Kobold Love: Dungeon Diplomacy! Part 1

Ready to dive into the adventure?

As posted in the adventure plan, Scene 1 is about the PCs getting a prophecy and facing opposition against ultra conservative elements of the dungeon before venturing forth on the surface world.

When the adventure will be published in its final form, there will be a few paragraph that link the introduction of the adventure with the scenes.  That’s the part where the DM is instructed to paraphrase some parts of the Adventure’s background to PCs and explain the setup.

For the purpose of this post, we assume that players know the adventure’s background and are handed out the Prophecy, which goes like this:

The Prophecy (1st draft)

From the darkest solitude rose the Outcasts//Shunned by all, through cycles of starvation and death they thrived//Of the Voice they became the shield and through bravery, achieved acceptance.

Heralds of a new age for the Underworld they be//As champions of blades and silver tongue, in the eyes of  hostile peers they must arise.

Once peace of purpose met, the world of light they shall enter//To where false Hope dares pierce the night, in the home of Fallen Heroes, fate awaits.

Where walls collide waits the Surface Scourge// It, the Champions must stop, its cycle of death broken, its spirit laid to rest.

Only then will peace for dark hearths be found.

(The spelling of Hearths is intentional)

Prophecy Q&A

Once the prophecy has been read. Players are free to discuss it and ask questions to the old Kobold Oracle.  She should answer questions truthfully, if a bit roughly, about the most likely interpretations (skill rolls are unnecessary).

Here are some likely questions:

Who are the outcasts/new champions?

Must I really spell it out? Look in that reflecting pool for a minute. Try not to fall in it and drown.

And who’s the Voice?

(Oracle slaps PC behind the head) That would be me.

What’s this about hostile peers?

Some of our neighbors are violently opposed to the idea of letting some lowly, ugly kobolds such as you go Outside and stir up more trouble.  Silly gits, they’d rather die trying to repel invaders than taking the fight to them.

What kind of opposition are we talking about here?

Orcs, gnolls and other factions of the upper levels have threatened to seek out and exterminate all goblins and kobolds from the caves unless you face them and prove the worthiness of your cause.  Knowing what passes as diplomacy here, that usually means you fighting them.

What if we run away?

(Oracle grabs questioner by ear) I’d much rather live thank you very much you ingrate!  You will have to face up to the prophecy or we will all die, you included.

(Feel free to have PCs who run away say that this would conclude the adventure but they would now be wandering monsters in a random table somewhere)

If we have to face the other factions, do we have allies?

The Kobold and Goblins are on our side, and their support will likely prevent factions-wide conflicts.  But no one will want to face the more powerful champions likely to seek you out… Unless they are convinced of your worth.

What about this thing about false Hope and Fallen Heroes?

There’s a human city called Hope’s Point two days away from here. Chances are, the Fallen Hero is a reference to a place over there and the ‘stranger’ should be near it.

This Prophecy is either pure gibberish or a thinly disguised reason to get rid of us!

You are wise beyond your years young ‘un… Maybe you can be seer after the adventurers come back and kill me!

Feel free to improvise around those themes.  Just do not reveal anything about the identity of the Stranger, regardless of the finale you chose (Father, Creator, Avatar of Kobold god…) his identity is a key final plot twist.

Setting up the stage

During the discussions in the Oracle’s Cave, scores of Kobolds and Goblins enter the cave excitedly and run off in the numerous hidden foxholes and small-sized serpentine caves crisscrossing the main cave. If questioned, the terrified humanoids will mention that the faction champions are coming this way to see the oracle and her ‘puny guards’.

If pressed for information (Intimidate/Diplomacy skill roll) the following will be revealed:

DC 13:  The Orcs sent an Eye of Gruumsh with a band of Orc warriors

DC 15: The above and The Ogres sent one of their feared Wyrmling hunters.

DC 17: The above and The Vampire Lords sent a heavily armoured Wight!

DC 19: The above and the Gnoll faction sent in one of their Rangers.

DC 21: All the above and “The Gnoll Ranger is none other than the legendary Gnoll Chieftain named Grak Mankiller!”

The Oracle absolutely refuses to leave for safety unless PCs pledge to remain and face the coming champions, she will retreat from the battle areas and faction champions won’t try to harm her.

Preparing for the opposition

Being part-kobolds, PCs who ask to set up defenses are given a special Encounter Power that abstractly represents the various traps set all over the cave that can be used against the coming hostile forces:

Kobold Trap

Using the ancestral knowledge of kobold trapsmiths, you trigger a fiendish trap on your unwary foe (Player should describe effect)

Encounter, Standard Action

Chose one of:

  • Damage, Single target

    • Variable damage source (Chose one of: Untyped, Acid, Fire)
    • Range 10
    • Target: One creature
    • Dex or Int +4 vs Ref
    • Hit: 3d8+4 of chosen damage type
  • Damage, Multiple Target
    • Variable damage source (Chose one of: Untyped, Acid, Fire)
    • Area Burst (3) within 10 squares
    • Dex or Int +4 vs Ref
    • Hit: 1d10+4 of chosen damage type
  • Restraining, Single Target
    • Variable damage source (Chose one of: Untyped, Cold, Poison)
    • Target: One creature
    • Dex or Int +4 vs AC
    • Hit: 2d8+4 of chosen damage type and Secondary Attack on same target vs Fort.
      • Secondary attack Hit: Target Immobilized (Save Ends)

Designer Note: I thought this would be a clever and easy mechanic to allow players to have a taste of koboldy trapmaking without bogging down the game table with designing actual traps and risking Planning  paralysis. (The expanded features of the adventure could offer the option of placing actual traps).  Plus, this should make storytelling players happy to invent crazy-wild trap description.

The Battlemap

Being no artist, I would be tempted to use one of the commercially available maps that depict a cave.  The following from Wizards of the Coast are perfect:

My personal choice is the Mushroom Cave and that’s the one I would use in playtest.

Should you draw your own, I suggest that you do the following:

  • Make the battle area LARGE!  Between 15X20 to 20X30 squares.
  • Add Plenty of Cover and Difficult terrain
  • Add terrain features like climbable ledges (DC around 17) and such

Up next, The actual monsters and the embedded Skill challenge to whip the onlooking cowardly Kobolds and Goblins into helping the PCs in the fight against overwhelming enemies.

Credits: Steven Helt (Sparked idea of Trap Powers from Ascension of the Drow), Wizards of the Coast (Image)


  1. Good prophecy, great trap mechanic…

    I like what I’ve seen so far…

    Reverend Mikes last blog post..This Is Something I’ve Been Wondering For A Long Time…

  2. Looks good so far, that’s for certain! I like how you’re giving the DM a choice of finale (based on this scene) and all the flexibility the players will have. It’s definitely not a railroad job, and that’s always a great thing for a module ;)

  3. I like it! Good stuff in there. I especially like and agree with the “generic trap” encounter power.

    The only thing that turned my head was the idea of the prophecy describing the stranger *in the corner*. Seems oddly specific for a prophecy, and I fear that it’s giving too much away at this point.

  4. @Brent: Good point, I’ll see how I can rephrase that without obfuscating the whole point of the prophecy.

    Will re-edit that part tonight.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    @Rev and Tomcat: I’m glad you approve.

  5. How ’bout this:

    Once peace of purpose met, the world of light they shall enter//To where false Hope dares pierce the night, in the home of Fallen Heroes, fate awaits.

    Where walls collide waits the Surface Scourge// It, the Champions must stop, its cycle of death broken, its spirit laid to rest.

  6. It sounds very good so far! I’ve been thinking of playtesting this a bit with a few of my fellow Scoundrels sometime soon, and hopefully without conflicting with the Shadowrun campaign we’re involved in.

  7. Very nice opening, and as the others have said, a great trap mechanic. Its a nice way to avoid a lot of bog down with creating traps.

    One question, since the trap is an encounter power, do the players have to pick an area on the map, before the battle, or can they just trigger the power in the middle of the fight, without prior prep?

    I am hoping its the latter. I think that it makes the power more useful by letting the players decide when to set it off in the middle of the fight, which really follows more with the Rule of Cool. Where is the trap? Where it would be the most cool.

    DNAphils last blog post..My Gamer Resume

  8. Thanks for recommending I take a look at it, very nice idea on the traps!

    One suggestion: I’d style it after Channel Divinity, where each trap is a separate power, but you’re restricted to only using one trap power per encounter.

    This could work well for NPCs, too, especially for example a kobold master trapsmith. Especially fun since, realistically, he wouldn’t need line of sight to use the powers.

    Asmors last blog post..Friends & Foes: The Masked Mountebank

  9. Whenever I read one of your Kobold Love installments, that 1981 classic, “Tainted Love” starts running through my head.

    Planning on having intro music?

    Plotters last blog post..Roles?

  10. @DNAPhil: Definitively the latter. Let the players explain the Rube Goldberg device featuring pulleys and counterweights that just happens to be at the exact spot where the monster is upon the PC’s turn.

    @ Asmor: Do you mean PCs should chose what kind of trap they want to use upfront?

    @Plotter: Great idea! This is officially the theme song of the adventure… Can someone provide links to both the Soft Cell and Marylin Manson versions?

  11. Done and done!…

    Dost thou require anything else, Chatty One?…

    Reverend Mikes last blog post..This Is Something I’ve Been Wondering For A Long Time…

  12. You know what needs to be in the dungeon? Dire rats! You can never have to many dire rats ;)

  13. Don’t you mean gnomes?…

    Reverend Mikes last blog post..The Only Thing Better Than Hitler On Ice

  14. Thanks Rev.

    Okay so I have 2 conflicting points of views on the Kobold Hybrid thing (or maybe not).

    Here’s my thoughts on this. What if I tell the DMs reading the adventure up front that they are half-kobolds… So they can wrap their minds around the disturbing concept while reading the rest of the adventure.

    At the same time, I’d instruct the DMs not to reveal to players that they are anything other than Kobolds… If they notice the difference in racial stats from the MM (i.e. if the players are reverse engineer geniuses), Id’ suggest mentionning that the PCs are highly mutated kobolds… part of the whole mystery…

    Is that a good starting point?

  15. I’d recommend telling DMs up front of the twist. Never hide anything from the DM, so they can keep everything in mind (or decide early on to ditch it.)

    Dave T. Games last blog post..Changing hosts, expect weirdness

  16. How do you get hold of the battlemaps you mentioned above, I mean at a scale to actually play on?


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