Yes, every party has faced them, however, I feel the Kobold does not get enough love from the RPG community. I mean honestly, who doesn’t enjoy doing small reptilian-like voices, hmm? Yes, even the game that birthed the creatures, Dungeons and Dragons back in 1974, didn’t have much respect for the creatures; simply describing them as “similar to goblins, but weaker”. It was not until later editions of D&D that Kobolds were described as being reptilian, and though still weak, they became defined by their strong pack tactics. As you can see below, the modern Kobold in 5th edition has come a long way from his AD&D counterpart. He almost looks more dragon than reptile at this point, and I personally often use Kobolds as part of a dragon cult eager to please their masters . So, how does one get the best use out of our little friends?
Kobolds are a pack culture often traveling in large war-bands and their territory often plays a large role in this. I feel it’s always fun to make the party visit the Kobold lair to drive them out. The party may have easily smashed a few scouts on their way to the camp, but once they enter the caverns that are the Kobold’s home.. that my friends, is where the fun is. Think of it as high-fantasy Home Alone. The whole cave is trapped and the Kobolds wait to jump out and strike quickly with their slings, before running off deeper into their lair. Death by a thousand cuts is how you should approach using Kobolds in your game. Environment is important as well, not only for traps, but also remember that there may be no light in these caves, because Kobolds have dark-vision, so you better have a torch my human friend. A fun trick to play this up is not to draw out the cave, but have the players take notes or draw out what you describe. Keep track of the parties movements on a hidden map (maybe on a notepad), and have the Kobolds collapse an exit point, forcing the party to try and find an alternate route. See if they can find their way out before they die!
When using Kobolds, I will usually find a reason to role play one of them. It makes me happy. My favorite trick is when the party dispatches most of the monsters and the one remaining begs for his life. He promises loot.. (players love loot) or even to be a guide. I give him an adorable name, like Dobby, a funny voice, and before you know it he is the party mascot! At least up until he betrays them. For some reason the players are always shocked, and it’s like they don’t remember killing this creatures entire family. Anyway, it’s always fun.. I laugh, the players question their life choices. Good times.
And just look at this Kobold art from the new Pathfinder 2nd edition! He would never betray you.. never!