Last night featured some of the craziest dice rolling, character antics, and terrible deaths that I've ever seen at a gaming table. It was also an evening of plaid pants, Harvey Wallbangers, Watergate Salad, and jelly glazed meats. After months of speculation, planning, and recruiting, it all came down to one night:
That 70's Game!
I have been talking about it since getting involved in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG back in the early fall. As soon as I picked up this game, which embraces Appendix N fantasy, and 70's AD&D nostalgia, I wanted to do something special. My wife, being the incredible party planner that she is, took care of preparation. She gauranteed an incredible evening of gaming featuring some classic snacks and drinks, and classier costumes.
Okay, so we went a little too far with the outfits.
But the gaming was downright epic! For last night's event we went with DCC adventure #67, Sailors on the Starless Sea by the one and only +Harley Stroh. This was the very first module written for the DCCRPG system, a 0-level "funnel" featuring a rag-tag team of farmers and artisans as they band together and try to free their village from the horrors of chaos. Sailors on the Starless Sea is also the perfect introduction for new players, not only into DCCRPG, but into the role-playing itself.
Our table featured a raucous collection of players, both seasoned RPG veterans and newcomers to our hobby. Of course my wife has played her fair share of games, and both Frank and Andy have continuously played RPG's for years. All three of our vets played at least one session of DCCRPG prior to this event. Cheryl and Ed took part in my Adventures in the East Mark games with the Norwin Game Knights, and Dan used to play Dungeons & Dragons several years back. For Anna, Sailors on the Starless Sea would be her very first role-playing experience.
Given that this was a 0-level funnel, I printed 28 characters out ahead of time, and gave each player 3 randomly generated commoner using Purple Sorcerer Games' online program. This crawl began with 21 characters, and I kept 7 in reserve, just in case we had a lot of character death towards the beginning.
Our Cast of Characters
- Lurd, Gongfarmer
- Dirk Gamms, Butcher
- Jurius the Lesser, Elven Artisan
- George, Elven Glassblower
- Stinky, Dwarf Mushroom-Farmer
- Toni, Halfling Glovemaker
- Moe Bones, Gravedigger
- Mary Typhus, Dwarf Rat-Catcher
- Ben High, Dwarf Apothecarist
- Charl, Elven Forester
- Loman, Noble
- Umbrin, Dwarf Mushroom-Farmer
- Hiho, Rice Farmer
- Bleek, Armorer
- Daisy, Dwarf Blacksmith
- Sonny, Parsnip Farmer
- Cher, Cooper
- Farrah, Fortune Teller
- Jethro, Wheat Farmer
- Quibbles, Elven Barrister
- Alby Tross, Halfling Mariner
|There was a lot of planning last night!|
I'm going to tell you ahead of time that this is not going to be one of my typical play reports. It's a bit messy. Keeping track of twenty-one individual characters and what each one does is quite a challenge. I tried it once, back when we first played Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, and it was a lot of work. Essentially I had to log a note each time that someone performed an action, and very often was asking "who did that again?"
The other complication last night that impeded my ability to do a full play report was the constant flow of libations. I made a pitcher of Harvey Wallbangers, and we had a lot of great beer. Needless to say, all of the character actions started to blend in towards the end of the game.
Oh, here's the recipe for the Harvey Wallbangers… but be warned, they are strong:
- 3 parts vodka
- 6 parts orange juice
- Pour over ice
- 1 part Galliano, floated on top
I mixed the vodka and orange juice ahead of time, and kept the Galliano near the table.
|Cadence is towards the east of the map|
A Short Play-by-Play
As a note, I used the Tannryth: Realm of … Something setting from Quattro con Carnage for this adventure.
Our quivering, fearful band of pitchfork wielding commoners approached an ancient fortress near the village of Cadence, on the eastern wilds of Tannryth. The villagers had been plagued by terrors that would steal innocent people in the night and transform them into horrible monstrosities. Loman, a local noble, led this posse to a fortress long rumored to be a source of chaos. He was not a trained soldier, nor were the other twenty members of his band, but they had their wits.
Upon reaching the edge of the fortress, the party considered their options for entering the structure. The raised portcullis at the main gate seemed tempting, but a collapsed wall along the western edge seemed safer, especially if the forces of chaos were waiting. Charle, an elven forester, was sent up the broken wall alone. He succeeded in triggering a rockslide that stabilized the great stones. When a stray rock struck Charle's head, killing him instantly, he died satisfied of his contribution to the team.
The dwarves of the party noticed that there was a gap in the collapsed wall, leading to a tunnel below. The team entered this area, coming across a sealed door. Farrah the fortune-teller read the ominous runes, that foretold of traps and terrors. Jethro the wheat farmer had a sharp eye and noticed a small flame trap connected to the door. Jurius the Lesser, an elven artisan, had clay, and plugged the hole. After hefting the door to the side, an icy crypt was revealed.
The crypt's floor was covered in ice and the chill inside the room would mean death to anyone spending a few moments inside. A duck attached to a rope was sent in as a scout, but after slipping and freezing to the floor, the team yanked it back, it's wingless dead body stowed in a sack for future use. Someone came up with the bright idea of making torches out of cloth, oil, and a nearby bush. These torches allowed the party to clear some of the ice away. In the center of the room was a great stone slab, and a dead body clad in terrible hide armor holding a monstrous battle-ax made of meteoric iron.
Jethro continued to search the room, noticing a door on the opposite side. Unfortunately, when Jethro tried to check the door for traps, he uncovered something "shocking." The rest of the party watched in terror as the party's sharp-eyed wheat farmer touched the door, started shaking violently, and died. Not knowing of any other way to open the opposing door, and not wanting to leave the room empty handed, Sonny the exceptionally strong parsnip farmer grabbed the cursed axe, while Moe Bones the gravedigger donned the suit of cursed hide armor.
Before leaving the chamber, Mary Typhus the dwarven rat-catcher pushed the dead body off of the stone slab and climbed on top. When she laid down she instantly froze to death.
Back at the top of the broken wall, Quibbles the elven barrister surveyed the scene inside the fortress. There was a massive, open maw fifty feet across taking up a quarter of the field, a well, a burnt structure, and a door leading into one of the towers. There was also the portcullis with two adjacent towers.
The team chose to investigate the great chasm first, sending Umbrin the dwarven mushroom-farmer close to the edge. He was tied off with rope, so when the ground gave out, his fall into the void was only fifteen feet. All around the dwarf were howling souls and spirits. The nearby well was equally perilous, and anyone who stepped close to the edge had to resist a compulsion to cast themselves into the darkness.
While investigating the well, George the elven glassblower fell to the ground, choking on blood and clutching a spear sticking out of his chest. Two terrible beastmen were nearby, having crept out from the guard tower near the portcullis. The party charged and took these two, and after slaying them grabbed their weapons. The spears would serve as better armament than the shovels, trowels, and quills the party carried into combat.
The party next checked out the charred structure to the east. It was a burned down church of chaos, with a strange and eerie frog-god statue situated above a black and inky pool of ooze at the center. Grabbing the meager resources left behind, including some chain mail suites and a few mace-heads, when the commoners went to investigate the pool, it lifted up and started to attack the party.
It was a tar ooze, and Ben High, dwarven apothecarist realized that it would get more powerful if it were lit on fire. This, of course, was after someone already lit it on fire. Miraculously, the party made short work of the ooze. Loman's blade, while not completely effective, cut severed a quarter of the ooze while Sitnky the dwarven mushroom-farmer's "mace-head in a sack" splashed the tar into oblivion.
Next the team headed over to the main tower of the structure. Quibbles listened closely to the door and heard grunting and squealing inside. Instead of marching in, the posse searched the southern wall revealing a secret door. Upon entering, there was a long path, leading up to a band of beastmen led by a "minotaur", having a live pig for lunch. The corridor was blocked by collapsed wooden beams, but Daisy the dwarven blacksmith quickly bolstered these with her tools. Considering their numerical superiority, and number of missile weapons, the team decided to charge down the hallway, throwing spears, mace-heads, and daggers at the beastmen, followed by melee engagement.
The plan worked… sort of...
The thrown weapons dropped half of the beastmens' numbers, including the "minotaur". But when the melee characters ran into the tower hall, they tripped a wire, sending ceramic jars of acid tumbling towards their feet. Dirk Gamms, Toni, and Daisy melted into the floor. Surprisingly, Sonny, who had been wielding the cursed battle-axe, should have died in the acid. How he dodged the jar was not known, but he must have made a deal with something, for he appeared somewhat… corrupted with corpulence… after the battle. The remaining beastmen were easily slain by the posse.
[GM's Note: at this point, for those of you familiar with Sailors on the Starless Sea, I had to trim several encounters for the purpose of time. We had about an hour left in the evening, and I wanted to wrap things up without a cliffhanger. So there were several alterations even to the last encounter.]
There was a stairwell in the tower, leading down into the depths below. Much to Sonny's dismay, the party decided to send his beloved cow down the stairs first, hoping that it would disarm any traps. The cow slowly moved down the first few steps, and then tumbled several hundred more. The rest of the party followed after. At the very bottom, five hundred feet below ground, Sonny was thrilled that his hardy prize cow was still alive! It managed to tumble down all of the stairs, and then across a small subterranean beach, and then into a massive underground lake. It would've made its way out of the lake too…
… if not for the tentacle that reached up and yanked the bovine below the surface of the water mid-moo.
At the center of the subterranean lake was a small pyramid, and on top a band of beastmen shamans performing some kind of rite. Crossing the lake would be difficult, especially with the leviathan lurking below the water, but there was a boat! A rune covered ship rested just off of the beach. Searching an alter on the beach, the party noticed two important objects: a ring and a candle. The ring was on the finger of a long dead individual resting nearby. Grabbing this, Farah the fortune teller revealed that if was the Band of Fire, an enchanted ring created by the mighty wizard Sezrakan. Noting that this would turn grant spells to anyone, Lurd the gong farmer donned the ring.
When the party lit the candle, the boat moved towards the shore. Most of the posse boarded, but a few stayed behind, including Moe Bones, Cher, Sonny, and Farrah. Once everyone else was on the craft, Alby Tross, the halfling mariner, guided the vessel towards the pyramid. The base of the pyramid was covered with beastmen, but one side seemed to have only a few guardians. Alby parked the boat just off shore, allowing a missile strike on the shamans. Lurd lobbed a magic missile towards the beastment spellcasters and Quibbles threw his quill.
This angered the animated chaos lord standing near the shamans! The chaos lord jumped down onto the party's boat and started to cause hell. Alby directed the boat back towards the shore, but not before seven beastmen jumped aboard as well. For some reason Loman did the opposite, jumping off of the boat and onto the pyramid's shore. As the boat moved back to land, an epic battle raged. Lurd, Ben High, Bleek, and Hiho all fell to the beastmen, but the terrible creatures, including the chaos lord, were no match for this ace team of farmers. As the entire cavern started to collapse, Alby led the boat to shore, and ordered the team to retreat back up the stairs…
… to victory.
Unfortunately, there was one more life lost during this quest. Poor Loman, leader of the group, made the unfortunate decision to jump back onto the pyramid's shore earlier. As his "ride" floated away, he tried swimming after it. But halfway across the waters he felt a tentacle grab his foot. The noble of Cadence did his best to battle the beast, but was no match.
The leviathan was not impressed. The noble was not nearly as tasty as the cow.
Quotes from the Evening
"That's another thing. We have to get the cow over the wall." - Dan's interest in the cow started early.
Dan - "Do we have any food?"
Ed - "We have a side of beef!"
It sounds like we gotta crack it open... without any thought." - Dan knew exactly how to play DCCRPG.
I think we should try the sail with the other duck." - Frank discussing how to use the party's varied resources.
"There is some life-sucking thing, right? There was something about life-sucking?" - Andy was trying to recollect the writing on the door.
"I thought I could get some kind of power." - Jen after letting her character lay on the slab.
"So… are we just with Quibbles to serve papers?" - Ed wondered why the party had an elven barrister on this mission.
"Don't eat the man-meat!" - Jen is wise.
"Can we put a duck or something in it?" - Anna… again with the ducks.
"We beat the tar out of it!" - Andy's cry of victory over the tar ooze.
"I think if we threw a cow in there, they would be distracted for a long time." - Anna… now with the cow again.
"The hunk of beef!" - everyone… after realizing that Dirk Gamms, butcher, still was carrying around a potential source of beastman bait.
"They're all tripping on acid." - Jen clearly described the acid-jar scene.
"The 'Amulet of Mondays'…" - Andy named the Minotaur's torc aptly.
Jim to Anna - "Is it a riding cow?"
Anna to Jim - "Any cow's a riding cow!"
"There's an off chance at this point that the kraken is petrified." - Ed was pretty sure that the party's antics could have scared the great submerged beast away.
"Do we want to give the cow a luck roll?" - Jim, after the cow took a tumble.
"Yes, Quibbles, you've been brought here for a reason!" - Dan, after realizing that Quibbles' quill was one of the only weapons capable of being launched 50 feet… his quill-dart.
Jim - "You're not on the boat?"
Anna - "Hell no!"
… and thus the party's two greatest warriors, Sonny and Cher, each with a 16 or 17 Strength stayed behind for the final battle.
- Lurd - Stabbed with a beastman spear on the boat
- Dirk Gamms - Dissolved in acid
- George - Impaled by a thrown beastman spear
- Toni - Also dissolved in acid
- Mary Typhus - Decided to freeze to death on a cursed slab
- Ben High - Stabbed by a beastman on the boat
- Charle - First death, stray rock hit his head
- Loman - Eaten by a leviathan after choosing to not board the last boat home
- Hiho - Skewered by a spear during the finale
- Bleek - Kebab'd by a beast man
- Daisy - Dropped by acid
- Jethro - Fumbled a trap search, to a shocking conclusion
|Ed's Dice Tower!|