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Hobgoblins - the fluff doesn't match the crunch


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Hobgoblins are described as "burly and muscled" in the advanced race guide, as well as "Tall, tough as nails, and strongly built". Taller than what? Goblins? The Bestiary says they are 5' tall and weigh 160 lbs.

Militaristic, war-loving, etc. OK, fine. They are meant to be lawful, disciplined orcs according to the fluff.

But the racial description of hobgoblins doesn't match that. There is no strength bonus for hobgoblins. They do get Con, which at least matches some of the fluff, but instead of Str they get Dex. They have a skill bonus is for stealth, which is nice, but more for "quiet rogue/ninja types" than for "militaristic war types".

Hobgoblin crunch doesn't make them good warriors (well, archers, but that is very specialized - you can't field an army with *only* archers). It makes them good rogues.

Hobgoblin crunch makes for good "sneaky" types. The monster that hides under the bed or in the closet (it can see in the dark, after all).

The crunch and fluff diverge in another way. In the bestiary description of hobgoblins, "Many hobgoblin tribes combine their love of warfare with keen intellects". You'd think that this would mean either an INT bonus or perhaps some kind of skill bonus related to warfare (knowledge engineering perhaps?). But that isn't the case. It is at best an "alternate racial trait". Most hobgoblins are sneaks.

So what should give way? Should the fluff be changed to match the crunch? Or should the crunch be modified to match the fluff?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Leftovers from 3.5, couldn't be changed due to backwards compatibility concerns. Modify how you see fit, or just ignore the incongruity.


I have them looking like they did in 3.5. I dont find the new look too imposing.


I absolutely agree.

As someone who likes Hobgoblins and whose first campaign featured them as the main threat, the statistics given in the rules don't really do them justice.

Remember how Changelings are supposedly witch-themed, and yet their stats (+2 wisdom and cha) basically make them ideal clerics? And then how Paizo released a new alternate racial trait that gave them int instead?

Maybe they should do something like that for Hobgoblins, swap out the dex bonus for +2 strength.


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I actually really like that they get + DEX and + CON.

It makes it clear that no, these are not yet another breed of orcs. They're a tough group of monsters, but they're no supersoldiers- nor are they are scrawny stealthy goblins. They're something in between- solid warriors that rely on a mixture of finesse, brute force, and staying power. I feel that is perfect for a militaristic, warlike, yet *lawful leaning* race.

But I mean, no STR bonus just means your typical warrior type have 14-16 STR instead of 16-18. That doesn't make them weak, they're still stronger than most people, they only really lag behind minmaxed adventurers. They just aren't abnormally strong. The stats for the actual hobgoblin monster support this, with a 15 STR. It does mean that hobgoblins can see a bit more variance in class than orcs normally do- they don't have to go into STR based classes, they can pretty much excel at any combat style. I consider that a perk, not a flaw.

As for keen intellects, I think that's strictly comparative. Hobgoblins are tactical geniuses compared to goblins, orcs, ogres, etc. That doesn't mean they are smart enough for a +2 INT- giving them that would suggest that Hobgoblins are smarter than most humans, halflings, dwarves, and any other creature that doesn't get a +2 to INT, on a racial level, across the board. I don't think that's what they're going for with that line. It just means that in general, they aren't stupid, and shouldn't be treated as such.

(And the monster stats once again support this. They have a 10 INT. Strictly average, but higher than Gnolls, Orcs, Ogres, Lizardmen, and most of the other similar enemies. Goblins actually match their 10 INT, but those definitely have a different sort of intelligence. In any case, perfectly average for normal people, but above average for their monster type)


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The only thing that really seems that incongruous is the stealth bonus. Otherwise I think PK nailed it here.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Quote:


Strength measures muscle and physical power.

Constitution represents your character’s health and stamina.

Now, if you want to take that as muscle power = burly and tough appearance, that is fine.

Not everything about a race has to resume as an ability score bonus though. They take no penalty to INT, that means that many of them are keen and smart, as they have members that go from 3 to 18 INT. They also have many alternative race traits that replace sneaky for int-related skill bonuses.

The fact that they gain two physical ability modifiers does make them good fighters, and "fighters" here isnt talking only about the class, but "people who can fight". That includes fighters, rogues, paladins, barbarians, rangers, etc. It also makes them good fighters (the class) aswell, since neither dexterity or constitution is a dumb stat for fighters.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
The only thing that really seems that incongruous is the stealth bonus. Otherwise I think PK nailed it here.

Even then, it means they can move quietly even when armored up. It's just a different sort of military discipline.


At least the Battle-Hardened and Engineer alternate racial traits give GMs opportunities to create hobgoblins with more traditional traits found in an army.
Between those 2 traits and the Authoritative and Bandy-Legged alternate traits, you can create a wide variety of hobgoblins built for different aspects of war.

Add in goblins as skirmishers and bugbears as burly but sneaky tanks and you have a terrifying army.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Hobgoblin Kineticists are scary- just mentioning.

Shadow Lodge

QuidEst wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
The only thing that really seems that incongruous is the stealth bonus. Otherwise I think PK nailed it here.
Even then, it means they can move quietly even when armored up. It's just a different sort of military discipline.

I feel like reducing ACP would be a better way to represent that.


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Eh. They don't need to be stealthy archers. They get bonuses to two physical stats. Those are stats they can largely ignore now.

Looking at the point buy- you can spend 2 points each on dex and con to get 'acceptible' levels, instead of 5. That saves you 6 points. You can then put that into strength to get a 16 or so without pulling points from anywhere, even on a 15 pt buy. The lack of penalty also means they don't have to feel like they are playing keep up like an orc does (since a hobgoblin might enjoy a good will save, or an intimidate check).

I wouldn't look to them to get 18 str... but you can get a 17 without dumping. That is a fairly good standard. They are more physically fit than the average human (that might put their stat bonus into a mental stat... which ultimately does little for them since they are probably a commoner). It is enough of an advantage to make them scary to normal people.


I always thought the same, though with the alternate traits, a lot is possible.

That bonus to dex and sneak combined with darkvision would make them great for night raids, though. Without being necessarily ninjas, the bonuses would help them sneak up close to the enenmy and start the assault before an organized defense can be mounted, engaging the half-asleep scrambling enemy in a more traditional way than a bunch of sneaky goblin ninjas would.

Shadow Lodge

lemeres wrote:
Looking at the point buy- you can spend 2 points each on dex and con to get 'acceptible' levels, instead of 5. That saves you 6 points. You can then put that into strength to get a 16 or so without pulling points from anywhere, even on a 15 pt buy. The lack of penalty also means they don't have to feel like they are playing keep up like an orc does (since a hobgoblin might enjoy a good will save, or an intimidate check).

This is a very good point, though it works out a bit differently with rolled stats.

With rolling, being able to skimp on a secondary stat doesn't do anything to increase your primary stat. What it does do is reduce the number of above-average rolls you need to pull off a given concept. That means a set of rolls that a really SAD set of stats could become much more feasible for a martial. It's a lot easier to also get the above-average mental stat for the engineers, scouts, or commanders.

Looking at two sets of stats using 4d6 drop lowest:

15, 14, 12, 10, 9, 9 (12 pb)

This is a poor set of stats to start with, and there's nothing you can do to get a 16+ strength out of it for a hobgoblin - I'd be pretty tempted to go Dex-based. But 15/16/14 is not unworkable for strength-based melee character, especially if you end up taking Combat Reflexes or TWF. You could also put the 12 or 14 in a mental stat and still have an above-average Dex & Con.

17, 15, 11, 11, 9, 8 (19 pb)

This one gives you a very solid strength, but not much else. A hobgoblin could either get a 13/17 Dex & Con (nice for heavy-armour martials), or 13/13 Dex/Con with a 15 in a mental stat.

Dark Archive

My only issue with this is that the artwork for Hobgoblins sometimes shows them as very bulky and muscular, when an elf-like build would make more sense, thematically. (Granted, there are plenty of humans with a Conan-like build, so it's not completely out of line for their to be *some* Hobgoblins with muscular builds.)

The same applied to the Warforged from the Eberron setting. Quite often the artwork made them seem to be not only incredibly muscular, but also bordering on size Large, and then their stats were nothing like the art portrayed them.


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One thing the +CON +DEX modifiers give Hobgoblins is flexibility. Since every class enjoys having more HP and more AC, there is basically no class that Hobgoblins are bad at. I can imagine that a large enough hobgoblin army would have a variety of different classes in it; in addition to Fighters, they'd have Rogues, Wizards, and possibly more specialized troops.

Could you imagine a Corps of Hobgoblin Occultists, trained to use the weapons of an army that came before them to devastating effect? How about a group of Hobgoblin ninja who make up the recon & black ops division of the army?

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