No flips for you!
Well, as noted, Eberron has a substantially sized Hob nation. Most of my homebrews generally have at least a good Texas county sized area that's mostly under Hob control. I like 'em.Can you point me to the setting where hobgoblins are powerful enough and control a large enough area in a stable enough way that it is remotely possible for them to keep a slave force large enough to actually support the number of hobgoblin soldiers actually encountered and killed/defeated by PCs? These numbers might be fine for their ideal, which you can use in your homebrew world where hobgoblins are at the pinnacle of their power, but in any actual D&D world, it doesn't work out.
But let's look at numbers. A 200 strong hobgoblin force would need a total population (other hobs and slaves [EDIT: given the confusion below, by this I mean that the total population base includes slaves, as they provide direct support to the tribe, but they would not be mustered. This is essentially counting slaves as the peasant farmer base of most medieval countries that were often, by law and treaty, not allowed to be armed]) of about 1,400. That's a large village/small town's worth, and a number of plantations. Even if we assume that such a warband is a surge effect, representing maybe 30% of the total population, that's still a total population of 700. That's close to 1e numbers, but still a decent sized village. Such an establishment isn't very difficult, and most adventurers don't kill 200 hobs in game.
But what if we want a proper army? Well, that's not too bad, either. A 10,000 strong army, say a core of 7,000 hobs and 3,000 assorted auxillaries (allies) would need a supporting population of 47,000 (assuming the auxillaries aren't directly supported by the hobs, and are hired as needed from surrounding allies). That's a few towns, a bunch of villiages, and maybe a small city for the hobs. If it's marginal land with a total population density of 40/square mile, that's about the size of Luxembourg. If it's decent land, say 80 per square mile, it's slightly bigger than Hong Kong. You can tuck that away in a bunch of places in a fantasy world. For comparison, France's population density in the 14th century was a bit over 100 people/square mile, Germany clocked in at 90, and the British Isles was sparsely populated at 40ish.
Even accounting for a medieval economy and social structure, it's a bit shocking to realize how many people were crowded into such small spaces.
Eh, economically speaking, even hobs couldn't afford that many full timers. Soldiers were expensive, which is why most armies historically were raised, fought, and disbanded in three months or less. They'd just do it again the next year if it wasn't settled yet. It's very unlikely that even Hobs could muster up 25% of their population (this includes slaves, not just hobs [EDIT: as part of the population base. Slaves would not be mustered, ever]) except under dire circumstances. As for commoner hobgoblins, even they would be trained as footsoliders for the legions, even if most of the time they supervised slaves or, embarrassingly, had to do the labor themselves. Smart ones would be craftsmen, but even they would know the right end of the sword and how to form the shieldwall.Accounting for the slaves is why I would peg that about 25% of their force could be full-time soldiers rather than 7% as you noted. And no doubt the slaves are forced to do the most denigrating and back-breaking work. But there would still be plenty of "commoner" hobgoblins-- there would simply have to be. Some of them may be working the land-- maybe shepherds or ranchers of some sort, others doing various skilled and educated labor roles that you just aren't going to put in the hands of common goblins who reach maturity at about 10 and generally die before reaching 30.
No doubt. Proper hobgoblin soldiers are the captains. The basic training grunts are the normal ones. Humans can be better, but most aren't, and even the trained ones are on par with the basic hobgoblin. Hobs live and breathe war -- it's their single highest calling. They're steeped in it as a culture. It makes perfect sense that their 'barely trained' is equivalent to a professional human soldier (although not a stupidly powerful and rare PC).There is still a big difference between a proper soldier and someone with basic training. A peek at what I posit for good hobgoblin racial traits notes that even the least among them likely knows how to use one martial weapon and knows one basic combat maneuver as well as being generally having more stamina than most other people, but contrarily are not going to be nearly as widely skilled or specialized as a human would be.
No, it doesn't. I covered this above, but it requires very little space. Eberron has a legacy of a Hobgoblin empire, and they're doing alright in the current timeline. Kingdoms of Kalamar has more than one hobgoblin nation. Greyhawk has a number of very large and successful tribes in the lands controlled by Iuz. In the Realms they're not well detailed, but there's plenty of room for a few big tribes out in the wilderness areas.And, again, your comparison to the south fails in two major ways. It first assumes that the hobgoblins would own vast countries where they are the law, have stable control over their lands for generations, have functional trade, cooperate openly with other clans to keep their slaves under control-- again, an ideal no setting allows them to have. Secondly, even in the south plenty of white people were still basic farmers working the land.
Which campaign world are you talking about? I'm not that familiar with all of them, so maybe I'm just missing this crucial piece of lore from somewhere.Instead, we are talking about a people who don't generally cooperate outside their own tribe well, are constantly crushed and scattered by human, elves, dwarves or orcs pretty much any time they grow their societies large enough to be a meaningful threat (probably once a generation) and have little power to impose any sort of laws and cannot at all rely on steady trade forcing them to gather all resources on their own.
You want to create your homebrew world where the hobgoblins are still on top and have all the power, that's fine-- obviously that situation greatly shifts things. But in most settings, it just doesn't jive with what is going on. Maybe in Kingdoms of Kalamar or one country in Eberron-- but even then it seems highly unlikely there are just that they are keeping 7x their own population of other peoples as slaves.
Huh? No idea where you got 7x their numbers in slaves. I said that they could likely muster 7% of their total population (including slaves as part of that population) easily, and 15% most likely given their heavy martially oriented society and slave use, but I certainly didn't say that there's 7 slaves for every hob.
Well, at least in terms of military force we pretty much come to an agreement. Actually, you are making them even more rare than I did.
I like my worlds to make sense.
Um, what? I didn't say they armed their slaves as auxiliaries. They don't enslave every goblin tribe or bugbear or ogre. Some they make deals with, for specifically this purpose. They call out the goblin tribes that live under the "protection" of the hobgoblin fist and they work as scouts and archers for the hobs on campaign. Same with bugbears and ogres. Occasionally you make a deal with a troll or 8.Did you realize you contradicted yourself here? Whatever happened to the "you never arm slaves"? In fact, assuming they rely on slaves and value their own, why would you ever imagine they would give the slaves the bows and put them at their back? Or that they are going to trust the slaves to lead them through the rough terrain and trust the 13-year old goblin to properly assess the threats that lie ahead and properly devise their strategies? You think they are going to have a slave be the conduit to their god and put it in charge of healing them?
Yeah, okay, good thing I didn't say that, then. You've spent a lot of time being aggressively insulting about something you misunderstood. If you really thought that I had so obviously and egregiously contradicted myself, wouldn't have been a bit better to ask if I meant that instead of going on for a few paragraphs arguing how dumb I was to say such a thing when I didn't say that at all? At least for you. I don't mind.Think about that a lot harder. It is quite clearly incorrect. If you want something done right, if the entire survival of your troops utterly depends on a task being done right-- you are not going to put it in the hands of slaves. And you certainly are not going to give your slaves ranged weapons and open your flank to them. Doesn't matter if you have a couple of your own in there to "control" them-- it just isn't sound military principle.
Maybe in your own homebrew world you are making you can make them a lot of drooling idiots who couldn't win a fight against a wall because all they want is to "git stukk in wit' da boyz" and gleefully give all the most dangerous weapons and safe positions to the rebellious slaves and put those slaves in the positions to do the most harm to their own... but, that just isn't what has ever been suggested by their lore.
Hobs, as written, have a clear Roman Legions vibe coming off of them. The Romans didn't do that, and had the most powerful and feared military for many hundreds of years. Citizens were in the legions. The legions didn't scout. The legions weren't archers. The legions were cavalry. The legions weren't skirmishers. They were the premier heavy infantry. For all those other jobs, the Romans hire auxiliaries, who weren't citizens, but were part of the Empire. They weren't slaves, they weren't foreigners, they were those that were part of the empire but not citizens. Much like I suggested that privileged goblin tribes, bugbears, and ogres/trolls would be used by hobgoblins. They aren't members of the tribe (the tribe is the Legion), but they're allies, and useful, and work with as needed in return for the protection of the hobgoblins.Hobgoblins will be their own archers, their own scouts, their own priests, their own cavalry, their own assassins and saboteurs and so forth. At least any time they want anything done remotely right. Now, the frontline soldiers probably do receive the most accolades and celebration and open respect... But, you know what? That is true of every successful military! You always pin the medals on the people who put themselves in the gravest danger in the war (or at least on their corpses) regardless of whether their efforts actually contributed the most to victory. It is a way to keep up morale and make sure people feel motivated to take up those positions rather than realizing they are being used...
Which, you know-- is totally Lawful Evil.