View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other 3.5 race: medium kobolds

2017-11-04, 04:09 PM
Last night I was looking over Kobolds and how under-balanced they seem when played as a race. I know kobolds are the bottom-of-the-barrel kick-around sapients of the world, but I like them a lot & their lack of a hard-and-fast alignment makes them very versatile story-wise.

I thought about trying to 'fix' them, maybe by reducing the penalties or throwing in a bonus feat, but then I had a more fun idea.

Thematically, the idea is that the kobolds have gotten tired of being kicked around by everyone from goblins to paladins & decided to do something about it. They made contact with tribes of Lizardfolk, and got them to take kobold brides in exchange for various benefits a kobold alliance can provide. A generation later, half lizardfolk/half kobolds are born and taken back to their mothers' tribe to be raised as great heroes and defenders.

Starting off, here is a quick list of the benefits of each class, simplified, minus anything relating to HD.


30 ft
Light Blind
(no proficiency)
+1 Natural Armor
(no natural weapons)
+2 Craft, Prof., Search
LA: +1

30 ft
(regular vision)
(not light blind)
Hold Breath
Proficient with shields & simple weapons
+5 Natural Armor
Natural Weapons: 1d4 claws & bite
+4 Jump, Swim, Balance
LA: +1


The idea is to make an LA-free class that combines the speed & intelligence of kobolds with the superior physical aspects of the Lizardfolk. Kobolds are very fast; their speed is 30 feet, but keep in mind that puts them 10 feet faster than the contemporary 'fair' races at Small size. The best name I can come up with for these hybrid offspring at the moment is 'Great Kobold.'


Great Kobold

Great Kobolds are the product of intentional union between kobolds and lizardfolk. Bred to add size and physical prowess to the kobold frame, they exist as natural-born heroes of their smaller kin. Considerably stronger than kobolds, smarter than lizardfolk, and faster than nearly anyone their size, the great kobolds are quickly becoming an unpleasant surprise for anyone who bullies their villages.

A typical great kobold stands 5-6 feet tall, proud and upright. They weigh about 150-200 pounds with taut, trim muscle. They have smooth scaled skin, often mottled with spots, splotches, or stripes depending on their tribe, and faintly tinted the color of whatever dragon their lineage stretches back to. They have clever eyes and snouts full of needle-like teeth, and have somewhat considerable tails. They stand on theropod digitigrade feet with long toes topped in slightly oversized claws that grant them great speed and traction.

Great Kobolds see no shame in their smaller cousins' ambush tactics; there is nothing wrong with fighting smarter instead of harder. That said, they are capable of direct assault and do not shy away from it. A group of great kobolds will often open with an impressive tactical ambush and then move in for a direct assault for a quick victory. As treasures of their people raised to be heroes, great kobolds almost always have PC levels and their choice of class varies wildly, though the archetypical great kobold hero is a Ranger specializing in a bow or javelin & using their taloned feet if enemies get close.

Great Kobold
Medium Humanoid (Reptilian)
-2 Str, +2 Dex
A great kobold's base speed is 40 feet
Low-Light Vision
+2 to Fortitude saves for holding breath or resisting gaseous effects
+2 Natural Armor
Greak kobolds have +2 to any one Craft skill, chosen at character creation.
Great kobolds also have a racial +2 to Search.
Great kobolds have tails that give them a racial +4 to Balance and Jump checks
A great kobold's digitgrade feet give it a +4 racial bonus to Tumble checks.
A great kobold's taloned feet do damage as if they were one size category larger & deal the great kobold's full Strength bonus to damage. This applies to class features that increase the damage of natural or unarmed strikes. However, attacks with the feet take a -2 penalty which stacks with other penalties.
Favored Class: Ranger
LA: +0


What I really need to know is, is this balanced for a base race? I know the -2 hit to Str is pretty huge, given that a bonus to Str always incurs double penalties on a base race. It makes logical sense balancing out the -4 the kobold gets and the +2 the lizardfolk gets, so while I do not really WANT them to have it, it makes logical sense & I feel it opens them up for more racial features than another penalty would.

Also, even with -2 to Str, I still think they can make impressive front-line fighters because of their natural defense and high mobility; -1 to attack and damage in exchange for a total of +3 AC (from the dex and natural armor) seems to put them on par with someone who has no penalty or bonus to either of these things.

I tried to make the lizardfolk skills a little more terrestrial, and the +2 Fort saves is a watered-down version of Hold Breath.

As their intelligence is key, they are encouraged to learn to engineer & so that is why they can choose what Craft skill they get their bonus in, and also why they do not get bonus to mining. Labor is not a task for the great heroes.

I think I might have gotten a little carried away on the taloned feet. I wanted them to have something cool and useful that is unique to them, and since kobold claws and teeth are too small to attack with and lizardfolk claws and teeth are big enough, I thought a nice medium would be that only the biggest claws of the great kobold are fit for attack. This also suits their powerful legs due to their high Move speed, but I also thought that kicking out with them would be a little unnatural for their upright shape, hence the -2. At the same time, it allows them to take Monk and use these feet for Large monk damage, albeit at the -2 plus the penalty for Flurry of Blows. I worry that this is too much & also would force anyone to play a Monk or waste this feature.

SO! Do you guys think this is a suitable race for a base race? What would you take away, or add?

I hope to someday run a campaign centered around these so I want them to be good. The campaign would be the first batch of trained Great Kobolds starting out in their little tribal village and eventually working their way up through beating bullies to reclaiming the homeland of all the local kobolds, which had been taken over and turned into a human city.

2017-11-04, 04:28 PM
I thought it would be interesting for great kobold rangers to have dinosaur animal companions, but the only suitable one i can find is the Swindlespitter from MM3.

That said, swindlespitters are great and I think they'd be an awesome companion for a regular kobold ranger.

2017-11-05, 06:28 AM
A cool and logical combination of the two races. To simplify things I'd just give them Talons instead of clawed feet:

Talons (Ex)
When making unarmed strikes, a great kobold's clawed hands do damage as though they were one size category larger. This stacks with all similar effects (such as a monk's increased unarmed strike damage).

That's basically just +1 to damage with unarmed strikes, for most of their adventuring career, no need to add a -2 penalty etc. (plus lizardfolk attack with their clawed hands, not feet, right?)

2017-11-05, 03:19 PM
There are a number of interesting Kobold improvements scattered around official sources:

- Dragonwrought Kobold feat - allows you to start at Venerable for +3 Int, +3 Wis, +3 Cha with none of the usual commensurate penalties - from Races of the Dragon

- Rite of Draconic Passage (gain any Sorc 1 spell as SLA usable 1/day; reduce maximum HP by 1) - take something which usually requires an expensive component, like identify or hail of stone - from Races of the Dragon

- Desert Kobolds (-2 Wis, no Con penalty; no Light Sensitivity; +2 Survival, no Profession bonus) - http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/environmentalRacialVariants.htm#desertKobolds

- Slight Build, Natural Weapons, Rite of Greater Draconic Passage - all from http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060420a

In combination, you can get something quite decent:
-4 Str, +2 Dex, +3 Int, +1 Wis, +3 Cha => net +5 stats
Claw/Claw/Bite, at low initial values but amenable to abuse
Immunity to Sleep and Paralysis
At Sorc 6, become a Sorc 7, and forever more your casting can exceed your HD
Count as Tiny when it helps (hiding, attack rolls, AC, etc.)

2017-11-05, 04:09 PM
It seems balanced enough, but I can't help but have a philosophical tangent here:

Why do Kobolds have size adjustments to Str/Dex/Con for being Small, when Gnomes and Halflings don't? If one were being consistent with the statline rules, a Kobold should be like humans, having no stat modifiers. Kobolds don't have an indicated size change in their advancement block, so they shouldn't actually have the -4 str, +2 dex, -2 con for being reduced from medium to small, they should be using the modified "Small" from "Small Characters" in the SRD. (Either that, or Gnomes and Halflings are missing those modifiers on their stat blocks.)

2017-11-05, 08:16 PM
It seems balanced enough, but I can't help but have a philosophical tangent here:

Why do Kobolds have size adjustments to Str/Dex/Con for being Small, when Gnomes and Halflings don't?

I think it is because Kobolds are supposed to be the weakest, lowest-level tool-using enemies out there, and whomever set them up as a player class failed to adjust for that additional nerfing.

If you compare them to the half-orc, who has to take -4 for his +2 str, then they should be getting +8 for their -4 str! Instead they get an additonal -2 and come out with a combined stat adjustment of -4 where other base races have zero. they don't get much to make up for it, either. The kobold has room for 10 additional starting Attribute points and all it gets is darkvision & mining.

Goblins get a total of -2, but also enjoy the high Move speed of a medium character as well as comparable bonuses to what a kobold gets.

2017-11-06, 12:43 AM
Kobolds were intended as a 1/4 CR monster, not as a PC race.

They're not balanced relative to PC races.

That said, some people love playing weird things, and this specific 'bottom-of-the-heap' race has gotten a lot of love (in the form of exceptionalism) over the years.

If you want to make them balanced relative to PC races, you're going to need to re-write them. And that's fine.

But you can't expect monsters to make sense as balanced against PC races.

Monsters were not intended to be used as PC races.

Their design goal was very different.

2017-11-06, 06:08 AM
On the other hand, kobolds have the -3 CR adjustment for levels in an NPC class, allowing the DM to make the kobold adept 4 who can make TPKs with burning hands by RAW against 1st-level parties :D.

2017-11-07, 10:10 AM
On the other hand, kobolds have the -3 CR adjustment for levels in an NPC class, allowing the DM to make the kobold adept 4 who can make TPKs with burning hands by RAW against 1st-level parties :D.

Remember, you're supposed to only expend about 20% of your daily resources on an =CR encounter. So you're actually supposed to be able to fight 4 of those in a day, not 1.

2017-11-07, 10:45 AM
Remember, you're supposed to only expend about 20% of your daily resources on an =CR encounter. So you're actually supposed to be able to fight 4 of those in a day, not 1.

Yeah, I was just pointing out how the lowly kobold can be broken (albeit in the hands of the DM rather than a PC). :D I've even done a thread on monstrous NPCs (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?528071-Monstrous-NPCs-(Finished)) that abuses that ruleset.

Unless you were pointing out the impossibility of beating 4 such adepts, in which case I quite agree!