Goblins, like many of the peoples of the Badlands, are a nomadic, tribal people. Originally they dwelled in the western reaches of the Great Steppes and Dune Wastes, the northwestern corner of the Kolg'dol Savannah, and the eastern slopes and adjacent borderlands of the Skall Mountains. Perhaps it was their close proximity to the "civilized" lands to the west of the Skalls that brought Icaruss Ap-ollthgath among the tribes, one by one dazzling them with his magical might and the strange creations the Pravus designed for him, winning some over with promises of a better way of life and others with a show of the force he could bring against them if they turned him away.
Icaruss forged the goblins into an army, teaching them tactics to add to their already-effective fighting techniques, bringing them weapons of steel and even a few of magic, and showing them the weaknesses of their soon-to-be foes. The mad mage taught them the western common tongue, and even writing. Previously goblin culture had always been an oral tradition, but Icaruss introduced an alphabet fitted to their tongue, formed partially from stolen, often warped, runes from the west, and partially from whatever symbols he felt appropriate in his grand arrogance.
The war was especially hard on the goblins as a whole. They fought fiercely through the war, fleeing fully only after their ultimate defeat at the hands of Cornelius Dreven and a terrifying assault from an offworld dragon in the Battle of Dawn's Early Light. With numbers and families shattered, the goblins fled back over the Skalls to face their fates.
The bulk of the tribes scattered across the Badlands, wandering far beyond their old ranges as decades. They took with them the Icaric alphabet and their own native tongue. Today, goblins dwell in almost every corner of the Badlands. In some cases, one finds full-fledged tribes, while in others they live among other races, not having had sufficient numbers of their own to rebuild fully. Because of this, the goblin tongue and the Icaric alphabet have become the trade tongue of the Badlands, known by more than a few members of most tribes. Finding those who can read their script is a far more rare event, but several symbols in it have found common usage in denoting specific, universal concepts...and more secretive ones.
The goblins who remained were among the most taken with the ideas Icaruss has brought them. They had seen what lay on the other side of the Skalls, and wanted it. Perhaps they might have found it had they sought elsewhere in the Badlands, as many of their brethren had, but for them, the grass was much greener on the other side of the mountains. It was many long years before this faction grew powerful enough that they felt capable of venturing forward again in battle, and when they did, they met much stauncher, better fortified opposition than before. Year after year they threw themselves at the western lands, only to meet defeat and withdraw to regroup again. As time went on, some tribes heard of prosperity elsewhere in the Badlands, sometimes from visits from those who had left. Others simply grew discontent with the bloodshed, the failures. Little by little, the cause was abandoned. Ironically, the death blow for the goblin army came when their scouts reported a surge of new arrivals from the west, packing into Fort Wantlokin. What they took for reinforcements, or perhaps even a build-up prior to an attack by the humans upon them, was actually the flight of the Silver Moon Knights in the face of the Klockwork Master's forces. The resolve of the goblin's finally at an end, the last of the united tribes began to scatter, and in 1271 continued to do so, joining others of their kind elsewhere or returning to their old lands and ways.
Goblins are about three feet tall with great speed, agility, and balance. A goblin's arms are very long and lean, giving them surprising reach. They move on all fours as comfortable as on their hind limbs, and if hitting a goblin while it is rolling, twisting, backflipping and scampering is not difficult enough, the height difference makes the task even more daunting. Cavalry soon learned that even catching goblins in the open field was not a sure bet of running them down, let alone attempting to conduct a mounted battle in close quarters.
Goblins are surprisingly resilient, with densely packed tendons and muscles around their joints. The three-fingered hands and feet are broad, giving them a measure of power that startles many, with two equal-sized fingers and a thumb, fewer digits with great strength in each. In its wide mouth are omnivorous teeth with slight fangs. The nose is rabbitish and keen, while the eyes are large and round. Goblins often keep their lids partly closed, making the eyes look smaller and giving them a squinting appearance until they open them wide for full sight - the irises and pupils both are quite large. The ears are small and rounded, often hidden beneath thick manes. While the eyes and nose of a goblin are particularly keen, their hearing is average.
Skin tone varies among goblins, with a wide variety of mottled hues in rusty reds, sandy yellows, leaf and forest greens, dark clay and bark tones, and warm honey and wheat colors. Hair is downy and fine, and on the top of the head is thick and long, trailing back.
Goblin lifespans are roughly equivalent to those of humans, however the young mature rapidly. Goblin society usually does not distinguish between genders for matters of profession and leadership; pregnant women are fervently guarded, however, and in times when a tribe has suffered great losses they often take greater precautions with their women.