"Gork and Mork made da Goblinz for us to kick, kill, and eat. Dey iz nothing. Dey iz less than nothing. Even dere magic iz weak an' pointless. Only use Dey got in a fight iz catchin' Humie arrows. Wiv der 'eads."
- —Sheglak, Orc Great Shaman.[2a]
Goblins, usually called Gobboz by their Orc cousins, are the smallest and perhaps the most numerous of the Greenskin race.[1b] They are, in general, a miserable treacherous race of petty thieves and vicious cutthroats.[2a]
The Common Goblin, or Plain Goblin can vary greatly in size and habits, but all of them are universally small, scrawny, nimble, and evil-minded.[1c] Goblins can be found just about anywhere, but are often divided up between several distinct sub-species that are fairly unique in their culture or physiology than the more common Goblin. For instance, the Night Goblins are famous for living exclusively within cave systems deep underground, and have a strong aversion to sunlight.[2a] The Forest Goblins are known to dwell almost exclusively within the forest, hence their namesake, where their primitive lifestyle and constant worship of spiders makes them an all too common threat for many lumber communities within the Old World.[1d]
Fire Kobolds are goblins that have adapted to volcanic areas like the Red Cloud Mountain. Troglagobs, in contrast, have adapted to aquatic regions and are often found in or near rivers or near the sea. In far away Naggaroth, escaped Goblin slaves have gone native, being called Frost Goblins.[1f] The turquoise-skinned Gnoblar are a distinct off-shoot of mountain or hill-dwelling Goblins living within the slopes and river valleys of the Mountains of Mourn. But perhaps the smallest and most pathetic of the Goblin species are the Snotlings, creatures so dull-witted and simple in their behaviour that they serve no purpose in Greenskin society other than as pets or emergency food.[1e]
Goblins often live on the cast-offs of other races and frequently thrive in the shadows of their larger brawnier cousins, the Orcs.[2a] Since most Orcs are too lazy or dull-witted to do anything other than fighting, Goblins are often used as the primary labor force for many Greenskin tribes, often doing menial acts and labors such as hunting, building, herding and crafting.[1a] While they lack the size and brute strength of the Orcs, they are considerably far more cunning and intelligent by comparison. Goblins possess just enough intelligence to craft simple tools and build crude buildings, traits that are usually nonexistent to most Orcs within a tribe.
Nevertheless, due to their weak and cowardly behaviour in a society that only respects strength and brutality, Goblins naturally don't possess a powerful position within Orc dominated tribes. In some cases, Goblins have been known to split off from their abusive cousins and form into their own independent Goblin tribe. Usually the most successful Goblin tribes consist of either Wolf Riders that roam the deserts of the Badlands to the south or Night Goblin tribes living within the mountains to the East.[1c]
"Their character is universally reprehensible. There is no depth of casual cruelty or random violence to which a Goblin will not sink, if it senses that it has the power to do so. Yet in the presence of an Orc or even just a larger Goblin, it will become suddenly servile and fawning, a slinking cur in fear of its master’s stick."
When in battle, Goblins are cowards by nature, and would most likely run from the enemy rather than face them in combat. Only in the most overly obvious circumstances where victory is believed a certainty will they actually take up the courage to fight.[1c]
Most Goblins are extremely weak as individuals, and so they would naturally band together in large groups or mobs as a form of protection. In large numbers and with some proper encouragement, a Goblin army on the attack would almost always outnumber their opponents by nearly three to one, using their overwhelming numbers as a way to smother their enemy in a lethal green tide.[1c]
Goblins normally wear scraps of crude armor and form into their own warbands of lightly armoured infantry equipped with wooden shields, rusted swords or hunting spears. Most Goblins however prefer to kill their foes at a safe distance, utilising the use of primitive bows and throwing spears to tackle larger or more powerful opponents.[1c]
The very first Warhammer rulebook had Goblins divided into Great Goblins, Lesser Goblins, Night Goblins, Red Goblins and Hobgoblins. Great and Lesser Goblins being later merged into regular Goblins, and Red Goblins never appeared again. They were described as "by far the most evil hearted" of Goblins, and were bred by Necromancers. They were presumably inspired by the Uruk-Hai from the Tolkien Mythos.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Orcs and Goblins (8th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Chronicles (2003)