Four Keys to Understanding Goblin
Tradition and Location: Goblins and the Goblin language have a great respect for tradition. Stories and legends from the Age of Dhakaan still inspire the goblin races today. The language is slow to change, but change it does. Darguun, founded in what was once the seat of ancient goblin power, is the most conservative culturally and linguistically. Goblins in other parts of Khorvaire, especially those living in human cities may use words differently. In Darguun, chib meaning “boss” or “big man” is used by goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears alike exclusively to address someone of higher stature. In Sharn, however, it is commonly used by goblins to address anyone bigger or powerful than them, whether hobgoblin, bugbear, human, or dwarf.
Honor: Goblins are deeply concerned with honor. References to honor are encountered in many contexts, from praise (the expression of admiration Paatcha! literally means “to offer honor”) to greetings (contrast the casual saa with the more formal saa’atcha, the equivalent of “I’m honored to meet you”). Goblin recognizes two distinct forms of honor, however. Atcha refers to personal honor, earned through deeds and carefully protected. Muut refers to ordinary honor or duty, something gained by doing one’s job properly. A warrior earns atcha in battle; a guard gains muut by observing his watch faithfully and well.
Hierachy: Goblins are keenly aware of their status (even informally) in relationship to other goblins. This is most obvious in insults: taat is a term for someone of lower status than the speaker, while gaa’taat, even more offensive, says that someone is less than a child. Hierarchy can more subtly be seen in in the expression of gratitude, however. In most circumstances, the proper response to the rendering of a service is ta muut, “you have muut.” Generally interpreted this as “thank you,” it is correctly “you have done your job.” It is an acknowledgement that carries no sense of debt or obligation on the part of the speaker. Only a goblin who feels a deep and true sense of indebtedness would use the phrase Ya panozhii kita atcha—”I owe a debt to your honor.” It is worth noting that Goblin has no expression equivalent to “you’re welcome.” Acknowledgement and thanks are accepted as a due and require no response.
Body Language: Spoken words are only a part of Goblin conversation. In addition to body postures common to all humanoids, goblins have mobile ears—hobgoblins more so than goblins or bugbears—that express attitude, anxiety, and other emotions. Applause is shown by striking the chest with an open hand, a salute by striking with a closed fist. Most notably, goblins do not casually touch. The shaking of hands is regarded as a human affectation—oaths are sealed by the touching of blades. Public embraces are discomforting for those involved and for witnesses. Embraces are reserved for trusted family members in private, although exceptions are made for those bound together as shava (see below) and warriors caught up in the excitement of victory.
aram: Wrath or righteous anger. Also the proper Goblin name of the legendary Sword of Heroes forged from byeshk by the legendary Dhakaani dashoor Taruuzh during the Daelkyr War and now carried by the shifter Geth.
atcha: The goblin concept of personal honor, something which is earned and carefully protected. Compare with muut.
atchot: To look someone in the eye.
ban: Goblin expression of non-commital agreement, roughly equivalent to “yeah, alright” or “your funeral.”
Blood of Six Kings: An oath of sincerity among goblins.
chaat’oor: Goblin term for any species not native to Khorvaire, especially humans, but with the exception of elves. It is often loosely translated as “defiler.”
chib: Goblin for “boss” or “big man.” Used colloquially by goblins outside of Darguun to refer to any taller humanoid, including hobgoblins, humans, and dwarves.
Chit guulen pamuut ran: A goblin expression. “There is strength in honoring a sacrifice.”
cho: Goblin expression of informal agreement with or acknowledgement of a statement made, roughy equivalent to “yes” or “okay.”
daashor: A goblin artificer, especially one from the time of the Empire of Dhakaan. The secret knowledge of the daashor has largely vanished, but at one time, they were capable of creating wonders. Most daashor were male (in contrast to the largely female duur’kala).
dar: Goblin for “the people. It is the ancient collective term for the hobgoblin, goblin, and bugbear races, though it and the derivative names for the individual races are seldom used today.
Darguun: Literally translated, Darguun is the “Land of the People.”
Desperate Times, The: The dark ages of chaos after the fall of the Empire of Dhakaan. Particularly conservative members of the Dhakaani Clans might argue that the Desperate Times extend into the present, but most goblin historians agree that the Desperate Times ended with the domination of Khorvaire by humans, somewhere between 3,000 years (when the human Karrn the Conqueror established Karrnath) and 2,000 years (when Galifar I united the Five Nations in a single kingdom) before the present.
duur’kala: Among the Dhakaani Clans, particularly the Kech Volaar, duur’kala preserve the history and knowledge of past ages. Their music is the most common form of magic among the clans. Duur’kala means “dirge singers.” Because the magic manifests mostly in females, duur’kala are often called “daughters of the dirge” and elders are referred to as “mothers of the dirge.”
gaa’ma: Goblin pejorative term for changelings. Literally translated, it means “wax babies.”
gaanu duur: “Daughter of the dirge,” an alternative term for duur’kala.
gaa’taat: A highly insulting Goblin term suggesting that someone is less than a child.
gath’atcha: Goblin for “without honor.” In most cases used by the speaker as a means of showing contrition and offering apology, but a serious insult when said of someone else.
ghaal: Goblin for “mighty” with specific connotations of prowess in battle.
ghaal’dar: The ancient name for the hobgoblin race, it means “mighty people.” In the present time, Ghaal’dar is also the name of the loose confederacy of goblin clans living in the lowlands of Darguun, especially in the broad area around the Ghaal River. Notable Ghaal’dar clans include the Gan’duur (“Eaters of Sorrow”), the Gantii Vus (“Hungry Flame”), the Ja’aram (“Bright Anger”), the Mur Talaan (“Horned Shoulders”), the Rhukaan Taash (“Razor Crown”), the Marhaan, the Ghaal Sehn, and the Pin Galaac.
goblin: A term that causes much confusion as it applies both to the small-statured goblin race and to the three related races of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears (as well as other less well-known races). The longstanding tradition of referring to the related races by the term “goblinoid” has been abandoned by forward-thinking scholars of Wynarn and Morgrave Universities, an attitude that is slowly spreading among the general population.
Goblin cuisine: While often unrecognized by more “civilized” races, goblins have an ancient and well-established culinary culture. Typical goblin cuisine varies by region (that of Darguul is more “pure” and exotic, that of city goblins more influenced by human cooking) and somewhat by race. Food tends to emphasize a chewy texture, and sour and bitter flavors—a preference carried over into wine and beermaking. Buns and starchy balls of noon are common staples and pickling is a favorite form of both preservation and seasoning. Boiling and steaming (often in flavored liquids) are the most common cooking methods. All food is relatively simple, hearty, and portable once prepared; goblin food sticks closest to this, while high class hobgoblin food can be varied and labor intensive. Bugbear food is the least finicky, often along the lines of meat on a stick or a pot over the fire. Surprisingly, goblins also have a remarkable sweet tooth and desserts such as shaat’aar have found popularity as street snacks in Sharn and other southern cities.
golin: Goblin for “quick.” Among hobgoblins and bugbears, it refers only to speed, but goblins use it to refer to intelligence as well.
golin’dar: The ancient name for the goblin race, it means “quick people.” The term “goblin” is a corruption of golin’dar.
guul: Goblin for “strong.”
guul’dar: The ancient name for the bugbear race, it means “strong people.”
Itaa!: A Goblin war-command equivalent to “Attack!”
Je’shaarat mi paa kotanaa: A goblin expression. “A sharp sword hurts less when you fall on it.”
kaas: The number five, but also the word for “hand” and for the first person plural (“we”).
Khaavolaar!: A Goblin curse of frustration or amazement. It is a contraction of “Khaar volaar” or “blood of the word.”
kiirin: A traditional goblin stringed instrument. Records show that it was played in the time of the Dhakaani Empire.
lhesh: Goblin for “high warlord.” In time of the Dhakaani Empire, a lhesh was a general given command of the empire’s armies for a set period of time. In modern times, Haruuc has adopted the term as the title of the ruler of Darguun.
lhesh shaarat: A class of goblin weaponry so finely-forged that they are recognized as suitable only for the greatest warriors. “Lhesh shaarat” means “warlord’s sword,” and the act of drawing one is a claim to power.
lhevk-rhu: “Skilled warlord,” the third highest formal rank in Darguun’s army. A lhevk-rhu is outranked only by a lhevket (“elder warlord”) or the lhesh.
Maabet!: An extremely ancient Goblin curse word still in use today. There is no known translation.
marhu: an emperor, specifically the emperor of Dhakaan.
mazo: Goblin affirmative, stronger than “yes” and used specifically when discussing plans or acknowledging orders.
muut: The goblin concept of ordinary honor or duty, something gained by doing one’s job properly. Compare with atcha.
noon: A starchy grain, most often pressed into compact balls, that is a staple of the traditional goblin diet and that still forms an important part of goblin cuisine.
paaldaask: A spellcaster. Literally a “spell-warrior.”
Paatcha!: An offer of honor through admiration, spoken as a compliment or delivered as an imperative to troops. Literally “to offer honor.”
ran: a willing sacrifice, particularly someone who gives himself up in battle for the greater good.
Raat shan gath’kal dor: “The story stops but never ends.” The traditional closing of hobgoblin legends.
Raat shi anaa: “The story continues.” The traditional opening to hobgoblin legends.
roo: Goblin for “friendly stranger,” someone unknown to the speaker but not an obvious enemy (pl. rooz).
saa: A casual Goblin greeting. A more formal greeting is saa’atcha, roughly equivalent to “It is an honor to meet you.”
shaat’aar: A small sweet bun filled with honey cream. A common Goblin sweet.
shava: One of the most honored goblin traditions, shava is best translated as “sword brother,” someone a warrior trusts with his life. The relationship between shava is exceptionally strong and carries with it significant responsibilities and expectations. Most goblin warriors never even consider taking a shava.
Shii marhu polto huuntad ka ruuska atchot: A goblin expression. “Even an emperor must think twice when looking a tiger in the eye.”
Silent Clans, the: Although technically numbered among the Dhakaani clans, the two Silent Clans stand apart. They are formed entirely of goblins and are renowned for their stealth: the taarka’khesh (“silent wolves”) are scouts, while the shaarat’khesh (“silent blades”) are spies and assassins. By ancient tradition, the Silent Clans do not take sides in any conflict, instead acting as mercenaries of complete impartiality and reliability.
taat: Goblin term for someone of significantly lesser status than the speaker. Derogatory and insulting.
To hold a sword by the blade: A goblin expression for being in a risky situation.
Toh!: A Goblin warning cry (“Beware!”).
tuuv: To buy or to own.
tuuvoto: A slave—literally a person that is bought or owned.