In our next installment of non-traditional hirelings we ask if kobolds would be good hirelings. In Rime of the Frostmaiden the town of Termaline has an issue with monsters inhabiting their mine. The town speaker offers adventurers 50 gp to get the mine working again. As it turns out this is all a misunderstanding.
The kobolds are sheltering from the cold weather in the mine after being chased by a yeti. The mine workers panicked and assumed they were there to eat everyone. It is possible to negotiate with the kobolds as they mean no harm to the workers. The kobold leader offers to work in exchange for food and shelter. While the PCs can negotiate a job for them with the town there is also an opportunity to hire them to work for the party if all they need is food and warmth.
Who hires kobolds? Many people in Icewind Dale do apparently. Vellynne Harpell is a necromancer the PCs may meet during the adventure. She has six kobolds who are her guards and valets. Two of them are dead and are zombies that are the result of an Animate Dead spell. We assume they would not complain if given a heavy load to carry.
Kobolds have an above median DEX, but are below median in all other abilities. If they are trained with a shortbow or crossbow they could make great archers. Their WIS score indicates that they could be easily influenced or by others which is why they are usually seen working with other creatures. In fact, we see many situations where they admire a strong or smart leader. Their low STR score means they are not good at melee combat, but could be useful as porters or valets.
Are kobolds worth the expense? Since these kobolds are willing to work for food and shelter, they are a deal. Human porters or valets will want at least 2 sp per day and likely demand food and lodging to lug backpacks and expedition equipment around for the PCs. When we make a comparison of like services and capabilities kobolds come out ahead. 3 kobolds have the combined strength two human commoners of median strength. Hiring 3 kobolds for 1 sp/day each in expenses gives you the same carrying power of 2 humans but for at least 1 sp/day less than humans. After paying the upfront cost to outfit them with furs, food is a minor expense. They may be happy with table scraps or carvings from the kitchen that humans will not eat. It should cost no more than 1 sp per day to maintain a kobold.
Kobolds are definitely worth hiring for simple tasks such as porter or valet work. They are less expensive than human workers and will likely be more appreciative of their employer. We believe that kobolds are a deal. If you can befriend some and make them behave they would be an excellent addition to any adventuring group or expedition.