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5E How fast do Kobolds dig tunnels?

jasper

Rotten DM
I thinking of hitting up the 1E DMG for this. But has 5E ever put out how fast do Kobold dig tunnels? Mine tunnels? Etc. I have 20 kobolds. Working two shifts of ten.
 

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jgsugden

Legend
Officially, they have interest in it, but no special abilities. As such, they progress at about the same rate as any other race would (although with a low strength score typically, they might not be that quick about it if you want to be realistic). However, as sorcery is common amongst their kind, you may have a single sorcerer with a move earth cantrip that can make things move a lot faster.

If I needed to worry about this in my game, the kobolds by themselves, working in teams of 10, digging a 5 foot wide tunnel, would go about 5 feet an hour. There is a lot of dirt to be hauled, a lot of reinforcing to prevent collapse, etc...
 

aco175

Legend
I agree with @jgsugden with about 5ft per hour. You can also take into account the type of earth being moved, but I would just generalize it to 5ft. Another point if the kobolds are digging is that the ceiling height would be only 5ft and make things difficult for PCs to move and combat inside. They would have no need to make the ceiling 10ft like most tombs and old mines.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
However, as sorcery is common amongst their kind, you may have a single sorcerer with a move earth cantrip that can make things move a lot faster.

Move Earth is a 6th level spell. The cantrip is Mold Earth, and it can move loose earth 5', but doesn't allow you to break up stone or hard packed earth.
 


jgsugden

Legend
Move Earth is a 6th level spell. The cantrip is Mold Earth, and it can move loose earth 5', but doesn't allow you to break up stone or hard packed earth.
Yeah, I always mix up the names. The intent, according to Crawford, is that it is to be used on dirt, not stone.

Regardless, once you free the earth from the wall, you need to remove it from the tunnel.... and this is a great way to move all of it quickly.
 
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jasper

Rotten DM
How fast does the narrative drive them to dig?
Thanks for help. I was asking so I can affect the narrative. Because if something too evil the players would balk. So would you be happy, if a dm did tucker kobolds traps withing three days of you leaving the area.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Officially, they have interest in it, but no special abilities. As such, they progress at about the same rate as any other race would (although with a low strength score typically, they might not be that quick about it if you want to be realistic). However, as sorcery is common amongst their kind, you may have a single sorcerer with a move earth cantrip that can make things move a lot faster.

If I needed to worry about this in my game, the kobolds by themselves, working in teams of 10, digging a 5 foot wide tunnel, would go about 5 feet an hour. There is a lot of dirt to be hauled, a lot of reinforcing to prevent collapse, etc...
Thanks. My PCs are taking over the gem mine in Icewind dale. They are only feeding the kobolds for their work. As in their choice is "Work of Stew or hand crossbow to the face". Thanks for the shoring idea. That is an extra charge to company store is going to charge the new owners. Hmm. I wonder what does a 2 by 4 cost in Icewind Dale.
 

I found a tunneling article, which references ancient techniques from 6 BC in which engineers through solid rock were documented tunneling around 9 meters per year, (almost 30'). Modern techniques have roughly tripled that rate. It's not a simple matter. You have to remove the earth, account for stability, and make sure fresh air is coming in. This requires a fantastically tremendous amount of labor if you don't have modern machinery, or in D&D some powerful magic.

So, in 3 days, 20 kobolds wouldn't likely make a dent tunneling anything with simply picks and hammers. But, as I think others were hinting, if the narrative fits, then the kobolds have something advanced to get the job done. Maybe they have a deal with an elemental creature of earth, and so on.
 


Mistwell

Legend
Thanks for help. I was asking so I can affect the narrative. Because if something too evil the players would balk. So would you be happy, if a dm did tucker kobolds traps withing three days of you leaving the area.
If it is plausible, then sure. Is this the most fun choice the DM can make in the situation for the players and the DM? Does it make any sense in the narrative or is it so awesome it won't matter if it makes sense? I think those are the questions I'd be asking first. Then I'd find a mechanical explanation which fits the narrative I am going for based on the answers to those questions.
 

chaochou

Adventurer
Thanks for help. I was asking so I can affect the narrative. Because if something too evil the players would balk. So would you be happy, if a dm did tucker kobolds traps withing three days of you leaving the area.

I think he was pointing you towards the suggestion that your group's imagination is what creates the narrative, so the answer to your questions lies within your game - and it's aesthetic and dramatic needs - rather than outside it.
 

If I remember right in the 1e DMG, kobolds were amazing miners, BUT it required that they had strong taskmasters to keep them on task, like bugbears or hobgoblins probably. Or if they were digging to something they really really wanted
 

MarkB

Legend
Officially, they have interest in it, but no special abilities. As such, they progress at about the same rate as any other race would (although with a low strength score typically, they might not be that quick about it if you want to be realistic).
Their low strength is offset by their small size, since they don't need to make the tunnels anywhere near as large and spacious as most humanoids would.
 

Hriston

Hero
I thinking of hitting up the 1E DMG for this. But has 5E ever put out how fast do Kobold dig tunnels? Mine tunnels? Etc. I have 20 kobolds. Working two shifts of ten.
I doubt there has been anything put out for 5E, but consulting the 1E DMG, I get the following: First, your ten kobolds need a shaft with a cross section of about 50 square feet to have enough space to all work together effectively. Next, the rate of progress depends on the type of rock being mined. In an eight-hour shift, ten kobolds can mine 800 cubic feet of very soft rock, like limestone, 600 cubic feet of other soft sedimentary rock, or 300 cubic feet of hard rock, like lava or other igneous rock. So working in two shifts, twenty kobolds could progress 32 feet per day through very soft rock, 24 feet per day through soft rock, or 12 feet per day through hard rock.
 

Hriston

Hero
Also, I just read the post that says the PCs are using the kobolds as forced labor. The 1E DMG has something to say about that as well. The above numbers are for a willing labor force. To force a gang of ten kobolds to work as miners, you'd need to have at least three armed guards on duty at all times plus one or more foremen supervising and driving the work. With one foreman, the kobolds would work at 60% efficiency, with two or three, they'd work at 70% efficiency, and with four or more, they'd work at 80% of the above rates of progress.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I found a tunneling article, which references ancient techniques from 6 BC in which engineers through solid rock were documented tunneling around 9 meters per year, (almost 30'). Modern techniques have roughly tripled that rate. It's not a simple matter. You have to remove the earth, account for stability, and make sure fresh air is coming in. This requires a fantastically tremendous amount of labor if you don't have modern machinery, or in D&D some powerful magic.

So, in 3 days, 20 kobolds wouldn't likely make a dent tunneling anything with simply picks and hammers. But, as I think others were hinting, if the narrative fits, then the kobolds have something advanced to get the job done. Maybe they have a deal with an elemental creature of earth, and so on.
This may be one of those cases in which 'realism' has to go out the window in favor of genre tropes. Otherwise, dungeons of any significance wouldn't exist.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
3e gives Kobolds Profession (Miner) and in Races of the Dragon (Chpater 6:Character Options) we learn


PROFESSION (WIS)
The most common profession among kobolds is mining. Mining work involves digging, removing dirt, and building supports.
Check: A Profession (miner) check can be used to indicate the progress of mining or digging operations. Excavation is represented as a fixed number of 5-foot cubes per miner, based on the Profession (miner) check result of the lead worker (but not of the overseer—see Special). Even a pair of unskilled miners can remove a 5-foot cube of stone with 8 hours of labor, while reasonably talented workers can remove twice or even three times as much.

Special: Kobolds mine more efficiently than other Small creatures. Treat them as Medium creatures for determining their daily progress, but as Small creatures when determin- ing how many kobolds can work on a given 5-foot cube*.

*this means 4 Kobolds can fit in a 5ft cube and thus with talent move a 30 ft cube of mine dirt in 8 hours - they are better miners than Dwarves!!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This may be one of those cases in which 'realism' has to go out the window in favor of genre tropes. Otherwise, dungeons of any significance wouldn't exist.
Which is why they hardly ever exist in my campaign world. :p

But the type of stone makes a huge difference. Tunneling through granite or sandstone?
 

pemerton

Legend
I thinking of hitting up the 1E DMG for this. But has 5E ever put out how fast do Kobold dig tunnels? Mine tunnels? Etc. I have 20 kobolds. Working two shifts of ten.
Thanks for help. I was asking so I can affect the narrative. Because if something too evil the players would balk. So would you be happy, if a dm did tucker kobolds traps withing three days of you leaving the area.
I think the key issues are (i) verisimilitude (which may vary greatly depending on how many miners and stonemasons your group has), and (ii) that the players have, or are able to get, knowledge of the answer.

I think (ii) is the most important. Because this is what allows the players to make choices. If it's all happening behind-the-scenes in your (ie the GM's) head, then I think you can just present whatever outcome will make sense from the point of view of pacing and encounter difficulty.
 

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