goblins Species in Scarterra | World Anvil


Lifecycle and Society: Modern free goblins are split into nomadic tribes and the occasional settled chiefdoms. Each modern goblin tribe and chiefdom is distinct. If a tribe’s ancestors used to work in elven forges, the tribe probably has a metal working tradition. If a tribe’s ancestors did agricultural work, they are likely to attempt to grow their own food, assuming they can find arable land not claimed by stronger groups.   Unfortunately goblins are not the best custodians of knowledge, so the race’s collective knowledge of the arts of civilization are slowly declining. Their knowledge of the arts of theft, stealth, ambushes and dirty tactics is slowly growing. Most goblin tribes depend on raiding to a greater or lesser degree to get what they need to survive.   Each goblin tribe is organized slightly differently but most have a single leader, more often than not called a king. Leadership is theoretically a hereditary position but any leader is likely to fall to a violent coup if he can’t maintain the right combination of intimidation, trickery, flattery, and naked force necessary to control an unruly mob of goblins. Particularly powerful goblin leaders have managed to unite multiple tribes but these alliances are generally so short-lived that they are very lucky if they last long enough for the grand leader to die a natural death.     Third Age nations resumed the practice of goblin enslavement. This is most commonly practiced by the elven Nation of Kahdisteria but a few human nations continue the practice on a smaller scale. Others, allow “free” goblins to work as peasants or serfs under deplorable conditions.     Religious Practices: Goblin are generally hard to pigeonhole with their piety except they are usually not very pious. They do practice some token worship. Who gets the meager goblin praise varies greatly from tribe to tribe. Some view Greymoria as their Patron Mother, a goddess mad at the same people the goblins are mad at. Some hate Greymoria for forcing their ancestors into a hopeless battle and abandoning them into slavery. Some view Mera as a goddess who looks after the lowly like themselves. Some view Mera as the patron of weak, willing victims. The same goes for all the Nine with conflicting opinions but in general Phidas and Maylar are usually well regarded, Hallisan and Khemra are usually not.

Civilization and Culture

Gender Ideals

Nearly all free goblin tribes are patriarchal. Goblin women are valued primarily for their ability to bear male offspring and secondarily for domestic work. They are virtually property, but they are still held in higher status than non-goblin captives who are generally worked to death and then eaten.   Goblin women, like goblin men, will turn the tables on their oppressors in a heartbeat. If a female goblin acquires enough personal power (generally by developing magical power) to overthrow the current leader, the goblin queen will overthrow their tribe’s patriarchy and establish an equally oppressive matriarchy.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Goblins original language is long gone. Generations of slavery to elves in the Second Age extinguished it.   Most modern goblins speak a crude dialect of Elven.


Early History: Like many of the rest of Greymoria’s creations during the Second Age, goblins were created to plague the elven race. Like many of Greymoria’s cannon fodder species, they died in droves killing relatively small number of elves in the process. At some point a group of elves decided to capture a group of marauding goblins and put them to work rather than kill them outright.   Eventually the idea of having goblins perform menial labor caught on to several elven nations. Goblins grew to become the second most populous race in the Second Age, most of them enslaved. Not every goblin was enslaved, and not every elven society practiced goblin slavery, but the goblin society shaken the world over by this. The goblins moved from harassing elves to avoiding capture and inciting slave revolts (though most goblins chose to look out for themselves and their families first rather than act on behalf of the race as a whole). They continued struggling against the elves through the onset of the Second Unmaking.  
Some modern elves deny or downplay it, but goblin slavery was rampant during the Second Age. Not every nation and tribe enslaved goblins but those that did enslaved goblins on a massive scale. In the land of Disterria it is believed the slave population of goblins outnumbered the population of free elves.   Free goblin tribes were rare but they did exist in the Second Age, subsisting in rugged frontier areas that most elves couldn't be bothered with or underground in Scarnoctis.   Initially some elf slave owners tried to leave goblins behind as decoys to cover their own escape often locking them in the slave pens while the elves abandoned their own homes.   Perhaps they hoped if the demons were satiated on goblin souls that they would leave the elves alone. This tactic backfired horribly as Void demons hunger for souls is never satiated a great many of these helpless goblins ended up rising again as faceless only causing greater problems for their former masters.   Historical records of the Second Age make vague references to uncommon mutations and variations of the common goblin both among free and enslaved goblins. If this is true, no variant goblin species from the Second Age avoided extinction during the Second Unmaking.   The goblins seem prone to mutations as tales of Third Age goblin variants are increasingly common. While relatively rare, a few undead or void tainted variant of goblins were created in the laboratories of the Successor and these abominations fought along side demon soldiers. Fortunately, these goblin variants also were driven to extinction.   Once the mechanics of faceless were understood, the remaining elf slave masters stopped deliberately leaving goblins behind as demon bait. Some of them were cut loose and freed, but others were slain by their masters. By that point, very few goblins remained in captivity. Before this, a lot of goblins took advantage of the chaos to escape on their own.   -As told by Akeem of Magicland, professor Emeritus of History
  Like everyone else at the time, the free goblins did the best they could to either fight or flee from the Demons and their undead minions. Most of the goblins who actively resisted the demons battled against the minions of the Demon Lord known as the Successor.   The Demon Lord of known as the Successor attempted to create prison colonies to farm mortals. Since goblins were the fastest reproducing sapient race they were the favored mortal to be farmed. This might have even saved the goblin race from extinction. Surviving written records from Second Age elves hint that there were several goblin sub-races that are now extinct.   A goblin leader known to modern goblins as “the Great One” organized the goblin resistance movement engineered a massive prisoner revolt which were instrumental in the Successor’s defeat. While civilized historians downplay the goblins’ role in this, as far as goblin oral histories are concerned, the Great One’s leadership and sacrifice not only saved the goblin race but incidentally saved the ungrateful elves from enslavement and death as well.     Recent History and Distribution: Goblins are not the most diplomatic creatures. Without the legendary charisma of the Great One the goblins fell on each other and split into many smaller groups. They certainly were not able to craft their wartime alliances of convenience with other races into a lasting peace.   Also, while nearly all modern goblin tribes claim direct ancestral ties to the Great One, it’s likely that the Great One never united more than a third of the Goblin race, so most of these claims of having his bloodline are highly suspect.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Goblins Relations to Others: Modern goblins generally grow up inoculated with tales of oppression at the hands of the elves. The modern dark elves still keep many goblin slaves.   Wood elves and grey elves do not keep goblin slaves and make the somewhat dubious claim that their ancestors did not keep goblin slaves either.   Modern goblins don’t care. Most of them neither know nor care about the different elven subcultures. They will either attack or flee from any elf they see. They tend to give half-elves the same loathing, assuming they can even tell half-elves apart from full elves.   Goblins have little love for humans. They see them as the successors of elf oppression in the Third Age. While relatively few human nations have taken up the old Second Age practice of keeping goblin slaves, humans have the ire of the goblins for being the most powerful race on the planet controlling the most fertile and productive land. Goblins should be the most powerful race.   Goblins don’t like dwarves either. Dwarves never stooped to using lowly goblin slaves to perform their labor, but the two races compete for the resources and territory often. While goblins compete with territory with everyone, the fact that they prefer favor underground lairs ensures plenty of brushfire conflict with the dwarves. Goblins were a small component of the force that conquered Meckelorn and drove the population into exile, and the dwarves have not forgiven them this.   A small number of gnomes favor reaching out to goblins and a very small number of goblins tolerate gnomes as a result of this, but this is the exception, not the rule. Most gnomes who have actually met goblins think peaceful interaction with them is a lost cause. Some gnomes have even been silently complicit with goblin Slavery in Kahdisteria and some human nations and many goblins have noticed.   Goblins get along nominally better with the other so-called monstrous races, but relations are hardly warm. Goblins will extort, rob, enslave and/or eat anyone if they think they can get away with it. They have also been extorted, impressed, robbed, and eaten by orcs, dragons and many others. Despite their belligerent nature, individual goblin tribes occasionally will trade with other races based on mutual gain, especially when neither party clearly has the upper hand. This situation most often occurs with kobolds.
Goblin Character Creation Rules   Goblins have the same 1 to five attribute spread that humans have.    Goblins have the following additional traits.   Player characters playing Goblins get three extra freebie points.   Nimble: -1 difficulty all non-magical rolls involving Dexterity   Naturally Stealthy: -1 difficulty Stealth rolls to move silently. -1 difficulty to hide visually. +1 difficulty for others to spot.     Puny: +1 difficulty to all Strength rolls, including damage rolls. Maximum unencumbered carrying is 15 pounds per point of Strength rather than the usual 25.   Light: Bull rush and grappling attempts against small creatures are at -1 difficulty.   Ill-Tempered: +1 difficulty penalty to all non-magical Charisma rolls with non-goblins   Flaws related to social ostracism for being a goblin in a human dominated world are recommended but not required

Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake


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