Kobold Guide 5e

Published on December 18, 2020, Last modified on May 5th, 2022

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the kobold will be right for your 5e character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your kobold. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Kobolds in 5e?

Source: Volo's Guide to Monsters

Kobolds are a common enemy fought in low-level combat encounters. These small, reptilian humanoids became a playable race in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

With the addition of kobolds as a playable race in D&D 5e, there is a whole new avenue for roleplaying and storytelling that playing a monster brings to the table. If your kobold has had different life experiences, it is completely reasonable to play one as an able member of an adventuring party.

Kobold 5e Traits

Ability Score Increase: DEX is the most common ability score bonus. Not having a second bonus hurts.

Age: Kobolds mature quickly and can live quite long.

Alignment: It is expected that kobolds lean towards evil.

Size: A Small size comes with some drawbacks, such as wielding certain weapons and grappling. On the other side, Small creatures are better at hiding and can more easily move around the battlefield.

Speed: Maintaining a standard walking speed is great considering that kobolds are Small creatures.

Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, but its advantage can be ruined if your party members do not also have it.

Grovel, Cower, and Beg: Depending on the class you are playing this trait can be very powerful, as is discussed more in the next section. At the very least, a kobold character that is often in melee range of enemies can use it to give all allies a really good turn of attacks.

Pack Tactics: Pack Tactics is, quite frankly, overpowered. Being able to get advantage on all your attack rolls that have an ally near the target means that, more often than not, your attacks will have advantage. Any build that frequently makes attack rolls will likely trigger Pack Tactics multiple times per fight.

Sunlight Sensitivity: Sunlight Sensitivity is always a shame to see on a playable race, although it is fair for kobolds to keep Pack Tactics in check. If your party usually ventures out at night or spends a lot of time underground, Sunlight Sensitivity is practically irrelevant.

Languages: Draconic is not especially common.

Kobold 5e Subraces

Updated

In the Monsters of the Multiverse update, kobolds have been completely reimagined. Most notably, the awful Sunlight Sensitivity trait has been removed and the kobold’s main ability has been rebalanced.

Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, but its advantage can be ruined if your party members do not also have it.

Draconic Cry: While Pack Tactics was arguably better, Draconic Cry is much more balanced. Giving your whole party advantage for a turn is really good, though to make good use of this your kobold would probably need to be a melee attacker as its range is very limited at 10 feet.

Kobold Legacy: This trait provides some interesting choices for your kobold to make your character even more customized. 

  • Craftiness: None of the skill proficiencies here are essential like Perception, so your best bet is to choose something with utility where your party is lacking such as Arcana or Survival.
  • Defiance: This is situational, though very useful in those situations as frightened is an annoying condition. Tanks and healers would probably want this the most as they need to stay in combat to protect their weaker allies.
  • Draconic Sorcery: It’s always cool to get more spells, especially when playing a class that doesn’t have spellcasting. You could take a cantrip that gives a melee character a ranged attack option like chill touch, or just take something purely for utility that any character would like such as mage hand or minor illusionBooming blade and green-flame blade open up some extra combat options with bonus damage for melee attackers.

 

Which 5e Classes Work With Kobolds?

Artificer: Artificers need INT to be effective.

  • Updated: Artificers won't care for this race unless they are running a melee build, in which case it is quite good when paired with a subclass like Armorer. Defiance can get you more staying power, Draconic Sorcery gives you some more cantrip options, and Craftiness could fill in the gaps in your party.

Barbarian: Barbarians really want a STR ability score bonus. Reckless Attack should be enough advantage to consider picking a race with a STR bonus.

  • Updated: The biggest thing holding back the kobold here is the Small size, as you won't be able to effectively use heavy weapons like greataxes. Reckless Attack also makes Draconic Cry unnecessary.

Bard: Bards need CHA to be effective, although College of Valor and College of Swords Bards do get Extra Attacks to benefit Pack Tactics.

  • Updated: Bards in the College of Valor or Swords that like to be in the thick of things can benefit from Draconic Cry, otherwise steer clear. Draconic Sorcery is nice to get something like booming blade or green-flame blade.

Cleric: Clerics need WIS to be at their best, but a DEX-based Cleric can be viable. Pack Tactics is less enticing without Extra Attacks.

  • Updated: Not all clerics like to be in the frontlines, but a tanky melee-based one will do well with Draconic Cry and booming blade or green-flame blade from Draconic Sorcery.

Druid: Druids need WIS to be effective.

  • Updated: The only real option here is a Circle of the Moon druid, since Draconic Cry is still available in Wild Shape. Other druids want to stay away from melee range making the kobold a poor option.

Fighter: DEX-based fighters are a perfect choice for Kobolds. Pack Tactics works nicely with the Extra Attacks that fighters get. Additionally, fighters can use one action to use Grovel, Cower, and Beg and then Action Surge to still be able to attack in the same turn.

  • Updated: Kobolds are still an optimal choice for melee fighters. All of the Kobold Legacy options can be useful to a fighter depending on your needs, though Draconic Sorcery can get you booming blade or green-flame blade, opening up more combat options in battle.

Monk: DEX is the best stat for the monk, but a lack of WIS and CON can be deadly considering their low hit dice. With Ki abilities and Extra Attacks, that can add up to a whole lot of attack rolls with advantage.

  • Updated: Monks need their bonus action for a variety of things in combat, so Draconic Cry may not always be the best use of it.

Paladin: A simple DEX bonus is not quite enough for the Paladin to be optimized. If building around DEX, the character will function fine simply due to Pack Tactics.

  • Updated: The updated kobold is really good for paladins. Draconic Cry will always be useful as you'll likely be in melee range, and paladins like to buff their allies. Draconic sorcery can get you booming blade or green-flame blade, opening up more combat options in battle and improving your damage beyond the few attacks and smites you can do each turn.

Ranger: DEX is an important stat for rangers, and will work well with Pack Tactics. A WIS bonus here would have made this an ideal choice for the ranger.

  • Updated: Rangers won't care too much about what Kobold Legacy can offer, and their bonus action is probably better spent on things like hunter's mark rather than Draconic Cry.

Rogue: Combining Sneak Attack and Pack Tactics means that you have both a chance to trigger Sneak Attack damage and advantage on the attack roll when an ally is near the target. It may seem a bit redundant, but with only one attack per turn, connecting with the target is crucially important. Another interesting concept is to use Grovel, Cower, and Beg followed by Cunning Action to Disengage and get to safety, letting your party members do the heavy lifting for a turn.

  • Updated: Draconic Cry gets you advantage with ease, activating your Sneak Attack whenever you wish. Draconic Sorcery an get you booming blade or green-flame blade, opening up more combat options in battle.

Sorcerer: Sorcerers need CHA to be effective.

  • Updated: The updated kobold's main draw, Draconic Cry, is really only useful if you're in melee range.

Warlock: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.

  • Updated: Hexblades won't mind the melee requirement of Draconic Cry as much as other subclasses. The cantrips from Draconic Sorcery won't be needed, so you'd be better off taking Craftiness or Defiance to round out your character.

Wizard: Wizards need INT to be effective.

  • Updated: The updated kobold isn't a bad option for a bladesinger, as they can easily activate Draconic Cry. The cantrips from Draconic Sorcery are probably not necessary due to the wizard's large pool of spells, so you'd be better off taking Craftiness or Defiance to round out your character.

Sources Used in This Guide

Roland Drews

Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.

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