Goblin from 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual
 

A manuscript by the scribe Amdiel of Distal illuminating what was said at the Ranger Conclave of Distal, at the Summer Solstice, as he spoke to the new rangers, in the year 389 Takkaran Era, by the Ranger Lord Girk, of The Order of Colmar.

Our worst fears have been realized these past couple of years. The huge influx of southerners have proven to be undefendable in their villages and we have lost many trying since it is our duty to protect humanity wherever and whenever necessary. Village after village has been lost; the southern folk should have known this land was not secure. Our job remains the same though: to protect as we can those that need our protection.

We all know the power of the troll, and the warmaking ability of the hobgoblins, and the blind frenzy of the orcs. And many of you probably have a healthy disdain for the creature of which I shall speak. But know one thing; if anything in the wastelands and forests can come close to matching you in stealthcraft, it is it the lowly goblin.

The main body of goblins is of course no major threat. But just like most humans are not rangers, most goblins are not scouts or shamans. I will not concern myself with the main groups of goblins, or their villages or mating habits. I am here to speak of their scouts and the shamans that accompany them at times. We lose more rangers to them than any other threat believe it or not. For as I said, they can come close to our own skills in the wilderness.

Goblin scouts are just that: they range ahead of the warband guarding it and trying to locate the target of the warband. The scouts know how to move silently in the wastes, they know how to stay concealed using a variety of tricks such as their green and brown splotched cloaks, and they can not only track but also obscure their own tracks. These goblin scouts, better than most goblins, know themselves to be weak and not so bright compared to us and other races. So they try harder at the skills they do know how to do. Goblins will usually not fight in pitched battles like their larger kin: the hobgoblins. No, they prefer hit and run tactics. A small group of goblins will use terror and constant attack to wear down an opposing force. Arrows shot out of the trees and then they flee to find another firing point.

Goblins are also expert diggers and are just as at home underground as they are in the wastes. They don't mind being covered with dirt and debris for hours so they can spring forth and slay when the opportunity presents itself. They are adept at burrowing through the soft loamy soil found under the branches of the Westerhorn and Horal woords. They can burrow rapidly and silently and arise where one had no idea they could appear. And going into their own territory is far worse. For a cunning goblin chief will have his territory dotted with pitfalls, traps, and dangerous creatures the goblins will actually feed to keep in place.

But we rangers and even the dense soldiers of the southern folks have not much difficulty in battling these scouts when and where we clash. Goblins are not the most creative and it is usually easy to predict in a given instance what they will do. And most goblins will break and run when shown they have been outsmarted or if they see their comrades fall. It is for this reason perhaps that the majority of goblins are enslaved by others such as the orcs and hobgoblins. So once again we approach the reason we can be defeated by the goblin scouts at times: the shamans.

Goblin shamans worship the forces of evil and the forces of nature we would deem evil. They are usually the smartest of the goblins and the most cunning. They are the edge that gives the goblin scouts the ability to defeat our rangers at times. They use their spells to control the beasts of the woods, to hide their movement, and to even use animal skeletons for their eyes and ears. The Koveli as we learned to our sorrow use runes, well the goblins have nothing to match the Koveli but they have their sigils of power which they use to good effect at times. We are fortunate that these shamans reach their limitations early in the craft. They do though work closely at times with their scouts. They create things for their scouts to use against us. The latest trick was the sack full of angry hornets that had themselves been ensorceled in some fashion to be invisible. We all remember the gloomwing trick? The large moth whose wings bear patterns of madness. How the shamans control these creatures we still do not know. They have been known to use firetoads, boggles, stirges, belabra, others to devasting effect. They have also discovered a way to operate in the full daylight they detest so much. But we've only seen that once and have hopefully killed the shaman that discovered that.

We are most fortunate that the goblin shamans are not as powerful as the occasional ogre shaman in that they cannot summon demons or create undead other than their animal skeletons.

In dealing with all goblins one thing is important to remember: break their spirit and you have won. They shall, except under rare circumstances, try their best to flee.

 

Goblins live in small tribal communities, either in the dim forests or underground, when not in the employ or enslaved by others.
The strongest rule the weaker; kill the leader and the rest will surrender or flee.

A group of goblins will never attack a stronger group; if they do, best beware for something is not right.

Shamans are powerful forces in the goblin community: but they do not lead the group.

Goblins employ a staggering menagerie of creatures; most notable is their association with the intelligent and very dangerous worgs.

They are competent miners and are prized by hobgoblins, orcs, and others for their mining abilities.

Goblins are weak and not too bright; they know it and still manage to flourish in the wastelands against countless other evilkin. Best to remember that.

 
Goblin from 2nd edition Monstrous Manual