Goblins are a race of childlike creatures with a destructive and voracious nature that makes them almost universally despised. Weak and cowardly, goblins are frequently manipulated or enslaved by stronger creatures that need destructive, disposable foot soldiers. Those goblins that rely on their own wits to survive live on the fringes of society and feed on refuse and the weaker members of more civilized races. Most other races view them as virulent parasites that have proved impossible to exterminate. Goblins can eat nearly anything, but prefer a diet of meat and consider the flesh of Humans and Gnomes a rare and difficult-to-obtain delicacy. While they fear the bigger races, goblins’ short memories and bottomless appetites mean they frequently go to war or execute raids against other races to sate their pernicious urges and fill their vast larders.
Goblins are short, ugly humanoids that stand just over 3 feet tall. Their scrawny bodies are topped with oversized and usually hairless heads with massive ears and beady red or occasionally yellow eyes. Goblins’ skin tone varies based on the surrounding environment; common skin tones include green, gray, and blue, though black and even pale white goblins have been sighted. Their voracious appetites are served well by their huge mouths filled with jagged teeth.
Violent but fecund, goblins exist in primitive tribal structures with constant shifts in power. Rarely able to sustain their own needs through farming or hunting and gathering, goblin tribes live where food is abundant or near places that they can steal it from. Since they are incapable of building significant fortifications and have been driven out of most easily accessible locations, goblins tend to live in unpleasant and remote locations, and their poor building and planning skills ensure that they dwell primarily in crude caves, ramshackle villages, and abandoned structures. Few goblins are good with tools or skilled at farming, and the rare items of any value that they possess are usually cast-off implements from humans or other civilized cultures. Goblins’ appetites and poor planning lead to small tribes dominated by the strongest warriors. Even the hardiest goblin leaders quickly find out that their survival depends on conducting frequent raids to secure sources of food and kill off the more aggressive youth of the tribe. Both goblin men and women are ugly and vicious, and both sexes are just as likely to rise to positions of power in a tribe. Goblin babies are almost completely self-sufficient not long after birth, and such infants are treated almost like pets. Many tribes raise their children communally in cages or pens where adults can largely ignore them. Mortality is high among young goblins, and when the adults fail to feed them or food runs low, youths learn at an early age that cannibalism is sometimes the best means of survival in a goblin tribe.
Variant and Subraces
Monkey goblins are an evolution of the goblin race adapted for life in the high leafy canopies of Amun’s tropical forests. Equipped with ratlike prehensile tails, monkey goblins are as at home in the trees as they are on the ground.
This creature has the wide head and toothy mouth of a ,goblin with dapple green skin, simian hands and feet, and a long, ratlike tail.
Monkey goblins lead a savage lifestyle, and many take levels in the barbarian class , though warriors and fighters are also common among the race. While spellcasting classes are almost unheard of among them, monkey goblin shamans in the service of demon lords or other dark gods are given a respect by other monkey goblins that borders on fear.
These creatures are the most disciplined and militaristic of the goblinoid races. Tall, tough as nails, and strongly built, hobgoblins would be a boon to any adventuring group, were it not for the fact that they tend to be cruel and malicious, and often keep slaves. The raw materials to fuel their war machines come from raids, their armaments and buildings from the toil of slaves worked to death. Naturally ambitious and envious, hobgoblins seek to better themselves at the expense of others of their kind, yet in battle they put aside petty differences and fight with discipline rivaling that of the finest soldiers. Hobgoblins have little love or trust for one another, and even less for outsiders. Life for these brutes consists of duty to those of higher station, domination of those below, and the rare opportunities to seize personal glory and elevate their status.
Burly and muscled, hobgoblins stand a few inches shorter than the average human, and their long arms, thick torsos, and relatively short legs give them an almost apelike stature. Hobgoblins’ skin is a sickly gray-green that darkens to mossy green after long exposure to the sun. Their eyes burn fiery orange or red, and their broad faces and sharply pointed ears give their features a somewhat feline cast. Hobgoblins lack facial hair, and even hobgoblin women are bald. Except for their size, hobgoblins bear a strong physical resemblance to their goblin cousins.
Hobgoblins live in militaristic tyrannies, each community under the absolute rule of a hobgoblin general. Every hobgoblin in a settlement receives military training, with those who excel serving in the army and the rest left to serve more menial roles. Those deemed unfit for military service have little social status, barely rating above favored slaves. Despite this, hobgoblin society is egalitarian after a fashion. Gender and birth offer no barrier to advancement, which is determined almost solely by each individual’s personal merit. Hobgoblins eschew strong attachments, even to their young. Matings are matters of convenience, and are almost always limited to hobgoblins of equal rank. Any resulting baby is taken from its mother and forcibly weaned after 3 weeks of age. Young mature quickly—most take no more than 6 months to learn to talk and care for themselves. Hobgoblins’ childhoods last a scant 14 years, a mirthless span filled with brutal training in the art of war. Hobgoblin life is nothing if not ordered and hierarchical, and hobgoblins lean strongly toward the lawful alignments. While not innately evil, the callous and brutal training that fills the too-short childhood of hobgoblins leaves most embittered and full of hate. Hobgoblins of good alignment number the fewest, and almost exclusively consist of individuals raised in other cultures. More numerous but still rare are hobgoblins of chaotic bent, most often exiles cast out by the despots of their homelands.
The bugbear is the largest of the goblinoid races, a lumbering brute that stands at least a head taller than most humans. They are loners, preferring to live and kill on their own rather than form tribes of their own kind, yet it isn’t uncommon to find small bands of bugbears working together, or dwelling in goblin or hobgoblin tribes where they function as elite guards or executioners. Bugbears do not form large warrens like goblins or nations like hobgoblins; they prefer smaller-scale mayhem that lets them keep their favorite acts (murder and torture) on a more personal level. Humans are a bugbear’s favored prey, and most count the flesh of humanity as a dietary staple. Grisly trophies of ears or fingers are common bugbear decorations. Bugbears, when they turn to religion, favor gods of murder and violence, with various demon lords being favorites. A typical bugbear stands 7 feet in height and weighs 400 pounds.
The Nature of Goblinoid Evil
Goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, despite having superficial similarities, each represent a different face of evil. Hobgoblins are ordered and methodical in their evil, forming vast armies, warbands, and despotic nations. Goblins are the primal evil, seeking only cruelty and petty victimization as they can find it, be that among their own kind or against their neighbors. Yet the evil personified by the bugbear may be the most terrifying, for they actively seek to inflict pain and suffering in the most destructive ways possible. When a hobgoblin kills, it’s because of tradition and order. When a goblin kills, it’s for fun. But when a bugbear holds its blade, it kills only when it can be assured that the murder will cause maximum pain and suffering to those its weapon does not touch; to a bugbear, the true goal of murder is to strike not at the victim, but at those who held the victim dear.
A subrace of goblins with an innate knack for psionics. Their bluish skin sets them apart from other goblins. These goblins hold greater intelligence than most of their other race, practicing their psychic powers. Often they will pay respects to The Overmind, or Blustin depending upon their aligned paths.
Good-aligned consummate survivors, with many physical adaptations to help them thrive in the deserts. They reside mainly within the desert city of Quin’shet, or out in the sands of the Somal’ti Desert. They make excellent Shamans of various types including Druids, Dragon Shamans and Spirit Shamans.
Dekanter goblins are creatures that roam the mines. This species of mutated goblins are aggressive and belligerent, grown to human size and given immense strength.
Snow goblins are distant cousins of the goblins that live in warmer climates. They are horsethieves and thugs, often used in the machinations of more powerful creatures.Snow goblins stand 3-4 feet tall, and are wiry and bandy-legged. They have coarse, wooly fur that changes color with the seasons, from brown or black in the summer to white in the winter. Beneath their fur, their skin is grayish. Of particular note is that snow goblins possess a fleshy throat sack that helps their voice reverberate through the hills where they live.
A marine species of hobgoblin, similar to the land dwelling one in many respects, but having gills and able to live in fresh or salt water.
Faster, considerably stronger, and more primitive than typical goblins, these have merely a predatory cunning. They often find work as mercenary scouts and raiders for hobgoblin warbands. They stand about seven feet tall when fighting, but typically move and run on all fours.
A race bred by drow to act as soldiers. They have violet skin with tiger stripes and can produce and are immune to sonic attacks. Vril are the product of dark elf wizards’ experiments over many generations. These goblinoids are imbued with innate sonic ability and can alter the consistency of their own flesh. Most vril are brutally trained as warriors by the drow to weed out the weakest specimens.
Bakemonos are the “goblins” of the Shadowlands—small, powerfully muscled humanoids with the intelligence and the temperament of vicious attack dogs.