Kobold Love: Interlude 2, Reflections and the Half-Kobold Template revealed

The Cliff is higher than I thought.

Over the weekend the immensity of what I have tackled with Kobold Love crashed on me.

As comments, mostly positive, and some (well deserved) reservations started pouring in, what initially felt to me like a public adventure prep exercise took a new dimension.

This is the real deal Phil, you will need to play by the publisher’s rules. That means mastering the 4e rules set (even if rules are lies), writing (and editing) above and beyond my current habit and make design choices that will be open to criticism.

I’m fine with that, I can take diverging opinions and criticism. Heck, chances are I will most certainly rise to the challenge and outdo myself.

I won’t try to please everyone. That’s absolutely impossible, no matter how talented I may be. I will listen to people and seriously consider their opinions, but at the end of the day, I will go where my guts tell me to go.

That’s one of the many reasons the adventure is up for Hacking by anyone, so you can make it into something you would like to run!

Hacking the Love!

Speaking of hacking, some people contacted me with questions and/or not too sure about what was this whole part of the project about.

Here’s the rundown of what I expect of you my hacking readers:

I will work on the 4e version of Kobold Love. I will possibly publish it commercially if it gains sufficient interest. However, anyone reading the blog will be able to get a playable adventure by just copy/pasting these KL posts.

I invite others to start with my Elevator Pitch posted back here and create their own version of Kobold Love in their favorite system (apart from 4e, see below).

It doesn’t have to be about kobolds… It just has to be about taking some of a games’ core tropes and subverting them to the breaking point and back.

Those who participate on thier own websites or on our forums get a chance to win a few prizes.

Those who make it to the end and offer a playable adventure get to go under the readers’ spotlight and run a chance of being voted ‘best hack’ and win a bigger prize.

I don’t lay claims to anything more than my 4e version of the adventure (and ask people not to tackle it in 4e, but I won’t kick in your door and seize your laptop if you do). All I really ask is that don’t sell your adventure without talking to me first.

Posting Schedule

The specter of ‘blogging as work’ as started showing its ugly head again and I only have myself to blame. I have just too many bloddy cool things to write about. As I try to flap my arms while falling from my cliff, I started feeling anxiety again… for the first time in nearly 6 months!

Anxiety for a project that I don’t even depend on to live, that’s bloody ridiculous.

That’s a clear sign that I have to slow down somehow. That’s also why I’ll probably try to do no more than one full KL post a week and an interlude one to discuss the projects’ current issues.

I might do more, if the fun is there, but I won’t press the issue if I don’t feel like it.

Enough with the whinning Phil, gimme the damn Template!

Okay, okay! Here it is…

Designed by Yan Décarie. Feats by Yan Décarie and P.A. Ménard.

Yes I’m sticking with this idea, I just will offer a less gross finale as the main Scene 5 alternative. The idea is that the Half-kobolds are a blend of Kobold Cunning and Human resourcefulness. They are also medium size and don’t come with the dreaded shifty ability built-in the racial template.

[Begin race template]

Average Height: 4´3”–4′-9”
Average Weight: 80-100 lb.

Ability scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Normal

Languages: Common, Draconic
Skill Bonus: +2 Insight, +2 Diplomacy
Dual-Heritage: You can take kobold and humain feats

Survival Instincts
Encounter Power
Immediate Interrupt Personnal
Trigger: You missed an attack roll or an attack has hit you
Effect: You can add or subtract two to the attack roll and change the result accordingly.

[End race template]

We also propose three new feats (all powers and feat names are placeholders):

Shifty [Kobolds]
Effect: You can use the shifty Kobold power (MM P 278) as an encounter power

Improved Shifty [Kobolds]
Prerequesite: Shifty
Effect: You can use shifty as an at-will power

Designer Notes: The shifty ability is too powerful to give freely to a PC. I believe that Making it into 2 feats makes it more inline with current PC available powers

Trap Sense [Kobolds]
Effect: You gain +2 bonus to all defenses against traps.

Comment, suggest and discuss!

Credits: Gregory Taylor (Image)


  1. Definitely approve of the template…it’s a solid homebrew addition…the way my current campaign is going with the improving human-kobold relations, I might include this race in my 100-years-later follow-up…

    I’m curious to see what these halfbreeds look like…definitely on the light side as far as medium-size goes…

    Reverend Mikes last blog post..Demotivational Monday: Self-fulfilling Prophecy

  2. Well in the original design I handed to Phil I had put them as small creature with height appropriate to it. (similar to the halfling’s)

    Phil as change the size but not the suggested height which should be changed to something like 4´ 3?–4´ 9? (as the dwarf) if you want them to be medium size creature.

    My 2 cents

  3. Fixed!

    Move along nothing to see here.

  4. Aighty, that works…

    I imagine even with their height, they’re a bit huskier than your average kobold…shorter mouth-beak-jawtrap-things…but one thing confuzzles me…

    What must their ears look like?…

    *waves hands in confuzzlement*

    Reverend Mikes last blog post..Sorsil: My Beloved Disaster-Waiting-To-Happen

  5. I’m not sure Shifty needs two feats, really.

    It is quite a powerful ability. I know this from experience, since my current monk class build has a mechanically-identical power. (It’s how I chose to update Uncanny Speed to 4e’s more mobile combats.)

    On the other hand, it has less impact as teleport becomes more common, and full kobolds get it (and trap sense) without needing to spend a feat. The ability to take human feats is pretty good… but other than that, the half-kobolds don’t seem to offer anything outstanding.

    I think I’d throw in the trap sense free, and make Shifty one feat.

    Rogues could be kind of scary, but they tend to be good at avoiding OAs anyhow, and scary half-kobold rogues seem pretty thematic.

    Ninetails last blog post..Myth Directions: Dragons’ Teeth

  6. Nice build.

    Personally I’d give them Shifty per Encounter for free and make Shifty at-will a Feat. Either that, or give them Speed 7 (same as the Elf) and be done with it. Simplifies the whole thing.

    Love the idea of making Powers usable more frequently by burning a Feat, though I’m pretty sure that kind of thinking is going to lead 4e to the Dark Side. I envisage entire splatbooks from Wizards full of nothing but Encounter powers turned into at-will powers.



    Keep up the good work, CDM. Glad I don’t have to worry about anything like this in the Microlite20 version!

    greywulfs last blog post..The Campsite

  7. While I’m not playing nor I’ve played 4e -yet, although I’ve own the books but I won’t be converting- I completely agree with splitting Kobold Shifting into two feats.
    That’s the way special or magic abilities have been working in 3.X, True20, Monte Cook’s Arcana, and it seems that it hasn’t changed for 4e.

    Nice crunch BTW, but now… We want even more Kobold Love! 😉

  8. @Ninetail: The Survival Instincts power, that comes with the half-kobold, is kind of strong and versatile. (à la elven accuracy and second chance)

    Beer in mind that this template as not been play tested. That being said, the survival instincts power seem powerful enough to match the equivalent half-elf’s power of Dilettante & Group Diplomacy (our base of comparison).

    As for the feats well I don’t find shifty (as written in the monster manual) that powerful either but as far as feat power are concern it does seems more powerful then what a feat usually gives you. Lowering it as an encounter power was an effort in that direction.

  9. I was looking at the build, and i had some questions.

    Why +2 Insight? I thought that Endurance would be a physical show of human’s resourcefulness. This also ties in more too your theme with the encounter power and CON bonus

    Why +2 Diplomacy? Not sure i have ever seen a Kobold smooth talk his way out of any thing, though that would be a funny occurrence, I thought that Dungeonering would be good, tie into trap making. This also leads in to a human’s resourcefulness.

    Why +2 DEX? Seems to me that cunning would be INT or WIS.

    The encounter power works, and the feats for shifty are fine. I am kind of on the fence with Trap Sense, it is one of those feats that only has application if you come up against traps, which may or may not happen in a campaign depending on the DM, most of the racial feats now in 4th seem to have a chance to come up in every game. I think if I were that kobold character I don’t think I would pick it up, I can use a feat to get other things that come up more often.

    This just my two cents, Thoughts?

  10. +2 insight and diplomacy were design constraint given to me by Phil… 😉
    As for the bonus stats they are the same as the Kobold racial trait in the monster manual and I wanted a hint of their origin.

    If the template was not build specifically for an adventure I would definitely change the 2 skills bonus to thievery and dungeoneering.

    As for Trap sense I toyed with the idea of putting it as a racial bonus but was not sure about it… The feat does seems under power and could easily be more interesting if it also added an extra boost of +2 to the thievery and dungeoneering skills when manipulating or searching for traps.

  11. The template was definitively designed for the adventure…

    I’m no longer sure it adds all that much as is. I’d easily let players decide a +2 bonus to 2 skills as they see fit among these four : Insight/Diplomacy (Human heritage) and Thievery/Dungeonering (Kobold Heritage)

    Please continue to discuss this as I now realized I might have made the specs I gave Yan too restrained to be useful outside of the adventure which is what good adventure crunch should be.

    That is one common design trap I assume.

  12. Got to agree that Diplomacy doesn’t make much sense on second look.

    I’d vote for Insight and Dungeoneering. This would reflect their underground-yet-humanly curious nature better, and it’s fun to see how the players use Dungeoneering in strange and twisted ways.

    greywulfs last blog post..Carnivals and Logos

  13. I have one question about the 2-feat shifty.

    Since this is most likely to be run as a one-shot, will we ever see it in use? In other words, are the PC’s going to start the adventure at level 1? If the PC’s do start at level 1, it *needs* to be a 1-feat power, otherwise we’ll never get to see it.

    Besides, at least for the purposes of this one adventure, we can deal with it by making sure there’s a soldier or two around that can counter or punish shiftyness.

    In the larger scheme of things, two feats for shifty is probably worth it.

    Plotters last blog post..D&D Insider Ennui

  14. Adventure would most likely be level 5… just to have more design space for characters and foes.

    I will revise the template and revisit it in a later Interlude.

  15. I’ll let you guys hash out the stats for the kobold. Just a quick note to say that the slow pace works fine for me. I too have a full plate of projects and won’t be able to keep an eye on this more than once a week (especially as Draconis approaches). So going slow is fine. Better the tortoise that crosses the finish line…

  16. @Yan: Survival Instincts isn’t that powerful, actually. It’s definitely flexible, in that it applies on attack rolls made either by or against the half-kobold, but it’s a straight modifier rather than a reroll.

    That means a couple of things. One, it will always work in situations where it’s triggered. (Nobody would use the power to get a +2/-2 if they’d missed by 3 or been hit by 2 — that would still be a miss/hit.) Two, those situations will be relegated to marginal misses/hits.

    Fact one makes it more powerful in some senses than the reroll powers, but fact two makes it less powerful. That may seem like balance, but I’m not so sure.

    Consider Elven Accuracy. Is a reroll better or worse than a straight +2? Well, it depends on what you need in order to hit. If you need to roll an 11 (50% hit chance), then a reroll gives you a 75% chance, while a +2 gives you a 60%. Mathematically, the +2 becomes superior only when you need to roll a 19 or higher to hit. (And at 19, it’s only a 1% greater chance.) Plus, with Elven Accuracy, you can choose to use it when you flub your daily power; with Survival Instinct you can’t, unless you missed by 1-2.

    Well, how about Second Chance? Mathematically, again, the -2 is inferior to a forced reroll in most cases — and definitely when you’re staring at a natural 20.

    Survival Instinct is more reliable than the reroll powers, but it’s quite a bit weaker. Its biggest strength is that it will always deliver a hit/miss when used (and that it does work for both, admittedly). Its weakness is that it won’t affect nonmarginal rolls, even if it’s a roll you’d really, really like to make, and it won’t deliver or save you from a lucky crit.

    It’s not a bad thing to have in your arsenal by any means, but it’s not as strong an option as other races get, and this race is already a bit on the weak side by my reckoning.

    Playtest and see how it goes, though. I might be wrong about the usefulness of Survival Instinct in practice.

    Ninetails last blog post..Character Development: Hot Potato

  17. I agree with what you say Ninetail. I consider it as good as elven accuracy or second chance, maybe not as potentially powerful but it makes it in being reliable and versatile.

    But you’re right in that it seem underpowered. If I compare it with the Halfling and consider their second chance as the equivalent survival instinct and bold as the equivalent of dual heritage. I’m missing and equivalent to the halfling’s nimble reaction. But the halfling does have the disadvantage of being small.

    So they could easily have another circumstantial ability. Maybe trap sense or something else…


  1. […] Phil’s already gathered a posse of collaborators for PKL, posted the nuts and bolts of the adventure and reflected on what he’s gotten himself into. […]