Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway.

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Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway.

Post by Tokage »

No one likes kobolds. But maybe that precisely would be a reason for someone to play one, I dunno, so here's my take on them. It's not playtested because no one in my group would want to try one out, let alone manage to play them for all the ten levels.

They probably don't much follow anyone else's views on kobolds either, for that matter. I just took the usual approach of them being the lowliest of the lowly and played it to a hilt. I can't tell whether it's any good an attempt until someone tells me.

Anyway, enjoy.

You are a wretched little fairy without a single true friend in the world (not even among your own kind), kicked at and laughed at and mocked and bullied by all that do not outright ignore your very existence. Your kind have long since proven themselves as worthy of absolutely no fear or respect or even basic decency whatsoever. And you've decided you won't let that stand anymore: whether by making a name for yourself as someone to be reckoned with, or taking advantage of all creation underestimating you, the world's treasures are yours for the taking.

Basically to the fey (pixies, sprites, and the like) what orcs are to the elves, kobolds are small and vicious monstrous humanoids who inhabit – in surprisingly large numbers – their caves and warrens, swamps and jungles, and occasionally city sewers, from which they occasionally emerge to bother the other folks or try (and usually fail) to torment elves and other fey, and to which many a low-level adventuring party has descended as their first outside venture. A kobold adventurer has almost certainly been forced into his profession against his will – being kicked into the hostile and friendless outside world, away from the comfortable numbers of their kind, would be a nightmare to most kobolds.

Hit points: A kobold gains 1d4 hit points at each level. They were not built to last.

Weapon training: A kobold is trained in the use of the blackjack, blowgun, club, crossbow, dagger, handaxe, short bow, short sword, spear, and staff. They prefer to wear leather armor – even if a kobold could scrape together the money to get a blacksmith forge a full plate he could wear, he would really stand out in it, and no kobold wants to stand out.

Alignment: Kobolds tend towards neutrality, the kind where they really don't care about anything related to the stuff. They're just looking to live their lives in peace and comfort, maybe occasionally hearing a hated fairy scream. A few do pledge their loyalty to the elder gods and other creatures from before order and chaos, but it is rare that anything will listen, for few beings would bother paying much attention to such a lowly creature.
Lawful kobolds look to be hardworking and helpful in a bid to earn names and genuine friendship, perhaps to some measure realizing that their misery and hardships might be the race's own doing. Chaotic kobolds take the exact opposite view, lashing out and seeking to destroy that which has given them nothing but woe – that is to say, absolutely everything.

Attack modifier: Kobolds receive a randomized sneak die that works much the same as those of a warrior or a dwarf. They get to roll this die and apply it to their attack and damage roll – but, and here's the difference, only if the defender really does not see it coming. Besides backstabs, which they can also do (see below) and which always count for the purpose of the the sneak die benefit, if a kobold is so unfortunate as to find himself in a straight fight, his player needs to describe some dirty trick or distraction he is using, some way to gain a little edge, in order to be allowed to roll the sneak die.
During the first attack this may be something as simple as a knee-stab or sand in eyes or biting under the belt, but each successful attack makes his enemies more wary of him, requiring the player to raise the stakes, to come up with increasingly outlandish and hilarious methods of assault. If the Judge reckons his efforts are not good enough, he gains nothing.
This is reset after each encounter, allowing the kobold to once again surprise someone by means of punching them in the nuts or something else simple - unless a survivor of a previous battle ran away and warned his buddies. Even then, the kobold is allowed to make a personality check, with a DC 15 minus the highest deed die he managed to roll in the last fight. If he fails, the survivor just gets laughed at and ignored and the kobold gets to do his thing anyway.

Dirty Deed of Arms: Since no one or nothing cares to pay much attention to kobolds, they can get away with all sorts of wickedness. Much like warriors and dwarves, a kobold can perform Mighty Deeds of Arms in combat – but like their sneak die, this only applies for dirty, underhanded trickery. Any deed that would make the onlookers gasp and cheer is beyond a kobold's martial ability to pull off: whatever their deeds, they will receive no better reaction than groaning and booing.

Beneath notice: Whenever anything sees a kobold, a ”threat” is not the first thing that pops out in their heads. Unless he has ended up building some fame for himself or displays himself as someone that might actually be bad news (besides performing well in combat, successfully applying the sneak die bonus always counts), provided he has managed to accompany other races and classes, a kobold is always the very last thing anyone bothers to target.

Darkvision: Making their home in caverns and other dark places, kobolds can see perfectly fine without any light at all. Conversely, direct sunlight imposes a -1 penalty to their attack rolls and most skill checks.

Small size: Like halflings, being at most four feet tall allows kobolds to easily squeeze into narrow spaces.

Stealth: Kobolds barely even need to try to be stealthy – in many situations, the enemy can see or hear one coming and still pay no attention. They can sneak around in the manner of a halfling or a thief.

Backstab: Seeing as they always seek every advantage they can and see fighting fair as something only a sucker would do, a kobold will stab in the back if he at all can. This works exactly as thief's skill of the same name, with one caveat: a kobold's backstab does not automatically score a critical hit. However, his sneak die, besides always giving him the bonus to hit and damage, does count for this purpose as well: should he roll only 18 with his action die, but 3 with his sneak die, then he has successfully hit critically.

Trapsmith: Kobold warrens are defended not by thick walls and mighty warriors, but by tripwires and acid pits and whatever else they can come up with. Putting this cultural expertise to use in adventuring situations, kobolds can find and disable traps as thieves would. In addition, given time and tools and an ingenious player, they can make some traps of their own.

Cosmic plaything: No god or high being, even the universe as a whole, have any regard to kobolds or any reason to intervene in their behalf. As a result of this complete abandonment, kobolds tend to be incredibly unlucky.
A first level kobold begins with 10 points' worth of such misery, adjusted by the reverse of his Luck – so with a +1 Luck modifier he would have 9 points instead. Every day, the Judge is allowed to, and outright encouraged to, screw the kobold over by reducing any roll he makes, for attack or damage or saving throw or critical hits or whatever else, by the total of this number. He could reduce a roll by just 1 point at a time if it were enough to turn a success into a failure, or he could pile all 10 points to turn that really good attack roll into a null. These points can negate a natural 20, and if enough are used to bring an attack roll to a 1, it will count as a natural 1 and a fumble.
But this terrible luck need not last forever. As a kobold gains levels, he defies his lot in the world and his predetermined fortune, reducing these misery points by 2 per level. Once he hits level 6, even if there would still be points left due to a negative luck modifier, the kobold is no longer a cosmic plaything: he has proven his worth to the universe and will henceforth be left alone.
On the bright side, a kobold recovers lost luck by the number of points equal to his level each day, exactly as a thief or a halfling would.

Languages: At first level, a kobold automatically knows his own language and common.

Action dice: A kobold's action dice can be used for attacks and skill checks.

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Re: Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway

Post by werecat »

A martial class with a d4 hit die isn't long for this world but that could be half the fun. I'd give it a shot! Thanks for the write-up and share. The flavor seems spot-on.
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Re: Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway

Post by Max_The_Judge »

This seems like a lot of fun. You should submit it for the 2016 Gongfarmer's Almanac.
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Re: Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway

Post by mythfish »

Ha ha, Tucker. Nice call-out. :)
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Re: Why would you want to play a kobold? Have a class anyway

Post by bat »


In one of my very few conversations with Gary Gygax (and those online, via forums) once I post a picture of the Froud kobolds and he said he wanted them to look like that in the game rather than the scaly dog-lizards that they had become. I believe that this class is very fitting for that version of kobolds.
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