All the World's a Stage: So you want to roleplay a goblin

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|12.26.10

Sponsored Links

All the World's a Stage: So you want to roleplay a goblin

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

Cataclysm introduced two new races for roleplayers, the feisty goblins for the Horde and the enigmatic worgen for the Alliance. Last week, we touched on the basics of what makes a worgen a worgen, and what to look for when creating a worgen for RP. Today, we're going to look at the goblin half of the equation and shed a little light on the new and decidedly wacky members of the Horde.

Unlike the entire population of Gilneas, the goblin race has been alive, well and present since day one of World of Warcraft's launch. However, the goblins we've been dealing with are part of the Steamwheedle Cartel, a neutral cartel that does business with both Alliance and Horde, wheeling and dealing with both sides of the conflict in an effort to make the largest profit possible. The goblins have many of these cartels, which are essentially giant trade organizations overseen by one leader, a Trade Prince; but the Steamwheedle Cartel is arguably the largest, having established ports and small towns all over Azeroth, rather than just restricting itself to one location.

The goblins of the Horde originate from a different cartel altogether -- the Bilgewater Cartel of Kezan. Kezan is the island home of the goblin race, and the capital city of Kezan isn't actually visible anywhere on the goblin maps. It's called Undermine, and it's literally under the island, a vast maze of caverns dedicated to inventing new creations and turning profits. The heart of the goblin cartels is Undermine. Though Kezan itself was destroyed with Cataclysm, Undermine may have survived, according to information from Alex Afrasiabi in the Quests and Lore panel at BlizzCon 2010.

He stated that the goblin starting experience was just a small segment of the actual whole of Kezan, and that Blizzard would like to go back to Undermine some day. So it's entirely possible we'll see the goblin capital city -- and it's also possible the goblin you create has been to Undermine's halls. For more information on the Bilgewater Cartel and its history, you can check out a Know Your Lore from a few weeks back that covers the topic in full.

Goblins and the Horde

As far as the new playable goblin race goes, all goblins are members or former members of the Bilgewater Cartel. These guys created many products, but the one for which they're most famous is Kaja'Cola, a drink that supposedly gives people ideas. However, the supplies of Kaja'mite -- the ore used to make Kaja'Cola -- are rapidly running out. This doesn't seem to faze goblins just starting out in the new goblin starting area.

Players who roll goblins in the new area of Kezan have their own unique starting place to jump into the action from, much like the worgen of Gilneas. As a new goblin character, you are apparently trying to work your way to the top and actually doing a really successful job at it. This has attracted the attention of Trade Prince Gallywix, the top goblin in charge of the Bilgewater Cartel. He's not particularly happy that you're trying to oust him from his comfortable seat as Trade Prince. But there's more to deal with than just Gallywix, as it turns out. The island of Kezan is sitting on a volcano, and Deathwing's emergence during the Shattering sets it off.

As your friends, colleagues, rivals and potential customers flee for their lives, Gallywix makes you an offer: Turn over all of your life savings to him, and he'll sail you to safety. There's not much of a choice to be made here, so you take the offered boat. Unfortunately, Gallywix has other plans for you and has you thrown into cages, intending to sell you and your friends into slavery. His plans are interrupted when the yacht happens to sail into the middle of a sea battle, a small fleet of Alliance ships against one Horde vessel. The Alliance opens fire on the goblin vessel, and the ship explodes.

You awaken shipwrecked and have to find the rest of the survivors and essentially begin to rebuild your life. Without giving anything away, over the course of the events on the island, you end up swearing allegiance to the Horde. Those are the basics as far as goblins getting into the Horde, covered through in-game mechanics and quests.

Other alternatives

Here's the thing -- you don't have to be one of the goblins that came from those ships if you don't really feel it necessary to do so. You could easily be a member of the Steamwheedle Cartel who has decided it would be far more profitable to pick one side over the other, and as the Horde seems to be coming out on top as far as land-grabbing goes, why not side with them? There is nothing tying a goblin to one cartel over another; goblins can pick and choose what cartel they ally with.

So in the case of creating a goblin character, while you will be playing through the goblin starting experience, there is nothing that says that you necessarily have to be from Kezan. The only qualifying factor is that as a member of the Horde, you've joined the cartel associated with it -- the Bilgewater Cartel. Other than that, your options are completely open, leaving you all kinds of room for character creation and backstory. Want to be a former Steamwheedle member? Go right ahead. Want to be a former pirate who's since changed his ways? Feel absolutely free to do so.

Your goblin doesn't have to be free with information about his past, so you don't have to go into incredible amounts of detail for anyone else's sake. With goblins, roleplayers Horde side have been given an incredibly blank slate to work with, which on one hand makes it easier to root your character in existing game lore, but on the other can be a little daunting. Don't worry overly much about your goblin's past; focus on the future and the here and now -- not where he came from, but how he came to affiliate himself with the Horde in the first place.

That reason is going to be really important, because back in goblin history during the Second War, the goblins allied with the Horde, and it proved disastrous for them. Afterwards, the goblins took a good look at the situation and decided it would be much more viable and profitable to assume a neutral stance and trade and sell to both sides of whatever conflict popped up. Since this is the case, it's going to take a really good reason for a goblin to ally with the Horde -- and their line of reasoning isn't about what's right or wrong; it's about what's going to make them the most gold.

What's my motivation?

With goblins, the focus isn't so much on their backstory or where they came from as it is motivations and greed. Goblins aren't really sweethearts with the best intentions of the world in mind; they aren't enamored with the idea of honor and doing what's right. For a goblin, it's less about what's right and more about what will get them farther in their own goals -- and those goals invariably involve stockpiling as much gold and material goods as possible.

For goblins, the wealthier you are, the better off you are. Status within goblin society is wholly decided by how much wealth you've accumulated. People like to compare them to the Ferengi of Star Trek, and that's a fair comparison to make, honestly. The one thing goblin roleplayers want to keep in mind at all times, during every interaction with every character they come across is, "What's in it for me?"

This isn't to say that goblins can't help people out and that they aren't generous at times -- but generally if they are doing so, it's because there's some bigger gain to be had. If they find a crying child in the street, they aren't just going to leave them to sit there. If they find the kid's parents, those parents might be wealthy and offer a handsome reward. If the kid's parents aren't wealthy, well then, they can always owe that goblin a favor at some point in time, later down the road, when it's really handy ... If the kid is an orphan, the goblin could train him in metalworking or something that's sure to turn a profit at a later time.

As far as professions go, you can pick whatever you want for your goblin. All professions have the ability to turn a profit, after all, so nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Engineering is an obvious choice, as the engineering profession has been separated into gnomish and goblin since vanilla. Keep in mind the main difference between gnomish and goblin engineering (aside from the explosive nature of goblin creations) is motive. Gnomes in lore traditionally create inventions in order to help people and make the world a little bit easier to live in. Goblins create inventions in order to turn a tidy profit and possibly blow some stuff up in the process.

It's all about the personality, baby

Goblins as a whole aren't really "nice" or "mean" -- they are whatever gets them the best reaction at the time. If they're in a situation with a stranger who wants to purchase something, they're going to be sweet to the point of cavity-inducing horror to that person, until they've got that gold in their greedy little hands. If they think playing the sympathy card is going to get them a better deal, they'll come up with a fabulous story about their woeful fate and how terrible life has been to them, in the hopes of getting something better out of the deal. If they think flattery and flirtation is going to get them anywhere, they'll lay it on as thick as they can, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness.

When you're roleplaying a goblin character, think of what you're trying to accomplish and how best they can get to that point. A goblin can either have a certain swagger and confidence that shows that he's out to conquer the world -- or a goblin can cow and grovel his way into a better way of life. Goblins are more often than not up to something; it's up to you as a roleplayer to decide what that something is and how best your goblin can go about accomplishing it.

All of this, of course, makes a goblin an incredibly fun character to play. The best part of the goblin race being added to the Horde is that the Horde lacked any kind of race that could be an outrageous, wacky caricature of a character, until now. It makes the goblins an awesome, amusing option to Horde players who are looking for an alternative to the seriousness of the other Horde races that are going through tumultuous times at the moment. Want a breather from all that heavy weight of Horde politics? Roll a goblin -- they rarely take anything too seriously.

Can you roleplay a goblin as a serious character? Sure, go right ahead -- but you want to keep the basic tenets of goblin society in mind. If your goblin is not out for profit, then there needs to be a really, really good reason that he's not. Greed is after all what makes a goblin a goblin. Whatever sways a goblin from this path has to be something major and life-altering, because it's against the very nature of everything the goblin race is.

Goblins provide a really good opportunity for Horde players to dabble in the realm of comic relief. Just keep your fellow roleplayers in mind; there is a time for jokes, and a time for being serious. Gauge the general attitudes of those you're roleplaying with before cracking a joke, because there's nothing like an over-the-top, inappropriate performance at precisely the wrong moment to alienate you from the roleplaying crowd.

Cunning, crafty, mischievous and over the top, the new playable goblin race offers roleplayers a wide range of situations to fiddle around with. They may not have as intricate or detailed a history as the Gilneans, and their past may not be as tragic as their fellow Horde brethren, but they offer a welcome spark of humor in an otherwise -- let's face it -- pretty depressing expansion. If you're looking to add a shot of fun and humor to your Horde-side roleplay, check out the goblin race and give them a test drive.

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget