Friday, April 8, 2011

[From A to Z in Kalamar] Hobgoblins

On Tellene there are one race which in addition to humans, elves and dwarves have managed to build a civilization. I quite like the fact that it happen to be the hobgoblins.

Having humans in funny suits is not all that interesting, and the kind of anthopology 101 that Glorantha becomes in it's worse moments is probably not that fun either. Well, the latter might not be true if you like to read more than play, and enjoy canon debates, but let's ignore that for now.

So, hobgoblins are something special, and quite interesting without the above mentioned excesses. Two things define hobgoblins, and they are enough to build an alien enough society to be fun. Those two things are strength and honour. While strength is kind of self explanatory, it is very focused. It means you have to have the power, since power is strength, to control the most precious of all, someones life. Being able to kill, but not necessarily to do it, is a defining factor in the hobgoblin culture. The second one, honour, is all about doing something the right way. Exercising influence, or proving your ability is honourable. Now combining that with the value of strength is interesting.

Imagine you are fighting a hobgoblin, and you are actually a character of some standing. Should your weapon break, or you fall, your hobgoblin opponent might actually stop and yell to his subordinate to provide you with a weapon so the fight can continue! This makes me think of intelligent gamers who suddenly stricken by the brain damage that is alignment rules, will sometimes kill defenseless kobolds or orcish females and cubs "because they are evil". What's the honour in that?

Take one trait, and then another which seem to be slightly ajar from the first one and make them the basis of a demi-human culture and I think you'll have something interesting on your hands. How hobgoblins are treated in KoK is one of the subtler things I like with this setting.

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