Author: Paul Axel
Illustrators: Minerva Fox, Linda Scott Campbell
Interior Artwork: 3.4
Cover Artwork: 3.4
About the Book:
The comic is a one -off story based on the author’s experiences and love of Dungeons and Dragons. It was funded on Kickstarter earlier in the year.
The characters in it, a paladin, dwarf warrior, elf scout, halfling magic user and of course the titular Kobold ( the latter transitioned from minor game monsters to a playable racial option since D&D edition 5) will be instantly recognisable to those readers familiar with the game.
The action starts in the Fandor Mountains where a Klondike type situation has occurred, precious minerals having been discovered in the area triggering a ‘gold rush’ of sorts. The kobolds have heard of this and Valko the kobold has staked a claim on behalf of his tribe. We find him prospecting in the rivers of the Fandor mountains where he finds not gold but Dragon’s Blood, a valuable, magic giving, mineral. If the stake proves to be as sizable as Valko hopes then he will send for more of his clan to settle the area and panhandle the creeks as a tribal group.
It’s quite a different environment for Valko who is used to living with his companions in a cave but one that he finds stimulating. Unfortunately, the other inhabitants of the now well-trodden mountains don’t have the same view of Valko. This is where the other characters come in and the paladin, halfling magician, dwarf warrior and elven scout are definitely living in a pre-5th edition world – to them Valko is a minor game monster rather than a participating character. As such they refuse to check out the veracity of his claim and try to kill him assuming him to be a monster who has slain the rightful stakeholder.
Valko barely escapes the onslaught with his life and hides in the forest but that evening as the four adventurers sit around their campfire in self-congratulatory mode (never a good look in D&D) Valko plots how he will strike back using his wits to overcome his four assailants and re-take the valuable stake which he holds for his tribe.
The second leg of the action provides the conclusion to the story as we see our plucky little hero battling against the odds for his claim.
As noted, the story is based on a D&D type scenario and in fact could be a mission in a D&D game. It was interesting to see the tale from the perspective of a Kobold hero and the four adventurers, who are usually the heroic types in D&D as being the ‘monsters’ within the story.
I’ve played a little D&D and it did feel a bit strange seeing the characters that I’ve been on missions with and identified with as the bad guys and the character that has often been a minor bad guy as the hero. It is a really nice twist and underpinned what is a simple story with the complexity that comes from the role reversal.
At the end of the comic there are some D&D type character/information sheets that cover the backstories for the characters and some world building as well as D&D type descriptors for Dragon’s Blood, traps and weapons etc. The only bits of this backdrop that appears in the actual comic however are some Valko’s details and these are limited. The other characters just appear in the story and do their thing.
As such there isn’t really any room for character development, sub-plots, or story arcs. There is a problem faced by our protagonist and he has to overcome this for his and his tribe’s benefit. How he sets about it and the outcome is the basis of the story.
The artwork is clear and simple yet dynamic and supports the story well.
At first read this appears to be a simple story that has little depth and would be a simple mission even in the world of D&D. The underpinning complexity that I really enjoyed came for me at least from seeing characters that I am used to identifying as heroes as narrow-minded villains and the hero of the story being a traditional minor monster character who is usually dispatched by the heroes. To get this part of the story the reader would need some familiarity with D&D but as the author has stated the tale is a love letter to the gaming system he has enjoyed playing for a long time.