19 December, 2012

Humans in a goblin game?

In the movie Labyrinth, there are all manner of supernatural beings, many of which are goblins of various descriptions (these goblins as illustrated and designed by Brian Froud are the core idea behind my goblin game), and while there may be some creatures that could be defined as goblin mutants which clearly push the boundaries of goblin-ness, there are some which would have to be considered different species if not different biological families or even different orders of life.

...but hell, it's a magical world, or even a dreamscape, so trying to define everything in scientific terms is probably pretty futile

What really grabs my interest about the Labyrinth setting is the fact that the "Goblin King" looks so human. In the descriptive historical work for the goblin tarot, I hypothesized that the concept of a "goblin" king might be related to the old stories of changelings. These are the stories where fey creatures abduct human children and leave their own children in return. Thus we have goblins growing up as humans in our world, and humans growing up as goblins in the "otherworld". The goblin king is a human brought up to think that he is a goblin, an exceptionally large goblin with an exceptionally long lifespan (comparatively), he would think he was immortal and a god among these small green-skinned creatures.

The goblin king wouldn't be the only human captured in this manner, but such humans would be few and far between. They'd be hidden by secretive cults in sanctified temples or sacred spaces designed to look like a human bedroom. Why would they abduct such humans into their world? Perhaps as the source of dreams to harvest? Perhaps as a prestige thing? Our village has a human under it, does yours? Of course, if the goblin king found out about such others in his kingdom, he'd make life exceptionally difficult for them. He might try to drive them back to the mortal realm, or ask that his minions "take care of the intruder".

Playing a human in the goblin setting would be incredibly hard. You'd either be a slave to a village or community, or some kind of wanderer trapped in the great labyrinth. As a wanderer, you'd probably be tricked at every turn by goblins who wanted to enslave you. You'd be a valuable commodity and you'd have to be very careful to keep your life your own.

I'm really wondering whether to include humans in the game. There would certainly be some interesting room to tell some great human stories portraying them as monsters and powerful forces of nature compared to the creatures around them, but they'd detract from the essential goblin-ness of the setting. Perhaps I'll just use them as potential story elements.
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