The goblins of Zendikar are similar in appearance to goblins found in other planes. between 3.5 and 5 feet in height, but with a slender, more elongated build. Their arms are unusually long, allowing them to brachiate through forest canopies and along cliff walls, and their skin is more leathery than typical goblin skin. A goblin's skin will range from a brownish red to a moss green, depending on his tribe and his exposure to various subterranean elements.
Goblins practice a strange form of meritocracy when it comes to governance. By far, the most useful trait in a leader is practical survival knowledge, so the goblin that leads the tribe is the one who has managed to retrieve the most interesting or powerful object from a ruin site. As such, ambitious goblins are always trying to outdo one another, and delve deeper and deeper into ever more dangerous ruins. Goblin leaders therefore tend to be young—there are old goblins, and ambitious goblins, but there are very few old and ambitious goblins.
Goblins always carry their most impressive prize with them, and a goblin that hasn't yet retrieved an interesting relic from some ruin or wilderness locale is not considered a full member of the tribe. However, most goblins are fearful by nature individually, so they are willfully gullible when told that a given object is an important artifact. They enable each other's cowardice through a tacit agreement to the effect that, "Yep, that hunk of rock you found feels pretty powerful to me," thereby enabling each others' acceptance by the tribe.
"Grit," an unidentified mineral commonly found in volcanic rock and magma tunnels, is often pounded into dust and eaten by goblins, and it serves to partially calcify their skin—enough to toughen them up against the elemental forces they are constantly subjected to. As goblins age, therefore, their skin develops a stiff, leathery quality like elephant skin. An older goblin starts to look greyer and stonier over time.
Much of goblin society is centered around the role of the shaman, and some goblin shamans, known as the Gas-Talkers of Akoum, will intentionally breathe the volcanic gases that erupt from deep within the ground. While goblin physiology is more adapted to these gases than, say, elves or humans, the results can still be very harmful. Great, chaotic magical energy is trapped in the volcanic caldera below, and as such, the gases often imbue the shaman with magical power and/or visions, if only for a little while. These "gas-talkers" are revered, but often from a safe distance.