Kobolds

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Once my group gets together I plan on playing a kobold and I want him to be an interesting little critter but for the life of me I can't seem to come up with a decent backstory beyond him wanting to be on the side that doesn't end up tied naked to a tree being poked with a stick for once. I want him to be more than the comic relief.
Are there any Dragonborn PC's in the party? You could take Hero worship to a whole new level that way. Though I think that still falls under the comic relief bit doen't it?

Seriously, Kobalds come from EVIL matriarchal societies that worship dragons. That isn't much different from Drow that come from evil matriarchal societies that worship spiders. So, you might look to some Drow backgrounds for inspiration.
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
I dunno what the makeup of the party will be yet beyond my own character. Thanks for the suggestion though.
Wanting him to be more than comic relief can be good - but if you don't want him to be comic relief at all, you probably shouldn't be playing a kobold. I'd suggest you start with the comic releif side, and then slip some serious bits in under it. Give him a viewpoint that's interesting and valid, but a bit off the party norm. He's a kobold - he's used to being effectively the bottom of the food chain, and living near-starving. This has implications for your value systems and what you care about. Give him a few moral principles that he absolutely will not bend on - make them things that are recognizable as moral but a little unusual.

An example. I had a character who absolutely insisted on giving fair value for money if someone paid him for something. He'd engage in petty thievery any time he thought he could get away with it (he at one point pocketed bread at a feast in his own honor), he'd kill a helpless enemy - or even someone who he was pretty sure would become an enemy - in a heartbeat, but debts were sacred.

That way, he may start out as the comic relief, but there are some solid things that will make him completely serious at some point, that the party is highly likely to wander into. Let him be both.
I have a 3.5 sorcerer/rogue kobold who was taken from his tribe by an evil wizard who needed a minion, and Krik'ik't'kik was a rather industrious and obsequious little fellow who was only too happy to work for the guy because the wizard recognized that the kobold was smart, hardworking, and magically talented. The wizard actually treated him like he was a trusted underling, and Krik'ik't'kik learned the value of respect. And of power, as well.

Later on, when the wizard got gakked by a party of adventurers while fighting in a war, the kobold decided that adventurers were plenty powerful and got lots of respect. And so he became an adventurer - he dressed like a human, tried his best to be well-spoken, polite (or his somewhat misguided idea of polite, anyway), and would go into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy if he thought he was somehow being disrespected. Despite having no real moral understanding of just why people were supposed to behave the "right" way, he did his best to follow the same social and ethical rules as everyone else.

Although there are some comical elements to him - he says his name means "Heart of Dragons" in Draconic but the literal translation is "Wyrm Guts", and he often acts a bit like the little dog from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, the one that's always trying to get that other dog Spike to pay attention to him, when he's trying to impress the rest of the party - those comic elements mostly come about because I play him completely straight and seriously. He's a Lawful Evil character in a mostly Lawful Good party, and tries his best to fit in with them and earn their respect - thus, most of the occasional comic elements come from his attempts to follow moral codes he has no real understanding of. However, most of the best role-playing moments also come from his attempts to understand why the "right" thing to do is the right thing to do.
As an example, he understands that charity is a good thing - that if you have more than you need, then you should share with others who don't - and he remembers being on the "don't" side of that equation, but really doesn't see why he shouldn't rob some rich person and distribute their wealth to others, since they are after all being extremely rude not to share, right?
He's a great tool for me to use in exploring the deeper "why" behind humanity's need for order and social/moral/ethical rules - to be able to ponder things from the perspective of someone looking at them from the outside with no preconceptions.


For your character, he sees being an adventurer as his way to rise above being just another "scaly rat" - to being respected rather than abused and hunted. Whether he's doing it just for the power and respect or is actually trying to be a hero (and possibly help out his tribe) will depend on his alignment/class, but if you make sure that he takes respect very seriously, it won't come off as being comical.
For instance, he should be very defferential and respectful to those in authority, but without kowtowing or blatantly sucking up. And he wouldn't start a fight with someone just because they insulted him for being a kobold - after all, if men insult him for being weak or stupid simply because he's a kobold, then they've just proven themselves to be lesser men than he is, and not even worth his disdain.

As for backstory, it may be that his tribe was rescued by adventurers from some natural disaster or something, and he left with the party to train under one of them, or was coverted to the faith of that party's cleric/paladin/avenger/etc. He may be trying to earn the right to take a mate in his tribe, or to establish a tribe of his own.
Perhaps he has goals beyond just being individually respected. Perhaps he's attempting to be an example to both humans and kobolds that they need not try to kill each other and can co-exist.

In any event, the key to playing a kobold so that they don't appear comical is to play them as a character and individual first, and as a "Kobold" second.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

Depending on how you want to run your kobold, try and have a dark backround for him. Try something onone will want to poke fun at.
Thanks for the replys everyone, keep em' coming. This is good stuff.
I'l probably play him as a bit jittery around the other party members at first untill he's sure they aren't going to make him into a pair of boots or something.
I'm looking foreward to the scenes in towns and cities as he struggles to deal with the common perception of his race. I can see him hanging around with some of the shorter races like dwarves and halflings talking trash about the "talls."

I have this bizarre mental vision of him dressed like Indiana Jones. Where the heck did that come from?
I have this bizarre mental vision of him dressed like Indiana Jones. Where the heck did that come from?

Now think about the Kobald Bard dressed in silk party color pantaloons, tights, a velvet vest, and a broad brim felt hat. He uses Vicious Mockery by yelling, "Hey look at me! I'm Richy Rich!"
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
That's just wrong lol.
That's just wrong lol.

Thank you. I'll be here all week. - Budum Bing!
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
How's this for wrong?

A wise and venerable 3.5 Kobold swordsage who wore a brown robe and roleplayed the fact that Common was his second language.

Think about it.

(The player was informed under pain of expulsion from the game that there was a long list of things he was not allowed to say in character, and that he'd never be allowed to get a brilliant energy weapon...lol.)

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

I thought about it and now I can never un-think it.
Darn you to heck.
I shall now compile a list of innapropriate things that a kobold innocent about the ways of humans might utter. :D
I am sorry, but Yoda is an NPC that lives on the Saga Board. :D
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
I have this bizarre mental vision of him dressed like Indiana Jones. Where the heck did that come from?

DO IT
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
Are there any Dragonborn PC's in the party? You could take Hero worship to a whole new level that way. Though I think that still falls under the comic relief bit doen't it?

Seriously, Kobalds come from EVIL matriarchal societies that worship dragons. That isn't much different from Drow that come from evil matriarchal societies that worship spiders. So, you might look to some Drow backgrounds for inspiration.

I'm going to stop you there, kobolds do not, repeat, do NOT live in matriarchal societies, they live in a society ruled by the spell-casting class, they have magrocicies, and no those are not gender dominated also. So I think you might be confused. Infact if anything kobolds are extremely UN-gender biased, female or male they can all have the same positions as all-watcher or whatever they damn well please. I know I like to consider myself a formal expert on 3.5-4.0 kobolds XD they are my FAVORITE race and my favorite D&D book is races of the dragon just because of the kobold racial fluff. I have read just about everything I could on them from wizards over and over and over again.

Back on topic, you don't have to be comic relief, it's just being small and kinda frail from earlier editions made them seem little more than cannon fodder and such even from a party's point of view. But even I was able to break that cycle. Enter Miirik, my kobold sorcerer from 3.5 that I placed into a online roleplay community. Now he rules an entire desert region and has told the populace to call him Maekrix rather than emperor or your majesty, etc.

Does he have some "humorous" quirks? Sure! He is almost always very cheery and optimistic, he is addicted to cantaloupe and a fruit I made up called Juba Fruit. He's only I think 11 now (they reach adulthood by 6) but he is so full of sagely wisdom. He doesn't just rule but he's a scholar and teacher/guide. He is very much a philosopher, wondering how the world works or why people are they why they are or do the things they do. I've had him talk with other people on multiple occasions in a very serious tone, giving advice and wisdom in a very yoda or splinter-ish (TMNT) manner. It's very fun. And when his comical elements come up it's when he's trying to understand humanoid societies more. He still thinks there is no social difference between genders so he regularly walks in on his female underlings taking showers/baths to talk business, thankfully they know well enough he's not there to stare or has any sexual interest so they don't seem to mind. Also he still eats mostly with his hands if it's any kind of solid food, he's not too fond of most utensils besides a knife O_o

So yes it can be done, you just have you change how you perceive kobolds to be! I have another kobold character, Weepo (not actually Meepo name rip, I didn't actually know of meepo when i made this guy). He's a total, dead-on-serious mercenary, he's probably always carrying enough weight in gear to be borderline of his light load limit. Always prepared for any situation, he's probably a fighter/rogue/ranger multiclass if I had to give him a class. He carries a morningstar mace, javelins, a crossbow, daggers, alchemical items, his shield, the works.
ATM I'm thinking about a Kobald Pirate complete with Tricorner hat....
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
]I'd suggest you start with the comic releif side, and then slip some serious bits in under it. Give him a viewpoint that's interesting and valid, but a bit off the party norm.

Yes! This is absolutely key to having a memorable comic relief character. If you're nothing but the jokes, the character becomes strained (and you don't have anything to fall back on when you can't make with the funny).

Part of the reason people love NWN's Deekin is his absolute loyalty. Be sure to put a little meat on those bones, and you won't end up as "that kobold player," like some people end up as "that gnome player" or "that kender player."
I came up with a neat bit of kobold fluff the other day. The secret kobold stash. Since they get raided by advanturers every other week they store all the really good loot in a secret location miles away from their villages or camps. The existence of the stash is a closely gaurded secret and the main reason kobolds haven't been wiped out long ago.
I thought the reason why they have not been wiped out was that they breed faster than rabbits.
Pax Pro Eo Optimus Arma Teabeeyea
Well that too. :D I think kobolds have a unique perspective on things because it's usually the lowest man on the totem pole that sees things the clearest.
Well that too. :D I think kobolds have a unique perspective on things because it's usually the lowest man on the totem pole that sees things the clearest.

It's true- but they also see things the shortest. Things get hidden by distance, rather than camoflage. It's another bit of the dissonance to play up, if you want. Kobolds don't naturally deal with groups of more than about 20-30 people. (...or whatever the average size of a kobold warren is.) They don't deal with tribal territories of more than about a day's journey on foot in radius - if that. The leader of a kobold tribe leads because he has personal power over every member of that tribe - and he knows every member of that tribe personally, at least to a degree. Organizations larger than that are generally hostile, and blur together into a "them". "We don't know why they hunt us. They just do." Ogres hunting for sport, various evil things hunting for food, dark magii hunting for sacrifices, slavers hunting for slaves and knights hunting for revenge or to clear out territory are all pretty much identical. The idea that you might be able to get one of these groups to attack you less by not pillaging outlying farms is probably pretty bizarre to them.
Serious.... hmmmmmm
what if you were a dragonborn warrior who was cursed by an evil wizard to turn into a kobold, at first you could try to cure yourself but then you could roleplay that you like the kobold form better
I remember reading a story that was the introduction of a D20 product called Monsters and was a book for creating monster race characters. Anyways the story was about the interactions of a human with the members of an adventuring party made up of members of different monster races. One of the characters was a female kobold sorcerer who had joined for the sole purpose of gaining revenge on a group of monsters who had slaughtered all of her family/warren/whatever. She was actually considered to be the most dangerous of the group to the point where the leader (a hulking Orc warrior if I remember correctly) beats up a human character for hitting her and then explains to him later that it had been for his own good because she had been about to kill the human if the leader hadn't intervened. Granted there was a bit of humor in the linguistics used but I really rather liked how the members of the group were described and written as serious characters rather than comic relief and I rather wish that they had continued the story beyond the introduction. But then I really would like to see some books come out about adventuring parties composed of monster race members. Btw, I have really enjoyed the backstories shared in this thread, thanks.
A kobold with Stockholm Syndrome has potential.
A kobold with Stockholm Syndrome has potential.

I can see that happening pretty easilly after being raided by various adventure groups for years or being captured by one.
But yeah, kobolds have been getting the short end for a long time. I foresee the coming of a great kobold revolutionary who will unite the tribes and demand respect from the various races for the kobold people.
I played in a campaign one time where the DM through my Paladin up against a kobold monastary with monks and priests that worshiped Bahamut. I ended up allying with them and getting them to protect the nearby town i was protecting. The later when a friend of mine joined the campaign he played one of the monks from the temple. His little kobold monk didn't take crap from no one and he was cool, calm and collected.

It was also awesome when he rolled a crit and we all imagined this little kobold with no armor or weapons doing a jumping round house or uppercut on a large size enemy and snapping it's neck.

It's easy to play them as non-comic relief, you just have to take your charecter seriously and others will to.
Serious.... hmmmmmm
what if you were a dragonborn warrior who was cursed by an evil wizard to turn into a kobold, at first you could try to cure yourself but then you could roleplay that you like the kobold form better

wait, wait...dragonborn midget.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
wait, wait...dragonborn midget.

why not, if halflings can do it, why not kobolds?
I love kobolds. :D

I've got a kobold champion (not the actual class, he's actually fighter 10/cleric 10) character who specializes in spear-fighting and using a lance from dire ferretback. Even though he's actually quite heroic, he acts as a kobold who was TRYING to be heroic would. Even though he's scared to death, he'll puff his tiny little chest out and stride up to the mean old orc boss, yap at him a few times, and poke him in the stomach with the blunt end of his spear to let him know he means business! :P

I just love his image. Take the knightly paladin on horseback in full-plate with a shining great steel shield, and shrink him down a bit, and change the horse into a dire ferret, and make him reptilian. It's too funny, especially in practice.

He doesn't trust even his fellow party members (whom he actually only joined up with out of a common goal which would help him defend his tribe). The rogue claims to have disarmed the trap, and Yippip will still poke the trap and eye it warily. He snaps, "You never know! A kobold coulda made it!".
Ejected from his tribe for being the runt of the litter, he was left to fend for himself when he didn't seem to be gaining any size. Young, frightened, he lived pretty much like a stray dog, stealing what scraps of food he could. During a lean time, he got desperate to try something daring, something that he had never tried before. He broke into a cottage occupied by an old woman who could barely see. She mistook him for a starving child with a hellacious cough/wheeze (his kobold yapping). To his surprise, rather than chase him out and call for help, she sat him at the table and insisted he eat the whole bowl of chicken soup. After an initial, instinctive "kill her and take what she's got", he second-guessed himself and decided not to ruin a good thing while he had it.

Years went by, and he learned to hide when guests came by. She dismissed this as him just being shy. He slowly learned to communicate with her, but never let on taht he wasn't a human child. He concocted a story about being fearful of strangers because of his past, but always promised to try to overcome it (a gentle lie). As long as she didn't mistreat him (heck, she seemed to actually value him!), he was willing to play the game.

Thanks to the good food and conditions, he grew to be a respectable sized kobold, maybe even a little bigger and healthier than normal (although the old woman was concerned about him never getting any bigger). He had been doing small chores around the cottage, inculding gathering firewood and water from the nearby stream. While on his chores, he heard a rumbling sound. Putting an ear to the groundm he recognized hoofbeats. He had heard them many times before when the old woman would have visitors, but this was way too many. He scrambled to the high branches of a tree to see what was happening.

A raiding party!

He couldn't tell from his perch if they were human, orc, goblinoid, or what. They thundered past, and his home was right in their path! Shivering with fright, he clung to the branch and hoped nobody would notice him. He knew in his gut what was going to happen to the old woman and her small, isolated cottage.

The aftermath was mind-numbing. He could barely tell that lump of bloody meat had once been human, let alone the only other being in the world that had cared for him. The cottage was destroyed. In the distance he could see the plumes of smoke coming from the village. Coughing and gasping, a human form approached, calling out for the old woman and the child. He looked into a broken shard of a mirror at his kobold features.

They'd never believe him.

Grabbing what he could to help him survive, he scrambled off into the wilderness, his thoughts burning for revenge. He would never shiver in cowardice again while decent beings were harmed.
I'm so loving this thread and all it's koboldy goodness.
I've been planning a joke campaign for a while, and the planned antagonists are a group of kobolds who worship "The Plot". Their relics include The Plot Hook, the Plot Hole, and the dreaded Plot Device. Their clerics will have spells that perfectly fir with the plans of The Plot.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
...and the dreaded Plot Device.

Deus Ex Machina indeed.
My favorite memories of DnD (3.5e) are almost all from my kobold characters :P

I still remember when my DM had me introduced to his group....I tried to pickpocket them and got caught by the city guards (not quite how the DM wanted me to start off with my group). City guard lifts me off the floor and my character starts ranting about 'I have rabies! I bite you!', guard shakes my character and character replies with 'no one shakes sneaks!' and rolls criticals (had quickdraw to avoid wasting action on drawing daggers) to slice the guards fingers off. While running away from the group of city guards, one guard pulls up his crossbow, rolls a critical fumble (seriously, epic moment :P ) and the bolt explodes and my character takes the opportunity to yell back bluffs of them being punished by the princes of the town as he was their royal assassin :P

Or my kobold sorceror who summons a horse and sends it into a magical tower to take care of the traps to my buddy's cries of 'wait a sec...' only to have the trap spring....an explosive trap, DM swears it was an explosive trap from the start and not something else :P

That and when some dwarves made me and my party deal with holy water (my character drank it, some of the others washed their hands in it) to prove we weren't undead. I sneak off during a battle only to find myself directly behind the lich....my DM allowed me to pee on him to deal holy damage :D

Epic times indeed :D

EDIT: With all the kobold fans out there its a shame WotC made absolutely no holes for goodly kobolds (not a problem though if the DM has no problem with a kobold character but not always an option :P)
That and when some dwarves made me and my party deal with holy water (my character drank it, some of the others washed their hands in it) to prove we weren't undead. I sneak off during a battle only to find myself directly behind the lich....my DM allowed me to pee on him to deal holy damage :D

Bwahahahaha! That is such a kobold-ish move.
It's a semi-necro thread but I just had to share that I've finally come up with a backstory and goals for my kobold character.
I have named him Kip (stolen from another kobold character) for him because it's short and sounds like yip which is the kind of noise kobolds make.

Anyhow, Kip's home has been raided by newbie adventurers for years.
It's gotten to the point where the warriors of the clan now take a dive in every fight, sneak off, and come back through another tunnel wearing different clothes to fight them again. They reapeat the process untill the invaders think that they've killed off hundreds of kobolds single-handedly and are badasses.

Kip, being the bright fellow that he is, has concluded that the only way to live hassle free is to be somewhere unreachable. Unfortunately, all the good defensible caves and mountain bastions are already occupied by those pesky dwarves.

To get anything done in this world, you need money, and as kobold handicrafts don't sell for much Kip has decided to do the unthinkable and become part of a group of those annoying adventurers to seek out lost treasures and baubles of power.

Working as an adventurer is tricky as he must hide the fact that he's only in this for his clan and wouldn't hesitate to slit everyone's throats in the middle of the night if he thinks he's being screwed.

His ultimate goal is to get enough money to buy (or steal) a ship (or airship if possible) big enough for his whole clan to live on so that they might live free of the constant stream of adventurers showing up looking for loot.
(this is why kobolds can't have nice things gosh darn it!)
so call me the odd one out, but for my kobold (Dak the 3.5 Warlock), the character wanted to be the comic relief, he wanted to be the character everyone underesamated until he blew your head off. remeber, Kobolds are not brave warriors, they are sneeaky little things that prefer a knife to the back as opposed to face to face confrontation, and traps are even better. so anyway this to say that while some just saw him as the little flying chef (yes, flying chef), they all knew that he could single target enemties llike no one else in the party, and was the king at social interactions, which earned the grudging respect of the group.

though I have to say, that all this talk has gotten a new Kobold character in my head, one that is quite respectable: an Avenger of Bahamut. to be played with all the proudness of a dragonborn, and all the cunning of a kobold. plus it fits that a kobold would worship a dragonic diety.

-dgill

PS: and for the record, kobold warrens are every bit as good as those stupid dwarves caverns, plus we line them with traps to make sure no unwanted visitors come our way.
I'm going to stop you there, kobolds do not, repeat, do NOT live in matriarchal societies, they live in a society ruled by the spell-casting class, they have magrocicies, and no those are not gender dominated also. So I think you might be confused. Infact if anything kobolds are extremely UN-gender biased, female or male they can all have the same positions as all-watcher or whatever they damn well please. I know I like to consider myself a formal expert on 3.5-4.0 kobolds XD they are my FAVORITE race and my favorite D&D book is races of the dragon just because of the kobold racial fluff. I have read just about everything I could on them from wizards over and over and over again

I seem to remember the races of dragon book explictly stating that Kobold warren were ruled by the most powerful Sorceress in the tribe, and they called her the All-mother or Den-mother or something similar. I may be wrong since I haven't looked at it since I made my Kobold character...

I had an insane 3.5 kobold sorceress whose backstory follows:

Skreep was once the matriarch of a large kobold clan, well-known for deviousness and trickery rare even to kobolds. Unfortunately, they weren't quite clever enough. A group of elven adventurers managed to by pass their traps, break into their warrens and kill her entire clan. Through what skreep believes to be divine intervention she was merely knocked unconscious instead of killed.

After taking quite a heavy blow to the head, Skreep dreamt she was being visited by Tiamat herself. Tiamat commanded the small Kobold that she was to cleanse the world. Tiamat's red dragon head blessed the Kobold, informing her that she was to judge the worlds as she saw fit. She was to judge the world by fire.
And Skreep obeyed.

After nursing her wounds, filled with delusional thoughts of justice and grandeur Skreep tracked down the elves who killed her clan. And as tiamat commanded her, judged them by fire. She burned down their homes, and when they tried to stop her she burned down their town, then their precious forest. And when nothing but ash remained Skreep's fled, she had her justice.

However all this excitement was really to much for one little Kobold to handle, and she became quite insane. Charging into battle immune of fear (or her 4 hp at first level) screeching her warcry and shooting flames from her fingertips.
She earned the title of Skreep the Flamemonger.


Skreep wasn't really evil, as she was really quite generous and nice until you ****** her off. However as soon as you made her made, well...you spontaneously combusted. The classic, don't underestimate me, sort of character.
I seem to remember the races of dragon book explictly stating that Kobold warren were ruled by the most powerful Sorceress in the tribe, and they called her the All-mother or Den-mother or something similar. I may be wrong since I haven't looked at it since I made my Kobold character...

Close but not quite. It's all-watcher, and it is any sorcerer, male or female =3
I just found the most kickass pic of kobold adventurers. The middle one inspired me to have Kip become a captain someday.

It's a semi-necro thread but I just had to share that I've finally come up with a backstory and goals for my kobold character.
I have named him Kip (stolen from another kobold character) for him because it's short and sounds like yip which is the kind of noise kobolds make.

I'll claim credit for this, as I am the one on these boards who reminesces about and brags about my old epic 3.0 kobold fighter/warlord(D&D kalamar book)/warmaster named Kip :3 he had a blue dragon mount and epic leadership and his own kingdom and a flying, plane-shifting castle ^_^