Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Kobolds"

            I have played Dungeons and Dragons for more than 15 years.  Lately, I have only just started playing again with any regularity, but I still have numerous ideas and want to use my blog as a creative outlet.  This is going to be a reoccurring thing as I just keep hammering out things and not all of them can be turned into elements in my “random fantasy novel ideas” folder.

What Have I Got: A Retooling
            I wrote 15 entries on Dungeons and Dragons in the first half of this year and I found that writing 2,800 or so words each week was a bit much for people to read when presented by my rando ass.  Keep in mind, I had to limit myself to that high number and made an effort to start breaking things into multiple parts.
            I decided to take a break and reset my word count to something much lower.  I also am going to emphasize things being a bit sillier.  To start this off I present an analysis of Kobolds.  Consider this a sort of sequel to the “Exotic Monsters” entries but with far less insight into my thought processes.

On the Nature of Kobolds
By Professor Farrowdel Malanar,
Vizier to the Marquis of the Southern Oasis

            I have studied with great diligence over the course of a century the relations of numerous races and governments as they exist on this Southernmost continent of our world.  Gnomes, Warforged, our brethren the Painted Elves, and most recently the race of the Kobolds.
            The Kobold species is by and large a cunning lot.  They take an almost perverse pleasure in outsmarting opponents via complex duplicity, riddles, word games, puzzles, and most dangerously their uncannily constructed traps.
            While other races show great technical proficiency, the aforementioned Gnomes and Warforged being prime examples, and the Coal Dwarfs of Marketopolis have shown themselves the single greatest manufacturing power via the consistency and simple elegance of their large-scale management of systems, Kobolds possess a singular mad genius that I cannot find evidence of in any other race or society.
            Their mechanisms range from crude and brutal to elaborate and intricate.  They are able to hide fine mechanisms in art work, build clockwork and gearwork into previously unworked stone in hours, and an ability to make the most of materials at all times.
            They are however limited in many fashions, getting started chief among them.  Ask a Kobold to protect a fort or tower and the surrounding wilderness will become a deadly maze of poison gas, bolt launchers, pits, and pendulums of every imagining.  Ask them to build a tower and you will end up with a ramshackle structure, poorly situated, poorly supplied, securing an area of no strategic value, and as ugly as it is useless.

A we sure this is a "Secret Tower" and not merely the "Poorly Situated Tower"?
            Kobold nations in history are rare, limited to tribes even in the largest of mentioning, but they have always found a place in larger communities.  They revere dragons and as such see themselves as the smaller counterpart to Dragonkin in much the way Halflings could be seen as the smaller counterparts to Humans.
            A Kobold community in any larger society will be racially harmonious, but ultimately will have issues with their malign nature.  Individual members will always be trying to get one over on others and construct scams to fleece the trusting.  A notorious Kobold was drawn and quartered by the Maunder Empire when they still held dominion over the City of Bone, the Kobold known as Ponzi had constructed an elaborate business model allowing him to sell useless licenses to contracted employees and unload numerous inventions of questionable utility.  Racism against Kobolds following the scheme led to many members of the community leaving to the wilds of the Northern Mountain ranges and tribal living.
            Kobolds are useful allies.  They are defenders of precious things, but not ones to make or dream of precious things.  They are stalwart in loyalty and deadly to those who betray them.  They will hold up every promise or fall on the mercy of the court should they find themselves unable to.  They will fleece the unprepared, and make rich those investors who know how to close their loopholes.  Anyone wishing to attack a group allied with Kobolds should be prepared for a dangerous undertaking, and anyone who allies themselves with kobolds would be wise to never renege on an agreement.

Kobolds by Edition
            There are vast differences between editions in how the Kobold is depicted in art.  For a more detailed presentation on how they have evolved follow this link to an article from Bell of Lost Souls.


            I feel Kobolds became their best in 4th edition as several pages of functionally different members of a kobold squad were presented in the base book.  While that edition's emphasis on party role (Controller, Defender, Leader, Striker) was overall a negative for players, it was a BIG BOON to DM’s who needed help with composition of encounters.  Unfortunately, the race’s importance so dropped off in 5th edition that the in-game explanation that “their racial god is trapped in a labyrinth” seems like a pretty good meta-explanation as to why they are suddenly all dull and dumb.

The Beg for Attention:
            Remember in your own games, to put your own twist on an established monster or make an effort to emphasize their role in the world when the players encounter them.  For instance, this entry is a handout I gave to my players after they went thru a cave system dungeons with numerous kobold constructed traps.
            Have Fun.

If you would like to read one of my longer entries here is a complete list with links. 
Alignment, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 (this should have been edited into 5 parts)
Defense, part 1, part 2, part 3
Exotic Monsters, part 1, part 2
Setting, part 1, part 2, part 3


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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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