What Does a Kobold Society Look Like in Dungeons & Dragons?
Kobold societies are very similar in regards to size, location, and structure, though the government can vary between civilizations. Combining these details allows you to create an immersive and realistic kobold society for players to interact with.
Kobold societies are massive, often housing between 100 and 1,000 individuals. Enormous cave structures are carved into mountains, hillsides, or even directly into the earth, to house these groups. Despite the size of these networks, kobolds are constantly mining to expand them, as overcrowding is a constant threat. Large caverns exist to house women and children, while smaller caverns house the ruling kobolds, makeshift prisons, and kobold laboratories. Stronger monsters often take over auxiliary caves and tunnels, forcing kobolds to abandon portions of the complex and mine in other directions.
Location, Location, Location
Kobolds are known to exist in all types of climates and areas. They are a richly adaptive and diverse species which can thrive under even the harshest conditions. As such, there are subraces of aquatic, arctic, desert, earth, and jungle kobolds. Because kobolds are highly sensitive to light, they live in sheltered areas or strictly underground in each of these climates.
Jungle kobolds may find the trees provide ample protection from the sun, and can live above ground. Kobolds that live in the desert, however, may live entirely underground and emerge only at night.
Kobold society is primarily structured into groups that serve different purposes. Female kobolds are housed together in large chambers and are mainly in charge of child-rearing. Male kobolds have an array of duties and groups, including mining, religion, crafting, and the guard. Different groups may have their own caverns, such as caverns for invention and research, but it is common for kobolds of various functions to interact with each other.
Religion plays a valuable part in a kobold society. The primary kobold deity, Kurtulmak, is the god of war and mining and was trapped beneath the earth by Garl Glittergold, the gnomish god of luck and protection. Kobolds believe that, if they find enough magic items and present them to Kurtulmak, he will be freed from his prison. As such, they spend significant effort searching for items and mining deeper into the earth, where he may be found.
Governments vary between kobold societies, though kobolds commonly follow authority figures of some kind. Religious leaders, magic users, and powerful kobold fighters are all figures that may be viewed as leaders. Once a personage demonstrates that they are powerful, intelligent, or otherwise worth following, kobolds quickly fall in line and obey that figure.
Because of the regular overcrowding issues in kobold caverns, there is frequently infighting between groups. These are often settled by individual kobolds who lead these subgroups, usually through non-lethal combat, or sometimes through negotiation or trade.
Kobold society may also be led by dragons, which kobolds worship unconditionally. If a kobold society is able to locate a dragon, they offer it gifts including precious gems, ores, and magic items. Regardless of whether the dragon wants their help or not, they serve it in every way they can, whether in the open or in secret. These societies may be much more dangerous to interact with, as a dragon is significantly more cunning and powerful than the average kobold, and can lure adventurers into dangerous and unexpected traps.
Role-Playing the Kobold Society
Kobold societies are generally harmonious, filled with kobolds striving to achieve their individual goals and tasks. Each community may have a more dominant aspect, such as religion or crafting, which is favored or led by the ruler. Figures prominent in these areas are treated with respect and have an outstanding place in society.
Societies specializing in crafting are eager for more information, knowledge, and materials from the outside world. These kobolds will talk with characters at length and are willing to barter for more information and materials. Their lairs are filled with unique traps and equipment, such as sticky bombs, alchemist’s fire, and stink bombs. Individual kobold fighters may have more sophisticated equipment as well, such as backpacks or tanks that they use to store and weaponize powerful creatures, like water weirds.
Religious societies ruled by dragons are reformed to match the dragon’s personality. Individuality becomes less critical as kobolds strive to give the dragon everything it desires. In the case of a chromatic dragon, kobolds may become mindlessly aggressive and gold-hungry. In the case of a metallic dragon, kobolds may become unusually good-aligned, seeking to aid the adventurers.
In summary, kobold societies are standard in size, structure, and location. The ruler of a kobold society can influence its ideals, to create a broader focus on religion, magic, crafting, or mining.
Have you ran a society of kobolds recently? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments!