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Urist likes kobolds for their mischief.

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· Trapavoid · Learns · Egglaying · Humanoid

Cannot be tamed 
Birth: 1,000 cm3
Mid: 5,000 cm3
Max: 20,000 cm3

Child at: 1
Adult at: 12
Max age: 150-170
Cannot be butchered

Wikipedia article

This article is about an older version of DF.
A small, squat humanoid with large pointy ears and yellow glowing eyes.
A kobold drawn by Toady One, from Kobold Quest, which also serves as their DF look.
Slightly DnD-based kobolds.

Kobolds are small creatures adept at stealthy thieving. In fortress mode, they are one of the antagonistic races, trying to infiltrate your fortress and steal valuable items, running away once discovered. Their threat may vary depending on where the player chooses to embark their settlement.

In a sizeable contrast to goblins, that resort to gruesome violence and other heinous acts, the nature of kobolds is that of stealth and thievery, and not immediately resorting to violence - they will only fight when cornered or provoked.

Some dwarves like kobolds for their mischief.


Kobolds are officially described as "small mammaloreptilian humanoids with pointy ears and yellow eyes with a penchant for trickery and mischief, context-based sublanguage, poisonous critter collection, traps and kleptomaniacal hoarding"[1] . Toady One has explained the game's kobolds were primarily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, which portrays kobolds as reptillian, though DF's own kobolds are more akin to tiny brown-skinned goblins who can lay eggs. Kobolds are egg-layers, giving birth by laying 1-2 eggs at a time.

Kobolds speak in unintelligible utterances, being completely unable to communicate with anyone but each other.


The ethics of kobolds can be considered the most primitive, besides those of goblins (which are basically non-existent). Generally, kobold morals are based on a tribal system of loyalty, with some exceptions such as an opposition to the devouring, butchering or consuming of intelligent beings, slavery, possession of trophies and to most forms of torture (except torture for sport). The moral focus on loyalty makes treason unthinkable among kobolds. Kobolds do not offer much in the form of punishment for crimes: assault is considered a personal matter, while a kobold found to have killed one of their own is forced into exile.

Kobolds consider cunning to be incredibly important, and also value nature, cooperation and perseverance. They do not, however, understand the concept of music, have very little empathy and are forgetful, probably due to death being commonplace in kobold society, so it is unwise to remember or care about loved ones for too long.


Kobolds are represented by a dark yellow "k" in gameplay. They congregate in small groups and live in caves (though less often, in outdoor camps), surrounded by traps and guarded by any poisonous animals at their disposal. Despite playing an evil role in the game, they do not need to spawn in evil biomes like goblins - they can appear in any morally aligned biome. Kobolds start harassing a player's fortress as early as they can, and will always attempt to stealthily sneak into a fortress over using violent brute force. Because of their stealthy nature, they appear invisible to players unless they are right next to a dwarf, or a dwarf has a high enough observer skill, with the higher said skill, the farther away they can spotted. Being reptiles, they can lay eggs.

Kobolds will attack in self-defense, or when simply caught when sneaking around or cornered. They are very small and weak, and because of this, cannot wield large weapons, often using daggers and rudimentary armor to protect themselves. Dwarves easily overpower kobolds in battle, but this doesn't stop kobolds from posing a threat, as their stealth and ambushing tactics can still provide trouble for dwarves, as well as traveling traders. The stealthy nature of kobolds also allows them to easily slip by traps or get through most doors (even if locked). The more successful thieving sessions kobolds have with a particular fortress, the larger the next group of kobolds will appear the next time around.

Detailed Behavior[edit]

Kobolds arrive at your fortress in sneak mode, preventing you from seeing them. Spotting a sneaking creature is based on how high the spying creature's observer skill is; the higher it is, the farther away the sneaking creature will be spotted, but if a kobold is passing next to a dwarf or animal it will be revealed, too. They can swim in from rivers, go boldly through sprint straight through locked doors, and are unaffected by traps. If the kobolds are successful in multiple thieving attempts, they will grow kobolder and send squads of armed kobolds to raid and pillage your apparently-defenseless fort. Kobolds are observed to have access to all metals, including steel (seemingly, a fallback triggered due to them not being given access to any metals at all). This doesn't seem to manifest itself in fortress mode, however, and they are almost always seen with only copper equipment.

Kobolds are commonly known to congregate primarily inside caves in small to medium-sized groups. The site layouts are a little more involved than the up-down natural caves, spreading out over a few z-levels with some traps, guard posts, living chambers, animals, eggs and stolen objects. Kobolds use a specific entity animal definition to keep as pets any creatures in the surrounding environment that are in the poisonous class which do not have the mammal class - in practice, this leads to scary pit rooms filled with giant cave spiders and rattlesnakes. Kobolds always store items they have stolen in a trophy room.

However, they may also camp outdoors, (EX: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=74802.0) living exactly as they do in caves, in a large group with piles of random jewelry and gems all around them. Assuming you can get past the kobolds, this wealth is all for the taking. It has been reported that it is possible to embark within these encampments, resulting in remarkably quick fun. Amusingly, they can and will attack kobold thieves that wander onto the map, which instantly triggers a loyalty cascade amongst every member of the camp, sparking a brutal and bloody civil war in which both sides try their level best to kill the other, often with their bare hands. Interestingly enough, one of the sides on the loyalty cascade will appear as hostile to your dwarves, while the other will appear as friendly. If the friendly kobolds win this civil war of sorts, you will be able to wander into their camp and take all their stuff, or, if you are feeling particularly generous, build a little something for them. Sadly, this above-ground camp will almost certainly be exterminated by the first goblin siege.

The fact that kobolds are unable to communicate with other races makes them hostile to anyone in either mode, including a kobold adventurer. Despite being a major race in the game, they do not conduct sieges.

Community outlook[edit]

Unlike other races, there are two large stereotypes associated with the kobolds by players: some see them as little more than vermin who only exist to annoy, and as such they go to great lengths for the chance to catch and kill kobold thieves. The other, arguably more prominent stereotype, however, treats kobolds as small, cutesy creatures who are endearingly stupid in their attempts to steal your trinkets, and as such generate great amounts of sympathy. These are typically given the name of "cutebold" (with the DF community possibly being responsible for creating the term) and are depicted as small, flappy-eared dog or lizard people rather than their canon "smaller brown goblin" look, who like rubbing their noses to display affection and are about as smart as an actual dog or lizard. Cutebolds are typically treated as being incredibly innocent, childish and ineffectual, which brings up interesting connotations when they interact with the gruff, hardy and fun dwarves. Whether they fall into "too cute to kill" or "just the right amount of cute that makes them VERY killable" is another matter entirely.

Playing as kobolds[edit]

Kobolds are the only unplayable race out of the five main races. By modding, however, kobolds can be played in both fortress and adventure mode.

Adventure mode[edit]

There are two methods for allowing kobolds to be playable as adventurers. By adding [ALL_MAIN_POPS_CONTROLLABLE] to [ENTITY:SKULKING] in entity_default.txt, kobold adventurers can start from a kobold site. This method also has the side-effects of allowing any [LOCAL_POPS_CONTROLLABLE] creatures to join a kobold civ, and allowing [OUTSIDER_CONTROLLABLE] creatures to start from a kobold site as well. The other method is by adding the previous tag to [CREATURE:KOBOLD] in creature_standard.txt, which allows them to be played as outsiders from any site.

Kobolds start off with less-than-standard equipment (backpack, loincloth, weapon).

Kobolds only ever speak in [UTTERANCES], which means no one can understand them. As such, they will be hostile to everyone else, including other kobolds. (If you wish to change this behaviour, you will have to remove that tag.)

Fortress mode[edit]

Kobolds can become a playable race in fortress mode, if [SITE_CONTROLLABLE] is added to [ENTITY:SKULKING] in entity_default.txt. They cannot start with picks or axes, nor many of the skills needed to found a 'fortress' besides mining. While they can start with the materials to start a small metal mining industry to build those, they are considered foreign weapons, and so cannot be built. Your kobold citizens are also considered pets and/or livestock by the game, and their labor preferences cannot be changed, due to lacking [CAN_SPEAK]. They can start with spears, short swords, bows, and large knives, but cannot form military squads, due to lacking any defined positions (including militia positions). Making this race playable requires a moderate amount of game file editing, with the following as a bare minimum to make them playable:

  • Position tokens such as an equivalent to an expedition leader, or any other position capable of appointing militia commanders and other added utility positions.
  • Picks and axes must not only be added to the entity's list of available items, but also have their minimum size to wield lowered. Alternatively, smaller versions can be added (stone axes, being tools rather than weapons, won't workBug:9738).
  • Kobolds require the use of [CAN_SPEAK] or else they will count as pets that can't be controlled properly (but not if you have dfhack labors or Dwarf Therapist). This can still be used alongside [UTTERANCES].
  • Kobold caravans (and thus, more migrants) will not arrive unless pack animals or wagon pullers are added, either via the [COMMON_DOMESTIC_*] entity tokens or the [ANIMAL] entry.v0.44.01
  • Swapping the progress triggers of dwarves and kobolds is strongly recommended, lest you risk a small chance of a dwarven siege during your first autumn.


Multiple examples of Kobold Camp mods exist, generally descended from or influenced by this version or its successor. A more recent version for 47.1-47.4 can be found here. Masterwork also contains an (out-of-date) version of the latter. The original is the closest to a vanilla kobold experience, while the other two restrict kobolds to wooden weapons and digging in soil only. There is also Kobold Kamp that settles on a stone-age flavor with some expansions, and remains actively updated.