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View Full Version : How sophisticated are Kobold traps



FabulousFizban
2014-07-21, 10:25 PM
are they limited to simple spiked pits and falling rocks? Can they build magical traps? Do they have the architectural and engineering knowledge to build a complex death maze? What are we looking at here?

Could they build portcullises into the ceiling of a cave that traps adventurers in a tunnel between two walls that close in and crush them to death? ... for example

Leviting
2014-07-21, 10:32 PM
are they limited to simple spiked pits and falling rocks? Can they build magical traps? Do they have the architectural and engineering knowledge to build a complex death maze? What are we looking at here?

Could they build portcullises into the ceiling of a cave that traps adventurers in a tunnel between two walls that close in and crush them to death? ... for example

have you heard of Tucker's Kobolds (http://www.tuckerskobolds.com/)?

Mark Hall
2014-07-21, 10:36 PM
What game, what edition, what campaign setting?

For me, (I tend to think in terms of AD&D and the Forgotten Realms) Kobolds tend to be creative, but limited. So if they have crossbows, they'll set crossbow traps, but they don't make crossbows, themselves. Spear traps, tripwires, pits, spikes... these things are within the smithing capabilities. More elaborate things designs, or traps involving things they can't easily produce (crossbows, oil, etc) tend to be guarding really valuable locations. Magic traps are rare, since they require a high-level spellcaster to create them (the first good trap spell being Fire Trap, a 2nd level Cleric spell).

But I can see the Kobolds of 3.x Eberron being a lot more creative, using magic and other devices they've made to build far more elaborate traps.

A Tad Insane
2014-07-21, 11:12 PM
They can be, in fact, post-3e, they're very magical, but they generally prefer robust and efficient

FabulousFizban
2014-07-21, 11:39 PM
tucker prompted the question. Tucker's kobolds build lots of tunnels and arrow slits, but the complexity of their contraptions seems pretty basic.

I play pathfinder myself. But I'm interested in knowing about kobolds in all their different settings. I'm not going to limit myself to Paizo's mythos. If I find something I like, I'll steal it.

BWR
2014-07-22, 01:13 AM
TLDR: kobolds can make as sophisticated traps as their technology level allows.

Kobolds have the same intelligence as humans, so anything humans can do, kobolds should be able to do. Their only limitation should be culture. There is an unfortunate tendency to play certain non-humans as stupider than demi/humans of the same intelligence, and portraying less technologically advanced cultures as stupider than more technologically advanced ones.
So how sophisticated the traps are depends on a number of things. I'd say that no matter how sophisticated they are, they are well-made. Hard to detect, nearly always function the way they are intended to, hard to disarm/get out of, etc. Exactly how sophisticated they build it depends on its purpose. If you live a simple hunter-gatherer life and traps are for getting food, you will make mostly simple pits, deadfalls, snares etc. and not big buildings with rolling stones and cross-bow traps and whatnot. If you live a life in a bustling metropolis with advanced metullurgy, masonry, etc. and the purpose is to make it hard for enemies to make their way through the holy temple or palace, then the traps will be more complex and tailored to that purpose.
Kobolds get bonuses on trapmaking so I would say that on the whole they are a bit more sophisticated than other races of the same tech level tend to make.

Erik Vale
2014-07-22, 02:15 AM
Based on stats, skill bonus, history, and races of the dragon. They build really high quality straight forward traps. They build spike pit traps because they're simple and devestating, but you're about as likely to find something invisible as one of them.
Unless they have a really creative idea.

I base this on that humans can nearly do that, and kobolds have trapmaking as a highly respected career, with a racial bonus. Trapmakers probably build for it. [Apprentice, Skill focus [Craft [Trap]] etc.

Mr. Mask
2014-07-22, 03:51 AM
BWR: Well, industry is a more important factor than intelligence. An extreme example is asking an ancient Pharoah to construct a combat helicopter. If you gave them all the necessary blueprints for all the necessary parts, they could do it. But it takes a few thousand years of historical industry before you get that sort of tech. Intelligence isn't a guarantee that you'll become an industrialist nation either. The Aztecs and Native Americans were just as bright, but they developed in a separate direction.

BWR
2014-07-22, 04:52 AM
BWR: Well, industry is a more important factor than intelligence. An extreme example is asking an ancient Pharoah to construct a combat helicopter. If you gave them all the necessary blueprints for all the necessary parts, they could do it. But it takes a few thousand years of historical industry before you get that sort of tech. Intelligence isn't a guarantee that you'll become an industrialist nation either. The Aztecs and Native Americans were just as bright, but they developed in a separate direction.

I did address that in the post.

Mr. Mask
2014-07-22, 05:11 AM
So you did.... I'm sorry, I really didn't see it. I mustn't be taking everything in.

DigoDragon
2014-07-22, 06:52 AM
TLDR: kobolds can make as sophisticated traps as their technology level allows.

My players loathed kobold traps because in my campaigns they're the only species that takes it to an art-form with deadly Grimtooth efficiency. :smallbiggrin:

Scowling Dragon
2014-07-22, 09:08 AM
Depends on what you want them to be.

Maybe the apex Kobold created a trap so good it trapped a god. And the Kobold proceeded to steal the Godhood or such.

tomandtish
2014-07-22, 09:49 AM
have you heard of Tucker's Kobolds (http://www.tuckerskobolds.com/)?

The 2E boxed module "Dragon Mountain" was based on this idea. Lots and lots of nasty Kobolds under the leadership of a few dragons. It was designed for 6-8 characters of levels 10-15. One of the magic items they gave you BEFORE you got into the mountain itself allowed the casting of Cure Light Wounds 10x a day, Cure Serious Wounds 8x a day, Cure Critical Wounds 4x a Day, Heal, Neutralize Poison, Remove Cure (2x a day each), Raise Dead 1x a day (and it had other powers when combined with other parts). This was given to you because it was felt you would need the extra healing. We had a Cleric AND a Druid... and it wasn't enough.

#$%^& Kobolds. They were everywhere.

Erik Vale
2014-07-22, 10:01 AM
@ Scowling:

No, everyone knows gods prefer to just collapse kobold mines without stepping foot inside them.

*Glares at the Wizard on the Coast*

Delwugor
2014-07-22, 11:36 AM
What I do is determine the kind of leadership the Kobolds will have. A group with a basic leader will keep to simple and fairly obvious traps. But a group with a Tucker leader will develop more complex traps as well as add depth and diversity, though I have not brought magic in yet.

Fizban
2014-07-23, 07:39 AM
I like to try extrapolating things from racial stat bonuses and the rules for generating cities. It doesn't always go well but it's fun. The kobold racial +2 trapmaking and +2 profession miner make a kobold using those skills as good as a human two levels higher. Alternatively, they are as much better than humans at trapping and mining as dwarves are better with metal and stone, it's just that trapping and mining are more narrow. Going back to city generation, the highest level people in a city are determined by rolling some dice+ a community modifier. The dice are always the same, and up until small city size you roll the same number of times. The effective "+2 levels" from skill bonus means that a kobold thorp or hamlet might as well be two sizes larger, but anything larger and it falls behind. In the end it's not much of a difference since the larger towns can actually afford the traps (look up trap building prices and you'll see that the traps are worth far more than the treasure), but any kobold warren certainly has trapmasters that could do more than a village of the same size, if they had the materials.

FabulousFizban
2014-07-23, 04:02 PM
Depends on what you want them to be.

Maybe the apex Kobold created a trap so good it trapped a god. And the Kobold proceeded to steal the Godhood or such.

that is a ****ing amazing idea! may i add that to the mythos of my games?

Scowling Dragon
2014-07-23, 05:27 PM
Only if the trap continues to exist as some amazing mega dungeon. Where even the minor wirings and the linings of the trap are wired with more traps to protect the larger trap.

Whatever do what you will. :smallsmile: . Im just touched somebody liked the idea. :smallbiggrin:

Erik Vale
2014-07-23, 05:40 PM
What I do is determine the kind of leadership the Kobolds will have. A group with a basic leader will keep to simple and fairly obvious traps. But a group with a Tucker leader will develop more complex traps as well as add depth and diversity, though I have not brought magic in yet.

There leadership [From Races of the Dragon] comes either from the best person from the job from the old tribe/clan/[other?] when they split, of from a Kobold Merchant [one of the most ambitious individuals to still be a NPC] who's really good at deception and has also bought the area from the locals/gotten it cleared out by adventurers.

MystikalFrank
2014-07-25, 07:20 AM
Created an account just to reply to this thread.

I was running a Kobold Trapmaster in the Pathfinder setting. Long story short - there was an island the campaign was set on that the party had to claim for Cheliax. There were several warrens on this island and it my my Kobold's secret goal to unite the warrens under one dragon - himself. I purchased a book Kobolds of Golarion http://paizo.com/products/btpy8yw0?Pathfinder-Player-Companion-Kobolds-of-Golarion.

I combined this book with Tucker's Kobolds. I planned the warrens, their defenses and population - down to the last welpling and elder in the warren(popualtion about 350 each). People's misconception of Koblds are that they're weak and fearful - in part true, but the those are usually the ones you encounter on the surface. The ones you need to worry about are the ones in charge - they're the crafty ones. Anyways- my trapmaster had more scorcerers than normal in all his warrens to craft all manner of magical traps and devices to to act as both protection and to have them placed in the field when needed. In reality, imagination is the limit in my scenario. If you can think it up, you should be able to believe that your kobolds can think this up, and create them, especially with magical aid. Another thing is the majority of kobalds are expert miners - they should be able to create any kind of pathway shoehorning misguided adventurers into the heart of their traps and away from the 'heart' of the warren. Then it becomes hammer and anvil.

It's been about half year or so since i've played that campaign so i may be forgetting things here and there, but I suppose my bottom line is that kobolds are crafty, scary and absolutely nuts about defending their warrens.

Edit: I would suggest that death mazes are mandatory; alleys and tunnels that lead only to more traps that more and more sophisicated. Also they're purposfully created in the heights of standard koblds to force earlier said adventurers into uncomfortable spaces for maximum pain and suffering when traps are sprung.

Millennium
2014-07-25, 10:58 AM
If we go by Races of the Dragon, then kobolds are as smart as people, or perhaps even a little smarter. They're hidebound in their tribal ways, and they are extremely miserly (which is one of the reasons they often look destitute despite having so much treasure), but they don't lack for intelligence.

For that reason, I tend to view kobold traps as being akin to the work of an extreme hoarder. The materials are literally junk, not because that's all that was on hand but because that's all the kobolds could bear to part with. And even that was only grudging, so their traps tend to have a somewhat more cruel edge to them than many other trapmakers might bother with, because dammit, you ruined their stuff. But since you've forced them to take these measures, they're going to sit down and do it properly, so despite the shabby materials, the craftsmanship is exquisite and sophisticated: they will take you down, and they will make you hurt, if you underestimate them.

Mark Hall
2014-07-25, 11:23 AM
If we go by Races of the Dragon, then kobolds are as smart as people, or perhaps even a little smarter. They're hidebound in their tribal ways, and they are extremely miserly (which is one of the reasons they often look destitute despite having so much treasure), but they don't lack for intelligence.


And if we go by the 1977 Monster Manual, they're on the low end of average (so, 8-9, with average being 8-10), whereas most humans are Average to Very (8-12).

Kobolds are no smarter than goblins, in either edition, and you seldom see the hordes of goblin cavalry you'd expect from a goblin's +4 to ride, based on people's claiming that a kobold's +2 to mining and trapmaking makes them scaly little Jigsaws.

DigoDragon
2014-07-25, 12:24 PM
Kobolds are no smarter than goblins, in either edition, and you seldom see the hordes of goblin cavalry you'd expect from a goblin's +4 to ride, based on people's claiming that a kobold's +2 to mining and trapmaking makes them scaly little Jigsaws.

Now there's a campaign idea I need to steal. :smallbiggrin:

cobaltstarfire
2014-07-25, 12:45 PM
It's also been mentioned (in 3.5) that Kobolds aren't necessarily the smartest, but they tend to come off as very clever because they don't think in the same way as other humanoids. They think outside the box, and probably do a lot of lateral thinking too. Being super good/clever at something doesn't have to require good intelligence.

They also often have sorcerers, so I'd imagine even the poorest warren can probably cobble together some magic traps if they wanted to.

Erik Vale
2014-07-25, 02:30 PM
And if we go by the 1977 Monster Manual, they're on the low end of average (so, 8-9, with average being 8-10), whereas most humans are Average to Very (8-12).

Yes... 1977... Which is relevant in 2014 in a [seemingly] 3rd ed thread how?

Mark Hall
2014-07-25, 03:25 PM
Yes... 1977... Which is relevant in 2014 in a [seemingly] 3rd ed thread how?

Welcome to General, where several different editions, or even game systems, might be discussed. If it were a 3rd edition thread, it would be in the section called D&D 3e/3.5e/d20. Since it is not, AD&D is as relevant as 3e.

JusticeZero
2014-07-25, 09:33 PM
I'd always had Goblins on wargs, but now I'm picturing armored goblin Cavaliers on huge wolves in heavy barding charging in formation with lances..

The Random NPC
2014-07-25, 10:41 PM
I remember hearing about a group that had to go up against some kobolds. I can't remember most of the traps, but one in particular stuck in my mind. After shooting the party, the kobolds ran through a long, straight tunnel, with quarterstaves set at 5 foot intervals. The staves were set high enough that the Small sized kobolds could run unhindered, but the Medium sized party had to crawl or climb over them. The GM ruled that they could move at speed, if they broke the staves (or maybe the players just did it out of spite), and that's when they found out one of the staves was a Staff of Power.

FabulousFizban
2014-07-26, 03:49 PM
Welcome to General, where several different editions, or even game systems, might be discussed. If it were a 3rd edition thread, it would be in the section called D&D 3e/3.5e/d20. Since it is not, AD&D is as relevant as 3e.

yes, it is. As I said earlier, I'm interested in kobolds in all their iterations. That means whitebox on. If an idea has merit, it has merit, regardless of what mythology or system it is from.


I remember hearing about a group that had to go up against some kobolds. I can't remember most of the traps, but one in particular stuck in my mind. After shooting the party, the kobolds ran through a long, straight tunnel, with quarterstaves set at 5 foot intervals. The staves were set high enough that the Small sized kobolds could run unhindered, but the Medium sized party had to crawl or climb over them. The GM ruled that they could move at speed, if they broke the staves (or maybe the players just did it out of spite), and that's when they found out one of the staves was a Staff of Power.

holy **** that's evil!

Erik Vale
2014-07-26, 08:20 PM
I'd always had Goblins on wargs, but now I'm picturing armored goblin Cavaliers on huge wolves in heavy barding charging in formation with lances..

Problem is, they're bad at handling animals [charisma penalty, no handle animal bonus], and at cooperating [society as presented, alignment tending towards chaotic and evil, charisma penalty]. As such Goblin mounts are more a case of what leaders and the like can force into service, which they then ride really well.

Rakaydos
2014-07-26, 09:23 PM
I just want to see what happens when you cross a Tucker's Kobold with a Tinker Gnome. What would a "Tinker Kobold" be doing?

Erik Vale
2014-07-26, 10:02 PM
Doesn't work. Kobolds are of the lawful persuasion, dedicated, hard working, that sort of thing. They figure out what works and improves on it.
Gnomes however just pick a interest and go. The only way for a kobold to do that within their clan [which is the only way they stay alive unless they become a high bluff merchant, if you follow the races of the dragon] is if you have a sorcerer figuring out new spells when he's not busy doing the useful rituals for the clan [like those for planning out the caves, finding ore, protecting the caves]. Other options are be a kobold PC [Rare, and outside his safety net. Could be a NPCPC], or be a Kobold Merchant, whereby you're constantly outside your safety net, lying about what you are to survive while trading and probably pretending to be a halfling due to size and hating gnomes.... On the plus side, merchants who buy caves/mines normally end up rulers of a clan after a clan splits because their getting too big, so theoretically you could have a kobold 'leader' who was only such in name and did whatever. He'd probably be looked down on for his eccentricity, but up to because somehow it all worked.

Mark Hall
2014-07-26, 10:19 PM
Doesn't work. Kobolds are of the lawful persuasion, dedicated, hard working, that sort of thing. They figure out what works and improves on it.
Gnomes however just pick a interest and go.

Gnomes are NG in 3.x (with no chaotic deities in the pantheon save Urdlen), and a mix of Lawful and Neutral Good in 1e (don't have a handy 2e source to quote). That doesn't imply "pick an interest and go". Whereas kobolds may be lawful, but they're also evil, which means their dedication and hard work are directed towards feathering their own nests, not improving everyone's lives.

Erik Vale
2014-07-26, 10:35 PM
Gnomes are NG in 3.x (with no chaotic deities in the pantheon save Urdlen), and a mix of Lawful and Neutral Good in 1e (don't have a handy 2e source to quote). That doesn't imply "pick an interest and go". Whereas kobolds may be lawful, but they're also evil, which means their dedication and hard work are directed towards feathering their own nests, not improving everyone's lives.

Huh, I always thought gnomes were chaotic.
As to kobolds tending to evil, one thing to point out is that they neeeeed the tribe to survive 99.9999[and so on]% of the time in every generation of the game, therefore improving everyone does improve themself. Sure, they'll put more energy into themselves because they tend to LE, but they'll all act LN out of necessity.

cobaltstarfire
2014-07-27, 10:20 AM
Gnomes are NG in 3.x (with no chaotic deities in the pantheon save Urdlen), and a mix of Lawful and Neutral Good in 1e (don't have a handy 2e source to quote). That doesn't imply "pick an interest and go". Whereas kobolds may be lawful, but they're also evil, which means their dedication and hard work are directed towards feathering their own nests, not improving everyone's lives.

That's wrong within 3.5 (going by races of dragon anyway). Kobolds do what is best for the whole warren, they fight to protect the warren, and they work for the good of the warren, generally at whatever skill they are best at. The "evil" applies to how they treat non-kobolds, with distrust and hatred, they're quite happy to make a meal of anything too even if it's sentient (although Lizardfolk are like that and they're TN). Kobolds who are selfish are given no respect and are said to be reincarnated in the dire weasel stables.

IllogicalBlox
2014-07-27, 12:46 PM
Based on stats, skill bonus, history, and races of the dragon. They build really high quality straight forward traps. They build spike pit traps because they're simple and devestating, but you're about as likely to find something invisible as one of them.
Unless they have a really creative idea.

I base this on that humans can nearly do that, and kobolds have trapmaking as a highly respected career, with a racial bonus. Trapmakers probably build for it. [Apprentice, Skill focus [Craft [Trap]] etc.
I agree. Kobolds are generally straightforward kinds.

daremetoidareyo
2014-08-23, 04:05 PM
I'd always had Goblins on wargs, but now I'm picturing armored goblin Cavaliers on huge wolves in heavy barding charging in formation with lances..

Explosive tipped lances.

russdm
2014-08-23, 08:42 PM
That's wrong within 3.5 (going by races of dragon anyway). Kobolds do what is best for the whole warren, they fight to protect the warren, and they work for the good of the warren, generally at whatever skill they are best at. The "evil" applies to how they treat non-kobolds, with distrust and hatred, they're quite happy to make a meal of anything too even if it's sentient (although Lizardfolk are like that and they're TN). Kobolds who are selfish are given no respect and are said to be reincarnated in the dire weasel stables.

Nearly all of this can describe Dwarves, which is just funny. It can also describe elves somewhat too.

Dwarves:

Do what is best for the clan hold
Fight to protect the clan hold
Work for the good of the clan hold, generally at whatever skill they are good at and sometimes best at
Dwarves view nearly all races with distrust and hate elves to some degree

Elves:

Do what is best for the Hidden Elf Village
Fight to protect the Hidden Elf Village
Work at whatever they want to
Elves view nearly all races with distrust and they despise humans and dwarves, while hating Drow/Dwarves/Humans/most non-elves

Are the writers nuts?

JusticeZero
2014-08-23, 09:11 PM
And this is why I like using things like vegepygmy infestations that EVERYONE can get behind exterminating. "So.. they reproduce by kidnapping people and infesting them with toxic mold spores until they explode, and they have a grey goo mentality? Sure, the paladin and the necromancer will team up to exterminate everything that moves.."

jedipotter
2014-08-24, 03:02 AM
are they limited to simple spiked pits and falling rocks? Can they build magical traps? Do they have the architectural and engineering knowledge to build a complex death maze? What are we looking at here?



I'd say yes. And that is the way kobolds are in my game.

The vast majority of kobolds stick with the simple traps, though often ones with clever twists or added cruelty. And a lot of kobolds can make magical traps. But death maze masters are rare, but not unknown.

I've used, for example:

The water 'shower' trap. It is simply a lot of 'create water' dumped on folks...intended more to take out torches and lanterns.

DM Nate
2014-08-24, 05:28 AM
I had a race of aquatic kobolds in one of my games. Beyond the obvious hidey holes and area-of-effect traps, they would turn clever and have a moderately-easy to find trap covered in a harder-to-spot contact poison, for when the party tried to disable it.

tyckspoon
2014-08-24, 04:41 PM
Nearly all of this can describe Dwarves, which is just funny. It can also describe elves somewhat too.

Are the writers nuts?

Nah, it's a result of 2 things: Many of D&D's writers never had a very good grasp on what being Lawful/Good/Chaotic/Evil actually *meant* (at best, they'd have a decent idea about how one axis worked and then be unable to figure out how to present that interacting with the other), and it's *really really hard* to actually present a society with a completely different way of thought to humanity. Your examples aren't 'Elves, Dwarves, and Kobolds are all really similar', it's 'an insular tribe/clan-focused society is really similar to another insular tribe/clan-focused society' ... and all three are fairly similar to how humans do it, or at least how some human thought it should be done, because we don't have any references to how other intelligent creatures might go about it.