I am developing a fantasy universe. In it, then there are 6 Continents (Excluding Mapiya, which is in the sky): Agricet (Asia), Aztlan (Pre-colonial Meso/South America), the Biting Glaciers (The Arctic), Meristolem (Africa), Mystikicis (No real-world comparison, as it's essentially Atlantis if it didn't sink), and Skatallo (Europe).

In-universe, there's a racial group known as Boga, or simply Goblins as humans call them. Within this racial group, there's the Chernoboga (Hobgoblins), the Sekirboga (Bugbears), and the Vulboga (normal Goblins, which are called Vulgar Goblins, or Common Goblins). Although the Chernoboga and Sekirboga are peculiar to the subcontinent of Silboga (Just in-between the Siberian-inspired area and the Chinese-inspired area), the Vulboga can be found on any continent in a variety of subspecies.

For any additional context; Meristolem is largely dominated by a region known simply as the Blistering Sands, where the climate is inhospitable to most life forms, and the most monstrous and evil things reside, including an empire of very powerful slavers, known as the At'Azraqa. There are others like Ogres, Demons, Wyverns, and so on. The Biting Glaciers are a similar situation, only as a frozen wasteland. Aztlan's southern portion is a similar location, only in the form of the Savage Jungles.

Mystikicis is densely urbanized and has many port towns. It is home to a highly advanced society in terms of Magic and Technology.

My question here is as to likely subspecies of Vulboga that would develop for each continent, as every continent is supposed to have a subspecies of Vulboga present. What would be their physical traits in comparison to one another, and what would be the most prominent features to make them worthy of being of a different taxonomic classification from one another?

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    $\begingroup$ How easy is if for goblins to travel to different continents? If there is a lot of travel between the continents, there would be much more gene flow. Which means that it would be much less likely that the goblins speciate. $\endgroup$
    – IEW
    Mar 15, 2018 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ It also depends on whether or not the goblins are generalists or specialists. If they are generalists(like humans) they adjust themselves to new environments. If they are more like specialists, they would be forced to evolve new characteristics in order to live in different environments. link $\endgroup$
    – IEW
    Mar 15, 2018 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ Well, Skatallo, Agricet, and Meristolem are separated either by very wide rivers (i.e. The Great River of Nefertari between Skatallo and Meristolem, and the waters between the Silbogan subcontinent and Skatallo and Agricet) or by the Makdasti region, which is like the middle east. It would most likely be relatively easy for them to move around between such places, assuming weather conditions favour it. As for Mystikicis and Aztlan, which are both isolated by the oceans, that would have to be due to some ancient trade between the various continents before recorded history (cont.) $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ "Precursors" trope, which I was planning anyway. Most likely traded for either slave-labour or entertainment. As for the geographical diversity, Aztlan is mostly Jungle, as previously eluded to, and would mostly be run out of urban environments by the populace. Mystikicis, as previously stated, is mostly urbanized, though there is quite a clustering of smaller islands surrounding it. The Biting Glaciers are pretty much exactly what it sounds like. As for the last three terrestrial continents: Skatallo is mostly temperate, especially in Avalon and Imperiorado, (cont.) $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 1:32
  • $\begingroup$ It gets a little bit colder in the Allemagne region, governed by the Teutons, as well as the Highlands of Caledonia, and it gets absolutely frigid in Dampirova, as it is very close to the aforementioned Biting Glaciers. Agricet has the mountainous kingdom of Jiejin, and the stormier coastal kingdom of Pavitochi. Kali and the Naga empires share a similarly rainforested environment. The kingdom of Tengri is on a large wide-open steppe, with the occasional hilly areas, and there's the islands of the Arasenshi. (cont.) $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 1:38

3 Answers 3


An easy option that we often see for example in videogames is a difference in coloration. Often you would start with something that looks like a clichè Goblin - probably small, with green skin, longer ears, ... As the protagonist enters new regions with supposedly stronger enemies he encounters more difficult versions - in the most basic version they would now be yellow instead of green and their final form would be red.

In reality you could theoretically have a similar effect. Goblins are normally portrayed as ambush predators, which means that they need to blend into their surroundings. If you have a jungle they would most likely be of green color, if you are in a desert yellow might be interesting, near a vulcanoe you might find a combination of red and brown or black. With these adaptations it would be easy to tell where each Goblin came from, they wouldn't mix so often with other Goblins or if they did their young ones would be more easy prey and they would still be Goblins. If you want to make sure that they can have offspring with other Goblins you can say that these spcial ones are always treated as advisors - staying at home in a cave and making plans for where to hunt. This would also give you a natural boss or champion if you were developing a game.

Other typical differences could be seen in their teeth. Depending on their prey they might develop larger or smaller teeth to eat animals or plants that are native to each region.

Typically you can find animals that are rounder in colder regions and animals with a lot of surface area in warmer regions. This makes sure that their body temperature can be regulated as is needed for warm-blooded animals. Look at the big ears of (super cute) brown Fennec Foxes who are living in the Sahara for example and compare them with (equally cute) white Arctic Foxes that are living in Arctic climate.

Your Goblins would likely develop:

  • different coloration to hide
  • different sizes of limbs for regulating their body temperature
  • different teeth, claws and tools adapted to the amount and kind of prey and plants they can find

Each of these is enough to warrant calling them a sub-species, similar to Fennex Foxes and Arctic Foxes, but they would still be Goblins, just as you would call my two examples Foxes.

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    $\begingroup$ I was also going to suggest foxes be used as a model. There are fox species that inhabit each of the biomes you list. Base your goblin phenotypes on the fox phenotypes. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 15, 2018 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ Green, yellow, red, did you play rage of mages? $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2018 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @GarretGang Never heard of it. Did the game use such a colour scheme? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:30

Building off of the other answers,

  • Goblins that live more in the north(colder places) will be larger than those that live in the south(warmer places)
  • Goblins in the north will have smaller appendages(limbs, ears) than those that live in the south. This makes it so that they have a smaller surface area to lose heat. This is because in cold climates, they need to conserve heat.
  • The goblins that live in more humid areas(near the equator) will have darker pigmentation.

The Goblins in "Blistering Desert" may have evolved to have smaller body size and larger appendages(ears) like secespitus mentioned for temperature regulation. some other possible adaptations would be longer hairs to protect their eyes and ears from sand like a camel. Or they could have stronger jaws like the peccary.

The goblins in the "Biting Glacier" would be the opposite. They would likely have larger body sizes in order to survive the cold. They may also have thicker fur or more body fat in order to insulate themselves.

The goblins in "Aztlan" would have to be adapted to living the rain forests. They may have longer limbs like the spider monkey, and stronger wrists like the gibbon.

Sources: University of Nebraska


Well if you are to make your goblins skin photosynthetic (being green) then you could have an inverted coloring system, in places where there's little light the goblins might develop to retain heat which would make them dark, the ones in desert climates with little sheildimg from the sun might have paler skin to prevent over-heating and only absorb the less powerful wavelengths making them a bluish color, those from jungle regions might have green-skin for camoflauge or blue skin to absorb the unused green light, The ones in More temperate regions might predominantly be green but have darker or lighter skin depending on latitude (again the inverse of human trends). The brightness of their skin could naturally change with temperature allowing goblins to survive moving to different climates.

That's just some ideas for you.

  • $\begingroup$ If we were to add some of our knowledge about how humans coming from hotter areas in our world have dark skin rather than light skin, then the idea of making the goblins lighter skinned in the desert becomes significantly inadvisable. In contrast, those in colder climates, although there's certainly leeway for them to have dark hides, it won't help them retain heat like dark clothing does. Instead, in arctic species of animals here on earth, we quite often see white fur, though that's mostly for camouflage. Red light is the complementary colour to green, making it the more likely one for them. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2018 at 7:46

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