What are kobolds like culturally?

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What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby tetrasodium » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:21 am

EPG41 has this to say about kobolds
Goblins have a militant and imperious nature; ores practice savage and tribal ways. Kobolds, on the other hand, seem to have no particular way at all. As individuals, they have an array of motivations—greed, faith, patriotism, hunger—yet no singular cultural identity drives their race. Or at least, there isn't one that the civilized humanoids of Khorvaire have been able to identify.

Small kobold tribes live in most mountainous or jungle regions, but few sizable populations exist. The largest kobold population dwells in Shaarat Kol in Droaam. Large kobold tribes are also prevalent in the jungles of Q'barra and in the D e m o n Wastes. Kobolds come into conflict with other races most frequently in the mountains o f Zilargo, where they battle against gnomes. Scholars believe that a large kobold population exists on the continent of Argonnessen, but no one can say for certain.


Civilization identity by random generation is great and all, but it almost seems like there is more writen about Kethelrax the Cunning than shaarat Kol or any other group of kobolds, & most of what's written about Kethelrax involves people who don't like him or how he was one of the first to support the daughters of sora kell.

I've been running them when found in major cities as being city goblinesque, random isolated small clans I've been leaning towards the horrifying tuckers kobold's but almost everything ever written about kobolds has an extreme FR style slant to it making it somewhat questionable. Has there been anything written or hinted at that lends some detail or details to what kobolds are like culturally? with the kobolds in volos being a very viable option I'm finding the question coming up more & more by kobold & would be kobold players.
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby Beoric » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:51 am

You want this dragonshard: http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050321a. In addition, IIRC the Q'barra kobolds are folded into some of the lizardfolk tribes. See the Q'barra articles from the 4e period for details.

I run my iredar kobolds under Kethelrax as being interested in forming economic alliances outside of Droaam but having a difficult time communicating with the common races because of significant cultural differences. So Lord Toka Threefangs in Zarash'ak is trying to get an audience with the Triumvirs of Tharashk to hire kobolds to build vaults and other security in competition with Kundarak, but can't get taken seriously enough to gain an audience. Kobolds in the southern Seawall Mountains try to make overtures to the isolated Brelish settlements which are generally misunderstood.

I put the Cave of Chaos from the Keep on the Borderlands in the northern Seawalls. Raiders, especially from Turakbar, use it for seasonal raids. The kobolds are a plant by Kethelrax which undermine and sabotage the raiders to improve relations between Breland and Droaam (and Kethelrax) but haven't figured out how to communicate what they are doing to the Brelish (in order to get credit for it) without tipping off the raiders.
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby Blackleaf » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:56 am

I hear they love disco.
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby Yaztromo » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:58 pm

I know that it is a different world, but when using goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc. I always used the guidelines provided in The Orcs of Thar Gazetteer: it is so brilliant!
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby tetrasodium » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:39 pm

Beoric wrote:You want this dragonshard: http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050321a. In addition, IIRC the Q'barra kobolds are folded into some of the lizardfolk tribes. See the Q'barra articles from the 4e period for details.

I run my iredar kobolds under Kethelrax as being interested in forming economic alliances outside of Droaam but having a difficult time communicating with the common races because of significant cultural differences. So Lord Toka Threefangs in Zarash'ak is trying to get an audience with the Triumvirs of Tharashk to hire kobolds to build vaults and other security in competition with Kundarak, but can't get taken seriously enough to gain an audience. Kobolds in the southern Seawall Mountains try to make overtures to the isolated Brelish settlements which are generally misunderstood.

I put the Cave of Chaos from the Keep on the Borderlands in the northern Seawalls. Raiders, especially from Turakbar, use it for seasonal raids. The kobolds are a plant by Kethelrax which undermine and sabotage the raiders to improve relations between Breland and Droaam (and Kethelrax) but haven't figured out how to communicate what they are doing to the Brelish (in order to get credit for it) without tipping off the raiders.

Thanks, that helped a lot. I had the party greeted by way of a kobold knight (5emm347) snatching the party's kobold druid from camp while riding a daggerhawk for a chat about the already found (but not investigated) bad ass nest of kobolds under the manor the players recently snatched from some bandits :D
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby Blackleaf » Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:25 am

Yaztromo wrote:I know that it is a different world, but when using goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc. I always used the guidelines provided in The Orcs of Thar Gazetteer: it is so brilliant!


Yeah I was fond of that as well but haven't got around to re-reading it yet.
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby willpell » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:37 pm

This seems highly contrary to the kobold fluff launched by Wotco in "Races of the Dragon"...although you could easily assume that Argonessen kobolds are exactly like what that book describes, and those found anywhere else on Eberron are essentially part of some diaspora, or just exiled convicts or castaways or the like. In any case, being away from the draconic patrons of their race has likely affected them with a deep streak of cultural malaise, which prevents them from forming any sort of shared identity, and so they default to individualistic motivations. They might even be deeply scornful toward dragons, viewing them as "false gods" of a sort to their ancestors.
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby tetrasodium » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:32 am

willpell wrote:This seems highly contrary to the kobold fluff launched by Wotco in "Races of the Dragon"...although you could easily assume that Argonessen kobolds are exactly like what that book describes, and those found anywhere else on Eberron are essentially part of some diaspora, or just exiled convicts or castaways or the like. In any case, being away from the draconic patrons of their race has likely affected them with a deep streak of cultural malaise, which prevents them from forming any sort of shared identity, and so they default to individualistic motivations. They might even be deeply scornful toward dragons, viewing them as "false gods" of a sort to their ancestors.

The kobolds in eberron entry in races of the dragon is fairly brief& doesnt seem to conflict with anything
KOBOLDS IN EBERRON
The kobolds of Khorvaire trace their history to the dawn of Eberron. According to ancient legend, kobolds were formed from the drops of blood shed in the battle between Eberron, Siberys, and Khyber. A new generation of dragons descended from Siberys, Khyber brought forth fiends and horrors, and Eberron gave birth to the creatures of nature—but the kobolds were already there, spawned from the first battle. True or not, this myth is the driving force behind kobold psychology and culture.
Two subraces of kobold exist in Khorvaire: the iredar (Draconic for “ones of earth”), who trace their ancestry to Eberron, and the irvhir (Draconic for “ones below”), who descend from Khyber.
These two subraces share a common appearance, but each has a distinctive body odor that kobolds can instantly detect. Beyond scent, the key distinction between the kobold subraces is based on their approach to magic. Irvhir sorcerers typically use spells tied to corruption and darkness, while ireda
sorcerers usually have powers of defense and binding. This is not an absolute rule, and a kobold PC can take any spell she desires. However, an iredar kobold who makes use of spells such as fear, darkness, or chilling touch might be viewed with suspicion by her companions, who see these as the powers of the Dragon Below.
Stories are told of a third subrace of kobolds: the irsvern (Draconic for “ones above”), children of Siberys. According to legend, these kobolds have wings and live in hidden communities on the peaks of the tallest mountains

The [url="http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050321a"]kobolds of khorvaire[/url] post is by keith baker, so probably pretty reliable unless he comes in or posts a blog entry suggesting otherwise like he's done on a few areas & generally I've preferred his take when he does.

Personally, if conflict exists, I'm more likely to cast a dubious eye on races of the dragon because of how horrifically awful wotc seems to apply "If it has a place in D&D, it has a place in Eberron. You" to import stuff whole cloth unchanged into eberron while giving zero consideration to eberron when creating much of it & just blaming it on things like "Eberron very consciously went against the shared lore of the settings, making it hard to fit in. #wotcstaf" when asked about it. Given that PotA 249 says " Eberron lacks the traditional elemental planes, so you'll have to replace them with the following (with the understanding that they aren't perfect matches)" maybe they've decided to drop the if it exists in d&d based obscenities, but until we start seeing 5e conytent that isn't terribad (compare UA warforged/changeling/shifter to the volos races) or themed to fit a Faerun region FR destroyed with the spell plague/sundering (lantan & artificer), we can only worry. That if it exists in d&d bit is probably why I've generally preferred his take. I feel strongly enough about this that I once had a player playing a dragonborn try to correct an NPC who called his a lizardman only to be told in no uncertain terms that he has scales, a tail, & cold blooded body morphology akin to a lizardfolk & just happens to be one of the ones born with thin scales and a breath weapon. His reaction was pretty much "cool sure ok"

Beoric 's warrens against raiders having difficulty claiming credit w/breland& difficulty being taken seriously for vaultbuilding ideas are really great though
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Re: What are kobolds like culturally?

Postby karinu » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:52 am

I'd like to see more on this subject myself, as I have a character background to flesh out and I'm basically having to read between the lines around the relatively scant info on Eberron kobolds; the Dragonshards article referenced suggests some ways in which things differ, but is still pretty light on detail.

As to considering Races of the Dragon content regarding kobolds, a lot of it isn't directly contradicted by the Dragonshards article, but nevertheless feels like it wouldn't map entirely cleanly. The section on appearance (including racial traits, aging, height/weight, physiology, etc.) mostly stands intact, aside from a slight error in the height/weight table (kobold male base weight should probably be 5lbs lower). Psychology section needs to be taken with a grain of salt; there is not really a Kurtulmak analogue for Eberron kobolds, and while dragons may well be significant for their own ties to Siberys, it is the Progenitors' blood that runs through kobold veins. Irvhir kobolds would likely see dragons as enemies of Khyber's will, while iredar kobolds might view them as worthy allies against a common foe (if that tribe was in a position to be concerned about fiends or irvhir), or maybe just as a race with closer ties to the Progenitors than most. A lot of the information about the religious beliefs and views of other races just doesn't seem like it would apply. Irvhir kobolds would probably tend to be actively hostile to most other races, even dragons. I'd tend to see iredar kobolds as more aloof than hostile, though, even toward gnomes. Obviously they have no qualms attacking those who invade their tribe's territory, but I don't get the sense there would be any deep enmity there.

One of my outs for not feeling like I have the best understanding of iredar kobold culture in Khorvaire is that my relevant character doesn't necessarily either. Tikra's tribe was destroyed in a raid by one of the goblinoid clans in the Seawall Mountains, and she was taken as a slave before she was even old enough for her tribe to have assigned her a role (she probably would have ended up a stonescale). She vaguely remembers various things she was taught by her tribe, but she probably knows more about kobolds from things she's heard from fellow slaves than from her own upbringing.

I try to incorporate reasonable-seeming tidbits when it seems useful and ignore what doesn't. How does Tikra view other races? Well, the kobolds are descended from the Progenitors; her people sprang from the blood of Eberron in the very first conflict. She knows that lore of her people well... and that grand heritage means nothing when you're chained up with a lot of strangers and trying desperately not to attract attention, especially from that one goblin who's threatened to cut out your tongue if he hears your voice again. And it isn't as though she personally has been blessed by Eberron through sorcery or visions. Even after reaching freedom, her long captivity has conditioned her on some level to divide people into two categories: captors (goblinoids) and potential slaves (everyone else). Now that she's a permanent resident of Korranberg enjoying the protection of the Trust, she probably doesn't have to realistically worry about being recaptured, but that doesn't mean that fear won't stay with her for a long time anyway. But while she'd take a kobold blood seer pretty seriously, and might show some deference as a result, she might treat a member of another race similarly if they impressed her in a similar way.

The Zil culture has aspects that resonate with her and aspects that don't. She can appreciate the Zil devotion to family as not entirely dissimilar to duty to one's tribe. The Trust, creepy as it might seem to many non-Zil, provides order and safety. The Zil practice of bartering favors seems a bit odd at times, but if it serves to keep things in balance... Zil "games" of intrigue do not interest her, however; she would much rather stay focused on her work. Most people she judges on individual merits. She is somewhat aloof and fairly socially isolated overall, but she can be fiercely loyal to those she deems worthy of friendship.

I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on RotD's info on grooming, since it seems a little awkward for a supposed staple like bitterleaf oil to be produced only by kobold alchemists. Are there any purely natural alternatives? What are the drawbacks? The thought that she might be regularly buying a basic necessity from a disguised kobold could be an interesting plot hook at some point, I suppose; on the other hand Korranberg has no shortage of alchemists, so some alternative ought to be possible. It further occurs to me that Talenta halflings might have something they use for grooming their mounts that could prove efficacious.

Edit: Here's a possibly-relevant excerpt from Tikra's writing on Zil culture:
The concept of 'coin' was in some ways familiar and in some ways new. Wealth was something my tribe had understood well, and I vaguely recall the way some of the members treasured personal trinkets that they had acquired. But my own understanding of wealth had always been more on the order of what resources a tribe possessed. My recent reading had made it clear, however, that in most places it was up to individuals to find their own wealth and exchange it for what they personally need. In Zil society families looked after each other, but no one seemed to look out for the tribe as a whole, at least in terms of seeing people fed, clothed, and otherwise cared for. It seemed almost like each family was a tiny tribe living together with hundreds of other tribes, tolerating them but not seeming to really care about their welfare that much.
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