Goblin Forest Ecology
Cold, empty air is little use to any living thing. Huge caverns filled with nothing but empty air do only a little more than introduce boredom and monotony. And while the prospect of life is strong across the cavern floor if you’ve got feelers below, it is always a boring life in the midst of a cavern which is boring to look at. Why do I write about boring things, you ask? Because I believe that in boredom of this sort we have our first great clues about those strange forces which guide the growth and spread of life. Think of it this way: if the world was perfectly ordered and always made sense, then there wouldn’t be very many ways of organizing life, now would there? There would be the small group of ways that really make sense—single-species nuclear families and small, tightly knit clans opposed to single-species huge families gathered and rapidly intermingled in super-sized cities. And of the fungi too, there would be only those which have an intuitive function in ecology: the fruiters and the burrers and the sporers.
But as you can all see, dear children of the forest: life is vastly more complex! We have our line-families and web-families and our tribe has both Kobolds like you and Wyvarans like me in our proper place, while the Wyverns keep eye and stinger outward and sharp in case of need. Even as our colossal high-topped homes protect us from the ever-scavenging goblins at their base, so too is there a sense of playfulness—or at least a banishment of boredom—in the structures of the world. And it is precisely this playfulness that gives me hope that the guiding hand of change will smile upon the Dragonkin in the next Eon.
Wokt – Wyvaran Teacher.
There are three primary groups of Sentient in the layer colloquially called Goblin Forest. On the ground, the fierce Goblinoid tribes (Goblins and Hobgoblins, with only the occasional Bugbear or Barghest), the Dragonkin (Kobolds, Wyverns, and the Wyvaran), and the forest-fey.
However, the most distinctive features of the forest is not the sentient, or indeed any of the animals, that dwell there. Rather, it is the great Mushrooms which make up the forest. These colossal fungi are broad—nearly six Kobolds wide at the base (~15’ 10 13’ 12 )—and sufficiently tall that few would risk a fall from the top. Their broad stems are easy for the forest denizens to climb, and in the highest reaches, the great Shrooms engage in a bizarre reproductive cycle the causes whole trunks to vibrate and eventually causes a light mist to descend down to the forest floor far below. These great flora, from their deep roots to thier thick covering caps, dominate the whole ecosystem.
Winged creatures—a few birds, some flying reptiles, and even the occasional gliding mammal—pick parasitic worms from the high trunks and are rewarded with high and safe nesting spaces. It is thought that the Dragonkin races may have descended from early examples of such scavenging symbiotes, as their fungus-abhorring digestive systems will only eat two commodities of the forest: the parasites, and their Dragonkin or Goblinoid competitors. When Dragonkin do gather together, they group up: the big, strong and deadly Wyvern supported by the quick wit and darting body of the Wyvaran and food and population established by the frequent birth of the adaptable scavenging Kobold. That the three varieties of Dragonkin breed as one species reinforces the utility of these arrangements.
On the other end of the spectrum, numerous parasites fall from above and are snatched up excitedly by the Goblinoid scavengers over the forest floor. Occasionally, but more often in times of lower parasite volumes, whole Goblinoid tribes will band together and topple one of the great Shrooms. If the tribe chooses well, the Hobgoblin leaders batter any surviving animals and divide the spoil among themselves. Finally, the remaining scraps are fought over by the lowly Goblins, whose low status ensures that there will not be enough to go around. When hunger sets in, those lacking the bravery to scale a shroom searching out prey often turn on their weaker fellow goblins.
The fey species largely sit outside the cycle, save that an occasional Goblin is very lucky to feast on a dozing fey. The details of fey ecology are outlined [here]. Species besides those here outlined are [here].