There are a few dozen races that you can choose to be in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. These races all have insane backstories, wondrous legends, and impressive statistics. There are all of these races… And then there’s the Kobold. The Kobold is perhaps the most pathetic race in the game, and for good reason. Most players encounter Kobolds at level 1 to 4 and then never have to look at them again. However, Volo’s Guide to Monsters allows players to take command of these tiny creatures. But why would you even want to do that? Find out, in our Kobold 5E guide.
Kobold 5E Lore
Kobolds are worshippers at heart. Natural minions. A dragon accepts kobold servants because the Kobolds see the dragon as the pinnacle of their people. Their blood heritage, and their eventual future. Most Kobolds who are brought up under dragons directly become sorcerers, charging their draconic blood with actual magic to fulfill their destiny.
Other than worship, which takes up most of a typical Kobold’s life, Kobolds have two major qualities. While they are not conventionally smart, Kobolds are clever. Their fondness for creation doesn’t go much beyond basic traps, but few races can match a Kobold’s resourcefulness when the resources are basic twigs and logs. Because of this, Kobolds that are ousted from their tribe make for decent survivalists, able to handle themselves.
Kobolds also understand that life is short, and thus don’t form significant attachments to others. Kobold lifespans aren’t long to begin with; combine that with a usually fatal defense of a Dragon’s Den, and you have a relatively cynical race. Thus, Kobolds are quick to take opportunities when given, unsure when a second chance will ever come up.
Thankfully, Kobolds believe in near-immediate reincarnation. Their god, Kurtulmark, wants them to become an infinite army, so they are “sent” right back into the field to keep working. So, deaths aren’t mourned, because they’re probably already back in the fight.
This is not to say that Kobolds don’t form positive bonds. They do, especially with anyone willing to take them out of servant work. A Kobold with a chance to prove themselves will actually surprise many people; they have the blood of Dragons, after all, so their potential is massive, but commonly stifled.
Because Kobolds don’t care for one another, their names are rather fluid. Check out our Kobold naming guide for more info on how you should consider your Kobold’s name!
Kobolds have no subraces, so you’re chilling with the basic Kobold. Don’t let this make your Kobold boring; changing scale color or height might not make much of a difference for stats, but it’s certainly important!
- Dexterity +2. You might be wondering what your second stat is… You don’t get one. Kobolds only get a +2 to Dexterity. This lessens their potential… But Dexterity is good. Really good. Dexterity improves your attack rolls with finesse weapons, ranged weapons, dexterity saves, acrobatics, stealth, sleight of hand… Oh, and also boosts your AC! Dexterity is a “god stat,” covering a ton of different options. So while you don’t get a +1 to Intelligence or Charisma, this still isn’t bad! If this lost attribute is a dealbreaker, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything provides options for modifying starting abilities.
- Small Size, 30 ft Movement. Small size tends to be fairly beneficial. You don’t get too many benefits from size in 5E. So, you just have easier cover opportunities and are a little easier to carry around. Usually, these races have 25 ft movement… But you don’t! Scamper around like the little scamp you are.
- Darkvision. A useful stat. You can see quite easily in the darkness, and don’t need a torch or any other item that might impede your natural stealthiness. YOu can also see treasure or items in the dark, which is cool!
- Grovel, Cower, and Beg. Other than being a showmanship of WotC’s prejudice against the tiny lizards, this is… Fine? Giving allies attack rolls can come in handy, and you can use this before the Wizard spends their big turn or Disintegrate spell. Usually, you’ll have something better to do with your action, though.
- Pack Tactics. This is the reason to play Kobold. You essentially have advantage on attack rolls all of the time, as long as one player is melee. That’s gigantic, and you can activate Pack Tactics with some pet features, like Animal Companion or Familiar. You don’t need to be in melee, either! This is a great boon!
- Sunlight Sensitivity. The good couldn’t last forever. The sunlight sensitivity trait is a massive reduction to your usefulness; Pack Tactics is basically there to negate your Disadvantage. That’s… Not as bad as it may sound, since you can’t get Disadvantage from any other source. Just keep this ability in mind, and try to move combats into areas you like the most. Or have a Druid move a cloud over the fight to help you out.
- Languages. Draconic is super useful, being the language of Arcane Magic. This is actually a great extra language to have in your pocket.
Kobolds have +2 Dexterity and Pack Tactics. These two will put you into a supportive role; don’t play a Kobold unless you can have someone with you on the frontlines!
Good Classes for Kobolds
- Artificer. Artificer is very, very fringe. The two things you have going for you is boosting your AC with the +2 Dexterity, and using Pack Tactics with your Battle Smith or Artillerist options. The downsides are two-fold; you have Sunlight Sensitivity and no boost to Intelligence. Still, you can make it work by being a decent damaging character via Pack Tactics. Your casting is less important than most of the other classes, due to your spells being a bit less commonplace; you can make low Int work until it doesn’t matter anymore.
- Fighter. Fighter Kobolds might sound comical, but a Ranged Kobold Fighter has great accuracy, advantage on attack rolls, and a full 30 movement speed. That’s dangerous! Just make sure you’re not the only frontliner in your party, if you decide to go Finesse Weapon Melee.
- Monk. Basically, you’re good for the same reasons as Fighter. You get advantage on every attack roll that makes use of Pack Tactics. That’s a huge boost in accuracy, that Monks can’t often get a hold of! You don’t care too much about not getting Wisdom boosted, but do note that you will be squishy early on.
- Ranger. With access to animal companions and summoning spells, you’ll proc Pack Tactics constantly. And when a Ranger hits, they hit hard! Your spellcasting will be below average, but the Ranger doesn’t usually care about their spell list. Just mind the Sunlight Sensitivity for tracking.
- Rogue. This isn’t as good as you might think; rogues get Sneak Attack if an ally is near an enemy, after all. Rogues still benefit a ton from Pack Tactics and +2 Dexterity, though you might be a bad trapfinder in the sunlight. You’ll still hit hard, and often!
Bad Classes for Kobolds
- Barbarian. Barbarians would benefit a ton from getting advantage on attack rolls. I know this is the case because they already have access to advantage on attack rolls. Your Pack Tactics doesn’t matter because of Reckless Attack. Sure, Pack Tactics is safer… But then why be a Barbarian? Why not be a class that can’t get advantage easily?
- Bard. Bard Kobolds aren’t bad, but you don’t make great use of Pack Tactics. That means you’re not getting a Charisma bonus, you can’t see in the sunlight, and your only real bonus is AC and the ability to piss yourself on command. This is a novelty choice.
- Cleric. Your lack of Wisdom is a problem. Clerics rely way too much on that. And the clerics who don’t care about Wisdom benefit more from Strength than Dexterity. Pack Tactics isn’t bad for a Cleric that wants to smash face, though.
- Druid. Once again, no Wisdom makes the Kobold Druid a weird choice. Your Dexterity doesn’t matter much for a Wild Shape build. Admittedly, Pack Tactics would have really cool flavor with a Wild Shape Druid. Once again, a bit of a novelty choice. Not the end of the world, and has alright synergy.
- Paladin. Dexterity Paladins are far from the worst thing you can build, but you will be missing out on the awesome benefits of Heavy Armor and Strength. Also, your lack of Charisma means your auras will suffer in the midgame. This is a fringe choice as well; you can make this work if you really want to. Pack Tactics works well for Paladins… But how badly do you really want your Rapier Paladin?
- Sorcerer. No Charisma, no Constitution. Sorcerers don’t usually build for attack rolls, and they have other ways to get Advantage (such as Greater Invisibility). While it’s very flavorful, and I support building a Draconic Sorcerer Kobold, you won’t be the most useful.
- Warlock. Same problem as Sorcerer, although your Imp from the Pact of the Chain makes for easy Pack Tactics. You can make this work, perhaps with a Hexblade build to make use of your advantaged attack rolls. But, there are better choices.
- Wizard. Your Familiar can grant you Pack Tactics, and your Dexterity is good for AC. But you can just cast Invisibility, and your AC doesn’t matter that much, and you get advantage on attack rolls… Yeah, the Wizard just has the tools to invalidate the Racial Traits. And then you lose the novelty of 2 Dexterity and Pack Tactics.
The Kobold is in a rough spot, due to its lack of mental stats. You’re best as a generic Dexterity junkie… But you have some cool history, great stigma against you, and a few legitimately strong racial traits. If you want to build a 5E Kobold, we hope this guide helped you make some choices!