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On the Goblins of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Posted on Mon, April 18, 2005 by Dongul
CruelSummerLord writes ""Many among us are indeed stupid; use that to your advantage. Fool the bigger and stronger races into underestimating you. Use this fact also to be rid of those who would replace you, or control them, whichever serves you better. It serves well to keeping our people in line, given the power they wield over you. Remember the power held by other goblins, as you must not only manipulate your own political power wisely, but also how other goblins use their own powers."-excerpted from Memoirs for the Kings of Goblinaragard, written by Juk’jorun’uglar I, conqueror and first king of Goblinaragard.

On the Goblins of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
By: CruelSummerLord
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Social mores and practices:

Goblins are small, scrawny little things about four feet tall, with orange-yellow skin, flat faces, pug noses, wide feet, bandy legs, pointed ears, yellow-red eyes, wide mouths, and sloping foreheads. Their arms dangle down to their knees even when standing upright, and they amble along in a clumsy manner, much akin to a drunken man. Their voices are high, screeching and stuttering. They are nasty little wretches with dispositions to match.

Jebli, as goblins are called in the old Flan tongue, are known for conducting nighttime raids on human and demi-human settlements, seeking food, plunder and slaves. They usually dwell underground, though they can adapt to any habitat, from plains to mountains. They are also adept at living in dungeons, crumbled monasteries, and other abandoned places in civilized lands, dwelling right under the noses of humans. Goblins hate direct sunlight and so prefer to avoid living spaces that have many windows or openings to the outside world, though they can adapt if necessary.

Like orcs, goblins can take over the castles, houses or forts of any group they overcome, although they rarely construct their own buildings, preferring to mine and adapt natural caverns to their own ends. They are decent miners and diggers, being able to adapt even the most cramped and dank holes to suit their needs. Goblins will dig out different caverns for kitchens, latrines, and other places if necessary, though all families usually live together in the same vast cavern. Only chiefs, slaves and kings are given their own separate caverns as quarters.

Goblin families usually consist of one male and one female, who do not formally marry as humans might. Any and all goblin imps (children) are raised by the whole community; female goblins usually give birth to half a dozen or more imps, and so the small families that humans and elves know are impractical. Females are not actively discriminated against as they are in orcish society, although they do little more than look after the young and supervise the tribal slaves. Surprisingly, goblin males are faithful to their mates, preferring only to fight over attractive human or elven female slaves. These combats are usually non-lethal, the loser suffering, at worst, a broken arm or leg, or the loss of an eye.

Goblins are organized into small tribes ruled by chieftains, who have essentially unlimited power over their subjects, such as it is. The chieftain is expected to lead his warriors in battle, deal with outsiders, and mediate disputes among goblins. He cannot be disobeyed by any goblins who value their hide, although if his people decide they have had enough of his rule, they will support a goblin who overthrows him.

The most powerful of goblin chieftains often take to calling themselves kings, given that they are the strongest out of any local tribe. Every other tribe is pledged to obey the king, and the king wields limited power over them all. The king’s orders must always be obeyed, although again if the goblin chiefs get tired of his rule, they will conspire among themselves to overthrow him.

Every goblin knows who is above and below him in the power structure, and chances are that he is trying to improve his position. This is not done through brute strength and ritual combat as it is with orcs or ogres; rather, goblins have strange, almost ritualized codes of behavior when it comes to obeying and dethroning leaders and kings. Kings and chiefs wield absolute power over their subjects, but if the subjects no longer feel bound to obey the ruler, they will conspire among themselves to depose and/or slay him, waiting for the right opportunity to do so even while they obey their leader. While goblins are generally regarded as stupid (and rightly so, most of them not being able to even count to ten) the nasty little creatures can possess tremendous cunning when intriguing in the middle of their own cultures and societies.

Goblin tribes get along very well with one another, with all tribes being able to work together quite well under the leadership of goblin kings. Goblins are quite ready to unify with one another to deal with a stronger enemy or launch a particularly daring raid, and also work well with kobolds. Bugbears are admired for their superior intelligence and leadership qualities, with even kings willing to submit to bugbear leadership if the larger creatures prove their ability. Goblins dislike orcs for the bullying; each race raids the other frequently, although they can cooperate when necessary. Ogres and gnolls are deeply hated, and no goblin will ever suffer one of these races to live. Hobgoblins are acceptable company, and giants are viewed with a neutral attitude; the goblins know the giants hate them, but there is really little a goblin can do to fight back.

Goblins hate humans, elves and halflings, but absolutely despise gnomes and dwarves. These races often clash with goblins for the mineral wealth of the mountains and hills, and goblins eagerly attack to take over the sturdy and beautiful halls of these races. The most famous example is Goblinaragard, a city that is almost a holy shrine to goblins (see below).

Goblins fully deserve their reputations for stupidity, especially in battle. Their approach to battle can be described as “every goblin for himself”, and many of their number typically die in any attack they make. The rapid reproductive rate of goblins makes up for this, although their preference for ambushes and sneak attacks to direct frontal assaults somewhat reduces their losses in battle. It should also be noted that, like orcs, some few goblins are very intelligent and cunning, fully able to exploit their reputations for stupidity to lull opponents into a false sense of security.


The history of goblins, were it to be written down (goblins pass their history on by word of mouth) consists of a long history of toil, strife, battle and recovery from loss. Particular emphasis is placed on the resilience of goblins, their abilities to recover from loss and often overcome what seems like overwhelming opposition through solidarity and cooperation. Goblins have lost many battles and wars over the centuries since before the Great Migrations, but they have always recovered and have defeated enemies ranging from orcs to fire giants through cooperation, unity and the leadership of those goblin kings uniquely gifted with charisma and intelligence.

A perfect example is the most storied saga in goblin history, the Goblinonocon, a surprisingly detailed story that details the creation of Goblinaragard, the legendary goblin city. This city in the Corusks is very real, and is a spiritual homeland for goblins across the Flanaess, many of whom at least try to visit it, although few succeed in making the trip.

Goblinaragard was once a dwarven hall overflowing with diamonds, rubies, gold and silver, blessed by the dwarven gods, a sacred homeland for the bearded race. No goblin, orc or giant could ever breach this place and cause it to fall, and the dwarves and their gods would dwell there forever in might and strength....

Or so they thought.

Goblin King Juk’jorun’uglar I unified well over fifty thousand goblins in the Corusks and led them to victory over the dwarves of the city. The most sacred temples of the dwarven gods were desecrated, the beautiful crafts of the dwarves destroyed. The goblin storytellers (who, amazingly, can recite the entire tale from memory) claim that Maglubiyet fought with Clanggedin Silverbeard that day, and won. They could very well be right; the dwarves were so utterly defeated that they degenerated into the wild barbarians that now inhabit the Corusks.

The city was converted to Goblinaragard, the grandest city of goblins in all the Flanaess, and perhaps the whole Oerth. King Juk’joren’uglar built it into a mighty city, constructing temples to Khurgorbaeyag and Maglubiyet the likes of which even most human gods would envy. The great ironworks and forges were established, turning the goblins into a fearsome military machine that subdued and enslaved hobgoblins, barbarians, gnolls, bugbears, and even great frost giants to work their mines and their forges.

The goblin king of Goblinaragard (said to have lived over two hundred years, or four times the normal lifespan of a goblin, by the grace of Maglubiyet) faced his last great challenge against the drow of Erelhei-Gwynne, who invaded them in the last years of Juk’joren’uglar’s reign. The foolishly arrogant drow assumed they could defeat the stupid goblins with a minimum of effort, and so attacked without a battle plan.

Juk’joren’uglar had the last laugh, however. He cleverly tricked the drow into believing his people were as stupid as the elves thought they were, and then dealt the drow a crushing, humiliating defeat. Juk’joren’uglar personally slew the thirteen drow priestesses leading the attack, and the drow were sent home in shame. The drow of our sister world Abeir-Toril have a saying: Doomed are those who believe they understand the workings of the drow. The defeat suffered by the drow of Erelhei-Gwynne led the drow of the Flanaess to come up with their own phrase:

Damned are those drow who let their own hubris get the better of them.

Famous goblin tribes:

-The Curse of the Weeping Goblin Queen: Dwell in the Spine Ridge south of Sunndi; command a chain of citadels that harass and raid both the humanoids of the Vast Swamp to the north and the Scarlet Brotherhood to the south; famous for being able to conjure devils to slay Scarlet Brotherhood monks based on the curse of a now-dead queen; famous for their berserk rages in battle, wherein they weep even as they fight, in memory of their dead queen; heraldry of a mourning goblin woman standing amid a pile of dead male goblins, crying out a scream of vengeance; ruled by Queen Descretalla XVIII.

-The Edge of Hell: Dwell in the wilderness of Nyrond, the County of Urnst, and the Flinty Hills; famous for suffering horrendous defeats in battle but always managing to recover from their losses; famous for using trained giant scorpions as cavalry in times of war; heraldry of goblins pushing dwarves into a burning crack in the oerth; ruled by King Ougobang Broken-Head.

-The Litany of Pain: Dwell in the Drachensgrabs in the Pomarj; are fanatically loyal to Despot Turrosh Mak; famous for the “music” they create from the screams of their torture victims; worship a wide variety of deities, including ‘goblinized’ versions of gods such as Hextor, Beltar, and Incabulos; heraldry of a scourge dripping blood that forms into designs that pass for goblin musical notation; ruled by King Uzgelleg Rock-breaker.

-Of Stench and Smell: Dwell in the Gnarley Forest between the city-states of Greyhawk and Dyvers; famous for their terrible hygiene and bodily odors, which they use to tactical advantage in battle; famous for their diets of garlic, cabbage, beer, bean stews, and pickled eggs; famous for using baths as a form of social punishment; heraldry of a veil of poison gas choking the life out of a phalanx of elven warriors; ruled by King Bashakaklud Bloog-breath.

-Run For the Night: Dwell in the south-western Yatil Mountains near Tusmit; constantly raid Tusmit, Ket, Perrenland and the other peoples of the Mountains; famous for their nighttime raids; worship Maglubiyet as the supreme, if not only, god; heraldry of humans and dwarves fleeing a citadel burning in the night sky; ruled by King Klarnold Stump-nails.

-Tentacles of the Kraken: Dwell in the caves on the western peninsulas south of the realm of the Snow Barbarians; worship a mighty kraken as their leader and a demigod servant of Khurgorbaeyag; famous for having copied the long and narrow ships of the barbarians and using them in similar fashion to raid the barbarians themselves; heraldry of a massive, demonic kraken swallowing cities, mountains and forests that are caught up in a terrible flood; ruled by King Tendullu-du Merrow-slayer.

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Re: On the Goblins of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation (Score: 1)
by Argon on Mon, April 18, 2005
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Once again not my personal view of goblins but very well detailed. Another good job on this submission CSL.

Re: On the Goblins of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation (Score: 1)
by chatdemon on Tue, April 19, 2005
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You make mention of Goblin tribes keeping slaves, but I don't see any explanation of what races they tend to enslave. Any ideas?

I'd suspect gnomes, halflings and kobolds, possibly xvarts as well. And other Goblins from rival tribes of course.

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