Delusions of Grandeur

By Adventure Bundles
Adventure Bundles
OSE
Level 1

There is a kobold clan living in an abandoned dwarven mine. They call themselves, Iga Shuvne, which loosely translates in common to The Big Ones in the Mines. The name is new. The kobold chieftain changed it after the discovery of a wand, as he thought it better describes what the clan now resembles. It was about a month ago, when a scouting group of kobolds exited the mines to patrol the surrounding cliffside and desert. There, on the ground, near a patch of dried bushes, they found a wand which allowed them to change their size. Although they have made themselves smaller while testing the wand, the actual interest was on the property that allowed them to enlarge themselves. They brought the item back to their chieftain, and since then, he boasts with confidence, pride and has even started declaring dangerous ideas about attacking the nearby villages of men.

This eighteen page adventure features a two level mostly linear dungeon with about sixteen rooms. It is the usual 5e take on kobolds, but in OSE. IE: dumb, comwardly, and with some silly traps. It lacks strong descriptive text and is pretty straightforward. The single exception is a Drowned Maiden, that shows potential, but suffers the same.

We’ve got some light hooks around behind hired because the kobolds are getting more uppity and hanging around and stealing things and such. Off you go the old dwarf mine (don’t humans and elves ever mine?) and journey three days up the mountain/desert with a few wanderers. A colorful little 5e-style map has two levels, mostly linear, with some water features in it. And kobolds.

Modern kobolds.

We wanna be dragons and we make traps like we’re tinker gnomes. I loathe tinker gnomes, and modern gnome culture. And modern kobolds. Your mileage may vary. But, they are weird rube goldberg trap heavy. Vats of molten honey. A wire from a fake gem to a dropping killer bee hive. (Save vs death.) A compressed elk bladder that contains a mixture of snake poisons. A charming little feature is the inclusion of Grimtooth style drawings for the trap; an appeal to the nostalgia of the olden days. As things go, I’m rather fond of bee hives, and even snake venom. The more rube goldberg nature of the traps is a bit of a let down, as is the somewhat heavy nature of the traps, in quantity. It approaches a schtick. I’m open to being called prejudicial here, for while I find them charming I also sigh more than a little bit. Anyway, a lot of traps to go with your “i wear dragon wings and a dragon mask” chief. And vats of molten honey to fall on you. And weak floorboards. And …

The text is a little on the nose for me. Mechanical minded and to the point without much charm to it, or evocative writing. I can’t say it’s BAD, but … the read-aloud is short and the text well formatted for quick play. There may be a thing or two out of order (if the trips is first then the tripwire should be first) Rooms with read-aloud do a decent job, but that’s not all of them The egg room, for example, is just DM text “There are 5 nests here, containing all current kobold eggs of the tribe. There are green, red and black eggs at the moment, and all contain little kobolds in the early stages of development. If the kobolds in Area 4a, Kobold Living Area have been alarmed, then some will be waiting here to defend the eggs.

Otherwise the chamber has no enemies” Like I said, devoid of life and a little too mechanical minded. Compare this to a room WITh read-aloud “The sound of waterfalls feeding the underground lake emanates around the cavern. A couple rock pla?orms with jagged edges protrude from the crystal clear water, while makeshift bridges made of ropen rope and planks extend to connect them.” That’s from room three, a particularly well done/formatted room. Maybe the read-aloud could be a little more active in it’s verb use, but it’s ok. 

You’re gonna get traps and fighting. There is a shaman that might get you to go kill the chief, and vicey versey, but only if you don’t make omelets in the egg room. There IS the inclusion of a Drowned Maiden, which I take it is a 5e thing. I love the concept, it being a classic. The description, though, is “As soon as the party approaches or comes out of the water, a drowned maiden named Drowned Constance will emerge from the water. She has ventured too far away from her lair that connects to these underground rivers and is lost and hungry. She will ask the party to bring her an egg of the “scaly little ones” to feast upon so that she can return to her lair.” Not very evocative at all and a little boring and one dimensional, but, it’s not fighting. More thought, going in to this, could have really elevated it, and the design … which I think is pretty much the same with the entire adventure.

As a 5e adventure this is probably pretty standard, or even much above the usual quality levels. I can’t say though that it seems like a good OSE adventure. A little linear and prone to fighting. Maybe a better kobold cave than B2, but, also, maybe not. It’s needs a text uplift, and a rethink of of the overall design and situation within the cavern. 

Oh, the delusion is tha the chief has a wind that makes him/kobolds bigger or smaller. It shows up on the chief, probably in the last room, and is not really handled at all. Not so great for the main gimmick/title gimmick.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThrue with a suggested price of $3. Le Preview is the entire thing. I suggest checking out room three on page seven of the preview. I think it does a good job of showing all of the good with the formatting/read-aloud as well as the more difficult parts of the design.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/401027/Delusions-of-Grandeur-OSE?1892600

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14 Responses to Delusions of Grandeur

  1. Adventure Bundles says:

    Hi Bryce. First things first, thanks a lot for the review. When I ask for a review of an adventure I wrote, all I want to read is the criticism and the ways that next adventures can be bettered. If I go back and read the previous review for Deadly Waters, I think many of the things got fixed for this one, and more things will be better on the next ;).

    Having never written anything for any OSR system, I thought it would be easier to take a 5e scenario I had already published and remake it. And although I eliminated some 10 pages of text and read-alouds etc, the theme still is very much 5e-ish. And that shows, what with the kobold mentality and silliness and so on.

    Initially, when I chose to remake it to OSE, I wanted to make it darker but the stupid inner voice was afraid that the spirit of what it initially was would be lost. I think the result is a mix of silliness, fun, but eventually also deadliness (some of these traps can really go wrong), that creates a dissonance to the atmosphere.

    About things like the Drowned Maiden or the chief having not so many words around them, I was afraid to be too wordy. You know better than most, that there is a very thin line between terse and wordy. And I was afraid to cross this line towards the wordy border, ending up being too terse in the end :).

    As I said, all words from reviewers and players are taken really seriously, I am glad that no bad tag was given :D, and I now return to the effort to implement said criticism.

    P.S the Drowned Maiden is not a 5e thing, it was invented for this adventure.

    • Dave says:

      “never written anything for any OSR system, I thought it would be easier to take a 5e scenario I had already published and remake it”

      I’m going to pick on something that bugs me about the whole adventure publishing scene, not just you AB. And that’s “writing adventures for publication” without an early playtesting phase. If adventure designers would stop thinking they were authors and started writing directly to run the adventure at the table, then actually running a couple of groups through it (easier than ever in the online era) before editing and publishing, a lot of problems would be fixed. To me this is a bigger sin than back-converting 5e adventures, which in itself usually fails to capture the spirit and balance of old school adventures.

      I cannot emphasize enough though, it seems everybody does this, and you’re not the worst offender. Good for you for putting yourself out there for review.

      • Adventure Bundles says:

        Hi Dave. I totally agree with you, and yes, I may not have been the worst offender but I used to be up there. We used to release one adventure per month. Just to release. It not only caused some admittedly mediocre adventures (linear, thin plots, etc), but also sucked the fun out of the entire writing experience.

        When we stopped doing this “professionally” to get the fun back, we haven’t released any adventure in months. This is the first one, and it is a remake just to test the waters with an OSR system.

        Me and my wife are currently in the prospect of writing a system neutral adventure and we actually have fun doing it. We, as you say, are doing it with the mindset of it being played and not sold. Part of the reason I ask for these reviews is because I really want that new adventure to be good. I want people to read it and imagine themselves running it or playing it. I don’t want to release any more fillers just to release.

        And thanks, I am a strong believer that by listening to criticism one can really improve oneself. That is of course, if one is willing to begin with. I guess a lot of publishers are fine selling mediocre adventures as long as it brings some money.

      • Chainsaw says:

        Playtesting not only reveals legit problems but can also inspire cool improvements. Always playtest a few times if possible.

  2. Beoric says:

    I’m not sure where the comical part comes from, other than to note that the same thing has happened to goblins. I suppose it is a way to dehumanize them so players can kill them without guilt, without actually making them evil (which would be scary to 12 year olds, I guess?). They are cartoonish video game mooks. Maybe it was also influenced by movies like Gremlins.

    I’m pretty sure the trap thing comes from widespread knowledge of the existence of Tucker’s Kobolds with few people having actually read it. Which is a shame, because WotC keeps a reprint available freely on line, which should be read by anyone who hasn’t read it lately. It can be found here: https://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/TuckersKobolds.pdf

    • OSR Fundamentalist says:

      Tucker’s Kobolds was an obscure meme for decades, it was 3e canonizing the Kobold’s gimmicks as trap-masters and dragon wannabes that the current popular image derives.

  3. Kent says:

    This post puts me in mind that I would like to hear you talk about yourself for a change. Who is the mystery man behind the imbecile mask? Are you truly limbless with a mind-link to the web? With what will you lose your virginity? Would you have been happier spending your time compiling a fictitious phonebook for the entire world?

    This post demands autobiography.

  4. mAc Chaos says:

    What were older Kobolds supposed to be like?

  5. Reason says:

    https://
    64.media.tumblr.com/a36015c66076b6045df8e0700e92a7e3/tumblr_mmstoiwXTs1ro2bqto1_1280.
    jpg

    https:// images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/5bd88db093a6320f071b1a50/1552677239183-DS4SP8ZU91SVY6YVKSHK/Kobold2e. jpg

    http:// http://www.mojobob.com/roleplay/monstrousmanual/images/kobold. gif

    There wasn’t one single uniform portrayal of kobolds. From what I can remember there were several takes existing at the same time (maybe some evolved from others later too).

    The first pic is my defining image of kobolds. (1e era pic) Kind of creepy-primordial cruel underground things, cunning, wicked but necessarily super smart. Decidely not goofy or fae-ish (like I tended to do my goblins and official Oe references a vague link to goblins). Gollum in LOTR films reminds me a bit of my idea.

    They were left pretty undescribed so people filled in blanks.

    Second one looks a bit pug-like, early 2e era pic. Some reference to a yappy or dog-like language was made so some takes were a bit dog-men. Third pic is later 2e.

    The draconic thing was also in some early takes (scaly little guys with horns).

    “Tuckers kobolds” is way older than 3e, it’s a reference to 1e era Dragon article that played up the ambush and trap aspects of kobolds.

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