Thursday, April 28, 2016

DCCRPG World Tour 2016 - Tower of the Black Pearl at Phantom of the Attic


DCC RPG Pittsburgh at Phantom of the Attic, Part Deux


This past Sunday I was back at it again, running Dungeon Crawl Classics alongside the incredible Judge +Michael Bolam at Phantom of the Attic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!  After an unforgettable experience running Sailors on the Starless Sea last month, I couldn't wait to return to Phantom's tables.  To change things up, Michael suggested that we run 1st level adventures for the players this month.

Boo yah! 

0-level funnels are often a player's first experience into this weird and wild role-playing game, but I'm a firm believer that it's upper-level gameplay that makes +Joseph Goodman's creation truly shine.  Spellburn and Corruption, Disapproval and Mighty Deeds, these iconic mechanics of Dungeon Crawl Classics just ooze wicked flavor and flare.  

Picking a 1st level adventure for this month's session was a no-brainer.  Last month, right after wrapping up Sailors on the Starless Sea, I took a few minutes to browse the Phantom of the Attic's shelves.  Geoff keeps an incredible stock of RPG products on hand, including a very healthy Dungeon Crawl Classics stash.  Michael said "1st level", and sitting right there on the shelf was +Harley Stroh's Tower of the Black Pearl, just waiting for someone to pick it up.  

[Judge's Note:  As of Sunday's game there was still a Jeff Easley cover edition of the DCCRPG rulebook.  So if you are on the hunt for this rare and hard to find collectible you need to rush over to Phantom of the Attic pronto!  For your sake I hope it's still there!]




Session Notes


With an adventure title featuring the words "Black Pearl" I was practically required to throw in as many Disney references into this game as possible.  I started by dressing the part.  I showed up at Phantom of the Attic wearing a classic Disneyland "D" hat, a Disney World 40th Anniversary hoodie, and a Big Hero Six/Star Wars mash-up shirt titled "Big Boba Six." 

My wife bought me the shirt from TeePublic.com for Gen Con 2016, and the print is still available if you want to go check it out.

Along with the general Disney-theming, I wanted to change up the Adventure Hook and use something more outlandish.  I still love the old Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon, and watch it regularly.  Perhaps I could use the cartoon's opening intro for my own game...

... the 80's D&D Cartoon meets Disney meets Dungeon Crawl Classics... now THAT would make for a radical Sunday afternoon game! 

Adventure Hook

Recently Goodman Games partnered with Disney World to create an exciting Dungeon Crawl Classics attraction at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida.  The ride was to be a thrilling and educational virtual journey beginning in a starless sea and ending on the wastes of a purple planet.  

Unfortunately something went wrong!

The guests on this particular ride ended up getting stranded within a Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign setting come to life, with only the Dungeon Master from the old 80's D&D cartoon as a guide...

... he'd been unemployed for quite some time, and really appreciated the work.  

Only four Disney World guests and a stray cat survived the "real life" funnel, to become a troupe of 1st level heroes:


  • Old Zeke the Dwarf, played by Jordan
  • Bob the Cleric, played by Randall
  • Nobody Unknown the Thief, played by Sam
  • Elvira the Elf, played by Heidi
  • Satan Sadie the Wizard/Anthropomorphic House Cat, played by Miriam

[Judge's Note:  I should point out that for three of our players (Jordan, Sam, and Miriam) this was their first journey into the gonzo world that is Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  Always great to get first timers to the table!]

Dungeon Master kept promising the surviving heroes that he just needed a few artifacts to return them to Orlando.  Unfortunately, each time the lost adventurers returned with some hard won fantasy swag, Dungeon Master would just direct them to another object.  This time, it was the Black Pearl, a mystical stone located within an underwater tower only accessible during the lowest tides.  If Old Zeke, Bob, Nobody, Elvira, and Satan could return the Black Pearl to Dungeon Master, he could most likely teleport them all home...

... with Fast Passes.  

Highlight Reel


  • Discovering three drunken pirates sleeping on the highest level of the tower (the part accessible from the party's boat), Old Zeke climbed up the wall and approached.  Unfortunately the dwarf was not very stealthy, and he woke one of the pirates.  No matter, for Old Zeke had a fantastic plan!  He convinced the pirates that he and his adventurers were some kind of piratical concierge service, and offered to return with food.  Bob used Food of the Gods to fill the pirate dingy with chow, and once the pirates were aboard, Nobody cut their lines so that the boat drifted out to sea.
  • In the second chamber of the tower, the party came across hundreds of lit candles, and a book listing the names of all of the living lawful adventurers in the land.  Nobody Unknown found out that there was a candle for him in the room, but it quickly snuffed out on its own when the Thief started scratching away the names of other adventurers.  This call from chaos turned Nobody into a minion of darkness, drastically shifting his alignment.  
  • After using the dragon portal to gain access to the subterranean levels of the tower, the adventurers found themselves beset upon by pirates!  During the melee a pirate landed a death blow via pommel strike to Bob's skull.  While the Cleric lay dying, Elvira the Elf used her Invoke Patron spell to ask the King of Elfland to send her back in time.  She was able to warn Bob of the strike, and change the very fabric of time and space!
  • It should be noted that during this first pirate battle Satan Sadie learned that her spellcasting luck was in very short supply.  None of her spells seemed to be working properly!  
  • After boarding a boat skippered by an unearthly ferryman, the party was transported to the opposite side of an underwater lake.  On the shore, standing before a great iron doorway, was the dastardly Pirate King known as Savage Quenn [played by none other than Willem Dafoe.]  Savage Quenn wanted to parlay, but Old Zeke would have none of it... the concierge service was closed!  During this encounter everyone witnessed the devastating might of an 18 Strength Dwarf wielding weapon and shield!  When he attacked Quenn, he just bore through the poor Pirate King in a single round, exploding out from the other side of his back.  
  • During the battle, Nobody earned Savage Quenn's sword, Whiskers.  The mad blade made several attempts to force Nobody into attacking fellow party members, but failed on each attempt!  
  • Eventually the party found the sarcophagus of Sezrekan, and debated at great length the perks and cons of opening the tomb.  Despite Nobody's repeated requests to excavate further, Satan the cat discovered that there were ruby gemstones on the exterior of the coffin negating the need to disturb the body.  The gemstones would grant access in the portal room to another chamber of the dungeon.  
  • After using the final portal in the dungeon, the party found itself in a great chamber, surrounded by water.  On the far side of the chamber a stone dragon clutched the Black Pearl.  It would've been easy to just swim to the other side of the room, but hundreds of sea snakes lurked in the waters.  Wanting to play the obvious hero, Satan Spellburned herself into near oblivion, drawing enough power to don an incredibly lizardlike Ekim's Mystical Mask.  Old Zeke then attached rope to Satan, and she waded through the waters undisturbed by her fellow reptiles.  Once at the statue she tied the rope around the pearl, so that Old Zeke could yank it free.  Of course, this caused all the water to crash around the weakened wizard, but she managed to hold on to the rope!
  • As the tower crashed and flooded around them, the party quickly made their way to the top of the structure.  They were all almost on the boat when Nobody turned around and went back into the second chamber.  The Thief wanted the magic book with the lawful names!  Sadly, he was not a strong enough swimmer, and the undertow dragged Nobody to his watery grave.


Join Us!



If you live in the Pittsburgh area and this event sounded like fun, you should come check out the DCC RPG Pittsburgh group on Facebook.  

Also, if you're reading this prior to International Tabletop Day 2016 (Saturday, April 30th), there will be an opportunity to play more DCC with +Michael Bolam, me, and other judges at the Norwin Game Knights event in North Huntingdon, PA from 10am to 6pm.