Dungeons & Dragons: How Monsters Of The Multiverse Changes Kobolds
- The Original Kobold
- What's New — Draconic Cry, Kobold Legacy
- What's Gone — Pack Tactics
- What This Means For The Future Of D&D
An impressive Dungeons & Dragons release, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse features 33 playable races, more than any other single fifth edition book. While these races had each seen print in some capacity in previous D&D books, 28 of the 33 races have been updated, receiving either a buff or a nerf.
While many of these changes are either beneficial or subtle, no race has received as much of a complete overhaul as the Kobold. Throughout the lifespan of D&D's fifth edition, there hasn't been a fundamental overhaul of a playable option as the Monsters of the Multiverse Kobold update. That's why this guide is going to examine the changes to the Kobold race and what they mean for Dungeons & Dragons.
The Original Kobold
Appearing as a playable race in Volo's Guide to Monsters, Kobolds were a race that offered several powerful abilities at the cost of some blatant drawbacks. Kobolds had access to one of the strongest racial features in the game in the form of Pack Tactics, an ability that allowed them to make their attack roll at an advantage when an ally was within five feet of the target. However, while this ability was stellar, its other key beneficial ability was self-deprecating, literally being called "Grovel, Cower, and Beg,". This ability allowed a Kobold to spend an action to provide their allies with an advantage on attack rolls against creatures within ten feet of the Kobold.
To balance the above-average combo of these abilities, in addition to Sunlight Sensitivity, the Kobold had a drawback in the form of a -2 to its Strength ability score. However, in 2020, alongside the Orc race's negative modifier in intelligence, the Kobold's -2 in Strength was removed from the race. This led to a unique dynamic between the Pack Tactics and Sunlight Sensitivity in which a Kobold player needed to manage various factors to determine if their attacks were being made at an advantage or disadvantage.
What's New — Draconic Cry, Kobold Legacy
With the release of Monsters of the Multiverse, Kobold has been given several new abilities. Firstly, while not a brand-new ability, Grovel, Cower, and Beg has been rebranded as Draconic Cry. While Grovel, Cower, and Beg could be used once per short rest, Draconic Cry can be used a number of times per long rest equal to the Kobold's proficiency bonus. Additionally, though Grovel, Cower, and Beg was an action, Draconic cry can now be activated as a bonus action, making it much less of a commitment to activate.
Furthermore, all Koblods now have access to an entirely new ability called Kobold Legacy. With this ability, a Kobold can choose one of three traits: Craftiness, Defiance, or Draconic Sorcery. While Craftiness provides a Proficiency and Defiance provides an advantage on save against the frightened condition, Draconic Sorcery provides access to a cantrip from the Sorcerer spell list.
What's Gone — Pack Tactics
Although this updated version of Kobold maintains the removal of the race's -2 to Strength, it has lost several abilities. While Kobolds no longer have the drawback of Sunlight Sensitivity, in a very controversial move, they have also lost what was once their defining ability: Pack Tactics. As one of the main abilities of Kobold, the removal of Pack Tactics fundamentally alters the way that a character of this kind functions in combat: Kobolds can't manage an advantage and disadvantage.
What This Means For The Future Of D&D
It's safe to say that you might agree with the re-evaluation of how Kobolds are being portrayed in D&D, with the race no longer being depicted as cowardly and self-deprecating. This change in representation feels like it is in much better taste than what had been presented before. It opens up more possibilities for the types of Kobold characters that you can build and role-play, without being pigeonholed into playing the type of character that would use an ability called Grovel, Cower, and Beg. This type of re-flavoring of abilities is exactly what Kobolds needed.
However, there is definitely something to be said about the manner that Kobolds have been altered mechanically. While the replacement of Grovel, Cower, and Beg with a nearly identical ability in the form of Draconic Cry is more than justified, the removal of what was once the race's defining feature in the form of Pack Tactics feels much less so. Though Pack Tactics and Sunlight Sensitivity were done away with and replaced with Kobold Legacy, these abilities offer completely different utility, fundamentally altering the way that a Kobold character functions within combat.
As this new version of Kobold is now the standard for what Kobold players will be expected to use in the likes of Adventure League, it feels questionable that a playable race has effectively been replaced with something with completely different utility without providing a playable proxy for what was lost. It's likely that many more race balances will be on the way in upcoming releases, so this sets a precedent that significantly altering the way that a race works in combat is not off the table.
Luckily, as the final word within a D&D campaign is that of a DM, if a player is not satisfied with the way the mechanics for a race such as Kobold has been altered, they can simply ask their DM to use the previously printed rules for that race.
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