Overcoming Goblin Prejudice


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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So I was excited when the next AP was announced to be set in Isger. I have always wanted to play a war veteran and the Goblinblood Wars are one of the few that have happened in fairly recent memory (there is a serious lack of wars going on in this world).

Looking at the history, it looks like the goblin tribes of the nearby forest were lead by hobgoblins against the region in a very bloody war known for all the deaths that occurred on both sides. Hell Knights, Eagle Knights, and Mercenaries (as well as what is left of Isgers forces) all banded together to put down the threat (and burned much of the forest).

This happened just 22 years ago, the orphans created in this war are young adults. War veterans are still around. There was not a Marshall plan like in Europe to rebuild the area after the war... it was devastated and the powers that be, Cheliax and Druma, just care about keeping the profitable trade route open and protected... not the rest of the country. This event would shape the lives of everyone living in the area. Most people would have known people or had relatives killed in the war by the goblin hordes.

But... this is kicking off PF2, goblins are now a playable race and presumably more accepted into society. The Free RPG Day adventure this year was We Be Heroes and tells the story of a goblin tribe that was nearly wiped out in the Goblinblood war but who now live in southern Fangwood (so not really near the area anymore) helping save a group of Lastwall Knights and leading them all the way down to Absalom. Those heroics are what is helping get them accepted as a race by the rest of society... but in Isger? I don't know how much that would matter, the wounds would still be very raw.

Now, I don't want to argue about if it is a good idea for Goblins to be a playable and accepted race in Pathfinder now... they are. What I am really interested in is all the RP opportunities that this now presents.

I just downloaded and started reading the Player's Guide to the Age of Ashes... the very first paragraph seems to introduce the start of the campaign as a goblin looking for help when it sees what it thinks is a Hell Knight castle coming back into life and what it could mean for his goblin tribe. This could get REAL interesting... because I think the default of many of the residents and even PCs from the area might be to not feel to bad for those goblins.

So... How do you intend to bring all this into your game? Will you as a GM play this kind of social conflict up or will you just accept the new status quo that goblins are good guys and the world is cool with that?


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As you said, Hellknight Hill has roleplaying opportunities for overcoming prejudice. I like the way how Warbal the goblin ambassador is presented. I think my PCs will take to her right away. There are other hooks in the adventure that will also help in this regard.


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Given the short path to goblin maturity, they can experience cultural change pretty friggin' fast- especially with large chunks of their adult populations from 22 years ago being pretty safely presumed dead at this point.

So the gobbos being different is no great shock.

As you note, it's the humans who might be a problem- but when goblins don't act like goblins are "supposed" to, it can set up some fun dynamics.

After all, you can hate and fear them, but if a single unarmed goblin shows up under a crude flag of truce and is clearly terrified the entire time?

Killing 'em isn't going to be something that's going to feel like an achievement. Or good. But trusting them isn't going to be immediate either.

As far as the specifics of the adventure (which I've read)- you can always sell it as, "look, the goblins are weak and broken, but if something WORSE takes over that old castle, we might have a serious problem on our hands."


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Even though they are a core ancestry now, that doesn't change the fact that Goblins are monsters and people will kill them on sight unless they have a very good reason not to do so. A random Goblin walking up to a town with a crudely made truce flag would get shot full of arrows, and the guards on the wall who shot it would have a good laugh in barracks later that night. "Stupid little beast thought we would treat it like a person!" The only difference is now there will be more of a spotlight on those rare cases where people do have a very good reason not to kill said Goblin. About 95% of people should still see a Goblin and think "kill the monster" without stopping to worry about what it wants, and the other 5% will at least be willing to find out what the little monster jabbering excitedly at them wants before deciding to murder it or not.


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I disagree wholeheartedly with "most people are going to attack goblins on sight". For the most part, people should have viewed goblins as "raccoons who have learned to set fires"- mostly a nuisance, and more dangerous if you hassle them than if you leave them alone. Just keep an eye on them so they don't cause too much trouble, but "stealing your refuse" is fine.

I mean, fundamentally saying "95% of people will attack this sentient thing on sight, regardless of what it's doing" is saying that at least 95% of people are monsters.


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And given that there is a trait from the very start of the game about watching goblins with amusement and not killing them its clear that killing on sight is not a ubiquitous behavior.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I disagree wholeheartedly with "most people are going to attack goblins on sight". For the most part, people should have viewed goblins as "raccoons who have learned to set fires"- mostly a nuisance, and more dangerous if you hassle them than if you leave them alone. Just keep an eye on them so they don't cause too much trouble, but "stealing your refuse" is fine.

I would like to respectfully disagree. NPC Goblins are more like "pyromaniac coyotes who eat pets and sometimes try to kill people" than raccoons, and better to keep their numbers as low as possible so they don't become more dangerous. But Goblin PCs should be exceptions to these concepts. A Goblin PC is much more like a Gully Dwarf than an "average" Goblin, but probably able to count past two and more likely to bite.


I mean, I live literally across the street from some coyotes (who have a den in a copse of trees) and I bear them no ill-will.

Plus, you can play an 18 Goblin at level 1 pretty easily, like the iconic goblin alchemist has an 18 Int.

Liberty's Edge

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Overcoming Goblin Prejudice

Apply two-handed meat tenderizer to top of goblin skull.

That is all.

Silver Crusade

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MidsouthGuy wrote:
Even though they are a core ancestry now, that doesn't change the fact that Goblins are monsters and people will kill them on sight unless they have a very good reason not to do so. A random Goblin walking up to a town with a crudely made truce flag would get shot full of arrows, and the guards on the wall who shot it would have a good laugh in barracks later that night. "Stupid little beast thought we would treat it like a person!" The only difference is now there will be more of a spotlight on those rare cases where people do have a very good reason not to kill said Goblin. About 95% of people should still see a Goblin and think "kill the monster" without stopping to worry about what it wants, and the other 5% will at least be willing to find out what the little monster jabbering excitedly at them wants before deciding to murder it or not.

These views weren't even backed up in 1st Edition.


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As far as it goes, the tribe in Hellknight Hill has specifically had a fairly significant period of peaceful coexistence with their neighbors in Breachill, with a personable and bookish Goblin ambassador living in town.


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Rysky wrote:
MidsouthGuy wrote:
Even though they are a core ancestry now, that doesn't change the fact that Goblins are monsters and people will kill them on sight unless they have a very good reason not to do so. A random Goblin walking up to a town with a crudely made truce flag would get shot full of arrows, and the guards on the wall who shot it would have a good laugh in barracks later that night. "Stupid little beast thought we would treat it like a person!" The only difference is now there will be more of a spotlight on those rare cases where people do have a very good reason not to kill said Goblin. About 95% of people should still see a Goblin and think "kill the monster" without stopping to worry about what it wants, and the other 5% will at least be willing to find out what the little monster jabbering excitedly at them wants before deciding to murder it or not.
These views weren't even backed up in 1st Edition.

I beg to differ. Lost an eye to those little psychopaths. Send any and all goblins over to Goblin Squash Stables - I've got a collection to show them before I reunite them with Chief Wartus...

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That sounds like a you problem.


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Rysky wrote:
That sounds like a you problem.

I'm getting retconned into a genocidal goblin killer. Sheriff Hemlock is probably on his way over...

Silver Crusade

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Killing the Goblin that took your eye, fine. Killing every Goblin because they're a Goblin? Yeah no retcon needed, you got a problem.


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What does that say about the goblin-ear bounty put out by Sandpoint in the first book of Jade Regent?


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Rysky wrote:
Killing the Goblin that took your eye, fine. Killing every Goblin because they're a Goblin? Yeah no retcon needed, you got a problem.

Probably just a matter of time before I get hauled into Magnimar for past "crimes against goblin-kind".

I preferred the good ol' days. Lopping off Goblin ears, putting bounties on the little buggers, pickling one of their Chiefs. Good times. Good times. What's a Goblinoid hating ranger to do these days?

Time's are a-changing. I'm going to find Shalelu and head over to the Rusty Dragon and get drunk. The world just up and changed on us...

And if I see even one deluded "Hug a Helpful Goblin" do-gooder, I'm gonna lose it...

Silver Crusade

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Joana wrote:
What does that say about the goblin-ear bounty put out by Sandpoint in the first book of Jade Regent?

On the one hand, it started back up because Goblins were attacking caravans cause they got a hold of fireworks.

On the other, it wasn't specifically targeted at the raiders but any goblin ears.

Silver Crusade

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Daviren Hosk wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Killing the Goblin that took your eye, fine. Killing every Goblin because they're a Goblin? Yeah no retcon needed, you got a problem.

Probably just a matter of time before I get hauled into Magnimar for past "crimes against goblin-kind".

I preferred the good ol' days. Lopping off Goblin ears, putting bounties on the little buggers, pickling one of their Chiefs. Good times. Good times. What's a Goblinoid hating ranger to do these days?

Time's are a-changing. I'm going to find Shalelu and head over to the Rusty Dragon and get drunk. The world just up and changed on us...

And if I see even one deluded "Hug a Helpful Goblin" do-gooder, I'm gonna lose it...

You are a sad, sad, strange little man.


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Rysky wrote:
Daviren Hosk wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Killing the Goblin that took your eye, fine. Killing every Goblin because they're a Goblin? Yeah no retcon needed, you got a problem.

Probably just a matter of time before I get hauled into Magnimar for past "crimes against goblin-kind".

I preferred the good ol' days. Lopping off Goblin ears, putting bounties on the little buggers, pickling one of their Chiefs. Good times. Good times. What's a Goblinoid hating ranger to do these days?

Time's are a-changing. I'm going to find Shalelu and head over to the Rusty Dragon and get drunk. The world just up and changed on us...

And if I see even one deluded "Hug a Helpful Goblin" do-gooder, I'm gonna lose it...

You are a sad, sad, strange little man.

You do realize that Daviren is a NPC in Sandpoint yes? And so far all he's said corresponds to that NPC.

To be fair though, Daviren is not a Good man, he is True Neutral.

Silver Crusade

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I am aware yes.

Dark Archive

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Can I just point out there was in Westcrown LN goblin who thought they were hellknight because hellknight lend them a fullplate and used him to guard sewer under neat their keep?

I mean, if hellknight of all people in early pathfinder can tolerate goblins, it'd be kinda weird if every villagers turned to hostile skyrim npcs on sight of them

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There's also a CN goblin helping an old lady run a noodle cart in a Chelaxian port town.


In Pathfinder: Goblins! #5, I saw a goblin chief eating a living human baby. I honestly have no idea how can people say they are not evil.

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Aenigma wrote:
In Pathfinder: Goblins! #5, I saw a goblin chief eating a living human baby. I honestly have no idea how can people say they are not evil.

In Pathfinder 1: Burnt Offerings there’s an Aasimar that worships Lamashtu.

Therefore all Aasimar are evil.

Shadow Lodge

Rysky wrote:
There's also a CN goblin helping an old lady run a noodle cart in a Chelaxian port town.

That's Pezzack, folk are weird down there.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, fundamentally saying "95% of people will attack this sentient thing on sight, regardless of what it's doing" is saying that at least 95% of people are monsters.

I fail to see the problem. People are monsters, and good riddance.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, fundamentally saying "95% of people will attack this sentient thing on sight, regardless of what it's doing" is saying that at least 95% of people are monsters.
I fail to see the problem. People are monsters, and good riddance.

I figure the percentage of "people who are monsters" is lower, like 40%.

Shadow Lodge

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, fundamentally saying "95% of people will attack this sentient thing on sight, regardless of what it's doing" is saying that at least 95% of people are monsters.
I fail to see the problem. People are monsters, and good riddance.
I figure the percentage of "people who are monsters" is lower, like 40%.

It seems all we're doing is haggling over price, which is fine.


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Rysky wrote:
Aenigma wrote:
In Pathfinder: Goblins! #5, I saw a goblin chief eating a living human baby. I honestly have no idea how can people say they are not evil.

In Pathfinder 1: Burnt Offerings there’s an Aasimar that worships Lamashtu.

Therefore all Aasimar are evil.

Only one aasimar among millions of aasimars in the world is confirmed evil(according to adventure paths, at least). But goblins? Many, many of them are confirmed evil and only a very small handful of them are confirmed non-evil. They are notorious for being baby-eating, fire-mongering monsters that have little to do with the creature comforts of a civilized humanoid society. Most of the goblins wouldn't think twice before sticking a sword throuh each and every human in the world and vice versa. So, while seeing some good goblin NPCs in adventure paths or making them as a PC race is good, outright making them as a non-evil race is bad, I guess.

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You missed the point I was making, you see one goblin eating a baby so therefore ALL Goblins are irredeemably evil.

Which isn’t true.

The notion that they want to kill all humans isn’t supported anywhere either.


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Don't see why the whole thing about most of them being evil can't just be interpreted as human prejudice that isn't quite accurate. It's not perfect, but it makes good goblins a lot easier to explain. And honestly, I find the idea of a humanoid sapient ancestry being inherently evil (even if there are exceptions) kind of gross anyway.

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Darth Game Master wrote:
And honestly, I find the idea of a humanoid sapient ancestry being inherently evil (even if there are exceptions) kind of gross anyway.

That was never* a thing outside of in-world prejudices. At their worst, creatures with the humanoid type were Usually Evil, where the "Usually" tag denoted a trend or tendency based on environment or historical baggage. Still more than a bit opaque and easily open to misinterpretation, but that was the text.

Always Evil was a thing for dragons, outsiders, undead, and other supernatural beings.

* I have not read every single Bestiary and AP-volume monster entry. There may be counterexamples of which I am not aware.


I'm aware of that, but some people seem to be making the argument that all/most goblins are evil. And "usually evil" isn't really much better.


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The way goblins approach settlements of other humanoids can make a big difference.

A large group of heavily armed goblins sneaking around? Probably up to no good.

A couple of lightly armed goblins openly walking down the road towards your settlement? At worst, watch them closely. Definitely hear them out.


David knott 242 wrote:


The way goblins approach settlements of other humanoids can make a big difference.

A large group of heavily armed goblins sneaking around? Probably up to no good.

A couple of lightly armed goblins openly walking down the road towards your settlement? At worst, watch them closely. Definitely hear them out.

Isn't this just true of everyone though? Like if 4 armed humans walk into a town, it's probably just adventurers, but keep an eye on them. If 30 armed humans approach a town, the populace is going to get nervous.

Of course, this also depends on the size of the city. 30 armed anything coming to Magnimar and 30 armed anything coming to Bitter Hollow will read differently.


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The sneaking part is important too. For a large group of armed humans, you need to know whether they are more interested in heading over to the tavern and getting drunk or in sacking the settlement. Both could be problems, but they would be handled in different ways.


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Darth Game Master wrote:
I'm aware of that, but some people seem to be making the argument that all/most goblins are evil. And "usually evil" isn't really much better.

I really don't see how anyone could make the case against the vast majority of goblins being evil in the pre-second edition world of Pathfinder/Golarion. Their traits are pretty well documented in numerous campaign books, modules, etc. For example, all of the goblin PCs are evil in the various We Be ... modules.

OK, Paizo has decided that they should now be less evil. It's their world and their right do do so. However, this still doesn't change my general dislike for them and the whole laughing and singing while torturing people with fire element of the culture which Paizo seemed happy to play up and promote up until the last year or so.

My least favorite aspect of PF2e is the inclusion of goblins as core race, which is made worse by having a goblin as the iconic alchemist. If I could easily remove the pages on goblin ancestry from the my PF2e rulebook without damaging it and cover the illustration on the back cover, I would do so in a heartbeat.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Isn't this just true of everyone though? Like if 4 armed humans walk into a town, it's probably just adventurers, but keep an eye on them.

Are you mad, man? If adventurers visit your town, you run for the hills and hope there's enough left to rebuild after they finish looting the place.

Liberty's Edge

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pjrogers wrote:
I really don't see how anyone could make the case against the vast majority of goblins being evil in the pre-second edition world of Pathfinder/Golarion. Their traits are pretty well documented in numerous campaign books, modules, etc. For example, all of the goblin PCs are evil in the various We Be ... modules.

This all remains true of most Goblins. To quote the PF2 Bestiary:

"While some goblins are civilized and have worked hard to be considered upstanding members of humanoid communities, most are impetuous and vicious creatures who delight in wreaking havoc."

So...most of them are in fact like this. Those who aren't are just a rapidly growing minority. More civilized and reasonable goblins may well be a majority eventually, but that time is still to come.

pjrogers wrote:
OK, Paizo has decided that they should now be less evil. It's their world and their right do do so. However, this still doesn't change my general dislike for them and the whole laughing and singing while torturing people with fire element of the culture which Paizo seemed happy to play up and promote up until the last year or so.

It's still an element of the culture of most goblins. It's right in their Bestiary description. It also hasn't been a particularly successful cultural direction, so some of them are changing their ways as a people. That's all that has happened.


Goblin Ancestry wrote:
Though goblins’ culture has splintered radically, their reputation has changed little.

Has it been explained what has caused this radical culture shift? And if their reputation has not changed, how should it affect a goblin PC?

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WagnerSika wrote:
Goblin Ancestry wrote:
Though goblins’ culture has splintered radically, their reputation has changed little.

Has it been explained what has caused this radical culture shift? And if their reputation has not changed, how should it affect a goblin PC?

High birth rate + quick maturation + high mortality rate lends itself to quick culture changes.

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Rysky wrote:
WagnerSika wrote:
Goblin Ancestry wrote:
Though goblins’ culture has splintered radically, their reputation has changed little.

Has it been explained what has caused this radical culture shift? And if their reputation has not changed, how should it affect a goblin PC?

High birth rate + quick maturation + high mortality rate lends itself to quick culture changes.

That's an explanation for the speed of the change, not its cause.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Rysky wrote:
WagnerSika wrote:
Goblin Ancestry wrote:
Though goblins’ culture has splintered radically, their reputation has changed little.

Has it been explained what has caused this radical culture shift? And if their reputation has not changed, how should it affect a goblin PC?

High birth rate + quick maturation + high mortality rate lends itself to quick culture changes.
That's an explanation for the speed of the change, not its cause.

Probably "the old ways weren't working out so good, so some goblins had the bright idea to try something different, which seems to be working better" is sufficient.

If there's one thing we know about goblins is that they are willing to try things with a lot of enthusiasm.

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"Hmm, they went charging at the human city and got all stabbied... let's not do that." seems pretty basic.


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Especially if...

"Most of the bigger gobbos in the tribe got killed and there aren't enough around to really enforce the older societal norms, so the young'uns are both less starved for resources (because the adults who would normally be hogging them are pushing up daisies) and less subject to terrible, terrible role models."

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Probably "the old ways weren't working out so good, so some goblins had the bright idea to try something different, which seems to be working better" is sufficient.

The point is that it is in no way sufficient.

In the first place, who's to say things weren't working out well for goblins? They were successful from an evolutionaty perspective, fecund and adaptable, thus found just about everywhere. They weren't doing well as a nation from the point of view of world-power competition or cultural development, but that didn't bother them. They even had taboos against writing, when oral tradition has pretty obvious drawbacks. If you want to explain goblin discontent with the status quo, you need an impetus for goblin nationalism.

Fortunately, you have two: the defeat in the Goblinblood Wars and the establishment of Oprak. Either alone would be sufficient to wake a national consciousness, and together they're especially strong. They also indicate that this development is not sudden at all, but has been a long time coming.

Just having a bright idea out of nowhere and it happening to catch on? That's not good enough. The points raised by Rysky and Cole Deschain are good insofar as they point to barriers being cleared away in front of the new nationalism, but they aren't an explanation for it, merely its success.

Silver Crusade

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It makes more sense when you actually think of Goblins like people. As Cole explained more in detail, if people aren't around to enforce negative societal norms then there's more variance among the populace.

Thinking about them from a completely detached viewpoint where getting routinely slaughtered is them "doing well", of course that's going to crash when you enter the person element.

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Rysky wrote:
if people aren't around to enforce negative societal norms then there's more variance among the populace.

That's not how it works at all. The more likely result from a culling of the leadership of a society is that society's collapse, not a cultural flowering.

You need special circumstances to get a cultural flowering even after all the old guard have died off - it doesn't just come from nowhere, or because people spontaneously generate good ideas that are no longer suppressed. Fortunately, you have special circumstances here. And we don't have a sudden development from nowhere, but the culmination of a development that's been building for generations.

Silver Crusade

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So your rebuttal is touting assumptions as fact.

As we’ve been saying, we have current generations of goblins who have seen what happens when you go psycho pyro on others. There’s always been good goblins, but only are we seeing larger cultural groups of good goblins, which is still just on a tribe/village by case basis, there’s not some major good aligned goblin network about.

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Rysky wrote:
there’s not some major good aligned goblin network about.

I didn't say there was. All I'm saying is that the sociological shift we see actually has a sociological explanation, and isn't a matter of pure will.

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