It’s been a long week of short nights, and frankly I’m exhausted right now. I’m going to finish this raspberry tea and crash for the night. I’ll come back in the morning to write about the Keys of Heraka-at.
For now, enjoy one from the archives, Kobold Kommandos: Princessesssss. This is a session report from a friend of mine, telling of a particularly seat-of-the-pants session.
I have since had confirmation from another friend who played in this sesssion and says that even as well-presented as this is, it still doesn’t quite capture how epic the session actually was.
I think the DM and the players should be commended for how they did here. This is the sort of thing memories — legends — are made of.
This particular anecdote is called “Princessesssss” locally (spoken in a particularly squeaky reptilian voice), because role playing Princess-obsessed kobolds for what became eight hours straight really gets to a guy after a while.
We ended up with a party of Kobolds when the group was exploring the concept of Level Adjustment, a D&D thing that fills the same niche as paying points to play a kewl race (only you pay character levels). One player was flipping idly through the Monster Manual hoping for inspiration when he stopped and asked if Kobolds get bonus levels. The DM quickly ruled “no”, but everyone was so tickled by the idea of Kobolds with class levels that suddenly we had a party of four kobolds.
Kobolds with class levels are dangerous things.
We ended up with a Rogue trap smith, a Ranger specializing in anti-elf warfare, a Sorcerer with a charisma high enough he had the whole party thinking he was half-dragon, and the Barbarian, called Humanslayer. He had the kobold equivalent of an 18 Strength and had stolen a dwarven waraxe from somewhere; the ax weighed twenty pounds, Humanslayer barely reached forty. He fought by getting very angry, and then struggling to get the ax spinning around in circles. After that he just focused on keeping it moving (in circles) and let everyone else worry about where he was going.
The kobolds are acting as troubleshooters for a very very very big black dragon, and are informed that a unicorn has moved into the Boss’ territory; it’s killing honest goblins, reclaiming blightland for woods, and curing the rampant malaria and swamp-fever the dragon was using to drive out the pesky humans. This Just Won’t Do, and the PCs get dispatched to put a stop to it.
From here we have the famous brainstorming session, in which they determine the following:
- unicorns are hard to find, because they run fast.
- unicorns are attracted to virgins for some unexplainable reason.
- virgins are hard to find, possibly because unicorns run fast and are attracted to virgins.
- princesses are supposed to be virgins (at least, princesses locked in towers should be).
- princesses are easy to find, because they are locked in towers, and therefore can’t run very far.
The obvious solution is not to find the unicorn, but to find the nearest princess. This has the added benefit that princesses rarely weigh 1500+ pounds and even more rarely have six foot spears grafted to their foreheads.
The Kobolts go overland, leaving a swathe of kobold-scaled destruction in their wake, until they find a castle. They’re not very clear on who lives in the castle, other than a lot of humans, but there’s a tower on it, and towers are the natural habitat of princesses. Of course, towers and castles and the like are challenging to get into, so we end up with another brainstorming session.
This time they think in a relatively straight line, and come up with a plan that castle invaders have used for generations. It works a little better when the invaders are small and overpowered for their size, however.
The sorcerer enchants the trap smith, giving him a supernatural boost to climbing skill. The trap smith then swims across the moat in the dead of night and clings to the castle wall like a particularly damp spider. He climbs up the wall and through the opening of the nearest guarde-a-robe. For the viewers at home, guarde-a-robes are the 13th century equivalent of luxury indoor plumbing: it’s an outhouse in a castle, using a chute in the wall to take the waste away and dump it outside where the nobles don’t have to worry about it.
Guarde-a-robe shafts are narrow, stinky, slippery, steep, and usually equipped with downward-projecting spikes to prevent just this kind of thing. Kobolds, on the other hand, are narrow, stinky, slippery, and good climbers (especially when enchanted). The trap smith makes it up the shaft no problem, “back stabs” the poor guy who was using it at the time, and then sends a rope back down for the others.
The invasion of Castle Princess had begun!
The Kobold Komandos made straight for the tower, filling every human encountered with a volley of quarrels and “hiding” the bodies behind tapestries and under chairs. This was essentially a dungeon-crawl with the serial numbers filed off and all the orks replaced with poorly trained humans. There was a beautiful assault on the tower, in which Humanslayer had Spider-Climb cast on him and did his blender-of-doom routine at human-head-height along the wall and (eventually) ceiling.
The last thing Fred the Guard ever saw was an upside down kobold with a battle-ax.
At the top of the tower they find a 10×10 room with a human female in a dress and a pointy hat. Finally presented with something that could be a princess, an immediate debate broke out over whether she was, in fact, a princess, and how could they be sure?
Kobold 1: Princesses are pretty, right?
Kobolds 2, 3, and 4 nod.
Kobold 1: So if she’s pretty, she’s a princess, right?
Kobolds 2, 3, and 4 nod.
Kobold 1: anyone know what a pretty human looks like?
Kobolds 2, 3, and 4 shrug.
The consensus was that she was probably pretty enough, and besides she was locked in a tower so there was no way a unicorn could have gotten at her. They promptly charmed her until she thought blood-spattered kobolds were nice, trustworthy people.
Another brainstorming session was called to figure out how to get her out of the castle. Various plans were raised and rejected (including stuffing her down the guarde-a-robe, sectioning her for easy transport in bags, and just tossing her over the ramparts into the moat and fishing her out later). They eventually settled on the charmed girl sneaking out dressed as a servant and the kobolds going out by way of the guarde-a-robe. The GM let the plan work, desperate to get the kobolds out of the castle and back on track with the unicorn.
What do a gang of kobolds do with “irresistible” bait and a known target? Bait a trap, of course! They managed to press-gang a bunch of regular, class-level-less kobolds into digging a big, ring-shaped pit, filling it with pungi spikes, and covering it over. They then tied the girl to a stake on the island in the pit, and ordered her to sing “real pretty like” to get the unicorn to show up sooner.
This led to an impromptu Kobold sing-along that is best left to the imagination.
The unicorn eventually showed up to rescue the princess, and this is where the flaw in their information was revealed: as decades of fantasy art shows us, some unicorns have wings. It flew in and landed next to the princess, bypassing the pit entirely. The kobolds – forced to fight it directly – pounce. Or rather, Humanslayer pounces, and everyone else fires his or her crossbows. The unicorn retreats to the air with Humanslayer hanging off a hind leg, trying to swing an ax that really is far too big to use in one hand.
And rolls a critical hit, fatally wounding the unicorn.
Try and picture the scene: the players are jumping up and down and congratulating Humanslayer’s player on his good fortune and ridiculously overpowered combat character, when the GM points out that Humanslayer was hanging off the unicorns leg and ergo was underneath the unicorn.
About 40′ above ground level.
Over a 10′ deep, spiky pit of doom.
And he just scored an instant kill.
Humanslayer crashed through the covered pit with a unicorn on top of him, right onto the envenomed stakes.
The GM got to use the falling damage rules, the falling object rules, the spiked pit rules, the massive damage rules, and the disease rules, all because a PC successfully killed the “end-boss” for the session.
Humanslayer survived the experience, although he needed urgent medical attention, and was a bit shy about spiked pits for a while afterward. The party delivered a dead unicorn to the Boss, and for extra effort marks, delivered a Princess as well. The PCs got a token payment and the right not to be eaten.
This is the coolest DND story ever.
I shall pass it on in the lore of my friends and gaming groups.
It’s right up there, yes.
I was told this story by Emily (the DM). Owen (one of the players) tells me she *understated* how epic this was.
Bonus: How to play evil without being stupid about it!
Bonus: How to play characters as both stupid and evil, without being Stupid Evil about it.
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Man, I’d forgotten about this story. I still love it.