Tips On Playing As A Hobgoblin In Dungeons & Dragons

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Highlights

  • Hobgoblins, a playable option in Dungeons & Dragons, offer utility to the group and allow for exploration of themes of good versus evil.
  • As part of the Goblinoid category, hobgoblins are seen as stronger than goblins but weaker than bugbears, and are often portrayed as military leaders and strategists.
  • In the playable versions presented in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Monsters of the Multiverse, hobgoblins have unique abilities that make them effective frontline characters and can be combined with classes such as Clerics, Paladins, Fighters, Barbarians, or melee Spellcasters.

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Hobgoblins. It’s like Goblins, but bigger. That’s how they’re portrayed in Dungeons & Dragons, at least. They’re a famous type of enemy to fight against at low levels, but they also feature stronger variants that can challenge even level six players. As their popularity grew, they became a playable option thanks to Volo’s Guide to Monsters, later reworked in Monsters of the Multiverse.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: Class Stereotypes That You Need To Forget

A Hobgoblin player can offer a lot of utility to the group, as well as tackle heavy yet interesting themes of having a creature often portrayed as evil on the hero’s side. Either way, your character can be both powerful and fascinating.

5 Goblinoids

Dungeons & Dragons: In Swarming Goblins by Andrew Mar, goblins attack from a canyon
Swarming Goblins by Andrew Mar 

Hobgoblins are part of the Goblinoid category, which puts them in between Humanoids (which they technically are for gameplay purposes and effects) and Fey, having features similar to Elves, like resistance to charms. They fit this category along with Goblins and Bugbears and are often portrayed as being stronger than the former and weaker than the latter – though high-level Hobgoblins are more dangerous than Bugbears.

All these creatures are seen as monsters, who attack, rob, or even kill people to eat them, depending on how dark your DM is. That also means there’s a good chance NPCs will treat you poorly, and you won’t be well-received in cities.

First, you should talk to your DM about whether that will happen during the campaign and create your character accordingly. Being viewed as a villain and working on helping your kind be seen as good is a compelling story arc.

Just be sure everyone at the table is comfortable with that because this type of story can resemble many real-life issues, and said issues could trigger people at the table. Regardless, it’s up to you and the DM to decide on tackling these subjects into your plot, and there’s a lot of potential for a good story.

4 Militarization

hobgoblin bandit lord mtg d&d mark zug
Hobgoblin Bandit Lord by Mark Zug

Among Goblinoid tribes, Hobgoblins are portrayed as the ones who put order in place. They often lead Goblins and even Bugbears if they’re strong enough, and they’re both potent combatants and wise strategists.

Your character doesn’t need to be like that necessarily, but if you’re looking to create a soldier, or a former one, at least, then this would be a fitting background for you.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: Backstory Ideas For A Fighter

Hobgoblins even have interesting features that fit a captain that bravely fights beside their troops, as we’ll see shortly. They’re often portrayed as valuing military rankings, and even as beast tamers, with wolves being a common animal among Goblinoids’ ranks.

Here’s your opportunity to plead a wolf companion to your DM.

3 Volo’s Guide To Monsters And Monsters Of The Multiverse

monsters of the multiverse mordenkainen and astral drednaut
Monsters of the Multiverse by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Hobgoblins became officially playable thanks to Volo’s Guide To Monsters. You get boosts in the Constitution and Intelligence scores, Darkvision, and proficiency in two martial weapons of your choosing (along with light armor).

Finally, Saving Face, which gives you a bonus on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, equals the number of allies within 30ft (9m) of you (this number can’t pass five, though). Overall a good species for your character. But wait, it gets better.

Monsters of the Multiverse changes little, but all changes are good. First, you get to choose where your ability score boosts go.

Then, you keep all previous features except for the martial weapons proficiency. Saving Face, now rebranded as Fortune from the Many, has a weaker maximum bonus – it’s only three now – but you can use it more often.

You get some resistance against the charmed condition like Fey characters do. But the fun part here is using the Help action as a bonus action. Doing so causes a secondary effect, such as giving yourself and the one you’re helping extra movement, temporary hit points, or a disadvantage to whoever attacks your friend.

This version is way more useful, even with the slight nerf that comes with Fortune from the Many.

2 Amazing Helpers

A group of Hobgoblins from Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
via Wizards of the Coast

Hobgoblins are beautiful options for frontline characters offering a Tank or Support role to their team. Being surrounded by your allies will be beneficial to you thanks to the boost it gives you, and you’ll be able to use your Help action by being near them.

You have a limit on how many times you can use it as a bonus action before needing a rest (your proficiency bonus dictates the number of times), but that is still very helpful, especially considering the extra effects of your Help.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: The Help Action Explained

Being ranged won’t let you use these features as often since there’s a good chance you’ll be far from your allies, but it’s still doable, depending on how your build will be. A Spellcaster that fights melee can still be in the frontline and occasionally use long-range spells on annoying enemies from afar.

1 Class Combinations

A Hobgoblin from Dungeons & Dragons
Hobgoblin Warlord, via Wizards of the Coast

After reading the previous entries, you may already have an idea, but classes such as Clerics, Paladins, Fighters, and Barbarians are all interesting combinations. You’ll be able to help your friends while defending them or attacking your enemies, depending on which of these classes you choose.

Your action economy will benefit from using both your Action and Bonus Action during big fights.

Spellcasters are also fun, but since your proximity to your allies is useful here, then perhaps a melee Spellcaster will fit your Hobgoblin more, like a Hexblade Warlock or a Bladesinger Wizard. Volo’s version can even give Sorcerers or other Warlock and Wizard build some martial weapon and light armor proficiency, so you can make a unique Spellcaster with them as well. The choice is yours.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: How To Build A Tank

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