What is it that makes goblinoids different from non-goblinoids?

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
As an aside, my view of the goblinoids has forever been corrupted/formed/influenced by the art in 2e. I especially find the later more bestial bugbear pictures unrelatable.
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On the other hand, I have no particular memory of the goblin:
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I really liked Birthright's way of combining goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears into one goblin species that just had a large size variation. To me that gave it a more of a fey feel before 5e started to double down on it.

Pre-Birthright, I just considered all the humanoids to be separate species, other than goblin and hobgoblin, which seemed to be D&D's take on Tolkien's Orcs more so than actual D&D pig faced orcs.
 

Haiku Elvis

Knuckle-dusters, glass jaws and wooden hearts.
Pre-Birthright, I just considered all the humanoids to be separate species, other than goblin and hobgoblin, which seemed to be D&D's take on Tolkien's Orcs more so than actual D&D pig faced orcs.
I'd agree with this 100%. I don't know if there is anone here more up on their Ye Olden days of D&D of yore lore but I wonder if avoiding the Tolkien legal department ringwraiths was a motivation for mixing them up a bit at some point. I'm not sure when D&D Orcs settled into their known form.

I know the Tolkien estate can be a bit ban happy these days but I don't know if that was true back then. I believe Balrogs and other direct borrowings were a thing in the early days of D&D too so maybe not.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I'd agree with this 100%. I don't know if there is anone here more up on their Ye Olden days of D&D of yore lore but I wonder if avoiding the Tolkien legal department ringwraiths was a motivation for mixing them up a bit at some point. I'm not sure when D&D Orcs settled into their known form.

I know the Tolkien estate can be a bit ban happy these days but I don't know if that was true back then. I believe Balrogs and other direct borrowings were a thing in the early days of D&D too so maybe not.
Hobbit, Ent, and Balrog were successfully sued by Tolkien forcing a change in the names. However the use of the name Orc for a humanoid monster predates Tolkien (even though the particular presentation was LotR inspired)
 

Guang

Explorer
I really liked Birthright's way of combining goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears into one goblin species that just had a large size variation.
I didn't know that Birthright did this. I'm not all that familiar with the setting. Is goblin info spread throughout the birthright sourcebooks, or is it concentrated in one or more of the "secrets" books?
I'm interested to see how they handle it.
 

I didn't know that Birthright did this. I'm not all that familiar with the setting. Is goblin info spread throughout the birthright sourcebooks, or is it concentrated in one or more of the "secrets" books?
I'm interested to see how they handle it.
I would just google goblin (cerilia) and look at the Monster Manual entry. There is an entry on birthright.net, that gives mostly the same information but with a lot more "goblins are really uncreative and can't figure out farming" while still having several kingdoms.
 

Guang

Explorer
I would just google goblin (cerilia) and look at the Monster Manual entry. There is an entry on birthright.net, that gives mostly the same information but with a lot more "goblins are really uncreative and can't figure out farming" while still having several kingdoms.
Thanks. Not much detail, after all.

Seems like there is no answer available to my main question - but the process has been very interesting. Thank you all
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Which is fascinating - and makes me think "what is the actual definition of goblinoid, independently from which creatures the term includes?"
It's totally meta:

Goblinoid (adj): the term used by D&D adventure designers for low-level mooks used as opponents in introductory or low-level adventures.

Note that orcs and kobolds are actually goblinoid, though most monster manuals don't state so explicitly.
 


Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I don’t see any difference and since I started my campaign world in the late 80s, Orcs and goblinoids have all been part of the same humanoid species. I don’t see the need for them to be separate.
Agreed, I tend to default to an "all one species" approach to my fantasy races and use the monsters as variations of similar types of people. I consider elves, goblinkin, halflings, humans, kobolds, and orcs to be one race, for example, but I also think there are differences just as there are differences between real life groups of people. I think the majority of the differences are due to history, but there is also the natural variation present in the larger group and, because it's fantasy, historical associations of certain groups with divine beings, etc.

Since you seem to be focusing on the differences between goblinoids and orcs, I tend to think of goblins (and kobolds) in particular as the group into which all the ancient races of corrupted elves devolved and which forms the base of new attempts to breed armies of super goblins, of which hobgoblins are the prime example, as well as providing an underclass of servants for said armies. Orcs, on the other hand, I think of alternatively as feral overgrown goblins or as a variation on hobgoblins, bred for destruction, perhaps by some mad wizard and with possible human strains added to the mix. So, yeah, it's all pretty muddled.
 

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