Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On Kobolds as "Dungeon Elementals"

Wayne R. proposed in this blog post that Kobolds might be more interesting as "Dungeon Elementals" - creatures that exist only to reset dungeon traps, lock doors, clean up stuff, etc. Almost more of a Dungeon Maintenance Crew than the race of Draconic Megalomaniacs that they've evolved into.

Go read his article, it's really quite inspirational. I'm not going to repeat much, but instead I'll offer some thoughts of my own.

I love this idea. It clings to the sort of weird ecology that one might find in a universe where D&D things are possible. Kobolds are to Dungeons (specifically dungeons, not just caves) what Faeries are to Nature. The deepest, darkest Dungeons (as proposed in this blog entry) may touch the elemental plane of Earth, and may not even truly have been "built" so much as "grown". Maybe Kobolds are the Earth Elemental's way of maintaining and driving their creations once they've slipped into the Prime Material Plane. If you subscribe to the "Malicious Dungeon" concept, then Kobolds may be the agents of that malice, like electrons are to electrochemistry. Or conversely, once mortals build their dungeons deep enough, they inadvertently catch the attention of the lords of the plane of Earth, who send their material-plane allies to work the dungeon. Why? Who can fathom the will of Elemental Lords? ;)

In any case, Kobolds themselves are rarely encountered in person. They are exceedingly stealthy and can create secret passages as necessary to move around a dungeon undetected. As minions of the Elemental Lords, they seek to bring order to any dungeon they are charged with. They will coexist with other dungeon inhabitants, but in a Kobold-infested dungeon, even the monsters know to tread lightly. The Kobolds may not interact with them directly, but any denizen who causes too much conflict will find themselves on the wrong end of a trap, or locked in a room they could previously leave at will.

A Kobold infestation is a very serious threat to any mining operation, and many a delve has had to be abandoned after it reached too far into the ground.

So how do you get rid of a Kobold infestation? If you can trap them yourself, you'll find that they are physically unimpressive and easily slain. But hunting Kobolds is almost more like hunting Poltergeists, and their numbers are always more than you imagine them to be. Rumor has it that in order for an Earth Lord to send Kobolds, it must establish a gateway somewhere in the dungeon, and destroying this gateway is the only known way to end the Kobold threat. Once the connection to their Lord is lost, the Kobolds will gradually fade away, perhaps in search of another dungeon, perhaps re-absorbed by the very rock itself.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Character: Vanir the Halfling Storm Sorcerer

I made this guy up for D&D 4e a little while ago, and just rediscovered him while updating another 4e character on the D&D Insider character builder. He's actually a response to a question I asked myself - "Now that I have a Pathfinder Elemental Sorceress, what would a similar 4e character look like?" I got kind of off the rails though, and Vanir shares little with Jinna aside from their elemental sorcery.

To borrow a trick from Numenera, you could describe him as a “Halfling Storm Sorcerer who Dances with Wolves”.

I imagine him as a nearly feral Chaotic Neutral character whose Dog sidekick (NEVER a mount!) is his closest friend. He was found in the wild as a youth, after an unnatural storm took his family from him. Whatever caused that storm left its mark on young Vanir, who has gained an intuitive grasp of the arcana of storms and air elementals. Being so charismatic, Vanir makes friendly acquaintances easily, though his storm-driven temper makes him a dangerous foe.

Vanir only recently came into his sorcerous birthright (typical "18th Birthday" type thing), and he adventures to push the limits of his powers and discover what his true limitations are.

Here's his Summary data. It's not as nice as the HeroLab Pathfinder data, but it will give you the idea.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Vanir, level 1
Halfling, Sorcerer
Build: Storm Sorcerer
Animal Master Starting Feature Option: Dog
Spell Source Option: Storm Magic
Found in the Wild (Heal class skill)
Theme: Animal Master

STR 12, CON 11, DEX 18, INT 11, WIS 8, CHA 18

STR 12, CON 11, DEX 16, INT 11, WIS 8, CHA 16

AC: 14 Fort: 11 Ref: 14 Will: 16
HP: 23 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 5

Arcana +5, Athletics +6, Heal +4, Nature +4

Acrobatics +6, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +4, Dungeoneering –1, Endurance +0, History +0, Insight –1, Intimidate +4, Perception –1, Religion +0, Stealth +4, Streetwise +4, Thievery +6

Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Animal Master Attack: Distracting Attack
Halfling Racial Power: Second Chance
Sorcerer Attack 1: Lightning Strike
Sorcerer Attack 1: Storm Walk
Sorcerer Attack 1: Whirlwind
Sorcerer Attack 1: Howling Tempest

Level 1: Sorcerous Blade Channeling

Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) x1
Adventurer's Kit
Staff Implement x1
Dagger x1

====== End ======

Monday, January 27, 2014

The SWords & SWizardry game continues....

I got in a session yesterday for "D&D's Birthday".  A week or so ago, the party had gone on a successful firebeetle hunt in the Delve, and gained enough XP to level up. The wizard's new access to 2nd level spells had him spending tons of GP on researching new spells and creating scrolls, not to mention using "Continual Light" (which in S&W, as in the older D&D's, is permanent) to upgrade party's lanterns.

Last night, the town's mayor invited the part up to his estate for dinner and of course to discuss some business. It seems that the local abby is hot to purify and reclaim the tomb of Saint Ulther (which the party had discovered in the Delve a few weeks ago), but are not happy about the idea that this Delve goes much deeper, and and probably contains increasingly dangerous foes who may wander up during a veneration service to eat some acolytes. So the Mayor and Abbot wish to retain the party as a "cleaning crew", officially sanctioning their activities (in other words, identifying them as friends, not rivals), and are willing to provide some "technical support" in the form of two magical staves - raise dead (8) and cure light wounds (50). The party quickly did the math on the equivalent cost in healing potions and raise dead spells, and decided that was a fair deal. They're on a timetable now though, and needs to get that Delve cleared out inside of 3 months, since that's when the pilgrims are coming.

The next day, the party descended to Level 4 of the Delve, wherein dwelled a huge and fearsome beast (the eventually determined it was a Manticore - really a bit outside their "comfort zone" to engage). The fighter used the Mage's new "Strength" spell to boost himself from a passable 13 up to an 18 strength, the bonuses of which came in handy over the course of the adventure.

As it turned out, there were also a number of goblins holed up down there. As many of their kin had become food for the beast, they were pretty scared, and they were willing to make a deal with the party to help defeat the beast. In reality, they hoped to loot the treasure room while the beast was chewing on the party, but it didn't work out that way for them. Though they took the brunt of the beast's attacks, the goblins and party actually made a fair dent in the beast's health, and only a few goblins died before the fighter critically hit with his battle axe. (The fighter wanted to chop off the Manticore's tail. I decided that if the fighter rolled a 20, he'd succeed. And wouldn't you know it, the next attack was a 20.) The Wizard plugged the beast with a magic missile to finish him off.

The party rushed in to the treasure room (having a fairly good idea what the goblins were up to), and the fighter slew two goblins in one stroke. (The advantages of being a fighter in S&W - you can take out low HD critters quickly) The remaining goblins fled, and the party carried as much of the treasure out as they could (thanks to the Fighter's temporary 18 strength, he just hoisted the treasure chest on his shoulder and carried it out).

And that was the end of that trip into the Delve. The party plans to go right back in, even though that means they won't be able to replace the Strength scroll in time. They want to prevent the Goblins from stealing the rest of the treasure.

However, there is a second Manticore, and it's not going to be happy that they killed its mate. And this time, they won't have a half dozen goblins to distract it.....