Thoughts on Kobolds Stole My Cat! & The Gongfarmer's Revenge

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Thoughts on Kobolds Stole My Cat! & The Gongfarmer's Revenge

Post by herecomethejudge » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:09 pm

These thoughts are from a judge's perspective, so...


Hats off to author Mark Tasaka of; these are really excellent, well-developed 1st-level adventures which my players and I both really enjoyed.

module links (free downloads):

Campaign background:

After running some 0-level peasants through the meat grinders of "The Portal Under the Stars" and "Sailors on the Starless Sea," the 1st-level surviving PCs met up in the village of Nirigo (anagram of "origin," the village we decided the "Portal" PCs were from, which the "Sailors" PCs used their chaos boat to escape to). There, visiting wizard Rhalabast enticed them with promises of spell and patron tutelage to embark on a journey three days to the east to retrieve a dangerous magical box for him in the 1st-level "Chaos Rising" module, "Elzemon and the Blood-drinking Box" (comments on that adventure here: ... 78&t=48538).

At the end of "Elzemon," the PCs decided to betray Rhalabast in favor of assisting the newly-met Valbris the cleric, who insisted that the creature contained in the box was far too dangerous to be handed over to a lone wizard. Instead of going back west to Nirigo, Valbris led the PCs on a day's hike north to his home monastery (of the deity Choranus), where they were rewarded with treasure and gear by the members of the order who lived there. Valbris then gave them directions to the village of Greenleaf, just a few hours' trek up the road, where "Kobolds…!" took place.

Thoughts on "Kobolds Stole My Cat!":

link: ... my_cat.pdf

After the very dark and painful adventure that was "Elzemon," my players were in the mood for something lighter, and "Kobolds" fit the bill to a T. Mark Tasaka did an excellent job describing the village of Greenleaf, stocking it with NPCs (some of whom turned into PCs), and designing a medium-large, kobold-infested dungeon that gave the players something to explore and gain some XP in without being overly forbidding.

Basically, this is a cat rescue mission on behalf of an old lady, and the players appreciated the innocent tone and that it fit their inexperienced PCs' skill profiles. The backstory of the kobolds' being a low-grade menace to the village at night, sneaking into yards and stealing chickens, etc. was helpful, and we played up the discovery of their extensive subterranean habitat of well-developed tunnels underneath the town in a way similar to seeing one cockroach on your kitchen counter and then discovering a horrifically massive nest behind the wall. The excavations of the mysterious, half-human, half-elf civilization that the kobolds were undertaking were also interesting and evocative and could form the basis of another adventure in their own right.

I would say that if Tasaka added a map of Greenleaf to this module just to flesh it out a little bit more, it would be damn near perfect, that and correcting a few minor typos and mistakes ("wheel barrels" instead of "wheelbarrows," etc.). Because of the cat's magical nature, one could even invent a scenario where the cat teaches the PCs some sort of feline-oriented spells or introduces them to a minor cat patron of which it is a relative. Very nice stuff.

Thoughts on "The Gongfarmer's Revenge":

link: ... farmer.pdf

This is intended as a sequel to "Kobolds…!," and it also worked great, though I rewrote a bit of the plot as described below since it wasn't totally clear to me as it was originally written.

Right after ending "Kobolds Stole My Cat!," the PCs slept overnight in the house of the NPCs for whom they had been retrieved the titular feline. While they slept, I role-played the early-morning cut-scene in the beginning of "Gongfarmer" in which the local tavern owners realize that their outhouse beast has been killed. I then role-played the local constable (a 2nd-level NPC warrior with a fully pre-generated stat sheet) leading an angry mob at dawn to the house where the PCs were staying the night, parking themselves in front of the yard and yelling, "We know you're in there; send out the Gongfarmer now!"

To explain this, in the preceding story, the local gongfarmer is encountered at the village tavern, crying in his mead because he's been put out of work by a friendly outhouse beast named Oscar (and her babies) who has mysteriously appeared recently in locals' toilets and who appears to be happily consuming the night soil, thus leaving him with nothing to do. The drunk and desperate gongfarmer then offers to join the band of PCs in an effort to give his post-gongfarming life a new direction.

While the party doesn't have to take him along, ours did, and the gongfarmer, as chance would have it, died after being hit with a poisoned dart shot at him by a kobold during the first adventure. Therefore, after "Kobolds...!" was over, and this adventure began -- with local residents finding Oscar and her babies dead, with a menacing and remorseless confession note apparently left at the scene by the gongfarmer -- the party had to explain to the mob that the gongfarmer couldn't have committed the crime because he had died the day before.

We got an extra bit of adventure here because the NPC constable decided on the spot to demand to be taken to his body, or else the PCs would be arrested on grounds of covering for him as he fled town. So the party, accompanied by me as the constable character, fighting alongside them, went back into the kobold lair to the room where the body was located, having a few more encounters along the way and giving the PCs a chance to explore some areas they had't gotten to the first time around.

After this was settled to the constable's satisfaction, and everyone was back above ground, the constable, Gregor Hornjur, asked the PCs if they would accompany him on the day-and-a-half trek out to the gongfarmer's cottage to try to look for evidence in an attempt get to the bottom of the crime because those villagers really loved Oscar, and this was the biggest scandal they'd had there in months by a long shot. They agreed, settled up their equipment situation at the local shop, and set out on the bulk of the module, with me running continuing to run the constable as part of the party and using him to provide the PCs with little bits of local lore and explanatory info along the way.

Here, Tasaka's style of providing lots of meat for judges shines. Five sample encounters are given for what the party might encounter on their way to the cottage. I used all of them, and they were highly enjoyable and gave players a sense of really being out in the wilderness. I also beefed up the cave encounter a little in that, when the PCs find the hidden treasure room at the back, they feel the ground rumbling beneath them, which is the sound of large, armored beetles tunneling beneath their feet to emerge just in front of the doorway in search of a place to mate, trapping the party inside and locking them into combat.

Once the party made it to the cottage, the real adventure began, with another spacious and interesting, "Kobolds" style dungeon being found underneath the grounds -- this time, populated by pointy-toothed mushroom people and other odd creatures.

Noting that there were enough rations there, in the gongfarmer's basement, for the PCs to make this a home base for a while, I decided to interrupt the action and send them on a side quest. On the first night, while the PCs were sleeping in the cottage, I had a PC who got up to use the outhouse observe what looked like a campfire on the far edge of the clearing behind the house, about 1/4 mile away, followed by a number of eerie, green, glowing shapes descending down from the trees, and then the campfire seemingly being extinguished. During sleep, the character was half-awoken by what looked like the same green glow just outside the windows, but in his semi-consciousness, he wrote it off as a dream. When the party awoke in the morning, one of the PCs was missing, and when told of the green glow, my NPC constable told them, "Sounds like Orb Weavers. They're magical spiders that have been rumored to live in these woods. No one's seen one for years, but if they took your friend, he's in serious danger, and we have to find him now." I then led the party into the fun mini-adventure, "The Treacherous Cobtraps," by Brave Halfling Publishing, which I'll write up separately.

Once the "Cobtraps" side-quest had been resolved, the party returned to the cabin to finish their investigation of the dungeon. I actually thought the way the explanation of the gongfarmer's being behind the death of Oscar was written in the module was convoluted such that it actually didn't make logical sense to me, so I revised it so that the gongfarmer, who I described (through the constable) as having been new to the village about a year prior and not having mixed much socially, actually having a cunning, evil twin, unknown to the inhabitants of Greenleaf, who was revealed during the final confrontation in the module as the one who actually was behind the death of Oscar and the mushroom experiments under the cottage. Thus, he had actually framed his own brother for the crime. I would recommend that Mark revisit this part because I really thought the plot needed tweaking here just to make sense, at least as I was reading it.

Final thoughts:

Overall, these adventures in Greenleaf are a hugely fun and well-developed, with tons of detail for a judge to work with, and I highly recommend using them. I plan to base several more adventures, including a re-encounter with Rhalabast from "Elzemon," and a journey up to the castle of the Emerald Enchanter, out of Greenleaf as well before the party gets call to move onto a new area because it's just such a nice little village. Kudos to Mark, and I think there's potential here for even more original adventures.

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Re: Thoughts on Kobolds Stole My Cat! & The Gongfarmer's Rev

Post by herecomethejudge » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:52 am


I was browsing DTRPG and saw that Mark has repackaged these adventures, plus another funnel, into a one-volume set: ... ong-Farmer

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