Penned by Urnst Ehrlich, 813 PI
The Grass Goblin is one of a thousand thousand curiosities wandering the misty forests and swamps of the Autumnlands. Their unusual plant/animal hybrid nature, combined with their tendencies toward pacifism, drove me to spend a season with these unusual greenskins. What follows are my observations only, stiffened by occasional input from the goblins themselves, but sadly lacking any historical evidence, as it appears I am the first academic to study them in this manner.
The Grass Goblin is an unusual hybrid of mammal and plant. It stands about the same height as a standard goblin, 3-4 feet tall. (Unfortunately no standard goblins were available for a size comparison.) Their clearly distinguishing feature is the soft “mane” of grass growing along all their ventral surfaces. The grass at the tops of their feet and that running down their arms is a short, soft grass such as one might find on a forest floor. Their heads are adorned with a thicker, longer variety, that can be styled in numerous ways.
This grass covering remarkably allows these highly active creatures to survive entirely by photosynthesis! Plentiful sunlight renders them hale, hearty, and a vibrant green color. Lack of sun slowly melts their color into the sallow yellows and browns of a wilting plant. After several days without sunlight, a test subject slowed noticeably in (already limited) wit and strength, growing listless and distracted. After two weeks, the test subject’s grasses had all but wilted away and it fell into a sort of micro-hibernatory coma, presumably hoarding nutrients for basic survival. After a month, the subject died. After some experimenting, I did discover that a steady, voluminous diet of sugar water more than quadrupled the grass goblin’s ability to survive without sun. However, the creature’s morale and wit remained low, clearly some sort of instinctive nutrient-hoarding behavior.
The other distinguishing trait of the Grass Goblin is its ability to sprout rootlets from its hands and feet. While it appears on first observation that the hands and feet undergo a magical transformation, closer observation shows that these rootlets exist beneath the skin, and are capable of extending and retracting like a cat’s claws. The goblin’s dexterity and ability to grip tools (and by extension weapons) is much greater with its normal hands. With rootlets extended however, it gains incredible flexibility and dexterity, as well as the ability to take a nigh-unmovable rooted position in the soil. Many Grass Goblins are capable of climbing otherwise impassable surfaces, picking locks, and performing other unusual tasks with these rootlets.
Woodsinging is an ability that manifests in approximately three percent of Grass Goblins. It is difficult to tell if this is nascent magic native to the Goblin, or if it is granted by some kindly deity. Grass Goblin Woodsingers have the ability to shape wood into virtually any form they desire. All weapons, tools, and structures used by the Grass Goblins have been shaped in this manner. I saw blades sharp as razors sun from sturdy roots. They showed me a shield compress from a solid foot-thick cylinder into a light, agile bucker which would stop a heavy crossbow bolt from three strides away, without taking a dent.
1. Origins and Uses
It is eminently clear that this unusual little race is another abandoned child of the Imperium of Astin Vey. As of this writing, I am only aware of one modestly sized tribe, located in the foothills of Brechenwold. I believe, based on my research, that the Grass Goblins were created for the following purposes:
1. Self-sustaining – Thanks to their photosynthetic nature, Grass Goblins are able to travel with no food for as long as needed, making them ideal scouts and light infantry.
2. Camouflage – The Grass Goblin can easily blend in with any “green” (grassy, wooded, swamp, etc) environment with near-invisibility.
3. Infiltration – The rootlets can be used to pick locks, to get a hold in otherwise impassable stone and climb a wall, to grapple and silence an enemy guard, etc.
4. Saboteurs – The Woodsinging ability can be used to warp gates, doors and chests and open them. It can also be used to create weapons specific to the mission.
5. Crafters – Woodsingers could be deployed with a combat unit and used to create/enhance arms and armor for the unit. In peace time they can make incredibly detailed crafts to be sold by their masters. (Left to their own devices, Grass Goblins are quite generous and willing to hand out their work for free to trusted individuals.)
3. The Failure of the Grass Goblin
Somewhere along the process of breeding/evolving/mutating, by giving the Grass Goblin its plant features, the Magelord who created it accidentally eliminated its violent drives and instincts. Goblins are seldom especially evil, they are craven and fight only to fulfill their appetites or out of fear of a greater threat. The Grass Goblins lost this natural voracity, and were overly content to stay close to the village and live simple lives tending their apiaries and crafting their wooden masterpieces. While I, as a scholar, and I daresay you dear reader, can appreciate the simple beauty and elegance of this subspecies, I fear the Magelords did not share our affection. It appears that the last Grass Goblins on Zuura are those in the medium-size village in the Mountains of Woe in the Duchy of Brechenwold.