Beyond the Horde

Lok’tar young Warchief. Wait. Nopehocowboy, wrong game.

Let’s talk about Hobgoblins. Like those found in the Hinterlands of Kesh.

Now I’ve seen many a DM paint all the goblinoids with the same brush. Making them a simple and violent tool which they throw at their PCs en masse, hoping to make the PCs struggle. But that is a waste of their potential. Since their inception into the world of Oerth, Hogoblins, while not the most powerful of their kin, have been one of the most dangerous.

Why?

They are a cunning and organized foe.

Yes, they are tribal in organization but that does not make them any less dangerous or civilized than the other peoples of the world.

As a DM you need to make them not just evil, but dangerously evil: Ra’s al Ghul style.

Consider the following:

  • Hobgoblins are not a wandering enemy to run into due to a roll of the dice. They are fortified, they are smart, they build defenses, they can scout, and they like to ambush. They are a militant society, armed and armored, trained from youth. They are not often caught unawares.
  • They are not chaotic. Sure we’ve all had roaming bands of pillaging orcs and goblins brun down the country side just for the ‘ell of it. Hobgoblins would do it for a reason. Supplies, Land, etc… and if they did it for supplies they wouldn’t burn what they wanted to take, they would simply take what they wanted.
  • Orcs often fight amongst themselves. Clamoring for strength and viability. Hobgoblins work as a collective. Orcs are more akin to spiders. Only the strongest claims the area. Hobgoblins are like ants, working towards a common goal, even if a few must die in the process.
  • Hobgoblins are going to be master’s of an encounter. They will attack the best target, not just what’s in front of them. They will flank, feint, withdraw, and use stratagems.
  • When in doubt, think back to your history lessons, and imagine a fascist state of your choosing. That’s how a hobgoblin society is going to be run. Nationalism, nativism, militarism. There are lots of down sides, but you still must respect their might.

This will form the core of your hobgoblin societies, and begin to bring them more to life, and make them more a threat than any band of goblins could hope to be.

Tactics and strategies to remember when playing as a cunning foe:

  • No single combatants: How often do you send a soldier out on patrol alone? Never! If the military doesn’t do it, a hobgoblin shouldn’t either. At the very least patrols will act in pairs, and they will act accordingly.
  • Don’t be afraid to retreat. Information is more important to the collective military might of the hobgoblins than sating the bloodlust of a single member. Remember how they’re not orcs?
  • Hit the squishies. Oh is that robbed woman in the back doing the macarena? No, she’s spell casting? Better get some javelins. Or a fireball, or you know, whatever works.
  • Coup: Hobgoblins are trained to kill. As such, don’t expect them to leave you alone if you hit 0 HP and fall to the ground all unflatteringly like. They will finish the job unless there’s a greater threat. This should make them far more dangerous than your average ogre who just wants to smash things

Keep these things in mind and you’ll give your PCs a serious challenge when dealing with the hobgoblin’s roaming the Hinterlands. And honestly, its good advice for your hobgoblin’s no matter where you find them. Oerth, the Forgotten Realms, or anywhere else.

Keep your dice rolling,

Alex


One of our newest faith book Dragon Thanes of Porphyra also received a glowing review from Enzeitgeist. You can check out his review here.