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).  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

DCCRPG - A Gathering of the Marked - Part Two

Newbs Abound

Even though I allowed four of our players to advance their characters during out last game, with the return of +Paul Go, and +Jonata Sodre joining us all the way from Brazil, we had the opportunity to introduce some more 0-level fodder into the game.  Not only was this Jonata's first online RPG, it was his very first DCC game.  Guiding a 0-level character through a harrowing first experience is the only true initiation into the blood-soaked awesomeness that is Dungeon Crawl Classics!

Our session lasted close to four hours, and we made it about another third of the way through the adventure.  While A Gathering of the Marked won't take us the seven sessions that The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk did, there is certainly a ton of room to make this adventure unique and extraordinary.  I think we'll finish next session, with 6 players and 9 1st level PC's:
  • 3 Warriors
  • 3 Halflings 
  • 1 Wizard
  • 1 Dwarf
  • 1 Thief

I tried something else a little different last night: Mercurial Magic.  While we've used this concept in the game before, typically I just want the Wizards and Elves to roll this up on their own between sessions.  But last night, with Andy's Wizard Nej, I had him roll Mercurial Magic the first time he cast each spell.  I got the idea off of one of the early Spellburn episodes.  Interesting trade off.  On one hand, it was exciting to see what would happen, and how it could affect the group.  In one instance, we thought he had rolled for a rain of potentially damaging frogs.  But on the other hand it slowed the game down a bit during those moments.  

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

At the conclusion of our first session of A Gathering of the Marked each participating player had a single surviving PC.  These four all advanced to 1st level, and I also gave the team access to the four 0-level fishermen that were rescued during the session.  Since neither Paul nor Jonata played last game, I had each bring three new 0-level characters. 

  • +Alex Perucchini
    • Gastronomix, Dwarf
    • Eugenix, Gallic Fisherman
  • +Marc Plourde
    • Floyd Pink, Warrior
    • Syd, Halfling Mariner (advances as Halfling)
  • +andrew lyon
    • Nej Sllaw, Wizard
    • Karl, Fisherman
  • +Craig McCullough
    • Garik, Warrior
    • Gordon, Halfling Fisherman (advances as Halfling)
  • +Paul Go 
    • Guido, Caravan Guard
    • Erwin, Elven Artisan
    • Wayne, Wainwright (advances as Thief)
  • +Jonata Sodre 
    • Korlos, Halfling Vagrant (advances as Halfling)
    • Otto, Woodcutter (advances as Warrior)
    • Manard, Merchant

A Gathering of the Marked, Part Two

Following their battle with the Rock Demon, the Bearers of the Mark and fisherman allies notice that six wanderers approach the manor.  Four humans, an elf, and a halfling all bear the same circular mark as the original adventuring party, with the same desire to enter the manor.  While preparing to move forward, Floyd tries to carve off the stony shell of the Rock Demon to use as a shield.  As soon as he cuts into the shell, caustic acid blood sprays out nearly killing one of the new Mark Bearers. 

A quick reminder of the dangers ahead!

You'd think that Floyd would realize the danger of an uncured demon shell, especially after watching that acid blast, but he then tries to shove his own arm into the fleshy gap.  Unwise, as it burns his arm.  Floyd wraps the shell in old rags and sulks.  

Entering the courtyard of the manor, Eugenix takes the lead and discovers an old gypsy cart.  The Gaul examines the cart but is immediately attacked by a trio of severed hands.  Fearing that ranged attacks could risk hurting the fisherman, the party enters melee and takes out the threat.  The cart is filled with cheap ale but suitable wine.  But Wayne has other plans.  The wainwright fashions a chariot out of the wagon parts, relying on Nej's Animal Summoning spell to call forth a trusty steed.  Nej summons a scrawny, worm infested mule... a real sick ass. 

Joined by Nej, Wayne mounts the "Chariot of Wayne" and leads the way to the front of the manor.  Before the party of Mark Bearers can enter the structure, a shadowy girl appears again.  This time she holds up two fingers and then pops off her head, and then shakes her head towards the door.  Then she disappears.  Not taking too much time to think about this, the party enters the structure.

The first chamber is filled with portraits of the Blackwater family, obviously the previous owners of the manor.  Massive double doors lead north, with regular doors to the east and west.  After listening to the doors, and hearing snoring to the north, Syd carefully opens the door using some of the party's oil to lubricate the hinge.  Inside, Syd sees a room full of doors, stairs leading to a second floor, and a sleeping swamp ogre.  Syd tells the party of the ogre, and decides to leave the room alone for now.

The party opens the door to the west, revealing a chamber with busted floorboards and large gaping holes into a murky miasma below.  Rather than enter the area carefully, though, Wayne pilots the glorious Chariot of Wayne into this room, sending it careening down into the roiling mist.  Wayne barely escapes the chariot in time, grabbing onto the door, with Nej barely hanging onto Wayne's kicking legs.  Unfortunately the mule gets sucked down, and entangled by phantasmic tentacles.  Before Wayne can leave the room, however, one of the tentacles reaches out and forces its way into the wainwright's mouth.  Wayne feels something go down his throat but pays it no mind.

Guido leads the team into the room to the east.  This chamber serves as a stable for creepy, scrawny, bird headed horse-things.  They tweet to the Bearers of the Mark, but just go back to eating buckets full of eyeballs.

[Judge's Note:  Want to make the Darkmounts sound awesome?  When they "tweet", just say "tweet tweet" as if you sounded like Barry White.  Both creepy AND super sexy!]

As Guido searches the room, a small human appears, clutching a pitchfork and a bucket of eyeballs.  It introduces itself as Stinky, and wants to know what Guido is doing in the room.  But before the two can establish a dialogue, Stink stabs Guido in the guts killing him.  The party murders Stinky, loots Guido, and examines a door leading further east.  This door bulges outward, and Erwin opens it despite realizing the possible danger.  Fortunately the elf is able to jump out of the way before getting covered in fast moving sludge.  This door just leads up and out of the building.

The team tries circumventing the sleeping swamp ogre again, but when Syd enters the goopy miasmic room full of ethereal tentacles, he falls through the floorboards and swallows some of the sludge.  Realizing that something is inside him, Syd asks Gastronomix to punch him in the stomach so that he could puke up the parasite.  Gastronomix accidentally hits Syd in the nose, breaking it.  Syd then puts his finger down his throat, pukes up a large worm, and passes out. 

Wayne considers barfing up his own parasite, but it's soft, soothing whispers are far too enticing.

After much discussion, the party decides to take on Beauregard the Swamp Ogre  They think he is sleeping, and coordinate an all out attack.  But Beauregard was just feigning sleep!  The swamp ogre leaps into battle with a massive warhammer.  But the combined might of the experienced Bearers of the Mark, coupled with Otto's fearsome scream of abject terror, carries the team to victory.  Raiding Beauregard's swag bag, the team finds some gold and a small statue of a pig clutching a bastard sword with the words "Lil Hammy Shows 'em How" engraved on the bottom.  Nej utters the words, and Lil Hammy steps forward with a salute.  The Wizard gains a powerful construct ally! 

The second level of the building is mostly empty, and impeccably clean.  Empty rooms, empty beds, empty shelves, as if someone was waiting for someone else to move into these chambers.  But there is a stairwell leading further up, and the party's collective marks are all burning.  So up they travel.

The highest chamber in the manor fills the entire floor... and it is a terrifying scene.  A massive chamber, easily eighty feet across by fifty feet wide, cut in half by a pool of burning liquid.  On the opposing side of the chamber, a small robed figure eagerly clutches a dagger.  Lined up in front of the man are a bunch of melons, one for each surviving Mark Bearer.  The man calls himself the "Gibleter", and he declares that the party must choose their weakest member as a sacrifice.  He holds his tagger over Erwin's melon, and waits for approval. As he does this, four archers in a pedestal far to the east ready their bows.

Gastronomix is about to offer up Erwin as a sacrifice when Floyd fires his crossbow at the Gibleter.  A battle ensues! Crossbow bolts rain down on the party's foes while many of the warriors leap over the flaming pool to engage in hand-to-hand combat.  The Gibleter stabs Erwin's melon, and the elf falls to the archers' arrows.  Just before he dies, the Gibleter shoves the dagger into Garik's melon. 

Let the record show that it was Floyd with his epic, incredible, over-the-top, amazing, brilliant martial skill that defeated the Gibleter, critically de-legging the foul cultist in one crossbow shot, whilst pushing the maniacal ass-hat back in a wicked-large mighty deed.  

[There, +Marc Plourde... I included it.  *Mic drop*.]

The battle has some ups and downs.  Lil Hammy gets into the action when Nej tosses his statue up towards the archers.  Karl slays one of the archers, but by touching the pedestal, gains the focus of his foes.  He falls a few moments later.  Once all the cultists are defeated, the party enters a room to the east revealing a great alter containing a hidden passage into the bowels below the manor.

Adventure Notes

  • Beauregard's Hammer: 1d10 damage, Str 16+ to use, +1 AC as Shield.  The adventure doesn't allow PC's to heft this thing, but this seemed to make sense.
  • Lil Hammy:  Init +0, Atk Tiny Bastard Sword +1 (1d3); AC 13; HD 1 (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!"
  • Wayne's Mind Worm:  The worm that infests the host's body in area 2-6 is just supposed to cause some stamina damage over time.  I thought that letting it take over the poor PC's brain was much more fitting, especially after it started communicating with it's host.  Early in its stay it granted Wayne a point of Intelligence, and later helped the wainwright boost damage by 1d3 points.  In the end, the Mind Worm finished eating Wayne's brain and it took complete control, granting the PC 1d3 additional points of Agility.


    "It's the seven demon backpack!" - Craig's Jansport was made by the same sorcerer who created the six-demon bag.

    "Merde!  They call this wine?  It's rubbish!" - Eugenix the feisty French-Canadian.

    "For an hour you have a sick ass." - The Judge to Paul after the Sick Ass is attached to the mighty "Chariot of Wayne."  

    "If you pick your nose in the room there's a giant!" - Alex made this rogue comment somewhere in the game.  Not sure when.

    "Hey, I'm dead now!" - Manard's epic scream of death.

    "Leave me be, I'm eating right now." - The Mind Worm to Wayne.  Not what you want to hear from a parasite.

    In Memoriam 

    • Guido - Stabbed by Stinky the Dark Whisperer
    • Eugenix - Smashed like a zit by Beauregard
    • Manard - Hammered by Beauregard, smacks leg off
    • Erwin - Peppered by arrows
    • Karl - Peppered by arrows after standing on a platform

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

    ETU & WW2 - A Hot, Savage Mess

    A Mash-Up Too Far

    How far is "too far?"  

    Last night, I may have hit that boundary, and maybe even broken through to the other side of ridiculous.  I warned of "jumping the shark" on Twitter just a few hours before the game, and while I made the post in jest, it was fairly accurate.  Granted, I've been able to throw some crazy mash ups together quite effectively.  To date, blending Dark Sun with Star Wars in The Strange remains my best concoction.  But last night I learned a valuable lesson:

    Good mash ups require planning and concentration.  Lacking either can lead to a hot mess.  Albeit, a very fun hot mess.  Add alcohol, and the fun hot mess becomes a crazy haze of laughter, dice rolling, and very inappropriate jokes.

    In our last session of East Texas University, three college freshman accidentally drove a Best Buy truck full of XBOX's through a Nazi time portal.  Lacking any good ideas for a follow up adventure, I decided to leave our fate to chance.  So I broke out the Doctor Who Rory's Story Cubes and got the following result:

    From this I derived the following plot:

    At a secret Nazi base hidden within the frozen north of Norway, Doctor Josef Heiter Sr. works at a lab on something called "Operation Grey Hawk."  This operation involves the restoration of a crashed alien vessel (Fraal), and the dissection of the remaining grey aliens.  Dr. Heiter is furious that his program is not working, and has been relying on what he can glean from "Hector" the last living alien, but the alien is resisting all interrogation. 

    The secret base also houses the Nazi time travel and rocket pack programs.  With the time travel portal destroyed, the PC's would need to find a way to either restore the portal or escape the base using another means of transportation. 

    Our music for the evening

    Cast of Characters

    • Abigail (Emily), a nasally voiced Geek studying Psychology
    • Chaz Lannigan (Andy), the socially awkward Computer Science Major who loves to game
    • Cordeleone (Jeremy), an "easy" going member of the French Resistance and "Face" for the OSI
    • Ezra (Ethan), majoring in Cultural Studies this Activist was ready to fight the establishment
    • Big Franc (Jen), a French Resistance fighter and OSI operative


    Really Loose Session Synopsis

    With any hot mess, this one was a bit complicated.  What I can remember is this...

    The college students crash the Best Buy truck into the secret Nazi base, destroying the time portal.  Also in the room are a pair of OSI operatives, hidden in an air shaft in the ceiling: Cordeleone and Big Franc.  The college students, aided by the OSI operatives, eliminate the Nazi soldiers in the chamber.  Cordeleone takes a beaker of alcohol, lights it on fire, and instantly immolates a pair of soldiers.  Ezra and Big Franc both play sniper in the scene while Chaz laments at lacking combat skills.

    Once defeated, the team investigates a nearby hanger holding a flying saucer marked with  swastikas.  The hanger is full of 21st century technology stolen from Best Buy.  Refrigerators, TV's, crates full of Meg Ryan movies... everything the Third Reich needs to conquer the world.  If only they could get the flying saucer to work.  Big Franc grabs a grenade, tossing it at the Meg Ryan videos, causing a distraction that allows Cordeleone to get close to Dr. Heiter and the saucer.  Then she runs back with the rest of the team.

    That's where things get dicey.  The party finds some Nazi uniforms and they all put them on.  Then they split up.  Chaz and Ezra go and free "Hector" the alien creature who originally piloted the flying saucer, or as he called it the "Beep Beep."  Big Franc then goes and cuts off the hands of the four dead soldiers, and throws them back in the hanger, getting the attention of everyone. 

    [I do not know why this happened, but in some alternate universe someone was really enjoying their Red's Apple Ale.]

    A firefight ensues between Big Franc and the soldiers.  Remarkably he is only shot about six times, and Ezra is able to assist in holding off the attackers.  The rest of the team sneak Hector to the flying saucer, just as Cordeleone cracks the code on the side of the vessel, gaining access.  The alien grabs the controls, and exterminates the rest of the guards in the room. 

    The college students and OSI operatives then grab the wounded Big Franc, and leave the base in the flying saucer.


    "For some reason I've been thinking a lot about the Dirty Sandy Duncan." - Jen's always thinking about that DSD.

    "Big Franc needs a big cigar." - I don't remember who said this, but it was fitting.

    "Auf wiedersehen Felicia!" - Felicia's battle cry.

    "If I drop kick the grenade, will it blow up?" - Apparently Jen has never seen a war movie.

    "Meg Ryan was their Aryan ideal." - Jeremy was quite perceptive.

    "Cuff me now, bitches!" - Big Franc's battle cry.

    "Herr Doctor, would you like a Sandy Duncan?" - Cordeleone can be very enticing. 

    Tuesday, February 7, 2017

    Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 4

    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!

    A Soundtrack for The Devil's Spine

    We had a very musical evening last night.  Not sure why, but at several moments during our play session, certain members of our table started breaking out into song.  Admittedly, it was mostly me.  It all started when we discussed Recovery Rolls, a concept in Numenera and the Cypher System that allows PC's to heal on their own.  I can't remember the exact lyrics to this entirely made the Recovery Roll song, but I know that it was brilliantly executed, and it should've been recorded for future use.  Perhaps I have a Kickstarter in my future for official Cypher System mechanics songs.  

    Other songs sung last night include:

    • Black Riage - a Numenera sea shanty about mountains - written and performed by James Walls
    • When It's Love - Van Halen (the good Van Halen, with Sammy Hagar) - performed by James Walls
    • Du Hast - Rammstein - performed by James Walls
    • Boys Don't Cry - The Cure - performed by James Walls
    • Pictures of You - The Cure - performed by David Howard
    • Love Song - The Cure - performed by James Walls

    Looking back at this list, we sure did sing a lot of the Cure at the end of that adventure!  Did I miss anything, guys?  If so, make sure to let me know.  


    • 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 4:  When It's Love

    Days 2-4

    Our adventurous band of numenera hunters arrived at the train station via PL4T0's hover train girlfriend, C01133N.  This station was over two hundred miles southeast of Uxphon, bringing the desperate explorers much closer to the Insidious Choir, and the possibility of their freedom from the Nagaina defender parasites attached to their backs.  While searching the depot for cyphers, PL4T0 accidentally activated an electricity device, damaging his own circuitry.  Belmodan was quick to repair his silicon friend, but did so by disassembling C01133N's terminal on board the hover train.

    Once outside, the party began their trek south.  At the end of their first night, all of the adventurers who required food noticed that their rations had been tainted by the viral apes they battled earlier in the day.  So Nero went hunting for flish (future flying fish, see The Future is Wild.)  A few minutes later, the party noticed that there was a small restaurant nearby called "Nero's Flish Hut."  Nero emerged from the restaurant full of smoked flish, and the party continued their journey.

    [GM's Note:  David rolled a 20 when going hunting for flish.  Since his character "Travels Through Time" I said that he was able to shift himself back in the past to a prior world, and open up a chain of very popular flish restaurants.  Then he returned to the future with one of these restaurants.  I love that focus!]

    As the party traveled south they heard a distant screaming.  Unsure of whether or not this was a festival, a death metal band, or David Lee Roth, PL4T0 investigated the screams, discovering the Lake of Screaming Statues on the opposite side of a hill.  The party weighed the option of visiting the lake, and then decided not to.  Encounter averted!

    At the end of the third night on the road, the party was greeted by a traveling tattoo artist.  Larix Festus, the Half Headed Tattooista, was a capable artist, specialized in working with nanite infused ink.  He was also missing half his head, from the nose up.  Larix claimed that it existed a millisecond in the future.  The party all got tattoos.

    The next morning, the team finally came to a narrow ravine that led to an open field.  A one kilometer tall tower, the base of the Insidious Choir, lay in the distance.  But between the ravine and the tower, a collapsed building blocked passage.  Before the party could move forward, a pair of explorers ran out from the field and hid on the side of the tower facing the team.  A great, mutated cragworm the appeared.  The fifty foot tall creature must have been hunting for the explorers.  

    One of the explorers saw that Belmodan was approaching.  The seeker was the only member of the party not hiding.  The stranger charged Belmodan in an attempt to keep him away from the dangerous cragworm.  Belmodan took this as a threat, and used his whip to trip the explorer.  When she got up, she wasn't too thrilled, but at least the cragworm slinked off. 

    The explorers, Askalar and Theobald, stated that they were headed to the tower of the Insidious Choir to free a man named Dro.  Askalar was one of Dro's friends, as was their now deceased associate Ederana.  Theobald was the group's guide.  Their plan was to sneak past the cragworm (so far they had not been successful) and get into the tower to inject a special,  catholicon antivirus cypher into Dro.  

    At first the two parties discussed teaming up, but then Nero accidentally stated "We'll do our best to save your friend... I lie."  The Nano actually used all those words... really!

    [GM's Note:  The last two words were only included when I hit David with the GM Intrusion.  I don't think David had any intention of those last two words getting included in his character's dialogue.]

    This of course led to a battle, which our intrepid band of adventurous rogues won.  Theobald didn't seem much up for combat, so he was paid with an Invisibility Node cypher to help lead the party into the cragworm's domain.  


    "You're a naughty, naughty seeker... somebody's gonna get the whip again." - David to Andy, creating a very uncomfortable moment in the game.

    "Are you trying to say that C01133N's going to cheat on me?" - A jealous Marc yelling at Craig.

    "Actually, Insidious Choir led by lead singer Black Riage could be a Numenera Death Metal band." - Marc.  I'd pay to see this band.  

    "It's David Lee Roth!  He's Still Alive!" - Marc on the Screaming Statues.  Little did he know that it was Sammy Hagar who lives in the 9th World!

    Larix - "Are you all strong of stomach?"
    Nero - "No."

    "Bra Hammer, didn't they open for The Insidious Choir?" - David.  I'd pay to see that band as well.  

    Tuesday, January 24, 2017

    Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 3

    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!

    What's in the Box?

    Whenever I play the Cypher System (which includes Numenera and The Strange) I try to make sure that each player gets nailed with a GM Intrusion at least once per session.  The timing of these events can vary, but I'm definitely going to dole one out if a player gives me any kind of cue.  So last night, when Marc made a comment about a weird light that was just background filler in the "show 'em" picture I screen shared, I decided to nail his character with... THE BOX!

    GM Intrusion Idea:  The Box

    Level 5.  A small, metallic eyeball opens near the character and projects a 2 meter x 2 meter laser cube around the target.  Anything toughing one of the cube walls instantly takes 5 points of damage as the laser vaporizes flesh and metal alike.  The only way to disengage the device is to have two objects touch opposing sides of the cube at the exact same time.  

    So this most likely means that two of your PC's need to touch each side.   If they don't do it within a split-second of one another, they each take 5 points of damage (if using a hand or finger.)  Last night I let them use items too but hell, be a mean GM and make them use their own flesh.  Force them to put some skin in the game!  My crew spent ten minutes trying to work out a system to touch the two sides simultaneously.  So beautiful to watch them squirm!


    • 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 3:  Trapped in a Box

    Day 2

    The would-be rebels, three of whom still suffered from nagaina defender parasites, did some last minute shopping in Uxphon before setting out for the subterranean conveyance that would take them far into the Black Riage.  The "Catena", an eons old hover train, rested only a few miles from the city of Uxphon, hidden deep within unexplored tunnels and tubes.  Five cars long, the Catena was held in place by three massive, sixty foot long clamps.  To travel via the device, the team would need to disengage the clamps.

    PL4T0 started to explore the area when he accidentally set off an ancient device, trapping itself within a large laser cube (THE BOX!) The silicon drone was eventually freed by Ruun and Keane using the method described above.  

    Continuing to explore, PL4T0 discovered a large lever connected to the rearmost clamp connected to the Catena.  The group then slid down the clamp onto the train itself and searched for a means of entrance.  Although it almost cost him his life in a terrible fall, Belmodan managed to find a door to the frontmost car.  Once inside, PL4T0 interfaced with the long dormant onboard computer.

    The AI's name was C01133N (Colleen), and "she" was completely enamored by PL4T0.  Maybe it was PL4T0's suave interfacing, its sensual filament, or just the fact that the hovering automaton's player rolled a natural 20.  Whatever the case, C01133N assisted the team in gaining access to the Catena, and disengaging all of the cars save for the one in the front.  Unable to find a lever to disconnect the frontmost clamp, Belmodan sprayed the connection with a whole mess o' Friction Reducing Gel, and the team was off!

    About an hour into their trip, the team heard several thumps on the roof of the Catena car.  Belmodan peered outside and saw that three greenish, headless, gelatin looking, entities were climbing atop the moving conveyance.  These Tactile Explorers were extensions of the Insidious Choir, and were a grave threat, and needed to be dealt with immediately.  Although the battle almost cost Ruun his life twice (once by getting knocked almost off the train car, and again when he inhaled a bunch of airborne virus goo), the team prevailed and continued to the opposing Catena station unimpeded.  


    Jim - "You're trapped in a box."
    Marc - "Like Gwyneth Paltrow's head."

    "He's got little Trump hands." - Will describing PL4T0's arms.

    "It's only 'foraging' if you intend to eat Belmodan." - Jim to Will, a commentary on Ruun's diet and survival habits.  

    "I'll consider your filament filling enough." - C01133N to PL4T0

    Marc - "You're making it weird." 
    Jim - "Isn't that what Numenera is all about."

    Sunday, January 22, 2017

    DCCRPG - A Gathering of the Marked - Part One

    A Gathering Approaches

    Now that we finished The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, our tour of +Jon Marr's delightful Sunken City Omnibus must continue forward.  The third adventure in the omnibus, A Gathering of the Marked, is a 0-level funnel that brings together a troupe of "marked" individuals, all being subconsciously driven towards a cursed manor in the Sunken City region.  

    Rather than find a way to connect our previous characters, I opted to give my players the chance to create three new 0-level characters.  We agreed that whoever survived the adventure would be elevated to 2nd level, and be given the opportunity to take a place in The Free Company.  After reading A Gathering of the Marked I figured that we'd need more than one session to complete the adventure.  Most likely two or three.  So right now the plan is to let the players advance their survivors to 1st level at the end of our first session, and then 2nd once they complete the quest.  

    For some reason, last night's game became a bit of a bloodbath... and not because of the adventure, but rather the party infighting.  Of the eight character deaths, four were directly as a result of the PC's going after each other.  What a shame.  This whole "second funnel' concept was to give the players another PC to use in future games.  A "character tree", akin to what the old Dark Sun campaign setting championed.  Unfortunately, some of the best and brightest PC's fell along the path towards the gloomy manor house in this first session. 

    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

    In lieu of our typical characters, this week the players each rolled up a trio of 0-level commoners, peasants, and peons, each one bearing a strange mark on his head. 

    • +Alex Perucchini's 0-levels
      • Cousin Dan, Halfling Farmer
      • Gastronomix, Dwarven Prospector (advancing as a Dwarf)
      • Crazy Tommy, Radish Farmer
    • +Marc Plourde's 0-levels
      • Floyd Pink, Merchant (advancing as a Warrior)
      • John McIntyre, Trapper
      • Horace Goodspeed, Ostler
    • +andrew lyon's 0-levels
      • Nathe Mithsremmah, Caravan Guard
      • Mij Sllaw, Elven Chandler
      • Nej Sllaw, Herbalist (advancing as a Wizard)
    • +Craig McCullough's 0-levels
      • Garik, Mercenary (advancing as a Warrior)
      • Heribert, Jeweler
      • Maximillian, Butcher

    A Gathering of the Marked, Part One

    Twelve individuals use the Sending Stone on the outskirts of the Great City, to travel into the depths of the Sunken City.  Although none of the individuals know each other at first, they all bare the same circular mark on their forehead.  Several of the travelers hypothesize that it is the mysterious mark that generates their compulsion to travel to the darkest depths of the Sunken City, towards an unknown final destination.

    Once they collect themselves, the party sets out towards an abandoned village.  Along the way, a spectral girl appears and points towards Garik.  She motions to be quiet, an then disappears in a puff of smoke.  She leaves behind a rough map of the region.  

    Following the map, the party enters the old village.  All of the buildings are in complete disrepair, save for one.  On the porch of that last, intact house is a man holding a wooden pirate puppet.  A voice calls out to the party, but it seems to come from the puppet and not the man.  The man just continues to smile blankly, and rock the chair.  The puppet introduces himself as Commodore Teak, and he offers some wisdom concerning the town.  The party pays him no mind, and explores the town.

    An old, graveyard themed tavern (complete with coffin tables), yields a few bottles of fine alcohol, yet the disembodied hand crawling around in the corner is a bit disconcerting.

    After leaving the tavern, Horace Goodspeed decides that he wants Commodore Teak's hat.  The ostler marches right up to the puppet and grabs his nautical themed hat.

     "Wrong f***ing move, there sir!" the Commodore shouts as he chops off Horace's arm with one single swipe of a tiny cutlass.  The ostler falls to the ground and bleeds out.

    The party moves on.

    There is a large pit in the center of the village.  The Commodore calls out that the party needs to sacrifice one of their own into the pit to move forward.  Cousin Dan takes note that Nathe is standing too close to the pit, so he charges forward, pushing the poor caravan guard into the gaping maw.  Nathe screams out as he falls, but something catches him. 

    A voice whispers, "grab my hand."

    "What?" Nathe asks?

    Again the voice whispers, "grab my hand."

    Nathe reaches out, and grabs on to a wooden hand.

    "Wrong f***ing move, there sir!" the Commodore calls, as his wooden head appears in the pit.  Nathe is then dragged deeper down.

    As soon as this occurs, a series of shambling, grassy, horrors appear at the edges of the village, moving towards the party.  Everyone starts to run north.  Almost everyone makes it, as one of the horrors grabs Crazy Tommy, carrying him away.

    After fleeing the shambling horrors, the party takes the path to the northeast and comes to a small lake.  Near the lake, a group of priests is kidnapping some fishermen.  The party intervenes, slaying the priests quickly, grabbing their gear, and then forcing the fishermen to give them a lift across the river.

    The trip across the river is not without its challenges.  A terrible, tentacled monstrosity appears in the water!  The party tries fighting the beast off, but it succeeds in devouring both Maximillian and John McIntyre.

    On the other side of the river, the party takes stock of their situation.  A small road leads to a dilapidated manor in the distance.  A fountain near to the path seems to be spewing some kind of "crablike" creatures, so the party decides to circumvent the threat, and try a rear entrance.  The path in the back of the manor is much steeper, and as the party begins to climb, they hear a pair of voices calling out from the bottom of an adjacent ravine.

    The voices claim to belong to the bodies of two dead adventurers.  They each request assistance in being properly buried, and offer to give the party information pertaining to their trek, as well as directions to some hidden treasure. 

    What happens next still does not make sense.

    Mij helps to lower Cousin Dan (who the party already realizes is psychotic) to the bottom of the ravine with some tied off fabric.  Cousin Dan checks the bodies, realizes that he has nothing to bury them with, and asks for the rest of the party to pull up the corpses so that they can be buried somewhere else.  Mij refuses, and pulls up the fabric cord, leaving Cousin Dan at the bottom of the ravine.  Cousin Dan gets angry, and starts demanding assistance.  Everyone in the party watches as Mij continues to refuse.

    Cousin Dan then takes a grappling hook and uses it like a claw to help climb to the top of the ravine.  He's cursing the entire time, threatening Mij.  Floyd Pink takes this as a threat to the entire party, so he stabs and kills Cousin Dan as soon as he reaches the top.  That's when the rock demon appears!

    The battle with the rock demon is swift but terrible.  It kills Heribert outright, and Mij is killed by Mej, who fires into the melee.  The party does eventually defeat the rock demon, but in the end is left with only four of twelve adventurers. 

    The team will need to convince the fishermen to tag along if their numbers are going to be reinforced!

    Adventure Notes

    • Despite the loss of life in this adventure, I don't think A Gathering of the Marked is especially brutal by design.  Most of the killing occurred due to poor luck and/or choices along the way.  There were several opportunities for the PC's to make better choices, but they chose otherwise. 
    • I should also note that I didn't add much to this session.  Besides a few minor twists, I ran everything "stock," just as the Purple Sorcerer designed.
    • At the end of the session, I let the players level-up their survivors.  We got two Warriors, a Dwarf, and a Wizard.  They should compliment The Free Company nicely, if they all survive!
    • To add a bit more meat to the party, I also let the players roll up one additional 0-level character each, to represent the four fishermen saved towards the end of the session.


    "I'm not gonna eat it, I'm gonna taste it.  Just gonna give it a little lick." - Horace didn't know that no one ever survived a funnel by licking stuff. 

    Andy - "Lead the way sir."

    Alex - "No, candlemakers first."
    Andy - "I've never heard of that custom!"

    "We just nominated you, old coot!  It's time to go in the pit, let's go!" - Cousin Dan to Ol' Gus.

    "I was trying to get the testicles, but couldn't reach!" - Cousin Dan, after skewering a priest's thigh with a pitchfork. 

    "I make it up there, you're dead!" - Cousin Dan to the rest of the party.  He didn't make it up there. 

    In Memoriam 

    • Horace Goodspeed - Dis"armed" by Commodore Teak
    • Nathe - Pushed into the pit by Cousin Dan
    • Crazy Tommy - Dragged into the woods by Shambling Horrors
    • John McIntyre - Grabbed by the Tentacle beast in the water
    • Maximillian - Grabbed by the Tentacle beast in the water
    • Cousin Dan - Killed by Floyd Pink, while trying to climb up a wall to kill Mij
    • Mij - Shot in the back by Mej, who was firing into melee
    • Heribert - Pummeled by the Rock Demon