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.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.
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 Names: Bipjot, Corpaz, Datnop, Kurdag, Teangog, Vorfot
Female Names:Botzat, Dakfisk, Faxgip, Nuzlik, Tebzol, Yikfat
|Adulthood||Barbarian, Rogue, Sorcerer||Bard, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger||Cleric, Druid, Monk, Wizard|
|12 years||+1d4 years (13 – 16 years)||+1d6 years (13 – 18 years)||+2d6 years (14 – 24 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.
|Gender||Base Height||Base Weight||Modifier||Weight Multiplier|
|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.)|
- –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.
Alternative Racial Traits
You can exchange one or several of your character’s normal racial Traits, but of course you cannot exchange the same racial trait more than once.
As with any alternate or optional rule, you must first get the permission of your GM to exchange any of your character’s normal racial Traits for those listed here.
- Albino: Similar to animals that evolve in a lightless environment, a rare strain of umbral kobolds lacks the melanistic darkness of their kindred and instead possesses a pale, milky white coat of scales, and red eyes. As a result, their scales are easily noticeable in the gloom of Shadowsfall, resulting in a –4 penatly to Stealth checks. This trait replaces light sensitivity.
- Venom: Through some quirk of evolution, or possibly the outside influence of other natives of Shadowsfall, some umbral kobolds possess specialized glands giving them the ability to spit mild venom once per day. This deep, inky black spittle can be spit up to 15 feet away and counts as a ranged touch attack. Those hit by the venom may save to avoid the effect (Fortitude DC 10 + the umbral kobold’s Constitution bonus); otherwise, they are blinded for 1d3 rounds. Additionally, these umbral kobolds gain a +2 bonus on Craft (poison) checks. This racial trait replaces the crafty racial trait.
- Shadowblooded: Some umbral kobolds are blessed (or cursed) with a deeper, more profound connection to the substance of their adopted homeland. As a result, they cast any spell with the shadow or darkness type at +1 caster level, but are impacted more harshly by strong sources of light. When exposed to sunlight or a daylight spell, they are blinded for an additional one round, and in areas of bright light they are nauseated as well as dazzled. This trait replaces the light sensitivity racial trait.
- Slink: Befitting their racial stereotype for fleeing at the first sign of danger, these umbral kobolds are swifter, slinkier, and more dexterous, but at the expense of the protective ability of their scales. These umbral kobolds gain a +1 bonus to their Dexterity and a +2 racial bonus to Stealth checks. This trait replaces the natural armor racial trait.
Favored Class Alternatives
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, umbral kobolds have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to all umbral kobolds who have the listed Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.
- Alchemist: Add +1/2 to the alchemist’s frost bomb damage.
- Barbarian: Add a +1/2 bonus to the barbarian’s trap sense.
- Bard: Add one spell known from the wizard’s illusion school spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the bard can cast. The spell is treated as being one level higher, unless it is also on the bard spell list.
- Cavalier: Add 5 feet to your mount’s darkvision (to a maximum of 30 feet). If your mount does not have darkvision, the mount gains darkvision 5 feet. If the cavalier ever replaces his mount, the new mount gains this bonus to its darkvision distance.
- Cleric: Add +1/4 to the character’s channel resistance. If the cleric does not possess channel resistance, add channel resistance +1/4.
- Druids: Add +1/2 to the damage dealt by the druid’s animal companion’s natural attacks.
- Fighter: Add +1 to the fighter’s CMD when resisting a dirty trick or steal attempt.
- Gunslinger: Add a +1/4 bonus on attack rolls when using the pistol whip deed.
- Inquisitor: Add a +1 bonus on concentration checks when casting inquisitor spells.
- Magus: Add +1/2 point of cold damage to magus spells that deal cold damage.
- Monk: Add a +1/6 bonus to the DC of a Stunning Fist attempt.
- Oracle: Add one spell known from the wizard’s illusion school spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the oracle can cast. The spell is treated as being one level higher, unless it is also on the oracle spell list.
- Paladin: Add +1/3 on critical hit confirmation rolls made while using smite evil (to a maximum bonus of +5). This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus.
- Psion: Add +1/3 to the psion’s saving throws versus mindaffecting effects.
- Psychic Warrior: Add +1 to the psychic warrior’s CMD when resisting a dirty trick or steal attempt.
- Ranger: Add 5 feet to the ranger’s animal companion’s darkvision (to a maximum of 30 feet). If the animal companion does not have darkvision, the animal companion gains darkvision 5 feet. If the ranger ever replaces his animal companion, the new animal companion gains this bonus to its darkvision distance.
- Rogue: Add +1 to the rogue’s CMD when resisting a disarm or steal attempt.
- Sorcerer: Add +1/2 point of damage to any sorcerer illusion spells of the shadow subschool.
- Soulknife: The soulknife gains +1/6 of a new blade skill.
- Summoner: Add +5 feet to the eidolon’s darkvision. If the eidolon does not have darkvision, the eidolon gains darkvision 5 feet.
- Wilder: Add +1/4 to your manifester level when using a wild surge.
- Witch: Add +5 feet to the witch’s familiar’s darkvision (to a maximum of +30 feet). If the familiar does not have darkvision, the familiar gains darkvision 5 feet. If the witch ever replaces her familiar, the new familiar gains this bonus to its darkvision distance.
- Wizard: When casting wizard spells with the shadow descriptor, add +1/3 to the effective caster level of the spell.
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
The following archetypes can be chosen by umbral kobolds.
- Mad Bomber
Shadowsfall: Guide to the Umbral Kobolds. ©2013, Jon Brazer Enterprises; Author Tod Stewart