Kobold Press

Drama vs. Realism vs. Game: Scenes

The Tempest by Thomas ColeThe heroes are in the middle of a political campaign, trying to win the support of the populace for their next effort. A key constituency is the kobolds of the Kobold Ghetto, and the players have decided to gain its favor by showing the kobolds that they have a lot in common. They decide to help out in the mines, buy drinks for kobolds at the local taverns, hand out coins, and generally do a lot of little things that add up to the support of the kobolds.

What happens next?


In a realistic scenario, the heroes would spend a lot of time doing hard work—10-hour days in silver mines, for at least a few weeks, which is long enough for the heroes to earn the respect of the kobolds. Realistically, a lot of it’s going to be boring. The heroes might get a pulled muscle or a stubbed toe, but not much else.


How can we make this dramatic? The rules of writing fiction suggest the use of scenes to make the game more exciting. A scene, simply put, is one group of characters at one location at one time, where someone wants something and there is an obstacle to them achieving that.

Let’s break down this task that the players are trying to accomplish into scenes. In scene 1, heroes are at a mine, trying to prove they have the chops. But our heroes are not miners, so they are learning. Perhaps the boss kobold is a bit of a bully, and he keeps throwing obstacles into the path of the heroes, such as “forgetting” to provide them with lanterns, assigning them to a dangerous area, and requiring that they collect a quota of ore before time runs out.

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Collection of Curiosities: The Reflection Pool

"Jiro the Kobold" by Pat LoboykoWater stretches out before you, reflecting the sky above. But what is within the pool? Perhaps the water element has more than just water in it! You can roll randomly for a result below, or use the handy number provided with each entry to figure out your result on a d12. You can also pick the one that works for the area in which your characters currently linger.

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The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas MoranSo your players went off on a tangent…

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s unavoidable; you’re staring at ten single-spaced pages of adventure you wrote last week and your party just walked… right… by. Prepared! offers you solutions to player tangents while you figure out your next move.

Unexpected traveling can be a stressful situation for a GM to facilitate. You want to provide your players with something more than: “It takes about four hours to get there. It…uh…rains a little.” Below are four snappy scenarios that can be used when your party engages in a little impromptu road wandering.

The Disbanded Circus

Who They Are: Tamby and Godgerman’s traveling circus was destined to fail. The party encounters a small remnant of the circus as this group travels to a nearby civilized center to sell circus gear and find new work. These sad folk have two horse-drawn wagon cages full of nearly dead animals.

What They Want: To reach civilization and forget the whole awful experience. Information on the road ahead would be welcome.

General Disposition Toward Strangers: Suspicious, ranging to ambivalent.

Plot Hook: The circus was disbanded when trained giant spiders turned on the ringmaster. The disbanded circus workers fear the spiders have been stalking them…

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Report from the Southlands: The Editorial Side

Southlands ScarabGreetings, Southlanders!

In just a few short months, the Southlands sourcebook and all the project’s shiny add-ons will be in your hands, at your tables, and ready to provide your gaming groups with unlimited adventures beneath the pitiless sun. We can’t wait to see what GMs and players do with the myriad story hooks, rich traditions, dastardly villains, and brave heroes—all inspired by the Arabian Nights and ancient Egypt—that the project will offer.

But! Before all that goodness can happen, the book has to wind its way through the editorial process even before it heads to layout, proofing, and printing. And that editorial process is where I come in.

I’ve been working with portions of the core Southlands text for about the past three months, and I have to say, it’s been an incredibly fun ride. I’ve taken tours of the River Kingdom of Nuria Natal, the Dominion of the Wind Lords, the High Jungles, the perilous East and West, the Abandoned Lands, and the Southern Fringe. I’ve explored the strange traditions of lotus magic and combat divinations, and I’ve learned the ways of the proud Lion Kingdom of Omphaya and the Narumbeki legions. I’ve even peered into the disturbing lives of the insectoid tosculi, which build hives that engulf ruins and thriving communities alike.

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Book Review: Rise of the King, Companions Codex II, by R.A. Salvatore

Rise of the KingThe orc has really hit the fan—actually the orc, the drow, the frost giant, the goblin, and the white dragon have all hit the fan and once again the fan is the Silver Marches. As Drizzt and the Companions cross the land to finish laying the soul of one of their long-time allies to rest, they learn of the extent of the peril that the cities and citadels of the Silver Marches are actually in. This peril is led by the ever-scheming drow, who are not only trying to further themselves but who are doing the will of their vengeful goddess. The dwarven citadels are surrounded above and below ground, and any efforts to reinforce the besieged cites near them will lead to their fall. The drow have divided and are poised to conquer. Will the Companions overcome this monstrous incursion, or will the Silver Marches finally fall?

If this sounds like a book written by R.A. Salvatore that you have already read, you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Events like this have happened before in different forms with less powerful enemies. There comes a point where, as a reader, I stop caring about the fate of the ever tenuous alliances in the Silver Marches, and this series put me at that point. Salvatore’s writing skills and his exploration of some characters that have not gotten the spotlight in the past are about the only things that kept me reading this book or this series. The whole reincarnation of heroes who should have stayed dead was bad enough, but to add insult to injury, here they are fighting the same old battles that they have fought in the past, and many of the characters really haven’t changed as much as you think they should have.

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