Kobolds are craven reptilian humanoids that worship evil dragons as demigods and serve them as minions and toadies.
From the Monster Manual
Kobolds inhabit dragons’ lairs when they can but more commonly infest dungeons, gathering treasures and trinkets to add to their own tiny hoards. Kobolds make up for their physical ineptitude with a cleverness for trap making and tunneling. Their lairs consist of low tunnels through which they move easily but which hinder larger humanoids. Kobolds also riddle their lairs with traps.
The most insidious kobold traps make use of natural hazards and other creatures. A trip wire might connect to a spring-loaded trap that hurls clay pots of flesh-eating green slime or flings crates of venomous giant centipedes at intruders.
Aaron Hübrich helped orchestrate the illustrations for the Monster Manual’s kobold, as art director at Conceptopolis.
A Brief Look Back
Our first, barely there, mention of kobolds came in the Original Edition Book II: Monsters & Treasure with a note alongside goblins (and for a brief look back at goblinoids in general, consult D&D Alumni). In Supplement II: Blackmoor, it was further stated that kobolds “live in air-enclosed cave complexes connected to the surface by tunnels.”
That was about all, with even the 1st Edition Monster Manual only providing a bit more on their population numbers, their use of wild boars and giant weasels as guard animals, and some further descriptive text: “The society of these creatures is tribal with war bands based on gens. The stronger tribes rule weaker ones. Kobolds are usually found in dank, dark places such as dismal overgrown forests or subterranean settings.” Gens, meaning a group that traces its descent along the male line (and yet another vocabulary word the game has taught me).
Yet for all their seeming irrelevance as little more than a low-level threat, kobolds gained, and then have maintained, an irrefutable level of traction.
Certainly, Roger E. Moore’s famed editorial (Tucker’s Kobolds) helped shine a spotlight on kobolds. Later in the 3rd Edition adventure module, The Sunless Citadel, a certain kobold named Meepo would appear, gaining a kind of renewed celebrity in our first online creature competition, and even appearing as a miniature. In more recent days, kobolds made further sourcebook appearances (such as in The Dungeon Survival Handbook), as well as mascot for our friends at Kobold Press (designers of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, specifically Wolfgang Baur and Steve Winter).
From dog-faced pests, to their evolution into more reptilian form and draconic connections, we look forward to the further exploits of the small but fierce kobold!
The Monster Manual
The Monster Manual (releasing September 30) presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.