Wikis > Races > Goblins
Terminology: correctly “goblins,” though the distinctions between status-castes and morphologies are complex and often culturally localised, hence a slew of nuanced descriptors and slang terms for each stage on the hierarchical continuum (e.g.: “scrawnies”, “avvos”, “nearhobs”). “Gob” is generally accepted (though often with poor grace) as a generic term for all castes except the very highest, for whom “Hob” is exclusively reserved. The term “greenskins”, or more often simply “greens”, tends towards pejorative usage by members of other races.

Population/Status: Goblins are the most common by far of Vermintown’s residents, constituting somewhere in the region of 75% of all citizens. With very few exceptions the civil and administrative processes of the city are overseen entirely by goblin personnel.

History: Unlike almost all the other glamoured races (with the possible exception of certain Brownie sects) goblins have been common visitors to, and lurkers beneath, Vastfolk cities as long as such metropolises have existed. But where previously goblins tended towards quasi-nomadic clanism (a natural byproduct of their unique biology and culture being the formation of small pyramid-units of a broadly feudal nature, which are extremely unlikely to cooperate), the discovery of Wardour Street Station (circa 1973) changed everything. In an historical act of cooperation and magic whose details are still subject to much speculation, a group of itinerant goblins founded Vermintown and aggressively encouraged settlement by others. The famed yet utterly mysterious glamour which caused the station to fade from Vastfolk memory was performed at this time.

Morphology: The defining element of goblin society is material possession. Relative wealth (or relative poverty) informs and regulates each goblin’s social circle, lifestyle, mode of dress, accent, vocabulary… and visual appearance. So linked are they to notions of ownership that they literally grow or shrink in accordance with how much they possess (or how much they owe). These changes can occur frighteningly fast: unexpected incidents of ruinous loss or sudden financial gain quite literally transforming specimens on the spot.

At the lowermost edge of the hierarchical scale are the “scrawnies” – ubiquitous in the city’s most decrepit areas; often homeless; often users of illegal substances – whose features tend towards the absurdly angular. With sharp and jutting ears, half-moon faces and beaklike noses they can be as small as half an inch tall even in full adulthood, and are marked by the extreme greenness of their skin. At the opposite end of the spectrum the most affluent Hobs (who form the city’s ruling class) are often more than twice as tall, with broad features, square jaws and a far lighter complexion. [It’s been speculated that goblins’ natural aspirations towards these visual properties have caused much of their cultural disdain towards ‘Chauns, Pics and the Fey, for whom pale skin and broad features are grotesquely inherent rather than rightly earned.]

Goblins are natural omnivores, preferring meat (often insect, rodent or scavved vastfolk leftovers) to vegetable or fungal food where available. Hence diet is another indicator of status.

Upon death goblin bodies swiftly liquefy into a grey/black slurry which dries and crumbles into a fine powder. Many elderly gobs, particularly the more affluent set, invest in bodily-preservation glamours to prevent this process. In contemporary Vermintown it’s seen as somewhat tawdry to be rendered into dust.

Culture and society: Traditionally regarded by other races as uncouth, quarrelsome and untrustworthy, many new arrivals to Vermintown are taken aback at the richly nuanced culture practiced by goblinkind’s middle-and-upward classes, plus the sheer scale of cooperation implied by the very fact of the city. Far from being the crude and nomadic thugs most “nongobs” anticipate, Vermintown’s goblin population has embraced aloofness, arrogance and affected heirs-and-graces with undeniable aplomb. Even the most brokendown of scrawnies, in his or her heart, is likely to regard the city as “theirs” when compared to even a second or third generation NonGob.

Immigrants present a natural paradox to the material-obsessed goblin psyche. On one level the species-wide sense of “ownership” of the city renders all newcomers unwelcome, inferior and grotesque. On another level the same possessive instinct obliges goblins to grudgingly accept the need for a lowermost run on the hierarchical ladder: they can’t justifiably feel the city is “theirs” unless measured in relation to those whose it isn’t. Immigrants are therefore dichotomously despised and cherished all at once.

Glamours: Goblins aren’t natural adepts at weaving glamours. Their magic (such as it is) revolves entirely around principals of ownership and acquisition. In theory the transactional act itself holds all the power, so simply paying another gob a huge amount of money should enable him or her to render the magical service you desire. In practice the only goblins with genuinely visible magical skills are the wealthiest of hobs (who rarely stoop to provide services to the riffraff). Most goblins are hence forced to trade charms and hexes with practitioners from other races, or to buy puissant drugs for a temporary “glamrush”.