Goblin stories are fun to write, but many people ask me why goblins.
Goblin Running is the first goblin story written for NibbleReads, so most people won’t know about my fascination with these fantasy creatures and don’t know about my sympathetic leanings towards what is, generally speaking, considered an evil race to be reviled and killed off.
Even when I played Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), typically creating and running the game, I would include many sympathetic goblins, to the point where the players would have to remind me that goblins are EVIL and to stop trying to make them feel sorry for them because it takes the fun out of stopping them.
Yeah, I was good enough to encourage sympathy from hard core D&D players who, well, hate goblins a lot.
The trick to getting hard core D&D players who love killing off evil goblins is to complicate the dynamic a lot. Rather than using the Lord of the Rings mentality of all goblins are bloody thirsty killers who fight amongst themselves and enjoy killing humans for no reason other than fun, I inject a sense of community into the mix.
Instead of goblins being terrible in all ways, who come out of the forests and mountains only to kill defenseless farmers, I create their home, basic farming, leaders with concerns for their tribe. Sure, they are still brutal with a culture that is unhuman like, but they still work together, have families with children (globlets? lol) and co-operate to a degree.
They typically still attempt to kill of their kings or leaders so the new batch can take control (we do that too), but generally speaking, goblins have a society with land, food and families in them. In this sense, are they much different to how we life?
So when humans romp on into a tribe, kill off half the society and take a bunch of them away to work as slaves, it is understandable that the goblins would become upset about it. Angry, in fact.
When human expand their cities and towns and begin cutting down forests only to expose hostile goblins, is it actually difficult to understand that the goblins are upset and, given their society is based on the land like every other living thing ever, that they would defend it?
In effect, goblins, while tough and unsophisticated from the outside, could be deemed to be victims of huuman expansion.
And this is where the entire concept of using goblins becomes a wonderful means to tell stories about us. About how we humans, in this real world, are prone to expanding our land use to the detriment of all others, including ourselves. How expansionist societies deem the hostile locals as barbaric, uncouth and stupid compared to the invaders.
I use goblin stories to share how we think of ourselves and how we think of others.
I have lost count of how many times I hear people in one area or culture talk about people in other areas and cultures and being “less” than they are.
To me, every single subset of cultures around the world are all human. All fallible in roughly the same ways. One set of people is no better, or worse, than the other. Yet we effectively think of ourselves as being different to other types of people.
My goblin stories are my attempt to clearly state injustices between us. It is not about the battle between goblin and humans, evil verse good, or brutal verse civilised. It is about how we all can take a bit more time to get to know each other before deciding anything about the others.
From experience, whenever I enter a new location or culture, I learn and entrench within myself that we are more alike than not. And that when people get to know their first White person, that I don’t fit into their version of what it is to be White. And the funny thing is that they keep their versions of that culture and prefer to accept me as being more them. I consistently challenge people change their perceptions of the others rather than accept me as part of them.
Goblins are my vehicle to explore these aspect of being human. Goblins are, in effect, the people we do not know yet and we should do more to get to know them better before judging them.