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Thread: Kobold maps

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Kobold maps

    In what ways do you think kobold-made maps would differ from those made by humans? Some thoughts, to inspire and enquire:

    How would a kobold indicate an area was dangerous with a symbol? Would it depend on the type of danger? Perhaps an indication of the size of the group that's a minimum requirement to enter an area?
    Is there anything kobolds would indicate on maps that humans likely wouldn't bother with? The bones of a dead dragon? A good place for an ambush?
    Is there something humans like to indicate on maps, which kobolds wouldn't bother with?
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    I'd look to some ancient maps for inspiration:

    Especially that claws seem ideal for wedge writing. Deciphering symbols would be a whole separate task (probably requiring a prisoner).

    As for something humans wouldn't care about, maybe some caves with "delicious" guano droppings? (marked as "treasure" ;) )
    Last edited by Bulhakov; 2016-11-29 at 07:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    How would a kobold indicate an area was dangerous with a symbol? Would it depend on the type of danger?
    Last time I used kobolds in a D&D campaign, their maps measured tunnel danger in Grimtooth skulls.

    But on the serious side, I've subscribed to the idea that kobold tunnel maps are detailed like maps made for mining operations; tunnel sizes and stability are written down, equipment locations are tracked, emergency shelter areas are clearly marked, etc. I've always made kobold tunnel maps look very technical and professional.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Another inspiration I'd look into are tribal stick and/or string maps (especially suited for tunnels).
    Animal bones and other objects (jewels, shells) could be hung from the various knots to symbolize places and dangers. Sticks could be painted with various colors to indicate type of tunnel.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    I would say, rather than colors, kobolds are likely to use textures for a lot of things. Depending on your edition, darkvision usually is black and white only, so a red bead and a blue bead might be indistinguishable, but a smooth bead and a spiky bead will be noticeable. I really like the idea that Kobold writing is cuniform, to go with their claws.
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulhakov View Post
    Another inspiration I'd look into are tribal stick and/or string maps (especially suited for tunnels).
    Animal bones and other objects (jewels, shells) could be hung from the various knots to symbolize places and dangers. Sticks could be painted with various colors to indicate type of tunnel.
    A fun little quirk is that if the PCs don't know how to properly orient this kind of map, they're gonna have a bad time following it. :3
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    Is there something humans like to indicate on maps, which kobolds wouldn't bother with?
    Legends, scale, orientation. They also may use alternate forms of projection or alternate indications of a Z axis or slope.

    One thing they would definitely indicate is things like water (particularly flash flood patterns), deadfalls, loose terrain, weak walls, stale air, and animal territories -- if they have shamans, maybe ley lines -- though they might not label them in ways that a civilized human would consider. To a kobold, the map would be a tool for survival... particularly how not to die to the environment. They aren't complete idiots like goblins, but they also don't necessarily have big bully bosses like hobgoblins or bugbears to tell them where to go and what to do.

    Note, civilized humans might not get the maps, but a barbarian might. Instead of pure knowledge, survival might be an applicable skill to help interpret. Simply dealing with kobolds before might not tell you everything you need to interpret the map, because the only continuity is what's passed down within a tribe rather than something like a standard convention. It's more a WIS exercise than INT.

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Before you go for Cuniform, Kobolds invented Draconic, so how they write is known.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    While I find the stick/string maps fascinating, I would picture those more for Goblinoids, probably. In addition to the availability issues with sticks/string, I agree with DingoDragon that I imagine Kobold maps as being very detailed and technical, at least for tunnels, mines, and caves.

    Now, there is no reason the two ideas cannot be combined, and I particularly like Mark Hall's idea of using textures. Perhaps Kobold maps come in different varieties depending on the map's function? Schematics for construction and mining are highly detailed and chiseled in stone or clay, while geographical maps are based more on survival and use a more stick/string style?
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Given that Kobolds usually trap their areas as much as feasible, each area of the map could have the season/year that it was compiled. An area mapped two years ago? Still probably right, but be careful of new traps. Ten years ago? Forget it, anything beyond the basic layout could easily be wrong.

    Also, living underground, Kobold maps would tend to be more three dimensional. It could be interesting if they had their own notation for showing multiple vertical layers on one map - once you understand it, it's pretty easy to read, but at first it would look like a mess with several maps drawn on top of each-other.

    Depending how much Kobolds worship dragons in the setting, they might record territories of long-disappeared dragons on their maps, which could be a fun red herring:
    "Holy crap, there are five dragon lairs within this one mountain!"
    ... <later> ...
    "So it turns out that the most recent one of those dragons was last seen 70 years ago, but since none of them have been confirmed as dead, their territory still gets marked."
    Last edited by icefractal; 2016-11-29 at 07:33 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts so far!

    Quote Originally Posted by 5ColouredWalker View Post
    Before you go for Cuniform, Kobolds invented Draconic, so how they write is known.
    It wasn't dragons that came up with Draconic?
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    It wasn't dragons that came up with Draconic?
    Dracoronic, isn't it?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    I was going to say that since kobolds are usually considered to be pretty simple and idiotic that they would have very basic maps, but then I thought about it for a bit.

    Kobolds pride themselves on 2 things: Traps and mining. BOTH of these would require very precise notation and locations. You can expect that kobold maps would likely have a very specific and intricately detailed floor plan of any sort of mine or cave they were in, with unambiguous mapping. HOWEVER, since they usually only work with other kobolds, they would also have a bunch of symbols and markers meant to represent things in order to not have to write out the full words like "Secret Door" or "Acid Trap". As such you will likely have an intricate map with symbols that are meaningless to people unless they make some sort of knowledge check or a decipher script check or similar check. This allows the guys with some INT based skills to not feel like those skills were wasted.

    Here is a good example of a bunch of symbols that might seem meaningless to someone without a key:

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    It wasn't dragons that came up with Draconic?
    Spoken form, yes, written form, no. Dragon's have no need to write that sh*t down, they have great memory, they have racial memory so their kids will remember that sh*t, and are generally loners so don't care if others learn that sh*t, and can just tell others if they need to.



    That said, I find the multi-Dragon and Multi-layer idea interesting, particularly if they've recently added a dragon.
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    Last edited by 5ColouredWalker; 2016-11-30 at 06:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Kobolds don't mark where traps are. They mark where they are not. It uses less ink.

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Obvious point: a tunnel or cave that's comfortably navigable by kobolds, may be too small for humans to fit down. Even crawling - a kobold can crawl where a human can't.

    So the map will show routes and areas that aren't accessible by humans (and probably wouldn't be shown on a human-scale map of the same space).
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Build the lair in Dwarf Fortress. Move all your dorfs to the surface or otherwise out of the way. Turn off tile
    graphics plugins and print screen the ASCII map. Watch your players stare at it befuddled for a while and give up in frustration. Watch the Dwarf Fortress player who actually uses the ASCII version, if there is one, freak right on out at how many traps and probably-dangerous levers there are.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    Kobolds don't mark where traps are. They mark where they are not. It uses less ink.
    This actually could make sense.

    The map could instead have a floor plan with a very specific path laid out to AVOID all the traps.
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    When the players complain, just say "I gave you a map! If you follow the map, you'll be fine!"

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Actually the Draconic alphabet has a bit of a cuneiform vibe to it.
    A few more lines and curves, but I'd be surprised if they weren't at least inspired by cuneiform when they came up with that one.

    I love the idea of using a 3d stick or string diagram for a dungeon map. Wire would be a very practical way to map out a tunnel complex, and kobolds likely have lots of copper to hand, as in folk lore they steal it from mines and replaced it with cobalt.
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Quote Originally Posted by EccentricCircle View Post
    Actually the Draconic alphabet has a bit of a cuneiform vibe to it.
    A few more lines and curves, but I'd be surprised if they weren't at least inspired by cuneiform when they came up with that one.
    Not really. Cuneiform isn't written so much as it's pressed: you basically take a reed and shove the end into wet clay to make the wedge-shaped mark. Draconic is instead designed to be carved with a claw in rock, and the script shows that very well. It would be very odd for it to have been based off something that worked in a wet medium using a blunt tool.

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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    The question is answered by "What do Kobolds need maps for?"

    There are two types of maps a Kobold would use; Engineering and route plan.

    First would be ONE map kept by the leader of the community and used to plan out how the community will grow. I'd see it as two hoops with lots of strings going through that mark different types of material, locations of tunnels and open spaces, connection, faults, water courses, ect. LOTS of stuff that will confuse a group of adventurers that does not include a good mining engineer.

    Second would be simple route maps for areas around the community. These are very narrow scrolls that have images depicting land marks, distance, and hazards in the surrounding areas.

    First is used to plan the community and lay out projects for expansion.
    Second is used when kobolds unfamiliar with the area are moving around on the surface.

    EVERY member of the community will know their area to include what traps are where. No need for a map of this since EVERYONE already knows it. If you don't know how to get around you don't belong to the community. Part of the LE alignment is letting those who can't remember die off in a horrible way while they watch.

    Players should NEVER find a map of a kobold lair that is accurate. If they find a map it wasn't made for use by the kobolds.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kobold maps

    Since Kobolds are a mining race, they'd propably map out the rock. Not the underdark tunnel systems, but rock formations and strata.
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