Every Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Should Include Kobolds

Kobolds are the delightful sparks of chaos that every Dungeons & Dragons campaign needs. When planning a Dungeons & Dragons session, Dungeon Masters often look for some way to engage their players with the world around them. One of the hardest parts of planning is figuring out solid story hooks that will entice players and ensnare them into the story. Of course, the DM's desire to worldbuild and create a compelling plot is often at conflict with the players' desires of boozing and fighting their way through a story, toeing the line between fearless adventurer and ne'er-do-well murderhobo. Luckily, there's a D&D monster that should both delight players with their chaotic shenanigans and help the DM lay a solid story foundation: the kobold.

In Dungeons & Dragons, kobolds are reptilian humanoids that are distantly related to dragons. Although cowardly and weak individually, kobolds are also surprisingly resourceful. They can build weapons out of just about anything, and they're great at building crude traps with a high rate of success. A party won't likely die when facing off against a pack of angry kobolds, but they could come away smelling of skunk, covered in scorpion stings, and missing much of their pride.

When they're not serving as minions for dragons or mad cultists, kobolds can also be used as a laborer workforce, often completing jobs in cities that other people won't do. Whether it's cleaning sewers or collecting trash, kobolds make for great NPCs that lurk on the outskirts of society and go unnoticed by more powerful people.

Kobolds can be depicted as conniving creatures or as idiot savants, able to survive in harsh environments almost despite their nature. Kobold shenanigans usually lead to plenty of kobolds delightfully running headfirst to their doom, meeting their end in horrifyingly hilarious ways. Because kobolds are so....strange, they're colloquially known as "trash dragons," a moniker that DMs can play up when their players encounter a pack of kobolds raiding a dumpster or hiding in a cave.

So how can a DM effectively use kobolds to fill a story need? I like to use kobolds as little agents of chaos, sewing discord for a purpose. Maybe kobolds are stealing keg taps, thus preventing your players' favorite inn from selling ale. Or maybe some kobolds have formed a cult around a monster and have taken to feeding it local cats or dogs. Kobolds will do very stupid things, but there is almost always a method to their madness. That's one of the keys to using kobolds - their logic is often flawed, but there is a logic there. That's why their mischief or discord often leads to even bigger adventures down the road.

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Personally, I like using the kobolds as quest givers, approaching a low-level party after hearing exaggerated tales of their exploits. Because kobolds are so easy to sway, I have had groups of kobolds following the party around, telling grandiose tales of the party's valor, often while getting the details wrong. You can have a lot of fun with simultaneously stroking the players' egos while also insulting their characters by using kobold compliments. Maybe the kobolds will even worship the party as gods, which can open up a lot of opportunity for roleplay depending on the religious customs of a campaign setting.

If you're looking for a creative and chaotic spark for your Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or if you just want to have a bit of fun, try injecting a group of kobolds into your next session. At the very worse, the kobolds will die a terrible death doing something stupid, and you and your party will enjoy a good laugh.