The first Goblins came into the world 10,000 years ago when the Trolls ripped open the portal to the Feywild. They were the mirror of the Sidhe, the darkness to the fair race's light. Those original goblins have long since disappeared, but their dark magic still exists spreading across the world.
Goblins are a mysterious and greatly feared race. When it comes to appearance, about the only things that are common even among the same group is that they are small and by all accounts very ugly. They often have a mixture of features more reminiscent of various beasts, cats, wolfs, apes, bats and others, but never in any consistent combination. They often have unusually large noses and ears as well as razor sharp teeth. But there is no real rhyme or reason.
Goblins are not born, but rather made. They are literally created of fear, hate and nightmares bound together with dark fey energy. Their kind works to spread such emotion, harvesting it to create more goblins. There are many stories about what goblins can do, from turning invisible to walking through locked doors to having ears everywhere and hearing everything people say. Similarly, there are a myriad of ways people believe they can be warded off-- from leaving out treats in exchange for being left in peace to warding one's house with certain unusual flowers, statues, magical charms or even lanterns made of turnips or pumpkins. The effectiveness of these items seems to vary.
Goblins range from extremely dim-witted to incredibly clever. When first created, though they are given life fully formed, their minds are infantile. However, they learn incredibly quickly and goblins that have been allowed to live for long enough can be deviously brilliant. They are almost unstoppable as well. They are tied to objects of power, usually hidden away in underground burrows that sometimes don't even have entrances large enough for any but a Goblin to enter. Even when slain, a Goblin's body merely vanishes into mist. By the next New Moon, that very same Goblin will emerge with full memory of the events and likely seek vengeance against the one who killed them. This means that the closer one is to a New Moon, the less fearsome and more reckless the Goblins are likely to become.
Goblins tend to emerge only during the night, it is extremely rare to find one during the day and they will often flee when the light is up. They seem to live for the singular purpose of causing terror to people. They will raid the same towns night after night, prowling the street and destroying everything they can. They usually only kill those who oppose them. After all, the dead do not have nightmares. However if citizens become too complacent about their presence they are known to butcher someone in a blood-curdling manner simply to send a message and spread panic.
Goblins who have been successful for long enough are likely to leave their warrens and create a new warren somewhere else. But besides these random networks of warrens, the Goblins are also found in service of the Queen of Fear and her most loyal servants. They consider themselves to be her children and work diligently to empower her and erode the control the Sidhe have over the land.
Despite being creatures of chaos and fear, there is one really odd feature about Goblins. They seem to be incapable of breaking promises. Although they will lie and tell half-truths, if they have made a verbal contract with someone or made a promise then they will invariably keep to the agreement regardless of the cost. Even attempting to fail to fulfill their promise causes Goblins great pain and anguish. Preventing a Goblin from keeping their word is akin to a terrible sort of torture and can even cause them to die in which they will not return from.
There is nothing that causes others to keep their word to Goblins. However, one who has broken a promise to a Goblin tends to be marked in some way that only Goblins can sense. A "promise breaker" is likely to be hounded by Goblins destroying their life in every way possible until they are finally killed. Even those too powerful for Goblins to harm directly will suffer immensely as their loved ones are killed, their property is stolen or destroyed and they are never allowed to sleep in peace.
Artifacts of Power
Deep in the Goblin Warrens lie objects of great power. The exact appearance of these objects always varies, but they have a common purpose. Every New Moon, all the Goblins attached to an artifact that have been killed and reborn and if enough fear has been harvested, new goblins are created. If these artifacts are destroyed, then all the Goblins connected to that artifact that have been slain disappear forever. Any remaining Goblins in the area tend to flee, though their power quickly wanes and they will vanish unless they can join a new warren or had enough power to set up a new one.
The only way to really rid an area of the Goblin presence is to destroy this artifact. Unless one does so, they will just keep emerging once again every month.
One of the more infamous things that many Goblins do is to kidnap children, usually human children, but others can work as well. They do this usually during the period between a New Moon and a Full Moon. They put the children under some sort of sleep spell. If the children are rescued before the next New Moon comes, then the children will usually be fine. However, if they are not rescued then they are transformed into giant hulking beasts known as Bugbears.
Bugbears are particularly nasty, although they are no where nears as stealthy as regular Goblins, they are far more destructive. They have immense strength and are incredibly violent. Their mind tends to be little more than that of a raging beast, yet despite their transformed state there is usually enough of their previous features left for the parents or friends to identify which child they are now facing.
There is heart-breakingly no way to reverse this transformation. Although there are plenty of rumors of ways to do so, these are nothing more than the hopes and wishes of parents who have lost their children in such ways. Bugbears tend not to have a terribly long life. Unlike Goblins, when slain they do not return during the new New Moon. Instead, they fall and die. In a way of almost a cruel taunt, typically within a few hours after death a Bugbear's body will slowly revert back to the shape of a child. Both the Sidhe and the Church of Light tries to keep this a secret from people and goes to great lengths to hide this fact, usually encouraging the burning of the bodies of Bugbears immediately.
Goblin's tendancy to kidnap children is very famous. Though many believe it to just be a popular myth until it actually happens to them. Many parents will use the threat "if you don't be good, the goblins will take you away" to get their children to behave. Similarly, grandparents will often say that if parents don't appreciate their children, the goblins will come for them. Perhaps most strikingly, there is a belief that if an older child says to their younger siblings "I wish the goblins would come and take you away" somehow the Goblins will hear and in fact take that younger sibling away.
When Goblins have taken root in an area long enough, slowly a race of demi-humans known as "Goblinkin" tend to emerge. Although no one is certain why this happens or even where many come from, they have become common enough that they can be found everywhere throughout the world.
Sometimes the origin of Goblinkin is not terribly mysterious. Either a child had been taken by the Goblins and was rescued, but they still absorbed enough of the dark fey magics to transform slightly or they are the offspring of previously Goblinkin. What is odder are the other instances. Sometimes when a particularly young child is taken, a Goblinkin is left in the child's place as though the Goblins think that the parents would be unable to tell the difference. Other times, women just inexplicably give birth to one after they have lived in a place with strong Goblin presences long enough.
The Church of Light used to push for the purging of all Goblinkin as unholy creatures. However, over time all but the extremists have become considerably more tolerant. Goblinkin often do become criminals, rebels or servants of darkness, but this could be as much because of how they are treated than the darkness within them expressing itself.
Goblinkin are roughly the size of humans, some have been considerably taller or considerably shorter than normal, but generally they are roughly the same size. They tend to have features reminiscent of beasts, for instance wolf or cat like eyes, bat or pig like ears, long pointed beak-like noses or flat ape-like ones, teeth like those of a predator. They often have odd colored skin and long limbs, particularly long arms. They tend to show a great deal of impatience and a lack of ability to concentrate on things as well as a skill towards slight-of-hand and general sneaky or devious behavior.
Unlike Goblins, Goblinkin are not magically bound to keep their words, but it is rare that any of them does do so anyway. In fact, overt manifestation of Goblin-like powers is almost unheard of among Goblinkin. Most can simply regard them as very odd looking humans.
When the Queen of Fear corrupted many of the Elves who has previously been loyal to the Fair King, he attempted to cleanse some of her Goblins in exchange. The result of Goblins who have been exposed to a great deal of light Fey energy is a Lutin. Lutin retain their typical Goblin appearance for the most part, perhaps their odd features looking less sinister and monstrous and more cute, yet that might only be because of their demeanor.
Lutin are fun-loving, wild and curious about everything. They are no doubt still beings of chaos, loving to play pranks, constantly making jokes even in the most inappropriate situations and making a point of bring down anyone who seems too stuffy, arrogant, serious or powerful for their tastes. Suffice to say that this race still antagonizes the Sidhe to such a degree that it is rare that they bother trying to corrupt Goblins into the Light.
Because the appearances of both Goblins and Lutin are so wildly unique, it is difficult for anyone to tell the difference. They are generally unwelcome everywhere they go which means they don't live in one place for long. Moreover, they lack the advantage that Goblins have of merely being reborn if they die-- if a Lutin is slain, they remain slain. They don't have any equivalent to harvesting fear, although some have speculated that perhaps they have an inclination towards attempting to harvest laughter and they could function very much like a counter to the Goblins if this were pursued further. However, as the Sidhe are the only ones who could probably do this and the Sidhe find Lutin to be generally obnoxious and distasteful, no real attempt to create Lutin Warrens has ever been done.