Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goblins!

Goblins are iconic creatures that have the flexibility to be portrayed as evil or good and a whole lot of in between. I believe they are the most written about creatures in folklore. They have solidified their place in every fantasy game and many modern and futurist games. Each game has its own twist on the goblin. Well here goes my hat into the already full goblin ring. This is my version of the goblin.

After hundreds of failed wars that led to the collapse of their culture and loss of faith in their religion the more intelligent of their race learned they could live better by being sub servant to a greater race than to live on their own. Instead of waiting to be enslaved by conquerors different tribes settled near different races and took on the characteristics of their patron masters. Goblins prefer to live near human communities because of the variety and humans are the only race that has shown any interest in co-existing with them. Goblins are considered little better than peons, but that does not stop them from getting involved in every aspect of the community. There are goblin merchants, priests, soldiers and artists. Some even manage to gain respectability.

When goblins establish settlements separate from the human community, but near enough that they scavenge from the garbage. They will assist the town by keeping the refuge free of rats and make use of almost anything thrown away. They are expert scavengers. Goblins will go out of their way to please their masters and have no sense of humiliation. They do not take insults personally. If laughed at they will laugh along.

Goblins will worship whatever god the community worships. They will become fervent followers, but alter the beliefs to help the other goblins understand. Like all other things they will try to imitate the ceremonies, style of temple and dress of the priests. Sometimes they do an excellent job and other times it looks like a child wearing his father's boots. No matter what the result the goblins are faithful and challenge those who don't adhere to the laws of their god.

During times of war the Goblin community will send their best fighters. They make excellent scouts. If captured, torturing them does little. As a race they are used to being enslaved and beaten. They will remain faithful to their patrons even with the threat of death. If they are forced to speak the information is mixed with half-truths or what was true a month or year ago.

Some Goblins have magic ability. They all seemed to have the innate ability to detect magical items. Most goblins with talent tend to become excellent alchemists. They enjoy the searching for herbs and exotic components. On occasion a goblin will acquire enough training to become a mage. Even though a goblin mage is considered an oddity among humans within the goblin community it is a great honor are given the role of the chief even if others are already in power.

Most Goblin merchants deal in trinkets or small trade. Those who chose to become merchants are usually the best scavengers. They find items repair or shine them up and resell them. Goblins like to haggle and are insulted if you accept their first asking price. To haggling is a sign of respect.

I like seeing goblins haggling in the market squares, working in the forges, performing religious ceremonies, and armed and armored ready to kick some ass. Goblins make excellent additions to the story side of the game. They can add levity with their attempts to imitate the society they try so hard to belong to. And they have the ability to incite a sense of wonder as these little creatures sacrifice, even more than the original citizens or worshippers, to make it right. They can lead by example by their sheer will of not surrendering. And the goblins are tragic figures. The smallness and child-like determination sends them often into situations where they have no chance of winning and yet they try. This is why I like my goblins accessible and not hidden in caves or dungeons.