Uber-nasty kobold tactics?
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  1. #1

    Uber-nasty kobold tactics?

    Most of the time, I feel I'm a pretty darn good DM. However, when it comes to kobolds, I'm never quite sure how to run the little buggers. Can anyone give me any advice on how to properly use these little critters, focusing in especially on how to f**k with 15th level characters with them?

  2. #2
    Not entirely sure about CRs, but how about having multiple 10th level kobolds possessing various classes. Kobolds are not very threatening, so the party will not take them seriously, but having kobold wizards and clerics scattered randomly through a roomful of kobolds should really shock the party. A couple of successful hold persons or fireballs/flamestrikes should provide the party with a challenge. Or give some of the kobolds arrows tipped with a mild poison, for an added bit of excitement. If I remember from a description in a FR novel, they are fond of traps, so perhaps a section of the room the kobolds are in is trapped, so when the warriors of the party come rushing in, they run into the trap. Perhaps an illusion of the floor placed over a pit? Lots of options available, however you choose to do it.

  3. #3
    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

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    I believe the Dragon Mountain boxed adventure was designed for that, (and oh yeah there's a dragon...) but I don't have a copy and haven't run it. I'm sure someone else can let you in on some of the tricks in there.

    Some ideas:

    - Kobolds make excellent rogues and sorcerers, and there should be some kobolds of high level in those classes, and maybe a mid level adept or two.
    - Kobolds love traps. A kobold lair with high level rogues and sorcerers should have some pretty good traps, probably cloaked with illusion.
    - They use poison a lot.
    - They use a lot of ranged weapons. Kobolds know what a fighter with Great Cleave can do.
    - Kobolds have an affinity for keeping dangerous creatures in their lairs, particularly reptiles, and often have a good relationship with evil dragons. Even if they don't directly serve a powerful dragon, they may be able to call on one or more for aid in a time of need.
    - They usually combine the above tactics. Imagine a deep pit trap concealed by an illusion with a remorhaz at the bottom that also sets off a magical alarm calling dozens of kobolds with short bows and poisoned arrows (and sorcerers with magic missle and lightning bolt) to rain down on the trapped party. Now imagine that every 10ft or so there is a similar trap, and thousands of kobolds in a typical (high-level) lair.

    Finally, remember that kobolds are really survivalists and cowards. They won't simply go to the slaughter if they are losing. They'll have an escape plan. They're like roaches. For every one you see, there are 12 in the walls.

  4. #4
    Hmm. Give them some sorcerer and/or rogue levels. They will become very nasty...

    Remember that to make an encounter "challenging" for PCs it must have an Encounter Level of 4 levels their average Level.
    If you want to use a single kobold, he should be a level 19 sorcerer (which means he has access to some very nasty spells and will be able to cast them several times )

    But I would prefer sending a group of kobolds.

    Hmm, once we encountered a kobold in a typical room. He hided in one corner, while casting a Ghost Sound on the the opposite corner. We used Detect Magic to locate the kobold (thinking he was invisible) and ganged up at his site. When most of our characters reached the corner and attacked the Ghost Sound, he threw an Cone of Cold at us... very dangerous.
    A few rounds later the positons where changed - him using shield and mage armor it was very difficult to hit the kobold, and unfortunately, the kobold was able to send a second Cone of Cold, nearly killing the Druid and killing the fighter/rogue (who rolled a 1 on his reflex save ...)

    I believe our character levels were 5 to 7 then, and the kobold was 10 to 12th level then...
    But maybe you got an idea...

  5. #5
    Let's start with a passage from the SRD:


    Small Humanoid (Reptilian)
    Hit Dice: 1/2 d8 (2 hp)
    Initiative: +1 (Dex)
    Speed: 30 ft.
    AC: 15 (+1 size, +1 Dex, +1 natural, +2 leather)
    Attacks: Halfspear -1 melee; or light crossbow +2 ranged
    Damage: Halfspear 1d6-2; or light crossbow 1d8
    Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity
    Saves: Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2
    Abilities: Str 6, Dex 13, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10
    Skills: Craft (trapmaking) +2, Hide +8, Listen +2, Move Silently +4, Search +2, Spot +2
    Feats: Alertness

    Climate/Terrain: Any forest and underground
    Organization: Gang (4-9), band (10-100 plus 100% noncombatants plus 1 3rd-level sergeant per 20 adults and 1 leader of
    4th-6th level), warband (10-24 plus 2-4 dire weasels), tribe (40-400 plus 1 3rd-level sergeant per 20 adults, 1 or 2 lieutenants of 4th or 5th level, 1 leader of 6th-8th level,and 5-8 dire weasels)
    Challenge Rating: 1/6
    Treasure: Standard
    Alignment: Usually lawful evil
    Advancement: By character class

    Kobolds speak Draconic with voices that sound like yapping dogs.


    They begin a fight by slinging bullets, closing only when they can see that their foes have been weakened. Whenever they can, kobolds set up ambushes near trapped areas. They aim to drive enemies into the traps, where other kobolds wait to pour flaming oil over them, shoot them, or drop poisonous vermin onto them.

    Light Sensitivity (Ex): Kobolds suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.

    Skills: Kobolds receive a +2 racial bonus to Craft (trapmaking), Profession (mining), and Search checks.

    Kobold Characters

    A koboldĺs favored class is sorcerer. Kobold clerics can choose any two of the following domains: Evil, Law, Luck, and Trickery.

    First of all, a fully-prepared large kobold tribe is going to have approximately 425 adults, with 25 of them 3rd to 8th level. Every one of them are going to have trapmaking skill, and using the ability to aid another in a skill use, the kobold lair will be brimming with traps of a high skill and high-CR nature. both nonmagical and magical. The leader is likely to be an 8th level sorcerer, and all of his lieutenants are likely to have at least some sorcererous ability - therefore, magical traps are just as likely as nonmagical ones. Lawful evil implies working together with precision and for the good of the community.

    A tribe of kobolds would kiely only build passageways to accomodate them and their pets - only 3 feet high and maybe 2 feet wide? Also, they would use their dire badger pets to the utmost, especially to get flanking positions and sneak attacks.

    Here's a really nasty thought - the passageways are only 3 feet tall, but the rooms are 6' high. Anyone who stands over 4 1/2 feet tall in a room triggers a trap in the room! The kobolds would have no problems bypassing these traps!

    Without wasting a lot of space with repeat info, Check into the trap-making section of the DMG and Song and Silence. Spike pit traps, Crushing room traps, acid-floor traps, and Vaccuum Room traps are all quite nasty, and bound to wear on a party's resources. Since a one-time trap only costs some gold and 2XP, and a multi-use trap costs 20 xp, the kobold lieutenants and chieftain should have plenty of these set up to trigger around anyone over 2 1/2 feet tall. One really nasty trap would be one that threw dimensional anchors at the party before it triggered another part that dumped them into another trap of some sort such as a collapsing room!

    Kobolds can be quite nasty just looking at the existing core rules material, but you really have to work to make them a threat for really high-level PC's - just don't ever let them come into physical confrontation, or if you do, make sure they have enough minor magics to scare a party.


    Though it doesn't work in 3E as well as it did in 2E, writer Jean Rabe once said that she had a beautiful adventure setup in which a mage in a tower once died, and because of his fearsome power, no one bothered to invade his tower. It lay undisturbed for many years, until a tribe of kobolds and goblins moved in, braved the traps, and found that the mage had left his entire stockpile of magical devices and scrolls and potions behind. THe PC's went nuts when they kept encountering kobolds and goblins that were hopped up on potions of heroism, giant strength, fire breathing, etc. and who had access to necklaces of fireballs and the like. After a while, the PC's were even afraid of regular kobolds and goblins, because they couldn't tell if they had access to such magics.

  6. #6
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Kobold encounters

    Think like a PC group.

    If I really had to mess with 15th level characters using kobolds, I'd start with a complex full of traps.

    Kobolds are the trap-masters in my campaign- theyre the dark-side equivalent of gnomes as far as technological ability, and theyre dragon-blooded!

    So first- lotsa traps, run by regular kobolds. Pits that dump the party into a pit full of scorpions and such.. all kinds of things like that.

    Then you have the elite guards: A level 7 Kobold barbarian/half dragon is EL 9, right? so two would be EL 11, and 4 would EL 13...

    So I'm estimating an elite group of (8) level-7 Barbarian Kobold half-dragons. Thats one encounter. (EL 15)

    The dragon sire of the kobolds is another encounter. I'd make him old (CR 16).

    I'd make a single level 16 Kobold Cleric dedicated to the Dragon-god.

    If I *really* wanted to screw with a 15th level party, I'd have an encounter with the 16th Kobold Cleric RIDING the old dragon.
    Thats about EL 18.

    There's a lot of play in there.

    Oh yeah! PS- I have a mere EL-3 Kobold encounter posted to my website today: it's an ambush. Normal kobolds attack the party from behind cover, while their tiefling boss jumps in to attack the party with a two-bladed sword and mirror-image. Here it is.. The Tornado Gang
    Last edited by Peter; Wednesday, 6th February, 2002 at 05:41 PM.

  7. #7
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    Even if you use them more in a straight forward fight, keep in mind that a lvl8 sorcerer could easily build a lot of wands of magic missile or similar things which can be used by his lesser apprentices,...

    What I did like once: A deep pit with boards over it. The boards only carry something that weighs approx as much as a kobold. Well. But you have to stay on it NOT to trigger the trap in the hole at the other side of the pit... so flying players will have a hard time. (since everywhere in the pit are holes in the wall from where other kobolds shoot)
    Another evil idea: Gas. There is a nice spell in the Relics&Rituals for example. As soon as the players enter the gas cloud (nearly no scent) a kobold throws a few bottles with poisonous insects at them. Scorpions and such. Player uses burning hands... BOOM.

    Keep in mind that kobolds will at all costs stay out of melee. deep pits with invisible cages at the other side are nice if a player thinks he can jump over the pit and bash the shooters there. Give him a refl save to hold on the the iron bars... If he succeeds, he's climbing... usually no dex bonus ... sneak attacks HELLO!....

  8. #8
    Originally posted by Henry
    Let's start with a passage from the SRD:

    A tribe of kobolds would kiely only build passageways to accomodate them and their pets - only 3 feet high and maybe 2 feet wide? Also, they would use their dire badger pets to the utmost, especially to get flanking positions and sneak attacks.

    Here's a really nasty thought - the passageways are only 3 feet tall, but the rooms are 6' high. Anyone who stands over 4 1/2 feet tall in a room triggers a trap in the room! The kobolds would have no problems bypassing these traps![/B]

    If you are going to go this route of small tunnels that need to be crawled through, then be sure to use murder holes with kobold rogues on the other side.

    The pc's crawling through, arguebly, lose their dex bonuses and then are open to sneak attacks.

    Another idea is when the kobolds send their tougher creatures in (dire badgers and the sorts), be sure to have a few kobold warriors in the mix who are using the "aid another" option so the creature actually hits the higher lvl party.


  9. #9
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    Good Commentary...

    In addition to those mentioned, I would add:

    (1) True Strike: One of the main problems for low-level critters like kobolds is that they have trouble hitting high-AC opponents. Kobolds know this. Add a couple of mid-level sorcerers with a pile of True Strike scrolls and low-level kobold rogues firing crossbows from flanking positions and have fun.

    (2) Siege Weapons: Specifically ballistae. Combine the narrow tunnels that the PCs have to crawl through with a ballistae at the other end and hear the howls of protest. I recommend using a ranged touch attack for siege weapons and PCs confined to a small tunnel should lose their DEX bonus as well.

    (3) Traps/Devices Designed to Strip Away Protectives: Traps that include puddings or gelatinous cubes are always fun. Another favorite is glass globes filled with green slime. Even high-level PCs can't ignore the damage from these critters. How about a sloped hallway, leading up, the PCs are moving cautiously forward when a large, green glass ball rolls towards them. It hits the lead PC, spraying green slime all over the first 3 PCs in line. Oh, the humanity.

    (4) Buff the Best Fighters: Often critters like Dire Badgers are much better fighters than the kobolds, so the kobold sorcerers/adepts would buff them up with Cat's Grace, Protection from Arrows, Endure Elements and other spells to let them stay in the fight longer.

    I agree with the person that recommended treating them like PCs...think how PCs would defend from an attack...then implement those ideas.

    Have fun!

    Old One

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by Furn_Darkside

    If you are going to go this route of small tunnels that need to be crawled through, then be sure to use murder holes with kobold rogues on the other side.
    Chances are that if you're looking through a murder-hole, you won't see all of the person you're attacking unless they're pretty far away. Which means they'll have cover, so no sneak attacks.

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