Dragon's Eye View returns for the new year with a detailed look at kobolds through the editions.
Dragon's Eye View: Reimagining Kobolds
I would actually really not mind seeing Dragonborn and Kobolds integrated into the same "family", like we have with the various types of Lizardfolk, or (with more dramatic differences) like we have with goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears).
In many tales of kobolds found thru Wikipedia, kobolds have a rather black sense of humor and a prankster bent. This could mesh well with their D&D counterparts; kobolds in some editions have an animosity toward gnomes, humorous considering both species' popular penchant for mining, tinkering (mainly traps in kobolds' case), and supernatural household upkeep. They're like the gnomes' sinister cousin or natural enemy.
Making them another short human, as well as the halfling equivalent of a dragonborn/draconian, would be disappointingly redundant, don't you think?
I am a big fan of the idea that kobolds are related to dragons. Basically, they should look like what dragons would look like if they were three feet tall, humanoid, and generally primitive. Given their connection with dragons, having them be an 'early offshoot' that never developed the way dragons did is really compelling to me, and gives them a good reason to worship dragons as well. Physical traits should reference dragons, but focused on their current state. Scales the same colors, a tail that's useful for more than just balance, no ears. They're unquestionably reptiloid, treat them as such.
"Creature design would be based upon the following:"
"Three-foot-tall humanoid (as in two arms, two legs, upright) form that has been infused with the draconic essence of a god.”
I don’t like the “Infusion of draconic essence”; they are not lesser cousins of the dragonborn, but perhaps a reptilian race with delusions of grandeur.
I never cared for creatures under 4’ as they are nothing more than ankle-biters. At 3’ the kobold is the equivalent of an “average size boy” of the whopping age of 2 and a half, I’d prefer to be attacked by kindergarteners or 1st graders instead (i.e. < 48 inches).
“Slight skeletal frame.”
Disagree here they should have an “average” skeletal frame as they are a warlike race capable of attacking or defending themselves against beings of equal size (e.g. gnomes). The Dragonshield would look awfully humorous (much like the Tiny Warrior from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls).
“More about intelligence and agility than strength or brute force.”
Against larger creatures and their traditional enemies (e.g. small fey) they need to develop both, but again I think an average strength is sufficient. The race is noted for having individuals of great intelligence (i.e. the alchemist).
“Furtive and cowardly alone, but ferocious and dangerous in a crowd. This would drive all major design decisions.”
I would prefer stealthy and cunning when alone, a master of improvised traps and bushcraft (e.g. MacGyver or Dutch from Predator). Again as a warlike race a group is always more dangerous than one.
“Hairless, scaly hides that range from dark brown to black.”
More specifically an earth tone scheme are muted and flat in an emulation of the natural colors found in dirt, moss, trees and rocks. Many earth tones originate from clay earth pigments, such as umber, ochre, and sienna.
“Large intelligent eyes that are suited to life underground.”
More like cat eyes (including shades too) suitable for night time raids (not darkvision, but low-light).
“A long tail (prehensile) that integrates with the rest of the body.”
Again like a cat, the tail is used for balance and agile movement. But absolutely not prehensile, they are not monkeys or opossums!
“Hands that are quite deft and capable of intricate actions. This would also indicate an ability to craft and make culturally appropriate clothing and accessories—perhaps draconic in theme? “
As an intelligent race they should have the ability to craft items suitable to their environs and culture. 1E had them using wicker shields, swords, axes, javelins and spears – so did many of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.
It should also be noted that they are capable of taming wild boars and giant weasels as guardians, which considering RW boars is no small feat.
“Affinity to, and reverence of, dragons.”
As stated earlier they have issues and claims of dragon-blood running through their veins makes them feel better. A social order and worship based on admiration of draconic traits and service to infamous dragons would be a way of proving their claim of kinship.
The dragons don’t mind the cannon fodder and no sane enemy would think of them as cowards, especially if they have no clue if a dragon is around or not.
“Small white or beige horns.”
This is a whole different can of worms without more details
Age was not a factor listed by you, but the kobold’s lifespan of 135 years and their lairs having up to ~640 individuals and 300 eggs indicate a race of survivors.
Habitat was also not factored, while Mr. Wyatt claims when they cannot live near dragons, they live like rats in warrens. I prefer the original idea where they live “in dank, dark places such as dismal overgrown forest or subterranean settings”, which considering their hatred of the fey creatures (e.g. brownies, pixies, sprites, and gnomes) gives the kobold a wider range of artistic possibilities.
Also will there be a definitive artistic difference between male and female kobolds?
IMHO kobolds should be a feared adversary and not the Jar Jar Binks of D&D!!
In reallife, “Kobold”, “Gnome”, “Leperchaun”, “Brownie”, and so on, are moreorless synonyms. They all refer to a “House Sprite”, albeit according to different cultures.
The D&D Kobold has little to do with the reallife meaning of the word, but making it explicitly Draconic surprisingly solves the dissonance.
Analogous to calling the creature a “Pygmy Dragon”, calling it a “Kobold Dragon” makes a lot of sense.
The Kobold Dragon is quite different from the typical Dragon. The name “Kobold” illustrates vividly these differences.
• Childlike size
• Domestic qualities, such as wearing clothes, using tools.
• Hiddeness, albeit by stealth rather than ethereality.
• Prankster, trickster qualities.
• Inhabiting mines.
And so on. The name “Kobold Dragon” is apt.
It seems to me, what makes the Kobold Dragon so popular is it is quintessentially a Geek.
The "dragonblood" kobold from "Races of Dragons" can be a optional subrace. If you don´t like it you don´t add to your settin.
I imagine D&D kobolds like reptilian dog-like creatures, a mixture of velocirraptor and evil fays. They aren´t only canon fodder for low level PCs.
Do you rebember the kobolds from AD&D capcom arcade?
I imagine my kobolds like from the videogame, but more reptilians, like a mixture of bulldog-like furry and velociraptors.
Do you rembember Gremlins movies?
Munchies was a serie B horror movie from 80´s
I mean I imagine D&D kobolds like creatures from horror subgenre of little monsters (gremlins, ghoulies, munchies, critters).
One important element that needs to be kept in mind that he doesn't mention is that Kobolds are moderately humorous monsters. They not joke monsters or entirely ignorable, but they are not a serious threat to any but the least experienced adventurers. Trying to make Kobolds too serious looking is likely to get in the way of their character. It would also be bad to overplay the connection to dragons, D&D doesn't need two dragon-kin races.
Other then that, I'm fine with reworking kobold's apperance. Other then being small and having somewhat lizard like appearance, they have not really had a consistent look across editions.
New, higher level kobolds would be awesome. We have a few different versions of goblins. So why not a few different versions of kobolds?
Leave the old kobolds to be the weak ones. With crude cloths and crude traps. And the smaller early edition sizes.
Then make new ones who are more crafty, and have prehensile tales, and like magical traps as well. They would be commonly mistaken for kobolds, but are slightly larger (4e's size). These can be a PC version.
And a third version, closer to dragons. They have wings and elemental bites, if not breath. Some run around on all 4's though they can still wield weapons. They still make traps, but rely on them less. Their pride tend to be more solo, only grouping under a strong leader, like a real dragon.
And there can be half-breeds between them as well.
Red beady eyes are fine. Large eyes are for low light vision. You need something different for darkvision.
It should be made clear that those of us in favor of a stronger kobold-dragon connection and a family of Dragonfolk that Lizardfolk and Dragonfolk are not the same thing.
We are in agreement, yes?
The key word for kobolds is cunningly. They are weak and they know it, but they make up for it with slyness. They are the evil McGyver of D&D.
I have found this image:
I like that ape snout.
I don´t like those ridiculous lizard heads like from children cartoons. Kobolds aren´t evil cousins of Wally Wator (Hanna-Barbera´s character). I imagine D&D kobolds like reptilians baboons, closer to AD&D look, like a mixture of gremlims (80´s movie) and kobolds from capcom AD&D arcades (tower of doom and shadow over mystara).
See, I don't like the "missing link" connection between kobolds and lizardfolk, because it implies a more direct evolution. I would rather it be more branching, like how we humans are actually fairly closely related to lemurs, but the common ancestor is still a good ways back.
Humans like to catagorize things.
Now how to make that fairer? hmmmmm
I am in the Dragons are not lizards camp.
Option A: Kobolds linked with dragonblood family: dracoborn, dracotaurs, dracokins, draconians.......(and spellcalles?). Maybe goblinoid ancestors who got dragonblood traits like the spellcales from "Races of dragons".
Option B: Kobolds linked with reptiliand humanoids: lizardfolk, troglodytes, urds, khaasta...
Option C: two subraces, one would be A and the other B. (and both hate each other).
The kobolds´ jaw and snout should be like a reptilian badoon. Those too big nasal holes are too ridiculous. Is there any real world reptile with a snout like it? I would rather the AD&D reptilian ape.
* Some humanoid monsters should be designed to be nemesis or achenemy of some PC races. Goblins, kobolds and springans should be favorite antagonist of little PC races (halflings and gnomes).
* Some DMs could say kobolds from their setting were a goblinoid comunity who were transformed by dragons (to use them like slaves) or some deity...or kobolds ancestors used magic to transform themself to survive, a softer version of prestige class disciple of dragon.
I'll add my voice to what a few others are saying, I really like the idea of kobolds being in the same "family" as Dragonborn. Further, I would like halflings to be included in the same family as humans. I don't think this would make much mechanical difference, but we have had the idea of monster families (gob, hobgob, bugbear) for a while now, and it always seemed to make a fair bit of sense.
To me the relationship is not important in the D&D game. The game could just leave it as vague and let each campaign flesh out the relationship.
The mechanics is the important thing that the gamemakers need to be worried about.
As someone who has played PC kobolds, dragonborn, and lizardfolk, I want all three as playable PC races. Leave their history out. I don't care how they are linked if it is going to bother some people.
I like reptilian races. I would rather have 3 reptiles than gnomes.
Drow, lizardfolk, minotaur, undead
Half-elves, gnomes, half-orcs
If we must have hybrids, can we just have a mechanic for creating hybrids instead of making them a separate race?
I prefer the older scaly dogish ratlike tailed Kobold of AD&D. I fear Jon's description will look too much a 3 feet tall lizardfolk.
Id like something like this: (perhaps with a little more fur)
I like my kobolds lizardy and nt automatically dragon blooded. But many kobolds COULD be dragon blooded as many are deluded into thinking so, seeking out dragons, and becoming mates for younger dragons with lesser resources.
The common kobolds isn't draconic but some tribes have dragon heritage.
This could be shown as kobold dragonshields and maybe urds have draconic features while the main kobolds pics lack them and look more lizard-rat people.
Why waste time trying to define the lore? WOTC should be more concerned about mechanics and whether they improve the game or not. Lore might add to the enjoyment of roleplaying but it is campaign specific. No reason to argue over whether a kobold is a mammal or a reptile. Better to discuss whether it is a playable race and if so how to balance its stats so it will be an option some people might choose while others do not.
* Dragonblood kobolds should be a optional subrace, let´s allow a open door. Do you rembember the first chapter (dragobound heroes) of "Dragon Magic" (one of last 3.5 books) with new subraces with draconic lineage?
* Antrophomorphic reptiles aren´t so cool like antrophomorphic dinosaurs.
*Kobolds with dog snout (like from warcraft) are horrible, I would rather badoon-like snouts, like reptilian apes with scales.
Ssi-ruu, reptilian race from Star Wars.
Esral´sa´Nikto, other reptilian race from Star Wars.
Zilla´s (= American godzilla) offspring. I know they are stupier that D&D kobolds, but more terrorific, aren´t they?
D&D kobolds should be like mini antropomorphic zillas, or like Joe Dante´s gremlins.
I'm not a fan of yet another dragonkin. I like the smelly rat/dog connections of 2E. If they have to belong to a 'family', design them to be laughable little cousins of the gnoll.
I don´t like the canon background of gnolls, too bloodthirsthy, wild and savage. The cult of Yeenoghu can be like this but I would like a optional subrace with different background like furry na´vi from Pandora (but with very much worse temper).
Gnolls aren´t really so fearsome (very daredevil, sadist and cruel, but no so dangerous like others), I think aremy of Shaka Zulu´s (real History character from XIX century South Africa) could kick-**s complete gnolls tribes or commit a total genocide againts gnolls.... (in the real world chaotic aligment isn´t useful to survive worst crysis)
Could any gnolls be werehyenas?
* Can tree trolls (dragon magazine 299) be a gnoll (=mixture gnome +troll?)
Why not kobolds face are like dragonkins from "Monster of Faerun"? Different kobold subraces could have got totally different face traits, as different as Husky Siberian and bullmastiffs. Ones would be like reptilian apes and others like antropomorhic zillas babes. Subraces could allow different versions of kobolds from different editions be canon at the same time in the next D&D.
Rev Rem, magog character from sci-fi teleserie Andromeda.
For the whole "dragon or lizard family" thing, they could take the approach of:
Kobolds think kobolds are related to dragons.
Dragons think kobolds are related to lizards (edit: or other "lesser" creatures - they don't really care).
Lizardfolk think kobolds are related to rats, vermin, and other pests.
... and make their design kind of reflect that any of those attitudes might be the "correct" one. They're kind of draconic (and certainly like to act and dress as though they are), kind of lizard-like (in a way distinct from being draconic), but also something else.
EDIT: It would also be a neat little plot hook if Dragonborn - having no reason to doubt the claims of the Kobolds themselves - view them as misguided cousins, of a sort.
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So they just want to make them generic and boring like the rest of 5E?
Well poo on that.
As entertaining as thinking of dragons as monstrous kobolds is, given as we already have dragonspawn, dragonborn, half-dragons, and draconians, why should kobolds, which were derived from goblins and brownies, also be dragon-like? I don't think we need more human-like or goblin-like races either, mind you.
Rather than thinking of a monster by thinking of its relatives, why may result in a lot of unfortunately similar monsters, what most makes a kobold ...a kobold?
Imagine goblins aren't related to bugbears at all. Would bugbears become more monstrous and be able to change shape and shadowstep, for instance? This is assuming your entire understanding of the word bugbear isn't limited to D&D's definition of a big, hairy goblinoid.
Maybe a alternative kobold origin is possible but retcon wouldn´t be necesary.
The original kobold race was a goblonoid miner comunity (like from 1st edition) who were protected (enslaved) by dragons. Some dragons used kobolds to create a new subrace by means of magic ..(do you rebember reptilian template from "Savage Species"?), something like dragonspwans created by dragon overlods from Krynn.. (or subraces with draconic lineage from first chapter of "Dragon Magic" (3.5. sourcebook).
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the Kobolds portrayed like the mountain goblins from the new The Hobbit movie, other than being scaly dragon-people rather than ugly midgets. After all, as Tolkien said of his orcs and goblins, "They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones", and that part of the movie really nailed that for me.
For the dog lover…I’d like to point out the “Golden Jackal”, which actually matches many of the original descriptions of the kobold. This creature is not related to true jackals, but more akin to grey wolves and coyotes, wary of the lion [adventurers] yet able to compete against powerful hyena [gnolls] intruders; they even try to kill hyena young when they are able.
They are able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and can make use of a variety of different resources; often taking over abandoned subterranean burrows [e.g. surface caves and sewers] of others or building their own in concealed areas such as below tree roots or dense thickets.
They are an omnivorous and opportunistic forager; their diet varies according to season and habitat; they are capable of hunting alone or in small family packs, taking out prey three times their own weight (size); often taking prey by ambush by ripping their guts out. As mentioned above they are natural rivals of the plain dwelling hyena, but their territory includes forest, mountains, and coastal deserts, the same region where one might find gnomes or other fey, dwarves, halflings, and humans.
Their fur is generally either of a dirty reddish-grey color, strongly highlighted with blackish tones due to the black guard hairs, or a brighter, rusty-reddish color [as in clothing]. Occasionally, it develops a horny growth on the skull which is associated with magical powers. This horn usually measures half an inch in length, and is concealed by their fur.
Just discard the egg-lying, scaly reptilian aspects and you are closer to the original “yipping-smelly dog” variant of the kobold.
I would prefer to keep the history and specifics of each monster as relatively vague. The core D&D does not need to state the origin story of every monster. Stick with the stat sheet and a vague description.
Allow individual campaigns to define the other aspects of their existence.
Have one stat line for use as an NPC and one stat line for use as a PC race. That is all that is needed. Keep it simple. If they want later splat books to include specific setting information keep it separate from the mechanical development.
in one campaign kobolds can be dog-like and descended from gnolls or hyenas. In another they might be lizard like and descended from lizardfolk. In another they might be degenerate gnomes. In another they might be dragonspawned servants.
The more generic the core description, the more inclusive this next edition can be.
The only difficulty I see with this approach is that racial abilities are often determined by specifics so that creating a PC kobold might need some of these historical cues to be defined unless they can truly find racial abilities that can link all of these concepts together.
I have thought about create my own concept art about kobolds. I wish create a variant, with hair, closer to the (reptlinian goblin) kobold from 1st and 2nd edition, the reptomammals, no the mini-lizardmen.
This is my version of kobolds.
It is a reptomammal, with hair and scales. The snout is shorter, like a boxer or pitbull dog.
This is my second sketch or concept art for my own version of kobolds (or hipotetical subrace). I want show a possible retcon of kobold from 1st and 2nd Ed.
It looks a mixture of pseudodragon and monkey, doesn´t it?, or the good and evil version of "gremlins" (movie).
The skin has got scales and hair (and spines). The snout is shorter that the 3rd-4th kobolds, more like apes, but not too much, because we don´t want it looks (half-dragon) ape-like goblin. Let´s say a mixture between 3rd kobold and goblin, no too long, not too short snout/jaw.
I am not a good drawer and I don´t try being it, only I wish do a suggestion for a cooler design. If you would find a fantasy rpg where kobolds had got this look... would you like?
* Once I read the D&D canon said the mixture of a kobold and a goblin was a "D&D gremlin".
* Could a kobold subrace be furry, having got hair like mammals? Could a kobold subrace have got the subtype "goblinoid"?
kobold different from dragonborn
imagine kobold as small creatures, related to dragon, seldom alone, great move around between traps
Of course, they are as different as (D&D) gnomes and elves. I am not changing the canon background.
But I am trying "recover" the furry version of kobold from 1st and 2nd Edition..(with a little touch of retcon). It could be a subrace. Do you rebember the feral and reptilian template from "Savage Species"?
Are kobolds a goblinoid race whith reptilian traits by dragons, or my suggestion is a dragonblood race with added goblinoid traits?
Other option is using the name for two race with different origin. (something with the word "Indian". Indians from Northamerican or from Asia?)
My own version is the 3rd-4th version of kobolds, the dragonblood, is a "transgenic" evolution from ones of 1st-2nd by dragon magic.
...or maybe my subrace is like shifters, descendent of werebeasts or a secondary effect when they survived raids by goblins wereweasels, or a goblinoid tribe who don´t know they are descendent of kobolds spies (with shapeshifter powers by magic of their dragon lord).
Kobolds use dire weasels like mounts.
For me, Personally, the Kobold was always my favorite race out of any contained within the D&D mythos. The lore and the stats never mattered particulary, it was there actual physiology that i found interesting. I always pictured them as having a mixture of Oppossum/Shrew/Weasel features (as oppossed to rat features) combined with Mastiff/Crocodillian Features with an Anthropormorphosized Spider-Monkeys' frame, all wraped up inside of a Dragon-skin Hide.
My thought is that what Kobolds actually are is one of the oldest races around, being a race that is the end result of the evil of others. Originally being the product of the interbreeding of a multitude of cast-off offspring, the result of slaves being raped or the children of prostitutes, as well as failed attempts at cross-breeding creatures that shouldn't really be mixed by wizards, warlocks, and other assorted "Learn-ed People", the Kobold is the stabilized form of the hodge-podge from which it originates from. this would explain there horrible smell, like there there own personal lower east side.
The smell could be attributed to all those different races the kobold is made up of mixing together, kind of like mixing together everything in your fridge at the same time, (i'm pretty sure that the smells would be similar.)
My guess would be that they resemble dragons due to the potency of Dragons blood and it's ability to dominate a life-form even at a concentration of 1%.
I don't offer this as alternative lore, but rather a rational explanation based upon the facts that are presented.
The Kobolds and other races can all argue about Kobold lore till there blue in the face, for me, this explination strikes me as being the most plausable.
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