Cloudlords of Tanara

Author Topic: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?  (Read 206 times)

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Offline Doridian

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Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« on: November 21, 2017, 01:48:13 AM »
I'm a little bit puzzled. I've to tell first that I'm Italian and in the translation of the Hobbit the word "Goblin" has been turned to Orco (Orc). Recently I've read the Hobbit in English and I've found that the Goblin King is a King of a Goblin Kingdom: in the novel those Italian "orcs" were indeed English "goblins". In the movie (I've seen only the first episode; too much departure from the story in my opinion) it's clear that those creatures are not orcs. But...
Are there Goblins in the Lord of the Rings? And, above all, why in the ICE sourcebooks (MERP rulebook in primis) if I'm not wrong there's no mention of Goblins? Even the module Goblin Gate and Eagle Eyrie have no  Goblins inside (the goblins have orcish stats). What am I missing?

Online jokapsal

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2017, 04:39:31 AM »
It s probably the same, as far as i know. One might say that the goblins are the smaller orcs of the goblin town, in contrast to larger orcs of mordor. In the book of "Letters" by Tolkien there might be an explanation on the why there exists this difference.
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Offline Lorgalis

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2017, 05:13:46 AM »
They are the same race, but are portrayed a bit more silly/goblin-ish in The Hobbit.

Offline Hurin

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2017, 10:08:07 AM »
Some game systems distinguish orcs from goblins, making the goblins a little smaller and weaker. I think you can see this in RM2 (not 100%sure because i dont have access to my books right now), where i think Creatures and Treasures distinguishes them, and Dungeons and dragons does too. But i think Tolkien just used goblins as a synonym for orcs, especially smaller orcs.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Dragonking11

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2017, 10:46:01 AM »
I see the goblins as a different species of the same family of humanoid. So there are goblins, orcs, hobgobelins, etc

Same thing as there are Grey Elves, Wood Elves, High Elves .. they are all elves in the end, but their culture and physical traits are different

Offline jdale

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2017, 02:35:22 PM »
I treat hobgoblins as half-orc/half-goblin, which explains their intermediate size without needing quite so many races. Sort of the mule of the humanoid world. But in any case distinct races are the normal fantasy treatment. As originally written for Middle Earth, though, I think it was more of a cultural difference between different regions.

Offline OLF, i.e. Olf Le Fol

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2017, 09:48:44 AM »
Wikipedia has a detailed chapter about the matter. In a nutshell, Tolkien is inconsistent over time about whether goblins and orcs are the same or not...

The fun bit is about "hobgoblin", about which Tolkien made a mistake, thinking "hob" would mean "larger" whereas it is "traditionally used to mean a smaller entity, not a larger one." Alas, because of that, most fantasy games (D&D first and foremost) would make hobgoblins larger goblins. Yes, even experts (since Tolkien was a linguist after all)  make mistakes! Too bad people would then take their initial wrong view rather than the later mistake admission. ;)
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Offline Lorgalis

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2017, 10:50:18 AM »
Tolkien also started the trend of writing dwarfs as dwarves. By mistake.

Offline Hurin

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2017, 11:21:04 AM »
Fascinating stuff! Thanks for the explanation OLF!
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline rdanhenry

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 02:41:39 PM »
The C&T goblin is taken from George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin. In Tolkien, "goblin" is the same as "orc". The use in The Hobbit is a difference in tone compared to LOTR (that, and The Hobbit was originally unconnected with JRRT's main mythology except for borrowing some names). Orcs do come in a lot of different varieties, as is clearly seen the LOTR (the novel, if not the movies). In The Hobbit, the name "Orcrist" is translated as "Goblin-Cleaver", so while there might still be seen to be subtle shades of difference between "orc" and "goblin", they were essentially synonyms. The use of "goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs" no more shows them to be distinct races than a similar verbal flourish of "bandits, brigands, and highwaymen" indicates a fundamental distinction of three professions.

So, if you want a Middle-Earth "goblin", that's an orc (perhaps specifically one of the non-improved pre-Uruk-hai types, which would be a "lesser orc" in RM-terms). The C&T goblin is unrelated and not a Middle-Earth creature.
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Offline JakeM.

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2017, 06:21:10 AM »
As long as my +25 orc slaying two handed sword bites goblins too, its all same to me
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Offline Doridian

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2017, 05:05:41 AM »
Wow!
Thank you a lot. For a non-English speaking person all of your considerations are really useful. It seems then that in the common English (American, British, etc.) use of the word, Goblin is indeed a synonym of Orc. Then in "technical" environments (say Fantasy games) they have accrued more distinctive traits.
In the end I'll stuck to rdanhenry advice.
Thank you again.  :)

Offline TerryTee

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2017, 04:52:46 AM »
It seems then that in the common English (American, British, etc.) use of the word, Goblin is indeed a synonym of Orc. Then in "technical" environments (say Fantasy games) they have accrued more distinctive traits.
Not quite. The word Goblin has existed in the English language for a long, and used to describe creatures in the European Folklore. The word Orc is new, and perhaps invented by Tolkien. A person who has never read fantasy books (or played rpg games or seen fantasy movies) would probably have a notion of what a goblin is but would not understand the word orc.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goblin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc

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Offline rdanhenry

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2017, 01:59:52 PM »
Orc is not a new word, it is a very old word, going back at least to Latin, but it had gone out of modern use until Tolkien revived it. Mind you, his orcs are as different as his elves from the original use of the name.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/orc
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Offline TerryTee

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Re: Are there Goblins in Middle Earth?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2017, 02:49:28 AM »
Orc is not a new word, it is a very old word, going back at least to Latin, but it had gone out of modern use until Tolkien revived it.
I stand corrected. Seems like Tolkien picked up the word from Beowulf, where it is simply listed as a monster (along With elves, mind you...  ;)  )

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