Introduction

Of the three goblinoid races (bugbears, goblins, and hobgoblins), the Hobgoblin is generally depicted as the smart one. They’ve changed a lot mechanically over several editions, but their lore remained largely the same: a regimented, militaristic society which idolizes warriors and punishes weaklings.

Strangely, the original version of 5e’s hobgoblin gained an Intelligence increase, which predisposes them to classes like the Artificer and the Wizard rather than strictly martial classes. 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 “monstrous humanoid” races (goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc.) that you fight for a few levels then forget about I don’t think anyone noticed.

Mechanically, the original version of 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 pigeonhole 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.

With the custom origin rules in place, the Hobgoblin’s noteworthy traits boil down to weapon/armor proficiencies and Saving Face. If you want the proficiencies the Githyanki and the Mountain Dwarf are better choices. If you’re worried about saves, Variant Human to get either Resilient or Lucky may be more effective. The Hobgoblin falls somewhere between the benefits of those two options.

The updated version of the Hobgoblin published in Monsters of the Multiverse made major changes to the Hobgoblin, essentially giving their traits a full rewrite. WotC also updated goblinoid lore to make them originally inhabitants of the Feywild before the goblin deity Maglubiyet conscripted goblinoids into an army which he then marched into the material plane, where they eventually lost their fey creature type.

The updated Hobgoblin’s traits reflect more of the Hobgoblin’s ancestry among the fey than the “present day” militaristic society described in the Monster manual. These are functionally two different races, and honestly I can’t think of a mechanical justification to still consider them the same race. If WotC had published a “maglubiyet hobgoblin” reflecting the existing lore and a “feywild hobgoblin” with the new traits, those two versions could happily exist alongside each other.

Fey Gift is the new Hobgoblin’s signature trait, offering a helpful support option which doesn’t cost your Action. The rider effects are excellent, but the base rules of Help mean that it’s primarily useful for front-line melee characters who won’t use their Bonus Action every turn. Back-row casters may struggle to use Fey Gift in combat, so you’ll often default to using the Hospitality option outside of combat to get temporary hit points. Despite the lore changes, this makes the hobgoblin better suited to front-line martial classes like the Fighter, which feels ironic considering the less militaristic presentation of the Hobgoblin. Gift of the Many works for any build, but I recommend reserving it to use defensively.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

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.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we 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.

Hobgoblin Versions

The Hobgoblin has three versions. The original version was published in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Their signature traits were Martial Training and Saving Face.

The introduction of the custom origin rules gave use the second version of the Hobgoblin. This provided the ability to make a hobgoblin who was actually well-suited to martial classes and also allowed you to trade weapon proficiencies down to tool proficiencies if that’s something that you wanted.

Most recently, Monsters of the Multiverse published a reworked version of the Hobgoblin with reimagined traits. Fortune of the Many is essentially a weaker version of Saving Face, but otherwise there’s little mechanical overlap with the older version of the Hobgoblin. The new version also introduces Fey Gift, which encourages you to use the Help action in combat.

Hobgoblin Classes (MMoM)

Artificer

Between Fortune of the Many and Flash of Genius, you’re very well-equipped to recover from failed rolls. It may be difficult to keep Fey Gift available because artificers nearly always have a use for their Bonus Action (homunculus, etc.).

Barbarian

Many barbarian subclasses have a way to use their Bonus Action every turn while raging, but they may not be as impactful as Fey Gift so skipping your subclass’s Bonus Action for a few rounds per day won’t kill you. If nothing else, the Hospitality option’s temporary hit points are a good layer of additional protection, especially once you’re raging and have damage resistance. Fortune of the Many can help you succeed on difficult saving throws, especially mental ones which often take barbarians out of a fight.

Bard

Fey Gift feels like a natural extension of the Bard’s existing support options. While you already have Bardic Inspiration, it has a limited number of uses per rest, so you can use Fey Gift as an additional pool of support. However, needing to get within 5 feet of an enemy to Help attack them is a bad place for most bards to be.

Cleric

The go-to use for the Cleric’s option at basically every level is Spiritual Weapon. Outside of combat, you can use the Hospitality option to get some temporary hit points while helping an ally with something like a skill check.

Druid

Many varieties of druids have few uses for their Bonus Action, so it’s often left open, leaving room for Fey Gift. The biggest challenge is that you need to be within 5 feet of a creature in order to Help your ally attack it, and that’s a terrible place for most druids to be. Circle of the Moon is probably your best option since you generally won’t use your Bonus Action once you’re in Wild Shape.

Fighter

Most fighters don’t use their Bonus Action every turn, and if you’re built for melee you’re going to be constantly in melee where you can Help your allies attack a creature. Fortune of the Many provides some insurance against hard saving throws until Indomitable comes online at level 9, and even once you have Indomitable you can still combine it with Fortune of the Many.

Monk

Monks use their Bonus Action every turn in combat. Fey Gift’s Hospitality option provides temporary hit points that you can activate before going into combat, but I don’t think that’s good enough. Similarly, Fortune of the Many provides a helpful bonus to saves, but saves aren’t the source of the Monk’s frailty problems.

Paladin

Much like the Fighter, the Paladin doesn’t use their Bonus Action every turn (though many of their spells are cast as a Bonus Action), so Fey Gift is easy to bring into play in combat and giving you a support option that doesn’t require hitting something. Fortune of the Many provides an additional layer on top of Aura of Protection, making you exceptionally durable.

Ranger

Rangers use their Bonus Action heavily, making Fey Gift difficult to use in combat. The Hospitality option works fine, but if that’s all you want, play a variant human and take Eldritch Adept (Fiendish Vigor).

Rogue

Rogues use their Bonus Action for Cunning Action, two-weapon fighting, and sometimes for subclass features. You may find times to fit Fey Gift into your turn, but considering that the Rogue wants Advantage to make Sneak Attack work, it makes more sense for someone else in the party to bring this in order to help you.

Sorcerer

Fey Gift becomes purely a non-combat support option.

Warlock

Fey Gift could work for hexblades in the same way that it works for fighters and paladins, but other warlocks will have trouble using it in combat.

Wizard

Fey Gift becomes purely a non-combat support option. If you want to Help in combat, get an owl familiar.

Hobgoblin Classes (Customizable Origins)

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.

Artificer

Saving Face is the only noteworthy thing that the Hobgoblin brings to the Artificer. Sure, it’s a good trait and it stacks with Flash of Genius, but that’s really not enough. Trade the weapon proficiencies for more tools if you feel compelled to do so.

Barbarian

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Bard

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Cleric

Even if your domain doesn’t provide martial weapon proficiency, two weapon proficiencies aren’t going to make you suddenly good with weapons. Stick to cantrips. Of course, that means that Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait here.

Druid

Even druids who use weapons are going to use Shillelagh, so the proficiencies are wasted, and Saving Face isn’t enough to carry the race.

Fighter

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Monk

The martial weapon proficiencies barely matter, and if you want martial weapons as a monk you can either play a kensei or use the Dedication Weapon Optional Class Feature. Armor proficiency on a monk is useless. That just leaves Saving Face, and again, it’s not enough to carry the race.

Paladin

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Ranger

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Rogue

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Sorcerer

Light armor and Saving Face provide some much-needed durability, and you could use Saving Face to rescue high-value spell attacks, especially at low levels when your spell slots are severely limited. Mage Armor can replace light armor (and provides better AC), but with the Sorcerer’s strictly limited pool of spells known, freeing one for other things is very tempting.

Warlock

Saving Face is the only noteworthy trait, and while it’s nice it’s not really enough.

Wizard

Light armor and Saving Face provide some much-needed durability. Wizards are less dependent on spell attacks at low levels than sorcerers, and can spare a prepared spell for Mage Armor much more easily than the Sorcerer, so the benefits of the Hobgoblin’s traits aren’t as useful for the Wizard as they are for the Sorcerer.

Hobgoblin 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.

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.