Only in Minecraft can the following two statements be true: “I was killed by a pig” and “I’m sorry. I got distracted and built a pyramid instead.”. I’m part way through re-creating Kobold Hall from the 4e D&D DMG in Minecraft, and things are starting to get more than a little silly. We’re up to Encounter Three which is, in my opinion, one of the best encounters ever devised for any role-playing game, ever.
Whole supplements could be written about this single encounter. They’d have titles such as “The Drunken Kobold Approach to Dungeon Design”, “Skittle Power”, “1,001 things to do with a skull and a rope” or “Classic Pub Games for D&D for Dummies”. It is a superb example of an Encounter Done Right and entire forums on rpg.net, ENWorld and elsewhere should be dedicated to Players’ and GM’s experiences running it.
Ok, I’m exaggerating a little (I’m a blogger. It’s what we do), but the thing is that I’m beginning think I am the only GM who has actually run it otherwise this encounter would cause one heck of a buzz. Instead, there’s next to nothing about it online. Do GMs these days actually read their books any more or is everyone suckered into signing up to D&D Insider then moaning about the lack of fluff in the game? Well duh, he said.
I’ll come back to Encounter Three in a mo’. But first, the Pig Who Killed Me. Which could be the title of a Bond movie, but isn’t.
Last time I put pen to pixel, I mentioned the Very Affectionate Pig who kept pushing me into an alcove until I turned him into bacon. I think the word spead about that deed through the to Pig Mafia and they sent a Hitpig against me. I’m exploring my Minecraft world and come across a stunning valley. I gaze across it from high atop a sheer cliff, while down below a river meanders through meadows and trees. It is perfect. I have found Eden.
Then, I hear it. The Oink of Doom, followed by that familiar push of a snout. I go flying off that cliff without even being able to look my killer in the eye.
Now, in Minecraft you can fall pretty much any distance, provided you land in water. Down below me is a river. Hey, there’s hope yet.
I miss it by three squares, my shattered body laying with my cuboid head twisted in an unnatural angle staring back at the cliff. I imagine I hear a self-satisfied “Oink” from high above.
DAMN YOU TO HELL PIGS! THIS IS WAR!
Porcine genocide, here I come.
One quick respawn later, and I decide to cut short my explorations. Back at the site of Kobold Hall I have an awful lot of soil to dispose of. An entire large chest full of the stuff, in fact. Now, I could just dump it somewhere and leave it, or bury the chest in a hole (to annoy the heck out of future pirates, no doubt), but that’s not the Minecraft Way. Everything has a use, and must therefore be used. I decide to build a pyramid. As you do.
A whole lot of soil dumping later, and it’s done. One glorious huge Pyrmid of Mud, a wonder of the age and symbol that will last through the ages. Funny how it’s not on any map of Nentir Vale I’ve ever seen.
Now, I’ve gone from having a load of mud I don’t know what to do with, to having a Pyramid I don’t know what to do with. I could hollow it out to make a home (just call me Mummy). I could turn it into a holy place and sacrifice pigs on top of it, or add some lava and turn my pyramid into a volcano (a Pyracano) or leave it for the next dungeon project after Kobold Hall is completed.
The Pyracano of Elemental Evil does have a certain ring to it……
Enough rambling. Back to Encounter Three and the build. I’m about halfway through completion, so stay tuned to the next post for the finished article. Instead, let’s talk about what Encounter Three is.
Awesome, that’s what.
Picture the scene. Inside this room are four coffins surrounding a sludge-filled pit. At one end of the room are two 10′ ledges separated by double doors. On either ledge is a kobold and they are taking it in turns to knock skulls off the top of the coffins with a large stone ball suspended from the ceiling by a rope. They take it in turns swinging the rope so that it arcs across the room then ends with the opposide Kobold who swings it back trying to hit more skulls.
The the PCs turn up, and the room becomes a Table Skittles game where the PCs are the Skittles. Oh, and behind the double doors are more Kobolds and a couple of Guard Drakes, just to stop the PCs from trying to end their fun.
Did I mention this encounter is awesome? There’s a pit, a load of monsters, coffins, skulls, ledges and the monsters are actually doing something to pass the time instead of waiting until a load of surface-dwellers turn up to slaughter them. It’s like a setup from It’s a Knockout only with slightly more skulls and coffins.
I’m not sure who created Kobold Hall for the DMG, but this room smacks of Rob Heinsoo genius. I defy any GM to run it and not end up with the players wetting themselves with laughter by the end of it. Brilliant stuff, and 4e D&D encounter design at its very best.
Next: I hold back my pig-fueled revenge plans and show you what Encounter Three looks like, Minecraft style!