Where Do They Come From? Part Two
  • Where Do They Come From? Part Two


    In my last column I showed you the processes I used for worldbuilding. Now let's see those lessons applied in an example setting.



    I want to run a con game, a one-shot with pregenerated characters and a wide range of players. To make things easier, I decide outright that the adventuring party is going to be a unit. A unit of what, though? I wool gather a bit, and think it would be amusing to make this a kobold-themed game, using the sneaky little guys from D&D 3x.

    So there we have it, the bit of grit that seeds the setting. Why kobolds? This bit is pure GM fiat. I want kobolds because I think they’re cute and amusing. Amusing kobold antics leans towards a lighter-hearted campaign, which means more property damage and shenanigans as opposed to wars of conquest and pillaging, perfect for a con game.

    All right. What should the kobolds be adventuring for? What do kobolds want? They can get gems in the earth, and metals, and there are excellent miners. They make cunning traps for game, and they have scales so they don’t need much clothing. How about food?

    So the kobolds are out on a foraging raid - that makes sense, but where are they going? It wouldn’t make sense for the little blighters to invade a town or village en masse given their low levels and hit points, but food can sometimes be stored in places away from town. For example, cheese in a cheese-aging cave. A cave makes sense - the kobolds could have discovered the cavern when mining to expand their warren. Perhaps the kobolds could have been displaced from their warren by a bigger, meaner type of monster.

    Who makes cheese, in our world? Dairy farmers,naturally. But my mind goes straight to Trappist monks and their famous beers and pungent washed-rind cheeses, and the potential of a group of kobolds wreaking merry havoc on a solemn, pious monastery is too much fun for me to resist. What kind of monks are they? Are they a martial order, or eremitical?Are they allowed to interact with townsfolk and pilgrims, or are they cloistered away from worldly concerns?

    How about the specific rule of a monastery? What can prevent a group of monastics from rolling their haircloth sleeves up and driving the kobolds out themselves? Perhaps they are a pacifist order, sworn to absolute nonviolence.

    This gives the PC adventurers something to do -perhaps they’re just passing through when a friar runs by shouting about scaly devils in the cheese caves. Or the monks, frustrated with the kobolds barricaded in the cave, request a party of adventurers to deal with the problem. Just one catch. The problem has to be dealt with peacefully. How on earth does one peacefully convince kobolds to leave a cavern stuffed with cheeses and beer?

    From there on you can start painting scenarios for the party’s possible tactics. They could negotiate with the kobolds, of course, if they have something that the kobolds might want or need. Perhaps the adventurers will offer to slay the creatures that displaced the kobolds from their warrens. That would fix things peacefully, where the monks were concerned, since they are chiefly concerned with not shedding blood on monastery grounds.

    How to heighten the stakes? Well, the cheeses are part of the monastery’s tithe to the King’s court, and the bailiff is not going to accept "the cheese caves are being held hostage by kobolds" as an excuse. Perhaps there’s a novice monk who was in the caves prematurely tapping kegs of beer while everyone else was at prayers. Have the kobolds taken him hostage, or has he cut a deal with them?

    What if the PCs do decide to kill the kobolds anyway? You could eliminate that possibility by making kobolds lactose-intolerant and unused to fine beer. They’d be tipsy and nauseous, with griping bellies, which leaves the PCs to persuade instead of going to arms. Or they could just kill the kobolds, antagonize the monks, piss off a deity, and get kicked out of town with many blows and uncalled-for insults.

    There we have it, a simple adventure and setting fleshed out for an intro campaign, with players level 1 to 3. For extra fun,run the PCs and the kobolds as two separate groups at the same table, with one team reacting to the other’s hijinks.

    contributed by M.W. Simmes her previous column in this series can be found here
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Fandabidozi's Avatar
      Fandabidozi -
      Italy! Amiright?
    1. LordNightwinter's Avatar
      LordNightwinter -
      I use a clan of kobolds in my campaign as a lessons-learned kind of scenario. I take a normally easy monster and make them organized, militaristic. The Kobolds, for instance, are frequently hired out as mercenaries because of their effectiveness. Last time the party went up against the Ironscale Mercenaries they almost found themselves at a self-induced TPK. Underestimating the enemies capabilities. I've done similar with goblins and other creatures as well depending on the setting and location. I've also had a drow party get mopped up by a mining party of deep gnomes on the opposite side of the spectrum, that was fun.
    1. M.W. Simmes's Avatar
      M.W. Simmes -
      Quote Originally Posted by LordNightwinter View Post
      I use a clan of kobolds in my campaign as a lessons-learned kind of scenario. I take a normally easy monster and make them organized, militaristic. The Kobolds, for instance, are frequently hired out as mercenaries because of their effectiveness. Last time the party went up against the Ironscale Mercenaries they almost found themselves at a self-induced TPK. Underestimating the enemies capabilities. I've done similar with goblins and other creatures as well depending on the setting and location. I've also had a drow party get mopped up by a mining party of deep gnomes on the opposite side of the spectrum, that was fun.
      This reminds me of the infamous Tucker's Kobolds scenario, really.
    1. LordNightwinter's Avatar
      LordNightwinter -
      So I researched what you were talking about and yes, it is 100% like Tucker's Kobolds. I guess I'm not the only DM to come up with that idea. lol
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