Sunday, September 5, 2010


This is inspired by Sean Robson's treatment of Dwarves over at Tales from the Flaming Faggot (a cool blog without many followers, unfortunately--check it out if you haven't).

Goblins have also come a long way from the way they were originally depicted in folk tales.

Pointy hats, pointy boots, weird ugly little mischievous guys, but basically small ugly humans.

Then we had guys like this

Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King playing through your head now? Or maybe you're imagining Gandalf, Thorin, and company fighting the Great Goblin in the Misty Mountains.

This guy shows up and instills his iconic form in lots of young minds.

D&D, of course, drawing more on Tolkien in this instance than on fairy lore, made goblins non-magical ugly little humanoid threats.

And eventually we get the 'greenskin' goblins that seem to predominate these days.

Anyway, I think the next time I run a D&D campaign, I'm going to have two types of goblins. One will use the normal Tolkien-inspired stats we all know and love. The other will be a more traditional fairy tale type goblin, and will likely use the Elf stats, as they will be inherently magical beings.

The best of both worlds, these guys

AND these guys

All images copyright someone else, used without permission.


  1. Why don't you just mix the two? I mean, Tolkien's goblins were actually things to fear, especially for little Hobbits.

    Goblins live underground in the forest lands. They slip into homes and steal children from cradles. In the night you can see their glowing eyes peering out from the darkness of the forest. But they fear religious totems that can turn them back. Yeah, give them crap stats, but it's not difficult to re-inject that aura of the supernatural and that sense of fear and otherworldliness. Even use simple "weird" things like, "You notice the bodies of the goblins you've just slain have disappeared, like they never existed, leaving only slashed, empty clothing and broken weapons behind."

  2. Chello!

    Goblins are awesome. No, really!

    I like the dichotomy of the two types. The more fey ones are the original ones, the magical beings "with stats like elves" (as you mention) but a different set of mores and appearance. Maybe call these guys Goblyns or Unseelie.

    The little green nuisances of Tolkien (and thus, by extension D&D/AD&D) are "fallen" goblins, ct off from their brethren and on their own with only the occasional "witch doctor." Palladium does this as well with their idea of "Goblin cobblers," a throwback version of Goblin with their faerie powers that so up in some births.

    Note also in Dragonlance the fact that the Ogres were once the most beautiful and talented of races but fell afoul of the gods. Maybe something similar happened with Goblins.

    Keep the players guessing! :)