I’ve always thought people were missing some key points regarding Kobolds and doing them a great disservice treating them as XP fodder for noob parties. For that matter, let’s stop treating monsters as XP chests waiting to be plundered!
OK, I’m going to stay on topic… Kobolds.
First, let me go waaaay back… the Kobolds of myth were nothing like D&D Kobolds. They were spirits of various types that could change shape, turn invisible, burst into flames and had other powers and skills as well. I’d read a few old myths and never did I see that they were stupid, weak or easily defeated by wandering murder hobos. They were creatures that you really didn’t want to piss off.
OK, so a lot of things in D&D aren’t like the myths they come from. Heck, between Tolkien and D&D, most of our mythological creatures have been completely over-written in our modern shared culture. But I still say, give the Kobolds a little respect!
My biggest gripe is that I always see players and DMs acting like Kobolds are morons, and I know you’re going to point to the intelligence of 8 as proof, but really, 8 isn’t all that bad. The average intelligence for an Orc is 7, yet they are often portrayed in a better light than Kobolds, smarts-wise.
An intelligence of 8 is just under average and a creature doesn’t have to be smart in order to be cunning. In the descriptions in the Monster Manuals, they are always described as Lawful Evil and cunning. This means they work together and will use their environment, including making traps. You might have heard the story of Tucker’s Kobolds where a group of adventurers found themselves more willing to face flaming demons than the kobolds on the first level of the dungeon. Those are the Kobold’s I like to see. They obviously avoid straight-on combat at all times for the obvious reason that they are squishy and instead constantly harassed and herded the characters into trap after trap.
So I just ask, the next time you think about using Kobolds in a campaign, read the story of Tucker’s Kobolds. I’m the experience will be… educational for your players and it will give the Kobolds a bit more character.