The Swarm

Goblins have a passion fer the theatrical. This 'ole "wasp business", it's all part o' the bit. We love bits, can't get enough really. Tell you wat I like about this bit though. Unity! singularity o' purpose. Gettin' the job done fer a greater good. Goblin good. It ain't gunna be so good fer anyone else, let me tell you.
— Reveks The Swarmlord
 
Goblins are a problem for people of ages past; a plague of gibbering idiots who seem to serve the purpose of a nameless hoard that aspiring heroes cut through as they walk the path of greatness. By the time of Balmoral's colonial expansion goblins were largely extinct, cut down by the sword of the Adamantite Empire or by the dangers of the shadowy places they were forced to flee.
 
It's in the swamps, deep woods, and abandoned places that tribes still gather. Gone are the "Grand Old Days" as they are so fond of calling them, when tribes would assail borderland strongholds or pillage faraway hamlets all before local powers could so much as put out a rallying cry. The dwarven and elven people were satisfied enough to keep the them out of their growing territories but when Balmoral rose to prominence it signaled the beginning of the end for goblin-kind. Balmoral's history is punctuated with holy crusades that targeted impure threats to all of Tairos. Many such bloody pogroms were directed at the homelands of the goblins. And, while the tribes excelled at ambushes and running down soft targets they could not repel the might of Balmoral Steel or a mounted charge by the Grand Order of the Lion's knights. In a century's time the goblin menace had been purged from the plains entirely and scattered to either the frozen north or the burning sands of the scorch. That was the end of the goblins' story in Tairos.
 
Till now.
 
Tribes survived the purges of course, lurking the shadows of desert mountains, the icy peaks in the north, and the forbidden depths of the Serpent Lands. Tribes came and went, culled by the threats in their cruel new homelands or brought down by their own kind in a desperate struggle for resources. One such tribe to arise in the last few decades is The Swarm.
 
The history of these goblins begins rather humbly; in choking heat of the Serpent Lands amid the ruins of a long-decayed Ximezci outpost. They took their name from the apiaries the tended to within the walls of crumbling pyramid-like structures within their new home. They had ample food and made good use of their resources to sway other goblins to their tribe; they were a modest success and happy enough to be left their own business. So it was for centuries that the Swarm tribe thrived in their little empire, unnoticed by the outside world. And yet, even this triumph was a pale comparison to the tribes of the Grand Old Days. It would remain so until only a few short years ago, until the coming of the Swarm Lord.
 
Reveks was the name he went by. And he came into their village borne by insidious wings. He controlled a monstrous pack of giant hornets and he strode right up to the tribal leader of the Swarm and slew him without hesitation. The old ruler was able to control bees with his druidic magics but when he was ripped apart by the massive hornets of the newcomer the rest of the tribe saw it as some kind of prophecy. Reveks brought with him new ideas - concepts of long-term strategy, the notions of diplomacy, and the idea of not just tribal unity but racial unity with other goblins. He created a new title for himself as well, Swarm Lord, yet another good omen to most of the tribe. Most, but not all. The shamans were quick to warn of visions of the future. They saw a future of war, death, and upheaval all under the banner of a charlatan king who would lead them to their doom. Revek challenged them to a contest to prove he was chosen by Swarm Spirit and not a pretender. A battle between him and a hornet mount against the entire cloister of Swarm Shamans. With the whole of the tribe gathered they began their battle. Swarm Lord held steady upon his Torment Singer, waiting patiently. The shamans began their incantations to call upon power of the winds, the earth, and the bees that answered to their beck and call. Yet, nothing happened. Their powers had abandoned them. Not so much as a simple venomous cantrip would lead from their desperate fingers. Reveks let their desperation mount for a few moments before snapping his fingers and calling to his hornets. The nightmarish tide of Torment Singers descended upon the shrieking shamans, absorbing their panicked cries and devouring them to the last.
 
That was three years ago. In that time Reveks has been absorbing tribe after tribe into the Swarm, most through negotiation and alliance, some through conquest. He's been directing their energies toward strategic targets, vital long-term resources, and the construction of high quality arms and armor for his soldiers. Speaking of soldiers, the Swarm Lord has been training an army, not merely managing a hoard. He adopts the tactics he's learned from watching the forces of other nations and instills as much discipline in his ranks as the goblin mind is capable of. Those that excel are paired with Torment Singer larva and tasked with raising the creature till both become as one; these bonded pairs form the backbone of Reveks' elite cavalry.
 
Currently, the Swarm are the move, and with a singular goal in mind. The conquest of Frial. Reveks sees the city as the inheritor of old Balmoral's legacy and a fitting target for the ire he has for what's been done to the goblin people. His dream is to burn the city to the ground, spill the last of Balmoral's bloodlines, and for the goblins to finally be seen as more than a joke.
 

Structure

The Swarm Lord is the head of the hierarchy followed by his elite soldiers, known as Torment Riders. Under the previous administration of the Swarm, the tribal chieftain ruled alongside the shamans, both of which worshiped the totem spirit known as Queen Been. They were killed off and replaced by a cabal of new shamans who are subserviently to the Swarm Lord and his Torment Riders. These new shamans are patrons of darker spirits, especially Hornet the Slaughter King. These shamans are kept under close watch by Reveks and allowed very little free reign. Outside of the Swarm Lord and his close allies there are individual goblin bosses who command authority over groups of all sizes. These could be small family groups, absorbed tribes, or allied contingents. All of these bosses will in turn report to high ranking captains in the Torment Riders.

Culture

The Swarm's current mentality is focused on unity, joint prosperity, and punishment. Reveks introduced the idea of unity and cooperation when he took over leadership of the Swarm. He showed that by working together toward common goals a shared prosperity becomes the reward, rather than the how it was in the old days where only a few goblins would enjoy the full fruits of a tribe's labors while the rest were strong armed into compliance. Punishment is also a core aspect of their culture as well. The elves, dwarves, humans... all of them have become the target of a racial hatred stocked by Reveks to the extreme.

Military

Training is offered to all goblins in the Swarm and allied with it. That military service is voluntary, which is unheard of among goblins. Reveks demands service of some kind though in order to receive the benefits of the Swarm. Some popular roles are soldiers, Torment shepherds, farmers, bee slavers (the bees from the old tribe were kept but they are treated more like slaves now), hunters, breeders, or industrial workers.

Worship

The Swarm have has no love for the divine. Their ethos of punishment also includes the old gods and any of their followers that still exist. They take great pleasure in tearing down the works of the gods.

Priesthood

While the shamans of Hornet and other more sinister totems do fill a priest-like role they are severely limited in their ability to control and direct the people of the Swarm. Reveks doesn't use the totems and their shamans to reinforce his rule in any way. One shaman is a member of his advisory staff but that is the extent of the power they're allowed.
Type
Geopolitical, Tribe
Training Level
Trained
Veterancy Level
Experienced
Demonym
Swarm Boy, Swarmer, Buzz Lads,
Leader Title
Currency
The Swarm use a system social security where in all members are taken care of to certain level of comfort. That level is one that stands well above what common goblins in other tribes would expect. In addition, bartering and trade are extremely popular. Goblins that are successful and participate in the military incursions will have an abundance of stock to do so with.
Location


Cover image: by Steve Bellshaw

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