Monstrous Races

Here are five new races for your 5th Edition game: the undeade dhampyr, the savage gnoll, the treacherous goblin, the sly kobold, and the deceptive tengu.


But first, on earth as vampire sent,

Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:

Then ghastly haunt thy native place,

And suck the blood of all thy race;”

– Lord Byron, The Giaour

Born from death, dhampyrs are the offspring of the survivor of a vampire attack, someone almost turned to undeath but saved prior to death. Those who survive their early years face a lifetime of fear and mistrust: their pallor, unearthly reflexes, and unnatural beauty mark dhampyrs as scions of the night as surely as their sensitivity to bright lights. Dhampyrs do not need to consume blood to survive, but have a powerful desire for blood that nothing else can truly sate.

Not all dhampyrs are descendants of vampiric victims. The victim of a vicious vampire attack can become a dhampyr, especially if they barely escape undeath themselves. If a vampire assaults or turns a woman with child, the infant – if it survives – can be born a dhampyr. A few rare dhampyrs are the progeny of the the rare and unnatural union of vampires and mortals, typically a vampire father and a mortal mother.

Touch of the Grave

Dhampyrs resemble their mortal parent with subtle signs of their connection to death. Tall and slender, dhampyrs fall within the range of humans, and are between 5 1/2 feet to over 6 feet tall and weigh 125 to 180 pounds. While they possess all the diversity of humanity, dhampyrs have paler skin and darker hair than others of the ethnicity. Most also have pronounced canine teeth and piercing red eyes, along with many secondary characteristics of vampirism: pointed ears, a single, connected eyebrow, bestial features, or hairy palms.

For reasons unknown, the vast majority of dhampyrs are human. It is speculated that other races are just more resistant to vampirism than humans. Non-human dhampyrs have the same traits as other dhampyrs but the size of their base race, albeit tall and thin.

All Alone in the Night

Dhampyrs are symbols of a nocturnal world most folk are happier pretending does not exist. They are not welcomed by most people and commonly seen as monsters. There is also the fear dhampyrs that will rise after their death, becoming true vampires. It is rare for dhampyrs to have happy childhoods. To their parents dhampyrs are a continual reminder of violence: the embodiment of a violent assault. Many reject their child, or have trouble bonding with the unnatural infant. Other dhampyrs alienate their family as youths, through aggression or antisocial behaviour. Those few dhampyrs that are accepted by loving families do not escape tragedy, as they are cursed to outlive family and friends, living long enough to watch siblings and even children grow old and die.

Necrotic energies influence the emotions of dhampyrs, making them aggressive and predatory. Dhampyrs instinctively categorizing people as pack members, competition, or prey. They find happiness fleeting and shallow, making them naturally melancholy, and most are brooding and pragmatic.

Life Among Death

There are no communities of dhampyrs: the bloodline is rare enough that dhampyrs seldom meet others or their kind. The new necrotic energies that create a dhampyr are also not herititary, and their children are not dhampyrs. Unions between two dhampyrs are rare enough to be almost unknown, but even these unions produce normal humans, albeit tall and gaunt.

Dhampyrs live their lives among humanity, often pretending to be human, sometimes even to themselves. Few dhampyrs remain in one place for too long, as their lack of aging quickly draws unwelcome attention. Most move from city to city, seldom tarring for longer than a few years. Others abandon a stationary life and live nomadically, joining merchant companies, mercenary bands, or other travelers. A few dhampyrs pretend to age with makeup and hair dye, reinventing themselves as relatives or descendants every few decades. A few try and find a home amount longer lived races such as elves or dwarves, but their unnatural natures make them unwelcome.

Seeking Redemption

Those dhampyrs that become adventurers often do so out of necessity, simply as a means to survive in the world or to prove that they are not monsters from birth. Like tieflings, many people they are believed to have innately evil souls dooming them to a foul afterlife. Some rejoice in this assured damnation, as it means their fate is sealed and they can act however they wish, but others try to earn a place in Paradise through good deeds and continual self sacrifice. A few become vampire hunters, either for simple revenge or striving to save others from their fate.

Their long lives also mean dhampyrs might take to the adventuring life out of boredom: having tried their hand at many other mundane  professions, unusual occupations are appealing.

Dhampyr Names

Dhampyrs are named by their parents based on their homeland and culture. Most dhampyrs change their name over the years, as they assume new identities to hide their age or to escape their past. They tend to keep at least one of their names as a reminder of their past; some retain their family name to remind themselves of their kin, while others  keep their given name.

Dhampyr Traits

Your dhampyr character has several unnatural powers derived from their undead lineage that are common to all dhampyrs.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Age. Dhampyrs mature at the same rate of humans but their aging slows after puberty, and they can live to be over 4 centuries old. Most retain their youthful looks until their last decades, when they rapidly age.

Alignment. Dhampyrs’ unnatural hunger pushes them to acts of violence, and their dark emotions put them at odds with society. They lean towards chaos, but their partial humanity means dhampyr are not automatically evil. However, it is more common for them to succumb to temptation and become evil than to resist and remain good.

Size. Dhampyrs are the same height as human but tend to be more thin and lithe than the average human. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Born into a twilight world, you are not inconvenienced by the night. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray

Bloodthirsty. Feasting on the lifeblood of the living increases your healing and gives you renewed vigour. During a short rest you can drink the blood of a willing or helpless living creature. This forces the creature to spend a Hit Die. The creature receives no benefit from this Hit Die, but you regain hit points equal to 1d6 + your Constitution modifier.

Slow Metabolism. You can survive on half the normal amount of food and water.

Vampiric Resistance. Your necrology gives you resistance to necrotic damage.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice.

Subrace. The varieties of vampire bloodlines result in three different types of dhampyrs. The stryg is most common, often being equated with dhampyrs as a whole. The nosferatu and obiri dhampyrs are related to the vampires of the same name; the former prefer to hide their existence, while the latter are harder to identify as dhampyrs and often go unnoticed.


Descended from common vampires, the stryg are often consider synonymous with perceptions of dhampyrs. You have the unearthly beauty and charm of your progenitor, along with their prenatural strength. You have pale skin, sharp features, and your eyes have a slightly crimson iris that catches the light like a cat’s. Your canine teeth are slightly elongated and pointed, but are not so large as to be easily noticed. While attractive, your charm is not entirely mundane, and creatures that catch your gaze can become bewitched.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.

Improved Darkvision. Your darkvision increases to 120 feet.

Stryg Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the misty escape spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Sunlight Sensitivity. When you, the target of an attack, or an object you’re trying to perceive is in direct sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Also known as vrykolaka, nosferatu are a rare breed of vampire that possesses immortality but not eternal youth, growing ever more withered and deformed over the centuries. Nosferatu occasionally become infected with diseases, and while their undeath prevents them from succumbing to illness it does not cure the disease, leaving them perpetual carriers.

Kin to nosferatu vampires, you have the long life of other dhampyrs but age normally. While you retain your vigor until late in life, you eventually appear ancient and decrepit. You no longer look human, being unnaturally pale, bald, and with pronounced fangs. You may have sharp canines, but some nosferatu have elongated incisors instead.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.

Fangs. Your pronounced fangs are a deadly weapon. You are proficient with your bite, which is a melee weapon that deals 1d4 piercing damage. This counts as an unarmed attack.

Nosferatu Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the spider climb spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Sunlight Sensitivity. When you, the target of an attack, or an object you’re trying to perceive is in direct sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Obiri vampires are feared by even experienced vampire hunters. Known as daywalkers for their ability to ignore the light of the sun, obiri possess a wide range powers that vary between individuals. Thankfully, the obiri bloodline is rare, and their dhampyr descendants are even rarer.

You look more human than other dhampyrs, lacking red eyes, pallor, fangs, and aversion to light of other vampire-kin. You have coarse hair and are stockier than other dhampyrs, but retain the agility and piercing eyes.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Homeland Dependency. You are bound to your homeland, and cannot sleep beyond its borders. If not in your homeland, you must carry soil from your birthplace. Only a small amount of earth is needed, enough to fill a locket or small pouch. Without the soil you must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom check to take a long rest.

Obiri Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Gnoll, Wasterunner

“Do let’s pretend that I’m a hungry hyena, and you’re a bone!”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Rampaging across arid plains and savannas, gnoll packs announce their presence with cackling laughs and wild howls. Civilization hold little appeal to a gnoll, who long to taste blood and feel bones crack in its mighty jaws. Spawned from the influence of a powerful demon lord, gnolls share the unpredictability of their demonic creator and the savagery of their hyena progenitors.

Wasterunner gnolls hail from inhospitable desert steppes. Years in the barrens have forced these gnolls to be less reckless and more clever. They are more restrained than common gnolls but no less violent. They view themselves as more in touch with their hyena heritage and less influenced by demonic corruption.

Lanky and Wild

Covered in coarse patchy fur, gnolls are humanoid but have a head resembling that of a large hyena. They have large mouths full of jagged teeth, which resembles a smirking grin when opened wide. Taller than humans, most gnolls stand just over 7 feet tall, but have a slight hunch that makes them look shorter. They weigh an average of 280 to 320 pounds.

A gnoll’s fur ranges in colour from yellow to brown and has darker stripes or spots. Their muzzle is darker than the rest of their fur. The hair on the top of their heads grows longer, and runs down their spine like a mane. Gnoll eyes are vibrant yellow or green and eerily reflect light in dim conditions.

Unpredictable Brutes

Concepts like love, beauty, and honour are unknown to gnolls, who respect only strength and displays of force. Gnolls make no art, sing no sings, and write no histories. Instead, they live for the hunt, favouring intelligent creatures because they enjoy the screams and smell of fear.

Consummate bullies, gnolls target weaker creatures and never show mercy, but they shy away from provoking those who appear strong or well armed. Because they view weak creatures as food, gnolls avoid appear weak or helpless and make regular displays of might.

Leading short and violent lives, gnolls that become too injured or ill to hunt are killed and eaten by the rest of the pack. Most are prone to sudden acts of violence and pronounced mood swings, especially when hungry or bored. Gnolls are also lazy and impatient, and don’t hunt for a fresh kill when they can scavenge an existing one. They use slaves for much of their manual labour, forcing prisoners to work and eating the slaves when they’re exhausted.

Nomadic Packs

As they seldom construct dwellings or shelters, gnolls prefer warm regions where they can sleep outside. Packs move randomly across the countryside, travelling between waterholes and potential targets of raids. Gnolls are not particularly territorial, and do not care if other gnolls enter their territory – unless one pack is hungry and the other seems weaker.

All gnolls belong to a pack,  and are surprisingly loyal to their packmates. There are no lasting unions or pair bonds within a pack, no families or acknowledgment of parentage. Gnolls rarely work against the interests of the pack and most would rather risk death than attempt betrayal – provided the leader is strong. Leadership of a pack is fiercely competitive, with the dominant gnoll becoming the alpha who leads the pack. Packs are often matriarchal as female gnolls are slightly larger than males and more like to win contests of leadership. Once the hierarchy of a pack has been determined, gnolls are surprisingly cooperative, with most packs having open access to kills, mating, and supplies.

Wasterunner packs are just as tightly knit as traditional gnoll packs, but more open to unconventional strength. An alpha might claim leadership through cunning or magic. The wastes are unforgiving, so seriously injured gnolls that consume food and water while providing none are are quickly dispatched. However, the packs cannot let their numbers dwindle, so gnolls still able to walk or contribute in some manner are allowed to live. Wastrerunner packs have a strong spirituality, a loose pantheistic faith that is still being developed. Unlike other gnolls that build demonic fetishes, wasterunners revere natural forces and build simple totems to earn the favour of animistic spirits.

Wanderlust and Violence

Gnolls that are separated from their pack seek out a replacement. A newcomer gnoll to a pack incites acts of violence, to establish a revised hierarchy. These isolated gnolls might have been orphaned at a young age, left for dead after a raid, or exiled from a pack for an offence, such as showing mercy. If a new gnoll pack cannot be found, most gnolls end up becoming depressed and starve to death, or initiate fights they cannot win.

Gnolls ally with other races, who are then considered to be members of a new pack; the rare gnolls that take up the adventuring life equate their party members with their pack.

Not all gnolls are equally touched by the Abyss, and have a stronger bond with the natural world. These gnolls are hunters, more akin to hyenas than demons. Less cowardly but just as aggressive, they are not as drawn to humanoid prey, and often seek the challenge of facing more dangerous opponents and testing their skills. Because they feels bond to nature, they often work against unnatural threats and otherworldly menaces.


There is no variation between male and female names among gnolls. Gnoll names match the yapping howls of their language, punctuated by growls and are best spoken through clenched teeth.

Gnolls seldom use names when talking to each other, typically addressing each other as “you”. Names are mostly used to discuss someone who is not present, often the dead. When needed, the subject of conversation is identified through glaring and other body language. Identifying individuals is seldom necessary: apart from the alpha all gnolls are equals and interchangeable. The rare gnolls with a special role in a lack – such as a demon cultist or shaman – are identified by their profession. The names of non-gnolls names are even more rarely used. Slaves are simply referred to by their race or “slave”, while noted foes or rare allies are given a brief descriptor, akin to a nickname. In an adventuring party, gnolls typically refer to companions by their class or race.

Names. Daggna, Dhyrra, Ghyrla, Gnagna, Gnoryl, Gnygnsc, Hyra, Khynsc, Lhoryr, Mognya, Rarrsk, Rynra, Sargnyn, Thynya, Toarnyc, Yawrl, Yrgna.


The desert heat and scarcity of resources has tempered your wasterunner gnoll, augmenting their natural abilities.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2 and your Constitution increases by 1.

Age. Gnolls mature reach adulthood in their early teens. While gnolls theoretically live as long as humans, most die from a violent death before their fourth decade.

Alignment. Touched by the blood of the demon, gnolls are instinctively drawn to chaos. Their destructive natures and love of carnage mean most are evil. However, a few shift to a more neutral mindset, especially those less influenced by the Abyss.

Size. Tall and lanky, gnolls stand close to 7 feet tall but their slouched posture makes them appear smaller, and typically weigh around 300 pounds. Your size is medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Your animalistic senses grant you superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light. and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of grey

Bite. Your powerful jaws mean you will never be unarmed. You are proficient with your bite, which is a melee weapon that deals 1d4 piercing damage.

Desert Hunters. Whenever you make an Wisdom (Survival) check related arid environments, you are considered proficient in the Survival skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Rampaging Attack. Once per turn, when you reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack on your turn, you can move up to half your speed and make a bite attack as a bonus action.

Weapon Proficiency. You have proficiency with flails. Gnolls often use specialized flails known as flind bars: two lengths of heavy metal connected by a short length of chain.

Languages. You can speak Common and Gnoll. Most gnolls cannot read or write more than a couple words, but some have been taught so they can leave threatening graffiti after a raid or read enemy messages.

Goblin, Sewerslum

“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”

– Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

A common menace throughout most lands, goblins are found in small villages, abandoned ruins, or lurking in caves. Pests and nuisances when alone, goblinoids become dangerous when encountered in numbers.

Making their home wherever they can, goblins live in the shadows of civilized races, feeding on scraps and attacking the unwary. Those that make their homes in urban areas tend to be slightly more intelligent and cunning than their kin in the wilds: carelessness attract too much attention, quickly leading to them being hunted down by guards or mercenaries. Urban goblins, or sewerslum, make their homes in alleys, abandoned buildings, or under the streets. They scavenge through trash, break into homes, and occasionally mug unwary travellers.

Squat and Slovenly

Short and ungainly creatures, goblins have long arms that reach beneath their knees. They have rough, squashed features with wide, flat faces and broad noses. Their large mouths are filled with sharp teeth, and goblins continually grow new teeth throughout their lives. Their skin varies greatly, varying between dull yellow and orange-red. Goblin eyes have no iris and the entire orb tends to be red or brown interrupted only by the large pupil. They have large pointed ears that seem too large for their heads and protrude at comical angles. Ear jewelry is fashionable for goblins and many adorn their pronounced lobes with rings, metal studs, chains, and small spikes.

Goblins culture is sexist and divided along gender lines, with females being seen primarily as breeding stock. Becoming the tribe’s shaman is one of the few ways female goblins can hold a position of power and there is fierce competition for the role.

Goblins make their own clothing, armour, and weapon, often adapting castoff items to fit themselves or building equipment from refuse. Goblin scavengers hunt for stray metal and leather, cobbling together crude but effective gear. As they try and avoid detection, goblins favour dark colours, dyeing their clothing and armour to better hide in the shadows.

Lazy and Mean Spirited

Goblins have short attention spans and quickly grow bored, especially with routine tasks. Bored goblins find creative ways to amuse themselves, and are delighted with casual cruelty, especially practical jokes. Goblins also enjoy gambling, singing, and feasting. Games appeal to goblins, especially games of chance, and most are quick to invent new games, turning random activities into challenges.

Cowardly by nature, goblins avoid confrontations unless they feel they have an overwhelming advantage or there is no chance for escape or survival. There is no such thing as a “fair fight” to a goblin, and they readily make use of ambush tactics and overwhelming number. Slights and insults are remembered for a long time, and goblins take great pleasure in enacting revenge; when a goblin is humiliated or frightened off, many will return with allies and a look of retribution in their eyes.

Living in the Shadows

Dank caves and other underground dwellings are the most common goblin lairs. Many are covered in filth, giving goblins a foul odour. Goblins don’t differentiate their rooms: they eat, sleep, and dispose of waste in the same location. While capable builders, it is rare for goblins to create their own lairs, and most simply find a natural cave system or an established underground locale such a mine or ruin and then customize it to their needs. However, when left with no alternative they will build crude huts out of whatever material is available.

Treasure and other valuables are shared among the tribe. The leader might opt to reserve some for themselves, but plunder is otherwise equally owned by all goblins. Even food and other resources are seen as communal property. Personal trophies are the exception, but once they change hands they become the tribe’s. However, theft is common as goblins seldom obey even their own rules. Goblins caught stealing food or valuables are often punished with unpopular duties and tasks, which is often the only way guards or workers can be found.

Goblin communities are led by the strongest or most terrifying individual. If the leader of a tribe is a goblin, there is regular in-fighting and changes of leadership as other goblins struggle to make themselves the leader. It is not uncommon for other creatures to assume leadership of a goblin tribe, especially hobgoblins or bugbears.

Taking advantage of their small size, most goblin lairs feature tight spaces or simple traps targeted at larger creatures. Loose stones or rocks are sometimes piled up to make passages smaller, and wooden barriers are occasionally constructed, but unless commanded by a strong leader, most goblins are uninterested in heavily fortifying their lairs.

Sewerslum goblins make their lairs in the forgotten areas of large cities, especially those belonging to humans. Goblins might claim an abandoned building and customize it to accommodate their size, filling rooms with traps and alarms. Among the Sewerslum tribes non-goblin leaders are rarer, as other humanoid creatures are less capable of remaining unseen or act against the survival of the tribe. Sometimes a human or half-orc assumed control of a swererslum tribe, and many have been known to be subservient to the local thieves’ guild or a street gang.

Rejects and Renegades

Goblins drawn to the adventuring life are uncommon. They most often leave out of curiosity or boredom, seeking excitement and new places. Goblins sometimes turn to adventuring after being exiled from their tribe, typically for crimes such as turning against a leader or stealing too often from the tribe. Others reject their own society; a disproportionate number of goblin adventurers are female, as the goblins try to escape their society’s restrictive gender roles and become something other than a breeder.

Wealth is a common motivator, as goblins are innately greedy and covetous. The promise of treasure that does not have to be shared has driven many a goblin to foolish deeds.

The sole survivors of a tribe’s massacre have been known to assume the life of an adventurer to survive apart from other goblins. Lone goblins are easily swayed into offering assistance with promises of food or gold. As goblins seldom hold affection for their kin, goblins can sometimes be bribed to turn against their tribe or assist adventurers for a share of the treasure. Other times, working with an adventurer is preferable to being killed.


Goblin tend to have a single one or two syllable name chosen by the tribe’s shaman when they reach adulthood. Prior to their naming, young goblins are addressed through a swift kick or such terms as “brat” or “hey you.” The name of their tribe is also important to most goblins, being their affiliation and a source of boastful pride – even if they hate the fellow members of their tribe. Tribe names are designed to be evocative and are often spoken in Common to make it easier to recognise and remember the name.

Male Names. Betr, Gxad, Kanr, Knutzur, Masr, Mzotb, Netz, Rekusx, Xak, Xonk, Zmesb

Female Names. Bgom, Dtes, Dxegm, Kran, Ntus Rzakn, Sem, Xgambom, Zxol

Tribe Names. Bigclaw, Cursespitter, Deadthorn, Houndburner, Mudseeker, Nightbasher, Slimemucker, Skunkfur, Thorneater, Wolftooth


Your sewerslum goblin shares a number of traits with other goblinoids.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Age. Goblins age slightly quicker than humans, reaching maturity by 12. Goblins can live to be as old as 50 but most die before they reach middle age from violence or accidents.

Alignment. Goblins are selfish and spiteful, favouring personal safety and pleasure. They chafe under restrictions imposed by others but neither do they advocate freedom and choice, as it is advantageous for them if others follow rules. Their selfishness and cruelty mean they are evil as often as not.

Size. Goblins seldom grow larger than four feet tall and most only reach 3 ½ feet, weighing around 45 pounds. Your size is Small.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. As goblins commonly dwell deep in caves or underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Goblin Nimbleness. Once per turn, when you leave an enemy’s reach you can choose not to provoke an opportunity attack.

Naturally Sneaky. If you move less than half your base speed during your turn, you can take the Hide action as a bonus action.

Sunlight Sensitivity. When you, the target of an attack, or an object you’re trying to perceive is in direct sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Goblin. Many goblins cannot read or write, but you are likely one of the exceptions.

Kobold, Imperial

Pixie, kobold, elf, and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon’s silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.

-Joel Benton, Hallowe’en

Lurking deep underground in maze-like warrens and mines, they are the rightful heirs to dragon-kind – at least in their own twisted minds. It is rare to see just a single kobold: where there is one there is often a half-dozen more lurking just out of sight, and often readying to spring a trap. As arrogant and proud as true dragons, kobolds believe it is their destiny to eventually rule the subterranean world. All non-draconic races are despised, especially gnomes and fey creatures such as sprites, brownies, and pixies. They do not get along well with other wicked humanoids, viewing orcs as bullies that try and steal their land and disliking goblins whom they frequently war with.

Imperial kobolds come from larger communities of kobolds that have expand beyond their underground warrens and out onto the surface. These city-states or small kingdoms even engage in limited trade with their neighbours, exchanging unearthed minerals and tools for food, clothing, and other goods. Imperial kobolds are just as intolerant of other races and confident of their manifest destiny, but are willing to work with work other races to benefit the nest and increase their personal hoards: the appeal of gold and silver is too strong to resist.

Draconic Pests

Scrawny reptilian humanoids, kobolds have scaly skin and long spiky snouts filled with jagged teeth. Their head is topped with a small crown of horns and they have a long, thin tail. Kobolds are typically a ruddy brown in hue, but few have scales with a dull chromatic highlights, evoking the colouration of their supposed dragon progenitors. Kobolds have bright red eyes that glow slightly in the dark. Male and female kobolds are identical in build and colouration, but males have a slight frill of spikes along their jawline and tend to be a couple inches taller.

Kobolds are skilled miners and crafters, and built their own tools and homes. However, they are less skilled at sewing and leatherworking, and most kobolds dress in crude, ragged clothing. When possible they steal clothing from gnomes and halflings and adapt it to fit their frames.

Kobolds hatch from eggs that are laid in large numbers, and reach maturity after a half-decade of life. They can live to be well over a century, with some elders – or “great wyrms” – being close to 135 years old. However, the vast majority of kobolds die before they reach the end of their second decade, killed by predation, battle, or natural disasters. Because they breed and mature so quickly, kobold populations can rapidly increase if safe from predation.

Sadistic Cowards

While arguably delusional about their destiny, kobolds are well aware of their place in the world and their relative fragility. They know they are easily slain and vulnerable, and despise other races for their strength. They eschew fair fights and favour ambushes, employing traps and numbers to offset their weaknesses. When fights turn against them kobolds prefer to flee and save their lives, but retain enough cunning to retreat in the direction of more traps or reinforcements. Paradoxically, kobolds have been known to sacrifice themselves if they think it will allow other kobolds to escape, especially if commanded to by an elder: the survival instinct of kobolds often applies to the entire nest.

In victory kobolds are merciless, revealing a malicious and cruel streak. They are not above torturing for pleasure or letting an enemy slowly and painfully die from their wounds. They take slaves and prisoners, relishing humiliating and tormenting larger folk. Prisoners are especially desired if the kobolds believe they can be ransomed for treasure or sold as slaves to other races.

Mimicking the behaviour of dragons, kobolds like to gather treasures and valuable-looking objects. Kobolds work together for the defence and well-being of their nest, but property is individual and hoards are not shared, even if the wealth would benefit the community.

Trapped Warrens

Kobolds build their nests in underground locations, preferably damp. Areas with mineral resources are favourite places for lairs, as kobolds are excellent miners. A few make their homes in overgrown forests, digging burrows into the root systems of ancient trees. Regardless of the location, kobold lairs are filled with winding narrow corridors that are difficult for larger creatures to traverse. Unlike refuse-strewn goblin lairs, kobold warrens are clean and well-maintained, with delineated chambers for sleeping, eating, recreation, and labour.

All kobold nests are filled with traps of mechanical and magical design. These traps range from simple to devious, and there are often multiple traps in a single chamber or even traps-within-traps. Poisons are commonly employed in traps, and both deadly and debilitating toxins are used. Kobold tunnels also feature regular ambush points, such as hidden murder holes or concealed side passages.

Imperial kobold cities are no less labyrinthine and crowded than warrens. Surface buildings seldom have windows and the exterior buildings are attached together, forming an outer wall. Inside the settlement the buildings are only slightly more spaced out, separated by thin alleys and narrow winding roads that larger creatures can barely fit inside. Traps are less common on the streets, but ambush sites are commonplace throughout the maze of alleys.

Gold and Glory

It is rare for kobolds to overcome their natural cowardice. Braver kobolds often overcompensate with tenacity and sheer ferocity. They seek out needless risks to prove their value and skill, both to themselves and to others. Although this is sometimes an act to conceal their inner fear.

There is little that kobolds want more than to be taken seriously by larger folk. But even less wicked kobolds tend to have poor attitudes, being ill-tempered, pragmatic, and belligerent. They hate jokes related to their size, yapping voices, and lack of physical might. Insulting a kobold often provokes it to violence.

Gold and gems are a powerful motivator for kobolds. Their draconic natures leaves them prone to avarice, and the lure of treasure is hard to resist. The rewards offered by adventuring are tantalizing and hard to resist. Even when they partner with adventurers it is difficult for kobolds to overcome their scheming natures.


Kobolds have a single name spoken in draconic. These resemble shorter versions of dragon names, or simplified variants of dragonborn names.  Kobolds are given a name when they hatch, chosen by the kobold caregiver working in the nursery. Despite the high mortality, all kobolds have individual names. While all kobolds belong to a tribal nest, they do not identify themselves with their tribe’s name.

Male Names. Adhzin, Arodoo, Baleerk, Darada, Herib, Keitroo, Olok, Jonrlik, Yirtan, Xirnesk

Female Names. Aldiaak, Diarkail, Dorleel, Gwizula, Jonraa, Mallka, Sassra, Tarjeen,Widro, Yrarka


Your distant draconic heritage and life underground has granted your imperial kobold the following traits.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Age. Kobolds reach maturity 6 years after hatching and can live well over a century. The vast majority die before they reach their third decade.

Alignment. Cruel, sadistic, and malicious, most kobolds are firmly evil. But the security of their nest and families are valued, and kobolds obey their own laws and the commands of their elders.

Size. Kobolds are short, being smaller than even gnomes and halflings. Most are only 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall but some grow as large as 3 feet. Kobolds typically weigh 35 to 40 lbs.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. As kobolds commonly dwell deep in caves or underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Pack Tactics. When you miss with an attack against a creature and at least one of your allies is within 5 feet of the creature and isn’t incapacitated, you can reroll the attack roll. You must use the result of the second roll. Once you use this trait, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Sunlight Sensitivity. When you, the target of an attack, or an object you’re trying to perceive is in direct sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Draconic. Kobolds speak Draconic like dragons, but their voices sound akin to yapping dogs and they have a simpler almost childish  vocabulary.

Subrace. The two types of imperial kobold are the wyrm blessed and trapsmith, which represent special training not all kobolds receive. Your training might have been the result of wealth, potential skill, or a special destiny. Choose one of these subraces.

Wyrm Blessed

As a wyrm blessed kobold you have a stronger connection to your draconic progenitors, granting you innate arcane power. The scales of a wyrm blessed kobolds are more brightly coloured, similar in shading to chromatic dragons (red,  green, blue, black, or white). Wyrm blessed kobolds are rarer and often revered as being divinely chosen and pushed into a leadership role in the nest, such as the priesthood.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Dragon Magic. Learn one cantrip of your choice from the sorcerer spell list, and Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.


Trained to build traps and hazards to defend the nest, you have a sense for the best location to place a trap and some of the basic designs and mechanisms of traps. As a trapsmith kobold you tend to be more cunning and alert than other kobolds, having learned the hard way to be alert for dangers.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Trapper. Whenever you make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) related to locating a trap you are considered proficient in the Investigation and Perception skills and can add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.  Additionally, while using artisan’s tools to craft a trap, you are considered proficient with those tools.


“A crow may put on human shape or crow shape, but we remain crows,” he replied firmly. “Hawks, too, are the same, whether they are born in human nests or hawk ones. The nestlings must always be protected. Since you have chosen to protect these, I and mine will protect you.”

― Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice

Thieving crows and scavenging ravens, tengu are avian humanoids found anywhere there is the opportunity to make a profit. Tengu are motivated by the desire for wealth, and earn a living as merchants or thieves, occasionally both at the same time. They are most common in urban areas, but are sometimes found in travelling caravans selling assorted goods or looting battlefield dead for trinkets or salvageable items.

Slender Avians

Tengu have heads resembling corvus birds, such as crows, rooks, and ravens. They are covered in glossy black feathers and their hands and legs end in talons. Their shiny dark eyes are most often brown or hazel, but a few have blue or green irises.

Shorter than humans, most tengu are under 5 feet tall, with a slight hunch that makes them appear slightly smaller. Tengu possess light avian bones, which mean that despite their size they only weigh roughly 65 to 85 pounds. Males and females are the same size and there is little sexual dimorphism. Humans and other races often have difficulty telling tengu apart, let alone differentiating between males and females. Some tengu try to distinguish themselves through their clothing, jewelry, or painted beaks, while others enjoy the benefits of anonymity.

Loose cloaks and robes are the prefered clothing of tengu, typically in dark colours. They are fond of cloaks and capes that flap behind them like wings, augmenting their avian appearance. Most tengu adorn themselves with an assortment of jewelry, preferring to wear their money rather than carry it in a coin purse.

Pilfering Scavengers

Tengus are impulsive and naturally covetous, and are drawn to  shiny items. The value of the item is often irrelevant and brightly coloured trinkets are more desirable than soiled or dull treasures. Even honest tengu are prone to bouts of occasional kleptomania. This makes tengu highly competitive, as they have strong desires but are unwilling to share.

Secrets are also highly valued, being considered a valuable that cannot be stolen. They collect gossip and whispers, bartering with secrets in exchange for goods or favours. This exchange allows them to retain their hoarded possessions, but must be done carefully: secrets shared too often cease to be a secret and lose value.

Tengu are suspicious of others, even other tengu. Because they look out only out for themselves, they think others are equally selfish and treacherous. Because tengu always expect to be double crossed, they seldom hesitate to betray others, believing that they just did it first.

The dead are granted little respect by tengu, who believe those who have passed beyond have no need for their valuables and would not want them going to waste. Tengu have no compunctions over looting the dead or rummaging through crypts or tombs.

Birds of a Feather

While tengu can no longer fly they still long for heights and the open air. They build their homes in places of elevation, preferably open to the air. These aeries tend to be found in cities of other races, typically elves and humans, and tengu very rarely establish their own communities. Tengu make their homes atop tall buildings and towers, claiming rooftops and ledges. These homes are seldom owned by the tengus, who are squatting wherever space is available, and already ready to move if discovered.

Tengu are social creatures, despite their natural distrust. When possible tengu roost together in small flocks, derisively called “murders” by other races. Tengu prefer to call their small communities “rookeries”. The inner workings of these societies is kept private, and few other races are allowed access to a rookery. It is known that the entire flock is considered family, with all members equally being parents or siblings. Family is important to a tengu, and will typically be betrayed last.

Wandering tengu who live as traders or scavengers might spend most of their time on the road, but they call a certain city home. They stop at their rookery between journeys, exchanging goods with their kin and sharing news from the road. When possible, tengu merchants travel together as a small caravan, as much for company as safety.

Tengu have little reverence for their dead, believing the spirit has taken to the air and left only meat behind. Funerals consist of laying body on a high surface open to the air, for carrion birds to feast upon – after being stripped of valuables, of course. The bodies of respected tengu are simply placed on higher places, while tengu criminals and exiles are left to rot in a gutter.

Forgotten Lore and Treasure

Ancient ruins and dungeons have a strong lure to tengu, holding stores of treasure, lost histories, magical trinkets, curious relics, unknown secrets, and so much more. As tengu seldom own property or have steady employment, many find it easy to take to the road seeking fame and fortune. A disproportionate number of tengu become adventurers, with only their race’s small population keeping them from being a more common sight.

In addition to seeking assorted treasure, tengu often find employment as thieves and spies, which occasionally thrusts them into the role of adventurer. Learning a secret that was not meant to be learned, stealing from the wrong person or group, owing a debt that cannot easily be repaid, or running afoul of the law can all drive a tengu to adventure.


Tengu have two name, one that is used among other tengus, and a simplified one that emits the bird-like caws and shrieks. Tengu have little attachment to their names and do not mind when other races adjust it for pronunciation, shorten it, or otherwise modify their name.

Aliases and nicknames are also common among tengu. With their propensity for secrets and lies, tengu sometimes have a number of different nicknames with different groups or people. They move freely between names, shifting and changing them as other races change their attitude or clothing.

Male Names. Akka, Bora, Chunio, Junhak, Kaeko, Kei-augh, Krauzume, Mickack, Osacho, Raiyoitu, Shokob, Tchoru, Xaikshi

Female Names. Amater, Amiko, Chikchu, Kasba, Kotockle, Maikai, Mayuacha, Soruk, Suznyae, Zhahumi

Aliases: Blackwing, Ebonfeather, Forager, Keeneyes, Lone Wing, Nighteyes, Sharpbeak


Your tengu shares a number of traits with other tengu.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increased by 2 and you Intelligence score increases by 1.

Age. Tengu age slightly faster than humans, reaching maturity 15 years after hatching and seldom living more than 90 years.

Alignment. Avaricious and covetous, tengu enjoy taking what they want regardless of laws. Their impulsiveness and desire for freedom means they are prone to chaos.

Size. Tengu average approximately 5 feet, and weigh 75 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Ambusher. You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature you have surprised.

Duplicitous. You have proficiency in the Deception and Stealth skills.

Gifted Linguist. When you spend your downtime training to learn a new language, it takes you only half the normal time.

Mimicry. You can mimic any sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) contested by your Charisma (Deception) check.

Languages. You can understand, read, and write Common and another language of your choice. However, you can only speak through use of your Mimicry trait.