Last Updated: April 25, 2022
Goblins were first published as a playable race for dnd 5e in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Goblins have existed as a monster in Dungeons and Dragons for decades, and they appear as prominently in DnD settings as orcs or ogres.
Goblins have no subraces and no decision points in their racial traits, which makes them very inflexible. Their ability score increases are good and they have several interesting traits, but their lack of decision points means that they only work in builds where their traits are frequently impactful. Goblins really thrive when fighting with Dexterity-based weapons, and Nimble Escape offers the most important benefits of the Rogue’s Cunning Action so you can easily employ Rogue-style combat tactics without a class dip.
The custom origin rules and the updated version of the Goblin in Monsters of the Multiverse do a lot to expand the Goblin’s options, and the utility of both Fury of the Small and Nimble Escape allow the goblin to succeed in a wide variety of classes.
Table of Contents
- Goblin Versions
- Fury of the Small
- Goblin Classes (Customizable Origins and MMoM)
- Goblin Classes (Classic Rules)
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
The Goblin has three versions. The first was published in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and then was republished without changes in other source books like Eberron: Rising from the Last War.
The introduction of the custom origin rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gave us the second version. Allowing goblins to rearrange their ability score increases allowed them to expand beyond Dexterity-based rogue-adjacent builds.
Most recently, Monsters of the Multiverse updated the Goblin’s traits. They now use the new standard for ability score increases (+2/+1 or three +1s), and rebalanced Fury of the Small to reduce the damage but increase how often you can use it.
Fury of the Small
Fury of the Small offers a limited-use damage boost against larger targets. Most creatures are medium or larger, so that’s a great option.
At some point, someone is going to read Fury of the Small and think “I’m going to build an evoker and use it on everything in a big area damage spell”. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Fury of the Small applies the extra damage to exactly one creature exactly one time, then can’t be used again until you complete a short or long rest. You could pick any one creature inside an AOE or one of several targets struck by magic missile, but the bonus damage still only applies to one target.
The updated version of the Goblin published in Monsters of the Multiverse changes the math on Fury of the Small, but the tactics are the same. Since repeated usage is no longer limited by resting, you’re free to burn multiple uses in the same encounter if necessary.
Goblin Classes (Customizable Origins and MMoM)
This section assumes that you’re using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the next section.
Nimble Escape is great for any artificer. For melee artificers, attack with Booming Blade then use Nimble Escape to move out of reach. You can even apply Fury of the Small on the secondary damage from Booming Blade, which is lots of fun. This is partially achievable with Boots of the Winding Path, but since they only allow you to return to a space you were previously in during your turn, they don’t help if you start your turn in melee.
For ranged artificers, use Nimble Escape to run away. Fury of the Small can’t be triggered with things like the artillerist’s canons or the homunculus’s attack, but you can use with spells or attacks, and you’ll inevitably do enough of those to use Fury of the Small.
Barbarians don’t really need the damage boost from Fury of the Small, but it doesn’t hurt. Nimble Escape isn’t particularly useful since running away isn’t a go-to option for the Barbarian.
Bards don’t have a lot of direct damage options, so Fury of the Small is a welcome addition. Bards are also frail, so Nimble Escape is a useful defensive option, potentially making martial bards considerably more effective (though you’ll still struggle due to weak weapon attacks).
Clerics have no shortage of damage options to deliver Fury of the Small, and Nimble Escape allows you to safely walk through melee combat to deliver spells with touch range (cure wounds, revivify, etc.) or to get into a good position for spells like Word of Radiance and Spirit Guardians.
Fury of the Small and Nimble Escape both work during Wild Shape, making a goblin circle of the moon druid a very interesting choice. Animals which have powerful charge options like the Elk and the Rhinoceros can move away and charge back into melee within the same turn, making such forms considerably more effective. Other druid circles may still enjoy the ability to safely run out of melee without spending their Action to Disengage.
The fighter can do a lot by combining Nimble Escape with their Fighter’s abundant space for feats. Nimble Escape allows you to safely move out of and through enemies’ reach, making it easy to position yourself advantageously. By combining this with feats like Polearm and Sentinel, you can repeatedly make Opportunity Attacks as enemies move to re-engage you. However, without the ability to use a polearm with reach effectively (they all have the Heavy trait), enemies will still be able to attack you.
Like other characters with access to Booming Blade, an Eldritch Knight using Nimble Escape in conjunction with Booming Blade is an effective way to hold enemies in place and then immediately move out of reach. Consider combining this with options like Polearm Master and/or Sentinel and you can make yourself a serious problem.
The Monk works fine, but Nimble Escape is redundant with what you can do by spending Ki, so the goblin’s traits don’t feel special or useful.
Fury of the Small and Nimble Escape both work fine for the Paladin, but the paladin generally isn’t built for hit-and-run tactics and often struggles to fit feats into their build, so you can’t use similar tactics to the Fighter.
Typically less durable than the Fighter, the Ranger can do a lot with Nimble Escape where normally you might require Zephyr Strike or the Mobile feat. Several subclasses do well with hit-and-run tactics or with rapidly moving between targets, such as a melee hunter with the hordebreaker feature.
Nimble Escape is completely wasted on the Rogue. Fury of the Small is nice, but not enough to be the only novel thing that you get from your race.
A damage boost from Fury of the Small, and you’ll never get stuck in melee again thanks to Nimble Escape. Of course, you can get out of melee using spells like Misty Step.
A damage boost from Fury of the Small and you’ll never get stuck in melee again thanks to Nimble Escape. Grab Booming Blade and melee hexblade builds get very easy.
A damage boost from Fury of the Small, and you’ll never get stuck in melee again thanks to Nimble Escape. Of course, you can solve the melee problem with Misty Step or Kinetic Jaunt, so it’s not a huge gain for most wizards. The biggest beneficiary is likely the Bladesinger.
Goblin Classes (Classic Rules)
This section assumes that you’re not using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything or the updated version of the race published in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse. If you are using those rules, scroll up to the previous section.
No Intelligence increase, and even martial artificers will build around Intelligence.
No Strength increase.
You could make a martially-inclined bard build work, but you’re going to be bad at spellcasting due to the lack of a Charisma increase.
No Wisdom increase.
No Wisdom increase. Fury of the Small would absolutely work while using Wild Shape, so you could turn into something tiny and use it on small creatures, but that’s not nearly enough.
The Fighter is among the Goblin’s best options. Dexterity and Consitutiton are perfect for any Dexterity-based fighter builds, and with numerous attacks you have plenty of opportunties to apply Fury of the Small. Nimble Escape makes it easy to employ hit-and-run tactics, which can be useful for tactically positioning yourself or for playing a ranged build if you’re worried about being pulled into melee.
An Eldritch Knight using Nimble Escape in conjunction with Booming Blade is an effective way to hold enemies in place and then immediately move out of reach. Consider combining this with options like Polearm Master and/or Sentinel and you can make yourself a serious problem.
Dexterity and Constitution ar great for the Monk, and unlike most small races the Goblin still gets 30 ft. speed. Fury of the Small will be easy to apply even at low levels thanks to Martial Arts and Flurry of Blows, but Nimble Escape competes for your Bonus Action which is in high demand for the Monk.
Much like the Fighter, the Paladin can make effective use of the Goblin’s traits. While you don’t get a Charisma increase, starting with 14 or 15 Charisma is absolutely viable for the Paladin.
Arguably a better fit for the Goblin if only because there’s no redundant features, the Ranger is a competent Scout and Striker, and the Goblin’s traits line up nicely to support any ranger build. Nimble Escape allows you to easily perform hit-and-run tactics or to snipe in ways which would normally require a rogue dip or catsing Zephyr Strike.
Thematically an excellent option, but Nimble Escape replicates two of the three functions of Cunning Action, so one of the Rogue’s most interesting features is mostly redundant at level 1. Combining Sneak Attack and Fury of the Small is a great combination, but remember that it’s still only once per rest.
No Charisma increase.
No Charisma increase.
No Intelligence increase.