So I'm currently creating an adventure that involves a Human/Hill Dwarf city (by the way, this isn't set in the Forgotten Realms, it's a homebrew universe) with a corrupt Hill Dwarf mayor that is paying some monstrous humanoid creatures on the side to act as goons that none of the city's inhabitants are aware of. The party will of course have to fight these goons and expose the corrupt mayor at some point, but for this question I'm more interested in flavour rather than balance (i.e. it doesn't matter what CR they are vs. the PC's level).

I was wondering what creature (from the Monster Manual or Volo's Guide, the latter of which I don't have at the moment but will do by the time I run this adventure), ideally an evil humanoid race like Orcs, Hobgoblins or Bugbears, would be the most likely to work for money like this?

I'd like to keep to more monstrous creatures as opposed to humans or dwarves since I want the adventure's enemies to be more varied and unusual, and secondly because I want their presence to raise questions in my player's head (i.e. "What on earth are they doing in the city? Who is behind this?") as a clue to pin this all on the mayor. Also, there are a few sneaky human assassins (i.e. "hiding in plain sight" enemies) and dwarven bodyguards that are more "public", so I wanted to have a third kind of enemy that serves as some behind-the-scenes muscle doing the dirty work.

Off the top of my head, I seem to remember Bugbears being appropriate (according to the Monster Manual description), but they feature heavily in our current adventure, so I'm reluctant to reuse them, so for variety, are there any other such creatures that would be appropriate? I suppose answers could be subject to opinion, so it would be best to back up any speculation with quotes from the Monster Manual or Volo's Guide or something similar so that the answers can be SE appropriate.

Despite the fact that this isn't set in the Forgotten Realms, I'm happy to for answers to keep to the lore of known publishes universes such as Forgotten Realms, etc; for example, I read somewhere that Hobgoblins apparently hate Elves especially, so it's a good thing this is a Human/Dwarf city because if it were an Elven city that would make Hobgoblins a really bad choice, etc. - general details like these can be assumed to be true of my homebrew universe as well (obviously this question can't be answered at all if this homebrew universe changes everything completely since only I could possibly know what creatures would fit).


closed as primarily opinion-based by Miniman, GMJoe, doppelgreener Oct 9 '17 at 12:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do these "goons" act as assassins or more like mafia enforcers? So sneaky-like or brawny-like? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 9 '17 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega More brawny-like; although they keep out of the way, they don't necessarily have to be sneaky, since they'll do their dirty work at night or where people tend not to go, that sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 '17 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, why not hire humans and dwarves? If these creatures are not normally present in the city, the question "Who hired these creatures?" will come up real fast. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 9 '17 at 9:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega The reason I want "unusual" creatures rather than humans and dwarves is a) for variety (I don't want my players to get bored if there's only humans and dwarves and that's it) and also b) as a clue that something is amiss; in other words, I want them to question who hired these creatures, especially since they won't encounter them at first. Also, there is at least one human goon that I've planned so far, in fact this one is an assassin, hence why these "other creatures" should be more brawny rather than sneaky... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 '17 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS: A problem I can see with that is that you don't necessarily need a monster that "often become a mercenary", just a monster that "in that specific case makes a good mercenary". Pretty much any monster of the bestiary could work as a mercenary in the right campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Oct 9 '17 at 13:41

Orogs (essentially more intelligent orcs) MM. 245.

According to their text:

some orogs form independent mercenary war bands that sell themselves to the highest bidder

Trolls MM. 291.

They can be the perfect brawny-like mercenaries.

Yugoloths MM. 311.

Now here is an interesting option. They are fiendish beings who usually serve as mercenaries.

Redcaps Volo’s 188.

These fey creatures might work as well.

Redcaps don't usually operate in groups, but in some circumstances they might be fond in the employ of hags and dark mages

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 This is all great stuff; I might steer clear of Redcaps because I know there's a Feywild adventure ahead for our group (not written by me, but I know Redcaps feature in it) but the others all have the benefit of being in the MM, meaning I don't have to wait to get Volo's to read up on them. I'm drawn to the Orogs in particular since they are medium sized creatures IIRC and therefore could hide easier in the city than Trolls. I don't know much about Yugoloths, need to read about them... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 '17 at 10:48


Whatever the fantasy setting, as long as humans exist you will find evil ones in any evil army. They also usually are the most numerous humanoid species. DnD settings are no exception to this.

Of course some other choices may be more interesting for your story, but listing all the monstrous humanoid that could be hired as mercenaries would be way too long as an answer, and just choosing some of them would be subjective.

I recommend you to seize your opportunity to flesh out a part of your universe you may want to expand later: maybe in you setting there is an old ambiguous rivalry between dwarves and giants (that may be the object of a future session) and giants were glad to help to destroy the dwarf city? Maybe shapeshifters so in two sessions when they will have to carry an investigation they will be able to have the clue the criminal could be a shapeshifter? Maybe some race related to the secret background of one PC to give him an occasion to reveal it? There are many possibilities and only you can choose.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My most recent comment hanging off the question explains why I don't want humans; however, I realise that I didn't actually mention any of that in my question; also that I was writing the comment as you were answering, so you didn't have a chance to see it nor did I get a chance to see your answer. I should probably update my question since I'm missing out details such as these. Sorry about that... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 '17 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited my answer. It is kind of a frame challenge, but I hope it will help you anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Oct 9 '17 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a fair point, in particular paragraph 2 explains to me why your answer hasn't followed in the vein of MolagMal's answer (even though that's what I wanted); +1 \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 '17 at 12:46

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