Hobgoblin 5e Guide

Published on August 31, 2021

What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the Hobgoblin will be right for your character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Hobgoblin. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Hobgoblins?

If there is one thing Hobgoblins love, it’s war. Even in times of peace, Hobgoblin society is rich with military tradition, brutal laws, and a strict military hierarchy. Following orders and honoring the gods are non-negotiable rules in Hobgoblin society, and all are meant to help achieve their most important goal – upholding the legion.

Glory is earned by honoring or aiding the legion in battle. Cowardice will not be tolerated. In fact, a Hobgoblin would rather die than be called a coward.

Hobgoblins are a playable character race found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

Hobgoblin Traits

Ability Score Increase: +2 CON and +1 INT is a strange spread of ASI. Of course, INT-based casters need to focus on INT and always like CON for added HP. That said, INT casters usually would rather see +2 INT over CON. For other classes, INT is usually a dump stat.

Size: Medium is the typical size of most races, and is neither good nor bad.

Speed: Hobgoblins have a standard walking speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, but its advantage can be ruined if your party members do not also have it.

Martial Training: Proficiency in two martial weapons and light armor opens up the door for options that many characters who choose the Hobgoblin wouldn’t otherwise have access to, namely INT-based casters.

Saving Face: This is a cool trait. The bonus comes after you know you have failed your roll, meaning that you can save this ability for when you think you may change the outcome. Given that choice, being able to use it once per short rest is pretty powerful, especially when used to avoid failing a deadly saving throw. This trait works best the larger your party is (up to five), so if you aren’t playing with that many people it would be a good idea to recruit some NPCs or animal friends.

Which Classes Work With Hobgoblins?

The Hobgoblin’s ability score spread is not good for the majority of classes, but Martial Training and Saving Face could make things work. Saving Face is good for any class. Overall though, the Hobgoblin is really only viable for INT-based casters.

Artificer: +2 INT would be much more appealing for the Artificer and the armor component of Martial Training is redundant. Still, proficiency in martial weapons, a CON boost, and Saving Face could provide a good foundation for a Battle Smith Artificer.

Barbarian: Barbarians need STR to be effective.

Bard: Bards need CHA to be effective.

Cleric: Clerics need some STR, DEX, or WIS to be effective.

Druid: Druids need WIS to be effective.

Fighter: Eldritch Knights are interested in INT, and Saving Face could help with reliability. Despite this, a lack of STR or DEX may be too much to overcome.

Monk: Monks need DEX or WIS to be effective.

Paladin: Paladins are too multi-ability score dependent to choose a Hobgoblin.

Ranger: Rangers need DEX to be effective.

Rogue: Arcane Tricksters are interested in INT, though without DEX a Rogue may struggle. 

Sorcerer: Sorcerers need CHA to be effective.

Warlock: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.

Wizard: Unlike Artificers, Wizards don’t naturally get access to any armor, so the light armor proficiency from Martial Training will do wonders for survivability. The light armor, combined with CON and Saving Face for saving throws and concentration checks creates a good baseline for a sturdy Wizard build.

Roland Drews

Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.