Chapter II: Hobgoblin

If my time with the goblins had taught me anything, it was that I needed to re-think how I was to become amongst the other races of humanoids, as many don’t keep slaves. Fortune smiled upon me, as I encountered a party heading west to the land of Iuz to do battle with the evil ones in that miserable land. I aided them in their journey, and in so doing discovered a scroll which has greatly aided in my research, containing a spell that enabled myself to blend seamlessly.

I departed with my company, wishing them the best of luck, and made my way back into the forests of the Flanaess in search of monsters! It is also worth pointing out that the battles of Bone March were heating up, I had heard confirmation that the Grand Army was so engaged in war with the humanoid hordes that seeking for deserters was a low priority, which allowed me more freedom to wander more then I had prior. I still avoided the Great Kingdom, but at least I no longer felt hunted.

I encountered a ranger, and he reported to me that a band of hobgoblins had haunted a road three leagues to the north which they poetically called, “Hurnskaft oad”, or Road to Blood and Glory. The battles of Bone March were attracting these warmongers like bees to flowers, I studied my maps and discovered a little known village south of the mountains which I felt would attract the Hobgoblins, and I had assumed correctly!

Friends, please do not hold what I have witnessed against me. I am but a reporter of such things, and I took my oath seriously and forbid myself to become involved in anything. At one point, this village was a thriving farming hamlet of simple goat-herders. All of these men, and their families, were slaughtered; their homes, which were once quaint and quiet, now house vile beings of brutal evil. I had assumed that hobgoblins were as their smaller kin, and avoided the light, but this was not so. While the hobgoblin is known for working and operating out of networks of underground caves, as the goblin, apparently, if they feel that more is needed, such as a base on Hurnskaft oad, they will take it.

This simple village has been sacked, the hobgoblins have dug deep trenches around the wall and filled them with spikes and a noxious water which must also be their sewage. Four towers have been constructed from wood obtained by tearing down other buildings, and these are manned both day and night. The small village of Green Grass Pass has become a stockade and a minor stop on the route to Bone March via the Griff Mountains.

I disguised myself as a mad and elderly shaman, I learned enough from the goblins to easily pass off being a heretic to these butchers, and there I set up operations for the next few months, befriending the high commander of the stockade, a General Elf-Smearer. I was able to set up shop at a residence that was provided to me, and it was my job to heal these vicious animals, which I begrudgingly did. The following is what I have learned.


The hobgoblin is similar to, and is definitely the same species as standard goblins, though personally they will deny this fact. They are much larger then average goblins, but while the goblin is generally hairless, the hobgoblin is covered in patches of hair which ranges in colors of dark-red to dark gray. Their faces are clean of hair, revealing skins which are dark-red to a reddish-orange color. Additionally, hobgoblin men sport bright blue noses, which is attractive to females but doesn’t effect rank.

Their yellow teeth are long and sharp, and their eyes, as goblin eyes, gleam in the dark and vary between yellow to dark brown, however as goblin eye color is uniform and covers the entire surface of the eye, hobgoblins have whites, as humans, and only the iris is colored.

Hobgoblins also have a style of dress which is common among all of them, preferring bright clothing, but all armor and leather items are stained black, and all the handiwork of goblin tanners.


Hobgoblin industry is more of a factor in this humanoid society then in the goblin. Hobgoblins have mastered the art of metal working, though not on the scale of dwarven or even human societies have. They do mine the earth, seeking metals, and can fashion items from these metals. Weapons, armors, and standard blacksmithing are common in hobgoblin societies. The hobgoblins also keep beasts of burden, but only for transportation. They do not farm, they raise no animal for meat or cloth, these items they steal or take after battle.

Hobgoblin constructed items are unique in style, they prefer sharp edges to construction, and apply special powders and chemicals which make all hobgoblin metalworking have that distinctive black darkness to them. Swords, and especially armor is thicker then most, their surfaces are not smooth to the touch nor shiny. Items are decorated by feathers and furs which are either red, or have been stained red.

All hobgoblin tribes fly their own, unique standards. In the hobgoblin stockade I would see at least 15 new ones per day, and the managers of this place have their own standard as well which flies above the church which has been defiled and taken as residence of General Elf-Smearer and his men.

Building construction is not architecturally beautiful, but functional and assembled very quickly with whatever materials are available at the time. Hobgoblins have no music or specific dishes that are unique to them. They produce no visual arts, with the exception of their weapons, and they practice their own styles of combat which, though I am not an expert, appears to be fairly unique to them.


The hobgoblin, is by nature, an elitist, as well as an equal opportunist. They will just as willingly attack a human village as they will a cave system of humanoids. They will fight all comers and seek to annihilate them, not for land or property, but because they can. The one exception to this equal zeal for blood and carnage is the elf. Elves are definitely targets to hobgoblin aggression, and they actively seek these poor creatures out. Elven settlements will either fall, or the hobgoblin armies will willingly feed themselves to elven swords to the last brute.

They do have armies of both goblin, as well as orcs which they call “The Lesser Race”, these creatures are nothing to them and are always the first ones that they send in. It is not apparent to me if these orcs and goblins are simply slaves forced to fight or not? Of course goblins are always slaves, even to themselves, but I know very little of the orc at this point and cannot discover if they are part of hobgoblin armies of their own will or not.


The hobgoblin shares their major god, Mag Pubiyet, with the lesser goblin races, but this is definitely a god of the hobgoblin, more so then of the pure-blooded goblins. Sacrifice to this god is constant, failure to slay something in Mag Pubiyet’s name is unacceptable and requires a blood offering from their own veins, often this slice is done with such gusto and force that the self inflicted gash proves to be fatal.

A god unique to the Hobgoblin is Nomog-Geaya, a terrible religion unlike any which I have been forced to bear witness to before. Nomog-Geaya is the lord of discipline, summoned to pass judgments upon hobgoblin offenders. His vile priests preach hobgoblin superiority to non-hobgoblin troops, they also officiate over the feedings which take place after a hobgoblin victory, an act that is so disgusting and horrifying that it is still evident in this murdered hamlet.

They do have a unique form of divination. They beat offenders and enemies past the point of coherence, then as the victim is gasping for breath, barely clinging to life, the priest records their utterances and words are listened for which will reveal to the priests their gods wishes. Even they, the priests of Nomog-Geaya, are not safe from such treatment! Priesthood is serious business, and failure to keep a solemn attitude is punishable by violence. In court, I once witnessed a junior priest simply smile at a hobgoblin girl, his brothers hauled him away immediately, taking him to one of the few remaining barns which they keep as their lair and beat him to death. Their reasoning was that he was not allowed to appear to be happy in public.


The hobgoblin is much more civil to their women, though an institute of marriage is not in place. The male impresses the female by acts of aggression and displays of grizzly totems earned in battle. After the mating takes place, the male typically moves on, and the woman must raise the child by herself until the child, if male, is old enough to join a school which resembles a junior military. Female children work in the mate homes and learn the skills required of being a proper mate. Female warriors are not common, but not unheard of either. Female hobgoblin warriors are not considered to be attractive, and many do enter the mating homes for other female attractions as well.

Female mating homes are, in essence, whore-houses. They offer rooms, drinks, and entertainment. Coin does pass palms, but the female’s goal is to become pregnant with a strong warrior male. Males of the clan pay tribute to their mothers, and considering that their mothers sell them into military slavery, they are very affectionate towards them.

The institutions of learning are terrible, bleak places. Punishment for the slightest error is common, as are brutal hazing by older students. The purpose of these institutions is to teach young hobgoblins the strict military discipline which the race is known for, survival in extreme environments, provide a basic education in math and other knowledge which they will use in their lives, and a daily practice in weapons as well as hand-to-hand combat. Weight-training is rather intense as well, but this could just be hobgoblin entertainment.

Once the hobgoblin has graduated his classes, a feat which requires 10 years, he is sent to a unit. Prior to engaging in war, he is turned into a man by allowing him to enter the mating house, he will have his pick of women, and in the morning, he is taken to his first battle, if he survives this and kills his enemy, he is washed in his enemies blood and may call himself a man.

This first war is rarely intense, but it is dangerous, as would-be men are typically slain by mistakes made by their own side. It isn’t known how old hobgoblins can become, in my position I have never once ran into another shaman. I think that it is fair to say, however, that the hobgoblin ages in exactly the same manner as the original goblin, about 50 years. Most hobgoblins in the armies are ages which runs the gambit of 14 to 25, with higher ranking officers usually in their 30’s. I have never met a hobgoblin older then 37.


I have noticed that the hobgoblin clerics possess no real powers, but I will admit that I have never watched them in battle. During rites, some degree of power is obtained from the blood sacrifices, but they appear to only possess limited amounts of magic at this time, and it is not clear to me which spheres of magical influence that they have access too.

While hobgoblins are taught basic math, they are not taught to read. They have no books, with the exception of goblin printed variety, which a few of the clerics can appear to read, but looking closer at the books, they appear to be mostly pictures.

Wizardry of any kind is evidently beyond them, much of this has to do with the fact that hobgoblins, are by nature, a heavily superstitious lot. Clerics may hide their magics, out of fear. Everything is an omen to these warrior peoples, the worst omen being a broken sword! I heard tale that a great commander was engaged in combat besides his men when his sword snapped, this battle ground to a halt quickly and the men which they were fighting quickly routed them while they just stood there in shock and in horror looking at this broken sword. Once the officer died, the ranks retreated and all of the soldiers refused to fight again until something changed for them, either they had a dream of a great hero, or obtained a blessing from a cleric.

I have also noticed the trend of hobgoblins carving symbols into their weapons, this may be some form of hobgoblin folk magic, believing that their instruments are enchanted in some way. I took a few opportunities to check for enchantments, however rarely did I discover any real power present.


Hobgoblins are a very sturdy lot, able to survive in the harshest environments. They hate each other equally, but show no true signs of bigotry towards their brethren. Of course violence does break out among the different tribes, a race as warlike as this is especially prone to such behavior, but more often then not it is simply name-calling and harassment. Rarely are any lives wasted in struggles amongst their own kind, unless a woman is involved, which is a human trait as well, so this isn’t worth commenting further on.

There are rumors of an underwater race of hobgoblin called “Koalinth”. These hobgoblins have developed gills, but other then this fact are exactly as mean and ill-tempered as the variety which I studied on land. Word has it that their hatred for elves was so strong that when it was discovered that they could be hunted in the sea, they immediately dived in and learned to breath water just to kill them there too.


These creatures are spiteful and mean. They will invade during the day if they believe that you are sleeping at that time. They are a mockery of human existence. Many of the storefronts which were present at the time of their invasion are now manned by hobgoblin craftsmen. The streets are filled with wares, and raids upon merchant carts are so common that they have formed their own guilds. Most of the other humanoids avoid this place, but a few venture inside for work and goods; if the hobgoblin suspects any form of disrespect on the part of the humanoid, they are butchered on the spot. Most visitors come in and get out as fast as they can! But to the hobgoblin, money is money.

I have seen hobgoblins form their own adventure parties and go out exploring, returning with ancient money and treasures. These creatures act much the same as any wealthy adventurer would, purchasing vast quantities of alcohol, spending the rest on food and women, refitting themselves and heading right back out to do it all over again.

Hobgoblin food is mostly eaten raw, and preferably still warm from the heart. Besides mass quantities of meat, they have their own bread, which I am told, was learned from giants which is coarse and tough, but doesn’t stale as fast. Hobgoblins avoid dairy of all kind, but enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables if they are available. Food is normally dried, or heavily salted, they won’t eat rancid meat, but fresh carrion is acceptable if nothing else is available. These creatures are, by nature nomads and travelers, and their tastes are simple and bland. Very little hobgoblin food has much flavor too it, and is usually hard. Fresh food is avoided, even their vegetables and fruits are not considered edible until they have been left soaking in a barrel of water for a day or two so that it softens up and the color can dull down some.

Vice is also prevalent here. Gambling halls, taverns, and drugs are common. Young hobgoblins love to come here, spend all of their money in the space of one night, and leave broke with nothing but a hangover to show for it. Hobgoblin drugs are typically stimulants which keep the user up for days, give one a sense of euphoria, or help build muscle bulk. Most of the drugs are simply snake-oil in nature with lots of promises but little or no medicinal value. Hallucinogens are strongly avoided.


I remember when I was a boy and for one reason or another, the city went into marshal law by the order of the king. Life was terrible, food was rationed, curfews were enforced and if you were caught breaking them, for a legitimate reason or not, you were locked in jail.

I stated that hobgoblin life was a mockery of our own, and in this case, it is even more so. Defense is constant, the place is ran like a barracks. Hobgoblins understand this, and it gives them comfort. Items are always checked, bags are dumped onto the streets and their contents examined, if the guard sees something that he likes then he simply calls it evidence and takes it. Bribery is a common occurrence, they will just grab you and threaten to throw you in jail unless you can give them a reason to let you go.

Taxes are plentiful. There is a tax to cross the bridge, a moat tax, entertainment tax, tax to bear arms, tax to bear a shield or wear armor, if they can think of a reason they’ll put a tax to anything. This is what this village is about, extorting money from all who use the road. Most people who can’t pay it are thrown into jail, quickly processed through a mock trial, and escorted out of town minus whatever possessions that you may have had. True criminals, these poor souls get entered into a new status, one of slavery and hard labor until your ending days.

Laws have been put in place to protect businesses and craftsmen. Also military interests as well. Many of the laws which we enforce are also enforced here, criminals and traitors are taken to the mines, there they must dig and work until released by a meaningless and filthy death. Besides the endless caravans of goods, and the never ending troops from tribes all over the Flanaess, another common sight are groups of male and female hobgoblins stripped of their clothing and shackled at the wrists and ankles. They march their way to the death tunnels.

This death is humiliating to all hobgoblins. The only true way to die with honor is to lose your life on the battlefield, to be forced to die in a stinking hole is to refuse them nirvana. These prisoners are already dead, there bodies just have a few years to catch up to them, that is all. While all other races are disciplined by execution, these death tunnels and mines are exceedingly crueler. In this case, they definitely do reserve their greatest horrors for themselves. The logic behind this belief is that other races didn’t know any better, but the hobgoblin, being the superior race didn’t have that luxury.


War is truly the hobgoblin’s bread and butter. They are charged with never-ending strife and combat by god. To kill, butcher, and burn is there pleasure, and their skill at obtaining this is without peer.

Small battles are common, but when large scale warfare can be found, this is where the hobgoblin is most at home. Huge camps filled with blacksmiths, weaponsmiths, and makers of armor work around the clock. This race seems most at ease while deep in the trenches. Their dead are usually ignored, however great war heroes are usually burned on a pyre with much celebration.

Hobgoblins are not above mercenary work if the money is good, however they will use this money to finance more war. All money the hobgoblins earn will always end up purchasing fuel for war. It isn’t land, food, nor property that they fight for. Nor is it to right some wrong of the past. They don’t fight out of anger or fear. Nay, the only thing that they fight for is honor and glory! To prove dominance over all living creatures, large and small.

They will storm a castle simply because it is there, they may take it as their own, but more often then not they’ll keep moving on until they discover something else to destroy. Their tactics are cruel, they burn crops, poison water supplies, infect livestock, set fire to homes, and they kill indiscriminately. No living being is safe from them, they murder children, women, the elderly, and ignore the bodies which litter the streets here in this hobgoblin village.

Fighting men, these men are eaten, believing that their powers in war may be obtained by eating their flesh. Mighty men who slay many hobgoblins are always devoured. Their slayer takes the man’s heart, while the rest of the troops feast on the rest.

Totems are often made of the victims bodies. These are small bones which are hollowed out to make grizzly jewelry, ears, fingers, toes; anything which can be cut off and worn as decoration to impress the hobgoblin females who swoon over this disgusting display.


Hob, in the goblin tongue means True or Absolute, thus they call themselves True Goblins, and this name has just stuck. While they are more barbaric in method, they do not possess fighters as skilled as the goblin race. An enigma which I witnessed was a highly dangerous goblin fighter arrive in town. He was as a slave to one of the visiting generals marching his hobgoblin troops to Bone March, they treated this goblin like a dog yet in combat, this dog could have killed all of them and more.

Goblin fighters seem to hold themselves differently, this goblin painted his face in some kind of war-mask, and his armor was decorated in feathers and bones like a hobgoblin, but he was definitely goblin.

While the hobgoblin is a threat to the world, they appear to me, to be nothing but glorified bullies. Despite their great size, they are mimics of mankind, yet absolute strangers to it, as all of their tradesmen are substandard at best. While among them I never once heard an original thought uttered, and I have come to the conclusion that this martial art which they display must also be stolen from some culture, else pieced together from many.

I believe that if it wasn’t for their great numbers, and their ability to work together as a team, that they wouldn’t be the threat that they are. They are suicidal in tactics, all of them wishing to die in battle, as this is the only way for them to achieve any real peace (or at least a hobgoblin version of it). None are truly gifted fighters, the hobgoblins who I was able to heal resented me for it. This leads to a more dangerous enemy then normal, on one hand these creatures are highly predictable, but on the other, they think in a way that is wholly insane, and makes no sense to the average intellect, but if a man can become an expert at this bizarre method of thinking, to be able to read it as if it made sense, then the hobgoblin will become truly predictable and easily defeated.


Shent_lodge said...

I use goblins and hobgoblins often in my home games. This post makes a great background, say as a journal found among the gear of a body the PCs find just inside goblin territory.

Jayson said...

Please keep these coming! Lots of nice little ideas herein.

Brooser Bear said...

1 of 2
The chronicler has drawn a Troll where a Goblin is supposed to be and a Goblin in place of a Hobgoblin. Speaking of the Humans acount of life among Hobgoblins, it behooves us to remember that there is a reaon why Hobgoblins are always at war. Just as there is a reason why Dwarves are resistant to magic and Orcs are bestial and Humanity wanders for generations in deserts where nothing grows. There was a time, when Dwarves inhabited cities above mountain peaks, Men lived in the Forest, and Orcs did not eat meat, but instead prized honey and rooted for truffles beneath mighty Oak trees. Hobgoblins, however, were always mean. If a Hobgoblin and a Human were found each other stalking the same deer in the forest, it was a Hobgoblin who attacked the human hunter as the easier prey.

As usual, the chronicler is almost correct. There was a time, way at the beginning, when Goblin and Hobgoblin were one and the same, and the Ancestral Goblins chose the safety and warmth of the Cave With Water And Plenty Of Food To Eat, while the High Goblins, Hobgoblins stayed on the surface. They needed fire to survive winter, unlike their subterranean cousins, and built villages. Then came the high and mighty Grey Elves and struck the Dwarves off their cities above mountains using their powerful and ancient magics. Since then, Dwarves have been taking refuge underground, learning metallurgy to forge weapons and armor to withstand the Elves. Just like Dwarves, the Hongoblin survivors of the Elven assaults became distrustful of magic and became magic resistant. Elves also drove the other sentient species from their forests. Elves used powerful Glyphs to mark out Elven territory and keep the human, Hobgoblin, Orcish and other tresspassers out. Those Glyphs dealt death, disease and insanity to those non-elves, who passed them. Driven from the primeval Forest, humankind showed their versatility by adapting to life in the tundra, and the deserts and swamp and pasture, and developed told and agriculture, built great cities and moved on, forgetting the Elves.

Brooser Bear said...

Part 2 of 2

Unfortunately, the other humanoids could not go as far North or as far South as did mankind, and they were forced to remain in the Forest, competing with Elves for the survival and the prime, most wildlife bearing sections of the woodland. While Elves prized humans as slaves and understudy (think young Vecna), Elves had no use for coarse humanoids and left them to their fate by starvation, marked off by Glyphs (or as Hobgoblins put, Flags). From there stems the Hobgoblins obssession with battle standards. Elves used red Glyphs to symbolize blood and as nature's warning color of the toxic plants and insects. Oneof the cornerstones of Hobgoblin mythology (which they call History) is an episode in which a large tribe of Hobgoblins was herded by a series of Glyphs into a swampy Lowland, a swampy section of an arboreal forest, which even i the summer produced many mosquitoes and could not produce enough bounty to feed a human village, never mind a large tribe. To this incident of starvation and overcrowding the Hobgoblins attribute their tradition of cannibalism - consumption of Goblinkind and other sentient races as food. But that is not so, Hobgoblins have always prized flesh, regardless of its source. The true part, however, is that the Hobgoblins survived as a tribe, by clenching their teeth and disbelieving in Magic as they walked through the mortal terror of the Glyphs back into the Elven territory. Since those days, the surviving minority of Hobgoblins evolved a fatalistic belief system, which denies the existance of any kind of afterlife and stresses personal strength and self-reliance. Feats of strength and endurance, contempt of weakness, triumph over pain and hatred of mortality. Whereas Goblin Shamans strengthen themselves by ascetism, cult of purity and self-abnegation, Hobgoblin priests strengthen their own and their followers characters by ordeals of pain and endurance. From this stems the curious misconception of the chronicler about the Hobgoblin oracular divination by torture of prisoners. True, Hob Priests will often administer the ordeals to the Hob Warriors and will stand by to ensure that they survive them; when these warriors enter the delirium of shock, the priests will listen to any shouts and sayings to see if there are any divine sayings or insights inspired by Gods. With regards to the torture of prisoners, Hobs are adept torturers of men and they have discovered a number of techniques, which have found their way into many a human inquisition. Another area of Hob expertise is the construction of siege engines. Hob Engineers areust as renowned as Goblin Wolf Scouts and are prized by many a human who hires humanoid mercenraies. Hob build siege engines large and small. From a giant terbuchet to miniature catapults and ballistas only a tad bit larger than crossbows, which Hob used to shoot the people off the flying carpets. Hobs not only build engines of war, but they can also operate them. Of all the major humanoid races the Hobs are the closest to human culture. The reason for their age old war is the fight for survival as a species between the Humans and the Elves. Hobs are the backbone in this war of the sentient species for supremacy and dominance, in which the Drow and tye illithid are also taking part, along with Demons and other outiders. Hobs are not fighting for glory and they are not contemplative enough to think ecologically exept for a few Hob thinkers. What Hobs are fighting for is Justice. To them this word includes revenge on the Elves, territorial dominance, Hob supremacy and subjugation of humanity.

RipperX said...

Hey Brooze, that stuff is good! Sorry about the art, it has always been extremely limited, while the monsters aren't correct, I like the style of the artists work and felt that it better exemplified what I was doing here.

Brooser Bear said...

Rip, I understand!
I spent awhile banging my head against the wall reading the D&D texts trying to figure ou the discernable differences beween the Goblin and Hobgoblin, the Orc and Hobgoblin. WoTC artists did even worse, moving away from the pig-snouted Orcs and offering nothing in return! All humanoids look vaguely like the caricatures from Planet of the Apes the movie!

Your writing has actually stimulated me to move forward with this. I also did some framework for the Bugbear and the Orc. The othe group I am still lost on, and I am interested in your thoughts, are the Lizard Men versus Troglodytes. Who do you see Troglodytes being based on?

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