Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Hobgoblins: Goblins, But Tall… And Red

They break before our shields,
They fall beneath our blades;
Their home is ours to conquer,
Their children our slaves.
Acheron! Acheron!
Victory is ours!

Translation of a hobgoblin war chant

After three monsters with barely a page dedicated to them, we’ve got a collection that takes up three whole pages all to themselves! Hooray! My job just got so much harder!

Lore: Warmongers of the Borderlands

Belonging to the same family known as goblinoids, hobgoblins can often be found lording over their smaller cousins, the goblins and the bugbears. Warriors at heart, they care for nothing more than the chance to prove themselves in battle. Those high in the hobgoblin military chain of command earned that position with force, then hold that position with extreme measures suitable for any dictator. They train to fight in every weapon, from swords to seige equipment, and take better care for their equipment than they do for their fellow soldiers.

Rather than organizing into tribes, hobgoblins gather together into legions. Each member of their martial society has a rank, from the mighty champions to the simple foot soldiers. At the head of a legion stands a mighty warlord and their captains. While the members of a legion are fiercly loyal to their warlord, each legion competes with the others in a constant struggle for glory. Only the most powerful leaders can force two legions to work together.

Tactics and discipline come easily to the hobgoblins. However, their hatred of elves is so severe that it causes them to strike at any elf force first, regardless of whether or not it helps the plan. Not every member of the legion is as loyal as hobgoblins, either, as the lesser ranks are populated by goblins, bugbears, orcs, ogres, or even a few evil humans and giants.

Animals are frequently found in these legions as well. From oxen and horses to wolves and hounds, any beast that can be used for war are there. Some legions even keep carniverous apes for fighting. Any purpose that they can fill will be filled.

Wherever there are lush resources to be found, there are hobgoblins. They’ll build strongholds upon the lands they conquer in the most advantageous positions in order to hold the land, then use it as a staging area to further their conquest. While they love combat, they don’t take up arms until they’ve fully analyzed their foe and properly prepared. When attacking a stronghold, they’ll surround it and cut it off from aide, and allow their enemies to starve. During this process, they’ll further fortify their own defenses.

Hobgoblins worship the greater god of the goblinoids, Maglubiyet the Mighty One. It is a terrifying god, but hobgoblins don’t fear death. Rather, they believe that they’ll earn a place to fight among the god’s armies in Acheron upon their death.

Looking to make a military fantasy of your campaign? These are your guys! Perhaps you could place the party in a city under hobgoblin siege and make them find a way out of it. Or you could help them prepare for a coming attack to prevent that siege. Or maybe they could try and manipulate two different legions into going to war. That, or they could try to prevent them from becoming allies. Possibilities abound!

Design: Less Goblin, More Lion

This dude is related to the goblins? He looks more like a Thundercats character! At least I think. I’ve never actually watched Thundercats.

I’m making someone out there mad, let’s just move on.

See that guy? Over there? That I’m pointing at? Imma kill ‘im.

It’s a very simple design. Stick an intimidating looking beast man thing into a set of ornate armor. It isn’t quite what you’d expect when you hear the word ‘goblin’ in its title. But honestly, I think it’s cool!

This dude looks like a proper soldier. Dignified. Refined. Fierce. In control. Unlike many other creatures we’ve discussed so far, this is less of a monster and more of a warrior.

Also, I love the color scheme of its armor. Its unique and it fits the creature really well.

There really isn’t much to discuss here. It’s a soldier-looking monster. But that kinda makes him cool! He isn’t some possessed construct or some wild animal or a horrific cosmic horror. It’s a soldier. A proper fighter.

Stats: Under Proper Leadership…

Okay. So we have hobgoblins, hobgoblin captains, and hobgoblin warlords. *Deep breath* Let’s see if we can get through this in a timely manner.

At their core, each one of these is a simple brawler. Each one has a sword of some variety and a ranged weapon of some variety. Warlords also have the added shield bash, a third option for basic strikes. Both captains and warlords have multiattack, allowing them to make multiple melee attacks at once. That would be scary, if their melee stats weren’t fairly low throughout all three varieties.

What is scary is the Martial Advantage ability. Once per turn, a hobgoblin of any of the three flavors can add an extra 7(2d6) damage to any target it hits, so long as it is within five feet of an ally. This ability makes fighting groups of hobgoblins much more dangerous, encouraging the players to either try and divide and conquer or to simply kill as quickly as possible.

Even more dangerous is the Leadership ability shared by the captains and warlords. With this, they can add an extra d4 to any ally rolling for an attack or a saving throw. This effect lasts for a minute, which equals ten rounds of combat. However, it can only affect one target at a time and it ends when the user is incapacitated.

Also, the warlord can use Parry, which adds a solid 3 to its already monstrous 20 AC whenever it gets hit with a melee attack. So… fuck you, barbarians and fighters.

This can make for a dynamic and difficult battle. The more hobgoblins you throw at your players, the more challenging and complex the encounter. That said, the battle really stops being interesting once you get down to one hobgoblin or you separate them. Still, up until that point, it could be a very fun clash.

Placement

I didn’t have high expectations going into this one. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised! The lore is simple but rife with possibility, the design is badass and refined, and the stats can make for a truly compelling fight! This is definitely a monster I need to use in a campaign!

With all that in mind, let’s put the Hobgoblins on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Sea Hag
  14. Bronze Dragons
  15. Brass Dragons
  16. Copper Dragons
  17. Gold Dragons
  18. Chuul
  19. Gibbering Mouther
  20. Chimera
  21. Death Knight
  22. Fomorian
  23. Bone Devil
  24. Dracolich
  25. Faerie Dragon
  26. Hobgoblins <———————–
  27. Night Hag
  28. Green Hag
  29. Ankheg
  30. Storm Giant
  31. Hill Giant
  32. Empyrean
  33. Efreeti
  34. Grimlock
  35. Dao
  36. Cloud Giant
  37. Drow (all four of ’em)
  38. Shadow Demon
  39. Marilith
  40. Drider
  41. Aarackockra
  42. Azer
  43. Demilich
  44. Spectator
  45. Marid
  46. Harpy
  47. Half-Dragon
  48. Cambion
  49. Fire Giant
  50. Animated Armor
  51. Banshee
  52. Basilisk
  53. Yochlol
  54. Bulette
  55. Cloaker
  56. Darkmantle
  57. Doppelganger
  58. Ghoul and Ghast
  59. Ettin
  60. Pit Fiend
  61. Erinyes
  62. Chain Devil
  63. Bearded Devil
  64. Barbed Devil
  65. Spined Devil
  66. Ice Devil
  67. Djinni
  68. Nalfeshnee
  69. Glabrezu
  70. Chasme
  71. Grell
  72. Barlgura
  73. Horned Devil
  74. Balor
  75. Shadow Dragon
  76. Vrock
  77. Dretch
  78. Gnolls (all three)
  79. Goristro
  80. Hezrou
  81. Manes
  82. Frost Giant
  83. Duergar
  84. Quasit
  85. Dryad
  86. Flumph
  87. Goblin
  88. Githyanki
  89. Planetar
  90. Imp
  91. Clay Golem
  92. Flameskull
  93. Displacer Beast
  94. Carrion Crawler
  95. Githzerai
  96. Grick
  97. Rug of Smothering
  98. Bugbear Chief
  99. Bugbear
  100. Flesh Golem
  101. Vine Blight
  102. Twig Blight
  103. Needle Blight
  104. Bullywug
  105. Hellhound
  106. Ettercap
  107. Gas Spore
  108. Cockatrice
  109. Lemure
  110. Solar
  111. Deva
  112. Gorgon
  113. Hippogriff
  114. Griffon
  115. Cyclops
  116. Centaur
  117. Ghost
  118. Fire Elemental
  119. Water Elemental
  120. Air Elemental
  121. Stone Giant
  122. Deep Gnome
  123. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  124. Iron Golem
  125. Stone Golem
  126. Earth Elemental
  127. Galeb Duhr
  128. Helmed Horror
  129. Flying Sword
  130. Crawling Claw
  131. Violet Fungus
  132. Shrieker
  133. Gargoyle

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