The Unemployed Adventures of Mervyn the Savvy Kobold Captive (complete short story)

Dr Midnight

When "Dungeon" Bob Dungeon and Alice the dwarf had killed the two kobold skirmishers, the third kobold realized he was finished. He looked left, then right, panicking. He saw no way out and raised his arms in surrender.

When Alice's blood is up, she tends to kill and then kill some more. She only saw a kobold across the way and took aim with a dagger. Dungeon Bob grabbed her wrist. "Hold on there, Alice. He's surrendered."

"Well what the 'ell's 'e good fer? Less juss killim!"

The kobold slinger smiled broadly and spoke. "Whoa, whoa. Hey. I hear you. You're mad, I was just on the enemy's side, I get that. Thing is, you need a guy who knows how this place works. You need an inside man."

Dungeon Bob and Alice exchanged a look. "And you can tell us where we can find what we seek?"


"What's in it for you?"

"Me? I need to live. That's number one. Secondly, and I think you'll agree, I sided with the wrong team. Working with the kobolds was great until you two sauntered in here and started racking heads. Now? I'm out of a job and I know it. I'm changing sides."

Alice spat between broken teeth. "I still say we killim."

"I see where you're coming from. Honestly, I do. I'm a kobold, you're in the kobold den, you don't know if you can trust me... but check this out bubbie. What are you here for?"

Dungeon Bob said "We're being paid to search this place for a dragon hide that was stolen..."

The kobold brightened. "A couple of days ago! I know the very one. I can take you to it."

"You can?"

"Yep, and I can let you know about upcoming challenges. This is good for all three of us. I see a winning horse, and I'm jumping on it."

Dungeon Bob thought for a moment. "Bind his arms." Alice shrugged and tied the kobold's arms behind his back. "What's your name?" Bob asked.

"Mervyn. My esteemed and late colleagues here were Joe and Mike."

"Pleased t'meetcher," Alice grunted.

"What's this slime pit for?" Dungeon Bob gestured to a ten by twenty foot wide pit filled with glowing greenish ooze.

"I don't even know. Seriously. It was here when we moved in. We've only been here about a month or so. I never figured out what the thing's for." Bob and Mervyn walked to a portcullis that blocked a passageway to the north. "So, um, we've got to get through here. Normally Debbie's running the portcullis lever, but I guess she ran on to warn the others that you're here." Quietly, Mervyn said "So, you two... together?"

"Me and Alice? Yeah."

The kobold nodded. "She's a lovely woman." He looked back. The dwarf was relieving herself into the slime pit.

Dungeon Bob looked slightly abashed. "Alice, must you?"

"Better out than in!" she chuckled.

"Right she is," Mervyn agreed. "Shall we move on?"
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Dr Midnight

The two adventurers and their kobold captive crouched in the hallway adjoining the next room. Mervyn was speaking in a low voice. "Okay, check it out. Through this next room are some traps."

"What kinds of traps?"

"Dart traps. Step on a floor tile, it shoots at you. Standard stuff. Trouble is, we just had it installed recently so I couldn't even tell you where the exact tiles are. Just stay clear of the sarcophagi and you'll be fine. I know what you're thinking... there's no undead in those sarcophagi. Not a problem."

"Wait a stinkin' minute," Alice sneered. "I don't like that 'e's not tellin' where the trapped tiles are."

"Alice, babe, I'm not pulling your leg. I really don't know. Most of us don't. We just lost a guy last week to the trap. Thunk! Dead."

Dungeon Bob rubbed his chin. "All right, we keep a wide berth around the sarcophagi."

The kobold went on. "Louis, his name was. I never liked the guy anyway. Told a lot of racist jokes. He had this one joke about... uh... oh yeah: 'What's the difference between a hobgoblin and an otyugh? The teeth.' I don't even GET that one." "

"Alice, you take point."

"We joke around a lot down here. Mike from the first room, you should see the impressions he can do... except whoops, he's dead now. Never mind."

Alice wrenched Mervyn's arms back by the hemp rope that tied them. "Shut up."

"Sure, sure. Oh! Wait."


"Um. This is awkward, but... I'm going to make a fuss. Like I'm your unwilling captive, I'm trying to escape at every waking moment, yadda yadda."

Dungeon Bob crossed his arms. "Why's that, Mervyn? I thought we could trust you."

"You can, you can! It's just that I gotta play it safe, y'know? If we go through this place and I'm leading you onward and we're acting like bosom pals, that's gonna be bad for me if, and I mean IF, you guys get taken down. I'm just saying it can happen and I've gotta keep up appearances, have all my options open. I think that's not unreasonable." He paused and saw that he needed just a little push to make it over the top. "Of course you can trust me. Bob... Bobby. I'm your white knight."

"Fine, let's go."

Dungeon Bob came out firing his crossbow and Alice ran into the room trailing a wildly shrieking and hissing Mervyn. The three kobolds in the area ran off through the next corridor. The group walked carefully around the sarcophagi. "Why they runnoft?" Alice asked.

"Well, in all honesty, the next room's better to face a group of intruders from. They were probably just serving as lookout here and then reporting back as soon as you arrived."

There was a makeshift altar in the far corner of the room. There was a small sack atop it. "What's this?" Dungeon Bob asked.

"Oh, that's our altar to Tiamat. We make a small monetary sacrifice to her now and then. It's the least we can do."

Alice started walking toward the sack. "Munny!"

"Hey, whoa babe, let's slow down. That's not fair play!"

"What you prattlin' about? It's free munny, you ain't in a position to argue."

"Come on Alice. That's a sacrifice we made to Tiamat. Taking that's just not cool."

Dungeon Bob sighed. "Leave it."

"Awww," Alice groaned.

"Thanks you guys. Hey, listen. I've been thinking. This has gone pretty well. What say, and I'm just throwing this out there, if at the end of this thing you agree that I've been really helpful... you cut me in on a share. Eh?"

"A share of the treasure?"

"Yeah! The dragon hide proceeds and all that. I could join the group proper, make the assimilation into civilized society, finally break free of the stigma of kobold life."

Alice looked at Dungeon Bob like she smelled something she wasn't responsible for. Bob nodded at her. She belched in response. "All right, agreed," Bob said to Mervyn. "IF you're alive, and IF you help us past the further traps and challenges, and IF you prove worthy, we'll make you a third partner in the treasure."

"Wow, this is fantastic. You guys are class. No longer will I have to be a kobold slinger. You know how often those 'glue shot' bullets burst open on you? It's impossible to get out of clothes."

They walked on to the next room.

Dr Midnight

This is all from a one-shot I ran last night while my regular campaign was down due to... problems. Two players, both 3rd level, in the dungeon at the back of the DMG. All of this was improvised.

When Mervyn speaks, think Paul Reiser from Aliens. Think Steve Buscemi. Mostly? Think Harry Ellis from Die Hard.


Dr Midnight

"Okay," Mervyn said. "In this next room, this is where we play Skull-Skull. It's got four more..."


"What what?"

"What is Skull-Skull?"

"Ahh. I guess you guys don't play that. It's a game we play in which piles of skulls are smashed by a rock."

Alice sneered. "That sounds like a 'orrible game."

Mervyn thought. "Yeah, I guess I never thought about it like that. Not much of a game, really. I hate Skull-Skull. I leave it to the dummies. Anyway. So the room's got another slime pit, four more sarcophagi (untrapped), and a door. At the wall with the door is a second level balcony, on which all the others will be perched, firing down at us from safety."

Dungeon Bob leaned against a wall. "Hmm... that does sound rough. I have a few ranged attacks, but Alice has only got her dagger. It'd be a slaughter."

Mervyn brightened up. "Okay, wait! Idea. Let's run this one up the flag pole and see if it flies. At the corridor leading into the room, we make like I just bashed you in the head and I run up to the door alone." Bob's eyebrows furrowed. He didn't like the sound of this. "Hear me out, hear me out. I tell them I just brained you and that Alice is escaping on foot and that they've gotta go get her, like, right now. They run out through the corridor. Alice is hiding behind that corner and she jumps out, then you stand up. You'll have trapped them all between you in a five foot wide hallway, where only one of them can reach you at a time."

Bob rubbed his Dungeony chin. "Hmmm. Like a pincer attack."

"Pincer attack, baby!"

"We'd 'ave to let 'im go," Alice said. "I don't know 'bout this."

"Yeah, that's a drawback. Think of it this way, though... you take a risk. IF it proves you can't trust me and I run in there, that's just one more kobold on the balcony than you were going to have to deal with anyway. IF my plan comes through, you'll have a dynamite way to nail these creeps, am I right?"

Dungeon Bob sighed. "You're right. I don't know if I trust him either Alice, but it's the best plan. Let's let him go."

Alice untied Mervyn's bonds. "Ahh. Thanks Alice, you're a peach. Okay, you go hide over there. Dungeon Bob? You and me babe, Over here we're going to make like a struggle's happening, then you fall over into the room so they can see you. That'll help the illusion."

Dungeon Bob grunted and fell down, playing dead. Mervyn ran shrieking to the door. "Open the door, open the door! You've gotta come quick, the other one's getting away!"

The kobolds above eyed him warily. "What happened?"

"What do you think happened Debbie, I smashed his head in, and thanks by the way for running off and leaving me alone earlier. Now go, bring the drakes, there's no time!"

The doors opened and the kobolds ran out.


Alice and Bob lay on the ground in pools of blood, surrounded by triumphant kobolds. Mervyn looked down at them. "Well, crap."
Heh, I like it, savvy kobold indeed :]

And this was all improvised? How'd you make a simple kobold so smooth when it comes to switching sides? :cool:

Too bad it ended in tpk :uhoh:

Dr Midnight

Dungeon Bob woke up. He was lying in a thatch of trees fifty feet from the entrance to the kobold hall. Alice was beside him. Mervyn was lying exhausted against a pine.

"What happened?"

Mervyn panted. "I... you... got taken down. I convinced them that... as revenge for killing Joe and Mike, that I wanted to deal with you myself. They said... fine, take them to the slime pit and dump 'em in. I dragged you away."

"You dragged us all the way out here?"


"Up two flights of stairs?"

"Oh yeah."


Mervyn thought for a second and shook his head. "I don't even know. My arms are trembling. I think I blacked out twice."

Alice sat up and rubbed her head. "So whut now?"

"Well, you guys can heal up in an instant... you're resting, so for some reason you'll go from mortally wounded to just peachy in five minutes' time."

"What doesn't make sense about that?" Dungeon Bob asked.

"Yeah, it's perfectly senzible," Alice agreed.

"Uh, sure," Mervyn shrugged. "Thing is, I can't go back now. They'll have figured out by now that I didn't drag you to the slime pit. I'm ousted... on the lam... cooked."

"We'll go back to town for a day or two and you can recuperate. We'll also outfit you with proper adventuring gear."

"Really? That's fantastic babe, let's do it."


"Wow, those were two very relaxing, eventful and detailed days in town," Mervyn said. "I really liked getting to know human society. Y'know, getting a feel for the hustle and bustle of the city. Now let's go back into the dungeon and get that dragon hide!"


"Wow, that was a really intense series of encounters we just went through," Mervyn said. "But here we are at the big boss' cave. Now, mind you... this is a dragon. The real deal."

"'E's a dragon?"

"That's right pumpkin. Big white one. Deadly. We can do it though, we're unstoppable together! Let's go."

The group stepped into the cave. Mervyn stood behind Dungeon Bob, who stood beside Alice. Cold air mingled with their breath, and they exhaled frosty plumes. Somewhere in the cave, the sound of enormous lungs rumbled against the walls.

The dragon leapt out and soared on immense white wings to where the group stood. It landed and breathed an immense cloud of frozen air, bathing the heroes in ice. It roared and brandished its teeth in wide, gleaming arcs.

"To victory!" Dungeon Bob yelled. He ran forward.

"What 'e said!" Alice yelled. She ran forward.

Mervyn, frozen and terrified, watched from behind a stalagmite as his two companions approached the ice dragon. Within forty seconds, the two were dead... proper dead. Crushed into reddish slush on the ground. The dragon licked its maws contentedly, and noticed Mervyn.

"You there," the dragon called. "Was that all of them?"

Mervyn stood up, his legs shaking. "Yes, that was it."

"Good. How many of you are left?"

"How many... of me?"

"Yes!" the dragon cried impatiently. "How many kobolds are left?"

"Oh. Um. Just me."

"Ahh, that's a shame. Well, you're now my second-in command. Recruit some new help and reset the traps."

"Yes sir! I was just saying to Debbie the other day that I had some big ideas for this place. We can make it great again, you know. I believe in what we do here, and I think after this minor setback we can be better than ever."

"Great! You seem like a kobold with real vision. Write up a proposal and hit me with it at your convenience. For now, get to work."

"Thank you sir. We'll do lunch. Ciao!"

And that's the story of how Mervyn the kobold got promoted.



I vote for Doc doing more 1 offs! Great stuff (and I don't have to worry about it dying before the end ;^).

Dr Midnight

Yeah, this is the first story hour I've finished since... umm... I think since the first Feng Shui game (Six in the Chamber) story hour. That was like 2003 or something.