Monday 15 January 2018

Night of the Mad Kobold

WK0: Night of the Mad Kobold was written by “Weird Dave” Olson. Art is by Timothy Wilsie (cover), Gary Dupuis, and Rick Hershey. Cartography is by “Weird Dave” Olson. The publisher is Cut to the Chase Games.

This is a 0-level funnel, which is the first adventure in the "Wrath of the Kobolds" series of adventures. Like other adventures by Cut to the Chase Games, Night of the Mad Kobold was written for multiple game engines, including Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, Swords & Wizardry, and 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. I believe that this was the first release from the Cut to the Chase Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Module Kickstarter.

When presenting an adventure in multiple system formats, one has to take care to avoid making one system clearly superior to the others. This is not unique to this adventure or this product; for example, I believe this was an issue with Maiden Voyage of the Colossus from Purple Duck Games.

The upshot of this is that there is none of the strangeness one comes to expect from a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure. These really are the monsters you know! Worse, the adventure centers around the gnomes of Cresthill without providing any means to generate gnome PCs! The adventure further postulates that kobolds are able to travel around the town without any real difficulty, which seems strange for a settlement with a large population of gnomes and humans. This is further exacerbated by sections of the text referring to gnome PCs I.e., "Bren Kapesh gives up what he knows to any strong voice (or a pretty face) if there is not a gnome in the party."

There are other indications that the writer simply doesn't "get" Dungeon Crawl Classics at this point. The Guard asks the PCs to take care of this problem because...well, obviously a bunch of gongfarmers and chicken butchers need to save the day. Every 0-level funnel needs a call to action that makes regular people either rise to the level of adventurer, or fall crushed beneath the tide of events. This one simply doesn't pass the muster - especially since the NPC quest giver has probably already given the PCs the brush off.

Other problems include mention of "Characters proficient in Nature" and "a small pouch of precious gems worth 100 gold as a modest way of saying thanks".

Oh, and statistics are not given in the text proper, but only at the end of the adventure. When dealing with the long statblocks of some versions of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, this is understandable. With Dungeon Crawl Classics, I just find this annoying. There is nothing wrong with having an appendix of compiled statistics. They should also appear in the adventure as needed, though, in my opinion.

None of these problems is insurmountable, and the main plotline of the adventure should provide interesting opportunities for play. Here are my recommended fixes:

  • Run it as a 1st level adventure. The PCs have just appeared in Cresthill, and at least they look tough enough for the Guard to approach them for help.
  • There is no guard. There is only the Watch, and the Watch is comprised of citizens. The PCs are those citizens. Various livestock and trade goods may be left at home, depending.
  • Gnomes can be generated using the gnome class by Yves Larochelle in Crawl Fanzine #6.
  • If you are not planning on running the entirety of Wrath of the Kobolds, consider making the villains human. Among other effects, this will make the theme of racism stronger - it is more than the generic animosity between gnomes and kobolds!
  • Rinklo is described as "a scrappy, tough opponent", but has AC 13 and 6 hp "each". You may wish to adjust this upward.

It is always enjoyable to hear how another judge approaches gaming material, and the "Weird Dave’s Notebook" sections are therefore appreciated. So too is the rather unique adventure set-up...I cannot say that I've run into a fantasy role-playing game scenario about a mad bomber before. The adventure is creative; it just needs some help to make it feel like DCC.

The town of Cresthill enjoys a favorable location along the winding Graywand River. Trade is good, and the prominent gnomes of House Kelver run most of the businesses to the prosperity of the people. Now, however, a dangerous lunatic—a kobold from the nearby Talon Hills—has decided the gnomes of House Kelver need to be a taught a fiery lesson, and only a band of heroes can stop his plot.

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