Dungeons & Dragons

A look at the Goblins of 1982

I’ve often thought of goblins as these sorts of cowardly beasts abused by more powerful humanoids, but recently I came across an article by Roger E. Moore, “. . . but no least: The humanoids Goals and gods of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls,” that has begun to change my mind on the subject. Here goblins are noted as follows:

The goblins are the only humanoid race that seems to make any effort to get along with all the other humanoids. These beings emphasize the value of cooperation within their own race, avoiding the establishment of specialized tribal doctrines or cults, though they do maintain a firmly structured hierarchy in their government. Goblins regard humans and demi-humans as their worst enemies — dwarves and gnomes particularly so, because they tend to inhabit the same regions as goblins do — and are sometimes angered that the other humanoid races, who might better be aiding or abetting the goblins’ cause by battling humans and demi-humans, are instead so occupied with inter-tribal squabbling and power struggles. Goblins try not to portray themselves as a threat to other humanoids, so as to avoid direct confrontations with them. They are, at the least, generally successful in winning the grudging good will of kobolds and bugbears, and are tolerated by other races.”

Moore, 26

The goblin Moore presents us with isn’t the cowardly figure that so often pervades my thinking of the creature. They plot in a significant way. They scheme, build alliances, and are looking to take us out. They’re an enemy that should be respected because they will find a way to build armies with those around them.

That ability to build a team is something worth considering. As Moore would go on to note in the article goblins my respect authority figures but they see little need to kowtow to their leaders and “. . . are more likely to draw a line defining what their leaders may expect of them . . .” (Moore, 26).

Moore’s goblins are something to be respected and playing them as he has laid them out in this article makes them interesting again in a way that I haven’t thought about before. Too often I use them as comic relief, but Moore makes me want to use them as significant players in my games again.

That’s really cool.

Works Cited

Moore, Roger E. . . . but not least: The humanoids Goals and gods of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls. DRAGON Magazine #63. TSR, Inc. 1982. pg. 26

2 thoughts on “A look at the Goblins of 1982”

  1. That’s pretty interesting.
    I’m used to the Hobgoblins being the ones presented as organized and empire-building, but I have no idea when they picked up that trait – 4e and Pathfinder both lean in that direction, but I can’t remember any further back. And speaking of Paizo, I’m pretty sure their vision of Goblin, which is basically ‘Gremlins from the movie of the same name’, does seem to be the default (though again, not sure how far back that vision goes either).

    Liked by 1 person

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