 1 in 100 of these goblins can Command Wolves once per day, though if this ability ever fails he'll be devoured by the wolves he's trying to command.

19. Yeth Hound - 1 in 250 of any goblin sired by a Worg has the chance of being born with the lineage of the Yeth Hound. These goblins are pale red with the eyes of a devil, the ability to talk to ghosts, the ability to eat ghosts, and the ability to turn into smoke 3 times per day. These sorts of goblin often lead warrens or serve as direct servants to hobgoblins.

20. Barghest - 1 in 1000 goblins is a Barghest. A goblin born as a Barghest is an amazing thing, a shape-shifter who can take the form of a wolf, a goblin, and something horribly inbetween. All goblins seem to know that a Barghest has some ties to the mysterious 13 Bugbears who feast on the original fears, with the popular thought among more intelligent goblins being that the Barghest is supposed to be the goblin avatar of their will.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Number Appearing is currently being retooled. If you got linked here, sorry.
Expect updates to occur within the next week or so.
Sorry for the delay and for being a shitty blogger.