Goblins are among the most uncivilized kinds of Norn. Unlike orcs, who are often erroneously grouped with other uncivilized monsters, goblins and their kin (referred to as goblinoids or goblinkind), do not follow the laws of other humanoid kinds. They are generally selfish and ignoble, and are more like sapient magpies than civilized creatures. While orcs are capable of creating powerful war bands and taking knightly vows in service to society, goblins follow no chiefs, obey no laws, and steal and destroy as often as possible. Though there are many recorded instances of goblins helping the people of Grandévere, these are short, isolated instances, often taking place in the span of a single day, and always greatly benefit the goblin, usually in the form of gold and jewels. Goblin music is dissonant and unpleasant to human ears, and it sounds much like a symphony of tortured cats. This has led to the belief that goblins like killing humans because their screams are literally music to their ears. All goblins hate sunlight, and almost always move under the cover of night.
Common Goblins are the most populous of the goblinkin. They are known to thrive in almost any environment and attack passersby indiscriminately. Packs of goblins sometimes raid villages to seek out gold and treasure, and, some goblin researchers postulate, simply to cause suffering. They breed rapidly, copulating as frequently as humans and producing offspring in large litters. A common goblin has sickly green skin the color of a rotting lemon and gives off a strong odor of old feces. A typical male is about three feet tall, but females stand nearly a foot taller and are built significantly thicker and wider. Though common goblins seem unable to organize their own society, they are easily dominated by other powers, such as the ancient Du’un Empire and by their hobgoblin kin. Many goblins love glimmering gold and towering flames more than anything else in the world.
Hobgoblins are the only goblin breed to display an inherent inclination towards civilization. Their social order is not based on respect or wisdom, but purely on their leader’s ability to dominate their kin. Hobgoblins tend to live in tall, craggy mountains and use caves to mask the size of their armies. Though hobgoblins are not exceptionally charismatic leaders, they have the capability to be remarkably intelligent tacticians. An outnumbered and overpowered Hobgoblin force nearly conquered the duchy of Santenne in Y684 through cunning strategy and use of terrain on the battlefield. A typical hobgoblin has skin the color and texture of burnt potato skins. Hobgoblin males and females have roughly similar builds, and it is difficult to tell the difference between the two at a glance.
Hobgoblins are a constant threat to civilization not because they lack social structure, but because their society is based on the destruction and domination of others’. An ambitious hobgoblin lusts for power and control in the same way her goblin cousins hunger for golden treasure. Hobgoblin armies are typically formed by recruiting other able-bodied hobgoblins, enslaving common goblins, and trading food and strong ale to the bugbears in exchange for their brute strength. More corrupt hobgoblins have made unholy contracts with fiendish forces in exchange for power and servants. The combined force of a hobgoblin army and the eruption of a Malebolge is enough to make an entire duchy quake in fear.
Bugbears are the largest, strongest, and least populous of the goblinkin. They are similar in size and stature to orcs but lack the orcs’ ambition and ability to organize. A typical group of bugbears numbers no more than three, with no clear leader. Most bugbears are unusually stealthy for their size and have a surprising intuition for simple machinery and are able to dissemble locks and traps with ease. Despite their intelligence, bugbears are often concerned only with finding food—any game will suffice, including humans and elves—and strong liquor. Bugbears often live in caves deep in the forest, but will ally themselves with their hobgoblin cousins if it means a large feast. They are not loyal, and will instantly desert their battalion if it looks like the chance of death outweighs the chance of food.
Bugbears are more resistant to sunlight than their smaller kin, but they still prefer to operate at night. Their thick fur gives their light-sensitive skin some cover when beneath the afternoon sun.