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The Hobgoblins of the Ultimate West

The Hobgoblins of Panzoasia’s Ultimate West are noted for their peculiar obsession with all things red – especially blood and fire. They are divided into Factions, each of which follows its own Dictator. These Dictators are not always Hobgoblins themselves. Historically, Factions of Hobgoblins have also served Red Dragons, Vampires, Necromancers, Witch Queens, and even Efreeti! The various Factions of Hobgoblins all regard each other as traitors deserving only of death.

The technological achievements of the Hobgoblins are considerable. They are expert miners and builders, preferring designs in perfect geometrical shapes. They know the use of concrete. Many Hobgoblin structures built above-ground during the Reign of the Monsters are actually still in use by the Five Peoples – particularly the well-constructed Hobgoblin forts. Hobgoblin cloth is finely woven, their leather is skillfully tanned, and their clothes are expertly tailored. But Hobgoblins are most famous as the first species to produce steel in large quantities, and it was their steel weapons and armor that allowed them to defeat the bronze-wielding Humans during the Invasions. Even in modern times, the quality of Hobgoblin steel is only rivaled by that produced by the Dwarves.

Appearance and Costume

Hobgoblins stand as tall as Humans. They have thin, lean builds, but are nonetheless slightly stronger than Humans on average. Like Goblins, Hobgoblins seem to combine bat-like and simian features. Their long faces evoke those of “spectral bats”, with enormous pointed ears, leaf-like noses, and fangs that protrude from their mouths. Their eyes are lustrous black. Their skin color can be anything from pink to dark brick red, and fur that covers their bodies can range from light reddish brown to black. Like all Goblinoids (including common Goblins and Bugbears), their wiry arms and boney hands are long for their bodies; with clawed fingers that are slightly webbed. When not in battle, Hobgoblins of both sexes tend to wear red cloak or capes, cap-sleeved doublets (which can be of any color), and high boots of black leather (which are finely made and always kept clean).

Hobgoblin Culture and Society

By choice, Hobgoblins live in Strongholds that consist of an above-ground fortress in the shape of a perfect square (or other polygon), with and equally extensive network of tunnels underneath. The exterior of the above-ground fortress is often covered in raw concrete – which will also be used to create interior features. There will be no exterior windows, save for arrow-slits. The extensive use of concrete (or “Goblin Stone”) by Hobgoblins has in fact created a prejudice against its use among the Five Peoples, except as mortar for cut stones.

Hobgoblin society is completed regimented and hierarchical. All males and non-pregnant females are considered to be soldiers. Young Hobgoblins are instructed in warfare, taught a useful craft, and indoctrinated in the superiority of their Faction. Individuality is suppressed in every way. Almost everything an ordinary Hobgoblin wants to do (including mate) must be approved by their Decanus (or Sargeant), who in turn must obey the Praetor that rules each Stronghold. The Praetors, in turn, owe absolute allegiance to the Dictator of their Faction. The slightest evidence of disloyalty is punished by death. Non-Hobgoblins who have been conquered by Hobgoblins must also show conspicuous devotion to the Faction’s Dictator, or risk horrible deaths.

Hobgoblins only drink blood, and only eat flesh. They can tolerate preserved meat when they must, but greatly prefer it to be raw (and bloody). The Hobgoblin fascination with blood extends beyond craving it as source of nourishment. Hobgoblins who display exception bravery, or are promoted to a higher rank, are anointed with blood. Hobgoblins soldiers have been known to linger on a battlefield, entranced by the bleeding wounds of dying enemies. Hobgoblin love to inflict slow torture by cutting and flaying, often pausing to lick and suck the bleeding flesh. Prisoners who are destined to be eaten will be fed certain foods, or regularly exposed to certain smells, to properly flavor and scent their blood.

The Hobgoblin obsession with blood extends to a fascination with the possibilities of breeding. They enthusiastically participate in Depradator breeding experiments, and conduct many of their own besides. Besides the the Thouls first created by Vermadeus during the Reign of the Monsters, other variants of Hobgoblins include the winged Hobgoblin Atavi, the partially-Human High Goblins, the fanged and scaled Norkers, and the water-breathing Aquatic Hobgoblins.

Hobgoblins are the only Bogeymen with a sculptural tradition. In fact, the most skilled Hobgoblin artisans can carve perfect replicas of anything from stone or wood, which they often use to create idols of their Faction’s Dictator, or cult statues.

Hobgoblins at War

Each Hobgoblin Faction has its own identifying Standard – a blood-red flag emblazoned with a black pictogram. The Standard will be displayed everywhere in a Hobgoblin stronghold. In battle, the Standard is carried on the pole capped with image of a Vampire Bat.

Hobgoblin soldiers wear a type of banded mail cuirass resembling the “lorica segmentata”, with Praetors usually wear finely-made scale mail resembling “lorica plumata”. The characteristic Hobgoblin helmet is open on the sides to accommodate their large ears. Their shields tend to be rectangular, and painted with the Faction standard. In lieu of using a shield, high-status Hoboblins will sometimes wield a forked baton with an elongated, ribbon-like version of their Faction’s standard attached. The Hobgoblin quickly waves the baton back and forth in intricate patterns to distract their opponent with the brilliant rippling color, and then employs the fork to catch their opponent’s weapon. Fighting in this way is considered very honorable, and a greater display of martial skill than simply using a shield.

The preferred weapons of Hobgoblins are their finely-made swords (which tend to have double-sided, triangular blades) the javelin, and the military fork. In general, they tend towards stabbing and trusting weapons, which work well in tight formations. The sole exception is the weighted net they use to capture prisoners.

When a hobgoblin horde captures more prisoners than they can transport, they tend to impale the excess number on high poles, or else nail them by the wrists to a pole or tree and let them hang until they suffocate.

Animals and Allies of the Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins get along well with Giant Bats, and are especially fond of Giant Vampire Bats. Such creatures often guard important Hobgoblin Strongholds. Likewise, the Hobgoblins are known to train Alphyns as beasts of war. Some Hobgoblin Praetors even use small Hellhounds as guards. Horses hate Hobgoblins instinctively, however. Hogoblins who live in warmer climes sometimes ride large Pterosaurs as aerial mounts.

The Hobgoblin exploitation of Goblins as disposable front-line troops is well known, as is their employment of Bugbears as spies, assassins, and enforcers. Although Hobgoblins despise Orcs and their poorly-made equipment, they are sometimes employed by Orcish Barons and Captains to train their soldiers.

The Hobgoblin Language

The Hobgoblin language is either a highly refined dialect of Goblin, or the source language from which Goblin was derived – depending on whether one asks a Hobgoblin or Goblin. It is written in pictograms and logograms that are startling similar to those used for Western Elven, a fact that neither folk can explain – or wants to talk about.

Alignment and Religion

The Gnomish sages claim that Hobgoblins were once mostly Lawful, and inhabited a large, technologically-advanced empire in what is now the Wasteland. As their society split into Factions, each Faction turned to increasingly desperate and extreme measures to attain supremacy. Eventually, the entire species succumbed to Evil. Hobgoblins of any Alignment other than Evil, while not completely unknown, are now extraordinarily rare.

Hobgoblins are among the most devoted and enthusiastic devotees of the Antichurch of Darkness. The version of the Black Mass celebrated in Hobgoblin Strongholds is especially bloody and cruel. The Clergy of Darkness regards an assignment to the Hobgoblins as perilous, however, since every Hobgoblin Faction demands that the Clerics of Darkness aid them aid them in their wars against rival Factions.

Hobgoblins volunteer eagerly for service at the Boggle Mounds. The flying Hobgoblin Atavi (see below) are especially sought as sentinels and guardians by the Depradators who build and control the Mounds.

The Thouls

Thouls are often gifted to Praetors and Dictators by Vermadeus, serving both as a reward for loyalty to the Depradators, and a means of keeping the Hobgoblin leadership in line. To create a Thoul, a Hobgoblin is fed only Troll blood for a month. Then, the heart and digestive organs from a Ghoul are surgically transplanted into the subject. After a final ritual, the former Hobgoblin becomes a Thoul, neither alive, nor truly Undead. A dishonored Hobgoblin can restore their honor (albeit posthumously) by volunteering to become a Thoul, or allowing one to paralyze them and eat them alive.

The High Goblins

At first glance, High Goblins could easily be mistaken for people of mixed Human and Elven heritage. They closely resemble slim but wiry Humans in overall form, with large pointed ears. Their faces tend to be long, with angular features, and noses that are sometimes pointed. Their eyes are human-like, but their mouths are filled with sharp teeth. Their hands have relatively long fingers that end in sharp, claw-like nails. Their skin is almost always extremely pale. Depending on the individual, their overall appearance can range from grotesque to strikingly elegant. Unlike normal Hobgoblins, High Goblins tend to dress flamboyantly.

High Goblins can follow the same character Classes as Humans, with the exception that one of their Class Special Abilities will always replaced with Infravision. Naturally, they tend to rise to high positions in Hobgoblin society, often becoming Praetors and Dictators. They are also known to install themselves as leaders over Goblin hordes.

Because of their appearance, and the fact that they nourish themselves on blood (like all Hobgoblins), High Goblins can be also mistaken for Vampires. They are sometimes even called “Pseudo-Vampires”.

The Hobgoblin Atavi

A Hobgoblin Atavus is a throwback to the ancestral, winged form of all Goblinoids. They resemble other Hobgoblins, except that the second, third, and fourth fingers of each hand form bat-like wings that can be folded up along the arms when not in use. Additionally, the feet of a Hobgoblin Atavus are more ape-like than those of normal Hobgoblins, with fully opposable big toes that function like thumbs. Armed with javalins that they can use with their feet while flying, Hobgoblin Atavi serve Praetors and Dictators as spies, scouts, and messengers.

Statistically, Hobgoblin Atavi are almost identical to Hobgoblins, but only have AC 7 [12] from leather armor, and have a Flying speed of 240’

The Aquatic Hobgoblins

Aquatic Hobgoblins have completely webbed hand and feet, with small ears, large eyes, and dense fur covering their bodies. They have gills in their neck, and can breathe both water and air. They were first bred to attack Human ships from below, since no Bogeyman species has ever developed any skill at sailing. Now, Aquatic Hobgoblins inhabit the coastal waters of Bythebia, sometime venturing north to Corthis, or attacking the Sacred Isle of Albelon (which has always ended in disaster for them).