Sunday, October 14, 2018

Save Against Fear 2018

(The alternate title for this excursion could be "James & Evie Hang With Brendan Con")

To continue our quest to help spread the good word of Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, and all things Goodman Games, Judge Evie and I joined forces with Brendan LaSalle at the Save Against Fear convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this past weekend. This little boutique con featured just about everything you'd see at much larger venues, but in cute, smaller doses. 

Except for Pugmire. There was a crap-ton of Pugmire at this con! But it only makes sense, since Onyx Path Publishing was a big sponsor for the event. 

But I wasn't at Save Against Fear to be a spellcasting terrier... I was there to spellburn and glowburn my way into glory!

Here's how things went...


When we arrived at the Harrisburg Mall, Evie and I were a bit confused. I think we were expecting a more obvious "gaming scene", but Google Maps took us to an entrance near a Bass Pro Shops. We could've rolled initiative with the stuffed animals, but instead we decided to keep hunting around.


Our first view of the convention... a convention being held in an abandoned Boscov's. Weird! So, so weird! But it kinda worked. Actually, it would've been a great place to run some zombie games. 


Our first game Saturday morning was Mutant Crawl Classics. I decided to run my oceanic hex crawl Nothing's Free in Oceanworld. Here, Judge Evie helps me set up my table.


I had a great group of players for this event, including a pair of folks from Canada and a brand new, first time RPG'er. WOOT! 


While I ran MCC, Judge Brendan was busy running DCC nearby. Since she had played in my adventure before, Evie decided to hang at the cool kids table.


We had a two hour break between sessions, so we checked into our hotel across the street from the mall. Here was our view of the mall from our room. If you see the department store entrance at 9 o'clock on this picture, that's the entrance to the con. There was also an RV convention going on at the same time. We debated checking it out.


I was scheduled to run Children of the Fallen Sun at 4:30 on Saturday. But there were a lot of open seats at a lot of tables, so I wanted to show off a bit. Hence this swank display of awesomeness.


Unfortunately the swank display didn't work. Here's the busiest our table got. Zero players. ZERO! This was only the second time that I had ever been stood up at a convention. The first time was way back at my very first convention in 1996 (EpiCon at Lehigh University). 


Even Judge Evie's sweet dance moves couldn't attract players.


At least Brendan had a full table, and was busy running a rousing game of Xcrawl. 


The scene from the con, right about when we called it quits and packed up.


We needed to find something else to do!


Holy crap, is this The Long Dark? 


Phew! It was just Bass Pro Shops.


It was here that Judge Evie discovered the love of her life. 


After bouncing around the mall a bit more, we scooped up Judge Brendan and headed for the Lancaster Brewing Company pub. Wow, that was a great meal! The pretzel was great. The edamame were great. The pizza was great. Brendan said his salmon caesar salad was great. The bread pudding was knock down, drag out phenomenal. 

Pretty much everything, including the beers, were incredible.... with the exception of the Shoe Fly Porter. Brendan ordered a flight of different beers, and both he and I sampled the hot mess that was the pie-inspired beer. Steer clear of that one!


After going to sleep at 9pm and waking up at the crack of 7am, Evie and I lounged around and played on my SNES Classic. Mostly Street Fighter II, but a little Super Castlevania IV, a tid bit of Secret of Mana, and some Mario Kart.


Uh oh... another day, and another empty table. I couldn't get any players for Shadow Under Devil's Reef. Evie tried super hard to recruit, but we just couldn't get anyone to stick around longer than to have a brief chat. 

Actually, this was a bit of a trend at the con. There seemed to be more GM's than players at times. 


But what Save Against Fear lacked in DCC players, it made up for in breakdancing Brendan LaSalle's. 


Look at him go!


Holy cow, he's doing a flip!


After packing up our DCC stuff, I did a bit more shopping. I found a slightly used copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess at a used bookstore in the mall for $15. Sold!


I also bought a whole set of Chrono Trigger bead art to put up on my wall or shelf. Big purchase of the con!


Then it was time for Brendan's DCC session, an adventure call the Tavern at Five Points. It was also time for a heaping mess o' Taco Bell. 


I've been hanging with Brendan at cons for several years now, but this was the very first time that I've ever been at his table as a player. All I've got to say is "WOW, you need to get your self to one of his tables!" 


I played a lawful Dwarf named Vengefulio, who carried a bunch of weapons that were also named. Like his battleaxe "Gwendylin" or his crossbow "Elsa" (let it go!)

Unfortunately we figured out early on that "Vengefulio" is Italian for "friendly fire." I sure hurt a lot of other party members during our session with some truly poor rolling.


In the end it all worked out. If my 10:30 game hadn't been cancelled, I never would've had the opportunity to play in Brendan's 12:30 session. 

After the game was over, we called it a day. We said some goodbyes, grabbed some Sheetz coffee, and took Brendan back to the airport. 

Although 2/3 of my games didn't get off the ground, I think we learned some valuable lessons at this small, regional convention:

1) There is always good gaming to be had, you just have to find it.

2) If possible, bring a posse with you to the convention so that you will have a few extra gamers on hand.

3) Schedule your games at the same times as those of your friends. That way, if one of your games cancels, you can join the other.

4) Whatever you do, if you are at Save Against Fear in the future, and its at the same abandoned Boscov's in the Harrisburg Mall, DO NOT use the bathroom in the back of the area. Take the long walk to the Bass Pro Shop and use their bathroom instead. 

Happy gaming folks!




Sunday, September 16, 2018

Banished to the Purple Planet - Part Nine


Under a Weirdling Sun


Peril on the Purple Planet is an epic DCCRPG box set devised by +Harley Stroh. The adventure is a hex crawl, so player characters get to explore a completely open and lush world. Characters must discover artifacts, make alliances, battle terrifying worms, and sustain the deadly sun's rays if they are to ever make their way back home.

Care to hear about this week's banishment? Read on!

Previous Tales of the Banished


The Banished


  • Marc
    • Nutbiter, Manimal 
    • Andy
      • Ssof Rehtaf, Cleric
      • Alex
        • Nicodemus, Thief
      • Jonata
        • Otto, Warrior

      Banished to the Purple Planet - Part Nine - The Rock Awakens, Part Three


      Day 9

      Time to wrap up our campaign's final session of The Rock Awakens, by Terry Olson! 

      • Our session began with Screaming Otto rejoining the party investigating the ancient and abandoned city. Nutbiter the Manimal, Ssof the Cleric of Aristemis, and Nicodemus the Thief had already spent much of the day questing about town.
      • The party was inside of a triangular building on the northern edge of town. The first circular room contained the control panel for the laser drones hovering outside of the building. Two stairwells led down from the room.
      • The party chose to travel down the eastern stairwell. Nutbiter led the way, and they found themselves in a storage room. The manimal searched the room a bit, recovering a few weird metal plates covered in diagrams. 
      • Ssof arrived on the scene just as a silent sphere appeared behind Nutbiter. Apparently, the guardian drone wasn't keen on the manimal pilfering from the structure. The drone blasted Nutbiter before the party was able to charge in and engage in combat. Screaming Otto lopped off one of the drone's weapons, and the party finished it off before it could fire again. 
      • Nutbiter searched the top of the drone, hoping to dig out some treasure. Unfortunately he set off a trap, getting further blasted. At least there was a greenstone shard powering the device. 
      • The part then traveled to the west into another nearby chamber. Inside they found a bizarre stone door in the floor. Laying next to the stone door was a dead Kith, an obvious victim to the prior room's drone. Nicodemus searched the Kith, and found him clutching a Bronze Skull Mace of Heavy Doom.
      • Bronze Skull Mace of Heavy Doom
        • Two Handed Weapon
        • Requires a Strength of 14 to wield
        • Attack rolls made at -1d
        • 1d16 damage
        • Vibrating head, with the bronze outer casing concealing a bizarre, otherworldly metal on the inside. 
      • The party made their way to the final chamber of the structure. Inside, they saw an eight-foot tall alien figure, covered in interstellar images and scenes, resting inside of a stasis field. The circular room was adorned in weird symbols and shapes. The stasis field had a button at its base. The party toggled the button, and the void creature was free!
      • The void creature was also really, really pissed off. Immediately it howled at the party, causing them much distress. It them transformed its hands into pointy speartips, and started a stabbing rampage. Poor Otto got a stabby-hand to his groin! 
      • The party seemed fairly unsuccessful in direct combat with the void creature. But Nutbiter hatched a plan to encase the creature in the stasis field again. Pushing it back into the field's range, Ssof pressed the button again, pinning the legs and lower torso of the creature within the energy barrier.
      • The creature's continued screaming incapacitated Otto (how ironic), and the entire structure started to shake violently. The party grabbed their warrior, and fled the building.
      • As they ran outside, Ssof healed Otto, and the group ran as far as they could from the triangular building. They needed to get outside of the city itself, as it appeared that the entire complex was rising into the sky. The city had been situated atop a great, stone, tentacled flying creature. 
      • The party jumped away from the city in one final leap just before the entire structure rose up and flew towards the Ancestor Peaks.
      • Fortunately, in the crater left behind, the party found 19 greenstone shards amongst the rubble.  

      Quotes


      "I don't think you intended it, but when you named the genie Brandon, all I can think is 'Brendan LeSalle'." - Marc. 

      "... and how many hit points would a dead Cleric give you? None!" - Andy defends his character's choice to hide in the lamp during the last battle. 

      "I'm back man!" - Screaming Otto back in combat.

      "Terry Olson is a d***. I'm not buying any more of his s***!" - Alex felt this adventure may have been a bit challenging. He expressed it with this phrase. (Please note, Mr. Olson, that this was stated entirely in jest, and with full knowledge that I was writing down quotes.) 

      "I know what she do with the dice!" - Jonata to Evie, rolling the last attack roll against Screaming Otto. 

      In Memoriam 

      • None this game

      Saturday, September 15, 2018

      Mutant Friday Special - Session 1

      (Photo by Shannon, featuring her dear plastic fish friend "Stephen")

      A hot, mutated mess!


      Over the next few months I'll be running a heck of a lot of Mutant Crawl Classics at some local conventions in eastern PA. Most notably PAX Unplugged and Save Against Fear. To fully prepare myself for these events, I wanted to run some playtests with local friends and family over the course of the next several weeks. Last night I tried the first of these playtests, and holy crap we had some challenges!

      First and foremost, just prior to the start of the game, I had a weird allergic reaction. Not sure if something bit my lip, or if I was having a late food allergy reaction to the tempeh I had eaten, but the left side of my upper lip started swelling up. I also felt a bit of tightness in my mouth and throat, and I kinda freaked out. So I took a pair of Benedryl, and soldiered on. 

      Unfortunately, the two beers I had earlier in the night, coupled with the anti-histamine, really weighed on my stamina. About an hour into the game and I was getting sleepy. Two hours in I was really dragging. I was really struggling. 

      To make matters worse, my players (most notably my wife Jen) really derailed the adventure. Typically I can rebound from whenever players throw me curveballs, but last night my exhaustion got the better of me. Still, by the end of the game we had a good enough time to schedule next week's event, and hopefully I'll be steering clear of rogue insects and fermented soy beans.

      Max mutants


      Another interesting tidbit about last night's game was the near complete lack of pure strain human PC's. Take a look at our players and their 0-level characters:

      • Rachel
        • Barbara - Pure Strain Human
        • Spoompls - Mutant
        • Dankenstein - Plantient
      • Shannon
        • Randel - Mutant
        • Violet - Plantient
        • Tivian - Manimal
      • Jen
        • Yor Bestfrend - Manimal
        • Keila Kween - Mutant
        • Fajt Bastud - Mutant
      • Carrie
        • Coco - Mutant
        • Griffin - Manimal
        • Perry - Plantient
      • Evie
        • Heckboy - Mutant
        • Too-Xtruh - Mutant
        • AMP - Mutant

      Check that count: 15 PC's, 8 mutants, 3 manimals, 3 plantients, and just 1 pure-strain human. What the heck? 

      Adventure Summary


      For this session, I tried running The Museum at the End of Time by MCCRPG creator Judge Jim Wampler. This would mark the third time I had run the adventure, but first time that I twisted the setting to fit another version of Terra AD. In the adventure as written, the story takes place with PC's setting out across a great glowing desert in search of technology of the ancient ones. In my setting (which we should just call Mutant Paranoia Alpha for "reasons" that shall be disclosed later) the adventure begins in the small, jungle village of Portoa, part of the Clan of Cog and ruled by Chief Quelish. 

      The PC's were prepared to set out on their Rite of Passage, given to them by Chief Quelish. Their mission would be to travel out from the village, across the Snake River and into the Glowing Jungle. After passing beneath the sky road (a great stone road elevated above the ground by big pillars), they would possibly find some great structures created by the ancient ones, and more importantly, artifacts that would help defend Portoa from the rival village Shen. 

      The party crossed the river, and started moving through the jungle. Within an hour, they heard a yodeling. To help find the source, Spoompls sent out her psychic rat friend to look for the source. Sure enough, a half dozen shroom-head zombies waited for the party on the other side of some bushes. Shroom-head zombies were corpses of poor pure strain humans and mutants who had become infested by semi-sentient mushroom spore. The bodies were dead, but driven like vehicles by the mushroom colonies. The team could've quietly circumvented the shroom-head zombies, but instead Heckboy started blowing his conch trumpet. This sent the undead into a rage.

      The zombies were far stronger than the village initiates expected. Untested in combat, mutant after mutant missed on their attack rolls against the undead. It wasn't until Too-Xtruhh offered a piece of shiny material to the zombies, that the fighting ceased. Once distracted, the team slinked away, continuing their trek through the jungle.

      Next on their journey, the party found a weird green structure with a hole at its base. The hole lead to an enormous chamber hidden below the ground. This seemed like an obvious source of glory and riches. Perhaps within this chamber, fabulous artifacts of the ancient ones awaited, ripe to rival even those that could be found in the Citiadel far, far away.

      Nope.

      Yor was able to convince the party that there wasn't anything good here, and that they didn't have enough rope to climb down (even though they did), and the team skipped the hole. 

      I should note that this was the start of The Museum at the End of Time. Typically I could figure out a way to better pique the interest of the players to continue down the intended path. But the Benedryl/Beer combo was really killing me at this point, and my lip was still swollen. I was definitely off my game something fierce! 

      The party continued traveling until they hit a wall. A giant cliff that stretched high into the sky, past the clouds, and as far as the eye could see to the left and right. Spoompls sent out her rat, which discovered that within the cracks of the wall were a series of hidden pipes and tubes. Tinkering with the wall, a hovering viewscreen appeared.

      Calling itself LARS, the hovering screen seemed disinterested in revealing any information to any of the characters at first. LARS stated that it was there to serve the "colonists". It stated that the PC's were "pets" and not colonists. But Too-Xtruhh's mutations were quite mild, and the near-human was able to convince the bot that he was a colonist. LARS revealed the following pieces of interesting information:

      • LARS stood for "Light Assistant Robotic Servant"
      • LARS was created to assist colonists
      • The world that the PC's lived on was referred to as "Habitat 3". 
      • The four directions (north, south, east, and west) were referred to as Clock, Counter, Shield, and Bell).
      • Portoa village was Counter to the party's current facing. Shen was Bellward. The great Citadel was Counterbellward.

      Eventually the party tried tinkering with the mechanisms of LARS and broke the bot. They continuously tinkered with it until it exploded killing a third of the party. Oops.

      Around this time I was super sleepy and I tried calling it a night. I told the group that they had missed the main part of the adventure, and I was about to go into a coma. But I was prompted to keep going, so I revealed that the big green hole was the main part of the adventure. So the party backtracked. Not the most organic way to railroad the players, but oh well, I was so, so sleepy!

      As to the actual adventure portion of The Museum at the End of Time, the party managed to climb down into the chamber. The climb cost Fajt Bastud his life, when he tried to act super cool to a fossilized dinosaur that he encountered during the descent. The chamber had five sets of doors, the two fossils, a lot of interesting scenes on the walls, and a dead, mummified corpse on the ground. The corpse yielded a pair of artifacts, one of which was destroyed (a gun) during investigation. The party recovered the comm badge though.

      At this point, I let the PC's level up for our next session. 

      Quotes


      "My person's not a yogurt, its a tiger-worm." - Shannon 

      "Barbara from finance knows what she's doing." - Rachel

      Character Crematorium


      • Heckboy
      • Too-Xtruh
      • Perry
      • Keila Kween
      • Fajt Bastud
      • Tivian
      • Barbara


      Sunday, September 9, 2018

      Road Crew Event - Shadow Under Devil's Reef, Part 1



      Damn, I love this module!

      Back at Gary Con, my wife Jennifer and I had the opportunity to play Jon Hook's Shadow Under Devil's Reef with the incredible Judge Jeff Goad. The other worldly creepiness of this adventure was so, so good, and I knew that I wanted to run it for my own group at some point. While I never felt rushed during Judge Jeff's four hour event, I knew that there was a lot more to the adventure that you couldn't explore in a short convention setting. Fortunately I had a group that was looking for yet another challenge: our monthly DCC Road Crew Group!

      I remember how nervous I was back in June about moving back to the Philly area. Would I be able to continue running Road Crew events, or would I only be able to play online games? How lucky we are to have found the Games Keep, and such terrific players! Our open table now includes seven players, and we're four sessions into something that has transformed from a one-shot into a full-fledged campaign.



      Cast of Characters

      • Larkin, Elf, played by Shannon
        • Glassblower by trade, whose magic is derived through careful use of lenses, crystals, and light. 
        • Native of the Eastern Forest.
        • Owns a prized hen.
        • Seeks the Great Pumpkin as a patron
      • Turd Fergeson, played by Ryan
        • Faithful servant of Amon-Tor, goddess of mysteries.
        • Originally from Earth. 
        • Has possession of an endless suite of one-liners to fit every occasion.
      • Marco, Thief, played by Cody
        • Born and raised in Black Sand Port.
        • Tried to join the Thieves Guild, but was too rebellious. 
        • Learned several alien alphabets from his former Guildmaster's secret library. 
      • Steve James, Wizard, played by Will
        • Earth native who left home, joined the French Foreign Legion, fell into the DCC Planet, and became a great wizard.
        • Father of Steve James II (evil Cult Wizard, RIP) and grandfather of Steve James III (lost teen who wanted to discover his family, RIP)
        • Specializes in all-fish magic (Ichthyomancer).
      • Tonya, Warrior, played by Robert
        • Badass figure skater from Earth. 
        • Wields a big-ass sword, and not afraid to cut you with it. 
      • Lars, Dwarf, played by Rob
        • Human from Earth who was transformed into a Dwarf after traveling to the DCC Planet.
        • Seeks entrance into the CCPR (Card Carrying Punk Rockers) but needs to complete three acts of legendary vandalism.
      • Bueno, Cleric, played by Evie
        • Gender-shifting villager from Reed who was a simple hireling trying to save some of their friends from the Crimson Flame before gaining Clerical powers. 
        • Twisted worshipper of the froglike Bobugbubulz.
        • Extremely chaotic.



      Adventure Overview

      The party left the village of Reed for the biggest little city on the eastern coast: Black Sand Port. After spending a few weeks resting up at Steve James' favorite inn and tavern, the Sleeping Salmon, the team awoke to terrible news. The Golden Sun, a diplomatic vessel from far away Fu-Lamia, had run aground on the cursed Devil's Reef just off of Devil's Horn Island. The ship had been carrying Princess Kaeko, daughter of Lord Takkeh-Luum, and betrothed to a member of Black Sand Port's most wealthy Merchant Lords. With storms on the horizon, no sane search party could leave until the following morning.

      Fortunately for the princess, our brave adventurers are not a sane search party!

      Steve James had a friend (the Shrimpmistress) with a ship (the Jumbo Shrimp) who could take the party to Devil's Horn Island. Marco forged a document from the city's Burgomaster granting passage, which was easily accepted by Captain Shrimpmistress. 

      The party "knew" some interesting rumors about the Devil's Horn and Fu-Lamia:


      • Sirens live on the island, and the sirens try to cause ships to crash upon the Devil's Reef.
      • Fu-Lamian soldiers wield soul stealing magic curved swords.
      • Devil's Horn island is completely inhospitable and craggy, and nothing lives there (hmm... doesn't mesh with the Sirens, right?)
      • Lord Takkeh-Luum is a vampire who has lived over a thousand years. 
      • Fu-Lamians eat the children of their enemies. 


      After outfitting themselves for the excursion, Lars and Steve James needed just a few more items (most notably chum) before leaving port. The pair encountered a couple of tough sailors who questioned why they would be leaving with dangerous weather on the horizon. Steve James tried blasting the two with a sleep spell, but misfired and went into a coma. But Lars was able to produce the forged documents, which got the two out of hot water.

      Once everything was prepared, the party set out to sea on the Shrimpmistress's catamaran. After several hours they came across Devil's Horn Island. Circling the rocky landmass, the adventurers found the wreck of the Golden Sun just off the northern coastline of the isle. As they approached they found five survivors floating in the water. Despite sharks in the water, the party saved three of the five Fu-Lamians. One was eaten by sharks, and another was killed when Tonya accidentally hit him too hard with a wooden life-preserver. 

      The party brought the Jumbo Shrimp up alongside the wreck of the Golden Dawn. Everyone except Lars and Tonya boarded the foreign craft. Marco was first aboard, and the thief started searching the forward deck. At the tip of the bow was a great, wooden, six-armed, statue of a demon-woman. Rather than looking out to the waves, the statue looked upon the deck of the ship. When Marco went to pilfer some of the goods from the dead Fu-Lamians on the deck, the statue leveled one of its arms at Marco. The thief stopped, and the rest of the party started searching the vessel.

      There was a lot of great gear on the ship. Gold, treasure, gear, weapons, and lots, lots more. But every time someone went near any of the stuff with intent on taking it, the statue moved in a threatening way. Eventually Marco touched one of the ornate boxes on the ship, and the statue had enough. It resurrected all of the dead Fu-Lamians, turning them into raging, red demon-things. The party had no chance of facing off with twelve of the nasties, so they fled the ship. Marco managed to take a few pieces of treasure, including the enchanted Demon's Claw (a magic +2 Scimitar). But other than that, the party seemed empty handed.

      Until Larkin introduced her new friend Wani.

      Wani was a Psi-Spider, a telepathic creature that was bound to Princess Kaeko. Larkin discovered Wani hiding in the princess's quarters. It revealed that the princess was not on board the craft, and that she had been taken to the island. It offered to help the party, but it first it needed to feed. Marco introduced the Psi-Spider to one of the Fu-Lamians, and the creature sucked some of the poor screaming soul's intelligence away for lunch.

      Eventually the party made landfall on the western edge of Devil's Horn Island. They set out through the dead coral forest, but not before feeling some alien intelligence reach out to them. The weird message first affected the cleric Turn, whose eyes started to bulge out in a bizarre fish-like fashion. As the party explored the island, the message would also affect Tonya, Steve James, and Marco. 

      Speaking of fish-eyed weirdness, during their trek across Devil's Horn Island the team came across four disgusting fish-men. Covered in scales, spines, and other bizarre aquatic features, the four were on the hunt for "something" or "someone". Quickly, Marco and Tonya hatched a plot to ambush the fish-men. Marco snuck in and backstabbed one of the fishmen, while Tonya charged in brandishing her greatsword, swung at the air, and ran right out of the fight. Fortunately for the party's thief, the rest of the group waded into combat slaying the rest of the fish-men. By the time Tonya turned around, none of the beasties remained.

      The next encounter on the island was a great onyx door attached to a massive coral tree. There was no handle or obvious knob on the door, just a pair of large, star shaped dials. Larkin consulted Wani, asking of the door led to the Princess. The Psi-Spider concurred that her bond with the princess was strong, and that she could sense her mistress on the other side of the door. Based on forbidden knowledge gained while studying at the thieves guild, Marco knew the runes on the dials: they depicted the stars "Celaeno" and "Polaris." But when Marco uttered the words, he was overtaken by alien knowledge, and had to struggle to keep hold of his mind. 

      Thinking that they would need star shaped keys, the party left the door, and continued searching the island.

      On the western edge of the island the party discovered a great, thirty-food tall onyx pillar. After a lot of fooling around with the pillar (and the ruby atop the pillar), the party made some very important observations:


      • Touching the weird structure caused a loss of intelligence and stamina, but delivered insight on how to use the alien machines on the island, including the onyx door.
      • It was next to impossible to steal the giant ruby, and attempting to do so would invoke lightning bolts. One of which nearly killed Steve James.
      • No matter how hard you try to ram the obelisk, even if you are a really tough ex-figure skater named Tonya, you can't knock it over. 


      With the understanding of how to open the door in the coral tree, the party decided to leave the pillar alone, and rest before their next task. 

      Quotes

      Crap I forgot to take any!


      Open Story Points

      • What is on the other side of the great, onyx door? 
      • What kind of alien intelligence caused the party members to grow bulging, fishy eyes, and what is its ultimate goal?
      • Does Steve James actually want to become a fish? Because with all this alien stuff and his own spell corruption, the party's ichthyomancer is headed down that path. 

      Character Crematorium 
      • None this game!

      What's Next?

      That's easy: Shadow Under Devil's Reef Part Deux!

      Sunday, August 19, 2018

      Xcrawl - Dungeonbattle Delco



      Xcrawl in Delaware County!


      When it comes to legendary 1980's cinema, you can't do any better than The Running Man. Dystopian future meets gory game show meets Arnold Schwarzenegger. Damn... it's just so good! But did you know that you can have that same feel at your gaming table? Well, if you are a Dungeon Crawl Classics gamer, I'm sure you know all about Brendan LaSalle's Xcrawl!

      I fell in love with the Xcrawl universe after running Dungeonbattle Brooklyn as a fund-raising event for Lawful Good Gaming. Putting on my best Richard Dawson impersonation, microphone in hand I ran my players through a invigorating evening of deadly game-show antics! Ever since, I've had the itch to run more Xcrawl, and perhaps even write my own Dungeonbattle. 

      Behold, it is complete.

      I really wanted to run Dungeonbattle Brooklyn for some of my friends here in the Philly area, but I thought that a 0-level funnel would be easier to start them into the world of Dungeon Crawl Classics. But there aren't any 0-level funnels for Xcrawl on the market. I needed to make one. 

      So let's do this.


      My Favorite Dystopia


      I should note that I tend to inject a ton of pop culture into my games. Well, I'm not stopping with this adventure! Granted, feel free to run this using the standard setting out of Maximum Xcrawl, but if you want to run this adventure MY WAY, here's some fun tidbits to add:


      • The game takes place 1d3 years from now. So right now its 2018, which means the adventure takes place between 2019-2021. Just roll. 
      • Whatever year you roll, whatever outlandish newfangled technology you think is going to exist by then (iPhone XV, Gluten Eradication Rays, Universal Healthcare), go ahead and give it a 1980's spin. I mean, its the future, but just a future that would've been imagined in 1988. Go watch Total Recall if you need some help. Or Road House. 
      • Replace Emperor Reagan with Emperor Drumpf. I mean... it's pretty much the way things are headed, right? 
      • 80% of the backstories of the following movies/TV shows have actually happened:
        • Bright
        • Blade Runner
        • Best of the Best 2
        • Robocop
        • Escape from New York/Escape from LA (but with 300% more demihumans in LA)
        • Dirty Dancing
        • Snowpierer (no need to have all the snow, but maybe just the train?)
        • SeaQuest DSV
        • Red Dawn (but with Orcs or something)
        • The Fast and the Furious
        • Whatever else you want to add
      • Players who show up to the table eating food that is clearly from Wawa gain 1d3 points of Luck. 


      Dungeonbattle Delco


      Dungeonbattle Delco is a zero-level or first level adventure set in the Xcrawl universe. For those unfamiliar with the term, "Delco" is short for Delaware County, located just southwest of Philadelphia. It just so happens that this is where our family moved a couple of months back, and we are acclimating to the area and learning all the lingo (and the accent!). What better way to fulling immerse ourselves in the region than by setting our next adventure right here! 

      To make this Dungeonbattle a fully Philly experience, I decided to throw in a ton of local references. Feel free to use what I've got here, or toss in some of your own favorite hometown features. 

      Dungeonbattle Delco, also known as the "First Annual Wawa Classic Hoagie Classic", is a Division IV, non-lethal event that takes place in the brand new Xcrawl Semi-Pro Event Center (XSPEC) in the Springfield Mall next to the Target. DJ (Dungeon Judge) Pat Fiorino, a prominent Philly native and popular restaurateur, opened the Dungeonbattle Delco recently as both a sporting complex and dinner theater. Kind of like a Medieval Times, but with much more violence. DJ Pat dreams of running Division III, full-lethal events at the Springfield Mall, but for the time being he's only sanctioned to run amateur, college, and semi-pro level Xcrawl events. 

      The Xcrawl complex has done well over the last few months, and DJ Pat saw an opportunity to really kick the experience up a notch with outside corporate sponsorship. Wawaand to a much lesser extent Scott Kia of Springfield, have all teamed up with DJ Pat to make the First Annual Wawa Classic Hoagie Classic the best Division IV non-lethal event ever. 

      If all goes well, perhaps the Second Annual Wawa Classic Hoagie Classic will be full-lethal!


      Characters


      Fair warning: I'm going a little crazy with what I'll be allowing in this Xcrawl campaign. I wanted to use not only the core DCC classes, but also the Mutant and Manimal from Mutant Crawl Classics and the Athlete form the Goodman Games Gen Con 2016 Program Guide

      All characters roll for both occupation and race. 

      Philly Occupation List

      Roll 1d30Occupation
      1Possessed by the Ghost of Ben Franklin
      2College Dropout
      3Acme Deli Employee
      4Wawa Clerk
      5Colonial Reenactor
      6Action News Reporter
      7SEPTA Worker
      8Amtrak Cop
      9Ballroom Dancer
      10Bookie
      11Mob Collector
      12Museum Curator
      13Full Time Sports Fan
      14Cheese Steak Artist
      15Roadside Pretzel Vendor
      16Cab Driver
      17Historic Carriage Driver
      18Tourist
      19University Professor
      20Hair Stylist
      21Sleazy Lawyer
      22Local Theater Celebrity
      23Haunted Prison Guard
      24Casino Host
      25Car Salesperson
      26Has-Been Boxer
      27Dive Bartender
      28Swim Club Lifeguard
      29Former Eagle
      30Friggin' Asshole

      PC Starting Race

      Roll 2d6RaceClasses Allowed
      2ManimalAs per Mutant Crawl Classics
      3ManimalAs per Mutant Crawl Classics
      4HalflingAs per DCC Corebook or Crawl!
      5DwarfAthlete, Cleric, Ranger, Thief, Warrior, Wizard
      6HumanAthlete, Cleric, Ranger, Thief, Warrior, Wizard
      7HumanAthlete, Cleric, Ranger, Thief, Warrior, Wizard
      8HumanAthlete, Cleric, Ranger, Thief, Warrior, Wizard
      9ElfAs per DCC Corebook or Crawl!
      10OrcAs per Crawl! 5
      11MutantAs per Mutant Crawl Classics
      12MutantAs per Mutant Crawl Classics

      PC Classes


      ClassSource
      AthleteGoodman Games Program Guide 2015
      ClericDCC Rulebook
      DwarfDCC Rulebook
      Dwarven PriestCrawl! No. 10
      Elf DCC Rulebook
      Elf RogueCrawl! No. 10
      Halfling ChampionCrawl! No. 10
      Halfling Burglar Crawl! No. 10
      ManimalMCC Rulebook
      MutantMCC Rulebook
      OrcCrawl! No. 5
      RangerCrawl! No. 6
      ThiefDCC Rulebook
      WarriorDCC Rulebook
      WizardDCC Rulebook


      PC Actors

      As per the original Xcrawl rules, every player should choose an actor or actress to play their character in the game. Should the player choose a famous actor from the Philadelphia area, they get +1 Luck. Should they pick Bradley Cooper they get +2 Luck. 

      Don't tell the players about this until after they've all selected their characters. Also, it only counts before anyone knows the rules. But if someone thinks that they can game the system, and finds out about this prior to the adventure (spoiler alert not given), they get -1 Luck. -1d7 Luck if they try to pick Sylvester Stallone hoping to game the system. Stallone may have been Rocky, but he's from New York. 


      Dungeonbattle Rules


      DJ Pat and the sponsors for the Springfield Mall XSPEC event have collaborated in coming up with fun and exciting rules for this event, even if there would be no "planned" lethality. 

      Division IV Non-Lethal: This event is a non-lethal, semi-pro/amateur event. Weapons are limited, and killing blows are not condoned. Should a PC, NPC, or intelligent monster be reduced to 0 hitpoints, a medic will appear from a No-Go door and make an attempt to administer first aid in the form of a healing potion. In addition, only the following weapons are sanctioned:

      • Blackjack 
      • Club
      • Nerf Bow (Like a short bow, but Nerf. Seriously, it does no damage. In the hands of a warrior or dwarf with a deed die, or on a critical, it could come in handy)
      • Sling
      • Staff
      • Unarmed

      It should be noted that the event is nonlethal for both PC's and NPC's, and that includes any Kobolds. Killing of anyone will involve in immediate disqualification. 

      Splash Zones: DJ Pat's event maximizes the use of water elements called "Splash Zones." Should a PC find themselves submerged in a splash zone they have a 1 round to remove themselves (typically a DC 10 Strength check to climb out) or they will be disqualified. Zero level characters are out of the event. 1st level characters can return to the next area so long as the team makes it through.

      Commercial Breaks: For my event, I prepared a list of great commercials to show on YouTube. I was inspired by Judge Michael Bolam's use of a commercial break at Gen Con. If you want to use my commercials, here you go. Just follow that link and enjoy! For best effect, run 3 commercials after each Area.

      [DJ's Fun Fact: Wanna make this event more lethal? Like Division III? Just go and electrify those pools of water! DC 15 Fortitude Save or take 3d6 Stamina damage? How does that sound?]

      Sorry, this is as good as I get with mapping.

      Area 1: Kobold Alley 


      After field reporter Katie Lynn interviews the PC's in the green room, its time to get started. The adventurers walk into a 100' by 50' arena, surrounded by spectators eating their dinners. That's right, it's dinner theater time! A miniature castle is situated on the far end of the chamber. This opening scene separates the heroes and monsters from the spectators by just a thin net. Fortunately, there's not much danger ahead, but a lot of opportunities to test some basic skills.

      Before the scene, DJ Pat accounts the PC's, and thanks the Media, PA based Media DelKobold Club for creating this very first challenge. He also reminds everyone that this is a non-lethal event, and that goes for the DelKobolds as well. 



      • A small troupe of DelKobolds defend the miniature castle on the far end of the room. Unlike typical Kobolds, DelKobolds are shorter, feistier, and capable of hurling vicious insults. They specialize in guilt trips.  
        • DelKobold: Init +2; Atk club (+0 melee, 1d4 dmg) or sling (+1 ranged, 1d4 dmg); AC 12; HD 1d4; MV 20; Act 1d20; SP infravision 100'; SV Fort -2; Ref +1; Will -2; AL N.
        • DelKobold Boss: As DelKobold, but with 3d4 HP.
      • 8 DelKobolds guard the castle, with a DelKobold Boss at the very top armed with a sling. The b
      • There are 3 tiers to the castle, each approximately 5' high. So the top is only 15' off the ground. 
      • A buzzer is at the top, guarded by the boss. On the second tier are 4 of the DelKobolds armed with clubs. On the third tier (closest to the ground, are another 4 DelKobolds.
      • The PC's start unarmed, and unarmored.
      • The goal of the room is to make it to the top of the castle, and hit a buzzer. This opens a door in the side of Kobold Alley, to break room and another pair of doors, one to Area 2, the other to Area 3.
      • In the break area, the PC's can select a club, staff, or Nerf Bow if they haven't grabbed one already. They also get a Wawa iced latte that heals 2d5 HP when they drink it. 

      Area 2: Hang the Soul (by Scott Kia in Springfield)


      Much like the famous TV show Climbing for Dollars, Hang the Soul requires a great bit of hanging... and climbing. It also features really angry bats! The room is a 50' wide, circular chamber, with a pit of wooder (water) at the bottom. A small ramp leads the PC's to a series of 10 ropes. At the top of the 40' high chamber there is an Xcrawl Edition Kia Soul hanging from the ceiling. 



      The goal of the Area is to climb up the ropes and get into the car, turning the ignition. The first to succeed wins the car.




      • This sounds easier than it is. To get to the car requires 2 DC 5 climbing checks up the rope. Failure means falling into the water below, which could be a disqualification (although getting out of the water is pretty easy, given that the ropes are dangling above, only a DC 5). 
      • Once a PC reaches the Kia Soul, a whole mess of endorsement covered bats fly out from above the vehicle, harassing the PC's. Treat as a Bat Swarm from the DCC rulebook, page 396.
      • First person to startle the bats needs to make a DC 12 Will save. 
      • Attacking the bat swarm is hard while climbing ropes. -1d to any attacks with one handed melee weapons. Using a two handed weapon is next to impossible (-3d). 
      • Once in the car, the PC's need to find the key fob. They can look in any area of the car that they want, each search requiring an action. Keep things in initiative order.
      • The key fob is located behind the left passenger seat, taped to the upholstery.  
      • After 2 rounds of searching, the car will immediately drop into the water below, and will start flooding with water. 
      • Note: There could be random sweet swag at the bottom of the water. 
      • The PC's will need to act quickly. After another 2 rounds the car is flooded, and the players are at risk of drowning! 
      • Fortunately there are scuba diving dolphin manimals who can assist before anyone dies, but being saved by scuba dolphins means disqualification). 
      • First PC to turn the ignition wins the car! 

      Area 3: Cross the Crick 




      The PC's face a chasm with a great, bubbling river running down the middle. Immediately across the chasm, the PC's see another door. Unfortunately the gap is over 30' away. There are several raised platforms in the room as well, each holding wonderful prizes! Unfortunately, a great mutated calamari slime lurks in the river, and it is quite irate. 





      • First let's talk about the two raised platforms. Each is 20' high, greased with olive oil, and very hard to climb (DC 20 without some kind of assistance). The check is required for both the climb up and the climb down, and falling is a serious risk.
        • The northern platform has a front loading washer/dryer combo from Best Buy.
        • The southern platform has a six-pack of Wawa brand Healing Seltzers (1d6 HP).
      • The doorway leading out of the chamber is also raised, but not greased. It's just a DC 10 to climb up.
      • The river is quick moving, but situated in the center is the great calamari slime. Anyone entering the 10' river will be attacked by the slime's tentacles automatically. Battling the slime is difficult, but possible. Crossing the river without attacking the slime would be easiest, but requires some kind of teamwork.
        • Calamari Slime: Init +0; Atk tentacle +3 melee (1d3 damage); AC 15 in the water, 5 out of the water; HD 5d8; MV 30' in the water 5' out of the water; Act 5d20; SP slime has a Strength of 18 (+3) and will try to drag PC's into the water. As per the Dungeonbattle rules, the victim has 1 round to get out of the water. SV Ref -1; Fort +3; Will +0 AL N

      Area 4: Pick a Prize by Wawa




      Just a really nice place to take a quick break and win some fabulous prizes! Katie Lynn shows up and interviews each of the PC's to see how they are enjoying the events so far. Also, they are asked if they want to say hello to anyone back home on the AVS (arcane video screen). Once the pleasantries are done, there is a word from the sponsor, and then the PC's get to choose to open one door each (or opt not to). 





      • Door #1: a hot Wawa chicken sandwich, served by an irate Wawa clerk who wanted to be on the show. Her name's Tina. When the character tries to take the sandwich, she punches him in the face (Atk +2, she's strong! 1d3 damage). She's kicked out of the show, but the damage remains. The sandwich grants 1d5 hit points.
      • Door #2: $500 in cash!
      • Door #3: Trap! The door doesn't open easily, but when the PC tries to pull a second time (or mess with the door) it falls on top of them. DC 12 Reflex Save or get crushed for 1d4 damage. While the door is on top of the PC, Katie Lynn stands on top of the door (another 1d2 damage) and does a word from a sponsor of choice (let one of the players pick... heck, let them do the commercial if they want!)
      • Door #4: $500 of free play at Harrah's Casino Philadelphia in Chester. 
      • Door #5: Trap! It looks like a gift wrapped box from Hot Topic, but when the PC tries to open it, they find that it's an explosive filled with thumbtacks! DC 10 Reflex save, or everyone behind the door (Katie Lynn is not standing nearby) takes 1d3 damage. 
      • Door #6: Free Wawa Coffee for a whole friggin' year!
      • Door #7: Looks like a barrel of pickles, but actually a barrel of giant rats! 2d4 Giant Rats appear, out of the DCC rulebook, page 424. 
      • Door #8: A Sam's Club. Great club (2 handed) that causes 1d10 damage, but is covered in corporate logos. 

      Area 5: Sk8 Or Die




      The next room is a big, circular, concave, ice covered surface. Kind of like one of those donation jars you see at a mall where you put a coin in the slot and it rolls down towards the center. But in the center there is only pain. On the opposite side though is a way out, to the final Area. The only way across is to skate... or die...



      ... well not "die" as this is non-lethal, but pretty much the closest thing.



      • When the PC's first get in this area they are required to take their shoes or boots off and put on ice-skates.
      • Skating to the other side of the chamber requires a trio of Agility rolls, at an easy DC of 5. Pretty simple right?
      • Failure moves the PC one step towards the center. It should be noted that a PC has only 2 failures allowed before they fall down into the middle chamber.
      • So essentially, the player gets to make as many rolls as they want, needs to get 3 successes, and can't have 3 failures. Super easy.
      • For a DC 15 check, a PC can attempt to skate straight towards the hole, and then fly up the other side. 
      • Let's add skating Slushdroids. Essentially slushy covered bots that come out of the walls on skates. 
        • Slushdroid: Init -2; Atk ice fist +0 melee (1d3) or spray slush +0 (1d4); AC 11; HD 1d8+1; MV 40' (skates); Act 1d20; SP immunte to mind-altering spells; SV Ref +1; Fort +3; Will +0 AL N
      • One slushdroid appears for every 2 PC's on the ice. 
      • PC's actively engaged in combat with a Slushdroid must make their Agility checks for skating at a DC 10 (not 5).
      • A PC that falls into the central hole is disqualified from the event or area (depending on if they are 0 or 1st level.) They simply drop into a big cushion, and are interviewed by Katie Lynn who appears.
      • Once on the other side, the PC's may realize that they still have their skates on. If they don't, don't tell them. 
      • The first PC to the other side wins a free 1 week vacation in the Poconos, where they will get a hotel room with a wine glass Jacuzzi, and a private concert featuring Boyz 2 Men.
      • Remaining PC's who make it across wins $150.


      Area 6: Lair of the Eagle




      The final chamber! Here, the PC's will face off against Super Bowl LII champion and 2nd level wizard Nick Foles! The party enters through a doorway into a big square room, 60' across. On the northern end is what looks to be a cave. There are onlookers all about, watching through glass walls. This is totally right out of the Colosseum from Best of the Best 2. Most notably, there is a Gnome watching on a pedestal, standing next to DJ Pat, holding a wand. 


      DJ Pat announces the final chamber as the Lair of the Eagle, and everyone starts to cheer. A four (4) pro-wrestler looking orcs (DCC rulebook, page 423) emerge from the dark cave, followed by Nick Foles! 

      Nick Foles is wearing a Philadelphia Eagles Wizard's Robe, and is clutching a staff with a football on top. 


      • Here's the deal: the floor in this chamber is partially illusion, but also partially solid, with a watery pool underneath. Rather than picking which parts of the floor ahead of time, Gnome gets an action during combat to open up 2d8 5' segements of floor each round. The Gnome always goes first.
      • You're going to want to map this out for your players, and miniatures or tokens may be helpful.
      • Oh, if the PC's still have those skates on, they roll 1d16's for everything (-1d) until they come off. That takes an action. Hard to walk in skates! If they don't specifically mention taking them off, they haven't taken them off. 
      • The orcs are unarmed, and will always try to do opposed strength checks to push PC's into the watery openings, or just pin them. 
      • If the PC's are 1st level, add 2 orcs and give them clubs. 
      • Nick Foles is a 2nd level wizard... and all around sports hero...
        • Str 15, Agi 16, Sta 13, Per 13, Int 12, Luck 3 (burned it all down during SBLII)
        • Atk football staff +2 melee (1d7+1 dmg) - possible prize!
        • AC 16 (Magic shield cast, for 7 total rounds, AC 12 after)
        • HD 3d4+3 (15 HP)
        • Ref +3, Fort +1, Wil +2
        • Spells Known
          • Magic Shield (already cast)
          • Force Manipulation (go to attack spell)
          • Enlarge (will cast on orcs)
          • Animal Summoning (always an eagle)
          • Cantrip
      Once Nick Foles and the rest of the orcs are either unconscious or in the water, DJ Pat announces the victory! Time for prizes!

      Fabulous Prizes


      Besides getting selected to go pro, a team of adventurers who defeat Dungeonbattle Delco gain the following awards:

      • $1,000
      • +1 Outback Steakhouse BoomerAxe (magical +1 Handaxe, can be thrown but then returns to the PC's hand)
      • Siptopia Wawand (Fires 1d7 damage ice bolts, unlimited range, unlimited charges, can be used to create ice cubes for drinks)
      • Wawa Endorsement for Division III 

      At the end of the adventure, for a special touch, have Wayne Brady show up as a celebrity to give out the prizes.



      Our Playtest


      I ran Dungeonbattle Delco as our very first role-playing event in our new apartment in Glen Mills, PA. It had been just over two months since moving in, and it was about time for us to roll some dice. We had six wonderful players, a terrific mix of folks I've played with for years, and new friends that we've just met in recent months here in the Philly area. 

      Our group of Xcrawlers included the following PC's:


      • Hawthorne Gold, Warrior, portrayed by Jessica Lang, played by Shannon
      • Hans Carter, Manimal, portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, played by Cody
      • Pontius Bagbeaner, Halfling Burglar, portrayed by Danny DeVito, played by Cone
      • Snow Huntsman, Manimal, portrayed by Robert De Niro, played by Randy
      • Keanu Reaves, Cleric, portrayed by Keanu Reaves, played by Elizabeth
      • Clark Kled, Dwarf, portrayed by Ronda Rousey, played by Andreas



      If I had any takeaways from running the game, it was how competitive the group was during certain scenes. They really fought for that Kia Soul! 




      Hats off to Judge Evie for doing an EXCELLENT job playing Katie Lynn, the field commentator for the Dungeonbattle. Her Philly accent was awesome!