Dungeons and Dragons Dragon Kobolds
Kobolds might look tough, but they scare easily.

Occasionally amongst a group of warren kobolds, a different sort of king will rise, more driven and focused than others. Commonly lead by dreams of flight or fire, this ‘dragon-touched’ will lead their followers on a reckless pilgrimage, often above ground, to seek a dragon egg. Sometimes, a particularly stealthy kobold will be sent into an adult dragon’s lair to secret away an egg, and many a pilgrimage has been utterly wiped out when they are discovered trying to transport it back to the warren, but other times an abandoned egg or wyrmling is found and the pilgrims settle around it. Rarely, kobolds will stumble across a dragon egg in the course of digging tunnels, which typically leads to the same end result.

The egg changes the dynamic of the kobold’s society. Instead of mining ore for supplies, workers now seek gems and gold for the hoard, and those with ambition and drive who would normally become kings among warren kobolds now rise as priests. This dynamic continues to shift throughout the dragon’s long life. In the beginning, the kobolds act as part foster parent and part animal handler, providing food and attempting an education (which is of dubious value, even setting aside the fact that a dragon’s intellect outstrips their own in a matter of months). As the dragon becomes more self-sufficient, it becomes more of a living idol; part monarch and part god. Younger dragons typically enjoy the worship heaped upon them and sometimes take an active interest in utilizing these minions to their own ends. After a few decades of constant fawning, however, most dragons lose interest; in the best cases, they simply ignore the kobolds surrounding them, but it is just as common for a dragon to carry out some pest control in its adult years (any surviving kobolds, devastated that they have done something to so upset their overlord, will redouble their worship, or else wander like heartbroken lovers, possibly finding their way into the underclasses of civilization).

These kobolds leverage the status that comes with associating with a dragon to raid settlements and other monsters for better supplies, knowing that they can fall back to their lair and hoping that any pursuers know what lurks within. Their clothing tends to be of better quality, as do their armor and weapons (which consist of spears, curved blades, steel scale armor and, for a lucky few, true dragon scales). Dragon kobolds are often well supplied enough to decorate themselves with jewelry, paying tribute to their master with horn and wing designs.

Whilst nominally ruled by the dragon they serve, most kobolds will never be allowed any level of interaction with it, and may even be forbidden from setting eyes on it. In practice, the group is led by a ruling class of priests who speak to the dragon and (supposedly) relay its will. Given that dragons are generally indifferent to their retinue of kobolds, their ‘will’ is often open to a great deal of interpretation, and thus the priests have close to absolute power in the group. This, naturally, leads to a great deal of tension and infighting in the priest caste, with individuals and factions constantly jockeying for higher positions with greater access to the dragon’s ear. Some ambitious priests genuinely believe that they will be able to influence their master (and the most powerful of them have been known to, with the help of enchantments), others see the reality of the situation and take any opportunity they can get to manipulate the populous to their own ends.

Beneath the priests are a multitude of acolytes, retainers, and lackeys who carry out the organization and counting of tributes, pronouncement of minor edicts, and the less glamorous parts of tending to the dragon such as cleaning teeth (high fatality rate) and clearing waste (mid-to-high fatality rate). Acolytes are frequently paid off to report their priest’s activity to rivals, and it is not uncommon for a high-ranking priest’s retinue to be made up entirely of individuals in someone else’s pocket. Some use this to their advantage to spread misinformation about their doings to confuse the competition, but others simply make sure that bribed acolytes are assigned to dragon duty as soon as possible.

Dragon kobold lairs are far more grand and ornate than warren kobolds’. Their tunnels are, theoretically, an extension of the dragon’s hoard, so are often opulently decorated and strictly organized. At least one acolyte will be saddled with the task of tallying and neatly piling the dragon’s wealth, organizing by size, type, and value. As the dragon ages and the hoard grows, it is not uncommon for this acolyte to run a constant loop, starting the count again as soon as he is finished. It is also not uncommon for distrustful priests to appoint second or even third acolytes to recount and recheck. The acolytes, of course, see this busywork as a great honor and service to the dragon. The dragon, having an innate knowledge of its finances, couldn’t care less.

Dragon kobolds are a mixture of self-important, sycophantic and power hungry. They will fawn and flatter the powerful while trampling over the weak. Most priests genuinely do revere the colony’s dragon and speak of it with the same reverent tone any fanatical cult leader would use for the subject of their worship, and with the same level of acceptance for those who do not show the proper respect. Others are more pragmatic and see the dragon as a means to gain personal power and status; these are usually more open to compromise, but equally likely to worm their way out of any such compromise should a better offer present itself.

Depending on their personal level of loyalty to the dragon they serve, dragon kobolds can use similar tactics to their warren cousins, or attack more aggressively to the point of recklessness. Those on the periphery of society, for whom life is little different with or without their dragon, utilize the same tactics of tunnel fighting and retreating to draw enemies into traps with the additional ‘trap’ of a dragon’s lair to lure unsuspecting opponents into. Some more self-serving priests also use the tried and tested method of hiding behind a dragon when invaders come knocking.

Those with more reverence for their overlord view using it as a defense as distasteful, and see it as their duty to ensure no unworthy intruder gets far enough to set eyes on it. These loyalists will fight with a fanatical ferocity screaming draconic devotions, and believe dying in the dragon’s service to be a high honor they can hope to achieve.

Examples of Dragon Kobold Names: Akathrazar, Bathrakaz, Iokathorax, Kashadran, Pazakaron, Rakaramaz, Shazathrar, Zanakal

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