Monday, 16 November 2020


Time for a brief Goblin Brainstorm

Ok, these are the off the top of my head Goblin Types that I came up with;

Goblin, Corn
Goblin, Egg
Goblin, Ghost
Goblin, Glass
Goblin, Gloom
Goblin, Grain
Goblin, Grass
Goblin, Mole
Goblin, Moon
Goblin, Trash

Not that bad for a starter list, ten is a decent number (wtf are there 'Grain Goblins' AND 'Corn Goblins'???)

Now I just need to think of ten different kinds of Goblins, that are all distinct, and not rubbish, and which all present interesting NON COMBAT challenges, and which all have ecologies etc etc.
Corn Goblins - Think I have already covered this but; these are inherent to Corn so if you grow anything tall that grows in rows and can be hidden in its likely that you will eventually have to deal with Corn Goblins of some kind. These are rather horrific creatures which wear masks of woven corn stalks. They steal hair, teeth, fingernails and, when those run out, bones. They can slip a bone out of you while you sleep, unzippng the skin and just eeeeasing the bone out. You might wake up just as they are wiggling the last bit of bone to free it like a foot coming out of a boot. But there will be a Corn Goblin sitting on your chest or head ready to smack you with a mallet or just suffocate you into unconsciousness.

Do you want your bits back? Then you have to go into the Corn Maze, a labyrinth of parallax stems deep in the fields. That's where the Palace of the Corn Goblins is and that is where they build their wicker men, using the hair of children to tie them up and their bones to strengthen them.

Egg Goblins - Could also be Ovum Goblins. Is there any way these are not just going to decay into some kind of batman villain obsessed with fucking EGGS?? No there is not.

Maybe they are born from eggs and never leave them, just sticking their hands and feet and heads out but running around in the giant egg body (if you smash the Egg they freak out and run away and try to become some other kind of goblin).

Live in nests? That they are associated with Eggs suggests some kind of Coocoo relationship. Perhaps the eggs are magic and bewitch people into caring for them and for the Goblin which hatches from them?

Batman villain rules suggest throwing gas eggs, blinding eggs, explosive eggs, magic eggs, egg eggs, ostrich eggs, caviar.

Goblins laying sticky piles of translucent insect-like eggs up in the corners of rafters, strung there with thread. You have to find the nest to.. well what? Is it legitimate to burn a nest of Goblin Eggs? That sounds pretty hardcore for GG&G.

I feel like there is absolutely something that could be done with Goblins using eggs as means of secret passage. Perhaps they can dimensionally warp eggs so the Goblin inside is bigger than the egg itself, so when it is time to come out, pop! a big goblin arm, then smash, a glaring goblin head, and out crunches a whole goblin in strong boots from an egg no bigger than a chickens..

Obviously they have to live in a giant fucking egg. Like an egg palace.

Maybe the magic of the Goblins is that they are total power over EGGS, like rubbish X-Men they can command Eggs in a variety of ways, use them as weapon delivery systems, stealth infiltration devices, human-capture pokeballs, the bigger the Egg the more power it has. And what do they want? MORE EGGS. Especially GOOSE EGGS. (If they Pokeball you you meet all the other people they have Pokemon'd and they can make you fight your friends).

They have crazed flintstone mobiles powered by generators which are just massive eggs spinning in a fulcrum.

The Egg Prison in the Palace of Eggs, can you crack its security? Or *beat* it? 

Ghost Goblins - Perhaps this doesn't need to be any more complex than it sounds. Are they they Ghosts *of* Goblins, or Ghosts acting like Goblins? I mean who knows.

Likely these are active at night or in dark places. They can fly around and ghost through walls, press their heads up against windows in the night. Hide in mirrors, shadows and under beds. Especially pretending to be moonlit dressing gowns or scratching mice.

Though spooky and creepy they are not very strong and can be vacuumed up, dispelled with sunlight, fluttered away with a strong wind, exorcised, scared by impersonating a monster even more scary than they are (Ghost Goblins are all cowards), trapped in bottles.

Ghost Goblins will always pretend to be the Ghosts of more important and tragic people, communicating through tapping and Ouija boards, though they cannot spell correctly. They really like scaring people, especially by freaking them out in the middle of the night and by standing on each others shoulders, putting on a hat and long cloak and standing in the corner of a dark and shadowy room just watching them.

The whole deal with Ghost Goblins is pretending to be some Slenderman/Blair Witch nightmare fuel but underneath the spectral masquerade they are just slimer. Though, still a ghost, which is pretty bad.
To get rid of ghost goblins string bells around their necks, it drives them mad and they fly away into the treetops moaning and ringing.

Glass Goblins - INVISIBLE! Plinking, sharp and cold invisible Goblins. Or at least transparent, which means mainly invisible. They can still get frosty, be covered with paint or lens light strangely, but in low light, if they are not moving around, or in the distance, they are going to be almost impossible to see. The wee scroungers!

Do these Glass Goblins even need a behavioural tic? One part of the horror may be actually smashing them. Imagine it screaming and splintering and coming apart, leaving sharp Goblin fragments all over the floor, each fragment having the image of a screaming glass goblin in it? Would the others try to pick it up? Would you try? Or just sweep it into a binbag and have done with it?

Glass Goblins can climb up and down glass but they go SKREEEE when doing so. They can also pass through glass as if it was a heavy waterfall.

Imagine seeing a Glass Goblin underwater in a pool and not knowing if it was real.

Gloom Goblins.. Is there any way I can make these something other than a Shadow Goblin? We've already had the "difficult-to-see" spot filled by the Glass Goblins.

An essential fuzzieness? As if they were covered with Velvet? An indistinctness. Goblins falling like leaves, creeping as slowly as long moonshadows. Bright direct light would be their enemy, they would hate to be caught in it. You would see that they have no eyes, no fingernails, no very distinct parts at all, like a Goblin upholstered in grey-black fuzz, as if it were trapped beneath a sheet.

Very silent creatures, almost impossible for them to make a sound, or to move quickly, they must creep everywhere, though they can streeeetch themselves out like shadows and move like stilt walkers in the gloom.

They would still need to get into your house, but perhaps they can become flat like shadows and slide under the door, but still in a Goblin shape, like Nosferatu against the wall.

However they change their shape they are still *actually there*, not truly two dimensional, jut very flat. Flat in a horrible way (though rolling them up in a rug or around a rolling pin can confound them


  1. Brilliant idea with the goblins popping out of actual eggs, very thematic
    Great means of dispensing with ghost goblins, good idea with how they try to impersonate important and tragic people. All of this was a very fun read.

    Here's a whack at the Grain Goblin:
    Goblin, Grain: They love to cook but they don't like anyone to see them do it and they don't like to share. Their presence is heralded by a small and incongruously located field of rich grain amidst the floor of the deep forest where little light shines, in a cavern in the mud next to an icy riverbend, or poking from the snow around a sudden turn in the windy crags. The grain is just a palisade; poke past it (it's perfectly preserved, the goblins will *know* you've been there and you'll know that too) and you'll see little sugar reeds, cinnamon, cocoa bushes, vanilla bean and apple trees. Grapevines on the boughs. A cornucopia in the shadows.

    That's not all. You smell things you may have only smelled outside the windowsills of inns or the confectioners of a forbidden lane.

    Poached pear. Pumpkin pies. Buttered carrots. Treacle tarts. Cream of mushroom soup with snails. Things a poor peasant child knows by smell if not all by taste. Your head spins with fantasy.

    This is not a trap; not exactly. Beyond the grain and the garnish there is an incomplete set of walls made from whatever's handy. Wooden stump-halves, oven-baked clay bricks, ice that's been stacked and packed. There are windows here and there but they aren't necessary because this little structure is anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 open to the outside world depending on how much wall there is. And inside the walls? Spice racks, built-in. Wicked knives and meat tenderizers. Baskets of fresh onions and tomatoes. Curtains of sausages from convenient trees. Little smokeless fires beneath iron plates where sliced and diced potatoes roast and curl. There in the dirt a flame; a little redbrick oven where golden bread fattens, and atop it in the heat a tin of burbling fudge.

    Moving among it all is a little goblin man in a white pillowcase smock, working hurriedly with a hooktoothed grimace. Despite the beauty of this food his eyes are totally without sympathy and he attacks his task like a bull terrier attacking a fence to get at you.

    Then you see. The hors d'oeuvres have been set out already on low tables beside the wall. Pilfered china plates with berry-drizzled cakes. Little crystal goblets from ten eras with chilled cream poured over peach slices. Cookies, biscuits, macarons. How hungry are you, little boy or girl? Do you take what your hands itch for?

    Suddenly, there are foodsteps behind you. Perhaps a sucking of teeth at the mess you made pushing through the grain. A conversation that stops.

    You see, these goblins have a society. It is hidden from the eyes of men, and especially from other types of goblins. It is reciprocal. This month, Zuko will cook for us. His desserts are second to none. Next month, Ûsbu. She filches spices far and wide. During the solstice, Spakmuz. At last.

    All of this is unknown to you. You see a goblin cooking furiously with rude implements and fine but mismatched tableware. Impromptu architecture and all-too-fresh produce. Much has been stolen.

    What do they do when they catch you?
    1: Oh, your eyes are as big as your head, little one. Let's see how big your stomach is. Open up. There's too much for us, far too much. Eat! NOW!
    2: YOU! Come here you little pork monkeys, I'd just run out of goose liver!
    3: A guest! And how did this krumkake get in her pockets? You shall repay us for your thievery! Get in the kitchen and whip up an appetizer, you awful child! Pick from the garden if you must but I'm watching you!
    4: By the Rite of Öla you have intruded and so you shall entertain us during the feast! You have eight minutes to prepare your entertainment! Begin!

    Goblin, Grass: Really loves the feasts

    1. This is too good. What do I do when comments are better than the blog? Its making me look bad!

    2. Thank you! But you have an inimitable style while you do this. Your work is extraordinarily evocative even as a rough draft (“An essential fuzzieness? As if they were covered with Velvet? An indistinctness. Goblins falling like leaves, creeping as slowly as long moonshadows”). It also has superb conceptual density, every piece of information in each entry is more or less an interesting description of a novel action in a novel context (“Though spooky and creepy they are not very strong and can be vacuumed up, dispelled with sunlight, fluttered away with a strong wind, exorcised, scared by impersonating a monster even more scary than they are (Ghost Goblins are all cowards), trapped in bottles.”). They are information-dense because of the images they conjure, which makes for a one-two punch of great reading and great utility. I remember reading a little Trilobite lecture related to DCO about how it’s all about the *right kind* of detail and that was a treasure. I liked my entries and I wanted to share them with you, but they aren’t quite as load-bearing in conceptual density and evocativeness (“These are rather horrific creatures which wear masks of woven corn stalks. They steal hair, teeth, fingernails and, when those run out, bones. They can slip a bone out of you while you sleep, unzippng the skin and just eeeeasing the bone out. You might wake up just as they are wiggling the last bit of bone to free it like a foot coming out of a boot.”). If you edit these later they should be quite powerful.

      I wanted to say that the Shinto in Cumbria thing took me to a world all of its own; I was briefly worried by what I perceived as a tonal shift away from that in the monsters, but then I thought, “He’s probably onto something I can’t even see yet.” When I looked at it from the perspective of a child I realized I’d been missing the point. The monsters have a feel that puts them in a different tradition than Miyazaki, and it’s developing in a direction that’s all of its own now, away from wistfulness into something livelier.

      The goblins I posted have been only partly related to trash, grass and grain; each of those things has really just been the means of introduction. I don’t want to be presumptuous but if you’d like to use any ideas from them please do so, and feel free to change whatever you like or put them wherever you think they’d fit.

  2. Moon goblins would exist on the moon, but be able to step out of its reflections in water or glass to harass people on earth. Yellow-white, perhaps a bit amorphous, obsessed with both stealing dreams or sanity in some way, leaving confused hallucinating people behind. Also spaying water or making more reflective surfaces so their fellows can come through. As more people go mad, dancing, giggling and talking gibberish, the moon stays high in the sky.

    It will only go down if tje goblins can be chased back.

    Thankfully, quite weak.and cowardly but become much less so as their numbers increase!

    1. This is also too good an idea

    2. You could also have adventures where you have to recover lost pieces of someone's mind by going to the moon where the goblins build a mad mismatched landscape out of stolen thoughts and dreams, or even have a few captive dreamers whose hallucinations spawn more goblins.

  3. Corn goblins could have been chiropodic in nature. Perhaps living between one's toes. Good enough reason to ensure children wash their feet, less the smelly nooks and crannies play host to small settlements. Perhaps a particularly ambitious corn goblin would look to colonise other warm, moist and dark places. Perhaps those places have their own kinds of goblin.

    I mean what really are piles in a magic pervasive reality?

    1. Toe goblins, flesh goblins, toes becoming goblins, foot goblins....

    2. Fungal infection goblins, head lice fairies, probiotic brownies...

  4. Aren't those things too?

    Goblincorn: it grown on your feet when you don't pay the due for your shoes.
    Goblinegg: it's yolk is an eye.
    Goblighost: the bad things that could have been but never were done.
    Goblinglass like a spyglass but spies on you.
    Goblingloom: those days.
    Goblingrain: if you sow it you will harvest troubles.
    Goblingrass: is the reason why nomads use stilt.
    Goblinmole: different from a normal mole, it won't eat your carrots, but make them poisonous.
    Goblinmoon: the moon only the ill fated one can see; cats know her position in night sky, but never stare at her.
    Goblintrash: treacerous garbage growing like yeast in those rooms nobody get in for a long time.

    1. Another good one, maybe you commenters are the true goblins

  5. I thought that grain goblins would live in stored grain and perhaps be based on grain spoilage organisms like mice, beetles, and fungi. They can grow or shrink to hide in any amount of grain, from a huge granary down to a handful, but most uses of the grain expel them from the grain to do mischief on the user. They break mills or eat up all the flour, they burst malting tuns and drink breweries dry, and they scatter poultry, Geese, and pigs if their home grain is used as feed. They are dark, snouted creatures with gnawing teeth and they shed a black dust that makes people sick, fearful, and angry if they eat it. They love damp and darkness, fearing sunlight and fire. How can you get them to leave the grain your community needs without setting them loose to break things and steal food?

    1. Didn't know malting tuns were a thing until now..

    2. Apparently it's not a common term, but I was unaware of that when I wrote the comment. As the setting is loosely based on rural England, a malt house might be more appropriate, with the goblins objecting to the kilning step because it dries out their lovely damp grain and involves a scary fire.

    3. Reading up on malt I found an interesting wrinkle. Malt in England was tightly controlled and taxed at the malting step. If the goblins destroy it after the tax has been assessed, what can the brewer do? She will lose her business unless someone can trick or persuade the goblins into leaving!Perhaps she will be forced by necessity to brew with the goblin malt anyway, and the goblin residue in the beer will start making adults paranoid about non-threats like peddlers, eccentric old ladies, and roving groups of kids.

  6. I had an idea at one point, to tie the whole "goblin > hobgoblin > bugbear" relationship to a Pokemon evolution-like system based on a pyramid scheme, like trying to sell knives. Something like that could work here, or maybe more like "if you give a mouse a cookie..."-type goblin, although I don't necessarily like the subtext of that, but it does seem goblin-y in ways I can't fully articulate off hand.

    1. This post has bred goblins of art in the comments in the same way

  7. I’m sorry Patrick but I was thinking about a couple more and I wanted to share them with you.

    Grass goblins are only the size of a finger but that won’t matter when you are too.

    As you walk across a grassy field, you will find yourself getting shorter with each step. Soon the dandelions will loom and the blades of grass will engulf you in rough tongues of fiber. The grass goblin tears are on your feet.

    The goblins want you as your friend. If you don’t grow again soon, you’ll become one of them.

    The only way to grow back is to get away from the grass. To get away from the ground. Normally that means climbing a tree or getting on top of a cottage. Don’t expect help; grass goblins don’t live near people. Once you touch that highest lacquered leaf atop the green tree or step up and lean on the apex of the windchilled weathervane, you’ll feel your hair standing up as the sun cascades around you. Soon you’ll feel the boughs bending or the weathervane creaking and its time to get your feet on something solid. You’re growing! Down below, dozens of tiny forms slink off into the shadows.

    The grass goblins want to start out on the right foot with you, so they won’t try and stop you climbing. But they choose their grassland carefully to make it difficult, not that they’re proud of that. You’ll see them pensively watching your progress from a distance. They may even *want* to help you climb. But they won’t. What they know is that they want more grass goblins to keep them company and help them chase insects. They forget the good things about being a person.

    They pick their terrain for its fauna, hoping to scare you back into the grass when you start to climb.
    -Bees! Be brave! They can only sting you!
    -Bears that love to rub their asses all over the tree where you might be climbing
    -Sloths. DON’T stop for a nap on their belly and fall asleep
    -You could make shoes out of caterpillars and then hold another two in your hands and use those to climb. You could even grab a moth but be careful because you don’t know where they’ll go, and they’re targets too.
    -Be careful if you have to climb up inside a mill. The machinery that could normally break your finger could be a lot worse when you’re the size of a finger.
    -Worst of all is the shrike, which impales its prey on spikes. You’ll see a thorn tree with lizards, mice and frogs impaled on it. You won’t want to climb that. But if the butcherbird catches you and you’re lucky, it’ll carry you high enough that you’ll start growing again. Then you can grab it and have shrike pie.

    Your dog will recognize you and want to help but they aren’t great climbers. Cats... you may be surprised by how ferociously a cat will protect you, even against hogs and foxes, but to have her feel like being touched AND going up a tree would be very lucky indeed.

    The good news is that once you start to grow, you’ll grow stronger for a while then too. Once you’ve become like an ant, you can keep the strength of an ant for a day. Use it wisely; you may be really flush with your victory and glorying in your strength, but all that happiness will go away if you hurt someone you don’t need to. People won’t see you as *you* if you do. Use it to do good and they’ll love you, even the ones you didn’t think could love; usually they love strength but don’t see enough of it.

    If you become a grass goblin, remember this: They choose their leaders based on who was bravest in their climb; who got closest to escaping without quite making it. That means TRY, and if they make you their leader then you can “lead” them to someone who can cure you.

    1. God damn caterpillar shoes for tiny climbers you son of a bitch

  8. Trash-goblins set up playhouses in abandoned places. To get anywhere you’ll have to figure out what role you’re supposed to be playing and act accordingly.
    You’re wandering in the wilderness and you find a great, abandoned sawmill. You notice there’s an elegant stone arch superimposed into the rustic log wall where a door once stood. Perhaps it mounts a black and white thespian mask, but more likely are dramatic gargoyle faces or an ogee arch. Beyond is a crooked hallway with a painted wall on one side (perhaps a landscape; a country lane outside of town) and a plasterboard wall on the other with little slits in it. Looking through the slits you see tiny, empty wooden bleachers. You walk on.

    You enter into an opening near a timber chute. There are chairs, lamps, rugs. It’s a parlor. Or busted carts, broken flags, cannonballs. It’s a battlefield.

    It doesn’t matter just where you are; there are players going about, and when they encounter each other, or they encounter you, the play resumes wherever they are. It’s improvised. But each knows his or her character and what they would do. And by the time they encounter you, they already know yours too. But no one will patiently explain.
    If you break character they will glower and hiss. The audience will gasp and tut, perhaps peppering you with grains through the viewing slit (they eat from little thimbles and mugs filled with grain, except for wheat goblins, who bring leftovers). No one will speak to you or help you in any way until you get in character. But creatures come to these plays from all over, and not just goblins. The players hear whispers from the seats, and they may be willing to discuss what you need to know... in character. Whatever you want will need to be filtered through the right context.

    Impress the audience, however, and you may be thronged by fawning fans once you exit stage left. One of them might have what you need.

    Different troupes do different things. Some do tragedies. Some do comedies. Some do romances, if you’ve ever wanted to smooch a goblin. Some do every genre.

    Some have elaborate purpose-built sets of total verisimilitude (on one side of the room) and the finest stolen furniture and costumery. Find your way backstage and you may find vast, mysterious places densely stacked with furniture and props of every stripe. You may also find gifts from the audience. You are not welcome here.
    Some are more plebeian and have a few approximations for props, and goblins in the goblin equivalent of streetclothes (these are the most common, hence "trash goblins"). Some do “Shakespeare in the Park”-style productions, and you may be walking in the woods when you’re greeted with a “Samuel! My love!” Or a “stand fast to receive the presence of the King!” without the warning of a set.
    Some troupes expect you to die if you lose a swordfight or are “poisoned.” These are considered lowbrow for wasting talent, but there’s plenty of audience.

    You may see goblins of every type in the stands, but trash goblins buy the season tickets.

    The stage may shift, and with it the costumes, and with them the dramatis personae. There is a schedule, but you’ll never be privy to it and it may not be explained to you.

    Someone who was your boyhood chum this morning might be a silver-tongued deceiver tonight, and a tyrannizing, unhinged despot come morning. This may be a trash goblin thespian, or it may be what they expect of another PC and you.

    You may find stage crew emerging to wordlessly push musty costumes into your arms as the actors hurriedly carry off the furniture and the backdrop is replaced through a crack in the wall. Your new role is non-negotiable but your characterization isn’t.

    Be warned, these sets are vast. They’re as vast as they need to be, and the trash goblins will excavate if they need to, physically or metaphysically. You may enter the attic of an abandoned cabin and find it laid out like a sleepy cafe, and through the crawlspace door a painted cobblestone alley with a plasterboard blinder-wall. Beyond, a great open stage.