5E Tucker's Kobolds 5e

Nebulous

Adventurer
So, I'm running a Phandelver Side Trek Sunday night because some regulars are out of town. I'm going to have 3 factions in play: Orcs of the Wyvern Tor, The Company of the Yellow Banner, and most importantly, a warren of kobolds. Tucker's kobolds. Nasty, trap laying, sneaky little bastard kobolds in their home lair.

Three players. One player controls the orc war chief and 9 or 10 orc grunts. Another player controls the Company of the Yellow Banner, which is 5 or 6 NPC classes (including two ratman rogues). The 30 or 40 kobolds are from the MM, but they have a couple Dragonshields and Scale Sorcerers and Inventors to bolster them. AND...and a wyrmling black dragon named Oileye. He's their prized possession to keep alive at all costs. Because one day he will be a great big powerful Oileye.

So I'm going to have the orcs and heroes start at opposite sides of the warren. The kobolds know they're being invaded, and I am going to co-DM the kobold side with the player because it will be the most difficult one to run. They don't know any of this yet, it is going to be a surpise.

What can I add to make this a really nasty scenario like the legendary Tucker's kobolds? I already have a Murder Hall, molotav cocktails, and a bridge with phosphorous stones that ignites when it touches water. And more.

It doesn't matter who "wins" it's just about seeing if the kobolds can repel two separate and very formidable groups clunking through their lair. Oh, and also small tunnels that only a Small creature could squeeze through, that would make it impossible for medium creatures to use the escape exits.

The prep work includes stat blocks for all of the orcs, heroes and kobolds, so the player will have those in hand from the start. And building a map big enough to incorporate an entire kobold warren and dozens and dozens of enemies. I'm pretty excited about this, but if anyone wants to add some ideas I'm all ears.
 
Numbers tell heavily in 5e, so if the kobolds can bring those numbers to bear, it'll be pretty one-sided. The warren might actually work against them, that way. You want to set up defenses such that many kobolds can attack one target at the same time - obviously range is the prime way to do that, dividing the enemy up with redirection traps like pits and even hokey slides, dropping stone doors and the like, might be another.

Of course, in any three sided battle there's the let's-you-and-him-fight tactic, if there's any way to get that going....
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Hordes of Kobolds really only work low level, Spells like fireball and spiritual guardians clear them out.

Anyway some tricks I have learnt over the years with adventures s like Tallows Deep and From the Ashes.

1.Traps, traps and more traps.
2. Smoke. Burn wet rubbish to restrict sight and suffocate.
3. Very narrow tunnels Kobold sized. Medium sized critters have disadvantage to hit and half speed plus grant advantage.
4. Ways to restrict movement. Walls of force, bars etc. Rope bridges.
5. Toys for Kobolds. Explosive barrels, beads from necklaces of fireballs.
6. Multiple secret tunnels and entrances so Kobolds can pop up behind the PCs.
7. Kobold upgraded NPCs, spies, spellcasters, gladiators etc.
8. Terrain and things like arrow slits with archers.
9. Poison and more poison. Kobold snipers with a pet wyvern and envenomed arrows.
10. Allies, dragon being obvious.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Hordes of Kobolds really only work low level, Spells like fireball and spiritual guardians clear them out.
Lots of squirrely tunnels with "U" bends can really limit AoE effectiveness. Didn't work in the old days.

To Zardnaar's list I would add...water. Pit traps with water 10' deep in the bottom are a real hoot. Bonus points for a 3' layer of oil on top or sewage in the water for disease/nausea. Also, make one of those U-bends vertical with an "Easy-Flood" option. This is especially awesome with a black dragonling swimming around. (Bone up on your drowning and swimming rules.) Also, its really hard to re-light torches that have been submerged...food for thought...or Oileye. Heck, making a good portion of the lair an underwater network of tunnels would be a good idea.

If you must have a taller room or hallway....clotheslines strung just above kobold height are fun for limiting movement and visibility, making for lots of disadvantage. ("Oh, you're pulling the clothesline down? Well, it turns out that the other end was attached to..." hilarity ensues.) Also, curtains hanging everywhere can limit visibility in just the right directions, which limits not only missile targeting, but spell targeting as well.

Absolutely nothing should be a dead end. Every location has at least two egresses, and every tunnel should split and loop around to multiple locations. Getting backed into a corner is death for the little guys, tossing a spear, dart, or dagger at the squishy back end of the party as you run past is victory. (Also, make sure to reset or arm any traps that the party has already been through, its your duty. Oileye is counting on you!)

Heavy armor is really annoying to the wee darlings, so if you're giving them pets...think rust monster. They're only CR 1/2! A little less exotic...can you imagine being a bee or hornet whose nest is kept in a clay pot...and then that pot gets thrown at adventurers...you might not care who you swarm out and sting. (Plus, think how cute a kobold in a beekeeper's outfit would be.)

Also, consider that kobolds are not known for their construction standards. There's no reason that a tall ladder up a narrow vertical shaft has to be strong enough to hold a great big human....especially not the top part. Also, really hard to miss a climber with dropped things, if the shaft is narrow enough. Also, who said a pit trap has to be straight down? A 30-degree bend or two can make it really difficult to rescue hapless comrades. How much weight does a rope bridge really need to hold?

Also, Pack Tactics is the single worst way a kobold can get advantage on a PC. All that means is that TWO kobolds are in immediate danger!

Don't forget about decoys. A candle and some little clay or stick figures can put shadows on a wall that might temp an invading caster to unload an AoE in an otherwise empty room. Or hold a party of cautious invaders off long enough for a quick escape.

Y'know, if you have a cooperative black dragon...even a wyrmling. You have an endless supply of acid to stockpile....just saying.

Now. Mix those things together in pairs! Imagine the fun as a paladin who is busy with all these stinking curtains is surprised by rust monster that just ran under them. The other end of that clothesline was attached to the pot that holds the wasp nest!

Don't just think "How can I kill the PCs" think "How can I grant the PCs the least heroic and most embarrassing deaths I can."
 

Iry

Explorer
I love the idea of this Wyrmling Black Dragon constantly drooling and speaking with a lisp, being with the kobolds because they don’t mock him like his siblings did. The drool is, of course, acid the kobolds collect in jars they use to make new tunnels, etch cave paintings, and throw at pesky adventurers.

They also throw hives of bees, then jump in the water where the bees can’t reach them, and party members with armor have a hard time following. They savor the honey, and the top of the mountain is full of honeycomb hives.

Once a year, the kobolds drizzle the black dragon with honey to celebrate the day they discovered Oileye, making him look like a huge bee (black/yellow). He thinks the whole thing is stupid, but kobolds will be kobolds.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
A while back, we did a thread discussing how to use various monsters from Volo's Guide.

Here are the Kobold Entries:
Dragonshield, Inventor, Scale Sorcerers.

Now about those traps. XGtE has a nice chapter about how to use simple and complex traps. Simple traps can be used to augment normal creature encounters (or just throw a speedbump down outside of combat). Complex traps are encounters in their own right, traps upon traps with moving parts and synergies.

A few good uses of a simple trap would be:

Placing a few Crossbow traps behind some Three-Quarters Cover in darkness at the far end of a room. When the PC's open the door to the room, the traps shoot at them from the darkness. This leads the PC's to believe that the Kobolds have ambushed them from the darkness at the far side of the room (a reasonable conclusion). Causing the PC's to fire off attacks into the darkness and rush headlong at it in order to melee them to meaty chunks. However the reality is that the Crosbow Traps are unmanned (unkobolded?), and the creatures are actually hidden in the rafters of the room. Once the party charges into the room, they will poor oil all over from above (to slip up the heavy front line, and potentially light them on fire if anyone has any cocky ideas about FIreballs or similar things.) and then attack the now exposed back line.

The simple pit trap, with a twist. The Kobolds flee down a hallway, the baiting the PC's to pursue. The Hallway is laden with weight-sensitive pit traps. Anything bulkier than a Kobold will fall strait through.

The classic false ceiling filled with sand and rocks. Sure you could potentially kill a PC with falling rocks. But by putting it at a Y-junction in a hallway, and using a huge payload, you could force half the party to go down either path. Splitting the party, and significantly upping the danger they face.
 
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Nebulous

Adventurer
I love the idea of this Wyrmling Black Dragon constantly drooling and speaking with a lisp, being with the kobolds because they don’t mock him like his siblings did. The drool is, of course, acid the kobolds collect in jars they use to make new tunnels, etch cave paintings, and throw at pesky adventurers.

They also throw hives of bees, then jump in the water where the bees can’t reach them, and party members with armor have a hard time following. They savor the honey, and the top of the mountain is full of honeycomb hives.

Once a year, the kobolds drizzle the black dragon with honey to celebrate the day they discovered Oileye, making him look like a huge bee (black/yellow). He thinks the whole thing is stupid, but kobolds will be kobolds.
Awesome.
 
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Nebulous

Adventurer
The classic false ceiling filled with sand and rocks. Sure you could potentially kill a PC with falling rocks. But by putting it at a Y-junction in a hallway, and using a huge payload, you could force half the party to go down either path. Splitting the party, and significantly upping the danger they face.
Yes, splitting the party with a rockslide at a tunnel junction would be devastating.
 

ccooke

Explorer
A thing I've used was a claustrophobic dark cavern, filled with broken boxes and cages. Throughout it, there are starving wolves in cages that can be opened remotely. There are multiple Small-sized shooting galleries around the edges and some hides within the room. Pack tactics can be a lovely thing.

Another one - a trapped corridor where the ceiling is held up by a net. The ceiling consists of: Rocks, several kobold statues and two padded boxes designed to break open on impact, each containing a basilisk.
 

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