Kobolds… nasty little fellas. They worship dragons, and are well-known for populating low-level dungeons and being cowards. Something that you might not know, however, is how clever Kobolds really are. By scraping together the objects they have around them, Kobolds create traps to defend their lair. These can range from incredibly simple ideas to pretty complex, mechanic-heavy devices. However, because Kobolds are low-level enemies (if you want to stick to the bestiary, which is recommended), you should keep the traps low difficulty. So, our Kobold Traps 5E guide will provide a few examples and help you make your kobolds unique, or ward you against the brutality of these little lizards.
Kobold Traps in 5E
Kobolds are resourceful and cunning, and don’t waste anything. If they are successful in taking down an adventurer, then they are likely to either sacrifice them to the dragon, or get to work with the adventurer’s gear. They are… also willing to eat people, though that might be distressing to your party, so make sure that’s alright for people if you’re DMing!
Because Kobolds tend to not have many resources, they have to work with what they can scrounge up. Consider the environment that your Kobolds are in; Kobolds in a forest might have different traps than a Kobold in the high mountains. As PCs get more options, then the traps might get more complex. If the Kobolds have a Sorcerer, then their traps might start becoming magical in nature.
If you need help determining the exact numbers that a trap provides (such as attack rolls, save DCs, or damage), check out roll20’s adaption of the DMG. It’s nice to look back on! Since Kobolds have a ton of traps, you might want to consider having them be on the low end of the accuracy/damage charts.
See Our Kobold Names Guide
Non-Magical (No Sorcerer)
- Swinging Log Trap: Basic, but this is exactly what Kobolds near a forest would do! A normal Dexterity Save or get slammed in the chest for bludgeoning damage and knocked prone. However, this is pretty boring. Could you do more? Consider having a Greatclub from a barbarian swing down, or a suit of armor from a fallen Paladin; something to show that, while the kobolds may be weak, there is something here able to take down these adventurers.
- Arrow/Dart Traps: Kobolds likely took down a few creatures that use ranged weapons. As such, these traps are automated bow-and-arrows that fire out and strike a single target. These don’t just need to be arrows, however; darts are reasonable, as are bolas, or crossbow bolts. Consider using different damage dice than the recommended d10s for something like a bola!
- Living Blade Traps: This is a pretty fancy name for a pretty normal idea. When the trap is triggered, a bunch of swords, greataxes, and other sharp objects fall down and attempt to slash at someone. This is usually a Dexterity save to simply get out of the way, but could be an attack roll if it’s a specific, weighted weapon going for the heart.
- Pitfall: A classic “cover the hole” scenario, the Pitfall can be really cool to use for Kobolds. Rather than just having fall damage, Kobolds would likely use spears or sticks that they scavenged to try and get a little bit of extra piercing damage in.
- Alarms/Barricade: A Kobold loves having alerts, and plans to run away. So, consider making traps to make that happen! The kobolds tell each other about where trap triggers are, so they can jump over them as they run. Then, a PC triggers the trap, and instead of attacking the PC, the trap simply puts a piece of wood in their way, forcing them to break it down. This can give the Kobold time to warn the dragon, or gather allies. Alarms can be in the same way; step on a tripwire, and a bunch of gauntlets and weapons start banging together, so the kobolds can position themselves.
- Complex Traps: Now, since Kobolds have pretty low resources, complex traps should be rare. However, if a cave is near a river, a Kobold might have a trap setup to lock the doors of a room and start flooding it with water from the river. This should be reserved for higher-level kobolds, and becomes much easier once you start introducing magic kobolds.
Notice that a ton of these traps would likely use tripwires or pressure plates. There… aren’t too many other non-magical ways to activate traps. Do consider having things like fake buttons or false levers that do nothing except trigger a trap. That’d be just like a Kobold!
- Dragon’s Breath Trap: If the sorcerer enchants something, rather than just shooting arrows, a ranged trap can release a gout of elemental damage! This trap should deal the same damage that the leading dragon does (or, the color of the Kobold’s scales). Try to match the cone or line effect that the dragon uses.
- New Trap Triggers – Clairvoyance: If the Sorcerer is smart about how they learn spells, then the Kobolds can get new trap triggers. Clairvoyance is usually used as a divination spell, but can be used to detect creatures in a specific radius. Maybe the Kobolds value their stealth, and the clairvoyance becomes a sound-based way to trigger a trap. Or, it’s basically a motion-sensor that’s incredibly hard to see without detect magic! This can lead to a bunch of hard-to-avoid traps, but can be defeated with the correct magical detection and prevention spells.
- Charm Trap: Sometimes, all the Kobold wants is a friend. The Kobold Sorcerer knows Charm Person naturally, and thus a Charm trap could be a funny RP moment with your party; suddenly, the Ranger is really wanting to make friends with the dragon-worshipping cultists! Consider this trap only if your party tends to be good at roleplaying.
Where Should You Put Them?
Kobold traps have 2 designations; either slow down the party, or defend the kobolds.
If the goal of the trap is to slow the adventurers down, put the trap in hallways or on doors that make sense. Alernatively, If the room is important, then the trap should be stronger. If the lever is to open the door into the draconic horde, make 20 levers with 19 traps. Kobolds are free labor, so it’s not like the dragons pay for these traps!
If the goal is to protect the kobolds, then the kobolds themselves might activate it. Maybe the trap is stepped on to shoot arrows down a hallway, allowing the kobold to activate it when the time comes. Or maybe a button starts a 1 turn timer so a Kobold can skitter down a hallway once they see the adventurers. These traps in particular can be frustrating for a party to deal with… exactly what you’re looking for from these little nuisances!
See Also: Damage Types in 5E
That’s all for Kobold traps! Thanks for reading. Leave a comment talking about your favorite trap in 5E, and whether or not a kobold made it!