In Dungeons & Dragons, hobgoblins are an elite species of goblinoids, trained in military fighting techniques. Hobgoblins are bigger, stronger, and smarter than goblins; smaller and weaker than bugbears, but better organized. They often take on leadership roles in goblinoid armies. Hobgoblins are courageous and brutal in combat, renowned for their military skill.
Hobgoblins resemble large, muscled humans, their bodies covered in coarse fur with red-brown or gray skin and red or orange faces. Large males have blue or red noses, and may have beards and male-pattern baldness. Hobgoblin eyes are dark brown or yellowish, and their teeth tend to be yellow. They are lean and tall, averaging six and a half feet in height and weighing around 200 pounds. Their muscles are designed more for agility than brute strength, and they have been described as having almost feline dexterity.
Abilities and traits
Society and culture
Hobgoblin training has given them a proficiency with a multitude of weapons and armor. They are the strategic thinkers of the goblinoid races and hold an extreme hatred for elves. Their cavalry is known to ride worgs. The hobgoblin fears cowardice more than dying. They start becoming soldiers the minute they can start walking. They have a high military standard, but they are not just a military. They have farms, traditions, and they build. However, under all of this, they are brutal and have "little space for joy or leisure in their lives". They have ranks to obtain through honor and glory. Their lowest rank starts with the soldier and the highest rank is the warlord. They must follow orders, honor their gods, neither suffer nor give insult, never deny advancement, and uphold the legion before their own kind. They have their own secret police force called the Iron Shadows which answer only the priests of Maglubiyet. Lastly, hobgoblins have the Academy of Devastation where their members test young hobgoblins for an affinity of magic and teach them to be a "weapon of war."
Relationships and family
Allies and minions
Maglubiyet, the god of war and rulership, is the chief deity of both goblins and hobgoblins. However, Nomog-Geaya, the deity of war and authority, is considered the patron deity of hobgoblins specifically. The goblinoid god Bargrivyek encourages cooperation between the goblin races.
Hobgoblins speak Goblin.
Hobgoblins are known as hoch jebline or "high goblins" in the Flan tongue and hochebi in the Suloise language. Many hobgoblins dwell in the western Empire of Iuz, Warfields, Redhand, and the Bone March.
Hobgoblins were among the armies of the Fiery Kings around 3114 SD (−2400 CY). They were hired along with orcs and goblins as mercenaries by both sides of the Baklunish-Suloise Wars. They fought against elves and dwarves in the Hateful Wars. They rallied to the cause of Iuz and played a significant role in overrunning the Bone March and the Pomarj.
For a full list of hobgoblins, see Category:Hobgoblins.
An aquatic form of hobgoblin, the koalinth, is a feared predator in coastal regions and beneath the seas. They have light green skin, webbed hands and feet, and gills, and they are sleeker than their land dwelling cousins. Koalinth lair in shallow fresh or salt water caves and they detest and wage war on aquatic elves with the same intensity that hobgoblins does terrestrial elves. Koalinth were last described in the Monstrous Manual for AD&D 2nd edition, under the "Hobgoblin" entry. 
Another related species is the norker.
The guulvorg ("war worg" in Goblin) is a gigantic black wolf with scythelike fangs, dragonlike spinal protuberances, and a serpentine tail tipped with a macelike bony knob. They were created and bred by hobgoblin spellcasters for combat. They are cunning and ravenous, but reproduce slowly in the wild. Few hobgoblin tribes can afford to keep many of them.
The varag, or blood chaser, is a feral goblinoid, tall but primarily quadrupedal. They were magically bred with dire wolves to create a creature almost as lupine as goblin. Hobgoblins are very fond of varags, treating them as pets.
The hobgoblin was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
The hobgoblin was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the original Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set, where they were described as large and fearless goblins.
The koalinth, or aquatic hobgoblin, is introduced in Blackmoor (Supplement 2) (1975).
This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the hobgoblin, in the 1977 Basic Set (Holmes) (1977), the 1981 Basic Set (Moldvay) (1981), and the 1983 Basic Rules (BECMI) (1983). The hobgoblin was featured as a player character race in GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar (1988). Hobgoblins were also later featured in The New Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons Game (1991) and the Rules Cyclopedia (1991).
AD&D 1st edition
The koalinth returns in Dragon #68 (December 1982).
AD&D 2nd edition
The hobgoblin and koalinth appear first in Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989) and are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).
The hobgoblin is detailed as a playable character race in PHBR10 The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993) and again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995).
D&D 3rd edition
Under the 3.5 rules, sunscorch hobgoblins appeared in Dragon Magic (2006); the varag appeared in Monster Manual IV (2006); and the hobgoblin duskblade, hobgoblin spellscourge, and hobgoblin warsoul appeared in Monster Manual V (2007).
Races of Faerûn (2003) presented the hobgoblin as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting under the 3.0 rules. The hobgoblin was also detailed in Dragon #309 (July 2003) in "Paragons of War: The Ecology of the Hobgoblin", with the hobgoblin presented as a player character race under the 3.5 rules.
The fire hobgoblin appears in Unearthed Arcana (3e) (2004) as a player character race under the 3.5 rules.
D&D 4th edition
The hobgoblin appears in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008) for this edition, under the goblin entry, including the hobgoblin grunt, the hobgoblin warrior, the hobgoblin archer, the hobgoblin soldier, the hobgoblin warcaster, the hobgoblin commander, and the hobgoblin hand of Bane.
D&D 5th edition
The hobgoblin is first detailed in the Monster Manual (5e) (2014) in this edition. It has three pages dedicated to them. Two pages contain a summary of the hobgoblin: attributes, reasoning, and their skills. There are subsections for strategic thinkers, beast trainers, conquer and control, and legion of Maglubiyet. There are three different subcategories of hobgoblins. The first is the hobgoblin, the hobgoblin captain, and the hobgoblin warlord.
Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016) gives more details for the hobgoblin. It contains the ins and outs of their society along with their lore. It describes a hobgoblin's lair and the layout of a typical city. This book also gives people the option to play as a hobgoblin. It gives them size, age, ability scores, speed, and other specialty traits. The Iron Shadow hobgoblin and hobgoblin devastator were introduced in this book.
Reception and influence
- Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.185–187.
- Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.45.
- DMGR4 Monster Mythology (1992).
- Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.186.
- Monstrous Manual (1993).
- Fiend Folio (1e) (1981).
- Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set (1974).
- Monster Manual (1e) (1977).
- Dragon #63 (Jul 1982).
- Races of Faerûn (2003).
- Dragon #309 (Jul 2003).
- Monster Manual (4e) (2008).
- Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.119.
- Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.47.