As we reported, there are 13 new playable races included in Volo’s Guide To Monsters, the latest sourcebook for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. This includes Goblins which always held a special place in my heart. I’ve played Goblin PCs in almost every edition of D&D and I look forward to playing my first 5e Goblin in just a few days. So what kind of Goblin should I build?
First, the best way to build a D&D character is to come up with a personality or story and then find a class and background that fits. We’re going to be doing a little more “mechanics tweaking” here to explore the synergies of Goblins in 5e, but don’t let that limit you to make characters in this “min-maxy” fashion. For this character, I’m starting at 6th level and using only Volo’s Guide and the Player’s Handbook as my resources. Let’s begin!
Our Goblin PC-to-be starts with +2 dexterity and +1 constitution, which is a good base for a survivable character. Goblins are small-sized creatures, so that’ll have some effect on our build. They also have two defining traits: “Nimble Escape,” which allows a hide or disengage bonus action every round, and “Fury of the Small,” which adds extra damage against larger creatures.
Rogue is a good class option, but “Nimble Escape” makes the Rogue’s “Cunning Action” redundant, as both abilities do the same thing. Monks have a similar problem. These aren’t terrible flaws, but it’s best to get the most out of our new Goblin, so let’s find a class where “Nimble Escape” can shine.
Fighters and Barbarians could use “Nimble Escape” well, but often have better to do with their bonus actions. Also both classes couldn’t use heavy weapons due to the Goblin’s small size. That doesn’t mean Fighters and Barbarians aren’t good choices for smaller races, I know a lot of well made Gnome Barbarians, for example. That said, we should pass on these classes to maximize our potential.
Paladins and Rangers round out the martial class options and there’s more synergy here. Paladins favor a more tanky build which doesn’t really fit a Goblin’s nimble play style. Rangers, however… now we have something. Rangers are mobile and probably wouldn’t mind disengaging to reposition. The “Beast Master” subclass also plays into Goblin lore if you add a wolf or rat companion. Let’s put a pin in this one and check in with the magic using classes.
Bards and Clerics both make fine choices for a Goblin PC, but feel a little on the nose for the story I’m trying to tell of a rare good-aligned Goblin who’s righting the wrongs of his people. Something about that combo seems too “done.” A Goblin Bard could be in my future, but not today. Moving on.
In a Wizard class, we could build a spell-slinger while leaning on “Nimble Escape” and a Wizard’s high dexterity to keep you out of danger. However, the Wizard’s studied and scholarly persona doesn’t really mix with Goblin culture. For now lets move past this, but I’d like to explore combining the Goblin with more innate magic users.
Sorcerers and Warlocks are both good options since the Goblin’s mobility to get in and out of combat really helps these sorts of classes. According to Volo’s Guide, the Goblin word for a wild magic sorcerer is “Booyahg Booyahg Booyahg.” I don’t think I can stomach that for a whole game, so Warlock is where I’ll turn my attention. Considering the built-in combat skills, I could easily turn my Goblin into a Bladelock, a close combat Warlock with “Pact of the Blade.” Sorry, Wizard class, I’m sold on Warlock.
The cool thing is that either Ranger or Warlock builds can benefit from the same basic stats. Using a point buy system; I can lean into dexterity, constitution, and charisma. Charisma will be a useful attribute for my Warlock and his spells, but it gives Rangers a helpful gift of gab. I’ll put whatever I have left into wisdom to benefit the Ranger class and perception checks. I could fine-tune my states for each class specifically, but this will work.
For my Ranger build, I’ll take the archery fighting style and build him out as a ranged attacker. I can choose spells that support this like Hunter’s Mark or Hail of Thorns. I’ll take the Beast Master archetype to get a wolf as my companion. This way my wolf can leap into combat as I ranged attack just outside of melee range. To do that, I’ll have to split my extra attack feature between them, meaning one attack each. That should work out as the wolf will have Pack Tactics and the Goblin can use a light crossbow without being too hampered by the loading penalty.
On the Warlock side, I’ll take a fiend pact because its “Dark One’s Blessing” feature will keep me alive with temporary hitpoints. I’ll also take the “Pact of the Blade” which allows me to produce a weapon at will and the “Thirsting Blade,” which allows me to attack twice. Adding a combination of spells like Hex and invocations like “Mire the Mind” will control the field of play in combat. Finally, I’ll take “Eldritch Sight” to see in magical darkness and a darkness spell to cover my escapes if things go bad.
Side by side, both stack up as really interesting characters. Neither is overpowered, but neither are weak enough to be a burden on the party either. Character-wise, I imagine both having the classic Warcraft Goblin voice. That voice makes sense regardless if your character is quick-witted or a little dim. Also, if I’m picking a Goblin, I want to play as a Goblin, so no disguise spells for me. Now I just need a name. Any ideas?
Leave us your goblin builds, goblin thoughts or goblin chat in the comment section!
Images produced for Geek & Sundry by the ever generous Matt Olson