5E Adventure Review: Caves of the Kobold Queen

Cut to the Chase Games ran a successful Kickstarter to bring the Wrath of the Kobolds trilogy of adventure modules to us. The first two adventures: Caves of the Kobold Queen and Curse of the Kobold Eye are now available through DriveThruRPG, as is a prequel adventure, Night of the Mad Kobold, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. This is a review of WK1: Caves of the Kobold Queen, which is presented as a 34 page pdf (and is available also in Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry formats in addition to the 5e format I’m reviewing here).

The adventure is designed for a party of four to six characters of levels 1-3 and is optimised for 2nd level characters. The basic idea is that kobolds have been kidnapping travellers and villagers, and the adventurers are called in by a local mayor to rescue the kidnapped villagers. However, everything isn’t as it seems, and the assorted intrigues and betrayals that underpin the adventure elevate it from a standard low-level adventure into something quite special.

Caves is written with new Dungeon Masters in mind, and has numerous sidebars from its author, “Weird Dave” Olson, which offer advice on particular encounters. This is a dangerous adventure; the main caves hold hundreds of kobolds, more than enough to end the careers of many novice adventurers (and more than a few more experienced ones). It achieves its goal of feeling like an old-school adventure, and a superior one at that. Players will need to be attentive to events and understand that discretion is the better part of valour; otherwise there is a high likelihood that their characters will meet their ends in the caves.

The adventure includes a short journey through the wilderness, but does not include a wilderness map – something that irritates me. The maps of the caves are well-drawn.

Perhaps the weakest point of the adventure is its editing. For the most part, the adventure is well-written, but there are enough errors of punctuation, grammar and spelling to draw my attention. It would definitely benefit from a better editing process. “In the wild and rocky hills north of the town of Ormkirk, dangerous kobold raiding parties have been striking at travelers and townsfolk alike for several weeks, stealing them away under cover of night from out of their homes.” I’m really impressed that travellers are being stolen from their homes!

The adventure does not overcomplicate things. It presents a situation with a number of competing factions, and lets the players affect it as they wish. You can play it as a straight hack’n’slash game, or you can take advantage of the intrigue to make it something special. I think this is a superior effort, despite the flaws in its presentation.

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