Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quattro con Carnage - Session 4 - Dungeon Crawl Classics



Killing All the Characters!


Recently I was chatting with a good friend of mine, the amazing author and all-around gaming professional Andreas Walters of Metal Weave Games, about OSR gaming and my Quattro con Carnage campaign.  Andreas has a lot of great thoughts and concepts on the subject, and since we still had room in our group, I invited him to roll dice with Jeremy, Andy, Marc, and Craig.  But there was a catch…

I was going to let him play four characters, not one.  

At first this must sound like a great deal, but I know that all my fellow Dungeon Crawl Classics fans will know exactly what I was thinking.  With a new player at the table who needed a character, there is only one true way in DCC to start from scratch.

Character funnel!

In the Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game each new player traditionally comes to the table with four 0-level characters.  These expendable wannabe heroes all possess mundane, NPC-type jobs and backgrounds, and are designed for one important task: to die horrible deaths for the GM's amusement.  

#MwaHaHaHa!

At the end of the first adventure, the poor sod left standing becomes that player's character and is given a 1st level class to choose from.  

For Quattro con Carnage, having Andreas join the team meant that we could experience a true character funnel mid-campaign, despite having started in another system.  Our plan was that Andreas could choose from any characters that survived this adventure, and bring them into the Savage Worlds portion of QcC as a full, Seasoned character.  Using Purple Sorcerer Games' 0-level party generator, we were able craft a magnificent troupe of newbie adventurers: a noble, a radish farmer (complete with sheep), a halfling gypsy, and a dwarven blacksmith.  

Now that we built these shiny, new PC's, it was time to murder them.  


Dramatis Personae con Carnage


Umbrin, played by Jeremy
A guard-for-hire from Tannryth once in the employee of a wealthy Archon
  • Warrior
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str: 14,  Agi: 12,  Sta: 11,  Pers: 12,  Luc: 14,  Int: 10  
  • Hit Points:  18

Lomman Senan, played by Marc
A devout crusader of Ogmios looking enforce some "justice healing"
  • Cleric
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str: 10,  Agi: 8,  Sta: 17,  Per: 17,  Luc: 11,  Int: 12
  • Hit Points:  14

Rydian Ornitiar, played by Andy
An Aarenian relic-hunter who longs to recover a lost family artifact
  • Elf
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str: 13,  Agi: 15,  Sta: 12,  Per: 8,  Luc: 14,  Int: 18
  • Hit Points:  12

Jorin Everlast, played by Craig
A pilfering initiate to the Embrace who just "made bones" 
  • Halfling
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str: 14,  Agi: 16,  Sta: 13,  Per: 11,  Luc: 9,  Int: 9
  • Hit Points:  15

The Villagers of Happenstance, played by Andreas
A group of survivors willing to stay in their hometown and defend it against evil and snow
  • Jarvia, the Noble
  • Lothair, the Radish Farmer
  • Idelle, the Halfling Gypsy
  • Drogos, the Dwarven Blacksmith


Let's Open All the Doors at Once



When Umbrin, Lomman, Rydian and Jorin entered Happenstance there wasn't a single soul on the snow covered roads.  Any signs of life would've been quickly buried by the blizzard's blinding fury.  So when the four adventurers approached the ominous keep, strangely untouched by the blizzard, they were quite surprised to find four townsfolk, alive and equipped with meager adventuring supplies.  Jarvia, a noble human of Happenstance, introduced herself and the rest of her "party": Lothair, a local farmer armed with pitchfork and a live sheep, Idelle, a traveling halfling fortune-teller, and Drogos, an impulsive yet brilliant craftsdwarf who had the personality of Lothair's sheep [Personality score of 3].  

Jarvia claimed that the keep was an evil, abandoned building that the townsfolk did their best to avoid.  Situated along the edge of the Ever After, the keep had been all but forgotten until a recent earthquake caused the structure to move closer to the ledge.  Immediately a powerful blizzard blew into Happenstance, and it almost seemed as if the weather was emanating from the skies above the keep.  

Lomman knew that the team was going to have to enter the keep to uncover the source of the murderous cold, and began saying a prayer to Ogmios for protection from evil.  But Lomman's thoughts had been somewhat improper as of late.  The cleric found his mind wandering towards Rydian's new patron, the King of Elfland.  Lomman then wondered if there was a Queen of Elfland, and how she would look?  Was she beautiful?  Was she available?  Would she find a human cleric of Ogmios attractive?  What if she were to…

Just as Lomman's thoughts turned towards mature subjects, the cleric felt like mind was completely invaded by a powerful, yet jealous force of law.  It was his god Ogmios, and the deity knew Lomman's new lusty secret!  Lomman felt his god's disapproval in a very serious way, and some of his power began to slip from his soul.  To regain Ogmios' favor, the crusader would need to convert a new follower very quickly.  Luckily the dwarf Drogos was an agnostic, but seemed open to a higher calling.  Lomman performed a ritual of conversion right there on the spot, and managed to regain the favor and grace of Ogmios in a mere instant!  

[GM's Note:  This is what happens when your cleric rolls a "1" on a spellcasting check… in DCC there are penalties to having poorly trained dice.]

Since she was the last surviving noble in Happenstance, Jarvia pulled her longsword from its scabbard and entered the keep, Jorin only a few feet behind.  The halfling's torch illuminated the building's aging but well maintained foyer, revealing two hallways to the north and one to the east.  The first hall to the north seemed to lead to a coat room, full of dusty leathers and old cloaks.  Umbrin took a ten-foot pole that the party had been carrying around, and started shoving it into the coat room, hoping to disturb any traps or terrors that hide within.  

Although devoid of traps, there were six shrieking terrors!  A  small pack of giant rats darted out of the coat room and started gnawing on the party.  The entire troupe stared in horror when the lead rat climbed up Lothair's chest, tore out his throat, and buried itself waist deep in the man's trachea.  Shaking the bewilderment from their heads the team pulled their weapons and started to slash, stab, and smash at the dangerous vermin.  Rydian backed up as far as he could and began unleashing arrows.  In seconds the battle was over, and the team experienced their first tragic death.  It would not be their last.  

The coat room yielded a modest reward: over one-hundred gold pieces, several dozen silver, and a quartet of finely crafted daggers, all kept in a rather boring strongbox.  The party divvied up their find and moved into the next room to the north, a dimly lit library.  

In the center of the library was a small table, with a single blue candle burning next to an ornate book.  Umbrin pushed the sheep (to be named "Chewie") into the room first, and when nothing happened the rest of the party entered the library.  Drogos' curious mind was greatly intrigued by the book.   The tome was opened to a beautiful illustration of a frost covered landscape.  Almost as if he was mesmerized by the scene, and before anyone else could stop him, the dwarf lifted the tome.  

The entire room started to spin for everyone in the keep.  The warm walls of the building were quickly replaced by a frozen white hall, one-hundred feet across and nearly fifty feet high.  It was a massive igloo, with a single archway to the north leading to a scintillating hallway.  Realizing that they had been teleported, Rydian snatched the book from Drogos' hands and examined the pages and binding.  Aided by his connection to the King of Elfland, the elf revealed that the book was titled "The Iceshard Wasting", and it had a connection to the "Queen of the Ever After."  

Lomman started to wonder about this new, and potentially attractive queen before catching his impure thoughts.

Rydian told his team that book triggered the teleportation spell, and that they were now on  another plane of existence.  They would need to find a similar gate or gate key to return them all to Tannryth.  Since he was the one that got the party into this mess, Drogos took the scouting sheep and walked through the archway to the north.    

The hallway was lit by strange flashing colors on the outside of the ice block walls.  At the far end of the frozen hallway was a simple door made of a stray gray substance.  On the outside of the gray door was a pattern of jewels arranged in the star, and these little ornate bits were just too much for Drogos to pass up.  The dwarf tried prying one of the jewels away from the door, but ended up getting blasted by a cold, white beam of energy.  Idelle stepped forward and decided to open the door, and the cold beam struck again, killing the little halfling gypsy instantly.  

There was no time to pray for Idelle's soul, as the next room seemed to be just as deadly.  Longer and wider than the hallway, there was a door on the opposite side, but on either side of the portal stood a pair of statues.  Each statue was holding an icicle tipped spear pointed at the door Idelle had just opened.  Umbrin pushed the sheep into the room, but it only managed a pair of steps before one of the statues chucked a spear, impaling poor Chewie.  Rydian didn't have a way to disarm the statues, but he could possibly open the door on the far side of the room if he could muster enough power with his lone Cantrip scroll.  Invoking an ancient rite of spellburning, the elf closed his eyes tightly and used a telekinetic bolt to push open the door.  But when he opened his eyes his left eye kept twitching…

… and twitching… and twitching… until the end of his days.

Lomman realized that a prayer could possibly keep him safe from harm, and therefore he could be the perfect "bait" for the last three spears.  Grabbing his Shield of the New Mountains and saying his "prayers", Lomman carefully entered the room.  The three statues still threw their weapons, however.  Two of the spears clattered against his divinely reinforced shield, but the third hit the cleric just below his right thigh.  

Lomman had taken a spear to the knee!  

The rest of the party helped Lomman up, and he was able to heal his wounds while the rest of the team checked out the last remaining icicle tipped spear.  A single-use magical weapon, the weapon could prove useful later.  

Umbrin and Rydian approached the northern door looking into the next chamber.  It was over fifty feet across and nearly as long, and near the north-west corner stood a massive thirty foot tall statue of a barbarian on a great pedestal.  The barbarian statue was pointing at the floor near the entrance to the room.  No matter, the team still entered the room en masse, to no ill-effect.  

As the party began to investigate the three doorways exiting the large room, one to the north, one west, and another on the eastern wall, the statue slowly started to shake and move.  Drogos moved closer the doorway to the east and a ball of "cold fire" flew out from the statues finger, which the dwarf quickly dodged.  The team started to spread out, and run all across the room like a pack of mad cats.  Rydian ran to the eastern door and pushed it open.  Bad idea!  The room contained seven piles of bones that rose from the floor and started to shamble towards the elf.  Jorin ran up next to the door and closed it, but then felt a blast of cold fire splash all around, as he and Rydian were engulfed and continued to burn.  

Umbrin had jogged over to the western door and opened it wide revealing a long hallway that turned south.  Before the warrior could further explore, however, the two townsfolk Jarvia and Drogos ran past him, and turned the corner entering another large room with a single stone throne…

… and a giant friggin' snake with an icy horn in its head!  

The snake announced itself as "Sssissurrragg," the ice demon serpent.  Jarvia was about to call for help but the snake uncoiled and sunk its teeth into the noble's face.  She was dead before she hit the floor.  Drogos chucked the icicle tipped spear at the creature and then began to scream like a little gnome child.  Hearing the dwarven blacksmith's cries, Umbrin dashed into the ice demon serpent's chamber, battle axe in hand.  It really didn't matter what weapon the human warrior carried, he couldn't hit the snake.  Ever.  Perhaps it was fear, or stress, or just simple performance anxiety, but Umbrin would swing, and swing, and swing and not land a single blow.  So we'll skip those scenes.  

While Drogos was screaming and Umbrin cursing his piss-poor luck, there was a lot of activity going on still in that central chamber.  Rydian and Jorin, both in absolute agony as they burned coldly, were on the ground rolling back and forth hoping that it would put out the blue flames.  Luckily for the elf and halfling, Lomman leaped onto the great statue's platform and the addition of his armored weight broke the mechanism that allowed the great mass to turn.  Rydian was a sucker for pain, however.  While Lomman was healing Jorin's wounds, and Rydian had only just stopped burning, the elf opened the northern doorway revealing a long, frozen pool and six crystal statues that were marching about the room.  

Rydian closed the door, and hoped the statues didn't see him.  

It was around that time that the door to the east burst open.  The seven shambling skeletons poured into the central chamber, each looking to get a piece of the little elven bastard who disturbed their eternal rest.  But Rydian was done getting kicked around.  Again invoking the rite of spellburning, Rydian swore an oath to the Queen of the Ever After,  that he would do her bidding so long as she aided in his magic missile spell.  Five bolts of lightning flew from Rydian's fingers, striking down five of the skeletal shambles.  The two remaining fled as Lomman the cleric pulled his holy symbol of Ogmios and commanded them to turn and retreat.  

Meanwhile…

Hearing Umbrin's incessant cursing, and the repeated clatter of battle axe on stone floor, Jorin charged into the ice demon serpent's chamber with two short swords ready for action.  Jorin sliced the snake several times, causing it to coil in pain.  Seeing an opportunity to prove himself to the rest of his team, Drogos ran over and pried the longsword out of Jarvia's cold dead hand.  With a single swing the dwarven blacksmith sliced the Horn of the Ice Demon from Sssissurrragg's skull, killing the creature instantly.  

The entire structure instantly started to melt, and the party all regrouped in the central chamber.  There was only one door left to the north, and despite Rydian's trepidation, he opened it.  But instead of seeing a frozen pool, there was water, and an ethereal figure hovering just above.  The entity announced itself as the Queen of the Ever After.  She had bestowed upon Rydian great power, and now demanded a quest in return.  The elf was to take the Iceshard Wasting and the Horn of the Ice Demon, and carry them to the Lost Chasm located deep within the Ever After.  Doing this would return the Queen's power, and also remove the "quest" curse that she placed upon poor Rydian.  The Queen told the party to jump into the pool of water, and as each did so, they found themselves in the center of the old keep.

Stepping out of the dilapidated structure, the adventurers realized that it was no longer cold or snowing, and the keep had slid to the very bottom of the Fall, nearly a thousand yards straight down.  Beyond the Fall was the Ever After, and all of the terrible, horrible dangers that awaited.  

"Any of you guys have a ladder?" Umbrin quipped as he hefted his unlucky battle axe onto his shoulder.  


Most Notable Quotations



Jim - "He has a sheep, a live sheep."
Andreas - "It's a mount."
Marc - "What you do in your personal time is your own business."

"I have a sheep if you'd like to convert it… he's very faithful." - Andreas was trying to help Marc out.  

Jim - "In a few years, or sooner, this will collapse into the Ever After." 
Jeremy - "So this is a temporary problem?"

"Can't draw blood, can't think about women, this is the worst job ever." - Lomman hoped Ogmios didn't hear this comment.  

"Give me that book you simpleton." - Rydian was done with Drogos' impulsiveness.

"I just want to note, we didn't tell her to open the door." - And thus Andy takes no blame for Idelle's death.  

"The sheep is 10 feet into the room.  The room of death.  I have no intention of getting the body." - Lomman was so brave!

Marc - "You don't want to mess with the statue."
Jeremy - "I don't want to mess with the statue, I want to mess with what the statue is wearing."
Marc - "I think that qualifies as messing with the statue." 

"… 'and then without parley or hesitation' the mother-fucker attacks!" - Jim put a great scene-description together.  The first part actually came from the DCCRPG core book… the GM added the mother-fucker.

Jim - "Has he ever hit anything?"
Jeremy - "Once… he killed a rat…" 

"Despite DCC's best efforts, your dice are making it look like crap." - Marc was questioning Jeremy's enjoyment of the evening.

Behind the Schemes


Initially I was going to offer "Quest for the Silver Sword" during the BFRPG segment of QcC as a potential quest.  The snow storm curse was taken from this module.   When the party didn't choose this quest, but seemed interested in taking care of Zerlina's Rest's blizzard problem, I merged the first part of Quest for the Silver Sword with "The Portal Under the Stars", a DCC adventure.  So if you are familiar with either adventure you may notice that they are cobbled together in a rather haphazard way!  Actually I only used the first part of "The Portal Under the Stars", and then reskinned most of it using ice.  Cold fire, igloo walls, an ice demon… yeah… I made all that up!  

Reactions at the end of our Dungeon Crawl Classics portion of Quattro con Carnage were interesting.  Both Marc and Andy seemed to enjoy the magic systems for Cleric and Elf respectively.  Andy said in particular that liked the twist on magic, and that wizards and elves could keep casting spells until they botched a roll.  

Comparing the DCC version of Lomman to the BFRPG version, Marc stated "I definitely feel that Lomman felt more capable…", however his dice rolling didn't aways make it feel that way.  I'm really excited to see Marc's take on DCC when he writes his blogpost!  

In the end, I felt really bad for Jeremy and his character Umbrin.  Jeremy's dice weren't rolling the way he'd like, and desire rolling a 1d20+1d4+2 for every attack, he only landed one blow the entire evening.  Of all the character class mechanics I wanted to see, Mighty Deeds was high on my list, and I can't even remember if Umbrin pulled off a single attempt.  

Sorry Jeremy!

In the end I'm a little sad to switch from Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG to Savage Worlds.  I love Savage Worlds, but I was just starting to get the hang of GM'ing this game's crazy combat scenes.  But my initial promise was to stick to two sessions per system, and I'm not about to change.  We're at the halfway point, and about to see what Savage Worlds can do with old school fantasy characters! 

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All of the fun so far: