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jesterFor a long time I have struggled with Kobal. There was just something about the Prince I couldn’t wrap my head around and now I think I know what it is.

Kobal is presented as a champion of wit. His Servitors Attunements are reminiscent of cartoon humor (which presents its own problems, but that’s a topic for another time). However, I think the true heart of the Superior is in his Band Attunments.

In spite of the veneer of cleverness and humor, every single one of is about being hurtful. I don’t want to find hurtfulness funny. I don’t want to make hurtfulness funny. And with those two strikes “against” me, I cannot play an effective Kobalite.

I cannot in good conscience try to make my fellow players laugh at hurtful jokes, and I’m not really sure I’d want to play someone else who does. Unlike the other infernal superiors, I cannot see a way to play an effective Koboalite without buying into the very evil he is supposed to represent.

That said – I don’t want to write him out.

NPC servitors of Kobal could be very powerful storytelling tools because they have the potential to show how harmful (and vacuous) this “humor” really is.

The hazard is that creating “object lesson” personifications of the evils of racist. sexist, or otherwise abusive humor can act as a smokescreen to allow someone to engage in those very behaviors. Anyone considering such an approach would do well to read up on gaslighting, ironic racism, ironic sexism, and microaggression.

Also, talk with your players before and after (both one-on-one and in a group). Make sure they’re comfortable with having such a character and that they understand where you’re going with it. This may sound like a lot of work if you are used to working off the cuff, but GM mystique and a cheap laugh are not worth alienating players or perpetuating patterns of racist and sexist oppression.