Boring but Mandatory History:
Vega the Fleshcrafter was an ancient and powerful wizard. The mysteries of the universe were Monday crosswords to him. At his touch, living flesh leaped up and swirled into new shapes so that it might be more pleasing to him. (He gave awful massages.)
He was also very evil. Like all evil wizards, Vega was continually inflicted with "do-gooders" and "heroes", the most durable and pernicious of which was Sir Hactor. This perpetually meddling paladin-creature went on to become Vega's nemesis (and eventually his slayer).
In his last decade of life, Vega noticed that Hactor was destroying his strongholds faster than he could construct them. He needed to find a way to build many, many hideouts cheaply and quickly. He applied his magic to goblin and fungus, and was happy when he his efforts eventually bore the first yoblin—creatures with a complex and swift reproduction time and a genetic imperative towards making villainous strongholds.
It works like this. Vega would reach a remote location and plant what must have been the original spores. Those spores would germinate, and eventually grow to become a giant mushroom, called shroomamas by the goblins and motherfungus by the wizards. You can also call it a yoblin mushroom if you think those names are stupid. (I sorta do.) After about a year and a half, before the shroomama is taller than a man, it will begin to give birth to yoblins.
Most of the descriptions in books will describe yoblins growing on a motherfungus like bulbous fruit that plop off when gestation is complete. However, I it may also be that the fungus gives live birth in a more mammalian fashion. Personally, I find the idea of vaginas on a 8' mushroom a little unsettling, especially once all the cultural and recreational implications are considered.
Whatever the case may be, the truth is that yoblins are unfamiliar with more traditional methods of reproductions. Many of them are terrified of vaginas. But I digress.
However baby yoblins enter the world, they are sickly pale. Only after do they get older do they get their distinctive yellow color.
As the shroomama grows larger, it will produce yoblins more frequently. Since shroomamas grow throughout their lives, the older ones can produce a tremendous amount of baby yoblins. Yoblins can easily colonize a mountainside in only a few years, something that Vega was acutely aware of. In the years before his death, the evil wizard was canny enough to spread his spawn in every land he traveled through. (A bit like Genghis Khan.)
The yoblins themselves are all male, and so reproduction among them is impossible. Instead of procreating through decent, normal sex, the body of every yoblin born is riddled with the fungus that birthed him. After about a year, this dormant fungus forms a bud on the back of the yoblin neck. That bud remains dormant until it senses that the yoblin is dead, whereupon it activates and grows into a new fungalmother, using the yoblin's body for nutrients.
So the cycle goes yoblin -> shroomama -> yoblin -> shroomama -> etc.
One exception this cycle: funglybears! When a shroomama gets very old and mature (at least 10 years) it will have such a fat trunk that it can begin producing funglybears, which are the size of bugbears. However, funglybears have tiny heads and do not speak. Funglybears are born full-grown, and do not generate giant mushrooms upon death.
Another exception to this cycle are the mushroom shamans. These yoblins are created by a process that the yoblins call "slapping your mother". When a an especially perspicacious yoblin is noticed, the tribe will often intentionally damage the fungal bud, causing it to begin growing while the yoblin is still alive. The mushroom on his back takes blood, making the yoblin decrepit, while the mushroom releases a constant flow of mild psychotropics into the shaman's bloodstream. This give him the visions and strange mushroom powers that the mushroom shamans are known for.
When a mushroom shaman gets extra old and decrepit, all of the other yoblins will bury him up to his neck and take turns kicking him in the face until he is dead. For whatever reason, this causes the mushroom growing out from between his shoulderblades to undergo some very strange changes. The resultant mushroom is a shaman mushroom. It is a little larger than the fungalmothers, and it has arms, like a saguaro cactus. The yoblins also believe that the shaman mushrooms still hold the mind and memories of the shaman that it grew from. During certain ceremonies, yoblins will lick the shaman mushrooms and trip out for several hours.
It is also said that shaman mushrooms can stand up out of the dirt and walk around like people, if the warren is ever threatened.
Yoblins make their homes in caves and mountainous places, like their goblin ancestors (who they eventually totally supplanted).
Yoblins love filth. They intentionally maintain shallow pits throughout their lairs dedicated to the collection and fermentation of all sorts of nastiness. They stir the filth, put filth on bugs in order to better distribute the filth, rub filth on themselves, and will go to any length to avoid taking a bath. They have an entire vocabulary dedicated to the size and type of a particular pile of shit. Every yoblin has a particular pile of filth. It is their prize possession. Inter-warren feuds often begin when one yoblin steals a couple of buckets of filth from another. Once ripened, this filth is used to fertilize the mushrooms.
One room that is in every yoblin warren is the filth gardens or filth library (yoblins don't really know what a library is). These rooms function as compost heaps, graveyards, and nurseries. The garbage feeds the mushrooms that grow from the dead yoblins, which in turn gives birth to baby yoblins. The magical circle of life.
Newborn yoblins are instictively attached to the mushrooms that birthed them, and will often cling to it. Since the mushrooms have a "skirt" near their base, baby yoblins will dig a clumsy burrow underneath for habitation. Baby yoblins forage among the garbage and leavings for food, or scrambling around their older brothers begging for scraps. Dirty, dirty little shrieking imps, they are.
Every sentient creature dreams. And yoblins dream of only one thing: Vega. The wizard somehow managed to imprint himself in the subconcious of their entire race. They have a lot of wizard-stuff in their DNA. Although each yoblin will dream of only incomplete sections, but when the fragments are pieced together it becomes apparent that Vega "recorded" three separate sections, each between three and five hours long. These "sermons" contain instructions and threats, each of which has been repeated to countless generations of sleeping yoblins.
The first sermon to his unborn yoblins takes place in a laboratory, with Vega wearing a plain green robe. He tells the yoblins that they are his children, and that the world is his to give to them, which he does.
The second yoblin sermon is in a different part of the same laboratory, with a balcony visible overlooking some mountains. Vega wears a purple and white robe, and seems to be in excellent spirits. He spends five hours giving a rapid-fire course in excavation and architectural engineering. He is pacing the entire time, and at one point conjures an illusory dragon to make a point.
The sermon is interrupted only when Vega stops to eat a sandwich. The yoblins refer to this event as the "standing feast", and it is a prominent feature of their religious rituals.
The third and last sermon takes place with Vega wearing a black and gold robe. He is standing on the Bastion of Medurak (an enormous, ancient dam) and seems to be drunk, or at least tired and angry. He throws a bag off the side of the Bastion, calling it the price of failure. The rest of the short sermon is a list of his demands. This sermon is rambling and unstructured, leading yoblin-specialist wizards to believe that Vega did not plan the third sermon. Vega ends by telling the yoblins that he will always be watching; he will always be waiting; and he will always find the failures and traitors.
Aside from his psuedo-religious impressions of grandeur, Vega presents a definite set of instructions for the yoblins.
- Keep hidden at all times. Let no one discover you.
- Build a tower in a hidden place: two stories above ground, four beneath. This should be disguised as a natural rock.
- This tower should be large enough to fit 200 yoblins inside without any two touching.
- They are to stock a alchemy lab with a full complement of reagents (no one alive knows what some of them are used for).
- Supply the stronghold with a wine cellar.
- Supply the stronghold with a swift horse.
- Supply the stronghold with a beautiful maiden.
- Supply the stronghold with a half-dozen lambs (Vega was a lover of veal).
- Stock the stronghold with more gold than the strongest yoblin can carry.
What the Yoblins Actually Stock the Stronghold With
Results differ, but a typical example would be:
- A few bottles of vinegar.
- A few bottles full of "stuff" that they labeled (usually correctly).
- An asthmatic donkey.
- Some hobo they kidnapped. (yoblins don't understand gender)
- A couple of nervous goats. (destined for the filth pits)
- A bag full of pennies and/or shiny rocks.
Although they tend to be smaller than Vega would have liked, the stoneworking skills of yoblins are excellent--the strongholds are always well-built. Vega’s rushed sermon on groined vaults and flying buttresses has been analyzed and retaught again and again. Since Yoblins are lectured on these things every night, they know them backwards and forwards. Even their prayers include a lot of architectural terms.
Yoblins are expected to work to improve the master’s stronghold whenever they have time, and the tower is continually worked upon. Stocking an alchemy lab from the mountains requires luck and stealth, whereas hewing a stone into a block can be done with just a few tools. Yoblins could be excellent masons if they could overcome their prejudices, narrow field of expertise, and that funky filthy smell.
Seriously. Yoblins are effectively born with a cursory knowledge of digging tunnels, reinforcing tunnels, flood-proofing tunnels, the manufacture of excavation equipment and explosives, different types of dirt and stone and the considerations of each. They also know of foundations, brickmaking, and several recipes for mortar. Yoblins also know how to read and write the alphabet and a few words, although only in Old Tongue (Common wouldn’t be invented for another few hundred years).
Yoblins in the World Today
Yoblins have completely displaced goblins, except for the colder and higher places where their mushrooms can’t grow. They are a nuisance in temperate lands where the mountains are unpatrolled. Yoblins share their goblin ancestors’ habits of dying frequently and in random places, and new yoblin mushrooms often sprout up in the unlikeliest of places.
New tribes all follow the same pattern. Each one believes that they are the only yoblins in the service of a wizard-god who is coming back any day now. Luckily, most authorities know to suspect yoblin activity when goats, vinegar, and a single hobo go missing.
There is a permanent colony in Asria called the Bogenshy Warrens. The people of Asria have managed to turn a pitiable nuisance into a social experiment. They proved to the yoblins that Vega is a long dead murderer and a vile man who happily condemned his creations to a lifetime of servitude for all time. After a period of denial, anger, and soul-crushing introspection, the tribe is gradually coming to grips with reality. Schisms formed. A few have moved to the cities. A few threw on some dark cloaks and have decided to hunt the paladins of the order that killed their dead master-god-wizard.
Many of the enlightened yoblins consider themselves cursed, no matter what the dark-haired man in the dreams says, no matter how many times he tells them that they are his forever, he is watching forever, and failures will be punished, forever. They will wake in a cold sweat for the rest of their lives.