(As with all of the forthcoming Species posts, these are mostly compilations of notes made over the last few years and are therefore mostly a gathering exercise, rather than anything final or definite)
INTRODUCTIONGoblins here are the 'little' species that has been variously portrayed as; hobbits, gnomes, halflings, goblins themselves, but also, gremlins, gretchin, snotlings, tengu, bogies, and etc. However, in the 'literature' goblins have always been portrayed as a low-level enemy, typically the first encounter with a player group is against goblins, who are not much of a threat unless in larger groups. They are typically malevolent, chaotic and mischievous. The altering of many of these classic tropes in the 90s saw Goblins become somewhat like the Ferengi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, comically greedy and more than a little annoying. Similarly in World of Warcraft, the Goblin's key attribute was their obsession with 'tinkering' and (as in Warhammer) for making things that go BOOM!
Rather then than unnecessarily splitting the 'good' little people from the 'bad' instead I want to depict a species that is not merely a cipher for our own guilt at the portrayal of actual little people (people of restricted height) in our media.
Goblins, like Orcs, are not 'monsters' meant only to be a (minor) challenge to the players, but are a species of the same depth and complexity as every other.
That said, I'm therefore combining a lot of the very human species signifiers that all the listed 'creatures' have been described by. So, my Goblins are; as homely as hobbits, as inquisitive as gnomes, as mischievous as the classic goblin, with a love of nature and technology (often at odds), and as capable as being a solitary intellectual recluse as they are a social reckless troublemaker.
Also in the back of my mind are stories of; little green men, wildmen of the woods, Homo habilis, and generally folk tales of fairy people from all over the world.
Why Goblins and not Halflings? (the D&D non-copyright infringing hobbit)? Well, I am not overly fond of Tolkien's description of his hobbits. Although, I suppose that goblins fulfill much the same function for myself as they do for him. For Tolkien, the hobbit represents something 'we' as modern people have lost in our world, that is, a practical connection with the earth, a decent truthful friendliness and playfulness. This manifests itself, for Tolkien, as West Country farming folk with the occasional academic hero (Bagginses). The olde England we've lost with progress (i.e. the evil of Saruman) and so the hobbits are peculiarly English (something even Peter Jackson can't lose) and Victorian. I have in mind a similar sort of metaphor for everything modern humanity tends to destroy without thinking; from the Amazon to Australian Aborigines, the Sami, the Picts, the Ainu, all the lost peoples of Earth. Their connection to the land is not magick but comes from a practical intuition, a natural people but not perfect either.
Disclaimer: (I will write in greater detail about this, possibly after I've also posted the species of 'Dwarves') The goblin is meant as a culturally complete (non-Eurocentric) alien race, something non-human and not an analogue for any actual or existing people or culture.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, in order of newest to oldest;
Shaggy green fur
Long lithe limbs, multi-jointed, with 4 articulated hands and one prehensile tail/tentacle with three 'nubs'
Barrel or sack like body/torso/central section
Large head, swivel neck that is long and retracting
Three central eyes, with the third eye being a literal magickal eye (hidden?)
Part ugly cute
Part Jerrawerra, the hairy man of the woods
Dense oily sweet-smelling fur
Stooped, bow-legged stance but fast and agile
Never wears clothing but wears accessories
Green fur, tail, 3 eyes, narrow mouth
Goblins are small hairy green people.
Rather, mostly green, a dark forest green compared to the lighter Orcish green, but some are instead red, some mottled.
They have a smell that while not distracting is distinctive, although it is true that Dwarves find the smell "annoying." A patchouli-like smell, or something floral, vegetable or herbal without being easy to place. To some, i.e. the Dwarf, they smell more like rotten vegetation.
Oily slick short fur that covers almost the entire body except for; face, hands/feet and midriff.
SPECIES DESCRIPTION, as before newest to oldest;
Magickal symbiotic creatures live inside them, moths in the fur like a sloth.
Society is built around trust of communication. Typically in the fantasy genre, talking (an excess of), as well as singing and laughing are all seen as child-like in relation to the dark and brooding silent masculine hero of the gritty new fantasy. Therefore this small 'weak' creature whose strength is in words, in articulating, in listening (sometimes), in dreaming, could be seen as a female-other.
Lies are not taboo or unknown, just pointless. "You can't lie to a Goblin, they just know."
Goblins as the arboreal freedom loving rhetoricians that define traditional 'cute' or 'small' species of fantasy literature; hobbits, wow goblins, dragonlance kender, various monkey-folk and so forth. Even the chaotic spirit of the gnome from d&d and wow.
They love technology, family, and mischief.
Goblins don't wear clothes.
Goblins avoid armour.
Goblins avoid physical contact.
As a species that base 'victory' on verbal dexterity rather than physical prowess, they are entirely sexually equal society.
Although they see sex as an enjoyable recreation, more so than most other species, they have no hang-ups about gender or orientation.
Goblins are agile; mentally, verbally and physically, even to the point that they tie themselves in knots, but they also love peace, quiet and a good feast.
Related to dwarves? No. All species should be unique.
Also, less like the Star Trek Ferengi; species specific character; greedy, selfish, short-sighted.
Arboreal ancestors, something mischievous and monkey-like.
A focus and love of rhetoric, persuasion, rule-making, but also freedom, with a love of heights and climbing, but a lack of concern about private property, they are group orientated.
Component: Communication (food)
Elements: Open, Curious, Playful
Goblins admire human endeavour but are jealous of Dwarven skill. They are cowed by the Elves reckless self-destruction, but are amused by the Orc's prideful rage.
Reproduction: Sexual, hermaphrodite species, although with 5 'grades' of gender but without male and female designation. Mostly 'male', mostly 'female', somewhat 'male', somewhat 'female', both. This is also something that can change of the course of the Goblin's life.
Slang name: Grease-monkeys, oil-bears
Some images that most closely resembles the image of the Goblin in my mind. The first are from an artist and puppeteer operating as 'Handsome Devil Puppets' and this was taken from her Instagram account. It is of a puppet of the West Virginian Mothman cryptid that was a work in progress, the final version is trimmed and appropriately mothlike with antennae and wings, but I especially liked the 'sloth-like' fur.