Goblinsget typecast as mischievous comedians, greedy underlings, and high-pitched minions protecting treasure. However, in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, Goblins in settings such as the Forgotten Realmshave a rich history that links their survivalist nature to their origins as tribal societies. You don’t necessarily have to guard treasure, but you can be quite the infamous thief or charmer with your Goblin character.
If you’re interested in making a Goblin character for D&D 5e, this quick guide will help you make this goblinoid without having to stick to their money-grubbing annoying stereotypes.
Basics: The Traits
Despite the Goblin’s association with being henchmen and minions, they actually do well on their own. Thanks to their hardy nature and innate nimbleness, Goblins can become great scouts or warriors in their own right. Moreover, they learn quickly on how to fight people larger than them and even escape whenever necessary. Thanks to these traits, Goblins make great adventurers and even Ancestry options for your adventure.
Ability Score Increase:DEX + 2, CON + 1
Age:Goblins can live up to 60 years, reaching adulthood by eight years of age.
Size and Speed:Small (3 to 4ft tall, 40 to 80 pounds), 30ft walking speed.
Alignment:Most Goblins are Neutral Evil, as they care for their own needs.
Racial Features:Goblins share these racial features:
Darkvision, which allows Goblins to see 60ft of dim light as though it were bright, and in darkness (in greys) as though it were dim.
Fury of the Small, which deals extra damage equal to the Goblin’s level whenever they deal damage with a spell or an attack to a creature larger than the Goblin. They can use this once every short or long rest.
Nimble Escape, which lets them use Hide or Disengage as a Bonus Action on each turn.
Languages,of which they can write, read, and speak Goblin and Common.
Goblins: The Best Classes To Build
Thanks to their small size and quick nature, Goblins actually make great fighters and warriors. This might explain why villains and other people are so keen to hire them to guard their treasure. However, more skilled Goblins can use their full skillset to allow them to become stealthy assassins, territorial guardians, vicious warriors, or even skilled spellcasters. Here are some of the best options for Classes for the Goblin:
Barbarian:Who says Barbarians always have to be large and imposing? Given enough Rage, the Goblin can become one of the most ferocious Barbarians an unfortunate group of mercenaries or ne’er-do-wells would ever face. Thanks to the Goblin’s smaller stature, their Barbarian counterparts would rely on sheer speed and mobility to wreck enemy formation - relying on creating sheer chaos instead of becoming chaos itself when using its Rage to fuel its rampage on the battlefield.
Despite lacking the natural Strength Ability Score bonus that Barbarians usually take advantage of, Goblins do have innate Constitution and Dexterity - allowing them to not only have a sturdier build, but also give them a natural edge when it comes to Unarmored Defense as well as their Dexterity Saves in general. As such, they may make excellent Barbarians, using their sheer size to sow chaos in the battlefield.
Due to the Goblin’s Dexterity modifier, others might think they can’t use the Rage mechanic pretty well. However, Players can look at this from an alternative perspective: thanks to the Goblin’s extra Dexterity, they can take full advantage of the Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense. Moreover, Players can now spend more time putting more points into Strength, giving their Goblin a surprising advantage when it comes to Rage mechanics.
A Goblin Barbarian might fit with the Primal Paths of the Juggernaut, the Zealot, or even the Battlerager, as they may be able to harness their Rage in a way that defies all expectations that people tend to associate with the Goblin’s small stature. It’s thanks to this that the Goblin Barbarian of these Primal Paths make the best warriors and tanks to lead the charge in battle.
Fighter:One of the best ways to make use of the “Goblins are minions” stereotype is to make Goblin Fighter, a reflection of their expertise on the matter. Unlike other “weaker” minions, a Goblin Fighter would be trained in the ways of combat, capable of utilizing their size and speed to make the most use of the battlefield.
Thanks to the Goblin’s innate Constitution, they can make balanced Fighters. After all, Players who take advantage of their inherent Dexterity Ability Score bonus allows them to create ranged-focused Fighters. However, they may also invest in Strength to allow them to wield various melee weaponry and proceed to dish out vicious melee damage.
As a Fighter, the Goblin doesn’t necessarily need to max out its Strength score. In fact, thanks to Fighting Style and Ability Score Improvement, Goblin Players can maximize their build based on the kind of weapons and combat tactics they want to use. Fighting Style enables them to use different kinds of weapons. Moreover, they can replace their ASIs with Feats, giving them more options to tinker with their abilities. Second Wind, Action Surge, and Extra Attack also gives the Goblin Fighter more opportunities to showcase their battle prowess.
A Player can make their Goblin Fighter flexible enough both in paper and with their story that almost all Fighter archetypes can fit them perfectly or in hilarious ways. However, they might want to consider taking the Banneret, Brute, Cavalier, or even the Scout and Sharpshooter Archetypes if Players want to play into the Goblin’s stereotypes. They may also try adopting unique roles such as the Rune Knight, Psychic Warrior, and even the Eldritch Knight for a unique experience.
Ranger:A Goblin Ranger may be tasked to protect their territories from other intruders in whatever way possible. Equipped with a bow and arrow or perhaps even their own pair of trusty blades, a Goblin Ranger knows their territories and hunting grounds well, proving more than capable of traversing them with little to no effort. Moreover, thanks to their small stature, a Goblin Ranger would have a much easier time blending in and stalking their prey.
The Goblin’s natural Dexterity Ability Score Bonus gives them an edge when it comes to mobility and ranged weaponry. As such, they can make great Rangers who specialize in long-range combat. Moreover, their Constitution bonus also allows Goblins to be healthier in combat, allowing them to endure longer battles and even be capable of resisting effects detrimental to their health.
Unlike other Classes, Rangers become one of the most versatile ranged fighters, especially thanks to their spellcasting capabilities. As such, aside from their wide range of spells, they can choose a complementary Fighting Style, as well as their selection of Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer. Under the right circumstances, Rangers can become the bane of their enemy’s existence.
A Goblin Ranger may be trained in protecting territories assigned to them and as such may become Beast Masters, Swarmkeepers, or even Hunters. However, if their masters and employers have a more mystical nature, the Goblin Ranger may become a Primeval Guardian or Horizon Walker. Goblins who end up forming a relationship with the Fey may be tasked to become Gloom Stalkers or Fey Wanderers.
Rogue:Goblin Rogues make use of their size as well as their sheer speed to navigate cityscapes and complex environments to reach their objectives. Thanks to their small stature, a Goblin Rogue serves a perfect saboteur - capable of sowing chaos in enemy lines while at the same time more than capable of invading their territories and retrieving vital information for their goals. As a plus, they’ll be hitting you before you even realize it.
The natural nimbleness and mobility of the Goblin make them perfect Rogues, especially considering their Dexterity Ability Score Bonus. If not ranged hitmen, Goblins can also work with the knife and the dagger to perform swift and cunning assassinations. Moreover, their innate Constitution Ability Score Bonus also allows them to resist poisons as well as other damaging effects to the body, which are things that can benefit them in their missions.
Goblin Rogues can finally learn how the heroic party’s Rogue can eliminate their team in one sweep. Rogues have access to Sneak Attack and Cunning Action, enabling them to act and attack much faster than normal. Moreover, Uncanny Dodge and Evasion makes them much harder to hit - definitely designed to irritate opponents. Moreover, their Expertise allows them to diversify their offerings outside battle, helping them become thieves, con-artists, or even mercenaries skilled with the knife.
A Goblin Rogue may play off usual stereotypes as their Roguish Archetype, such as the Scout, the Thief, or the Assassin. However, Goblin Rogues may receive specialized training that transforms them into elite agents, such as the Arcane Trickster, the Mastermind, the Revived, or the Soulknife.
Sorcerer:A Goblin Sorcerer may tap into their inner magical repositories in order to call the powers of the multiverse into play. Thanks to their innate connection to the arcane, they can fully-utilize the powers of nature in ways Wizards can’t. Moreover, their small size and stature may motivate enemies to underestimate them, only to end up becoming the target of a well-placed Fireball.
A Goblin Sorcerer ordinarily lacks the Charisma needed to perform their more powerful spells, but they do have the Dexterity and Constitution to enable them to dodge and resist most damaging spell effects. Moreover, thanks to their Ability Score Bonuses in these areas, Goblin Sorcerers can focus on building their Charisma to be able to dish out more powerful spells and abilities.
Similar to a Wizard, the Sorcerer is perhaps one of the most flexible spellcasters in the entire game. However, whereas Wizards have spellbooks to store their arsenal of spells, Sorcerers need only to be familiar with their repertoire. Moreover, Goblin Sorcerers can take full advantage of their Sorcery Points and dabble into Metamagic, manipulating the very nature of their spells as they see fit. This enables them to extend a spell’s range, duplicate single-target abilities, or make their spells happen much faster.
A Goblin Sorcerer’s Origins may be the very reason why they want the world to change their perspectives towards them. It’s perhaps this “higher calling” that can motivate the Goblin Sorcerer to seek adventure and make a name for themselves. As such, Origins such as the Phoenix, Psionic Soul, Draconic Bloodline, or Wild Magic can make a Goblin Sorcerer be more recognizable in arcane circles. Meanwhile, Pyromancy, Shadow, Sea, and Storm Origins may also help Goblins recognize that they may have a bigger role in the way elements are balanced in the game world.
Beyond Henchmen: Interesting Character Backgrounds
Just because villains love hiring Goblins as their henchmen doesn’t mean they’re set to become henchmen for the rest of their lives. In fact, Players who want to make interesting Goblins may want to use this stereotype as a branching-off point to unique Backgrounds and origin story elements that may help their Goblin stand out from the rest of the characters in your current adventure. These Backgrounds range from road experts, researchers, entertainers, or Goblins with surprising connections with the nobility.
Acolyte (Player’s Handbook):Just because people associate Goblins with mischievous individuals doesn’t mean they can’t have interesting character arcs. In fact, a Goblin might be a perfect choice for an Acolyte, as a Goblin may begin to show devotion towards a deity or a member of a church that treated them outside the conventional stereotypes. Moreover, Players may opt for their Goblins to have an interesting character development arc where an encounter with a deity may have changed the worldview of their Goblin - for better or for worse.
Language:Any two of their choice
Proficiencies:WIS (Insight), INT (Religion)
Caravan Specialist (Elemental Evil):Interestingly, a Goblin may become a Caravan Specialist due to their experiences on the road. Their time traveling as a mercenary or as a “retired henchman” might transform them into guides for caravans to traverse safely on dangerous ground, with the Goblin earning money through “proper channels.” Likewise, Players might have their Goblin become a part of a syndicate of sorts, posing as a “legitimate Caravan Specialist” to lure unsuspecting travelers to their team of thieves and charlatans.
Language:Any one language of their choice
Proficiencies:WIS (Survival), WIS (Animal Handling)
Cloistered Scholar (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide):A Goblin might want to traverse the world and make a name of themselves outside the conventional henchman stereotype. Likewise, a Goblin might become “unlike their kin” by staying at home or at school and devoting themselves to study. They may finally leave the university of their studies ready to venture into the world beyond, surprising everyone around them with their wit and knowledge of various things, whereas everyone else thought Goblins “are always henchmen.” That will show them.
Language:Any two languages of their choice
Proficiencies:INT (History) and choose one from: INT (Arcana), INT (Nature), INT (Religion)
Entertainer (Player’s Handbook):Just because a Goblin works for a particular person doesn’t make them their “henchman.” Sometimes, a Goblin has a particular skill for entertaining their employer that makes them an invaluable asset - be it to a mercenary party, a noble’s court, or even as an independent artist. A Player might want their Goblin to be a popular playwright or even an orator.
Tools:Disguise Kit, Musical Instrument x1
Proficiencies:DEX (Acrobatics), CHA (Performance)
Inheritor (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide):Yet another interesting choice for a Goblin backstory would be making them into an inheritor. A Goblin may begin life as a mercenary or trader before stumbling upon a startling discovery - their family is actually of noble lineage, and an inheritance of sorts is awaiting them in their hometown. This can be a great gateway for Dungeon Masters to incorporate a subplot that explores Goblin politics or a deeper conspiracy tied to the game’s main story.
Tools:Gaming Set x1, Musical Instrument x1
Proficiencies:WIS (Survival) and choose one: INT (Arcana), INT (History), or INT (Religion)