The Hasturian Campaign
Goblins in the Hasturian Campaign
Goblins are small humanoids that live in mountainous regions, caves, and in underground complexes near natural resources or raiding sites. Goblins compete for some of the same areas as several other creatures, most notably dwarves and orcs. Goblins lack the physical size and strength of their natural enemies the dwarves and their fellow humanoids the orcs. They rely on tradition, diplomacy, and secrecy to protect themselves and ensure the survival of the goblin race.
Organization and Political Structure
Goblins live in tribes; large organized groups led by a chief. The primary role of the chief is to ensure the survival of the tribe. Most tribes also have a witch doctor or shaman who acts as a spiritual advisor and keeper of goblin traditions. Smaller tribes owe tribute to larger tribes. In return the smaller tribes can call on the larger ones in times of war (for an additional price, of course). The relationships between tribes change as their relative power changes, although most conflicts are settled without bloodshed. There have been “Goblin Kings” but there is no one currently with that title.
Goblin tradition calls for a tribe to divide into a main body containing all of the women, children, and tradesman and a war-camp of warriors, scavengers, and hunters. The main part of the tribe focuses on production, education of the young, mining, etc. The war-camp participates in raiding, hunting and looting. This focuses most of the attention and hostility of the outside world on the war-camp allowing the rest of the tribe to live in relative peace and secrecy. This tradition developed as a response to the goblins lack of physical size or superior numbers to protect themselves from other, larger beings competing for the same space. It is this tradition, born of necessity, which shapes much of the outside world’s opinion of the goblin.
Most tribes operate as a benevolent monarchy. The chief makes all decisions for the tribe; however, the shaman has the power to call for removal of the chief. All of the adults of the tribe, males and females, participate in the removal vote. This will result in the death or expulsion of either the chief or the shaman. In lieu of a tribal vote, the chief can call for a trial by combat or a trial by ordeal. Any vacancy for chief is chosen by the shaman after intensive rituals and spells, although the new chief is often the son of the former chief. A new shaman is chosen by Maglubyet as determined by rituals that vary from tribe to tribe.
Psychology and Alignment
The mind-set of the goblin is based upon their status in the world. They are hunted and hated by their ancestral enemies the dwarves, looked down upon by their fellow humanoids as lesser beings, and seen by men as cowardly minions of evil. Security and safety are very important to a goblin. Most goblins recognize that each of them must play their part for the tribe to survive. Most goblins also have a big chip on their shoulder.
Goblins can be of any alignment. Most goblins encountered, however, will be warriors from the war-camp. Warriors can buy their way out of war-camp duty, giving them a much better chance for survival. Riches are a way of getting security. Many of the goblins that are chosen as part of the war-camp are those goblins that are aggressive, cruel, and have little respect for the rights of non-goblins. The overall effect is that most goblins appear greedy and don’t respect the rights of non-goblins, hence they are evil. As goblins follow strict traditions and fight in organized groups they have also been described as lawful when acting in a group.
Tribes vary greatly on their approach to life. Most of the tribes encountered by adventurers will be aggressive. They will have little respect for the rights of non-goblins, participate in light raiding, and take human and demi-human slaves for labor or tribute (except for dwarves whom they kill or sacrifice to their gods). Some tribes engage in regular open warfare with non-goblins. There are some tribes that are generally peaceful, their war-camps functioning as protective outposts.
Goblin CultureGoblins are semi-nomadic, tribes settling in communities for several years at a time, but not building any permanent communities. Most believe that this is because the goblins are primitive savages unable to build permanent homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. To a goblin, such a community would only draw attention to the tribe, making it a target for raids and conquest. No one wants to live in most goblin villages other than a goblin. Therefore there is no interest in conquering a gobin village. For a goblin safety and security of the tribe is more important than comfort.
Goblins live a life based on community. Village life is based on protection of the females and children of the tribe. Females are not warriors but do have a role in goblin society, helping train the young, grow food, and maintain the village. They do have a voice in goblin society as they do have the ability to choose their own mates in most tribes.
Young goblins are raised together by the tribe. A goblin reaches full-size at 5 years of age. Traditionally when a goblin, male or female, reaches maturity their role in the tribe is assigned. The tribal shaman will divine the young goblin’s future, give it a name, and formally assign their role in the tribe. Goblins are named for physical characteristics, personality traits, or future actions. Most of the artisans are females, with the notable exception of cooks, wolf-herders, blacksmiths and miners.
Goblins are good miners, masons, and stoneworkers. They are very good at creating secret passages, doors and traps. Most of their skill goes unnoticed as goblins do not use it to build permanent structures. They also have a natural affinity for working with animals, especially wolves. They have been known to farm roots, tubers, molds, and fungus. Their metalworking is simple and functional. Some advanced tribes have created mechanical devices that rival dwarven creations, but this is rare.
Goblins in the war camp have a hard life. They have a high mortality rate and little contact with their families and females. However if a goblin actually survives to reach middle age (between 15 and 20 years old) they will return to the village as a hero. Many of them will become sub-chiefs, elders, and teachers. The remainder of their life will be spent in relative comfort training the young and charming the women.
Most goblin romantic relationships are short-lived, lasting only a breeding cycle or two at most. Goblin women can give birth at any time, but are assigned a particular period, or breeding cycle, to breed to ensure a constant supply of new members of the tribe. Goblins are not necessarily monogamous, males trying to have children in every birth cycle and females looking for the best candidate during their cycle. Some goblin couples stay together their entire life but they are rare and seen as unnatural by their tribe.