Monday, May 23, 2016

On Goblins

As I enjoy a sunny may two four, I thought I would try blogging on a phone.  So with an infuriatingly small screen I thought I'd write about an infuriatingly small topic. Goblins.

From this point and beyond was about 6 paragraphs of insightful commentary. Then when I scrolled up to hit publish the "mobile version" of chrome decided I must want to reload the page.  This is appropriate as it was supremely aggravating.  So here I sit redoing it in a smaller fashion, away from the sunlight at a desktop.

Goblins are an ur-creature.  One of those raw components of fantasy, where even if they are absent that absence is a goblin.  Pretension aside,  I mean that all GM's end up with a very personalized and unique goblin.  This goblin is the culmination of blending many different styles of goblins that the GM has encountered in games, film, and books over the years into one creature.  This mixture fills a primordial goblin sized hole in the GM's brain so that whenever there is a blank space on a map they have created,  a goblin could fit there.  If the GM is creating some sprawling ruin,  untouched wilderness, or buried catacombs then you can be assured that even before these half formed ideas ever hit paper or game table that the GM could plunk down some of their own personal styled goblins and they would fit.  The biases and habits that lead to the form of a personalized goblin affect everything created whole cloth.   This is what I mean by the absence of a goblin is also a goblin.  It means no goblins would work in any of those locations.  As a slightly different topic,  sometimes men (or a type of men) fill the role of goblins (such as looters, or thieves).

Goblins are usually some form on annoyance.  They may be dangerous,  but its really that fighting or dealing with them bothers you.  They are aggravating and infuriating and become more so (and truly dangerous) when there are swarms of them.  Like annoyances, there are always swarms of them.  You could probably take any individual one head on no problem, but there are just so many of them and they always seem to strike or be present at inopportune moments when you don't really want to deal with them.

The goblins I use are small wiry creatures with pointy yellow teeth and forest green skin, sometimes mottled yellow or brown to better blend in with the bushes.  They tend to be naturally more intelligent than humans,  clever and brilliant but still never a real problem because they are also all sociopaths.  They have no empathy, no morals, they think only what is in their best interest.  They can play the long game, make deals and form alliances and the like,  but they would never risk their own life for someone else.  They have no afterlife and so avoiding death is paramount.  They don't have families and goblin hens  (other than the plumbing they look identical) simply lay eggs and bury them  (as much to discourage predators as anything else).  These hatch as tiny but fully functional goblins who mature within 6 months to a year and live for as many as 10 years before the ravages of time catch up to them.  Their meat is tough and full of foul smelling chemicals similar to a stink bug.  Nothing really prefers to eat goblins and many creatures won't even if starving.  They are thus a plague that once established in a region is a constant aggravating threat that is difficult to remove.

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