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Mysterium Bestia: Goblins - A Research Log

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  • March 5, 2017

    Goblins - A Study

    By Urzus the Librarian, Warlock of Orsinium


    First Entry: Introduction

    Many adventurers have answered the House of Orsimer Glories’ call and one could say it warms my old black and undying heart. Which is the reason why I can not stand idly by while others are out there, looking for the truth, so I have decided it is time for this old Caretaker of the House of Orsimer Glories to set out to an adventure too.

    And where am I heading? I am bound to Cyrodiil, to illuminate some of the misconceptions about Goblins, who are considered a distant cousins of us Orcs. But is that the truth? Were Goblins here long before Orcs? Or were Orcs here long before Goblins? Another misconception I would like to clear is that Goblins are not simple beasts. They are intelligent - to a certain degree at least - so this will be one of the goals of this research. To prove that there is more to Goblins.

    As I´m writing this entry, this introduction to my research, I´m crossing the borders of Hammerfell and Cyrodiil. I´m still not sure where my steps will lead me, because my information about Goblins might be little bit out of date. Back in Third Era the Goblins were known to be occupy the West Weald and Nibenay Basin, but it is hard to say if they are there even now.

    The Great War happened almost twenty-five years ago, with entire armies marching across the Goblins´ teritorries and this old Orc has to wonder how many of the Goblins survived. They are very territorial after all, I can certainly imagine them attacking even much larger groups of men or mer, but on the other hand I can imagine them hiding from such big numbers too.

    Strategically, it would make sense to eliminate every Goblin cave and mine behind the army´s back. It would prevent the Goblins from raiding the army´s supplies and civilians, but it would also mean that there would be casualties, especially with the Goblins´ dens being full of traps and other things.

    As of now, I´m going to put this journal down and focus on the journey ahead. I hope that I will soon learn all that I have come here for.


    Second Entry: How to recognise a Goblin

    I have finally reached the West Weald and it didn´t took me long to encounter the first of many Goblins. There were three of them and they seemed to guard the entry to a cave, most likely their den. I decided to use frost magic to preserve their bodies as much as possible. Sadly, one shattered under the extensive cold, the second was burned by the frostbite, but the third was luckily more or less preserved for the purpose of my study.

    I raised the Goblin back to life, making him my thrall and made him move his limbs and whole body in the most natural way the body was capable of, so that I could carefully examine its every move.

    So what do they look like? Goblins are a humanoid race of Goblin-ken, which includes other races as Ogres or Gremlins - some even mistake Orcs for Goblin-ken, but very few would call an Orc that into his face and live long enough to say sorry. As I said, Goblins are a humanoid race, with grey-green skin, with their height ranging from three feet to eight feet. They have long thin arms, with their whole body construction seeming frail at first. Their postural habits indicate that all are hunched, making their arms seem longer then their whole body - my theory is that their hunched posture comes from mostly living underground, but I´ve seen Goblins living above too, so it is very much possible it is the way they are born.

    As for their height, I have noticed that most of the Goblins in the east, namely Morrowind tend to be smaller than those inhabiting Cyrodiil or Hammerfell. Even those in High Rock or from the Summerset Isles (or Alinor if you swing that way) are taller than those in the east. Of course, I´ve never seen a Goblin from Summerset Isles because I´ve never set my foot there, but I have no reason to not believe the many Altmer I´ve spoken to.

    But I do remember a mention of King Helseth Hlaalu who was importing Goblins from Summerset to Morrowind, to serve in his army. If I remember it correctly, the sources say that the Goblins from Summerset were considerably bulkier than the wild Goblins of Morrowind, which makes me wonder if when they are trained by Altmer they can get more body mass. It is possible, in theory, but I would need to see proof of that first.

    Goblins usually have yellow eyes with vertically slitted pupils, which allows them to see in the dark much better than most of the sentient races of Tamriel. Vertically slitted pupils allow the eyes to catch more light and reflect it in dark areas, which is what allows the creatures with this trait to see in the darkness. Vertically slit pupils are usually found among the nocturnal or crepuscular species. Add to that their large pointed ears (someone would say elven) which definitely must be improving their hearing capabilities in comparison to most sentient races.

    Another interesting thing about Goblins are their muscles. I haven´t had the time to dissect one myself, but as I said before, their body structure seems to be frail, but yet they can wield and use heavy weapons with the same ease as the strongest of Orcs. It makes me wonder why that is. Are their muscles and sinews structured differently? I wish I brought my tools, then I could find that answer rather easily.

    Another interesting thing I just noticed is that Goblins have three fingers and one thumb on their hands, with prolonged nails that could actually be called claws. Also, from their mouths are protruding prolonged canins, apparently most common is the number four and from the lower palate. They´re not as prominent as Orc´s tusks, but I suppose there is a reason why Redguards call Goblins “the Tusked Folk.”

    The light is fading so I think I´ll put the journal to rest for now. Tomorrow I´m going to explore the cave, most likely during daylight, to see if it actually has any effect on the Goblins.

    I hope the raised Goblin will prove to be a moderately sufficient guard for the night.

    Third Entry: Goblins and their culture

    The research didn´t go exactly well and now I think I should have taken a more careful approach. The moment I set my foot into the Goblins´ den I had no other choice but to defend myself - with lethal force. That much for inspecting their culture up close.

    With this major setback in mind, I decided to take a different route, to learn from their history first before trying to make contact, which is why I set my mind on the Imperial City. It wasn´t easy with all the Thalmor overseeing the terms of the Concordate, but I got access to the Imperial Library and their vast array of books.

    Here I found a collection much larger than the one in House of Orsimer Glories and for a second I felt like stuffing every book into my bag and running back to Orsinium with them. But...I´m too old for running.

    With the books around me I was able to finally learn something more about Goblins.

    First of all, I would like to clear one very important question. Are Goblins intelligent?

    Some would like you to believe they are nothing but beasts, barely able to put a coherent thought together.

    Ignorants! Fools! If you don´t believe just read this letter, sent back to Scholar Oppius who had the guts to actually put forward a different opinion.

    Scholar Oppius,

    Once again you repeat your assertions that Goblins have domesticated creatures of several species, including spiders and kwama. And once again I must inform you that the academy's journal will publish no papers making such outlandish claims without conclusive proof.

    You offer no proof for the excellent reason that none exists. Goblins are not intelligent enough to be domesticated themselves, let alone to domesticate other species. Your premise is ridiculous, your reasoning is flimsy, and your conclusions are insupportable.

    The more unlikely one's thesis, the stronger one's proof must be to overcome disbelief. Offering no proof for an assertion as controversial as yours invites ridicule. And I am delighted to provide it.

    Do not waste my time with any further submissions except in the improbable event that you obtain conclusive proof of your claims. Even then, a witness credible to the academy must swear to the veracity of your paper and must be willing to co-author it.

    I do not expect to hear from you again. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors as a charlatan.

    Felicitas Mallicius


        Species and Speculation Journal - Academy Rejection Letter


    Not only is this Editor-in-Chief a short-sighted ignorant but an Imperial idiot on top of that as well. First: Goblins were being domesticated by Altmer since Summerset Isles were discovered by Aldmer. Second: There are records of Goblins domesticating spiders (to certain degree of success) and kwama - or even Durzogs, who are the most commonly seen around Goblins. Try to tell me otherwise.

    So yes, Goblins are intelligent. Period.

    But more about their culture. They are a tribal and shamanistic society, led by a warchief - the strongest Goblin of the tribe - and shaman. I have to assume that shaman is something like a Stronghold´s wise-woman, basically leading the tribe in its spiritual and day to day activities while the warchief leads the tribe in times of war, or maybe raids.

    Raids? Oh, yes. Raiding other races’ settlements or ambushing merchants on the road is what Goblins do. But why? Because they are scavengers. There is not much culture about them that is their own - they steal things from others, thus they borrow their culture too. Though no one says they can get it right. Don´t be too surprised if something as simple as an iron tankard is worshipped in some forgotten cave and a golden vase is being used as a chamber-pot. They are Goblins after all.

    In my previous entry I have summarized Goblins’ racial traits and how they suggest they are more predators than prey. They eat meat, mostly giant rats which they cook above a fire - yes, they can make a fire. But they also eat anything they scavenge, from fruit to vegetables and sometimes even raw alchemical ingredients.

    As I was going through the Library´s records I have encountered a mention of Cropsford. Apparently, Cropsford is a bustling village east of Imperial City, with over a dozen of families now, but two-hundred years back it wasn´t so. Records say that Barthel Gernand had troubles founding the place precisely because of Goblins.

    The Rock Biters tribe of Goblins stole a totem from the Bloody Hands tribe living near the place where Cropsford was about to be built, which drove the Goblins into a frenzy. Apparently, stealing one tribe’s totem is something like a declaration of war, so these two tribes began a war with the helpless farmers caught right in the middle.

    The history is blurry here, because one source says that the Champion of Cyrodiil (sometimes called Hero of Kvatch) killed all Bloody Hands Goblins, which stopped the war. The other source says that Champion stole back the totem from Rock Biters and gave it back to Bloody Hands, effectively ending the war.

    Apparently, these totems play a very big part in Goblins’ culture. But who are these totems dedicated to? I will answer that question in the next section.


    Fourth Entry - Goblins and their religion

    In the previous entry I have raised the question of the totems and who are they dedicated to. I believe it shouldn´t be really too hard to guess. Just think about it. What do have Goblins, Ogres, Ogrims and Orcs in common? Aren´t Goblins the outcasts of the society, the ostracized, the cursed? Yes, that´s right.

    At particularly important rituals the shaman would touch they symbol to his heart, then his head, then point it to the sky and call out, "Muluk!" At first I found this confusing, given the similarity of "muluk" to the Goblin words "muulk," which they use when chastising their durzogs or children, or "mluku," the term for fecal matter. But gradually I learned to differentiate, and one day I realized that by crying "Muluk!" the shaman must be invoking the god of the Goblins.

    And then it struck me: "Muluk" is not really much different from "Mauloch." Could the god of the Goblins and the god of the Orcs be one and the same? - Sacred Rites of the Stonechewers

    It makes lot of sense now, right? Goblins´ society is tribal and shamanistic, being led by the strongest, focusing on the conflict with other races by raiding their supplies and equipment. Malacath is the patron of Goblins, without doubt. But what does it mean?

    If you´ve had any experience with Malacath, you know that nothing comes without a price with this one. With this one especially. Malacath is a god who does very little for races “under his protection” because he is meant to represent the physical strength.There is no reason for him to get involved - more so, his involvement only proves his worshippers are not worthy, that they are weak. Which allows Malacath to cast his curses and temper his grudges on these weaklings.

    So yes, Goblins worship Muluk, or Mauloch if you want - or Malacath if you prefer the Daedric version. But what does it mean for Goblins? A thought crossed my mind, thinking about the Code of Mauloch. Do Goblins have it too? It is difficult to say because the Code in its nature is basically a set of unwritten rules how to conduct with strength; honor. But can Goblins comprehend the meaning of honor? As I said, they are intelligent, but are they intelligent enough to understand the Code?

    Speaking about the shamans, the spiritual leaders of Goblins, it is quite common to see them wield magic - which is another proof of intelligence to me. Mastering the arcane is very complicate and delicate thing, and even though the shamans seem to wield more primal type of magic, the point still stands. They can control the elements of the Destruction School and even the healing spells of the Restoration School.

    But there is one thing that makes me wonder about the origin of their magic. Have you ever seen a Goblin shaman without his staff?

    As so little is known about the religious practices of the Goblin race, I decided to make the shaman of the tribe my particular study. The symbol of his office was a bone rod, probably a femur, with a small skull affixed to the end—possibly an infant's. This skull was ornamented with an assortment of feathers, spines, and animal claws, and filled with something like nut-hulls, for it rattled loudly when shaken. The shaman would shake this holy symbol forcefully when summoning his congregation to sacred rituals, or when the females were not bringing him food or drink rapidly enough. - Sacred Rites of the Stonechewers


    Is it possible that the staff is one of the more primal versions of Enchanting? One of the early versions, before the soul gems were started to be utilized in more common practices. It is possible, because even though I advocate Goblins’ intelligence even I doubt they would be clever enough to master the skill of enchanting.

    Or maybe there is another explanation. The shamans are priests of Muluk so to say, right? Would it be possible their power or the power of their staves come from their god? Quite far fetched I know, but not completely outside the realm of possibilities.


    Fifth Entry - Goblins and their equipment

    Those of you who met a Goblin certainly noticed their equipment and more importantly its poor state. Goblins are not craftsman, though we know they can operate a forge - only to a certain degree though, because apparently they have no idea how to utilise bellows to increase the heat required for proper forging.

    Astute armory scholars may recognize the spoor-stained breastplate and punctured graves of this repellent specimen, for Goblins have no breadth of craftsmanship or clarity of vision: These are stolen pieces, no doubt scavenged from a backstabbed hunter. Smaller daggers seem to be terribly primitive imitations, formed in forges without the proper bellows and heat, and the results border on the disastrous: rather than piercing flesh, one sword shattered during battle against one of my men. This piteous mass idly waved an axe at us, another purloined piece from a higher race, poorly cared for, rusting, with rotting straps and filth spread across every surface. It is kinder to burn such armaments than offer them for repair. - Goblin Filth

    Goblins and other folk who have adopted the Primal style are typically superb scavengers and looters. They seem to have a special sense for where to find the sort of cast-off yet serviceable, even exceptional equipment that will fit the Primal esthetic. And they are as proud of their turn-out as any Imperial centurion.

    Recent scholarship by Doctor Intricatus of Gwylim University confirms this, and adds some new information that shows that "primal" is, indeed, the optimal label for this style. His study of the fifty-seven Primal ensembles worn by the massacred Knife-Biter Goblin tribe showed that many of the items found on the corpses were hundreds, if not thousands of years old. Some of the greaves and cuirasses appeared to date from the early First Era, and represented ancient forging techniques that have since been lost to history. Did the Goblins loot these from ancient Cyrodilic ruins, as they've been known to do? Or did they actually pass them down, generation by generation, since time immemorial? -  Racial Motifs: Primal

    As you can see from these sources Goblins really don´t have much crafstmanship of their own. Instead they rely on what they can scavenge and when they scavenge what they need they care about it poorly. Which doesn´t mean they don´t know how to use this equipment in battle though. While their fighting style is very primitive, Goblins are fast and usually have strength in numbers.

    I´ve seen Goblins´ speed in practice, how they are capable to close the distance in almost blink of an eye, lunging forward and furiously swinging their weapons at anything in their path. They are usually so furious their weapons don´t hold together for long and that is when they start using their claws.

    Beside this, Goblins are actually quite capable archers, though with crooked arrows in such a way they seem to be designed to shoot behind a corner much of their skill comes in vain when the poor condition of their weapons makes them miss their target half of the times. Same goes with spears of course. They know how to throw them, but it's more like throwing twigs at their opponents than spears.

    As for their armor, while not being a skilled craftsman, they are capable of using some of the more primal resources to make their own clothing and armor. Raw fur and leather are used very often, with wood or bones sewn together to create some kind of mimic of chest plates, sometimes even skulls are used as pauldrons.

    But I have to say this to you. If you see a Goblin with a cooking pan as weapon, chamber pot as a helmet and barrel´s top as a shield...don´t laugh. Don´t underestimate that Goblin or any other, because there might come a day when a Goblin with cooking pan might beat you to death.


    Sixth Entry: Goblins and Orcs in history

    The reason I´m drawing this parallel between Orcs and Goblins is that basically up until the near end of Third Era Orcs were considered a Goblin-ken, or a beast race. And in the history, I believe that many people actually got Goblins and Orcs mixed up.

    For example, look at the arrival of Yokudans. Even the history isn´t quite clear who they actually fought during their conquest of Hammerfell. Most of the times we see mentions of Ra Gada fighting hordes of “giant goblins” and I have to ask: What giant goblins? Is there any other mention about giant goblins than the stories of Redguards and their arrival on Tamriel?

    I have to tell you, we Orcs have a short memory when it comes to history, but we remember all grudges and take them into our graves. Redguards were our enemies since they arrived, they chased us from Hammerfell to mountains where we built the first Orsinium. And even there the history isn't exactly clear. The rumors are that first Orsinium was co-founded by Orcs and Goblins, and yet we never heard about it.

    Where am I getting with all this? Giant Goblins… My arse. Orcs. The Yokudans were stupid enough to mistake Orcs for Goblins! That´s what it is! Just look at the “supposedly” True Told Tale of Hallin.

    For in the mountain range called Dragon's-Tail the tusk-folk still lurked, beating their breasts and rending their ragged garments in rage and grievance against the Redguards. And among them was a great Goblin Warlord who had escaped the Curse of Divad through a chicanery, and thus had not been diminished. This giant Goblin was possessed of both slyness and sinew, and long he worked among the tribes of Dragon's-Tail, until one day he awoke to find himself Warlord of all the tusk-folk therein. And his name was Mahgzoor Rockhand. So Mahgzoor raised his great blade Bone-Hewer, and roared in a mighty voice like an earthquake, and declared that the day of vengeance at last was at hand.

    Then Mahgzoor led his Endwise Army down from the Dragon's-Tail, and it swept into Hammerfell like a great sandstorm, and none could stand before it. The people of the Fallen Waste fled before the fury of the tusk-folk, and many and many were those who sought refuge behind the walls of Ojwambu, until the city was overfilled thereby.

    Since when can Goblins raise an army? Since when are Goblins giant? Notice how this “tale” uses the words tusk-folk. Do you see my point? Yokudan back then couldn´t tell the difference between a Goblin and Orc, so they just called Orcs “Giant Goblins.”

    So if Redguards can call Orcs Goblins how about we take a look a way back now, at Father of the Niben?

    As he and his men rested, there came a fearsome howl,

    And hideous orcs streamed forth from the murky

    Glen, cannibal teeth clotted with gore

    An epoch detailing the journey of Topal the Pilot and his voyage. He and his men decided to rest in at the shores of what we call Illiac Bay now and do you notice how the epoch explicitly uses the word “orcs”? There were no Orcs back then, though the author of the book theorizes that it implies there were indigenous tribes of Orcs even before we Orsimer came to be, I have a different theory.

    The epoch was written in Aldmeris and the author was translating it. And the author translated that part as “orcs”. But what is the word for Orcs in Aldmeris? Maybe it was Orsimer which is translated as Pariah Folk? Or maybe the translation is just plainly wrong. What “Orc” is and Aldmeris word for “tusked-folk”? I can´t say because I wasn´t lucky enough to see the original, but I just have to doubt the translation and wonder if Topal the Pilot - a guy who was looking for Old Ehlnofey and instead of that he circled the Tamriel (seriously?) - didn´t meet Goblins instead.

    But Goblins were native to Summerset Isles, so Topal certainly couldn´t mistake them for something else. So what is the truth?

    And with that, my dear readers, I leave you to ponder about what I wrote here and maybe come to your own conclusions.




  • March 5, 2017

    Great to see our favorite Librarian from the House of Orsimer Glories back out there doing more research. He will be joined tomorrow, I hope, by a fellow researcher. 

  • Member
    March 8, 2017

    Second Entry: How to recognise a Goblin

    If you say green bodies, sharp teeth and pointed ears I'll bite you!!!!

  • March 9, 2017

    Updated with second entry: How to recognise a Goblin

  • Member
    March 9, 2017

    But I do remember a mention of King Helseth Hlaalu who was importing Goblins from Summerset to Morrowind, to serve in his army. If I remember it correctly, the sources say that the Goblins from Summerset were considerably bulkier than the wild Goblins of Morrowind, which makes me wonder if when they are trained by Altmer they can get more body mass. It is possible, in theory, but I would need to see proof of that first.

    Altmers seem to have a knack for making slave-soldiers. First trolls, now goblins. I imagine them to be the Dusken version of Goblins.

  • March 9, 2017
    I remember that Goblins were native to Summerset, so Altmer must have lot of practice in conditioning these beast races. And yup, the Goblins Helseth was using in his army certainly looked like War Dusken Goblins 2.8.1. with an upgrade xD
  • Member
    March 9, 2017

    Karver the Lorc said: I remember that Goblins were native to Summerset, so Altmer must have lot of practice in conditioning these beast races. And yup, the Goblins Helseth was using in his army certainly looked like War Dusken Goblins 2.8.1. with an upgrade xD

    They always breed them big down south. XD

  • March 9, 2017

    Great entry, Karves. 

  • Member
    March 9, 2017

    I hope Lora gra-Bushsnak can be trusted to look after things while Urzus is on his field trip ;)

    But I do remember a mention of King Helseth Hlaalu who was importing Goblins from Summerset to Morrowind, to serve in his army. If I remember it correctly, the sources say that the Goblins from Summerset were considerably bulkier than the wild Goblins of Morrowind, which makes me wonder if when they are trained by Altmer they can get more body mass. It is possible, in theory, but I would need to see proof of that first.

    Nice. Selective breeding to create a superior goblin? How very Old Mary.


  • March 13, 2017

    Updated with third entry: Goblins and their culture.