Goblins are rarely known for their intelligence or business skill. However, one particular tribe of goblins under the leadership of a certain Chieftain Ozgabishu became vastly wealthy and influential in their territory. They were so successful, in fact, that they threatened the wealth and trade of other neighboring guilds and villages. Rather than let some savage tribe of goblins run them out of business, the various folk of the neighboring towns forcefully drove Ozgabishu's tribe out of their land. Being merchants and not at all soldiers, the goblins ran out of town with the enemy army close behind. The goblins were forced into territory unlikely for goblins: the sea. With cobbled rafts, the goblins launched into the ocean for parts unknown, the guild armies bidding them a fond good riddance.
For weeks, the goblins drifted about in their fleet of rickety craft, relying on floating seaweed and their smaller, weaker brethren for food. Ozgabishu managed to roughly organize the surviving diaspora into workable sailors, building oars from leftover bone and driftwood. The chief picked a direction at random and the goblins rowed day and night. Finally, at dawn at the end of their third fortnight, the goblins spotted land.
On landing, Ozgabishu claimed the island for goblinkind and ordered an exploration. The island - if it could be called as such - was rocky and sparse. Only the stone caves gave respite from the cold coastal winds, providing a relieving stench and stifling warmth. They soon discovered the source of their comforts: giant, cave-dwelling bats that lived deeper in the caverns, drawn out by the smell of something other than island mosquitoes. After losing a dozen or so goblins, the rest were able to overcome the bats and make a feast of their remains. Even more delicious than the raw bat meat, however, was the discovery of small, slimy, green-and-black mushrooms. Ozgabishu's tribe gobbled the mushrooms up, noting their lingering aftertaste and sluglike texture. Ozgabishu immediately declared it the world's most delicious mushroom and ordered that more be gathered. After all but the final patch of fungi were devoured did someone helpfully point out that the mushrooms seemed to grow only in the guano of the cave's previous dwellers. No other creature on the island was large enough to produce more manure to grow the mushrooms in. Panicked, Ozgabishu ordered his tribe to produce their own manure; this saved the mushroom crop from sure extinction, but the mushrooms themselves tasted awful. It seemed that goblin dung simply did not do the trick for this delicacy.
Ozgabishu thought and pondered for weeks on end, until he finally declared a solution to both the mushroom situation and his tribe's uncertain future:
We need grow more mushrooms, yes? We need da stink to make it grow. Also, we needs the trade to continue moichandizing. So, here's what we gonna do: we build boat outta the stinky bat parts, go find more da stink, and bring it back here. We grow lots good mushrooms, then go sell 'em to other goblins. Plan is good, right? Go work now!
Inspired by their chieftain's elegant words, the goblins cobbled together a craft of bat bone and leather and, with a small crew, paddled off into the unknown. After a few weeks, the bat boat returned with one less goblin and loads more of stinking manure. Ozgabishu directed his goblins to haul the dung to the cave and plant the mushrooms in it. They watched carefully for the next week as the spores spread and more mushrooms grew. Once they were ripe, Ozgabishu himself took the first taste. The tribe watched in awe and fear as Ozgabishu slowly chewed, swished, chewed again, gargled slightly, then swallowed. For a moment, all were still. The, the goblin chieftain smiled his half-toothed grin. "They's good," he said simply. The goblins cheered, and immediately set to work on building an enterprise.
Once Ozgabishu's tribe found a sure and safe route back to the mainland, it was simple finding the other scattered goblin tribes. Using their already honed business skills, the goblins of Dabazook Island (now so named, after Ozgabishu's mother) took to enterprising their crop. The Dabazook 'Shrooms as they were known in the trade became the talk of goblinfolk on the coastal tribes. So delicate and delicious they were, and so incredibly rare - no goblin could remember tasting or seeing a better mushroom anywhere - that their value skyrocketed. The Dabazook traders began purchasing larger vessels along with building supplies, building a rickety dock town out of their rocky home island. They continued to ship manure to the island, creating a regular if small cycle of cave crops. The goblins struggled to keep production up with demand. During a particularly bad year when a storm flooded the caves and destroyed most of the crop, Chief Skez of Bluerock famously sold two of his own brothers as slaves for a single mushroom (Ozgabishu noted that Skez had the better end of the deal). Among goblin nobility, Dabazook 'Shrooms became a symbol of grace and wealth.
The Dabazook Goblins eventually attempted to expand their trade to other races, to limited success. Most humans were perplexed on what the goblins exactly were trying to sell them, especially with such a poor quality product: who would sell anything with that awful smelling fungus all over it? Dwarves, known for their love of mushrooms and caves, occasionally indulged in the stuff, which they found to cause a certain inebriation in dwarven physiology when taken in large amounts. Dwarves also hate goblins, however, which does strain their trade.
The races that are more amiable to goblins, halflings and gnomes, were both initially interested. Halflings love mushrooms, but they found the Dabazook 'Shrooms revolting and no self-respecting halfling will even sniff one. Gnomes, on the other hand, after some experimentation, found that a dye producing a lovely shade of emerald green could be created from the fungus, and it actually wasn't half bad in breads. Thus, several gnomish villages make regular dealings with Dabazook.
The goblins were of course hesitant to open trade with ogrish races, their natural enemies. The first few envoys were unsuccessful, as the ogres evidently thought the food the goblins were trying to sell was themselves. After this matter was cleared up, the ogres did take a certain liking to the fungus. In particular, they brewed a certain mead with the mushrooms that they found irresistible. The fermentation of the brew, along with the mass quantities the ogres drink it in, require that a great amount mushrooms be used. The goblins found that ogres offered little collateral at best for their trades, and so only the richest ogre tribes trade with Dabazook, and only in limited quantities. Their infrequent meetings have, however, produced a certain level of formal diplomacy between ogres and goblins. It was Ozgabishu himself who came up with the now common greeting used by goblins when meeting ogres: "We ain't da food, but we gots some you can buy!"
Due to ancient cultural feuds, the goblins of Dabazook refuse to trade with elves. The elvish community is grateful.
While the average person might gawk at the idea of a goblin business empire burgeoning solely on the production of slimy mushrooms, the fungus species grown on Dabazook is quite unique. Attempts were made by some rival goblin tribes to grow their own Dabazook 'Shrooms, but consistently failed to produce anything useful. One primary reason is the ecology and geology of Dabazook: the caves are habitat to a unique bacteria that thrives only in the caves of the island. This bacteria forms a symbiotic relationship with the mushrooms, feeding off the rotting pores while providing a protective layer of slime on the caps. This slime is what gives the mushrooms their unique texture and flavor. Without the dung, both bacteria and mushroom fail to grow, and the caves provide the necessary protection from the winds and rain that buffet the island. This combination of dung, bacteria, and caves are what makes the Dabazook 'Shrooms what they are, and it is nearly impossible to replicate.
Although goblins find the fungus exclusively useful for eating, they do present a variety of alchemical properties. They produce a mild hallucinagenic, giving the ogrish mead its bite and dwarves a buzz. As the gnomes discovered, the slime produced by the mushrooms creates a fine veridian cloth dye. A few wizards and alchemists who have toyed with the item have discovered other uses as well. When dried, cured, and ground, a surprisingly strong explosive powder can be made from the mushrooms. Commercially, it is sold as "Smoke Snuff," and is used by magicians and thieves alike for a quick distraction of flash and smoke. The slime on the fungus also has mildly restorative qualities, making wounds heal quickly when the stuff is applied, although it also causes a severe itching sensation and is known to permanently turn scars green.
The demand and expanded trade of Dabazook 'Shrooms had an interesting effect on Dabazook's goblins. The adaptive businessmen, in order to increase fungal production and ensure quality product, created a horticulture centered on the growth and maintenance of Dabazook 'Shrooms. After the initial importation of common cattle manure to grow their fungus, the Keepers of the 'Shroom Caves began to request different types of manures: goat, sheep, pig, chicken. A few more exotic types were experimented with as well, such as bear, wildcat, even elephant. Soon a whole science dedicated to analyzing and using manure developed among the Dabazook goblins.
Dabazook horticulturists have become coinasseurs of manure as a necessity. At least one always travels with the dung barges that purchase manure from the mainland to ship back to Dabazook. Before any purchase of manure is made, they make inspections on the product like a vintner studying a fine wine:
Pah! Stink is no good. Too much like old pumpkin, not enough like dead bird. Feel okay, smooth enough. Better more moist, though. Mhrr... Taste is no right. Bitter like orange peel, needs be sour like rotten cheese. And no enough salty! No, no good, send back, buy better.
Many a farmer has been perplexed, impressed, disgusted, or offended by Dabazook horticulturists that arrive in their pastures looking for manure.
Because of its common occurance and ease of finding, cattle dung is still the most widely used manure. Some Dabazook fungus growers have created different varities of flavor using different manures. For example, pig dung produces a more bold, pungent flavor, while goat manure makes the mushrooms sickeningly sweet. Bats have also been introduced to the cave in an attempt to create the original flavor of the 'shrooms as it was prior to goblin settlement. A few caverns of the Dabazook caves have been dedicated to bat populations, but the average sized bats don't seem to produce the same delicious quality of fungus as the now extinct giant bats.
Although the Dabazook goblins operate exclusively as a business, their independence as a tiny island nation does necessitate governance and order. Ozgabishu reigned for many years until his death a decade ago, sadly eaten by a shark while swimming; now his son Ozganadas is chieftain of the island. There is a simple but effective hierarchy: the chieftain commands his lieutenant bosses, who in turn command their respective underlings.
There are five bosses altogether: boss of caves, boss of growing, boss of boats, boss of boxes, and boss of guards. The boss of caves oversees the actual growing of the 'shrooms, commanding the fungus farmers in their irrigation, planting, and other agricultural activities. The boss of growing is in charge of the horticulturists, and is himself an expert at the art. The boss of boats is in effect an admiral, directing the small fleet of dung barges to their various destinations. The boss of boxes oversees packing and shipping of the product, ensuring its safety and maintence of quality, and making sure the packers don't steal the 'shrooms themselves. Finally, the boss of guards acts as a grand general for the island's troops, motley crew of spear-wielding and arrow-hurling goblins. The operation is somewhat ramshakle and requires swift and frequent beatings, but it is effective enough for the business.
Fungal Raiders - The PCs are hired by the Dabazook boss of boxes to guard a small shipment of 'Shrooms bound for a goblin village a few days' travel away. It's been a rough year for the mushroom crop and inventory is short, so the boss isn't taking any chances on this one being stolen. As they travel along the way with goblins and fungus in tow, they are jumped by a small band of gnomish rogues waiting to rob the shipment. Before anyone can react, dwarves storm out from behind a hill, apparently wanting the same thing; the crazed look in their eyes gives them away as Dabazook 'Shroom addicts. As the PCs fight off gnomes and dwarves, and the gnomes and dwarves fight off eachother, a thundering cry is heard from behind. Three ogres appear, grabbing one of the goblins and tearing into his flesh with his fangs. They, too, seem interested in the shipment. Fight off the various thugs, protect the mushrooms, and deliver them to the goblins for reward and goblin appreciation.
Fecal Matters - If the PCs are in a particularly lowly and desparate situation, there is a way to make a quick buck: collect manure from a local pasture and sell it to the Dabazook goblins. Don't take any promise of payment, however: the goblin horticulturists may balk at the quality of the dung. An agreement on price may have to be forced by the PCs. For more of a challenge, the PCs might be hired by a dung master to find some very rare scat, perhaps bugbear or xaren. Collecting it is as dangerous as it is odious.
Of all the places... - While travelling at sea, the PCs' craft is caught in a storm and sinks. The surviving crew and PCs wash up ashore on a small, reeking rock of an island, with dozens of spear-wielding goblins hovering over them. They are dragged before their apparant chieftain, a squealing green creature named Ozganadas, who demands to know who sent them to attack the island and steal their crops. Some of the goblin troops seem to be firing up a barbeque and licking their lips. Good luck talking your way out of this one.
Bat Wrangling - As a possible link to the above hook, Ozganadas requests that the party deal with a situation in the caves. It seems a giant bat was captured by the goblins (somehow) and was set in the cave to breed the original form of Dabazook 'Shrooms. What the goblins did not realize is that the giant bat was pregnant, and now a small brood of bats have occupied the cave, gobbling up the farmers within. The party must deal with Mama Bat and her children to save the 'shroom crop.
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? Responses (14)
Anything I should add/explore before making it a full-fledged sub?
I like it alot, very uh.. Flavorful. I would like to know how nourishing the mushrooms are, can you live off them (if you can afford them)? When if comes to things like mushrooms I'm always looking for alchemical uses, any at all? Can I make some up? But, i suppose not everything needs to serve a blatant purpose. This is a nice background peace. Maybe throw in some plot hooks? What would happen if the PCs washed up on Dabazook? It could also be fun to track down a stolen shipment of mushrooms, possibly end up fighting Ogres, Dwareves, Gnomes and all other sorts in a crazy race to get them back! Very good, I would say its ready for a 4.5 and HoH.
Detailed and silly, but I'd like to see some suggestions for zany adventures featuring the malodorous goblins of Dabazook Island.
Perhaps their caverns were once the tomb of an ancient hero (his sarcophagus now buried beneath tons of manure) and the PCs need to recover several holy relics from the ancient paladin's crypt: Unfortunately, the task must be done without spilling blood.
If the goblins heard of giant bats near a human village, their quest to find and tame the elusive avian mammals could be quite aggravating for the locals.
Quite entertaining to read, and I can see this being introduced as background material when the PCs happen across a gaggle of goblins running around a farming community, only to find out when they assume the worst that the goblins are there on a regular trade mission, buying loads of dung to drag back to their island.
Some adventure hooks would be a nice addition; things like shipwrecked PCs being picked up by a dung barge and being expected to do some labor for the favor, or washing ashore on Dabazook Island, or perhaps having some frantic goblins hire them to deal with something that moved into one of their primary crop caves. Or, perhaps, another goblin tribe hires the PCs to 'deal with' the Dabazooks so the other tribe can move onto the island and take up the mushroom trade.
Updated: Fungus data & roleplay hooks added. Be free, sub, and run wild!
5/5. Hugely entertaining.
Excellant work. I love it. As with anything I give a 5.0 I vow to find a way to use it. I'll give it a HoH too.
Very good - though can only go so far with guano as a major subject :)
But a damned good Goblin related entry!
I like this a lot! You've captured the 'goblin spirit' well, and the minutae, as it relates to fungus, bacteria, guano, and day-t-day life is great. One gets the sense this place really exists. :)
A fascinating piece with detail in all the right places.
Usually goblins in my games have been mostly faceless minions or greater powers. It's nice to see a bit of focus on goblin society in a way that isn't bloody & murderous, yet still grossly golbinesque.
Gobbos rule. You should have seen my PCs when they (more or less peacefully) encountered a goblin state...
I like it. Useful and humorous, especially the manure connoisseur portion. Good adventure hooks as well.
Very entertaining and certainly useful.
I had a good chuckle to myself while reading this.
Goblins.. Strange little buggers ey!?