My musings on the lore of tabletop games have led me to yet another tweet and related discourse when it comes to kobolds.
According to the lore of Dungeons and Dragons, kobolds are… well, let’s have a look…
I’ll start here: racial monoliths are trash. I’ve mentioned this before and I will continue to as long as I am able to write. In this case, every single one of these creatures is evil and are worshippers of dragons.
Dragons… which have gods that are both good and evil along with being themselves aligned on the spectrum of good and evil.
How, in all of these decades of lore, have we not found a single good-aligned kobold?
Oh wait… there are, but they are one-off kobold exemplar.
Somehow several of these one-off examples exist, but not a community of them. In the tweet we referenced earlier, every rebuttal for “but there are good ones” could only name a singular example and not a community of them or something to the tune of…
“But good-aligned dragons wouldn’t necessarily have worshippers…”
That might make sense… except Bahamut who has worshippers among all of the races (except for the monstrous ones who are always evil because racism, I guess… yeah, I said it). Kobolds have somehow run aground Metallic dragons (thems the good ones) and not one of them has ever had a change of heart, yet they have enough intelligence to know common and be masters of traps and battle strategy even with a modifier of -1.
They can choose to be good. There’s no good reason to deny them this choice and this is especially true when not only can kobolds be good-aligned for player characters, but there are good-aligned kobold NPCs like Neek.
Can they be evil and is that wrong? Not inherently, but the lack of agency is; anytime a race is just written as evil with no means to be otherwise for the purposes of having an easy enemy, that’s an issue.
There are plenty of creatures that are evil due to their own choices. Liches, gnothics, beholders, etc without having to make it an inherent racial trait. But also? Maybe consider that if one of a type of creature or race can be good, all of them can be.
And yes: without making it an alternate universe of some kind. Look at Wildemount.
What would that even look like?
Why not have kobolds that worship metallic dragons and build warrens above ground? Maybe someone that work with local hunters for building traps and/or defense systems for shops. Make them the vanguard for announcing a dragon’s presence in a certain radius. Have them work in smithies and with trappers. Make them priests or assistants in the temples of Bahamut.
What about the sunlight sensitivity?
And? What about it? Give them sunglasses. Give them visors. Give them hoods that shield them from the sun. Give them a community that cares enough to think of ways to look out for them. There’s no reason not to except the ones we create and with that same energy, we can make a world where kobolds have positive relationships with their neighboring communities and races.