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Goblins are a race of small and numerous goblinoids common throughout Toril, often living in underground caverns near the surface known as lairs. The race is often, though not always, dominated by other goblinoids, most commonly hobgoblins. Goblins may have, in fact, been initially created by this related race to serve as scouts and infiltrators.
Goblins are small goblinoids that many consider little more than a nuisance. They have flat faces, broad noses, pointed ears, and small, sharp fangs. Their foreheads slope back, and their eyes vary in color from red to yellow. Their skin color ranges from yellow through any shade of orange to a deep red; usually all members of the same tribe share the same colored skin, though they also come in shades of green. Goblins are typically found in dark leathers soiled by poor hygiene and colored in a similar range of tones to their skin. Goblins usually stand between 3'4" and 3'8" and weigh about 40 to 55 pounds on average.
Goblins breed extremely rapidly compared with many other races, accounting for their large population.
Goblins are a nimble and elusive race, who are able to slip away from danger more easily than most. In combat, goblins often use this advantage to sneak up on enemies and deal them a blow from hiding and then slip away before they can be retaliated against. Goblins are also surprisingly charming, despite their monstrous appearance.
Goblins, like other goblinoids, have a commonly short temper. Leaders among the race often come to power through betrayal or aggression, rather than by more peaceful means, or as clerics of the goblin gods. As such members of the race are more easily provoked than individuals of most races and often take sadistic pleasure in exacting revenge once crossed. Goblins who turn away from evil often find it difficult to overcome this short fuse and have a sense of greed that makes it difficult for them to act altruistic. Those that do often make use of their ill-gained talents as rogues or fighters.
Though goblins have a poor reputation overall, not all goblins are dim-witted or evil. Some goblins have risen to become heroes, gaining enough renown to be accepted into the civilized world of other, more commonly good races. Those goblins who seek this path may find it difficult to overcome their temper and greed, as well as the cultural influence of their brethren, but those who do often find it can be more rewarding, in the long run at least, to serve good than to serve evil. Many goblins who leave for a life among other races are females, driven away by the rigidly structured role of motherhood they are expected to play. Other expatriate goblins will try to recreate the circumstances of their culture, preying on the weaknesses of others in non-goblin communities.
Being bullied by bigger, stronger creatures has taught goblins to exploit what few advantages they have: sheer numbers and malicious ingenuity. The concept of a fair fight is meaningless in their society. They favor ambushes, overwhelming odds, dirty tricks, and any other edge they can devise. Goblins prefer to fight battles where the odds are in their favor and often flee or surrender when outmatched.
Goblin society is tribal by nature. Goblin leaders are generally the strongest and sometimes the smartest around. Goblins have little concept of privacy, living and sleeping in large common areas; only the leaders live separately in their own private chambers. As such, goblin lairs are often stinking or soiled, though easily defended when under assault. Many such lairs are layered with simple traps for such purposes.
Young goblins are taught from an early age to rely only on themselves and that to survive, they must be aggressive and ruthless. To a goblin, it does not seem logical to treat others as well or better than you would treat yourselves; rather, they believe in preemptively removing with potential rivals before they can become a threat. Because of the violent nature of goblin culture it is not uncommon for goblins to come under the domination of individuals from a larger, more physically powerful culture, most typically larger goblinoids such as hobgoblins or bugbears.
Goblin settlements are typically very densely populated and filled with young goblin children. This is in part because goblin females are expected to birth as many children as possible to sustain a population constantly driven down by violence. However, young goblins do not outnumber adults because their lives are often at least as dangerous as those of adults.
Male goblins, who are dominant in goblin society, sustain the community by raiding and stealing, sneaking into lairs, villages, and even towns by night to take what they can. If supplies get short enough, goblins will even resort to eating members of other races, including other goblinoids. They are not above waylaying travelers on the road or in forests and stripping them of all possessions, including the clothes on their backs. Goblins sometimes capture slaves to perform hard labor in the tribes lair or camp.
Until the Spellplague, goblins primarily worshiped members of the goblin pantheon, such as Maglubiyet in particular, who inspired them with his feats of strength and treachery. After the Spellplague however, the power of the Black Lord Bane grew and then extended his power over Maglubiyet, making the goblin god one of his exarchs. Much of the rest of the goblinoid pantheon was destroyed.
Goblins do not get along well with most other races and are particularly suspicious of other goblinoids. Goblins have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with orcs and half-orcs, who they've worked with on occasion, but the only true allies of the goblin race are worgs, who often act as mounts and fighting companions for goblins. Goblins have a particularly adverse relationship with both Tel-quessir and dwarves.