Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 6

The Devil's Spine Campaign Log

Welcome to our group's campaign log for The Devil's Spine, a mega-adventure by +Monte Cook for the Numenera campaign setting.  

Originally this was going to be a pure and simple campaign log.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a record for me and my friends to keep track of what was going on in the game.  But I've decided that, as we progress through the adventure, I'd do some commentary and/or reviews on different parts of the adventure.  So... SPOILERS!


  • Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 
  • Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 
  • Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 
  • PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde
  • Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 

Previously on The Devil's Spine

Session 6:  PL3T1

Okay folks, I'm calling last night a success.  This past weekend I was oh, so close to 1,000 followers.  So I made a promise:

Now I wasn't clear which character I would kill, only that one of them would die.  But since Numenera was my next adventure, the odds were good that it would happen in the Ninth World, and that PL4T0 would be my gruesome victim.  

Commitment made, but could I get there?

Made it!

Our session began on the lowest level of the Insidious Choir Tower.  The PC's ascended a level and found a room full of all kinds of junk, including a small piece that warbled as it moved across the floor.  Uncovering the small device, the party was surprised to see a nearly identical twin to PL4T0!  

Once scanned by the party's PL4T0, an instant connection was formed.  PL4T0 was able to simultaneously exist as himself as well as PL3T1 (Pleti).  PL3T1 had all of the same skills and abilities as his "brother", but sported some weird add-ons.  The first was a plaque bolted onto his side that looked like the Pioneer spacecraft message.  Two naked figures, a spacecraft, some planets, you get  the idea.  

But instead of naked people, there were naked spider-people.  Eww.

The second add-on was a strip of virus infected flesh.  It glowed green, so obviously virus-stuff.  The party didn't seem to mind.  

So I decided to "let" Marc play PL3T1 as his own character - a second character to be played alongside PL4T0.  So now he had two characters.  

Around this time Belmodan tried to touch PL4T0's hat, and the tiny bot stuck the seeker with a dagger.  No touching PL4T0!  Incidentally, I've noticed that Cypher System player vs. player rates have skyrocketed since I started introducing Numenera fans to Dungeon Crawl Classics.  I totally blame the Perucchini School of Gaming Excellence.  

Just sayin'.  

Also in the giant mounds of trash was another busted bot (PL1T7), and the carcass of a "Schmeeer" - a deer/slug hybrid that lacked legs and traveled on a small pool of a cream-cheese-like substance, leaving a cheesy trail behind.  Schmeeer eyes are hallucinogenic  so when Ruun ate one he had this crazy waking dream that he was actually a compassionate human being.  In game terms this GM Intrusion meant that I flipped the glaive's Might and Intellect Edges for an hour.  

Ruun's player, Will, commented that this felt a lot like Flowers for Algernon.  I have to agree.

A pair of virus people would attack the party at some point, but they were wimps.  

The next level of the tower featured a pair of Ergavores: hounds with six tongues that could cause damage to energy fields.  The Ergavores had a few things working against them when fighting the party:

  1. None of the PC's had energy barriers to deactivate.
  2. Belmodan used his whip to yank one of the Ergavore's tongues, causing the big Ninth World dog to bite it off.  Ouch!

After this battle the party met Dro.  Remember those NPC's from a couple games ago?  Well, this was the bro that they were trying to find.  Dro seemed pretty normal, except that he had glowing green nailbeds.  And if my players had learned anything about The Devil's Spine, it's that all green shit must die!  But for some strange, completely bizarre reason, the PC's didn't kill Dro.  Even after he kept making weird comments.  Even after he noticed that Belmodan was carrying his Dro's friend's Homing Volt Projector.  Even after he wanted to "touch" PL3T1, and remove his metal spider plaque to acquire the processing unit attached to it and use it to end the virus menace forever, somehow.

So... my players will kill NPC's that have no desire to cause them any harm, and speak with normal words.  But they will leave a psycho-bastard alive?  Well it worked out in their favor.

The players injected Dro with the catholicon cypher, curing him of his affliction.  The dude puked up all kinds of green crap.  He then gave the team a bunch of information about the rest of the tower.  Dro stated that the spire atop the tower had a weird probe attached to it and pointing east.  The same probe that was on the nekkid spider plaque mounted on PL3T1's back.  There was some discussion of planning around this time, but then an hour had gone by and Ruun charged upstairs.

An epic battle took place as the team neared the top of the tower.  Here are the highlights:

  • The party fought the battle next to two giant tubs of virus goo.  
  • A giant virus crab monster went toe-to-toe with Ruun.
  • A bunch of virus people were in a command station doing things to intestine-like controls.  
  • PL3T1, who had been sporting that weird virus patch, defected, and connected with the giant virus crab sort of like something out of Tranzor-Z.
  • Ruun and Dro kicked the crap out of the crab while Belmodan and Keane slaughtered the virus folks on at the control station.
  • PL4T0 jumped up on the giant virus crab/PL3T1 "Tranzor-Z" thing and destroyed his "brother" using Dro's sword!

Wait... did you read that last part?  Go read it again.  Remember earlier when I let Marc play both PL4T0 and PL3T1 at the same time?  They were both his characters... and he killed on of them.  One of them died.  So one of Marc's characters died...

That totally counts!

The adventure ended when PL4T0 grabbed the metal plaque, far stepped to the roof of the structure, found the spider-created spacecraft attached to the tower spire, and blew everything up.  Good thing too, since the virus hive mind was like SUPER close to bringing a bunch more of those virus crabs into combat.

But when all was said and done, and when all the dust settled.  When all was right with the world...

... I killed one of Marc's characters.

... totally counts.

PS:  Wanna be super cool?  Go follow Marc on Twitter!  Want to be even cooler than super cool?  Go read his blog, Inspiration Strikes!  It's fantastic!  Totes worth it!


"So, tonight Marc dies in Bloomington?" - David commenting on Marc being in Indiana.

"There is nothing worse than a warble in the junk." - Will being gross.

"I reject your human form biology!" - PL4T0 is species'ist.

"Marc has definitely moved on to the master class." - Craig commenting on Marc's admittance to the Perucchini School of Gaming Excellence.  

"All I'm going to say is Alex would've attacked." - Craig was right.

"Ergovore hounds give birth with a force equal to a Chevy Nova going zero to sixty." - I don't know why I said this... wait, yes I do.

"The floating ball face will shiv you with no provocation." - Ruun gave fair warning for all who approached PL4T0.

"We don't trust him." - PL4T0 and PL3T1 at the same time.  Damned creepy!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

DCCRPG - A Gathering of the Marked - Part Three

The Blue Fairy's Test

Let us tell the tale of Lil Hammy, who showed the world "how."  In our last play session, the party discovered a bizarre little trophy kept by Beauregard the Swamp Ogre.  As +Jon Marr wrote, adventurers would find some cakes, assorted snacks, a few pieces of gold...

"... and a small silver statue of a pig raised up on its hind legs holding a bastard sword.  A copper plate affixed to the base of the statue says 'Lil' Hammy shows 'em how.'  It's worth 25 gp if the correct sort of tacky art collector can be found."

As I've been trying to toss out small and creepy magical items throughout this campaign, I ruled that Lil Hammy was a construct that could obey orders with the following stats:

Lil Hammy:  Init +0, Atk Tiny Bastard Sword +1 (1d3); AC 13; HD 1d6 (3); MV 15'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will -5; AL L. SP: Construct.  Follows the commands of anyone who says "Show 'em how!"

Somewhere during our conversations I made some kind of statement that Lil Hammy had the soul of a paladin tripped inside.  I seriously don't ever remember making this comment.  Ever.  But everyone said that I did, and that somehow I wrote it down, or they wrote it down, or whatever.  Well Andy took my comments seriously.  In fact, he showed up with Crawl! Issue #6, and had stat'd out Lil Hammy to be a tiny, 3 hit point, paladin construct.  

As you'll read later, Lil Hammy became one of the bravest members of the party.  Unafraid to follow the thief and burglar into combat, healing wounded party members, and protecting his lady Nej Sllaw.  As I finished the play report I realized that this little pig statue was the most "paladin-like" PC that I've ever seen at a game table.  So at the end of the adventure, after the dust settled, the Blue Fairy appeared.  

Yes, the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio.

The Blue Fairy was so proud of Lil Hammy that she turned him into a real pig!  So now we have a three foot tall pig paladin in the party, who worships and fights on behalf of the Blue Fairy.  Thanks +Jon Marr.   

The Great SCOT Continues

The Free Company, our adventuring party happily enjoying the Great Sunken City Omnibus Tour, completed Perils of the Sunken City and last month moved onto the The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk.  If you're interesting in starting this story from the beginning, here are the previous tales:

This is an open door campaign, so we can always have new players join our group.  Here are our only rules from game to game:
  • Schedule five players for each event
  • Hold a sixth seat free for last minute additions
  • Players who complete an adventure have "dibs" on joining the next adventure
  • Players can bow out, and rejoin later with living or new characters so long as there is a open spot at the virtual table

As always, Die Rodney!

The Free Company Roster 

A Gathering of the Marked, Part Three

Following their last battle, the party of the Marked is in a room with a severed statue bronze head on a table.  A note in front of the head says "claim your destiny."  Wayne examines the hollow head, and while doing so the rest of the party notices that he no longer has a mark.  Before too many questions can be asked, Wayne dons the statue head and just stands there.  Keep in mind that Wayne is no longer "Wayne," but instead is a husk of a human being worn by a worm parasite from another universe.  Kind of like the "Edgar Suit" from Men in Black.  

Behind the table is a great picture of a dead tree, and at its center is a portal leading to a ladder going down.  

The party's two halflings, Syd and Gordon, climb down the ladder.  Eighty feet later, they are in a great cavern full of bones.  All of the bones have been picked clean.  As the halflings sort through the bones, looking for something shiny, they are beset upon by a terrible lizard-mutant with an acid tongue called the Boneflenser.  The two halflings battle with the Boneflenser sans backup for several rounds before the rest of the team arrives to help finish off the beast.  

The bone piles are full of gear: some weapons, "...an exquisite full length white leapord coat large enough to fit a burly man, with an accompanying fur-lined hat...", and a golden box.  Floyd grabs the "pimp coat" and immediately puts it on.  Gordon checks the gold box for traps, doesn't find any, unlocks the box, and is immediately blasted by the trap he didn't find.  Inside the box are some magic "Gloves of Esmil the Sharp."  

Wayne grabs gloves and puts them on.  Immediately he realizes that he is being contacted by another intelligence.  Wearing the gloves is a bargain.  Wear the gloves and perform feats of greatness, and be rewarded by greater thieving skill.  Wear them in shame and foolishness, and lose thieving skill.

The party continues traveling down the tunnels to the east.  At an intersection some of the party members hear voices in a tunnel to the south.  Moving ahead, the party's thief and halfling burglar investigate.  Lil Hammy, not wanting to be left alone, jogs along just behind.  While Gordon and Wayne are quite stealthy as they enter a chamber full of opossum men, remaining carefully out of view, Lil Hammy charges loudly into the room.  This just confuses the opossum men, who were playing a deadly game of "catch the javelin."  Before they can react to the tiny pig construct, Syd steps into the room and starts up a chat.  

The center of the room is dominated by a great, golden elevator shaft, although there is no entrance to the inside of the shaft.  The opossum men don't seem too interested in combat, but one of them tosses Syd a piece of fruit, and Syd opts to catch it.  Well, this is apparently how you start playing "Catch the Javelin."  Immediately, three of the opossum men throw javelins at Syd.  And a coconut.  

The battle that ensues is entirely one-sided.  The eight opossum men only have two hit points each, and even Lil Hammy with his teeny, tiny bastard sword takes one out.  When the battle is over, the party grabs the javelins, some of the fruit, and leaves the room.

The tunnels eventually lead under the river and into a damp, root filled chamber.  On the far side, two robe-wearing guards protect a stairwell, complaining about their job and worrying that the Marked may soon be making their way in another gathering.  Gordon and Wayne try to scout ahead, but halfway across the room they set off alarms and are hit by the guards' stun pollen spells.  Although greatly outnumbered, the guards put up a serious fight, casting Magic Splinter spells that nearly kill two members of the team.  But they eventually fall.

Ascending the next stairwell, the party emerges into the night air.  On the fair side of a muddy and despoiled grove, there is a priestess standing next to a great bronze headless statue.  The priestess points her gnarled wooden rod at the statue and then at the party and then back to the statue.  Most of the group feels compelled to take the hollow bronze head and place it atop the statue's shoulders.  Syd is able to resist the compulsion, and Lil Hammy is obviously a construct (but he serves Nej Sllaw at the moment, who is completely ensorcelled by foul magicks.)  

But Wayne is holding the head, and the parasitic worm in control bears no mark.  A struggle breaks out, with the dominated members of the party rushing the party's thief in an attempt to grab the head.  Wayne is very successful in keeping the head away from his teammates, but eventually Otto grabs it and takes off towards the statue.  Otto then walks up to the statue, puts the head on its shoulders, and ends up staring face to face with a giant Bronze Living Statue!

Once the statue is reunited, the party is freed of their marks and everyone regains their minds.  A grand melee breaks out.  Garik, running towards the statue and priestess, is brought down by four of the cult guards.  Syd successfully steals the gnarled Rod of Mastery from the priestess, only to get beaten to death a few moments later as the priestess cold-cocks the poor halfling in the back of the head and then goes for the "ground and pound."  Lil Hammy and Gordon focus on the cultists, all while getting rained on by acid due to a powerful choking cloud spell courtesy of Nej.  Otto and Floyd do a number on the Living Statue, but the final killing blow comes from one of Wayne's lucky arrows.  Finally, Nej's summoned mountain lion kills the priestess.

After the battle Nej runs forward and steals the Rod of Mastery.  The sorceress then disappears into the swamps, completely overtaken by the power of the artifact.  

Before the party leaves the scene, however, the beautiful Blue Fairy appears before Lil Hammy.  The Blue Fairy is so very, very proud of the tiny construct, and how bravely he healed the injured in combat and took up arms against evil.  The Blue Fairy then touched the tiny silver pig's nose and turned him into a real, anthropomorphic pig-lad!  Lil Hammy clutches his blade, and vows allegiance to the Blue Fairy, to worship her as his deity and perform her will in the Sunken City.  

Adventure Notes

  • Wearing the Statue's Head:  I ruled that it was hollow, so Wayne decided to put it on.  Sure, it makes the wearer blind, but it also confers a +4 to AC, but with a 1d16 Fumble die.
  • Lipton's Bundles:  The 8 doses that heal 1d4 damage, actually heal 1d8 damage if brewed into a tea.  Must be served hot!  Adding a stick of butter increases the healing by +1D, but makes the imbiber nauseous for 1 hour (-1D to all actions).
  • Living Statue: Since I ran this adventure for 1st level characters instead of as a 0-level funnel, I turned that statue at the end of the adventure into a Living Statue (DCC Corebook.)  Sort of like how Conan brought that horn back in Conan the Destroyer.  I used the stats for an Iron Living Statue, which meant an 18 AC.  
  • Nej as a Villain:  At the end of the adventure, I asked Andy if Nej was keeping the Rod.  He said that she was.  I sort of asked again, and again he claimed ownership.  So I ruled that Nej left her party, to seek out mastery of the rod on her own terms.  Now connected with Malloc, Nej will be back, although most likely as a villain!


    "My mouth feels so lubricated right now." - When the Judge's wife gives him a cup of "butterbeer" prior to the game.  Over a tablespoon of butter per cup!

    "Why is my keyboard sticky?" - What's up with the Judge's keyboard?  Apparently Cooper was eating mints while playing computer earlier.  

    "There is no Wayne, there is only worm." - Paul's new character is all worm.

    "Did you die yet?" - Otto screams down the hole.

    "One moment!  One moment!" - Otto's warcry as he climbs down the ladder.  So fierce.  

    "We're not going to sit here and brew tea." - Syd chewing on healing herbs.

    "There's no crying in baseball, and there's no sitting out in combat in DCC!" - With one hit point left, Marc kept swinging.  

    "This is what happens when you steal my head!" - Wayne just stares in amusement as Otto stands face to face with a Living Statue.  

    In Memoriam 

    • Syd, punched to death by the Priestess

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 5

    The Devil's Spine Campaign Log

    Welcome to our group's campaign log for The Devil's Spine, a mega-adventure by +Monte Cook for the Numenera campaign setting.  

    Originally this was going to be a pure and simple campaign log.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a record for me and my friends to keep track of what was going on in the game.  But I've decided that, as we progress through the adventure, I'd do some commentary and/or reviews on different parts of the adventure.  So... SPOILERS!


    • Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 
    • Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 
    • Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 
    • PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde
    • Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 

    Previously on The Devil's Spine

    Session 5:  Graduates of the Perucchini School of Gaming Excellence

    [GM's Note:  I apologize ahead of time for the tone of this adventure recap.  Last night's game was extremely bizarre, and the lines between PC and player were blended, broken, and then completely dissolved.  Sorry about that.]

    Days 4-5

    Our adventure last night began with the players (yes, the players, not the PC's) talking too much.  Granted, I was part of this at first, but when I got silent the rest of the team didn't get the hint.  So I waited.  Then I waited a little longer.  

    Chat.  Chat.  Chat.  Still they kept talking.

    So you know what I did?  Remember that mutated cragworm from the last session?  I decided to throw it right at the players.  Roll for initiative you verbose bastards.  The mutant cragworm didn't have all day, so it charged right up the valley, crushed the party's NPC, and started chomping away on poor, hovering PL4T0.  I think Marc thought his character was too cute to get attacked.  


    And I made that Mutated Cragworm super badass.  Sure it was a level 6 creature to begin with, but I decided to push the envelope.  If you're familiar with The Devil's Spine, the mutated cragworm is a level 6 creature that does 8 damage on a bite.  Not bad, Monte, but we can take it a step further.

    How 'bout we make that mutant worm puke its own, acidic intestines onto targets?  Then the next round it has to slurp them up like spaghetti noodles.  Just like the most hardcore of all sea creatures: the sea cucumber.  Here's how that would work:

    [Mutated Cragworm Variant:  acidic intestine puking, target must make a level 6 speed defense roll or get covered in tangy guts, dropping one level down the damage track.  The cragworm can only make this attack every other round, and must slurp those guts back up before using them again.  On a round when the guts are exposed, however, they can be targeted and attackers can bypass the cragworm's armor.]

    That sure made the encounter more interesting!  

    Obviously the PC's were successful, and my players got the hint to pay more attention to the game.  Tisk, tisk, right?  

    After digging through the guts of the mutated cragworm, which ended up being a lot more dangerous than anyone thought... because acid guts... I caved and let the players have a metal pancreas that they could drink from like a slimy Capri Sun to gain some might points.  Can't remember how that cypher works exactly, only that I made it up on the fly.  But more games should have a mutant cragworm pancreas beverage.  

    The characters then set out to cross the desert, making their way towards the Tower of the Insidious Choir.  But there were these spirals of broken, pulverized glass, all throughout the desert sands.  Big, shiny patches of glass.  This wasn't in the original adventure, but let's be honest: half of the crap I come up with ain't "rules as written."  Or would that be "adventure as written?"  Crap... let's just keep going.  

    So I came up with this sick idea that the PC's would start having their shoes damaged, and that they would need to either wear new shoes (which no one had, because seriously, what players are going to buy extra shoes), or figure out another way around the glass.  

    [GM's Note:  This should've been a group GM Intrusion.  I was being kind of a dick, and I admit it.  So if you were one of my players last night, feel free to take an extra 1 XP.  That's right, I'm serious.  Go ahead... write it down.  Oh, and if you weren't one of my players, take an XP as well.  Just tell your GM that I said it was cool.]

    After making their way to a mini tower PL4T0 used his hovering ability to go back to the cragworm and start carving up it's hide to make shoes.  Marc (PL4T0's player) even went out of his way to take "Cobbler" as a his flex skill for the day.  I gotta believe that this was a Numenera first!  How many GM's have had players become "part-time" shoe makers during an epic science fantasy adventure?  

    Zero.  We were first.  We own that honor.  

    And PL4T0 didn't just create regular shoes, he made some crazy-high roll.  I think it was a twenty.  So I ruled that he created the 9th World equivalent of some Manolo Blahnik's for the entire team.  Each and every one of the PC's had mutated cragworm high-heels on.  Even came up with some rules for them:

    [Mutated Cragworm Manolo Blahniks:  Level 4 Artifact.  Can walk over glass without taking damage.  +1 damage to any unarmed attack involving kicking.  Depletion N/A]

    As David would say, that party sure looked "fierce" crossing the rest of the desert.  It was like an opening montage during an episode of Sex in the City.  

    Anyway, as the party approached the Tower of the Insidious Choir, they noticed some greenish viral dudes hanging out outside.  Maybe they were guards?  Ruun didn't care.  Ruun charged into combat, followed closely behind by the rest of the team.  

    The next battle wasn't that interesting.  The PC's were clearly the odds-on favorites for this kind of fight.  I mean, it was six level 3 baddies versus a bunch of Tier 2 PC's.  The virus-laden humanoids didn't have much going for them.  But it was during this battle that I took some serious creative license with the game narrative.  

    I keep careful track of who I've given GM intrusions to during the game, and I was noticing that Andy was still "un-intrusioned."  I could change that, and David helped.  When rolling for his nano's onslaught attack, David's hot hand in the dice game tossed out a natural 20.  

    Boo yah!  

    Nero is a Mad Nano who Travel's Through Time and I love using temporal anomalies to cause some commotion.  Since Belmodan was situated very closely to Nero, I asked Andy if he wanted his seeker to take the GM Intrusion.  Andy said "sure."

    And that's when I had Nero accidentally transport Belmodan ten million years into the past!  

    When Belmodan came to, there was still a giant tower in front of him, but on the outside there was an acronym:  NFH.  Upon further investigation, the seeker discovered that this was the corporate headquarters for "Nero's Flish Hut."  

    Let's rewind a gaming session.  Last time we played, when Nero wanted to find some food, I stated that his player used time travel to go back in time, start up a flish (flying fish) restaurant chain, and then when he came back to the present, he brought some flish with him.  Well apparently this whole "fried flish with all the fixin's" concept worked out for Nero.  I even ruled that Nero stayed in the past for about five years before finally coming back to the future.  Made David drop his Might permanently by 1 point but increase his Intellect by 1 point to represent five years of aging.  

    While in the past, Belmodan had to find ways to communicate with the future PC's.  He had his picture taken as the one millionth customer of the NFH HQ's cafeteria, and the PC's in the future found an oddity with Belmodan smiling weakly in the prior age.  Belmodan then stole a mechanical arm off of the statue of "Uncle Nero" (to become a Level 3 Artifact), and that's when past Nero got the call from security to come deal with the problem.  

    Nero in the past, realizing that he needed to get Belmodan back to the future, gave his seeker friend a tour of the corporate HQ, as well as a sack of fried flish, before sending him on his way.  

    Once everyone was in the same time again, we ended the session.

    So those of you running The Devil's Spine for your own home games, just remember:  the Tower of the Insidious Choir isn't some crazy, numenera discovery in the wilds of the Black Riage.  It's just the ruined corporate headquarters of Nero's Flish Hut...

    ... and it's flinger lickin' good!


    "The Insidious Choir sings 'The Rhythm.'" - Marc was just begging for Jim to sing some Miami Sound Machine.  

    "Alex has taught us well." - Craig, commenting on killing NPC's for their swag.  His application to the Perucchini School of Gaming Excellence must've been accepted.  

    "GET SOME!" - Tiny PL4T0 with a dart thrower attacking the Mutated Crag Worm.

    "Are you okay with that?  If I harvest the guide?" - Ruun wanted to get the rest of the party's approval before going completely cannibal.   

    "I'm gonna fashion a mullet out of his scalp." - Marc was all talk.  He never ended up getting his mullet on.  

    "Now we gotta learn how to walk in heels the next three days." - Andy commenting on PL4T0's fashioning of Manolo Blahnik shoes.  

    "All I know... is we're gonna look FIERCE crossing that desert." - David was right.  

    Sunday, March 5, 2017

    Judge Evie's All Grown Up

    Behold Judge Evie!

    Yesterday was International GM's Day, a celebration of game-masters (role-playing game referees and judges) that occurs on the anniversary of D&D creator Gary Gygax's passing.  While every player at the table is important in a tabletop role-playing game, it is the game master, dungeon master, or judge that is the creative engine of this method of play.  We chose to celebrate International GM's Day by inviting a few friends over to play Dungeon Crawl Classics, with my ten year old daughter Evie at the helm.

    As I look back to last night's game I wonder.  If a judge is the "creative engine" of DCC, then Judge Evie is a rampaging, death-bringing locomotive of chaos and carnage, unleashed from some unknown hell reserved for only those fool hardy enough to step up to her table.

    This was Judge Evie's first time running Dungeon Crawl Classics, so she decided to leave a delightfully painful mark in the tabletop role-playing game history books.  

    This was Judge Evie's first time running Dungeon Crawl Classics, so she decided to leave a delightfully painful mark in the tabletop role-playing game history books.

    Now, Evie is no newcomer to RPG'ing.  She's spent the past year running games of No Thank You, Evil! pretty much non-stop.  In one post on the RPG's for Kids Facebook page I noted that she was part of the "No Thank You, Evil! graduating class of 2016.  Evie's GM'd games in our house, at our local game club, and even in an official capacity at the Monte Cook Games booth at Gen Con 2016.  As she's learned to referee role-playing games she's gained self-confidence, an ability to present herself boldly, and sharp improvisational skills.

    Last night she used all of these against us.  

    For Judge Evie's very first "grown-up" role-playing game adventure, I suggested that she try Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry, written by Mark Bishop and published by Purple Sorcerer Games.  The layout and design of this 0-level adventure are perfectly suited for a first-time DCCRPG judge, and the whimsical encounters are both memorable and absolutely terrifying.  

    When was the last time you were killed by an undead tortoise chair?  

    Each of our six players (Carrie, Andy, Craig, Dylan, Cooper, and me) were dealt three 0-level commoners for this session, bringing our grand total to eighteen tortured souls to be thrown into Judge Evie's pressure cooker.  As I looked over my three characters, I didn't think I'd stand a chance.  

    I was right.  

    By the end of the session, Evie had killed all of my 0-levels, as well as all of her sister's characters.  

    As is tradition with the Living 4 Crits blog, there is typically an adventure recap following any successful adventure.  This week I invited Evie to write her own:

    Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry

    by Judge Evie Walls

    Last Night I ran Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry and there were eight deaths of eighteen characters including three that died in one attack.  

    It all started out as the players bought some gear before they went into the house of Nebin Pendlebrook.  The players started to head into a dark tunnel soon approaching six acid spiders and were now in combat.  The spiders took out two characters.  The characters continued down the path and found no more than Nebin Pendlebrook snoring on top of of a skeletal tortoise.  Neban took a hit to the head and... died.  

    Then the characters were in combat with the skeletal tortoise and six skeletal dwarves.  There were four skeletal dwarves that took out all of Carrie's characters!  

    Once they were taken out the characters wanted to go back, but some said to "adventure more."  

    So that's what they did.

    They came across a grub but not much happened.  

    The final encounter had one stone behemoth, one chest mimic, and Varooth Moss [a wizard].  Varooth Moss had fired magic missiles at Carrie, so she was toast.  A couple characters died, but not many.  The characters decided to head back home and say "Nebin was already dead" to anyone who asked.

    Evie received a lot of great feedback following last night's game:
    "She's Jim on steroids," quipped Craig.

    After dishing out a terrific cache of loot and treasure Carrie commented that Evie "was like a violent Oprah."  

    Player Andy left this comment on Twitter this morning:

    While I'm not sure what DCC adventure Evie will run next, I'm fairly certain that she's only getting started.  So please join me in congratulating my bright and talented yet so brutally bloodthirsty daughter Evie on running her very first "grown-up" role-playing game.  

    I'm so proud of you kiddo, and look forward to dying by your dice again very soon!

    Friday, March 3, 2017

    Judge James Joins Glowburn

    I know, I know, the Living 4 Crits blog has been a bit quiet lately, but I promise that I have a really good reason.  

    As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to join the Glowburn podcast as a cohost.  For those not "in the know", Glowburn is a podcast dedicated to the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics Role Playing Game, celebrating all varieties of old-school, post-apocalyptic RPG's  

    I'm already a stark raving mad Dungeon Crawl Classics fan, and I've been feverishly awaiting Mutant Crawl Classics since the Kickstarter.  The opportunity to join Judge +Forrest Aguirre is truly an honor.  I have to admit that I'm still fanboy'ing out a bit over the opportunity.  I started listening to Glowburn right after the first episode released, and have eagerly awaited each show.  I'm that lucky podcast fan who now gets to be on the show... woot!

    With all that said, I invite all of you to come check us out:

    • If you are a Twitter user, go follow @Glowburn.  Seriously, go do it now.   

    So go check out me and Judge Forrest on Glowburn, and if you like what you hear please spread the word!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    Father/Daughter Bestiary - Mr. Poppins

    Knock, Knock... 

    Several weeks ago my eldest daughter Carrie and I concocted a terrifying new monster for Dungeon Crawl Classics:  The Four Leaf Loather.  But Carrie wasn't the only kiddo to come up with a monster that week.  After finding out that their older sister got a monster featured on Living 4 Crits, Evie and Cooper both got to work for their own submissions.  

    I told both Evie and Cooper that they would need to come up with their own special attacks, and promised to find some kind of mechanic to make them work no matter how crazy they seemed.  Surprisingly neither kiddo went with anything too powerful, but the ideas are still quite outlandish.  

    For this submission, we're going to be taking a look at Evie's submission...   

    Mr. Poppins

    That's right!  The terrible, no good, fearsome, most evil of all creations that bear the Poppins name.  When I saw the picture, I was pretty sure I was staring at some kind of deranged lollipop.  A biting, boomerang hair launching, invisible, "head on fire" lollipop.  

    Mr. Poppins:  Init +2; Atk bite +3 melee (1d8 + special); AC 15; HD 3d8; MV 20'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C.

    Special Abilities  (Created with Evie sitting right next to me)

    • Evil Bite:  Any target bitten by Mr. Poppins must make an immediate Will saving throw (DC 10) or become "Evil" for one hour.  How the judge wants to make this work in their game is completely up to them.  Our suggestion is that the "evilness" be roleplayed by the player, although it does not necessarily mean that they turn on their party.  Or maybe it does.  Your call.
    • Boomerang Hair:  A thin coil of hair springs from Mr. Poppins' head, whipping an opponent in the face.  The target must make a Reflex saving throw (DC 12) or suffer a wicked scarring attack.  This attack causes 1 point of permanent damage that can never be healed.  The scar is just far too terrible.  The coil then returns to Mr. Poppins' head.
    • Invisibility:  Mr. Poppins has access to the Invisibility spell as per page 176 of the DCCRPG rulebook.  Mr. Poppins' spell check is a +5.  
    • Head of Fire:  Mr. Poppins lights his head on fire (similar to the character Anger from Inside Out.)  He then shoves this in all opponents faces who are engaged with him in melee combat.  This attack cannot be blocked or dodged, however shields negate the effect.  All applicable targets suffer 1d3 points of fire damage.  

    Backstory (by Evie Walls)

    Mr. Poppins used to be a young lollipop kid but he took one step too far into Candy Cane Village.  For months he thrived on candy cane pieces and milk.  One day he found himself a deal he couldn't pass up.  

    The Candy Cane Lord came upon him and said "You lollipop scum may come to great use one day.  How about you come with me and I could give you everything you want from food and water, to a roof above your head."  

    Of course Mr. Poppins agreed, not knowing the consequences.  The Candy Cane Lord quickly bit his head, taking out all the good and adding dark thoughts.  Mr. Poppins soon escaped away one day as a vicious killing machine.

    [Judge's Note:  Seriously, Evie came up with all of that.  So proud!]

    To help clarify just what Mr. Poppins is, I thought I'd give Evie a quick interview:

    Judge James:  So Evie, who exactly "is" Mr. Poppins?

    Evie:  He's an evil lollipop.  

    Judge James:  Why did you create an evil lollipop monster?

    Evie:  Because that day... I ate a lollipop.

    Judge James:  Why the last name "Poppins?"

    Evie:  Because he pops up everywhere and bites people.  

    Judge James:  Where exactly is the "Candy Cane" village, with regards to other fantasy worlds?

    Evie:  It's five miles away from Nihliesh*

    Judge James:  Where would you encounter Mr. Poppins?

    Evie:  Everywhere!  He pops out of the bushes and bites people.  You never know where he's gonna be, so watch your back.  

    Judge James:  If Mr. Poppins was here right now, what would he say?

    Evie:  Hi, how you doin'?  Can I interest you in a bite-tastic brunch?  

    *Nihliesh is in the Ninth World of Numenera, home to our Disenchanted Tales adventures.

    *     *    *
    So there you go.  

    If you are looking for an evil, stealthy Lollipop to infest your adventures, maybe you should give Mr. Poppins a try.  If you do, please let us know how he showed up in your game!  Evie would be thrilled for the feedback (as would I).