Hail To The King

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kobolds have been around for a long time. From the ratlike little dog-men of the early editions, to the more recent incarnation as draconic lizards, these guys remain one of the game's favorite foils. Usually depicted as sneaky, conniving trap-makers, they also have a history of being cute, pathetic monsters struggling to find their place in the dungeon, usually at the bottom of the local food chain. When we went looking for an iconic monster to kick off our line of 32-page modules, the kobold was an easy choice.

We couldn't just settle for the traditional kobold, though. Not when we had the chance to do so much more. When we asked Senior Art Director Sean Glenn to redesign the stale old monster and give it a fresh look, what we got back exceeded all of our expectations. (Sean, for his part, readily admits to sending Sam, the World's Ugliest Dog, along as reference. Can you see the resemblance?) Meaner, nastier, and definitely more evil, these guys have that special something that sets them apart from the pack. They have style. To give you an idea, here are some of the kobolds from "Crown of the Kobold King."

The reign of Merlokrep, first of his name, all-mighty Dragon King of the Truescale Kobolds, has suffered misfortune from the day of his coronation. But the sturdy resolve that saw him through the murder of his eighteen siblings and cleared his path to the throne has held his tribe together through the accidents, attacks by their new monstrous neighbors, and the king's own homicidal outbursts of rage over both. Merlokrep is always happy to offer visitors an honored place as Great Sacrifices to the Crown, ready to wine and dine them before ripping them open and pulling out their hearts.

Vreggma, Chief Consort and Only One Allowed to Nag-Nag His Greatness, loves to gaze at her own reflection. Her continued pursuit of shiny good-good causes an endless amount of trouble for her King, resulting in a third of her tribe perishing in haphazard mining excavations over the years. She immediately attempts the coquettish seduction of anyone that enters her lair, but if her advances are rebuffed or her collection of shiny good-good is threatened, she flies into a spitting rage that belies her sweet veneer and attacks viciously.

Jekkajak, called by many "He Who Forgets More Than You or He Knows," is the Truescale's shaman. His mysterious prophecies are taken very seriously by the rest of the tribe, at least when he is awake. Jekkajak is a walking corpse of a kobold, whose withered old white scales are stretched tight over bone. His puny skeletal snout contains a lone tooth and constantly dribbles drool. His milky eyes focus intermittently on his surroundings.

Merlokrep's cruel mining foreman, Lekmek, works a gaggle of slaves to death in search of "shiny good-good" for Vreggma. Sadly, gold is not on the menu in his glum mines, whose walls are riddled instead with veins of iron ore. Vreggma's displeasure at the lack of gold is the source of many headaches for Merlokrep, who in turn takes out his frustrations on Lekmek. The foreman vents this mounting aggravation through harsh beatings administered to his digger-slaves on an hourly basis.

Finally, its never really made sense that all kobolds should be brownish gray. Since there are five colors of chromatic dragon, we created five differently colored kobolds. But when we got the art back from our artist, we discovered that we had not five, but six colors. Which begs the question: what do we do with this guy?

If you've got an idea, post it to our messageboards and let us know!

Jeremy Walker
Assistant Editor, GameMastery

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Tags: Kobolds Monsters Pathfinder Modules
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