Talk:Kobold

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Proposed Merger of Kobold Pages[edit]

This article isn't at all organized, isn't formatted normally, and contradicts itself! At the moment, i don't know enough about it to fix it myself. --Heah 07:35, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Support. Do we really need 3 pages about Kobolds? One on the general case, one for D&D, and one for other games? Otherwise, I agree with Heah.

-- GumbyProf: "I'm about ideas, but I'm not always about good ideas." 03:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Having more than one page allows for easier disambiguation of a topic, and allows the focus of each page to be more narrow. Besides, a D&D kobold is a completely different fellow from a mythological kobold. BOZ
Oppose. Keep the folklore and anorak stuff seperate! --MacRusgail 14:07, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
New Idea. I see how the folklore stuff could be seperate (although it's still pretty short). Could we combine the two gamer pages, at least? GumbyProf: "I'm about ideas, but I'm not always about good ideas." 16:35, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Oppose. Several imaginary creatures share the same name in various works. Goblins, for instance, appear in folklore, Tolkien's works, Everquest, and Dungeons & Dungeons, yet none are exactly the same creature. Merging subjects just because they share the same name would make articles unneccessarily long, cluttered, & confusing. This is why we have disambiguation pages. --Robbstrd 23:18, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Nevermind. To retort the above, none of the articles are long at all; they're already confusing; and Kobold has no disambiguation page. The longest part is probably the least important (the D&D stuff). I think the goblin article maybe has the length and depth to be seperate, but I'm not sure three short articles, without proper links to one another is the right answer. As for the folklore, I do wish someone would flesh out the folklore page. I think it's really interesting. OK, well, then this is still marked for cleanup, and maybe that will take care of it all. GumbyProf: "I'm about ideas, but I'm not always about good ideas." 21:38, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Basis. I don't think that merging D&D's kobold and the mythological kobold in one page is a good idea. After all, the myth kobold was the base for the D&D's kobold, so pretty much, no, I don't agree.

They're different things. For example, if you're gonna merge into one page every "King Arthur" that people write about, you'd find out that Arthur was actually named "Arthuria" and bore the cogname of "Saber", and everyone knows that there's adedicated space for that kind of information.

Oppose. Since 3rd Edition D&D Kobolds have almost nothing to do with the folklore kobolds, I doubt merging them would be wise. Besides, given the significantly greater culture behind D&D kobolds, merging the folklore kobolds into it would probably relegate the folklore to a single paragraph or footnote. 124.190.224.8 08:38, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Oppose D&D kobolds have been completely divorced from their folklore namesakes since 1st edition, mixing the two in the same article would lengthen the page needlessly and cause confusion. Similarly, games have made enough use of them that a separate page on kobolds in gaming seems to be a defensible proposition. --Svartalf 21:32, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Oppose. All they share with the folkloric kobolds are their name. -- Poisonink (talk) 23:26, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Kobolds in a nutshell[edit]

I see that the article isn't organized well, but I'm not exactly certain where it is contradictory. Other than the fact that Kobolds have evolved to mean different things over time.

As I see it, in brief:

1. Kobold comes from German, and loosely translates as Goblin.

2. Kobolds primarily seem to fill the class of house spirit such as Domovoi in Slavic Folklore. They can be mischevious, or helpful, depending on how they are treated. They also seem to often be the spirit of a child killed in or near the house.

3. Now having been established as a mischevious goblin like creature, Miner's name the metal Cobalt after them, believing that silver has been replaced by "Kobolds" with the more useless metal.

4. Popular fantasy, mostly influenced by DnD, has diverged from the original meaning of Kobold. Different versions of DnD have described them differently. The most recent version has clearly described them as small reptilian humanoids. However, earlier versions have also called them Dog-like, and many people have come to think of them as such. Thus, their appearance in the Suikoden game as a dog race.

5. Neil Gaimen uses them in American Gods in a way that is closer to their original house spirit meaning. However, like much in that book, he twists the meaning. The name seems obviously derived from Heinzelmännchen, but instead of being the spirit of a dead child, it is a spirit that kills children. But then performs it's protective spirit role for the whole town. I can't seem to find any reference to the tribal protective spirit nature of Kobolds, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Or anything about the stabbing and wrapping a child.

Ok, so now I know more than I ever expected to about Kobolds. I'm not sure if I'm the one to write the article however...


Best sources I can find is:

Kobold at Everything2

Kobold from American Heritage Dictionary

--Deinol 23:15, Apr 25, 2005 (UTC)


OK. Here's a draft rewrite. I've deleted the "kobold named after cobalt" theory - kobolds predate the (1730s) discovery of cobalt - as well as the tribal god bit. I can't find it anywhere either, but it can be reinstated if anyone can provide a reliable source. User:Raygirvan:Raygirvan May 06 2005
I think what Deinol is saying is that Cobalt is named after Kobolds, not the other way around. Applejuicefool (talk) 19:23, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

2nd edition[edit]

It should be noted that fantasy kobolds in D&D suffered a major change from dog like creatures in 2nd edition to lizardfolk in 3rd edition

Small Gods Section?[edit]

The section referring to "Small gods" seems to come -completely- out of the blue, and is therefore rather confusing, and certainly sounds completely unsupported. Is this in referrence to Neil Gaiman's book, or folklore of some regional spiritualism/superstition, or is it simply baseless?

Section removed pending some kind of referrence/citation or having it make sense. Here it is:

As far as small gods go, a Kobold is one of the more quaintly created. A kobold is usually the remains of a Teuton/Germanic tribal good-luck-god. These gods were made by raising an infant in an underground hut for five years, never letting it see the sun. Then, on its fifth birthday, it would be dragged up at night, and before the entire tribe be pierced by two blades -- one of bronze, the other of steel. The body would then by held over the flames until dry and brown; the end result would be a small dry fetish which would be carried around and worshipped. When the creature and container were finally destroyed and forgotten, the remains of the god would become a Kobold or a Brownie. They are usually bitter and malicious, a product of their creation and abandonment.

Tchalvak 17:58, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

I quote from a note in Herbert Hoover's translation of De Re Metallica, in which Hoover quotes from another of Agricola's works, De Animantibus Subterraneis: "Then there are the gentle kind which the Germans as well as the Greeks call cobalos, because they mimic men." Agricola goes on to describe creatures identical to knockers. If we accept this derivation, presumably the term was extended from the (benevolent) knockers to include malicious mine goblins, from whence we get kobolds, cobalt, and so forth. Choess 05:29, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Merger[edit]

I propose a merger of the three pages:

  1. Kobold
  2. Kobolds in gaming
  3. Kobold (Dungeons & Dragons)

There's no reason to have three pages covering the same topic. It might be better to have one main article (this one), which branches off into the others if(/as/when) required. At this point, it makes the whole thing a good bit messy. xC | 18:12, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Partial Support. I say merge the gaming pages, (maybe into Kobold (RPG)?) but leave the folklore seperate; disambig at the top. --mordicai. 15:12, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I was leaning towards the same thing. I support Mordicai's suggestion.xC | 06:19, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Partial Support. As per mordicai.. The Kobold article is about a German spirit, entitely unrelated to the other two. Robert Brockway 06:12, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
I roll a "1" on support Feh, this seems to be a pointless exercise in merger. I can go along with Mordicai. I would argue there is no operational impact. Kobolds in DnD 3.5 are reptilian, while kobolds in WoW and DnD 2.0 are rodent-like. Dominick (TALK) 14:36, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
Oppose, as these articles are unusual candidates for merger (even the two on gaming): most mergers are a good idea on practical grounds (they cover overlapping or small amounts of information, neither of which is really true for these three articles). The real question is whether the data is sufficiently notable. Also, a similar proposal seems to exist on this talk page in the section above. How is this proposal very different from that one? (Excluding the argument from frivolity, mythological Kobolds have more in common with the D&D version than that species does with many of the other gaming variants, so we could equally argue for a merger of the D&D & mythological articles on grounds of similarity). Therefore, I suggest a merger of the merger suggestions. --Wragge 18:15, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Vehemently oppose. The urge to group together vaguely related subjects that share a name and not much else is unencyclopedic, sloppy, and unprofessional. It makes a mess of Wikipedia and reflects poorly on the ignorant, if well-intentioned, busybodies who propose such things. - Poisonink (talk) 23:31, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

The merge suggestion seems to have been soundly rejected. I'm removing the notices. — Dulcem (talk) 02:31, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Lead facts[edit]

I recently rewrote the lead to this article to match the information I found in my studies and which I used to write the article body. In rewriting the lead, I removed some facts that my sources did not back up. If anyone can provide references for this material, it probably belongs somewhere in the article. Here are the facts that were removed:

  • The name comes from "Kobe" = house, hut and the word "hold" = comely, good (Paul Hermann, "Deutsche Mythologie") and is often translated in English as goblin. [While there is a reference to Hermann here, there is no specific edition or page number indicated. Can someone consult Hermann and provide one?]
  • Kobold is often translated in English as goblin.
  • The most common version is the Heinzelmännchen. [My sources simply say that these are a specific case of domestic kobolds and are not a type per se, and the domestic kobold is the most common type, not the specific example of that type, the Heinzelmännchen.]
  • Kobold is often used in German to translate the word leprechaun, a type of Irish fairy goblin.
  • I removed the note about Kobold being a German surname as irrelevant.

Thanks for any help! — Dulcem (talk) 02:30, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Peer Review[edit]

OK, I'll jot some notes here: Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:34, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Wow, alotta redlinks. I'll try to blue some later...Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:02, 23 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the notes so far. I'll try to kill some red links too. Just wrote kobalos, for example. — Dulcem (talk) 01:09, 25 February 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I haven't had much spare time. I have another source with some stuff to add as well. looking good though...Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:22, 25 February 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Casliber (talkcontribs)

Another point. I know this is tricky but I got a bit confused as there is some overlap between etymology and characteristics - possibly unavoidable when talking about alternate names etc. I'll get back to it later. Casliber (talk · contribs) 08:00, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Book with material[edit]

I was going to add this but not sure where to put it or how it disagrees/agrees with what you have:

Book: Arrowsmith N, Morse G (1977). A Field Guide to the Little People. London: Pan Macmillan. pp. pp. 135–37. ISBN 0-330-25425-1. 

Kolbolds were originally held to be tree spirits, and later cut into and carved figures in a fashion thought so that the kobold remained in the carving; this also happened with Kaboutermannikins. (p. 135)
Kobolds are known as Galgenmännlein in southern Germany, and in the rest of Germany as Oaraunle, Glucksmännchen, Allerünken, or Alraune. The Galgenmännlein, Oaraunle and Alraune were all carved from mandrake roots. The elves who lived inside could take the form of cats, children or worms. (p. 136)
The Kobolde were originally 1-2 foot high carved wooden figurines, made from mandrake roots or boxwood and kept in glass or wooden containers. They had green clothing and large mouths. The Monoloke was one example made from white wax, with a blue shirt and black velvet vest. (p. 136)
Mentions Kobolds as occurring in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. (p. 137)


Useful? Casliber (talk · contribs) 07:57, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Actually, yeah; most of that material should go into the article. Do you still have access to the book? Could you give specific page numbers for each bit so I can make full footnotes? The only bit I'm suspicious about is the part about kobolds in other countries. I think that those countries mostly have their own types of sprites, called by other names (though I could be wrong). Thanks! — Dulcem (talk) 12:45, 25 February 2008 (UTC)
Mostly all intergrated. I'm still hesitant about the Austria . . . Sweden bit. I can buy that kobolds occur in German-speaking Austria and Switzerland, but Denmark has its own critter (the nisse), and Sweden has its tomte. Authors have a bad habit sometimes of lumping several beings together under the local name, like the way goblin and elf are often used to describe non-English spirits. — Dulcem (talk) 05:32, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Mention of D&D Kobolds?[edit]

Yeah, I get that you don't want to merge the pages, but there should at least be some mention on here of the fact that kobolds are also used in D&D. I would wager that most people searching for kobolds on Wikipedia are looking for the D&D version, or at least, looking for the origin of the D&D version. If nothing else, a "For kobolds as used in Dungeons and Dragons, click here." If no objections and nobody beats me to it, I'll do it later after I'm off work. Applejuicefool (talk) 21:08, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

No, that gives undue weight to D&D. Why should we single out D&D kobolds and not kobolds from any other fantasy game or work of fiction? The article already links to Kobolds in gaming, and that should be sufficient so as to avoid bias toward D&D. — Dulcem (talk) 23:27, 27 February 2008 (UTC)
Erm, I don't think a 1-2 sentence increase in gaming will be any undue weight as the article is getting quite substantial. As a person who played D&D from 1978, I would have thought D&D was the first gaming genre to introduce a kobold figure into fantasy role-playing (and later computer fantasy gaming). My impression is that Gygax borrowed the word and used it in a fairly reductionistic sense for a goblin-like critter, with size and the elf/goblin being status the only attributes it has in common with the older kobolde of German folklore. And that since then the use of the term has mushroomed into other gaming systems, but clearly derived from D&D. But all this is OR if we can't get some refs for it. Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:04, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
have a look what I did with vampire WRT folklore to fiction interface/evolution. This sorta stuff fascinates me as to how concepts evolve and stay with us over time. Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:04, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
I think the original poster was advocating adding a hatnote to the effect of, "For kobolds in Dungeons & Dragons, see Kobold (Dungeons & Dragons)." That's what I object to. At the very most, the hatnote should point to kobolds in gaming and not specifically to D&D.
Regarding kobolds in pop culture, yes, that is one area I feel stymied on. I searched high and low for some sort of discussion of the topic, but I struck out. I'll take a look at vampire for some ideas on what to do. Kitsune is another featured folklore article that may offer some hints. — Dulcem (talk) 01:16, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
Bleh. Kitsune's not help, as it seems to only allow referenced mentions, which end up being "high culture" ones such as plays. No mention of anime, video games, and the like. — Dulcem (talk) 10:28, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
(lightbulb above head goes on) I have thought of someone to ask, just as soon as I can remember the username...Casliber (talk · contribs) 12:20, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
Sod it, I can't recall who I was looking for, bu I placed a request here. Casliber (talk · contribs) 12:33, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
Ah, good deal. Hopefully that will bear fruit. I used to own a book called The Rough Guide to Fantasy Land, which is a sort of light-hearted look at fantasy stereotypes, but might be useful for that very reason. I wonder if it mentions kobolds? — Dulcem (talk) 13:09, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, my idea was the hatnote thing, and I guess I should have been less specific: I wasn't advocating singling out D&D, although that's what I said. I'd just like some easily findable mention of gaming kobolds. To be honest, I had scanned the article and completely overlooked the mention of gaming kobolds. It's not that easy or intuitive to find. I'm saying that most of the people coming to this article are going to be looking for RPG kobolds, and there should be at least an easy-to-find link to get them to the right page. Applejuicefool (talk) 01:40, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I'd advocate for 1 line at the bottom of the lead, and (refs allowing) 2-3 lines where they are now. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:24, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Just to ask, why at the bottom of the lead and not at the top, like in most articles? Applejuicefool (talk) 16:27, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I threw up a hatnote to give us something to talk about. What's wrong with it? Please discuss before reverting. Applejuicefool (talk) 16:36, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Erm, I thought of putting material into text is all, rather than a seealso link. Casliber (talk · contribs) 19:32, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
So is there something wrong with having the link there? That would definitely get all those looking for RPG kobolds to the right place. If they're specifically looking for D&D kobolds, well, there's a link right at the top of the Kobolds in gaming article for them. And it doesn't significantly distract from the main point of this article. Applejuicefool (talk) 21:11, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
I have no problem with the hatnote. I think there's a template for that sort of thing, so we may need to change it a bit, but no objections on its presense. — Dulcem (talk) 13:02, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Image idea[edit]

I wonder if some german folk museums have some of these wooden kobolde carvings in them. Not easy for me to get there given I am in Australia...Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:54, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Isn't there a page somewhere for requested pictures? I wonder if any of our users in Germany might be able to snap one (assuming the carvings are on display somewhere). — Dulcem (talk) 13:03, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I left a note under yours on WP Germany..but have no idea if anyone can find one...Casliber (talk · contribs) 19:23, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I have also put up a request at Commons Picture requests. It's a longshot, but worth a shot. — Dulcem (talk) 05:00, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Ditto Wikipedia:Requested pictures/History. — Dulcem (talk) 05:07, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Material moved from Hödekin[edit]

As discussed at Talk:Hödekin, it appears that the material from Arrowsmith's book on the Hutchen is more appropriate for the kobold article. Here are the bits in question:

Described as industrious and loyal, this being works for food once a week and on holidays, in return performing numerous household tasks,[1] foretelling the future and giving advice and magical gifts. The Hödekin may be forced to leave a household if given clothing, repeatedly insulted, rushed in his work, or if the house is burnt down or a wagon wheel is left in front of it. These actions will anger the house-elf as well, and it will depart, cursing the household. The Hödekin are said to be 0.3-1 m (1-3 ft) tall, with red hair and beard, and clad in red or green clothing and a red hat. Occasionally blind, they are shape-shifters able to transform into children, cats, bats, snakes or roosters.[2]

To be properly integrated into the article, this paragraph will need to be broken up. Casliber, do you still have the book in question? Could you indicate where the various pieces of info come from? In other words, what comes from p. 249, what from 250, 251, and 252? Thanks for your help with all this. — Dulcem (talk) 01:46, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

As follows: Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:10, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Described as industrious and loyal, this being works for food once a week and on holidays, in return performing numerous household tasks, = p. 248

...foretelling the future and giving advice and magical gifts. = p. 250

The Hödekin may be forced to leave a household if given clothing, repeatedly insulted, rushed in his work, or if the house is burnt down or a wagon wheel is left in front of it. These actions will anger the house-elf as well, and it will depart, cursing the household. The Hödekin are said to be 0.3-1 m (1-3 ft) tall, with red hair and beard, and clad in red or green clothing and a red hat. Occasionally blind, they are shape-shifters able to transform into children, cats, bats, snakes or roosters. = all p. 250

Thanks, merged. — Dulcem (talk) 11:50, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Images[edit]

Three of the images in this article (the ones from The Fairies and the Christmas Child) are up for deletion on Commons. They are clearly PD in the US, but the argument is that they are not PD in the UK, where they were created. Anyone with a Commons account can weigh in here. — Dulcem (talk) 11:28, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Communion in the media section?[edit]

I'm not sure about the book, but in the film adaptation of Communion, Whitley's friend European friend Alex mentions kobolds after Whitley tells of seeing/hallucinating things while on vacation in the New England wilderness. Should this be mentioned in the media section? --76.115.67.114 (talk) 07:35, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Servant of the Bones Kobold[edit]

Neil Gaiman, the author of _American Gods_, presents an entirely different meaning for the term "kobold", which would seem to precede the others. I leave it to you to dig up the full implications, as I am tempted to spell it out all too clearly here. TheLastWordSword (talk) 01:22, 8 March 2012 (UTC)


Okay, so I'll spell it out then. There are a number of relics of the bones of saints throughout the world. Many of these bones have evidence of damage by fire, which many assume to be damages made long after the death of the person who was the source of those bones. This assumption is incorrect, however, as the fire (typically a bonfire) is, in fact, the cause of death. Secondly, these remains are often, if not typically, smaller than a reasonably-sized adult, even for the historic eras in question.
Given this factual background, then let me impart the more questionable and legendary explanation. A child is selected, for whatever reason, to be raised in complete darkness, deprivation, and social isolation. The child is then brought before a bonfire, and told of their special and elect purpose: to be the spiritual guardian of their community. They are told that they will be loved and admired by the entire community. They are subsequently burned, either alive or dead, and the remaining bones are kept as the physical anchor of their spirit.
While today we hold such beliefs and practices as unbelievably barbaric and superstitious, in various historic cultures these would be held as effective and expedient means of dealing with natural forces otherwise beyond human control, and a weapon to defeat enemies in the most terrifying manner possible. Possession of a kobold by a rival tribe would be rather daunting if the other tribe did not also possess a kobold of their own. Not only is this true for rather superstitious reasons, but also for rather effective psychological ones: the very creation of a kobold implies a frightening level of determination (or desperation), and would tend to justify an unlimited and merciless approach to dealing with tribal enemies.
Any similar treatment of a child, perhaps well into adult life, would require both desperate circumstances (the threat of global thermonuclear war perhaps), and an individual of rather exceptional mental and spiritual power. It's hard to imagine what insights such a person might be capable of.
While I realize this explanation might be rather controversial, much of the kobold lore would easily follow from this origin. As I have no better evidence than the arguments I have presented above, I'm willing to let the matter rest unless or until better evidence is available. -- TheLastWordSword (talk) 14:38, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Evidence for survival of Pagan Beliefs?[edit]

I really wonder about the wording in this section becasue the current state of research in German ethnology is that actually no evidence for survival of pagan beliefs in Chistianity exists. All former evidence are either based on pure linguistic research working with suspected but not provable prehistoric sources of words or are based in the so-called mythologic school of folklore which did not work with evidence but purely on possibility. The tenor is, that there is no possible way of tracing any belief or custom further back than medieval times - or Roman times in special cases - but never to pre-christian Germanic times since there is no written evidence of or about Germanic religious practices. Especially important on this topic is Hans Mosers work, but most other ethnologists after WWII wrote something about this subject. -- 188.195.34.163 (talk) 15:52, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

While I haven't taken a look at this article for some time, I can say that t the above comment is total nonsense from both an academic and popular cultural point of view. There is no such "current state of research", there never was, and it would seem to me that the author of the above comment hasn't even dipped their toe into the huge body of research that exists on this topic. From the runic corpus to skaldic poetry to matronae and Germania to modern folklore, there's no shortage of material to analyze on the subject of Germanic paganism and its echoes and influence into the modern era. :bloodofox: (talk) 21:10, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
    • ^ Compare the English Puck.
    • ^ Arrowsmith 249-52