By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Raging Swan Press is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, half a page SRD, leaving 20.5 pages of content.
This installment of Raging Swan’s excellent TRIBES-series adheres to the same clear and printer-friendly layout, b/w-artwork and presentation. The TRIBES-series, at least for me, is always defined by going a bit further, by including that extra hook, that extra idea, that extra comfort for the DM to implement the critters. The first thing I noticed, was that under the statblocks-by-CR table, on the page with the ToC, we get an excerpt from a song or poem about the Kobolds – great idea to set the mood and already an adventure hook in disguise. That’s a promising start!
After that, we get the obligatory one-page introduction for novice DMs on how to read the statblocks and then, after the chapter title page, two pages on the history of the Kobolds of the Fallen Halls, which already shows that this file somewhat differs from the premise of the other TRIBES-files – we get two Kobold tribes and their draconic masters, embroiled in a subterranean trench-war over a once great Dwarven stronghold, with a hapless group of adventurers quite possibly being the able to tip the precarious balance of power between the feuding factions. This aptly written history once again conveys the great old-world-atmosphere laced with decay I’ve come to appreciate in Raging Swan products. On the downside, I found the first typo in any of their products here, in the section on appearance, Kobolds should “smell” of something instead of “small”.
On the next page, we get 7 new feats of the new [Battle]-type, a type of feat representing tribal combat tactics. All the feats come with two lines of fluff text, something I quite frankly think should be standard. The feats are:
- Dazing Shot: When you hit a flat-footed opponent, he has to make a fort-save or be dazed. Great idea for guerilla tactics.
- Hit and Run: Use a 5-foot step, even if you have moved this round.
- Improved Flank: Gain +3 instead of +2 when flanking.
- Nauseating Shot: When you hit a flat-footed opponent, he has to make a fort-save or be nauseated. Great idea for guerilla tactics.
- Spider Handler: You have a close Bond with a giant spider, can handle it as a free action or push it as a move action. You also get a bonus on saves vs. poison.
- Spider Rider: Gain +4 to ride checks on spiders and +1 to atk for every 4 levels you possess.
- Sniping Strike: As long as you are at least 10 ft. from your target, you only suffer from -10 to obscure your position after shooting.
As a great example for Raging Swan listening to their customers, we also get new Adept spells for this often neglected NPC-class (1 page):
- Darken Scales (Adp 1): +4 to stealth and +1 to AC for scaled beings
- Enervating Shadows (Adp 3): Grasping shadows cause exhaustion
- Furtive Step (Adp 1): + 4 to stealth, become harder to track.
- Occlude Trap (Adp 2): Hides traps and gives you a mental alert when the trap is triggered.
This section also includes an expanded adept’s spell-list for one of the Kobold tribes who have the upper hand, magic-wise.
The next page features two fully detailed dragon hoards for the respective dragons.
After another header page, we get the statblocks for the Kobolds as well as some paragraphs on the customs of the respective tribes, making them more unique. The statblocks come with the number of respective Kobolds of the type the tribe can muster. They are:
- Blackened Eye Warrior [warrior 1](CR 1/4)
- Blackened Eye Champion [warrior 3] (CR 1/2)
- Blackened Eye Scout [warrior 2/expert 2] (CR 1)
- Blackened Eye Adept [adept 2] (CR 1)
- Weasel Familiar
- Blackened Eye Miner [expert 4] (CR 1)
- Dire Rat Pet (Cr 1/3)
- Alaeix’s Concubines [warrior 3/expert 2] (CR 2)
- Alaeix, Blackened Eye Champion [warrior 7] (CR 4)
- Dereghwyr, Draconic Master of the Blackened Eye [juvenile green dragon] (CR 9) The dragon gets the Raging Swan NPC-treatment I enjoyed in the adventures and “Brethren of the Crimson Altar”, i.e., we get information on personality, mannerisms, hooks and distinguishing features. I would have loved for Alaeix to get this treatment, too, though.
- Bloodied Tail Warrior [warrior 2] (CR 1/3)
- Bloodied Tail Adept [adept 4] (CR 1)
- Bloodied Tail Trap Smith [expert 4] (CR 1)
- Bloodied Tail Spider Rider [warrior 2/expert 2] (CR 1)
- Hunting Spiders (CR 1)
- Unurnyth, Bloodied Tail Adept [adept 8] (CR 5)
- Irix (Familiar of Unurnyth)
- Sygax, Bloodied Tail Chieftain [warrior 6] (CR 3)
- Bloodied Tail Bodyguards [warrior 4] (CR 1)
- Antharuthux, draconic master of the Bloodied Tail [juvenile black dragon] (CR 8) The dragon gets the Raging Swan NPC-treatment I enjoyed in the adventures and “Brethren of the Crimson Altar”, i.e., we get information on personality, mannerisms, hooks and distinguishing features. I would have loved for Unurnyth and Sygax to get this treatment, too, though.
On the next page, we get a d20-list of odds and ends Kobolds carry in their pouches (great idea) as well as two statblocks for non-combatants.
- Female Kobold [commoner 1] (CR 1/4)
- Young Kobold [commoner 1] (CR 1/6)
What would a pdf on Kobolds be without traps? Exactly! That’s why we get 4 new traps:
- Crossbow Bolt (CR 1)
- Hidden Pit (CR 1)
- Falling Jars (CR 1)
- Tumbling Block (CR 3)
The traps come with nice lines to read when they are triggered (once again, great idea) as well as 3 augmentations for them in the form of brown mold, skeletons and spikes.
On the final page, just above the SRD, we get the racial information necessary to design more kobolds.
Layout editing are great, the pieces of b/w-artwork are nice and I only noticed the one typo I mentioned. The writing is concise and atmospheric and the feats and battle-tactics enabled by them scream “Kobold” to me. However, I also have some points of criticism: While I really liked the feats and new adept spells as well as the idea, that the bloodied tail has spider-cavalry, I was not to impressed by the blackened eye. In contrast to the bloodied tail, they felt rather like common kobolds, possibly also because their fluff and feats do not lend themselves as well to being iconic. I also would have loved the for the named Kobolds to get their own personality, hooks and the like. From the fluff I gathered they have their own agenda. The traps, at least in my opinion an integral part of Kobold battle tactics could have used some expansion and I think the pdf might have benefitted from a section discussing their guerilla-warfare tactics. While all of this is optional and the pdf provides plenty of content for a very fair price, it still doesn’t quite reach the heights the series has set for itself. What’s my final verdict then? This pdf is a very good book, though not as stellar as the other TRIBES-books I’ve read so far. Thus, I’ll settle for a solid 4 stars and a hearty recommendation.
Kobolds of the Fallen Halls is available from