Monday, 29 August 2016

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Bands, Tribes, and Territorial Borders

This is the second in a three-part series of posts about the geography of the Saga of the Goblin Horde setting, referencing the map created by Eli Kurtz of the Mythic Gazetteer.

In my previous post I discussed the natural borders surrounding the goblin lands, so this time I'd like to talk about the organization and territorial borders of the goblin tribes.

An extended family of goblins is called a "band", and these bands operate as independent social units of around 50-100 individuals. Several bands will sometimes merge together to form a "tribe", with the strongest family head declaring themselves chieftain, and the leaders of the other bands forming the council of elders.

There are many smaller tribes, but the region is dominated by six major tribes: Redfang, Icerunner, Nightsworn, Bonedigger, Longknife and Stonefist. These six tribes have divided up the entire territory between them, and usually try to eliminate or absorb any smaller tribes they encounter on "their" turf.

Click to enlarge (to 25% of the full size map).

It's worth noting that all six territories border on the Obsidian Valley. This 30-mile dale is considered a holy place, a neutral meeting point for the tribes, where they gather for their yearly moot.

Players in Saga of the Goblin Horde take on the role of gang bosses belonging to the Redfang tribe, the secrets of the other tribes gradually revealed throughout the campaign, but here is a very brief overview of the major goblin factions:

Redfang: With upward of 25,000 members, this is the largest of the tribes, and also the most varied and inclusive. Redfang will recruit anyone, regardless of breed, gender, competence, or even willingness to join the tribe.

Icerunner: This tribe first appeared only a few years ago, on the peaks of the Longtooth Mountains, sporting an unusual new mutation. It is assumed that these "snow goblins" are a recent development, but those familiar with my fan supplements might recognize the crossover potential ;)

Nightsworn: The leaders of this tribe are devout worshipers of the Shadow Queen, and Nightsworn goblins can frequently be encountered on pilgrimages, walking from their home in Darkmire Swamp to the Dome of Shadows at the north-west end of the Obsidian Valley.

Bonedigger: At around 6,000 members, this is the smallest of the main tribes. However it is led by a cadre of vicious necromancers, who fill out the ranks with animated skeletons and zombies. These undead fodder allow the tribe to punch above its weight.

Longknife: Particularly sneaky even for goblins, most of the tribe lives in a vast network of caves under Westside Plateau. Longknife goblins are particularly well known for their fondness for dirty tricks, favoring ambushes and assassinations over direct battle.

Stonefist: Despite their apparent proximity to the Icerunner goblins, there is practically no interaction between the two tribes, because the Icerunners live on the mountain peaks while the Stonefist tribe lives in extensive cavern networks deep under the mountains.

In the next and final part in this series of blog posts, I'll give an overview of the hexcrawl system, and talk about how it ties in to the Plot Point Campaign.