The goblin is one of the most numerous humanoid creatures in the known world, outnumbered only by humans. It is believed that the goblin population was once even larger than it is today. However, their numbers decreased as the Empire settled more and more of the land, and as the Avernites drove evil creatures from the caves, and the remaining survivors were eventually forced to make smaller communities in the more sparsely populated areas of Ermarian.
Goblins are, according to legend, short, green-skinned creatures, which rarely reach five feet in height. Other accounts describe goblins as brown-skinned, resembling in color deeply tanned humans and giants. They have short sharp fangs and glowing red eyes, which are brilliantly suited to their subterranean homes. The creatures are also known to have incredibly tough nails, allowing them to burrow caves into soft ground and, according to some, even solid rock in the absence of proper tools.
The goblin is renowned for its stupidity and cowardice, and many are captured by other races to serve as slaves. Races known to take advantage of goblins in this way include the nephilim, nepharim and the giants. Goblins behave with the intelligence of human children, in example throwing rocks at invaders and laying flawed traps. They are also incapable of coherent conversation and, as indicated by various reports, communicate through a series of grunts and barks. Goblins are physically very weak and so cannot fight their captors, but do sometimes breed wolves and worgs as a defense.
Not all goblins fit the mould of being stupid and weak, and some grow up to become fighters, stronger than their peers and skilled with blades. Very few gain some grasp on minor magical cantrips, and become shamans. It is unclear where goblin shamans learn their magical skills, but it could well be a mixture of nature lore, imitation from mages and priests of other races, or from stolen magical texts (goblins are not literate as a rule). However, many inexperienced adventurers and travellers have sorely underestimated the power of these weak magic users and lived (or not) to regret it.
Goblins are arguably the least skilled craftsmen in the world. They do not build their own dwellings; preferring to settle in ruins already abandoned by others. They wear sub-standard leather armour and wield stone daggers. Some mages have been known to user captured goblins as labourers especially in Avernum or largely unsettled places, where workers are scarce. Goblins, unable to produce most goods for themselves, are notorious scavengers of equipment and valuables. The shamans of the tribes sometimes carry magical wands with them, and some tribal leaders even carry metal swords.
Society and culture
A point of interest are the religious views of goblins. While the goblins lack any semblance of originality in culture and industry, they have tribal customs and commonly revere their ancestors - a small goblin village near Fort Emergence is reported to have included both a shrine and a graveyard for respected leaders. Some goblin tribes build shrines to demons that they happen to live close to. Whether they do this of their own volition, or the demon achieves a degree of mind control over the weak creatures is not known.
See list of goblin names for further details.
Goblins like to find strong allies to protect them - these will usually employ them as menial laborers or meatshields. They have been reported to live in a kind of symbiotic relationship with Nephilim or human bandits. One example of these were based in the Fort Emergence area of Upper Avernum, where they were allied with the Cult of the Sacred Item, an Avernite cult dedicated to collecting magical artifacts.
Concerning the intelligence of goblins, it appears that they are nearly all illiterate, but a few of them are able to write after a fashion. The literacy of goblins is comparable to that of giants, and both can write crude signs that are decipherable with some effort. They use the same alphabet and language as humans, indicating perhaps that any language they might possess is imitated behaviour that is learned from humans that the goblins have encountered.
The following names appear to be of goblin origin: Akbug, Argav, Makdur, Griga, Corbakl, Glovd, Progl. It is not known to which sex each of the names belongs.