Hobgoblin (Dungeons & Dragons)

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DnD Hobgoblin.png
An illustration of a hobgoblin
First appearancethe Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974)
Based onHobgoblin
AlignmentUsually Lawful Evil

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, hobgoblins are a larger, stronger, smarter and more menacing form of goblins. They are smaller and weaker than bugbears, but better organized. Hobgoblins are humanoids that stand nearly 6'6" tall on average, a little taller than orcs. Smarter than other goblinoid races, they are renowned for their brutality and military skill.

Publication history[edit]

The hobgoblin was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.

Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)[edit]

The hobgoblin was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), where they were described as large and fearless goblins.[1]

The koalinth, or aquatic hobgoblin, is introduced in Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975).[2]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

The hobgoblin appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), where it is described as a tribal lawful evil creature found nearly anywhere.[3]

The mythology and attitudes of the hobgoblins are described in detail in Dragon #63 (July 1982), in Roger E. Moore's article, "The Humanoids."[4]

The koalinth returns in Dragon #68 (December 1982).

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the hobgoblin, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977, 1981, 1983).[5][6][7] The hobgoblin was featured as a player character race in the gazetteer The Orcs of Thar (1989). Hobgoblins were also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[8] the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994), the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (1999),[9] and the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (2000).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

The hobgoblin and koalinth appear first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[10] and are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[11]

The hobgoblin of the Dragonlance campaign setting appeared in the Tales of the Lance boxed set, in the "World Book of Ansalon" booklet (1992).[12]

The hobgoblin is detailed as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993).[13] The hobgoblin is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995).[14]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit]

The hobgoblin appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[15]

Races of Faerûn (2003) presented the hobgoblin as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.[16]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit]

The hobgoblin appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

The hobgoblin was detailed in Dragon #309 (July 2003), in the "Ecology of the Hobgoblin", with the hobgoblin presented as a player character race.[17]

The fire hobgoblin appears in Unearthed Arcana (2004), as a player character race.[18] The sunscorch hobgoblins appear in Dragon Magic (2006).

The varag appeared in the Monster Manual IV (2006).[19] The hobgoblin duskblade, the hobgoblin spellscourge, and the hobgoblin warsoul appear in Monster Manual V (2007).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2013)[edit]

The hobgoblin appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), 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.[20]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–present)[edit]

The hobgoblin is first detailed in the Monster Manual in this edition (Sept 2014). It has three pages dedicated to them.[21] 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.

The Volo's Guide to Monsters gives more details for the hobgoblin (Nov. 2016). It contains the ins and outs of their society along with their lore. It describes the hobgoblins lair and they layout of a typical city. This book also gives the people playing the option play as a hobgoblin. It gives them the size, age, ability scores, speed, and other specialty traits.[22] The Iron Shadow hobgoblin and hobgoblin devastator was introduced in this book.[23]


They have dark orange or red-orange skin with hair that is red-brown to dark gray.[21] Their training has given them a proficiency with a multitude of weapons and armor. They are the strategic thinkers in the goblinoid race and hold an extreme hatred for elves. Their cavalry is known to ride worgs.[21] 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".[24] 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.[24] 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".[24]


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.[25]


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.[26]

Another related species is the norker, found in the original Fiend Folio.

Related creatures[edit]

  • 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, 7 feet (2.1 m) 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.

In Greyhawk[edit]

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.

Other publishers[edit]

The hobgoblin is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Classic Monsters Revisited (2008), on pages 22–27.[27]


  1. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  2. Arneson, Dave. Blackmoor (TSR, 1975)
  3. Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  4. Moore, Roger E. "The Humanoids." Dragon #63 (TSR, 1982)
  5. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  6. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Tom Moldvay. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1981)
  7. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules (TSR, 1983)
  8. Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  9. Slavicsek, Bill. Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (TSR, 1999)
  10. Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  11. Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  12. Johnson, Harold, John Terra, J. Robert King, Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb, Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Jeff Grubb, Doug Niles, and Michael Williams. Tales of the Lance (TSR, 1992)
  13. Slavicsek, Bill. The Complete Book of Humanoids (TSR, 1993)
  14. Niles, Douglas and Dale Donovan. Player's Option: Skills & Powers (TSR, 1995)
  15. Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  16. Reynolds, Sean K., Forbeck, Matt, Jacobs, James, Boyd, Erik L. Races of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  17. Edwards, Terry. "Paragons of War: The Ecology of the Hobgoblin." Dragon #309 (Paizo Publishing, 2003)
  18. Collins, Andy, Jesse Decker, David Noonan, and Rich Redman. Unearthed Arcana (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  19. Kestral, Gwendolyn. Monster Manual IV. (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)
  20. Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Perkins, Christopher (2014). Monster Manual. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC. pp. 185–187. ISBN 978-0-7869-6561-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  22. Mearls, Mike (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7869-6601-1. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  23. Mearls, Mike (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7869-6601-1. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Mearls, Mike (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7869-6601-1. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  25. Sargent, Carl. Monster Mythology (TSR, 1992)
  26. Monstrous Manual, TSR (1993) under "Hobgoblin" entry.
  27. Baur, Wolfgang, Jason Bulmahn, Joshua J. Frost, James Jacobs, Nicolas Logue, Mike McArtor, James L. Sutter, Greg A. Vaughan, Jeremy Walker. Classic Monsters Revisited (Paizo, 2008)

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Anne. Player's Guide to Greyhawk. Renton, WA: TSR, 1998.
  • Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
  • Reynolds, Sean K., and Chris Pramas. Slavers. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
  • Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.

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