Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Kobold Campaign

Another campaign story.....

After the CSIO game fell apart and the DM rotation fell back on me, I struggled with what to run.  The group was most decidedly a "3.5 or you're alone" type of group at that point and I was disillusioned with some of the munchkin-y & min/max crap associated with the ruleset.  So, I looked for something to give me that old 1e feel again.  Necromancer Games were putting out books that spanned levels 4 to 10 or 1 to 8 or some such way too long sequence instead of useful little modules.  I had started picking up Goodman Games's little modules because they were inexpensive and fun reads.  Well, I jumped on the support bandwagon and bought Dungeon Crawl Classics #29 - The Adventure Begins book of short 1st level modules.  I'd say about 2/3 of them were worth the price I paid.  As I was skimming through the modules, I had an epiphany....kobold pc's.

The idea of a monster campaign had been bandied about the table a few times and I thought here was the perfect chance to try it out and do it wrong I was, as you shall soon read.  So, picking "The Dripping Temple" as the basis of the adventure locale, I started working on the hows and whys of kobold adventurers.  Well, usually, kobolds work for someone or something that can protect them.  Who would protect kobolds?  Well 3e changed kobolds from dog-like monsters to remote cousins of dragons, so why not a dragon?  But I know a couple of my players would balk at playing evil characters and from past experience an evil campaign usually ends in a blood bath with the players all feeling cheated and angry with each other.  So, what if the dragon was an amethyst dragon?  Okay, that works.  But why are the kobolds out?  Well, adventurers tend to go after dragon hoards unless the dragon is notoriously goood, so adventurers attacked and started killing off kobolds and killed the dragon.  The pc's are one group of refugees and are young.  In fact, they are under the supervision of a kobold shaman who is teaching them the rules of the clan.  Nice.  NPC shaman to feed in hooks and save them should they get in over their heads.  While I'd like to go with a pure 3d6 straight down roll for stats, the group practically demands point buy.  Fine. 28points.  Apply kobold modifiers after stats set.  No starting equipment other than what would be logical if you were told as you were sitting at home, "get your butt up and out the door in the next 30 seconds or die".

Thus, the party consists of: a sorcerer, a rogue, a barbarian, a druid, a ranger and a paladin.  And the shaman.  Game start: it's pouring down rain and there's screaming all around.  The group makes it outside and runs into the deeper hills, hiding under a bush.  They observe a battle between an orc raiding party and a group of 4 adventurers.  The adventurers get killed and only one orc is left standing unbloodied while another orc is binding wounds.  The kobolds attack and take everything.  A lightning blast nearby opens a hole in a hillside.  Investigating, they find what looks to be an ancient mine....possibly dwarven.  Thus, they enter the DCC module and have a fun couple of nights exploring it.

Aside:  our min/maxer was vocally opposed to playing "such weakling characters", then he was opposed to playing "evil characters", then he decided that "druids are worthless underground", then he quit coming until we changed to a "more heroic campaign".  Now, I didn't have to change a lot of the DCC module to make it fun.  Because of the common background starting point, there were no in character problems or bickering.  They worked as a team from day 1.  Once they got the temple cleared, the rededicated it to the kobold gods.  Then they started actively searching for other survivors.  To give the survivors something to do, they restarted the mine.  To make things more interesting, I placed the mine in Barbarian Altanis in the Wilderlands (it's the map aread just below the CSIO map) and connected the mini-adventure from the Judges Guild module Glory Hole Dwarven Mine (The Lost Mine of Kish the Gnome).  This led to more exploring and I had to add the full JG module then.  It grew into a mega-dungeon as I added extra abandoned levels.  Then, the group wanted to make money from the mine so they scouted around for buyers for the ore they were producing.  This drew attention from gnomes and dwarves who wanted to reclaim the mines.  At this point, the unbalanced nature of 3.5 reared its ugly head.  A small company of gnomes (about 40), with six leaders ranging in level from 4 to 7, were wiped out by 7 5th level kobolds.  In 4 rounds.  It was ugly.  I will admit that some of it was due to poor die rolls, but that was a blood bath.  At 6th level, they defeated three Vrock demons.  At 7th level, two Hezrou.  At 10th, I allowed them to resurrect their patron dragon.   And that's where we stopped.  The traps they devised were ingenious and deadly.  It was a great campaign but the kobolds were unstoppable in their home turf.

Maybe I'll write more on this later.  There are a lot of stories about this group.
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