Hobgoblin is an umbrella term to describe the creatures that inhabit the Hedge.
Hobgoblins can be creatures spawned by the Wyrd or former mortals that were lost in the Thorns, but they all have in common that they possess a mutable essence that defies close definition. While there are hobgoblins that resemble animals or even humans, they are not limited by this. There have been observances of sentient swarms, plants and other things. Their intelligence is similary diverse, ranging from barely sentient to inhumane intellect.
While hobgoblins are commonly capricious, not all are utterly malicious. Some maintain Goblin Markets that are operated after strict laws that all visitors have to obey. Others, usually non-conscious, become companions to Changelings or True Fae in exchange for protection from their stronger conspecifics. They can also sell special Goblin Contracts that grant a Changeling special abilities but always have negative drawbacks.
Hobgoblins rarely leave their home-realm, but some travel to the realms of the True Fae for barter, while others haunt mortal dreams.
Some hobgoblins must work — it’s nothing so straightforward as clocking in at a fruit stand for an eight-hour shift, but hobs need things. They are given over to both an economy and an ecology: they need to eat, drink, have shelter, and feed their copious urges. They don’t exist in a vacuum. Plump fruits don’t fall onto their laps. Tunnels and tree-houses don’t build themselves. So it is that hobs must work. Below are examples of hobgoblins that one might encounter working somewhere in the Hedge, performing their sometimes inscrutable hob-jobs.
They are driven to build, these creatures. Whatever breed they are or tribe they belong to, these hobgoblins are the ones who build up the Hedge towns and fortresses, who carve secret paths (safe paths, at least for them) into and above the thorny walls, and who might help a motley of changelings cobble together a Hollow and its many doors and strange amenities.
The Hedge is dangerous: even a bad scratch from a long thorn can leave a wound suppurating, becoming infected with who-knows-what kind of fey bacteria. A scrap with a goblin, a melee with a True Fae, even a misstep down a precarious embankment can leave a changeling with wounds from a busted elbow to a shattered skull. But even then, it takes a very brave changeling to accept the medical prowess of a hobgoblin devoted to the task of doctoring, doesn’t it?
Amongst the Thorns, many beasts walk — antlered things with almandine eyes, lumbering brutes with oily carapaces, steamfed mantids, and so forth. As already noted, though, it isn’t just beasts, is it? True Fae, changelings, lost humans… all these wander the many mazes, too. Hobgoblin hunters are therefore fairly common. Some are lone hunters, but many travel in roving bands, pursuing their quarries with heavy nets, clockwork blunderbusses, and skull-cracking clubs. Others set traps, preferring instead to let prey come to them. The bigger question is, why do they hunt?
Goblin Markets are not the only time the hobgoblins peddle their wares. Many roam the Hedge, making salacious deals and infernal bargains. Once in a while a motley will come across a hobgoblin who just wants a straight-up trade, no tricks, no damning loopholes. This represents part of a sometimes-inscrutable Hedgebased economy — tinker hobs (below) might make something that they trade with merchants, who go off to sell what they’ve found. Or perhaps they sell those goods stolen from hapless changelings, or they may even broker secrets and knowledge plucked from minds like fruit from a tree. Goblin merchants don’t just work the tangled economy; they are inextricably bound to it, woven into its fabric.
Miners. Mechanics. Breakers. Fixers. A hob with spider-legs for fingers plucks solder wire from a spool. A manikin made of fool’s gold hammers listlessly at a shield made of bronzed moth wings. A gaggle of flitting flies repairs the paper-thin gears of an elaborate — and unfathomable — device. These hobs are all tinkers — they can’t stop futzing, fixing, and breaking things down into their constituent components.
What good is a Hedge-town without inhabitants, a Goblin Market without merchants, a winding path through the Thorns with nothing lying in wait beneath the hedgerows? The following band of wastrels, Hedge-beasts, scuttlers, lurkers and witherlings can flesh out any trip into the Thorns. They’re a dangerous lot, to be certain; you don’t want to be caught near some of these devils when it’s getting dark.
- Ambrosia, Lady of Delights
- Billy Birch
- Border Reavers
- Burr Cadger
- Fae Swarms (Somnus)
- Greedy Gobs
- Goblin Whores
- Grim Grinning Gaunt
- Hedge Beasts
- Laughing Ones
- One-Hand Sam
- Shadow Wolves
- Spenser's Nepenthe
- The Curator
- The Madam
- The Unmade
- Will O' Wisps