Kobold 5e Guide

Published on December 18, 2020, Last modified on May 6th, 2021

What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the Kobold will be right for your 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 is an OK option
  • 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?

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 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.

Which Classes Work With Kobolds?

Kobolds are good for basically any DEX-based attacker. Pack Tactics brings the effectiveness of DEX-based attackers who have Extra Attack to near absurdity by providing a reliable source of advantage on attacks. Remember that the Kobold’s Sunlight Sensitivity will often negate the benefit of Pack Tactics, so play with that in mind.

Artificer: Artificers need INT to be effective.

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

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

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.

Druid: Druids need WIS to be effective.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sorcerer: Sorcerers need CHA to be effective.

Warlock: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.

Wizard: Wizards need INT to be effective.

 

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.