I've been thinking on creating a very specific NPC for the E6 game I'm running. This NPC would be a male barbarian, a hybrid between an Orc and a Hobgoblin, perhaps with advanced age. There is no official rules for a Half-Hobgoblin race, though there are several homebrews. I came up with this, and would like feedback on its balance. My idea is to get to something that has a +1 level adjustment. When I compared with the gnoll race, which has some racial hit dices (not the case for my race) and a level adjustment of +1, it didn't seem so powerful. Take a look:

Orc-Hobgoblin Hybrid

  • +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom -2 Charisma
  • Humanoid (Goblinoid)
  • Medium size
  • Half-hobgoblin base land speed is 30 feet
  • Darkvision out to 60 feet
  • +2 racial bonus on Move Silently checks
  • Hybrid Blood: for all purposes related to race, the character is considered a hobgoblin and a orc
  • Automatic Languages: Common and Goblin. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Infernal, Giant, Orc.
  • Favored Class: Fighter.
  • Level Adjustment: +0

When you look at it, it is basically a half-orc with +2 Move Silently and +2 Cons/-2 Wisdom. Is this too far beyond a LA +0 race? I'm not comfortable with the -2 Wisdom. I could add something like having a penalty to Charisma skills whenever dealing with Hobgoblins and Orcs due to prejudice. Is this balanced at +0 or +1, and what would I need to change to make it a solid +1 LA?


4 Answers 4


Officially, this is likely a Level Adjustment +0 race

The creature's ability scores are balanced according to the Dungeon Master's Guide on Ability Score Equivalencies (173 and not in the SRD). There, the DM is told that a bonus to Strength can be offset by a like penalty to either Intelligence and Charisma or Intelligence and Wisdom or Wisdom and Charisma, and that a bonus to Constitution can be offset by a like penalty to either Intelligence or Wisdom or Charisma. This hoborclin exactly follows these guidelines. (Note that whether these guidelines are good isn't the issue here; the game skews toward balancing low-level characters and believes Strength the most valuable ability score.)

Although that +2 racial bonus on Move Silently skill checks may give some folks pause because half-orcs don't have a racial bonus like that, even Savage Species—the most conservative source for computing level adjustment—says, "A base creature with three or more racial bonuses on skill checks gets a +1 level adjustment" (12). The game just doesn't think a lone racial bonus is worth a whole +1 level adjustment.

The race seems officially balanced. In a campaign with lots of orc-specific and hobgoblin-specific stuff available, the hybrid blood racial trait may be valuable, but while there are several published orc-specific feats, magic items, and prestige classes, there are darn few that are hobgoblin-specific, so in most campaigns this won't even be a factor.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestions for improvement welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2015 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I downvoted because I completely disagree that whether or not the guidelines are good isn’t an issue. The question is whether or not the result is good, and justifying it based on these guidelines while side-stepping the issue of whether or not the guidelines are worthwhile is an incomplete answer (and, in the case where the guidelines are actually bad, an incorrect one). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:20

As has been said, the race matches Wizards’ precedent and statements.

It’s still imbalanced. Specifically, it is very underpowered.

Wizards believed, at first, that Strength was an anomalously-important ability score. It is not; in fact, Constitution is the most broadly-important ability score, and after that is either Dexterity or Wisdom. Strength is actually below-average in its general-purpose importance.

Thus, Wizards’ decision to make Strength count double in racial ability score modifications was a mistake, and a bad one; the half-orc is widely considered the worst Player’s Handbook race as a result. The orc is generally considered superior, despite also being having a net-negative ability score adjustment, because at least the +4 Strength means you’re getting something special for it.

Considering the strengths of the respective races, giving +2 to all physical scores while −2 to all mental scores seems like a more reasonable action. This is clearly superior to the half-orc, but the half-orc is a terrible race. Meanwhile, the orc remains superior for someone focusing hard on Strength – a dungeoncrasher, perhaps.

Finally, regardless of ability scores, the other racial features are really minimal. There are relatively few features that are restricted to hobgoblins or orcs, and a tiny bonus to a single skill is not terribly impressive. The source races, unfortunately, give nothing to work with.


The worry with stat modifications is that people will start min-maxing: they'll throw out stats and abilities that don't matter to their class, in exchange for stats and abilities that do matter. The half-orc is already kind of min-maxy, in that it gets a +2 bonus to STR (very important for melee types) in exchange for -2 to INT and CHA (basically irrelevant for melee types). This class makes the problem worse, because you're adding +2 CON (very important) in exchange for -2 WIS (basically irrelevant) or a penalty to CHA checks (also basically irrelevant).

We have a definition of "overpowered", and I think it applies here: anyone who wanted to play a melee type would choose your half-orc-half-hobgoblin race over the basic half-orc, because they would care a lot about +2 CON and barely at all about the -2 WIS.

Having said that, this is still much closer to LA+0 than LA+1. If you're a DM and this is an NPC, feel free to run it as LA+0 and nobody will mind. If you're a DM and a player comes to you with this template, I recommend asking them to use the half-orc racial stats and just narrate that it's also half-hobgoblin.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No one would optimally choose half-orc for anything, so the comparison to half-orc isn’t exactly fair. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 10, 2015 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ This comment thread is not the place to get into an argument about the tier system (and, in particular, how applicable the tier system is to most people's games). But I'd like to suggest that a half-orc barbarian would be a pretty good character for a first-level one-shot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Nov 10, 2015 at 19:28

The Goblinorc already exists as a 3rd party published hybrid.

You can find it within:

Quintessential Half-Orc

You can find all of their Half Orc variations on the Grand OGL Wiki. They give theirs a +1 LA. But your home-brew is not "overpowered" in my opinion - but that is just my opinion. You would only find out that answer in play-testing.

Let's compare your hybrid to another published creature, the Neanderthal (WotC).

  • It has a +2 to Strength. Yours has a +2 to Strength.
  • It has a -2 to Dexterity. Yours has no penalty to Dexterity.
  • It has a +2 to Constitution. Yours has a +2 to Constitution.
  • It has a -2 to Intelligence. Yours has a -2 to Intelligence.
  • It has no penalty to Wisdom. Yours has a -2 to Wisdom.
  • It has no penalty to Charisma. Yours has a -2 to Charisma.
  • It is medium sized. Yours is medium sized.
  • It moves 30 feet. Yours moves 30 feet.
  • It is Humanoid. Yours is Humanoid.
  • It has a +2 to Listen, Spot, and Survival. Yours has a +2 to Move Silently.
  • It has human blood. Yours has hybrid blood.
  • It has Climate Tolerance. Yours has Darkvision.
  • It has Barbarian as a favored class. Yours has Fighter as a favored class.
  • It has a LA of 0. Yours has a LA of 0.

There are a couple of things that the Neanderthal has, that your hybrid, does not, including Primitive Weapon Mastery. Comparing the two, point for point makes yours seem a little "weaker" than the Neanderthal. So, once again, I restate my opinion, "Your home-brew is not overpowered."

The Neanderthal is rarely considered in many of the min/max 'handbooks.' The Neanderthal, physically, is more powerful than many other LA 0 races, but is steeped in the illiterate primitive human - and setting specific. The setting, in the Neanderthal's case, is the Frostfell. So in the arid plains, or swampy marshlands, as far as WotC is concerned - shouldn't be many, if any at all, Neanderthals running around.

Should the Neanderthal have a +1 LA? I believe it should. It's mental stats do not compensate for it's physical stats - despite a -2 to Dexterity, which a Barbarian is rarely if ever worried about.

Your hybrid race, specifically, should have a similar LA +1 - especially considering the Hobgoblin also has a LA +1. I believe Mongoose Publishing took that LA +1 from the Hobgoblin in consideration when they made their hybrid.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut Your answer appears to depend on the idea that the Neanderthal is, itself, balanced. However, official material has also produced the Marrulurk in Sandstorm (see second bullet point) which is totally off the charts bonkers, as well as races which are so far in the other direction they're barely playable. Things are probably simpler for low-LA no-RHD monsters though. Would you suggest the Neanderthal is average and balanced and a good yardstick? Might be worth affirming what power level you think it has as a point of reference. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2015 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener The marrulurk does get astonishingly good stats and other features, but I actually would call it balanced, by our own definition: it is certainly good enough to be worth considering for the right build, but it does not completely blow the competition out of the water. 3 RHD and LA +1 is a huge drawback, one that largely justifies those benefits. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 11, 2015 at 13:15

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