Wednesday, 9 May 2012

K is for KOBOLDS!

Yeah, you really should have guessed...

Kobolds are one of my favourite little monsters from D&D.

In older editions, they represented the "lower rung" of the Savage Humanoid tree, much like Goblins. They were furry, dirty, dog-faced rat-tailed things, scavengers and general pests. They could be found in most dungeons (they had no true homes, and hid wherever they could), normally under the protection of bigger monsters, acting as skivvies and slaves in return.

They were an iconic beastie - as most parties started at level 1, and they were the standard adventure fodder.

By 3rd edition, they had changed to their current form - small, reptilian humanoids, possessed of great cunning and skill with traps, who normally served with Dragons (see that "find a bigger boy to hide behind" thing again?), worshipping them and doing everything in their power to serve them. Well, turns out, the thing they do best to serve them is die in their droves, but that's neither here nor there.

Their iconic status led to them receiving a lot of attention, from both third party sources (Green Ronin's Quintessential Kobold) and official ones (the Races of the Dragon book for 3.5), making them an oddly popular player race - despite their physical shortcomings, and total lack of respect. Partly, this may be because the additional rules within, like the Dragonwrought feat, which lets you take no penalties from ageing - so you can choose to start at Venerable, and gain +3 Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, with no penalty, as well as extra goodies like qualifying for Dragon-only spells, feats and Prestige Classes, or the feat that gives you an extra level of sorcerer (So you're a 1st level Kobold who has two levels of Sorcerer... somehow) are fairly overpowered and oddly written.

3rd Edition also saw the rise of Pun-Pun - a character build that could have infinite stats and attain a Divine Rank (what makes Gods Gods) by 5th level. Of course, it can best be described as True Optimisation - to pull this off in a game you would need to cajole the DM, possibly offering money or sexual favours to pull of some of the stuff required (like meeting a member of a long-though-extinct race, the Sarrukh, and convincing them to use their ability to warp Scalykind to grant you infinite God-like power). On the Practical Optimisation side of things though, Kobold Sorcerers rock, especially with the extra goodies from the Kobold-focused books.

4th Edition changed their appearance somewhat, but otherwise left them unchanged. However, a recently announced book regarding underground/dungeon dwelling races looks to have them as a fully-supported PC Race - which should be interesting...
 Perhaps their appeal lies in their true underdog nature - they are the most kicked-around, beaten on, disrespected race around - but when they get their shit together, they can be a terrifyingly competent force. Their decent Intelligence scores, combined with a love of trapsmithing and a certain sadistic streak, mean that one should never underestimate a group of Kobolds with nothing to lose.

Take a look at Tucker's Kobolds for proof.

Those of you who've been following by blog for a while will know of the Kobold Ascension Campaign I've been trying to get off the ground for a while. The basic concept - you are Kobolds, Nature's Losers. Day to day survival, and servitude to your Draconic Mistress, are all you know. You protect Her from adventurers, thieves, and the beasts and creatures that roam the lands of Delraith. One day, however, you find out a terrible secret - your Mistress, Anathraxiis, Great Death Incarnate, Black Terror of the Land, was once a Kobold - like you. All the Dragons were, at some point. Some meditated for years, unlocking their true spiritual potential, and became the Great Metallic Dragons. Some cheated their way to the top, and became the Evil Chromatics. You've found part of the ancient, arcane ritual your Mistress used to Ascend - and now, it's your turn.


  1. Mongoose's Quintessential Kobold, not Green Ronin's.

  2. The campaign for sure intrigues me. I imagine mechanics wise this is basically an allusion to the Dragon Disciple Prestige Class. Well at least for 3.5 and possibly Pathfinder. Though the later could simply be Dragon Bloodline Sorcerer and Prestige into Dragon Disciple.