Goblins have been described as vermin, plagues and infestations. They spring up seemingly out of nowhere, causing havoc and bloodshed before before put down. In appearance, an adult goblin is a small human between a metre and 150cm in height, with an oversized head and skin that can range in colour from green, to yellow to brown. They lack any obvious defining sexual characteristics, and are effectively asexual. They have very good dark vision, and dislike bright sunlight, so are normally active at night.
Goblins aren’t really creatures, but some kind of hybrid between animal and fungus. They can spread through airborne spores, but the most common mode of transmission is through infected animals. The infection settles, normally in a forest or other cool, dark location, and there it festers and grows.
The first goblins arise from their nest within a month. These are green goblins, the smallest and weakest of their kind. They are born knowing their own guttural language, having a hunger for meat and a desire to kill and spread their infection. As they age and grow, their skin darkens and toughens, until it is bark-brown in colour. The process takes about three months, and it is rare for individuals to live much longer than that. If they are not killed by human hunting parties, then they can perish through nest in-fighting.
The social structure of a nest is almost non-existent, they almost act as if they had some form of group consciousness. It is thought though that they are instead simply easily led, and it only takes a few to decide on a course of action for the rest of the nest to follow.
Goblins were first seen soon after the first Devastation, in areas most strongly hit by the Blight. Goblin spores are still most commonly found coming out of these areas, and though individual nests can be easily exterminated, they can quickly spring up in surrounding areas.
Most nests consist of a few dozen individuals, but larger ones of over a hundred goblins have been found. These normally occur during late spring, in wild damp forests with thick canopies were conditions are just right for the growth of the fungus.
Goblins rarely wear clothing, though older ones can sometimes pick up habits from civilised settlements nearby, and maybe sometimes even learn to use makeshift armour. Weapons tend to be claws, sharp sticks or anything they find in villages they raid.
It is rumoured that some goblins can learn and use sorcery, though these are just rumours and there is no reliably documented evidence of it happening. Sometimes human, fay or even demon sorcerers may take control of a goblin nest, so it’s possible that the rumours of goblin sorcery have come from this.
Since they have no souls, goblins have no need for gods, and religion amongst goblins is rare. When it does happen, it’s often due to goblins mirroring civilised religion – being easily impressed they can form cargo cult behaviour that rapidly spreads through the nest.
Overall, goblins are seen as an annoying pest that needs to be dealt with whenever it turns up. At the local level, they can be devastating and wipe out whole villages and disrupt a region for months. This is especially true when a single successful nest spreads to form multiple other nests in the region. Hunting down and incinerating (as well as being a good way to deal with the fungus, goblins themselves have a fear of fire) nests as quickly as possible is good practice, and often a good source of income for mercenaries.