Dungeons & Dragons-style goblin

Goblinoids are a category of humanoid legendary creatures related to the goblin. The term originated in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game,[1] in which goblins and related creatures are a staple of random encounters. Goblinoids are typically barbaric foes of the various human and "demihuman" races. Even though goblinoids in modern fantasy fiction are derived from J. R. R. Tolkien's orcs, in his Middle-earth "orc" and "goblin" were names for the same race of creatures.

Occurrences in various fantasy worlds

  • In The Lord of the Rings, orcs and goblins are two names for the same creatures. There is no distinction based on size: the large Uruk-hai of Isengard are "goblin-soldiers of greater stature" (suspected by Treebeard to be goblins inter-bred with humans), just as the diminutive tracker that Sam and Frodo encounter in Mordor is an "orc"; indeed, Tolkien explicitly states in his published works that "goblin" is a translation of "orc" and demonstrates this too, as in the sword called Orcrist ("goblin-cleaver").
  • In Diablo the goblinoid races are known as fallen ones. They are noisy, travel in large packs and are very cowardly as they flee at the sight of their comrades death. There are many types of fallen through the game such as fallen ones, carvers, dark ones and devilkins. The sequel Diablo II also introduced new types, the warped ones and shamans. The shamans had special skill to revive lesser rank fallen ones, but not other shamans. This, plus their spellcasting, often makes shamans the first target for many players. There were also some unique fallen one types through the game series that only appeared once in the game.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the primary goblinoid races are (in order of increasing physical size and strength) goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. All three are adept at sneaking around, although hobgoblins are more concerned with fighting. Later rules expansions and editions include many other variants. In editions prior to the third, orcs were considered goblinoids as well, but are now considered significant enough to be in a category of their own. The 1st edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Set said "The Goblin Races include all creatures such as Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs and Hobgoblins. Some sages extend the definition to Ogres, Bugbears, and Half-orcs." The definition has, since the third edition, been considerably narrowed.
  • In the Warhammer Fantasy setting, they are collectively known as greenskins. This term encompasses an entire spectrum of widely varying creatures from the tiny Snotlings; through common goblins and the similar night goblins; forest goblins; and gnoblars, who serve the Ogre Kingdoms in the east; hobgoblins; up to the orcs of all types including the powerfully built Black orcs and the barbaric Savage Orcs. There are also many other goblinoid-breeds in the Warhammer World, like the Swamp Orcs and Marsh Goblins in the Marshes of Madness and Hill Goblins and Kobolds in the wildernesses of the Badlands.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 they are called orkoids, and include squigs, snotlings, "gretchin" (equivalent of Warhammer Fantasy goblins), and "orks".

Types in Dungeons & Dragons

Amitok: White-furred Arctic hobgoblins.

Bakemono: (Originally a shape-shifting obake from Japanese folklore.) Bakemonos are the "goblins" of the Shadowlands—small, powerfully muscled humanoids with the intelligence and the temperament of vicious attack dogs.

Bhuka: Good-aligned consummate survivors, with many physical adaptations to help them thrive in the deserts.

Blue: A subrace of goblins with an innate knack for psionics. Their bluish skin sets them apart from other goblins.

Bugbear: The biggest and strongest of the goblinoids, bugbears are more aggressive than their smaller relatives.

Dekanter Goblin: Dekanter goblins are vicious, cunning opponents with large, rhinolike horns.

Forestkith Goblin: Nocturnal hunters, also known as kith.

Goblin: The smallest, most common of the goblinoids.

Goblyn: Goblyns are created by curses, powerful evil magic items, and certain spells. The transformation causes them to forget their former lives, turn evil, and become slavishly devoted to their master.

Grodd Goblin: Offshoot goblins trapped in a demiplane who gained civilized ways and built a great city with the help of a dragon.

Hobgoblin: Larger, far more aggressive than goblins, they wage a perpetual war with other humanoids, particularly elves.

Koalinth: A marine species of hobgoblin, similar to the land dwelling one in many respects, but having gills and able to live in fresh or salt water.

Nilbog: A race of magical goblinoids that radiate a paradox aura, which can result in them getting healed by receiving damage and being damaged by healing spells. The name is "goblin" spelled backward, a reference to this reversal of effects. The exact connection between the nilbog and the llort, which shares its power to heal by receiving damage, is unknown.

Norker: Short, gruff goblinoids who possess a thick segmented hide and long canine teeth.

Snow Goblin: Shaggy humanoids with large throat sacs that they use to call to one another over long distances.

Thoul: A strange merging of a hobgoblin, a troll, and a ghoul.

Varag: Faster, considerably stronger, and more primitive than typical goblins, these have merely a predatory cunning. They often find work as mercenary scouts and raiders for hobgoblin warbands. They stand about seven feet tall when fighting, but typically move and run on all fours.

Vril: A race bred by drow to act as soldiers. They have violet skin with tiger stripes and can produce and are immune to sonic attacks.

Types in Games Workshop publications

Main article: Orc & Goblin
  • Warhammer Fantasy
    • Orc (Warhammer) covers all the larger including the primitive culturally Savage orcs and the powerful Black Orcs
    • Goblin (Warhammer) includes also the more primitive Forest Goblins of the Southlands and the subterranean Night Goblins.
    • Hobgoblin (Warhammer): come from the East where various tribes live under the overall "Hobgobla Khan"
    • Gnoblars come from the eastern Ogre Kingdoms, between goblins and snotlings in size but with darker/duller skin tone, large noses and drooping ears.
    • Snotlings are small and barely-intelligent versions of Goblins
  • Warhammer 40,000
  • Squig: shortened form of "squiggly beast" are related animals and covered under the same topic but not humanoid in appearance.

See also


  1. Weinstock, Jeffrey (2014). The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. ISBN 9781409425625. 

Further reading

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