Author Topic: Goblin Week: 28 Goblin Concepts To Cause Chaos In Your Stories  (Read 6878 times)


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Goblin Week: 28 Goblin Concepts To Cause Chaos In Your Stories
« on: January 29, 2023, 09:28:11 PM »
Goblin Week: 28 Goblin Concepts To Cause Chaos In Your Stories
By Jubal

It's been goblin week! On this momentous occasion, chunks of the internet come together to, well, post goblin stuff. And it seemed like a good time for us to do it, too, so this week we've been posting daily concepts for goblin NPCs on the Exilian Mastodon account. To ensure that this trove of ideas didn't disappear into the long dark of the internet, here it is, reproduced in glorious Exilian Articles form.

Goblins are one of the commonest creatures in modern fantasy, but at the same time can be hard to use well. Since the division between Tolkien's goblins appearing in the Hobbit and then the term Orc being used for the more epic threat in the Lord of the Rings, the idea of a goblin has been increasingly pressed into evoking the chaotic, children's storybook feel of Bilbo's adventure rather than the epic nature of Frodo's. This idea of a small, almost childlike nature can pose problems with game styles where one is simply fighting them in combat encounters, and they can easily lose their sense of mischief and chaos if made into generic enemy cannon fodder.

At the same time, goblins aren't goblins if they're easy to live alongside. Whether due to confusion or malevolence, whether in funny or scary ways, goblins are here to make our lives more difficult, and to sit at best uneasily alongside humans who have jobs to do and mouths to feed and who value a lot of things, like safety, that have never really occurred to goblins.

So that was part of the challenge for these goblins - it being goblin week, the aim certainly was to celebrate goblinkind rather than simply produce malevolent cookie-cutter bearers of evil. But nonetheless it was important to produce goblins that evoke that sense of childlike mischief. The other part of the aim for goblin concepts was to think of goblins as individuals - a goblin horde nees little introduction, but giving goblins an individual existence for story characters to interact with is a different tricky challenge.

So without further ado, here are 28 goblins, four for each day of goblin week, with a few sketch illustrations by the author. Hopefully you'll find some of them interesting, useful, or simply enjoyable - do let us know if you use any in your RPGs or storytelling. And, of course - happy goblin week!

Thrrrbt is a goblin whose sole aim in life is to ride on the back of a heron. To this end, Thrrrbt owns many nets. Nobody has pointed out to Thrrrbt that the nets are only big enough to catch water-voles.

Pritskik is a goblin who values order, and to that end thinks that nothing should move its location ever. Goblins breaking things is a known problem: goblins nailing, bolting and glueing everything to everything they can find is a new challenge.

Mroblaff the goblin is a mage-priest, granted spells by gods who are very absent minded, can't spell well, and don't understand mortal life. Mroblaff's spell list includes Summon Ladybird, Somewhat Ladybird, Moss Depth Word, and Ethereal Beak.

H'thizz meanwhile hunts rabbits with the aid of a pack of stoats. H'thizz has one great rivalry in the world, with an enormous green-eyed housecat called Godfrieda. Neither has yet won.

Urhtmot is technically a goblin, but was cursed by an angry witch to be as small as its limited thoughts. This happened when Urhtmot was daydreaming about how large trees are. Urhtmot is no less dim, but dutifully carries the goblin village in a basket on his head, nowadays.

Lubgom the goblin has one eye, a stick too big to carry, and a tendency to pick fights with angry chickens for fun. The main surprise is that Lubgom has an eye remaining.

Mujg the alehouse goblin throws salt in the beer, drains the flasks of anyone bringing their own liquor, and switches the mugs of anyone putting potions in someone else's drink. The barkeep is yet to work out why her tavern does so well.

Frottl is a goblin that steals naughty children, on the assumption that they must really be goblins who need better training. They are usually returned within ten days with strict instructions on how to vex their parents yet further.

Stiglit is the goblin who "borrowed" the third day’s post in this series, both out of curiosity and to use as nest lining, which is why it only appeared on day four of Goblin Week.

Jumbrokkle is a goblin who lets deer and moles into people's gardens, because they look horribly tidy and it can't be good for anyone to have things all straight and pruned like that and Jumbrokkle has Concerns.

Dlup the goblin was a legendary hero who went around human weddings across the world, breaking their crockery because the noise sounded pretty. In some cultures breaking crockery became so expected that humans started breaking their own as a tradition. It is perhaps a pity they do not invite a goblin to enjoy doing it.

Q'dish is a goblin who once heard the story of Persephone and now thinks people who eat pomegranates have to stay wherever they do so, and so tries to "trick" and "trap" travellers by leaving nicely crafted food with pomegranate seeds in out for them.

Sopipt is a very small goblin who makes little holes in feather mattresses and crawls in them to sleep or store shiny things, which has been the cause of a number of back pain problems among the local nobility.

Aaugh just likes yelling. Aaugh has gone looking for a thing called a "void", having been told that it's there for you to yell into, which sounds *perfect*.
Xherb likes rotting smells and carefully sneaks around putting single bad fruit or occasional dead voles into barrels of fresh-picked produce every harvest time, just to make sure everyone else can enjoy them too.

Peppkrik wants to be a lighthouse keeper, but lives next to a mud pond in the fens. The dancing lights of Peppkrik's home in a large bush have caused many a full boot as people head off the path at night. It has been nearly a year since the reed-bed was last set on fire which is probably good going.

The only earth-creature to have actually been abducted by aliens, Hchorb the goblin, spent one hour on their ship, tried to eat their hyperdrive, turned a fart into neurotoxic plasma in their lab, and re-tuned all the corridor lights to magenta-cyan strobes. Hchorb is why the aliens do not return.

Tsmits the goblin grew up without other goblins in the cave of an owlbear, and wears a feather hat and a fur coat because it's just Correct that things are supposed to have feathers at one end and fur at the other. Tsmits is almost a brilliant tracker but makes Very Excited Owl Noises slightly too often upon seeing a quarry go by.

Flimminy lives on a mountain and pretends to be a goat. The lack of difference in attitude means few goatherds ever notice.

Very Goblin Svleck lives in a goblin village in the marshes and actually *is* a small goat. The lack of difference in attitude means few goblins ever notice.

B'blat is a goblin who wants to know how to turn sheep wool into snow. This has not been popular among the local sheep who wake up with chunks of fleece mysteriously missing.

Jlamk is a goblin general in the finest traditions of generalship: wearing Many Shiny Items, making Loud Shouty Noises, and Not Getting Near Actual Scary Fighting. Jlamk is very successful at all of these. Especially the last one.

The goblin called Oorasolb has ears long enough to trail on the ground, a problem resolved by tying them up into a large pointed hat. Most goblins now assume Oorasolb is a wizard, and that any protestations otherwise are sheer modesty.

Rvaich the goblin is an artist who sculpts in mud, straw, and horse dung. Rvaich leaves very kind gifts of modern art outside the doors of less artistically inclined humans in local villages, and assumes their rapid disappearance is because they have been sold so quickly.

Some goblins want goblinkind to rule the world. Proglik, who lives on a rock in the middle of the ocean inhabited only by seabirds, is unaware of the rest of the world and believes goblin rule has already been achieved. The gulls, certainly, seem to have been taught goblin ways very successfully.

Metterflup is confused by humans making themselves work so much, and steals people's work tools in the hope of giving them a hint that they ought to not do so sometimes.

Klab lives in a rockpool and likes eating sand, and quietly makes sure any food people take onto the beach gets a good seasoning of it as well.

Zrand maintains a ruined temple. Humans don't appreciate how much work refurbishing wall art in nouveau mud-and-rat-bones style is. Zrand carefully piles skulls, scatters straw, and places rusted spears that shine in the moonlight, in case someone visits.

And sometimes, in the old chantry, the goblin sings.

The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...