The G.O.B., or General Oblation Board, are an evil organization in His Dark Materials.
The General Oblation Board is a team of theologians and scientists created by the Church back in Medieval times. The organization is set in Lyra's world, a universe parallel to ours, wherein history ran a different course. In this universe, the Tartars, an Asian race, are warmongering and have become the superior military force on Earth, there is not much technological advancement, due to the universe being in our Victorian era, and the entire Solar System is different, being six planets instead of nine round the sun.
The universe is governed by Dust, which is a mysterious substance somehow akin to dark matter, which also exists in this Universe too. Dark matter, or Dust, has been known to various organizations and people since the beginning in Lyra's world, such as the witches, some theologians, and philosophers, but the Church hate Dust and see it as physical evil. Thus the General Oblation Board are created with aims of destroying Dust.
The General Oblation Board was formed in Medieval times perhaps by the current Pope at the time. It was a religious sect, derived to mutilate childrens' sexual organs so they would never mature. This was done because the Church feared maturity, and knew upon maturity children attracted Dust, and their daemons settled in one form. This was the beginning of wisdom. So, to stop wisdom and intelligence, the General Oblation Board intervened by creating "oblates" which were victims of the cruel experiments. These were people without daemons and mutilated sexual organs. The experiments were shown as more brutal in Medieval times, and because there was no anaesthetic, more gruesome too.
In the books
The General Oblation Board had existed for at least 500 years before it faded away, unneeded. However, a woman named Marisa Coulter founded the sect again when she became aware of Dust and adolescence. She knew the Church were scared of maturity and wanted to destroy Dust because of Pope John Calvin's wishes, and so Marisa Coulter used her charisma and beauty to win over the cardinals and form the organization again, saying she was being useful by finding out Dust. She used her wealth to form contacts in the British police and began sending out doctors in the General Oblation Board to hunt down preteen children, where they locked them in a van (often after distracting the unsuspecting parents) and drove off with them to docks, where they kept the kidnapped children in warehouses, where Marisa Coulter or another commander of the General Oblation Board met them. They would tell the children they needed their help, and send them on a ship to Lapland after making the children befriend them because of their charm.
In the first book, Northern Lights, the General Oblation Board are main antagonists in the first section, but fade into secondary antagonists when that role is given to Coulter instead.
The Board are first introduced as bogeymen figures who abduct children. Their ringleaders are shown to be "a young man with wild eyes" "a beautiful woman" and rich Tartars. The Board mysteriously abduct children, prompting many urban legends and stories of monsters called "Gobblers" who eat children. Unknown to the children who started the rumours, the name "Gobbler" in fact comes from the organization's initials, the General Oblation Board.
The Board first abduct children in central London, round Limehouse - Tony Makarios, a Greek-Asian boy, is the latest of their victims. They take them to the docks and Marisa Coulter herself befriends all the children who are awestruck by her beauty and charm and seeming kind nature. Then the Board begin moving up the country, up to Manchester, and they abduct children in their white truck wherever they go. They even reach Sussex and the Fens, and this is when the action gets going, because the gyptians native to the Fens have children kidnapped, and they begin to get interested.
The Board come to Oxford in their journey up the country and they abduct three children there (possibly more) who are a girl from the Market, a young boy named Roger who is Lyra's best friend, and Billy, a gyptian kid. Billy's mother Ma Costa is furious with the Board (although she doesn't know their involvement yet) and she is determined to go to get her son back.
The Board send out Tartar raiding scouts to protect Bolvangar, their headquarters, which in Icelandic means "fields of evil" given to it by the natives and spirits, but the Board themselves call the place "the Station". The General Oblation Board's scouts manage to wound the gyptian king Lord Faa, but not badly, and they kidnap Lyra to take to the General Oblation Board.
NatureInside Bolvangar, Lyra finds that the place looks and is organized very like a school, with classes and activities, which are really there to take the childrens' minds off the true evil there. Occasionally, a doctor will call up a child who is nearing maturity, and bring them to a room where their daemon will be severed.
Lyra knows the General Oblation Board cut daemons because she met Tony Makarios on her journey, and he had his daemon removed. Lyra now knows how evil the Board is and wants to free the kids. Lyra sets the imprisoned daemons free from their cages with the witch Serafina Pekkala's daemon's assistance and the daemon takes the other daemons back to their humans. However, Lyra herself is captured by the doctors when she and her daemon Pantaliamon are spying on their meeting with Coulter. The Board doctors debate what to do with Lyra and eventually decide on the intercision which involves separating the daemon. They drag Lyra to a prison like room and throw her and Pantaliamon inside metal cages, and bring down the saw, but Coulter interrupts and manages to cancel the experiment and save Lyra.
However, Lyra is still angry with Coulter for managing this evil organization, and Coulter tells her that it's for humanity's own good. But Lyra distracts Coulter and flees, destroying the Station with explosives, and gets the children out. The gyptians arrive shortly and engage the General Oblation Board in a battle, killing almost all of them. Those that survive are picked up by the Church who later interrogate them over the failure.