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DnD 5e - The Hobgoblin Handbook

Last Updated: July 3rd, 2020

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

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.

Introduction

Of the three humanoid races (bugbears, goblins, and hobgoblins), the Hobgoblin is the smart one. They've changed a lot mechanically over several editions, but their lore has remained largely the same: a regimented, militaristic society which idolizes warriors and punishes weaklings. Strangely, they gain an Intelligence increase, which predisposes them to classes like the Artificer and the Wizard. In previous editions hobgoblins shunned arcane magic, going so far as to call it "elf magic" as a slur. This change in capabilities between editions is somewhat odd, but since hobgoblins are generally one of those humanoid races that you fight for a few levels then forget about I don't think anyone noticed.

Mechanically, the Hobgoblin has some unique traits. Proficiency in light armor and two martial weapons can be helpful for many classes, and while an Intelligence increase can certainly pigeon-hole the Hobgoblin into spellcasting classes that's not your only option. Saving Face is a powerful option to turn a failed roll into a successful one, and in some cases it's enough to offset a relatively low ability score in Strength or Dexterity. However, the ability to use it on saving throws can make it hard to justify using for something like an attack roll. Weirdly, Saving Face improves based on the number of nearby allies, so it works best in a large party. If you're not getting the full +5 bonus, look for options like Find Familiar, or befriend an animal or something.

Classes

Artificer

An Intelligence increase is all that the Artificer really needs, but proficiency in two martial weapons is nice for Battlesmith builds that want to explore weapons before their subclass comes online.

Barbarian

Barbarians are too dependent on Strength to work without a Strength increase, and Saving Face isn't enough to fix that.

Bard

Nothing useful for the Bard.

Cleric

Nothing useful for the Cleric.

Druid

Nothing useful for the Druid.

Fighter

Constitution and Intelligence could work for an Eldritch Knight, but without a Strength/Dexterity increase you'll lag offensively. Saving Face will help, but not enough.

Monk

Bad ability spread.

Paladin

Bad ability spread.

Ranger

Bad ability spread.

Rogue

Constitution and Intelligence could work for an Arcane Trickster, but without a Dexterity increase you'll lag offensively. Saving Face will help enough to offset the bonus to attacks if you're resting often enough to recharge it, but your AC will lag behind other rogues and your damage will likely still be lower.

Sorcerer

No Charisma increase.

Warlock

No Charisma increase.

Wizard

Light armor and Saving Face are fantastic defensive options. You no longer need to commit resources to Mage Armor, and Saving Face can be useful in all sorts of situations, including on saving throws to maintain Concentration.