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D&D 3E
Kobolds Suck 
30th-Sep-2006 11:47 pm
I've been thinking of annoying the hell out of everyone in our group next campaign by playing the stereotypical squealing crybaby group "mascot". And nothing says "Scroll for Garbok! Give Garbok scroll or he BITE YOUR ANKLE GARBOK SWEARS TO GOD" quite like Kobold. (I was thinking a Goblin ala Squee from M:TG, but the flavor is different in D&D.)

Then I actually got down to creating the character, and the racial stats just seem horrible. The Races of The Dragon supplement tries explaining it away with things like, "Well, if you cast Mage Armor, then you'd have an incredible AC!" or "if a Kobold barbarian rages, his Str is ALMOST NORMAL!" I compared it to Gnome and Halfling, and it almost seems like it should have a -1 level adjustment. Is there some redeeming factor that I'm missing here?

Alternatively, is there a race that is more fittingly underfoot and annoying (in a stupid way, not tricksy like Halflings)?

Halfling: +2 Dex, -2 Str
Kobold: +2 Dex, -2 Con, -4 Str
Advantage: Halfling, by FAR

Halfling: Speed 20
Kobold: Speed 30
Advantage: Kobold

Halfling: +2 on Climb, Jump, Move Silently, Listen
Kobold: +2 on Craft(Trap), Profession(Miner), Search
Advantage: Halfling - more skills, better skills

Halfling: +1 to all saves, +2 vs. Fear
Kobold: Darkvision, Light sensitivity
Advantage: Halfling - probably equal except for the Kobold's drawback

Halfling: +1 to Atk w/thrown wpns & slings
Kobold: +1 to AC
Advantage: Draw
1st-Oct-2006 04:36 am (UTC)
Well, if you're looking to play a kobold, you're not looking to make an uber-powerful character. By your own description, you're looking to play something that is the stereotypical squealing crybaby group "mascot," but still (presumably) useful to the party. In that case, I would stick with kobold and go with either rogue or sorcerer.

As for another race that is annoying and/or underfoot, you could always go with gnome. But I'm a gnome hater, so I have a personal bias. :)
1st-Oct-2006 05:22 am (UTC)
My partner in this dire escapade, who shall remain nameless, has constructed an interesting Gnome grenadier to wreak a little area-effect havoc. ;)
1st-Oct-2006 05:53 am (UTC)
There was a bunch of discussion about this on the Wizards board around when Races of the Dragon first came out. Wizard's line is that the natural claw/bite attacks are actually pretty significant.

But really, the point is that kbolds are not intended to be player races, and thus really don't NEED to measure up to a PC race. It's like complaining that the Warrior isn't as good as the Fighter. Or that levels of Undead aren't worth as much as levels of a class. Certain elements were designed for the DM's use, and as such may or may not work well when used by a Player.

The fix? If you're really worried about being underpowered (which, by your description of the character, it doesn't sound like you should be), then stat up a new race. "PC Kobolds" basically. I know the Wizard's board has a number of proposed fixes for kobolds. Or just talk with your DM. Maybe you could use a gnome's stats but tweak some of the flavor stuff to make it a kobold.

Oh, and don't even consider having negative level adjustments. Just think about it. With a -1 LA, a first level character would have 2HD (so twice as much HP as everyone else), not to mention a possible BAB of +2, or the ability to cast second level spells at second level. They would also get a feats a level earlier than everyone. A level adjustment is supposed to be a penalty, not a bonus.
1st-Oct-2006 08:40 am (UTC)
Unless I missed it someplace, Kobolds don't get a natural weapon. It's not listed under Racial traits in either the MM or the RotD, nor under the MM Attack section.

I'm not really worried that he's going to end up underpowered, it just seems a bit off. If they wanted it to be a PC-able race with LA0, then why not add something on, like a natural attack or save bonus? If they didn't, why list it?

I ran up the character and he seems okay. I just hope he isn't caught out of spells improvising a club. :) This was mostly for discussion.
1st-Oct-2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, I thought they did. I don't have RotD, and didn't do any fact checking ;p. Looking at the MM, maybe it's the natural armor that was supposed to balance things out. Natural armor can be seen as pretty significant.
1st-Oct-2006 06:56 am (UTC)
well actually, things are even more in favor of the halfling then portrayed there even, which is sad. both being small, they get the same size modifiers. and a +1 to AC for the kobold being scaly barely makes up for the -2 con. i mean eek.
But if you dont mind playing something unusual, there are a couple of such races in the monsters manuals II and III. talk to your DM about making something like Kenku or those halfling bat things common. plus all else fairs you can just play a halfling or dwarf subrace thats kinda pathetic (think gully dwarves from Krynn)
1st-Oct-2006 08:42 am (UTC)
Heh. Gully dwarves. Exactly. xD
1st-Oct-2006 10:28 am (UTC)
I think the main thing about kobolds, and the thing that makes them suitable more for DM use than PC, is that they are (even more so than dwarves) a pack race. Like goblins, kobold's strength comes in numbers and trickery (hence their penchant for traps).

If I as a player ever came across a lone kobold in a game, I would be very wary of it, because to thrive outside of the clan, that kobald must be one BAD ASS. (:

Or in your character's case, maybe he just thinks he is. (:
1st-Oct-2006 02:36 pm (UTC)
Just think of it as challenge D&D.
1st-Oct-2006 04:25 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you've experienced much Dragonlance, but I would say the most annoying character of all time would be the kender.
1st-Oct-2006 05:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree, Kender are incredibly annoying (and if I remember correctly, Halflings?) They aren't quite the same brand of annoying as the "group mascot" types, though. Kender are fast-talking, wily, and generally on top of their game. "Mascots" like Squee, gully dwarves, and amicable Kobold are filthy, squalid, whiny, and greedy.

Character stole a Ring of Shooting Stars, and is confronted by the party.
Kender: Well, you see, er, I had reason to believe that the Orcs wanted to steal it, and it was just safer right here in my pockets of holding than...
Mascot: ring make shiny GORBAK WANT SHINY why this no make sense to stupid humans

...I'm not very "light on my feet when it comes to on-the-spot explanations. It's just easier to tell the truth than lie. xD
3rd-Oct-2006 09:08 am (UTC)
but how much more annoying can you get than having a character see something shiny and, withoug thinking twice, goes poking around, not realizing they just set off a trap that has serious potential to make the party's day end EXTREMELY bad?

(I had a dragonlance DM do that...set up a trap aimed specifically for kender....it did not end well)
1st-Oct-2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
Well, when you consider that they're even weaker than Orcs, you have your answer.

Orcs with an NPC class have CR's equal to their level -2. Kobolds are -3.

Allegedly taking a level in a PC class balances this inadequacy (prolly spelled that wrong....too early...too sick...), but I don't quite agree. It's the same for such templates as Vampire. CR +2, but LA +8? I can see how and why, but the discrepency between CR and ECL is stupid.

Hypothetically speaking, even a PC has a CR equal to their character level, which makes absolutely no sense, since CR's are calculated against the monster fighting a group of 4 adventurers. :\ It boggles the mind; even if CR's are supposed to give PC's a damn good chance (50-75%? can't remember) of winning.

Anyway, I'm off topic. Sorry.

Kobolds are ideal monsters, but they do indeed make lousy PC's. I wouldn't tell a player "no" if they wanted to play one, but they would be faced not only with the game mechanic drawbacks, but the added drawback of racial prejudice in the roleplaying aspect of the game. Unless, by some chance, kobolds have been accepted (or almost/mostly accepted, like in Eberron) in your world's society.
1st-Oct-2006 04:47 pm (UTC)
LA is a measure of what party the powers of the creature would fit in. CR is a measure of how difficult that creature is to beat in combat. These are different, and so it makes sense to have different numbers. A vampire with 1HD would have powers that make him fit in (assuming the LA is correct) with a 9th level party. However, in fighting such a vampire may be a suitable challenge for a 3rd level party (assuming the CR is correct).

See, the problem isn't that ECL and CR are different, but that the ECL and CR aren't always correct (actually... I might go as far to say that CR is rarely, if ever, correct).

A CR monster of equal level is supposed to use up 25% of the resources of a 4 person party. So, theoretically, having the party fight 4 monsters of their CR would use up all their resources (but they would still win). Now if these 4 monsters are 4 PC-type characters (classed +0LA creatures), then you've got a 4 on 4 battle which should use up all the resources of whoever survives. That makes sense to me. The problem, again, is that CR is just a guideline--not all encounters of equal CR would use up 25% of a party's resources.
3rd-Oct-2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
The only problem is: that 1HD Vampire doesn't measure up with a 9th level party.

Assuming he is a frontline fighter, he only has a +1 BAB.

The discrepency is that a typical PC is allegedly given a CR equal to their class level (assuming no monstrous HD or LA). How they can justify that a single party member should be as much trouble for a party of 4 as a monster of his CR is beyond me. Is a 4th level human fighter the same challenge as a Yak-folk? By the DMG he is, even though the Yak-folk is capable in combat, can summon a Janni, and has a 25% chance of having a staff, which is beyond the scope of the average 4th level adventurer.

:\ I agree with you on one thing, CR's aren't always correct, but neither are LA's. It gives me a headache.
3rd-Oct-2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure where you're taking these Vamp stats from, but they're not the same as the MM3.5. A Vamp should have a CR equal to their base class plus 2, while their LA is +8. This is because they can do things like Create Spawn and such that are not effective in lone combat, but are an advantage to a PC. Also, it should ensure that the likelihood of meeting a Vamp without spawn is pretty low, boosting the CR of a possible encounter without boosting the CR of the Vamp itself. The Yak-folk certainly sounds inequivalent to a F4, but I can't find the stats for it.

I'm not sure where I read it, but someone said there's a certain rock-paper-scissors to D&D as far as character types go - some classes are better equipped to deal with certain other classes. An archer faced with a mage of the same level will probably beat him, monk breaks archer, fighter crushes monk, etc. (Pretty much anybody kicks the Bard's ass, though. But that's another story.)
3rd-Oct-2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
Unless the Bard can talk their way out of it! :-)
4th-Oct-2006 04:47 am (UTC)
I'm well aware of the stats for a vampire; they're in the Monster Manual, and I recently had a PC play one in my campaign.

The Yak-folk are in Monster Manual 2.
3rd-Oct-2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
I never said that CRs or LAs are correct. I'm merely suggestion that the theoretical implementation behind them is correct. Assuming all creatures had the correct CRs and LAs, it would make perfect sense. But most of them do not, so the system breaks down.
4th-Oct-2006 04:49 am (UTC)
Right, and its the breaking down of the system that is the pain in the ass.
(Deleted comment)
6th-Oct-2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
Beat me to it. This was in the 2nd ed. humanoids handbook.
2nd-Oct-2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
I <3 kobolds, but they are NOT meant to be a playable race. (I have an island nation of kobolds in the world I'm building--it's where all the wacky faux-Japanese character classes come from.)

The one playable kobold I've got is Ilantar, a half-blue-dragon Favored Soul of Tiamat. (Or possibly of Kurtulmak. It would take a lot of 'splaining to convince Tiamat to take on a half-kobold favored soul, I'm thinking. But it's worth a try.)
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