Alvena Insights Hobgoblins

Life of a Hobgoblin

Hobgoblins breed exceptionally quickly compared to most humanoids; even compared to humans and orcs who tend to have fairly short lifespans and quick reproduction. Most hobgoblins have two to three children at a time, and the gestation period is usually no more than six months rather than the 9 it takes for humans. It's not uncommon for hobgoblins to sire or give birth to more than a dozen children in a lifetime, and some have many more.

Hobgoblin families are close and yet loosely knit; and babies are cared for by multiple members of the family and even children from previous births. This is especially true when a hobgoblin has her first children before her official adulthood; with the responsibilities of the child-care being spread throughout the family while the mother and father continue their training periods in preparation for adulthood. Many hobgoblins train wolves as family pets which also help watch their babies when the adults are busy working or training.

Hobgoblin children are taught the arts of fighting and warfare from the moment they can pickup and wield a weapon, and many of them are taught rudimentary fighting stances and unarmed combat techniques even during the toddler stages; often wrestling and sparring with their parents, siblings, and friends. This is done because it is believed to temper the spirits and bodies of the youth; and it makes the community stronger as there are no non-combatants in case of a sudden attack; for every man, woman, and even child is a soldier from birth.

Hobgoblins respect knowledge, and try to learn and teach as many useful skills as possible to their children. Hobgoblins learn through doing, and many laborers and craftsmen train multiple apprentices through hands-on work with skills such as masonry and brick making, smithing, milling, and alchemy. All hobgoblins are taught to read because knowledge is another form of power that their children can wield against their enemies; and writing is the surest path to carrying on knowledge across ages. This trait is not held by their smaller goblin cousins.

Hobgoblins reach breeding maturity between the ages of twelve to fourteen, which is when they begin courting mates. This period of time creates the most ferocious of hobgoblins - hobgoblin women. Hobgoblin tradition grants the right to attempt to breed with a potential mate through combat. Thus a male hobgoblin courting a female must overcome her martial prowess as part of the courtship practices. As females are often picky over whom they are courting or engaging, they often learn to fight furiously and with great skill - training themselves against a variety of opponents.

Failures to overcome their suitor often result in their first or second litter of children; but by the time they reach full adulthood, female hobgoblins are the most dangerous and powerful of all hobgoblins. At this point, they court others on their terms and only warlords or those they invite have any chance to engage them. Occasionally two or more hobgoblins will take a particular liking to each other and commit into a formal marriage; in which case hobgoblin law forbids further courting - but this is a fairly rare practice.

Females whom become mothers during this period typically continue with their martial training right up until the 4th month of their six month pregnancy, and then focus entirely on academic pursuits for the latter three months. Hobgoblin females are back in fighting shape within days after childbirth; at which point they resume their normal learning habits.

By adulthood, most hobgoblins have at least rudimentary knowledge of self defense, tactics, siege weaponry, and usually one or two trade skills. Some hobgoblins choose to take an even deeper martial path at the expense of trade skills; such hobgoblins are reliant entirely on their clan for weaponry and aid, but remain respected for their dedication and focus with the advanced arts of combat, and usually become professional soldiers and mercenaries.

At this point most hobgoblins begin working. Working generally means continuing their trades, or becoming professional hunters and raiders to gather resources for their communities. Hobgoblins are particularly keen in their hunting practices; keeping careful regulations on what they should hunt and when, and will willingly back off of hunting if they find the populations of staple beasts to be diminishing. Hobgoblins have little patience for sport hunters; killing them if they are hunting on their lands, though sometimes a clever hunter can talk the hobgoblins out of executing them for their crime by offering them the prize and perhaps a few other items (or all of their possessions on hand).

Hobgoblins commonly war with other creatures to expand territories and to steal goods. This is especially true when they are near agricultural communities; and will often raid them for easy food and resources such as herd animals and harvested or prepared food. It's not uncommon for the hobgoblins to do so with tact and guile; with many of them coming under the cover of night and whisking away herd animals or even emptying bakeries without anyone noticing. However, many tribes of hobgoblins keep slaves and will raid villages and population centers to collect them as any other resource; and prospective slavers prefer waylaying caravans since they can capture their slaves and additional bounty at the same time.

Occasionally hobgoblins will capture slaves or encounter someone strong enough to resist their advancement. If they do, they generally view such individuals with respect. Occasionally outsiders whom prove themselves in battle or other areas of expertise will be captured - particularly if it requires more than ten warriors to capture them - and an will attempt to induct them into their clan. Sometimes such inductions will result in half-breeds between hobgoblins and elves, humans, and orcs.

Society and Culture
Hobgoblin society is simple. Hobgoblin society is about war. From their birth to their deaths, hobgoblins are trained for war. Hobgoblins, live, breath, eat, and drink war. "The strong rule and the weak serve" is the typical outlook of most hobgoblin civilizations. Most hobgoblin societies are ruled by a council of generals overseen by a single warlord; a position of power commonly passed down through lineage but occasionally through rank or honors.

Hobgoblins typically build massive fortresses throughout the world and are exceptionally good at nomadic living if needed. Hobgoblins rule the vast majority of the Blackpine Valleys and control patches of land throughout Aendeel which are often hotly contested by other inhabitants. It's not uncommon for multiple humanoid factions to band together to drive out hobgoblin expansion groups before they get a solid foothold in a new region - 'cause once they begin building fortresses, it becomes thrice as difficult to expel them from the lands.

Hobgoblins have a lasting hatred of elves - particularly gray elves but they don't like drow either - for their contributions during the demon wars; where the hobgoblins were nearly wiped out at the Battle of Gates. Because of their hatred for elves, they are heavily distrustful of arcane magic. Occasionally hobgoblins are born with the innate gifts of arcane magic, and some females in their clan pass down learned secrets of such knowledge. These hobgoblins are known as Reked'lofa or tainted witch. Hobgoblins society is cruelly accepting of these witches. They aren't driven out or killed, but they are shunned by most of hobgoblin society. They generally live on the fringes of a given community, and the females (the most common kind of witch) rarely have more than three to seven children, as many suitors don't even bother courting them. This often causes hobgoblin witches to become lonely, and occasionally seek mates outside of their own race - favoring humans and elves; but some of them seek extra-planar companions out of desperation; which results in aberrant hobgoblins such as celestial, fiendish, or elemental blooded hobgoblins; or even stranger fare occasionally. Such pairings only serve to re-enforce the social stigmas that witches have.

While their hatred of arcane magic is powerful, they are far from lacking in magical gifts or teachings. Virtually every hobgoblin community has a variety of spiritual magicians such as shamans, priests, and druids. Most villages have plenty of adepts who serve as alchemists and field medics.

Hobgoblin druids are strange compared to most druid orders. Instead of railing against the warfare technologies that hobgoblins prize, they instead integrate druidic practices into them. Seeing the industrialization of hobgoblin culture to be a natural trait given by nature for survival, hobgoblin druids teach their communities how to gain the most from nature without harming it; such as teaching them proper hunting cycles, fishing skills, and animal breeding techniques, as well as using their magic to increase the growth of plants and trees to use for building and engineering. Most non-hobgoblin druid circles find their activities borderline heretical.

Hobgoblins and their priests tend to favor gods of war, strength, knowledge, and trickery.

Allies and Allegiances
Hobgoblins typically associated most closely with other goblinoids; but are the undisputed leaders of their goblinoid cousins.

"They see the larger and more solitary bugbears as tools to be hired and used where appropriate, usually for specific missions involving assassination and stealth, and look upon their smaller goblin kin with a mix of shame and frustration. Hobgoblins admire goblin tenacity, yet their miniscule kindred's unpredictable nature and fondness for fire make them unwelcome additions to hobgoblin tribes or settlements. Nonetheless, most hobgoblin tribes include a small group of goblins, typically squatting in the most undesirable corners of the settlement." - Pathfinder SRD

Hobgoblins have few other common allies. Several clans or tribes of hobgoblins have various treaties or neutrality agreements with a number of human and orc settlements; though they will often raid and threaten elven cities on principle alone. Some hobgoblin tribes have tenuous connections to other races, which vary from region to region.

Enemies and Rivals
Above all other common enemies, hobgoblins are generally at conflict with elves; specifically gray elves and drow. Most hobgoblins consider drow betrayers of the world, more-so than other races on Alvena; and they hate gray elves for starting the demon wars that nearly wiped out their species many generations ago. While they have no personal vendettas against high, wood, or wild elves, hobgoblins tend to dislike them by association with their other elven cousins. Individual hobgoblin opinions vary, but the majority of hobgoblins simply hate elves. The exceptions being hobgoblin witches that sometimes take them as mates when they can; but that generally contributes to their social shunning, and does no good for the reputation of witches nor elves.

More than even the elves, hobgoblins are constantly at war with dwarfs. They have no particular hatred or dislike for the dwarfs, but find them to be worthy opponents. Despite slower reproduction of dwarf people, they have continuously repelled the attacks of hobgoblins for centuries. While dwarfs are quick to bad-mouth goblinoids in general, most of them have a similar warrior's respect for the hobgoblins. While outsiders to both cultures will watch dwarf and hobgoblin armies crashing against each other with bitter violence; to hobgoblins and dwarfs it's like a rivalry. It's said that neither culture will attack the other when they are weak or strained; finding it weak and a dishonor to their centuries of warfare.

Lore-Tip: Several generations after the demon wars, the dwarf Kingdom of Adaman fell under siege by an army of stone giants from the north, driven down to raid and pillage by a peculiarly harsh winter. Having waged a continuous war against the hobgoblins for most of that same year, the dwarfs were greatly outnumbered and short on supplies as the routes to other settlements were blocked by the hill giants. While the dwarfs valiantly held their ground, it looked as though the giants would war with them until they ran out of food and broke from lack of supplies.

When things looked blackest, an army of hobgoblins led by warlord Kahn'kalu who had waged the war against the dwarfs throughout the year broke through the stone-giant barricade and delivered fifteen oxen-led carts of packed meat, ale, and other supplies to the dwarf kingdom. The warlord and the dwarf king spoke privately for the better part of a day, then the hobgoblins marched back to their borders and the dwarfs held fast against the stone giants. Three months later the parties went back to waging war against each other; as if nothing had happened.

To an outsider, that is someone who is not a dwarf or hobgoblin, the story would seem insane. Despite their constant conflicts, the two races deeply understand one another. When asked about the odd move, he replied that the dwarfs would have done the same for them. Some suggest that warlord Khan did it out of respect for the dwarf spirit. Dwarfs say they would have done the same. Some scholars propose that he may have done it because without dwarfs the only people they would find worth fighting was themselves.

Mechanical Notes

  • Hobgoblins never possess levels in the commoner NPC class. All non-soldier hobgoblins are at least adepts, experts, or warriors. Most soldiers in hobgoblin armies have levels in PC classes.
  • Hobgoblin females are generally 1-2 levels higher than their male counterparts.
  • Hobgoblins NPCs use the heroic ability score arrays.
  • Hobgoblin youths will fight to the death as readily as adults. You may use stats for normal hobgoblins except they have a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and -5 hit points as though they had a possessed a negative level. This is to represent their inexperience and weaker bodies.
    • Alternatively if you're stating a specific NPC, you may instead use the basic arrays instead of the heroic array for ability scores.
      • For truly small hobgoblin children, reduce their strength and constitution by 2 and reduce their size to small (granting a +1 bonus to attack rolls, armor class, and a +4 bonus to stealth checks), in addition to the other penalties for youth.
  • Hobgoblin adventurers are usually on training quests to hone and test their skills; though their reasons for adventuring can be far more varied, this is the most common reason.
  • Male Hobgoblin Names: Kur'chack, Gal'kahn, Dur'ot, Tal'kul, Tar'tul, Vargus, Ul'kahl, Syn'kahn.
  • Female Hobgoblin Names: Resha, Kel'ka, Ma'hei, Sima, Tula'kae, Uma'kae, Sima'kah, Cheelo.
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