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Natural humanoid (goblinoid)
Goblin
Type Natural humanoid (goblinoid)
Location Temperate plains
Alignment
Languages Goblin

Goblins are a race of small and numerous goblinoids common throughout Toril, often living in underground caverns near the surface known as lairs. The race is often, though not always, dominated by other goblinoids. Goblins may have, in fact, been initially created by this related race to serve as scouts and infiltrators. “Nloun” means “We,” and was what goblins called themselves in the Foretime

Goblins are small goblinoids that many consider little more than a nuisance. They have flat faces, broad noses, pointed ears, and small, sharp fangs. Their foreheads slope back, and their eyes vary in color from red to yellow. Their skin color ranges from yellow through any shade of orange to a deep red; usually all members of the same tribe share the same colored skin. Goblin skin may also be green.

PsychologyEdit

Goblins, like other goblinoids, have a commonly short temper. As such members of the race are more easily provoked than individuals of most races and often take sadistic pleasure in exacting revenge once crossed. Goblins who turn away from evil often find it difficult to overcome this short fuse and have a sense of greed that makes it difficult for them to act altruistic.

Though goblins have a poor reputation overall, not all goblins are dim-witted or evil. Some goblins have risen to become heroes, gaining enough renown to be accepted into the civilized world of other, more commonly good races. Those goblins who seek this path may find it difficult to overcome their temper and greed, as well as the cultural influence of their brethren, but those who do often find it can be more rewarding, in the long run at least, to serve good than to serve evil.

SocietyEdit

Goblin society is tribal by nature. Goblin leaders are generally the strongest and sometimes the smartest around. Goblins have little concept of privacy, living and sleeping in large common areas; only the leaders live separately in their own private chambers. As such, goblin lairs are often stinking or soiled, though easily defended when under assault. Many such lairs are layered with simple traps for such purposes.

Goblins survive by raiding and stealing, sneaking into lairs, villages, and even towns by night to take what they can. They are not above waylaying travelers on the road or in forests and stripping them of all possessions, including the clothes on their backs. Goblins sometimes capture slaves to perform hard labor in the tribes lair or camp.

LanguageEdit

The goblin language is largely guttural, with the hard consonant sounds anchoring syllables. Vowels, while not unheard of, are reserved for words and names of significance, particularly those of the dragon-gods. Goblins do not use the soft diphthongs “sh” and “th” that human languages employ.

In imagining the sounds of the goblins language, consider the sounds you make when teaching a child the sounds that individual letters make: “k”, “t”, “p”, etc. Now speed up your recitation. Now add in compound sounds like “tk”, “zg”, and “lr”. The result is a snapping, popping, clicking language that has nearly no flow to it.

While humans (and most other creatures with vocal chords) have troubles speaking the goblin tongue, the goblins have similar troubles with more vowel-rich languages. The goblins find such languages exhausting to speak, given all the hooting an bellowing involved.

One of the oft-neglected concepts in gaming is of the various languages spoken by player characters and monsters. At most, players who roll well for Intelligence write down a few languages out of the list and periodically remember that they have such a thing. This, of course, becomes an issue when the monsters surrender or the players attempt to parlay instead of fighting. Typically, it's handled relatively simply: PCs with the language get to talk with the monsters.

Personally, I like to have a bit more fun with the concept. The one I've run into most is goblin, which is a great stock humanoid type. The way I figure it, goblins are mostly a savage, uncivilized race who break down into small tribes unless actively enslaved by some higher force, like orcs or hobgoblins. This brings us to the question of what goblin language is actually like.

The first thing about goblin is the counting system. There's really no reason for goblins to have a significant counting system; the exact numbers aren't their concern as much as having a rough estimate. So they have words for one and two, which are pretty much universal, and for "some" (which may vary from goblin to goblin) and "many" (which also varies but is bigger than "some"). This is conveniently frustrating for their interrogators, for whom the difference between 5 and 9 goblins may be more significant. I would expect "some" to be based around the goblin's family or fighting unit, depending on the exact context.

Then there are other fun things. Goblins aren't nice folk. The way I figure it, they probably don't have a lot of words for making nice – as the title of this post says, there's no word for "friend." The closest would mean something more like "goblin of my tribe," with a different word for "goblin of another tribe." A human would mostly be referred to by whether they were a threat, or whether the goblin group could defeat them, or whether they were slavers. No concept of allies and alliances exists, and even attempts at diplomacy would involve threats or admission of weakness. Lofty concepts of "fairness," "equality," "justice" would be boiled down to a handful of ideas - "human nonsense" and "weakness."

Goblin language's richness is one that humans would not prefer - the word for what smells good probably includes a rat on a stick. Threats abound, as do vocabulary for hunting, killing, tunnelling and so on. War is present, but as a permanent condition of goblin society. There is no word for "peace" or even "truce." Likewise, what need is there for a distinction between "earn," "find," and "steal"? If goblins are primarily raiders, and secondarily scavengers, there is fundamentally no difference between them.

This is just a sketch; I think I'll write up a more complete (and definitive, possibly with "translations" for effect) article on goblin speech for the miscellany. Has anybody else done any work on this? Or have any input on what a goblin (or orc, or what you like) language should be like?


Auls - 'Tribes' Blunga - Unknown Blyxtshok - Unknown. A type of exclamation. Dard - 'Fool' Donek - 'Renegades' Eldura-bundok - 'Mountain fire.' Refers to lava. Feyrh - 'Escape' or 'Flee' or 'Run' Gart - means probably "give up" Gosjall-giyera-fajra - 'Mountains of fiery war.' Refers to volcanoes. Gurik Cha'ahl - 'Ghost people' Gurik P'lresse - 'Ghost town' Murza - Tribe Leader Orkosham - 'Ogre-men.' Refers to Half-Ogres S'dards - means probably 'fools' Shalbo - means probably 'bad' Sikkei'Hul - unknown - possible goblin pronunciation of Sikk'et Hul Tarduk - use care Tso-puk - 'Light'

Pusel -the word meaning "tooth" in its standard form. Nyazukreg -the verb for "to clean" in the third person singular habitual indicative. Roughly translates to, "he cleans." Adca -one of the prepositions. Most of its meanings pertain to purpose or result. Brîyark -an exclamation indicating abjection or obedience. Commonly heard shouted by surrendering goblins. Zizizolb -a very distinctive profanity often borrowed by other humanoids. It is always in the locative case, and is used exclusively to answer unwanted questions of "where". Can be approximated as a very pithy, "in hell, that's where."


Even mighty empires fall.

Darguun. Nation of goblins. Built on the vision of a single warlord, Lhesh Haruuc.

But Lhesh Haruuc grows old, and Darguun threatens to tear itself apart. With the help of Geth, a lordless shifter, he’ll seek an ancient relic with which he can unite his people.

Treachery and the machination of the dragonmarked houses are already tearing at his rule. Will the legacy of ancient glories be enough to save a nation’s future?

The beginning of a thrilling tale of empire, betrayal, and power by the author of the acclaimed Dragon Below trilogy!

This August, Don Bassingthwaite’s The Doom of Kings releases -- including the following glossary of the Goblin language, which may come in good use for your games!

Acknowledgements: this Goblin glossary is based in part on roots and concepts derived from previous works, particularly the Eberron Campaign Setting, Forge of War, and the excellent Dragonshards web supplements. Special thanks to Keith Baker for his insights into the goblins of Eberron.



Four Keys to Understanding Goblin Tradition and Location: Goblins and the Goblin language have a great respect for tradition. Stories and legends from the Age of Dhakaan still inspire the goblin races today. The language is slow to change, but change it does. Darguun, founded in what was once the seat of ancient goblin power, is the most conservative culturally and linguistically. Goblins in other parts of Khorvaire, especially those living in human cities may use words differently. In Darguun, chib meaning "boss" or "big man" is used by goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears alike exclusively to address someone of higher stature. In Sharn, however, it is commonly used by goblins to address anyone bigger or powerful than them, whether hobgoblin, bugbear, human, or dwarf.

Honor: Goblins are deeply concerned with honor. References to honor are encountered in many contexts, from praise (the expression of admiration Paatcha! literally means "to offer honor") to greetings (contrast the casual saa with the more formal saa'atcha, the equivalent of "I'm honored to meet you"). Goblin recognizes two distinct forms of honor, however. Atcha refers to personal honor, earned through deeds and carefully protected. Muut refers to ordinary honor or duty, something gained by doing one's job properly. A warrior earns atcha in battle; a guard gains muut by observing his watch faithfully and well.

Hierachy: Goblins are keenly aware of their status (even informally) in relationship to other goblins. This is most obvious in insults: taat is a term for someone of lower status than the speaker, while gaa'taat, even more offensive, says that someone is less than a child. Hierarchy can more subtly be seen in in the expression of gratitude, however. In most circumstances, the proper response to the rendering of a service is ta muut, "you have muut." Generally interpreted this as "thank you," it is correctly "you have done your job." It is an acknowledgement that carries no sense of debt or obligation on the part of the speaker. Only a goblin who feels a deep and true sense of indebtedness would use the phrase Ya panozhii kita atcha—"I owe a debt to your honor." It is worth noting that Goblin has no expression equivalent to "you're welcome." Acknowledgement and thanks are accepted as a due and require no response.

Body Language: Spoken words are only a part of Goblin conversation. In addition to body postures common to all humanoids, goblins have mobile ears—hobgoblins more so than goblins or bugbears—that express attitude, anxiety, and other emotions. Applause is shown by striking the chest with an open hand, a salute by striking with a closed fist. Most notably, goblins do not casually touch. The shaking of hands is regarded as a human affectation—oaths are sealed by the touching of blades. Public embraces are discomforting for those involved and for witnesses. Embraces are reserved for trusted family members in private, although exceptions are made for those bound together as shava (see below) and warriors caught up in the excitement of victory.

Glossary aram: Wrath or righteous anger. Also the proper Goblin name of the legendary Sword of Heroes forged from byeshk by the legendary Dhakaani dashoor Taruuzh during the Daelkyr War and now carried by the shifter Geth.

atcha: The goblin concept of personal honor, something which is earned and carefully protected. Compare with muut.

atchot: To look someone in the eye.

ban: Goblin expression of non-commital agreement, roughly equivalent to "yeah, alright" or "your funeral."

Blood of Six Kings: An oath of sincerity among goblins.

chaat'oor: Goblin term for any species not native to Khorvaire, especially humans, but with the exception of elves. It is often loosely translated as "defiler."

chib: Goblin for "boss" or "big man." Used colloquially by goblins outside of Darguun to refer to any taller humanoid, including hobgoblins, humans, and dwarves.

Chit guulen pamuut ran: A goblin expression. "There is strength in honoring a sacrifice."

cho: Goblin expression of informal agreement with or acknowledgement of a statement made, roughy equivalent to "yes" or "okay."

daashor: A goblin artificer, especially one from the time of the Empire of Dhakaan. The secret knowledge of the daashor has largely vanished, but at one time, they were capable of creating wonders. Most daashor were male (in contrast to the largely female duur'kala).

dar: Goblin for "the people. It is the ancient collective term for the hobgoblin, goblin, and bugbear races, though it and the derivative names for the individual races are seldom used today.

Darguun: Literally translated, Darguun is the "Land of the People."

Desperate Times, The: The dark ages of chaos after the fall of the Empire of Dhakaan. Particularly conservative members of the Dhakaani Clans might argue that the Desperate Times extend into the present, but most goblin historians agree that the Desperate Times ended with the domination of Khorvaire by humans, somewhere between 3,000 years (when the human Karrn the Conqueror established Karrnath) and 2,000 years (when Galifar I united the Five Nations in a single kingdom) before the present.

duur'kala: Among the Dhakaani Clans, particularly the Kech Volaar, duur'kala preserve the history and knowledge of past ages. Their music is the most common form of magic among the clans. Duur'kala means "dirge singers." Because the magic manifests mostly in females, duur'kala are often called "daughters of the dirge" and elders are referred to as "mothers of the dirge."

gaa'ma: Goblin pejorative term for changelings. Literally translated, it means "wax babies."

gaanu duur: "Daughter of the dirge," an alternative term for duur'kala.

gaa'taat: A highly insulting Goblin term suggesting that someone is less than a child.

gath'atcha: Goblin for "without honor." In most cases used by the speaker as a means of showing contrition and offering apology, but a serious insult when said of someone else.

ghaal: Goblin for "mighty" with specific connotations of prowess in battle.

ghaal'dar: The ancient name for the hobgoblin race, it means "mighty people." In the present time, Ghaal'dar is also the name of the loose confederacy of goblin clans living in the lowlands of Darguun, especially in the broad area around the Ghaal River. Notable Ghaal'dar clans include the Gan'duur ("Eaters of Sorrow"), the Gantii Vus ("Hungry Flame"), the Ja'aram ("Bright Anger"), the Mur Talaan ("Horned Shoulders"), the Rhukaan Taash ("Razor Crown"), the Marhaan, the Ghaal Sehn, and the Pin Galaac.

goblin: A term that causes much confusion as it applies both to the small-statured goblin race and to the three related races of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears (as well as other less well-known races). The longstanding tradition of referring to the related races by the term "goblinoid" has been abandoned by forward-thinking scholars of Wynarn and Morgrave Universities, an attitude that is slowly spreading among the general population.

Goblin cuisine: While often unrecognized by more "civilized" races, goblins have an ancient and well-established culinary culture. Typical goblin cuisine varies by region (that of Darguul is more "pure" and exotic, that of city goblins more influenced by human cooking) and somewhat by race. Food tends to emphasize a chewy texture, and sour and bitter flavors—a preference carried over into wine and beermaking. Buns and starchy balls of noon are common staples and pickling is a favorite form of both preservation and seasoning. Boiling and steaming (often in flavored liquids) are the most common cooking methods. All food is relatively simple, hearty, and portable once prepared; goblin food sticks closest to this, while high class hobgoblin food can be varied and labor intensive. Bugbear food is the least finicky, often along the lines of meat on a stick or a pot over the fire. Surprisingly, goblins also have a remarkable sweet tooth and desserts such as shaat'aar have found popularity as street snacks in Sharn and other southern cities.

golin: Goblin for "quick." Among hobgoblins and bugbears, it refers only to speed, but goblins use it to refer to intelligence as well.

golin'dar: The ancient name for the goblin race, it means "quick people." The term "goblin" is a corruption of golin'dar.

guul: Goblin for "strong."

guul'dar: The ancient name for the bugbear race, it means "strong people."

Itaa!: A Goblin war-command equivalent to "Attack!"

Je'shaarat mi paa kotanaa: A goblin expression. "A sharp sword hurts less when you fall on it."

kaas: The number five, but also the word for "hand" and for the first person plural ("we").

Khaavolaar!: A Goblin curse of frustration or amazement. It is a contraction of "Khaar volaar" or "blood of the word."

kiirin: A traditional goblin stringed instrument. Records show that it was played in the time of the Dhakaani Empire.

lhesh: Goblin for "high warlord." In time of the Dhakaani Empire, a lhesh was a general given command of the empire's armies for a set period of time. In modern times, Haruuc has adopted the term as the title of the ruler of Darguun.

lhesh shaarat: A class of goblin weaponry so finely-forged that they are recognized as suitable only for the greatest warriors. "Lhesh shaarat" means "warlord's sword," and the act of drawing one is a claim to power.

lhevk-rhu: "Skilled warlord," the third highest formal rank in Darguun's army. A lhevk-rhu is outranked only by a lhevket ("elder warlord") or the lhesh.

Maabet!: An extremely ancient Goblin curse word still in use today. There is no known translation.

marhu: an emperor, specifically the emperor of Dhakaan.

mazo: Goblin affirmative, stronger than "yes" and used specifically when discussing plans or acknowledging orders.

muut: The goblin concept of ordinary honor or duty, something gained by doing one's job properly. Compare with atcha.

noon: A starchy grain, most often pressed into compact balls, that is a staple of the traditional goblin diet and that still forms an important part of goblin cuisine.

paaldaask: A spellcaster. Literally a "spell-warrior."

Paatcha!: An offer of honor through admiration, spoken as a compliment or delivered as an imperative to troops. Literally "to offer honor."

ran: a willing sacrifice, particularly someone who gives himself up in battle for the greater good.

Raat shan gath'kal dor: "The story stops but never ends." The traditional closing of hobgoblin legends.

Raat shi anaa: "The story continues." The traditional opening to hobgoblin legends.

roo: Goblin for "friendly stranger," someone unknown to the speaker but not an obvious enemy (pl. rooz).

saa: A casual Goblin greeting. A more formal greeting is saa'atcha, roughly equivalent to "It is an honor to meet you."

shaat'aar: A small sweet bun filled with honey cream. A common Goblin sweet.

shava: One of the most honored goblin traditions, shava is best translated as "sword brother," someone a warrior trusts with his life. The relationship between shava is exceptionally strong and carries with it significant responsibilities and expectations. Most goblin warriors never even consider taking a shava.

Shii marhu polto huuntad ka ruuska atchot: A goblin expression. "Even an emperor must think twice when looking a tiger in the eye."

Silent Clans, the: Although technically numbered among the Dhakaani clans, the two Silent Clans stand apart. They are formed entirely of goblins and are renowned for their stealth: the taarka'khesh ("silent wolves") are scouts, while the shaarat'khesh ("silent blades") are spies and assassins. By ancient tradition, the Silent Clans do not take sides in any conflict, instead acting as mercenaries of complete impartiality and reliability.

taat: Goblin term for someone of significantly lesser status than the speaker. Derogatory and insulting.

To hold a sword by the blade: A goblin expression for being in a risky situation.

Toh!: A Goblin warning cry ("Beware!").

tohiish: Dangerous.

tuuv: To buy or to own.

tuuvoto: A slave—literally a person that is bought or owned.


ReligionEdit

Goblins primarily worshiped members of the goblin pantheon, such as Blueleafor Maglubiyet.


Life was good and meat plentiful, in sun-drenched and happy times, Nloun always numerous and clever enough to bring down any foe (war our pride, war our pleasure), until god fought god (not our gods, and none of our affair) and the dying gods’ bodies crashed down in flames. A great fire arose from their dying and swept across the land, driving all before its fury, devouring to ashes all who fled not or too slowly. Fire ended the Foretime and brought the Scorching, when our gods fell silent and many Nloun died. The rest learned to run, to flee far and fast, to go deep. Down into the greatest depths of the earth, where great blind worms gnaw and the walls are hot and slick with sweat. There the Deep Ones met us, taught us, and led us, the Nloun of the Deeps. Gobbelyn was their king, Gobbelyn their giant and champion, the largest Nloun ever. Gobbelyn tamed a gnaw-worm and forced it to tunnel deeper, until we came to burning rivers and the mists of foul death. Then Gobbelyn led us on, and up, the cooked worm dying as it gnawed. When it died, Gobbelyn tore it apart and dug onwards, upwards, spending his life in the doing so that Nloun—we gobbelyns—could survive. He delivered us up into a new place. This place. And though many here are larger and more formidable than any Nloun, and these are not lands ruled by goblins, our gods spoke to us again, and still speak to us here, and here we shall abide and flourish, for burning rivers of rock have risen in the deeps, and there is no going back. We shall breed, and outnumber, and outlast. One day, this Long Time shall become Triumph Time, when Goblins rule all.

CombatEdit

Being bullied by bigger, stronger creatures has taught goblins to exploit what few advantages they have: sheer numbers and malicious ingenuity. The concept of a fair fight is meaningless in their society. They favor ambushes, overwhelming odds, dirty tricks, and any other edge they can devise. Goblins prefer to fight battles where the odds are in their favor and often flee or surrender when outmatched.

Substitution levelsEdit

Goblin Ranger Goblins have long been allied with worgs, and the two races often live in close proximity. Goblin rangers form a close bond with their tribe’s allied worg pack, learning to track by scent, ride worgs into combat, and can select a worg as an animal companion. Hit Die: d6.

Requirements To take a goblin ranger substitution level, a character must be a a creature with the goblin subtype (e.g a goblin or a worghestDra350) about to take his 1st, 4th, or 10th level of ranger.

Class Skills Goblin ranger substitution levels grant the same class skills as the standard ranger class, plus Tumble. Skill Points at Each Level: 8 + Int modifier (or four times this number as a beginning character).

Class Features All the following are features of the goblin ranger’s racial substitution levels. Scent (Ex): A goblin ranger can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. He can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at three times these ranges. A goblin ranger detects another creature’s presence but not its specific location. Noting the direction of the scent is a move action. If it moves within 5 feet of the scent’s source, the creature can pinpoint that source. A goblin ranger can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10. The DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Track feat. Goblin rangers tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility. Goblin rangers with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights. Water, particularly running water, ruins a trail for air-breathing creatures. Water-breathing goblins that have the scent ability, however, can use it in the water easily. False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures, and the base Survival DC to track becomes 20 rather than 10. This substitution feature replaces the standard ranger’s class feature of wild empathy. Mounted Combat: A goblin ranger gains Mounted Combat as a bonus feat at 3rd level, assuming he meets the prerequisites. This substitution feature replaces the standard ranger’s bonus feat of Endurance gained at 3rd level. Worg Companion (Ex): A 4th-level goblin ranger can select a worg as his animal companion, even though the creature is a magical beast. For the purpose of any of the ranger’s spells that affect animals, as well as his use of Handle Animal or wild empathy (if granted by a different class) on the companion, the worg is treated as an animal.

OthersEdit