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    Canonfire :: View topic - Kobolds in Greyhawk
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    Kobolds in Greyhawk
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 01, 2004
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    From: Nyrond

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    Wed Dec 29, 2004 4:53 pm  
    Kobolds in Greyhawk

    Hello,

    Okay, okay, I know, most of you are sitting back with an eyebrow raised muttering to yourselves, "You've got to be kidding me, Kobolds?" Honestly, I think this is an excellent topic for WoG. Kobolds have often been portrayed as the sad misfit wannabes of the humanoid armies. They've gone from small dog like men to just plain pathetic reptillians that for all purposes, are simply comic relief or fast food. Come on, I mean really, did a kobold steal your baby or did you just lose it? Smile

    One of the things I'm doing with my campaign is showing the players that Kobolds are by no means easy pickings...at least in numbers. Sure, one kobold is not much of a threat, so it has to compensate. I have my kobolds use snares, traps, ambush and poison. How else would these little guys live long enough to be a known race, as opposed to being known as an extinct race?

    How do Kobolds fit into your vision of Greyhawk? I suspect that most people downplay the Kobolds, but I think they are a misused instrument in the DM's arsenal of adventure. Sauron didn't expect a flippin hobbit to be his doom. So why should anyone expect kobolds to be anything special either. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that my Kobolds are secretly running the show for "Evil Inc." I'm saying that I think these guys have been treated unreasonably. If I were an adventurer of low to mid level and I met up with a Kobold, I might be a little concerned about some barking reptillian waving a wickedly serrated, rusty sword that was dripping with some blueish-black goo. How do Kobolds fit into your WoG game(s) and what do you think most people feel about them? Thanks for your time! Cool

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 29, 2004 5:52 pm  

    One vote for Kobolds Happy

    I play 2nd ed.

    How I read Kobolds...they are the "Gnomes of the Humanoids" tricky and inventive.

    Granted they are cowards but this lack of courage has forced them to concentrate on traps, poisons and range weapons anything that gives them an edge and keeps them out of hand to hand.

    Let the Orcs and Trolls bash away like idiots, the Kobold is always thinking about how to get the job done with the least work and danger.

    Push over you say...hardly, Trolls may stomp up to the adventures and trade blows, dying dramatically, the Kobold will proudly flee, gather a few score of his friends and ambush the party when the exit the dungeon hopefully hurt and loaded down with booty or better yet while they sleep. Wink

    Kobolds if used properly can become a real pain for the PC's and alot of fun for the DM to play. Happy
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Oct 13, 2004
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    Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:32 pm  

    If you have a copy or can get your hands on one to look it over the box set DRAGON MOUNTAIN maximizes Kobolds very well to the point of almost pure frustration. Our current 2E campaign is running through it currently and the Players/PCs are at their wits ends in dealing with these creatures.

    I like Kobolds protrayed as their original "Dogmen" description. It makes them different from the rest of Humanoids and yet gives you a reminder of a good way to play them as DM. Pack mentality, always wanting to please a master/leader, quick to learn tricks, and vicious when cornered.

    But thats just my take.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
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    Wed Dec 29, 2004 10:26 pm  

    Dragon Mountain doesn't maximize Kobolds. It cheats, plain and simple. It directs people to alter and ignore rules with abandon in order to make a pathetic creature vaguely relevant. As if that weren't bad enough, it then proceeds to even more egregious set-ups in an effort to "prove" that such piddling little critters really are dangerous when the DM takes the time to deliberately set encounters against them in terrain that absurdly favors them, while utterly hamstringing the ability of the PCs to do anything but die pathetically. The module has all the subtly of starting an adventure with the PCs at the bottom of a 100' deep pit, the sides sheathed in walls of force, the entire area filled with an anti-magic field, and a single, half-starved, 1 hit point child up top, dropping 100 pound rocks on them by using oil of slipperiness and a girdle of storm giant strength so he can move them.
    Castle Greyhawk is a better module than Dragon Mountain.
    A DM should always be able to win, simply by adding more and monsters to an encounter until the players are simply overwhelmed. To have to change rules on top of that shows both a total lack of respect for the players, and a distinct lack of ability on the part of the DM. At that rate, just an ancient red dragon against 1st level characters.

    Kobolds are an appropriate challenge for low level parties. With traps appropriate to the level of the characters involved, and with the number and ability of the kobolds kept to the same standard, they can provide interesting challenges.
    I had a good deal of fun with the reptilian kobolds of D20 D&D in my last campaign, giving them a number of giant lizards as pets and religious symbols combined. When the players decided to negotiate with them, the kobolds required them to apologize to the "sacred lizard" they had wounded during their last battle. One player went one step further, having his weasel familiar hunt down a rat for the lizard. A successful reaction check on the part of the lizard (it ate the dead rat!) and the kobolds were ecstatic about the incredible degree of "piety" shown by the players, allowing them to explore several areas protected by the lair, and sharing their "sacred lizard dust" with them. When another player decided he just had to use said dust, things got even more interesting.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:14 am  

    Sam, your opinion is valid, but I never said Dragon Mountain was the "best module ever". And depending on how your DM uses the adventure, it is a good storyline that has its merits. In addition, it does maximize a insignificant creature into a deadly force, which is exactly what monsters/enemies are when they are in their own established and prepared environment. Regardless of whether or not you actually kill PCs, deadly intent is what your enemies have for your players. This is sometimes, IMO, what is lost on DMs. I see more examples of enemies thrown up as annoying, even comical, obstacles rather than the dangerous environments that each one should present.

    Back to Kobolds.

    My point in bringing up DragonMountain was the mere fact it shows what can be done with ANY enemy, including Kobolds. Granted what Dragon Mountain presents is extreme in this regard, it does have good examples in principal. Dead ends that end in an ambush. Guerilla tactics. Use of small size to escape. Ignorance that leads to courage. Overwhelming numbers used to advantage. etc and so forth.

    We can go into other examples presented elsewhere, (KotB comes to mind), but I believe any small creature (kobold, halfling, goblin, sprite) can present a challenging aspect for any level adventure, when developed to a fuller extent.

    Roleplaying wise, Kobolds have numerous uses. At low levels, direct enemies. At Mid to High Levels, they are good supplements to higher level enemies (servants, scouts, distractions, polymorphed forms, etc.). Sam's example is excellent, although I really don't want to know what the dust was. :)
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:50 am  

    I agree with you about maximizing challenges Garnak. That's why I despise Dragon Mountain. Instead of just maximizing the Kobolds, it goes beyond that into cheating to enhance them. At that point, everything else becomes irrelevant. You can say a dragon regenerates all damage at the end of every round at that rate, and get the same effect.
    Now if someone runs Dragon Mountain without the cheats it says to use, and still makes the kobolds challenging for the high level characters (15th+ isn't it?), then I would be impressed. The same if a DM corrects the few twitchy elements in Axe of the Dwarvish Lords and uses the goblins in that to high effect. (A module I much prefer to Dragon Mountain as a use of otherwise low power critters against high level characters.)

    As for the "sacred lizard dust", the really scary thing is that after I told the players, they not only used it again, but the sorceror took some ranks in craft (alchemy) so he could make more!
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:21 am  
    A dark time b/c of Kobolds

    Howdy Folks,

    Well, when we last left WoG, we had just ended the Greyhawk Wars. Nyrond lost 70,000 soldiers. The Great Kingdom is wracked by unrest, whole land areas are depopulated, but the Flanness is on the brink of a dynamic new era filled with hope? I suggest that it is a dark time for WoG where humanoids can almost walk freely in the lands. The Greyhawk Wars have created a tragic loss of life, wealth and knowledge.

    With the dark period that comes in the aftermath of the great wars, I see humanoids becoming a very serious threat. They may have once been reduced to living in abandoned ruins, lone caves and such, but that's when there were regular patrols. Who is there, other than our brave adventurers, to stop the rise of humanoid power? Who is there to siege the new timberforts, outposts and humanoid towns?

    I suspect that something that might do WoG some good is to allow players to become familiar with the classic threats. Kobolds, as stated earlier, have to use imagination to survive, but now may be afforded the opportunity to become a very potent and real threat. Anyway, I think that Kobolds offer the DM a chance to show PC's that humanoids are not all the same. I am trying to get my players to experience the differing humanoids and their ways of doing things. Kobolds use traps, poison and guerilla tactics. Goblins use poison and masses. Orcs use blunt strength (both mundane and magical). Bugbears and Gnolls use many combinations, etc. Anyway, I was just daydreaming at work that now might be a new dawn for the humanoids.

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:30 am  
    Tuckers Kobolds

    It's been years, but I recall an interesting article in Dragon titled Tucker's Kobolds. I remember it using Kobolds as a very organized and effective force that controlled a couple levels of a larger dungeon. Now I don't remember the specifics of the article but it seemed that all of the tricks and tactics employed by the Kobolds were logical and even no brainers. If no one comes up with the issue #, I'll try digging through my old mags. to see if I still have it.

    Fazzlewood
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    Joined: Aug 02, 2004
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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:20 pm  

    In my campaigns, both Greyhawk and Altvogge(Homebrew), Kobolds are not just buzzard fodder. Feudal to the extreme, organized, numerous, Kobolds are a serious threat to their neighbors.
    I also adjusted their 3.5ed racial adjustments to -4STR, +4DEX.
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:33 pm  
    A Nasty lil surprise

    Heya,

    Oh I like upping stats on creatures. Now usually I only do this for the chief or shaman of the tribe, but it gives an otherwise overconfident party a surprise. "What the Hades do you mean he slashed at the fighter for 14pts damage? He's just a Kobold chief!" and suddenly there is a scramble for the meanest spells, magic wands, potions of healing are imbibed just to make sure everyone is at full capacity...oh I love it. Hey, the Kobold chief became the *Chief* for a reason Wink

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
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    Thu Dec 30, 2004 3:20 pm  

    I am guilty of using Kobolds as canon fodder for humanoid armies quite a few times. But I remember a party I was a member of getting thoroughly stomped by the Kobolds in the Caves of Chaos in "The Keep on the Borderlands" modules. Confused
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:22 am  
    Re: A dark time b/c of Kobolds

    DwarffromNyrond wrote:


    With the dark period that comes in the aftermath of the great wars, I see humanoids becoming a very serious threat. They may have once been reduced to living in abandoned ruins, lone caves and such, but that's when there were regular patrols. Who is there, other than our brave adventurers, to stop the rise of humanoid power? Who is there to siege the new timberforts, outposts and humanoid towns?

    Anyway, I was just daydreaming at work that now might be a new dawn for the humanoids.


    Dwarf from Nyrond


    No need to speculate, since the Greyhawk Wars, humanoids are definitely on the march according to the new canon sources if you read between the lines.

    North
    Since the "Flight of the Fiends" Iuz has lost many demons and the humanoids have become more prominent to retain the empire.

    East
    Northern Aerdy: Orcs have become major powerbrokers
    Medegia : Humanoids have occupied cities and Orcs have built the first above ground orcish settlement, Montessor

    South
    SB use of Humanoid troops place several southern nations at risk
    Pomarj Empire has made impressive gains and held them.

    The humanoids did alright in the wars and should do well during this "rebuilding phase" if the canon is written realistic and consistent to most post warfare recoveries.
    Novice

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    Sat Jan 01, 2005 5:16 pm  

    Well I did my best but it seems I no longer have the copy of Dragon with the Tucker's Kobolds article. Anyway, from what I remember the article went a long way towards showing how to DM a "lowly" race in a smart way. Effectively making it quite dangerous to any adventurers not fully prepared. And even for those who are. IMO these encounters are most sobering to a group of players. As a character, there's nothing like seeing your group getting their bums handed to them by a "lesser" opponent and then having to admit that the whoop'n was due to your groups own arrogance. In my experience this has fostered more thoughtfull roleplaying in place of heads-down hack-n-slash.

    Overall it showed that you can add some clever twists to an underated race and still stay true to it's original flavor...without cheating.

    Fazzlewood
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    Sat Jan 01, 2005 5:40 pm  
    Tucker's Kobolds

    Forgive me if this link doesn't work properly (never tried to post a link before), but I just did a quick google search for the article and ran across it posted here:

    http://forums.rpghost.com/showthread.php?t=11686

    The original article appears in Dragon 127 and is an editorial by Roger E. Moore.

    I actually found myself chuckling out loud while I read it again after so many years. The internet is a glorious thing.

    Fazzlewood
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    Sun Jan 02, 2005 8:14 am  
    Enclaves of Kobolds

    Hello All,

    Certainly more replies than I expected Wink Are there any known enclaves of Kobolds in WoG? Actually, I'm more interested in if any of the nations on Oerik have Kobold problems. Granted, you wouldn't want to announce you are having internal problems to others, but what are your thoughts on it? I would suspect that the Yeomanry, Geoff, Sterich, Hold of the Sea Princes and other kingdoms bordered by large mountain ranges would have issues.

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
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    Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:52 am  
    Re: Tucker's Kobolds

    Fazzlewood wrote:
    Forgive me if this link doesn't work properly (never tried to post a link before), but I just did a quick google search for the article and ran across it posted here:

    http://forums.rpghost.com/showthread.php?t=11686

    The original article appears in Dragon 127 and is an editorial by Roger E. Moore.

    I actually found myself chuckling out loud while I read it again after so many years. The internet is a glorious thing.

    Fazzlewood
    Yeah that was a great editorial, brings back memories. In fact I wouldn't be half surprised if that writing inspired Dragon Mountain, seems quite the dead ringer...'Kobolds of level 1'.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 04, 2005 5:58 am  
    Re: Enclaves of Kobolds

    DwarffromNyrond wrote:
    Hello All,

    Certainly more replies than I expected Wink Are there any known enclaves of Kobolds in WoG? Actually, I'm more interested in if any of the nations on Oerik have Kobold problems. Granted, you wouldn't want to announce you are having internal problems to others, but what are your thoughts on it? I would suspect that the Yeomanry, Geoff, Sterich, Hold of the Sea Princes and other kingdoms bordered by large mountain ranges would have issues.

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond


    Nice that you ask. IMC, the PCs are trouncing through the Yeomanry and finding Kobolds, Goblins, and Orcs settlements scattered throughout. Seems they were driven there from the north. Happy
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 04, 2005 8:36 am  
    I love Goblins

    This is a great thread; I love to use goblins to the same purpose as you are using Kobolds. Take lowly creatures, and have them lead by a 9th level cleric of trickery or some such. Adepts are fun with their mixed spells.

    Tucker's Kobolds was a great read. It made me think, what about a powerful patron who constructed a labrynth just to accomodate their weakling minons. It has that Artifact they have been searching for, but the average ceiling height is 3 ft. The Patron uses the Reduce spell to get to his quarters, but he doesnt have fight the Kobolds/Goblins. This could be fun!! Gnomes might do ok, and halflings, but the 6'5" half orc with a great sword is in for a bad day.

    We had a similar thread on the Epic Boards in which I wondered could the same tactics be applied to higher level characters. The response seem to be all the ways that high level characters could worm out or bypass the DMs carefully planned traps.

    After reading this I am going to reopen thread on the epic boards about this very subject. Thanks all.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 02, 2005 12:46 am  

    Sorry to bump what's pretty much a closed topic, but I stumbled upon this looking for something else, and had to share my Kobold story.

    Fourth level PC's find some evil magic items, including a staff, and show them to good priestess. She convinces them to destroy the items. They agree, and take the items in a wagon to be destroyed. But someone in town wants the items,and hires a pack of Kobolds to get them.

    Kobolds are tricky, mean, and dangerous, because they'll only fight when they're sure of winning. A good sign for when Kobolds are about to lure you into a trap is when they actually fight.

    These Kobolds made up a fake staff, like the one the PCs had, and set up an ambush in a gully just past the PCs emcampment. One Kobold sorcerer cast Invis, Mage Armor, and Exp Retreat on himself, rattled around the back of the wagon where the evil items were locked, and took off through the camp, with the fake staff. PCs gave chase (as all good PCs should).

    Second Kobold sorcerer waits for the PCs to get there, and casts Web, and Summon Spider Swarm. (Between you and me, that's an ugly combination.) Other Kobolds engage with crossbows and poison bolts (1d3 strength).

    Meanwhile, three Kobold rogues sneak into the wagon and try to pick the lock holding the magic items. The only thing that gave it away was one PC dropped his swords behind the wagon in order to fire arrows at the fake thief; someone went after the weapons and heard the commotion.

    Anyway, don't discount Kobolds. In the right environment and given the chance to prepare, they can kick much butt. (I don't know about 15th level butt, but still....)

    Telas
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    Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:28 am  

    In my last LG adventure i had to suffer kobolds in a much reduced underground enviorement ( caves whit 3 foot tall roofs) and whit tons of traps and ambushs. 5 kobolds whit crossbows,and 2 level 1 socceres casting its too mech for a level 2 party. We ended the quest only by luck.
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