BORN OF BATTLE
“When we heard the alarm bell ringing from the temple in town, we feared the worst—but our fears didn’t come close to the fate that awaited us. We knew they were coming for us when we saw the red ﬂicker of ﬂames illuminating the rising smoke at the Weatherby farm over the ridge. There was nowhere to hide, no defense we could mount to save ourselves or all that we’d built. I let the horses out of the barn, hoping they could at least ﬂee to safety. The invaders’ arrows cut them down before they got a hundred yards along the road. The monsters came at us silently, without so much as a war cry. They just slowly marched out of the trees and set the felds, the house, and barn alight. The thought of losing all that, harrowing as it is, pales in comparison to the memory of their chains. Cayden help me, those chains…” —Eldus Vorrin, on the Goblinblood Wars O f all the races making their homes in the Inner Sea region, few are as brutal, disciplined, and organized as hobgoblins, whose militarized society carries the threat of war, subjugation, and suﬀering wherever it spreads. Hobgoblins rarely form permanent political entities; the Tian nation of Kaoling stands out as a solitary realm where hobgoblins maintain a stable government, fxed borders, and a thriving capital city. Most hobgoblins live in roving war bands; these armies make their homes on the ruined battlefelds of their most recent conquests, always looking to the horizon for more victims to enslave and more settlements to burn and plunder. But not all hobgoblin organizations are familial military units. Despite relishing being at odds with other civilizations and rarely setting down permanent roots, hobgoblins still have myriad guilds, orders, and religious cults that stand apart from the perceived norm.
Many non-hobgoblins see hobgoblin culture’s militaristic nature as a hindrance, a fxation holding the race back from becoming more than its current state. What such observers fail to grasp are the lengths to which hobgoblins are willing to go to impose their sense of order upon the world around them. In most cases, this drive takes the form of traditional military conquest—hobgoblins seek to force the world to adapt to their will by sheer might and threat of death.
In other, lower-profle instances, however, the visionaries of the hobgoblin race work to bring about revolutionary change within their own society and in the world beyond.
Blood’s legacy In the wake of the Goblinblood Wars in Isger, the goblinoid armies ﬂed to other parts of the Inner Sea region to regroup, retreated to underground warrens beneath the Chitterwood to lick their wounds, or were eradicated by the joined forces of Andoran, Cheliax, the Five Kings Mountains, Isger, and Molthune. Morale among hobgoblins and their goblin and bugbear kin reached a nadir unmatched in their collective memory.
However, a small group of hobgoblins, led by the charismatic Dtrung (LE male hobgoblin skald 12), was inspired by this defeat to unite not only the goblinoids of the Chitterwood and greater Isger, but those of the entire Inner Sea region. Seeing the conquest of Avistan and beyond as an inevitability for goblinkind, Dtrung and his most trusted envoys travel far and wide to unite the Chitterwood diaspora and goblinoids who took no part in the Goblinblood Wars behind the shared vision of goblin superiority.
Blood’s Legacy has found the most success in this endeavor with other hobgoblin tribes, especially ones based elsewhere in Avistan, in western and southwestern Casmaron, and in northern Garund. Bugbears ofen scoﬀ at the concept of such large-scale, coordinated eﬀorts, preferring a more solitary existence, and few are open to working with others. But even bugbears seem amenable compared to the frenetic goblins, who are just as likely to attack and try to eat Dtrung’s envoys as they are to give them an audience.
There is still much work for Dtrung and Blood’s Legacy to do to bring the goblinoid peoples of Avistan, Casmaron, and Garund together, but they are nothing if not persistent and single-minded in their task.
Should they succeed in their ultimate goal, the Goblinblood Wars may look like merely the initial salvo in a generations-long conﬂict that could engulf much more of the world than Isger and its surrounding lands.
cantorian supremacy Hobgoblins see themselves as the epitome of goblinkind—the result of magical evolution by the legendary artifact known as the Cantorian Spring. This long-lost relic was used by cultists of the infernal duke Canzoriant to mutate weak and undisciplined goblins into the larger, stronger, and more focused hobgoblins that exist today.
While the Cantorian Spring is no longer in hobgoblin hands, many in the proud race wish to recreate its wonders by continuing to evolve both themselves and goblins into even more perfect killing machines.
Using a combination of alchemy and divine magic, the members of the cabal known as the Cantorian Supremacy conduct experiments on volunteers and slave test subjects in an eﬀort to engineer the perfect soldier.
Hobgoblins are given more strength, speed, and stamina, while goblins are granted extraordinary size, intellect, and focus. Members of each race may have their natural senses augmented, including extended darkvision and more exotic forms of perception like blindsense, tremorsense, and scent. Other racial tendencies—such as pyromania—are encouraged, as are goblins’ and hobgoblins’ natural penchants for stealth.
Despite major advances in the evolution of both goblins and hobgoblins, the Cantorian Supremacy faces stern opposition from traditionalists, who believe the alchemists and clerics working on the eugenics project are tampering with forces beyond their ability to control.
Some detractors call the Supremacy’s work heresy and accuse the cabal’s members of practicing elf magic disguised as something more benign. Still others fear that the Cantorian Supremacy will somehow gain control over other goblinoids, just as the hobgoblins’ original creators controlled them with the Cantorian Spring.
Whether or not the Cantorian Supremacy’s eﬀorts amount to a sea change within goblinoid evolution across the world largely depends on how well its members can convince their fellow hobgoblins of the potential of their work. Until that day, the other races of the world can only hope this eﬀort never succeeds.
Fists oF Feilong Some hobgoblins in the Inner Sea region look east to Kaoling and see it as proof that hobgoblins can stand alongside the region’s other races with a homeland of their own. One organization, the Fists of Feilong, strives to establish just such a land—a kingdom built not on conquest but on holding what is theirs with strength and discipline. Founded a decade ago by General Feilong (LE male hobgoblin samurai 9), the Fists rampaged across central Avistan in search of a land they could claim as their own.
Finding most lands in the region protected by established sovereignties, Feilong eventually set his sights on the River Kingdoms, where even the strongest existing borders are negotiable and the weakest are barely suggestions. In this fertile land he saw the potential to raise a new kingdom for goblinkind, a nation to rival Kaoling in its greatness and inﬂuence.
Rather than stir up unneeded resistance among the allied extant River Kingdoms by waging war on established settlements, Feilong and his best scouts searched the wild regions not yet claimed by humans and chose a defensible forest glade in which to plant the seed of their new kingdom.
Construction began on Fort Feilong, a work of inspired engineering and inventive castle design, around which a growing village has sprung up. To date, the fort’s neighbors have watched warily from a distance but have not provoked the burgeoning hobgoblin nation, in part because Feilong and his followers have made none of the expected aggressions against them.
Over 2,000 hobgoblins from across the Inner Sea region, many of them refugees from the vanquished armies of the Goblinblood Wars, have joined emigrants from Kaoling in growing Fort Feilong. The Fists of Feilong comprise an inordinate number of cavaliers (as well as samurai, both expatriated from Kaoling and native to Avistan), and their breeding of yzobu has greatly increased the number of the so-called battle yaks in the Inner Sea region.
Though still in its infancy, Fort Feilong could pose a very real threat to the other River Kingdoms and the region at large if it continues to grow at its current rate. Neighboring kingdoms have already begun seeking a means of disrupting the Fists’ growth, either via political inﬂuence or military action, and the heroes capable of stopping the threat from evolving further stand to make both a name for themselves and a sizable bounty for their eﬀorts.
the iron ring Slavery is as ingrained in hobgoblin society as much as war, yet hobgoblins are not known for participating in the slave trade in the same way as duergar, gnolls, or even evil humans. Hobgoblins take slaves to impose their order on others, assert their dominance, and spread suﬀering. Most hobgoblin armies leave dangerous or menial tasks to these prisoners, allowing the hobgoblins to more efciently focus on martial endeavors. When slaves fall ill or no longer serve their purpose, they are simply killed or are crippled and lef for dead.
The primary exception to this rule is the hobgoblin slaving organization known as the Iron Ring. These slavers participate in and promote the slave trade as a business instead of simply a means of exploiting prisoners of war. They believe that slaves are as much property as they are tools of the corps, and they recognize that an army is stronger with full coﬀers with which to improve its arsenals. The Iron Ring trades slaves primarily with other monstrous entities—the gnolls of Katapesh and southern Osirion, the Darklands’ duergar, and the undead of Geb—and they rarely interact with human traders. The hobgoblins, who take mainly humans as chattel, do not trust other humans to betray their own kind by honoring hobgoblin trade agreements, and thus prefer to deal in humans rather than with them.
Hobgoblins are not generally a seafaring people, but the Iron Ring maintains a small ﬂeet of slave galleys that ply the waters of the Obari Ocean, making port in Katapesh, Katheer, and Okeno and trading with their gnoll counterparts and desert-dwelling hobgoblin kin in the Meraz Desert. This naval slaving operation has garnered the attention of Andoran’s Gray Corsairs, who are closely observing the increased hobgoblin activity upon the open seas. shadowmasks Hobgoblins do not tend to worship Zon-Kuthon, but the Shadowmasks of the Uskwood are a notable exception.
A cult of fanatical Kuthites, its worship centers on the Midnight Lord’s inﬂuence over darkness (though its members are not opposed to pain, torture, and other areas of concern of their patron deity).
Primarily comprising clerics, monks, and warpriests, the Shadowmasks number roughly 200 members who live in the Uskwood. The people of Nidal recognize that the cult venerates Zon-Kuthon and thus permit the hobgoblins to live in such close proximity to the capital of Pangolais out of respect for their faith. Both groups mostly stay to themselves and interact only in cases of unplanned encounters in the dark forest, preferring a laissez-faire relationship instead of more formal treaties, pacts, and inevitable betrayals.
The cult’s high priestess, Prihruk (LE female hobgoblin monk 15), has led the Shadowmasks for decades and is said to have been one of the original acolytes of the order’s founder, an enigmatic shadow shaman from whom the cult took its name. What Prihruk lacks in magical ability (for she cannot channel the power of the Midnight Lord), she makes up for in discipline and inﬂuence over those clerics and adepts who do her bidding. Prihruk alone holds the secrets of the Nighteye Dance, a ritual passed to her from Shadowmask that grants participants the ability to see in all forms of darkness (as if through a devil’s eyes), a rite she reserves for only those of her followers who prove themselves obedient and devout enough to meet her high standards.
The spellcasters among the cult specialize in eﬀects that use or employ blindness, cold, darkness, emptiness, shadows, silence, and heightened senses and awareness.
Shadowmasks who lack magical ability train in controlling their emotions, using the spiked chain in battle, and embodying the ideals of kytons (in the same way Hellknights take inspiration from devilkind and the legions of Hell). In rare instances, summoned or called kytons are even used as sparring partners for the cult’s most elite members, a practice that has resulted in as many unfortunate deaths as mastered martial skills.
silent sands The vast deserts of Qadira are home to nomadic tribes of myriad races, from desert giants and genies to humans and ratfolk. Among the most aggressive of these desert-dwellers are the hobgoblins known as the Silent Sands, a loose alliance of tribes that prey upon caravans traversing the Zho Mountains and Meraz Desert and whose members hire themselves out as mercenaries to protect travelers who can aﬀord their services.
The Silent Sands are masters at desert ambushes, and are known to lie in wait for a chosen target, partially buried beneath scorching dunes, for hours, even days.
Each raiding party typically includes at least one sand shaman or desert druid who provides battlefeld control, including weather manipulation, terrain alteration, and mirage-like illusions. Silent Sand warriors are trained to fght in the most violent of sandstorms and in conditions of unsure footing.
While the Silent Sands are known to attack caravans for their own gain, they are more ofen hired to ambush travelers by scheming business rivals who wish to eliminate competition without being linked to the attack. Thus, the Silent Sands are incredibly discreet when it comes to their employers, patrons, and allies.
A caravan may be waylaid by a hobgoblin raiding party, its survivors none the wiser that the goods stolen from them ended up in the hands of their own corrupt employer who used the raid as grounds for a lucrative insurance claim.
The Silent Sands, for their part, care little about who employs them or what their motives are so long as the tribe receives its agreed-upon fee. Those who renege on their contracts with the hobgoblins fnd themselves the target of even more vicious attacks and ofen end up in chains, sold by the Silent Sands to other unscrupulous parties far from the reaches of Qadira’s laws.
wartongues Made up of equal numbers of diplomats and saboteurs, the Wartongues aim to sow discord in otherwise peaceful regions. While many humans are suspicious of hobgoblins who seem peaceful, diplomatic, and reasonable, others recognize the unique perspective the Wartongues can bring to their courts. Members of the organization serve as advisors to generals, demagogues, and regional rulers, using their inﬂuence to promote violence, war, and slavery in order to foster societies in which hobgoblin ideals and ways of life are the norm. Afer all, in a world torn apart by war, who better to rise to the top of the power structure but a race bred and trained from birth for battle? Unlike most of their kind, the Wartongues are masters of subtlety, and rarely do they tip their hands to reveal their true intentions. Couching their promotion of conﬂict in sound military advice, pragmatic tactics, and manipulative power plays, the order’s members have insinuated themselves into even the most resistant human organizations from central Garund to the heart of the Padishah Empire of Kelesh to the noble courts of Brevoy and Taldor.
Meanwhile, the Wartongues’ hidden saboteurs work to set the tinderbox of political tension and warmongering aﬂame by staging uprisings, spurring the downtrodden into sedition, and creating the appearance of treachery where there is none. The Wartongues are drawn to regions where the conditions are already conducive to conﬂict, such as Galt, Molthune, Sargava, and the border between Taldor and Qadir.a LONE HEROES All humanoid races have living legends and honored heroes among their number, and hobgoblins are no exception. While they tend to stick to their own kind— both out of a sense of racial loyalty and because they are unwelcome in the cities of humans, elves, dwarves and their ilk—the renown of some hobgoblin heroes transcends societal barriers. Two such hobgoblin heroes are described below.
This hulking female hobgoblin has a mohawk of bone piercings on her bald scalp, and is covered from head to toe in a collection of weapons of varying ages, styles, and condition.
CR 7 XP 3,200 Female hobgoblin medium 8 (Pathfnder RPG Bestiary 175, Pathfnder RPG Occult Adventures 30) LE Medium humanoid (goblinoid) Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +6
AC 18, touch 13, ﬂat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 71 (8d8+32)
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +7 Weaknesses taboo
Speed 20 ft.
Melee +1 bastard sword +12/+12/+7 (1d10+8/19–20) or mwk light ﬂail +12/+12/+7 (1d8+7) or spear +11/+11/+6 (1d8+8/×3)
Ranged mwk shortbow +13/+13/+8 (1d6+5/×3)
Special Attacks haunt channeler (4d6), shared seance, spirit (champion, 1 inﬂuence), sudden attack Medium
Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +11)
2nd (2/day)—bull’s strength, haste, inﬂict painOA (DC 15) 1st (2/day)—cause fear (DC 14), enlarge person (DC 14), protection from good, true strike 0 (at will)—bleed (DC 13), detect magic, guidance, prestidigitation, resistance, virtue
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 21
Feats Barroom BrawlerACG, Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +8 (+4 when jumping), Climb +6, Intimidate +14, Perception +6, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +4, Swim +6; Racial Modifers +4 Stealth
Languages Common, Goblin
SQ champion’s prowess (bastard sword), connection channel, location channel (8 rounds), spirit bonus (+3 on attack rolls, non-spell damage rolls, Strength checks, Strength-based skill checks, and Fortitude saves), spirit surge +1d6, taboo (eschew arcane power)
Combat Gear acid (2), alchemist’s fre (3);
Other Gear +1 hide armor, +1 bastard sword, battleaxe, daggers (3), mwk light ﬂail, mwk shortbow with 20 arrows, spear, lesser talisman of arrow protectionOA, lesser talisman of healing powerOA, lesser talisman of warrior’s courageOA, 114 gp
Hobgoblins pride themselves on their military prowess, and ofen wear trophies and talismans to remember their greatest individual victories and to indicate their status among others in their armies. But few hobgoblins draw power from their fetishes in the same way as the infamous mercenary Gaugagh.
Gaugagh is a veteran of the Goblinblood Wars, having served as an infantry soldier in dozens of battles. Eager to advance through the ranks and make a name for herself, she collected bones, ears, fngers, hair, and teeth of the most formidable of her fallen foes: dwarven defenders, Eagle Knights of the Golden Legion, Hellknights, and Isgeri commanders all contributed to her growing array of trophies. Along with these gruesome mementos, Gaugagh also partook in the hobgoblin tradition of improving her personal arsenal from the corpses of her vanquished foes.
Unlike her compatriots in arms, however, Gaugagh found that her trophies, blades and bones alike, spoke to her. At frst she thought the battle cries were those of her allies, for the din of pitched combat was ofen chaotic.
Yet she soon realized that they spoke in languages no hobgoblin would utter on the feld of war. The voices spoke in whispers she could understand, and told her the tactics and techniques she needed to overcome her most challenging obstacles. When she needed a swif and keen blade, she became the greatest sword fghter in her unit. When faced with a stealthy sniper, she gained the sight and skill with a bow to eliminate the hidden threat.
When she needed to step in and cover for her unit’s fallen battlefeld medic, she discovered that with enough meditation, she could do even that.
Through careful contemplation on the baubles she wore and drove through her ﬂesh, Gaugagh could tap into untold power that lingered in the wake of her victims. Even those she killed oﬀ the battlefeld increased her potential—the scholar who refused to abandon his books as Gaugagh set his library aﬂame, the halﬂing abolitionist she caught trying to free slaves from a hobgoblin encampment in the Chitterwood, the ancient druid healer she killed for food while it was in the form of a great boar.
Equipped with a spirit army only she could access, Gaugagh rose quickly through the hobgoblin ranks, eventually commanding her own battalion. But the soldiers who served her were wary of her strange powers, and rumors spread that she was haunted by an elven curse. Fearing that one of her lieutenants would jump on the perceived weakness of her “afiction” and eliminate her, Gaugagh abdicated her position and deserted the greater hobgoblin army engaged in the war. She struck out on her own, no longer ftting in among her kind and drawn to increasingly powerful enemies whose prowess and expertise she hoped to add to her repertoire.
In the intervening decade and a half, Gaugagh has kept herself busy serving as a hired sword in over a dozen mercenary companies throughout Avistan and northern Garund. Her tenure at each is typically cut short by her obsession with fnding and facing greater foes. While her versatility and experience are initially boons for each unit she serves in, the patience of her commanders wears thin when Gaugagh defes orders or goes rogue to fulfll her self-appointed quest for more grim trophies.
Gaugagh is currently between employers, and travels under cover of darkness along the Inner Sea region’s more desolate roads in search of new opportunities.
When she encounters travelers, she dons her most diplomatic front to ingratiate herself into their company, either to determine who among them is most worthy of challenging to a duel or to earn herself a commission as a hired blade.
Gaugagh can be especially deceptive with adventurers as she makes both a valuable ally and a deadly enemy; which role she plays can shif as quickly as she can meditate on new skills. Even with friends, Gaugagh is merely a seance away from fnding a new enemy—and a potential addition to her macabre collection.
Gaugagh revels in her reputation, and challenges the greatest of her enemies to single combat as the champion of her mercenary company or hobgoblin unit, or as a solitary racial paragon.
Among other hobgoblins, she ofen invokes the tradition of kalech-mar, an honor duel between a subordinate ofcer and her superior to display the latter’s weakness. While this is a common means of promotion within hobgoblin military units, Gaugagh sees the tradition less as a path to a higher rank than as a legal, accepted excuse to fght those in her society who are supposedly better strategists and more skilled warriors than she is. She is just as likely to defeat a superior and then change units, abandoning her newly attained position, as she is to simply challenge the next commander in the long chain of command, moving herself up the ranks with ferocity and alacrity.
In combat, she draws on the spirit of the fallen enemy most likely to provide her with an advantage—elven foes when battling other elves, great duelists when facing a formidable blade, and brutish bludgeoners when encountering hulks capable of shrugging oﬀ incredible wounds. She most ofen channels the champion spirit, which allows her to use the trophy weapons she carries from battlefeld to battlefeld. In times of particular need, however, she is not above channeling the guardian, hierophant, marshal, or trickster. She does not channel the archmage, who she sees as carrying the taint of elf magic. When she encounters arcane spellcasters, Gaugagh takes special care to kill them via the most brutal means necessary, preferring to eliminate their bodies completely rather than carry mementos with her and risk corruption from their foul spirits. This superstition leaves the hobgoblin champion vulnerable to magical attacks, and if faced with an arcane enemy capable of surviving her onslaught, she could someday meet her match on the battlefeld.
Despite her overactive ego and unrelenting confdence, Gaugagh is smart enough to know when she’s beaten, and she does not fght to the death unless it was a specifc term of her challenge against an opponent (a term she rarely agrees to when she isn’t certain of victory).
Gaugagh can be hired for her mercenary services for a negotiable fee, usually starting at 100 gp per day. She knows that her abilities make her a valuable asset to any potential employers and she does not settle for less than she’s worth. When she sees the opportunity, she raises her rates signifcantly, either due to increased danger in her assignment or because she recognizes that her employer has more funds to spare Qa’al This male hobgoblin wears a red leather duster, a widebrimmed hat, and a bandolier. He wields a pistol sylized to look like a dragon.
CR 11 XP 12,800 Male hobgoblin gunslinger 12 (Pathfnder RPG Bestiary 175, Pathfnder RPG Ultimate Combat 9) LE Medium humanoid (goblinoid) Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +18 DEFENSE AC 24, touch 20, ﬂat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +1 deﬂection, +5 Dex, +4 dodge) hp 106 (12d10+36) Fort +10, Ref +13, Will +9 Defensive Abilities fortifcation 25%, nimble +3 OFFENSE Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk longsword +13/+8/+3 (1d8/19–20) Ranged +1 reliable dragon pistol +19 (1d6+6/19–20/×4) or mwk musket +18 (1d12+5/×4)
Special Attacks deeds (bleeding wound, dead shot, deadeye, expert loading, gunslinger initiative, gunslinger’s dodge, lightning reload, pistol-whip, quick clear, startling shot, targeting, utility shot), grit (3), gun training +5 (dragon pistol, musket)
STATISTICS Str 10, Dex 20, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 8 Base Atk +12; CMB +12; CMD 32
Feats Deadly Aim, Dodge, GunsmithingUC, Improved Critical (dragon pistol), Iron Will, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (dragon pistol)
Skills Acrobatics +14, Climb +9, Craft (alchemy) +5, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (local) +10, Perception +18, Ride +10, Stealth +24, Survival +18; Racial Modifers +4 Stealth
Languages Common, Goblin, Kelish SQ gunsmith
Combat Gear potion of cure serious wounds (2), potion of invisibility, alchemical cartridgeUC (dragon’s breath) (50), alchemical cartridgeUC (entangling shot) (20), alchemical cartridgeUC (ﬂare) (20), alchemical cartridgeUC (paper) (50); Other Gear +1 light fortifcation studded leather, +1 reliable dragon pistolUC, mwk longsword, mwk musketUC, belt of incredible dexterity +2, deathwatch eyesUE, ring of protection +1, 181 gp
The nomadic, desert-dwelling hobgoblin tribes of Qadira interact primarily with trade caravans making their way between Katheer and other points on the Obari Ocean and the eastern heart of the Padishah Empire of Kelesh. These isolated goblinoids rarely make contact with others of their kind unless it serves their strategic needs. Such was the case when the young Qa’al was sent at the behest of his commander to the Garundi citystate of Alkenstar to bring back the alchemical secrets of gunpowder and frearms.
Qa’al traveled alone across the Meraz Desert and booked passage to Quantium by way of Jalmeray, keeping to the cargo ship’s hold so as to be undetected (and so the captain could plausibly claim the hobgoblin was a stowaway if Qa’al were discovered). Inland from Quantium, as he made his way up the Ustradi River to Alkenstar, Qa’al found that the Spellscar Desert, while much more chaotic and primal in nature than the Meraz Desert in Qadira, was more to his tastes. In particular, the locals’ trepidation about magic due to the roaming primal and magic-free pockets that plagued the Mana Wastes mirrored his own aversion to the “elf magic” so widely practiced by non-hobgoblins.
In Alkenstar, Qa’al found information on guns, gunpowder, and other alchemical advances hard to come by, despite the ubiquity of such technology in the Grand Duchy. While he was more welcome in the shops of apothecaries, alchemists, and weapons dealers than he was used to being in human settlements, Qa’al found little of the information he sought. Those dealing in frearms were tight-lipped about their sources, and those who worked in the heavily guarded Gunworks were suspicious of even the most benign line of questioning from the inquisitive hobgoblin. Afer months of queries, Qa’al was no closer to uncovering the secrets of gunpowder than he had been before reaching the city.
Eventually, Qa’al found a desperate mercenary captain named Nekiz in the city’s shady underbelly willing to hire the hobgoblin on for a short assignment guarding a warehouse. Despite his monstrous heritage, Qa’al was an exemplar of professionalism. As a result, he received additional assignments in increasingly high-profle locations, including some he believed held secrets of gunsmithing. Over the course of 3 years of service to various masters of even more varied levels of integrity, Qa’al fnally secured a position protecting the Gunworks itself.
This, he knew, was too good an opportunity to pass up. While patrolling the facility at night, he immersed himself in its workings, absorbing all the knowledge of frearms, gunpowder, and similar technologies he had set out to obtain. Secreting away small samples of ammonia, ammunition, saltpeter, and unassembled gun parts, he cobbled together his own gunsmithing workshop in the modest tenement rooms he had made his home.
Through trial and error, he experimented with these new materials, eventually crafing his own gun and making increasingly advanced forms of ammunition.
Afer 6 months on the job, however, Qa’al’s time at the Gunworks came to an abrupt and unexpected halt.
Alkenstar’s elite Shieldmarshals, responsible for ensuring the security of the Grand Duchy and the secrecy of the technological advances that kept its economy thriving, had discovered that gun and gunpowder components had gone missing and initiated an investigation into the aﬀair. Unknown to Qa’al, Nekiz—the same man who gave him his frst job guarding that simple warehouse years earlier—had been smuggling much larger quantities of even more valuable material out of the Gunworks with the help of coconspirators holding Qa’al’s position during other shifs. When the Shieldmarshals started asking questions, Nekiz skipped town, but not before leaving a trail of evidence implicating Qa’al in the larger heists.
The Shieldmarshals took the bait and came to arrest Qa’al with little beyond a cursory investigation. The hobgoblin was not home when the Shieldmarshals raided his apartment, but they found the modest workshop he had built there. Qa’al was as good as guilty on this basis alone, and when he learned what had transpired, he ﬂed Alkenstar with nothing but the clothes on his back.
Qa’al had learned what he sought, and would have fulflled his mission had he ﬂed back across the Obari Ocean to his tribe, but he was furious at Nekiz’s cowardice and betrayal. Rather than let the slight against him stand, Qa’al vowed to use the skills he had learned in the preceding months to exact revenge on Nekiz and his associates, wherever in the Inner Sea region they might have ﬂed.
His new quest for vengeance has taken him across the Mwangi Expanse to the Shackles, as far north as Kalsgard, and to cities as varied as Whitethrone and Absalom. The trail has grown cold many times in the course of his pursuit, but Qa’al sees periods of delay as opportunities to refne his craf. He has already developed new ways of combining his tribe’s penchant for efreeti-inspired ﬂame alchemy with frearms, and he has developed a knack for fring gouts of searing ﬂame from the muzzle of his signature dragon pistol.
Alkenstar’s Shieldmarshals saw Qa’al’s ﬂight from the Grand Duchy as a tacit admission of guilt, and they have pursued the hobgoblin with the same dedication with which he has tracked Nekiz. Thus far, Qa’al has avoided confrontation with the gun-hunters, but he knows that he has as much to fear from capture as he stands to lose by allowing Nekiz to live afer his betrayal.
Qa’al’s quest for revenge can take him anywhere in the Inner Sea region, and he is more than willing to work with others if their goals align with his. Afer Nekiz’s betrayal, Qa’al is understandably suspicious of potential allies, but is generally trusting of anyone who shares his motivation of revenge against the scoundrel. The Shieldmarshals are equally willing to work with others who seek Qa’al, however, and adventurers are just as likely to cross paths with the hobgoblin’s pursuers as with Qa’al himself. In either case, the renegade gunslinger is a potent combatant with a strong sense of justice and an unrivaled survival instinct 
- Adventure Path - (PZO90115] - 20 - Ironfang Invasion - 02 - Fangs of War