A creature of mythology, often conceived of as a small, ugly, cruel (or at least mischevious) humanoid. Also popular in RPG's and modern fantasy, where they typically play second bannana as a weak member of the Orc family, and are used as cannon fodder for hack-'n'-slash adventuring.

The modern fantasy role of the goblin stems from the writings of Tolkien. Goblins were featured in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, but the term was later downgraded to an alternate name for an Orc. Curiously, with the release of The Lord of the Rings into the movie world, the term has again been used to indicate a different race; in the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf says that Saruman has cross-bred Orcs and Goblins to produce his race of powerful servents, the uruk-hai. In the book, Gandalf claims that Orcs and Men were the ingredient races.

Growing out of Tolkien's use, goblins became stock opponents for role playing games- starting with the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons and Dragons. In D&D and the later AD&D, Goblins are weak, flat-faced, short and ugly humanoids that hate light and dwarves, and like cowardice, treasure, and conflict. With very weak statistics and poor organization, they are easy targets for even weak, low-level adventurers, and are generally given little respect or attention. In a slight break with some other games and fantasy worlds, D&D goblins are more closely related to hobgoblins and bugbears than to Orcs- particularly in the much-beloved (and overused) Dragonlance campaign world.

In the Warhammer world (also Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay), goblins are closer to the goblins of The Hobbit. They are sneaky, cruel, green-skinned little beasties that live largely underground, hate dwarves, fear elves, and spend most of their time being slapped around by larger orcs. Goblins are unpredictable, cowardly, and opportunistic (quite likely to flee from combat in Warhammer tabletop games). Like in D&D, they are a danger only because of their large numbers. In the Warhammer world there are also two sub-species of goblins: the Night Goblin, and the Forest Goblin. The first are goblins that live entirely underground, often in abandoned or captured dwarf fortresses, enjoy consuming psychotropic mushrooms, and create a wide variety of bizarre and unpredictable war machines. Forest Goblins, on the other hand, are primitive wilderness dwellers, whose main distinguishing schtick is that they raise and ride giant spiders that are capable of moving quickly through difficult terrain. A crusade of violence undertaken by a force of goblins and orcs is called a Waaaaaagh!. Nicknames for goblins in Warhammer (and some other fantasy realms) include gobbo, greenskin, and sneaky git.

For another interpretation, try the old movie Labyrinth. David Bowie as a goblin. Look into it.

Goblin can also be used as a sort of generic term for any monster of fiction or mythology that is humanoid, not undead, at least somewhat intelligent, and not friendly. As in "Ghosts and Goblins" coming out in Halloween.

An Italian prog rock band active throughout the 1970s and 1980s. They are best known (in the circle of horror film buffs, at any rate) for their soundtrack work on a number of Dario Argento's films, including Deep Red and the seminal masterpiece Suspiria. Their music also forms part of the soundtrack from Dawn of the Dead (which Argento worked on as well).

Their music is very dark and rather aggresive, yet subtle. It's not the music of someone clumsily shambling after you with a knife; it's more the sound of some thing from the hinterland of nightmares pursuing you through a dark forest of looming pines and grasping, fingerlike branches.

The band consisted of Tony Tartarini (vocals), Massimo Morante (guitar), Claudio Simonetti (synthesizers), and Walter Martino (drums).

Goblins are wandering sprites who like to live in grottoes, and also in the homes of humans (particularly those that have beautiful children and lots of wine). They will move into a household and aid the occupants by doing the chores at night time, and by disciplining the kiddies - punishing them when they are naughty and giving them gifts when they are good (I would tend to behave if I had some bizarre mystical creature living with me...).

The idea of a live in other-wordly housekeeper may appeal, but be warned - goblins possess a mischievous, unpredictable nature. They are just as likely to clean your dishes as they are to move your furniture, knock on walls and doors, bang on pots and pans, snatch off your bed sheets, and generally create a big old ruckus during the night. If you housed a goblin who, despite all his cleaning capabilities you wanted no longer, you could spread flaxseed on the floor - the little guy will leave because his obssessive-compulsive cleaning means he HAS to pick it up...and he'll tire of it soon enough.

Through time goblins have become associatted with Halloween, and are rumoured to roam on that night (when the world of the dead and the world of the living are closest). That would be the ideal night to entice the little sprite to stay...

Goblins are found primarily in French folklore, and are the equivalent of England's brownie, Germany's kobald, and the domoviks of Russia.

Warning Possible Spoiler for Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

In Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice, Goblin is Quinn Blackwood's doppelganger. Goblin was his constant companion throughout his childhood. As Quinn grew and learned, so did Goblin. When Quinn was transformed against his will into a vampire, Goblin was also transformed. When Quinn was full of blood from his victim for the night, Goblin began attacking him. He made little cuts all over Quinns face and hands and filled himself with the vampiric blood. Quinn was powerless to stop the behavior.

Enter The Vampire Lestat. He tried in every way he could to help Quinn be rid of Goblin but failed even with all of his power. So he calls on Merrick Mayfair. Merrick discovers that Goblin is actually Quinn's twin who died at birth. She takes the corpse of the baby, works some witchcraft, and throws it into the flames of a pyre. Her spell worked and goblin was finally gone.

Gob"lin (?), n. [OE. gobelin, F. gobelin, LL. gobelinus, fr. Gr. knave, a mischievous goblin; or cf. G. kobold, E. kobold, cobalt, Armor. gobilin an ignis fatuus, goblin.]

An evil or mischievous spirit; a playful or malicious elf; a frightful phantom; a gnome.

To whom the goblin, full of wrath, replied. Milton.

 

© Webster 1913.

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