Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Hobgoblin

Hobgoblins are fierce and militaristic, but not barbaric or mentally stunted like the orc.  They have virtually no drawbacks, and are surprisingly versatile when it comes to class choice.
Racial Traits:

Ability Scores: +2 to both Dex and Con without any penalty is utterly fantastic.  Not only does this key in well for a melee character, but Dex and Con are the two ability scores that no class should skimp on.  These bonuses open the door for a range of options.

Type: Hobgoblins are humanoids with the goblinoid subtype, so nothing special here.  There are a few races and classes that might gain bonuses against goblinoids, but it's not much to worry about.

Size: Hobgoblins are medium sized.

Speed: Hobgoblins have a base speed of 30.

Sneaky: +4 to Stealth is an excellent bonus, particularly at low levels when racial bonuses make the most difference.  If you don't like it, there are a ton of other options below.

Darkvision: Hobgoblins get darkvision 60, and as I’ve said before, darkvision is the best kind of vision!

Alternate Racial Traits:
Bandy Legged [Speed]: A +2 bonus to climb and ride checks, as well as a +2 bonus to CMD against bull rush or trip do not nearly make up for a reduction to 20 feet move speed.  It's funny flavor, but that's about it.

Battle Hardened [Sneaky]: A flat +1 bonus to CMD is well worth the +4 sneak - as long as you aren't playing somebody who sneaks.  Otherwise, you can get that CMD another way.

Engineer [Sneaky]: A +2 bonus to a Craft and Knowledge check is pretty forgettable.  Again, it's an option if you don't want to sneak around, but chances are you'll use sneak a lot more anyway.

Fearsome [Sneaky]: Trading your +4 stealth bonus for a +4 intimidate is great if you use intimidate more than stealth.  

Magehunter [Sneaky]: Yet another way to get rid of sneaky, magehunter provides some small bonuses against spell casters.  Yet another option to consider if you really don't like sneaking.

Pit Boss [Sneaky]: We really don't like sneaky, do we?  This is far too limited to be useful, a +1 CMB to disarming or tripping with a whip.  If this is really your thing then by all means, otherwise most other alternate racial traits are better.

Scarred [Darkvision]: +1 natural armor bonus?  Sign me up!  Trading in darkvision is harsh, but another AC is an excellent deal for the melee-centric.

Slave Hunter [Sneaky]: +2 on Survival and Fort saves against disease is underwhelming, but if sneaking really isn't your thing this isn't your worst choice.  Still, disease if fairly rare and easily cured. You sure you don't want that extra stealthy boost?

Unfit [Sneaky]: +1 to Bluff and Diplomacy and proficiency in a single marital weapon instead of +4 to Stealth? This is an excellent early way to gain proficiency in that weapon you really want to use, and the bonus to bluff and diplomacy is just the cherry on top.

Everybody can use Dexterity, Constitution, and dark vision, an most people appreciate a stealth bonus (or AC bonus with Scarred).  With such general bonuses and no penalties, the Hobgoblin can take on virtually any class.  Straight martial ranged and melee classes, such as the fighter, gunslinger, barbarian, rogue, and cavalier will be favorites, but a splash of magic with the paladin, bard, and inquisitor are also great.  The hobgoblin is arguably more equipped to take on these martial Multiple Attribute Dependent (MAD) classes than any other race.  Alchemists of any flavors can benefit as well, particularly with the ability to throw more bombs.  Full casting fighters, such as the cleric and druid are easily passable, and even full casters such as the sorcerer and wizard can benefit from a little extra survivability.  With such broad bonuses, you can't really go wrong with the hobgoblin.

Racial Favored Class Options:

Alchemist: +1/2 to the number of bombs per day is really wonderful.  It's another turn or two of dumping out massive damage and de-buffs with fast bombs at higher levels.   I'd choose this any day.

Cavalier: Adding +1/2 to Intimidate and Ride checks is alright if you are a dazzling display, demoralizing kind of guy.  Otherwise, skip it.  Note that this works wonderfully with the hobgoblin cavalier archetype, fell rider.

Cleric: Adding +1/2 damage to negative energy spell damage is terrible.  These spells are few and far between, and you are likely going to be doing better things with your time.  Maybe if it added to negative channelling as well it might be worth something.

Fighter: +1/4 to critical hit confirmation is a trap, and a bad one.  A single feat, Critical Focus will match 16 levels of this, and you aren't starved for feats as a Fighter. Additionally Critical Focus doesn't stack with it.  It's kind of like slowly paying for a single feat across 16 levels in the most feat rich class in the game. Invest your favored class bonus in hit points or skill points, then grab toughness on top and revel in all of your delicious feats.

Gunslinger: +1/4 to grit points is good.  More grit is good.  Grit is good.  Grit Good.  Groot.

Inquisitor: +1 to concentration checks is pretty hefty, but not as across the board useful as more hit points.  If you are the type of inquisitor who loves casting next to enemies, then it's something to consider.

Monk: +1/4 to grapple or trip can be alright if you focus in that kind of thing.  It's not the strongest bonus, but with the right specialization it can pay out.

Ranger: Adding +1/4 to favored enemy bonuses is pretty measly. If you are constantly facing a select few types of enemies, then its something to consider.  Otherwise, skip it

Rogue: Though it may not seem very good, gaining a weapon proficiency in four levels can actually be great for the feat starved rogue.  Start your career with knives, then transition into wakizashis or another more powerful weapon by level 4.  Then, just grab hit points or skill points.  It saves a feat early on.

Racial Archetype:

Fell Rider (Cavalier): There's something about this archetype that just tickles me.  You gain trample and overrun bonuses, as well as a lovely free action intimidate that melds nicely with the cavalier racial favored class bonus.  Now, you do give up the cavalier's charge.  And overrun isn't nearly as powerful as charge.  Still, it's good fun!

Ironskin Monk (Monk): The ironskin monk receives bonuses to survivability, including AC, DR, Evasion, and Resilience.  However, the AC bonus isn't as good as the monk's natural bonus, and Resilience comes at the cost of improved evasion, but combined with Scarred and the Hobgoblin's Dex and Con bonuses its a fun tanky alternative to the vanilla monk.

Racial Feat:
Bred Commander: If you frequently find yourself in serving as a commander using mass combat rules, then this is a must have and probably a reason to be a hobgoblin.  In all other cases, it is entirely useless.

Commander of Goblinkind: If you find yourself fighting or leading goblinoids all the time, then sure, grab this.  Otherwise, it is entirely useless.

Deafening Explosion: Give up a bomb damage die to make your enemies deaf.  Deaf is one of the least useful de-buffs, and only really effective against spell casters.  Just grab extra bombs instead.

Demoralizing Lash: This is a weak bonus with an incredibly specific trigger:  Your opponent is shaken for an additional round, but only if you hit them with a whip and they have been demoralized by an intimidate check. If you are really committed to being a demoralizing whip guy (and if you are, boy is the hobgoblin for you), then go ahead.  Otherwise, skip it.

Focusing Blow: It's funny at least.  Your ally (who also needs to sink a teamwork feat into this), can attack you to have you reroll your saving throw with a bonus.  I can see it being useful once or twice a campaign - but for the rest of the time you'll wonder why you didn't take something more useful.

Hobgoblin Discipline: While within 30 feet of at least two other hobgoblins, you gain +1 on saving throws.  Obviously a nice feat, but obviously only if you are playing a hobgoblin only campaign.

Taskmaster: You can impart a one minute minor morale buff to an ally - but they need to have fewer Hit Dice than you.  Again, incredibly situational, and hopefully there's other morale bonuses going around.

Terrorizing Display: The capstone of this painful chain requires four feats and 10 ranks in Intimidate.  It allows you to give a minor morale bonus to allies within 30 feet.  Perhaps if it didn't require such a bad investment it might be worth something.  

Warmonger: Holy jeez, I'm not sure I've seen anything more situational. A bonus to bluff and diplomacy when convincing groups to go to war?  I guess if you spend all your time doing that kind of thing?  Otherwise, you are lucky if this makes a difference even once in a campaign.


  1. Taking the Adopted trait and then Arms Master from the Tiefling racial traits as a hobgoblin rogue will actually get you a weapon proficiency every two levels

  2. If i have read this correctly, dont hobgoblins have the goblinoid subtype, than you get stealth as a class skill so you could be looking at +8 in stealth at level 1 before modifiers even on classes who dont give you stealth

  3. Taskmaster stacks with Leadership and Cohorts. It would be better if Leadership wasn't so broken that everyone banned or nerfed it.