Goblins were a race of small and numerous goblinoids common throughout Toril, often living in underground caverns near the surface known as lairs. The race was 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.[11]

Physical Description

Goblins were small goblinoids that many considered little more than a nuisance. They had flat faces, broad noses, pointed ears, and small, sharp fangs. Their foreheads sloped back, and their eyes varied in color from red to yellow. Their skin color ranged from yellow through any shade of orange to a deep red; usually, all members of the same tribe shared the same colored skin,[10] though they also came in shades of green.[12] Goblins were typically dressed in dark leathers soiled by poor hygiene and colored in a similar range of tones to their skin.[10] Goblins usually stood between 3'4" and 3'8" and weighed about 40 to 55 pounds on average.[13]

Goblins bred extremely rapidly compared with many other races, accounting for their large population.[14]


Goblins were an elusive and nimble race, which enabled them to slip away from danger more easily than most. In combat, goblins often used this advantage to sneak up on enemies and deal them a blow from hiding and then slip away before they could be retaliated against.[13] When they had superior numbers in battle, goblins would attempt to flank lone combatants.[15]


Goblins, like other goblinoids, had a commonly short temper. Leaders among the race often came to power through betrayal or aggression, rather than by more peaceful means, or as clerics of the goblin gods.[8] As such members of the race were more easily provoked than individuals of most other races and often took sadistic pleasure in exacting revenge once crossed. Goblins who turned away from evil often found it difficult to overcome this short fuse and had a sense of greed that made it difficult for them to act altruistically.[16] Those that did often made use of their ill-gained talents as rogues or fighters.[8]

Though goblins had a poor reputation overall, not all goblins were 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 seeking this path may have found it difficult to overcome their temper and greed, as well as the cultural influence of their brethren, but those who did often found it could be more rewarding, in the long run at least, to serve good rather than to serve evil.[16] Many goblins who left for a life among other races were females, driven away by the rigidly structured role they were expected to play. Other expatriated goblins would try to recreate the circumstances of their culture, preying on the weaknesses of others in non-goblin communities.[9]

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 was meaningless in their society. They favored ambushes, overwhelming odds, dirty tricks, and any other edge they could devise. Goblins preferred to fight battles where the odds were in their favor and often fled or surrendered when outmatched.[17]



Goblins were not known for being valued in their lives.

Goblin society was tribal by nature. Goblin leaders were generally the strongest, and sometimes the smartest, around. Goblins had little concept of privacy, living and sleeping in large common areas; only the leaders lived separately in their own private chambers. As such, goblin lairs were often stinking or soiled, though easily defended when under assault.[9] Many such lairs were layered with simple traps for such purposes.[17]

Young goblins were taught from an early age to rely only on themselves and that to survive, they needed to be aggressive and ruthless. To a goblin, it didn't seem logical to treat others as well or better than you would treat yourselves; rather, they believed in preemptively removing potential rivals before they could become a threat.[9] Because of the violent nature of goblin culture, it was 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.[8]

Goblin settlements were typically very densely populated and filled with young goblin children. This was in part because goblin females were expected to birth as many children as possible to sustain a population constantly driven down by violence. However, young goblins did not outnumber adults as their lives often were at least as dangerous as those of the adults.[9] The innermost chambers of goblin lairs were usually the most densely-populated and well-defended.[15]


A pair of goblins torturing a dwarf.

Male goblins, who were dominant in goblin society, sustained the community by raiding and stealing, sneaking into lairs, villages, and even towns by night to take what they could. If supplies got short enough, goblins would even resort to eating members of other races, including other goblinoids.[9] Some goblin tribes were not above waylaying travelers on the road or in forests and stripping them of their possessions.[18] Goblins sometimes captured slaves to perform hard labor in the tribe's lair or camp.[19]


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.[6] After the Spellplague however, the power of the Black Lord Bane grew and extended his power over Maglubiyet, making the goblin god one of his exarchs. Much of the rest of the goblinoid pantheon was destroyed.[20]


Goblins did not get along well with most other races and were particularly suspicious of other goblinoids. Goblins had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with orcs and half-orcs, who they'd worked with on occasion, but the only true allies of the goblin race was worgs, who often acted as mounts and fighting companions for goblins. Goblins had a particularly adverse relationship with both Tel-quessir and dwarves.[6]


Notable tribes



Card Games
Video games

Further Reading

External Links


  1. Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 165–166. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 133–134. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  4. Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 163. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  5. Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 137. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  7. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 135. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 136. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 134. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  11. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 135. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  12. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 278. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  14. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Bruce R. Cordell (September 2000). “Vs.: Goblins”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #275 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 106.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  18. Wizards RPG Team (2014). “Lost Mine of Phandelver”. Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3, 7. ISBN 0786965592.
  19. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Stonelands and the Goblin Marches”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), pp. 11, 13. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  20. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 180. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  21. Rick Swan (July 1990). Monstrous Compendium Kara-Tur Appendix. (TSR, Inc.), p. 6. ISBN 0-88038-851-X.
  22. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  23. James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 53. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  24. Sean K. Reynolds, Steve Miller (2000). Into the Dragon's Lair. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34. ISBN 0-7869-1634-6.
  25. Wizards RPG Team (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 182. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  26. Christopher Perkins, Will Doyle, Steve Winter (September 19, 2017). Tomb of Annihilation. Edited by Michele Carter, Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7869-6610-3.
  27. 27.0 27.1 James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Cormyrean Marshes”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  28. Christopher Perkins (November 2018). Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7869-6626-4.


BakemonoBatiriGrodd goblinNilbog
Miscellaneous Goblinoids
BugbearDekanter goblinHalf-goblinHobgoblinKoalinthVerdanWorghest
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