"The sun took us to deep valley...below the sea of clouds...
- The world looked small...We would take it and ate it all...
- Little ones came from Hills, Green of Skin and useful...
- They were too stringy to eat, so we put them to work..."
- —The Saga of the Ogres, as interpreted by Yohan the Honest (declared eaten)[1a]
Gnoblars are a distinct subspecies of mountain or hill-dwelling Goblins that inhabit the mountains, hills or shanty-towns of the Ogre Kingdoms and the lowlands of Gnoblar Country to its southern borders. They are similar to their Goblin cousins in many ways such as their cowardice, evil-minded nature, cunning, and their familiar appearance. Just like their Goblin cousins, they are also the "slave" force of the Ogre race, acting as servants, cannon fodder, ammunition or even food, however, Ogres tend to not eat Gnoblars for they think of them as too "stringy".[1a]
These highly unpleasant creatures are possessed of a malicious but limited cunning that entirely fails to make up for their lack of physical strength. Their gnarled bodies are topped with large, bulbous heads, and they have scrawny arms that end in wide and dexterous hands. Despite their slender frames, Gnoblars have a disproportionate amount of strength in their legs and backs, having been selectively bred for load-bearing by their masters' tendency to tread on those who fail to prove themselves useful.[1a]
The most remarkable feature of a Gnoblar is probably his nose, a massive protuberant lump that can smell an approaching predator before it has a chance to pounce. This is complemented by an acute pair of ears; large, triangular appendages that swivel independently at the slightest sound. A Gnoblar down on his luck will have them perked up expectantly, perhaps to make himself larger and more threatening. However, the Gnoblars found out a long time ago that the best way to make themselves look larger and more threatening is simply to stand between the legs of a well-fed Ogre.[1a]
Despite the fact there is very little meat on a Gnoblar, they are preyed upon by all and sundry. They are often enslaved by Chaos Dwarf raiders, of whom they are deathly afraid, and not without good reason. The most important step in Gnoblar evolution was the realisation that the Ogres dwelling in the Mountains of Mourn found them of more use as slaves than sustenance. Before long, a mass exodus of Gnoblars leaving their homelands in the foothills saw the Ogre Kingdoms infested, with shanty towns springing up in every available nook and cranny. Since that day, the Gnoblars have performed the menial tasks demanded of them by their Ogre masters, and in return, the Ogres ensure that only a comparatively small percentage of Gnoblars meet a grisly and unfortunate death.[1a]
When a Gnoblar is claimed by an Ogre, perhaps after offering a tankard of beer or a dead sibling to a prospective master at exactly the right time, that Gnoblar is then earmarked. This involves biting off a portion of the Gnoblar's ear so that the Ogre's distinctive bite-mark is left as a permanent sign of ownership - far quicker and simpler than branding. An earmarked Gnoblar is theoretically above the constant bickering and in-fighting that typifies this species. The fortunate few dress in cast-off pieces of clothing taken from the corpses of the Ogre's victims, and even accompany their masters to the field of battle, either at their side or in bickering mobs that pelt their enemies with anything sharp that they can lay their light-fingered hands on.[1a]
There is an old Ogre expression; "I wouldn't trust a Gnoblar save as far as I could throw him", which has its roots in the traditional Ogre practice of hurling a potential Gnoblar servant to check his worth. Varying quite dramatically in size, the larger Gnoblars tend to be independent, even rebellious at times, and they cannot be thrown nearly as far should the Ogre wish to participate in a Gnoblar-hurling contest. Small Gnoblars are prized not only because they tend to be more subservient, but also because they can be strapped to a stout branch and passed over the shoulder, scratching those hard-to-reach places with sharp, scrabbling claws. It is common for an Ogre to develop a twisted affection for a prized Gnoblar servant, boasting to his tribe-mates that his Gnoblar is a good little runner with a healthy green hide and a particularly droopy nose. Unfortunately, the more often a pet Gnoblar is around his master, the higher the chance he will be eaten or simply crushed by accident. Almost every Ogre has a Gnoblar to call his own, and they often echo the characteristics of their master - a Gnoblar belonging to a Tyrant will likely be a bullying little tyke with an ill-fitting helmet, whereas one belonging to a Leadbelcher might have soot-blackened features and a rag in each earhole. It is possible to tell a lot about an Ogre by the Gnoblars he keeps.[1a]
Although small in stature most Gnoblars have a spiteful, ugly streak a mile long. Most Gnoblars are twisted little cowards whose animal cunning is bent on keeping them alive in a world where everything preys upon them and their own brethren view them as a threat to their position. Many go out of their way to lure animals and even other humanoids near the Ogres camps where they can drag the injured away to kill slowly. When they do have something at their mercy, it's not very pleasant at all.[2a]
Ogres sometimes torture prisoners to work up an appetite, but their great strength, hunger or plain boredom can often end the torment early for their victims. Gnoblars torture living things not only for the fun of it, but because of the sense of power it gives them is highly addictive. It's so rare for a Gnoblar to have an intelligent being at their mercy (other Gnoblars don't count), they drag out the process for as long as possible, often feeling betrayed by the poor victim when they finally expire and cheat them of their sport. Gnoblar whelps often gang together to torture small mammals like bristlehogs and rats, and occasionally even the smallest of their group if they think they can get away with it. The majority of Gnoblar 'sports' are simply ritualised methods of chasing, tormenting and torturing other creatures.[2a]
Gnoblar society and status is a complex, many-layered thing that changes constantly. There are two measures of a Gnoblar's status - physical appearance, and his place within society. As with their masters, the larger Gnoblars tend to rise to the top of the heap. Overall size, however, is seen as secondary to ear (and to a lesser extent, nose) size. Just as in some societies a long beard or old age is seen to signify wisdom, in Gnoblar society large floppy ears and a huge nose are seen to signify authority and importance.[2a]
A Gnoblar with large ears and nose will feel superior to all those around him and will naturally try and take charge at every opportunity. This can lead to endless bickering, as most Gnoblars have an over-inflated view of the size of their own ears. The biggest, meanest Gnoblars are not always those with the largest ears and noses, but however large and tough a Gnoblar is he will always feel inadequate and lacking in authority if his ears aren't particularly big. Some even go mad with paranoia thinking everyone is snickering about their small ears behind their back (which, of course, they are).[2a]
Ear and nose size is also the subject of great competition between all Gnoblars, with even the lowliest scum carefully memorising the relative sizes of everyone in their neighbourhood and having nothing but contempt for those who compare unfavourably with him. As with everything else, Gnoblars try to cheat with ear and nose size and no end of dubious schemes are hatched to stretch, grow or even fake them. This usually results in injury and ridicule, but occasionally something works and the lucky Gnoblar shoots up the social ladder. Some may even be bold or stupid enough to beg their tribe's Butcher for help. This is unwise, as though the Butchers often stick to their word and find ways of making the nose and ears swell, the Gnoblar concerned is very lucky if they live to regret it.[2a]
- House-Baiting - The grand Gnoblar tradition of house-baiting was supposed to have been started by Oders Cleanfinger who, after being beaten senseless by the three biggest Gnoblars in his shantytown, managed to trick his oppressors into thinking the tyrant would let Gnoblars as distinguished as they put their hovels up next to his yurt. Not wasting any time. Oders ratted on them - the Tyrant is said to have thrown the squashed remains of the offending tents and Gnoblars over a hundred feet, clean out of the camp. Later that day, the story goes, Oders was captured and literally eaten alive by his cousins, who thought his warm brain would bestow great cunning on all who ate it. Even to this day, scrap merchants try and sell shrivelled up bits of badger or weasel brain as the remains of the great Cleanfinger.[2b]
- Runtsprint - One of the more cruel Gnoblar sports is Runtsprint. It was originated by Ogres when Gnoblars first joined their camps and is now a firm favourite with Gnoblars and Ogres alike. Runtsprint is usually a game where someone runs around a specific track, and sometimes even within the maw-pit itself. The only real requirements for a runtsprint track are that there are plenty of spectators there to watch at once without having to move around, and that there are lots of dangerous obstacles. Originally the Ogres would round up the injured or weak Gnoblars and throw them on the track. All but the winner will be eaten so, with nothing to lose, the unfortunates are forced to run over dangerous obstacles as fast as they can. These days, the Gnoblars hunt their own injured down for the games.[2d]
- Gnoblar Bowl - Gnoblar Bowl is a regular event on feast days and its place in both Ogre and Gnoblar culture is a testament to the relationship between the two races. It roots lie in a traditional Ogre children's game called runt baiting. Young Ogres who are feeling bored sometimes amuse themselves by throwing bits of worn-out clothes and worthless coins in the middle of a pack of slaves of lesser species. This works particularly well with Gnoblars, and a violent brawl quickly ensues as they all pile on trying to bite and kick their way to the treasures and carry off the best. No adult Ogre ever really grows out of enjoying runt baiting and this innocent childhood game has grown in a very popular sport. Gnoblar Bowl is normally held on feast days and requires some kind of pit or arena. Somewhere between ten and forty Gnoblar volunteers wait eagerly at the edges of the gaming ground while Ogres arrive full and content from the feast and scat themselves with a drink around the arena. When the go ahead is given (usually by a Tyrant, Bruiser or one of the Ironguts) some shiny and vaguely valuable items are thrown into the arena, and the Gnoblars leap in after them. Any item a Gnoblar can drag or carry to the edge of the area they get to keep, including bits of injured opponents. Betting on who will come away with what (or who will even survive) is popular and most Bulls will be bellowing drunkenly at someone they've bet on or against. Threats (such as "get the broken helmet you short-nosed piece of fangweasel dung..." or smash your parts to jelly, if you don't let Ripsturt have the helmet" or even "Ripsturt, drop dead now or ill squash you myself, I have money on you dead" are all common calls) and obscene chants or songs are popular, however it is considered bad sportsmanship for an Ogre to physically intervene. Throwing bits of food or even Gnoblars into the area is usually tolerated, but sometimes a particularly drunk or angry Bull will stagger into the area and discipline a Gnoblar that has lost them money. This is fairly rare though, because as well as committing a social blunder, an Ogre that interferes with a game of Gnoblar Bowl is likely to upset the bets of other Ogres, and Ogres are notoriously direct at expressing their displeasure. Gnoblar Bowl is also highly popular with Gnoblars. A large percentage of the population will beg, steal or even work to get permission to watch. Its popularity is even starting to eclipse more traditional sports like nose ripping.[2e]
- Pig-Jousting - One of the most bizarre and chaotic games, pig jousting is a common and confusing sight in most camps. Groups of screaming Gnoblars charge around on squealing pigs. tussling with each other as they pass. and often continuing to run around screaming after they are unseated. However, among the more organised Gnoblar tribes a more advanced version has emerged, which Ogres sometimes watch. In this variation (which undoubtedly gave pig jousting its name), two Gnoblars face each other across a cleared pit, sat atop their pigs, dressed in as much protection as they can muster and armed with long pointy sticks. When the order to charge is given they both charge forward and try and unseat their opponents. These imitations of human knights rapidly descend into chaos as the pigs run about wildly, the Gnoblars lose their poles. impatient 'knights' charge in to join battle early and angry Ogres start throwing anything that comes to hand at the useless competitors.[2g]
When not in the service of their tyrannical Ogre overlords, the Gnoblars of many shanty-towns within the Ogre Kingdoms or Gnoblar Country often band together into large hordes, capable of fending off the occasional monster or small hunter band which might seek to hunt in their territory. Despite their insignificant size and intelligence, when brought up for battle, they are capable of doing considerable damage.
- Gnoblar Fighters - Gnoblar Fighters are the bigger Gnoblars in a tribe, and form bands in order to try and steal shiny things during battles. The larger members of Gnoblar society have a tendency towards independence.
- Gnoblar Trappers - Gnoblar Trappers are intrepid Gnoblars that delight in catching and torturing small animals and follow Ogre Hunters to battle.
- Gnoblar Lucky Gits - Those Gnoblars even luckier than other Luck-Gnoblars are known as Lucky Gits.
- Gnoblar Flingers - Gnoblars equipped with long-range weaponry such as slings or bows.
- Boglars - Boglars, also known as Marsh-Gnoblars or Swamp Goblins, are a breed of Gnoblars that live in marshes, bogs and swamps.
- Gnoblar Manbiters - Being the biggest and baddest of their kind, Manbiters aspire to become better than other Gnoblars and this has led many Manbiters to embark upon wild, irrational expeditions across the continent.
- Blood-Gnoblar - Blood-Gnoblar are the greatest trappers in their tribes, and as their name suggests, they paint themselves with blood to mark their expertise.
- Gnoblar Pigback Riders - Gnoblar Pigback Riders are an odd formation of Gnoblar warriors which ride to battle on top of other Gnoblars.
- Scraplauncher - The Scraplauncher is an impressive war machine. It is a large and unconventionally built catapult pulled along by an enormous woolly beast.
- Gnoblar Head Honcho - Gnoblar Head Honcho is the biggest and strongest of the Gnoblars and act almost exactly like an Ogre Tyrant.
- Gnoblar Honcho - Honchos are the officers and enforcers of a Head Honcho's regime.
- Gnoblar Scum - Gnoblar Scums are the most foul-smelling and miserable rump of Gnoblar-kind, making up the majority of the population in most Ogre camps.
- Torch-Gnoblar - Torch-Gnoblars are the servants and igniters of many Ogre Leadbelchers.
- Woodbellies - Woodbellies are the enforcers and self-appointed leaders of the shanty towns, their name being an imitation to the Ironguts that they serve.
- Gnoblar Lords - Gnoblar Lords are the greatest and most esteemed of their kind.
- Gnoblar Bullies - Gnoblar Bullies comprise the majority of Gnoblars who serve Ogre masters.
- Luck-Gnoblars - Ogres often come to the point where they believe certain long-lived pet Gnoblars are lucky charms. Occasionally, this proves to be true; after all, it can be considered lucky when a foe's blade opens up a pet Gnoblar's skull rather than the Ogre's throat.[1b]
- Sword-Gnoblars - The most influential Ogres of each tribe, such as Bruisers, often manage to secure themselves a Gnoblar or two worth more than the dung on their oversized boots. These Gnoblars hide between the legs of their master, poking sharp implements into the flesh of whoever is occupying his attention during the battle.[1c]
- Tooth-Gnoblars - Ogre Butchers usually surround themselves with bloodstained menials that do the Butcher's bidding and, one way or another, provide ingredients for his shamanic magicks. These Gnoblars tread a thin tightrope between usefulness and palatability.[1d]
- Lookout-Gnoblars - Gnoblars are often bullied into makeshift crow's-nests at the top of the Ogre banners. If an enemy is targeting the Ogres below, the Gnoblar can either give advance warning of the threat, or fall to his death.[1e]
- Gnoblar Fighters - The larger members of Gnoblar society have a tendency towards independence. These Gnoblars forsake their baggage-carrying brethren and band together into loose but numerous groups that take to the battlefield in the hope of stealing some particularly choice shiny things before the Corpse-Harvest.[1f]
- Gnoblar Trappers - These outgoing but vindictive Gnoblars are the largest and most intrepid of their kind, and delight in catching and torturing the small ferocious mammals that populate the foothills of the Mountains of Mourn. Once they have finished 'playing' with these animals (usually jabbing them with sharp sticks), they either devour them there and then or take them back as an offering to their Ogre masters as a light snack.[1g]
- Gnoblar Scrappers (or Magpies) - These are a light-fingered, mean-spirited culture of Gnoblars that usually swarm Old Worlder caravans crossing the Ogre Kingdoms and make off with anything they can carry for their own tiny imitation scrap-caravans. They're also responsible for the creation and operation of the Scraplaunchers.[1h][1i]
- Name-Gnoblars - Some Ogres have almost comically long and over-complicated names, but these mighty individuals invariably have enough status to keep a Name-Gnoblar or two around to remember the Ogre's title.[1j]
- Scalp-Gnoblars - These Gnoblars help Butchers create Skullmantles out of the skin and hair from the boiled heads of defeated enemies.[1k]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Ogre Kingdoms (6th Edition)
- 2: White Dwarf UK (Issue #310)