Kobold (monster class)

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For the monster, see kobold.

The kobold is a monster class that appears in NetHack, and is represented by a lowercase k glyph (k). Kobolds are designated internally by the macro S_KOBOLD.[1]

The monster class contains the following monsters:[2]

Common traits

Kobolds are small, chaotic and omnivorous intelligent humanoids. They possess infravision and can be seen via infravision. Kobolds have poison resistance, and their corpses are all poisonous to eat.

Kobolds will pick up whatever items they come across, equipping appropriate weapons and non-body armor; kobold shamans will instead focus on magical items.

If chatted to, a kobold will simply grunt.


Randomly-generated kobolds are always hostile. Various kobolds can be generated in the courts of throne rooms and while looting thrones.

A kobold has a 14 chance of generating with a stack of darts.[3]


Kobolds are among the very first monsters a character will encounter in the dungeon, and typically are among the weaker ones. However, they are among the earliest-encountered monsters that can wear armor, wield weapons and use items, which already makes them more dangerous to a starting character than the newts or sewer rats they will also run into. A kobold that happens upon an attack wand can spell doom for an early game character, similar to the dreaded gnome with the wand of death.

Even then, any role that starts with decent melee or ranged capabilities will have little trouble against early kobolds, and the weaker roles can still overcome kobolds with some careful play. Once a character establishes themselves with a decent primary weapon and some armor, most kobolds will be of little concern.


The kobold first appears in Hack 1.21, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack, and also appears in Hack for PDP-11; it is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. In Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, and from Hack 1.0 to NetHack 2.3e, kobolds used the K glyph; in NetHack 3.0.0, the other types of kobold are introduced, and all kobolds are moved to the k glyph.


A kobold (occasionally "cobold") is a mythical sprite that originates in folklore spread throughout Europe, with an established root in Germanic mythology dating to at least the 13th century (pre-Roman Catholicization), and has survived into modern times. The most common depictions of kobolds show them as humanlike figures the size of small children, with the ability to turn invisible or materialize in the form of fire, a candle, an animal, or even a human. As these often mirror legends of similar creatures in other regions of Europe, scholars have argued that they share a common origin with other creatures such as goblins, gnomes and dwarves. In most legends, there are three major types of kobolds:

  • Domestic kobolds wear the clothing of peasants and are tied to a specific household, sometimes performing domestic chores and bringing good luck to their hosts in return for food, but they also played malicious tricks if insulted or neglected. Slighted domestic kobolds are far more malevolent and vengeful than most, and get back at hosts who disrespect them with supernatural diseases, disfigurements, and injuries - stories of kobolds murdering and dismembering those who insult them are not uncommon.
  • Subterranean or "mine" kobolds are short and hunched, can appear as diminutive old men or miners with spherical lights visible in their bodies. While miners of the medieval era considered them actively malicious towards humans (to the point that the element cobalt was named for the arsenical ores made from the metal that often polluted other mined elements), other parts of Germany in later times consider them to be beneficial or at worst indifferent, so long as they were left alone or treated with respect.
  • Seafaring kobolds (particularly Klabautermann) appear as small, pipe-smoking figures with a sailor's hat and a jacket, and they generally help the sailors on the ships they live aboard so long as they are treated respectfully. However, they are easily angered, and the sight of one was a feared omen as they were traditionally only visible to those about to die - possibly related is the fact that the Klabautermann will not leave a ship until it is on the verge of sinking, and at least one story claims that they only show themselves if the ship is doomed.

Kobolds appear in many fantasy-themed works and media, which often borrow significantly from Germanic folklore. Dungeons & Dragons in particular - and by extension, NetHack and many of its variants - depicts the kobold as a race of small reptilian humanoids with long tails, distantly related to dragons; earlier editions gave kobolds more dog-like features, which lead to many depictions of kobolds in Japanese media leaning harder in that direction after the popularity of the anime franchise Record of Lodoss War. Fantasy kobolds are often considered weak "cannon fodder" monsters that can be cunning and strong in groups, similar to goblins.



SLASH'EM introduces a few new monsters to the kobold monster class:

All kobolds generate with two sets of items: they will have either an orcish spear (14 chance) or a stack of darts (34 chance), and either an orcish short sword (14 chance) or an orcish dagger (34 chance).[4]

The kobold level contains several kobold monsters, including many of the new ones introduced to the variant, with Kroo serving as the boss of the level. The room-and-corridors variant generates 12 random kobold types at level creation, while 11 random kobolds are generated in the "town" variant.


In GruntHack, kobolds are a playable race. They are also eligible to appear as various racial monsters within the dungeon, and are generally the weakest of those types.


In UnNetHack, kobolds will attack any elves they see (and vice versa) as part of Nephi's grudge patch.


dNetHack adds a couple of new monsters to the monster class:


In addition to SLASH'EM details, SlashTHEM adds a couple of new monsters to the monster class:

Kobolds are also a playable race as well.

Encyclopedia entry

The race of kobolds are reputed to be an artificial creation
of a master wizard (demi-god?). They are about 3' tall with
a vaguely dog-like face. They bear a violent dislike of the
Elven race, and will go out of their way to cause trouble
for Elves at any time.