MToscan, one thing that most taxonomists can agree on...like so many of us on CF!...is that they often cannot agree on anything! At least, once you get down to the nitty gritty distinctions of Family on down the line.
Here's why. It is largely based on the individual scientist's own perceptions of what feature, genetic structure, behavioral attribute, etc. is the defining characteristic or trait. Taxonomy is traditionally based on the physical and anatomical features of a given organism, its genetic structure, embryological development (for animals), fossil evidence, and, sometimes, even behavioral traits. What I may see and analyze as most important you may not.
If you look at older books in the biological sciences, you will note how various organisms (for the sake of this post, let us just consider animals, and not plants, protists, bacteria, and fungi) have shifted around along taxonomic levels. Even names have changed. For instance, earlier books used the term Paranthropus while more modern volumes prefer the term Australopithecus to describe the first hominids (bipedal apes, to which humans are grouped). If memory serves, the panda (bear) has jumped around. Even some predatory dinosaurs, T rex included, have shifted as new evidence comes to light.
So, bear with me on this scientific 'rant.' Ultimately, each DM will have to determine which features and attributes are most telling to describe the overall relationships between and among your fantasy-based creatures. Obviously, there is no way we can use genetics. However, from the descriptions offered in each entry, as well as individual judgment, one can place creatures according to physical features, overt anatomical similarities, and perhaps, even behavior.
Let me use your humanoids as a reference point, and keep in mind, this is my personal (and scientific) perspective:
Based on the descriptions and write-ups alone from a variety of different sources (Monster Manual and other books, for example), I would place the goblin, bugbear, and hobgoblin along a similar taxonomic clade, or grouping, with orcs along another.
Perhaps humanoids share a similar Family: Goblinidae (or, if you prefer, Humanoidae, Parahominidae, Subhominidae, etc.), for instance, that would comprise ALL humanoids. OR, you could take the stance that this is an Order-based distinction.
The naming of individual species is often descriptive in nature. Rasgon's earlier posting offers great examples, but feel free to come up with your own, as it is your campaign world.
Taking my suggestion that bugbears, hobgoblins, and goblins are closely related, you could name them Ursus goblinus (or Goblinus ursus), Goblinus maximus, and Goblinus goblinus respectively.
Again, my apologies if this posting rambles on, but I must admit I find your query a fun, and scientifically thought-provoking, one, and an idea that intrigues me.
You could also consider using something like the origins of creatures, used in 3rd and 4th editions as part of the classification system; for example, fey, shadow, outer planar, inner planar, prime, etc...
Like Mick seemed to be suggesting (to me at least) in his original post, why follow a Linnean classification system. Sure, something like it, but something that suits a world like GH.
Also, for the ongoing discussion about goblins, don't forget that at least some sources list numerous other creatures as "goblinoids." In Legacies of the Suel Imperium we get mites, snyads and gremlines listed as minor goblinoids. I may be misremembering, but in 1e I thought that kobolds and maybe even orcs were considered goblinoids.
I've also been tracing the names of the various humanoid races as being Flan in origin. This appears to have been a later development, only reaching its current state in the LGG. Before tAB, as far as I've seen, none of the names were said to be Flan in origin, and in that work it was only Olve that was said to be Flan. Moore amended this in the Legacies of the Suel Imperium article, where derro is a corrupted form of the Flan name dwur-rohoi, "twisted dwarves," the name given by a Flan slave of the Suel to the creatures they called Thurgamazar. SK Reynolds remembered and used this in Scarlet Brotherhood, where his Suel glossary lists thurg - little and mazar - miner. So, I've been wondering why everyone would be using the Flan names for these creatures as a standard, and came up with the following; in most cases these names are also, or nearly so, the Suloise names for these creatures. Stick with me on this. In SB the names for goblin and hobgoblin are chebi and hochebi, which are pretty obviously loan words derived from the Flan jebli and hoch jebline. We know the Suel had Flan slaves during the Empire and that their name for Derro became more common than the Flan name, although we don't know for sure this happened during the imperial period. We also know that Suloise is a language of scholarship, so it makes sense that the Flanaess's version of Carl Linneus would have taken the Suloise names for the races when he was doing his thing, except then he figured out that they were actually Flan words and began using them instead of the Suloise loan words. Or, everybody just liked adopting Flan words for things. After all, the Oeridians did adopt the Flan name for the sun god. It's just a theory.
As Lanthorn said, different scholars will classify creatures differently depending on what criteria they think is most relevant. Carl Sargent included kobolds and orcs as goblinoids in Monster Mythology, though I think it's almost always been clear (since the 1e Monster Manual) that of that class, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears are the most closely related. That's why Lanthorn suggested that they might share a family with orcs but not a genus. I would tend to agree, though I could also see the argument that, say, goblinkind was corrupted from dwarves while orcs were corrupted elves, or vice versa. Kobolds are so anatomically different from goblins (they have tails, scales or scaly skin, and lay eggs) that they seem to be lumped together culturally rather than physically. I think the first AD&D source to consider kobolds to be explicitly reptiles was 2nd edition's Tales of the Lance. The Orcs of Thar Gazetteer had kobolds and gnolls share the genus Canis.
Roger Moore had jermlaines as engineered from gnomes by the Suel, though they're considered a kind of gremlin in some sources. Gremlins are sometimes referred to as goblinoids, though other sources have them as fey. Planes of Chaos says that gremlins are minor scavengers of the Abyss. I think gremlins in 4th edition were fey goblins transformed by fomorian sorcerers. In two sources (a Dragon article and WG7) they're migrants from 1940s Earth.
A wrinkle in using creature types as a basis is that these change, sometimes dramatically, between 3.0, 3.5, and fourth edition. But it's sensible to remember that many creatures originated on other planes of existence. Creatures from other planes might belong to separate taxonomical kingdoms. Again, not every source agrees on a creature's plane of origin. Are rakshasas from Acheron or the Prime? Are beholders from the Far Realm or the Abyss? Are achaierai from the Abyss or Acheron? Are grells from a parallel dimension or another planet? Scholars may disagree.
When Gygax used words like olve, jebli, and so on, it seems like he had every character use them regardless of educational background, so I'm skeptical about them being the language of scholarship. He's on record as saying they were just intended to be archaic Common. That said, they're confusing and annoying enough that I'm fine with banishing them to the realm of scientific nomenclature.
While this discussion is going on, it occurred to me that there's a great adventure idea lying right there in front of us...
A group of adventurers, perhaps hired out (or led by) a scholarly character (a wizard or priest makes most sense, but any character class is possible), whose purpose is to study, capture, kill/dissect, whatever...various species for classification and naming. I know that spell-casters, especially wizards, have a great interest in various animal/creature body parts (just check out the rather comprehensive list and the values listed in Spells and Magic). Any Guild of Wizards would be interested in such things.
Just thought I'd share this idea, as I don't have enough time or players on hand to make use of it. Tis a shame, cuz it sounds fun, with plenty of adventure hooks, possibilities, and a great way to get characters out into the field (outdoors adventures have become my favorite as of late) throughout the Flanaess.
All interesting info and thoughts, especially that Gygax had actually spoken about the usage.
I think the only place he opined on the subject was this Dragonsfoot thread, where after a lengthy and heated debate over whether the names are more likely Flan or Gnome, one of the moderators quoted him (apparently from personal correspondence). The quote doesn't actually say "archaic Common," but states that the words were supposed to reflect how names change over time.
If you take the view that the English words for the races are Common, then it's reasonable to assume that at some point the Flan (or Gnomish) words were archaic Common, if just as loan words, since obviously they are ancestors of the the current Common words.
I like that adventure idea, indeed. I can relate it to the Black Cult of Ahm in some ways. Or maybe some deranged Suel wizard that wants to reverse engineering some creations of his Imperial ancestors?
Besides I'll throw in two more chunks of food (for thought) on the plate: 1e rangers had a bonus in fighting giants, including "bugbears". I can consider the AC bonus of dwarves related to their height and ancestry, but a ranger probably owes his bonus to a more tactical knowledge of the subject?
Also the 1e "charm person" spell used to work not only on humans but on some "non human as we consider them today" species as well. That might mean something about their commong origin?
Personally, I never liked the ranger bonus against giant-classed foes, but your reasoning seems sound.
As for your second statement, it likewise seems logical, but I imagine the author of the spell used the fact that targets of the spell are, roughly, manlike in shape and size, and thus should be viable subjects. Note, though, that an ogre (Large size, yet still a humanoid) is NOT subject to a Charm Person spell.
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