Against the Flow
Goblins aren’t as much a civilization as a natural disaster. Goblins breed like tribbles, eat anything and quickly exhaust the resources of any area they conquer. The old joke among veterans of goblin invasions is that the reinforcements you’re facing now hadn’t been born when the battle started. This isn’t far from the truth – goblin litters can reach adulthood within under two years, which means that the soldiers on the line today may have been born when the campaign started.
The strength and intelligence of a goblin is strongly dependent on the quality of food available as it matures. In lean times, goblin bands produce “simple” goblins: dwarf-sized creatures of low strength and poor intellect. With better nutrition bands produce more powerful breeds, like the hobgoblin and bugbear. The simple nature and quick breeding of goblins have made them popular as minions for various dark forces; some have made attempts to manipulate and improve the goblin form through magic. It is believed that the barghest, a powerful creature that seems to be part goblin, part werewolf, is a product of these manipulations and rumors of other forms exist.
Technology and Ships
Goblins produce very little on their own. If left to their own devices they will be armed with crude clubs, daggers and spears, but will make use of any technology that falls into their hands. Goblins don’t produce firearms or gunpowder, but most do understand their use. Likewise, goblins will take to the skies in any ship they can capture, salvage or hobble together. Goblin fleets are ragtag, mismatched collections of garbage, and most goblin leaders know no tactics aside from the headlong rush. However, with their great and easily replenished numbers, this is as often as not a winning strategy.
A generation ago the great fleet of the Elven Imperium went on crusade to destroy the threat of the goblins once and for all. Fighting went on for years and both sides saw immense losses, driving the power of the Silver Navy to such a low state that they lost control over many periphery worlds. Into that power vacuum stepped a number of rising new powers, including several human civilizations. Several of these powers allied with the Imperium against the goblins, but not before they had insured their own positions. Together the allied powers drove the bulk of the goblin hordes out beyond the reaches of known space. Since then, goblin sightings have been relegated to the occasional planetbound outbreak, but there are rumors that the Hordes are still out there, rebuilding their strength.