Source: Races of the Dragon (Pg48)
Kobolds have no time for organized religious ceremonies, but they are pious despite their preoccupation with work. Hard work is worship to a kobold, and action on behalf of the tribe is a prayer for success.
Still, every kobold lair includes one or two temples to Kurtulmak, limited only by spatial confines and mining priorities. These temples serve as housing for clerics and adepts and as storage places for the tribe’s important treasures, not as congregating halls for sermons or worship. Clergy must travel to the flock, and clerics oversee workers and provide support and admonishments to keep going. In this way, religion helps to maintain productivity. Priests help kobolds affirm their devotion through living by the ideals of hard work and sacrifice.
Primarily, dutiful kobolds prove their worth through steadfast dedication to their tribe. In this regard, kobolds who work to exhaustion are considered upstanding role models. Kobolds who willingly suffer injury so that the daily work can continue without interruption are treated with praise as zealous disciples. Finally, kobolds who sacrifice their lives to facilitate the tribe’s success are remembered as folk heroes (the equivalent of saints).
Every kobold mining crew includes at least one adept whose constant presence is meant to keep kobolds strictly motivated. Adepts also serve as onsite physicians, healing and treating workers’ injuries. Kobold adepts and clerics move among the workers, divinely bolstering stamina where needed. For this reason, kobold adepts replace animal trance with lesser restoration and daylight with create food and water on their spell lists.
Besides supervising mining operations, kobold clergy also look after the eggs and wyrmlings thought to be reincarnations of distinguished kobolds. On a ritualistic level, kobold clerics receive the vows of kobolds selected by instructors to become lifelong sorcerers. Kobolds worship Kurtulmak, but individual tribes and kobolds might venerate another dragon deity.
The Horned Sorcerer, Steelscale, Stingtail, Watcher
Symbol: Gnome skull
Home Plane: Baator
Alignment: Lawful evil
Portfolio: Kobolds, trapmaking, mining, war
Cleric Alignments: LE, LN, NE
Domains: Evil, Law, Luck, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Spear
Kurtulmak is the god of kobolds, distinguished by his large size, mottled scales, and long tail tipped with a dreadful stinger. Kurtulmak encourages his followers to win battles by any means, retreat to fight another day, and to mete out revenge on every enemy, regardless of how long that retribution takes to achieve.
Kurtulmak has hated gnomes ever since Garl Glittergold collapsed a mine on him (see The Ascension of Kurtulmak).
Kurtulmak’s clerics begin their careers as miners, learning how to appreciate the kobold work ethic. Kobolds who regularly sustain injuries while mining are selected to become adepts or clerics (before they end up getting killed on the job). Such clerics train under military discipline, learning doctrines for defending and leading the kobold race.
Any task that furthers the power of the kobolds and their propagation is a holy undertaking. Kurtulmak’s followers find suitable locations for new lairs and mines to accommodate swelling populations. Kurtulmak directs such expansions to push into gnome territories whenever possible, dealing the maximum number of casualties to the kobolds’ racial enemy.
Kurtulmak’s prayers have a rhythmic quality to them that can be easily recited while swinging a pickaxe into the ground. Many of them also contain references to dragons and reptiles, such as “O Watcher, I slither before your scaly majesty.”
Prayers to the Horned Sorcerer can also take the form of battle cries and promises of revenge. (“By the point of Kurtulmak’s spear and the tip of his poisonous tail, I will see every member of your family perish.”) Kobolds evoke the name of Kurtulmak when facing daunting odds or difficult situations.
Kurtulmak’s temples are carved out of earth and solely used to house adepts, clerics, and the tribe’s most valuable treasures. Not surprisingly, these temples are protected with small, twisting tunnels and a staggering array of deadly traps.
Kurtulmak guides the souls of hard-working kobolds back to their original lair for reincarnation. His coming-of-age ceremonies involve crafting and defeating traps.
Herald and Allies
Kurtulmak’s herald is a fi endish kobold 5th-level cleric/ 5th-level sorcerer/10th-level mystic theurge. His allies are horned devils, pit fiends, and salamanders.
While Kurtulmak is reputed to be a mortal ascended to divinity, kobolds credit Io, the Ninefold Dragon, with their creation. It is told that when Io first created true dragons, they were originally immortal gods, less powerful than Io but much like him. To make each one of his creations distinct, Io gave each a different aspect of his personality. These divine dragons rarely got along, pursuing only one goal in common—the acquisition of material wealth.
The true dragons quickly realized they lacked the power to manipulate creation in all the ways necessary to accomplish their goals, and they petitioned Io for aid. Io, being an impartial god, would not play favorites with his creations and gave each dragon the same choice. He taught them how to create life by giving up a piece of themselves, but he warned that in so doing, they would permanently be rendered mortal and eventually die. The life they created, however, would serve their desires without fail.
Perhaps not yet wise enough to appreciate their divine existence, the dragons accepted the knowledge Io offered and departed for the world below. They took up residence in widely separate lands. There, the true dragons did as Io instructed, each severing a single limb. Not only did each limb start growing back immediately, but the severed part also grew into an adult dragon. The original true dragons thereby gained mates.
Furthermore, wherever the dragons’ blood had spilled, little creatures began to emerge out of the ground with alert, crimson eyes, already looking up at their creators for guidance. Thus were kobolds born, witnesses to the moments during which the immortality of the true dragons slipped away.
Kobolds record their histories in writing. Kobold priests and bards are expected to remember and document kobold stories, usually by engraving such tales into the walls of tribal lairs. The only place myths are spoken aloud with any frequency is in the hatchery, where kobold wyrmlings are educated on their culture and their racial history.
The Ascension of Kurtulmak
The most venerated kobold legend is the origin and ascension of Kurtulmak. While the particulars of the story vary from tribe to tribe, a popular version is related below. When Io gave the secret of creation to the true dragons, the first dragon to put that ritual into practice was Caesinsjach, a green dragon. The first kobold to take form out of her blood was Kurtulmak.
From the beginning, Kurtulmak was much larger than any of his kin. For this reason, Caesinsjach always commanded her kobolds through Kurtulmak. As a result, the towering kobold naturally ascended to a position of leadership. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to mine for precious metals, Kurtulmak invented a pickaxe. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to tile her lair with gold, Kurtulmak minted the first draconic coin. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to mine precious stones, Kurtulmak taught himself sorceryand learned how to divine where minerals were located.
When Caesinsjach’s lair was finally completed, laden with platinum, filled with gold, and gleaming with gemstones, she had become the wealthiest true dragon in creation. Without further need for mortal servants, she released the kobolds from their duties to embrace their own destiny.
In emulation of his former mistress, Kurtulmak immediately began mining a lair of his own. Although he never asked for any help in this endeavor, he nonetheless received it, assisted by every kobold he had worked beside for the past several decades.
Kurtulmak found a spot in the ground where a near limitless supply of metal ore and precious stones were waiting to be mined. Once properly unearthed, a discovery of this size could sustain kobolds for millennia and serve as the foundation for their society. With Kurtulmak commanding the operation, it quickly became the most structurally sound and resourcefully designed mine the world had ever seen. Kurtulmak called it Darastrixhurthi, a fortress fit for dragons. Nothing rivaled it.
Garl Glittergold was not pleased. He looked upon Darastrixhurthi and beheld the marvel Kurtulmak and his followers had created, surpassing any achievement his own people had mastered in the same time. While gnomes were playing useless games, kobolds had been busy working and were now fit to emerge as one of the dominant races in creation. And so, with a casual wave of his hand, Garl collapsed Kurtulmak’s mine, crushing all the kobolds inside.
The gods were appalled and demanded an explanation from Garl, who could only sputter out that his actions were intended as a joke, as if that could somehow excuse the heartless massacre he had committed. Garl had acted out of spite and, even more degrading for the gnome god, jealousy over mortal accomplishment. And yet, regardless of all the berating Garl received from his equals, not one deity came forward to reverse the damage done, leaving the crime unpunished. Then Io moved on behalf of Kurtulmak.
Once the Ninefold Dragon realized that no god would champion the kobolds, he searched through the souls of those who died that day until he found Kurtulmak’s broken body, still clinging to life. Even buried under so much rock, Kurtulmak wouldn’t give up on his people, refusing to let go of his mortal form until he could find the strength to dig them all out.
Io gave Kurtulmak a choice. He would either empower Kurtulmak with the strength to rebuild the mine, or he would make the mighty kobold a champion of his people for all eternity. In this latter case, the loss of Darastrixhurthi would remain, but the memory of what happened would endure in the minds of kobolds forever, ensuring that atrocities of this magnitude would never be overlooked again. Kurtulmak made his choice, and because of that decision, this story can still be told today.