If there are elves there are goblin elves. If there are apes there may be goblin apes. If there is a house which should not be able to stand, whose shadow kills the grass and whose silhouette on the hillside makes people avert their gaze, this is a goblin house. Put enough of those together and you’ve goblinly goblinned yourself quite a goblin city, one filled with goblins. Goblin your eyes.
Goblins are neither genus nor species. They are a kind, a type, and anything can become goblin, or come to be a goblin. Their language is incredibly goblin, and goblin goblins use the word “goblin” for many other parts of speech (numbers, definite articles, pronouns) we might recognize, with the rest of their language sounding like burbles, chittering, angry growls, and sorrowful moans.
Some folk don’t start out the way you see them now. Trolls are blessed/cursed with a kind of semi-stable cancer. True vampires have sold their souls to one of the stars above, and lesser vampires have been made franchisees to that relationship. The soldiers of the Pigment Mafia are called “made men” because they have been made into wererats.
Goblinism is contagious. Humans can catch it. Orcs can catch it. Foxlings, foxes, and fields of foxglove can catch it. Mostly you catch goblinism by eating goblin food, which is to say, food that’s caught goblinism.
Let’s say you’ve got a goblin. They might’ve been a badgerling or a kobold or whatever, once upon a time, and you might be able to see some of that in their appearance, but they’re a goblin now, and you can definitely see that, too. Goblins need to eat, so this goblin throws some pomato seeds out where it looks like the soil might be good for growing and, goblins being goblins, fertilizes those seeds with their shit.
Well, that’s goblin shit, and if this keeps up then those pomatoes are going to grow up as goblin pomatoes. This is what a goblin fruit is, and why you shouldn’t eat one. It probably won’t hurt you, that first bite of that first goblin apple. Just about the only thing that has kept the world from descending into global goblinism already is that just one bite won’t do it. A goblin’s gut flora are goblin gut flora, no doubt, but your consumption of goblin food has to be consistent over time, or at least enormous. If thirty goblins die and their corpses are left to rot in the sun, then the coyotes which come slurking by will doubtless catch goblinism, and if that goblin pack is slain then a goblin vulture might soon take flight, but even adventurers who don’t know how to dispose of goblin corpses can rest assured that the danger has been, if not eliminated, then at least reduced.
If you keep eating goblin fruits, though, then somewhere along the line you’re going to catch it, and then comes the slow, dim road toward goblindom. It may be possible to hold the changes off for a time, but goblinism is a kind of black hole that will continue to pull you in forever and demand that you actively work to just stay where you are.
Most goblins are made, not born. Baby-snatching is a real problem in goblin-infested places.
It doesn’t take long. A few months of goblin food will do it. If you join them in in their songs, the process will hasten even further.
Goblins sometimes do it intentionally. They put you in a pit full of goblins. They feed you their horrible food (usually at least 5% goblin secretion by weight). They force you to play their horrible games, such as stomp-rat, piss-glug, and wrestle-worm.
And you’ll dwindle. First one inch, then another. You’ll be six inches shorter before you’re done. Your nose will lengthen and fresh rows of sharp teeth will grow in behind each other, like a shark’s. Your hair will flee from you.
Your eyes will yellow and become beady. Your skin becomes a sickly shade of green. And your mindset will become goblinish–rapacious, curious, hasty, loud, quiet. You will not be pleasant to be around, and the only people who will tolerate you will be goblins and other goblin-men.
Expect to see long-nosed goblin dogs skulking around Goblintown. They sneak into rooms and shit in your boots. They piss in any open container of drinkable water. Packs of them will bite open your packs, swallow valuables until they gag, and then run off with bellies of silver. And they never bark, only ever mustering a wheezing laugh or mad yowling.
There are goblin pigs, which are a bit like greenish, long-nosed pigs, except for their remarkable flexibility and their habit of shitting in their own mouths.
There are goblin bats who—to be perfectly honest—just shit on everything. They’ll follow you quietly until combat breaks out and then they’ll try to shit in your eyes (10% chance per bat per turn, blind until you wipe it out + disease chance).
And you’ll find all sorts of other goblin-animals in Goblintown. Goblin hippos lounge in the filth-fountains. Goblin geese will whack the shit out of your kneecaps. They’re all shitty, hairless (although not featherless), greasy, and slightly smaller than usual.
Goblin Thoughts and Goblin Dreams
Goblins fear pain but, very often, they do not fear death. They crave excitement and novelty, have poor impulse control, and lack patience. This is why goblins have a reputation for rickety devices and fiery explosions.
Do not mistake poor judgment for stupidity: Most goblins are as smart as you are. Some are smarter.
It wouldn’t be wholly accurate to say that goblins desire to spread goblinism, but they do get a kick out of it, and goblin animals have a tendency to shit their goblin shit around the same trees just a little more reliably than can be chalked up to mere habit.
Some good random generators for goblins
Because there are a lot, and it’d be convenient to have them in one place.
1d50 Goblin Warlords (names only)
Gobs and Hobs (items; plans; goblin’s mother)