Learn how to play as a Hobgoblin in D&D 5e
Hobgoblins are part of the Goblinoid family although they are larger than Goblins and smarter than Bugbears. They are very much related however, having a similar appearance and descended from the hobgoblins that first left the feywild long ago.
While hobgoblins are highly militaristic, this does not mean that they are necessarily evil. In fact, they generally uphold the laws of their society rigidly and are known to often be loyal to whatever group they find themselves in. This makes them great team players (despite a certain arrogant streak) allowing them to operate well in an adventuring party.
This is especially manifest in their traits which are stronger when fighting alongside allies.
Hobgoblin Features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Traits||Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Fey Gift, Hospitality, Passage, Spite, Fortune from the Many|
|Book found in||Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Volo’s Guide to Monsters|
If you choose to play as a hobgoblin, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Darkvision – You are able to see up to 60ft in darkness as if it’s dim light and in dim light as if it were bright light, though can only do so in shades of grey.
Fey Ancestry – You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed.
Fortune from the Many – If you miss with an attack roll or fail an ability check or a saving throw, you can draw on your bonds of reciprocity to gain a bonus to the roll equal to the number of allies you can see within 30 feet of you (maximum bonus of 3). You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Fey Gift – You can use the help action as a bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain all expended uses of this trait when you finish a long rest. In addition, when you reach 3rd level, you can choose one of the options below when you use this trait.
- Hospitality – You and the creature you help each gain a number of temporary hit points equal to 1d6 + your proficiency bonus.
- Passage – You and the creature you help increase your walking speeds by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.
- Spite – Until the start of your next turn, the first time the creature you help hits a target with an attack roll, that target has disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes within the next minute.
Hobgoblin’s are excellent team players, with their 2 primary traits requiring close proximity to allies to be effective. Not only that, but fey gift will also boost the abilities of allies making you everyone’s favourite party member. I’d recommend using some of the following tactics when playing as a Hobgoblin:
Fey Gift – Being able to use the help action as a bonus action gives help some genuine utility in combat (in a similar way to a rogue mastermind). The main question is what fey gift to use? Temporary hit points will always be very useful but they don’t stack so I’d suggest one use of hospitality (unless the characters have lost those hit points) and then tending to use spite. Extra speed is less likely to be useful so I’d avoid passage except under rare circumstances.
Pack tactics – The best Hobgoblin traits require close proximity to allies so positioning is important. Fortune of the many is most effective when within 30ft of 3 allies so try to stay close to your party. Fey gift is even more limiting as the help action requires you to be within 5ft of an ally. With this in mind, Hobgoblin’s are not well suited to small parties so I’d avoid them if the party has less than 4 players. Party composition is important too. If you’re going to be the only melee character in a party, you may struggle to use your traits effectively.
Bonus action overload – Because fey gift is reliant on using your bonus action, avoid combining Hobgoblin’s with classes that already heavily use bonus actions. More on this later, but classes like artificers and monks are likely to be so caught up in other bonus actions, meaning that fey gift gets little attention.
Which classes are good for Hobgoblins?
The following guide will focus on the version of the Hobgoblin race found in Monsters of the Multiverse where ability score improvements can be assigned against any ability. In short the best classes for a Hobgoblin will be ones that keeps its bonus action free, so your character can activate Fey Gift as much as possible, such as:
Best classes for hobgoblins
Barbarian – While Barbarians do gain abilities utilsing bonus actions under some subclasses, they tend to be less useful than Fey Gift, so it will still be taking priority often. This ability can freely be used while raging too, unlike the innate spell casting abilities some races are packaged with.
Fortune of the Many also covers the common weakness Barbarians have in failing Wisdom and Charisma based saving throws. These two stats are often low in Barbarians as they don’t synergise with their other abilities.
Fighter – For similar reasons to a Barbarian, Hobgoblins make excellent Fighters. Not only are they thematically well-suited, but they also don’t use their bonus action as often as most other classes. Battlemaster’s may use bonus actions for their Manoeuvres, but even these are limited in number per rest.
Because Fighter’s tend to concentrate on strength and constitution like Barbarians, they can also be susceptible to a lot of saving throws so Fortune from the Many is defensively helpful too.
Paladin – Paladins mostly have their bonus actions tied up in their spells like their smites, but also have a limited number of spell slots as half-casters so on many occasions, may not have another use for their bonus action so the Fey Gift ability of a hobgoblin works well for them. While not as susceptible to some saving throws as other martials (especially charisma based ones) paladins often have to dump wisdom to ensure strong charisma, strength and constitution so Fortune from the Many will help here.
Worst classes for hobgoblins
Generally, the worst classes for hobgoblins are those that already make better use of their bonus action than Fey Gift offers. Classes with high wisdom and charisma often need Fortune from the Many less too as will fail less saving throws. This is especially the case for monks who are always using their bonus actions in combat. Artificers are also often using their bonus action to order around their homunculus servant or get their artillerist firearm shooting at targets so will rarely find a use for Fey Gift. Bards have a similar problem when using bardic inspiration.
How to Roleplay a Hobgoblin
The Hobgoblin Code of Honour
Hobgoblins tend to be ruled by the following code of honour, which can be key for roleplaying a Hobgoblin characters:
- Follow orders
- Honour the gods
- Do not suffer or give insult (though if you are insulted, it should never go unanswered)
- Reward glorious actions
- Uphold the legion
Hobgoblins follow a strict, militaristic code of conduct. In particular, they operate for the benefit of the legion. While you can play a Hobgoblin however you like, they are likely to have been heavily influenced by this culture. Below are some ideas for how you could roleplay your Hobgoblin:
- How has your upbringing affected you? – Do you follow the traditions of your legion? Do you act for the interests of a wider group? If not, why have you gone against your traditions?
- How do you treat those that don’t follow your moral code? – Hobgoblins have a very specific moral code that isn’t shared by other creatures. How do you react to those that are selfish or do not consider the consequences of their actions? How might you react to a party member that isn’t pulling their weight?
- What is your temperament towards combat? – Most hobgoblins glory in battle and respect those with prowess in combat. How do you react to those that display great acts of fighting ability? How do you treat your enemies? Will you prefer a solution through combat rather than through diplomacy? Do you view those that use other methods of conflict resolution as weak?