Iron and Leaves
A race of scavengers and servants
Most other races consider wild goblins to be debased creatures with little morality. They’re not considered evil or cruel or sinister, as much as disturbing.
Left alone, goblin societies resemble anarchy to any outsider, although they tend to grow an alpha goblin among any tribe. Any goblin tribe of more than about two dozen of the animals tends to fall apart without an outside master, usually human. Goblins are actually rather good at organizing to make sure everyone’s needs get met, but when they start to threaten each other’s resources, tribes quickly split into rivals.
However, goblins are also renowned among some groups of humans as excellent servants, especially for unpleasant or difficult jobs, since they adapt so thoroughly. Many goblins are servants or workers within human cities and settlements. Some are treated well and some poorly, but almost nowhere are they treated as equal to the other races of the Empire.
Elves and dwarves almost never use goblins as servants or workers, and if they do it’s almost always within a human-dominated city. That’s not to say that they treat goblins better. In fact, they tend to view goblins as monsters rather than slaves, which is a questionable improvement. A halfling with a goblin servant is unheard of.
Goblins are infinitely adaptable beings; their “natural” form, if you can call it that, is small in stature with mottled green, brown, or grey skin, pointy ear, and narrow faces. However, their forms have the unique ability to adapt to their environment very quickly (in days, weeks, or months depending on the degree of change). Even more unusual, their off-spring are bron with the same characteristics (though they may, of course, evolve in different directions from there). Even strong magic and torture can warp their bodies.
Twisted sorcerers, mad overlords, and others have created several subspecies, collectively called goblin-kin, derived from goblins over the centuries.
The most famous are the orcs. When the elves created the first Orc Lord ages ago to defeat the Lich King, they created a magical contagion of sorts—the Orc Lord changed all goblins in it’s domain into orcs. When the first Orc Lord died, orcs didn’t disappear with it. They continue to be spawned in the Frost Range in vast numbers. It is rumored that any goblins that venture there begin to be transformed, though most goblins avoid the area if at all possible. The impact of a new Orc Lord arising is not yet known.
(There is debate whether trolls are truly goblin-kin. It seems clear that they are related to goblins, but the few wizards and scholars who’ve studied them believe they moved to the underworld long ago and have separated enough from goblins to be a new race rather than a derivative. Still, trolls are still classified as goblin-kin in most texts.)
Goblins, magic, and religion
Goblins have no common religion (at least not that outsiders are aware of). Goblins living among other races often adopt their religions if allowed, or create their own version based on what they observe if excluded.
Except for Zelu, no goblin sorcerers have been known. Most sorcerers assume they are not intelligent enough. However, they have an innate responsiveness to magic that could have interesting ramifications if ever taught. Zelu will change the way the world thinks about goblins and magic.