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Umbral Kobolds

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Shadowsfall: Guide to Umbral Kobolds

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A unique subrace of kobolds, umbral kobolds appear much like the stunted, bastard children of halflings and umbral dragons, though in truth they’re related to neither.  Their ancestors were standard kobolds from an otherwise unknown world on the Material Plane. These forbearers dug far too deep, seeking the origin of a rich vein of gold, while also seeking to escape the depredations of either drow or adventurers of mixed origins. Rather than discovering gold, however, they inadvertently tunneled through a thin place between their world and the Shadow Plane, stranding their tribe in a sunless land of omnipresent darkness. Free from the competition of other races native to their original underground home, these kobolds adapted and flourished, spreading far and wide.

Roughly the height of standard kobolds, umbral kobolds are small, draconic humanoids, covered in scales ranging from dark blue to purple to black. Unlike their hairless Material Plane progenitors, the occasional umbral kobold will possess hair at the very top of their heads or under their chins. Their long exposure to the essence of Shadow permeates their being, darkening the pigmentation of their scales, eyes, and hair, turning them almost entirely melanistic. The harsh natural selection of the Shadow Plane’s resourcescarce environment ensures that only those umbral kobolds able to easily hide and blend into their adaptive home manage to survive and procreate.  Additionally, their environment has likewise impacted their social structures and common mores, ablating much of the evil sentiments of their ancestors and instilling a fiercely competitive yet highly organized social structure, both within their tribes and in their relations with other races. No longer viewed as scaly vermin (though paradoxically maligned as being both cowardly and too curious for their own good), they’re valued as fellow survivors within their new home, united with the other civilized races against the undead tide that threatens to drown all life in Shadowsfall.

Society: Organized in tribes under the rule of a single chieftain, king, or other so-elevated figurehead, umbral kobolds strictly adhere to a particular social pecking order, though that order can be relatively fluid over the course of their lifetime, with only the highest-ranking chief being beyond reproach until their death or abdication. Umbral kobolds pride themselves in rule and social order organized not by bloodline, arbitrary selection by divination, or even rule by whomever secures the most nods of approval or the least scowls and snarls, but rather by a perfect (by their standards) meritocracy. Of course, what umbral kobolds consider worthy of merit in such a tribal hierarchy is equally as arbitrary at times. The internal and external factors that determine which abilities and skills merit a higher rank vary accordingly by tribe—so while one tribe might value the ability to craft well-tailored mining tools, another might accord a much higher ranking to arcane magic, or jewel cutting, or which kobold can run the fastest. A tribe’s current leader holds considerable influence in the ranking of these factors, suitably molded by the tribe’s historical precedents. Among tribes living in relative safety, this can introduce an element of nepotism or cronyism, with the merits of rank handpicked to produce a small elite. The perpetual dangers in the Shadow Plane largely mitigate this sort of corruption, however, and within most tribes, personal merit genuinely rewards those striving to better themselves, their skills, and their knowledge—something that cannot always be said of other races.

Relations: While other intelligent races generally look down upon umbral kobolds, they aren’t hated enough for anyone to bother specifically hunting them down. Unlike their mundane ancestors from the Material Plane, umbral kobolds aren’t viewed as feral pests, and the reality of life on the Plane of Shadow and the harsh pragmatism it fosters provides a welcome niche for anyone of any race able to carve out a set of useful skills. Peddling their racial knack for mining and trap making is just that niche, and they exploit it well. Duergar and dwarves get along with umbral kobolds, and their communities have decent levels of trade, while at the same time making them something of a racial punch line. Drow, on the other hand, actually seem to like umbral kobolds for the most part—as much as the drow like or appreciate anyone who isn’t a drow—and many of their settlements possess small communities of umbral kobolds in-residence employed in niche craft trades, gem mining, and scouting. Among all the living, fetchlings and umbral kobolds mesh almost perfectly despite usually occupying greatly different social spheres and habitats among the intelligent races. Something about their respective adaptation to the Plane of Shadow and their embrace of its substance into their own flesh after so many generations—and surviving that process—makes them kindred in a way.

Alignment and Religion: Umbral kobolds possess a strong lawful streak that resonates throughout their society and in their individual outlooks on life. Socially reinforced as a factor in their survival in the Shadow Plane, most umbral kobolds embrace a Lawful Neutral alignment. Few members of their race fall toward the Chaotic end of the alignment spectrum, despite their stereotypical obsession with gold and explosives, which is more of a compulsion. Other umbral kobolds embrace both the benevolent and selfish sides of law, with equal numbers of Lawful Good and Lawful Evil umbral kobolds. Whatever gods they might have worshipped before arriving in the Shadow Plane, umbral kobolds now primarily worship Hakamitin. Smaller but stillsignificant numbers worship the twins, Bendes and Ular, as well as Akaron. Umbral kobolds also venerate a number of minor and obscure divinities unique to their race.

Adventurers: The adventuring life is not one easily accepted by most umbral kobolds. Most prefer the relative safety of caves, but will eagerly delve into deep and expansive caverns and tunnel networks in search of valuable metals to mine, often at great personal risk.  Additionally, the typical adventurer’s ethos of standing brave in the face of danger isn’t immediately intuitive to most umbral kobolds. Why stand and fight if a well-placed explosive or tunnel deadfall trap will do the job just as well? Pragmatism above valor colors their choice of career. Umbral kobolds gravitate towards those classes devoted to stealth and trickery such as the rogue, as well as to wizards or sorcerers (often of a draconic bloodline) whose magic can be easily molded to fit their racial stereotypes with an equal mix of illusions and conflagration. Fusing magic and martial prowess, umbral kobolds produce a fair share of magi of the dusk stalker archetype. Beyond these choices, umbral kobolds count more than a few alchemists and gunslingers among their ranks due to their incessant love of explosives and tinkering (be it with mutagens, bombs, or guns themselves). 

Male NamesBipjot, Corpaz, Datnop, Kurdag, Teangog, Vorfot

Female Names: Botzat, Dakfisk, Faxgip, Nuzlik, Tebzol, Yikfat

Racial Traits
  • –2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence: Umbral kobolds are fast and a quick study but physically weak.
  • Small: Umbral kobolds are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
  • Normal Speed: Umbral kobolds have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Darkvision: Umbral kobolds can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
  • Natural Armor: Umbral kobolds gain a +1 natural armor bonus to AC.
  • Crafty: Umbral kobolds gain a +2 racial bonus on Craft (trapmaking), Perception, and Profession (miner) checks. Craft (trapmaking) and Stealth are always class skills for an umbral kobold.
  • Light Sensitivity: Umbral kobolds are blinded for 1 round if exposed to bright light, such as sunlight or the daylight spell. Umbral kobolds are also dazzled for as long as they remain in areas of bright light.
  • Languages: Umbral kobolds begin play speaking Common and Draconic. Umbral kobolds with high Intelligence scores 
  • can choose from the following: Aklo, Dwarven, Gnome, Shadowspeak, and Undercommon.

Random Starting Ages

Adulthood Intuitive1 Self-Taught2 Trained3
12 years +1d4 years (13 - 16 years) +1d6 years (13 - 18 years) +2d6 years (14 - 24 years)
Middle Age (25 years) Old (30 years) Venerable (40 years) Maximum Age (40 + 1d20 years)

1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards.

Random Height and Weight

Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Umbral Kobold (male) 2 ft. 6 in. +2d4 in.(2 ft. 8 in. - 3 ft. 2 in.) 30 lbs. +(2d4×1 lbs.)(32 - 38 lbs.)
Umbral Kobold (female) 2 ft. 4 in. +2d4 in.(2 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft.) 25 lbs. +(2d4×1 lbs.)(27 - 33 lbs.)

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to a zif character who meets the prerequisites.

  • Apprentice of Past Splatters
  • Small But Fierce [Teamwork]
  • Umbral Blending
  • Umbral Leaping

Racial Archetypes

The following archetypes can be chosen by umbral kobolds.

  • Mad Bomber
  • Shadowsneak