Garballington Games

Goblin Miniatures

Goblin Miniatures and Mythology

Goblins from Dungeons and Dragons Goblin Miniatures
Goblins on the move.

Goblins, diminutive and mischievous creatures, have entrenched themselves as iconic beings in mythology, folklore, and tabletop role-playing games. Commonly depicted as small, green-skinned humanoids with a penchant for trickery, goblins are often found skulking in the shadows or dwelling in hidden places. Their adaptability, both as foes and sometimes as unlikely allies, makes goblins versatile and intriguing elements in the rich tapestry of fantastical worlds.

Goblins in Mythology

Goblins, as distinct mythological entities, have a diverse presence in folklore and stories from various cultures. The concept of goblins varies widely, and these creatures are often depicted as small, supernatural beings with a propensity for mischief and sometimes malevolence.

  1. European Folklore:

    • In European folklore, goblins are often considered malevolent spirits or supernatural creatures associated with the darker corners of the world. They are believed to be responsible for various misfortunes, from causing accidents to leading travelers astray in the wilderness.
  2. Germanic Tradition:

    • Germanic folklore features creatures akin to goblins, known as “kobolds” in German. These beings are household spirits that could be helpful or mischievous, depending on how they were treated by the human inhabitants.
  3. Cornish Folklore – Bucca:

    • In Cornish folklore, the “Bucca” is a type of goblin or household spirit. Buccas are often associated with mines and coastal areas, and their behavior ranges from helpful to malicious.
  4. Scandinavian Folklore – Nisse/Tomte:

    • Similar to the Germanic kobold, Scandinavian folklore includes the “Nisse” or “Tomte,” a creature associated with farmsteads. While generally considered helpful, they could play pranks if not appeased with offerings.
  5. Japanese Folklore – Tengu:

    • In Japanese folklore, the “Tengu” can be seen as goblin-like creatures. They are often depicted with bird-like features and are associated with mountains and forests. Tengu can be mischievous tricksters or skilled martial artists.
  6. Slavic Folklore – Domovoi:

    • Slavic folklore features the “Domovoi,” a household spirit similar to goblins or brownies. While Domovoi can bring good fortune to a household, they may turn mischievous if displeased.
  7. Native American Folklore:

    • Some Native American tribes have folklore featuring small, supernatural trickster beings that share similarities with the mischievous aspects of goblins. These beings are often associated with nature and may play both helpful and disruptive roles.

The characteristics and behaviors attributed to goblins in mythology are diverse, reflecting the cultural and regional variations in folklore. In many cases, goblins are viewed as intermediary beings that can bring either fortune or misfortune, depending on the circumstances and the manner in which humans interact with them.

Goblins in TTRPGs

Goblins are a ubiquitous and iconic presence in various tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs), contributing their mischievous and often malevolent energy to fantastical worlds. 

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D):

  1. Core Adversaries:

    • In D&D, goblins are a staple adversary, often encountered by low-level player characters. They are part of larger monstrous societies, serving as minions and scouts for more powerful creatures.
  2. Goblinoid Variants:

    • D&D introduces various goblinoid species, including standard goblins, hobgoblins (military-focused goblinoids), and bugbears (larger and more brutish goblinoids). Each species has distinct characteristics and roles within their societies.
  3. Creativity and Adaptability:

    • Goblins in D&D are known for their adaptability and resourcefulness. They might employ traps, ambushes, and guerrilla tactics, making them unpredictable adversaries.


  1. Playable Race:

    • Similar to D&D, Pathfinder allows players to choose goblins as a playable race. Pathfinder goblins are characterized by their chaotic and unpredictable nature, making them an intriguing choice for players seeking unconventional characters.
  2. Goblin Alchemist Theme:

    • Pathfinder introduces the concept of goblin alchemists, emphasizing their love for explosive concoctions. This theme adds a unique flavor to goblin characters, showcasing their eccentric and inventive side.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP):

  1. Enemies and Minions:
    • Goblins, often referred to as “gobbos” in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, are common adversaries in the Old World. They can be found in the service of greenskin factions, contributing to the chaotic and dangerous nature of the Warhammer world.


  1. Goblinization:
    • In the cyberpunk-fantasy setting of Shadowrun, goblinization is a phenomenon where some individuals transform into goblin-like creatures. This adds a unique twist to the portrayal of goblins, connecting them to the setting’s magical and dystopian elements.

Other TTRPGs:

  1. Versatile Adversaries:

    • Goblins appear in various TTRPGs as versatile adversaries suitable for a range of environments, from dungeons to wilderness areas. They are often depicted as opportunistic and cunning, making them challenging foes for players.
  2. Cultural Details:

    • Some TTRPGs delve into the cultural aspects of goblins, exploring their societies, customs, and interactions with other races. This adds depth to the portrayal of goblins beyond simple adversaries.

Goblins, with their distinctive characteristics and roles, bring a dynamic and unpredictable element to TTRPGs. Whether encountered in dark caverns, lurking in forests, or as playable characters exploring their own unique narratives, goblins contribute to the richness and diversity of tabletop gaming experiences.

Goblin Miniatures in Gaming

Goblin miniatures in tabletop gaming serve as tangible representations of these iconic, mischievous creatures, adding visual flair to the gaming experience. Whether used as adversaries for player characters or as central figures in a campaign, goblin miniatures enhance the immersion and storytelling elements of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs). Here’s how goblin miniatures are utilized in gaming:

1. Adversaries in Encounters:

  • Goblin miniatures are commonly employed by Game Masters to represent goblin adversaries during encounters. Placing these miniatures on the tabletop allows players to visually engage with the threats posed by goblin hordes in dungeons, forests, or other settings.

2. Versatile Positions and Poses:

  • Goblin miniatures come in various poses and positions, showcasing the diversity of goblin activities. Some may be armed with crude weapons, others might be in a sneaky or crouched position, providing a range of visual options for different scenarios.

3. Campaign-Specific Figures:

  • Game Masters often use custom or unique goblin miniatures to represent key figures in a campaign, such as goblin leaders, shamans, or specialized units. These miniatures can be customized to align with specific character traits or roles within the game world.

4. Collectibles and Limited Editions:

  • Some miniature manufacturers release special edition or collectible goblin miniatures. These unique figures may showcase goblins in distinct poses or with specific thematic elements, appealing to collectors and enthusiasts.

5. Terrain Interaction:

  • Goblin miniatures contribute to the visual representation of terrain and environmental interactions. Placing goblin figures strategically on the tabletop helps convey the dynamic nature of encounters, whether goblins are hiding in the shadows, climbing obstacles, or engaged in combat.

6. Role-Playing Opportunities:

  • Goblins are often depicted with distinctive features, such as pointy ears, green skin, and mischievous expressions. These characteristics can enhance the role-playing aspect of encounters, allowing players to easily identify and engage with goblin characters.

7. Customization for Leaders:

  • For goblin leaders or unique characters, customizing miniatures adds a layer of individuality. Unique weapons, accessories, or distinctive features can be added to the miniatures to differentiate leaders from standard goblin minions.

8. Encounter Preparation:

  • Game Masters use goblin miniatures to prepare encounters, ensuring that the visual representation aligns with the narrative and enhances the overall gaming experience. Well-placed miniatures contribute to the storytelling aspect of encounters.

9. Goblin Player Characters:

  • Some players may choose to play goblin characters, and goblin miniatures can be used to represent these characters on the tabletop. This provides a tangible and visual connection between players and their characters.

10. Memorable Moments:

  • Goblin miniatures become symbols of memorable moments in campaigns, whether they represent the first encounter with goblins, the defeat of a goblin leader, or the successful negotiation with a goblin tribe.

Goblin miniatures, with their dynamic poses and visual details, add vibrancy and excitement to tabletop gaming, creating a more immersive experience for players as they navigate encounters with these iconic fantasy creatures.