Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quattro con Carnage - Session 2 - Basic Fantasy RPG


Slight Change of Format


I decided to merge my additional thoughts "Behind the Schemes" into the regular summary blog post because I'm being lazy this week.  Maybe its the holiday, or the fact that I've had the flu and it has turned into bronchitis.  Either or.  So skip past the next few segments if you'd like to just read that part.  


Dramatis Personae con Carnage


  • Umbrin, a guard-for-hire from Tannryth once in the employee of a wealthy Archon, played by Jeremy
  • Lomman Senan, a devout crusader of Ogmios looking to enforce some "justice healing", played by Marc
  • Rydian Ornitiar, an elven relic-hunter who longs to recover a lost family artifact, played by Andy
  • Jorin Everlast, a pilfering halfling initiate to the Embrace who just "made bones", played by Craig

The Fountain of Health, Part 2

Adventure by Ann Dupuis, first featured in Dungeon Magazine Issue #39


Rhadaro the dwarven armorer brought his two draft pony cart to a stop just outside of the ruined walls surrounding the legendary Fountain of Health.  His daughter was dying from goblin poison, so the small team of adventurers accompanying Rhadaro was the little girl’s last hope.  Umbrin the guard-for-hire immediately walked the perimeter of the one-hundred foot by one-hundred-and-fifty food old temple, looking for entrances.  Rydian Ornitiar the elf reviewed his spellbook one last time before placing it in his satchel and drawing his bow.  Lomman Senan the crusading priest spent his last few minutes before entering the ruin in deep prayer to Ogmios, piously kneeling next to the cart, palms raised and eyes shut tightly.  Jorin Everlast the thieving Halfling was eating a sandwich.  Chances are that it wasn't his.

The four adventurers and their mercenary hireling, Serathos the bowman, entered the old ruin from the west.  The Fountain of Health was located somewhere inside this temple to an old god and while the dilapidated structure didn’t appear to be cursed, it was obvious that few souls had visited this place in recent years.  Passing through the entrance, the party was somewhat relieved to find that most of the structure was open to the sky above, which meant that the natural sunlight would illuminate much of their quest.  Almost all of the old columns in the structure had also collapsed, blocking some of the engineered paths, while creating unexpected portals where they smashed through walls.  At the center of the structure’s great entrance was a stone statue of a minotaur.  Rydian murmured a few divining words, and cast detect magic on the structure, revealing both the minotaur, and the axe it was holding, to be magical.  Climbing on top of a fallen column, Rydian squinted to make out any more details.  The axe had fresh blood on its blade, and a dead villager lay at the minotaur’s feet with a gaping wound in his chest.  The elf wasn’t sure if the statue was a trap or a golem, so the party chose to stay as far away as possible and conserve the few resources they possessed.

There were several exits from the room, including a portal to the northwest, as well as a few places where one could use the fallen columns to climb into adjacent hallways.  Umbrin tossed a rock through the portal in the northwest and heard a hiss as five giant centipedes fought over the stone, hoping it was food.  Rydian climbed up a column in the northern section of the room and saw more signs of dire insect droppings in the adjacent hallway and chambers, but also was able to make out a small nest of giant rats behind the minotaur statue.  The nest was full of gold and trinkets, so the elf made a note to come back to that area once the mission was completed.

The party chose to take on the giant centipedes first, and all five adventurers lined up behind one of the fallen columns to launch their missiles at the insects.  Five shots (including a thrown rock from Lomman), felled three of the centipedes, but two quickly turned and darted across the floor towards the party.  When Serathos was bitten he was poisoned instantly and died, so the party stood their distance and finished off the two remaining bugs.  At least with all the hirelings gone, the split on the treasure was becoming more favorable for the team.  The room that the centipedes were using for a next contained a few broken old beds and some stray coins but little else of interest.

The northern hallway was covered in filth, so Umbrin again threw a rock hoping to flush out whatever was waiting for the party.  This time it was a pair of giant tiger beetles! The monstrous bugs were the size of barrels, and they bolted down the hallway towards the party.  This battle was much more challenging for the team.  Both Lomman and Umbrin sustained serious wounds from the beetles, as their mandibles could crush with the strength of two short swords.  But their insects’ carapace was nearly impervious to the party’s weapons, and only one blow out of four was landing.  When the skirmish was over, Umbrin was badly hurt forcing Lomman to expend much of his healing ability.

The chambers attached to the northern hallway revealed some interesting finds.  One notable trinket was a dead skeleton clutching a golden gargoyle pendant.  Lomman examined the pendant first, and believed the creature on the necklace to be an ancient god.  Umbrin decided to don the pendant, hoping that the sleeping gods in the temple would look favorably on the fighter, or possibly just not look at him at all.  Following the hallway as it led east, the party was about to turn south and cut across the length of the temple when Rydian’s elven eyes noticed something peculiar.  There was a secret door nearby, that led to another chamber in the north.  Jorin gave the door a quick look and noticed that while it was not trapped on purpose, there were timbers precariously held in place by the door, and jostling it free could cause them to collapse.  The Halfling disarmed the "trap" and led the team into the adjacent chambers.

The next chamber was another long hallway, but on the southern end of the wall were two large, polished stone doors with golden hinges and handles.  On the floor of the chamber was a dead woman, killed recently, with claw marks covering much of her body.  The ornate doors to the south led the group to believe that this was the entrance to the Fountain of Health itself, so the team prepared itself emotionally before opening the stone doors. Inside was a dark room, as the roof of the interior temple was still intact.  Jorin lit a torch and moved into one of the corners while Umbrin and Lomman approached a small pool of water at the center of the room.  Rydian had a bad feeling about the room, and stayed just outside, but with a full view of the chamber.  The pool of water was at the bottom of a series of circular steps, carved into the center of the room.  Adjacent to the pool was a black stone gargoyle statue.  Umbrin was still wearing the pendant from earlier, and noticed that there was a similarity.  Nonchalantly, Lomman pulled out his waterskin, and began to fill it with waters from the pool.

The gargoyle immediately attacked!

The horrific construct lashed out with two claws, a bite, and its horns, completely taking the cleric by surprise.  The rest of the party immediately started attacking the gargoyle, but their arrows seemed to have no effect.  Umbrin noticed that the creature actually didn’t pay him any attention whatsoever, and so the fighter instead finished filling up a waterskin before turning to aid the crusading cleric.  Lomman was having a very rough time defending himself from the brutality of the gargoyle.  His own protection from evil prayer was giving him some added vitality, and his armor was bolstered by Rydian’s barkskin spell, but after a few more strikes by the gargoyle, Lomman’s vision went black.  Umbrin quickly started dragging the cleric out of the room, but noticed that the gargoyle wouldn’t stop slashing at the priest.  The fighter put himself directly between the two and was slashed and gored horribly, but still, Umbrin’s brave actions saved the party’s cleric.  Once outside of the chamber the entire team started to catch their breath while Umbrin poured healing waters down Lomman’s throat.  The crusading priest awoke just in time to notice three blood-sucking stirges appear at the edge of the northern wall.

It was some kind of random encounter!

Figuring that more healing waters would be needed, and knowing that the gargoyle wouldn’t attack anyone with the pendant, Umbrin charged back into the Fountain temple to get more water.  Of the three stirges attacking, arrows and bolts felled one, while the other two flew down and attacked Jorin and Rydian.  Rydian ended up with one of the creatures attached to his chest, sucking the juices from the poor spellcaster.  Lomman whipped out his mace and charged forward, hoping to kill the stirge with one blow.  Unfortunately the cleric missed, hit Rydian, and caused the elf to start bleeding out from a skull fracture.  Umbrin took another order for healing waters.

When the party finished off the stirges, Lomman declared loudly that the quest was completed.  The team had one wineskin full of healing waters still, and brought it to Rhadaro for his daughter.  They would come back to the temple later the next day to take care of the gold left in the rats’ nest, but Rydian and Lomman were both low on spells.  The healing waters successfully cured little Oarei, and true to his word, her father gave the party the Shield of the New Mountains as payment.


Despite their success at the Fountain of Health, there was now a cold snap in the air as the cursed winds from Happenstance were starting to blow east towards Zerlina’s Rest.
 The team of adventurers took note of the unnatural change in weather while drinking hot cider at the Silver Reed. Jorin Everlast seemed particularly unsettled at dinner, but it was not the weather that disturbed him.  A member of the Embrace was seeking the Halfling thief, and Jorin had the feeling that maybe he should’ve pushed harder for the milk run the day before.


Most Notable Quotations



Jim - "There's blood on the axe." 
Marc - "That's not paint?" 

"Hey guys… I'm thinkin' that that statue is a magically petrified actual minotaur!" - Andy knows just how the GM thinks.  

"Statues can't move, so there must be something else here." - Jeremy would never find out.  

Jeremy - "Can I spend an XP and let him re-roll?"
Jim - "No." 
Marc - "Can I spend $0.99 and let him re-roll?"
[Earlier in the evening I had a discussion on G+ about incorporating in-game purchases, pay-to-play features, and downloadable content into my tabletop RPGs.  I may be on to something!]

"I'm all for taking the handles and hinges off and getting out of here." - Jorin took one look at the ornate doors, and decided he was finished for the evening.

"Friends we have found the damned fountain, we are surely at the end of our quest." - Lomman was almost at the END of his quest.

"I'm going to stand back." - Andy had the best idea all night.

"I feel like my character in his Numenera incarnation is going to feel like an ultra powerful superstar, in comparison to this game!" - Marc when the GM asked for a "reaction" quote.


Behind the Schemes



Seeing how the party took on the challenges of last night's game, I think that the team was fully prepared to handle all of the crazy dangers that stalk a typical low-level adventure module.  "Fountain of Health" is designed for five to six 1st level characters, and I ran the adventure straight off of the pages of Dungeon Magazine, holding nothing back.  Our team consisted of four 3rd level characters and a 1st level NPC (RIP Serathos).  If the dice fell a bit differently last night, Lomman could've been dead, and possibly Umbrin and Rydian as well.  Actually, if I hand''t ruled that negative hit points were tracked to -10, and just kept with the old-school "death at 0-hp", we'd be down half the party by adventure's end. 

I thought it was interesting the way the party completely skipped the first encounter with the minotaur statue.  In the adventure as written, the statue is a low-powered stone golem that only has eight hit points left, but is carrying a +1 battle-axe that yields +2 versus stone creatures.  In the last battle with the gargoyle this weapon would have been required if the party decided to stay and try to kill the creature.  But these guys weren’t greedy.  They realized that encountering the statue, as either a trap or creature, would’ve taken resources they didn’t have to spend.  If this were an ongoing campaign, in any system, I would’ve assigned an experience point award for playing their characters well and staying on task.  Granted, in a long-term campaign they could also have spent the night outside in a tent and then gone back in to further raid, clearing the dungeon.  That’s why I let them have the treasure of the rat’s nest.

Moving into Dungeon Crawl Classics I’m excited to see how the players are forced to evolve based on the unique character class abilities, crazy critical hit tables, and potential negative impacts of spellburn, wizard corruption, and cleric disapproval.  The team is entering DCC still very much intact as your typical low-leveled adventuring party, but there’s something about all those random effects that completely changes a character and potentially how they are played.  Also interesting to note is that our buddy Matt will be joining in next session, but instead of playing one character, he’s going to have four.  Everyone else is going to be transitioning from a 3rd level BFRPG character to a 2nd level DCC character, since there are only 10 levels in the latter.  But Matt’s going to be entering with a troupe of four 0-level non-adventuring characters… similar to what you’d see in a DCC "funnel."  Whoever survives that first evening gets to be Matt’s character going forward. 

It should be a blast!


Miss a Quattro con Carnage Post?  


All of the fun so far: