This 'paper' was used as a hand-out in a game, on an appropriately tea-stained piece of paper, so that it looked more like parchment than modern paper, with a more calligraphic font. It was created so as to most closely emulate the possible writing style of the times.
Thus we have a strongly self-explanatory subtitle, overly long, dense paragraphs and sentences containing florid verbosity, a lack of 'sticking to the point,' somewhat archaic-seeming spelling, a strong sense of ethnocentrism and bigotry against other cultures and/or species, and a rather self-congratulatory paragraph at the end thanking and praising the author's patrons, and the royalty of the demesne in which he lives. There's also a (mostly carefully suppressed) back-and-forth see-sawing in the author between his (at that time terribly radical) belief in the inherent equality of all men, and feudalism as the natural order of things.
Enjoy. The paper was amusing to write, and caused the PCs to do a mental double-take on the 'naturalness' of their own in-game prejudices. =)
(or: Narris Valley Beliefs About Them, and How These Beliefs Affected The People of Narris Valley, and Helped to Create A New Style of Life and Fighting Style)
The northern Kingdom of Oortweis is culturally both a very militaristic and a remarkably unified area, in thought and deed. Thus it should come as no surprise to any casual observer that the fighting style of Oortweis should be said to be epitomized by the Knight and the Knight alone. Who among us has not thrilled to the war trumpet's cry; has not wondered in worry who the barbaric northern hordes go to brutally slaughter this time. Who has not seen the banners snapping briskly in the wind caused by an hundreds' stamping hooves; has not watched wide-eyed as the heavily armored knights go riding by to do their bloody-handed work. Nothing and no-one, it may seem, could stand against such a tidal wave of weight and metal and insanity. But, as it is with so many things illuminated by the discriminating eye of the scholar, there did once exist a force which seemed fair to defeat this murderous Juggernaut. The Goblyns did once invade our northern neighbors, and their small size did become an advantage to them, which advantage they did most cunningly exploit. Their secretive and numerous hordes did swarm like bees around the armies of Oortweis, being, like bees, most difficult to kill when swaying away out of reach, then returning in force to sting and sting again till their larger foe was worn and exhausted and easily pulled down. Thus did the armies of nobly born Oortweisian knights find themselves perplexed and dangerously unable to deal with such a foe. Then did the people of the area find themselves unable to plant or harvest; without defenders; yea, staring in the face both starvation and Death most grim. It was a time of direst need. Then did the peasants of the area rise in concert, then did the most miraculous event transpire. Yes, though it seems well-nigh impossible, who was it who routed out the villainously fetid swarms of Goblyns but the people themselves! A Mistress and Savior appeared to them and taught them a new way of fighting; a way that stood apart from the usual Knights of blood and madness. This style of fighting is one of defense of one's hearth and home, and does not rely on bolts and steel; it is a closely guarded secret. But I, gentle Reader, have been there and have seen this style in use, and will tell you where this Valley is, that you not decry my honor nor believe my words to be but fanciful lies. There does exist in Oortweis a Valley of peasants -- of people, like ourselves! -- who survive without the regular quota of grim and murderous nobles and knights, who's peoples seek to live in alert and watchful peace. Its message is clear for those with the eyes to see and the hearts to hear its clarion call. For who can deny that the peasants of Narris Valley are a people who deserve study, emulation, and encouragement; that a day will come when all the barbaric and bloody ritual of Oortweisian militarism can be revealed as the unnecessary and costly drain that it is. It is my intent in this treatise to show how the Narris Valley peoples deal with their numerically superior enemies -- the Goblyns -- that we may also learn how to cheer and encourage ourselves, and defeat that which, while larger in armies and more vicious in demeanor, is but another obstacle in our determined and enduring attempts at self-defense and peaceful trade. Who the original master and developer of the art was is not the realm of this work; it is rather an attempt to codify the art's ritual beliefs concerning the Goblyns.
Goblyns are perceived as a nuisance rather than as a real menace in the Narris Valley. This is not to say that they are not dangerous, but rather that the Narris Valley style masters have instilled this feeling. It takes a belief such as this to propel people who are on the whole unarmed with conventional weapons and armor to defend against a vicious and numerically superior foe. The fanged and clawed ferocity of the verminous hordes, however, must not be underestimated by the scholarly viewer, who, from the comfort of his easy chair, finds it hard to imagine. Also to be kept in mind is the amazingly numerous packs the Goblyns usually swarm in. They seem as many as the stars, as coherent as the southward flying flocks of winter geese, as ravenous as the locusts of summer. In fierceness the wounded and enraged black boar has met his match and in animal cunning even the wicked fox is deceived. Thus the reckless courage of the mother bear can be seen in the populace of Narris, that they fight bravely without thought or care for their own safety, seeking only to defend to the death their tender loved ones. Think not, however, that they fight foolishly or with greed as their goal; the Goblyns carry no worthwhile treasure, arms, or armor. The weaponry of the vile horde consists mostly of their own teeth and claws, yet will damaged swords and mangled armor of a filthy and diseased appearance be seen in their stubby paws or on their verminous bodies. These ill-gotten remains of their fallen foes deserve a better fate than has befallen them, and a noble bonfire for the slain is the honorable way to dispose of these relics.
The Goblyns' desire, nay, need to pack together so tightly is their security and best defense in most circumstances. However, the natural and superior intelligence of Man has noted this and turned it against them. Thus the Narris Valley warrior will spring to the center of the horde, causing great consternation and fear with this amazing leap, and sweep strongly about themselves with sword or staff, leaving death and dismemberment in their wake. Seeing this fearsome destruction, the Goblyn will often flee in terror, being basically a cowardly and superstitious lot. Thus the locust-like horde is broken up into more manageable chunks, and can be disposed of at leisure. It is a curious fact that once the pack is no more, much if not all of the fight goes out of the individual Goblyn. At this point it can be seen that Man's superior demeanor will always make him master of the lowly Goblyn, just as the Noble is master of his Man; such is the natural order of things. For at this time, the Goblyn, if left to its own devices, will be seen to become obsessed immediately with a search for food, forgetting its former wrath; such is the way of all animals.
The sloping brow, underslung chin, and deeply shelved eyebrows of the Goblyn show immediately, to the scholarly observer, its inability to focus on any of the lofty philosophies and thoughts that are the rightful dominion of Man and the Deities. The dullness of the eyes reveal that a true intellect does not lurk within. However, the training ability of a good animal handler can create a wide range of learned behaviors in these animalistic types, for they are biddable creatures and can make good slaves for simple and repetitive tasks that would vex a Man. The stumpy legs, bowed and deformed looking, do not show well how fast the little creatures can move, for the long arms are often used in a quadrupedal fashion to create a surprising burst of speed. The furless and slightly scaly bodies, while repulsive to look upon, are sturdy and can take quite a bit of punishment. The tales of Goblyns being used as miners, while impossible to prove, do seem quite feasible, and indeed desirable, as mining is often a dangerous profession, risky to life and limb. However, a large pack of Goblyns could be easily and cheaply trained to such tasks, thus reducing unwanted loss of human life, and it would be easy to keep the pack up to size, as Goblyns breed, unsurprisingly, like animals. Also to be kept in mind is the ease of feeding such a pack -- quite literally they will eat anything, and thus can be fed with scraps and garbage.
The good people of Narris Valley have some quaint and curious nicknames which they have disdainfully bestowed upon the Goblyns. Care must be taken by the discriminating scholar not to perceive these simple folk as foolish -- one must realize that peasants do not realize the inaccuracy of their childish utterances. While these nicknames are belittling, they are labels enabling a primitive people to understand the fearsome and often inexplicable natural world around them. Thus, with no further ado, I present for your amusement:
Goblyns come in two sizes. The smaller and more numerous ones are called "rock-eaters". Of course, peasants do not take the time to actually study these odd little creatures, for even the most rudimentary of observations will show that rocks are not the diet of any of the Goblyns. They do possess, however, large and doglike heads and jaws; indeed their animal nature is amply shown by their propensity to bite when captured. They are slightly smaller and shorter than Man, with an unhealthy skin color resembling the rocks and earth that they live among. They have no hair, so to keep warm in winter they tend to huddle in packs. They also are very imitative of higher life forms, displaying a natural desire to aspire to what they may never be (thus also does Man aspire to the Deities) and so will often wear rudimentary clothes, doubtless remains of some unfortunate traveler's wardrobe. Yet one should not despair in one's efforts to travel in safety. Goblyns do not pack aggressively very often, it requiring an outside stress to force them to this extreme, rather than their usual timorous cowardice. Also, packs rarely number more than twenty, more commonly being less. Thus a brave and resolute person is in more danger from bandits (foul jackals that they are, and ever-presently annoying). Another example of the mimicry of the Goblyns is the alacrity with which tool use can be pressed upon them. However, try as they may, speech is beyond them, and they will be forever condemned to the utterances of the animals; for barking and yelping is all they are capable of. Also like animals, they are stronger in body than humans, thus showing the Divine Will that they are placed here for the dominion of Man.
The"flat-heads" are the bigger, larger than human sized Goblyns. They are rarer, and are seen in clumps of one to five, always accompanied by the smaller and more numerous "rock-eaters", always bullying them into doing some onerous task for them. In looks they are very different, indeed one might doubt that they were the same species were it not so ordained. They have more pronounced sloping brows and thicker and more muscular necks, curving into powerful chewing jaws. Their eyes are very deep set, like a cow's, and they carry their bodies in a more upright stance. Thus while not as quick on the ground, they are stronger and larger than the "rock-eaters". Indeed in bad weather or at dusk one might mistake a "flat-head" for a large and brutish man. This erroneous illusion might be further supplemented by the fact that this type of Goblyn has some coarse hair on its body, and tends to wear rude animal skins stitched together in an effort to keep warm. They also have a better ability to use tools. To my astonishment, it was proven that these creatures can indeed rudely patch together a rough approximation of armor. This amazing feat is explained by the fact that the "flat-heads" are excellent mimics of actions. Thus they have reason to be grateful to us for the knowledge of armor, were they capable of such higher emotions. We should give thanks to the wisdom of our God Keridan that these creatures can never approach a true culture nor language such as that with which Man is blessed but rather that the "flat-heads" bark and whine in the same fashion as the "rock-eaters". These creatures would make excellent beasts of burden, for their endurance and strength approaches that of an ox or cart-horse.
Thus my monograph draws to a close. I do humbly and worshipfully dedicate this work to Falmira, Goddess and Patroness of my family and Aid to the Valic Kingdoms. May Her affection shower down and Her blessings fall upon my King and Country in perpetuity. My thanks also to the God Keridan for my protection from both the savage Oortweisians and the ignominious Goblyns. May our trading be always profitable to our friends and a loss to our enemies.
[signed] Lord Eric Albrecht Redclyffe of Couldwell, in service to Countess Trademistress Madeleyn and Count Sir Rupert of Upper Valia, in the year a.s. 839, in the reign of Their Most August Majesties Robert and Madeleyn, long may they reign.
Last Updated: Sat Jan 2 1999
Copyright © 1999 B. A. "Collie" Collier