Article of the Week: Kobold

[[Kobolds]] are malicious, cruel, xenophobic reptilian humanoids about the size of a gnome. They hate almost every other sort of humanoid or fey, especially gnomes and sprites. Kobolds will eat anything, but prefer fresh meat and have no qualms with eating intelligent beings. Cowardly and weak in nature, they will only attack with overwhelming odds or with trickery such as traps and ambushes.

Kobolds are unintelligent and live in a communal hives where they dig holes, attempting to uncover shiny objects. A single kobold can be dispatched by even a child, though in great numbers they can prove to be a nuisance. They have no significant culture of society, though they do carve crude meaningless drawings in their cavern walls.

—excerpt from Encyclopaedia Monstrosiae

Kobolds are reptilian humanoids about the size of a gnome. With that exception, the above, inaccurate quoted text represents the accepted knowledge and general opinion of kobolds by the majority of the populous despite the rich tapestry of history, knowledge, and culture kobolds possess.



Before the war between the Shah’ren and the dragons the term kobold was used to define anyone that dissented against the dragon hunts. As the war progressed it evolved more meaning to the Shah’ren becoming a derogatory term for those that had stood with the dragons against their own brethren. In ancient draconic, however, the word simply translates along the lines of “ally” and it was used by the dragons to symbolize that they considered these Shah’ren their friends and allies. The meaning of the word continued to change after the Balarian Ankienen where it had taken the meaning “Those left behind,” as the Kobolds felt they had been abandoned by the dragons to survive on their own.

The Shah’ren that allied with the dragons before and during the first conflict maintained the natural balance of elements with which they were created. As the war progressed they were ousted from their society and exiled or killed as traitors, eventually taking refuge in a rock shelter which would become known as Kobonahl, and home of the Kobolds. It was here that they set up their community and most began mining to provide supplies and food (some dragons eat gems and stones) for the war. Others acted as spies within Shah’ren towns and facilities as well as soldiers for the dragons. Kobonahl was protected by the Ma’at and Rakanishu, the matron and lord of the kobolds.


Kobolds are dracanoid bipedal humanoids standing approximately 2.5 to 3 feet tall and weighing from 30 to 40 lbs. A kobold can extend its height an additional 6 inches by stretching out its jointed legs, but doing so is very uncomfortable. Their reptilian head is shaped like that of a dog and lined with small protruding spikes along the rim. Their reptilian eyes have vertical slits like that of a cat and vary greatly in color. Green is, however, a rare and important color in a kobolds eyes[1] representing direct draconic heritage. Kobolds with this heritage usually only have green flecks in their eyes, bicolored eyes, or a swirl of colors in their eyes. Only Kobonashi are known to have pure amber green eyes and even the kobold are unaware of this special trait that identifies draconic heritage. A kobold’s body is covered with thin scales which are usually earthen tones, but can range to any reptilian color. Kobolds have short scaled rat-like tails to assist them with balance and their hands and feet each have four digits, including a thumb on each hand.

Kobolds are cold blooded creatures which makes them more susceptible to colder climates but more enduring in warmer climates. As such, a kobold that lives in a cold environment would have to eat many times as much as in a warm environment to keep their metabolism functioning properly. Kobolds make their home in underground areas in order to take advantage of the natural insulation provided.

Female kobolds are usually very slightly smaller than the males and can be identified from males by the faint tribal style markings around their eyes and face. A female kobold matures slightly faster than their male counterpart, reaching sexual maturity around 30 months old compared to the 36 months of their counterpart. Once maturity is reached, a female can mate and produce one to three eggs every nine months, though most only mate once every few years and rarely produce more than one egg when they do. Females are very picky about their potential mates, only wanting the strongest children possible for the clan.

Life Cycle

Kobold Eggs spend 2 months in growth within the female before they are laid, then another 6 months of development. All kobold eggs are laid in the clan’s rookery where they are cared for by caregivers instead of their biological parents. A kobold never knows who its actual parents as all hatchlings are considered to be children of the entire clan. Once the eggs hatch, the newly born kobolds are cared for by the clan until it is determined that they can fend for themselves, usually after one year. Kobolds are taught using a trial-and-error method which weeds the weaker specimens from the stronger. Once the hatchlings reach this stage of life, their mortality rate increase greatly as they are expected to fend for themselves and must fight with their siblings for food.[2] By three years old a kobold will have found its place in society usually as a worker or soldier. They’ll spend the next 15 years serving their colony until they are too old, feeble, or dead to continue. Elderly kobolds remain within the burrow sharing stories with the younger generation. Most kobolds, however, perish before they are 10 years old.

Kobold eggs have a about a 55% chance of hatching males with a 45% chance of hatching females, though females have a slightly higher survival rate since they hatch first. Every so often a kobold will be born with draconic characteristics such as non-functioning wings, a stronger longer tail, or sharper teeth and claws. These kobolds always have at least a tinge or flecks of green in their eyes. A small fraction of these kobolds are born with strong, functional wings or are larger than other kobolds. An extremely rare occurrence is for a kobold to be born as a quadruped with large wings, sharp teeth, amber green eyes and a long spiked tail. All of these special kobolds are known as Kobonashi.


Kobold society as been forged over hundreds of years through strife and struggle dating back to around the time of the first conflict. The kobolds that had betrayed their brethren to the dragons were force out of their homes and eventually came form their own community known as Kobonahl under the watch of the silver dragon[3] Ma’at and the gold dragon[4] Rakanishu. The kobolds aided the dragons in their struggle against the Shah’ren and developed into a mining community, providing supplies for the war effort as well as rare minerals that some dragons use for food. This mining community continues until this day as the backbone of kobold society.

Kobolds mine not just to build burrows for their home, but also for natural resources that can be found within the earth. A kobold burrow is always dug in a place rich in these resources and they expand inward into the earth, providing not only room for the tribe to expand but excavating important minerals such as gold and iron. They use these minerals to support their society by making tools, weaponry, currency or trade. In fact, a large portion of the Eulinian currency in circulation is minted by kobolds which they use in exchange for goods that their clans need.

In addition to mining for resources, kobolds also search for information about their history as well as the history of the world and have become a veritable wealth of knowledge. This knowledge is shared within their clan and told through stories to the other kobolds so that the knowledge is passed on. Kobolds also trade information with other clans in exchange for goods, services, or other knowledge. Elderly kobolds are revered for the information they have obtained over their lifespan and usually remain within the burrow to teach younger kobolds.

Kobold individualism does not exist and they work to serve the entire clan, not the individual kobold. Women are treated as equals to men, not for the purpose of gender equality but simply because there is nothing important weighing on either gender. The only merit kobolds can claim individually is what they are capable of providing to their clan: Knowledge, tactics, etc. When a kobold dies, even one of great merit, it is assumed that their usefulness was exhausted. Kobolds treat corpses as objects considering nothing more than empty husks useable only as bait or food.
Some kobolds have been known to keep pets, especially for the purpose of watchdogs. Usually these pets are reptiles or giant insects, but other creatures have been known to be tamed as well. The attachment to these creatures is tenuous and usually ends when the kobold devours their faithful companion.


Kobolds speak a language known as Kobalt. It is a derivative of draconic and spoken with in a yapping sound like that of a dog. There is no written version of kobalt and most kobolds cannot read or write. There is no need for it. History is past down through stories and most of the written works from the past, the only writings kobolds would be interested in, have been destroyed. Some kobolds can read/write, especially those that have to deal with other races. They do, however, carve pictures into the walls of their home as decoration and for the purpose of storytelling.

Belief Structure

Ma’at[5] and Rakanishu were the two dragons assigned to watch, protect, and maintain the city of Kobonahl. The dragons both loved and cared for the kobolds as if they were their own children. It is rumored[6] that Ma’at and Rakanishu both interbred with the kobolds, lacing the kobold bloodline with direct dragon heritage, which could possibly explain the existence of Kobonashi.

Kobonahl was eventually razed by a goblin attack during the conflict. They attacked in overwhelming numbers as the kobolds fled the city, defended by the two dragons. They were, however, overwhelmed and both dragons were slain. The surviving kobolds accept that their gods are dead and in fact regularly express “God is dead” when questioned about their beliefs. This symbolizes that they do not believe in any power other than the dragons.

Kobolds do not like, trust, or get along with elves and feel that elves received attention from the dragons that they did not deserve. The knowledge that goblins are responsible for the death of their gods as well as knowing precisely how goblins are created causes kobolds to have an extreme distaste for them, usually attempt to exterminate them on sight. Additionally, knowing that gnomes are related to goblins and because of territory feuds they usually try to kill any gnomes they see as well. Kobolds have some accord with dwarves, but usually do not get along too well since they know that they are related to elves. Dwarves, however, usually try to avoid interfering with kobold mines and have been known to work out trade agreements with them.


Kobolds have an eusocial society where every kobold is expected to contribute as much to the clan as they can. This instinct is built into the kobolds mind and is not something that has to be forced; it is very rare that an individual would slack off or do something for personal gain that wouldn’t benefit the clan. Even in the daily tasks of mining, a kobold is capable of assessing a mining operation and determining where they could most benefit the task.

Kobolds do have leadership and coordination figures, however. Usually the most experienced group of kobolds will determine the directions a mine will go, where supports should be placed, and the like. Other kobolds manage the food supply and the nursery as well making sure everything is organized. Others are in charge of battle tactics, patrol routes, and other military tasks.


This article or section requires some cleaning up.


A trap design by kobolds

Outside of the basics of mining and military kobolds also take crafting to an art form, especially engineering. While weapons are usually rudimentary and practical, traps designed by kobold engineer go to a level of unpractical design that kobolds recognize as beauty. It is not uncommon for kobolds to compete to whom can design the deadliest trap, the most resourceful trap, the most difficult trap, etc. Some kobolds work in alchemy, as well, developing poisons and potions that they can use against their enemies and to aid their clan as well.

The size of a clan can fluctuate greatly as kobolds die and hatchlings hatch. Usually the overall growth is steady but it is possible that eventually a burrow will not be expanding fast enough to keep up with the needs of the clan or the resources in the area will not be able to support them. Should this happen, half of the kobolds will head out into the world to make claim in a new area. Usually they will try to avoid the territory of other clans, but it is not unheard of a nomad kobold clan attacking and taking over another burrow for their home.


Kobolds are capable of consuming almost any living matter, but prefer fresh meat and large insects. They will eat vegetation if food is scarce, but usually more drastic measures are taken before hand such as attacking settlements. Kobolds do not keep prisoners for long and they are used for food. Hatchlings are also fed fungus and vegetables as part of their diet. Kobonashi are fed special minerals as a major part of their diet as well as fresh meat. These kobolds have been known to kill and eat other kobolds when food is scarce.

Michael McElrath

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