The greatest populations are still to be found in the distant and mysterious archipelago, where roughly half of the isles is directly under their control and cause the isles to be in a continuous state of war. However in recent centuries small populations have settled elsewhere in Eletreus.
While their attempts to establish a foothold in Lhasa have largely failed and they have been rooted out, Hobgoblins can be found as hired muscle in the lawless city of Foshan. But the largest population outside of the Harmonious isles is to be found controlling the last known major deposit of Coronatite in the Badlands under the leadership of “Kharag the Magnificent” and 3,000 fanatically loyal followers.
Typically the same height or slightly shorter than the average human, they have disproportionately long arms, a snaggle-toothed maw with protruding lower lip, piercing green reflecting eyes, pointed ears and are completely hairless. Their senses are more acute than a human, making it hard to sneak up on them, and they have excellent night vision and a highly developed sense of smell.
Rather wiry and gaunt in body shape, they have extremely dense bones and are heavier and stronger than they look (typically the same weight as an average human of the same height). Their musculature is made up almost entirely of fast twitch muscles, allowing them to can call upon reserves of almost supernatural strength and speed in short busts, though they tire quickly and do not like to run long distances (but at short range, can catch up and overtake a human, running about 50% faster for up to 2 minutes, after which they are exhausted).
These natural reserves of amazing strength can be and usually are trained and honed to the point where a strike from their bare first is the exact equivalent of being hit by a large man swinging a wooden cudgel at full wind up..
Inherently violent, Hobgoblins frequently make use of this talent for short and sudden bursts of shocking brutality, and have an extremely militant, hierarchical society with a strict pecking order. Everything they do, they do so with a military mindset and are extremely cunning, always preferring to fight from an advantage and the concept of a ‘fair fight’ is quite alien to them (though there are exceptions, such as when two Hobgoblins enter a formal duel).
Despite this reputation for fighting dirty and delighting when they outwit an opponent, they are bound by their own sense of honor. While many of their codes of conduct only regard relations between Hobgoblins, some are universally applied and can sometimes be used to ones advantage. For example, a Hobgoblin promise or oath will be followed to the letter of the agreement, but if left ambiguous, they will always seek to exploit any loophole.
Hobgoblins who are caught breaking the code are severely punished, stripped of their armor, weapons and rank and remain forever at the absolute lowest rung of the hierarchy – and many in this position either become lone wanderers or commit ritual suicide to clear their name.
While they dislike manual labor, tire quickly, and spend the majority of their waking hours squatting on their haunches in a group imbibing a noxious hot drink made from the leaves of a plant toxic to all other species, they have one very surprising skill set.
Almost all Hobgoblins display an innate talent for craftsmanship – and are especially skilled at making their own distinctly Easter armor and the Hobgoblin Katana, a razor sharp two handed sword which they test frequently by beheading random slaves.. Because of their skill at making these swords, they are highly regarded in the Badlands and beyond by mercenaries and other types who prefer practicality than offending sensibilities, which these brutal blades certainly do.
However, while they delight in their own works, they are quick to adopt any effective weapon, including arquebus and a fondness for the Escian Castir (the fact that it is hated by the Aeultian Empire is a bonus to them).
While inherently lazy (they are consummate slavers) and consider manual work other than craftmanship beneath them, they frequently drill with their weapons and practice long and harsh sessions daily, including fighting full force with wooden weapons and even occasional duels to the death (though it is rare, they prefer to kill everyone else!).
Because of all this martial practice, frequent killings of slaves who look at them the wrong way, and a willingness to fight and plunder anything from anyone that they can get away with, they are dangerous and wily opponents. Even one on one, the average Hobgoblin could easily kill even an experienced Imperial Legionnaire.
Unfortunately for everyone who encounters them though, they rarely fight one to one, instead tending to fight as a coordinated group, the senior rank (Generals) barking quick commands in the heat of combat that are swiftly executed by the warriors. All in all, they fight in a ruthless, purely effective manner, literally taking their opponents apart and are also very dangerous wrestlers, skilled in obscure joint locking and striking arts originating in the Harmonious Isles – with a fighting style that is fast, fluid and brutally effective.
Hobgoblins speak a clipped, guttural variant of the language of the Harmonious isles and can communicate complex military strategies in one or two barked words. Otherwise, they rarely speak, often sitting in silence together or talking in low tones punctuated by long pauses. They rarely shout at their prisoners or slaves, preferring to motivate them by making an example of someone. Beatings, torture and sadistic executions are the order of the day..
Most cannot, nor have any desire to, learn additional languages and those that do tend to take a long time to answer a question, making conversation with them uneasy to say the least.. And of those that can speak an additional language, they tend to use strange grammar and mix in their own native words, and appear to be mildly irritated when they must speak at all.
Though cruel and sadistic to the core, they are also very pragmatic creatures. If an armed party is in a position where just killing them and taking their stuff is not an option, Hobgoblins are surprisingly honest in their dealings, and are especially offended if they are called thieves (they do not consider killing and robbing as theft).
Naturally, offending a Hobgoblin is a very bad idea – though a clever person may be able to use their sense of pride and honor against them, provoking them into making a mistake. For while Hobgoblins typically appear cold and emotionless, when enraged all their discipline goes out the window and they revert to a primal, animalistic state in a fury that is quite terrifying to behold..