Need ideas for a Kobold dungeon!


Advice


I'm not sure if this is the right place, so apologies in advance if this is the wrong forum.

I'm running a basic Swords and Sorcery campaign for some newbie adventurers, and they're about to get involved with some kobolds who live in a dormant volcano. I've run a bit short on ideas, so I was wondering if people could give me some ideas, in particular on some traps.

-The party is comprised of 4 1st level adventurers. The party has little to no experience with tabletop gaming, although as a whole they are relatively smart.

-The volcano is called Blackcloud (named for the smoke that constantly pours from it even though it is dormant) and used to the be the lair of a feared dragon who was slain by a hero many years ago.

-The kobolds used to worship the dragon as their god and protector, until the human hero tore through their caverns and slaughtered the tribe. The tribe has recovered from the devastating losses they suffered that day, but still only number about 40 troops.

-The tribe is run by a Sorcerer (unnamed for now) who, after travelling the lands following the massacre, discovered Tiamat. (Queen of the Chromatic Dragons and a Goddess of Greed) The leader knows the kobolds need another dragon, and so by worshiping Tiamat he hopes she can send them another guardian. Every member of the tribe is forced into this cult, although most of them think the cult is a fabulous idea.

-The tribe fears heroes entering their domain more than anything, so most traps should be designed to kill humanoids.

-These kobolds love fire, so anything based around fire or even magma would be great.

-The kobolds breed Fire Beetles to serve as guardians.


This sounds like a bit much for 1st level adventurers...


Master of the Dark Triad wrote:
This sounds like a bit much for 1st level adventurers...

How so?


40 kobolds plus fire beetles plus deadly traps? First level?

I feel like that's very, very challenging unless the kobolds are played as unreasonably stupid.


Master of the Dark Triad wrote:

40 kobolds plus fire beetles plus deadly traps? First level?

I feel like that's very, very challenging unless the kobolds are played as unreasonably stupid.

Fire Beetles are CR 1/3. I included noncombatants in that statistic, so it's probably closer to 26-27 actual warriors spread out through an entire volcano dungeon. Deadly traps as in traps that are meant to kill rather than inhibit. (Crossbow traps over net traps, etc.) I didn't mean instant death traps, obviously.

I fail to see how this is very, very challenging unless the party plays foolishly and recklessly. (Which they don't)


GruesomeGoo wrote:
Master of the Dark Triad wrote:
This sounds like a bit much for 1st level adventurers...
How so?

Mainly the numbers and the traps. The fact that some large portion of 40 kobolds are going to be hostile is an issue. Even a well equipped 1st level party is going to have problems dealing with that many opponents unless the fights can be made smaller and played out over several days to conserve resources such as spells and healing items. If you add traps on top of that then its just as likely that your 1st level party is going to get wiped than not, especially since you don't have players familiar with this kind of scenario.

I know if I was a 1st level character with 3 other 1st level characters and someone told me we had to go kill 40 kobolds I would probably laugh and say that I'd rather not die the next day.

I say this assuming its an standard hack and slash. If you are allowing creative thinking, say setting off the volcano or finding some way to kill or remove the kobolds indirectly then that is less of an issue and probably more interesting depending on your group


GruesomeGoo wrote:
Master of the Dark Triad wrote:

40 kobolds plus fire beetles plus deadly traps? First level?

I feel like that's very, very challenging unless the kobolds are played as unreasonably stupid.

Fire Beetles are CR 1/3. I included noncombatants in that statistic, so it's probably closer to 26-27 actual warriors spread out through an entire volcano dungeon. Deadly traps as in traps that are meant to kill rather than inhibit. (Crossbow traps over net traps, etc.) I didn't mean instant death traps, obviously.

I fail to see how this is very, very challenging unless the party plays foolishly and recklessly. (Which they don't)

It depends largely on their wealth and time constraints. Going through that many enemies is going to burn through a lot of player resources (spells, hp, uses of rage, etc). Certain groups would/could fly through this, especially if they made use of ambushes and surprise rounds and only fought small groups, otherwise it will be difficult.


What level is the sorcerer? Also is it a kobold as well?


Amrel wrote:
GruesomeGoo wrote:
Master of the Dark Triad wrote:

40 kobolds plus fire beetles plus deadly traps? First level?

I feel like that's very, very challenging unless the kobolds are played as unreasonably stupid.

Fire Beetles are CR 1/3. I included noncombatants in that statistic, so it's probably closer to 26-27 actual warriors spread out through an entire volcano dungeon. Deadly traps as in traps that are meant to kill rather than inhibit. (Crossbow traps over net traps, etc.) I didn't mean instant death traps, obviously.

I fail to see how this is very, very challenging unless the party plays foolishly and recklessly. (Which they don't)
It depends largely on their wealth and time constraints. Going through that many enemies is going to burn through a lot of player resources (spells, hp, uses of rage, etc). Certain groups would/could fly through this, especially if they made use of ambushes and surprise rounds and only fought small groups, otherwise it will be difficult.

I think I see what you're saying now. There are no real time constraints, and the players are very poor at the moment. (This dungeon is their first real taste of wealth)

Mob tactics aren't going to really be a thing here, however; the last hero who walked into their lair butchered them in greater numbers when they used mob tactics.
Still, the constant resource drain is a tax I need to consider; what do you recommend that would help lighten the strain on the players? This is their first real dungeon so I want it to be a nice challenge, but they are only Level 1.
Also, they are very close to Level 2, but I don't think that makes much of a difference in regards to the problems you're mentioning.


Ishpumalibu wrote:
What level is the sorcerer? Also is it a kobold as well?

I've got no idea what level he is at the moment, but I was leaning towards 3, as he's not supposed to be much of a fight. (The "real" boss fight of the dungeon was going to be a homebrew drake of sorts with a breath weapon; the kobolds think it is a baby red dragon and the leader sics it on the players when they reach his royal chambers)

Yes, he is also a kobold.


If you can get your hands on it, there's a 2nd edition box set called Dragon Mountain that was a huge kobold-themed mega-adventure with a big red dragon at the end. It was actually intended for higher-level characters, and was filled with devious traps that showed how dangerous kobolds could be on their own turf. So you wouldn't want to use it as is, but I'm sure you could mine it for ideas.


GruesomeGoo wrote:
Ishpumalibu wrote:
What level is the sorcerer? Also is it a kobold as well?

I've got no idea what level he is at the moment, but I was leaning towards 3, as he's not supposed to be much of a fight. (The "real" boss fight of the dungeon was going to be a homebrew drake of sorts with a breath weapo

n; the kobolds think it is a baby red dragon and the leader sics it on the players when they reach his royal chambers)
Yes, he is also a kobold.

I just figured his wealth and ability would determine most of the traps.

Will most of your combatants be in cramped areas with reach weapons?


Ishpumalibu wrote:
GruesomeGoo wrote:
Ishpumalibu wrote:
What level is the sorcerer? Also is it a kobold as well?

I've got no idea what level he is at the moment, but I was leaning towards 3, as he's not supposed to be much of a fight. (The "real" boss fight of the dungeon was going to be a homebrew drake of sorts with a breath weapo

n; the kobolds think it is a baby red dragon and the leader sics it on the players when they reach his royal chambers)
Yes, he is also a kobold.

I just figured his wealth and ability would determine most of the traps.

Will most of your combatants be in cramped areas with reach weapons?

The tribe is technically wealthy, but most of the wealth is offered to Tiamat. (And the sorcerer, of course)

He is charismatic and adept at surviving, but as far as fortifying caves and working out battle plans he isn't particularly skilled. This kobold was just a random loser until he left on his adventure.

Most of the battles were going to be cramped, but the kobolds are terrified of humanoid heroes and will refuse to engage in melee at all. Most of the battles I wanted centered around some kind of environmental hazard or trap and the kobolds just rain crossbow bolts on the party and sick Fire Beetles on them unless they have a prime opportunity to wreak some havoc. (charging somebody into a pit, for example)

I was also planning on the sorcerer giving most of the dedicated warriors in the tribe scrolls of Burning Hands that can be used regardless of class, but with a 50% chance the scroll backfires and just blows up the user, but considering people have said this adventure is already really tough I'm not sure if I should include it now.


Cleanthes wrote:
If you can get your hands on it, there's a 2nd edition box set called Dragon Mountain that was a huge kobold-themed mega-adventure with a big red dragon at the end. It was actually intended for higher-level characters, and was filled with devious traps that showed how dangerous kobolds could be on their own turf. So you wouldn't want to use it as is, but I'm sure you could mine it for ideas.

Excellent idea. Crown of the Kobold King offered some ideas, but not nearly as many as I was hoping, but a mega-adventure set in a mountain sounds perfect! I'll look into it.

Scarab Sages

Rather than scrolls, perhaps some alchemists fire would be a little more appropriate?

Also, it might be a good idea to look at the experience numbers, and try to feed the party enough outter guard/trap encounters to where they can level throughout the expedition. Don't be obvious, but present a rough idea that the party can widdle through, level, and face bigger challenges. They could end up 3rd level at the end.


GruesomeGoo wrote:
Amrel wrote:
GruesomeGoo wrote:
Master of the Dark Triad wrote:

40 kobolds plus fire beetles plus deadly traps? First level?

I feel like that's very, very challenging unless the kobolds are played as unreasonably stupid.

Fire Beetles are CR 1/3. I included noncombatants in that statistic, so it's probably closer to 26-27 actual warriors spread out through an entire volcano dungeon. Deadly traps as in traps that are meant to kill rather than inhibit. (Crossbow traps over net traps, etc.) I didn't mean instant death traps, obviously.

I fail to see how this is very, very challenging unless the party plays foolishly and recklessly. (Which they don't)
It depends largely on their wealth and time constraints. Going through that many enemies is going to burn through a lot of player resources (spells, hp, uses of rage, etc). Certain groups would/could fly through this, especially if they made use of ambushes and surprise rounds and only fought small groups, otherwise it will be difficult.

I think I see what you're saying now. There are no real time constraints, and the players are very poor at the moment. (This dungeon is their first real taste of wealth)

Mob tactics aren't going to really be a thing here, however; the last hero who walked into their lair butchered them in greater numbers when they used mob tactics.
Still, the constant resource drain is a tax I need to consider; what do you recommend that would help lighten the strain on the players? This is their first real dungeon so I want it to be a nice challenge, but they are only Level 1.
Also, they are very close to Level 2, but I don't think that makes much of a difference in regards to the problems you're mentioning.

In cases where players are fighting against larger numbers, or numbers that would strip their resources, guerrilla tactics are usually the best bet.

Providing players with opportunities to surprise portions of the Kobold force, or at least battle in favorable terrain, and then tactically retreat to fight another day can be useful.

The simplest method to reduce this tax is to provide players with basic areas of respite such as an uninhabited magma cavern containing the body of a previous adventurer who was carrying useful potions and items.

From a plot perspective I think it would be very interesting for you to let the players enter the volcano and meet up with some kobolds sympathetic to the players cause, or at least those who dislike the current leadership.

These sympathetic monsters not only add flavor and role play moments to your adventure (not every monster is evil), but they might also give your players a chance to rest by hiding them in a forgotten passage (or if you're feeling mean lead them into a trap).


Teberous wrote:

Rather than scrolls, perhaps some alchemists fire would be a little more appropriate?

Also, it might be a good idea to look at the experience numbers, and try to feed the party enough outter guard/trap encounters to where they can level throughout the expedition. Don't be obvious, but present a rough idea that the party can widdle through, level, and face bigger challenges. They could end up 3rd level at the end.

Can Alchemist's Fire backfire? I could always say they're using crappy materials I guess...Perhaps some molotov cocktails that use the Alch Fire rules?

That's a great idea, actually. Although I didn't plan on it being that big, that seems simple enough to modify for my plans.


Amrel wrote:
GruesomeGoo wrote:
Amrel wrote:
GruesomeGoo wrote:

Fire Beetles are CR 1/3. I included noncombatants in that statistic, so it's probably closer to 26-27 actual warriors spread out through an entire volcano dungeon. Deadly traps as in traps that are meant to kill rather than inhibit. (Crossbow traps over net traps, etc.) I didn't mean instant death traps, obviously.

I fail to see how this is very, very challenging unless the party plays foolishly and recklessly. (Which they don't)
It depends largely on their wealth and time constraints. Going through that many enemies is going to burn through a lot of player resources (spells, hp, uses of rage, etc). Certain groups would/could fly through this, especially if they made use of ambushes and surprise rounds and only fought small groups, otherwise it will be difficult.

I think I see what you're saying now. There are no real time constraints, and the players are very poor at the moment. (This dungeon is their first real taste of wealth)

Mob tactics aren't going to really be a thing here, however; the last hero who walked into their lair butchered them in greater numbers when they used mob tactics.
Still, the constant resource drain is a tax I need to consider; what do you recommend that would help lighten the strain on the players? This is their first real dungeon so I want it to be a nice challenge, but they are only Level 1.
Also, they are very close to Level 2, but I don't think that makes much of a difference in regards to the problems you're mentioning.

In cases where players are fighting against larger numbers, or numbers that would strip their resources, guerrilla tactics are usually the best bet.

Providing players with opportunities to surprise portions of the Kobold force, or at least battle in...

I was throwing around some ideas of some "relaxed" rooms for the little lizards, such as a hot spring they hang out in or something. They also like to use flammable materials like pitch and oil, so they must have stashes...

The idea of friendly kobolds is great, and I planned to add them in like they did in Crown of the Kobold King, where the sympathetic kobolds surrender quickly (Probably because they're caught unarmed, naked, in a hot spring or something) and give advice to the players in exchange for their lives and because their leader is a tool.


Let them know that it's going to be rough when they go in. For example, have a high ranking human general call them insane for going in there or something. Do what you can to get them to realize they've got to play this one safe.

Also, give them some opportunities in said dungeon to rest. The spell casters of the party are especially going to need these in order to keep doing things. (And of course to keep healing the party.) Make sure these pockets are hidden from the kobolds or are easy for the party to have an effective lookout. But don't give them too much of these. I'd say you'd have to keep a delicate balance on the amount here.

Honestly to be frank, I'd say it would take a very skilled gm to pull this off and make it work beautifully. I wish you good luck friend.


Kobolds are awesome lowbie critters. I like arm my elites w man catchers, trip feats and nets to play them as interested in captives. Its a good way to tone down the numbers. I also fluff them as genetically neutral, attempting to mate with anything to create infertile hybrids - provides an avenue to make them scale for a few levels. One variety has a 30' climb speed, flame breath weapon and tripping tail secondary attack. Another variety have claws on their glide only wings and hands (x4 claws and a bite). I also use a good number of tiered room features, scaffolds, steps, alters, etc for multi directional attacks with slings and javelins. Players have to exhaust the front ranks to get at the ranged guys. I have tried to make them ultra loot crazy too, willing to kill each other for shiny objects. A few with alchemist fire and splash weapon mastery can help break enemy lines. The underlining theme of cowardice, greed, versatility and trickery gives them great flavor.

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