By Thilo Graf
The second instalment of Raging Swan‘s TRIBES-series of supplements is 23 pages long. This includes 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 blank page on the inside of the front cover, 2 pages editorial and general overview, 1 page ToC with a feat-list, statblocks organized by CR, Magic items by cost and new spells by level as well as half a page SRD. That leaves 17.5 pages of gaming material, so let’s jump in.
The pdf kicks off with a page explaining how to read the statblocks and then, after a chapter-header page, kicks off with 5 pages of a gazetteer-like treatment of the tribe: Being mercenaries that are sometimes even employed by humans to harass and kill other humanoids, the Hobgoblins are an interesting bunch that even rides giant bats into battle. Names, appearances, nomenclature, views of religion and magic as well as a very cool sidebar on the organization of warband of the tribe, in the nomenclature of the mailed fist, a battle.
The Hobgoblins of the Mailed Fist get 7 new feats to use in battle, all of which fit their theme.
The 3 new spells create variations of trenches, which are quite frankly, gold for PCs who are fighting last stands or against all odds and which make nasty surprises for PCs. I really love them.
The 3 new magic items are nice and feature beautiful artwork as well as several different Lore-sections.
After that, we’ll get to the chapter statblocks, Allies & Encounters: The chapter kicks off with two pages of fluff introduction as well as 4 suggested encounters as well as 9 sample personalities to breathe life into the company. After that, we get 6 pages of statblocks for the Hobgoblins, ranging from the humble CR4-soldiers to the CR11 war-leader. We get 4 statblocks for soldiers (2 melee, 2 ranged), 3 Black Wing Riders (2 warriors, 1 sorcerer) and 5 specialists (War Chanter, Battle Cleric, Mailed Fist [Cleric/Fighter], War leader, Beast Master) as well as tactics typically employed described in sidebars. We also get a page of fluff description for the carnivorous bat-mounts and two statblocks for them as well as a minor modification for plate-wearing black wings.
The pdf closes with half a page of advice to design more members of the tribe.
Formatting and editing is, once again, top-notch. I didn’t find any glitches or typos. Layout is concise and printer-friendly and writing, once again, is extremely concise and information is densely packed.
The old-school b/w-artwork is beautiful, as is usually the case with Raging Swan products.
When buying this pdf, I thought: “Oohoo, another Hobgoblin-warband write-up. Haven’t seen that in a while…*yawn*.” I was wrong. While not reinventing the wheel, the Mailed Fist has enough unique and exciting ideas to make them stand out – from their focus on killing other humanoids and their battle-feats and trench-spells (AWESOME idea!) to their giant bats, they are a worthy addition to the gritty canon of The Lonely Coast and continues Raging Swan’s streak of excellent products. Although I would have loved to see some more unique magic items, this one criticism does not warrant a downgrade of the final verdict: 5 stars. Well done, Raging Swan.