Goblins are a crafty, slight subterranean race, driven into the deep places of the world in eras long past by other races invading their homelands and defeating them in battle. Now the Goblins live brutish, violent lives in the deep places, struggling for survival against the terrors of the dark, and occasionally slipping away to the surface, to seek better lives among their historic enemies.
Goblins are physically slight, and have thin, downy hair on their heads. They have alarmingly large eyes due to their environment, and can see in the dark with great precision. The average goblin stands at 3 feet 5 inches, and weighs 50 lbs. Their eyes are large, and filled almost entirely with pupil. Their hair is usually white or pale yellow.
Culture & SocietyEdit
The Goblins live in the deep places, in the vast volcanic tunnels beneath the surface. In these scarce, dark places the Goblins form tight-knit tribes and communities where survival is a daily struggle, and there is no room for waste or rivalry. The males live in the outer cordon of warcamps and outposts, protecting the inner villages from the predation of hostile subterranean beasts, while the women and the young dwell in the inner lands, scraping a living from the stones, and crafting weapons, armor, food, and supplies for their beleaguered defenders. Goblin leadership tends to be split between the inner (female) and the outer (male) halves of each tribe, and traditionally only the greatest warriors of each generation are allowed to breed, producing new generations to fling their lives away in defense of the nest. Goblins are suicidally courageous, but fear sunlight more than death. Only the bravest and most determined of raiders will venture above ground to seek supplies, loot, or even allies on the surface-world. Goblin religion is simple, and practical. They have no concept of gods, an afterlife (the thought is horrifying to them, as life is grotesque enough without the added horror of being unable to die) or divinity. They do understand sacredness, however, and hold sacred the idea of continuation through transformation of the body into other forms. Thus, even the beasts which consume the Goblins are, in a way, sacred, because they are composed of Goblins, and even dirt can be sacred, because it may someday be a Goblin. However, taking the place of evil, hell, dark gods, etc in the Goblin religion are very real demons called “The Horned Ones,” depicted as terrible lanky figures with sharp protrusions jutting from their heads in artwork and myth. They are known to hunt and kill Goblins, but not as part of the natural cycle of death and rebirth, instead as part of something profane, terminal, and unnatural. Some are quite famous, and have elaborate mythos attached to them, with fanciful names like Sharphorror, Paindeath, Killsfast, Toothcutter, and Circlebreaker.
The Goblin religion is rather simple. They don't really worship anything, but they believe that the cycle of life, death, transfiguration and rebirth is something to be venerated and respected. The idea of gods are totally foreign to them. They do fear demons, monsters that devour them, but do not return them to the cycle. The most prominent of these are the "Horned Ones," which take their corpses away, never to be seen again, and cannot be hunted themselves.
Most of them have no concept of what would actually be required of them to live on the surface, they just want to get out of the underground, and they don't care if they ruin things on the surface for those already living there.
So on one hand, it's bigotry and an unwillingness to try and assimilate Goblins on the part of surfacers, but on the other hand, it's violence and an unwillingness to learn and cooperate on the part of the Goblins. A vicious cycle, doomed to continue in places where something doesn't break the circle, as in Galli.
Because they don't take to bright sunlight well, Goblins usually try to just do everything at night and sleep during the day. It works sometimes, but it creates weird situations where human travelers will drop by the village, thorpe, or camp or whatever, and find it seemingly abandoned, only for a bunch of goblins to come out of the woodwork when night falls.
Successful attempts by Goblins to live on the surface do happen, particularly in forested or mountainous regions, where they can go unnoticed and live in seclusion. However, the overpopulation issue still comes into play, and often they end up splintering off into nomadic groups looking for more space, bump into humans, and accidentally start a race war.
The Goblins have spent millennia struggling to survive in one of the most hostile, resource-scarce environments conceivable. Their diet largely consists of algae, roots, insects, and the flesh of beasts hideous beyond imagining. They have no particular aversion to cannibalism, and often ritually eat their own dead, both as celebration of their fallen comrades, and to take their nutrients back into the community. Because of this harsh diet, Goblins can digest truly foul substances and still glean nutrition from them. Famously, on the surface, they can actually sustain themselves largely off of the nutrient-rich earth of farmland, simply shoveling it into their mouths like a human would pottage. Goblins reach maturity within three years, but rarely live longer than 10, due to their extreme environment and malnutrition. Legends state that a Goblin with ample food and no threat of being devoured can live as long, or longer, than humans.