Monday, September 16, 2013

Kobolds: An Overview

By Frank Gori

Kobolds were first created when a pair of warring dragons (traditionally told as a red dragon and an iron dragon in a deadly lover’s quarrel) dueled one another across the Fertile Lands. When dragon blood mixed with the seeds of the Nameless still in the soil, the firstblood Kobolds were born.

Kobold elders remind younglings that Kobolds dwell in the earth because it is from the Earth they came. Dragons are their mother-kin and Kindred are their brother-kin though both are flawed.

The firstblood tribes were powerful half dragons and soon began a campaign of sneaking into dragon lairs and taking their eggs. The eggs were hatched and the resulting hatchlings killed and bled into the soil making yet more kobolds of every color. The Kobolds of hatchling-blood were smaller and less dangerous then their first born kin and soon subjugated.

A generation of dragons saw their clutches stolen and united briefly to destroy the Kobold race. Dwarven clans still see it as their duty to kill any kobolds who trespass Dwarven lands. Kobolds in turn slay Dwarves above any other foe. The Great Slayer War succeeded, to a point. The firstbloods, who killed hatchlings, were destroyed, but the hatchling blooded generation proved to be more adaptable then their siblings. They bred fast and in clutches, matured rapidly, fled from battle, and learned to master stealth and traps. Those who hunted kobolds soon came to regret their chosen profession and the hostilities eventually ceased, for a time.

Knowledge is a tricky thing, though and the secret of creating Kobolds was not forgotten. Eventually an arrogant gold dragon called Midarious carelessly spent the lives of her dwarven servitors in a destructive war with a blue. She managed to capture her rival after a year-long siege. Midarious coveted her rival’s keep but had no dwarves left to defend it, thus she decided to get creative.

Midarious bled her rival carefully and flew to the Fertile lands. Another tribe of kobolds were born. Realizing she needed servants more loyal to her she bled herself, creating another tribe to rule the first. She enjoyed watching her blood rule her rivals and decided she wanted more. 

Midarious’ Kobolds went forth and gathered hatchling blood kobolds and interbred them making a hybrid race from her offspring and the hatchling kobolds. As their numbers swelled she began enslaving dwarves form other dragon clans and driving her rivals out of an ever increasingly wide swath of territory.

Weaker dragons, dissatisfied with their lot in life, soon swore in to Midarious’ banner and made more kobold firstbloods. They instructed them to mix with hatchlings until the present Kobold race was created, over the course of a score of years. Kobolds have elaborate tales about each of these dragons and their individual blood ties to them. 

A short brutal war followed that saw the Dragon elders gathering most of dragon kind against the Midarious Rebellion. The social order of dragonkind was threatened as Midarious twisted her blood and magic to make all manner of horrors from tatzlewyrms and drakes to peludas and hodogs.
Midarious was defeated and her minions slain or scattered. The Rite Of Dra-keth was her punishment which weakened and tormented her for hundreds of years. It is sometimes whispered that her vanity and arrogance pleased Maries and he sent one of his clerics for her to consume. The sacrifice bestowed his kiss and soothed her suffering behind the icy chill of indifference.

Sometimes referred to as The Revenge Rebellion, Midarious came back to her senses during the millennial hibernation which was also during the rise of the Marian Empire. She no longer had her wings; her magic and breath tormented her with Bliss and Despair, but she was still strong  and powerful. She helped the elves conquer when it pleased her, but mostly she gathered kobolds and had them scour the land for draconic keeps to assault killing dozens of sleeping dragons in thirst for vengeance.

Before the Kindred rose up, and before the dragons reawakened, she bounded north. Some say she found Maries’ icy embrace and is frozen with him, at his feet. Elves sometimes refer to her as the subjugated lover, others as Maries’ favorite pet, neither of which sits well with Kobolds.
Chieftains of Kobold tribes sometimes carry a wing scale of Midarious. Warrens often have a golden shrine to her, and a shrine to the Nameless. They are regarded as mother and father to the present race of Kobolds. Those Kobolds born with golden scales are treated as rulers and trained by the ruling caste.

Present day Kobolds are widespread but insular and rarely interact with the other races, sticking to their warrens. The social structure of most warrens is caste based, with scale coloration being a determining factor in one’s social standing and occupation. Each warrens has slightly different castes based on the oral traditions of the tribe therein, which occasionally leads to intertribal warfare.
The resulting offspring from Kobold that breed across caste lines are called Mudscales and are the lowest caste and generally only fit to clean the night-soil of their betters. Those that dare leave the tribe and warrens to strike off for the greater world are splinterscales and regarded as little better than mudscales.

Splinterscales generally head for Hub and attach themselves to Kindred neighborhoods. The transition is often difficult as the population diversity and attitudes of outsiders is extremely strange to the newly emerged splinterscale. Hiding remains an instinct and Kindred reactions are highly individual.

Reptile races like the Lash-ti-nowish and Geato Abira are given a measure of trust and respect. This is especially true of the lizard-women for whom most kobold men find attractive, though unattainable. Lizard-women for their part recognize the value of Kobold allies. Lash-ti-nowish enjoy the kobold sense of humor which is generally derogatory to mammals. The Lash also enjoy price gouging the insular tribes which won’t likely look for an alternate trading partner. 

Kristog and Kindred are tolerated. Kobolds like the song of the Krishtog and at least they aren’t mammals. Kindred and Kobolds share a father in a way, and are therefore a minor exception to the Kobold's general distrust of mammals.  Humans and Gren aren’t to be trusted. Humans try too hard to adapt, and Gren, while properly sized, try to control the Fertile Lands which the Kobolds regard as their fatherland. Dwarves and Elves are the Kobold's blood enemies. Dwarves actively try to purge the Kobold race from time to time.  As to the elves, Maries took away their mother and slew their father, his children are not friends.