Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Megadungeon Crawl Classics #4: some thoughts on playtesting those houserules(and Lankhmar rules) and a general update

So when I wrote some fancy pants houserules for dungeon crawl classics to make the game play a little bit more like B/X, I noticed some interesting things. For the record, I playtested them with DCCRPG modules*, not my own megadungeon, which I still haven't finished even mapping the first floor of.**

First off, players feel more vulnerable once you start forcing resource management and inventory space on them. There's more discussion on leaving dungeons mid adventure, which sort-of works for the modules I used. Many DCCRPG modules, even if they are dungeons, are "adventures" and they're built around being playable from start to finish without stopping. Having to stop and eat, rest, etc is pretty much glossed over in the core rules, so my players, typically reckless DCC players, found themselves being much more careful, planning out loot-carrying duties and such.

The Lankhmar rules are in full effect here: I added in healing ungents*** at 50 gp a pop, and used the Lankhmar healing and resting rules. Without a cleric to potentially reset the player's problems every encounter, there's even more caution. Battles are felt much more, and the consequences of getting to fights are actually felt. After exploring half of the top floor of one dungeon, the players were so beat to shit, having burnt through their regular rests, decided to leave, with gold pilfered in tow(and to be fair, they'd already managed to fill their inventory slots to the brim).

This is good, and it's the element I felt was truly missing from when I started running DCC in mid 2015. I don't really like the Cleric class or its ability to heal a potential infinite number of times****, so limiting heals in a more tough way does more than adding in torch burndown, a need to eat and inventory limits ever did(on top of this, an odd amount of DCCRPG modules are actually very well lit and require no torches, and many are so short that it's possible to fully explore them without needing to eat for the day...).

That being said, I am not...dismayed by these findings, because it turns DCC from a combat focused, easy-to-recover-losses adventure into a deadlier, more piece-meal style of dungeon crawl.

Which is exactly what I was going for, anyway, so that's nice.

Hireling rules are hilarious. Players are really responding to the whole Village Strongman over a regular hireling, because getting a critical and then promptly killing the weak-ish monster and then promptly demanding a hefty raise causes some interesting mid-combat/dungeon interactions. One of my players just kills his hirelings for pissing him off, but that's fine. He is an angry kill-y kind of guy.

Nobody wants the mages, despite the fact that they're free torches and do 2d3 damage. Maybe I'll make it ranged. Hmm.


Besides this, what's going on with me, in RPGland?
- My LotFP campaign is getting close to the planned wrapping up point, a running of Deep Carbon Observatory. Surprisingly little death has happened mostly because the party has learned that "nah fuck that" is usually the best option. It does make throwing Veins of the Earth monsters at them kind of...disappointing. I've thrown the By-Frosens at them a lot, they even stole a dragon egg from them, so you know there's some bad blood there.
- One of my players runs a vanilla rules DCC campaign which is just short little adventures. I've lost some characters, alright, but Elric the shithead Elf is literally the only remaining character of the originals since Cashmere left***** due to Elric trying to cast sleep on him and rob him for boat fare. From my side, only my cleric, O'Malley has died, and replaced with decent Halfling Eiber, who talks like a bad Solid Snake impression but has 18 agility, so it's all good. It's pretty fun.
- Starfinder is starting to become boring. I don't run it, I only play, but we're all getting tired of the GM and his brother bickering over the rules every fucking week.
- 37/52 books read for the year but for new material I'm starting to do shit like spend audible credits on shitty Star Wars novels because they're mercifully short. Last Honor Harrington book came out recently so I'm hyped on that. Big Mouth season 2 is around the corner, gonna snatch that up and then cancel my netflix sub until Final Space and Bojack Horseman come back. The Dragon Prince was not to my liking.
On creative projects:
- Have a few things On The Go that I plan to release for free: DCC Conversions of Veins of the Earth, A Red and Pleasant Land and Maze of the Blue Medusa. Nothing too special there, just mostly the bestiaries and such. It's actually more of an exercise in practicing using Scribus so I can learn the program well and such. Plus if I can make the free conversions look really good, then may-hap the creators will give me a boost.
- Still working on the Domains book, but after Fiona's excellent editing, I need to get a couple days to myself, throw down some tutorials on GIMP and Scribus so I can put that shit out and sell it. Unfortunately, getting a New Job and also having my lady visiting a lot means I have neglected my RPGing...
- Other projects are still being passively researched and googled while I'm at work and are likely the next few things to be published by me after the Domains project and the free conversions:
Megadungeon Crawl Classics - You know what this is.
Carry Out! - A fun little wagon ride.
Davon's Brew - A fun, re-useable little adventure my Judge for DCC came up with I wanted to revise and expand and probably sell.
Masked Killers - Just a little funnel about people with masks hunting the PCs in and around a large tavern.

* The Emerald Enchanter and The One That Watches From Below
** Busy.
*** Heals 1d4. Seems chintzy, but the artwork for Lankhmar implies using it to survive being dropped to zero.
**** I am fully aware of clerical checks and balances, but I've also played games where they managed to pull off healing every single time. With a halfling present it was goddamn ridiculous.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Megadungeon Crawl Classics #3: Those DCC Houserules are back, baby!

Hello! I have been hard at work on my DCCRPG houserules, and uh, let me know what you think. I added some domain rules, which is the biggest change.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Megadungeon Crawl Classics #2: some progress updates


Speeding right along. I got 22/48 rooms completed on the first map and I'm already crackling with ideas. For one, I need to erase 1/3 of the dungeon and replace it with a gigantic hand, because there's a biological component to that section. For two, I've found a way to give the dungeon some "structure" in that I know how to lay it out. There are four kingdoms and the tombs of the Chaos champions. Each will have their own(small!) encounter table. Petty creatures living petty lives and occasionally warring.

This is pretty standard Megadungeon stuff, hell, it's pretty standard dungeon stuff.

Things I am actively trying to avoid.

- The Numenera Effect: Wherein every single room is some kind of weird, gonzo, bizarre thing. I really like the cypher system but I genuinely hate the setting of Numenera because it's just...a little too out there? Like, everything is weird, everything is gonzo and bizarre and makes zero sense and it's...your brain needs time to breathe.
- Boring rooms: It's also really important to avoid boring rooms. "In this room there are ten orcs. Fight fight fight" is easily the worst, laziest, and most pointless dungeon design. People are buying your shit because they don't want to make it on their own. Anyone can do "a buncha orcs attack you".
- Boring dynamics. So I have the four "kingdoms" but the main thing to remember is to make sure they're not boring. So like, one of the comments on my first post about the DCC megadungeon on reddit was: "Hey now, I don't want to be crawling through the SAME PLACE for ten floors. DCC is good because of it's multiple settings and eclectic mix of different adventures." Yes. I 100% agree. I want campaigns to take you to places like The Purple Planet and stuff. Don't worry. In this very first dungeon floor, each of the five "zones" is essentially it's own little place. You could probably snip out the other parts of the dungeon and run little mini-duneons of each zone. That's intentional, and it's a bit of a nod to the intelligent design behind Stonehell, which can be broken up into many tiny little dungeons and run as a functioning one-page-dungeon. I don't really plan to go full-on and have this for every floor...
- Modular-ity: "But Dice!!! You can't literally write a dungeon meant to be part of a connected whole as something that can be broken up into individual adventures!" Can't I? That's quite literally my plan. This megadungeon was created by chaos lords who literally went to war and then forgot why they were having it built by their followers. What you get are 13 floors which are part of a continuous climb upwards, but what you get, as dungeon masters, is(my dream, that is) a boxed set of 13 booklets, a judge packet, a player's packet and who knows what else. Judges can take things they like and things they hate and run with it.

Am I insane? Maybe. Maybe it'll all be for naught, but I have an artist who will work for a decent price and lots of people willing to playtest. I'm excited. I'm hyped!

It's going to probably end in tears.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Megadungeon Playtest notes #1: First time funnels...

Preamble
I decided that DCC needs a Megadungeon. But...it needs one that works with the DCC RPG system, out of the box, with no modifications.

The first thing to note is that is that...a lot of the feedback people straight up did not read that post. One person commented on Google+, "Stop whining and buy X module". Thanks, that wasn't the point of the post. He then threw a few more, non DCC-designed for modules at me. One of which was Stonehell, which I've been told Michael Curtis himself said wasn't great for use in the DCCRPG system. It's apparently in a podcast somewhere so who knows when my lazy ass is going to listen to that shit. 

So, uh, in the future, you can literally just comment and say "I didn't read your post." because that's all you're saying. I'm not crapping on Maze of the Blue Medusa! It looks great, and so does Stonehell and Barrowmaze and Rappan Athuk. But none of these RPGs are actually Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG-designed. DCCRPG is...really, it's its own thing. It is. It's not LotFP, and it's not B/X. It wears those things as a mask, but it's style is very appealing to me. It's combat systems, the silly dice, the tables for crits and fumbles and so on...these are all great. I want to make something for DCCRPG that look like it fits right in with the rest of the DCCRPG product line, while still being a megadungeon.

On reddit, I had some interesting takes thrown my way.


I think I pointedly stated in my blog that DCCRPG modules are primarily focused on combat. And modules, as said before, are a very, very good way to gauge how you're expected to play the game. No, you don't need to listen to modules, but if you start to see a pattern in how they're written, then you start to see a pattern for what the RPG is meant to emphasize. And how many of those officially published modules emphasize:
Wandering Monster Encounters?
Slow and careful dungeon crawling, with players taking turns and having high movement to interact with the environment?
Resource tracking? 
Reaction tables, so monsters don't mindlessly attack you? 

The answer is: not a hell of a lot! In fact, the first time I've seen a monster reaction table was for a specific monster in DCC Lankhmar's bestiary. Lots of the modules actually end the room descriptions with "and then they attack you" and you have to roll for initiative. 

That's fine, though! It's just not the DCCRPG I want to play. Which leads to this more interesting take:


So Fetusfeast has some neato points. When it comes to "slow simulationist" elements, I'm not...it's not meant to be a slow or simulationist game. In fact, the purpose of playtesting with 3 wildly different groups is to make it as fun as possible!
I even made a lil' player survey.


It's not going to work playing it as a B/X game. Trust me, if I wanted just a megadungeon to run at home, there's options out of the wazoo. Next poster, OpinionKid seems to not realize that I don't really want to play in B/X, LotFP, etc. I don't! I want something specifically for DCCRPG, and one of my design goals(I will state here now) is that I do not want to have it lose its DCCRPG identity. I want lots of...very memorable moments to happen. I want shit people will remember. When my players talk about my DCCRPG campaign, they talk about the memorable stuff. One PC gave birth to himself, and then died. Another player snorted magical cocaine, became indestructible, and then killed the Avatar of Duvan, an evil Chaos god. These are moments I like to remember because they're hilarious. And they do remember the deaths. Like when Mr. Gives-Birth-To-Himself rolled a thief in ACKS, got incredible stats for him(not a single stat was less than +2 to a modifier) and then promptly fell for the "bucket on the top of a door" trap some stupid ass kobolds had left for him, and died. If this hadn't been preceded by 20 minutes of the players ooing and aaing over his two 18's in dex and con and him talking himself up(yeah, uh, I'm gonna be running this party from now on, I'm the strongest, smartest, etc) non-stop it probably wouldn't have been as funny. 

My goal is to create a very large, multi-layered dungeon with many elements designed to give you, the players, those kinds of memories. That doesn't mean we're gonna see some kind of Numenera thing where you walk into a room, and there's a fountain that doesn't use water, it uses dead men's secrets that can be thrown back into a time portal to something something.

The goals here are this:

A ten floor megadungeon with enough interesting gimmicks, twists, and plays on the fantasy genre. It's gotta feel, in one product or campaign, like all of the bizarre stupid shit in the corebook. I might go insane.


That being said, I can note some progress. I ran MDCC(Megadungeon Crawl Classics, though I doubt Joe Goodman will let me call the line that) #0 tonight, the funnel: Lord of the Shinies for my first playtest group. It was vicious. 10/16 died, which gives me the impression it was fairly difficult.

Some highlights:

- I ran with the interpretation that you layer your sheets in a "stack" and the first sheep on top of said "stack" is the character you use. The others come charging into the combat if your first PC dies, may loot the body if they survive, etc. I use this rule because otherwise you have to really hurry your players on during combats and most monster groups cannot survive any kind of battle against an enemy group that rolls to attack sixteen times a round. 
- There's a little crypt to explore and gather weapons from. Chaotic characters get bad vibes from it, while lawful players get great vibes. They naturally split up, with the one lawful character wandering through the crypt, getting mad stacks of loot. The others managed to find a blocked off passage, and ran into a monster that almost killed all of them. It did managed to gank two of them.
- most feedback was nice, but I did get a single point of fairly negative feedback, and that's that one of the players thought the monsters were a little too hard to hit. Maybe 15 AC is too high? I'll know soon.

Ten deaths, four peasant refill.

Four players died to the Rockells, and one of them died to the Pebbell, the Rockell projectile of choice. 
Two enemies died from a monster in a crypt. 
One player tried to make zombies her friends, and they ate her. No idea why the fuck she did that.
One character drank chaos water from a chaos pool and got a brain tumor that was essentially just a boulder that grew instantly inside her head until it exploded.
One player learned a magic spell from the chaos water, but when she cast it, it used her body to power the energy, and exploded into a Thing-like tangle of tentacles and limbs. 

Now I gotta arrange this so its less shitty, especially in terms of layout. Does anyone know of any resources for using a free version of InDesign to Make Your Shit Look Less Awful? 



Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lamentations of the Serpent Kings 5: We're nobles! These are our subjects! This fucking sucks and let's kill them all!

And now it's time to run Lamentations of the Flame Princess, using Tomb of the Serpent Kings as a campaign kickoff!

Setting: The world is dominated by the ever present and indomitable Great Cities, and those not living in them soak up the spaces around them, living out an attempted feudalism in a world that is leaving them behind. The campaign centers around a noble family trying to create their own niche by sailing around the Great City of Vornheim and settling in some unexplored lands to the south. The party are adventurers looking for money and will take work in helping to break the land to the will of the 'civilized' races.

PARTY MEMBERS:

Ash, Specialist.  Aron's Brother.
Aron, Specialist. Ash's Brother. (Not available)
Sir Shoosalaw, a gun-toting Kenku. Apparently some kind of Owl-furry. 
Fronk. Forest person(ranger).
Francesca: An anatomist. Enjoys grafting limbs to people. 
Orik: Dwarf. Meanie-head.
Elsie: Hobbit. Kicked out of Hobbiton for being too cool. Or so she says.
Ingolf Soulsteel: Grumpy, non-talkative dwarf. 


Hire some Hireling, and then let's-a-go!

The session opened up with everyone's favorite thing about Dungeons and Dragons: Book-keeping! Money was calculated and the party discussed hiring hirelings for a long, long while. Eventually, it was decided that they would not be hiring hirelings. 

Except for Elsie, who brusquely approached each halfling she saw and offered them horrible dangerous dungeon delving work for hirelingbux.
"No."
"No."
"Yes! Sounds great!" 


And without equipping a single piece of equipment for it, the Hireling Mungo was brought into the party! Good thinkin' girl! 


The party headed forth. 

No encounters. Lucky. 

With that, the party returned to base camp and discussed further plans. So many places to go, but they weren't entirely sure what to do. It was eventually decided they would murder all of the goblins, because having them show up nonstop was getting tiresome. The goblins had actually decided the same, having had several in-house fires to deal with. They disguised themselves and readied for a big ambush, planning to cut the party off and trap them into their own area, that way, if they started a fire, they would suffocate from the smoke. 

The party descended into the goblin warrens!


These ones. These ones here. 

The party carefully "snuck" into the Goblin area, and moved carefully through areas 41, 40, 50, etc, ever more creeped out that there were no goblins anywhere. Goblins were hiding in 50, and when the party moved into 49, they began to prepare their own ambush. 
The party found little loot, and then, handing Mungo a lantern and pushing his unarmored ass towards areas 47 and 48, the party waited for his report.

Poor Mungo! This isn't what adventurin's supposed to be like at-AHHHHH.

Mungo failed a save against fear, turned around and ran shrieking back behind Elsie. Ash sighed, took his lantern from Mungo, smacked him upside the head(prompting an angry "oi!" from Elsie. Elsie is a good employer, stands up for her men.)  and took his lantern back. 
Room 47 was pretty boring, and all they could find was a tiny handful of gold. Who cares?
48 was a pulsating terror-room of The Thing-esque fleshy deathness, animal and goblin corpses bubbling and throbbing. The party looked at this, deliberated on it, and then set the mess on fire. 

The goblins, preparing to launch their ambush, all dropped dead.
DM's Note: Not exactly how it's supposed to go down, but I thought this would end the goblin 'threat' due to the fact that most of the party was past level 2 and easily able to slaughter-slitter any Goblin threat.

The party explored room 47 one last time, realized that it was the other side of the trap, and decided to hand some goblin corpses to Xiximanter. 

OOMPH THAT TREASURE THO

Approaching Xiximanter, the party brought him a variety of Goblin corpses. Xiximanter was not impressed, explaining that the creatures were part of a failed attempt at creating a phylactery for a living being, creating little "clones" of a subject every time they died. Sadly, it produced more subjects than it was supposed to at a time, reducing their intelligence, stature, and strength. The creatures also got mutated by all of the fungus growing in the dungeon, and so they were abandoned by Xiximanter. He gave the party a potion of "exquisite poison" and shooed them on their way.

The party felt a little dejected, but then realized that they might as well explore those two rooms in the eastern side of the warrens, and so they went to the northward ones first. 

These rooms.

The first room was a room with a pit. A small flame was in the center, along with some dirty, carbon coated gemstones. The party tossed a goblin corpse in and it was consumed by the flame quickly.
Ash poured some water on the thing, and it snuffed out, and then re-ignited. Not going anywhere, okay. Time to check out the door to 28. Finding the room, they discovered a locked door to the south and an unlocked door to the east. After some quick debate, they used Aron's key he found in the Basilisk's neck folds and opened it.

Treasure. So much treasure. 600 GP. small piles of silver coins. A magic scroll. A masterwork silver sword. The party was simply stunned at how much god damn money they'd just discovered, that they realized they couldn't carry it out of there without many trips, and taking it back to town??

They locked the door back up. Elsie decided to check out 27 and was temporarily locked up by enchanted manacles, which did nothing, damage wise, but required a strength check from Orik to pull the poor halfling free. Orik torched the room, but found it didn't do much to the manacles.

The party gathered the gemstones from 30, by lowering Elsie and Mungo(who had just become a very rich halfling, as Henchmen get 50% share of monies from treasure. That was another 150 xp in gems there, and so the party decided to tell nobody what they saw, left Orik and Elsie back at the camp to guard their gains, and left Ash and Ingolf to go back to town and enlist the aid of Barlo's men to transport the ridiculous amount of treasure home.


Ambush on the road

Ash and Ingolf took the regular path, but they stuck to the forest, having surmised that the regular path is compromi- what the fuck is that?
A four legged, dinner table shaped, blue-jay headed, building sized monster was sleeping on the ground.
"...Fuck...that?" asked Ingolf.
"Fuck that." Muttered Ash.

The party arrived at Castle Barlo amd spoke to the Baron's Son. He was not in the greatest mood. The tip about the Crows had backfired, and doncha know it, the little fuckers had booby trapped their hideout, having killed six of his city watch.

His mood changed greatly when Ash informed him of the massive treasure hoard that he'd discovered and he provided them with carts and men. He warned them of dire consequences if they should fail, but promised a lordship if they didn't! 

Ingolf and Ash very carefully returned to the Tomb, and the party escorted the guards down to the treasure room. Tension was high, and the party thought that maybe, the guards would feel it more prudent to simply kill them and run off with their riches. 

The gold was loaded onto wagons. Ash paced nervously, hoping to hell that nobody would steal anything.

They traveled back into town. All eyes were on the road, as the party waited for the next "what the fuck is that" monster. 

They arrived to town safely. Honestly, I, as the DM, had not the slightest idea as to why there was so much tension. Are DMs known to fuck with players while they transport a metric fuckton of loot? :^)

Kevan Barlo was delighted to have gained for himself so much income. He immediately ennobled the PCs there on the spot(which, all things considered, was an extremely brash thing for someone to do) and gave them their holdings: the Town of Witchweir to the far west. 

Bookkeeping

The party divvied up loot, bought themselves a fancy cartridge, better armor, etc. Elsie hired a physician, two archers and kept Mungo on, granting him a Knighthood. 

The party packed up all of their belongings and on they went, west, to Witchweir! 

Witchweir

Apparently, Witchweir is local naming convention for "Swampy shithole."

The party rolled into town and found most people were not willing to have much of a conversation with them. Except the weirdo living at the foundry named Uncle Ivanovik, who seemed like a strange paranoid man. The windows and doors of the foundry were all bricked up too, which made it quite strange that this is where Ivanovik was living. 
DM's Note: That's right, mother fucking Scenic Dunnsmouth in the house.
The party spoke to the church leader next. A broken and useless man, he puttered around in nightclothes, absolutely terrified of everything. He was also fairly useless when it came to useful information.

They found an elf lady living on a houseboat. Useless for information, but she seemed to think there was something wrong, wrong, wrong with the people of the town. Not that she was telling, because she didn't trust them.

The party decided they had enough of this lovecraft bullshit, muttered something about having been granted a lemon, and went to check out the manor.

The Manor was nice! It was clean, pristine, and had a butler named Alfred who kept the place really nice and tended to a small farm's worth of pigs and chickens so he always had enough to eat.

He was very annoyed he would have to give up some space in the servant's quarters and share it with the archers, the doctor, and Mungo, but did so, as he didn't have a choice(and was reminded of that quite pointedly by the PCs). 

At midnight, the party decided to try and see what was in the foundry. They waited until 3 am, and then snuck up to the foundry. 

Their stalker followed them from his bushes quietly. 

They approached the foundry, searched for Ivanovik, found nobody, and then used a grappling hook to get onto the roof. The PCs went up the rope first, followed by the physician and the archer. Orik went first, climbing down a disturbingly convenient rope ladder. 

The final archer, about to climb up, was ambushed and beheaded. 

Orik landed on the ground, and found the foundry's inside was full of meat hooks hanging from the ceiling, bear traps all over the floor, and even more horrible, human remains inside of the foundry's forges! Along with gold teeth. Which Orik pocketed. Tragedy and horror isn't going to stop him from gaining a few extra expees. 

The rest of the party had descended by then, with the exception of the archer. Who was also ambushed(not entirely successfully, he managed to get a scream off before he died). Ash managed to shoot him with a crossbow, and the killer bolted. The party gave chase! 

Climbing out of the foundry, sliding down their grappling hook and finding a small blood trailer, the party pounded down the direction of it, finding it disappear near a house. 

So they raided the house! 

Whoever it was did not seem like the kind of man who could one-shot people like that. He was sickly man who was rather frightened and trying to be as "offended homeowner" as he possibly could. The party demanded he identify himself, and he identified himself as a local named Klaus Van Kaus. The party asked if anyone else lived there, and he said that his son did. So they burst into that room as well. 

Kaus Van Kaus's son had four arms and legs. And eight eyes. And little baby fangs. 
The party got into a quick discussion about the ethics of murdering a really ugly and really fucked up looking baby, but Elsie was the voice of reason and told them that it was "just a mutant" and to leave it alone. 

Another local came by, armed with a pistol, wanting to know. He called himself Obediah and seemed normal enough. Another man named Dicky Sampson came and also demanded to know about the commotion. The party invited everyone to come meet in the church tomorrow, and told them to tell the rest of the town. There was a lukewarm reception to this idea, and it became pretty clear that the locals didn't much respect the law of the Barlo family 'round these parts 'ere. 

As the adventurers trudged back to their manor, they were approached by a woman. She introduced herself as Magda....

DCC needs a megadungeon


I hereby declare that the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG needs a megadungeon. A good one. Not adapted from another, excellent, existing megadungeon, because that's not how the Appendix N focused RPG works.

Something that brings into the gonzo and adds in the enjoy-ability of slowly and carefully exploring a massive dungeon meant to BE explored. its chambers meant to be picked clean, its monsters meant to be negotiated with, allied against, and such and forth. 

It's not like DCC doesn't have a few things working against it, though.

Things that make Megadungeons a difficult proposition for The Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game:

A Focus on Speedy, Linear Adventures with lots of combat:

The best way to figure out how to create gameable content for an adventure is to play its official modules.
Most DCCRPG modules are very linear. The dungeons aren't very big. There's a lot of...set pieces and interesting ideas. In this, DCCRPG actually mimics the more narrative driven modules of the TSR and WotC DnD eras. Puzzles exist, but most of them are fairly easy, and when they aren't, it's usually due to the fact that failing them is meant to produce, how can I put this, "wacky" results. Failing a lot of old-school puzzles usually means you're forced into a brutal fight and promptly murdered, or you just die. In DCCRPG modules, failing a puzzle usually means something zany happens to the character, think Intrigue At the Courts of Chaos, where drinking the wrong potion means you get impregnated no matter what gender you are, or growing to 12 feet tall suddenly.

On top of that, there's not really any organized set of rules for tracking things like encumbrance, resource burn-down, how long an exploration turn is in a dungeon, how long a torch lasts for, etc.

Not good enough.



That's about it.

On top of this, the DCCRPG system doesn't really allow for rewarding experience based on anything but the obstacles you overcome:

Boo



In conclusion, the game's focus is based around combat. You earn resources specifically for defeating or bypassing hazards. Time keeping, resource burn-down, and carrying capacity are meant to be either hand-waved or ignored, only re-introduced into the game at the Judge's discretion.


Now please don't take this rant as an attack on the DCCRPG. I love DCC RPG so much that I spend entirely too much money on the system:
Three corebooks, two boxed sets, and so so so many modules.

But I want..more. And I want it with DCC. It's why I'm working on houserules to bring it more in line with the Old Ways, while still keeping the bizarre gonzo nature of Dungeon Crawl Classics, the wizards who can either wipe entire encounters or do absolutely fucking nothing a day. The thieves that add luck to their actions, Elves that are far more Mythical than the Tolkien variety...all of that shit! But you know, adding in Gold for XP, adding in consequences for carrying "too much shit" and "not eating anything for weeks" and so on. 

So I decided the best way to test these rules was to make...a megadungeon. A cool one. One that probably involves a prop gimmick like The Chained Coffin but with a fair bit more use in it than that. I've got some ideas....


But I have my rules:

Genre Cliches, no:
Anyone can, without any help from me, have "on this floor bandits goblins and kobolds compete for living space and booty. they will work with the PCs to fuck each other over, but will unite against a dangerous party".

It must stay "DCC":
Gonzo's in DCC's blood. Without Gonzo it becomes something of a generic fantasy setting.

But I do want it to be fairly unique. 

It's gotta be hard:
Gold for XP is good because it makes bypassing dangerous obstacles the smartest and best idea in all situations. Stealing gold trinkets from an Owlbear's cave without rousing them = a really good idea, because the warrior has the most HP, and it's 11, and the owlbear attacks three times in a turn! And yet, it's only worth 150 xp on its own, while those trinkets will net the party 800. And they won't risk dying. So...



Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lamentations of the Serpent Kings 4: Let's get that Basilisk!

And now it's time to run Lamentations of the Flame Princess, using Tomb of the Serpent Kings as a campaign kickoff!

Setting: The world is dominated by the ever present and indomitable Great Cities, and those not living in them soak up the spaces around them, living out an attempted feudalism in a world that is leaving them behind. The campaign centers around a noble family trying to create their own niche by sailing around the Great City of Vornheim and settling in some unexplored lands to the south. The party are adventurers looking for money and will take work in helping to break the land to the will of the 'civilized' races.

PARTY MEMBERS:
Ash, Specialist.  Aron's Brother.
Aron, Specialist. Ash's Brother.
Sir Shoosalaw, a gun-toting Kenku. Apparently some kind of Owl-furry. 
Fronk. Forest person(ranger).
Francesca: An anatomist. Enjoys grafting limbs to people. 
Orik: Dwarf. Meanie-head.
Elsie: Hobbit. Kicked out of Hobbiton for being too cool. Or so she says.


And, we awaken.

The party awoke the next day after retiring and having dealt with a dragon transformation with a new and intriguing wrinkle in their plans: a dragon egg! Elsie retired to her medical bed and began the difficult process of learning how to walk again, this time with a peg leg. The party acquired themselves a nice chest in which to bury their treasure in, and went around looking for good prices on chains. On the way, they met a new character: Ingolf, another Dwarf hastily whipped into existence by the joy of a random character generator. 

The blacksmith's asking price(10% of the value of the basilisk's hide) was far too much for the party to consider, so they left, rationalizing that all of the chains in the Basilisk room were likely keeping it tied up. With that, they took their chest and brick of heavy opiates(and a censer to use them) and on they went.

Without an Elsie, the Party sauntered on back to their base camp. Luckily, there were no encounters in the short trip. Re-emerging at the camp, the party discovered that a decently large amount of goblins had conducted a raid on the camp, by shitting on their bedrolls, peeing in their pot of drinking water, and writing lots of angry goblin graffiti all over the tent. It was quickly cleaned up and the party began to work on some downtime activities. A pit with spikes and a small bridge was dug over the ground near the entrance to the tomb, and another near the second entrance that the Goblins were using. Orik buried the chest in a good spot, and then furrowed out a small wall alcove and hid the dragon egg in there. Aron suggested giving the egg to an ostrich, as they both had similar sized eggs. This suggestion was filed away next to Elsie's suggestion they eat it. 


What is that supposed to be?

The party was about to head into the dungeon when they were distracted by a loud noise. There was a human sized lizard that was crawling around on some tree branches, watching them intently. The party fell back to their little camp, peeked over the fortification and fired a single arrow at it. The arrow bounced off of the creature's rubbery body, and it let out a loud squawk, lit on fire, and began to glide towards them. 

The party's reaction was to flee inside the cave. As the creature came squawking and shrieking and burning towards them, flapping its bizarre lizardy wings, it dove for Ash, who was taunting the beast. The attack failed, and the creature crashed onto the bridge across their pit.
"Well, I know what to do." said Ash. He began to attempt to overturn the creature onto the bridge and dump it onto the spikes below. Orik and Aron both jumped into action and flipped the creature into the pit, but it managed to avoid death by spike, being merely spiked through the tail. As it scrabbled to climb out, the party shoved all of the dirt they had spent an hour digging up back onto the horrible thing, smothering its flames and then eventually, it. They waited a good twenty minutes, and then Aron used his dirt-swimming armor to swim through the dirt and see if the thing was dead. It was. 


Drugging a Basilisk

The party continued into the dungeon, followed and surrounded by the giggling of goblins, all of which were having a good laugh at their shitting escapades they visited on the party's base camp. The party headed into room 17. 




For reference.


Sneaking through the secret passage, the censer was lit, half a brick of strong drugs began to billow out like an opiate-laden incense, and they shut the door, waiting about 20 minutes. A big fat spider skittered across the party's path, but they ignored it. 

So, the party decided that pissing on rags would equal(by the way, what is with this group and pissing?) strong gas masks, and so forged ahead with urine soaked rags over their faces. Entering into the room, they discovered that the Basilisk had succumbed to the drugs and was sluggishly lying on the floor, allowing the party to finally take a better look at it. 

Orik tied the creature up with its own chains and removed the chain from its hole in the floor. It revealed a dark and dangerous passageway down BELOW and the party decided to ignore it for now. They debated at some length as what to do with the Basilisk, Aron feeling mostly bad for it, due to it being an innocent lil' babe locked in a room it was too big to leave from. Eventually, the party decided to go back to castle Barlo and speak to Bro-Wizard. On the way out, they dug up the rubbery-fire-lizard's corpse to take it back with them, to have it skinned and make into arrow-proof armor. 

Back to Castle Barlo!

An uneventful trip back to the Castle led the players to speak to the wizard, currently doing Calf-Raises against the side of his tower. They asked him about Basilisks and if the wizard knew how to shrink monsters. Sadly, he did not. He did inform them that they could simply decapitate the creature and "re-grow" it. He wasn't sure how long it took. 

The party decided this was a good idea, and so they went back.


By-Frosen Bastards!

The party headed back to camp. This time, however, it was time for another one of those amazing randomly generated monsters. This one was the size of an RV, slithered on the ground, had a swan's head, and four legs that dangled uselessly off of its body, as it continuously shed its own skin.

What the fuck, Raggi?

Anyway, as the party engaged the creature(and actually, handily defeated it without much trouble) a group of assholes set up a trap. The creature died, and its flesh rotted away, leaving behind a long, bizarrely elongated human skeleton made out of glass. There was a variety of stolen items in the remains of its carcass, and the DM rolled for some treasure.
Magic sword. Okay. 
DM rolled on the Dungeon Crawl Classics table for swords, read over the results, muttered "nah, fuck that", and gave them a more reasonable blade. 
As the party gathered their winnings, the By-Frosens laid their trap. A young woman came limping to them in some pain, spouting a sob story about having been injured by the monster. The party attended to her, and then they were called out to from behind by a trio of adventurers. An elf wizard, dwarven bow-guy, and a human male. The young woman stabbed Aron in the side(only 9 damage, leaving him with 1 HP) and kicked him forward towards the rest of the Crows.
The elf raised her dead. The dwarf fired an arrow at Ash(missed). Undead grabbed Aron and the human stepped forward.
"You're not going anywhere without your brother, Ash. Now tell us where the Dragon Egg is, and this can be all end with everyone alive."(Not true)

"I ate it. It was delicious." Shouted Orik back.(Not true)
Aron managed to wriggle himself out of the grasp of the dead and sprinted away, with dwarven arrows thudding into the ground around them.

The party fled with the Crows on their tail. 

Returning back to their fortifications, the party loaded up with various weaponry, blocked off the entrances(???) and waited. The Crows arrived, with their dead in tow. The male, apparent leader of the Crows, called out them. He calmly explained that if they handed the Dragon's Egg over no, nobody would die. If not....and the undead surrounded the base.

With a deep sigh, Orik removed his egg from the hidey-hole, and handed it over the fortifications to an undead. Carefully. The dead man handed the egg to the Crows, who left, leaving the undead to surround the little base of the party's until they eventually turned and left, long after the crows had left. 

Well shit.

Back into the Tomb...

The party re-entered the tomb after a fitful and unpleasant sleep. Aron recovered somewhat from breakfast, and the party entered into the dungeon. Once again they drugged the Basilisk with the last of their opiates, and this time, finding the creature still partially restrained, they lopped its head off and stuffed it into a backpack. 
Time to explore! 

The Basilisk Hall

The party searched the Basilisk's room and found no treasure, betraying years of video game knowledge. They made some tentative moves to explore room 36, but then decided to go west: 

Xiximanter's Hall

Entering the hallway, the party continued on, very carefully, tiptoeing around before bumping into the skeletal(but very much alive) Xiximanter, an undead snake-man, puttering around and reading his alchemical formulas. The party was quite surprised to find that Xiximanter was neither interested in what they were up to, nor was he very upset that his entire civilization was gone to dust. He was only interested in his formulas, and he offered the party great and powerful potions if they would only bring him living specimens. Without much deliberation, the party agreed this was the best and most logical choice of actions. With that, they tried to go into room 46, found it was locked, and decided that they would come back there eventually. 

The party continued to the south, found a rotatable wall and very quickly realized that rotating the wrong way = trap, as Orik took two shots to the face from a spear, endlessly stabbing. They stepped to the side and Orik lopped the spear shaft in half with his axe. 
Rotating the other direction, they found a pair of golden bowls. That's always nice to see. With that, the party re-entered the Basilisk Hall and found a Skeleton Jelly shuffling towards them stupidly.
Having realized that Skeleton Jellies are fucking stupid, the party stepped around the dangerous thing and led it towards Xiximanter's hall, before jumping it, tying it up and presenting it to Xiximanter as the first of his experiments. Xiximanter was very happy to get the thing, and told them that the Skeleton Jelly is immortal because it is far too stupid to die. Thankfully, that would not be a problem for the undead Alchemist, and he thanked them before heading off into room 45 to make components out of his newest prize. 

The party moved onto to room 36.

Not a bad little place!

The party explored the rooms here, sweeping for glittering treasure and finding very little, disappointingly enough. 

Entering room 31, the party discovered a pair of highly lifelike snake-men statues(petrified ones) and kinda just...smashed them into pieces from afar with Aron's Halberd, having ZERO TRUST FOR FUCKING STATUES AT THIS POINT.

Entering into room 33, they saw a statue, and Orik was able to determine this statue was rotatable. Rotating it clockwise like the other stone, the party justifying this act by remembering that counter-clockwise meant stabbing spears, the party was treated to 135 gold pieces(1350 XP) spilling out of the inside of the statue, which prompted them to immediately return to town with their gains(not wanting to risk another attack by the Crows, too). 


Back to town

The party returned to town, handed in their gold, got their XP, and Aron leveled up again. Unfortunately, Aron's total HP went down by one, despite rolling 3d6 hit dice. He did manage to increase his wisdom with a test!  The party fell to discussing hirelings, and the session ended.