from D&D Beyond
Hobgoblins are relentless soldiers that cleave to rigid tactics and orders. I fear their less-predictable scouts and spies more.   Volo

War is the lifeblood of hobgoblins. Its glories are the dreams that inspire them. Its horrors don’t feature in their nightmares. Cowardice is more terrible to hobgoblins than dying, for they carry their living acts into the afterlife. A hero in death becomes a hero eternal.


Young hobgoblins start soldiering when they can walk and heed the mustering call as soon as they can wield their weapons capably. Every legion in the hobgoblins’ entire society forever stands prepared for war.


Brutal Civility

Hobgoblins hold themselves to high standards of military honor. The race has a long history of shared traditions, recorded and retold to keep the knowledge fresh for new generations. When hobgoblins aren’t waging war, they farm, they build, and they practice both martial and arcane arts.


These trappings of civil society do little to conceal an underlying brutality that hobgoblins practice on each other and perfect upon other races. Punishment for infractions of hobgoblin law are swift and merciless. Beauty is something hobgoblins associate only with images of conflict and warfare.


The iron grip their philosophy holds on their hearts blinds hobgoblins to the accomplishments of other peoples. Hobgoblins have little appreciation or patience for art. They leave little space for joy or leisure in their lives, and thus have no reserves of faith to call upon when in dire straits.


Implacable Gods

Hobgoblins revere two gods unique to their race, the only survivors of a pantheon that was decimated by Maglubiyet so long ago that hobgoblins don’t remember the names of the fallen. Nomog-Geaya is the greater of the two and the more frequently honored. He is seen as a stoic, cold-blooded, and tyrannical leader, and hobgoblins believe he expects the same behavior from them. Bargrivyek is a god of duty, unity, and discipline, and he is thought to be pleased by displays of those principles.


In the stories that hobgoblins tell one another, Bargrivyek serves as Nomog-Geaya’s second in command. Nomog-Geaya would prefer the position were filled by someone more like himself, but Bargrivyek was all he was left with after Maglubiyet’s conquest. Although both deities are ultimately beholden to Maglubiyet, the greater god allows them to retain a measure of their influence over the hobgoblins because their philosophies are in line with his own.


Hobgoblins don’t build temples to their gods, lest they displease Maglubiyet, but the few priests among them do tend small shrines and interpret the body of legends about their gods. Nomog-Geaya’s priests always wield his favored weapons, a longsword and a handaxe. They are responsible for martial training as well as instruction in strategy and battlefield tactics. Bargrivyek’s priests wield his symbol, a flail with a head dipped in white paint. They work as a police force in hobgoblin society, making judgments about honor, mediating disputes, and otherwise enforcing discipline.


Rank, Status, and Title

As in any strict military hierarchy, every hobgoblin in a legion has a rank, from the warlord down through a cadre of officers to the soldiers that make up most of its number. These ranks, using the titles most often applied to them, are as follows:


1st rank: Warlord


2nd rank: General


3rd rank: Captain


4th rank: Fatal Axe


5th rank: Spear


6th rank: Fist


7th rank: Soldier


A legion is organized into units called banners, each one made up of a group of interrelated families. Members of a banner live, work, and fight together, and each banner has a separate status within the legion that is reflected in the power of its officers. For instance, the captains of the highest-ranking banners can expect their orders to be followed by the captains of any banners of lower rank.


Rank and responsibility aren’t necessarily commensurate from one legion to another or even between banners in the same legion. A phalanx of foot soldiers led by a captain in one legion might be two hundred strong, while in another such a force numbers just twenty. One banner might have four warriors mounted on worgs led by a fist, while a fist in another banner of the same legion might lead ten mounted warriors. If any rank doesn’t serve a purpose in the legion, the warlord eliminates it from the hierarchy to maximize efficiency.


Honor Bound, By Glory Crowned

Advancement in rank comes as a result of attaining glory, but for the achievement to mean anything, a hobgoblin must abide by the race’s code of honor in doing so.


Glory can be earned by discovery of great resources (such as finding a new vein of iron or a powerful magic item), by fine performances (writing and performing a great ballad about the legion), by designing and constructing a great defense or monument, and through other means. But the greatest respect is reserved for those who earn their glory in battle. In theory, the fortunes of war can elevate the lowest-ranking banner in a legion to the highest status. In practice, warlords are careful to position themselves and their banners to claim the greatest victories in any conflict, and they portion out opportunities and responsibilities to other banners as politics dictate.


Each hobgoblin legion has a distinct code of honor and law, but all follow a few general precepts that are at the heart of the hobgoblin honor system.


Follow Orders. Carrying out orders without question is critical on the battlefield, and hobgoblins follow this dictum in peaceful times as well in order to maintain stability in their society. Hobgoblins don’t shrink from following orders that they know will result in death if the act will bring glory to the banner or the legion.


Honor the Gods. Hobgoblins give regular recognition to the deities left to them after Maglubiyet’s conquest. Idols of Nomog-Geaya, as well as standards and flags with his image or symbol, receive a bow or salute at all times except emergencies. Bargrivyek’s peacemakers receive due deference regardless of rank or banner status. Of course, Maglubiyet’s call to conquest is always answered.


Suffer nor Give Insult. As befits their warlike nature, hobgoblins believe that any insult demands a response. Suitably (and somewhat ironically), the outward politeness and civility that they demonstrate among each other enables them to avoid conflicts in daily life. This same form of “courtesy” is often extended to other races the hobgoblins have dealings with, much to the outsiders’ surprise. When such respect isn’t reciprocated, though, relations can swiftly deteriorate.


Reward Glorious Action. Hobgoblins never deny advancement in status to a banner that has earned it, nor do they withhold higher rank from a deserving individual. If a banner attains great glory in battle but is nearly destroyed, the handful of members who remain are welcomed into another banner, taking their banner’s name and colors along with them, and assuming places of leadership in the group.


Uphold the Legion. Hobgoblins care more for the survival of their legion than they do for others of their own kind. Two legions might battle over territory, resources, or power, or out of simple pride. Such a feud can continue over generations in an ongoing cycle of retribution. Each legion has a list of grievances against any others it knows about, and any legions meeting for the first time view each other with immediate hostility. Only a truly great warlord can force legions to work together as an army if Maglubiyet has not called forth a host.

Table of Contents

Back to Top


Please Login in order to comment!
Powered by World Anvil