Yesterday we covered briefly some of the origins of the goblin and today let’s talk about how goblins have changed and been presented in modern times. JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” books were probably the biggest thing to happen to the fantasy world since the myths themselves were created. It was in these books that a wider audience found out about elves, hobbits, and of course goblins. Interestingly Tolkien uses goblin and orc almost synonymously. The two share some traits so it stood to reason that the two races were cousins of some sort. Goblins are referred to as ugly, twisted, evil, and all around not good house guests.
Tolkien did such a great job with his world that it became a sort of standard that people fall back on. Soon goblins were only known for being servants of evil, cruelty, and being cowardly. Those ideas made their way into Gary Gygax’s head and soon enough the goblins in his Dungeons and Dragons game followed Tolkien’s lead. Over the years though there were a few IPs that broke that mold and took goblins a few different directions.
One of my favorite take of goblins was done in the movie “The Labyrinth”. Just look at these guys.
This movie took goblins back to their roots as mischievous fey. They came in all different shapes and sizes, were not super eeeeevil like most goblins are depicted, and they could do musical numbers. What’s not to love?
Warhammer took the goblin tropes and cranked it up to 11. Warhammer goblins are vicious, sadistic, clever, and all together a bunch of evil bastards. Orks bully them around but goblins learned a long time ago how to use the orks to their advantage. Goblins also are very good at taking apart and putting things back together (with a greenskin flare) so most of the tech that orks use are goblin made.
The last big change to goblins that I know of would be Iron Kingdoms. Here goblins are a playable race known as gobbers.
These guys kind of took the place of the gnome/halfling in the Iron Kingdoms. They are smart and very adaptable. They are great at fixing the giant steam powered machines that are all over IK. Probably because they can crawl in and fix the problem without having to rip half of it apart first. These guys don’t have the eeeeevil stereotype that usually accompanies goblins and are accepted members of society…mostly.
So what are your favorite goblins? Share them in the comments below.