In this Friend or Foe Friday episode, Hannah and myself look at those grubby, green malcontents the goblins.Continue reading “Goblins”
I’m currently running an OSR game using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules, using the excellent Midderlands campaign setting created by Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design & Publishing (https://plus.google.com/+MonkeyblooddesignCoUk). In Lamentations there are three non-human race-classes available, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, that aren’t covered in great detail in the Midderlands books, but that I wanted to be available to my players in our game.
Please note: This article is not an attempt to create a definitive version of the various fantasy races for use in the Midderlands, it’s just how I’ve adapted them for my game (trying to keep the weird-fantasy vibe of the Midderlands in mind throughout).
The various races in my game use the standard rules out of LOTFP (or the Midderlands Campaign books when it comes to various types of Goblins), the details below are simply additional set-dressing/flavour.
The Dwarves are a strange people of living stone who dwell in the northern Highlands of Scrotland, organised into Clans with strict, regimented hierarchies. It is believed that when humans first arrived in the Havenlands that Dwarves were much more widespread and taught the first humans the ways of working metal and smithing. Strict minded and traditional in their ways, the Dwarves were first pleased with the progress humans made and then worried by their experimentation and chaotic nature, gradually withdrawing more and more from the world until now only the north has Dwarves in large numbers.
Dwarves are shorter and stockier than humans, tending towards muscular physiques. Each of them has skin that resembles stone in colour and texture more than flesh and eyes that are pupilless vary in colour from ruby red to emerald green. Dwarven blood is thick, red and slow flowing, it takes far longer than human blood to dry, eventually transforming into a red powder like ground brick.
When a Dwarf is slain their flesh retains it’s stony texture and does not rot like the flesh of some other races, however it does crumble away over time (or if subjected to enough force) revealing the iron-like bones beneath.
The few remaining Dwarfholds are situated in the Highlands of Scrotland, clustered around the mighty Mount Nevis and the Great Northern Forests. Other races most often seek out the Dwarves when they are attempting to have mighty weapons or enchanted items forged, since the Dwarves are reputed to have secret methods of working stone and forging metal that are unknown to the other races. Items of Dwarven craftmanship tend to be hard-wearing and last for hundreds of years, although they are seldom decorative or beautiful in appearance.
Dwarves are organised into a strict caste-system, their caste is chosen at birth based on their parentage, Clan affiliation and–most importantly to the Dwarves–by the metal or stonethat their skin resembled. The system is organised into three tiers:
- Nobles: Nobles are the rarest of castes, only a handful of them being born every few years, they are the most mentally agile and creative members of the Dwarven race and have skin resembling precious metals or rare stones such as gold, silver, palladium, marble, basalt and platinum.
See the following wikipedia article for further details on precious metals.
- Warriors: Warriors are the second most common caste, they have good tactical minds and make excellent soldiers but they generally lack creativity, preferring to relay on ancient, tried-and-proven tactics. Warriors have skin resembling ferrous metals and more commonly found stone such as wrought iron, granite, limestone and steel.
See the following wikipedia article for further details on ferrous metals.
- Workers: The most common of the castes, workers generally spend their life performing repetitive tasks and drudgery for the day-to-day operations of their Clan, workers are proficient at their particular tasks but lack creativity or even the tactical minds of warriors, making them dull companions unless you are discussing their area of speciality. Workers have skin resembling base metals and very common stone such as iron, soapstone and tin.
See the following wikipedia article for further details on base metals.
It is forbidden to act outside the boundaries of your caste system within Dwarven society, although occasionally a Dwarf is born to a lower caste but with unexpected curiosity or intellect. This often leads to them getting in trouble with the Thanes who rule their Clan, resulting in many of them being banished to the lowlands for their trouble. Most Dwarves encountered outside of the Highlands are banished Dwarves.
Relations with Others
The Dwarves have cordial relations with their neighbours, often trading with them for items that are not available in their mountain homes. However, the days of Dwarves teaching humans forging techniques have long past, and they now guard their secrets jealously. Dwarves and Elves are often wary of each other since Dwarves are mostly of a fixed mindset whereas Elves tend to be more adaptable or changeable.
Dwarves seldom get along well with Goblins due to their tendency to infest abandoned Dwarfholds, although they enjoy the genial company of Halflings.
A strange and secretive race with a fey-touched air to them, the Elves are widely believed to have originated in the green lands of Emeraude. It has become common parlance in the Havenlands to describe those who perceive sprites, boggarts and the like as having Emeraude eyes. Wise in the ways of the wild, the Elves most often remain secreted in the most ancient of woodlands around the Havenlands, using magic and misdirection to prevent their hidden hollows and homes from being discovered. Wherever Elves dwell there is always the smell of flowers and summer.
Although Elves appear superficially similar to the other races of the Havenlands, they are actually more like living plants. Elven skin is an extremely pliable form of bark resembling Silver Birch and their blood is a thick clear sap with a light foral aroma to it. Elves do not age and die naturally, but when an Elf is very old he may feel the pull of the great sleep upon him; once this happens the Elves conduct a great cermony and the subject falls into a peaceful sleep, gradually taking root in the ground and becoming a mighty tree.
In the chest of an Elf is a glowing green gemstone known colloquially as an Elfheart, this remains after their death and is reputed to be a great boon to any magics dealing with the natural world. Of course, attempting to harvest these gems is a surefire way to anger any Elves you encounter, making them an extremely dangerous ingredient for magical workings.
It is rumoured that the ancient Ents who guard the deepest forests of Havenlands were once Elves.
There are actually two species of Elves in the Havenlands, both are extremely rare, but the most common are known as Summer Elves, they embody the seasons of Summer and Spring, caring for the natural world and seeking to preserve it.
Rare are the Winter Elves who embody the dark times of winter when nature seeks to conserve it’s resources and survive the coming cold. Winter Elves have night black shine and hair as white as snow, often living underground they are selfish and cruel. The Elfhearts of Winter Elves resemble black onyx or clear diamonds.
Elves are most often found in hidden communities within the deepest forests of the Havenlands, protected by magic and illusions. However, some of the younger Elves have grown curious about the world outside their leafy borders and have ventured further afield, interacting with the younger races.
Found mostly in the forested regions of the Oldenwale (or Fada Siar in their own tongue), the Elves are organised into Clans delineated by shared family bloodlines and heritage. Elven Clans are rules by the eldest and wisest of their number, although their leaders recognise that their society benefits from allowing younger members of the race venturing into the wider world and bringing new knowledge to their Clan when they return home and settle down after a couple of hundred years or so.
Relations with Others
Although the Elves technically owe no allegiance to Lady Owain–ruler of Oldenwale–they generally maintain a cautious peace with the people of the Oldenwale (although this has not alway been the case). Most of the Oldenwale Clans know to give the most ancient woodlands a wide berth and this satisfies the Elves who have no wish to claim other areas, although occasionally their are skirmishes when Clans attempt to log areas sacred to the Elves.
There are various races of Small or Weefolk (derogatory) scattered around the Havenlands, no-one is quite sure where they came from or if they have any relationship to each other, but it is clear from ancient Goman writings that–when the Gomans arrived in the Havenlands–there were already various types of Smallfolk already living simple pastoral lives there. This has lead some to conclude that they are the original inhabitants of the Havenlands, although their impact on written history has been minor.
There is little similarity in the appearance of the various Smallfolk, but they fall into two broad categories, Halflings (or Hobbits as they call themselves) and Goblins. Although the actual strict definition of the two categories is somewhat up for debate, in general if a Smallfolk is human-shaped and of human-like colouration they are Halflings, whereas if they have more bestial features and greenish or unusual skin colouration they are known as Goblins.
Smallfolk can be found scattered all over the Havenlands, Halflings tend to live anywhere that humans are located, rubbing shoulders easily–and working alongside–their human neighbours, often bartering their talents at storyteller, brewing and making pipeweed to make a living. Goblins are more marginalised and tend to dwell on the outskirts of larger human societies, in the cracks of urban centres or in isolated wilderness.
Halflings prize comfort and stability above most things and therefore look to settle down in places that are well defended by larger folk, living simple lives, getting on with their neighbours and making whatever living they can, younger Halflings occasionally get an urge to go out and explore the world and have adventures. There is much frowning from their elders and betters when this occurs.
The various Goblin races do not have much in the way of culture and tend to only exist in small family groups.
Relations with Others
Halflings maintain genial relations with most of the other races common in the Havenlands, whereas Goblins tend to be regarded as either a pest to ignore or a menace to be wiped out (depending on numbers and relative strength).
Actual play video of our one-shot Changeling: the Lost game where a group of escapees from Arcadia go to extreme (and sometimes terminal) lengths to reclaim the lives that were stolen from them: