ARCHIVED Hybrid's Kobold Berserker guide

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Kobold Berserkers are an excellent choice for players who want to try a well-rounded melee character with good survivability and utility. If you're tired of always going Mountain Dwarf Fighter or Merfolk Crusader, read on!

Why Kobolds?

Kobolds are a great mix of offense, defense, and utility.

  • Kobolds are a small species. This grants them a bonus to Evasion and Stealth -- not to mention that they have great aptitudes for those skills! Unfortunately, their small size means Kobolds are somewhat frail, but...
  • Unlike the other small/little species (Halflings & Spriggans), Kobolds have a good aptitude in Fighting (+1), which offsets their natural frailty, and they boast an amazing +3 aptitude for Short Blades.
  • Kobolds start the game with the Carnivore 3 and Saprovore 2 mutations. While herbivore food is useless, Kobolds can eat corpses until engorged, letting them resort to Trog's berserk power with near total freedom.

Equipment Strategy

Kobold Berserkers begin with a +0 mace and the corresponding skill. Disable the skill at the start, since as a KoBe, a short blade is preferable. Try and use a sabre, and if not that a short sword, and if not that a dagger. A quick blade is best, but you will probably have to wait until Trog gifts you one.

  • Early Weapons: Kobolds have a +3 aptitude for short blades, so it's only logical to go with that. One of your earliest goals should be to find a branded short blade, or failing that, a short blade with decent bonuses. Venom is exceptional and will make the early game a breeze. If you are unable to find a venom blade, a blowgun with poison/curare needles may be useful to let you kite ogres and other tough enemies.
  • Late Weapons: At some point, Trog should give you (or maybe you'll just find) multiple decent weapons. You should have an arsenal that includes multiple brands for taking care of different types of enemies:
  • Holy wrath for undead and demons
  • Flaming for hydras and cold-themed monsters
  • Freezing for cold blooded enemies in Lair, as well as fire-themed monsters
  • Venom for run-of-the-mill monsters who can be poisoned (especially those who run when low on HP)
  • Anti-magic for dangerous casters
  • Shields: Wear a buckler as soon as possible, and get your Shields skill to 7. (Normal) shields will protect you better than bucklers, but will decrease your EV and attack speed, unless you train Shields skill to 21 to compensate. Kobolds cannot wear large shields.
  • Armor: Stick to higher EV items. This means nothing with an EV penalty of more than -1 early game (robes and leather armour) and -3 lategame (swamp dragon armour, ice dragon armour, fire dragon armour, pearl dragon armour). Obviously a good resistance is preferred: resistance, rF+, rC+, and MR are the most useful. Having said that, should you stumble upon an awesome artefact ring mail or chain mail, feel free to use it, but you may have to train Armour to compensate.
  • Jewelry: Kobold Berserkers can make use of pretty much anything that isn't related to spellcasting. All amulets are useful to some degree; rings of resistances (protection from fire, protection from cold), slaying (particularly with high damage bonuses), increases to AC and EV are all great. In general, boosting AC is better than boosting EV, because you want to raise your lower stat.
  • Potions: Usual stuff here. Carry some heal wounds, healing, speed, might, resistance, and agility potions. Note that speed will only cancel out the slow penalty from berserk running out, meaning you'll want to have other escape options for that scenario.
  • Scrolls: Blink is probably your strongest escape option, especially if you run out of berserk at a bad time. Due to your limited range options, don't underestimate scrolls of fog. Carry a couple of remove curse and teleportation too, and identify is always convenient. If you did find an early branded short sword or sabre, use scrolls of enchant weapon I/II to improve it to +4, +4. Don't bother enchanting daggers, and don't enhance an early weapon past +4. Keep scrolls of enchant weapon III for better weapons.
  • Wands: The very first wands you find could be your strongest ranged attack against tough monsters (such as early ogres, uniques, or player ghosts). Monsters with low MR can often be taken out with any MR affecting wand (confusion, paralysis). Make judicious use of wands of healing, hasting and teleportation, which are the best three wands for you since they give you access to powerful spells you otherwise can't use because of Trog.


A Kobold Berserker generally makes use of the following skills, in rough order of importance:

  • Fighting: Increases HP and combat ability. Keep it on constantly, preferably focusing it. As a Kobold, you need all the HP you can get.
  • Short Blades: Your main weapon skill. Focus it until it reaches 14, then keep it on normal. It increases weapon damage and accuracy, and as a short blades user, you need as much of both as possible.
  • Dodging: You're an EV-based character, you need all of this that you can get.
  • Stealth: Great aptitude, and the ability to avoid tough monsters is invaluable.
  • Shields: If you grabbed a buckler, then enable Shields until it reaches level 7. It is not usually worthwhile in a 3-rune game to train it to 21 to use a normal shield, although if you get a good artefact shield you might want to make an exception.
  • Traps & Doors: Remember to train this! Get it to 12 or so; this is generally enough to avoid most Zot traps.
  • Armor: If you wear leather armour, train it for a few levels.
  • Unarmed Combat: Gain it by attacking weak monsters with no weapon; gives you some weak extra attacks.
  • Evocations: Rods are great for taking down runners, and also are the only way for Trog worshipers to cast Abjuration.


Whenever you have the option, get more Dex, which enhances your EV and stealth. However, increasing your Int to 8 beforehand to prevent paralysis and other bad effects coming from negative Int is a good idea.

To avoid having your Int drop too low:

  • Detect curses on jewelry (especially randarts) before wearing them.
  • Keep a +Int item on hand before trying on new items.
  • Don't test rings of intelligence unless you've detected any curse on them.
  • Be careful around brain worms and neqoxecs. They don't need a clear line of fire to drain your Int, they just have to see you.


Sacrifice corpses when you can, but try to keep your satiation status at Full or higher at all times. Kobolds shouldn't go hungry unless you're in a place without many corpses (Slime Pits, Crypt, etc.) or hit an unlucky streak.

Trog's invocations are as follows:

  • Berserk: Going berserk is your one-step solution for monsters slightly tougher than what you're capable of handling normally. It costs a bit of food (not a problem for a Kobold) and zero piety. You're basically getting Trog's help for free. That being said, don't go berserk against anything extremely tough (out-of-depth monsters, OOD uniques, OOD player ghosts, or extremely large swarms). You might die anyway, or the berserk might run out and leave you slowed at the worst possible time (Trog may extend your berserk on a kill, but not very much). If you need one of the other two Trog abilities, use them before you go berserk! In short: if you need a little help, go berserk. If you're 5 turns away from getting your adorable Kobold tail handed to you on a silver platter, take a different option.
  • Trog's Hand: If you're just desperate for MR (say, you're fighting Kirke), go ahead and use it. It's also decent if you get badly poisoned, swarmed by weak monsters, or need to heal a fair bit within a few turns. However, it does cost piety, so don't use it too casually. Good uses are against MR-dependant uniques and monsters that confuse you (if you have low MR and/or no healing) or paralyse you (and are affected by MR, like sphinxes).
  • Brothers in Arms: Your most powerful invocation, and one that costs a good chunk of piety. Trog immediately sends an allied, berserked monster to lend you a hand. Having near-max piety increases the chance of summoning a more powerful ally (like an iron troll or a rock troll). These allies last for about 50 turns, and if you're lucky, they'll run off and kill everything in sight. Note that when they do calm down, they're about to vanish altogether. Even one or two of these "brothers" can potentially kill some of the toughest enemies in the game for you, and they'll almost definitely get you out of whatever trouble you're in. Just try not to abuse it: summoning too many allies at once will eat up all of your piety. Be aware that this invocation has two important limitations. Firstly, the Brothers can be abjured - so it can fail if used against summoners, who all have a chance of abjuring instead of summoning. Secondly, none of the Brothers can see invisible. Unfortunately this makes them mostly ineffective against many spellcasters, oftentimes including liches.
  • Burn Spellbooks: You can throw the books and/or use them as landmines (see Conjure Flame for strategy hints). This will be most useful before you've gotten your first gift. If you have thoughts of abandoning Trog and branching into magic later, read the books first to see if there are any spells you might want. Yes, this decreases the piety gain if you burn the book... but it'd be worse to lose the only source of an important spell.
  • Gifts: Trog loves to send you weapons if you keep your piety high. He has a very strong tendency to gift antimagic weapons, although he does give other brands as well. His weapons have a tendency towards -/+ enchantments (weak to-hit, strong to-damage), although his artefact gifts can be quite variable. He will also gift ammo for launchers in your inventory, provided your skill in the weapon is at least 8. He also gifts darts if you have 8 Throwing skill.

Trog's ordinary (usually blue) weapons are never cursed, but there is a small chance of a vampiric or distortion brand. Randart and (super-rare unrandart) weapons have a very small chance of having the "it may recurse itself" attribute, or having other negative effects like stat decreases. Once you've gotten a couple of great weapons, don't feel compelled to try out every dagger Trog sends your way.

Partial Walkthrough

  • Dungeon: Continue going deeper into the Dungeon until you start to feel uncomfortable about your survival. When that happens, immediately retreat and explore a side branch.
  • Lair: Explore this branch first. Most monsters in here are easy. Running away is a good option and using attack wands or Brothers in Arms is good against hydras. You should be able to take out the hard monsters with berserk (spiny frogs, black mambas, komodo dragons). You may want to leave the Lair:8 vault depending on how hard the game is for you. By now, Trog should have gifted you one or two weapons.
  • Orcish Mines: Full of orcs. Orc knights, orc warlords, sorcerors and the Orc:4 vault are the only dangers apart from uniques, which can be challenging. If you're having trouble return to the Dungeon or bring in a Brother to clean house. Note that the Kobold's appetite for meat makes the Orcish Mines significantly easier than for other races, who often have to rely on permafood while exploring them. Still, it is best to explore Lair first, simply to have enough HP to survive.
  • Hive: (removed in 0.10) Once you get your EV up a bit, this branch is a joke. Even without any poison resistance, the bees will rarely hit you. Simply berserk if you get into trouble. It's a great farm for piety from Trog, especially if you're still looking for a decent weapon gift.

Once you've cleared (most of) these branches, carry on through the Dungeon until you find the Vaults, and then keep going through the Vaults until you reach the Crypt. Then do either Crypt, the rest of Vaults, Dungeon to level 20 or so, the Elven Halls, the Swamp or the Snake Pit, depending on your equipment and preference. Bounce between them to continue gaining experience and loot. Don't go to Vaults:8, Swamp:5, or Snake:5 at this stage. Shoals is harder than Swamp or Snake and should be avoided until after doing the other Lair branch if it appears in your game.

  • Snake Pit: The easiest branch at this point. Most of the monsters are naga and naga warriors, as well as some snakes. Save level 5 for later. It is still worth waiting till at least level 17 to clear Snake 1-4.
  • Swamp: Aside from any uniques (use Brothers in Arms on them), the main threat comes from the swamp drakes (their breath attack causes confusion), hydras, and leaving yourself without an escape route. Get poison resistance or clarity, and take it slow.
  • Elven Halls: As long as you've got some fire resistance, good MR and the ability to see invisible, your high EV should keep you safe in this branch. Most enemies are casters, but they're going to have a difficult time hitting you. Be careful around deep elf high priests and sorcerers: both have attacks that do not need to pass EV. Go berserk against them and other high difficulty elves, provided you can get them alone. Mow down the rest -- not a single one of the elves has poison resistance. Don't do the Elf:5 vault until very late.
  • Crypt The first four levels are generally pretty tame, mostly consisting of a large number of skeletal warriors, as well as various zombies and skeletons. Be careful of ghouls, which appear in packs and can rot you a fair amount. The last level is probably best saved for later, although it varies considerably in difficulty. Use your intuition. Be aware that this branch contains very little in the way of edible corpses, even for a Kobold.

After you've cleared Crypt, the Dungeon (all 27 levels of it), and all but the last level of the Elven Halls, Snake Pit, Swamp and Vault, do these:

  • Shoals: Using MR items is vital, as well as some form of levitation. Don't skimp on potions of heal wounds.
  • Vaults 8: Draw the vault guards up the stairs and into a narrow hallway on L7. Once you've cleared the stairs area, the most dangerous enemies are probably the shadow dragons, so get some life protection. Try to draw out enemies one by one and use berserk against them; the relatively small, densely-packed level also lends itself well to Brothers in Arms. You may have to leave, regain your piety, and come back.

Since Kobolds level up at the same rate as Humans, you should be close to level 27 after clearing all of these places. Dive Zot 1-4 using magic mapping and slowly clear to Zot:5 using healing, hasting and might. Try not to berserk too much except if there is an easy escape or if an orb of fire appears. Wear as much fire resistance as you can, along with electricity resistance, mutation resistance, and anything else you can get your hands on.

In Zot:5 use potions of might, agility, and/or speed when faced with large groups. Berserk against any orb of fire (don't forget resist mutation!), Orb Guardians, and ancient liches (use Trog's Hand as well vs ancient liches). Ironically, you will probably not get as much mileage out of Brothers in Arms on this level.

  • Run for it! After the Orb of Zot is in your hands, you'll need to skedaddle out of the dungeon. Now is a good time to use any potions of speed or wands of hasting that you have left. Make sure to have ample sources of teleport - you may need them, especially since controlled teleport becomes impossible once you pick up the Orb. Only fight monsters you know you can quickly take down, and haste or teleport at the first sight of any monster capable of torment.

Survival Advice

Aside from the normal tips found in escaping from (and avoiding) trouble and tips and tricks, let's go over some of the most important Kobold Berserker concepts.

  • Always stay well-fed. Trog might like corpse sacrifices, but it's more important that you are always able to berserk whenever you need to. If you've ever played a Berserker of a species that eats "normally", you'll know how annoying it is to always be hungry at the worst times.
  • Get a good weapon as soon as possible. Venom weapons are best for the early game. Barring that, any brand will do. Barring that, try to find/enchant a sabre with +4 damage, but no further.
  • Utilize your venom weapon. I keep talking about venom weapons because they're important. Short blades don't have a heck of a lot of base damage output, and even your high EV won't save you all the time. When you're facing off against ogres, orc warriors, and yaks in the early game, hit them with 2-4 doses of poison, then kite them. Re-poison once they "look healthier", and keep running if you get hurt. You can take down some tough monsters this way, that would otherwise be impossible in a fair fight, or even with berserk.
  • Berserk often, but smartly. You're following Trog, so make use of his signature ability. But note that it will not help against any monster that massively overpowers you, and it is likely to run out when facing large groups of strong enemies, such as early packs of killer bees. Using berserk to haste yourself and race for the closest stairs is dangerous -- if it runs out before you reach them, you'll be surrounded and probably die.
  • Dodge, dodge, dodge. Kobolds are one of the few small player species. Their Dodging skill and EV increase much more quickly than most other species. Wear light armor and keep Dodging on.
  • Wands, scrolls, and potions will save your life. You're not a wizard. You can't just spam Mephitic Cloud and breeze through the early game. You need to use those items, or you're going to die. Give strong thought towards using any scrolls of acquirement to get a staff - without magical skills, you're very likely to get a rod of some kind, and these can provide reusable and powerful effects that are inaccessible otherwise.