Ahhh, the raccoon of the TTRPG universe. These short pointy-eared mischief makers are one of the most iconic monsters in fantasy settings.
If you haven’t noticed from the title of this post, this week’s featured Monster of the Week is none other than our beloved Goblin (coming most often in green, yellow, and fleshy flavors). You might think comparing them to raccoons is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out… The Goblin is a small, pointy eared creature with fangs and an adorable face (depending on the artist that depicts them – don’t judge me!). They’re extremely nimble creatures and are quite capable of looting whatever they come across. They also breed in small warrens at an extremely quick rate. While they tend to be selfish and highly competitive, you rarely encounter goblins in groups less than two. Keep that in mind if you only SEE one. They also tend to scavenge at the fringes of human society. See… Like Raccoooooons!
The Life of A Goblin
Young goblins are taught to fend for themselves in preparation for emergency situations (Accch! Adventurers! Every Goblin For Themself!). And in prep for turning the ripe old age of 8, when they’re officially adults (oof. And I thought I felt bad BEFORE about moving back in with the parents at age 24).
While little, Goblins (or gobbos, or gobbs, or gerblins, or SQUUUUEEEEs (if you’re me)) aren’t helpless. They can plan elaborate strategies to trap and pillage their opponents like a giant horde of tiny pirates. Ambushing via the power of family and friendship (take that Little Ponies!) is the goblin way of life after all. Despite this talk of togetherness, it’s temporary and for the expediency of the moment. Traditionally, Goblins fall under the Neutral Evil alignment. You’d probably be kinda selfish and looking out for numero uno too, if you had to compete for scraps and always had big bad Hooo-Mans trying to slaughter you – just because you stole a few chickens, a cow, and that crying baby (seriously, that last one was like… a Favor. Those things scream too much and they poop EVERYWHERE).
Goblins are a bit ill-tempered, and if they think they’re in a position of strength they can be extremely aggressive – despite their average size being below 3’5”. The height of the Goblin species is a perceived weakness preyed upon by other monstrous denizens. They’re extremely prone to bullying and become prey or servants (or both) to many larger humanoids or intelligent creatures.
Like some of the previously discussed Monsters of the Week, Goblins are not the most social creatures when it comes to outsiders. Outsiders are most likely prey, because they’re weaker, or a threat, because they’re stronger. They seem to be in a grey area when it comes to other goblin-kind as well as their relationships with orcs. It probably depends on the benefits they receive (food, treasure, time to sleep), how they can take advantage of said benefits (nap time on a full-belly, yo), and their likelihood of becoming food themselves (Eat Stan! I’m stringy and that farm baby just puked on me!).
In short (*snort*), Goblins live not much differently than any large extended family. They scream when they have to share their space or belongings with all their siblings. Nobody showers because all the hot water got used up or their parents are just too tired to care. They do the least amount of chores in the least amount of time, and never without complaint. Their room is a mess because it was always someone else who left the dirty underwear on the floor (or dining room table, or couch, or TV. Who leaves dirty underwear on the TV?!?!?) And no – I don’t know this just because it was my life for 15 years. Anyway….
Not all Goblins are created equal…
We talked a lot about goblins in general. But not all are equal, unfortunately. Goblin leaders have a lot of privilege in goblin society. Unlike the common goblin, they get to have their own space, food, and the best treasure. They’re also more likely to survive by “attacking” from the most rear position. Which is unfortunate for all the meat-shiel.. Erm… beloved goblin brothers and sisters fighting on the front lines. It might seem odd, because the leaders are considered to be the strongest and most capable. But keep in mind – for Goblins power is about survival. You don’t survive long if you’re heading the charge.
Goblins are super common and a staple of many adventures. Should we tackle something more rare? Which strange creature should we deep dive into in an upcoming Monster of The Week? Let us know in the comments below!