A Star is Born!

•April 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Some of you are here from the GenCon ’09 events manual, and have some questions. Fear not. I am here for you, as are some of the other authors and organizers of the event.

Feel free to look around and say hello, but of course be sure to drop your questions about the upcoming game here. We are working hard to develop a superior game and have all the tools in place. We’d love to hear your thoughts about other Hellfire Congress games, or your desires for this huge event. Welcome, and come back often!

Let the Game Begin!

•February 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

The process of designing an adventure for a game that is still in its playtest phase is more challenging than I though it would be. Not only am I constantly shuffling priorities, as KLP isn’t a project with a deadline, but I am also constantly learning little details about the Pathfinder system that force minor revisions in designed encounters’ presentation and format.

But all of that is a great experience for me, as I master the system that I hope to be playing and writing for into the future. I haven’t seen many changes I don’t fully support, and I am super-excited to see the development of the game as the year-long playtest proceeds.

As I have mentioned before, the goal for designing this game is to make an available scenario for new players, whether they are new to hobby gaming, or just new to Pathfinder. As such, the encounters I am making have some exploitable tactical highlights, but a lot of design choices have similar elements. There’s a lot of Dodge feats, for example. Dodge is appropriate for kobolds, and its mechanics are slightly different in Pathfinder from what 3.5 players will expect.

I’m hoping for increasing chatter with the release of the first encounter. Those of you who have voiced an interest in running the game at a convention, or at your local game store can get in some early preparation and see what the others think. If I can promise you all more regular posts until the adventure is done, we can be conversant in the scenario before anyone has to run it, and maximize the great time your players will have.

Next week, we’ll discuss the first combat, as well as changes to the monster stat block. For now, get yourself a look at the introduction and first encounter (dubbed “Mishaps” for the sake of the kobolds), get together some funny ideas for simple kobold traps, and let the game begin!

Kobold Love: Introduction, Mishap 1

Dude, you suck…

•February 1, 2009 • 3 Comments

I’ve come to my senses. If I’m going to call myself a hardworker and going to say I have a blog, I’m going to have to buckle down and think of it like work. I might have mentioned that somewhere already, but like most things, it’s easier to know in your head than in your gut.

So…back to the blog. I’m going to finish Kobold Love in regular posts, and I hope to see some discusison here or on Phil’s blog. I expect gentle reminders followed by unreasonable abuse if I start to lag again.

This is a fun project. Next post I’ll have the introduction to the adventure and the first “encounter”. Expect that in the next few days, and I’ll do better at this blogging thing.

Kobold Love 2: Barbarians and Other Finesse Classes

•February 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In my attempt to work through the Pathfinder System and work through the changes from 3.5, it occurs to me that every character can be as complicated or as simple as a player wants. The new class features and even basic design of the game offer more material to work with, but there’s no shame in keeping your choices simple. You can choose options that broaden your horizons and make you versatile, or you can focus more narrowly, limiting your options but maximizing your performance in your role.

In the 3.5 system, barbarians aren’t really versatile. You can spread yourself out a bit with feats and weapon choices, but you’re still pretty much an axe-murderer with a good land speed. As a Pathfinder barbarian, you gain more feats and equipment to customize your abilities like everyone else, but you also gain a new ability every other level to spend your pool of rage points on. Become a skirmisher who’s harder to hit on the run, or a clear-headed combat monster with no penalties for raging, or focus yourself into a better axe-murderer with more melee damage.

This is a great development in the hobby, with some classes having been marginalized in the Third edition as dipping classes (classes people routinely dip into for strong saves and an early ability, then abandon, like paladin, druid and ranger), or as stereotyped classes (classes where multiple characters tend to still look identical – like paladin, druid and ranger). If you’ve ever had a hard time focusing on a tricked-out combat rogue or wanting your bard’s abilities more tailored to his evil alignment, Pathfinder deserves a long look.

The second half of the Kobold Love party includes more finesse characters – including a barbarian. They showcase a larger range of abilities without spoiling the classic class features. The druid still feels and plays like a druid, but with no animal companion and the earth domain, is unique in its approach to the class. As a DM showcasing this system at your local hobby store, I’d try to assign the first batch of characters to newer players, and the second batch to DnD players who haven’t played Pathfinder yet.

Without further ado…

Kobold Love I: Heavy Hitters

•December 5, 2008 • 2 Comments

My first piece of the Kobold Love adventure comes to you in the form of three characters who can really put out some damage. For kobolds, that is. Some of my goals are to have functional characters with the potential for a little mechanical spice. I want players to pick up on their abilities by the end of the game, but I don’t want to confuse a new player who needs to be able to focus on fun and learn some basics. I’ll be counting on friends and colleagues – and hopefully complete strangers – to critique design choices and consider how they might make changes if they want to run the game for new players at their local game store. I’m also looking in to attaching them as files so they’ll be printer friendly and ready to hand out.

   I think the most exciting news I could get about these characters is that someone intends to run the event as a free demonstration to new role-players, or gamers who haven’t tried Pathfinder yet. I encourage every reader to consider giving up one afternoon to run a short scenario like this, or one of the Pathfinder Society games to help create buzz among new players or nonplayers.

   Enough stalling, here are your first three kobold PCs!

Athabat, Mistress of the Red Scales

Small female kobold

Lawful Evil sorcerer (draconic, red)


Kibbo, The Shadow Blade

Small male kobold

Lawful Evil rogue 3/fighter 2



Gebbo, the lazy one

Small male kobold

Lawful Evil rogue 3/fighter 2




 Let me know what you think, and head on over to Phil’s site to check out his version. It was his idea, after all!












Sensei – Where Ya Been?

•December 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

As a writer trying to claw his way up, one of the things I’ve learned is that you can’t write if you have kids. I love my kids, but there’s no working around them. The 2-year-old plays “peek-a-boo” over the screen of my laptop, and the 7-year-old keeps asking me what she can do when she’s bored (which I’m pretty sure means “If you don’t play with me now, I’ll have a hollow childhood and later try to fill that emotional void with boys you don’t approve of.”).

   Then there’s the oldest two. The 11-year-old is either antagonizing her mother, or asking if she can play the Wii. She will manipulate me by saying she thinks she can take me in Mario Karts. Please, the girl doesn’t understand drift at all.

   Here, I will interject that you also can’t be a writer if you own a Wii, a computer, a television set, or have a wife or job.

   The oldest is pretty easy on me. She’s at that place now where she doesn’t need her family, just a book and a mall. And food. That girl eats more than the Great Dane and I combined, while we outweigh her 360-100. The one thing she does do is sneak over to my laptop while the other girls have distracted me and randomly type “Shrek” into the text of any open document she finds. One day, I’m going to get a great, paying project and the word “Shrek” is going to get me fired. I’m going to miss one eventually.

   So, fresh from the realization that the authors I look up to also have lives, I am more impressed with them for being able to churn out quality material, before deadline, while clearly educating and entertaining their kids, and not appearing to always be in front of the computer while their wife sadly watches infomercials in the other room. I’m going to have to master that balance if I want to make it in this industry. Or as a husband and father.


   One way to get my family the attention they deserve is to actually finish a project. Since just before Ascension of the Drow, it feels like I have been designing RPG stuff nonstop. Now that I am ready to roll out my work on Chatty Phil’s Kobold Love Project, I can relax. Maybe do something fun and stress-free with my wife. Like…..uh, oh.


Christmas shopping.


   I have really appreciated the chance to work on Kobold Love. It gave me an opportunity to practice being funny, which I have rarely tried in RPG work before. Like Phoenix, Arizona it’s a dry humor, focused on the stuff that makes us all love kobolds. The PCs are dramatic and unreasonably sure of themselves. Their mishaps are mechanically challenging, but hopefully allow for the players to role play the cruel, pathetic little creatures that kobolds really are.

   More than the chance to amuse players, I set out with the purpose of making Kobold Love an ideal game for new players. With the Beta playtest of Paizo’s Pathfinder game under way, I wanted to work on a (initially) free adventure that game store owners and new GMs could use to expose new players to the Pathfinder rules. For this reason, you’ll find some repetition of feats between both monsters and player characters. You’ll also see that the encounters are fairly simple in nature, though not without challenges. Hopefully, the scenario will find use as an introduction for new role-players, or for players who haven’t given Pathfinder a try yet.

   Over the next several days, I’ll be releasing bits of the adventure and linking it to Phil’s original page. I hope to be involved in discussion of the design choices, as well as the differences and similarities of Phil’s version. I want to thank him again for allowing me to use his blog as a model, and to make my version for the Pathfinder role-playing game.

   Without further distraction, go check out the first half of the party in my first Kobold Love post!

Kobold Love Introduction

•September 13, 2008 • 3 Comments

Kobold Love is a stand-alone adventure. While pregenerated player characters are provided, the game makes an excellent springboard for a kobold campaign. In such a campaign, characters could explore both the surface above their warrens and the depths below, possibly caught in a war between gnomes and svirfneblin. At higher levels, they may even be the favored servants of an enclave of dragons, risen high above their kobold heritage and bringing a sense of destiny to the dragon born. This version of the Kobold Love project is set in the Pathfinder world of Golarion, and uses the rules for that game system. Check out the free download of the Pathfinder rules set at paizo.com.

Kobold Love begins when the PCs are summoned to a gathering of their kind. Magh-murra, the old kobold crone, bemoans that adventurers from the surface have raided the warrens on there way to places below the kobolds with increasing regularity. Casting the bones, she divines a risky strategy that will stem the tide of adventurers and give her people a chance to regroup. When a sect of kobold warriors opposes the idea, the PCs are nominated to challenge them in support of her plan. Once the party silences the opposition, she nominates them as her champions and sends them on their way to the surface world, where they will endeavor to assassinate the human leader that keeps sending adventurers to their home.
Embarking on this mad errand, the PCs travel up, to the sewers below the human city. A set of brief encounters primes them for the danger that is the surface world, until they find their way out of the sewers and onto the streets. From here they begin the truly dangerous part of their mission – traveling openly through a human city. Dazzled and confused, they make their way across town to the tavern where a mysterious cloaked figure hires adventurers to descend into the kobold warrens, and below them for some dark purpose. The party confronts and dispatches this stranger, but not before realizing this dark humanoid has acted as their benefactor the whole time. Fearing the worst, the party descends back into the depths to encounter the svrifneblin welling up from the depths below.
In the end-game, the party must deliver a message from the dark stranger above to their witch-crone before the swarm of deep gnomes eradicates their warrens forever. With moments to spare, they must devise traps and ambush svirfneblin until the terrifying deep gnomes are driven back to the depths and forced to make war on their surface cousins from another front.

Designer’s note: If you’re new to an area and looking to run a campaign with a new set of players, Kobold Love is perfect for having some silly fun mixed with serious adventure. Your players getting to know each other and breaking the ice is a perfect role for this scenario. After the game, consider having a brief discussion of the kinds of adventures your players would like in your upcoming campaign. They can discuss characters, rules, options etc. In previous campaigns of mine, a brief adventure like this sets up the PCs later. An extinguished tribe of orcs – once played by the PCs – is discovered by the party. While the players know what happened, their characters see the devastation first-hand and have an opportunity to react in-character. Finally, you can consider this adventure ideal for recruiting new players at your local gaming store. Just arrange a ‘Pathfinder Day’ and get some new players to sign up. Offer to run this scenario and teach new players the rules, or just some of the neat differences between this and that other most popular roleplaying game. : }

While a series of misfortunes befalls one kobold chief after another, one leading fi