Dude. Goblins? Seriously?

Goblins: yes. Seriously: not a chance.

In the early days of writing Legacy of Torr, a few of my diligent critique partners questioned my sanity in using goblins. The word cliché was mentioned and, granted, there are goblins all over the place. Tolkien did some, Warhammer, Warcraft, and Harry Potter met some creatures at least called goblins. But I had a plan! In the face of doubt, I stuck to my crossbows.

Why? Goblins are funny.

While goblins are far from the be all and end all of Legacy, I knew I had loads of scope to write something interesting and entertaining with these little green guys. I’m a fan first and a writer second so I write what I want to read. Anything else and I’d probably just get bored or manufacture something bereft of soul. Bruce Lee often spoke of emotional content and I agree that the best works come from the creator pouring heart and soul into them. But I’m not here to tell you how to write, I’m here to talk about goblins.

I never quite understood Tolkien’s goblins. They appeared synonymous with orcs—hopefully someone can enlighten me here—although Saruman must have been able to tell the difference when he made the Uruk Hai. But really, they were more of a faceless enemy than characters in themselves (don’t call a witch hunt, I love Tolkien!). Warhammer, Warcraft and Merlin epitomised the goblins for me and I’d like to think of the Legacy goblins as my interpretation inspired by these. Their boundless cunning vastly outstrips their competence to successfully execute their plans and the logical flaws in their thought processes make for fun consequences. The goblin episode in Merlin is one of my favourites and captures the air of mischief surrounding these creatures.

In folklore, many sources place goblin origins in the Germanic world, either as a derivative from kobolds or the Nibelung (though the Encyclopaedia Britannica claims a Greek origin from the word kobalos—sounds awfully like that Germanic version, right?). Others place them as far afield as Japan and India. Most folklore that I’ve seen agrees on their playful and mischievous nature, although the jury seems to be out on whether they’re good guys or bad guys. As usual, I suspect it’s all a matter of perspective.

The whole Legacy of Torr saga grew from a little scene containing some Taeban guards and a couple of goblin characters. I cut that scene during editing but it sufficed to fire the creative engine. One day, after Legacy finds its way into the hearts and minds of the masses, I’ll make it available on the website in DVD special feature style.

Sure, I could have painted my goblins blue and called them smurfs avatars, but a goblin by any other name is still a goblin. If it looks like a goblin, smells like festival toilets and is stealing things from your kitchen, it’s probably a goblin. I’ve often heard it’s what you do with it that counts. With goblins, I knew I could create chaos in new and interesting ways. There’s certainly some goblin behaviour in the Legacy of Torr stories that I’ve not seen anywhere else. You’ll know it when you see it.

 

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