Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kobold Security: Tighter than expected

Here's the scene at the end of the first session of Beyond Vinland. On the right you have our intrepid heroes. On the left you have a horde of angry kobolds. That squiggly stuff inbetween the two forces? That's a pile of about 2 dozen corpses! The PCs are in phalanx formation at the entrance to the dungeon and the kobolds are in room 1 of their underground lair.

Uh, did that kobold in the red robes just throw a fireball at us?  Crap.
Despite about 3 hours of play, the party never made it past this first room. They made three separate attempts to break into the kobold's lair. The first two times they rushed in a bit sloppily. They killed all the guards but were in no shape to continue. I can't really blame them for not taking the first fight of the campaign too seriously. They're 3rd level and these are "only" kobolds. And I do have a bit of a reputation as a pushover DM in certain quarters.

And to be fair, the main problem wasn't the four or five regular kobold warrior 1 guards. It was their pets. At the beginning of each assault the guard room contained two Horrid Weasels, which are like Dire Weasels only worse. You can find the Horrid Animal template in the Eberron Campaign Sourcebook. It's pretty effin' sweet. It adds acidic saliva damage, chitinous armor, and a little bit of stat beef. None of that was the decisive factor though. The real problem was the Dire Weasel blood drain ability. When one of these critters bites you it latches on to you and starts draining 1d4 Con each round. Ouch.

So these four vikings dudes rolled into the kobold lair and thought they could roll over this encounter, but then they would end up with big gaping holes where their Constitution scores should be. The second time they tried this the party at least brought some ranged weapons. That was an improvement. But the end results were pretty much the same: all the baddies in Room 1 were dead but the good guys were in no shape to continue. On the third attempt they really had their act together and were using long spears and a tight formation, letting the foes come to them.

Unfortunately, not rushing the guards had consequences. One of the kobold guards escaped and raised the alarm. This led to every size Small miniature I own being pressed into service as a kobold. A couple more Horrid Weasels showed up too. And some kobolds with actual levels. Generally, even the higher level kobolds were pretty ineffectual against our heroes. The only real threats on the board seemed to be the weirdo weasels and the one kobold spellcaster laying down scorching rays and fireballs. Still, the raw numbers were sufficient that a few kobolds were bound to roll high enough to get some spear stabbin' done.

But then 10 o'clock rolled around and, as per my new house rule, the session was over. I think it was Doug who came up with the idea that the pile of corpses was now so big it cut off the opposing forces. That's pretty effin' cool. By my count the PCs had killed 32 kobolds and 8 Horrid Weasels. That gave them enough XP that they can start next session at level 4.

All of which went down in the first room of the dungeon.

One other cool thing about the session. Jason and I had played together before several times, but this was his first time as a player in an RPG that I was running. He was delighted and/or freaked out by some of my quirky house rules, such as my insistence on using the Arduin crit and fumble charts, and my special d30 rule. At one point in the course of the night he used the d30 to overcharge a magic missile and totally exploded a weasel. That was rad.