DnD 5e: Kobold Race, Abilities and Names, Explained

Once reserved primarily as low-level cannon fodder for a new group of adventurers, kobolds have grown from annoying pests to an interesting and exciting character choice in Dungeons & Dragons. Possessing both unique combat mechanics and providing unique role-playing opportunities, these little reptilian creatures bring a lot to the table for both new and experienced players.

The Kobolds were part of J&D since the very first edition of Monster Manual in 1974,. However, back then they lacked a lot of description and were just called weaker goblins. The next edition would give the kobolds their own unique, adjacent draconic identity, and each new iteration of the game added more to their lore – and players have got it for them. Now kobolds are even a playable racial option in D&D fifth edition, elevating them from meek early-game monsters to potential heroes in their own right.


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What are Kobolds in Dungeons & Dragons?


Kobold Dungeons and Dragons

Kobolds are small reptilian humanoids who claim common ancestry with dragons – a claim they are very proud of. Entire communities of kobolds can serve or even worship mighty dragons in tightly knit tribes. Although generally considered fearful and weak, when the subjects of their draconic birthright or the harm done to their ancestral deity, Kurtulmak, are brought up, they can momentarily flare up like their dragon counterparts. Additionally, the sight of a dragon often inspires genuine respect and unquestioning loyalty in a kobold, while the sight of gnomes (whom the kobolds hold responsible for Kurtulmak’s imprisonment) can inspire violent bloodlust.


Community and loved ones are at the heart of kobolds, as they are vulnerable on their own. Kobolds are rarely found alone, and those who travel alone usually complete a mission or are the last survivors of a tribe. The latter would be a kobold’s nightmare, as the tribe’s survival is usually of the highest priority and something they would do almost anything to ensure.

However, the kobold’s emphasis on community should not be confused with affection or warmth. Rather, it is practical cooperation to ensure their survival for as long as possible. Kobolds (with good reason) tend to assume that they will be manipulated, attacked or exploited, and these fatalistic assumptions mean that it pays to not get too close to a companion and instead trust a group to get together. protect.


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Kobold Abilities


At first glance, kobolds appear to have a significant mechanical disadvantage. They are one of the few J&D races that actually receive an ability score penalty. However, their -2 strength is much less impactful than their +2 dexterity, which increases their armor class, ranged weapon attacks, and finesse, and helps bolster one of the most commonly used saves in the game.

Additionally, kobolds compensate for their sensitivity to sunlight, which imposes disadvantage on all Perception checks and attack rolls in direct sunlight, with two extremely useful abilities. The first is Pack Tactics, which gives kobold advantage on attack rolls as long as an ally is within five feet of their enemy and not incapacitated. The other is Grovel, Cower, and Beg, which turns the naturally fearful and gentle nature of kobolds into a captivating distraction, granting allies advantage on attack rolls against nearby enemies.


With their nimble bodies and ability to capitalize on enemy positions to gain an advantage, kobolds excel in any class that uses stealth, strategy, and teamwork to gain the upper hand in a fight. While rogues of all stripes are the most obvious choice (especially due to their sneak attack ability), kobolds can also make great rangers, warlocks, and even monks.

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Kobold names


Although kobolds tend to speak Common, their native language is Draconic, so their names are usually derived from that language. Kobolds have often been noted to speak with a kind of yelping little dog quality (unlike the potentially booming voices of their dragon cousins), which also gives their names a distinctive high-pitched, high-pitched pronunciation.


Kobolds are often named for outstanding physical characteristics or quirks they possess at birth, such as Longtooth or Broadscale, although it is not uncommon for them to change or add to their names when they reach the adulthood. When considering names for a kobold, players should come up with unique sounding names with interesting or descriptive translations in common that can further detail their character.

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Why should you play a Kobold


Once considered one of the most humble beings in the set J&D franchise, kobolds have grown and developed as a species. Mechanically, they offer a chance to play the strategic part of the game in a unique and refreshing light with abilities that require foresight, cooperation, and strategy to really capitalize on. Plus, their nuanced lore and story give players a chance to play a part in an outsider character who may struggle to be brave but eventually comes for his companions when needed.


Kobolds are creatures that seek community but don’t always trust or even care about those they travel with, which presents a great opportunity for emotional growth during a campaign. Whether it’s pursuing the ambitions of a dragon or trying to find a new adoptive tribe in the wide world, the story of a lone kobold seeking fortune in lands unknown is sure not to disappoint any player who wishes get started.

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