Hobgoblins are a single species that is divided into two populations, the "true" hobgoblins and the soulforged Iron-Skins. The two populations are not interfertile, but the Iron-Skins were created from the base hobgoblin species.
Hobgoblins derive from the hyperborean lands to the north of the Dawnlands, where their greatest population is found in the empire of Kartak-Who-Blinds, who ascended to living godhood 3,000 years ago. Kartak-Who-Blinds is the cruel god of winter, and his empire has engaged in many bloody purges and civil wars, each time sending tens of thousands of refugees fleeing south across the mountains and glaciers into the northern plains.
Hobgoblins are found amongst the Hill People, as well as forming their own societies based on the petty kingdoms who serve Kartak-Who Blinds. The ones found amongst the Hill People are the oldest waves of refugees and live similarly to other members of that society. Hobgoblin architects and engineers built many of the Cities of Night, and their descendants are mostly found in close proximity to them. Their own societies
Hobgoblins have pointed or bulbous noses, and black or white hair. Their skin ranges from maroon to burnt sienna, with sienna more common as that is what their skin tans to when exposed to regular daylight. Their irises are yellow, orange or brown, and they tend to have heavy and low brow ridges. Hobgoblins are taller than men, but less bulky, so that they mass about the same. Their lifespans are comparable to men. Hobgoblins are omnivorous, but require more meat in their diet than humans or elves. They have more canine teeth and their fingernails are often long, hard and claw-like.
Iron-Skins are the only soul-forged species not to derive from Kaddish. In the days of the kingdom of Weykuln, a hobgoblin thief kidnapped a soul-forger and tortured him until he revealed a handful of the secrets of the art before succumbing to his wounds. The hobgoblin thief transformed many hobgoblins into Iron-Skins, using what knowledge he did have, before the katalictors hunted him down. The soul-forgers being pragmatic, they made the surviving Iron-Skins an offer: The soul-forgers would allow one of their members to live with them and create more Iron-Skins, so long as they never dabbled in soul-forging again, and swore oaths sanctified by terrible curses never to repeat what they did know. The Iron-Skins agreed, and since then, a single soul-forger has always been available, even during the Wars of Dusk and Dawn, to create more of them.
An Iron-Skin hobgoblin is a hobgoblin whose skin has been transformed into an iron epidermis. Internally, their bodies have been transformed so that they no longer eat, sleep, breathe or engage in other bodily functions. They can be mistaken for iron statues of hobgoblins by those who don't know of their existence. Most have fine patterns or a light patina of rust, though they can scrape this off without harm.
Iron-Skins live until they are destroyed. Their sense of touch is drastically reduced in the process, which keeps many hobgoblins from wanting to undertake the process, but fear of death is an important motivator. The soul-forgers have made it so that only young hobgoblins may undergo the process, since the bodily strain will kill older and weaker ones.
Iron-Skins are mainly found amongst the Hill People. Hobgoblin refugees from the north recruit them as mercenaries and berserkers, but there is a strong cultural prejudice against them.