Kobolds Ate My Baby! by AmiYumi
Kobolds Ate My Baby!Original SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!
Kobolds Ate My Baby! is a “Beer & Pretzels Role-Playing Game” first published in 1999 by Chris O’Neill and Dan Landis of 9th Level Games. According to Chris at the 20th anniversary “Midnight Massacre”, the two had originally planned on putting out a more serious traditional RPG, set in its own fantasy world, at Gen Con ’99. Which was a bit overshadowed by the announcement of a little thing called Dungeons & Dragons 3E. After lots of drinking and despondency, the two ended up writing a “joke” game about kobolds eating babies, sold out of their initial run, and have been going ever since. Two years later they put out a streamlined “Third Edition” version of the rules running under the “BEER System*”, John Kovalic got attached to do their art, and the two together have defined the game line ever since. While the original and third edition books were little zine-printed B&W things, the most recent edition…well, is the 20th anniversary reprint of Third Edition. But the most “modern” version of the rules is KAMB!: In Color!!! (yes, with three exclamation points) and before that was the “Super Deluxx Edition”, and both of those are proper, bound, half-size books. Helpful if misleading chart from the Kickstarter (that obfuscates early-edition shame by presenting Third Edition as the original):
Kobolds Ate My Baby! has you playing as kobolds, which are very explicitly not the little scaly wannabe-dragons of “modern” D&D; instead, these hew closer to the OD&D / Wizardry presentation of tiny dog people.
They’re little orange balls of claws and teeth, they bark and yip, they’re always hungry, and they’re dumb as a bag of rocks. They live in caves under the rule of King Torg (more on him in a minute), and are sent out to raid and explore in order to sate his mighty appetite. And no, not the Pathfinder kind of “appetite”; KAMB! is a jokey comedy game, not a Magical Realm, and the kobolds therein are presented as mostly sexless prepubescent things. To go back to Pathfinder, think if goblins were even less of a threat, and didn’t have the memetic focus on dogs and fire and really they’re just violent little toddlers.
They’re also prone to dying quickly and horribly, which is in fact a big focus of the game. More on that later, although I will note that there was a real concern at Gen Con that they would run out of character sheets.
ABOUT THIS REVIEW
This isn’t intended to be a fully-objective, “interacting with the material as an outside observer” kind of review. I was introduced to this weird-ass game by an old issue of Valkyrie, which pitted the titular kobolds against a farm full of angry chickens. From there I’ve followed and played and run off-and-on for nearly two decades, and finally got my chance to participate in the Midnight Massacre during this past Gen Con**, which is what inspired me to finally sit down and review this as a game, not just an RPG book.
In my opinion, many of the more “jokey” or “beer and pretzels” RPGs are written from the perspective of making the reader chuckle, rather than with an eye towards how the game actually plays out once it hits the table. That’s my goal with this review: I want to focus on how the game shakes out in practice, what works and what doesn’t.
And so, I’ll end this intro post with my first note along those lines: hey, remember how I mentioned King Torg earlier? Well, his name is actually written – every time – as “King Torg (ALL HAIL KING TORG!)”. That’s because it’s a call-and-response among the players and GM; any time the players hear “King Torg”, failure to respond with an “ALL HAIL KING TORG” results in an in-game penalty for the inattentive player’s character. This, sorry to say, gets old the second or third time reading it, and plays like dogshit – especially, say, in a big convention hall where multiple games are going on at once and someone is yelling “ALL HAIL KING TORG” every thirty seconds. My GM at Gen Con got halfway into his first sentence of description before being interrupted, and promptly suspended the rule for his table for the rest of the game. At a small table, with friends, preferably in a common room or a Waffle House? Eh, it’s still not the best, but it’s okay for setting expectations: this game gets rowdy, kobolds’ lives are short, and the GM is expected to be capriciously dickish.
*adapted as the SAKE System back when 9th Level had the Ninja Burger RPG license
**where my kobolds Jar’jarth and Shrek II: The Movie did quite well for themselves before dying horribly, TYVM
BEER Engine BasicsOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part II – BEER Engine Basics
I will give this game credit: the basic mechanic is explained on the very first page of rules text. It won’t be very clear until a little further into character creation, but it’s there: when you want to do something, roll XD6 and compare it to one of your kobold’s stats. Equal or lower, you succeed; higher, you fail. The “X” is equal to the difficulty of the roll, assigned by the GM (properly called the Mayor in this game, which I may or may not remember to do) based on stats / skills / circumstance / whimsy.
Following that is an alphabetical dictionary of the important rules terms, which isn’t particularly helpful reading in-order but is okay for quickly looking up terms after finishing chargen, and then the rest of character creation.
As mentioned, KAMB! runs on what is termed the BEER Engine, so named because those are the four stats that govern nearly every roll you the player are going to make in the game. They are, in order: Brawn (how big and beefy your kobold is), Ego (because giving kobolds an “Intelligence” stat would be something of an exaggeration), Extraneous (all things not applicable to being properly kobold-y, so mostly charisma), and Reflexes (how fast and wiggly your little guy is). Traditionally these were generated by rolling 2d6 down-the-line, which is still presented in KAMB! In Color!!!, but it recommends (and I agree) just choosing from a 10/8/6/4 array*.
Get used to those D6s, by the way, because those are in most cases the only dice used in this game.
From there, we go to quasi-stats**. Each stat has one, they’re all calculated the same way, and they serve as the difficulty to rolls against your kobold. They’re calculated by dividing the related stat by 4, rounded up; 1-4 gets you a quasi-stat of 1, 5-8 is 2, and so on. As for what they are and do: Meat is derived from Brawn and adds to HP and melee damage as well as determining the difficulty of shoving your kobold around, Cunning is derived from Ego and determines the difficulty to trick or swindle your kobold, Luck is derived from Extraneous and is used to determine the difficulty of things happening to your kobold that come down to luck (or when the Mayor can’t decide what other stat to use; it can also be spent permanently to force a single reroll by anyone at any time in-game) , and Agility is derived from Reflexes and determines the difficulty to hit your kobold.
Before we get to Skills, there are three remaining “stats” to deal with. Hits are your HP, simple as that, and begin equal to your kobold’s Brawn + Meat. VP are Victory Points, gained by accomplishing goals and killing and/or eating things, and can be spent back at the caves in ways to be explained later.
Finally, Kobold Horrible Death Cheques. These can be gained all sorts of ways: failing skill rolls, using certain skills at all, acting in an un-kobold-ly fashion, annoying the Mayor, etc. Kobolds are little bundles of chaos and short lifespans and accumulating these are as bad as they are inevitable. Each gain (or loss) of a KHDC forces a roll of 2D6 + your kobold’s (new) KHDC total; a 13 or lower is a pass, while rolling over that results in bad things. Usually instant death, sometimes to more than just the kobold that triggered it. Sometimes they’re technically survivable, though! There’s lots of charts and situations in the Mayor’s section later on, and supplements and adventures tend to have more.
*it also gives out one KHDC for putting that 10 in Brawn, or one VP for putting it in Extraneous
**yes, that’s the term they use
putting in a picture to break up all the text, and it appears here-ish in the book anyway
How Does It Play?
So, the random stats don’t feel great, that much is true. It does lend a degree of disposability to kobolds, and encourages the kind of madcap play the game is built around; if your kobold is terrible, being a reckless little idiot will bring you that much closer to the next one – maybe that one will have better stats!
There’s also something of a two-tiered system going on; as mentioned, your kobolds can gain KHDC for using certain skills at all. The trick is, those skills are the ones that skip rolling entirely and just automatically do their effect, at the cost of gaining a KHDC. So if your kobold has a particularly low stat, properly choosing your skills can serve as a workaround, while still dragging your kobold closer to their inevitable doom.
It isn’t perfect, because every kobold takes KHDC, but it’s something.
Next time: Skills, Equipment, and Audience Participation!
The Rest of the Character SheetOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part III – The Rest of the Character Sheet
Skills are the extra things your kobold has learned besides obeying King Torg, fighting, and eating. Each one is attached to a stat, which is the number you want to roll less than or equal to when using that Skill. While in previous editions your kobold simply got to pick one skill from each stat's list, in KAMB: In Color!!! your kobold gets a number of Skills equal to their Ego, max six*. They remain ADHD little buggers who can't focus enough to min-max, so you must take one skill from under each stat's list before you can take a second one from the same stat.
Now, this section has been a bit of a clusterfuck in that I had to look through three different editions of the book to double-check (there is an example of skill use in play, but it isn't actually helpful) and finally discover that I've been running the game "wrong" this whole time.
How Skills work RAW: Skills represent what your kobold can do at all, and attempting an action your kobold doesn't have a Skill for results in automatic failure unless you can convince the Mayor to let you substitute another Skill at the same Difficulty.
How I thought Skills worked: Skills are what your kobold can do at standard Difficulty, and trying to do something outside their wheelhouse is going to be harder and result in a KHDC for being a filthy little cheater unless you can convince the Mayor to let you substitute another Skill, possibly at the same Difficulty, possibly not.
I guess it's a common enough reading, because it's not clear at all in KAMB: In Color!!! that's how it works. The Midnight Massace GM ran it that way, even.
There are two more subcategories of Skills; "Dangerous!" Skills have been around since the beginning, and represent Skills too powerful for kobold hands. As I mentioned before, these are the Skills that always result in a KHDC on use, but usually don't require a roll - they just work. These are marked with an exclamation point at the end of the Skill. The other category, "Everykobold", is new - it only applies to the Extraneous Skill of Cook, which every kobold must take or start with another KHDC. While thematically appropriate, this rule doesn't need to exist IMO - kobolds have few enough Skills as it is, either give them all Cook or don't, there are loads of skills under Extraneous that can make for a funnier game if players get to choose freely.
*unless your kobold's Ego is five exactly, in which case you get seven Skills and a KHDC for cheating
More kobolds to break up all the words
I'll append a character sheet to the end of this post, but to call out a few of the Skills in particular:
Duel! represents a kobold that actually knows how to fight, and can be used to make an opponent re-roll their attack against you at the cost of a KHDC.
Fear! is tied in with kobold religion; they worship Vor*, the big red god of kobolds and anger (fair - imagine having to watch over these little bastards for eternity, you'd get pretty mad too). A kobold with the Fear! skill is actually capable of self-preservation and limited introspection, and can add their Cunning and Agility together to avoid danger, but take a KHDC because Vor hates cowards and kobolds being alive.
Lackey! means your kobold served an evil wizard long enough to learn a spell, which gets rolled later. Spells are hilarious, make sure at least one person takes Lackey! so things at the table get rowdy.
Lift ties into the equipment rules - kobolds have a right paw and a wrong paw, and can keep track of one item in each before their head starts to hurt - and allows your kobold equivalent of Atlas to carry more items at a time than any kobold was every meant to.
Speak Human lets your kobold speak one word of human-ese per point of Ego. Choose wisely and/or for maximum hilarity; I usually allow "OHMIGAWD" as one word.
Wiggle is great, fuzzy little dog people should all Wiggle.
Wrassle can explicitly be used to turn combat time into dinner time with anything that your kobold can fit into its oversized mouth.
*yeah I know, little orange eating machines worshipping Vore, it was written 20 years ago before that was a thing
Edges, Bogies, and Other Little Bits
Filling out character creation (before getting to equipment), we have +Edges and -Bogies. Yeah, merits and flaws. Every kobold starts with a couple of both which are just inherent kobold features, then rolls on a random table for one more of each (that can roll a result of "you don't have one of these"). Every kobold has refined senses, pointy little teeth and claws, and a mind too small for fear. +Bark Like A Kobold is a solid party game feature that every kobold gets, which lets you lower the Difficulty of any roll you're about to make by barking and growling and making noise - which must be bigger and better and louder than the previous time to count, so things get rowdy pretty quick. -Tastes Like Kobold is one of the other ones every kobold has, which just means animals and monsters will take notice of wounded kobolds because they smell so darn tasty.
The randomly-rolled +Edges and -Bogies are decent, with a special shout-out to the doofiness of +Winning Smile: humans find your kobold adorable, and won't attack as long as you the player are making a big goofy smile.
And now that we're done with all that, here's what a blank KAMB: In Color!!! character sheet looks like:
I am almost positive you can buy big pads of these, and hoo doggie are you gonna need 'em.
Next time: Audience participation!
Audience ParticipationOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part IV – Audience Participation
I know we aren't done with equipment and stuff yet, but that's all randomly rolled anyway so participation is irrelevant. Let's make some example kobolds! Give me a concept, and a stat-line or four 2D6 rolls.
And then, tell me what stupid thing they were doing that was one KHDC too many.
Equipment and Audience ParticipationOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part IVb – Equipment and Audience Participation
Skipping over the Magic section for a minute, let’s dive into a brief overview of equipment. As mentioned earlier, kobold thinkmeats are just advanced enough to keep track of two things at a time, which is why there are spaces on the character sheet labeled “Right Paw” and “Wrong Paw”. Clothes and such are not counted, but if a kobold is carrying more than two items (without using the Lift skill), they immediately take a KHDC and drop an item of the Mayor’s choosing. Previous editions handed out bonuses to players who noticed kobolds breaking this rule, but it appears KAMB!: In Color!!! doesn’t reward snitching.
All equipment can have its own +Edges and -Bogies, weapons do a listed amount of damage, and armor has a listed number of Armor Hits that are depleted before your personal Hits, at which point the armor is destroyed. Simple enough.
Equipment is rolled randomly, with the charts in KAMB!: In Color!!! varying from previous editions in having some of the more “jokey” results removed (such as your “weapon” being a trebuchet that requires 200 kobolds to move and doesn’t fit through the cave mouth), giving a bonus on each chart if your kobold has a specific related Skill (and having a result on each only available to a kobold with that Skill), and having a Dangerous! variant of each chart that offers better equipment at the cost of a KHDC.
As an aside, many of the published adventures either have preselected equipment or a modified chart for that adventure.
How It Plays
The random tables don’t offer a huge numerical range of variability, and the “best” results usually come with a downside that evens them out against the rest of the table. Each of the “standard” charts does come with a “nothing” result, which is usually not much of a problem and can be solved by scrounging around in-play, but – while I have never personally seen it – that does bring with it the possibility of a spectacularly unlucky player having their kobold come out of the caves naked and free.
I haven’t actually played in a game that used the Dangerous! equipment charts; it seems like it could be interesting, but is another thing in this edition that complicates what is supposed to be fast character generation, and hands out KHDCs like it’s trying to imitate Traveller.
As promised, now that we’ve been over character creation, let’s see some kobolds!
Ruddyfur gets six skills, taking Sport (played college ball, ya know), Speak Human, Bard (lie), Cook, Steal, and Wiggle. As an aspiring politician, Ruddyfur naturally has +Winning Smile and -In Heat (must make Ego rolls to resist humping human legs like a doggo). Rolling randomly for equipment, Ruddyfur is wearing Kid's Clothes (2 Armor Hits), has a Spatula (1 DAM, -1 difficulty to Cook), and a little box of iron rations (restores 3 Hits and ignore any hunger checks for 3 turns).
Ruddyfur's death comes from KHD: Outside result #4, Angry Mob, which is frankly the most appropriate one. Ruddyfur and any other nearby kobolds are torn to ribbons, and +Winning Smile explicitly doesn't help this time.
The Mooch also gets six skills, and is well suited with that stat spread to be an evil minion. Mooch here gets Bully, Lackey!, Speak Human, Bard (taking a KHDC for skipping Cook), Fast, and Hide. Mooch also has +Extra Padding (+1d6 Hits worth of bulging belly), -Flammable (so oily they catch on fire with the slightest spark, taking 2 DAM a turn), and knows Sandor's Spell of Summoning Chicken (which does what it says, provided the player does a bad chicken impression). As for equipment, The Mooch has a Fancy Hat and Socks (1 Armor Hit each), a Dead Rat (0 DAM and -Foul Smelling, which alerts everything on the map to your presence), and takes the KHDC to roll on the Dangerous! gear chart, getting Bracers of Offence (take a KHDC to deal +1 DAM for d6 turns, as long as you yell an insult before every attack; the insults must each be better than the last, as agreed by the table).
The Mooch's death comes from Random KHD #3, Pretty, Pretty Puddle. A -Flammable kobold standing in gasoline burns even quicker than usual, so Mooch's chances of surviving this one are pretty slim.
I didn't get as many examples as I'd been hoping, so let's try a little experiment instead.
Harold here is going to join a game of KAMB!: In Color!!!, where he will be making a kobold named Harry. Knowing his history of bad luck with dice, Harold decides to take the array, which he assigns Brawn 6 / Ego 4 / Extraneous 10 / Reflexes 8 for the extra VP. While choosing skills, he notices the Trade skill lets him re-roll chart results, and decides that's worth the KHDC for skipping Cook. He rolls for +Edges and -Bogies, then gets to equipment. He rolls six for armor: "Nekkid!". Grumbling a bit, he rolls for weapon: another six, "Diddly Squat". A third six on the gear chart (which gets him "Lint, Belly Button"), at which point Harold gives up and takes the KHDC for a re-roll. His streak continues, getting 12 on 2D6: which, added to his two current KHDCs, is enough to result in Harry dying before even finishing character generation.
Was this all terribly unlikely? Yes.
Next Time: Magic, because it deserves its own post
Kobold MagicOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part V – Spells!
Okay, the reason I set this section aside and skipped ahead for a bit is because this section, IMO, gets this game, and I wanted space to do it justice. Kobold magic is dumb, it’s fun, it’s goofy, and it’s flavorful. The biggest disappointment I have is that it’s so gated off; when 9th Level did Ninja Burger they gave magic to every ninja (because of their supposed omnicompetence), but KAMB has always emphasized that kobolds are impulsive little trash babies who should never be trusted with it in the first place. Only kobolds with Lackey! get to have spells*, and they get one rolled at random. Casting a spell requires taking a KHDC (with the rules assuming they happen at the same time, so the spell goes off even if your kobold dies) and a verbal or somatic component performed by that kobold’s player (which grants another KHDC if forgotten, and makes the spell misfire).
Strap in, because it’s time to Mors this shit.
*okay, technically I am being unfair here. One of the items kobolds can get as gear – this time from the Dangerous! Gear chart – is pages ripped out of an evil wizard’s spell book, which when crumpled into a ball and thrown at the target (which you the player must actually do and succeed at or the spell goes wild) take the effect of a random spell. Even scrolls get it, magic is buckwild.
The Spells of KAMB: In Color!!!
Bail's Floating Frying Pan
Effect: Creates a magical frypan that gives a big bonus to Cook rolls and can be used as a really good weapon, duration equal to on the caster's number of KHDCs
Component: Must ask the other players, "CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE [Your Name*] IS COOKIN!?"
*does not clarify player or kobold, so do whichever you think is funnier
Big Bee's Slapping Hand*
Effect: A magic hand smacks a target of your choice for damage and Save or Knockdown.
Component: Shout "Who's your [Daddy/Mommy]?" at the target
*see Jef & Jon, they made it better six years before you even pointed out the problem. Not, like, all the way better, but still...
Count Rein•Hagen's Vampsfuscation*
Effect: The caster turns invisible! But still makes noises and smells, so watch out.
Component: The kobold is only invisible for as long as the player keeps their arms folded across their chest.
*this one has always been a favorite; my home group had some ex-LARPers in it, and we all adopted the MET LARP signals for convenience/mockery; when I read KAMB! for the first time I knew exactly the gesture being referenced
Lord Elmer's Web of Glue
Effect: It's the web spell from D&D. Still good.
Component: "The player must sing/hum/chant a ditty about a friendly, local, web-shooting spider person!"
Löwërbräü's Wall of Beer
Effect: Create a wall of protective, delicious, healing beer for 1D6 turns.
Component: Do a happy dance and chant "tappa tappa kegga, wall of beer omega!" and then "pretend"* to chug a beer.
*I mean the book says to pretend, but let's be honest with ourselves
Effect: BAMF away Nightcrawler style, sulfurous cloud and all.
Component: "POOF!" The book recommends giving the player a bonus if they supply the sulfurous cloud, but I cannot bring myself to approve.
Restor's Spell of Somnolence
Effect: It's the sleep spell from D&D. Also still good.
Component: Make a mighty yawn. Anyone at the table who then yawns automatically falls asleep as well, and doesn't count against the original # of targets.
Sandor's Spell of Summoning Chickens
Effect: Pull a chicken from your hat*, which is a loyal summoned creature until it dies or the caster takes another KHDC.
Component: Do a bad chicken impression, emphasis BAD
*a kobold who knows this spell also gets a free hat (1 Armor Hit). It is specifically noted as a "keen hat".
Spell of Mostly Unspeakable Horrors
Effect: ??? It's all very unspeakable. The target takes a KHDC and damage equal to the caster's KHDC total
Component: Howl and wail madly like an evil cultist
Summon Horrible Demon That Enjoyeth Eating Kobolds
Effect: Your kobold didn't actually learn a spell, but you told people you learned this one so they would back off.
Component: Do whatever you want
Tabriz's Ball of Flaming Death
Component: Point at the target, laugh maniacally.
How It Plays
They clearly understood the value of having the players do loud stupid shit for laffs, because there are more spells in the supplements, including the kobold equivalent of clerics (risky business when your god hates you and wants you dead) and a shield spell that doesn't give a KHDC if you do an MC Hammer dance, can't touch this.
I fucking love the spells.
Doin’ StuffOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part VI – Doin’ Stuff
Turns & The Snack Order
KAMB plays out a little board-game-ey; turns (the book doesn’t mince words about realism, a turn is a turn and how much time that means can vary) go from highest Extraneous to lowest, followed by the Mayor going last. The book suggests having players sit so you can just go clockwise, and breaks ties with Reflexes/Ego/Brawn/Dance-Off, in that order.
How It Plays
This works pretty well; it’s especially good for getting newer players to get involved, where other games would have them receding into the wallpaper as more experienced players steal the spotlight. Taking turns, what a concept.
Most of this is just retreading the rules from how Skills work, because that’s how everything works.
New to KAMB!: In Color!!! (I think) is taking multiple actions, which adds a penalty die to the difficulty of everything that turn for each action after the first (so taking 2 actions turns a 1 difficulty roll into a 2 difficulty roll, etc).
The combat section is also here, and it works the same way as everything else. Roll based on difficulty, try to get under stat, do the listed amount of DAM. Weaponless kobolds can use that big toothy grin of theirs, but that requires getting so close they have to eat an AoO first (but get a bonus die for being so close).
Kobolds can do more damage with the “Whoopass” rule; take a penalty die to hit, add your appropriate stat to the DAM (Meat for melee, Cunning for missile weapons, Agility for throwing).
Closing out this section comes rules for eating, drinking, and Cooking.
Eating is what kobolds are here for, it’s in the title of the game. Eating something raw restores Hits, with a chart going from 1 for a rat or chicken all the way up to 1D6 for a fresh baby. But that’s a bit of a waste, when you could Cook instead.
As long as you have a protein, heat, and something to put it in, you can Cook. The difficulty goes up and down based on all sorts of factors*, but the biggest advantages are twofold: Cook food comes with a secondary effect, and lets you get more than one serving out of your protein**.
Finally, this section ends with a chart on alcohols and their wack mixed bag of effects, half of which involve speaking in funny accents which gets a weak thumbs up from me.
*including a bonus die for providing DM Pizza
**which, 20 years ago, is what made me finally grok meal prep as a concept
Victory PointsOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part VII – Victory Points
KAMB: In Color! does a poor job of explaining it, but your kobolds earn VP in all sorts of ways. These are mostly adventure-specific, like “King Torg has a runny nose and demands chicken noodle soup” could assign VP for bringing back chickens, making soup, finding herbs & spices, stealing the tavern’s recipe book, or just convincing that blind old grandma you’re her very hairy great-grandchild and you need a cup of her famous soup to-go.
Problem is, the book doesn’t actually say any of this, or give examples other than the VP line in the monster/townsfolk entries and one or two other scattered sources like drinking a bottle of tequila down to the worm. You can get a feel for it based on how many VPs things cost, or if you played previous editions, but it’s a shame the book itself is missing the advice to hand out VP for doing kobold-ey* things.
*stupid and life-threatening
What are VPs, and how to spend them?
VPs aren’t a tangible thing, but they do exist in-universe to an extent. Kobolds don’t know their or other kobold’s VP count, the various establishments in the caves just hand out rewards based on some kind of instinctive feeling.
Kobolds can spend VPs while back in the caves to gain/replace equipment, get new stuff even better than they could on the Dangerous! charts (like a magic ring that forces its targets to vomit up and un-chew the last thing they ate, or scale mail undies that give +Fish Telepathy), All-You-Can-Eat Buffet their way back up to full health (or more), learn spells, gamble, pray away KHDCs, or if they’re really rolling in it and have 9 VP, gain a new Outfit.
If your kobold dies, the next kobold you make inherits their unused VPs unless one of the House Rules in use says otherwise.
Another point IMO where the game really shines, Outfits are the closest this game comes to character classes, and enough of a “thing” that the first supplement (and a number of the adventures) recommends just handing one out for free after your players get the hang of the game.
Outfits work by the kobold in question deciding something like “that was a good scrambled egg, I’m a chef now”, putting on a hat, and then the universe acknowledges “of course that kobold is a chef, they’re wearing a hat.” It’s 40k Orc logic, roll with it.
Each outfit has a requirement (which might be a skill, an in-game achievement of some kind, an out-of-game “achievement”, or just finding the right hat), a piece of flair representing the Outfit (which may or may not count as gear or clothing), and one or more bonus effects.
The core book of KAMB: In Color!!! has eight outfits, but they became the PrCs or Feats of the game line; every supplement has at least one, and the biggest one is at least 50% outfits by volume.
Next Time: let’s look at some outfits
Outfits Through the EditionsOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part VIII – Outfits Through the Editions
I pulled out a bunch of previous-edition books to double-check, and KAMB! has been all over the damn place since the beginnings on what Outfits are and do. The next update, which I should have up in a day or two, has changed to be a comparison post instead because there is no consistency at all for a game that has otherwise been "pretty much the same but with new art and slight improvements" for 20 years.
Other wackiness: I was right in that there used to be better rules on handing out Victory Points (with a base recommendation of 12 VPs per baby returned to the caves, 6 VPs per other kobold killed and/or eaten, and 1 VP per act of general kobold mayhem), and of all things a full 3x3 Alignment Square. True Neutral was "Blonde". Yeah, guess how often that came up, when it was part of RAW in the edition I played most and I didn't remember it existing at all.
Outfits, Indulgences, and Edition Wars
As mentioned in that between-updates quote, Outfits are probably the biggest thing to change between editions, going from their introduction as “Indulgences” in 1e’s More Things to Kill and Eat, their formalization as part of the base game in 3e (but still not in their current state), all the way to the Outfitsplosion of KAMB: In Color!!!.
Indulgences in 1e were very very limited, and meant to be purchased in 2-3 title chains. They still cost 10 VP each, and the thought of keeping one of these toothy little hellions alive long enough to spend more than 30 VPs is just...what kind of game are you playing in.
3e upped the cost of Outfits to 12 VPs each, and got closer to the “modern” version of the rules (where, remember, Outfits are 9 VPs), but still...well, let’s take a closer look at a few in particular:
The KAMB: In Color!!! write-ups place a lot more emphasis on the Outfits being “the clothes make the kobold” Orkiness over meritocratic promotion, and describes the kobold as having gotten through their day of military training via extensive use of punches, Bully, and finally just wandering off bored and pinning a bunch of medals and ribbons and calling themselves a Veteran anyway.
Veterans can pull rank and order a “weapons inspection” to trade weapons with another kobold (though they can take a KHDC a refuse), and get Bully, Duel!, or Sport.
The Veteran of 3rd Edition had the ability to swap weapons, but had a description that played things much more straight, and gave the kobold a 6 Armor Hits Cookpot helmet instead of pins/medals or an extra Skill. Super Deluxx Edition functioned exactly the same.
The Veteran indulgence in 1e had no description whatsoever and got a 3 DAM axe. That is all.
Lots of variation in the editions, with the biggest difference really coming in KAMB: In Color!!! handing out less in the way of physical items.
So let’s look at another one.
The “wizard” of the game, this has shared the requirement of the Lackey! Skill in every edition, but little else.
The 1e version is the simplest, stating only that the Apprentice learns how to read, and can scribe any spellpages/scrolls (which are on the random gear list, remember) into their spell book.
3e states that the Apprentince cannot wear armor, because the rules say so, and gives them 1 Armor Hit robes, 2 spellpages, and the kobold learns a random spell.
The KAMB: In Color!!! version of the Apprentice put on their robe and wizard hat (still 1 Armor Hit), clarifies that their magic changes any other armor they try to put on changes to a robe (and wizard hat), and gives them the ability to “prepare” new spells whenever back in the caves (re-roll which spell they know). They can also make a 2 difficulty Ego roll to not take a KHDC when casting a spell.
Super Deluxx was in-between, with the armor text being the same as 3e but the rules text working the same as KAMB: In Color!!!, but the Ego roll was difficulty 3 (so much less likely).
Again, all different, with the changes trending against handing out stuff and towards handing out abilities.
Next Time: running through the rest of the Outfits, and House Rules
[Edit: Forgot to check Super Deluxx Edition, added it in.]
More Outfits & House RulesOriginal SA post Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part IX – More Outfits & House Rules
The Other Core Outfits
In less depth than the previous update, most of the other core book updates have been in KAMB! in some form or another since at least 3e. Returning outfits are:
Bootlicker, who gets a reappearing 1 Armor Hit tie so they can always spit-shine King Torg’s golden greaves, and can take a KHDC and grovel IRL to avoid damage.
Cutpurse, illustrated wonderfully by a kobold wearing a paper bag with eyeholes, they get one of Hide / Sneak / Steal / Wiggle and always leave the caves with a Backpack containing Thieves’ Tools.
Rules Lawyer, which can only be taken by kobolds who Speak Human and whose players have read the whole book* multiple times, or own another edition. They get a 4 Armor Hit gamer T-shirt that they can and must wear over any other armor, which stacks. They also gain a VP any time they point out a player breaking the rules.
Short-Order Cook, which requires Cook, comes with an apron that works as a Backpack, allows the kobold to choose flavors instead of rolling randomly when Cooking, and doesn’t take KHDCs that would otherwise result from a failed Cook roll.
*I do see an opportunity to hand out KHDCs for admitting to reading the GM section, here
New to KAMB: In Color are the Not Canon Kobold, which wears a paper-mâché lizard costume, requires Trap (which it gives a bonus die to), and can use one of the pages their costume is made from as a spellpage once per trip from the caves, and the Royale Assassin, which gets a spooky black hood and...a -Big 5 DAM greataxe ().
Guys come on I thought we had learned better than this by now
Finishing out the player-facing section, we have House Rules, which has always been a weird name for this section because most of them aren’t considered “optional” unless you house-rule them away, at which point they’re house rules the same way any part of an RPG book is house rules and...
Anyway. This is where to find the “All Hail King Torg!” rule mentioned in the first post, the “Baby Negligence” rule (there are tables for Baby Horrible Death if you endanger one and fail a special Luck roll), the “Kobold Soliloquy” rule (to come back after dying with you full VP total, and the “And Me Boss!” rule which gives the instigating kobold in any group effort full control over VP distribution, with full encouragement to take them all for themselves (which is why this one is the worst House Rule, do not use this one).
The ones actually considered as optional house rules are the “Free Trial Period” rule (failed skill rolls don’t give a KHDC - use this one), the “Kobold Drinking Song” rule (once per game, the whole table can get up and sing to make the Mayor auto-fail a roll), the “Oh What a Relief It Is” rule (an escalating series of pranks and punishments for getting up from the table; OR can I suggest you instead just use your words like adults, damn), and the “Banned and Restricted List” rule (which allows establishment of a list of memes and references punishable by a KHDC per infraction; Monty Python is considered on the list by default, and this rule isn’t considered optional past the core book so great editing guys).
As part of the outfit deep-dive, I also checked previous edition house rules; most were the same, but 1e’s More Things To Kill & Eat! had two I kinda liked that didn’t get brought forward: the “Stop, I’m Gonna Pee My Pants” rule lets a player remove a KHDC from their kobold if they makes anyone else laugh so hard they spit up their drink, pee their pants, or otherwise release bodily fluids, and the “Sequels Always Suck” rule gives 3 KHDCs to anyone who re-uses a kobold name, even if they add “jr.” or “II” or “The Revenge of The Return of”.
Next Time: secrets MAYORS don’t want you to know!
Mayor's Section & Wrap-UpOriginal SA post
Nooo I was trying to finish this one up before the old thread closed, now this is gonna look silly.
Kobolds Ate My Baby!: Part X - Mayor's Section & Wrap-Up
To be totally honest, I probably should have just made the last post a little longer and wrapped up the review there; while there is a solid chunk of book left, most of it is just charts and tables.
Being the Mayor
There is a GM advice section, which boils down to "if there is a chance of failure, assign a difficulty and a stat and start handing out KHDCs liberally if your players get sassy about it". Following that is a nice little section for making a town your kobolds will be causing a ruckus in, complete with lots of charts for a random town name, such as...
6, 3, 5 posted:
4, 6, 6 posted:
Finishing out the book, we have the "monster manual" - which is just stats for various townsfolk and animals, as well as the VP for defeating them. Notably, the shitfarmer mentioned much earlier in-thread as being about on-par with the strongest possible starting kobold is worth 2 VP, which is the same as most townies or a chicken. Sheep and Baby are tied for lowest at 0 VP, as neither of them take any kind of offensive action. Blacksmith and Soldier are tied for highest at 6 VP; while the Soldier has Duel! (but obviously doesn't take KHDCs, what with not being a kobold), special attention should be drawn to the Blacksmith's 4 DAM hammer and 12 Brawn that can combine to easily paste a tiny dog-person. Also of note, the 4 VP dolphin, which is on these charts for some reason.
Horrible Kobold Deaths
The last section of the book covers the results of all those KHDCs that have been piling up; it begins by repeating the rules for KHDC checks, as well as the myriad ways to accumulate them. Following are five/six themed charts based on where your kobold was and what it was doing, as well as two Baby Horrible Death charts that apply to the "Baby Negligence" house rule mentioned last post. Not all of the Kobold Horrible Deaths actually result in guaranteed death; a number of them only inflict -Bogeys on the kobold who triggered it, bring an adversarial creature or group of creatures into play, or do technically-survivable amounts of damage. Surviving a Kobold Horrible Death doesn't wipe the KHDCs from the kobold's character sheet, of course - they just got lucky, this time.
So, How Does KAMB: In Color!!! Stack Up?
All in all, I'd say In Color!!! is the "best" version of the game, but not by a whole lot. In production value, for sure - the Kovalic art and color-coded charts make everything look a lot nicer (which is part of why I've been putting so many pictures into these reviews). In game mechanics? Eh, more of a lateral move. The Outfits have been improved for sure (although the new ones don't stack up, going right back to 1e territory for whatever reason) and the spells have been tightened up (and had their names modernized). The changes to the equipment charts to incorporate skills and Dangerous! charts have added more options to gameplay, but have definitely made character creation into a more complicated process. Which, when horrible deaths are a feature rather than a bug, is far from ideal - you want kobold creation to be like people who never played it imagine OD&D character creation was like, rolling down the line and having a new character in 90 seconds tops.
Which brings us to the end of our review. I started this due to my rekindled appreciation for this silly "beer & pretzels" game, and I've come out the other side a bit more cynical after looking critically, but also a bit more appreciative of In Color!!!'s general cleanup and modernization in a couple places - enough that I ordered a couple pads of character sheets and plan to run it again, for the first time in a decade or so.
Next Time: Another book! There are two "major" supplements or the In Color!!! edition I'd like to put a spotlight on, and after that I was thinking of taking a bit of a retrospective tour through the line, covering the highlights (and much more frequent lowlights) of past editions. Which is mostly adventures, which are mostly bad parodies that you're expected to subject your gaming group to for some reason.