All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

Friday, August 23, 2019

Nearly 20 years after the Goblinblood Wars devastated the nation of Isger, an army of hobgoblins marched toward conquest once more. Led by the formidable commander General Azaersi—who had lost everything in the Goblinblood Wars, as so many others had—the so-called Ironfang Invasion swept across the lands of Nirmathas and northern Molthune with what seemed like an unstoppable momentum. Yet the residents of Nirmathas managed to unite in their hour of need, rallied by a group of militia commanders that proved a match for the Ironfang Legion’s legendary general. In a move that surprised nearly everyone, the heroes of Nirmathas chose to show mercy to the merciless, sparing the general and suing for peace. Azaersi agreed and pulled her armies back to her mysterious base of operations, the Vault of the Onyx Citadel, before officially founding the nation of Oprak in the mountains.

Which is a fancy story, but what does that have to do with playable hobgoblins? General Azaersi might have signed temporary non-aggression treaties with Nirmathas (and somewhat ominously, with Nidal), but that’s a far cry from welcoming the hated Ironfang Legion into human cities. In this case, it’s Tar-Baphon’s fault—the rise of the Whispering Tyrant suddenly has the flesh and blood, living and breathing hobgoblins looking like much more pleasant neighbors in comparison. Some highly optimistic diplomats even hope to convince the Ironfang Legion to help fight Tar-Baphon’s forces. After all, what are hobgoblins without a war?

A hobgoblin alchemist clutching a sharp blade in one hand and a bomb with a lit fuse in the other.

Illustration by Klaher Baklaher

That’s the question we’re asking Pathfinder 2E players to help answer while they play in the Age of Lost Omens. Whether Azaersi is simply rebuilding her forces in order to invade again or has instead turned her ambitions toward economic conquest instead of martial, Oprak is currently a nation at peace. For a society comprised mostly of Goblinblood orphans and veterans, who have only known combat and preparation for combat since childhood, this sudden shift has led to a great deal of restlessness, soul-searching, aimless depression… and in some, curious exploration. Where previously the most brutal and efficient hobgoblins were the ones that excelled, less vicious hobgoblins are now carving a place for themselves as explorers and envoys to non-hobgoblin peoples.

Hobgoblins are an Uncommon ancestry. This might seem confusing, as Uncommon usually suggests that something must be found through effort in-game, and PCs can hardly switch ancestries mid-character! In this case, Uncommon is what we use to indicate that a particular ancestry is not necessarily found (or appropriate as PCs) in all areas of the Inner Sea region. A hobgoblin soldier PC would not fit well into the War for the Crown Adventure Path, for example—but that same PC could easily be found in the Eye of Dread meta-region, or even touring the lands of Nidal or Varisia. With that said, Azaersi’s control over the Vault of the Onyx Citadel means a hobgoblin can theoretically be found anywhere, as the general has managed to create magical pathways to regions as far-flung as the hobgoblin nation of Kaoling in Tian Xia!

A Kao Ling hobgoblin in an ornate mask dual-wielding a sword and axe.

Illustration by Klaher Baklaher

Hobgoblins get 8 Hit Points from their ancestry, are Medium, and have a speed of 25 feet. A hobgoblin speaks Common and Goblin, plus any additional languages they might pick up. Hobgoblins have incredible endurance and are trained for physical discipline, giving them an ability boost to Constitution, and they possess keen minds, getting another ability boost in Intelligence. Like most ancestries, they also get one free ability boost to put in any score. Hobgoblins were originally created from goblins, however, meaning the two ancestries share an ability flaw to Wisdom. With these traits, hobgoblins seem like they’d be perfectly suited to be wizards… if not for the absolute, bone-deep loathing they hold toward almost all magic. Oops!

In fact, hobgoblins hate magic so much that they can choose the Elfbane Hobgoblin ancestry, which can help them resist spells:

Elfbane Hobgoblin. Hobgoblins were engineered long ago from the unreliable and fecund goblins, to be used as an army against the elves. Although the elves ultimately freed the hobgoblins from their bondage, some hobgoblins retain ancestral resistance to magic, which they refer to as “elf magic.” You gain the Resist Elf Magic reaction. RESIST ELF MAGIC (reaction). Trigger: You attempt a saving throw against a magical effect but haven’t rolled yet. Your ancestral resistance to magic protects you. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to the triggering saving throw. If the triggering effect is arcane, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus instead.

The hobgoblin ancestry entry also suggests some Core Rulebook backgrounds you might choose that are common for those of hobgoblin ancestry, but be sure to also check out specific backgrounds from the Lost Omens World Guide for other appropriate options, such as the Onyx Trader or Goblinblood Orphan backgrounds!

Eleanor Ferron
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Tags: Lost Omens Character Guide Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
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Shadow Lodge

VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?

Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?
Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.

If you say so.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?
Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.
If you say so.

I could also see some dwarves complaining how it was stolen from them to begin with and they should be given part of it back. Or at least a key, just in case.

Liberty's Edge

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?
Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.

Frankly, in the scenario where the PCs win via negotiation, they've probably just revealed one of her inner circle as a traitor (for certain values of traitor, anyway), and likely have her outgunned in a straight fight. A fight would be risky for them, but even more risky for her.

I'm thus honestly not sure how strong her negotiating position is for things like this. You need to offer her a deal that she'll take, but I'm not sure the keys all going back to her are 100% necessary for that.


The Onyx Road is not Azaersi’s if I remember correctly it was in the care of the Dwarves of Kraggodan first, I don’t think she’s have regained all of them in negotiations.


I'm pretty interested with how relations are between Oprak and Kraggodan, since the Dwarves know for a fact that the Onyx key was stolen from them and are probably not inclined to deal charitably with Hobgoblins.


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Is that how it was supposed to end then? *Sips wine from a hobgoblin skull cup.* Interesting...


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I love the way hobgoblins are being done- I'm hoping that Orcs follow up as +Strength +Wisdom -Intelligence, the whole thing where every ancestry gets a physical stat and a mental stat is doing wonders for making me feel like I can use a given ancestry for a lot of different things.


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Uchuujin wrote:
Is that how it was supposed to end then? *Sips wine from a hobgoblin skull cup.* Interesting...

Uniformly they selected the canonical ending of each AP to be "whatever success state involves the most potential interesting story threads going forward."

So "Azersi sues for peace and establishes a Hobgoblin kingdom in the mountains" is a lot more interesting going forward than "They dead."


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Uchuujin wrote:
Is that how it was supposed to end then? *Sips wine from a hobgoblin skull cup.* Interesting...

Uniformly they selected the canonical ending of each AP to be "whatever success state involves the most potential interesting story threads going forward."

So "Azersi sues for peace and establishes a Hobgoblin kingdom in the mountains" is a lot more interesting going forward than "They dead."

Granted. And if I want to continue the story as I played it that works too. It's a big multiverse.

Silver Crusade

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Precisely.


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Sparing Azaersi and letting her keep control over the Vault of the Onyx Citadel is a foolish decision. She can easily rebuild her forces and with the Citadel under her control she has a way to fully mobilize said forces and even gain allies in other areas of Golarion. A goblin is a maniac, a bugbear is a sadist, and a hobgoblin is a conqueror and NOTHING can change that. My Ironfang Legion Adventure Path PC's weighed the risks of letting Azaersi and her remaining forces live and found that unacceptable.

Yes it leaves Golarion with fewer possible allies to rely on against the rise of the Whispering Tyrant but let's be honest, Tar-Baphon’s could possible seduce Azaersi and her forces with promises of riches, glory, power, and conquest and then not only would he have armies of undead but also armies of goblinoids capable of invading ANYWHERE at ANYTIME! So, yeah, sorry Paizo but my PC's cut the head off of the snake and then burned the body so Azaersi isn't coming back in our campaign.

That certainly doesn't mean others can do differently though. ;)


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I guess the question is- did Azaersi change her assumptions that lead to her launching a war of conquest during the course of Ironfang Invasions (such as when a group of heavily armed adventurers who had cause and the ability to kill her, chose instead to talk.) Also, will any of those assumptions change going forwards?

Like her basic complaint that underlines all of her actions are "my people have no home, and the 'civilized' people see me as a monster to be killed without a second thought." It's entirely likely she lost the war but nonetheless addressed her major issue (just likely not the way she wanted to.)

After all the "Civilized" people having to deal with the Hobgoblin nation as allies and trading partners is probably going to build a more durable kind of respect than having to fear them as potential conquerors.

If we're going to talk about "our AP group diverged from canon", having Oprak not exist... or be founded under different circumstances is a lot easier to deal with than "Westcrown fell to the Glorious Reclamation, which is doing great actually" which is our situation.


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This thread is just proving what I've said time and time again that Paizo has a lot more work to do than to pretend it's always been like this to get the community to accept monstrous races as anything more than a combat encounter.

Silver Crusade

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Arachnofiend wrote:
This thread is just proving what I've said time and time again that Paizo has a lot more work to do than to pretend it's always been like this to get the community to accept monstrous races as anything more than a combat encounter.

Goblins could have been a core race from the get go in 1e and they'd still have to deal with this now.

Silver Crusade

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Berselius wrote:
A goblin is a maniac, a bugbear is a sadist, and a hobgoblin is a conqueror and NOTHING can change that.
They're humanoids, not fiends.
Quote:
Yes it leaves Golarion with fewer possible allies to rely on against the rise of the Whispering Tyrant but let's be honest, Tar-Baphon’s could possible seduce Azaersi

No? She's not an omnicidal maniac, nor is she an idiot.

With the Onyx keys though we have a weapon not only against Tar-Baphon but also a support network for mass moving support and refugees from areas under attack.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Arachnofiend wrote:
This thread is just proving what I've said time and time again that Paizo has a lot more work to do than to pretend it's always been like this to get the community to accept monstrous races as anything more than a combat encounter.

It hasn't always been like this. Plenty of in-world people think Nirmathas made the wrong decision.


If goblins had been a 1E core race then maybe "low level encounter that you aren't supposed to think about too much" would not have been the majority of goblins in 1E publications.

But if that was the case then I'm sure a lot of people coming from DND at the time would have been unhappy. What Paizo is trying to do isn't easy - rewriting monsters into people is undoing decades of learned behavior, long before Paizo ever existed. It's going to take a lot of effort to get the average player to understand that a hobgoblin is a rational individual.

And implicitly banning hobgoblins from the majority of tables by making them an uncommon ancestry isn't helping.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
And implicitly banning hobgoblins from the majority of tables by making them an uncommon ancestry isn't helping.

I guess the issue is if only "monstrous" people are uncommon, or if "basically every ancestry not in the CRB" is uncommon. Since if you say "these people live in specific areas, if your game isn't set in one of those areas, talk to your GM about playing one to figure out why they are here and how that's going" that's not really a ban so much as an acknowledgement about the setting.

Like Aasimar, Tieflings, Ganzi, Aphorites, Duskwalkers, Changelings, and all the Geniekin aren't monstrous but should be uncommon (or rare).

Silver Crusade

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Missed this,

Arachnofiend wrote:
It's going to take a lot of effort to get the average player to understand that a hobgoblin is a rational individual.

Why?

Between Pathfinder and Starfinder we have over a hundred playable races, there's no issues with all those being seen as people.


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After all "uncommon" means "you can always play one of these if your game is set in the right part of the world" whereas "rare" means "you can only play one of these if the GM allows it."


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Honestly a Hob should be a more common sight than an Aasimar, Geniekin or Tieflings. They’re not the product of a liaison by an Outsider and some random ancestor.

Though strangely enough Tieflings are core races in DnD, funny fact there.

Also Black and White mentality is just so jaded, boring and unimaginative. This race is always good, this race is always bad is so *bleh*. If demons can seek redemption, then I can gladly work alongside an Orc, a Goblin, a Hob whatever comes my way, as long as they have my back and have moderately good intentions.

I don’t understand how people can be so close-minded when it comes to a fantasy game where you can be whomever and whatever you wish to be...


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Rysky wrote:
Missed this,
Arachnofiend wrote:
It's going to take a lot of effort to get the average player to understand that a hobgoblin is a rational individual.

Why?

Between Pathfinder and Starfinder we have over a hundred playable races, there's no issues with all those being seen as people.

And let’s be honest there are a lot of creatures that look much freakier that are *playable* than a Hobgoblin when it comes to Starfinder. Tiny water controlling cuttlefish, rubber hillbillies, a sentient insect swarms, Bears.

Hell Drow are more accepted then Elves in Pact World society because the later went all isolationist and xenophobic.


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Gonna echo a little mehness on the redesigns. Adding some goblin similarities makes sense but I think splitting the difference would have been a bit better.

The lack of footwear I think bugs me more than the heads though. Footwraps kind of evoke a sense of cobbled together outfits and limited resources that fits the general story of the goblin race but seems incongruous with how regimented and organized hobgoblin society tends to be.

Not a huge deal either way I guess.


VerBeeker wrote:

Honestly a Hob should be a more common sight than an Aasimar, Geniekin or Tieflings. They’re not the product of a liaison by an Outsider and some random ancestor.

Though strangely enough Tieflings are core races in DnD, funny fact there.

They won't be more common across the world, but they would likely be more commonly adventurers. Goblins were given a pass from paizo because they wanted a mascot and something different (plus goblins are everywhere).

As for Tieflings in D&D, 5e has them with the other uncommon races. I think it was only 4e that had them in the PHB without any distinction.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think more nations would be willing to deal with Oprak than Cheliax.

Silver Crusade

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Arachnofiend wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
"low level encounter that you aren't supposed to think about too much"
I'm pretty sure Humans hold that award.
Thank you for cropping out the part of my sentence that excludes humans from competing, it tells me a lot about you as a person.

Uh, there is nothing about excluding humans in the post that Rysky was replying to. May have been in other posts but NOT in that post.

Arachnofiend wrote:
If goblins had been a 1E core race then maybe "low level encounter that you aren't supposed to think about too much" would not have been the majority of goblins in 1E publications.
Please read the entire sentence and think about how many humans there are that aren't "low level encounters that you aren't supposed to think about too much". Are the vast majority of humans in Paizo adventures random bandits? Is there any lack of humans in heroic, main character roles?

Ah okay, my apologies for missing that.

Council of Thieves and Curse of the Crimson Throne most of the opponents are humans, and we continue to have human antagonists throughout the levels.

I don’t disagree that we need more non-evil Goblins being shown.


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My point is that it really doesn't matter that we have a ton of human antagonists because humans make up the majority of everything; protagonists, antagonists, neutral parties. If there is an archetype there is a human who has filled it.

Orcs, goblinoids, etc. are only rarely neutral parties and are close to never heroic. The closest to an empathetic hobgoblin character the setting has is Azaersi and as I stated previously this thread has plenty of evidence on how people feel about her. The freaking goblin iconic himself is a CN pyromaniac who's only connection to civilized society is a mentor who thought he was funny.


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One thing I do think might be a problem with "you can only play these ancestries in specific places without GM approval" is that this might reproduce the PF1 problem where the average AP group was all too frequently "3 weird things and a half-elf".

Since people are going to say "Oh, this AP is set in [place], I'm going to play [unusual thing] because I haven't had the opportunity before and may not have it again for a while."


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Is it a bad thing that when an adventure is set in a specific place, people play races that are common to the region?

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

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Arachnofiend wrote:
If goblins had been a 1E core race then maybe "low level encounter that you aren't supposed to think about too much" would not have been the majority of goblins in 1E publications.

We have generally presented goblins with names, backstories, and often complex story-based motivations. They aren't presented as nameless speed-bump random encounters in any adventures that come immediately to mind for me. That isn't to say players have ever considered these aspects of goblins (or any other adversary), but they've certainly always been presented as more fleshed out than a run-in with an owlbear or wyvern.


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One possibility I could see is a GM ruling that you can take a single uncommon option without some other character option that grants you access to it. Then players would have to decide whether they want to spend that option to play a hobgoblin or for some other purpose, such as being part of some super secret organization.

Shadow Lodge

Vorsk, Follower or Erastil wrote:
Rysky wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?
Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.
If you say so.
I could also see some dwarves complaining how it was stolen from them to begin with and they should be given part of it back. Or at least a key, just in case.

They have no say in things.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Vorsk, Follower or Erastil wrote:
Rysky wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?
Why wouldn't Azaersi demand and get them back in peace negotiations? They are hers.
If you say so.
I could also see some dwarves complaining how it was stolen from them to begin with and they should be given part of it back. Or at least a key, just in case.
They have no say in things.

Explain.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
They have no say in things.

Orprak might be aware that Kraggodan might pose a problem down the road, however, and make overtures to the Dwarves to appease them.

Something like "We are both aware that an artifact the potency of the Onyx Key cannot be stored securely at Kraggodan; whereas our refuge is far more secure. Could you imagine what a threat the Whispering Tyrant would pose if he were to come into possession of it? However, as we acknowledge the legitimacy of your previous ownership of the artifact, and as such we are willing to offer the Dwarves of Kraggodan extensive access to the Stone Road for minimal cost, barely enough to cover our expenses. That is of course depending on whether you Dwarves would be willing to cast aside old prejudices in order for considerable mutual benefit."

Some of that is lies, but "getting dwarves to acknowledge the legitimacy of the hobgoblin homeland, by testing whether they value old hatred more than new money" would certainly appeal to Azaersi. She is, after all, a Swashbuckler and a pragmatist.


David knott 242 wrote:


One possibility I could see is a GM ruling that you can take a single uncommon option without some other character option that grants you access to it. Then players would have to decide whether they want to spend that option to play a hobgoblin or for some other purpose, such as being part of some super secret organization.

Could always tie it into more specific Backgrounds.


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Since I'm unlikely to play through any of the 1E adventure paths anymore. Is there a place I can read their plot line with the canon resolution?

Grand Lodge

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I actually really dig the art. These hobgoblins don't look like orcs, and do look like goblin kin. Welcome, nufriends. We should hob-nob sometime.

Hmm


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Hmm wrote:

I actually really dig the art. These hobgoblins don't look like orcs, and do look like goblin kin. Welcome, nufriends. We should hob-nob sometime.

Hmm

The more I look at the alchemist in this blog post the more I like him. I think my initial reticence was just a hold over from how much I hate the bestiary art, which just looks like a stretched out goblin.


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Rysky wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A goblin is a maniac, a bugbear is a sadist, and a hobgoblin is a conqueror and NOTHING can change that.
They're humanoids, not fiends.
Quote:
Yes it leaves Golarion with fewer possible allies to rely on against the rise of the Whispering Tyrant but let's be honest, Tar-Baphon’s could possible seduce Azaersi

No? She's not an omnicidal maniac, nor is she an idiot.

Dunno, I have been running this campaign and the Ironfang legion are a bunch of sadistic murderous maniacs that will kill innocent children without a second thought. Throughout a lot of the story it is clear they are wicked and attempts at negotiation will result in betrayal. And I'm playing them just as portrayed in the books.

War is hell, they have taught this fact to the PCs and, in response, they have completely dehumanized the goblin folk as nothing more than creatures to be slain without mercy to protect the world.

Really seems odd to me that they are portrayed so extremely evil and constantly torturing the PCs and their friends and then the party is expected to just let them off the hook. Maybe picked the wrong AP to try and tack this on...


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Azaersi engages in Total War and is playing to win in Ironfang Invasion. But she's not a monster and her motivations and goals are defensible, just not her methods. Hobgoblins are supposed to be traditionally Lawful Evil, so some amount of villainy is to be expected. Part of the reason that the ending they went with works is that the PCs learn, fairly late in the game, what her deal is and they can choose to empathize. Either because it's the most expeditious way to prevent mass destruction or because they actually feel that way.

She is a much more sympathetic character than 100% of the Thrunes, after all. It's not totally distinct from how we learn why Barzilai is such a monster late in Hell's Rebels, except here we're learning why Azaersi's not a monster. It's legitimately a question whether the Ironfangs are worse than Molthune, in any regard except "efficacy."


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Azaersi engages in Total War and is playing to win in Ironfang Invasion. But she's not a monster and her motivations and goals are defensible, just not her methods. Hobgoblins are supposed to be traditionally Lawful Evil, so some amount of villainy is to be expected. Part of the reason that the ending they went with works is that the PCs learn, fairly late in the game, what her deal is and they can choose to empathize. Either because it's the most expeditious way to prevent mass destruction or because they actually feel that way.

In the unlikely event that I get to GM Ironfang Invasion, this makes me think that I should introduce this concept earlier, perhaps by way of visions, or maybe something more subtle.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
She is a much more sympathetic character than 100% of the Thrunes, after all. It's not totally distinct from how we learn why Barzilai is such a monster late in Hell's Rebels, except here we're learning why Azaersi's not a monster. It's legitimately a question whether the Ironfangs are worse than Molthune, in any regard except "efficacy."

After all, Molthune did use Hobgoblins (and other things traditionally considered monsters) as hit squads against Nirmathas . . . .

Mechalibur wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A goblin is a maniac, a bugbear is a sadist, and a hobgoblin is a conqueror and NOTHING can change that.
Yikes. If I had to give that statement an alignment, I'd pick lawful evil.

In Cheliax and probably Isger and Molthune, the reply to this would be "You're saying that as if you thought it was a bad thing . . .".


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
After all, Molthune did use Hobgoblins (and other things traditionally considered monsters) as hit squads against Nirmathas . . .

Spoiler:
In fact, they used these exact Hobgoblins as hit squads against Nirmathas, and only feel bad about it once they go independent and start hitting Molthune too.
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