Goblin Species in Acaelica | World Anvil


from D&D Beyond
Ahh, the Sly Fox. Soft beds, warm turnip pie — such pleasant memories. Alas, the tavern’s no more. Goblinoids plundered her stores and burnt her to the ground. Those heathens have no appreciation for the finer things! Volo

Goblins occupy an uneasy place in a dangerous world, and they react by lashing out at any creatures they believe they can bully. Cunning in battle and cruel in victory, goblins are fawning and servile in defeat, just as in their own society lower castes must scrape before those of greater status and as goblin tribes bow before other goblinoids.


Beast Masters and Slave Drivers

Goblins know they are a weak, unsophisticated race that can be easily dominated by bigger, smarter, more organized, more ferocious, or more magical creatures. Their god was conquered by Maglubiyet, after all, and now when the Mighty One calls for it, even their souls are forfeit. It is this realization that drives them to dominate other creatures whenever they can — for goblins, life is short.


Goblins seek to trap and enslave any creatures they encounter, but they flee from opposition that seems too daunting. For miles around their lair, they employ pit traps, snares, and nets to catch the unwary, and when their hunting patrols encounter other beings, they always look for ways to capture their foes instead of killing them. Goblins that run up against the fringes of a society first test its defenses by stealing objects, and if these crimes go unpunished, they begin stealing people.


Enslaved creatures receive the worst treatment the goblins can dish out while still getting decent performance out of the slaves. But humanoids and monsters that are especially capable or that provide unusual services find themselves treated like favored (though occasionally abused) pets.


Virtually any kind of creature that can be browbeaten into service might be found with a goblin tribe, but rats and wolves are nearly always present. Both have lived in concert with goblins for at least as long as humans have worked with dogs and horses, and in goblin society those two animals serve similar purposes.


Caste System

A goblin tribe is organized in a four-tiered caste system made up of lashers, hunters, gatherers, and pariahs. The status of every family in the tribe is based on its importance to the tribe’s survival. Families that belong to the higher-ranking castes keep their status by not sharing their knowledge and skills with other families, while those in the lower castes have little hope of escaping their plight.


Outsiders who don’t understand the goblins’ social system are sometimes surprised by how different castes interact with them. A single human warrior might frighten away a dozen gatherers, only to be shocked when two hunters viciously attack. A captured group of invaders might hang in a net while dozens of goblins pass by and pay them no heed until a group of gatherers shows up.


Lashers. The closest thing a goblin tribe has to nobility is the caste of lashers — families of goblins trained in the ways of battle, and also possessed of key skills such as strategy, trap-building, beast taming, mining, smelting, forging, and religion. If the tribe has any spellcasters, this caste includes them. Lashers follow the lead of the tribe’s boss, and enforce their will on other goblins with whips.


Hunters. The families of goblins that are skilled in the use of weapons but not privy to any other special knowledge have the second highest status in the tribe. Hunters are often the best wolf riders and know the most about the territory farthest from the tribe’s lair. These individuals hunt game in peaceful times, and in combat they serve as scouts, foot soldiers, and cavalry.


Gatherers. Families in the second lowest caste are responsible for getting food from the surrounding area, taking what’s naturally available or stealing whatever they can. Gatherers also do the little amount of farming of which goblins are capable and are charged with checking traps for captured people or beasts. Gatherers aren’t usually armed with weapons more deadly than a sling or a knife, but they frequently carry nets, caltrops, lassos, and nooses on poles for controlling captured creatures. These goblins cook for the tribe, and in times of war they are also responsible for making poison.


Gatherers, and the pariahs beneath them, greatly fear for their lives in battle, believing that the lashers and the hunters have special knowledge of how to survive. It is the members of the lower castes that give goblins their reputation for cowardice.


Pariahs. Some goblin families are the lowest of the low, composed of the most dimwitted, least educated, and weakest goblins. They get the worst jobs: mucking out animal pens, cleaning up after other goblins, and doing any hard labor such as digging mines. If the goblin tribe has slaves to do some of this work, the pariah families enjoy the opportunity to supervise and dominate such creatures, which have no status at all.



Goblins pattern the rule of their tribes after the whip-cracking rule of their god and thus each group has one leader that exerts autocratic control. But as with many tyrannies, the passing of a leader often results in a chaotic transition to the next. Sometimes a goblin boss has the foresight to declare a successor, often a child or other family member the boss has been able to trust. But such a declaration doesn’t always prevent a mad scramble for influence and allies, or secret backstabbing and outright fights over the title.


Most often, the victor in such a struggle comes from another family of the lasher caste, and any allies of the previous boss count themselves lucky if their only punishment is demotion to the pariah caste. Sometimes another creature assumes control of a goblin tribe, by killing or subjugating the current boss and cowing most of the rest of the tribe. If the creature is dimwitted, like a troll or ogre, the lower-class goblins give it obeisance, but before long the upper-class goblins begin to think that whoever can bend the ear of the new leader can act as the real boss. If the creature brushes aside such manipulation, the tribe falls into line behind the new tyrant—better to abide the new rule than conspire against it and be called out as a traitor.

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