D&D, StarWars, and Kobolds
© 26 Mar 2012 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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The intersection of several childhood delights.


When I was in my early teens I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition weekly, and spent much more time pouring over texts describing the game. One thing that caught my fancy, though I can’t recall ever having used it in play, was the kobold. The Monster Manual described them thus:

Barely clearing 3 feet in height, kobolds have scaly hides that range from dark, rusty brown to a rusty black. They smell of damp dogs and stagnant water. Their eyes glow like a bright red spark and they have two small horns ranging from tan to white. Because of the kobolds’ fondness for wearing raggedy garb of red and orange, their non-prehensile rat-like tails, and their language (which sounds like small dogs yapping), these fell creatures are often not taken seriously.

For whatever reason, this description caught my fancy. Small yappy smelly lizard-things, easier to kill than any other creature in the game, but they appealed to me. They still do.

Another creature that I found fascinating were the jawas in StarWars. Though I didn’t make the connection at the time, they had many of the same characteristics as kobolds: plentiful, small, yappy, not taken seriously, wearing red-orange clothes… Like kobolds, jawas still appeal to me a great deal. I’d gladly have a statue of a jawa in my living room if I could find a good one at a reasonable price.

Many years later I started playing Dungeons and Dragons 3.5th Edition and almost instantly discovered that kobolds were playable races, meaning there was rules support for me being a kobold. Reviewing the description of the species from my 2e books I tried to convince my game master that I should play a kobold in a orange hooded robe who liked to cry “‍Oootini!‍”, but it didn’t fly. Kobolds, he said, weren’t really into robes and things, had trouble seeing in the daylight, and what would be my reason for wandering around with my hood up outside?

More years past and I’m now playing 4th edition and kobolds are still supported by the rules as a player race. But there’s a new twist: there’s a class called “‍vampire‍” that makes the hooded robe make sense. I’m not one with any particular interest in vampires; I’ve never really cared. Sort of a dud idea, I’ve always thought. But the rules for 4e say they don’t wear armor and they need to cover themselves with several layers of heavy clothing to avoid burning up in the sun. And that’s a grand thing, since jawas never show any skin…

All of which leads to my grand scheme: to convince my next 4e game master to let me play a kobold vampire, describe the heavy cowled red-orange robe and all without referencing jawas, and then cry out “‍Oootini!‍” in combat and see how he reacts.

I expect he’ll kill my vampijawabold in that very combat. I expect it will still be worth it.

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