Hobgoblins don’t need this blog’s help. Most GMs already know hobgoblins are awesome…and if they don’t, there are a host of supplements—including Classic Monsters Revisited—eager to inform them so. In fact, they’ve replaced orcs as a lot of GMs favorite military threat—after all, orcs may have hordes, but hobgoblins have armies. Their disdain for elves and dwarves is well known. They just as easily adapt to serve the khans of Eastern campaigns as they do the evil overlords of Tolkien-esque settings, and they even have aquatic cousins (koalinths).
So yeah, you know what to do with hobgoblins. But if you want to weird them up a little, here are a few more ideas for inspiration:
A party of adventures reaches the afterlife, only to discover the City of Ordered Celestis is like nothing their priests have advertized. While archons and angels still soar overhead, and inevitables perch statue-like at every major intersection, it is hobgoblins that walk the avenues and process—and punish—the many souls that stream through the Gates of Bone and Brass.
Orcs of the void build no ships of their own, prefer to seize the vessels of other races, then warp them to their own vile aesthetic. Hobgoblins are another story. Enslaving their goblin kin to mine for ore under the harsh whips of their bugbear cousins, hobgoblins smelt iron and starmetals to create gargantuan warblimps. The aether dirigibles of the Yellow Legion are the worst: having already undergone their funeral rites, these hobs fight fearlessly in space side by side with the wights of their fallen companions.
On the world of Pylar, hobgoblin tale-drummers know a secret few civilized sages have ever guessed—that the Sundering of the elves and the devolution of the hobgoblins into goblins and bugbears share the same primeval source. Now a squad of hobgoblin commandos has gone back in time to change history—by halting the Goblin Plague and eradicating the elven nations in one fell swoop.
—Classic Monsters Revisited 22–27 & Pathfinder Bestiary 175
Yeah, hobgoblins are pretty sweet.
Edward Terry’s “Paragons of War; The Ecology of the Hobgoblin” in Dragon 309 was one of the great late-period Dragon Ecologies. One of the more interesting hobgoblin deities came from Mystara’s GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar: Yagrai, He Who Always Rises. To be one of his shamans, a hobgoblin first needed to have 12 death scars, earned by being raised from the dead 12 times (…which didn’t make a lot of sense in terms of game mechanics, given that most humanoid shamans couldn’t cast such a spell, but it was an evocative detail nonetheless).
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