Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 7


The Devil's Spine Campaign Log


Welcome to our group's campaign log for The Devil's Spine, a mega-adventure by +Monte Cook for the Numenera campaign setting.  

Originally this was going to be a pure and simple campaign log.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a record for me and my friends to keep track of what was going on in the game.  But I've decided that, as we progress through the adventure, I'd do some commentary and/or reviews on different parts of the adventure.  So... SPOILERS!


Characters


  • Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 
  • Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 
  • Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 
  • PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde
  • Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 

Previously on The Devil's Spine


Session 7:  Unjumping the Shark


I don't know where to begin.

Last night's game was intended to be a bridge between the first and second act of The Devil's Spine.  I advanced the story two weeks, and opened up the city of Uxphon to the players, with the intent of allowing them to do any shopping and exploration as they prepared themselves to continue on their quest to free Belmoan, Keane, and Nero of their parasites.  

It was also my intent to "un-jump the shark." 

Over the last two sessions, our games have gotten progressively more outlandish.  "Weird" is certainly expected in any Numenera adventure, as the entire concept of the setting is that a world one billion years in the future should certainly be a bizarre place.  But I use the word "outlandish," because I've gone and jumped the shark with the campaign.  In session five, our hovering bot PL4T0 crafted mutated cragworm Manolo Blahniks for the PC's to wear.  In session six I leveraged Nero's time traveling focus in a GM Intrusion that sent  Belmodan back to a prior world, where Nero owned a popular and very successful chain of fried flish restaurants.  As we moved into The Devil's Spine's second act, I fully intended to bring things back to a weird sort of normal.

I soon realized that this was impossible for this Numenera campaign.  

Our party of brave numenera hunters, afflicted with the parasitic nagaina defenders on three of their backs, had returned to the Nagaina Matron Devola for information on their next task.  They were informed that three townsfolk of Uxphon could potentially have information as to where to find The Impossible Blade, a surgical tool that could cut away the parasites.  There was Om the trinket salesperson, Derris the weaponsmith, and Sabazia the fortune teller.

So far, so good.

I should note that none of these NPC's have that much detail written about them or their place of business in The Devil's Spine.  About a paragraph each, is all you really get.  If you just want to use them for quick sources of info, that's fine, but if you want to get heavy into their backstory you'll need to add some of your own tidbits.  Personally, I like to delve into Injecting the Weird if I'm going to spice things up for my game.  Just reading through some of the bizarre entries helps me come up with stuff on the fly.  

For Om, I placed the trinket salesperson's store beneath one of Uxphon's great pipes.  The entire place of business just hung, suspended by cables, dangling in the whipping winds of the Black Riage.  Om himself was an interesting man, who had much to sell.  One oddity he was very interested in parting with was a deck of thirty cards.  According to Om, each card possessed the living consciousness of a gambler who lost playing a game with the deck.  Fifty shins was the asking price.  I really thought someone would make purchase, but no one seemed interested.

A second oddity was a small wooden box with palm trees on the outside.  Belmodan picked up the box, and felt a sea breeze wafting out from the pitch black interior.  The seeker placed his hand into the box, and then the rest of his arm, as if it were a bag of holding from another kind of role-playing game.  When Belmodan's hand touched water, he felt immense pain, and could not retract the appendage.  Listening to the box, it became clear: some kind of Iscobalian whaling ship had grabbed his arm on the other side!  

The box somehow teleported Belmodan's arm into the waters off of Iscobal, but also enlarged it to be fifty feet long.  When the seeker did finally yank his arm out, aided by the rest of the party, there were two tiny sailors attached to it: Bjorn and Matilda.  PL4T0 flicked Matilda's head, killing her, and then Belmodan sold Bjorn to Om for seventy-five shins.  Om hinted at using the tiny sailor as a slave, to be tasked with caring for his aneen's lower intestinal health.  

During this exchange, Om told the party that Eenosh, a bizarre creature that lived in the Cloudcrystal Skyfields, had come to town with some interest in the Impossible Blade.  

The interaction with Derris was entertaining to say the least.  To make the blacksmith even more weird, I stated that all of his weapons were bizarre and unusual.  He only sold the weapons out of the equipment list that were Numenera native.  Things like buzzers or razor rings, but no swords.  Derris did have a fine collection of fruit-themed weapons though, such as a mace with a bronze strawberry head, or a flail that had bananas instead of spiked balls on the end.  The blacksmith himself lacked biceps, and just had floating forearms connected via energy to electrical sockets jutting out from his shoulders.

Derris told the party that his arms were gifts from Eenosh, and that he traded his real arms for these weird arms.  Again, not in the original adventure by Mr. Cook, but what the hell.  PL4T0 then made a big deal about Derris' real arms, and where they could've been, and what they could be doing at this very minute.  Who they could be touching and how they could be touching that who were emphasized.  I ruled that Derris went catatonic.  So Derris decided to lay down.

Nero, whose player David stated was "crazy", laid down right next to Derris and continued to interrogate the man.  It was the most disturbing interrogation scene I've ever witnessed in a role-playing game.  Nothing really happened, just the idea of Nero (a crazy man) laying down next to a cyber-blacksmith, whispering questions into his ear.  Freaky.

Derris revealed that he was unable to recreate the Impossible Blade for Eenosh, but knew where to find the entity.  This information was passed on to the party, and they moved on to Sabazia the fortune teller.

The scene with Sabazia was a bit of a letdown compared to what we had just witnessed.  The fortune teller charged ten shins a piece, and Belmodan and Nero paid up.  I tried using Rory's Story Cubes to create interesting tales about the characters' futures, but the results were lukewarm.  

As a GM Intrusion, again leaning on Nero's time travelling backstory, I revealed that his character would die in a field of crimson wheat, drowning in tiny red globules that would force their way down his throat after first melting off his appendages.  

For Belmodan's fortune, I just told him that "the key to your questions is in the telephone of knowledge."

What the hell is that supposed to mean?



Quotes


"PL4T0 doesn't have a backbone." - Will praising Marc's character.

"What's in the box!" - Marc.  This quote never gets old though.

"Alright, so we've sold Bjorn the sailor for 75 shins.  Things you never thought you'd say out loud." - David was right.

"For all you know, your arms could be touching someone's butt right now." - Marc commenting on Derris' hovering arms.

"I came prepared to unjump the shark, but you all cried out 'no!'" - Jim to the group.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Family Game Knights - Moonricket Bridge

An Easter Celebration


We don't do regular holidays in the Walls Household.  

To celebrate the Easter holiday this weekend, we decided to a "Dunkin & Dragons" morning.  This little Walls-Family tradition began way back in the summer of 2014, when we would play Basic Fantasy RPG while consuming copious amounts of fried donut goodness.  Although the game has changed a bit since then (now we're playing Dungeon Crawl Classics) the concept remains the same.




Originally we were intending on running Moonricket Bridge with our gang of Family Game Knights friends, but Carrie was sick last night and we didn't feel it was fair to have guests over.  Since the adventure is so short, though, I thought we'd run it as a family game.  When we next meet as a full group I'll pick up with Doom of the Savage Kings.


The Adventuring Party


  • Jen
    • Wize Wizard McBride - Cleric
  • Evie
    • Jefff - Warrior
  • Carie
    • Mullet - Warrior
    • P. Specs - Thief
  • Cooper
    • Sun - Elven Musician
    • Night - Halfling Guard


Quick Report


After removing the curse at Sour Spring Hollow, our brave band of adventurers set out to find the town of Hirot, said to be one of the few larger communities in the Shudder Mountains.  Sour Spring Hollow was out of the way, and the only road to Hirot would require a crossing of the haunted Moonricket Bridge.  The evening before reaching the bridge, the characters shared a meal at a small cabin with a trapper named Robert Duvall.  

Robert Duvall shared the tale of the bridge's ghost, and how he had been slain by robbers just before his wedding.  A great reward awaited those who could free the bridge of its curse, and send the ghost on to an eternal peace.

The next morning the party reached the bridge and encountered the ghost.  Wize Wizard McBride was terrified of the spectral entity, however the brave Jefff (yes, with three "f's") was without fear.  Jefff approached the ghost and saw that it was motioning downriver, first pointing and then with an open hand.  

P. Specs led the party downriver where they found a small, debris filled cove that led to a cave.  The group found the remains of a deceased questing knight, and took his weapons and armor.  Everything was going great until Sun, the Elven Musician, started cutting up the guts of a dead deer carcass.  

The smell of the decaying meat attracted a trio of Giant Hellbender Salamanders.  Unfortunately, the team was not outfitted correctly for the battle.  Their farming implements and poor armor were of little match for the three terrible beasts.  Sun fell during the battle, and Wize Wizard McBride was knocking on death's door.  P. Specs successfully backstabbed the smallest of the creatures, and eventually, Jefff was able to land a few killing blows on the last two.

[Judge's Note:  This was a BRUTAL battle.  I think we went about seven or eight rounds, with the average attack roll being less than a six.  In addition, Jen's character kept racking up disapproval, and the team had several fumbles.  I'll admit that I fudged a die-roll once just so that Cooper (my six year old) wouldn't lose his second PC in the same game.]

Inside the cave the party found the remains of the ghost's body, including a tiny, plain wedding ring.  The party retreated to the ghost and returned the ring.  The ghost bowed in thanks, and then walked several miles to a small abandoned cemetery where it was reunited with the ghost of an old woman.  The two specters embraced in love, and faded out of existence with the ring dropping to the ground.

So moved was the Wize Wizard McBride, that he acted against his alignment and agreed to bury the ring in the cemetery rather than remove it in greed.  Unfortunately his chaotic god of death and disease cared not for this moment of beauty and respect.  Wize Wizard McBride changed alignment, was stripped of all his cleric powers, and found himself "without deity."  



Campaign Crematorium


  • Sun - Eaten by a Giant Hellbender Salamander 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lamentations of the Flame Princess - A Not-So-Quick Review



First off I'm going to be honest:  I don't know if I like the title to this mini-review series.  I've said it before -  I suck at reviews.  Despite having the slang term "crits" in my blog's name, it doesn't mean I'm any good at being critical when it comes to the books and gaming products I read, especially when I enjoy them...

... and hot damn, I really enjoyed reading Lamentations of the Flame Princess by +James Raggi!

I guess it comes to down to the fact that I won't finish reading something I don't like.

Anyway, I really wanted to write something about LotFP after reading it, as I felt inspired.  This "Not-So-Quick Review" is sort of a spiritual successor to my incredibly short lived Why You Should Play series of posts.  I'm going share and showcase my five favorite parts of Lamentations of the Flame Princess and if you agree or disagree or feel the need to scream crazy obscenities into the internet, you can do so in the comment section below.

Originally I intended this to be a rather short post, but then I just kept writing... and writing.  That's why it's "Not-So-Quick".  If you have a better idea for a blog series title let me know in the comments.  

Lamentations of the Flame Princess


I first across this game during the spring of 2015.  I had been playing several OSR games at the time, including Dungeon Crawl Classics, Adventures in the East Mark, and Basic Fantasy RPG, and I kept hearing folks in the community talk about "LotFP".  What the heck was that?  So a little Googling and I came across the free, no-art version of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic PDF.  I gave the book a quick glance, and found that the rules seemed pretty similar to some of the other games I was playing, with some entertaining tweaks and tidbits that I'll get to later in this post.  

A few weeks later I set out to get my own copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic in print.  Interestingly enough, one of my Google+ contacts saw my interest and made me an offer.  If I paid for shipping they would send me their copy of the book.  While they had no issues with the game, the art was too over the top.  

Hold up... any game that has artwork that can cause that kind of reaction with another gamer needs to be in my hands!  I had to check it out.  So I made the deal, and also managed to wrangle a copy of A Red and Pleasant Land by +Zak Sabbath because I thought "Alice in Wonderland" and "hey I like Disney movies." 

When the book finally came, I opened it up and saw just what my friend was talking about.  There is some very intense, mature artwork in this book, depicting some wild scenes.  If you are wondering if you would enjoy the artwork, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Would you like to know what getting devoured by an ooze or slime looks like?
  2. Did you enjoy the movie Slither?

If you answered yes to either of these, then you'll probably enjoy the art.  I should note that the book is very clearly listed as "18+" for "Explicit Content".  

Sadly, the book ended up going on my shelf for about a year before I opened it up again.  I have a terrible backlog of gaming products that I need to read!  It would be my wife +Jennifer Walls who'd play first, taking part in a demo of No Salvation for Witches that our friend +Shannon Slakinski ran as prep for Gen Con.  I was wrangling the kiddos that night so that she could play, so I was only able to hear a few tidbits of the game.  I knew I would play eventually, I just needed to find a little time.

Well I finally found the time!

In a little over two weeks I will be running Lamentations of the Flame Princess online on behalf of Lawful Good Gaming

To fully prepare for this game, I decided to read both the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic as well as the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Referee Book (Grindhouse Edition) cover to cover.  For the purposes of this Just the Crits review, I'll be referring to both of these books.  

The Crits


Crit #1:  The Specialist Class

At it's core, Lamentations of the Flame Princess appears to have seven classes:  Fighter, Specialist, Magic-User, Cleric, Elf, Halfling, and Dwarf.  At first glance, the Specialist was just another name for a thief or a rogue, and this is what I thought when I first read the free PDF in 2015.  But upon fully reading through Lamentations of the Flame Princess, I realized that the Specialist allows for a great deal of flexibility for creating characters that aren't necessarily the front line fighter, yet lack magic.  

Specialists have access to nine skills, from Architecture and Bushcraft to Stealth and Sneak Attack.  As PC's progress, players can put points towards any of these skills in any fashion that they desire.  Couple this with the fact that there are no alignment or weapon restrictions in Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the Specialist can fill at least a dozen individual niches.

Here's just a few I came up with on the fly:

  • Ranger: a high dexterity specialist that wields a bow and has skill points devoted to Bushcraft and Stealth.
  • Thief:  a specialist that wields a dagger and short sword and has skill points devoted to sleight of hand, stealth, and tinker.
  • Assassin:  a specialist that wields a blowgun and garrote, and has skill points devoted to climb, sneak attack, and stealth.
  • Tinker (from the Ultima computer game series):  a specialist that wields a warhammer, and has skill points devoted to architecture, search, and tinker.  

If it weren't for one single spell (that I'll discuss momentarily) I think I'd always want to play some kind of Specialist variant myself.  

Crit #2:  Boats, Retainers, Property, & Finance

Sometimes I want to put my players on a boat.  Sometimes I want to put them in their own castle.  Sometimes I want to create altercations with my players' hirelings requiring Human Resource Management skills.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess has rules for all of that.  

For all my years playing AD&D 2nd Edition, with all of its rules for land owning, and castle creation, and bringing on hirelings, it wasn't until I started dipping into the OSR that I had players who actually wanted to manage some kind of property.  It was in my monthly Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, after the party evicted a dastardly river bandit-king from his keep.  Unfortunately, the DCC rules didn't have enough on the topic, so I dipped back int my old Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia for some details.  

Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic has some very clear and concise rules governing all of these topics, from adventuring on the high seas to paying taxes for owning a keep or castle in another lord's land.  I really got a feeling that LotFP shines in sandbox style gaming.  What better sandbox than to let players create their own kingdom, and then have them role-play how they deal with the ramifications?  

Crit #3:  Summon

Imagine a game where a first level spell can destroy an entire campaign.  Lamentations of the Flame Princess is that game.

Summon is a first level Magic-User spell that, on the surface, allows the player character to summon a beast to fight on their behalf.  Perhaps they can summon a boa constrictor to strangle their arch nemesis.  Or maybe they roll really well and summon a living shadow to do battle with a mass of orc raiders.  Or maybe, just maybe, they summon an "Imaginary Equation, Incorrect yet True" and all of mathematics breaks down and the universe implodes.  

This can totally happen in LotFP.


I'll wait...

... are you done reading?  Good, I'll continue.

Summon is proof that magic in LotFP is terribly dangerous, and can alter the world in some serious ways, often by accident.  Sure, Dungeon Crawl Classics has some spells that can cause total carnage if a player character spellburns and blows all of their luck, but chances are that they won't submerge the entire world in fifty feet of water if they blow the spell.  Each and every casting of that kind of magic can lead to adventure plots created by player character actions.  

Crit #4:  On the Topic of Railroading

On page 11 of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Referee Book +James Raggi starts to cover adventure design.  He lays out the process of creating your own adventures as well as the types of weird adventures that can be had in with this Weird Fantasy Role Playing Game.  Even though I've been reading, writing, and running RPG adventures since the early 1990's, I always find it eye-opening to read someone else's take on the process.  

It was the discussion of "Railroading" (forcing players down a particular adventure path) on page 20 that I found to be of particular interest.  Mr. Raggi asks the reader to repeat and say aloud the following (twice):

"My adventures and campaigns will have no pre-set endings.  Characters are not required to act as I wish them to act during the course of the game.  It is natural player behavior to trash scenarios and take the game to places unforeseen."  

Great advice, and not just for new GM's, but for any and all who lurk behind the screen.  Crap, I need to catch myself, especially when I'm running games for younger players and I want to ensure that we get done on time.  Perhaps I'm doing a disservice when I shoot for bringing our game in for a nice and tidy landing at the end.  Just based on reading the LotFP adventure design setting, great adventures should lay out what a problem is, and then give the players the full ability to create thoughtful and creative solutions.  

Of course, these creative solutions may be fatal to the player characters, but without risk, there is no reward!

Crit #5:  Other Topics

There's a complete section in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Referee Book that's titled "Other Topics" that really should be called "Role-Playing Organizational Management 101."  The topics include but are in no way limited to player recruitment, setting player expectations, replacing deceased characters, and examining and being critical of your play style as a referee.  

In short, pages 62-68 of this absolutely free PDF should be required reading for any new starting out on their path to create a campaign.  Heck, if it weren't for the art depicting eyeballs getting stabbed by knives, I'd print this thing and give it to all of the teen GM's who run games at our local game club.  While I'm perfectly comfortable letting my own kids see a little harmless gore, I can't speak for all parents.  What I'd love to do is print this out, go back in time, and give it to the thirteen year old version of me.

+James Raggi hits home on page 62:

"Ask your friends to join your game.  ALL of them.  Even people you don't know all that well. Co-workers.  Classmates.  One of the worst things people can do is only game with close friends.  This often cripples one's ability to find a game, as if these certain other people don't want to game, that's it."  

Guilty.  Until just the past few years (2012+) I fell into this trap repeatedly.  I'd limit myself to asking just a close selection of friends to join my game, and then when I'd lose a player, or a group would collapse, I'd lament that none of my other friends were gamers.  Thankfully, between frequenting an amazing FLGS and the advent of the internet, gaming with strangers is easier than ever.  I've created dozens of friendships in the process, and with every event and convention seem to create a few more.  

But if you want to be a referee, judge, or game master, you need to put yourself out there and market your game. 

LotFP at Your Table


These are my critical hits from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and I'd be interested to hear how some feel about the game.  Have you played LotFP, and if so, what were your impressions?  How did you enjoy it compared to other OSR games?  If I was looking to pick up some more LotFP products, where should I start?  

Feel free to comment below!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

DCCRPG - Return to Slither's End


Going Home


We took a brief break from the Sunken City Omnibus series of adventures last night to tie up some loose ends within the campaign.  Our characters have been through twelve adventures so far, and before moving on to Lair of the Mist Men I thought it only fair to give the players a turn to affect some change in The Free Company's adopted home base of Slither's End.  

The player characters first traveled to Slither's End in part one of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, and it was decided that the original members of The Free Company remained there when we started with the "B-Team" in A Gathering of the Marked.  So what happened to those members of The Free Company?  What have they been doing the last several weeks, before joining up a group of "marked mercenaries" from the swamps of the Sunken City?

Let's find out!

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 


  • +Marc Plourde
    • Floyd Pink, Warrior
    • Mayor Razoul, Psion
    • Roge, Halfling Mariner/Wizard's Apprentice
  • +andrew lyon
    • Ssof Rehtaf, Cleric
    • Lil Hammy, Tiny Pig Paladin Statue (advances as Paladin)
    • Ferd, Dwarven Blacksmith/Wizard's Apprentice
  • +Craig McCullough
    • Garik, Warrior
    • Gordon, Halfling Burglar
    • Watson, Wizard
    • Anderson, Dwarven Stonemason
  • +Paul Go 
    • Wayne (or Worm), Thief
    • Imric, Elf
  • +Jonata Sodre 
    • "Screaming" Otto, Warrior
    • Steve, Guild Begger/Wizard's Apprentice
  • +Alex Perucchini 
    • Nicodemus, Thief
    • Gastronomix, Dwarf
    • Ezekial, Woodcutter/Wizard's Apprentice

Return to Slither's End


Since we were last in Slither's End the following has occurred for The Free Company:

  • In Lord Beecham's absence, Razoul the Psion was elected to the position of town Mayor.  Lord Beecham continues to flex his muscle over the region, perhaps to a sinister end.  
  • The Free Company hired some additional mercenaries to help protect their 107,000 coins (mostly silver) buried in the basement of the Gralk family home.  These are the "Marked Mercenaries" from the latest series of adventures (Floyd, Lil Hammy, Garik, Gordon, Wayne, Gastronomix, and Screaming Otto.)
  • Cleric Ssof Rehtaf has been working to convert the citizens of Slither's End to the ways of Aristemis the Insightful One, demi-goddess of true seeing, strategy, and wood-fired pizza.  

For last night's adventure, I went around the "virtual" table, and gave each player the opportunity to take control of the adventure and talk about their member of The Free Company.  Here's what we came up with:

Ssof Rehtaf & Razoul

Desiring a change of religious loyalty in Slither's End, from the chaotic snake-god Salissak to lawful, hearth protecting Aristemis, Ssof Rehtaf gathers the townsfolk together for a great speech.  After paying Mayor Razoul the permit fee for this kind of assembly, Ssof climbs atop the metal arm that was used by the prior mayor to lower poor citizens into the swamp waters as sacrifices to Salissak.  Ssof cuts the cage away, letting it fall into the water, and curses Salissak and his evil ways.  The act is so dramatic, that the majority of townsfolk instantly switch sides, and start to cry out the name of their new goddess.

That's when Salissak shows up.

The snake god slithers up the platform and demands praise and worship.  Nicodemus is the only party member to call out in favor of the snake-god, but once the rest of The Free Company decides to throw down, the thief follows suit.  

The battle is nearly a disaster.  Screaming Otto nearly drops his axe, and never lands a hit on the beast.  Razoul takes some wicked-bad psionic backlash causing his ears to bleed.  Gordon loses his axe after it turns to rust when it strikes Salissak.  At least Ssof is able to stand toe-to-toe for a while with the magical Fairystomper, but eventually a nearly-deadly tail swipe takes out the party's cleric.  

Fortunately for the group, Nicodemus and Gordon are able to retreat and lob arrows at the wounded snake-god, whittling away its health.  Finally, Razoul launches a telekinetic blast at the foul being that both obliterates the snake-god and gains the psionicist-mayor some serious respect throughout town.

At least Lil Hammy is able to revive Ssof at the end of combat.  

Once the battle is over, the town is freed from the bonds of Salissak.  Most of the town commits themselves to Ssof's new church of Aristemis (located in the town pavilion), but there are many who start referring to someone else as a god: Razoul.  

Behold, Razoul... the God-Mayor of Slither's End!

Following the battle, Razoul needs a well deserved break from public life, and takes a couple days off to rest his brain and heal the bruising from his backlash.

Nicodemus

After seeing both Ssof and Razoul get some power within the town of Slither's End, the great chaotic thief Nicodemus wants some street-cred.  So Nicodemus convinces God-Mayor Razoul to bestow the title of deputy mayor on him.  Fortunately for the town thief, this job also comes with the duty of being the chief Tax Collector for Slither's End.  

Nicodemus is informed that Vokas the Fire Mage, aka the "Man Ape", owes 400 gold pieces with of fines to Slither's End.  Vokas had gone mad over the past several years, and believed himself to have transformed into a giant, hairless, tailless, upright-walking ape.  This just means that he spends a lot of time walking around town naked.  Well it turns out that Vokas pays a weekly fine of 100 gold pieces for lewdness, and this has become an important part of the town economy.  It's said that most of the repairs to infrastructure in Slither's End are financed by Vokas' exposed rear end.  

Nicodemus assembles a team and heads over to Vokas' tower.  After picking the front door's lock, Nicodemus marches into the tower and finds Vokas tied up on the floor, naked.  Vokas claims that he was forced to "pay up" to Lord Beecham, who still claims to hold power over the town.  He also states that he has no money to pay the God-Mayor.  

Nicodemus wasn't going to return to the God-Mayor empty handed.  So the thief starts going through Vokas' magical items and steals a pair of magic fezzes.  The legendary Fezzes of Binding!  He places one upon his head, and tosses the other to Lil Hammy.  Instantly the two characters have a deep emotional connection.  The Fezzes of Binding allow each wearer to feel the emotions and surface thoughts of the other.  This leads to much tender hugging, and cathartic crying between the party's thief and paladin.  

It's awkward for everyone but the naked man bound on the floor.  

Watson

Flashback, two days prior...

Watson is working alongside Vokas the Fire Mage, pouring through the old wizard's worn tomes and newer editions of the Encyclopedia Great Cityica.  It is the party wizard's desire to uncover the mysteries of a bird-based patron, so that he can swear his loyalty and unlock the greater powers of screaming eagle magic.  

Also working in the tower as wizard's apprentices are Roge, Ferd, Steve, and Ezekial (Judge's Note: these roles were played by the other PC's during this scene.)  

The entire team of researchers work together to uncover the secrets of an ancient patron known as Aquilia, the Great Hawkheaded One!  It is said that Aquilia requires three gifts and offerings to bestow her magic upon a mortal:
  1. A guava
  2. A meercat
  3. A halbard

(Judge's Note: I let the other PC's come up with these items in "Mad Lib" style.)

The legendary ritual went as follows:  the petitioner must travel to the top of the highest mountain in the region, and then slay a meercat with a halbard while simultaneously eating a fresh guava.  

Once the ritual is uncovered, Watson thanks Vokas' team and leaves.  

That's when Lord Beecham shows up!  

(Judge's Note:  Lord Beecham now looks and sounds just like Xerxes from 300.)

The Lord demands that Vokas pays him for the lewdness fines.  When Vokas tries to speak out against the injustice, Lord Beecham unleashes a devastating kick to the naked Man Ape's groin.  Lord Beecham's goons (one of whom is played by Craig), slay all of Vokas' apprentices save for Steve, who declares his undying loyalty to former mayor.  Steve claims that he was tired, oh so tired, of constantly seeing the Man Ape's nakedness, and proves his worth to his new master by tying up Vokas.  

As he does so, Steve whispers to Vokas, that he'll return with help.

Steve never returns

Floyd

After all of the craziness that occurred over the last several weeks, we come back to Floyd pink, the Warrior and Marked Mercenary who survived the Gathering.  Floyd still has the Stone Demon's Shell, and he wants it made into a shield.  Yuri the blacksmith offers to create a fine shield out of the shell... for 1,000 gold pieces!

Floyd feels the price is too steep, so he asks for a trade.  Yuri thinks a bit, and then gives Floyd a perilous mission that could determine the fate of the entire Sunken City...

... a mission to hunt down and defeat the Mist Men!

Yuri claims that the Mist Men have been harming his blacksmithing business by capturing merchants along the southern passage of the Sunken City.  The lone survivor of the last expedition, a bizarre and shrill hunchbacked trapper named Mingus, successfully fought off one of the Mist Men, and gained his artifact: a silver tube.  It was said that Mingus could use the tube to track the Mist Men back to their lair.  

Floyd agreed to accompany Mingus to the Lair of the Mist Men as trade for the shield.  Accompanying Floyd were Gastronomix, Lil Hammy, Otto, and Watson.

After two days of travel the party arrives at Korik's Heart, a great hill that juts up above the rest of the swamp.  At the top of the hill is a cave entrance that Mingus says is the lair for which they search.  The trapper then bids the party adieu and heads back to town.  

While the trapper is walking away, the team hear him arguing with something under his shirt.  Mingus wore a giant cloak, presumably to cover his hunch.  But it appeared that Mingus was arguing with part of the hunch!  

"Hey, I know that guy!" the hunch called out.  "Watson!"  

Watson walks over to investigate, and discovers that Mingus bears the parasitic skull of Cedric on his shoulder.  Cedric demands that Watson free him from Mingus' shoulder, but the wizard doesn't seem interested in dealing with a mouth, lying skull.  Since Cedric's old host Nicodemus was back in town, Watson tells Mingus to look the thief up one he arrives.  


Adventure Notes


  • Salissak (Created using the Purple Sorcerer Dragon Generator)
    • Init +2; Atk bite +7 melee (1d12); tail slap +7 melee (1d20); AC 16; HD 6d12 (62 hp); MV 40 (slither); Act attacks d20, spells ; SP see below; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +6; Al C.
    • Breath Weapon: Type (Poison gas); Save (Fort 16); Damage (1d16 or no effect with save); Shape (Cloud, radius 1d3 x 10’, aimed up to 90’ away)
    • Level 1 Spells: Color Spray, Ward Portal
    • Martial Power 1: Rusting hide. The Salissak hide causes rust in all normal metal objects. As a result, its treasure horde consists primarily of gems and magical items. Weapons used to attack Salissak crumble to rust upon touch (although magic weapons are immune).
    • Unique Power 1: Speak with muck melons (1/hour). Salissak can designate one animal and communicate effectively in that animal’s native tongue for the remainder of the hour. The animal still cannot communicate beyond the limits of its intelligence and physical abilities.
    • Unique Power 2: Swamp growth (1/hour). All swamp growth within 100’ grow to twice their current size in 1d4 rounds; targets within growth are entangled (half speed, -2 to attacks).
       

    Quotes?


    "Until we get the town budget balanced, I'm the closest thing that comes to law and order." - Marc discusses Razoul, the new God-Mayor of Slither's End.

    "Aristemis has come to rid them of your taint." - Ssof Rehtaf demands the town convert.

    "No no!  I'm the new guy!  I don't know anything about that!  I'm only here to work and cut wood!" - Screaming Otto screaming.

    "In the name of Aristemis, I vanquish this foul beast and cleanse this town of its... demon taint." - Ssof Rehtaf tries to land a killing blow on the snake god.

    "You need a permit for any grievances filed for... eh... uh." - Mayor Razoul tries to lay down some serious paperwork for Salissak.

    "Hey fruit loop, open the door!" - Nicodemus calls out to the Vokas the Man Ape.

    Andy (as Lil Hammy) - "We are the law!" - Lil Hammy
    Craig - "Andy now becomes Judge Dredd."

    "I don't like this man, he's so naked.  All the time he is naked!" - Steve to Lord Beecham, begging to join his crew.

    "Do you know that boil?" - Floyd to Watson, after the party discovers that Mingus bears the parasitic skull of Cedric.  


    In Memoriam 

    • Ezekial - Stabbed by Lord Beecham's goon
    • Ferd - Hammered to death by Anderson the goon
    • Roge - Stabbed by Lord Beecham's goon

    Saturday, April 8, 2017

    Family Game Knights - Sour Spring Hollow


    Opening the Chained Coffin


    This week we started a new, regular gaming group in our house.  In the past we've done games as a family, and occasionally we invite some other friends and family to come join me, +Jennifer Walls, and the kids.  But these have usually been one shots.  So, as a new experiment, I thought we'd try doing a regular, as close to weekly game as possible, with open invites to many of our friends.  Some of these friends have kids of their own, and some don't.  

    Some face their fears of my crazy children and still choose to roll dice with us.  

    For our very first session of something I plan on calling Family Game Knights I grabbed my copy of The Chained Coffin and caught up on my Shudder Mountain setting knowledge.  I've been to the Shudders before, but it's been a few months.  Late last year I ran Sour Spring Hollow for my old D&D 4E group as a reunion game.  You can catch up on that tale here.  

    For those uninitiated with the Chained Coffin box set, creative lead +Michael Curtis and the rest of the Goodman Games crew have created a wonderful and vibrant fantasy campaign setting based on Appalachian myth and legend.  As someone who spent nearly every summer vacationing at Hungry Mother State Park in western Virginia, with many day trips to the Great Smokey Mountains, coal mine tours, and outdoor cheater at the Cherokee Reservation, the Shudder Mountains feel right at home.  

    It's my intention on running pretty much all of these Family Game Knights sessions in the Shudder Mountains as a campaign.  As is typical of the wonderful G+ DCCRPG community, when I asked for tips on what other adventures to throw into the Shudders, I got a ton of recommendations.  Fortunately, I own a lot of the adventures suggested, and those that I don't... well... I may have some shopping to do.

    For now, this is the order we'll be following for Family Game Knights:

    1. Sour Spring Hollow (from The Chained Coffin)
    2. Moonricket Bridge (from Tales of the Shudder Mountains)
    3. Doom of the Savage King
    4. Attack of the Frawgs

    I don't want to add too many to the list, as I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can keep this thing going.  But I have a lot of hope!

    Also to note:  I'm working on a Shudder Mountain soundtrack through a YouTube playlist.  Any suggestions?  Here's where I'm at. 


    The Adventuring Party


    • Jen
      • Warwick Anheiser - Halfling Brewer
      • Wize Wizard McBride - Sage
      • Dave Chappelle - Herbalist
    • Evie
      • Jefff - Wheat Farmer (yes, that's 3 "f's")
      • Lyrica - Musician
      • Bob the Savior - Hunter
    • Carie
      • Mullet - Turnip Farmer
      • Erp - Halfling Brewer
      • P. Specs - Prospector
    • Andy
      • Waldon - Orphan
      • Jerald - Herder
      • Faldoon - Corn Farmer
    • Jeremy
      • Huey - Woodcutter
      • Dewey - Smuggler/Bootlegger
      • Louie - Halfling Farmer
    • Melinda
      • Ebbonly - Halfling Farmer
      • Kadabra - Miller/Baker
      • Kathar - Halfling Brewer


    Quick Report


    When I say "quick" I'm not kidding!  

    After enjoying some kind of tainted brew at a wedding in the foothills of the Shudder Mountains, the adventuring party awakens in the center of what appears to be a dead farm. They are surrounded by dried up grass, corn, and dilapidated buildings under an ominous sky.  Immediately the party is beset upon by strange, cackling spirits that turn all they touch into tiny corn dolls.  Some of the party members run and hide, and others attempt to fight off the spirits unsuccessfully.

    After the attack, the party explores the dead farm:

    • Kathar finds out the hard way that the cemetery is no place for a halfling, and is devoured by Earth Hounds.
    • Huey finds that one of the buildings bears a Devil's Thorn that protects the building from the spirits.  Unfortunately it only works when affixed to a door.  No problem for Huey!  He carries around the door from building to building, protecting the party whenever it's attached.  I think he's taking the door into the next adventure.
    • Speaking of buildings, one of 'em eats some of the party members!  The Gardinel, a black-magic infused living house, gobbles up Bob the Savior, Dave Chappelle, Waldon, and Huey.  Fortunately, the latter two are able to escape before getting digested.
    • One of the houses contained a child's drawings depicting a nice, white-robed priestess coming to an evil family's farm, having her holy symbol get thrown down a well, and then getting tossed onto a scarecrow's pole.  
    • Jefff, ever the future Paladin, battled several of the spirits with a frying pan.  
    • Waldon's dog (what was his name?) collected some human bones from the cornfield that the party attempted to set on fire, but it was full of bloody stalks.
    • Ebbonly learned to play an out of tune fiddle, and continued playing it the entire time.
    • Kadabra gained a spellbook from one of the homes, but reading it caused some corruption, causing her to get the chills forever (and forcing players Andy and Jen to sing "You're the One That I Want" repeatedly.)

    After several more attacks by the cackling spirits, and more party deaths, the team decided to follow the breadcrumbs and escape the cursed farm.  They went to the well, sent Ebbonly down in a bucket to retrieve the lost holy symbol (unfortunately this cost her her life), and headed up to the scarecrow in the corn field.  There they found a desiccated priestess with an outstretched hand.  So they placed the holy symbol in her hand, and the farm started to change.

    Instantly the party was attacked by a series of raving spirits, but these were defeated.  

    (GM's Note:  If I left out any great stories, I invite my players to let me know and I'll include them in the recap.)

    Campaign Crematorium


    • Jerald - Turned into a corn doll
    • Lewe - Turned into a corn doll
    • Faldoon - Turned into a corn doll
    • Kathar - Eaten by Earth Hounds
    • Warwick Anheiser - Killed self by trying to run with a barrel over his head
    • Erp - Eaten by a goose
    • Bob the Savior - Eaten by a house
    • Dave Chappelle - Eaten by a house
    • Ebbonly - Killed by the Deadfall in the well