Goblinoid Culture

Goblinoids tend to be obsessed with the concept of racial purity. Goblinoid legendry insists that some among them are the descendents of a fallen god, and that proof of that lineage comes from excellence of deeds and purity of blood. Only through battle can a tribe's right to that glorious honor be proven, and only by jealously guarding the purity of a tribe's bloodlines will that honor remain. Their worst rivals in this are other goblinoid tribes, and it's a testament to the depth of hatred between most goblinoid tribes that given the choice, they'd sooner fight each other than the humans.

Most tribes recognize a very few neighbors as being of equally worthy lineage. Those tribes are suitable sources for wives and husbands. The only other fit way for acquiring mates is through raiding, as any goblinoid female taken in battle is considered 'purified' by the method of claiming, and thus worthy to bear offspring. Goblinoid males are always fighting over possession of prized females, and only a strong chieftain can keep his warriors from frittering away some of their number in such challenges. Among the females, status disputes tend to involve much less open violence and far more intricate maneuvers aimed at getting a rival's mate killed or humiliated. More than one senseless goblin raid into the teeth of Xianese defenses has been provoked by a tribeswoman eager to punish the raid leader's wife. That it results in a dead male is considered no more than the ordinary price of business among the female goblinoids.

Most females are counted little more than chattel by their mates, though even the lowliest among them tend to have distinct influence with the males. Every warrior is aware that it is much harder to keep a woman who does not want to be kept, and particularly brutal mates risk the anger of the tribe's shamaness. Most goblinoid males are too thick-witted and graceless to realize the degree of manipulation employed against them on a regular basis, and recognize only the blunter, more direct threats involved. The physical weakness of most goblinoid females tends to encourage an affinity for poisons, discreet knifing, and methodical use of other males to get their purposes accomplished. Males ostensibly rule the tribes, but far fewer of them actually reach old age.

Those females that rise above their common station tend to come in two kinds. One variety are females who demand the rights of a warrior, proving their worthiness in battle. Success confers all the privileges due a male, albeit other females are apt to view such warrior-witches as freaks and dunces for abandoning their traditional means of influence. Male goblinoids tend to view such amazons with frank terror, as their male rights include the privilege of a harem. Those amazons who favor males have absolutely no compunction about treating defeated rivals with witch-maker oil before claiming the new 'female'. Horror of such a fate greatly discourages other males from making any challenge that isn't certain of success.

The other variety are the shamanesses who contact the ancestor spirits. As almost all goblinoid spellcasters are female, the success of a tribe depends not only on the strength of its chieftain, but the cunning and power of its priestesses. Such priestesses rarely concern themselves overmuch with the other intrigues of their gender as they have their own authority and respect to wield, though they try to keep aware of the undercurrents that might send the tribe's chieftain haring off on some doomed errand. A very few shamans and witch doctors are male, and almost all of them have been dosed with witch-maker oil to 'correct' their mistaken gender. While there is no disgrace in adopting the role, some goblinoid males are unsurprisingly reluctant to offer up that much to the spirits. Those who would escape the treatment must hide their magical affinities well.

Goblinoids are united in few things save their hatred for the other sentient species of the Sunset Isles. While occasional families of thralls are found in human lands, any form of alliance or peaceful contact between a native tribe and another species is unheard-of. Even Half-goblinoids have little hope of dealing peacefully with the tribes. Such halfbreed creatures are sired on human women as an insult to the weakness of the city-dwellers, and the few halfbreeds begotten on tribal women are usually killed young unless they seem strong and clever enough to make a good thrall.

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