Goblins

Goblins are a race of small, underground living humanoids. While standing about as high as gnomes, they are much more gaunt in appearance and have very pale greenish skin and thin black hair. Goblins have small, flat noses and very large eyes, with which they can see in perfect darkness. While almost as intelligent as the humanoid races on the surface world, goblin society is much more primitive and lacks most technology.

Combat
Goblins are an underground race and very rarely leave the large cave systems they inhabit. While not harmful to them, they hate sunlight and are found in the open only at night when traveling on the surface. Being entirely at home in caves and being of small size, goblins are excellent climbers and often use that to their advantage when hunting or fighting off attackers. They are well accustomed to crawl through cracks only a foot wide and climb almost vertical shafts. Goblin ambushes can be set anywhere, swarming from hidden cracks in the walls and even the ceiling to get their target at total surprise. Whenever possible, they will chose the place for fights and even make their camps in places that have lots of small passages too small for most dangerous enemies. If a fight turns out badly, they will retreat and use hidden passages to prepare for counter attacks or simply wait for the enemy to move on before coming back out.

With few natural resources found underground, that are useful to the goblins, their equipment is to a great deal made of leather, bone, and chitin, but they have also learned to produce armor plates and short blades from hammered iron, which is a great deal inferior to anything gnomes are working with. Scouts and hunters are usually armed with daggers and short bows, while spears, clubs, and metal armor are restricted to warriors who guard the camps and villages, where tight confines are less of a problem.

Ecology
Goblins live in groups that can range from a few dozens to hundreds of individuals. The only limiting factor is the availability of food and other resources, which in the caves that goblins inhabit are usually scarce and hard to come by. Like all larger underground creatures, goblins live mostly on vermin and small fish that feed on the fungi, lichens, and algae. These subterranean plants require the heat from underground volcanic fissures instead of sunlight to grow, and often grow in such abundance that they form an oasis in the surrounding barren tunnels of the underground world. Goblin villages are usually found in such places and heavily fortified, while smaller communities are often temporary hunting camps, consisting only of about a dozen or so hunters.

With the exception of the Keyashei elves, goblins are the only humanoid race that is at home underground, so they usually don't face a lot of competition. The greatest threat are predatory beasts, but occasionally bands of grimlocks or driders make raids on goblin villages, which makes them constantly on guard against any intruders coming near their settlements.

History
Most of the surface races have only very limited contact with goblins. The only exception are gnomes, whose mines frequently encroach on goblin territory, which often leads to violent clashes than can end victorious for either side. Gnomes tell many stories of great wars against goblins in the past, but seeing the extend of goblin realms in the present day puts some serious doubts to the accuracy of such tales.

The only known goblin kingdom was destroyed by the Kayashei when they claimed its vast caverns for themselves and made it the location of their largest city. Many of the goblin slaves that serve in the city are descendants from captured survivors of that battle.

Society
Goblins live in settlements consisting of several families, which are a lot more like packs to other humanoid races. Each such family of up to two dozen goblins shares a common home with the strongest male being the leader. The head of the family usually has several wives, while the other male family members have none. Goblin children become adults at about 10 years of age, at which point they have to leave the family and find a new one that takes them in. Since male hunters bring the family the most wealth, families are eager to take in as many as they can, which on the other hand holds the risk of adding more rivals for the leadership of the group. While goblin society is dominated by males, the females of a family are usually all related to each other, while the males at the very most include some groups of two or three brothers. Which usually makes the oldest females quite influential inside the family and no family head can hold on to his position without their support. While it is in the females interest to have a strong leader for the family, it is rarely a problem to get rid of one who is more trouble than he is worth it.

Goblin villages are led by a chieftain, who usually is the head of the largest and wealthiest family. This family also usually includes most of the clans shamans, which are mostly female. In many respects, that makes the chieftains primary wife the most powerful person in the village, for as anyone can challenge and replace the current chieftain, she always retains her position as the highest ranking shaman.

Among adventurers and explorers, goblins are known as the only race that lives close to the surface and also makes frequent journeys down into the depth of the Underworld. Goblins are pretty much the only ones who know how to reach the Underworld and how to survive there. Any attempt to reach it usually starts with a search for a goblin village to recruit guides that can show the way and also provide a relatively save return to the surface.

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