I recently read two great articles by Paul over at the Blog of Holding about “The Ecology of the Goblin“, and “The Ecology of the Kobold”. After reading both of these I decided while his take on Kobolds was nice I preferred my own.
I want to experiment and play around a bit with the “voice” for my little Kobold narrator because I’d like to keep putting out some more little posts with him. I am hoping to switch things up and do more posts than I currently am (next to none) but focus on longer better posts.
These Kobolds are very different from their standard ilk in that they straddle the boundary between their lesser raider kin, and a far more sophisticated (and often nefarious)
Mr. Richard Dunlin,
Grix is very pleased you have chosen him to to teach you of his people. He has traveled all over the lands of Averfost to research the many races and species that inhabit her. It is Grix’s hope that his great knowledge of the Kobolds will suffice your interest.
It is Glix’s desire that through his articles the Honorary Owlbear Society may invite him to continue producing his works for them. Together with their combined knowledge they may be able to influence great change in the world.
Ecology of Kobolds
Written by: Glix Sinith
Contributions by: Seth Drebitko
Though the Kobolds ancestors inhabited the Southernmost jungles of the Orgack peninsula they have spread far and wide across the face of Averfost. Many scholars agree that the Kobold population growth matches (or even exceeds) that of the humans since the fall of the Naga Empire. Due to the vast distances between the many Kobold societies they can very a great deal from one another.
In pre-history while Humans were pulling themselves from the muck of their fields the ancestors of modern Kobolds lived peacefully as hunter-gatherers. They took shelter in large cave networks and used their natural affinity to magic to manipulate their environment to their needs. For ages they peacefully worshiped our lord Tarasque before the Naga and their gods war spread like a disease to Orgack.
The living gods of the Naga assailed the Southern region searching for resources to exploit, but their most precious resource were Grix’s ancestors themselves. The Naga found that groups of Kobolds from even short differences from other social groups had minor physical variances. The Naga were already experimenting with genetics allowing them to make the leap of selectively breeding their newly subjugated Kobold slave force.
In time the Naga created a multitude of carefully designed breeds of Kobold to aid them as servitors in their many wars across Averfost. As their armies continued to march onward the Naga’s Kobold slaves continued to be scattered across the world laying down their roots.
The pressures of the Naga’s many wars caused the sprawling Naga Empire to collapse beneath itself leaving their many servitor races to carve out their own place in the world. Among these races the Kobold was of the most vastly spread across Averfost fostering many varied communities to develop independently.
Overall the Kobold species has a common appearance of a bipedal dog with scaly skin, small horns protruding from the forehead, and short smooth tails. Their tails are capable of higher functioning prehensile capability; this is a trait that must be specifically developed with practice and is commonly looked down on by the most civilized Kobolds. Though various breeds range a great deal in height the average ranges in height between 2’6″ and 4’2″ tall.
Despite their scaled hides Kobolds are actually egg laying mammals. Kobolds have a similar genetic variance to canines with hundreds of separate breeds speculated to exist. While there are a great many breeds the bulk of them fall within one of 3 main categories.
Psychology and Society
The Naga took pride in the many varied breeds of Kobolds that they had created to the point that it became nearly an art form. This pride and importance of breed purity and selective breeding has shaped modern Kobold society. Breed purity is highly important to Kobolds and it is not uncommon for them to pair with 2nd removed relatives or even in some cases first cousins. Despite the fact that breed remains a highly prideful point in Kobold society a slowly more popular trend is to careful arrange marriages to pass on desired traits.
Kobolds are inherently pack animals and pride themselves on seeking companionship. The will often attempt to find this companionship primarily with other Kobolds but also in other people and creatures. Unlike many other intelligent species Kobolds not only value the companionship, but also to surround themselves with powerful companions: it is this reason perhaps that so often Kobolds are easily manipulated by powerful entities.
Kobolds are capable hunters, and expert miners (through their time in Naga work camps) though they are rarely found to cultivate their own food. They prefer to acquire the goods needed for their luxury, and production when able. During their earlier development they more commonly raided other sentient races for the resources they desired; however more civilized Kobolds have ever increasingly made impressive names for themselves by diverting their ingenuity and scheming to more sophisticated business endeavors.
While many Kobolds have adopted the religions of their new locals (and even worse some still worshiping the Naga) there is still a nearly universal reverence for their lord Tarasque. It is the Kobold belief that once the great Tarasque was a mighty god of elemental balance reigning over all existence. The gods of the many pantheons plotted against Tarasque and stole away the essences of his elemental power leaving behind the maddened husk so many know. It is commonly known that the kobolds are the offspring of the great Tarasque and when his essence was stolen so to was theirs. For this reason they believe that it is destined for their god Tarasque to summon the True Dragons so that he and his children may vanquish them and return to their past glory.
There are 4 main forms Kobold societies tend to gel into throughout the world.
Represent the ancestors of modern Kobolds living by their ancestral ways. Typically these are communities that were left behind when the Naga raided the Kobold lands stealing their children. These social groups show the Kobolds inherent social structure in its most purest instinctual form.
Typically these social groups will have an average of 40-50 members composing each “brood”. Kobolds naturally gravitate towards an alpha pair to lead their groups followed by 1 or more betas, and the remainder falling into the lower omega group While Kobolds accept and thrive in their naturally occurring roles it is inherently natural for them to constantly be aware of weakness in which to dominate. Typically if multiple powerful alphas exist within a brood it will cause a brood to fracture into more than one group that goes its separate ways.
These Kobolds are skilled trap makers, and more than capable craftsman of simple Stone Age weaponry. Because of relatively mobile lifestyles and their natural aptitude for magic they’re technology is highly limited.
Because Kobolds naturally gravitate towards companionship with more powerful allies they can often be susceptible to manipulation. Many powerful individuals and societies delude (or outright enslave) Kobolds for their own purposes.
Of these servitor groups of Kobolds the most troubling are the scattered groups of Naga cults. While the Naga Empire has fallen powerful groups remain and it is more important for them than ever to utilize pawns in the world. These Kobolds not only threaten to bring about another rise of the Naga to power, but continue to raise suspicion of Kobolds by other societies.
After the fall of the Naga Empire the vast majority of Kobolds found themselves without a safe infrastructure to supply its members with their needs. These Kobolds scattered onto the fringes of invading societies focused their ingenuity to raiding the societies that inhabit (or seek to) previously Naga lands. Many Kobolds have been pushed by “civilization” into the depths of the Underdark where they have thrived.
These broods tend to swell in size from their hunter-gatherer ancestors with numbers ranging from 50-80. Some communities have even been reported that have grown to over 100 members. This slightly larger social structure typically sees the development of an overarching alpha (sometimes a handful) within the brood followed by a larger subset of betas.
Raiders are typically more stationary than their hunter-gatherer kin, preferring to remain in one place as long as they feel is safe. Because of this they do have genuine craftsman who forge tools, weapons, traps and other goods. Because they could need to quickly uproot themselves at any moment they typically reserve production based activities to their most cherished items, and raid other settlements for anything else.
Many of these Raider societies worship the god Tarasque to the most extreme means. They follow the belief that his awakened fits of rage are an attempt to draw out the True Dragons and consume them that he may lift the veil of madness and bring his children into a new golden age. To help further this goal the extremist raider societies will seek to cause as much hurt and sorrow as possible to try and awaken the Tarasque and summon the true dragons.
As time has worn on and the societies of man and the fae races the surface Kobold raiders societies have eroded under pressure. While many conflicts have resulted in the eradication of Kobold communities simply trying to eek out an existence, many clashes have resulted in Kobold integration within foreign societies.
Wherever the Kobolds lay their roots sprawling ghettos appear as they entrench themselves in the local populace. Cities often resist the encroachment of the outlying impoverished as they frequently bring with them a tide of poverty and loss of manual labor positions. Because they have no formal borders their business (and criminal) enterprises rival even the Halflings operations. While nearly all Kobolds pay reverence to the great Tarasque every increasingly Kobolds are forgoing their traditions and adopting new gods.
While many Kobolds have been lured by obscure cults, as well as the more mainstream pantheons they have come into their own being. Many Kobolds have begun to form cults around legendary members of their kind. The most common of the alleged godlings is the Brood Father. Many propose that the Broodfather is a myth, while other propose that he is simply an ascended being. What is certain is that a growing following of Kobolds is adhering to the Brood Fathers teachings of the great Kobold Enterprise in which Grix’s Kobold brothers and sisters dominate the civilized world through cunning and enterprise. Regardless of the truth of the matter Kobolds across the civilized world are uniting to come into their own power.
Many speculate that deep within the underdark Kobolds have taken root and massive metropolises exist inwhich the Kobold continue to build their power base. If these Kobold societies exist Glix could neither confirm nor deny. What he can speculate openly is that if Kobold hives exist they represent a great boon to kobold society.
Though Glix has many reservations about teaching potential enemies of his peoples weaknesses, but in the interest of nonbiased learning he will go against his better judgment. The first step in overcoming a Kobold threat is to understand that their greatest strength is their weakness.
Kobolds are masters of social manipulation, and will often seek to scare off enemies before having to encounter them. They will typically try and choose dangerous or intimidating environments to reside, as well as make intimidating sounds and leave what appears to be evidence of a far greater/different threat.
If they cannot ward off threats they will then seek to disable or kill enemies through elaborate traps. If threats manage to escape a common Kobold trick is to give the appearance of a previously discovered trap having been reset, while actually having set a second trap for the person who attempts to disable it. Ultimately though the point of their traps is to either outright kill invaders or at least disable them to be dispatched by soldiers.
When attacking directly Kobolds may employ more powerful allies, or even trained beasts to help tip things in their favor. When Kobolds are drawn into combat directly themselves they will often attempt to utilize their terrain and their small stature to their advantage in order to keep their enemies a safe distance.
Undoubtedly Kobolds always attempt to build small tunnels that no one much larger than a Kobold could fit through. These tunnels typically lead to exits to their lairs and even additional safe houses to wait out invasion.
In the end it is of the utmost importance that any who dare incur the wrath of the Kobold be prepared to face a cunning and determined adversary.
The ancestors to modern Kobolds originally discovered by the Naga. They stand between 2′ and 2’6″ tall and weighing on average between 35 and 45 lbs. They have less thick hides than their more modern descendants but share
Pariahs currently inhabit few regions within the world, and are nearly always encountered as small tribes of hunter gatherers. They are a fairly unimpressive race aside from a natural affinity for working with magic.
- -4 STR, +2 Dex
- Arcane Affinity: ability to cast one 0 level spell.
- +4 HP each day towards casting spells
- Small: +1 dodge bonus to AC
When the Naga first began to selectively breed enslaved Kobolds they first created Pack Kobolds designed for hard labor. Through their breeding Pack Kobolds gradually lost their natural affinity for magic as their hides grew thicker and more resilient. They still remain only about 2’6″ and 3′ tall and weighing around 35 and 50 lbs.
These Kobolds represent the brunt of their supplemental labor force. While other races were used as heavy labor, Pack Kobolds filled the roll of tool users. They were advantageous to have when many areas worked were in tight secluded places. These Kobolds are also often used for hunting parties due to their innate understanding of mechanical traps and devices.
- -4 STR, +2 Dex
- Thick Hide: +1 natural armor bonus to AC
- Small: +1 dodge bonus to AC
- +2 on checks involving traps and other mechanical devices.
As the Naga empire marched onward against a tide of barbarians assailing its borders. To help combat this the Naga bred a special bread of Kobolds to bulked up its borders. Because these Kobolds were primarily on the front lines of their war very few of them survived the carnage. Maulers represent powerful but rare editions to any Kobold community and are often welcomed openly. These Kobolds stand an impressive 4’2″ to 4’6″ with increased size of their horns compared to normal Kobold breeds. The increased resilience and strength of these new Kobolds came at the price of being unable to cast arcane magics.
- -2 STR, +2 Dex
- Thick Hide: +1 natural armor bonus to AC
- Gore: a Kobold Mauler gains a d4 damage gore attack: d6 damage with horn caps.