Among the many amazing adventure sites, NPCs, and events you can find in the compilation Encounters in the Savage Jungles (click the link to pick it up at the Dungeon Masters Guild) is Dam Kobolds! written by yours truly. In this site-based encounter, a bunch of kobolds cranked up on ryath root (basically a form of monster PCP found in Tomb of Annihilation) have made a lair out of some caves hidden behind a waterfall. They’ve got a captive faerie dragon and they are in need of a beat down. Enter the PCs.
It’s a very simple setup likely to be a slugfest through some windy, cramped tunnels, wherein the PCs dodge some deadly traps and beat up overly tough kobolds. But there’s plenty of DMs out there looking for something a little more complex than a thrashfest. If that’s you, this article is here to help!
Using Other Encounters
Considering Encounters in the Savage Jungles (abbreviated ESJ throughout the rest of this article) is a compilation of amazing work by fantastic authors, it pays to simply use some of the other provided material to expand or change-up how Dam Kobolds! might play out. Here’s a few options.
Idol of the Three-Headed God. Prolific DMs Guild author M.T. Black‘s contribution to the book is Idol of the Three-Headed God (ESJ 17), a cursed item that will cause the party to be attacked by three successive waves of enraged beasts. You could simply replace the faerie dragon Lilyandranine (Lily, for short) with this item (in room D3-5), or place it there regardless of the presence of Lily and any other captives. The kobolds are not affected by the curse, and they revere the idol as a gift from some evil patron. As soon as the party takes it — as PCs are wont to do — they suffer the curse, and can bring it back to the kobolds, deal with the curse, or search for a means to end the curse early. These options add some roleplay potential to the adventure.
Daddy! The magical dagger known as Daddy — which appears in project leader Jeff C. Stevens‘ It’s Daddy Time (ESJ 59) — could be found in the hands of the scale sorcerer (room D3-5), or perhaps one of the dragonshields that might be looking to usurp the scale sorcerer’s rulership over the kobolds of this lair (check out rooms D1-3 and D2-1 for options). Additional treasure never hurts, and if there’s a potential claimant to the kobold throne, that’s some roleplaying juice.
Look to the Appendix. Thorstop the Red is a dwarf cleric found in Appendix A: Quick Encounters (ESJ 74). He makes a good captive, replacing or in addition to Lily the faerie dragon. You could also place him in a cage or hog-tied in rooms D2-2 or D2-3 so the party can potentially recruit an ally mid-way through their dungeon romp.
Beating down kobolds is all well and good, but sometimes a negotiation or two, some factional disputes, stealth missions, and the occasional mercantile opportunity can prove wonderful for shaking up your weekly D&D session. Here are some thoughts on that.
Factions. As mentioned above, you can make one of the kobold dragonshields in room D1-3 or D2-1 a potential rival of the kobold scale sorcerer in room D3-5. Simply decide or roll randomly to determine the allegiance of the kobolds in each room ahead of your game session: 1 on a d4 means they are loyal to the dragonshield rival, 3-4 they are loyal to the scale sorcerer. Now you’ve got a bunch of kobolds with petty rivalries to sort out, which means they have something to negotiate with the players about: not just help, but also potential stores of ryath root, zabou mushrooms (both found in Tomb of Annihilation, Appendix C), or other gear!
That’s Some Tom Clancy S#!%. Add a few more captives to one or more rooms (in addition to or replacing Lily the faerie dragon), and have the adventure be a stealth search & rescue mission. The party will need to be able to sneak in, gather intel, and then either storm the lair or use distractions and the kobolds’ daily (nightly?) schedule to their advantage when extracting the captives.
Merchants. Maybe the kobolds aren’t drug addicts, or they at least have some self-control, and their mercantile streak wins out: these kobolds aren’t strictly bad guys, they are merchants looking to sell ryath root, zabou mushrooms, and/or giant weasels and drakes (see room D2-2). They may be a recurring tribe that the party interacts with during their travels throughout Chult, and could prove to be useful allies offering a (not terribly comfortable) place to rest while the party tackles Tomb of Annihilation.
Goblin War. Since the jungles of Chult are rife with goblins of the Batiri tribe, why not have them be natural enemies of the kobolds? In this case, the kobolds have a distinct advantage thanks to their use of ryath root, and that doubles as a resource the goblin tribes might want to target for theft. A party of adventurers stumbling into the middle of this turf or resource war could find plenty of opportunities for stealth operations, distractions, skullduggery, negotiations, and hilarity.
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