One thing I always admired about Palladium Fantasy was how it really made the typical monster races playable character races as well. (To be sure, books like Savage Species also address this possibility, but it somehow seems less labored and more natural in Palladium Fantasy). The first few times I was GMing in my homebrew world of Irrin, I really felt like adding 1-2 races as player options that they usually don't have access to. Enter the goblin.
As a proud supporter of the Goblin Defense Fund, I haven't been too wild about recent iterations of the goblin race in D&D. Kobolds are usually my default Magic Missile fodder, to be honest. I wanted my goblins to be a challenge to role-play. I didn't just want green cutesy mischances halflings. I wanted a race barely holding on the lower rungs of civilization, used to being beaten down at every turn. Below is how I describe them to my players:
"Long considered a pestilence by mankind (as well as the other races), many goblins still are bandits and thieves preying on travelers and the like, or slaves and servants across Irrin. However, 90 years ago, one band of slaves on a ship destined for Cerras [a cut-throat sort of merchant's haven] managed to fight off their slavers, and wrecked upon the rocky shores near the High Elves’ Elder Forest [not a good place for most non-elven races to be]. Amazingly, these goblins succeeded in creating a miniature society. They took to fishing, scavenging, and basically to living a modest, simple life.
Somehow, word spread of this goblin settlement, and many escaped slaves attempted to make their way there (though most died along the way). Cerras was determined to wipe out this embarrassing settlement, but couldn’t, for two reasons: first, it was too close to High Elf territory, and they did not wish to present a show of force in the High Elves’ backyard. Second, Hastal [an amalgamation of sea principalities that are the main rival of Cerras], seeing a chance to humiliate their long-time rival, put the settlement at least nominally under their protection.
The civilized goblins are still very few in number, and will often (though not always) be treated poorly in every area except their new homeland. Most others encountered are servant and slaves, with a very few practicing (mostly in slums) as free tradespeople. At the goblin's free settlement, their defense consists largely in the potent shamanistic and elementalist traditions of their religion. Lifespan is 35-50 years, much less in the wild".
In short, being a goblin in our campaign isn't easy. Most folks think of you as low-class vermin, and even if you are a free goblin, you know there are many places in the world, you would be clapped in irons for the slave market straightaway. Yet for all that, it remains a fairly popular choice in our games, which I suppose speaks a bit to our "zero-to-hero" preference in play.
Do any of you allow goblins or other "monster" races in your settings?