Night of the Mad Kobold is the first adventure in a short series that has been funded through Kickstarter. Written by “Weird Dave” Olson, this adventure evokes an old-school feel through its choice of layout and artwork, although the actual adventure style is more modern. It serves as an introduction to the Wrath of the Kobolds trilogy.
As with many of the adventures I’ve reviewed, this one would benefit from better editing. It’s by no means dreadful, but there are just enough errors and awkwardly phrased passages to draw my attention.
The situation has a kobold setting bombs in a city. The players need to find the kobold and defuse the bombs before they cause even more havoc. It is a really good idea for an adventure.
I am rather less than thrilled with how the adventure opens, however. The adventurers are in a tavern, waiting for the story to start. They talk to each other. They share rumours they may have heard. They might talk to the gnomish captain of the guard, who is drinking in the tavern. They may meet his distraught wife. Then the first explosion occurs, and the story starts.
I’ve seen a lot of adventure beginnings like this one, beginnings that ease the players into the adventure and give them a chance to utterly avoid it. (That the party end up investigating rather than the city watch does have an explanation, even if I don’t think it’s a good one). And I hate them with a passion. Just begin the adventure!
It also sets up a gotcha moment. Did you pay attention to how the gnome acted with his wife? No? Well, there goes a potential thread in the investigation.
Investigations in role-playing games are tricky things to get right, and this adventure manages to make a few mistakes in how it presents the investigation. When the author includes a sidebar giving suggestions to get back on track when they kill the only lead (and he’s only provided one lead), you know there are problems. If you want to write a good investigation, use lots and lots of redundancy. Don’t rely on the PCs not killing someone who attacks them. Don’t make the giving out of rumours at the beginning of the adventure optional. Just give the blasted things to the players and let them use them during the adventure!
(I love randomly distributing rumours, but they work best as part of providing hooks into a sandbox environment, not as the chief information you need for a focused adventure!)
There are good things in this adventure. The NPCs are well described. The use of a time track to work out where the PCs are compared to the mad kobold is fantastic, although I’m confused as to why he seems to be revisiting bomb sites when he set up the bombs earlier (per what they learn from the sole informant). I have no doubt that good DMs can use this adventure very successfully, but I feel that it could have been better constructed.
In short: good concept, lacklustre execution.