I wasn't going to blog this adventure recap.
It wasn't that I didn't want to capture last night's events. Definitely not it. I rather enjoy going back and reading some of my play reports from previous games. Hell, I'd go as far to say that these summaries are more for me the game master than for you the reader. Blogger gives me a nice and tidy repository for prior victories behind the judge's screen.
I made the decision to not write a blog post about last night's game as soon as I started getting players. Eight of my Norwin Game Knights sat down for this event, which was originally going to be a Mutant Crawl Classics take on Sailors on the Starless Sea. When I remembered that two of my players (Craig and Carrie) had played Sailors I felt that I needed to do something crazy and bizarre. So crazy and outlandish, that I didn't want to bother keeping track.
See, when I know I'm going to do an adventure summary, I take notes and log events in ways that make it easier for me to write about them later. Again, since I know many of you aren't the biggest fans of these recaps, these still mean a lot to me and my players. But when I don't have to "blog" the event afterwards, I feel a bit more free. I feel unrestricted, capable to do just about anything in the game session, at any time.
By the adventure's end, however, looking out at eight smiling faces, I felt bad that I didn't write much down.
"You gotta put that on the blog," my friend +Craig McCullough stated. He and his son Dylan were two of my players. So I grabbed a piece of paper and we quickly jotted down some notes. At the very least I could share some of the outlandishness that occurred during our session.
So here's what we got... a big hot mess, but maybe... maybe... you can pluck a few tidbits and ideas out for your own sessions.
By the way, I'm calling this adventure...
Golden Michael Phelps on the Starless Sea
So here's how it all went down:
I think I remember the Spellburn crew talking about running a "reverse" Sailors on the Starless Sea, where the players were the beast men. I liked the idea of reusing this classic Dungeon Crawl Classics (super-extra classic!) adventure in a new way. To date I've run Sailors three times: twice with DCC, and once with the Cypher System. I've also been through it as a player. So yeah, a mix up would be great.
So here's how I changed it: I set the adventure in some weird future beneath the city of Paris. A cult of well-dressed, steampunky dudes were using a 3D printer to print out fantasy characters (the players). Then they'd cut them down, throw them on a boat, and take them to the surface to be consumed.
Yes, the plot was weak.
Perhaps there was a Soylent Green problem going on up in Paris, and these 3D printed fantasy characters were the only possible source of food. Sure, it doesn't explain the ziggurat at the end of Sailors but cut me some slack. We started with the ziggurat, because I was literally "reversing" the adventure, starting at the back of the book and just reskinning parts of it as we moved backwards.
The cultists commanded the 3D printed fantasy characters to march in order towards a dude with an axe that had the words "sleepy time" written in blood on its haft. When the PC's noted that the cultists were just hacking up others in line, it was combat time. I let the players keep their weapons and gear... I guess that was printed too.
When one of the players got near the water, I decided that the sea creature needed to be something terrible and ferocious. Like a bass crossed with a gorilla. Carrie's friend Ella named it the Gorbass, and the name stuck. By the end of the adventure, Ella's character would be a Priestess of the Gorbass, making several attempts to invoke the creature (some successfully!)
Since I was going wild during the game, I decided to let the players go wild too. If they asked for something, I'd roll dice and typically give it to them. That's how Michael Phelps would get involved. Wait, we're not there yet.
Fight, fight, battle, battle. We don't need to talk about that part. But what I should note is how I dealt with character death. To add a crazy, unnecessary complication and drawback to character death, I came up with a totally random rule for the table. When we started, each player had one character. But when a character died (at least during the first part of the adventure, when everyone was 3D printed) I made everyone rotate their characters. Pass them to the right, pass them to the left, pass them across the table.
Lots of players ended up playing someone they didn't create. And this is how +Craig McCullough got stuck playing a killer crab with a knife, who had to shout "You mess with the crabbo you get the stabbo!" whenever he attacked:
Moving on, when the players killed the guys on the ziggurat, they tried boarding one of the 3D meat hauling boats. Well this particular boat was protected by non other than Al Pacino's Scarface wielding an M-16. We just treated the M-16 as the Magic Missile spell, and this all worked out. Pretty epic fight here, but in the end, the party had a machine gun...
... ho, ho, ho.
Deciding to get the hell out of Dodge, the party boarded the boat and followed a light (another boat) to a small, underground shore. There, they found another boat, with its crew offloading 3D printed fantasy character meat into a Dodge Durango. This boat was protected by another Al Pacino Scarface...
... because in this future, 3D printed Al Pacino Scarfaces are the ultimate security guards.
So, shoot, shoot, bang, bang, battle over.
Oh, by this point I was no longer handing out fantasy characters for dead PC's, but instead I gave out Mutant Crawl Classics 0-levels. No real reason for doing this, other than that look of pure joy when someone named their plantient Groot. One of the 0-levels had already been played in a previous game, and was named Prince Charming. We ruled at the table that Prince Charming's player had to talk about his character in the third person at all times. No reason for doing this. Just felt right.
When the Dodge Durango fled the battle, the party pursued it on foot, but couldn't keep up. They followed a network of tunnels and caves until they made it to a large pool, which I declared to be the size of an olympic swimming pool. Adam, my youngest player, asked if he could find Michael Phelps.
I rolled a die (for no reason) and announced "yes!"
A giant, twenty-foot tall, golden Michael Phelps god erupted from the water. His ams were outstretched, and on those long, beautiful limbs, hung sixty-six gold medals. Michael Phelps had all kinds of magical powers, and his gold medals could be flung at opponents causing 8d6 damage. Sort of on the fly we decided that Michael Phelps could also turn people into mermaids and mermen.
He did this to Evan's character, and then turned Ella's character into a reverse merman (head and torso of a fish, legs of a human. When these two characters touched fin to hand, they blended into one PC, shared by both players:
The only fair way of letting Evan and Ella play the same character was to force them to speak every other word. This got complicated. So during their actions, they had to share their sentences, each taking turns stating their words. A terrible calamity would befall them should this rhythm be broken.
After bidding the Michael Phelps god adieu, the party followed a path into the slums of Paris. It was there that they were jumped by a street gang of Macklemore-worshipping minions: the Macklemorons.
When the PC's went to war with the Macklemorons, the six remaining thugs made a circle, pointed their rings towards each other, and in true "Captain Planet" fashion, summoned Macklemore into the battle.
Ella and Evan's Mer-Mer character challenged the Thrift Shop singing, ratty coat wearing musician to a rap battle, which was quite interesting given that the two players had to rap every other word. But they pulled it off! Macklemore was left terribly injured, and found himself dead only a few moments later.
With only a few Macklemorons remaining, Alex's character grabbed a saxophone and started playing. Alex wanted to play a note so powerful that it would destroy all of the badguys. I told him that this was fine, and to give me a roll. Alex got a seventeen on his twenty-sider, and then spent some luck to get to a twenty-five. I ruled that everyone in the area (including other PC's) took the damage.
This almost became a TPK, as only two PC's (Alex and Adam) survived. But they were free, and Macklemore was dead.
* * *
The moral of this game is two-fold yet simple:
- Sometimes the best games happen when everyone just wants to go crazy and have a good time.
- The Golden Michael Phelps God can turn you into a fish.