The Dungeon Survival Handbook Excerpt - Kobolds

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Kobolds
Dungeon Survival Handbook Excerpt
By Bart Carroll

Dungeons hold everything an adventurer could want: untold riches to plunder, new areas to explore, dangerous beasts to challenge, and strange societies to interact with. An ordinary adventurer accustomed to a soft life in the surface world might get a short distance into a dungeon and consider it a glorious victory.

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Looks solid.  A lot of people will be having fits about the loss of Shifty, but it was never likely to survive the transition to player-accessible content intact.  The replacement is pretty solid, and some of the later utils are nice.  I wouldn't mind seeing another racial feature (because 'you're a reptile' doesn't really do anything), but overall, it looks good.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
It looks really, really underpowered. It could be the worst race available as of now, no joke.
True, SHifty was overpowered, but making it Encounter was already a big nerf, WHY making it a move action? It doesn't have any utility for the Kobold, only for his allies. It's probably the weakest racial power ever printed, and it doesn't have any racial feature to counterbalance it either.

Then we should talk about "Flee!", a DAILY power. That lets you shift and gives a meager bonus to allies ONLY TILL END OF NEXT TURN. If the racial power is the weakest ever printed, this is the weakest utility power ever printed. Oh and it would be the weakest as a Minor action, mind you. As a move, it's just... I don't know. Nothing in the whole game compares.
Was all of this necessary? No, of course not. They probably feared that too many players would play Kobolds. Well, there were surely other ways to prevent that, not this shameless BAD DESIGN.

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Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

Hmmm.  Interesting.  WotC finally breaks down and gives the players what they want and then the players still complain.  I don't understand.  The kobold looks pretty good to me.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Hmmm.  Interesting.  WotC finally breaks down and gives the players what they want and then the players still complain.  I don't understand.  The kobold looks pretty good to me.

I'm not complaining about the book or the decision to give us monster races, I'll buy the book even just for the Svirfneblin, probably my favorite classic race.
I'm obviously complaining only about the technical execution of the Kobold race.

Tell me what exactly looks pretty to you about the mechanics.

The powers I was talking about (the racial power and the first utility), and the complete lack of racial features, besides a completely situational one are serious things, that make the race, as I said, the weakest ever printed. Tell me a race that is weaker than this.

I'll tell you what I liked too: the Trapbuster feat and two racial utilities, the Load Slingpot and the Trap-Gang Method ones.
All the rest is incredibly underpowered, it's a math thing. There are even (no pun intended) trap choices in there, like "Shiftier Maneuver". More shift but for what? Again, move action! A feat and a racial power to do something that practically any class can do better. Imagine the shame of playing this while being a Monk or a Rogue: you have tons of better powers, you'll never use these, and you'll practically always find better uses for your Move action.
No sirs, I'm happy to get some monstuous races, and happy that "WotC is listening and giving us what we want", really happy. But let's not mix things up, here we're talking bad design. And there are no excuses for bad design at this point in 4th edition, after all the rules that have been produced. Even a kid would design a more balanced race, it's just a matter of looking at the existing ones and not falling behind those or going overboard. This is a case where the race is left behind by any other. Not good.

Again, tell me what looks good about it and especially if you can find a weaker race.

P.S.: Here's what could have balanced the race: make the racial power EQUAL to the 10th level utility one, sans the recharge (yes, that's how much they had their balance wrong: 10 levels). Then make a feat for letting an ally shift too and another feat to recharge the power when bloodied (called Frantic Shift). The 2nd level utlity power should instead grant the bonus until the end of the encounter if it's a daily, or it's just better balanced as an encounter. As for the 10th level power, well, we already have a good one. That's how easy it *was* to make the race balanced.
Oh and it needed another racial feature. You know what could have been great to add a bit to the "move the tribe to safety" theme? A feature granting a +2 to defenses vs OAs for adjacent allies. Simple, effective, not overpowered.
Also, I'm not a Kobold fan who would like his favorite race to be better than others. This would be the bare minimum to make the race balanced, not powerful. 

Join the Zendikar D&D Campaign Setting group: discover the fantastic world and contribute to make Zendikar a playable setting!
   - Warning! Spectacular visuals and lore ahead! ... Take a look...
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Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

I'm intrigued, at least.  I'm thinking about Load Slingpot on a kobold seeker.  I like the fluff bit about "kobold tribes will still try to serve a dragon in secret if the dragon refuses their service."  I can see a whole adventure about a kobold tribe that's been causing trouble in the "service" of a dragon, but in fact, the dragon is ignorant of what they're doing.  And kind of pissed off, because their efforts are causing more problems than they solve.  Still, I have a few concerns about racial design:
1)  The racial power.  I like how it affects allies, but it looks underpowered.  Especially because rogues (esp. thieves) and monks will have a plethora of better move actions, making it a useless feature.  Shifty isn't as OP as it once was - I mean, hell, the bloodbond seeker gets it as an at-will feature.  I think it would have been fine to allow you and allies to shift 1 square as a minor action.
2)  Lack of racial features.  I mean, it's accepted among homebrew that each race get 1-2 major racial features, 2-3 minor racial features, and an encounter power.  Small races should get a bit more to counteract being Small.  Kobolds fall shy of that mark, I think.
3)  Spear support.  Spears are iconic to kobolds.  But spears are 2-handed weapons, which means Small races can't wield them.  Ergo, kobolds can't wield their iconic weapon.  Flaw.

@LordArchaon, it's not the weakest race ever printed.  That'd be the shade.  Followed by the hegeyokai.  Then maybe the kobold.
what no shifty? wow, i cant see myself ever playing this; hopefully the other races are much better than this. if someone wants to play a kobold in my games ill let them choose shifty if they want rather than this weak crappy power
Hmmm.  Interesting.  WotC finally breaks down and gives the players what they want and then the players still complain.  I don't understand.  .



right bc players were clamoring for a pitifully weak race to play
The powers I was talking about (the racial power and the first utility), and the complete lack of racial features, besides a completely situational one are serious things, that make the race, as I said, the weakest ever printed.

I agree with you that it power level subpar, but they do technically have one mor racial feature than just the Trap Sense thing. I'm not sure if you noticed, but they also get Darkvision. I'm personally not a fan of their giving Kobolds Darkvision, because I don't think that it makes thematic sense for them to have it, but it is a racial feature that can enable certain things and that can have some pretty useful utility.

Even a kid would design a more balanced race, it's just a matter of looking at the existing ones and not falling behind those or going overboard.

I don't know about that. Have you been to the homebrew forums? When I see something that's actually well designed or well balanced, I feel speechless. Of course, then nine out of ten of those are just boring and unimaginative.

Lack of racial features.  I mean, it's accepted among homebrew that each race get 1-2 major racial features, 2-3 minor racial features, and an encounter power.  Small races should get a bit more to counteract being Small.

That's actually a common misconception. Small races don't (and shouldn't) get anything extra for being small. You can plainly see in the Halfling, for exampe, that nothing extra was given for being small. Some people look at the Gnome and jump to that conclusion, but the Gnome is actually getting compensated for its speed of 5, not its small size. This Kobold, like the Halfling, has a speed of 6, not five. And, taking Darkvision into account, it does have what could loosely be defined as two major features (Darkvision and Trapsense), though the issue is that those two features are very campaign specific and can very easily end up entirely useless.

what no shifty? wow, i cant see myself ever playing this; hopefully the other races are much better than this. if someone wants to play a kobold in my games ill let them choose shifty if they want rather than this weak crappy power

Shifty was taken out because it was too powerful to be a racial feature. Yes, they went overboard, but you don't fix that problem by making it overpowered again.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!

what no shifty? wow, i cant see myself ever playing this; hopefully the other races are much better than this. if someone wants to play a kobold in my games ill let them choose shifty if they want rather than this weak crappy power

Shifty was taken out because it was too powerful to be a racial feature. Yes, they went overboard, but you don't fix that problem by making it overpowered again.



I agree 100%. Shifty was extremely overpowered and I'm glad WotC got rid of it. The new racial power needs a little more punch, but it's not as horrible as the minotaur's racial. Darkvision and trap sense are very powerful features if DM's use a lot of lighting effects and traps. I run a regular dungeon crawl with a ton of traps and trap sense would be a huge advantage.

Overall I don't think the kobold is bad, just kind of mediocre. But I am happy they got rid of shifty, that was broken. I was worried that in the final days of 4e we would see a glut of overpowered options to boost sales, but this has reassured me somewhat that won't happen.

@Crimson, thanks for the correction.  On the matter of Darkvision, might I propose an alternative explanation?  Off hand, the races that I can think that have darkvision (drow, kobold) are Underdark natives, while underground-but-not-quite-Underdark dwelling races (ie, dwarves) just get low-light.  I think that makes sense - there's definitely a difference between subsurface the King's Highway, and I kind of like the difference being reflected, among other things, in darkvision.  Also, kobolds do have a tie to dragons, and their keen senses is one thing they're known for (especially keeping track of their hoard).  So darkvision helps play up kobold's draconic heritage combined with living in the actual Underdark.
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@LordArchaon, it's not the weakest race ever printed.  That'd be the shade.  Followed by the hegeyokai.  Then maybe the kobold.


Shade is hands down better than this. The ability of starting each encounter hidden is big (especially when you have ways to sustain the hiding), and one less healing surge not half as bad as people said. Plus they get Stealth as extra trained skill. It's a bonus feat. I play a Shade Blackguard and ask my DM if I'm underpowered, I can link my PbP game, you'd see...

Hengeyokai is not *printed*  

Join the Zendikar D&D Campaign Setting group: discover the fantastic world and contribute to make Zendikar a playable setting!
   - Warning! Spectacular visuals and lore ahead! ... Take a look...
Play-by-Post and my D&D blogging!

*All my latest rolls!*

Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

Glad we finally have this.  I really wish we would've gotten the goblin preview though, as that's the race I'm most looking forward too.

I love the background fluff, as to me and my group, DnD isn't about tactics and power, but storytelling and adventures.  Danger lurks everywhere.
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3)  Spear support.  Spears are iconic to kobolds.  But spears are 2-handed weapons, which means Small races can't wield them.  Ergo, kobolds can't wield their iconic weapon.  Flaw.



I think you're confusing spears with longspears. Spears are one-handed weapons with the versatile property, meaning kobolds most certainly can use them.

Also, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium introduces the short spear, which is perfect for kobolds - particularly because it can be used as both a melee and a thrown weapon. If you want to make it slightly more effective, maybe homebrew a kobold-only feat that bumps up their damage to 1d8 instead of 1d6?
3)  Spear support.  Spears are iconic to kobolds.  But spears are 2-handed weapons, which means Small races can't wield them.  Ergo, kobolds can't wield their iconic weapon.  Flaw.



I think you're confusing spears with longspears. Spears are one-handed weapons with the versatile property, meaning kobolds most certainly can use them.

Also, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium introduces the short spear, which is perfect for kobolds - particularly because it can be used as both a melee and a thrown weapon. If you want to make it slightly more effective, maybe homebrew a kobold-only feat that bumps up their damage to 1d8 instead of 1d6?



I stand corrected.
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IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!

Oh many, can't wait to remake my kobold Bard, warlock, warden, shaman, warlord, assassin, then make kobold seeker
KOBOLD BARBARIAN YAAAAY!!!!!!!!
The only problem I see with shifty manouver is the short range of it. I can imagine if you're playing a gorup of kobolds this would be incredible.
I would house rule it to burst 3. Then it could help my players regroup and get more flanking done. Actually looking forward to the change. My players loves it as well. I would add another feature, though.
3)  Spear support.  Spears are iconic to kobolds.  But spears are 2-handed weapons, which means Small races can't wield them.  Ergo, kobolds can't wield their iconic weapon.  Flaw.



I think you're confusing spears with longspears. Spears are one-handed weapons with the versatile property, meaning kobolds most certainly can use them.

Also, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium introduces the short spear, which is perfect for kobolds - particularly because it can be used as both a melee and a thrown weapon. If you want to make it slightly more effective, maybe homebrew a kobold-only feat that bumps up their damage to 1d8 instead of 1d6?



I stand corrected.



there's also the pike in MME which acts like a longspear for small characters...I think they planned this