Backstory by Gharn
A Short History of the Northern Goblinoids:
When the Hobgoblins, Goblins, and Bugbears were first brought to Arakion, they settled in the far reaches of the north in the Valen. There, near the wide arms of the Bone Mountains, they found mountain rivers stocked with fish, rolling hills good for pasturage, and a series of natural quarries and mines teeming with quality minerals and ores. They were not the only races to find this chilly oasis, but they were certainly the best organized and the quickest to expand. Soon goblinoid longboats, oared by Bugbears, rigged by Goblins, and governed by grim-faced Hobgoblins, worked their way from the interior of the Valen out to the inner sea, down to friendly ports and the promise of trade.
Finer ores were eventually discovered in bulk deeper inside the Bone Mountains themselves, and massive amounts of labor were necessary for excavation, cartage, and refinement: being familiar with the concept and not disdaining its use, the Hobgoblin merchant lords turned to slavery. First, they began to enslave the non-goblinoid underclass of their cities, but these races were frequently unfit for the work at hand. Bugbears were far more desirable for rough work like mining, and their wise, redder brethren sent them to the task with little discomfort. However, the enslavement of Bugbears was barely tolerated for the short time during which it was legal in those cities, and quickly the Hobgoblins released their cousins to avoid complete social collapse and political overthrow.
The next source was further west, across the mountains themselves: for Orcs gathered in large numbers near the Wall, and the Hobgoblins were well aware of their strength and endurance after many skirmishes in the valleys and canyons cutting through the Bone Mountains. And, so, they began to make raids on the Dareus tribes, while also attacking further south from time to time to take a few Elves, Dragonborn, or even Trolls for other sorts of labor. For several centuries, this continued, until finally all the weaker tribes of the Dareus had been completely depleted, and the stronger ones dealt the Hobgoblin military elite a few humiliating defeats. Then, and this was about a century before the present time, they returned to the idea of enslaving their own kin, the Bugbears.
This time, the Goblins were to prove the most important actors, not the Bugbears themselves. Sensing the potential for great social change and aware of the now-dusty histories that told of the original Bugbear uprisings, certain Goblin agents provocateurs convinced the Bugbear populations of many city states to rise up against their haughty, overbearing Hobgoblin leaders. In some places, this failed, and many little Goblin skulls lie rotting at the bottom of the rivers of the Valen, but in some places the Hobgoblins were expelled. A series of revolutions was waged across the Valen for some time, until finally most Hobgoblins were exiled. The elites among them found their way back into the cities under certain restrictions, as elites always do, but the grunts and the career military men were left out in the cold, cut off from the pay that their leaders had provided from their lucrative trading profits.
Many of them turned to banditry at home and abroad, of course, but Hobgoblins prefer a more organized and predictable means of employment, for which preference most of these exiles took to the mercenary life. Not that they were the first, of course: goblinoid mercenaries were common throughout Arakion from the first days, themselves often political or criminal exiles from the Valen. One thing is certainly clear: had the Akoran attack not occurred in this period of exile, there would have been far fewer shields for hire to defend Pholus and, as a result, the devastation would have been even worse. Many of these mercenaries now seek employment in other bands, since the war with Akora has slackened its pace for the moment.