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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Scarab Sages

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hobzah!


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Interesting, I dig this. Glad the "canon" ending for Ironfang Invasion was the more peaceful option. Depending on who knows about the Onyx Citadel and its portal-making abilities could really shake up the geo-politics of Western Avistan.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Awesome!


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm digging the idea of Uncommon ancestries.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I LOVE the art for the Kaoling hobber.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is sweeet! Looking forward to this book a lot!


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I wonder if travelers can pay a hefty fine to use their paths and cross between Avistan and Tian Xia? It certainly is in my home game now.

Dark Archive

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I am of mixed mind.
I like that you can play hobgoblins - the more races the better, but the number of goblinoids that have become good or neutral story-wise is very high:
-Goblins
-Orcs (parts of the Hold of Belkzen, Urgir i think)
-Hobgoblins
Now if only the bugbears could see the light. ;-)


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Marco Massoudi wrote:

I am of mixed mind.

I like that you can play hobgoblins - the more races the better, but the number of goblinoids that have become good or neutral story-wise is very high:
-Goblins
-Orcs (parts of the Hold of Belkzen, Urgir i think)
-Hobgoblins
Now if only the bugbears could see the light. ;-)

Re: orcs, there’s also always been a neutral/good group of them in the Mwangi Expanse.

Silver Crusade

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Um, so they get +1 (or +2) saves vs magic once a round?

Wow.

And I REALLY hope that there is some actual restriction on their being casters (or, at least, wizards) because otherwise I expect to see many, many PCs who are the "exception that proves the rule"

Edit: In fairness, if they really can't play spellcasters then most martials have other things to do with reactions. Still seems quite powerful to me, though


pauljathome wrote:

Um, so they get +1 (or +2) saves vs magic once a round?

Wow.

And I REALLY hope that there is some actual restriction on their being casters (or, at least, wizards) because otherwise I expect to see many, many PCs who are the "exception that proves the rule"

Edit: In fairness, if they really can't play spellcasters then most martials have other things to do with reactions. Still seems quite powerful to me, though

It's not unprecedented, compare to the Ancient-Blooded Dwarf. They get a flat +1 that lasts the "until the end of this turn" and therefore can come into effect more than once, although it's unclear if "this turn" means the triggering attacker in particular, which is pretty but not entirely limiting.


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I love the new stats and lore for Hobgoblins, but I'm going to miss the old art for them.

The new art might make their goblinoid heritage more evident, but it lacks the visual impressiveness that comes with their depictions in the Monster Codex and Ironfang Invasion. I can't really picture Azaersi carrying the same degree of threat and gravitas if she's drawn in this new art style.

I'm sure there's a reason for this art direction, and there's plenty of hobgoblin art in PF1e to keep me going from now on, so it's not a big deal overall. I had just hoped that when the decision was made to make hobgoblins look less human, a more 5e style or oni-like direction was taken rather than enlarged normal goblins...

Silver Crusade

Xenocrat wrote:


It's not unprecedented, compare to the Ancient-Blooded Dwarf.

True enough. They're pretty comparable. I take that objection back.

Shadow Lodge

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keftiu wrote:
I wonder if travelers can pay a hefty fine to use their paths and cross between Avistan and Tian Xia? It certainly is in my home game now.

The term is "toll." A fine is a criminal punishment.

I for one wonder why Azersi has been so sparing in her use of the Stone Road so far. From its II write-up it should be capable of so much more, and at no cost or disadvantage.


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Not the biggest fan of the hobgoblin designs. They looked way better in 1e. Still better than the Starfinder ones, but still

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah really not liking this step towards making hobgoblins medium sized goblins.

The lore is fine, but if Azersi hasn't conquered Nirmathas and Molthune in a couple years I call BS.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I wonder if travelers can pay a hefty fine to use their paths and cross between Avistan and Tian Xia? It certainly is in my home game now.

The term is "toll." A fine is a criminal punishment.

I for one wonder why Azersi has been so sparing in her use of the Stone Road so far. From its II write-up it should be capable of so much more, and at no cost or disadvantage.

Didn't the PCs take a bunch of the Keys?


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Troodos wrote:
Not the biggest fan of the hobgoblin designs. They looked way better in 1e. Still better than the Starfinder ones, but still

It's mostly in the head shape and proportions. It makes them look cartoonish, when the 1e artwork looked far more imposing and villainous, with an added creepy ghoulish vibe when they're shown with predatory fangs and red eyes.

Monster Codex artwork was what made me interested in playing hobgoblins.


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I personally like the idea that goblins and hobgoblins look alike.


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Ventnor wrote:
I personally like the idea that goblins and hobgoblins look alike.

I like them looking alike, but not TOO alike. I always liked the Bestiary 1 hobgoblin, where it looked similar but not just like a big goblin.


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I personally like the new design, i don't know why, might more have to do with the armor and equipment direction that the race themselves.

also, yeah, personally for a race that supposedly hates magic, there's going to be a ton of wizards running around, I can see that much. though they also look to make pretty good alchemists, so that'll be fun to play.


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So Uncommon for an ancestry basically means "check with the GM before you choose this one, but they should only really say no if it doesn't fit the setting or the theme"?

I figure the Int bonus is because Hobgoblins are supposed to be alchemists nonpareil, which would also make them good at elf magic if they put their minds to it. It's good to see more +Int ancestries that aren't fragile. I haven't seen a Fighter, Barbarian, Monk, or Ranger take a bonus to Int at chargen yet, and the rogues I saw do it did so to be better at Int skills not because a rogue really needs more skill points.


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Troodos wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
I personally like the idea that goblins and hobgoblins look alike.
I like them looking alike, but not TOO alike. I always liked the Bestiary 1 hobgoblin, where it looked similar but not just like a big goblin.

I think the Inner Sea Races pictures are where it's at (you can find the image on the fan wiki if you don't have the book). The Bestiary 1 art is a bit too top-heavy in proportion and dishevelled to boot. Hobgoblins aren't barbaric hordes.

Some of the later stuff do make their faces look too human (Azaersi herself is an example of that), but I mostly love their highly detailed armor and imposing sihouettes. These guys are soldiers for life. At least let them wear heavy boots...

Bandw2 wrote:
I personally like the new design, i don't know why, might more have to do with the armor and equipment direction that the race themselves.

The Kaoling armor is pretty unique and awesome. It's really the wacky body proportions and lack of shoes that doesn't do it for me.


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I like the new design. It shows a common gobliniod heritage. While a lot of the PF1 artwork tended to look more like blue-grey orcs with longer ears and no tusks. And I don't think Orcs have been gobliniods since AD&D 2nd, and they certainly are separate in Pathfinder. So they should look more like their actual relatives (especially with the lore that they were created from goblins) and not something they're unrelated to.

I figure the GM approval part of being Uncommon can also cut down on the "But I'm the hob who likes magic!" characters. They're already subject to GM approval for their suitability to the campaign, and hobgoblin wizards could be given more scrutiny. Plus the INT bonus makes them good alchemists as well as wizards. And hobgoblins do like alchemy quite a bit.


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I mean, the "hobgoblin" name really doesn't make diagetic sense unless they have some relationship to goblins that they themselves understood.

My question- who was engineering hobgoblins to fight the elves? Is this known? I imagine it took place pre-earthfall so history of a bit fuzzy.


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Excellent. Really, all of it is excellent, but I particularly love the hobgoblin with the taotieh axe, and the whole concept of Uncommon ancestries.


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I do want hobgoblins to resemble goblins more than orcs. I'd really just like to see the 1e version but with bigger, downward or flat ears, shark-like fangs rather than half-orc tusks, and deeply indented and lined faces that make them severe and monstrous. All of those things can give them a goblinoid family resemblance while staying away from the typical orc look.

In the end the only thing that I dislike here is the flat oversized heads and gangly bodies. What would work the best for me is hobgoblins with orc or oni-like proportions, without any typically orcish facial features, so they can tower over the average PC in their brutal spiked plate or bulky samurai great armor and look the proper threat.


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I can't help but wonder whether a new Ancestry was necessary for the Hobgoblin. Surely a Goblin Heritage could have sufficed considering Half-Elves and Half-Orcs?


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Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Quote:
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.

Shame this approach wasn't used for goblins as they meet the same criteria for inclusion/exclusion to campaigns as hobgoblins or other typically hostile or deviant races. At least it would've put control back into GMs' hands which otherwise seems to be the rule Paizo aimed at in these new 2E scenarios. Fantastic idea though, uncommon ancestries, even if a missed opportunity to smooth dissent and table-issues about goblins.

Also, the football headed art makes these hobs seem creepily and less distinctly hobgoblin, almost as though a goblin is standing on an actual hobgoblin's head stuffed inside the armor. Weird. I wonder when we'll see more, and if it'll start to feel more convincing as a "Pathfinder Hobgoblin," which they'd already done a good job making distinct from other systems before now. Maybe a case of trying a bit too hard to be unique for 2E? Not sure what to think on that one.

Dark Archive

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I was wondering what hobgoblin design change meant for kaoling hobgoblins since the hobgoblin samurai looked really cool and seems like it means they now don't wear straight up samurai armor anymore?


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Compared to other races, it seems like something is missing. They don't have darkvision? Not even low-light vision?


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ChaacTlaloc wrote:
I can't help but wonder whether a new Ancestry was necessary for the Hobgoblin. Surely a Goblin Heritage could have sufficed considering Half-Elves and Half-Orcs?

The different size category is a pretty big incentive to make them a distinct ancestry. Plus they're very distinct and not just a breed of goblin. I doubt they can even interbreed (although a hybrid goblin/hobgoblin would be interesting).


AJ_Neuro wrote:
Compared to other races, it seems like something is missing. They don't have darkvision? Not even low-light vision?

Presumably they have darkvision, it just wasn't mentioned in the blog since:

1) They did in PF1
2) Goblins do, and they have a Wis penalty because "genetically similar to goblins"


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
The different size category is a pretty big incentive to make them a distinct ancestry.

There are medium sized goblins already in PF1: Oversized Goblins Monster Codex pg. 104. "A few goblins attain a much larger size than their kin. No one is exactly sure why they grow to be giants among their kind, but it’s probably due to a combination of luck, diet, and constant access to food. These goblins are monsters among their own kind, not just in height, but also in girth and in strength. If not cast out for eating all of the tribe’s food, oversized goblins often become the bosses of their tribes, and the most powerful of them become chiefs.

Oversized goblins are Medium size, and grow to 4 to 5 feet tall. They tend to be particularly obese, weighing between 225 and 275 pounds."


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I mean, hobgoblins were genetically engineered >10,000 years ago and have been breeding with each other to create stable populations since then. I don't really see the analogy to half orcs/elves.

Like sure there have been half-elves and half-orcs for that long, but not in concentrated amounts where they have children who would have the same heritage for thousands of generations.


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ChaacTlaloc wrote:
I can't help but wonder whether a new Ancestry was necessary for the Hobgoblin. Surely a Goblin Heritage could have sufficed considering Half-Elves and Half-Orcs?

Hobgoblins aren't goblins any more than a human is an ape. The evolution into a different type of creature happened because a wizard did it rather than natural causes but they're hobgoblin still isn't a goblin heritage in any way.

I echo the mixed feelings on the hobgoblin redesign though the guy in this blog post looks way better than the ones in the bestiary. I think they could have leaned in more on goblin features without including the squashed heads that help turn regular goblins into the joke villains they are.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't know what you all are on about, honestly, that hobgoblin alchemist looks intimidating as heck to me...


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I fully support the idea of uncommon races. Although it's a shame they didnt introduce it for the goblin.

As someone who is moving away from Golarion I appreciate all the various ancestries being introduced. Although it has necessitated my move away from Golarion. For me Golarion 1.0, Forgotten Realms (the version of FR I prefer at least) and even Greyhawk all have a particular flavour that is reinforced by limiting PCs to the CRB with a heavy push to incentivise humans. D&D 4th ed and PF 2e breaks that flavour by encouraging you to try out a multitude of races. And having a series of campaigns where there's been at best 1 human PC breaks that flavour FOR ME. And while I could just ban all the extra ancestries, that isnt "fun".

So I've moved onto a setting that better supports the rules without having to substantially change the flavour (Eberron). So I highly appreciate hobgoblins and orcs being made PC appropriate and look forward to seeing them up close. Leshy is perhaps a step too far (there was a plant creature in D&D 4e's PHB 3 from memory which I wasn't too fond of. The wilden I think it was called). Its the only ancestry that's given me pause so far.


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How hard is it to just make "Goblin" (or anything else) an uncommon race in your setting?

It seems like how we could make katanas common, or a certain spell that will pose a problem rare, the easiest thing to do with rarities is to change them to different values.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
How hard is it to just make "Goblin" (or anything else) an uncommon race in your setting?
John Lynch wrote:
while I could just ban all the extra ancestries, that isnt "fun".

For me PF1e felt like it encouraged CRB options. We didn't really get a push for other races until the Advanced Race Guide which came out in 2012, a full 3 years after Pathfinder was first published. And beyond that specific a book (which a number of races were marked as "we wouldn't recommend them") and a handful of splat books, there was never a push for a multitude of races. Sure you might have a changeling in a Carrion Crown campaign. But I didn't feel like the system encouraged me to have changelings be a standard race in all other campaigns.

The rules reinforced a flavour of the game (for me at least).

Likewise when you look at D&D 4th ed the very first hardcover that was published after the core books was Forgotten Realms Players Guide which had 2 new races with a strong push for DMs to allow those races. We then got the "next big core book" (PHB2) with more new races including the gnome and half-orc. In that game system I felt like the rules pushed a standard assumption which was "lots of different races are common". The system didn't really encourage me to think of the setting as "the core PHB1 races are the main races with these other races simply being regional options appropriate for a specific campaign and nothing else).

Pathfinder 2e is going the D&D 4e route with the next big book after the CRB having new ancestries and the next big PHB2 equivalent (Advanced Player's Guide) having a multitude of races. Combined with the setting changing to redeem a lot of these races and make them PC appropriate, it's certainly giving me a different feeling then Golarion 1.0 had.

And sure, I could mark all of them as uncommon. Or I could just play in a ready made setting which already has these races as core races available for PCs without much need for the setting to change. I'm going the latter route (which is coincidentally exactly what I did in 4e).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
How hard is it to just make "Goblin" (or anything else) an uncommon race in your setting?
John Lynch wrote:
while I could just ban all the extra ancestries, that isnt "fun".
For me PF1e felt like it encouraged CRB options. We didn't really get a push for other races until the Advanced Race Guide which came out in 2012, a full 3 years after Pathfinder was first published.

Experiences differ-

I ran into the "push" from the time Bestiary 1 dropped- or, in other words, pretty much from day 1- having easy handy stats for various critters, plus coming off of the tail end of 3.5's life cycle meant that necking it down to the CRB has always been a group idiosyncracy rather than a preference I felt got a particular push from the powers that be.


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Suffice to say, my Ironfang Invasion party is having none of this Hobgoblin society. Will have to figure out how to handle this going forward...


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At first, the sudden change of shape of the Hobgoblins' heads (relative to late Pathfinder 1st Edition) was jarring. But suddenly I had a thought: What if the more Human-looking ones actually have partly Human ancestry?


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Cole Deschain wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
How hard is it to just make "Goblin" (or anything else) an uncommon race in your setting?
John Lynch wrote:
while I could just ban all the extra ancestries, that isnt "fun".
For me PF1e felt like it encouraged CRB options. We didn't really get a push for other races until the Advanced Race Guide which came out in 2012, a full 3 years after Pathfinder was first published.

Experiences differ-

I ran into the "push" from the time Bestiary 1 dropped- or, in other words, pretty much from day 1- having easy handy stats for various critters, plus coming off of the tail end of 3.5's life cycle meant that necking it down to the CRB has always been a group idiosyncracy rather than a preference I felt got a particular push from the powers that be.

Fair enough. I felt like the guidance in the CRB always made it clear using bestiary creatures was a "buyer beware" option. But I appreciate other groups had different experiences. Personally I think PF2e is giving a much bigger push to encourage more than the core ancestries.

As for the suggestion it was a group choice. I played 4th ed with the same group as PF1e. That variable is already accounted for. It was a rule/setting push that changed our behaviour. But I appreciate different groups reacted differently to the same system.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Soooooo... at the sake of mangling an offensive saying hobgoblins should stay in the kitchen, now?

...sets up a 'Shoes for Hobgoblins' charity...


I prefer this art (and even more the one in the new Bestiary) to the way hobgoblins looked, say, in Ironfang. They were just grey orcs, very similar to humans but with red eyes and tusks. Yawn. This is much more imaginative, and the link with goblins is clear.

I'm also a little weirded out by hobgoblins' bonus to Int... I mean, elves have a bonus to Int. I definitely don't see hobs as smart as elves.

Personally I think with the way you're assigning abilty boosts you're painting yourselves into a corner, Paizo.

(Oh, and Eleanor really seems to dig music ^__^ ).


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Hobgoblins use advanced tactics in battle. It makes sense to me that they would have an int bonus.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I like the later art of Hobgoblins from 1e and will miss it, but I don’t hate the new art for them, I really like the Kaoling, and the General in the Bestiary, and that one mercenary from Hellknight Hill is really cool.


Fantastic!

I like the art direction (not really a fan of the second pic, a little too real world derivative, even if the first pic relies on the “Imperial Romanesque warmonger” hobs trope) and the kingdom. I had a technologically “advanced” mid/hob-goblin civilisation in a homebrew setting many years ago, so this resonates with me.

As for the Int bonus, it makes sense to me. A certain goblinoid cunning raised to higher intelligence in a much different cultural approach than the elves.

And the elf-bane antimagic - I can see that non-arcane magic users might still take that option, but arcane wizards taking it makes no sense.

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