Quick Note [Will Be Removed When Post is Finished]
This is a post in progress. Down there towards the bottom you’ll find an outline of elements I plan to put into this post, but I thought I might as well make it a ‘live’ post. That means it will change – probably many times – if this little ‘Quick Note’ section is still here. Once the post is completely finished (including all art and whatnot) I’ll delete this portion.
Introduction to Goblins
There are few humanoid monsters more commonly encountered than goblins and they’re a staple of any good fantasy campaign or creative fiction.
As such, there are a huge variety of different incarnations of goblins and their kin. There are versions out there that are huge and brutish that seem a bit more like orcs or hobgoblins and there are versions that are clearly being used for comic relief.
I suppose that’s how it should be, and yet I couldn’t find any ‘standard’ to base my own ideas on. The sheer variety of ‘kinds’ of goblins made it difficult to say how (if at all) I wanted my own to be ‘different’.
So, thought I, why not create that standard?
So here we are.
I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, trying to say that this is the way all goblins should be in all scenarios. I’m not saying “I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong.”
I’m just trying to give us a starting point to work from.
A Word About My Vision of Goblins
I noted something strange of late – it seems like goblins have become the butt of every joke in many forms of popular fantasy these days. I’m thinking specifically of things like World of Warcraft and many other video games predominantly here.
While I absolutely love how these games have pushed goblins (and fantasy in general) into the limelight, I’m no as much of a fan of how they’re represented.
That is to say that I like the idea of goblins as crafty, insidious, and dangerous when in large numbers. Not bumbling idiots who seldom affect any element of the worlds they inhabit in any way other than through slapstick comedy or providing sustenance for bigger critters.
I envision a couple of the little things cresting a hill and every adventurer who is wise enough to know to be worried, is. They know that where there is one or two, there is likely to be…
General Description of Goblins
Goblins are small, dirty, and often smelly humanoid monsters. They generally weigh in at somewhere between 35 and 50 pounds with most of their number hovering towards the lower end of that spread. When standing fully upright, they range from 2 ¾ to 3 ½ feet tall – again – with most of their numbers hovering towards the bottom of that range.
Their skin is smooth and often damp from the recesses of their cavernous abodes. It ranges in pigment color from greens, browns, reds, oranges, and even muted yellows. The majority are some form of green, brown, or red.
They are predominantly shabby dressed and adorned. They are scavengers and this is evident in their appearance. The more fashionable among goblins will wear small, modified cloaks they’ve managed to ‘find’ among the more civil humanoid races.
Goblins tend to have wide jawlines with pointed chins and pronounced cheeks that sit high on their faces. This gives their faces an angular appearance which is only amplified by their long and sharply pointed noses.
Their eye sockets are deep set and shaded. The eyes themselves tend to be a bit milky, and don’t function altogether well.
Their teeth are many, sharp, and often broken or missing. This gives their wide mouths a very ominous appearance.
Large, deeply angled ears stick up and back on both sides of their heads giving them what is arguably their best sensory receivers.
Goblins don’t have much in the way of a visible neck. Mostly, that’s thanks to the humped arch of their backs which bunches the skin at the back of the neck and up to the base of their skulls.
The shoulders of most goblins have a bit of meat to them – especially when compared to the rest of the goblin physique. This is thanks to their frequent habit of dropping into a quadrupedal form of movement when they’re trying to move faster.
That’s where the musculature drops off though. Their long arms are lean and often borderline skeletal, ending in overly long forearms and lean hands that terminate in nightmarish talons.
Continuing down from the upper torso we proceed to the abdomen which are frequently distended as goblins require a tremendous amount of protein to stay healthy. Unfortunately, their scavenging nature seldom provides enough meat to fill this need. This is one of the things that makes the goblin species (especially in large numbers) so dangerous.
Hips and Legs of Goblins
Thanks in part to their habit of using their upper body to pull them along in a quadrupedal form when they are trying to hurry (and they’re always trying to hurry) goblin legs have evolved into shorter and stubbier appendages than most humanoids.
This gives goblins more of a waddle when walking upright and slows their movement. This in turn leads to the ‘on all fours’ form. Which leads future generations who have shorter / less agile legs.
Anatomical Differences in Goblin Genders
- Are smaller in stature than their female counterparts.
- Are almost always hairless. If / when a male finds hair on his body, he is likely to remove it for fear of being seen as feminine and being tormented by his peers for it.
- Mature at 10 years of age.
- Seldom live past 55 years of age.
- Are still mostly hairless, but what hair they have, they’re proud of. Hair retains scent, after all.
- Warts are seen as a sign of great beauty. So much so that some goblins will create false warts from anything available to them. Dirt, scabs, and even mucous are commonly placed on a visible area of the skin and presented as something that sets that goblin above her peers.
- Mature at 10 years of age.
- Seldom live past 60 years of age.
Goblins are omnivores and eat pretty much anything they can get their hands on. That last part is important. Meat is far more difficult to acquire, and goblins as a species require a lot of protein for good health. This is why they often can be found with distended bellies even if they’re well fed.
Scavenging is their primary source for food. Stealing is another word for it. Whether from hobgoblins, orcs, neighboring civilized settlements, or even their own clan mates, it really doesn’t much matter to them. Whatever is easiest is most likely.
On very rare occasions, an enterprising goblin will seek to raise rats (including dire rats) as companions, food, or guard animals. This is uncommon for the effort involved tends to require the goblins to ‘think long term’ which is not generally in their nature.
And lastly – the least common source of food for goblins are wolves and / or dire wolves. Since goblin tribes tend to hover around other species like orcs, goblins occasionally will avail themselves of fallen wolves and dire wolves, but again – this is a very rare thing and goblins see it as a great treat.
Just as they scavenge for food, clothing, and tools, goblins will default to looking for ready made homes, or as close to it as they can manage. They will often make minor adjustments to ruins, abandoned buildings, emptied animal caves, and even old campsites in order to take up residence.
Generally speaking, the less effort they have to put forth in order to be able to move in, the more likely they will. This often leaves goblins exposed to forces like swarthy adventurers who seem to have a thing about them living too close to civilized folks.
On rare occasion, however, they manage to find a cavern system deep enough or a bunch of ruins fortified enough that they manage to stay put for an extended period of time. When that happens, their numbers tend to grow rapidly.
This most often happens when they can live with or near orcs or other tribal monsters from which they can scavenge scraps of armor, food, and weaponry.
Tools and Weaponry
If you’re interested in the other posts I’ve done (mostly just more artwork) around this version of goblins, check out the other posts I’ve done that are tagged with the the word goblins.
[Items in the outline below in bold and with brackets are images I’m planning for this post.]
- Anatomy [full figure turn around]
- Gender Differences [male and female beside each other]
- Diet [goblin eating]
- Habitat [goblin cave entrance]
- Tools and Weaponry [goblin hands on a tool – possibly stealing it from a table?]
- Clothes and Armor [clothes line with rags drying in the wind?]
- Social Structures [the king of the goblins holding court?]
- The Swarm
- The Goblin King
- Mini Module (?)
- Images I’ve done of Goblins (Related Posts)