Saturday, November 14, 2015

#JimCon2015 - Frozen in Time with the Norwin Game Knights



This adventure counts as Game One of a five game series of DCC adventures that I'm calling #JimCon2015.  Over the next week I plan on running five Dungeon Crawl Classics Adventures, including three live games and two online games.  Those online sessions will air live on both Google Hangouts On Air and YouTube as a celebration of Goodman Games' DCCRPG 4th Printing Kickstarter.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!  

Frozen in Time


Another month of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG with the Norwin Game Knights means another full table of loud, occasionally obnoxious, and always adventurous tweens looking to role dice.  Back in October I ran nine players through Mall Maul, a 0-level funnel by +Reid San Filippo created for his delightfully over-the-top post apocalyptic ‘zine, Crawling Under a Broken Moon.  At the end of the adventure I polled the group to see if they would like to continue questing with the survivors of the funnel, and everyone smiled with wicked glee.   

I knew I’d have to come up with “something good” for the next round!

Fortunately, as a DCCRPG fan, there is always “something good” to be had when it comes to adventures.   With limited prep time on my hands, I again chose to dig into a published adventure for these 1st level scavengers and mutants.  I wanted an adventure that would fit in well for a weird post-apocalyptic setting, without much need for conversion and reskinning.  Not that I couldn’t do those things, but as a lazy judge, sometimes it’s nice to open a module and just run it as-is.

Thankfully, author +Michael Curtis knew exactly what I was looking for when he wrote Frozen in Time!

I’m going to try and give you a bit of a “spoiler free” mini-review of the adventure in this blog post.  While I enjoy my young batch of players, I know that some of them may read this post, and the crew didn’t get through the entire adventure in one evening.

Frozen in Time is an adventure designed for 1st level characters, but easily adaptable for higher levels.  There’s even a stone-aged era occupation list if you would want to try running this module as a 0-level funnel.  In this adventure, the characters find themselves exploring an ancient yet futuristic complex, once frozen within the confines of a massive glacier.   While very much a dungeon-crawl, the adventure involves finding key cards, traveling through ventilation and service shafts, and dealing with weird and alien technology.  Frozen in Time is one of those adventures that could easily fit into just about any campaign, from fantasy, to pulp, to post-apocalypse, to typical space opera. 

I could place this adventure on an asteroid far out in space, and it would fit perfectly in our Disney Crawl Classics Crawljammer/Spelljammer campaign!

This adventure reminded me of EPIC CON 1996, at Lehigh University. I was seventeen years and at the convention I had my first experience with Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. The idea of having fantasy characters deal with sci-fi threats completely blew my mind!

Like every DCC module I’ve read so far, there is no reason why you couldn’t run Frozen in Time with another d20 system (although why would you want to?)  If you want to go old school, and don’t mind reversing armor class to descending and converting base attack to THAC0, Frozen in Time could be used as an AD&D 2nd Edition module. But like any conversion from DCCRPG to another system, you lose the crazy-awesome critical and fumble tables, exciting magic system, and corrupting influence of the weird dice.

On second thought, maybe you should just run Frozen in Time with DCC…

… it's the only way to be sure.  


Meet the Wastelanders


Lisrayten the Mutant, played by Carrie
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Soldier
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 14, Agi 12, Sta 18, Per 14, Int 13, Luc 12
  • Weapons:  Sledgehammer, Revolver
  • Notes:  My daughter's mutant amalgamation of three characters from the last game lucked out during her Mutant Mutation character generation.  Although she suffers from diminished speed (-10), she has an awesome Tortoise Shell now that she can use as protection.  Naturally this means she is often picked to go first.  
Lord Old Man Legolas of Ikea, played by Evan
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Livestock Rancher
  • Alignment:  Chaotic
  • Str 10, Agi 10, Sta 11, Per 13, Int 16, Luc 7
  • Weapons:  Staff, Longbow, Two-Handed Sword
  • Notes:  You may note that, between this session and the last, Legolas has gained a few more additions to the name.  We learned at the beginning of this adventure that Old Man Legolas is not only a Livestock Rancher, but also a king of an ancient abandoned Ikea in the Forlorn North.
Joe Tetti the Warrior, played by Matthew
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Soldier
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str 13, Agi 14, Sta 10, Per 13, Int 10, Luc 13
  • Weapons:  Bolt Action Rifle, Bayonet
  • Notes:  Oh Joe… after last game's attempt to be a pacifist worked out in his favor, Joe decided to try and "converse" with just about everything the party encountered during this game.  Every monster was a potential conversationalist, and Joe was hoping to make a few friends.  Unfortunately, nothing the party faced wanted to talk back.  Not even the John Corbett-faced bore bugs.
Billy the Technologist played by Christian
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Robot Handyman
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str 5, Agi 10, Sta 11, Per 14, Int 14, Luc 12
  • Weapons:  Wrench, Crossbow
  • Notes:  In our last session this was Mr. Handy, played by Braden.  Our new player Christian wanted a complete name change, and I was happy to oblige.  This session of DCCRPG would be Christian's first tabletop RPG ever!  Of course it took some convincing that he was supposed to help the rest of the party, and not just kill them.
Doug the Dwarf played by Zach
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Scavenger
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 13, Agi 13, Sta 14, Per 12, Int 5, Luc 10
  • Weapons:  Spear, Black Powder Rifle
  • Notes:  Zach's play style with Doug is awesome.  Always the first to volunteer, and ever ready to strike with either spear or rifle, Doug seems to be close friends with the party's Elf Lord.  In the last session Doug was a mutant, but I thought it would be fun to let him be a Dwarf at 1st level… 'cuz dwarves are cool.
Fenrir the Cleric played by Hanna
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Robot Carpenter
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 12, Agi 10, Sta 8, Per 13, Int 14, Luc 13
  • Weapons:  Long Sword
  • Notes:  This was Hanna's first RPG experience, so I wanted to let her play an interesting character.  As an experienced console gamer, a few dashes of awesome magic would help.  As a deity, I told Hanna that Fenrir worshipped the god "Google."  
Scrooges McDucks IX played by Dylan
  • 3 0-level characters in 1
  • Occupations:  Halfling Cook, Mutant Historian, Elf Janitor
  • Str 12, Agi 13, Sta 9, Per 17, Int 7, Luc 13
  • Weapons:  Cleaver, Large Mop, Heavy Book
  • Notes:  Okay, so last game Dylan played Scrooge McDuck and he died.  For this second session Dylan showed up ready to play but for some reason I didn't think he was going to be joining in.  I was wrong, and Dylan wanted to play!  I was out of 1st level characters, so I told him he could bring three 0-levels along for the ride.  Dylan agreed, but chose three silly names: Scrooge McDuck 2, Scrooge McDuck 3, and Scrooge McDuck 4.  So I told him that he would have all these characters merge into one rolling ball of limbs, heads, hair, and stuff.  I told him his new combined name was "Scrooges McDucks IX".  Gross.  
Lithium Shield the Halfling played by Jeremy
  • 1st Level
  • Occupation: Armorer
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str 9, Agi 16, Sta 13, Per 10, Int 8, Luc 16
  • Weapons:  Knife, Short Bow, Tire Iron
  • Notes:  I don't even think Jeremy realizes how awesome this character is.  Lithium Shield's Lucky Roll gives him a Luck bonus on all attack rolls.  So when he's wielding his Short Bow, this little halfling get a +4 bonus to attack!  


Session Summary


Following their heroic exploits in the Mall, our intrepid band of adventurous wastelanders found themselves in possession of a pretty sweet van. 

Like… a 1994 Dodge conversion van.  Like… the one I used to drive!  

On the side of this wicked van was a mural of an epic scene… a headless goat battling a dragon.  Lithium Shield, the party's extremely lucky halfling, called dibs on driving, and he was taking the party north…

… deep into the Forlorn North of legend… to a place once called Canada!  

Although he originally claimed to be a simple headless goat rancher, Old Man Legolas recently revealed to his fellow wastelanders that he wasn't just an old elven herdsman.  He was also a noble!  In fact, he was Lord Old Man Legolas… of Ikea!

For decades Lord Old Man Legolas of Ikea yearned to return to his ancestral home in the Forlorn North, but he never had the resources to travel that far into the tundra.  But now with this rockin' conversion van, the trip would be possible!  But the elven lord feared that he would possibly need more gear… more futuristic swag from the past… that could assist in finding his ancient ancestral homeland.

Fortunately for Lord Old Man Legolas of Ikea, the party had come across a neolithic tribe of humans calling themselves the Timhortonians.  These bestial savages, adorned in animal hides and ancient sandwich wrappers, told the wastelanders of a glacier to the northwest where green gasses seeped out of strange tubes.  Perhaps in this glacier the party could find the futuristic swag from the past that they desired.  

The drive to the glacier took most of the afternoon.

Once at the glacier the wastelanders got a good look at the weird tubes.  A pair of metallic pipes, each six feet in diameter, jutted out of the glacier wall fifty feet off the ground.  Perhaps these tubes were once connected, but as the glacier thawed a portion of the ice tore the two pieces apart.  Green gasses leaked from the tubes, drifting off into the wind.  

Lithium Shield wanted to park the van, and looked for a good spot.  Luckily, right along the base of the glacier were a series of metered parking spots.  Joe Teti knew exactly what these were!  The soldier got out of the van and tried putting a coin in the meter…

… and that's when the rest of the party saw the saber-toothed ice bear approaching!



The beast seemed more interested in the van than the human messing with the parking meter outside.  Perhaps someone inside looked especially delicious.  Lithium Shield figured that the party would have an easier time shooting the beast from the twin rear doors of the van, so he whipped the van backwards and then spun around.  Rather than driving away, abandoning Joe Teti, Lithium Shield trusted the technical expertise of Billy and Lord Old Man Legolas of Ikea.  Billy used his vehicle fixing skills to reinforce the van's frame while the elf cast Ward Portal on the rear doors.

While his compatriots bolstered the defenses, Doug the Dwarf popped his head through one of the windows and aimed his black powder rifle.

*Click - bang!*

The archaic weapon boomed, and the bear roared in anger.  Sheer anger and rage fueled the creature's charge, and when it got up next to the van it tried tearing open the doors.  Much to its surprise, the frustrated bear couldn't enter the vehicle!  The ward portal spell was far too effective.  While the creature tugged on the handle, it didn't notice the robot cleric strolling up from behind.  

With a quick strike, Fenrir stuck its blade into the skull of the bear, slaying it instantly.

There was some discussion on how to scale the near-vertical glacier wall.  The party eventually came up with two possible solutions:

  1. Have Billy the Technologist augment the van so that it could drive up a vertical surface.
  2. Have Lord Old Man Legolas throw a grappling hook attached to 50' of rope.

This became a somewhat heated debate, as #TeamRobotBilly had a lot of faith in his ability to jury rig the van.  But #TeamOldManLegolas won out.  

One by one the party climbed to the top of the glacier.  Along the way four stumbled, falling quite a distance before trying to climb again.  Old Man Legolas made it to the top and then fell halfway to the bottom before a Lucky chant from halfling Lithium Shield encouraged the elf to catch the rope.  Lisrayten, Joe Teti, and Lithium Shild weren't so lucky in their own climbs, as each sustained injuries.  

But the grand god Google bestows his aid to the worthy at times.  Through Fenrir's metal hands the energy of Google healed some of the party, and they continued their quest into the tunnels.

Doug chose the tunnel to the left, but was pushed out of the way by Lisrayten.  The Mutant insisted that her tortoise shell would more effectively protect the party from damage, since there was only room to travel in single file.  Doug conceded and let Lisrayten into the tube.  

About fifty feet into the tube Lisrayten began to hear something scurrying around….something with a lot of legs!  The Mutant went "full tortoise" retracting her head, arms, and legs when three bore bugs appeared!  


[Judge's Note:  Author Michael Curtis has these creatures looking more like centipedes. But personally I described them as six-legged beetles with long spikes sticking out of their head, each bearing the face of John Corbett from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.]

The bugs were no match for the valiant efforts of the wastelanders!  After repelling the creatures' charge, the Mutant stood up and smacked one with her sledgehammer, killing it instantly.  Then she herself was struck by Billy's crossbow.

"What the heck!"  Lisrayten screamed.

By the time the mutant turned around a second bore bug was dead, slain by the toxic fumes from an ancient White Castle burger thrown by the disgusting amalgamation Scrooges McDucks IX.  While back in the van, Scrooges was looking for something to feed the bear, should it get into the vehicle.  He ended up with a centuries old White Castle burger, but saved it for later.  The bug didn't like the burger, as it exploded in a poof of purple death.

Another shot from Doug's rifle felled the final bore bug, and the team was ready to continue their march.

Another fifty feet and the party was at a loose grate.  After Joe Teti checked for traps, Lord Old Man Legolas popped the frame revealing a pathway into a much larger chamber.  The smell of machinery paired nicely with a humidity one would find in some kind of enclosed greenhouse.  Somehow, deep within this glacier, something was alive!  

Taking the path, the wastelanders found themselves in a large mechanical room.  With no threats nearby, the party took several minutes to lick their wounds and repair their gear.  Doug was out of ammo, so Billy was able to fashion some bullets out of scraps and some copper pennies.  Fenrir took one of the teeth from the saber-toothed ice bear from its satchel and blessed it with the name of Google.  

Amazingly, the god spoke!  The robot cleric was quite sure that it now held in its metal hands a new artifact: the Ghostly Gut'er of Google!  

[Ghostly Gut'er of Google Stats:  As Short Sword, 1d6 Damage.  Double Damage against Dinosaurs.]

In the center of the mechanic chamber stood a strange tube, stretching from floor to ceiling.  Fenrir and Billy examined the tube, and were able to open a portal leading into an open chamber within.  Doug used his infravision to look into the tube, revealing another portal forty feet above.  If this were an elevator shaft, however, there was no floor.  But when Lord Old Man Legolas tossed his grappling hook into the shaft, it just floated.  

Gravity generator!  

Electing Lisrayten to scout again, the party watched as their mutant floated up to the level above.  Carefully the mutant opened the doorway on the next level revealing a lush and beautiful indoor garden.  With no danger anywhere to be found, Lisrayten smiled and called for her fellow wastelanders to join her in this new paradise.

… to be continued in December… 

Quotes


"Jim, is there really any law in the wastelands?  It's like every man for himself!" - Matthew lays out the law for the judge.

"Ay kay ah!" - Lord Old Man Legolas of Ikea declares his war cry!

"Is this van bear-proof?" - This question by Jeremy would put ideas in both Christian and Evan's minds.

"We should send them to scout so we don't screw up the van." - Hanna was much more worried about scratching the party's new van than sacrificing a party member or two… or three.  

Evan - "Why are you army crawling?"
Zach - "Because I'm a dwarf!"

"Oh no, not Kenny G. music!" - Dylan's scream would only make sense at one of my tables.  

The Unlucky Dog


Woe to ye who be stricken with the Unlucky Dog!  

To celebrate Friday the 13th (because we celebrate everything) I wanted to include some kind of game mechanic that showcased DCCRPG's Luck attribute.  When I wasn't sure what I wanted to do exactly, I headed over to the DCCRPG group on Google+ and queried my fellow judges.  

You can take a look at the feedback here.

My first instinct was to include some kind of "Benny" mechanic, straight out of Savage Worlds.  But with a table of new players, throwing in rules from another system could be confusing.  I read the feedback from the other judges and was still torn on what to do.  When I sat down for our game last night, I was thinking of just ditching the whole idea…

… and that's when I came up with the Unlucky Dog.  

Grabbing a picture of a dog that I found, I turned it into a small prop.  During the very first encounter I polled the group and discovered that Evan's character Old Man Legolas was cursed with the lowest Luck.  So I placed the unlucky dog in front of Evan.

As the game progressed we followed these rules:

  • The player with the Unlucky Dog (starting with the character with the lowest luck) is guaranteed some kind of crazy event to occur on his or her turn.  Perhaps they would run out of ammunition, or maybe they would drop their weapon.  It could be anything.  I guess this is sort of like a GM Intrusion from the Cypher System.
  • After the negative event occurred, the player must pass the Unlucky Dog to another player.  The only rule is that it can't be passed back to the person who originally gave it to the victim. 

About halfway through the game someone at the table asked if the Unlucky Dog had to stay in our game, or if it could be handed to one of the players at the nearby Savage Worlds table.

I allowed it. 

The other GM, +Craig McCullough, can be seen below, as he gives me a puzzled look while Michael is struck with… the UNLUCKY DOG!  Fortunately for our group of DCCRPG'ers, that creature never showed up again at our table.