Kobolds have one of the most enigmatic origins. Everyone knows that kobolds were derived from human stock and that they arose near the end of the Serpentine War, but no one is quite sure exactly how or more precisely when they emerged. This missing information thoroughly illustrates how kobold reality currently functions. They use the lost knowledge as part of their games to lie and conspire by willfully going for the most outrageous-yet-plausibly-seeming origins to write down as their histories.
Frankly, kobolds could care less about their heritage. They simply do not live long enough for nostalgia to set in. Besides, it does not matter to individual kobolds what the dead once did. They care about the here-and-now so it is simply prudent to hide their secret. Lack of information has its virtues.
The dominant theory of kobold creation is that they were, depending on the scholar, either created just before or as a byproduct of the Cataclysm. The sealing of the rift drew upon the power of the mortal world to remain independent from the Feywyld. In theory, the act linked the mortal lives of those who were present at the Caldera of the Dragon to Thepa’s intruders.
While the magical backlash that became the Cataclysm is well known, the exact cause is not. The adherents of this theory say that it was the violently dissipating life forces of the several hundred dragons that caused kobold creation. The dragons’ essences were ripped from their bodies by the seal and fused themselves to the surrounding humans. The scholars also say that along with the essence of the dragons came a complete and instinctive knowledge of the reason the Serpentine War occurred.
Because of this subconscious enlightenment, most kobolds possess an intuitive feeling that their souls are under siege by the universe while at the same time perceiving themselves as honest threats to Thepa by simply being mortal. Yet kobolds aren’t particularly bitter about this state of affairs and have, in fact, become an extremely forgiving and even-tempered people. “It’s the way of the world,” they will say, “so no use complaining about it.” More than anything else, this same easygoing attitude is why other races tolerate them to any degree or, in the case of humans, to find them oddly likable.
Indeed, kobolds often come off as being innocent, yet they are still pesky thieves or deceptive salesmen. The earnest danger could have with kobolds is rather obvious and easily countered, in so far as to place the blame upon the recipient rather than the schemer. Truly, how could someone be so absurdly naive? Naturally, the kobolds put forth great efforts into reinforcing this idea. While they are genuinely weak politically and strangely uninterested in power, kobolds are still the masters of all forms of cons, including the long game.
They realize that no small part of their ability to parasitically attach themselves to other civilizations and burrow into its underbellies relies heavily upon being underestimated and overlooked, so they intentionally make themselves seem somewhat ridiculous and thusly harmless. In reality, kobolds are a shameless race of master thieves that delight in breaking taboos as a point of pride. Two lovers fornicating in public to distract a rival’s deal is not even regarded as uncommon let alone inventive. Kobolds may not be the worst danger the other races of Thepa have ever faced – probably not even in the middling of dangers – but they are certainly one of the most cunning and among the most manipulative.
One of the defining physical characteristics of kobolds is their inevitable stink, from the merely strong-but-tolerable to an olfactory simulation of a skunk’s putrefying corpse. The reason for this odor is the fact that kobolds, like snakes, musk and musk frequently. Moreover, like the hognose serpent, kobolds’ musk is a defense mechanism.
Kobolds play dead, and smelling like corpses assists greatly in demonstrating such feats, especially for unintelligent predators. A side effect of this trait is that they musk whenever startled or agitated, which is often for a race of natural cowards. Compounding the problem is the fact that kobolds honestly do not care. They only scrub it out when they are dealing with important clients or trying not to leave evidence.
Apart from their stench, kobolds are actually somewhat handsome-looking for reptilians. Kobolds appear as typical humanoid lizards with draconic heads, yet are deceptively small and slight. While they rise to only 3.5 feet tall, on average. They pack a lot of mass and muscle into their lithe frames, weighing 80 to 100 pounds.
Kobolds’ scales come in a variety of pigments. Their colors consist of every known chromatic dragon hue. The only difference, apart from their size, is that kobolds’ scales typically glint like gemstones when they are clear of grime. Unsurprisingly, kobolds will roll in mud or dirt to reduce visibility before committing to a thieving job.
Kobolds’ eyes are gemlike too, with large irises that glitter and sparkle in the right light. Reds, greens, yellows, and even silvers are common tints, though any other color is possible. Kobolds have the most varied eye color of all the races. Combined with this color variation are their slightly slit irises, which results in an ocular structure that looks more like a cat’s eye than anything else – an attribute that kobold merchants abuse to their fullest extent.
Ironically, it is this same rainbow of appearances that causes difficulty in telling kobolds apart from one another. This sheer quantity of variance leads other races into seeing “kobold green” or “kobold red” instead of other more distinguishing marks. Being unidentifiable is another trait useful for these creatures that dwell in underbelly of other societies.
If all of these physical qualities were not enough, kobolds have one other characteristic that helps them appear ordinary, age, at least visibly. Kobolds actually have fairly short lives. They are quite capable of living independently by two years of age, becoming adults by ten, and reaching their upper limits of life expectancy by 60. Luckily, they are almost entirely immune to geriatric weaknesses (osteoporosis, poorer memories, and slower reflexes).
Kobold age does not even affect the condition of their skin. As a result, it is commonplace for kobolds to imitate each other via dyes. Kobold merchants often wear eye-concealing cloaks to get around, though to them wearing clothing is an absurd idea. Kobolds are not modest. And since their genitalia are largely internal, they don’t see the point in covering up until it becomes practical to retain heat or to don armor for battle.
Personality (neutral evil)
Kobolds are a paranoid, secretive people, trusting of no one. In fact, they do not have a word for friend in their dialect. Its closest verbiage is “favorite acquaintance”. Furthermore, being an actual lover amends this expression “with unique benefits”.
Kobolds only see the glint of metal. Kobolds will happily manipulate themselves as well as other races to obtain monies and jeweled treasures, all whilst revealing as little of their personal lives as possible. When acting as merchants, kobolds affect an overly friendly demeanor to help them quietly inflate prices or cheerfully lie about the full, often illegal, story behind their wares.
Really, it’s the fact that they sell everything that people still deal with them through legitimate transactions; however, in private and especially during their various acts of larceny, kobolds are all business. Anyone near them is either helpful, a threat, or irrelevant, and shifting from one category to another is not only possible but expected. In the kobold mindset you are either with them or against them, and they are never sure about the former.
Ironically, these attitudes have led to a relatively close-knit culture. Kobolds form families. They tunnel out warrens and lay eggs. Kobolds do not trust their lovers enough for marriage and the brevity of childhood makes the necessity of parenting unburdensome. The hatchlings are raised communally.
Kobold city structures often resemble the combination of a small township and a criminal syndicate. Inside the burrows of the warren, kobolds become significantly less guarded. Personal ambitions aside, they are all in this brutal game of life together, so they should at least try to be polite while still watching for possible betrayals. They eat together, work together, and indulge in friendly rivalries together.
The only private rooms in a warren’s burrow are the sleeping quarters which, in place of beds, have treasures of personal significance to the inhabiting kobold – in most cases, piles of coins. Like dragons, kobolds enjoy sleeping on their hoards. Unlike dragons, kobolds are not as paranoid about their riches being stolen. Kobolds consider the act of stealing from a warren-mate pointless. Why upset the balance when there is nothing forbidden about winning a desired item through a legitimate gamble?
It is often said that kobolds possess no sense of shame. This statement is not entirely accurate. Kobolds utterly despise being called out for their failures. Being blamed for something you actually did, especially being caught in the act, is regarded as a weakness and deserving of scorn.
Traditionally, kobolds will roundly mock their flawed kin when he is called out for his illegal activity and punished for his crime. Most shamed kobolds take it mutely. A few offer suggestions of mockery if their failure was especially embarrassing. Of course, escaping unpunished or covering up a blown scheme is not actually a disappointment at all in the eyes of kobolds. It is an asset.
Perhaps fittingly, kobolds are fond of boasting contests wherein one toots their own horn in increasingly absurd ways to see how much time can pass before another realizes one of the brags is impossible. Given that kobolds usually begin their bravados with things that can be proven, it has been long-established to accept the flaunting story up to the point a lie can be caught as a basic fact. As such, kobolds generally make judgments based on demonstrated skills. This mutual one-upmanship of deception and perceptiveness helps kobolds, not only in their cons, but also in concealing their society from the outside world.
Kobolds have an extremely informal society based upon webs of favors, mutual blackmails, and constant secrecies. They find every reason to obfuscate themselves, and not just because they are paranoiac cowards. Hiding the depths of their criminal ventures and manipulations is important, but the link to the Feywyld and their draconic relation give them a marked tendency toward inheriting the arcane abilities of the sorcerer. While said sorcerers are still rather rare, the mere existence of their mystical potency poses a real threat to kobolds.
Anyone respecting the destructive power of the arcane might invoke grave violence upon this diminutive race, and more magic-fearing cultures might venture so far as to commit genocide. Nevertheless, kobolds are sorcerers, and quite adept at the craft, therefore they must keep this great secret safe for their reliance upon other cultures is directly tied to their existence. The magic-wielding entities therein tend to repress their abilities, even going as far as taking up mundane professions to subvert punishment from the more powerful races.
Kobolds are very smart creatures. They find creative ways to co-exist within other societies, none so exercised as their parasitic practices. Kobolds are a lot like ticks. They quietly attach themselves to other cultures and proceed to quietly drain the wealth from their host, subtly and with as little fuss as possible.
Most of the time this process appears harmless, but this is simply not the truth. Kobolds are a baring disease to the communities they infest. Their unlawful enterprises have a marked tendency towards furthering urban blight and the growth of more serious criminals. What is worse? Kobolds do not leave when they get their fill.
Any wealth, apart from their personal horde, is buried in a reasonably safe location. Surprisingly, if a cache is found and emptied, a kobold will not pursue the thief. It was the owner’s fault for not finding a better place to hide his treasure. Kobold coffers will continue to grow while unchecked. The warren digs deeper and deeper.
It is unfortunate that large groups of kobolds are incapable of symbiotic relationships, aside from their own race. Eventually, the kobold population grows beyond acceptable levels. The stink and gradual overgrowth of crime becomes unbearable to its host, and legitimate authorities will drive their leeching neighbors out. At which point the warren undergoes mitosis. It finds other cities to infest to begin the process all over again.
Kobolds understand that the inevitable fate of their warrens is exile, so they ensure that the process of removal takes as long as possible. The funny thing is, kobolds are not the infection; they do not cause the wound in the social order. They simply take advantage of it. Very few townships that embrace large populations of kobolds were originally nice places to live. In many instances, kobold warrens actually stabilized the underworld. Kobolds dislike violence as much as the next race. They seek gold, not destruction.
Beyond the lifecycle of their warrens, kobolds try to make themselves useful to their host city. “Without a home, without a gold,” is a common adage of kobolds. In part, their usefulness is honest competition, while the other is manipulation.
A kobold merchant searches his competitors for wares they lack and seeks to furnish those being neglected. Of course, the kobold who finds the goods will sell them at the highest price manageable. Kobold society views the sale of an item at twice its worth as a note of praise. Triple and quadruple the value, a grand dupe. But hoodwinking and coincidental demand are not the only methods utilized by these deceitful creatures, fabricated demand has become exceptionally common. Kobolds understand supply and demand so well that they are able to manipulate the system.
Few trap makers can match the quality of a kobold device. Kobolds’ mechanisms are full-proof since their warrens are repeatedly refortified. Replacing traps ensures survivability. Kobolds in pursuit of contractors for their traps will steal valuable items from their prospective clients. Kobolds will also provoke crime waves by using bounties. The houses of the rich are targeted. Anything is fair game, so long as the scandal is kept quiet.
Beyond their market domination of the cities, kobolds sequester themselves. Kobolds mostly interact with kobolds, though occasional outside contacts are kept for business purposes. They are perfectly aware that everyone else identifies them as thieves. So rather than hide the fact, they cheerfully flaunt it, showing the benefits of a life on the other side of the law in jewelries and comforts, and the self-confidence gained from both.
Kobolds are not all bad. They do present themselves as champions of the downtrodden and poor. They are protectors of those forgotten by the laws they break. Kobolds give food and clothing to those in need, and provide shantytowns to the ones in most dire circumstances. They are known as the “gentle hand” for their compassion.
To an extent, these charitable acts are honest. The indigent have very little to steal and even less money to spend in the black market. But in truth, kobolds wish to have the vote of the common people. Mob mentality allows the kobolds to exist in their host cities far pass any reasonable stay, their guiding star.
Kobolds have worked very hard to make themselves appear essential to city life. Though they may seem like a necessary evil, these lovable rogues are audacious enough to be liked. Their efforts bare fruit. While nobody particularly loves kobolds, they are regard important in one vital area. They are useful. Given how kobolds think the same of other races, this recognition suits them just fine.
Kobolds assess other races based on a risk versus reward trade off. The usefulness of a race is weighed against the threat is poses toward kobold society. As a result, kobolds do not have a concept of “eternal enemy” just “senseless risk”. Yet given how many “senseless risks” are also threats to the other races, the kobolds tend to take chances. In some instances, kobolds are able to create evidence of bogeymen and use it as a precedence to hawk traps and scouting services. Admittedly a stretch, but it is still a use.
This ideal extends to other races that they regard as “low-risk, high-reward”. In allying with more powerful players, kobolds can quietly manipulate the social fabric of their relationship to create markets. The concept of the “dragon’s gift”, or leaving something known to be stolen in another person’s house as to provoke conflict, is a regular scheme among kobolds. Kobolds look to sell security systems and mercenary contracts.
Kobolds do have amiable qualities as well; they are honorable when it comes to debts. Kobolds are not traitorous or even ungrateful by nature. Save a kobold’s life and he will go out of his way to repay you, nothing more or nothing less.
Similarly, pay a kobold for a job, and he will not sell you out. At least not until the job is finished, which particularly mean-spirited employers have found out within minutes of a job completed. This favorable behavior is not from any sense of moral duty, but rather an enlightened self-interest. It is easier to secure future arrangements if one takes them in good faith.
Arden: In short, arden are irrelevant until proven otherwise. Arden are repulsed by kobold stink and avoid the reptilian humanoids in most situations. As a result, kobolds do not see a use for this race, especially since they do not utilize a coin system of trade. Kobolds are hired to help humans with pest control of the arden, a fact that has led more self-aware kobolds to wonder if it is just the smell arden fear.
Amoraq: Amoraq are fully aware of kobold criminal leanings, which places any dealings on the wrong foot. But the truth is, kobolds are oblivious to this insight and have become somewhat confused by amoraq behavior. Both races realize that they are largely outsiders who still interact with others, so why are the kobolds kept at arm’s length? There’s always a place in their plans for charming muscle…
Drow: Kobolds point to drow whenever another race’s paranoia of the reptilian nation is brought up as unreasonable. To a kobold, drow are exactly the people behind the veneer of civilization. They are the epitome of humanity when allowed to be themselves: corrupt, cruel, and too self-absorbed to see the hypocrisy in proclaiming themselves the better race. Honestly, kobolds enjoy tormenting drow when the dark elves manage to enslave a warren. Such a “cultured” people need to be reminded of how long and hard it is to fall from their heights down to the level of a kobold.
Duergar: Duergar are largely irrelevant to kobolds because the deep dwarves dislike the smaller race and they spend an inordinate amount of time in their isolationism, yet they are not as overlooked as the arden. Duergar use coins, something kobolds are known to desire. But more so is the fact that kobolds detect the sweet scent of hypocrisy when dealing with the duergar. Duergar claim to be completely above the lower, uncultured nature of the kobolds, and yet there’s a significant portion of them who worship Eadiac, who many kobolds claim as a patron deity.
Dwarves: Kobolds like dwarves. The older race understands the value of money and has experience with living underground. Additionally, dwarven difficulty with secrets makes them easy to read, and thus predictable. The idea that honesty means gullibility is a myth within dwarven society. It’s nice to deal with a race that makes their actual opinions obvious to the paranoid. And of course, dwarves are excellent consumers of any nonlethal traps the kobolds can make. What’s not to love?
Elves: Kobolds dwell far from forest-loving elves, so contact between the two races is limited. Contact generally takes the form of desperate consumer in search of an item not found in a human settlement. The warren adhered to this city will exploit their far reaching associations to locate said item and sell it to the elves at a drastically inflated price. Though kobolds are very careful when making these exchanges with elves; sooner or later, the forest dwellers catch on to the scam and retaliate by brutally attacking the warrens. Medicine to treat a plague or food to feed elven settlements can be a sore spot when exploitation is involved.
Fenodyree: Kobolds are ambivalent about fenodyree. On one hand, the traveling merchants pose a serious competition to kobold commerce. There is little that fenodyrean caravans can procure. On the other hand, kobolds are able to obtain the few things halfling merchants cannot, which gives these reptilians an advantage over the other merchant race. Fenodyree desperate want to be the go-to-supplier, thus kobolds tend to regard fenodyree as worthy opposition of sorts. Not friends, but far from enemies – which is a cold comfort, considering how kobolds manipulate their own race.
Goblins: There are two types of goblins in the eyes of a kobold: the party member and every other tree-humping rat. Goblins have a lot of qualities kobolds respect and understand. Their ability to naturally mold the world into something in which they can thrive in and no small degree of cunning, but every possible business transaction is run aground by the fact that goblins do not use money, which frankly infuriates kobolds. When traveling with a goblin, money does not become an issue. After all, survival before wealth, but goblin culture at large? Racial interaction is a good way to make a kobold scratch off his scales in frustrated fury.
Humans: Kobolds love their sizable siblings. Humans have always possessed a fascination with the criminal and the roguish, and their constant growth creates many potential warren sites. Wherever large numbers of people and money grow, there is an underworld; and where there is an underworld, kobolds thrive. Kobolds infest human culture.
Kel: Kel have a marked tendency to lynch kobolds and leave them hanging on the outskirts of their territory. The living reptiles take the hint. No matter how tempting, most kobolds stay far away from the race of conquerors and their spoils. Yet even with this inadequate communication, kobolds have become the foremost experts on kel culture and battle tactics. They sell intelligence and weapons to enemies of the kel, and are even able to fake the presence of a kel scouting party. The most brave and sneaky of kobolds may actually sell themselves as spymasters, though only a fool pays them entirely in advance.
Nalu: Nalu are well liked by kobolds given their similar nature and complete inadequacy to compete with the breadth of kobold wares. Moreover, kobolds truly empathize with the nalu. They are similarly obsessed with money and practice comparable methods to gain it. And of course, there is the fact that nalu turn to them for proscribed consumables, which the kobolds are all too happy with providing.
Sobekites: In a word, useless. Sobkites are too honorable for their own good, too uninterested in commerce, and too easily angered by thieves – which is a great sadness. Kobolds see such potential for a sobekite market. But no, sobekites react to most kobolds with cold patience, unless they are found in a burrow. Kobolds are known to use their own digging abilities to break and enter sobekite homes. Curiously, the only reason kobolds still bother to steal from sobekites is out of spite for their sheer incapability of being hammered into kobold schemes.
Kobolds leave the warren for a variety of reasons, though most of them are based on selfish motives. Coinage is by far the most prevalent of justifications. Money can always be made from monster hunting, and the prospect of new magic for a kobold sorcerer can be downright irresistible. Yet vast wealth is not the only discovery kobolds experience. Exile, or more properly, being run out of town is another. Kobolds have no sense of shame so it is unlikely that a warren would exile one of its members. Infinitely more likely is that a kobold wasn’t able to evade affiliation with one of his crimes and had to flee the scene.
In other cases, the stage may take on more esoterically connections. A kobold could be on a divine quest. As hard as it is to believe, many of these reptilian humanoids are spiritual in nature. Of course, this phenomenon begs the question of which deity sent him on this quest and more particularly what is its ultimate goal (given how often Eadiac and his myriad of obscured schemes tends to pop up). A kobold perceives this challenge as another deal, and he will surprisingly dedicate himself to seeing the whole thing through to its end. Kobolds believe that reneging on a deity’s call is a bad idea, “to souring a trust is to lie in the dust.”
To further this divine insight, it has been known for kobolds to quest for redemption. Inevitably, the few kobolds that develop actual morals rather than standards come to be disgusted by their brethren and their surroundings. And without the heart for the schemes, they invariably leave the warren. These kobolds want to make semi-honest livings so they take up adventuring. Remarkably, these deserters are by far the most dedicated, brave, and downright eager adventurers one could ever hope to meet. They have nothing else, after all, so they might as well give their best effort for their new family.
Class Preferences: cleric, rogue, sorcerer
Religious Preferences: Adaska, Baiperus, Ibidi, Rai, Tariav’ai, Xurialu Zenaket
Racial Traits (PF)
When creating a kobold character, a player uses all the base traits presented below; these traits are inherent to the kobold and cannot be altered. A player then selects alternate traits to flesh out his kobold character. The total number of alternative traits may not exceed 4 racial points (RP). Each alternative trait has its RP cost listed after its name.
+2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, -2 Dexterity: A kobold is both tough and charming, but lacks agility.
Small: A kobold is a Small creature and gains a +1 size bonus to his AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a -1 penalty to his Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
Slow Speed: A kobold has a base speed of 20 feet, but his speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
Low-Light Vision: A kobold can see twice as far as a human in conditions of dim light.
Bite: A kobold gains a natural bite attack that deals 1d3 damage. This bite is a primary attack or a secondary attack if he is wielding manufactured weapons.
Energy Resistance: A kobold has resistance 5 fire.
Beguiling Liar: A kobold gains a +4 racial bonus on Bluff checks to convince an opponent that what he is saying is true when he tells a lie.
Craftsman: A kobold gains a +2 racial bonus on all Craft checks.
Master Tinker: A kobold gains a +1 bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) checks. A kobold is proficient with any weapon he has personally crafted.
Languages: A kobold begins play speaking Common and Draconic. A kobold with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: Abyssal, Dwarven, Elven, Fenodryean, Infernal, and Kelian.
Envoy (1 RP): A kobold with an Intelligence score of 11 or higher gains the following spell-like abilities: 1/day — Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, and Read Magic. The caster level for these effects is equal to the user’s character level.
Gregarious (1 RP): When a kobold successfully uses Diplomacy to win over an individual, that individual takes a –2 penalty on attempts to resist any of the kobold’s Charisma-based skills for the next 24 hours.
Integrated (1 RP): A kobold gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Disguise, and Knowledge (local) checks.
Breath Weapon (2 RP): Once per day as a standard action, a kobold can make a supernatural breath weapon attack that deals 1d6 points of fire damage in a 15-foot cone. All creatures within the affected area must make a Reflex saving throw to avoid taking damage. The save DC against this breath weapon is 10 + 1/2 the user’s character level + the user’s Constitution modifier. Those who succeed at the save take no damage from the attack.
Skill Bonus (2 RP): A kobold gains a +2 racial bonus on Sense Motive skill checks.
Stench Aura (4 RP): A kobold secretes a terrible scent as a 15-foot aura that nearly every other creature finds offensive. All living creatures (except those with the stench aura ability and kobolds) within the aura must succeed at a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 the user’s character level + the user’s Constitution modifier) or be sickened for 5 rounds. Creatures that succeed at the saving throw cannot be sickened by the same creature’s stench aura for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell or similar effect removes the effect from the sickened creature. This is a poison effect.
Racial Traits (DD)
Ignore the racial traits above and use the Dragonreborn statistics in the Player’s Handbook but make these changes to the statistic block:
Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Size: Your size is Small.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 25.
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