The lands across the ocean are full of countless flora and fauna, many of which have probably never been seen by man. It is obvious to any student of geography that the Homelands are but a very small corner of a much wider world.
While the Far Lands are comprised of many seperate continents with radically different environments, there is however one species that can be found practically everywhere. This rugged survivalist is known as the goblin.
Most goblins are usually green skinned and less than four feet tall, but they can display an incredible amount of physiological variation. Even within the same tribe or pack there can be startling differences between members. Some examples of this include: skin color, hair or lack thereof, eye color, size, and build. One goblin will be bald and lanky, and another will be pudgy with a mane of hair that runs down its back. One can only surmise that this remarkable variation helps them survive and adapt to so many different habitats.
Goblins are quite intelligent for animals. They possess the ability to create and use crude tools. Many can be found using sharp sticks or wearing primitive clothes such as a fur loincloth. Sharpened stone tools have also been observed. Packs of goblins usually nest in old burrows they have taken from other animals and expanded, or within natural forming caves and crevices. Competition for such caves can be fierce though, and goblins are often evicted by larger beasts.
The most incredible feature of the goblin however is their display of adaptive neoteny and paedogenesis. Such a trait is unheard of in such a complex organism. For while goblins are functionally adult and can breed, under some circumstances a goblin will enter a torpid state and emerge as a hobgoblin.
The triggers and reasons for this transformation are poorly understood. One common theory is that at some point in the distant past their ancestors came under intense pressure, and the ability to mature and breed quickly became necessary for their survival. Thus the later stages of their adult growth were sacrificed and rendered inert.
Yet, obviously it did survive in some form. When the conditions are right these dormant vestigial traits are activated and a goblin will transform in to a hobgoblin.
Hobgoblins are much taller than goblins and can even reach heights equal to that of average sized men, although they are more frequently shorter than this. They tend towards the thin and lanky builds found in many wild animals. Their features are also much sharper and menacing than that of normal goblins, but the most obvious difference is their horns. Hobgoblins began growing horns immediately after they transform. Again however, there can be quite of large amount of variation here. The protrusions can be curled, straight, or even branched like small antlers. Even the number can range anywhere from one to three.
Hobgoblins are much more aggressive and less fearful than goblins. They also display many signs of being incredibly territorial, and thus have difficulty being around other hobgoblins. Usually this results in an alpha hobgoblin driving out weaker and younger rivals, but this is not always the case. Several instances of hobgoblins working together have been recorded.
It should be noted that hobgoblins generally occur where goblins are thriving and healthy, and that their appearance usually results in a increase in goblin numbers and organization. This can allow goblins packs to expand and occupy new ranges, usually when a hobgoblin alpha drives out a rival and his followers. Thus, one can see the obvious survival advantages to goblin neoteny.
Packs of goblins rarely have more than dozen members, unless it includes a hobgoblin. Much larger groups of goblins can rally around a strong hobgoblin, and thrive under its control. This can lead to a situation where more hobgoblins start to emerge. If the new hobgoblins aren’t driven out than a large tribe can form.
Historical records indicate that when Mankind first arrived on the Western continent several large communities of goblins existed. Such settlements were generally comprised of up to two thousand goblins and perhaps a few hundred hobgoblins. Most commonly the occupants built long wooden buildings from felled trees and branches, and used complex stone tools. Samples still survive of such instruments, and of crude goblin pottery as well. Warfare among tribes was quite common and helped keep their rapidly expanding populations in control.
The existence of these goblin tribes severely limited the early colonies’ ability to expand, and thus the Goblin Wars began. Eventually through far superior technology and organization humanity managed to destroy all known examples of goblin super tribes. Yet, it is a testament to goblin adaptability that large numbers of them continue to live in human controlled lands, even if they have descended into a feral state.
It is unknown how these large super tribes originally developed, or how so many goblins managed to cooperate. No records of such things survive, and there have been no recent reports of similar events happening.
It is worth noting that the origins of the name hobgoblin do not in fact derive from the word for demon, or any similar word. The brave and stalwart first explorers named them so due to the fact that they were considered a more civilized form of goblin. The term hob actually is based on an old Imperial word for home, and was given to them because hobgoblins sometimes constructed primitive shelters for themselves. It was only later colonists who began attributing them demonic aspects, most likely due to clashes caused by competition over land.
Truly goblins are fascinating creatures, even if they are frequently overlooked because they are so common outside the Homelands. Their relative abundance however is undoubtedly due to the fact that they are such versatile and amazing survivors.
-Farstidiuous Der Lanmount, Royal Gervaien Surveyor.