Monster Analysis: Kobold Colony

Thanks to @psyk0zap for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: Hearthstone One-Shot (sort of)

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-50 The Endless Burrows

  • Armor Class 12

  • Speed 30 ft.

  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive Perception 8

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 5, 10

Ah, the kobold. The starter combatant for so many Level 1 adventuring parties. (Now these guys were cute. ~L) With five of their six main stats at negative modifiers, they’re very easy prey, especially when they’re alone, and they are very aware of this fact. Once they begin grouping up, however, the odds start tilting more in their favor, using pack tactics to gain advantage on their attacks to quickly overwhelm their enemies.

While kobolds can be enlisted as minions for chromatic dragons, kobolds naturally try to live in absolute solitude from any other much more dangerous creatures, happy to toil away for the good of the colony. While they generally grow their own food supplies, a starving colony may turn toward cornered “loud food” for sustenance. However, they can easily be convinced otherwise for offers of power that they think can be used to give them equal footing with the surrounding threats. This is especially true for arcane power. (For more on kobold culture, check out Volo’s Guide to Monsters, page 63.)

The Mighty Nein didn’t just stumble on a group of kobolds, they garnered the attention of an entire colony. Even at 5 hit points a-piece, 50 kobolds to 7 adventurers aren’t great odds for the heroes. While the kobolds would certainly suffer great losses in a direct attack, their small attacks would add up to a lot of damage, similar to how a monk operates. The Mighty Nein recognized that this wasn’t an encounter to be taken on as a battle, as the ropers had been. This had to be done through diplomacy (or intimidation), playing into the kobolds’ wants (food, a sense of pride, and general awe of power) and unworldliness (Frumpkin the Fey King).

The Nein employed several ruses. Caleb, despite being caught in a rope trap, used Frumpkin and his Dancing Lights cantrip to awe and intimidate the kobolds into negotiation. Jester took the form of a large kobold, which annoyed the actual kobold leader, and impressed some of the others. Fjord and Caduceus acted as if their gator skins, which the Nein have been carrying around for 117 days, were something precious to them to get them to take the heavy hides off their hands. Caduceus summoned food for them, which got the kobolds to lay off of considering the Nein to be their next meal. Nott’s mere presence as a goblin put them ill at ease, so they were less likely to attack right there, though it did cause the leader to send Spurt and Bex after them after they let them go.

The Inventor

Thanks to @capefoxalix for this art piece!

Speaking of Spurt, Matt confirmed that Spurt was originally intended to be an NPC, with stats and toys that match the official entry:

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-50 The Endless Burrows

  • Armor Class 12

  • Speed 30 ft.

  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive Perception 8

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 13, 21

  • 12 HP, 22 killing blow by Fire Giant

Despite their low intelligence and wisdom, kobolds are masters at salvaging broken, discarded, misplaced, or “misplaced” items and repurposing them for the good of the colony. And of kobolds, none are more adept at turning piles of junk into practical (though often single-use) inventions as the kobold inventor. Everything in Spurt’s possession, from his Centipolt to his pot of green slime to his scorpion on a stick to his skunk in a cage to his wasp nest in a bag came from scavenging skills that leave even other kobolds astounded (“Where did he get that skunk?”).

The weapons themselves aren’t particularly lethal; indeed, the scorpion on a stick landed a critical hit of 2 points of damage, and the wasps’ damage wasn’t even calculated against the giant they were used against. However, all of the inventor’s tools provide more than adequate distractions, which are very useful in helping the rest of the colony either escape a dangerous threat or prepare themselves to mount a safe counter assault. Their single-use nature, on the other hand, explains why there are so few kobold adventurers, and befits the lifespan of a creature who only expects to live to the ripe old age of two weeks.