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Although a scourge on the Prime, on the planes kobolds are merely yet another mortal people of little note. For this species, however, that is exactly where they wish to be. Often ignored and often under-estimated, kobolds are a dangerous, clever people, well aware of their physical shortcomings and quite capable of making up for them through trickery, foreplanning, and subterfuge.
In the multiverse, kobolds are most found on the layers of Avernus or Khalas, in and around the realms of the kobold deities. There are also significant populations of kobolds in Semuanya's Bog, the khaasta district of Sigil, the city of Slaan in the plane of Smoke, and other reptilian areas.
The kobolds began soon after the birth of their god Kurtulmak to Tiamat. After being brought forth early from her egg following a major attack, and after defending her cavern with great skill from further attack, Kurtulmak was charged by his mother with digging out the collapsed tunnels that once connected her realm to the planes. He soon discovered a stolen egg abandoned by the attackers, and wishing some help with his task, used it to bring forth the first kobolds.
From this point, kobolds spread throughout the Prime, digging their tunnels throughout every world and emerging within them. Many kobold legends point to their species as the builders of the Underdarks, though this is quite unlikely. In the modern day, kobolds can be found upon just about every Prime world that can support them, though never as a major species; even were they to have reached that status on some world, they are far to reactive to have likely held it for long. And beyond that, the average kobold is far more comfortable being the unseen foe than the overbearing tyrant.
Kobolds, above all else, hold survival and self-sufficiency as the highest priorities; both of the individual and the tribe. It is from this central touchstone that arises the kobold xenophobia, the impressive level of skill put into trapmaking, and the desire to not "make waves" but rather to simply be. Kobolds are well aware of what they are, of their physical deficiencies compared to the majority of Prime and planar beings, but this only encourages them to hold even higher the goal of survival at any cost. Of course, whether an individual kobold puts the tribe first or themselves is a question whose answer differs greatly from individual to individual.
As can be expected from their origins, kobolds are a reptilian speceis that physically do seem to hold some level of lineage to true dragons. Most kobold ettlements take the form of great winding tunnel complexes, dug specifically to make invasion or even entrance by outsiders as difficult as possible; in many ways, a kobold lair resembles an immense, three-dimensional ant farm. Occasionally, lairs will instead be found in tightly overgrown forests, thick fetid swamps, and other various environments more suited to smaller species than human-sized, but these are still the exception to the rule. Kobold lairs are built to be as entirely self-sufficient as possible, in large part thanks to the severe lack of trust kobolds hold towards any others. Great lichen and mushroom farms, and even the occasional insectile livestock contribute to this. And of course, no lair is built without a reliable source of water within its bounds. These lairs are further in constant flux, its occupants constantly moving its tunnels, collapsing them, expanding them, all to minimize the possibility of attack. As a result, most kobold lairs tend to drift over time, new caverns taking the place of old as passageways are changed.
Aiding this self-sufficiency, kobolds are entirely omnivorous, able to subsist on any sort of foodstuff. Many of the most vicious kobold tribes are even known to be cannibalistic, supplementing their diet with the flesh of intelligent beings that happen to stray into their domains. The dietary habits of kobolds being so broad, it is quite thankful then that, much like a shark, a kobold constantly replaces their teeth over the course of their life, gaining an entirely new set on average every two or three years. Their small size and cold-blooded physiology also helps, in that compared to a larger species hardly any resources are necessary for them to maintain themselves. Even from a very young age, kobolds have a broad enough diet and slim enough nutrition requirements that kobolds are quite adept at fending for themselves.
Kobolds are a partially ovoviviparous species, with a mother carrying young for up to two months before laying an egg. Multiple births are almost unheard of in kobold society, though on very, very rare occasion a single egg will bear twins. Kobold eggs are raised in a collective nursery, with caretakers handling all parenting duties, the true kobold parents having little interest in their young. A kobold is able to function on its own merely minutes after birth, and will spend the next two to three years in the care of their nurse. In the first six months of a kobold's life, it will grow to treat its entire clutch as one large family, forming strong bonds with those born within a month or so of themselves. Within days, a kobold has developed motor and language skills, and within months, will have in the average nursery gone through a course of basic survival, trapmaking, and combat skills.
Kobolds are not allowed to leave the nursery until the age of two, and must first pass what is known as the "Blessing of the Pit" in order to be considered knowledgeable enough to make their own way; a ritual consisting of a 10-foot-wide pit with any number of traps and obstacles, with the kobold expected to be able to cross from one side to the other successfully before being accepted as a juvenile. Those that cannot are allowed to die in the ritual, a process that helps to ensure — in the eyes of the tribe — that only the most clever kobolds join the tribe. A kobold is considered an adult upon reaching the age of six, and despite their fast maturity, their draconic blood gives kobolds the impressive lifespan of near 130 years on average.
- Dragon #332 - The Ecology of the Kobold, pp.58-68