Monday, July 14, 2008

Urban Kobold

For a brief period last month, I had copies of the new 4E Player's Handbook and the first adventure, Keep on the Shadowfell, but not the Monster Manual or DMG. So armed, I put together a kobold as a PC race.

This would not be the standard kobold, but rather a Kobold of Zobeck, which is Wolfgang Baur's campaign and site of some of his Open Design projects. Wolf's kobolds are not rural creatures who venerate dragons, but rather a former slave race, freed but still operating in the lower classes of society. The Zobeck Kobolds are a little more urbanized than their standard D&D form.

So I wrote it up and sent it off to Wolf. Now since he operates a commercial site (he sells stuff and has ads), he was reluctant to post it. But since I am doing pretty much a fan site (charitably - I believe to be a "fan" site you have to honestly like something), I thought I'd put it up here, and include my thoughts and design notes:

Ladies and gentlemen, for your playtesting enjoyment and general ridicule, I present:

The Urban (Zobeck) Kobold
Short, scrappy, fiercely independent reptilian humanoids who eek out their existence both in the wild and the shadows of human civilization.

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution
Size: Small
Speed: 6
Vision: Low-light Vision

Languages: Common, Draconic
Skill Bonuses: +2 Thievery, +2 Streetwise
Kobold Weapon Proficiency: You gain proficiency with the sling and spear.
Trap Sense: You gain a +2 bonus to defenses against traps.
Mob Attack: You gain a +1 to hit for each other allied kobold adjacent to your target
Shifty Step: You can use shifty step as an encounter power.

[Design Notes: As noted, I put this together between KotS/PH and MM/DMG, so I was pretty impressed with the good guesses - the skill bonuses (The racial traits of height and weight I had no idea, so use those provided in the MM). Since the Zobeck version of the Kobold comes out of strong mining background, I gave them low-light instead.
Similarly, I chose Streetwise as a skill, even though this does not get the double bonus of additional ability score plus skill bonus. It fits with the more urbanized Zobeck Kobolds.
I think I have one too many special abilities on the list, Either the Trap Sense or the Mob Attack should probably go for PC Kobolds. Oddly enough I can’t see Trap Sense being a big NPC power, unless kobolds regularly stand in the middle of their own traps (which would be kinda cool, but not do much for PC survival).]

Shifty Step
Hey, he was here just a moment ago!
Encounter (Special)
Minor Action Personal
Effect: Twice per encounter, you may shift 1 as a minor action. You may not shifty step in a turn in which you have already run, and may not run in a turn in which you have already used shifty step.

[Design Notes: The traditional kobold shifty ability is pretty darn impressive if used as an at-will power. It gives the kobold the ability to move up, attack, and then dance back out of combat in a single turn. Not to mention move up, slide around a target to gain flanking, or using the shift to disengage, then run for the hills without taking an opportunity attack. For these reasons I added two limitations for the Urban Kobold PC – one making it an Encounter power with a limited number of uses (similar to the Warlock’s inspiring word) and one limiting its use with run, which in normal situations would grant its opponent combat advantage. While the shifty ability is a cool at-will when fighting kobolds, such creatures are not supposed last more than a single encounter, so the reduced shifty step should make things work better.

Kobold Feats:

Heroic Feats

Shiftier Step [Kobold]
Prerequisite: Kobold, shifty step racial power
Benefit: Whenever you shift, you can shift into terrain that would normally disallow shifting.

Dragonblessed [Kobold]
Prerequisite: Kobold
Benefit: You gain the Dragonblood’s dragon breath ability, blast 2

Kobold Friend [Kobold]
Prerequisite: Kobold, mob attack racial power
Benefit: When choosing this feat, name a PC race. You treat that race as kobolds for the purpose of the mob attack. Each time you select this feat, choose another PC race.

Paragon Feats

Fleet of Foot [Kobold]
Prerequisite: Kobold, shifty step racial power
Benefit: You can use shifty step even when running in the same turn, and may run when you’ve used shifty step.

Shiftiest Step [Kobold]
Prerequisite: Kobold, shiftier step
Benefit: When you shift, you can shift 2, and use shifting ability even when a skill check is called for (such as swimming or climbing).

[Design Notes: If you’re going to do a new race, you should do feats appropriate to the new race. This is probably one too many feats, and some of them serve to bring the PC kobold up to NPC power levels through spending Feats, which I am not sure of.]

Anyway, that's the basics of the Urban Kobold. Take it out for a spin and tell me if it works. I'm thinking of unleashing one of these suckers on Wolf's campaign (heheheh).

More later,