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Kobolds' Crystal Caper: A drop-anywhere dungeon featuring kobolds and demons for Tier 1.
Kobolds' Crystal CaperKobolds' Crystal Caper is a game-ready dungeon designed for level 1 and including notes on adjusting the dungeon for levels 2-4. It features an underground complex that guards a sealed shard of demonic energy and a tribe of Kobolds that have broken in to loot the place.
The dungeon is built so that its entrance can be easily fit anywhere in your campaign. It could be located behind a secret basement door, down the stairs of a cemetery's mausoleum, or through a corridor from another dungeon.
This dungeon uses content from the Monster Manual, Volo's Guide to Monsters, and Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
A full keyed map and player version are available here. If you have Dungeondraft, you can also download the original file here. A PDF version of the adventure is available here, or on GMBinder.
What's Happening Here?This underground complex was built around a shard of demonic essence that crept into this world from the infinite Abyss. The religious order that constructed the dungeon guarded the world from the corrupting energies of the demonic artifact while studying its power and origins. The order has long since faded into obscurity, leaving the complex abandoned and the abyssal shard locked away. Now, a group of kobolds has broken into the complex, lured by the telepathic murmurings of the demonic spirits within.
Who is Present?
- Hox Grellbait is a gray-brown Kobold Dragonshield with bands of circular scars he got from a near-death scrape with a grell. Hox was able to kill the grell before it killed him, a feat that has earned him great respect among his tribe. Hox still has a crippling fear of being grappled, especially by tentacles. Hox recently obtained a glowing magic weapon, a Moon-Touched Scimitar, which he covets jealously.
- Kashak Topbrain is a spotted red-brown Kobold Inventor who cackles maniacally over his own genius. He lives for the surprise and discomfort caused by his strange improvised weapons. Kashak believes himself to be a genius and loudly proclaims his every invention to be "his greatest creation yet!"
- Sir Venistaro Marnez is a Skeleton with an intelligence of 10 that can speak common. Venistaro was a paladin in life who was dedicated to protecting this dungeon. He was entombed here after his death with his magic weapon, a Moon-Touched Scimitar. Recently, the weapon was stolen by the kobold Hox Grellbait. This desecration awakened Venistaro, who now seeks to hunt down the kobolds and prevent them from further looting of the dungeon.
- The demonic spirits within the abyssal shard are malicious Dretches that long to be free. Their innate telepathy lets them touch the minds of creatures inside the dungeon complex, but only creatures that can speak abyssal can understand their pleadings to be free. To everyone else, they simply feel a strange sense of something calling to them.
- Noisy Mausoleum: In this adventure hook, the dungeon is located beneath an old mausoleum in a local cemetery. The grounds caretaker, Finillus Jacks, has been hearing weird noises coming from the mausoleum (originating from the kobolds). He begs the party to investigate and put a stop to the disturbing noises.
- Family Secrets: In this adventure hook, the young scion Artullo Marnez has discovered old family documents describing the final resting place of his ancestor, Sir Venistaro Marnez. Artullo hires the party to explore this tomb and recover a long-lost family heirloom, the Moon-Touched Scimitar.
- Beckoning Presence: While wandering around town or exploring another adventure site, one of your party's characters begins to sense something calling out to them. This presence is voiceless and vague, but they get the sense it is begging for help. The sensation (which originates from the demonic spirits) guides them to the entrance to the dungeon.
- Plot Hook Delivery System: If you need a place to hide a magic item, McGuffin, or piece of forgotten lore for your party to recover, you can easily place it in the Library (Room 5), inside the Abyssal Shard (Room 11), or in the Kobold's Treasure Hoard (Room 16)
Adjusting DifficultyThe adventure as written is built for a group of 4 level 1 characters. Here are some ideas for adjusting the difficulty for higher level parties:
- Room 4: Add 3 Kobolds.
- Room 5: Add 1 Kobold and 1 additional Giant Rat.
- Room 11: Add 1 Dretch.
- Room 12: Add 1 Kobold Inventor.
- Room 15: Have Hox arrive after 2 rounds instead of 3.
- Room 4: Replace 2 Kobolds with Kobold Scale Sorcerers.
- Room 5: Add 1 Kobold Sorcerer and 1 additional Giant Rat.
- Room 11: Replace all 3 Dretches with Maw Demons. These Maw Demons have telepathy out to 60 feet.
- Room 12: Kashak has 21 hit points, and add 1 Kobold Dragonshield.
- Room 13a: Remove 1 skeleton, and Sir Venistaro Marnez uses the statblock of a Wight.
- Room 15: Hox has 64 hit points and arrives after 1 round instead of 3. He is joined by add 1 Kobold Scale Sorcerer.
- Room 4: Replace all Kobolds with Kobold Dragonshields.
- Room 5: Add 5 Kobolds and replace the Giant Rat with a Death Dog.
- Room 11: Replace 1 Dretch with a Shadow Demon.
- Room 12: Kashak has 21 hit points, and replace the Giant Rat with two Death Dogs.
- Room 13a: Sir Venistaro Marnez uses the statblock of a Wight.
- Room 15: Add 5 Kobolds and 2 Kobold Scale Sorcerers. Hox has 64 hit points and arrives after 1 round instead of 3.
Exploring the Dungeon
General FeaturesThe dungeon's floor is tiled with gray stone. The walls and ceilings are carved from from light gray stone shot through with veins of red garnet. Ceilings in the hallways are 10 feet high, and ceilings in rooms are as high as the narrowest width of the room (minimum 10 feet). Most of the doors are wooden. If doors are locked, they can be unlocked with a DC 12 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check or forced open with a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check. Unless otherwise noted, the dungeon is unlit.
Holy Symbols: The holy symbols present in this dungeon depend on the patron deity of the order that built the dungeon. This choice is left to the DM, but here is a list of suggestions for common settings:
- Helm (Forgotten Realms): Staring eye on an upright gauntlet
- Dol Arrah (Eberron): Rising sun
- Bahamut (Points of Light): Dragon's head, in profile, facing left
- Pelor (Greyhawk): The sun
1. LandingA 10-foot wide staircase leads down to this room. A fountain filled with clean water is in the center of the chamber.
Any characters with a passive Perception of 15 or higher can hear the sounds of a something being dragged in Room 4. Making too much noise here draws the attention of the kobolds in Room 4.
2. Paladin's QuartersThis well-appointed bedroom is covered in dust. There is a moldering bed in the north-western alcove and lines of bookshelves against the northern wall. A table and chair in the south sit next to a small rack of rusting weapons.
This room was once the living quarters for the head paladin that oversaw this dungeon. A creature that examines the weapons sees the old crest of the Marnez family on their hilts. The bookshelves contain religious texts and historic volumes relating to the Marnez family and their formation of a religious order dedicated to guarding the world from demonic incursions.
Treasure: The desk contains a holy symbol in the form of a metal emblem worth 10 gp. The holy symbol can be used to bypass the trap in Room 7.
3. BarracksThis plain room contains 7 moldering cots with basic furnishings. The dusty floor is disturbed by numerous small reptilian tracks left by kobolds exploring this room. A small door on the far wall leads into a dusty privy.
This room was once the barracks for guards that patrolled this dungeon. It has been long since abandoned.
4. Meeting RoomThis ornate room has a large straight table lined with old and broken wooden chairs. The back wall has been broken inward, creating a rough 3-foot diameter hole leading into a round excavated tunnel.
Creatures: Four Kobolds are dragging an ornately carved chair towards the tunnel. They intend to present it as a throne for Hox Grellbait. The kobolds don't initially attack the player characters, instead threatening them with their spears while shouting "Go away! This our territory!"
The kobolds can be calmed with a DC 11 Charisma (Persuasion) check, or by offering them any amount of gold or treasure. If calmed, the kobolds will reveal the following information:
- Their tribe follows Hox Grellbait, a mighty kobold with a glowing sword.
- The tribe came to this dungeon following whispers in their minds.
- Scary skeletons are trying to steal Hox's sword.
- The tribe simply wants to loot this place for all it can offer them.
Tactics: The kobolds fight always fight in pairs or as a pack, taking advantage of their Pack Tactics feature. The kobolds are not particularly brave. If a kobold is damaged, it will attempt to retreat through the tunnel on its next turn, taking the dash action. If only one kobold is left standing, it will also retreat.
5. LibraryThis sizable library is filled with numerous old tomes. Many of the books have been pulled off the shelves and left haphazardly on the floor. The dust in the room has been disturbed by many kobold feet.
This room contained the collected lore of the religious order that built this dungeon. Much secret knowledge may be hidden inside at the DM's discretion.
Creatures: Three Kobolds are in this room, loading books into a small roughly-made cart. The cart is harnessed to a Giant Rat. The kobolds attack on sight.
Tactics: On the first round of combat, one kobold uses its action to unhook the giant rat's harness. The rat is well trained and fights as an ally of the kobolds. If injured, the kobolds retreat towards the tunnel in Room 4. The giant rat fights to the death.
Treasure: If the party spends an hour exploring this library and makes a DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) check, they find three volumes with ornate metal covers studded with small gems. The books are worth 50 GP each to the right collector. The other volumes in this library might be worth quite a lot all together, but it would be extremely difficult to find a buyer.
6. Storage RoomThis room is filled with old wooden crates and chests of drawers. Many of the crates have been levered open, revealing ancient decaying supplies of rations.
Treasure: Inside the chests of drawers are ten sets of valueless religious robes. Each robe also has a metal holy symbol worth 5 gp. The holy symbols can be used to bypass the trap in Room 7.
There are also 5 empty glass vials in a drawer that could be filled with holy water from Room 8.
7. Statue TrapThis intersection of four corridors is illuminated by four torches lit by the Continual Flame spell. A larger-than-life stone statue of a paladin stands in the center of the intersection. It carries a stone scimitar in one hand and holds a real metal holy symbol in the other. A phrase is carved around the base of the statue: "Show your devotion or face judgement."
Trap: If any creature approaches within 10 feet of the statue that is not carrying or otherwise displaying a holy symbol from this dungeon, they trigger a trap. The statue momentarily animates and attacks the creature with its stone longsword (+4 to hit, 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage). This trap can trigger only once per round.
If a creature approaches within 10 feet of the statue while carrying one of the holy symbols, both their holy symbol and the holy symbol in the hand of the statue glow briefly, and the trap does not trigger.
Development: The first time the party reaches this intersection, the dretches in Room 11 try to make telepathic contact. If a character can speak abyssal, they hear a voice begging "Help. Free. Release. Power given. Help." Otherwise, it sounds like desperate but unintelligible whispers.
8. Holy Water FountainThis room contains a basin of water that is continually filled by a jet of water emerging from the carved head of a dragon. The water gives off a faint white light. The overflowing water falls to the floor, where is drains away in the pattern of an arcane glyph.
The water in the fountain has been blessed to be holy water. The rules for holy water can be found in the Player's Hand Book, chapter 5, page 151.
9. Crystal Observation RoomThe doors leading into this room are locked. This study contains a desk and chair and a chest of drawers. A wooden table is set directly in front of a window reinforced by iron bars that looks into Room 11. There is a small metal lever embedded in the wall next to the window. The room is dimly illuminated by red light shining in from the massive red crystal visible through the window.
The lever in the wall can be pulled to raise the portcullis connecting Rooms 10 and 11. One minute after being pulled, the lever automatically resets and the portcullis falls.
This room was used to study and observe the abyssal shard in Room 11. There is a journal resting on the desk that contains many of their findings:
- The crystal is a shard of the infinite abyss, the chaotic evil home plane of demons.
- The helm inside the crystal was once a powerful magical item that has weakened with time.
- Three demonic spirits are trapped inside the crystal, dragged with it from the abyss.
- The shard could be destroyed with Holy Water, but doing so would release the demonic spirits.
Developments: When the party enters this room, the dretches in Room 11 try to make telepathic contact. If a character can speak abyssal, they hear a voice begging "Lever, open. Crystal, break. Power, promised." Otherwise, it sounds like desperate but unintelligible whispers that grow more excited when the party approaches or touches the lever.
10. Cleansing ShowerThis round room has four metal spouts sprouting from the wall a foot above head height. A lever on the wall causes clean water to spray from the spouts in a cleansing shower. A grate on the floor drains the water away.
This room was used to decontaminate scholars that examined the abyssal shard in Room 11. The door leading to that room is locked.
11. The Abyssal ShardThe only way into this chamber is from Room 10 and past an iron portcullis that can be opened by the lever inside Room 9. It the portcullis is down, it can be lifted by creatures working together with a collective Strength score of 20 or higher.
This round chamber has a domed ceiling that begins 10 feet high and rises to 30 feet high over the room's center. The whole chamber is dimly illuminated by a crimson light that shines from a 5-foot wide, 10-foot high jagged red crystal in the room's center. A terrifying black helmet is visible suspended inside the center of the translucent crystal. Three shapes of darkness like wisps of smoke swirl inside the crystal.
This is the abyssal shard, a physical remnant of demonic energy. It has an AC of 14, Hardness of 5, 50 Hit Points, and immunity to psychic and poison damage. Reducing it to 45 or fewer hit points causes it to crack, immediately releasing the three demonic spirits trapped inside. Reducing the abyssal shard to 0 hit points causes it to shatter, permanently destroying it and causing the helmet to drop to the floor. A single splash of holy water instantly destroys the abyssal shard, releasing the demonic spirits inside.
Creatures: The three demonic spirits inside the crystal are Dretches. The dretches may have promised power to any creature that releases them, but this was a lie. They are cruel creatures that immediately attack any non-demon they encounter.
While the abyssal shard remains with more than 0 hit points, each dretch regains 3 hit points at the start of each of its turns. If a dretch is reduced to 0 hit points, it immediately turns to invulnerable black smoke and flows back inside the crystal. One hour later, the dretch re-emerges with all its hit points restored. If the crystal is destroyed, any dretches inside of it that had previously been reduced to 0 hit points are released with 1 hit point. After the abyssal shard is destroyed, the dretches die if reduced to 0 hit points.
Treasure: The helmet inside the crystal is a Dread Helm, a common magic item from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. It once contained more power. At the DM's discretion, there may be a way to restore it to its original power, turning it into a Helm of Telepathy. Perhaps Sir Venistaro Marnez is capable of restoring it, or perhaps the party will need to go on a whole new adventure.
12. WorkshopThis room looks like it was once a simple blacksmith's workshop. It contains a small pit of coals, an anvil, a work table, and several racks of blacksmithing tools.
This room was used to maintain and repair the equipment the guards of this dungeon used.
Creatures: The Kobold Inventor Kashak Topbrain is in this room, along with his pet Giant Rat and a Kobold Inventor assistant. Kashak calls the giant rat Clang due to a suit of metal armor that Kashak made for it. The armor gives the giant rat an AC of 14.
Kashak cackles at the party's arrival, excited by the prospect of testing his weaponry. He demands that the party surrender and hand over their "shinys" or they will discover why he is known as "the greatest and most deadly inventor of this age." If the party surrenders, they are looted of their material wealth and escorted out of the dungeon.
If the party refuses, Kashak and his team attacks. Clang the rat and Kashak fight to the death; Kashak's inventor assistant surrenders if reduced to 5 or fewer hit points.
Treasure: The racks on the walls contain a complete set of Smiths' Tools worth 20 gp. The work table also contains an ornate silver shield emblazoned with a holy symbol worth 35 gp.
13. Chapel of the FallenThis chapel is the resting place for the guards and paladins that fell in battle securing the abyssal shard. The double doors leading into this room are locked.
13a. Chapel's Main HallThis 50-foot long chamber is lined by two rows of columns supporting the 20-foot high ceiling. One of the columns at the eastern end has fallen to the ground, creating a small barrier that can be hidden behind to provide half cover.
The eastern 15 feet of the room is raised 5 feet and supports an ornate marble coffin. The coffin's lid is carved to resemble a priest; the lid is slightly ajar. Behind the coffin the wall has been broken inward, creating a rough 3-foot diameter hole leading into a round excavated tunnel.
Creatures: Two Skeletons have emerged from Room 13b and are battering at the door to Room 13c. A third Skeleton sitting on top of the partially ajar coffin is Sir Venistaro Marnez, an undead with an intelligence of 10 that can speak Common.
When the party arrives, Sir Venistaro holds up a hand in a warding gesture and speaks to the characters: "You who travel these vaults: have you come to despoil this sacred ground, or do you come to aid me in ridding it from its invaders? Speak and be judged." If the player characters ask for further clarification, the skeleton imparts the following:
- His name is Sir Venistaro Marnez, the first paladin in charge of guarding this complex.
- A group of kobolds has despoiled the vaults and awoken Sir Venistaro and the other undead.
- Sir Venistaro will allow the party to explore the dungeon if they vow to remove the kobolds and not damage the abyssal shard in Room 11.
If the party refuses or indicates they have come to loot the dungeon, Sir Venistaro's eye-sockets flash red and he commands his two fellow Skeletons to attack.
Tactics: Sir Venistaro does not have a sword and must use his shortbow. He remains at the back of the room, fighting at range, while the other two skeletons move into melee range. The skeletons all fight to the death.
13b. Northern AlcoveThis room contains two stone coffins and an iron brazier. The coffins' lids have been pushed ajar, revealing their contents to be empty. The skeletons that resided inside are now in Room 13a.
13c. Southern Alcove.The door to this room is locked. This room contains two stone coffins and an iron brazier. The coffins' lids have been weighed down with heavy rocks. Thumping comes from inside.
Creatures: A terrified Kobold named Sniv huddles in this room. Two Skeletons inside the coffins are trying to break out and attack it. Meanwhile, the skeletons in Room 13a are trying to break down the door. Sniv is beyond relieved to be rescued and throws itself at the feet of anyone that offers to let it out, begging for help. Sniv is a surprisingly honest kobold and will help his benifactors in any way they ask save for actually attacking his tribe.
14. Giant Rat PenThis large excavated space has a 10-foot high ceiling. A wooden fence surrounds a circular pen filled with straw. Two wooden gates into the pen are held shut with knots of twine.
Creatures: Four Giant Rats are kept in this pen. A creature with hands can use its action to open one of the gates, letting the rats run free. The giant rats are well trained and fight as allies of kobolds, attacking any non-kobold on sight. The rats fight to the death.
15. Kobold CampThis wide cave has been roughly excavated from the natural rock. Small sleeping rolls for just over a dozen small creatures are scattered randomly across the uneven floor. The chamber is illuminated by a campfire whose smoke is cleverly whisked away through small ventilation tunnels.
Creatures: Five Kobolds are in this room, cooking rats on sticks over the camp fire. The kobolds are alarmed at the intrusion of the party; four immediately attack, while the final kobold runs towards Room 14, planning to release the giant rats. The kobolds fight to the death to protect their home.
Development: Three rounds after combat starts, the Kobold Dragonshield Hox Grellbait arrives from room 16 having heard the commotion. Hox wields a Moon-Touched Scimitar (+4 to hit, dealing 5 (1d6+2) damage) that glows with a supernatural blue light. Hox took this weapon from the corpse of Sir Venistaro Marnez in room 13a.
Hox is furious at the intrusion of the party, but wary of taking them on directly. He starts by merely threatening the party: "I am Hox Grellbait, the mightiest kobold to ever live! My scars show my strength, and my magic blade can smite you down with a single blow! You cannot win; surrender and we will talk, else I shall slay you where you stand!"
If the party surrenders, they are looted of their material wealth and escorted out of the dungeon. If the party attacks, Hox fights to knock out a single weak-looking character and then hold them hostage, again demanding the party surrender. If they refuse, Hox will not attack the unconscious character, instead deciding to run away rather than fight these heartless lunatics.
16. Hox's Treasure Hoard.This small cave contains a miniature living space. A single bedroll is unrolled next to a camp fire. The flame's light illuminates this room and dances off a small pile of glittering coins and assorted treasures.
Creatures: Hox Grellbait the Kobold Dragonshield lives alone in this room, obsessing over his hoard of treasure.
Treasure: This room contains 1800 cp, 1400 sp, and 100 gp in a loose pile. A treasure chest contains two potions of healing. There is also a golden goblet worth 120 gp, and two pieces of garnet worth 25 gp each.
My Previous Drop-Anywhere DungeonsTabernacle of the Nascent God
Demiplane of Pompolius the Powerful
Apostle of Ice and Hate
The Fish, The Idol, and the Hag
My Recommended Chrome Flags to test for Chrome OS 84 Stable
There are several new experimental features and tweaks in Chrome OS 84 that are unfortunately not part of the default Chrome OS experience. There could be several reasons why: the developers ran out of time for this release cycle, the experiment is deemed too unstable to be left on by default for the stable channel where the majority of the user-base are, or they need to collect more user feedback before shipping them. Some of these experimental features are tucked behind a page where they can be manually switched on or off. These hidden features are called chrome flags. You can find the switches to try these experimental features by typing chrome://flags in Chrome’s URL bar and hitting enter.
Some of you read my previous recommended Chrome flags to try out list I made about a month ago. This list should look similar to that list, with several edits and additions to match what's new in this build of Chrome OS. If you applied all of the flags I wrote on there, I HIGHLY recommend you to hit the "Reset all to default" button in the chrome flags page BEFORE updating to the big milestone update, even if the flags on this list has a lot of the same flags on the previous build. This lessens the chance of running into troubles after your system applies the update.
!!! The following is a list of fun, EXPERIMENTAL flags I recommend to test out for those of us itching to experience and test upcoming features from Google. Although these flags did not cause problems with my session, that might NOT be the case for you! Be prepared to hit the "Reset all to default" button before asking for help, when something odd happens. I am NOT responsible for lost data, unstable sessions, or missing out on important notifications. I recommend making frequent backups of your session, such as backing up your Linux (Beta) containers, your important files and app data. Make sure all user profiles are ready for recovery. DO NOT use these flags on a production machine! Enable these flags with caution !!!
Get the Chrome 83 features into Chrome OS 84
Some of you guys were probably expecting all of the Chrome 83 features to finally land by default in this build of Chrome OS. While Google has officially rolled out most of Chrome 83's features by default, there are a few features that haven't rolled out completely yet. The following list is YMMV since Google may have already rolled out these features by default on your device. Those who aren't so lucky can get these features by enabling these flags:
- chrome://flags/#tab-groups - This allows you to separate tabs into different groups. This is a huge productivity booster for college students like myself who prefer to separate tabs by subject. See screen recording by Google.
- chrome://flags/#shelf-hide-buttons-in-tablet - this flag brings back the fully gestural tablet mode interface that hides the Home, back arrow, and Overview Mode buttons. To activate Overview mode, swipe up from the gesture bar. In the app drawer, pull up from the Shelf hotseat. Note: this feature is available by default on Kukui (Lenovo Duet), Eve (Pixelbook), Nocturne (Pixel Slate), and Hatch (Acer Chromebook 712, Asus Chromebook Flip C436FA, Samsung Galaxy Chromebook) boards.
- chrome://flags/#webui-tab-strip - this flag brings the brand new touch-friendly design to Chrome while Chromebook is in tablet mode. This design also saves space when browsing the web. You can swipe down from the omnibox to reveal tabs. Note: there are two variations of WebUI tab strips on Chrome OS. The variation that’s slowly rolling out integrates into Ash better, which allows dragging tabs out of the tab strip to create another window, better tab group support, etc. If you force enable WebUI tab strips through flags, you’ll get the other variation, which does not have the better Ash integration. See screen recording by Google.
Work smarter, not harder. The following list of flags will help boost your Chrome OS workflow and make the user experience a whole lot more efficient.
- chrome://flags/#new-os-settings-search - the new Chrome OS settings fuzzy search bar can finally search through your settings. Before this update, the fuzzy search only found Wi-Fi settings. Ctrl + F will also activate the search bar. See screenshot uploaded here.
- chrome://flags/#launcher-settings-search - this feature adds several shortcuts to the launcher search bar when search for a setting (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth). Note: this depends on chrome://flags/#new-os-settings-search to work. Not all part of Chrome OS settings is searchable in this build.
- chrome://flags/#display-change-modal - when attaching a Chromebook to an external monitor, enabling this flag will split the resolution and refresh rate into two dropdowns. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#shelf-app-scaling - this scales down the Shelf app icons in tablet mode when there is no more room left on the Shelf. See screen recording.
- chrome://flags/#movable-partial-screenshot-region - New feature flag that brings moving partial screenshot with magnifying glass to Chrome OS. This allows you to quickly resize the viewport before saving changes. See screen recording.
- chrome://flags/#system-tray-mic-gain - is your Chromebook’s microphone too sensitive? With this flag, you can adjust the microphone level of your Chromebook. It will appear in the volume controls in the system tray. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#enable-desktop-pwas-tab-strip - this adds a tab strip on top of the PWA and Chrome shortcut window. This is incredibly useful for multitasking with one window (i.e. Google Docs). See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#ash-limit-alt-tab-to-active-desk - this limits the windows listed in Alt + Tab to the ones in the current active virtual desk. Previously, Alt +Tab would cycle through all windows regardless of the virtual desk, which was quite annoying.
- chrome://flags/#global-media-controls-picture-in-picture - this flag enables Picture-in-Picture controls in the Global Media Controls. Incredibly useful for working with multiple documents and playing media.
- chrome://flags/#enable-assistant-routines - this flag brings the Google Assistant routines feature to Chrome OS. Nice feature carried over from Google Assistant on Android.
- chrome://flags/#tab-hover-card-images - this shows a preview of the tab when you hover your cursor over it. I personally like it, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#enable-quick-answers and chrome://flags/#enable-quick-answers-rich-ui - this brings the Google Assistant to the context menu when right clicking a selected word on a page. It's pretty limited right now as it can only find definitions, but there is a ton of potential with this feature in the future. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#pdf-two-up-view - this will enable a new option in Chrome's built-in PDF viewer to display two pages side by side. If you want better performance and use another app for annotation, I recommend leaving this flag alone and using this PDF viewer instead. Make sure you enable “Allow access to File URLs” for this extension to work.
- chrome://flags/#new-shortcut-mapping - this feature flag allows you to reassign the shortcut mapping for Caps Lock and the External Meta key to something else (example: change Caps lock key to open Google Assistant).
- chrome://flags/#avatar-toolbar-button - this is useful for quickly managing your Google account, such as password management, modifying payment methods, and saving location addresses for autofill. This puts your Google account profile picture on Chrome’s toolbar. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#allow-scroll-settings - this feature flag allows you to adjust the scrolling speed for mice and touchpads. This is great for some mice that overshoots the amount of scroll intended.
- chrome://flags/#conversion-measurement-api this activates the conversion measurement API, which helps web developers understand active ad impressions and their metadata, and conversion reports and when they will be sent.
Performance and Battery optimizations
Trying to work with a slow machine can be seriously frustrating, especially when the battery doesn’t last very long. One of Chrome OS’ strengths is its lightweight nature - it's a lot more efficient than a heavier operating system like Windows. There are a few flags you can adjust to help optimize your Chromebook even further. Note that the following flags in this group are likely to cause a crash if they don't play nice on your device.
- chrome://flags/#turn-off-streaming-media-caching - this feature flag prevents caching certain media content to disk for the purpose of improving device battery life for users. Previously, media content was cached to disk during acquisition and playback. Keeping the disk active during this process increases power consumption in general, and can also prevent certain lower-power modes from being engaged in the operating system. Since media consumption is a high-usage scenario, this extra power usage has a negative impact on battery life.
- chrome://flags/#scheduler-configuration - by default, Chrome OS does not use hyper-threading on Intel CPUs in effort to mitigate MDS attacks. Users concerned about the performance loss, such as those running CPU intensive workloads, can re-enable hyper-threading with this flag. Note: no need to enable this flag on an ARM chip. Hyperthreading will automatically get disabled when launching Linux (Beta) Enable with caution!
- [Disable] chrome://flags/#enable-background-blur - struggling to get good performance on your Chromebook? Blur UI is expensive with CPU usage, so disabling this flag will improve UI performance. Caution: this may cause some graphical bugs!
- chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-fling-animation, chrome://flags/#percent-based-scrolling, and chrome://flags/#impulse-scroll-animations - thanks to the Microsoft Edge developers, these flags improve the scrolling performance and experience. This applies to swiping on the touchscreen. The percent-based scrolling flag changes the behavior of mousewheel and keyboard scrolls. Previously, one “tick” of the scroll wheel or arrow key press will scroll by a fixed value in logical pixels. It caused a problem with smaller scrollers since each scroll tick would scroll by a large fraction. To fix this annoyance, the flag translates each “tick” into a percentage.
- chrome://flags/#dynamic-tcmalloc-tuning - This allows tcmalloc to dynamically adjust its thread cache sizes in response to memory pressure. Experimentally, this improved the number of loadable tabs on low end Chromebooks by 10% while also reducing tab switch times by nearly 5%.
- chrome://flags/#use-preferred-interval-for-video - when enabled, the composition rate will adjust based on the video’s actual FPS. This is useful for improving WebRTC performance while saving battery; previously, the display compositor would be updating more frequently than the video stream itself.
- chrome://flags/#enable-service-worker-on-ui - by enabling this flag, the bulk of service worker code in the browser process will move from the IO thread to the UI thread. This is part of a big initiative to simplify Chrome’s IO threads, which can boost performance.
New Crostini features
Crostini on Chrome OS has been progressing quite nicely over the past few releases, though there are some nice features that are still being experimented with. The following list of flags fills in some of the gaps.
- chrome://flags/#exo-pointer-lock - this allows Linux applications to request a pointer lock, i.e. exclusive use of the mouse pointer. This is absolutely necessary when playing Linux games on Chrome OS..
- chrome://flags/#crostini-port-forwarding - this feature opens up the host port forwards to user defined ports in the VM. It allows users to add new ports and activate, deactivate and remove existing ports.
- chrome://flags/#crostini-gpu-support - this allows Linux (Beta) to take advantage of GPU acceleration. Before enabling this flag, verify if crostini GPU support is already enabled by default on your device. Launch the Linux terminal, install mesa-utils via sudo apt install mesa-utils, then run glxinfo -B. If the device line displays virgl, then crostini GPU support is already enabled and you do not need to enable the flag.
- chrome://flags/#crostini-usb-allow-unsupported - if you have an unsupported USB device that you need for Linux (Beta), this flag will allow your Chromebook to mount it. Enable at your own risk!
The “I want new pretty things” corner
Want to experiment with new redesigns? These flags adds extra eye candy to Chrome OS, apps, and various Chrome components. Gimme that Google Material theme!
- chrome://flags/#media-app - this brings the brand new media app to Chrome OS, which features a modern design built on WebUI. This app is capable of opening photos along with music and video. Note: navigating files using the arrow buttons is broken. See my old tour of the media app here.
- chrome://flags/#app-grid-ghost - when dragging an app around in the launcher app drawer, there will be an outline of where the app icon will be placed when you let go. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#enable-cros-virtual-keyboard-bordered-key - want to make your virtual keyboard look more like a physical keyboard? This flag puts bordered keys in the virtual keyboard to give it that “keyboard” feeling. Note that this is only works with the English keyboard for now. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#tab-outlines-in-low-contrast-themes and chrome://flags/#prominent-dark-mode-active-tab-title - when using a dark theme or entering incognito mode, these flags will help improve the legibility of the tabs. Should be enabled together. See screenshot.
- chrome://flags/#enable-query-in-omnibox - this will simplify the omnibox to only include your Google search query instead of the full URL. I like this one personally, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes. See screenshots.
- chrome://flags/#ntp-realbox , chrome://flags/#ntp-confirm-suggestion-removals , and chrome://flags/#ntp-realbox-match-omnibox-theme- these flags adds a "real" search box in the middle of the New Tab Page which accepts inputs directly. Previously, clicking the search bar will move the input to the URL bar. The suggestion removal flag will allow you to remove suggestions that the realbox outputs. The last flag allows Chrome themes to match the theme of realbox to the omnibox. See screenshots.
- chrome://flags/#enable-md-rounded-corners-on-dialogs - love rounded corners like I do? This flag makes dialogs rounded to match Google’s material theme. See screenshot.
For the Artists on Chrome OS
Palm rejection has been a major pain point for some Chromebook owners who draw art on their device. Although it has improved in recent builds of Chrome OS, a lot of users wished it could be better. Well guys - wish granted.
- chrome://flags/#enable-palm-suppression and chrome://flags/#enable-heuristics-stylus-palm-rejection - these flags are an absolute must for users who spend time drawing or handwriting notes on their Chromebook. This improves the palm rejection significantly! Note that this does not work on all devices, including external drawing tablets. I omitted the ML variant of the palm suppression flag due to only a few devices supporting it.
That's about all folks. Enjoy the Chrome OS 84 release!
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