Tag Archives: Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Modules

Adapting WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS to Popular Settings

The WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS series puts a band of low-level characters directly into the path of a kobold warlord bent on recovering his race’s lost glory. The modules are out and available for D&D 5th Edition, Pathfinder, Swords & Wizardry, Savage Worlds, and Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, and I hope you’ve got your copies, either digital or physical.

In each module I include a section about adapting the adventure to an existing campaign setting, as I’ve tried to make them as generic as possible in order to fit into as many settings as possible. This is both a blessing and a curse – sure, it would be nice to actually tie the adventure into a setting specifically, but then I’m locked into that setting! I’d rather keep things as generic as possible and provide advice on how and where to stick it in the many published settings available.

Hence this blog post! It’s a long time coming, so I apologize for that, but it’s also a bit of a bear to write. I’m going to look at several of the more popular settings, both classic and currently in print. This includes: Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara, Eberron, Golarion, and Garweeze Wurld. Before diving into each one, let’s take a quick look at the key aspects of the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS setting that need to be adapted into an existing setting.

  • City of Cresthill (gnomish city). Featured in WK0 Night of the Mad Kobold, Cresthill was built as a gnome city because kobolds hate gnomes, and I honestly think gnomes get a bit of the shaft when it comes to published material.
  • Town of Ormkirk. A small isolated community that is featured in both WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen and WK3 Revenge of the Over-Kobold. Out of the way, relatively small, located along a little-used trade route are the elements I’m looking for here.
  • Talon Hills. These are the hills featured in WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen. Rocky hills where kobolds live, seems pretty straightforward.
  • Liverswood. This is a forest with a gnome librarian in it, but ideally it would be a bit away from civilization. Introduced in WK2 Curse of the Kobold Eye but also fits in with WK3 Revenge of the Over-Kobold.
  • Ruins of Silvergaeral. Featured in WK2 Curse of the Kobold Eye this is a gnomish city lost in the mountains.
  • Wild Mountains. A generic mountain range that is featured in both WK2 Curse of the Kobold Eye and WK3 Revenge of the Over-Kobold. Ideally would already have tribes of kobolds living in them.

Those are the big elements in the series that need to have analogs of some kind for the modules to work as best as possible. Let’s look at each setting and see what we can connect!

Forgotten Realms

Ed Greenwood’s brainchild from before D&D was a thing, Faerun has seen a lot of love from the official channels for many years, and for 5th Edition is the default setting for the Wizards of the Coast produced adventure modules. There are a lot of places to choose, but for me I would look at the Sunset Mountains and the Far Hills. (Note: I’m using the map from the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting hardcover book.) I know the Realms underwent a lot of changes in 4E and that a lot of those changes were then reversed for 5E, so ultimately I think this area probably still works. The town of Hluthvar, north of Iriaebor, could stand in for Ormkirk nicely. Honestly, I would use Cresthill as a trade city on the River Chionthar between Iriaebor and Scornubel exactly as is!


Published as a new setting for 3rd Edition after an exhaustive public search, Eberron is the work of Keith Baker, and in it he blends sword, sorcery, and steampunk into a wonderful mashup of fantasy pulp. Lightning trains, living spells, intrigue, and more adventure than you can shake a stick at can be found across the continent of Khorvaire, and certainly the machinations of a kobold warlord fit right in with the setting’s sensibilities. I would look to Zilargo as a broad setting, and then choose either the northern or southern end of the Howling Peaks (the northern end sits in Breland with the southern end exists in Zilargo). Zilargo is the kingdom of the gnomes in Khorvaire, so it makes thematic sense to choose that area. Ormkirk can be placed as is in the hills leading to the Howling Peaks easily enough, and the history of the gnomes of Silvergaeral can be worked into House Sivis’ own backstory. Liverswood can be placed in the forest south of Reven as well, and I think you can use Tzanthus for Cresthill without any problems. (Note: I’m using the Eberron Campaign Setting hardcover book for 3rd Edition as my source and map.)


Ahh, the classic. The stomping grounds of Gary Gygax and the original band of gamers in the Lake Geneva area. For me, it’s always held a special place – many of my own home games have been set on Oerth. For the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS series, there are a few good options, but the one I would personally choose would be the region of the Cairn Hills and Abb0r Alz mountains, east of Woollly Bay. The area has long been the haunt of monsters and dangerous sites, so Ormkirk can be placed as is on the eastern edge of the Plain of Greyhawk without missing a beat. Likewise, Cresthill can be placed along the Selintan River south of Greyhawk City, or on one of the tributaries that join from the east. Silvergaeral fits nicely into the Abbor Alz mountains themselves, perhaps tracing routes back to the founding of Urnst on its eastern slopes. (Note: I’m using the Greyhawk regional map from the From the Ashes boxed set for my map with updates and references from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.)


The Known World of Mystara came about from the Basic D&D boxed set as a generic setting to place all of the adventures in. Eventually, it was supported with a series of fantastic setting gazetteers (13 of them as I recall) each detailing one of the major nations of the core setting. I myself adapted the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS series for own home game, so I have first-hand knowledge here! For my game I placed Cresthill on the Windrush River between Verge and Rifflian in Karameikos, and then established a little-used trade route that went west from Rifflian to Luln, skirting between the Cruth Lowlands to the north and the Radlebb Woods to the south. Ormkirk was placed on this route, so the caves were located in the Cruth Lowlands, and I placed Silvergaeral in the Black Peak Mountains. The Lost Library of Liverswood became the Lost Library of Riverfork to the west, just to the north of Black Eagle Barony. It all worked very well! (Note: I’m using the maps and details from GAZ1: Grandy Duchy of Karameikos for the setting.)


The base setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Golarion has enjoyed a great deal of support from Paizo since its release. The Inner Sea Reigon (oops, the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover book had a map and the map is misspelled!) is rich, vast, and varied, and there are near countless placed to set the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS series. If it were me, I would look to Varisia, which was not incidentally the region focused on by the first adventure path (Rise of the Runelords). It’s wild enough to have all the elements, so I would look to the Red Mountains (east of Brinewall) as the foundation. You can use Brinewall instead of Cresthill easily enough, or add in Cresthill as a sister trade city on the Steam River, and then place Ormkirk south, east of the Velashu River. The nearby Lurkwood could hold a gnome librarian, and the Red Mountains themselves could hide Silvergaeral. In this case, I would move the Over-Kobold’s Castle Kragtooth to the Stony Mountains just to get some breathing room.

Garweeze Wurld

If you know me or have read my blog for a bit, you should already know that I love Knights of the Dinner Table. I think it is the best RPG-related comic on the market, and perhaps the best RPG-related product (certainly in the top 5!). The Knights play a fictionalized version of D&D called HackMaster, which incidentally was actually released as a wacky licensed version of AD&D 2nd Edition by Kenzer & Company, and then updated to be it’s own game a few years ago. Garweeze Wurld is the official setting of the Knights’ version of HackMaster, and Kenzer & Co released a fantastic PDF product detailing the core setting. I loved it, and I actually wrote WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen to fit into that setting first. Where did I put it? In the Shadlurian Kingdom, north and east of the Fangaerian City States! Ormkirk was originally the town of Talert, and the Talon Hills were originally the Galon Hills. I would keep it the same place Cresthill south of Talert on one of the small rivers. The Galon Hills would also hold Silvergaeral and the forces of the Over-Kobold, so it becomes less mountains and more rocky hills, but that’s fine! (Note: I used the Wurld of Aldrazar PDF for reference and maps.)

Monday Workload 8/8/2016

I thought it would be a good idea to let people know what’s being actively developed at Cut to the Chase Games – I know I enjoy these kind of glimpses into the design process that other companies do. I’m going to try and post up a quick rundown of what’s on the plate for CttC Games for the upcoming week, so why not start with today?

  • TG0 Depths of the Croaking Grotto: This will be the next release from Cut to the Chase Games, introducing the MEMORIES OF THE TOAD GOD series. It will go up as a Pay What You Want title for 5th Edition, Pathfinder, DCC RPG, Swords & Wizardry, and Savage Worlds, and I just got the cover back from Matt Morrow. It’s pretty freakin’ sweet.
  • BF0 Fortress of Fear: I’m tinkering with this ghostly themed module to serve as precursor to BF1 Tower of Skulls. I really like the way I’ve got it designed right now, I just need to finish the keyed locations for the fortress itself.
  • BF2 Crypt of Bones: This one is the next module in the LORD OF THE BONE FIELDS series, and I’ve got it mapped out currently. Just need to dive into the details.
  • Blog Post for WK Series: This week I’m hoping to get up a blog post with tips and suggestions for adapting the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS series to the various campaign settings.
  • Art Contracts for TG1: I’ve got the editor working on TG1, and I hope to get the contracts out for cover and interior art this week. Just like with the WRATH OF THE KOBOLDS Kickstarter, I want to have TG1 done completely before the next Kickstarter launches. Oh yes, there will be another.

Those are the active projects currently taking up my main brain processes!

A Bit of History on WK1

With WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen out in the wild, I wanted to look back a bit at the history of this module, as it goes back quite a ways for me. I’ve been writing my homebrew adventures as “module” documents for almost as long as I’ve been playing roleplaying games (over 20 years now!). I still have a lot of my old docs and I cringe every time I go through them – the writing and layout are quite atrocious, though nuggets of good ideas can be gleaned through the unrefined, unwanted, bloated prose. I like to think I’ve been getting better through the years!

For as long as I’ve been playing D&D I’ve been reading Dragon Magazine, and the editorial was always one of my favorite things to devour. It offered a glimpse into the life of a professional publishing materials for a game I loved – sometimes poignant, sometimes poetic, sometimes inspiring, but always interesting. I don’t recall the issue, but one of the editorials in Dragon Magazine written *I think* by Dave Gross referred to a game being run with people in the TSR offices. They were fighting kobolds, and one player couldn’t make it during a climactic session. The next day, the players who were there left a note on the absent player’s desk that said simply: “Love Slave of the Kobold Queen.”

I couldn’t stop laughing, and the idea simply cemented itself in my imagination. A villainous Kobold Queen capturing men to turn them into love slaves? I loved the idea and kept in the back of my brain for later use. When HackMaster 4th Edition came out I picked up all the books and loved the gonzo feel to it, and especially since it was rooted in 2nd Edition’s rules the game felt familiar and fun. I wanted to play, but honestly I felt that the modules they were putting out were too “jokey.” They were all parodies/homages to the classics, starting with Little Keep on the Borderland and moving on to Smackdown the Slavers and Against the Giants.

I decided to try my hand at putting together a professional module on my own for HackMaster 4th Edition. I thought immediately about enemies to use, and settled on kobolds pretty quickly. Low level? Yup. Interesting encounters? Double yup. Main villain? Why, the Kobold Queen herself of course! After some thinking the idea for Caves of the Kobold Queen was born and I sketched out a plot involving captured men and a desperate mayor.

I ran that module for HackMaster 4th Edition roughly in 2004 (2005? 2006?) or so and it lasted only a single session. We didn’t even get to the kobolds – I rolled on the random encounter table twice, with the first result being giant fleas (easily defeated) and the second result being flesh-eating weasels. It was the weasels that killed the party, and though I had a lot of fun we moved on to other games.

But the idea for the module persisted, and so I worked on it off-again-on-again for several years. Something about the adventure didn’t feel right to me with D&D 3rd Edition – it needed a simpler rule set to really call up the feel of those old modules, which is what I was going for. I decided I was going to publish it myself, but before I did anything I needed to finish writing it and the rest of the modules in the series (I love trilogies, and settled on Curse of the Kobold Eye and Revenge of the Over-Kobold as the follow-up modules in the series). It took me longer than I wanted, but I got them all written by the end of 2012.

Originally I wanted to try them with HackMaster 5th Edition, and I playtested them with my group using that system. It was fun, but I like the idea of hordes of kobolds, something HM5E doesn’t do very well (the initiative system is really cool and intuitive but can be a NIGHTMARE for a GM to handle with more than a handful of opponents). We did it, and it resulted in some really fun times, but ultimately it didn’t have the right “feel” for me.

The playtest for D&D Next had me intrigued, though, and once those rules came along enough I decided to convert it over to that. That felt right, and I ran games of it at GaryCon VI (2014) using the D&D Next playtest rules. It was fun, it was quick, and it was memorable, everything I wanted. I eagerly awaited the release of the full ruleset and (hopefully!) a corresponding 3rd party license to publish stuff.

D&D 5th Edition was released in summer 2014 to much applause, and I convert the modules over to it, along with Pathfinder, Swords & Wizardry (as my go-to retro clone), and Savage Worlds. GaryCon VII (2015) sees me running the full trilogy of modules for both 5th Edition and Swords & Wizardry while my personal playtests work through Pathfinder and Savage Worlds. I waited for the third party license and prepared the Kickstarter.

A third party license didn’t appear, however, but the OGL covers most of the material, so I took a gamble and launched the Kickstarter in August 2015. We succeeded (overly!) to get the Wrath of the Kobolds trilogy released along with a special Tower of Skulls module (I’ll talk about the history of that one when we get closer to release). I wanted to get WK1 up sooner but getting the list of backers to thank took longer than anticipated. Interesting enough, I should have WK2 released in the next two weeks or so as the art assets for that one are in and looking fantastic. WK3 is definitely going to be a December release.

For me personally, I think all of the modules work the best using the 5th Edition rules, followed closely by Swords & Wizard (or your favorite flavor of retro-clone, such as OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord). Pathfinder is fine and it works, but I find myself moving away from the crunch of that system. Savage Worlds is always great, and if you’re looking to just throw down on some quick fun that’s a good one to get on with.

Kickstarter Campaign is LIVE!

Check it out! If it’s something that you seem interested in, give us a pledge and spread the word. I’m very excited to be finally launching this campaign – it seems like years ago when I first decided to strike out on my own and publish my own adventures. Earlier this year I took the actual steps of starting the company and pulling together the first module, getting it written, edited, laid out, and art assets pulled together. It took longer than I wanted, but I learned a lot, which has helped put a realistic delivery date on the campaign (December 2015). I’m HOPING for earlier, but I figured it best to underpromise and overdeliver. I know I’ve been burned by a few Kickstarters over the past few years, and I think everyone who has pledged on the crowdfunding platform has horror stories of their own.

I’m dedicated to making sure mine doesn’t become one of those, but instead one that help restore some confidence in the Kickstarter platform, even if only a little bit. So take a look, spread the word, and let me know if you have any questions. I’m around, constantly refreshing the page, likely for the next 30 days.

A Look Behind and (Slightly) Ahead

I am planning on launching the Kickstarter for the Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Modules very soon. Like, super soon. OK, I’ll put a date to it – Monday, August 17th! But it’s probably a good idea to look at why I’m doing a Kickstarter and what I’m hoping to do with it.

I don’t think I could be a smaller operation. Cut to the Chase Games is pretty much just me and my super supportive fiance trying to bring awesome adventures to the gaming scene. And I want them in print as well, so that’s added a challenge that’s been interesting to figure out (and frankly I’m still figuring out some distribution parts, but that’s for down the road a bit). I’ve been writing adventure modules for nearly as long as I’ve been playing roleplaying games – my home games I wrote out, poorly to be honest, but I wrote in the style of a Dungeon Magazine scenario so that I didn’t have to remember them when I was playing and I didn’t have to read my poor scribbled handwriting.

So I’ve built up quite a catalog of awesome adventure ideas and possibilities, but what to do with them? I read the adventures in Dungeon Magazine, and finally in 2005 I submitted a handful of proposals to them (Paizo was handling both Dragon and Dungeon at the time). They liked one of them, “Heart of Hellfire Mountain”, and asked that I send it in. I did, eagerly, and then waited quite awhile for anything to come of it. I submitted more proposals in the meantime, and got a few rejections back with critical feedback, but quickly I stopped getting responses at all. So did everyone else it seemed.

I got word sometime in late Q2 2006 that my adventure was slated for Dungeon Magazine #140, and around that same time came the announcement of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Wizards was ending the contract with Paizo and bringing Dragon and Dungeon magazines in house, and Dungeon #150 was going to be the last. Well, that explained the lack of responses! Dungeon #140 came out, and the cover featured the archdevil Mephistopheles from my adventure (“Heart of Hellfire Mountain” for 20th-level characters!). I was super excited and hungry for more, but with the flux of the game it seemed as though things were moving inward rather than outward. I feel like if I had jumped at submitting proposals earlier I might have been able to establish myself in Dungeon Magazine better, but ah well. No complaints, no regrets, keep moving forward!

I kept my eye on sources, and my love of the pulp 1930’s gaming genre brought the Ravaged Earth setting and Savage Worlds system to my attention. I think it was GenCon 2007 (maybe?) that Reality Blurs released the print version of Ravaged Earth, and I left Minnesota on Friday after work to drive through the night to Indianapolis just so I could get a copy. (That’s a story for another time – a harrowing journey to be sure!) I got it, read it, and then reached out to Reality Blurs with a handful of One Sheets (short Savage Worlds scenarios meant to be played in just an hour or two) I wrote. Sean Preston got back to me and I hit the ground running with some projects for them. I had a lot of fun writing for Reality Blurs, and massaged some of my backlog of fantasy adventures into the Old School Fantasy series (Hunger of the Iron Mage, Call of the Crow, and Slave Pens of Moss Stone were my favorites).

Eventually I parted ways, amicably, with Reality Blurs and focused on personal things. I always had the idea in the back of my head of trying to release trilogies of adventures, each that could be run individually but together would form a mini-arc. Dungeon Magazine explored the idea a handful of times, and I always found it more digestible than the sprawling adventure paths they focused on instead.

Fast forward a bit to 2014, and the company I worked for announced they were moving to Colorado. For various reasons I decided to stay in Minnesota and was kept on until the end of Q1 2015 to help with the transition. I don’t know if I could get a stronger sign, so I decided to take the leap into game design company ownership and started up Cut to the Chase Games in January 2015. I’ve learned a lot since then, registering things and purchasing things and learning new technologies, but it’s all led to the launch of the Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Module Kickstarter campaign.

Where does it go from there? I hope it keeps going, and I hope I get to fully realize the backlog of adventure titles I’ve got (there are more than 30 of them with titles, outlines, and ideas, and more than twice that with just one of those three things!). But only time will tell.

GenCon 2015 Wrap-Up

GenCon 2015 was a great success! Cut to the Chase Games had a handful of games on the schedule, and they went swimmingly (except for the third one – I think there was a mixup on my DM dashboard – see below). I didn’t have any products to showcase so no booth or anything fancy like that, but I sure spent a lot of my time gaming it down with lots of terrific folks!

I had three sessions for Cut to the Chase Games on the books – TG1 Lost Temple of IbholthegTG2 Tongues of the Screaming Toad, and TG3 Shadow Out of Sapphire Lake, along with a pile of Adventurers League games for Baldman Games. Let’s look at each one.

I had a great table of players for the inaugural run of TG1 and, though we didn’t finish (the modules are not meant for 4 hour slots!) we all had a lot of fun and got past the titanic toad that guards the temple. Here’s the pic of the players at the end of the session. Great people, and some Minnesota boys to boot!


I was perhaps most worried about this one, because it’s a bit of a mystery to begin with, which is always tricky to pull off. Who knows if the players are going to pick up on the bits, or if I’m going to have to push them? Thankfully, the table was another set of FANTASTIC players and they all got into it quite well. So much fun. Again, we didn’t finish – but we got past the mystery part, so that made me quite happy.


So this one was my middle game on Friday, and in retrospect I think there was a mistake on my DM dashboard at GenCon. I was sitting in my room, nearly alone, waiting for players to show up. Nothing! I figured it’s GenCon, people get busy and can’t make it to games, but to have no one show up? Pretty strange. Afterwards, I investigated and found that my dashboard sent me to the wrong Indiana ballroom. Blergh. So no TG3 players or pics. Sad face.

I really enjoy judging for Baldman Games – last year was my first year EVER running a game at GenCon, and it was for Baldman running new games of 5th Edition. I had so much fun I ran Adventurers League games at Gamehole Con in November in Madison, Winter Fantasy in Fort Wayne in February (sucky drive!), and Origins in Columbus in June. Next year? I’m hoping I’m going to have my hands full of Cut to the Chase Games slots but who knows? The Epic on Saturday night was fantastic – I got to run the Tier 3 table (12th level average party) and the players really got into the swing of things down in the bowels of the hedonistic fire giant city, tearing it up with colossal gladiators in a coliseum of blood and terror.

My view for most of GenCon

My view for most of GenCon

GenCon is such a whirlwind of movement, people, sights, and sounds that it can be quite overwhelming. I also learned earlier in the year that 7 sessions (or roughly 30 hours) of ANYTHING at a convention is my limit – I get worn down and my voice goes bye-bye otherwise.

What does the future hold? Hopefully nothing but awesome things for everyone! Game on!