Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Savage Worlds - Vampirates of Caribdus - Session 2

Kicking off the Plot Point Campaign

Last night we officially started the plot-point campaign for 50 Fathoms.  Although our second game of this new campaign, the first was a set-up, more or less, for allowing Accursed player characters to explore the seas of Caribdus.  In "Maiden Voyage," the first leg of the plot point campaign, player characters find themselves marooned on a wild and dangerous island beach and in search of a way back to civilization.  

For those unfamiliar with the term "plot point campaign" I should probably take a step back and give a little explanation.  There are quite a few scripted/episodic campaigns or adventure paths on the market.  In most of these, a game master runs an adventure, and then runs the next one after, perhaps with a short deviation or side-quest.  But typically the adventure arc has to be completed in sequence.  

While plot point campaigns may have a specific set of sequences, they are buried within a full sandbox setting.  Players can pick up a plot point, follow that adventure to completion, and then return to sailing around Caribdus, gaining fame or notoriety, and completing side-quests or even full-length "non-plot point" adventures.  There are also tables for random encounters that can occur at sea or on other specific parts of the map.

So part sandbox campaign, part ship-based hex-crawl, part Wing Commander: Privateer.  Choose your own favorite analogy.  

You may note that we had an additional crew member join our campaign last night, as my good friend (and long-time Savage Worlds fan of everything other than Necessary Evil) Melinda joined up.  You may also note that she is playing a "Masaquani", a race from 50 Fathoms instead of Accursed.  Melinda prepared a couple of characters for the campaign, Alara and an unnamed Shade.  After some discussion it made sense to introduce a character that had some kind of idea about Caribdus and the surrounding isles.  For our campaign, Alara can be the conduit between the monsters of Morden and this new realm.  

The Crew

Episode 2:  Maiden Voyage


The five Accursed from Morden awaken on the shore of a tropical island, near a large piece of the Darkmaiden's Dance's broken deck.  Before they have time to completely get their bearings, a seven foot tall, blue haired masaquani (Alara) breaks free of the tree-line, rushing towards the water while being chased by three Yellow Tails (brightly colored velociraptors).  Hoping that she can shed some light on their situation, the monsters aid the woman.  Marie uses her fear magic to terrify the lizards, and Kor throws the ship's broken deck on top of one.  

After she calms down, Alara explains that her vessel, the Rebecca, sunk off the coast of this land, called Torath-ka, and she escaped on one of the ship's "skiffs".  Alara offers to take the monsters to her boat, but claimed that there was crying and chanting in the woods, and she can't leave any of her crewmates behind.  Before getting a promise of aid, Alara storms into the woods, rapier drawn.  The Accursed follow.  

In the jungle, the new "crew" finds the tracks of Ugaks, an intelligent but savage people that hate masaquani and humans.  Following the Ugak trail, the party arrives at a terrifying scene.  A single Ugak roasting the leg of a human sailor dying nearby.  Alara recognizes the sailor as Jasper Garibaldi from the Rebecca.  The lone Ugak is no match for the Accursed, who swoop in and slaughter the savage.  Alara tends Jasper's wounds and Fenster fashions the man a crutch.  Jasper claims that more of the Rebecca's crew are deep within the jungle along a nearby path.  

Alara convinces the Accursed to continue their heroic path towards saving her crew.  Two miles inland the entire team finds a massive pool of red, acidic tar, situated at the center of a stone ruin.  At one end of the ruin an Ugak shaman stands before a 20' tall statue of a Great Monkape.  Along the sides of the ruin are eight Ugak's chanting.  In front of the shaman are six captives from the Rebecca.  Before the party can do anything, the shaman pushes one of the captives into the acid, and the Great Monkape comes to life.

After a few moments of planning, the Accursed plus their new masaquani friend assault the ruin.  Fenster and Marie use their magic to pin down and terrify the Ugak warriors while Kor and Sobek slay the shaman.  Alara starts freeing the hostages while Nolan the vargr fends off the remaining Ugaks.  The main threat to the party is the Great Monkape, who can easily stand toe to toe with the mighty Kor.  Surrounded, however, the Monkape tries to flee until Sobek trips it up with his grappling hook.  Even on the ground the beast is a threat, and with a single swipe of its fist, the creature almost kills Sobek.  A sharp strike from Nolan's claw ends the Great Monkape's struggle.  

Notable Moments
  • Alara had quite the exciting introduction to our campaign!  I brought Melinda's character into the game "in media res", before she could tell the group who she was playing.  All the player characters knew was that this tall blue haired woman was running with lizards following close behind.  Frank's played with Melinda before, so he had no problem teasing her that the rest of the group should attack the masaquani AND the lizards.  To add to Alara's situation, I made Melinda roll to make sure she wasn't hit by the piece of the boat that Kor threw at the Yellow Tails.  
  • I'll say it now: Kor is a beast!  When attacking the lone Ugak, he did over thirty points of damage with his thrown anchor.  Those dice just kept exploding!  I declared that the Ugak's torso disappeared but his legs, arms, and head all hung suspended in air like a cartoon for just a moment.  The favor was returned lator when my Great Monkape did forty damage to Craig's character Sobek!
  • During the scene where Alara patched Jasper's wounds and Fenster fashioned the man a crutch, Marie played a crucial part: lapping up the sailor's blood.  Jeremy's dhampir had no problem tasting some of the pool that was on the ground in front of the man, and almost had a bite of his open wound.  
  • The brief synopsis does not reflect how much time was spent between the scene with Jasper and the ruin.  The players spent about fifteen minutes arguing about whether to help Alara with her friends, or just go to the masaquani's skiff and escape Torath-ka.  They went as far as having Nolan track Alara's footsteps in the jungle and on the beach.  But since this is an adventure game, the players eventually agreed to help Melinda's character be more heroic.
  • We've played around with some new setting rules, and for this game I allowed player characters to cancel out GM bennies with their own bennies.  I need to read the Accursed rules again, but I think I should've been doing the same... but I didn't.  I don't know if we'll continue with this rule.  My Great Monkape lost an opportunity to soak damage due to a well timed benny.  Poor thing.  


"What had fingers and toes and ended up in Kor's mouth?" - a GM's riddle.

"Now Craig, I'm going to caution you to not make assumptions here.  Just because these things are chasing her, doesn't mean they are the bad guys." - Frank had it out for Melinda's character right from the get go.

"Ah... eh... right.." - Marie frustrated at Alara heading back into the jungle.

"When we get to jungle?" - Kor asked while standing in the middle of the jungle.

"He's specialized in poo identification!" - Marc comment's on Andy's character's examination of the poo.

"That's just Kor.  He's... well he's not harmless, but he won't hurt you." - Marie sums up her cohort's strong points rather well.

"There you go dog-boy, you start lookin' for those tracks." - Fenster was so close to giving Nolan a treat.

"Jasper was the cook, which is ironic since he got skewered and eaten himself." - Melinda spent a benny to describe her former comrade.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Savage Worlds - Adventures in Babysitting: ETU Style

Adventures in Babysitting - East Texas University Style

It's after ten o'clock on a Monday night in the lobby of the Marriott Springhill Suites in Erie, and our family is knee-deep in a tabletop roleplaying game.  Ever excited to take part in a little #GetOutAndGame action, we brought along our books, dice, character sheets, deck of cards, and poker chips so that we could play Savage Worlds: East Texas University while on our family vacation.  As soon as we arrived at the hotel on Sunday, we scouted the lobby for the perfect table.  It wasn't hard to find.  A soft bench at the back of the lobby/breakfast dining area was perfect for our needs!

We had the lobby all to ourselves!

Ever since we ran East Texas University during our trip to Michigan in February, my eldest daughter Carrie has been dying to get back to Pinebox.  A few days before our Erie vacation, the two of us thought up the idea of running an Accursed-style, monster family themed adventure based in the East Texas University campaign setting.  My wife Jen already had an ETU character from our last campaign, and my three kids would each play a different member of a monster-family that had just moved to Pinebox with their parents.

With a college student and three monster-kids, we had to explore an ETU-themed, Adventures in Babysitting session!

Like father like daughter.  Evie loves Hellboy!

The Characters

Jen's character, Elle Woods (converted from the movie "Legally Blonde"), would be the party "babysitter".  Having already dealt with supernatural occurrences in Pinebox, Elle would have no problems dealing with whatever trouble my trio of terror's characters would find.

As for my kids' little monsters, I built each using the Young hindrance which means only 3 points to raise attributes and 10 for skills (balanced with an additional benny.)  To make them "monsters", I used a combination of Accursed and the Science Fiction Companion.  Carrie wanted to play a "patchwork kid" and Cooper a "werepuppy."  Accursed's Golem and Vargr worked well to fit these concepts.

Carrie's picture of "Mon".

  • Monica "Mon" Raskin - Patchwork Kid - Played by Carrie
    • Attributes:  Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d4, Strength d4, Vigor d8
    • Edges:  Disembodiment 
    • Hindrances:  Young, Jumpy, Quirk (plays with threads)
    • Skills:  Fighting d4, Investigation d8, Knowledge Computers d6, Notice d8, Swimming d4
  • Hot Dog - Werepuppy (Dachshund) - Played by Cooper
    • Attributes:  Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
    • Edges:  None
    • Hindrances:  Young, Mean, Loyal
    • Skills:  Fighting d6, Notice d6, Swimming d4, Tracking d6, Survival d6, Stealth d4

Evie wasn't satisfied with the "Hammer Horror" style monsters provided in Accursed, and instead wanted to play a young Hellboy (she calls him "Beep Boy", so that she won't curse.)  I think she was inspired by the opening scene from Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.  So I came up with a "Demon" by using the alien species rules form the Science Fiction Companion:

Demon:  Vigor starts at a d6, Natural Weapon d6 damage, Hindrance (Racial Enemy, Holy Folk).

  • Beep Boy - Demon - Played by Evie
    • Attributes:  Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
    • Edges:  None
    • Hindrances:  Young, Screamer, Phobia (Clowns
    • Skills:  Fighting d8, Notice d4, Taunt d4, Intimidation d6, Stealth d6, Climbing d6, Knowledge Occult d4

As a little backstory, all three monsterlings are the adopted children of Tina and Jerry Raskin, professors who have taught all over the United States.  Recently, the Raskins moved to Pinebox, Texas after accepting faculty positions at East Texas University.  Even though their three kids are monsters, the Raskins want to give their three children the same experiences as any other children.  Even if they are a Patchwork Kid, a Demon, and a Werepuppy.  

After arriving in Pinebox, Tina and Jerry started looking for an appropriate babysitter capable of watching over the three troublemakers.  Given her positive attitude, and past experience dealing with the supernatural, Elle Woods wowed the Raskins, and got the job!

Generating the Adventure

As I've mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite things in the East Texas University setting book is the random adventure generator.  All you need is a deck of playing cards and a little imagination and you're ready to go.  Here's how our cards landed:

  • Who:  8 of Spades, Scientist
  • What:  King of Hearts, Theft
    • Victim:  9 of Spades, Animal
  • Why:  Ace of Spades, Accident
  • Where:  6 of Hearts, Pinebox (red card meaning that the location had to be open)
  • Complication:  Off the Grid

I asked Carrie and Evie to come up with a first and last name to round out the "villain", while asking the whole group to contribute with dog breeds.  This is what we came up with:

Dr. Jeffie Marquez, former member of the ETU faculty who was discharged for his outlandish research on bringing animals back from the dead, is at it again.  He's gone around town stealing dogs, and is rushing to his hidden cabin in the woods to complete an experiment.  Dr. Jeffie's goal: create the ultimate undead war dog to sell to the highest bidder!  So far Dr. Jeffie has collected a Dachshund, a Husky, a Schnauzer, a Shi-tzu, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a Goldendoodle.  While speeding to the cabin, Dr. Jeffie has a car accident in front of the Pizza Barn.  The dogs' cages break open, and several escape. 

The Game Itself

Our story began at the Pizza Barn.  The Raskin kids were having dinner with their babysitter, and they witnessed the accident.  Elle recognized Dr. Jeffie for being a foul brute, as his picture was plastered all over the campus newspaper recently.  The monsterlings sprang into action to help save the dogs, luring several away before the twisted mad scientist escaped with the rest.  Mon clung to the back of the vehicle for a full block, overhearing some of the doctor's sick plans before losing her grip.

The Raskin kids and their babysitter found Dr. Jeffie's cabin in the woods, but were immediately beset upon by undead war "cats."  

(Undead War Cat: Same as "Cat" from the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition, but "Undead", and with a d6 Fighting, 5 Parry, and d6 Strength.)

After the cat battle, Mon, Hot Dog, and Beep Boy approached the cabin.  Beep Boy tried being stealthy, but was noticed and then invited in by the doctor.  The demon child distracted the ex-professor with some sleight of hand magic tricks while her siblings picked the lock on the back of the building and let the remaining dogs loose.  Dr. Jeffie noticed the heist after it was over, and started to threaten Beep Boy.

So Beep Boy knocked the doctor out cold with a single punch from his stony fist.  

Using his puppy kinship, Hot Dog rounded up the dogs and brought them back to Elle's SUV while Elle called the police.    


Cooper: "I'll drive."
Jen: "You're not driving my car!"

"Do these cats hate people saying that they are cute?" - Cooper figured that good cats would like praise, so bad cats would prefer mean comments. 

"Do you want to see a magic trick?" - Beep Boy to Dr. Jeffie. 

Jim: "Are you going to stand there and duke it out?" 
Evie: "No, I'm going to punch him!"

Monday, June 13, 2016

DCCRPG - The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk - Part Two

Support Your Friendly Local Purple Sorcerer!

As we continue our "Sunken City Omnibus Tour," let's take a moment and chat about the great and powerful Purple Sorcerer himself, +Jon Marr.  If you are a Dungeon Crawl Classics aficionado, you probably spend a lot of time at, home to an incredible assortment of character generators, free tools, and the Crawler's Companion app.  Whether you're making a stack of 0-levels for an upcoming funnel, or customizing your wizard's grimoire, the Purple Sorcerer has you covered.

I should also point out that this is a great place to find awesome adventures, from the Sunken City Omnibus that we're playing here, to the brand new Carnival of the Damned (can't wait to play that one!)

All this "free swag" does come with a cost, however: the time and talent of +Jon Marr.  Jon spends countless hours producing these brilliant tools and products, and he's looking to devote even MORE time... but he needs our help.  Let us answer the call!

Right now the Purple Sorcerer is conducting the 2016 Free Tools Pledge Drive.  But this isn't just a simple donation!  You can get awesome downloads and products for supporting your "FLPS" (friendly local Purple Sorcerer).  Just $25 gets you the PDF of the Sunken City Adventure Omnibus & Guide that we are using for the Great SCOT, as well as possible random rewards from other Purple Sorcerer supporters.  There are other support levels of course, so make sure you check out all of the options.  

So please, please, PLEASE help our incredible Purple Sorcerer in the quest to continue bringing us amazing, free tools for all of our Dungeon Crawl Classics games!

The Great SCOT Continues

The Free Company, our adventuring party happily enjoying the Great Sunken City Omnibus Tour, completed Perils of the Sunken City and last month moved onto the The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk.  If you're interesting in starting this story from the beginning, here are the previous tales:
This is an open door campaign, so we can always have new players join our group.  Here are our only rules from game to game:
  • Schedule five players for each event
  • Hold a sixth seat free for last minute additions
  • Players who complete an adventure have "dibs" on joining the next adventure
  • Players can bow out, and rejoin later with living or new characters so long as there is a open spot at the virtual table

As always, Die Rodney!

The Free Company Roster

The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, Part Two

The Free Company meets Grumstein, a dwarf who just survived a terrible journey into the Sunken City with another adventuring company.  Grumstein is the sole survivor of an encounter with the Dreaded Grunglax, a crocodilian beast that spawns and fires hatchlings from its back.  Grumstein agrees to join up with The Free Company, and is quickly brought to speed on the group's quest to aid the mayor in finding Slither's End's lost children.

Ssof Rethaf wanders the town in search of rumors of the missing children, as well as the missing Jonas Gralk, the town's notable gravedigger.  A passing townie tells the Cleric that he saw two figures resembling Jonas and his mother Clotilda leaving their home several weeks earlier.  Another interesting rumor, and potential quest, is that "Redhelm" leads a gang terrorizing the river to the north.

Hoping to find the whereabouts of Jonas and his mom, the party investigates the Gralk home and adjacent cemetery.  Inside they discover a strange shrine to a girl's painting.  On the back of the painting was the name "Miranda."  Outside in the cemetery The Free Company comes across a half-dug grave, with a broken and rotting empty wooden box at the bottom.  

At the end of the investigation, a young boy approaches the party claiming that one of Grumstein's lost compatriots is in town looking for the dwarf.  The party heads to the fairground, where a figure (wearing "Tyrone's" robes) is standing under a tent.  The figure pulls back the hood, and reveals itself to be the 20' long Dreaded Grunglax!  The party battles the creature and all of the spawn that it fires from its spiny back.  A holy paralysis prayer by Ssof quells the terrible beast.  Nicodemus lands a deathblow with a very well placed backstab.

The Free Company gathers up the Dreaded Grumglax carcass and takes it to Django, Slither's End's tanner.  Bellows has a fine Grumglax shield crafted while Cedric makes Nicodemus pay for a wallet.  While speaking with Django, the party shares a picture of "Miranda" and learns that it is the long dead daughter of Clotilda Gralk, who was "lost" during an "incident" involving the town's cage platform in the center of Slither's End.  

Convinced that Jonas may return, the party performs a stakeout of the Gralk home.  Nothing happens during the evening, until a drunk Onus One Arm catches Nicodemus hiding in a bush.  Onus One Arm is confused by Nicodemus' second skeletal head, and orders the thief to leave.  Nicodemus runs off, circles the house, and hides in the bush again... but Onus is ready for him.  Onus cuts down Nicodemus with a broken bottle, but is quickly slain by Bellows, who surprises the man.  The Free Company carves up Onus and tosses him to the gators. 

Ssof heals the dying Nicodemus, but gains terrible disapproval from Aristemis for laying hands on a chaotic man with a zombie head growing out of his shoulder.  To regain his goddess' favor, Ssof must go on a quest to heal the crippled.  Nicodemus promises to start worshiping Aristemis, but the next morning the thief backs out of the conversion ritual.  

Figuring that they should leave town to deal with Redhelm and his bandits, The Free Company heads north to a series of pontoon bridges.  Crossing the bridges is perilous, as there are flying piranha that attempt to eat anything walking on the pontoons.  Everyone crosses without dying, but Nicodemus takes some more damage in the attempt.  Finally the thief agrees (for real) that he will start worshiping Aristemis.  But when Ssof performs the ceremony, the effect is the same as a "Turn Undead" ritual.  Cedric the zombie head, that had been growing into Nicodemus' shoulder for several weeks now, withers up, re-dies, and rolls onto the ground.  

Adventure Highlights

  • Since this was Kevin's first game with our group, I asked him to introduce his character to everyone.  I also asked what terrible creature Grumstein's original adventuring party faced while in the Sunken City.  When Kevin mentioned the name "Dreaded Grunglax", I knew I had to stat the beast!  I asked Kevin what the creature was, and he said it was an alligator that fired its own spawn from its back.  Sure enough, this only took me a few minutes to create.
  • Dreaded Grunglax
    • Init: +1; Atk bite +5 melee; Dmg 1d7+4; AC 15; HP 4d8 (24); MV 20'; SV Fort +5, Ref -1, Will +0; AL N.
    • Special: Every round a Dreaded Grunglax can fire it's "Spawn" into the combat.  It launches 1d5 Grunglaxlings into the encounter that gain their own initiative order immediately.
  • Grunglaxling
    • Init: +0; Atk bite +0 melee; Dmg 1d3 AC 9; HP 1; MV 20'; SV Fort +0, Ref -1, Will +0; AL N.
  • We don't deal with magical items all that often, but when the party comes across special materials I want to make sure that great things come of the discovery.  Following the defeat of the Dreaded Grunglax, I let the player characters carve the creature up for swag:
    • Grunglax Toothed Shield:  Offers +1 additional damage to shield bashing.
    • Grunglax Leather Shield:  Offers a +1 bonus to Reflex saving throws when a shield would be of logical assistance.
    • Grunglax Leather Wallet or the Wallet of Shadiness:  Offers the user a +1 bonus to negotiating illicit payments for illegal goods or services.
  • As our evening progressed, I noted that Alex was talking more and more from Cedric's perspective instead of Nicodemus'.  Each time he did this I made a note of Cedric's "skull" taking more root in the thief's shoulder.  Eventually this would turn into some kind of second head, with its own repercussions.  When Cedric was "turned" by Ssof's ceremony, I almost felt bad for the poor skull... as well as Alex!  It was like he lost a character.  
  • Marc insisted on a proper stakeout, and when he couldn't "rent a van", his character Bellows rented a wagon so that there was the same effect.  
  • This game was a TON of fun, and many scenes left the entire virtual table roaring with laughter.  This session was a shining example of why I love being a DCCRPG'er.  The crazy charts and tables, especially poor Andy's disapproval dice, left the perfect mark on this evening.  I had such a great time, and it's killing me that we have to wait six weeks until our next event!


"I think I need to switch my religion to the goddess of pizza, that sounds awesome.  If you're going to go to mass every week and get communion, it might as well be pizza." - Marc speaks wise words about religion.

Marc - "What is the signature pizza of the Free Company?"
Alex - "Pepperoni, jalapenos, and pineapple." 

"Undead only come out at night, guys." - Grumstein tried to reassure the group about exploring the graveyard.

"Hey idiot, let us in!" - Bellows to Nicodemus, after the thief climbed into the Gralk home by himself.

"Why ya'll so far away?" - Kevin was nervous about approaching his old friend Tyrone, and wanted moral support from the group.

"DIE RODNEY!!!" - Nicodemus leaps out and backstabs the Dreaded Grunglax.

"Take that Tyrone!" - Nicodemus walks away from the dead heap of the Dreaded Grunglax.

"Man, The Free Company has some weird ass rules.  Our bylaws read like some Mad Libs." - Marc speaks truth.

"Tyrone did look like a 20' alligator, now that I think about it." - Grumstein.

"I'm gettin' a new god..." - Ssof Rethaf had a really hard time with his rituals.

"Too bad we just took out the one-armed man." - Kevin, after the group found out that Andy needed to heal a crippled person to regain favor with Aristemis.

"I have 'duck' written on my sheet.  I'm not sure where I got it, but I have it." - Craig sums up DCC in one sentence.

"Excuse me father, I think my friend here is maimed.  He's missing one of his two heads." - Marc, after Ssof performed the conversion of Nicodemus.

In Memoriam 

  • Cedric - This skull had been slowly taking root on Nicodemus' shoulder.  But when the thief converted to Aristemisism, Ssof's ritual acted like "Turn Undead."  The poor, lying skull rolled off of Nicodemus' shoulder and onto the ground dead... again... for now.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

DCCRPG World Tour 2016 - Centigoats of Centaurus VII

Where are the Pirates?

Wow, what a big evening for the Norwin Game Knights last night!  I went to the event fully prepared to run the second half of +Harley Stroh's Tower of the Black Pearl, following last month's exciting high seas adventure.  Five of my players from the previous session showed up, but then another five arrived looking to play Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Four of the new players were completely new to DCCRPG!  Since this event was part of the 2016 DCCRPG World Tour, I felt compelled to step back and give our new players the full 0-level funnel experience...

... but I didn't come prepared with a 0-level funnel!

I had to think fast.  

To help develop a few adventure seeds, I let my players "design" the adventure "Mad Lib Style."  I threw out a few categories and asked for feedback.  My players' responses are in italics:

  • Name your favorite fast food:  McDonalds.
  • Give me a woman's name:  Susan.
  • Give me a famous personality:  Snoop Dogg.
  • Give me a character from a movie:  Shrek.
  • Give me an animal: Tiger.
  • Give me an activity: YouTubing.

As all of these ideas were coming in I just started drawing on a map.  I wanted the player characters to be part of some kind of crazy crash site, either in the future or the past.  My brain kept cooking as I handed out characters, explaining the rules of DCCRPG to our newer players.  The only thing I knew I was going to use for sure was some kind of crashed ship.  Either a steampunky airship or maybe a space capsule... the space capsule sounded fun.  

In the end I thought the adventure was a hot mess, but apparently my players enjoyed it.  My daughter loved the "Mad Lib" style adventure design, and now I've got a few ideas cooking to flesh this concept out a bit more.  

Dramatis Personae 

(I went for the "Full Monty" on these characters, drawing from fantasy 0-levels, Crawling Under a Broken Moon, and Purple Planet Earthlings.)

  • Dylan
    • God of Cheetos the Halfling Trader
    • Cha-Ching the Elf Researcher
  • Jeremy
    • Cowborghini the Mutant Mechanic
    • Crackle the Fireman
  • David
    • Bob the Lawyer
    • Tom the Trapper
  • Kippy
    • Tim the Mendicant
    • Kippenstein the Ostler
  • Alex
    • 665 the Slave (he came late, and only got one character)
  • Carrie
    • Bilbob the Dwarven Blacksmith
    • Eleven the Elven Chandler
  • Eric
    • Cecilia the Girl Scout
    • Odd Job the Teamster
  • Evan
    • Leon "Pop" Watson the Woodcutter
    • Stacy the Earthling Future Woman
  • Christian
    • Man-Dude the Arctic Aboriginal 
    • Sally McSue the Pessimist Clown
  • Mike
    • Yurislav the Red Army Point Man
    • Dmitri the Lost Cosmonaut 

Centigoats of Centaurus VII

A band of time travelers, just returning from Ancient Egypt, find out that they've won a trip to the delightful world of Centaurus VII, courtesy of a McDonalds giveaway.  With travel agent Susan "The Nailgun" Orion as their guide, they board a "sleeper" space craft with cryopods.   The travelers are enjoying their trip until they wake up in a smashed shuttle craft on an alien world.  Eighteen travelers faced drowning in their crypods, but were able to get free.  There may have been more survivors, but Leon pulled the wrong lever (clearly marked "don't pull") killing the rest by boiling their tubes.

[It was at this moment that I told the players that they could not get new 0-levels if their's died.  They would have to share.]

From the look of the shuttle's interior, the craft had been on the ground for several years, with much overgrowth filling an area adjacent to a hole in the hull. Exploring the shuttle, the characters found a large stuffed tiger attached to a long wire.  It was a lure, used by a Four Armed Shrek Ape outside the craft.  The party battled the Four Armed Shrek Ape, freeing its slave, a human named 665.   

[The Four Armed Shrek Ape was just a re-skinned Jungle Ape with two attacks.]

Moving forward into the shuttle, Yurislav and Crackle opened a hatch leading to a computer room.  On the screen was Snoop Dogg, who revealed to the characters that they were on a  YouTube Red reality show.  Each character touched their foreheads, discovering implanted camera devices.  Snoop Dogg told the characters to leave the shuttle and find their freedom. 

Before leaving, the travelers opened some of the canisters and containers on the craft.  Three of the canisters sprayed mutagens on the characters, giving some natural weapons, and turning others into plant-people.

[I used the Crawling Under a Broken Moon Mutant class tables to give out the random mutations.  I tweaked a few to make them more "negative."]

After leaving the shuttle, Crackle climbed up to the roof, pointing out clearings in the distance.  The party leaves to explore the clearings.  En route to one they discovered a fifty-foot long goat-centipede goat... or Centigoat.  It killed Crackle when he force fed it motor oil, but Kippenstein the Ostler was able to befriend the creature.  Now the party had a mount!  

Exploring a second clearing the party discovers a glass cube, with a human circulatory system hovering on the inside.  Dmitri breaks the glass, and Tim examines the veins.  The entire system then crawls up Tim's nose, taking over his body.  The now possessed Tim leaves the party.  

[I was thinking about the hovering circulatory system from Watchmen in the scene where Dr. Manhattan reformed.  Great movie.]

The next clearing circled an ant mound.  Inside the mound was a pistol, and Yurislav reached for the weapon, only to get covered in ants.  The party douses Yurislav with oil, and Eleven sets him on fire to help defeat the ants.  Dmitiri the Lost Cosmonaut eventually donned his space suit and rolled on the ants to kill them.  Dmitri notices on the inside of his helmet that there is a signal to the north.

[Although not part of the original "Mad Lib", someone mentioned ants at our club event... someone at another table.  I decided to throw it into the game.]

Traveling towards the signal, the party arrives at an old Russian moon landing craft.  A butterfly winged dragon sat atop the craft, asking for a gift from the party.  Eleven offered a piece of mithril, with a promise to help make a mithril candle.  The dragon took Eleven's offer, forced the Elf to stay behind, and let the rest of the team travel off into space.  

[I alluded several times to there being a dragon in the area.  While I tinkered with rolling a really quick tiny dragon, keeping the ten players occupied while I looked at the charts became a challenge.  I ended up just rolling a few stats... especially the Earthquake ability... and left other things like the dragon's "spells" alone.]

    In Memoriam 

    • Cecilia - Mauled by the Four Armed Shrek Ape
    • Cha-Ching - Mauled by the Four Armed Shrek Ape
    • Bilbob - Mutated to have gills, died gasping
    • Crackle - Devoured by the Centigoat
    • Kippenstein - Possessed by a sentient circulatory system
    • Leon "Pop" Watson - I can't remember how he died... must not have been that memorable.
    • Cowborghini - Eaten by Death Ants
    • Yurislav - Set on fire by Eleven to kill the ants

    Wednesday, June 8, 2016

    Savage Worlds - Vampirates of Caribdus - Session 1

    To Sea

    After much reading, planning, and preparation, my Tuesday night crew set sail on a journey to some Savage Worlds.  I discussed this mash-up of Melior Via's Accursed campaign setting with Pinnacle's 50 Fathoms in my last blog post.  The players in this new campaign would build characters using rules from the former, while I would run the plot-point-campaign from the latter.  Still, there was a bit of cross-over between the two books.  +Jeremy Land's witch took some air elemental spells, while +Craig McCullough's Ophidian took an edge from 50 Fathoms.  

    I found myself challenged with a starting location for this campaign.  The 50 Fathoms plot point campaign starts, obviously, in Caribdus, but the player characters would all hail from Accursed's Morden.  Rather than make everyone come up with even more elaborate backstories on how they came to a new fantasy realm, I thought we'd play an "origin story" style adventure, telling the tale of how these characters followed the Maiden to Caribdus.  

    I must have several hundred hours invested in Sid Meier's Pirates!, so when I was trying to think up a starting point for the campaign, the idea of a tavern full captains looking for crew came to mind.  The players could choose which captain to follow, with each offering a different experience as they sail across the Discordian Sea... right into Caribdus.  

    I promise, this will be more sandboxy as we go on, but I had to railroad the players a little to get them into 50 Fathoms.  Sorry!  

    Before we get any further, let's meet the characters:

    The Crew

    Ship's Log

    Episode 1:  A Captain's Barque


    Five Accursed souls booked passage aboard the Carrion's Call, departing from Manreia on Morden's mainland, and bound for Port Sorrow for work as sailors, fishermen, whalers, and possibly privateers.  During the journey they learned a bit more about each other's backgrounds, and told tales of their past.  Eventually Captain Conner's barque arrived at Port Sorrow and the Accursed were given directions to the Harrowed Hall, an inn and tavern that catered to those bearing witchmarks.  

    Before entering the inn, Marie reconnoiters the building's perimeter noticing a strange figure wearing a plague mask standing on the side of the building.  Nolan follows the figure into a side entrance while the rest of the party enters the stereotypical nautically-themed inn.  The figure is a captain, and he has a discussion in a backroom of the Harrowed Hall with another captain about which of the newly arriving Accursed would best serve on their respective vessels.  

    Inside the Harrowed Hall the party meets Landis Marne, a colonist originally from Morden who fought in the Bane War.  Landis tells the Accursed that his tavern is a fine place to sign up for work on the Discordian Sea, and that two captains are currently hiring: Captain Scream and Captain Alia.  Captain Scream (the figure in the plague mask) is an alchemist looking to partake in a whaling expedition for Flask Whales.  Captain Alia claims that she is a merchant who does business along Morden's southern coast.  

    After speaking briefly with Captain Alia, the party sits down with Captain Scream and learns of the potential riches of Flask Whales.  Each whale is full of a powerful oil that burns hotter than coal.  The party of Accursed signs on with Captain Scream, and are taken to the Darkmaiden's Dance.  

    After a few days on the Discordian Sea, Nolan spots a small pod of Flask Whales.  Captain Scream orders Sobek to steer the vessel close to the whales, and the party snares the smallest of three.  Kor uses brute strength to reel the small, baby Flask Whale onto the deck of the ship, but then the creature's parents arrived.  Two fifty foot long Flask Whale adults crush the keel of the Darkmaiden's Dance, almost ensuring that the vessel would sink quickly.  All hope was lost until the ethereal Maiden appeared in the nearby fog.  

    The Maiden calls to Sobek, and asks him to approach.  The crew set the last remaining sails so that the sinking Darkmaiden's Dance could break free of the whales.  Just before the craft plummets beneath the waves, the Maiden disappears, and a loud crack of thunder was heard from all aboard the vessel.  

    Notable Moments

    • To set the mood for the adventure my daughter Carrie came on camera and played her rendition of "Drunken Whaler" from the video game Dishonored on her violin.
    • I loved how each player described their characters:
      • Nolan is moody and annoyed by charismatic party members.
      • Sobek is quiet.  Really quiet.
      • Fenster, a glass golem is a bookish yet upbeat Manreian supremacist.
      • Marie is gregarious and extremely friendly.
      • Kor has a giant anchor permanently attached to his ankle, but he can use it as a great axe.  Also, the party wasn't sure if Kor was just dumb or extremely forgetful.
    • At the beginning of the session I had each player tell me about their most expensive piece of equipment.  Then I told them that they could erase the gear, as it was used for trade to get on board the Carrion's Call.
    • Marie used her witchcraft to guide the Carrion's Call into Port Sorrow despite the poor seas, earning a few silver from Captain Conner.  Once the trip was over, Kor explained to the captain that he wanted his fine leather coat back, the piece of gear that he traded to travel from Morden to Port Sorrow.  I felt sorry for the poor revenant, since he didn't know the trade was for keeps.  Fortunately, Marie used her hard-earned silver to pay for the coat, and gave it back to the big lug.
    • Captain Scream eventually took off their mask revealing that instead of a single face, the entity had four faces stitched together.  Without the mask, each voice was quite distinct, but while wearing the mask the voices blended together.


    Interludes are a Savage Worlds mechanic that prompt players to tell stories about their characters' past.  While the player characters were on the Carrion's Call, I let each player tell a tale.  A typical interlude is generated randomly: love, tragedy, victory, or desire.  Alternatively, I offered the players a chance to tell everyone why they were fleeing Morden.  We got some interesting stories...

    Kor (speaking of a "Desire"):  "One time Kor down by water and Kor see boats and Kor think boats look pretty and Kor go to boat and give borrowed jacket to nice talky man and then he get on boat."

    Sobek (discussing his flight from Morden): "We all did lots of things that weren't very good in the war.  That's the old me.  I left him there.

    Kor (commenting on Sobek's story):  "What war?"

    Fenster was supposed to tell a tale of Victory, specifically his own victory, but instead, he wove this long yarn about a Manreian prince turned king (not Fenster), and how he had to pay tribute to another kingdom, sought advice from a witch, and trusted the witch to make war-snowmen.  Frank spoke way too fast for me to write this all out, but it was a pretty long story.  With war-snowmen.  

    [GM's Note: Come up with stats for War-Snowmen.]

    Marie (speaking of "Love"):  "Well, back in the wars I and my kind, since we look so human, we were often used as spies.  I infiltrated a community and relayed information back to the creature that I served.  Eventually I fell for one of the guys who was working in the area, his name was Hargrove, where I was stationed.  As the war progressed I came to learn that there was going to be an attack on the town.  I warned this person who had grown so special to me.  Hargrove fled across the sea.  That's why I'm here.  I'm hoping I can catch up with him and be reunited."

    I have to thank Jeremy for giving me some awesome material to work with!  

    While I love all my player's characters equally (most of the time) my favorite Interlude came from Andy.

    Nolan (speaking of a "Tragedy"):  "We all came from this war and there is plenty of tragedy to talk about.  We all have gifts, and sometimes these gifts take things away from you.  I had a girl once.  She was a good looking girl.  She didn't know about me.  I tried to keep what I had under wraps.  Unfortunately she was an animal lover, and she had this cat.  I liked the cat alright.  But a man's gotta eat.  One night the curse took me, and I woke up.  I was covered in fur and I didn't know what I did.  She knew what I did.  She didn't keep me around after that.  She chased me away pretty quick.  I haven't been in that town ever since.  You know, I kinda fell for that cat too and things happen.  I lost the cat, and the girl, and my home all at once."

    That's right.  Nolan fled Morden because he ate his girlfriend's cat.  


    "Nolan's a very unkempt person.  He has clothes on." - Andy describes his Vargr perfectly.  Unkempt with clothes.

    "Marie is also gregarious... apparently this is a noisy boat." - Jeremy describes his Dhampir.

    "So 'Kor' is all you could get out of this guy.  He is seven and a half feet of undead muscle." - Marc describes his meaty character.

    "If you could imagine Andre the Giant from the Princess Bride having an anchor chained to his ankle, its something like that." - Marc continues describing his character.

    "Kor's not convinced he really went anywhere.  He thinks he just went on a long boat ride." - Marc speaking for his character.  

    "Well I'm not quite ready to sell any of my compatriots just yet." - Marie to the boy at the docks.

    "Good news, shiny man, Nolan back!" - Kor  

    "I'm not sure if they're looking to employ us or buy us." - Nolan was wary of the captains at the Harrowed Hall after spying on their backroom dealings.  

    "Kor go with Marie." - Kor

    "I pick things up... I put them down." - Kor

    "Hey, there are the whales!  Whale ho!"  - Nolan alerts the crew of the Darkmaiden's Dance.

    Jim - "... and the whale got a joker."
    Andy - "Did we decide to attack Moby Dick on our first tryout?"