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  • Fireblood and Silver, Part 3 – The Fireblood Den
Fireblood and Silver, Part 3 – The Fireblood Den - Banner - Large

Tunnels connect the Silvercrowns’ many mines, both current and abandoned, to the long-lost dungeons of the mountain Reavers. It is these tunnels that bring the party closer to their goal within the mountain. But the adventurers should know that it is not as simple as crawling through some claustrophobic caves. And they would be right, as they are not the only ones in the Reaver tunnels. A faction of kobolds has already taken control and prepared the tunnels for interlopers, rigging traps and laying ambushes to meet the unfortunate souls currently spelunking their way towards them. But who are these kobolds? What is it that they seek in the tunnels? And can a solution be found that satisfies both groups?

The characters have found their way through the mines and to the Reaver tunnels. This brings them to the true danger of the adventure, one facet of which is the nearby den of the Fireblood kobolds. This faction of kobolds is native to the Titan’s Spine and knows its tunnels well. They have sent a vanguard to establish control of this particular section of ruins, seemingly hoping to expand their territory as they have in the past. But the den leaders have ulterior motives spurred by the dwindling lives of the serpents they worship. They must find what is causing the vipers to die young or risk their very way of life dying with their revered serpents. The kobolds cannot allow any interruptions in this goal and will not risk the interference of any adventurers.

To see how the party might come into contact with the Fireblood kobolds, refer back to the previous section of this adventure, or to the adventure index…

The Fireblood Kobolds

The kobolds that live in what they refer to as the ‘Godsdrinker Mountains’ call themselves the Fireblood Clan. They were once the ardent allies of the mountain Reavers, though this history, like so much of Greybanner’s, has faded with time. And though no current residents of Greybanner have conversed with the kobolds long enough to know the history of the name, some unfortunate miners have learned of its practical meaning. Their recountings tell of kobolds wielding bombs and oils that burned like magma, filling already cramped tunnels with stifling heat. These tools have always granted the kobolds an edge over the miners and other denizens of the mountains, allowing them to move and expand with little opposition.

In truth, the Fireblood kobolds are no longer a single group or den. The name comprises a central den and a number of disparate, smaller factions. This splintering has come about not due to differences in ideology or power disputes but rather from multiple leaders seeking different solutions to the problem threatening the Firebloods: the dwindling health and size of their deified serpents. As this issue has slowly worsened and pressured the clan’s sages, many have set out in small groups, hoping to find a way to either diagnose the vipers’ plight or cure them of it. Some have tunneled deeper, searching for pockets of subterranean heat where living serpents might still thrive. Others have come to the surface in hopes of growing healing herbs. And others still have sought the ruins of their once-allies to find answers in the old knowledge. It is the latter that has brought one group of Firebloods to the Reaver tunnels.

Social structure. The kobold clan’s hierarchy is centered around their worship of the serpents. They are led by the sages who are seen as prophets and interpreters for the stonefire vipers and are thus given command of the den under the auspices of the serpents. The sages earn their place by displaying an affinity for the vipers. If their ability is recognized, existing sages may train them as a successor. The Fireblood den is currently overseen by a single sage, Ekra Snakemind (see Ekra Snakemind’s section of ‘The Fireblood Den‘).

Operating directly under the sages are the den’s soldiers, who act as both protectors of the den and scouts for scavenging and expansion. The leaders of these soldiers are promoted from those who earn the respect of their peers, most often as a result of a great feat, such as felling a dangerous foe or otherwise succeeding against impossible odds.

Both of these positions of leadership grant the kobolds not only authority but are also how members of the den acquire their titles. These titles, such as ‘Snakemind’ and ‘Trolltaker’, are based on the kobold’s particular achievement and act as a signifier of such. Members of the clan do not otherwise take surnames or family names.

The rest of the den functions largely without defined ranks. Each section defers to its most experienced members for leadership, with any disputes being taken to the sages for a verdict.

Stonefire vipers. The truth of the kobolds’ fire stems from their worship of serpents found deep within the mountains. These deified creatures, which the kobolds call ‘stonefire vipers’, feed on both the mountain’s animals and its very stone by using their intense internal heat to break down smaller rocks. The serpents could once grow to prodigious size, while their diet would cause a dense buildup of minerals on their blue scales, allowing them to carve through the earth like worms through soil.

Though the kobolds refer to their serpentine gods as snakes or vipers, they bear particular traits that set them apart from mundane beasts. This includes their unique diet and the properties of their blood, as well as their blue and orange coloration, chitin-like scales, and webbed fins that run along the sides of their bodies. A character that inspects a stonefire viper can make a DC 10 Intelligence (Nature) check to identify that the vipers are not beasts but rather a form of monstrosity. If the character has seen or studied remorhazes and rolls 13 or more on their check, they notice physical similarities between them and the vipers. They reason that the former is likely a cousin or subterranean adaptation of the latter. They may then use this connection to deduce other features of the vipers, such as their burning blood, depending on what they know of remorhazes and by making additional skill checks if necessary.

Servants of serpents. The Firebloods’ worship of the vipers has formed the basis of their leadership and way of life since the den’s inception. In times before Greybanner’s founding, both the kobolds and Reavers alike made use of the serpents. This fostered a strong alliance between the two factions. The Firebloods worshipped the vipers, venerating them as gods of the Titan’s Spine. Both they and the Reavers tended to the vipers, the former even constructing their dens in the tunnels formed by the serpents’ movements. In turn, the vipers fought on behalf of the two peoples and allowed them to make use of their bodies upon their natural deaths. This included harvesting the vipers’ scales and bones to forge durable armor. The vipers’ blood, the source of their body’s heat, was also crafted into weapon oils and makeshift bombs specifically designed to combat the regenerative abilities of the local trolls. It was later discovered to have the same effect on the fiends that attacked Greybanner, including Harazai himself.

The many generations of Fireblood kobolds that have come since the Reavers’ disbandment have forgotten much of their shared history. The kobolds are aware of the alliance’s existence but their oral history has lost many of the finer details, including the Reavers’ contributions to the vipers’ care. All that remains are exaggerated legends. The kobolds tell stories of when the vipers grew large enough to consume enemy armies in a single bite and form volcanic magma chambers with their exhalations. One such tale is of ‘Godsdrinker’, a serpent of titanic proportions that bore the first of their clan to the area within its mouth, where it rested and became the very mountains in which they now live. These legends are recorded both orally and in carvings upon the bones of the serpents, each skeleton marked with stories of the respective creature’s life.

Shrinking snakes and tainted stone. The stonefire vipers’ health has gradually declined since Greybanner’s founding and the dissolving of the Reavers. This began with the snakes’ average size shrinking over several generations, from their once gargantuan proportions to that of an average man or smaller. Even more recently, a sickness has stricken the vipers. Few of their eggs survive long enough to hatch and those that do contract myriad illnesses, many of which prove fatal.

The kobolds are unaware of the reason for this. The den has slowly fractured over time as groups set out in search of answers to the plight of their idolized serpents. The central Fireblood den that remains is led by a single sage, Ekra Snakemind, and has grown desperate as the vipers’ sickness has grown worse (see the ‘Fireblood Den‘ section). Ekra’s study of the den’s oral history pointed her toward the Reaver tunnels, though the scouting parties she sent to known ruins found little of worth. What the groups did discover was that the vipers’ conditions worsened as they approached a particular area of the caves. Ekra had few options left, so she dispatched a vanguard led by her clutch-brother Rako Trolltaker to risk approaching the Silvercrown Mines and investigate where the effect is most potent (see the ‘Kobold Vanguard‘ section). This led them to the ruins near the Silvercrown tunnels.

The true reasons for the vipers’ diminishing health stems back to the Reavers and their actions following the defeat of Harazai. In the times of their alliance, the Reavers and kobolds enhanced the stonefire vipers with alchemy that incorporated the blood of trolls, extending the vipers’ lifespans and causing them to grow beyond their natural limits. The absence of this addition to their diet has caused the snakes to return to their normal size. Their sickness, meanwhile, stems from the same corrupting blight that infects the Bramblejade (see ‘The Bramblejade Forest‘ section of ‘Geographic Features‘ under ‘The Greybanner Region‘, as well as the ‘Into the Bramblejade‘ adventure). This area of blight originates from a crown worn by the Eyes of Blood cultists, that Alessia the Thorn then wielded against them. The crown was burned alongside the bodies of cultists in a section of the Reaver tunnels that is now sealed and forgotten, but the flames were not enough to destroy the artifact. Its magic leaked into the stone and slowly spread, poisoning the vipers’ diet and causing them to grow ill.

Snake Den RPG Battle Map - Featured Image

The Fireblood Den

The largest of the tunnels widens, exposing a space where scavenged leather and linens have been constructed into sheltered domiciles. They are supported by wood and other materials that you recognize from the nearby mines, all centered around the intact skeleton of a colossal serpentine creature, its ribs and spine forming a winding corridor of bone. Other small tunnels still branch off in myriad directions, the sounds of the den’s apprehensive residents echoing from the shadows.

The central Fireblood den is located in a network of caves bored by the clan’s largest stonefire vipers, their skeletons now supporting the caverns and the kobolds’ structures. This network includes multiple smaller hubs and connecting tunnels spread out over roughly a quarter of a mile of the mountain’s interior. The cavern closest to the Silvercrown Mines is approximately 1.5 miles from the mines and attached Reaver ruins. The tunnels that lead to it have been dug by kobolds and thus most of the distance is only large enough for a Small creature to move through, or for a Medium creature to squeeze through.

The den’s population is sparser than it once was, owing to the many groups that have departed over time. Its leadership has likewise diminished to a single matriarch, Ekra Snakemind. Despite this and the unease it causes, the kobolds have persisted in the maintenance of their homes and community. Sections of the den’s network have been dedicated to what little farming they are capable of and workshops for craftsmen. The most secluded and defended cavern is dedicated to those who tend to the stonefire vipers.

Treating with the den. Should the characters approach the den, they are stopped in the outermost tunnels by a guard of fireblood blockbreakers and fireblood traptinkers. Any other nearby residents of the den retreat deeper in, out of reach of combat. The kobolds that meet them do not engage the party but attempt to keep them from traveling further into the den’s tunnels, while Ekra Snakemind approaches to speak with the characters. She tells them not to intrude upon her people’s homes and the tunnels of their sacred serpents, warning the party that they will find the further tunnels inhospitable to intruders. If the party arrives with Rako (see the ‘Negotiating a solution’ of ‘Rako Trolltaker‘ in the ‘Kobold Vanguard‘), she instead speaks with him in Draconic, questioning the situation before speaking with the characters. This conversation may then progress towards an agreement with Ekra (see the ‘Negotiating a solution’ section of ‘Ekra Snakemind‘). If the party attempts to push further into the den, the kobolds give them one final warning before becoming hostile.

For the stat blocks of the Fireblood blockbreakers, slinkscholars, and traptinkers, refer to the ‘Fireblood units‘ section of ‘The Kobold Vanguard‘.

Ekra Snakemind

(LN female kobold fireblood scalesage)

A female kobold steps forward, draped in a layered serpentskin shawl. She walks with a staff pierced by curved fangs, its wood appearing to have grown naturally around the decorative teeth. Gold rings adorn her horns and faded orange paint marks her naturally navy scales in broken lines, drawing your gaze to a pair of yellow eyes that regard you with fierce apprehension.

The Fireblood den is currently led by a single sage, Ekra Snakemind. Ekra earned her name and position for her uncanny ability to communicate with both tamed and wild stonefire vipers, which the den saw as a portent that their plights would soon end. She took to the role quickly despite her young age, driven by her exuberant, almost obsessive love for the clan’s tales of their serpents. Fortunately, Ekra developed the wisdom and determination that was required of her as a leader. The importance of such values grew as the den’s other sages departed in search of answers to the vipers’ illness, mounting ever more responsibility on her plate. Ekra credits much of her aptitude to the support of her clutch-mate, Rako, who ascended the den’s ranks alongside her and always acted as a counterbalance to Ekra’s energy, be it over ancient legends or current events, and who now acts as her right hand (see the ‘Rako Trolltaker‘ section of ‘The Kobold Vanguard‘).

Ekra is a fervent and lively believer in the clan’s worship who maintains a calm and level-headed persona. She understands the importance of the den having a central, pragmatic decision-maker to guide them as their situation gradually worsens, and strives to fill the role. As such, she treats her clan with confident patience in her role as leader and mediator. Yet much of this veneer quickly fades if she believes the den might be threatened. Her dealings with outsiders and in defense of the clan are short and decisive, never risking the den’s safety or that of its non-combative members. The pressure of such decisions is often shared by Rako, whose counsel Ekra trusts completely in matters of battle. The most recent of these was the dispatching of a kobold vanguard to the Reaver tunnels near the Silvercrown Mines. Though it was Ekra’s knowledge of the old tales that allowed her to deduce a connection to the Reavers, it was Rako who convinced her to take the risk of sending soldiers so dangerously close to the mines and who gave her confidence by leading the endeavor himself.

Negotiating a solution. Through potential interactions with Rako Trolltaker and the kobold vanguard, the party may be led to the Fireblood den to speak with Ekra, who arrives with a guard of fireblood blockbreakers and fireblood traptinkers (see the ‘Treating with the den’ section of ‘The Fireblood Den‘ and the ‘Negotiating a solution’ section of ‘Rako Trolltaker‘ in the ‘The Kobold Vanguard‘). The particulars of this conversation depend on the characters and their reasons for being in the tunnels but center around both sides solving their respective troubles. This is most likely to begin with Rako reporting his own discussion with the party to Ekra, including the characters’ objectives and any information they gave to Rako. Ekra then continues the negotiation from there.

Ekra’s only true concern is her den and this is reflected in her conversation with the party. Like Rako, she must be convinced that the party is able to help solve the problem ailing the den’s serpents before she considers allying with them. This is made easier if Rako can vouch for the group but hinges primarily on the party providing proof. This proof might include recordings of the kobolds’ and Reavers’ past alliance, evidence of their alchemical works relating to the serpents, or the characters’ knowledge of the Bramblejade’s blight and the evidence of it within the tunnels.

If Ekra is sufficiently convinced, she makes a bargain based on the information provided, the intricacies of which depend on what the party has discovered and accomplished. While these details may vary, Ekra’s core demand is simple: the party must help put an end to the sickness affecting the kobolds’ serpents. She is uninterested in any offers that do not accomplish this. Should the party agree to Ekra’s terms, Rako is to accompany the characters and then assist them in their own endeavors within the tunnels once they have upheld their end of the bargain (see the ‘Kobold cooperation’ section of ‘Rako Trolltaker‘, in ‘The Kobold Vanguard‘). This may include locating a lost artifact, recalling the vanguard and relinquishing their control of the tunnels, or even Rako giving up pieces of his own armor, which he frustratedly agrees to, depending on which adventure hook brought the characters into the tunnels (see the ‘Adventure Hooks‘ section). Ekra is also willing to grant additional requests, such as giving the party a number of fireblood flasks, though she is resistant to anything that might compromise the den or endanger their serpents, such as allowing the characters deeper inside or providing them with the formula for the flasks.

Beyond her core demand, there are many ways that the conversation with Ekra may go. As such, there is no defined script for how it may play out and it is instead up to both the party’s ability to negotiate and how you have Ekra respond. For additional perspective on the possible results of the conversation and potential alliance, you may wish to refer to the adventure’s conclusions.

The Kobold Vanguard

A group of kobolds was recently sent from the Fireblood den to a section of Reaver tunnels in search of the source of what seems to be poisoning their stonefire vipers. This vanguard, led by Rako Trolltaker, has established a foothold in the tunnels and driven back the nearby Silvercrown miners. This control has included the burrowing of small tunnels that provide them expedient access to different sections of the ruins (see the ‘Kobold tunnels’ section of ‘Ambush Tactics‘), as well as setting up swathes of traps throughout the Reaver tunnels as a means of dissuading anyone or anything that might intrude on the kobolds’ new territory (see the ‘Kobold Traps‘ section). These threatening precautions have kept them hidden from the prying eyes of the miners, who are ignorant of the kobolds’ true purpose. They have now begun to scour the disparate tunnels, hoping to discover the history that their sage bade them find.

Fireblood units. The kobold vanguard is made up of fighters trained for the very purpose of taking quick control of an area and then holding it through the use of traps and ambushes. The group includes their leading fireblood horngrinder, Rako Trolltaker, as well as 4 fireblood blockbreakers, 4 fireblood traptinkers, and 2 fireblood slinkscholars.

The vanguard’s blockbreakers work to carve their tunnels and clear rubble from the structures, and also act as the kobolds’ melee fighters in combat. They are supported from afar by the slinkscholars and traptinkers. The latter of these are the vanguard’s designated engineers, responsible for devising and rigging their many traps as their territory expands. Finally, their slinkscholars are what pass for kobold academics, a pair of which has joined the vanguard in order to locate and record the information they seek. These kobolds are trained to work alongside each other and their traps in relentless ambush tactics (see the ‘Ambush Tactics‘ section).

Kobold equipment. All of the kobolds present in the Reaver tunnels are equipped with additional items and weaponry for fulfilling their given tasks. The most notable of these are the fireblood flasks, which every member of the vanguard carries. The kobolds are also equipped with bags of caltrops and ball bearings, as well as bolas. Each kobold carries a small shovel, while traptinkers are also likely to be carrying assorted materials, including lengths of hempen rope and string, small weights, and sets of appropriate tools.

Much of the kobolds’ equipment has also been included as actions in their given stat blocks for ease of use. These actions each include a count of how many of the respective items the kobold is carrying. It is important to keep track of these during combat, both for the sake of fairness and for the likelihood that the characters will loot any remaining equipment from the fallen kobolds.

Bola

Martial ranged weapon

Three stones are bound to leather cords that meet at their other ends, making a crude but effective hunting tool.

As an action, make a ranged weapon attack against a Medium-or-smaller creature within 30 feet of you, restraining the target on a hit. The bola has no effect on creatures that are formless.

A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the bola (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the bola.

Fireblood Flask

Adventuring gear (consumable)

A crude, spherical clay jar is sealed and warm to the touch, the heat seeming to burn from whatever liquid is held inside.

As an action, you can throw this flask up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the flask as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the target is coated in burning blood and takes 2 (1d4) fire damage at the start of each of its turns. Additionally, any healing a burning creature receives is halved, and the creature cannot regain hit points from a natural regeneration effect. A creature can end this damage by using its action to make a DC 12 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames.

The kobolds’ flasks are designed for the purpose of hunting the mountain trolls, specifically by negating the trolls’ ability to regenerate from their wounds. While the flasks halve the healing from spells and magical effects, the term ‘natural regeneration effect’ specifically references the trolls’ Regeneration ability. The fire damage alone prevents trolls from regenerating but this additional effect fortunately extends to other creatures’ Regeneration abilities which are not halted by fire damage. It may also hamper other abilities with similar effects, at your own discretion.

A character that studies the kobolds’ fireblood flasks and that has read the first part of Vincent MacHale’s research can make the connection between the flasks and the oil that Vincent mentions the Reavers once using (see section 1 of ‘Vincent MacHale’s Research‘ under ‘Studying Vincent’s Research‘, in the ‘In Walls That Talk‘ adventure). A character who has read the research and who sees a flask being used can make the same deduction with a successful DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check. In either case, the character recognizes the similarities between the two and their ability to inhibit a creature’s regeneration, which suggests that the weapon oil and the flasks are derived from the same ingredient. Though the characters are not immediately aware of it, this ingredient is the blood of the kobolds’ stonefire vipers.

A Vault of Traps and Scales - Banner - Small
Some of the Fireblood kobolds and their traps are upgrades of those originally created for our standalone encounter, ‘A Vault of Traps and Scales‘, which pits the party against a group of kobolds that have infiltrated a dwarven vault.

Resupply cave. The vanguard uses a network of minor tunnels dug by their blockbreakers to quickly and safely traverse the area (see the ‘Kobold tunnels’ section of ‘Ambush Tactics‘). At the center of this network is a cavern that functions as the kobolds’ resupply camp, which features a small resting area but is otherwise dedicated to storing additional tools and equipment. The kobolds are able to return to this cave between engagements to resupply their ball bearings, bolas, and caltrops, as well as their shovels and the traptinkers’ tools and supplies for constructing traps. The cave does not contain additional fireblood flasks due to the recent scarcity of the blood required to make them.

Rako Trolltaker

(CG male kobold fireblood horngrinder)

A muscular blue kobold grips a warhammer in one hand, his other covered by a crude heater shield that curves like the head of a shovel. He wears thick leather and serpent-scale hides affixed with metal plates, though two features of his armor stand out from the rest. His helmet and right pauldron appear to have been scavenged from an older, expertly crafted set intended for larger men but bound tightly to fit the kobold’s diminutive form.

The kobold vanguard is led by Rako Trolltaker, a decorated warrior who is seen as second in command of the den. His name was granted after Rako lured a raging troll away from a group of his clutch-mates, returning with the troll’s head and an array of scars telling the story of his fight. This was only one of the many victories that have earned Rako his place alongside his clutch-sister, Ekra, as the foremost soldier and strategist of the Fireblood Clan (see the ‘Ekra Snakemind‘ section of ‘The Fireblood Den‘).

Rako embodies the confidence and decisiveness that his position requires. He is a capable and experienced leader who has earned the right to command the utmost respect from his soldiers. Unlike Ekra, Rako’s duty as a soldier demands that he be willing to take risks that may endanger himself or his subordinates for the sake of the den, particularly when faced with the unknown. This has strengthened Rako’s sense of judgment and encourages him to always remain prepared for whatever may be around the corner. While this most often results in conflict, Rako is not so hot-headed as to respond with violence without due consideration. He is sure to always assess the situation in hopes of a peaceful solution before deciding.

Reaver armor. Rako wears the helmet and a pauldron from a set of Reaver armor as a signifier of his rank. These pieces are large for Rako, even despite his size, and are tightly affixed with added leather. They are relics that have been passed down to each leader of the Fireblood soldiers for many generations and are said to have been forged for a great warrior in a time of bitter conflict. The kobolds know little else about the armor’s history or the location of its other pieces.

The Reaver armor that Rako wears are the same pieces that are missing from the Reaver half plate found in the MacHale Manor’s trophy room (see area 20, the ‘trophy room‘, of the MacHale Manor, in the ‘In Walls that Talk’ adventure). A character that sees Rako clearly, has seen the rest of the half plate, and that succeeds on a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check recognizes the connection between the two. A character that is able to spend time inspecting Rako’s armor can also make a DC 13 Intelligence (Arcana) check to identify the existence of an enchantment that is rendered inert by the armor’s incompleteness.

Reaver Helm and Pauldron

Wondrous item, common

The helm and pauldron are crafted from a rough grey metal and trimmed in what appears to be oxidized copper that resembles the curve of a ram’s horns on the helmet. The pauldron, meanwhile, is affixed to leathers and matted furs.

A helmet and a single pauldron have been separated from the rest of the complete set. Though well crafted, they are of limited use without being reunited with whatever armor they were taken from.

Negotiating a solution. Rako’s objective is to find anything that may help the den or their serpents and he is not opposed to cooperating with the party in pursuit of this goal. Should a kobold witness the characters making or discussing a discovery that pertains to the den’s troubles, it reports the news to Rako. Rako then personally observes the characters in an attempt to ascertain their own intentions for being in the tunnels. If Rako’s observations lead him to believe that cooperation or negotiation might be possible, he approaches the party. He pays particular attention to whether the party would be amenable to peaceful negotiation. He makes sure to do so in a location that affords him protection or a quick escape, such as remaining close to a tunnel or only appearing where there are traps between the party and himself.

The characters may instead take the initiative of approaching the kobolds first. In this case, Rako responds in a similarly apprehensive manner and explains that the party must present tangible evidence of their ability to help the kobolds before Rako can further negotiate. Should the characters convince Rako of their willingness to help, he offers to have his vanguard cease their ambushes for the time being, yet promises that they will still be watching the party closely. Rako makes himself known to the group again once they find satisfactory evidence.

Regardless of the information he has already gathered and which side approaches the other, Rako begins his first negotiation by asking the characters their intentions. He uses their answer as a foundation for the conversation. His objective in the discussion is to confirm whether an alliance is possible and whether it could lead him to the answers the kobolds are looking for. It is only once he is convinced of this, either through conversation or the party presenting evidence, that Rako is willing to bargain with the party and asks what they want in return. He carries out any preliminary negotiations and, if they meet with his approval, offers to lead the characters to a meeting with this clan’s sage, who has the authority to finalize the agreement. If the party accepts, Rako has them follow him through the kobolds’ tunnels. He takes the most direct path toward the den, where Ekra Snakemind meets them with a detachment of fireblood blockbreakers and fireblood traptinkers (see the ‘Negotiating a solution’ section of ‘Ekra Snakemind‘, in ‘The Fireblood Den‘).

If negotiations break down, Rako makes a quick escape. The kobolds then recommence their ambushes, though they no longer lend any assistance in killing the errant troll and instead wait for it to defeat the party before capitalizing on its weakened state (see the ‘Ambush Tactics‘ section).

Kobold cooperation. An agreement with Ekra Snakemind is likely to result in Rako and his vanguard cooperating with the party. Rako is the only one to accompany the characters, which he openly explains is a precaution in case the party betrays them. His soldiers remain in the shadowed tunnels, meanwhile, observing the group and awaiting orders from Rako.

Rako helps the characters bypass the kobolds’ traps; he does not disarm them but rather points out and assists in avoiding traps when necessary. He only calls out traps that the party is at immediate risk of triggering but does not mention others that they will simply bypass. Rako likewise fights alongside the characters in combat. If this includes the possibility of facing a troll, Rako takes the precaution of giving each member of the party a fireblood flask.

Ambush Tactics

Kobolds are known for their use of traps and ambushes in taking down foes far greater than themselves, and those of the vanguard embody these tactics with surpassing skill. Rako’s soldiers are trained to fight through surprises and evasion, keeping themselves out of danger and delivering deaths by thousand cuts. These tactics are made possible by the vanguard’s control of the tunnels and the many preparations they have made.

Kobold tunnels. The kobolds have dug numerous tunnels that weave between the area’s natural caves and its Reaver tunnels. These burrows are roughly 3 feet in diameter, allowing only enough space for a Small creature to move through or a Medium creature to squeeze through. Their entrances are hidden, though many provide openings large enough for the kobolds to spy and even attack through. The kobolds use these tunnels to move unimpeded and unseen, always remaining hidden to follow and watch any intruders in their territory.

The kobolds’ many tunnels, their entrances, and any skill checks needed to locate them are covered in the ‘kobold tunnels’ sections of the areas they connect to.

Snares and strikes. Much of the kobolds’ time since reaching the tunnels has been spent preparing myriad traps throughout the caves and ruins (see the ‘Kobold Traps‘ section). These traps, in addition to the damage they can inflict, provide openings for the kobolds to attack. When a trap is triggered, any kobolds currently watching the trap’s victim take the opportunity to make a ranged attack against the creature that triggered the trap, or another that is distracted by it. The kobolds then attempt to hide and retreat to safety. They remain close enough to listen to the aftermath but only risk making further attacks if there are other traps nearby to create additional openings.

Troll hunters. Ravenous trolls have always stalked the mountains and caves, often requiring the Fireblood kobolds to deal with them. They are quick to hunt any trolls that encroach upon their territory, as any that find their way into the kobolds’ tunnels can quickly lay waste to entire dens. The den’s fireblood flasks were created for exactly this purpose by allowing the kobolds to overcome the trolls’ natural regeneration.

A troll currently wanders the Reaver tunnels and is almost certain to come into contact with the party. The kobolds’ response to this clash depends on their attitude toward the characters. The kobolds do nothing to help if the two sides are actively hostile toward one another and instead capitalize on the opportunity for either the characters or the troll to kill the other before they ambush the victors. If Rako and the vanguard are curious about the party and a potential alliance with them (see the ‘Negotiating a solution’ section of ‘Rako Trolltaker‘ in ‘The Kobold Vanguard‘), they instead assist the characters from the shadows with ranged attacks and sparing use of their fireblood flasks. The kobolds do not risk exposing or endangering themselves unless they have allied with the party, in which case they help in avoiding or engaging the troll.

Kobold Traps

The kobolds employ many different traps throughout the Reaver tunnels. They vary in function based on their position in the tunnels, the reason for their construction, and the nearby resources available to the kobolds. The traptinkers are inventive in their construction of the traps and the methods by which they hide them, though there are a number of tried and true strategies that are common across their designs.

The following is a list of the traps that the kobolds have laid, with details of their triggers and effects. Areas of the tunnels that feature these traps will refer back to this list, while also detailing the specific positioning of the traps. Some instances of the traps may also have unique differences, such as a modified effect or a connection to another trap, which will be specified in the sections in which they appear.

Trap Variants

Some of the kobolds’ traps are very similar to each other, with only slight but important details setting them apart. These traps are listed as variants of the ones before them and include only the details that are different from the preceding trap. They should be treated as identical to the traps before them except for these details, which replace those of the original trap.

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Looking for even more trap ideas? Refer back to our previous entry, ‘Greybanner Coliseum: Arena Traps and Hazards‘, to see those used for the many fights within the Greybanner arena!

Warning Chime

A string is tied with a series of small makeshift chimes that ring when the trap is disturbed, echoing and warning the kobolds of intruders.

Placement. A tripwire is strung between two anchor points on either side of a tunnel, hallway, or entryway. Small bells and clusters of metal cylinders are affixed to the wire out of sight, their metal coated in ash to disguise it. A character that can see the chimes and that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check spots them.

Trigger. The tripwire is strung approximately 6 inches above the ground. A creature stepping through the tripwire causes it to pull taut.

A character that can see the wire and that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check notices it, while a successful DC 14 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disables the tripwire without setting off the trap. A character without thieves’ tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

Effect. Stepping through or otherwise triggering the tripwire causes it to pull taut and ring the attached chimes. The sound of the chimes echoes through any attached tunnels, including the kobolds’, and can be heard for a distance of 300 feet within the tunnels.

Snare

A noose of leather cord is hidden on the ground, ready to trap a victim’s leg.

Placement. The noose is hidden on the ground under a layer of dirt and dust. It is connected to an anchor, such as a heavy object or a stake driven into the ground, by a length of cord that is up to 5 feet long. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check spots a section of the cord beneath the debris that hides it.

Trigger. Stepping out of the snare’s space causes the noose to catch on the creature’s foot and tighten around its ankle.

Effect. The noose closes around the creature’s ankle, tethering it to the trap’s anchor. While ensnared, the creature’s movement is limited by the cord connecting it to the anchor. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check to free either itself or a creature within 5 feet of it from the trap. Dealing 3 slashing damage to the cord (AC 10) destroys it, freeing an ensnared creature.

VARIANT: Weighted Snare

A noose of reinforced cord is hidden on the ground and connected to a suspended weight, ready to hoist an unsuspecting victim to the ceiling.

Placement. The noose is hidden on the ground under a layer of dirt and dust. It is connected to a hook that is pressed against a stake anchored into the ground up to 5 feet away from the noose. The cord that connects the noose and hook then passes over a makeshift pulley, where it suspends a heavy weight, such as a slab of stone. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check spots a section of the cord beneath the debris that hides it.

Trigger. Stepping out of the snare’s space causes the noose to catch on the creature’s foot and tighten around its ankle. This pulls the hook free of its anchor and allows the suspended weight to fall.

Effect. The noose closes around the creature’s ankle as the hook pulls free of its anchor, letting the weight fall. If the creature is Medium or smaller, it is restrained and hoisted into the air by the opposing weight, which leaves it suspended from the ceiling. A creature that is Large or larger instead has its movement limited by the cord, which prevents it from moving away from the weight.

A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check to free either itself or a creature within 5 feet of it from the trap. Dealing 3 slashing damage to the cord (AC 10) destroys it, freeing an ensnared creature.

Choking Powder

A tripwire connects to a pouch of fine powder that is released into the air when the trap is triggered. The powder becomes stuck in the lungs of anything that breathes it in, preventing them from speaking.

Placement. A small, open pouch filled with powder hangs amidst cobwebs, several feet above the entrance to a room or where a target would walk. A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the pouch.

Trigger. The tripwire stretches across a doorway or hallway, approximately 6 inches above the ground. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the wire, while a successful DC 14 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disables the tripwire without setting off the trap. A character without thieves’ tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

Effect. Stepping through the tripwire causes it to pull taut, lifting one end of the pouch and releasing the powder. The powder spreads through the air to fill a 10-foot cube beneath it, remaining there for 1 minute or until a moderate wind disperses it. Any creature that enters the area and breathes the powder in must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or have the powder become trapped in its lungs for 1 minute, preventing it from speaking. An affected creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.

VARIANT: Blinding Powder

A tripwire connects to a pouch of flammable powder that pours over an open flame when the trap is triggered. The powder reacts violently to the fire, creating a blinding flash of light.

Trap placement. A small, open pouch filled with powder hangs amidst cobwebs, several feet above a torch sconce or other flame, or the entrance to a room. A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the pouch.

Effect. Stepping through the tripwire causes it to pull taut, lifting the bottom of the pouch and releasing the powder. The powder reacts with any open flame that it touches, such as a torch or spell effect, sparking with a bright light. Any creature that is within 30 feet and that can see the reaction must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of their next turn. If the powder reacts with a small, nonmagical flame, such as a torch, the flame is also extinguished.

Webbing Blastbox

An explosive is rigged to produce a concussive blast that also spreads adhesive webbing in its radius. It triggers from a wire connected to a moving mechanism being pulled taut.

Trap placement. A wooden box, 6 inches on each side, is hidden beneath a pile of smaller objects, such as rubble or dirt. A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the mound and may see a corner of the box inside.

Trigger. A tripwire stretches from the box across a doorway or hallway, approximately 6 inches above the ground. Alternatively, the wire may connect the box to any mechanism that a target would move; a crank, lever, or door, for example. In this case, the wire itself is hidden under debris or sand. The movement of the mechanism pulls the wire taut and triggers the blastbox.

A character that succeeds on a Wisdom (Perception) check notices the wire. The DC of this check is 12 if it is used as a tripwire or 14 if it is connected to another mechanism. A successful DC 14 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disables the tripwire without setting off the trap. A character without thieves’ tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

Effect. The blastbox detonates in a concussive blast with a radius of 15 feet, carrying debris and adhesive webs. Any creature in the area must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 2 (1d4) thunder damage and be thrown 5 feet away from the box. Any creature that fails its saving throw and that is still within the range of the blast after being thrown back is then restrained in webs that fill the area of the blast. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and is not thrown or restrained.

The webs are difficult terrain and lightly obscure their area. A creature that starts its turn in the webs or that enters them on its turn must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or become restrained in them. A creature that is restrained in the webs can use its action to make a DC 13 Strength check, freeing itself on a success.

The webs are also flammable. Any 5-foot cube of webs exposed to fire burns away in 1 round, dealing 5 (2d4) fire damage to any creature that starts its turn in the fire.

Oil Jar

A jar is filled with flammable oil that coats either a surface or an unsuspecting target, priming them to be ignited by a follow-up trap or attack.

Trap placement. The 3-inch-radius, spherical clay jar is loosely attached to the ceiling, connected by a wire to a nearby door or a snare trap. Alternatively, the jar may also be suspended above a target surface, such as a wall or section of the floor.

A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the jar and its connecting cord. 

Trigger. Opening the door that the jar is connected to causes the wire to be released. Alternatively, if the jar is instead connected to a snare or weighted snare trap, it is released a moment after the snare is triggered. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the wire connecting to the door or the tripwire, depending on the chosen trigger, while a successful DC 14 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disables the trigger without setting off the trap. A character without thieves’ tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

Effect. When released, the jar swings down toward the space of the trap’s trigger at a height of 3 feet. If it is using a weighted snare trap as its trigger, this height is adjusted to target a creature suspended by the snare. Creatures in the path of the jar’s swing must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw in the order that it would hit them. The jar breaks against the first creature to fail their saving throw, coating them in oil.

Alternatively, if the jar is intended to coat the ground, it is allowed to drop and break on the floor, coating an area in a 5-foot radius. The greased area is difficult terrain. Any creature that is standing in the area when the jar falls, that enters the area, or that ends its turn there must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.

A creature that is coated in oil can spend 1 minute wiping it away. If a creature or surface that is coated in oil is lit on fire or takes fire damage, the oil catches alight. A creature that is on fire takes 3 (1d6) fire damage at the start of each of its turns until someone takes an action to douse the fire. If a surface is burning, any creature that starts its turn in the flames or that enters the area on its turn takes 3 (1d6) fire damage.

VARIANT: Glue Jar

A jar is filled with adhesive glue that coats either a surface or an unsuspecting target, slowing the movement of those affected.

Effect. When released, the jar swings down toward the space of the trap’s trigger at a height of 3 feet. If it is using a weighted snare trap as its trigger, this height is adjusted to target a creature suspended by the snare. Creatures in the path of the jar’s swing must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw in the order that it would hit them. The jar breaks against the first creature to fail their saving throw, coating them in glue. A creature that is coated in glue has its speed halved and has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. An affected creature can spend 1 minute cleaning itself to end the effect.

Alternatively, if the jar is intended to coat the ground, it is allowed to drop and break on the floor, coating an area in a 5-foot radius. This area is difficult terrain. Any creature that is standing in the area when the jar falls, that enters the area, or that ends its turn there must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or have its speed reduced to 0. A creature caught on a glue surface can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself on a success.

VARIANT: Swinging Stone

A chunk of stone is suspended in rope, ready to swing or drop onto unsuspecting targets.

Trap placement. A 9-inch stone or piece of rubble is bound to a length of rope and loosely attached to the ceiling, connected by a wire to a nearby door or a snare trap. Alternatively, the stone may also be suspended above a target area.

A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the stone and its connecting rope. 

Effect. When released, the stone swings down toward the space of the trap’s trigger at a height of 3 feet. If it is using a weighted snare trap as its trigger, this height is adjusted to target a creature suspended by the snare. Creatures in the path of the stone’s swing must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw in the order that it would hit them. The first creature to fail its saving throw takes 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

If the stone is instead suspended above a target area, it is released and drops straight down. Any creature in the space under the stone must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Collapsing Tiles

Broken floor tiles cover a pit and collapse under the weight of a creature that walks across them.

Placement. One of the floor’s 5-foot stone tiles is broken into several pieces that have been placed back in their position over a pit that is 5 feet in diameter. The tile pieces are precariously arranged to lay flat over the hole and appear cracked, yet undisturbed. A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the odd cracks and the apparent space beneath them.

Trigger. A Small or larger creature stepping onto the broken tile causes it to collapse into the pit beneath it.

Effect. Any creature that is in the space of the tile when it collapses must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or fall into the pit, taking falling damage depending on the distance of the fall. If the pit is rigged with additional traps, such as spikes or a tripwire, a falling creature also triggers them and is subjected to their effects.

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What’s Next

The Fireblood kobolds and the party are now both in the Reaver tunnels. It is only moments until they come into contact, the result of their meeting deciding what will become of both sides. The next section of the adventure will cover the tunnels themselves, with the many encounters and oddities for the characters to find within. We hope you look forward to its release! Until then, you can refer back to the previous entries and the Adventure Index to see the many other sections of the larger adventure, and feel free to ask questions, comment, or critique below!

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Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

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