Saturday, March 12, 2011
Re-Imagining the Iconic D&D Monster: the Kobold
Here's my short jump onto the James Maliszewski band wagon.
Kobolds in my D&D campaigns were created as the result of a magical mishap. No one remembers the specifics, but at least two were made: one male, one female.
I rarely use them as encounter fodder; instead, they serve as a poor man's henchmen, most often in the form of slavery. They can be bought cheaply, and will eat just about anything and seem to have "cast-iron" stomachs. Thus they are often fed rotten foods and spoiled meats. They don't seem to mind.
The good thing about kobolds is that they make for cheap slave labor. Their nature leans towards followership to the point that it is odd to find a kobold with an idea of his/her own. They do not however make perfect slaves as their loyalty only lasts until someone else comes along to bully them into betraying whomever they were serving. They also have the attention span of the average gold fish. Most often they are used for menial labor that doesn't take much thought. They are remarkable in one aspect. Despite their seemingly inane stupidity, they learn simple tasks quickly and never seem to forget how to do something. So while it is doubtful that a kobold would be able to master the craftsmanship to become a leather worker, if shown how to properly cure and clean a hide a kobold put to task doing so would do so with no supervision. A typical kobold is able to master one task. So continuing the same example, while the Master Leather worker may have a kobold slave he has trained to cure hides, he would be pushing it to expect that same kobold to learn how to tan, or for that matter, sweep the floor.
While kobolds are sometimes used in combat as canon fodder, it really isn't their best use, as kobolds are cowardly by nature. Most kobolds live amongst others. In every human centric city, kobolds are found. Typically, they do not live in a "wild" state. Occasionally roaming packs of kobolds are found, these are usually the result of their masters having met a short end, but they are easily defeated, or captured. The greatest threat kobolds offer is that they have short pregnancy periods, and mature quickly. A typical female kobold can spawn two litters averaging three pups each, twice a year. Pups reach maturity in two years. For this reason, kobolds are often eunuchs. Those that are not too often cause a population problem that must be dealt with by the city watch, or a band of adventurers looking to make some easy coin.