Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Night Hero Quest

It was one of those adventures where I knew within three minutes that everything was going to end badly.

Super excited about the current Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, I wanted to do a little miniatures gaming with the wife and kiddos. We weren't ready for Frostgrave, and I'm the only one in the house who knows Mordheim, so we opted for the ultimate family-friendly dungeon hack. 

Hero Quest!

It's been at least five years since we've played this game, mostly because I sold my last copy, only to regret if a few years later. So earlier this past spring I had to go on Ebay and reacquire the game from my childhood. 

Unfortunately Hero Quest has a bit of a learning curve.

You know what? for an introductory adventure, The Trial always used to kick our butts as kids. That last room with the Chaos Warrior and Gargoyle, along with a pair of Orcs, is a nightmare! But if I had to learn Hero Quest with this adventure, so would the rest of my family. 

Cooper had first pick of characters and went with the Barbarian. Carrie then grabbed the Wizard, and Evie took the Elf. Mom (Jen) was left with the Dwarf. She wasn't pleased. 

Things started off easily for our band of adventurers. A lone room with a single closed doorway. 

Here's where we learned that things were going to go poorly. Cooper's Barbarian opened the door to the first room, saw a pair of Orcs, and kept on walking...

... and walking...

... and walking... 

... until he found himself trapped in a room with a pair of Chaos Warriors. This didn't go well for our Barbarian friend.

So the Barbarian died, and the team polished off the Chaos Warriors. Actually, the Wizard polished them off with a little help from her Dwarf friend. Unfortunately it cost Carrie all of her offensive spells. They kept moving forward. 

Then they split up and started opening up the doors.


The Dwarf headed east, while the Elf and Wizard went west. The Dwarf hit the jackpot, opening the door to the Gargoyle and pals. The Elf and Wizard just found more Goblins and Orcs.

Take a look at this conga line of death. After opening the door, Jen's Dwarf started running away, only to be pursued by EVERYTHING from the central room.

Here's a great shot of Carrie's Wizard opening up more doors.


Evie's Elf ran back to help the Dwarf after slaying a pair of Goblins, only to be beset upon by the Gargoyle an Chaos Warrior. Then the Wizard got flanked in a hallway! 

A Dwarf with 2 Attack Dice doesn't stand a chance against a Gargoyle with 5 Defend dice. But still, Jen's Dwarf managed to cause 2 hits on the creature before falling!

Evie's Elf was killed by the Chaos Warrior. RIP, dude!

The game was not completely lost, however! Using one of his few remaining spells, Carrie's Wizard passed through stone and made his way back to the stairwell. At least he would live on to share the tale of his team. 

I'd say they were so close... but they weren't.

Fun game. Fun evening.

Any of you still playing Hero Quest? Thinking of taking it to Gary Con this year. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Eastern Forest Campaign - Sky ov Crimson Flame - Session 2

Sunday meant another Road Crew event at The Games Keep, in West Chester, PA, with our party finishing Sky ov Crimson Flame by Thorin Thompson. Pretty sure this is going to go down as one of my favorite adventures that I've ever run for Dungeon Crawl Classics. 

Not even exaggerating. 

I think it was the blood & flesh magic that really sealed the deal for me. So many opportunities for fun gross-out moments. Great players really helped. Especially young Will.

Keep casting those fish themed magic missiles, buddy! Steve James the Ichthyomancer will never be forgotten. Can't wait to see where this goes in future adventures within the Eastern Forest!

UPDATE: Okay, this is a "version 2.0" edit of this blog post. I totally forgot to mention how there was a group of D&D 5.0 folks kind of pissed off that we grabbed our table. They were like "what game are you playing?" I responded "Dungeon Crawl Classics." Kind of a dumb question, since both me and Judge Evie were wearing our hats, and pretty much everyone at the table had a corebook. Well, it was around that time that Ryan started sass talkin' the D&D players. I thought we were gonna throw down. Pretty sure I said something like "are we gonna have a dance off, bro?" Crap was tense!

I may have also commented as to how our book was a LOT bigger than theirs. 

Cast of Characters

A few quick changes to this week's lineup. First, we were joined by Cody's friend Shannon who brought a trip of 0-level characters into the Eastern Forest. Second, Evie decided to level up Bueno the Mendicant as a Chaotic Cleric of Bobugbubilz.. 

  • Turd Fergeson, Cleric of Amon-Tor, played by Ryan
  • Perrin, Dwarf, played by Cody
  • Steve James, Wizard, played by Will
  • Tonya, Warrior, played by Robert
  • Lars, Dwarf, played by Rob
  • Bueno, Cleric of Bobugbubilz, played by Evie. 

Shannon had a full deck of 0-levels:
  • Twiget the Corn Farmer
  • Larkin the Elven Glassblower
  • Mallin the Beadle

Adventure Overview

It's always a tough balance: take better notes during the game session so that I can have a more descriptive play report, or run the best game that I can. Honestly, I don't think I can do both, so lately I've been leaning on the latter. But even still, there were some great bright points during this session that I need to cover, and I want to make sure that I jot down enough of "what happened" so that the players can refer to this report later in the campaign.

Honestly, that's about 95% of why I write these things. Even back before I was blogging I wrote dozens and dozens of session summaries. For one campaign alone I've got well over 120 pages written, that I have no plan on ever posting. So if you find any of this kind of sloppy I apologize, but you may not be the designated primary reader. 

Here we go.

Continuing form our last session, the party was in the middle of debating how they were going to ascend to the next level. To put a little "bait" up there of them, I placed all three of Shannon's 0-level characters in the room directly above an already explored balcony. The whines and moans of the poor souls lured the party to climb up and investigate.

The room where Twiget, Larkin, and Mallin were discovered was also the lair of a terrible creation known as a Cherub Fusion. This massive, centipede-like, string of winged baby heads had already devoured three of the room's occupants while the remaining villagers listened to the agony. Tonya wasn't about to let the terrible creation eat any more villagers, and she initiated a dramatic battle that ended in sort of a stalemate. The party didn't defeat the Cherub Fusion as much as Bueno cast it away using a Word of Command. Knowing that they only had about an hour before it returned moved the party along.

The party mimicked the Cherub Fusion's voice to lure a singing torturer to the locked door. As soon as the torturer was at the door, Tonya and Perrin burst through. The next room was full of agonizing displays. Three villagers shackled to a wall with most of the skin on their legs dangling off. Stacks of skin on a table. A pair of servants armed with knives. The torturer had been dazed by Tonya's door-destruction, but was soon cut down by the warrior as the rest of the team flooded the room. The servants didn't last long either.

It should be noted that Bueno cast Food of the Gods during the battle, summoning a giant pile of cooked skin for everyone to eat. I don't think anyone else ate the skin. 

Two of the shackled villagers remained alive until Bueno the Cleric tried using cheese dip as a salve on one. The remaining villager was healed by Turd Fergeson. Glenn the Miller became Turd's henchman.

There were three ways out of the torture chamber. 

The first was a door to some sleeping cultists' quarters. After nearly disturbing them, Tonya tied off the handle to the door so none of them could flee.

The second was another door, leading to a giant egg. The egg had been formed from flayed human skin, and inside was a thin membrane covering a soupy mess of developing winged baby heads. Perrin doused the egg with oil and set it ablaze. 

Heading down the last remaining hallway, the team eventually found itself in the castle courtyard. Atop a nearby tower, a skinless witch with a villager's face sewn to her own was initiating a ritual, calling down red-blood fire from the skies above. In the center of the courtyard, eight cultists cut their own throats and fused together as a Shambling Flesh Mass.

Immediately the party split up. Steve James and Turd Fergeson hung back while Tonya, Lars, Larkin, Twiget, and Bueno went for the Shambling Flesh Mass. Realizing that the skinless witch was his Belesa, Perrin ran up the tower stairwell hoping to save the woman he loved.

The Shambling Flesh Mass had nine fearsome attacks: eight were whipping, regenerating intestine tentacles, and one was a bite. Tonya's two-handed sword, and Lars' axe/shield combo did great work on the mass, although the latter almost fell to the beast's wicked bite. Twiget wasn't so lucky. The Shambling Flesh Mass devoured the poor Corn Farmer, turning Henson the Hen into an orphan. 

While Belesa continued her ritual casting, she kept an eye on the party below. The blood witch, peppered by Steve James' fishy magic missiles returned fire with her own coagulated balls of rage. Steve James was felled by one of the bloody blasts, but Bueno's healing game was on point for the battle.

Unfortunately, there was no amount of healing that could fix Perrin's broken heart. When the dwarf reached the top of the tower, he was struck down by Belesa's blood magic. The dwarf collapsed, muttering a few last words before he died. 

Once the Shambling Flesh Mass was destroyed (Lars got the last hits), Tonya turned her attention to Belesa. The warrior lobbed a grappling hook up onto the tower, catching the witch in the shoulder. As Tonya pulled the witch against the edge of the tower, Turd Fergeson made it to the top and opened up the box containing Belesa's original face. The face flew out of the box, replacing the dead villager's face mask on the witch's head. Immediately Belesa's skin began to grow back. She regained some of her memories and was confused. Utterly confused. What had happened? Why was she hear? Why is there a grappling hook in her shoulder?"

At that point, just as Belesa stopped resisting, Tonya gave one final yank, pulling the woman from the top of the tower and into a forty foot fall to her demise. As she rolled over, the body of Perin slipped from the tower as well, landing right next to his lost love. 

The party took what they could, gathered up the few survivors, and headed back to Reed. 


"Magical eels though." - Steve James doesn't need to cast his fish-based, Rope Work spell, but the allure of the eels is just too strong.

"How sticky is my cheese dip?" - Evie ponders using the congealed substance as "skin spackle" to heal one of the flayed prisoners.

"That's good, he almost croaked!" - Rob goes for the amphibian one-liners to describe Bueno's frog-based healing of Lars. 

"I'm breaking up with you." - Perrin's last words, as he was shot down with hardened blood bolts by Belesa. 

"There's always gonna be a face-off." - Ryan had a ton of these one-liners today. This one perfectly described the visage ripping theme of Sky ov Crimson Flame.

Open Story Points
  • With Belesa the blood witch dead, what other threats lurked in the Eastern Forest?
  • What were Lars' plans for Atma-khanjr, the demonic bone dagger that the dwarf had taken from Belesa? 

Character Crematorium 
  • Twiget, killed by the giant fleshy, intestine-tentacled mass in the center of the castle courtyard.
  • Perrin, nailed with a hardened blood bolt, cast by his lost love Belesa, blood witch of the Eastern Forest. 

What's Next?

We're either going to explore more of the Eastern Forest within Sky ov Crimson Flame, or perhaps, The One Who Watches From Below.

Banished to the Purple Planet - Part Eight

Under a Weirdling Sun

Peril on the Purple Planet is an epic DCCRPG box set devised by +Harley Stroh. The adventure is a hex crawl, so player characters get to explore a completely open and lush world. Characters must discover artifacts, make alliances, battle terrifying worms, and sustain the deadly sun's rays if they are to ever make their way back home.

Care to hear about this week's banishment? Read on!

Previous Tales of the Banished

The Banished

  • Marc
    • Nutbiter, Manimal 
    • Andy
      • Ssof Rehtaf, Cleric
    • Alex
      • Nicodemus, Thief

    Banished to the Purple Planet - Part Seven - The Rock Awakens, Part Two

    Day 9
    • The session begins at 11am with 10 hours of travel on their party's skiff
    • Most of the team waited outside the city, with Nutbiter, Ssof, and Nicodemus starting off in the old temple. [Judge's Note: we just had Marc, Andy, and Alex playing.]
    • The party decided to investigate the murals. Both Nicodemus and Ssof attempted to fiddle with a pair of murals, but they turned to toxic, moldy dust. 
    • Nutbiter's turns to chip away revealed secret alcove. Inside was a metal lamp.
    • Written on the outside of the lamp, in a truly ancient tongue, was "Brandon." 
    • Behold Brandon the UnGenie! Congenial and eager to please, Brandon appeared before the party, and offered two services.
      • By rubbing the lamp the right way, Brandon appeared to grant up to 3 un-wishes. Un-wishes could cancel any actual wish.
      • By blowing into the lamp, a party member could enter the lamp (only one could fit) alongside Brandon. Within the lamp the party member would find a hot tub and some food.
    • Brandon states that he doesn't know where he is, but that the last time he was anywhere it was in the Eastern Forest. 
    • The party next traveled to the singing preacher, located in the northwestern quadrant of the city on a tower.
    • The preacher kept shouting the same phrases, and threatened the party if they tried to approach his tower. 
      • [Judge's Note: the GM may have sung all of the preacher's lines just like Justin Guarini's "Lil Sweet" from the Diet Doctor Pepper commercial.]
    • As the party discussed what to do next, a trio of strekleons appeared, ready to fight. Some of the best backup came from the old preacher, who fired blowgun darts into combat, putting two of the strekleons to sleep. 
    • During this battle, Nicodemus realized (after 2+ years of this campaign) that he had a magic item called the Rod of Chains from the very first adventure. This was helpful in combat!
    • Also during the battle, Ssof cast a lost of spells, and afterwards there was a powerful earthquake centered on him. Nicodemus and Nutbiter had to rescue their Cleric from a great crack in the world.
    • The party tried communicating with the old preacher on top of the tower, but speaking in obscure and cryptic song lyrics proved too challenging. It was clear that the preacher didn't want the party climbing up to the top of the tower, and he wasn't climbing down. 
    • Next up, the party headed towards the great triangular structure with a bizarre flat platform on top. Upon approaching the building, six floating disks moved towards the party. 
    • Noting that their movement seemed to be matched by the disks, Nicodemus went into stealth mode and sneaked into the triangular building. Inside he found a bunch of control panels, and started following some of the directions. After just a few seconds he accidentally programmed the disks outside to fire on his teammates. 
    • Nutbiter went down quick, while Ssof hid inside of Brandon's lamp.
    • The laser blasts from the floating disks caused a major earthquake, shaking free a lot of the old stone and dirt, and revealing a great eye above.
    • When Nicodemus came outside, he checked on his teammates, rolled Nutbiter's little body, and checked on Ssof.


    "Just rub it!" - Alex talking about the lamp.

    "I've never been inside a lamp before." - Ssof.

    "We could be 'Wish Repo Men.'" - Marc was also fascinated about the lamp.

    "Back up and do thiefy things!" - Marc to Alex.

    "I'm gonna dive, grab the lamp, and suck!" - Andy focused on that lamp!

    In Memoriam 

    • None this game

    Tuesday, August 7, 2018

    Living 4 Crits @ Gen Con 2018

    Gen Con 2018 shall go down in history as our craziest, most whirlwind, most absolutely exhausting gaming endeavor of all time. I literally do not know where to start. 

    Maybe we should just go to the pictures... 


    Not much to see here, just a friggin' massive thunderstorm that we had to drive through while crossing through Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

    Our trip to Indianapolis began on Wednesday at 6:30pm, when we left our apartment in Glen Mills, PA. I had been up since 5am, and went to work until around 4:30pm. Came home, finished a quick packing, and we were on the road. It was me, Cooper, and Jen headed west, as the rest of the family was in Pittsburgh visiting their grandmother. 


    We made it all the way to Pittsburgh, picked up Carrie and Evie around 11pm, back on the road at 11:30pm. Our plan was to drive 3 hours to Columbus, but we accidentally booked the wrong hotel for the night. An hour west of Columbus we were told (at 3:30am) that we were at the wrong place, and needed to backtrack 45 minutes or so. 

    Screw that!

    We made the call to keep on driving the last 2 hours to Indianapolis.

    You really can't make it out in this picture, but our car was then surrounded by feral cats. No joke. There were several of the little things trying to get into our car, not letting us leave. We had to distract them with Slim Jims. Then we made for Gen Con.

    By 6am we were at Home2Suites in downtown Indianapolis, and we were allowed to relax in the breakfast nook while our room was prepared. We had a choice: try to go to sleep for a little while, or jump right into Gen Con.

    We opted for Gen Con.

    Fortunately, we linked up immediately with two of our favorite people from Pittsburgh: Michael Bolam and Ethan Hammersmith. Damn, it was great to see them! 

    As soon as we finished our walk to the Indianapolis Convention Center we made our way to the Goodman Games event room. Hey look, it's Judge Joan! 

    There's no way we would've been able to make it to Gen Con 2018 without the help of our incredible friends over at Monte Cook Games, so we spent a lot of time helping them out over in ICC240 with all of their events. There was such an incredible energy in that room!

    You know, I didn't think we'd make it to the convention center until well after noon. But we were actually able to watch the opening of the exhibitor's hall!

    Even though she only had about an hour's sleep, Evie was ready to game! She was short a few players at first, but her No Thank You, Evil! game kicked off by noon.

    We needed coffee, so me and Evie headed over to our favorite coffee spot in downtown Indianapolis: Bee Coffee!

    We let Carrie sleep.

    But after the sleep, me and Carrie went out into the Exhibitor's Hall and started looking at all that fine loot. Especially the art loot! 

    ... and then we got Tacos. 

    Hangin' with Gary at DCCRPG after hours! 

    The amazingly Australian Reece Carter was our Judge for Thursday's DCC after hours event, Escape From Planet Punjar. In this picture, he's preparing to send us to the year 50,000 alongside Judge Tim Deschene. 

    Seriously, two of the best people on the planet Earth. 

    It should be noted that Reece is an incredible kisser. 

    Who let Evie into a bar for after-hours gaming? Shouldn't you be in bed?

    Actually, even with next to no sleep, we were up for an entire night of this badassery!

    Cooper, was less enthused, and spent a lot of time on his 2DS. But Judge Reece let him roll a few dice still. 

    Another of my most favoritest people: Craig McCullough is in the house!

    I mentioned something about being a cat person character (was playing a Kith from the Purple Planet) and Judge Reece made me wear a cat mask. Because that's how we do during DCC After Hours. 

    It was at that point that all kinds of famous gamers started walking in. Here's Brendan LaSalle. Zak S. was there too. A few others as well. But none of them knew it was me...

    ... all they saw was a poor little kitty cat. 

    At least I didn't have to wear the ass-demon hat like Dylan. 


    Cooper and I kicked off Gen Con Friday doing something he wanted to do...

    ... video games!

    He was quite fond of several of the classic console games, but one in particular caught his interest: MORTAL COMBAT! 

    When I went back upstairs, Judge Evie was hard at work GM'ing No Thank You, Evil! again in the Monte Cook Games event room. 

    So me and Cooper went out onto the floor, looking for great deals. Cooper found a sheep. Not a great deal, as I was worried he was going to break it, and then I'd have to pay!

    When we got back to the Monte Cook Games room, I caught Jen playing with the six fingered hand from Invisible Sun. I still have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what's going on in that game, but I now think that it has to do with Wizards, some guy named Vance, and a crap-ton of hallucinogenic drugs. 

    All of which were stretch goals in the original Kickstarter I think.

    Hey look kids, it's Judge Marc from Glowburn running Cypher System

    After her GM'ing duties were over at the Monte Cook Games booth I was able to get Evie into the DCC Tournament with a table full of great guys, and the deadly but super sweet Judge Tim Deschene as game master.

    Sadly it was a TPK, but Evie had a wonderful time!

    Turns out that there was a TPK on Tim's beard this week as well... he carved that majestic fur-mask off not long before I wrote this blog.


    By Sezrekan's Corpse, it's the incredible Harley Stroh! 

    It was about this time that Dwarven Forge obsession kicked in. 

    Cooper and Evie spent about a half hour building stuff at the booth... and the DF crew were TOTALLY COOL with it. This may have helped seal the deal that we needed some of that sweet, sweet, Caverns Deep swag. 

    So there was this moment when just me and Judge Evie were at the Dwarven Forge booth and a bunch of famous gamers were there. Joe Manganiello, Satine Phoenix, a few others. But Evie was absolutely starstruck by one of her GM idols: Stefan Pokorny. 

    Later in the day, Evie wanted to get a picture, but was worried he would say "no." 

    But of course he didn't! 

    Hey look, we're back at the DCC after hours, and this time we brought our favorite Canadian family: the Slakinskis! 

    Judge Evie was hard at work running Escape from Planet Punjar with the rest of the crew that night. DOOM!



    Saturday morning I agreed to take Evie and Cooper over to Lucas Oil Field where we made foam weapons together as a family.

    Afterwards, the cosplay began! Carrie as Peridot, and Cooper as DanTDM.

    Meanwhile I ran my first session of Numenera at the convention. Great table, great energy, and three newcomers to the Cypher System!

    Cooper was totally into the whole foam swordfighting scene later in the day. He would enter the tournament twice, and we have it all on camera. 

    It was all fun and games, though, until I was forced to fight!

    At least I made it to the second round of the tournament. I guess all that Aikido training helped somehow.

    I had some apprehensions of running an 8pm to midnight game of Numenera. I thought I'd be too tired, or too quiet, or too hungry or something. But nope, I ran one of the best games of Numenera in my entire life! I think I'm going to talk more about it as a Vlog later this week, so we'll see. 


    Sunday morning. 8:30am. Jen, Cooper, Carrie all in bed. 

    But not me and Judge Evie! 

    We were the last one's out on Saturday night, staying out until 1:15am at the Embassy Suites bar with the Dungeon Crawl Classics crowd. But we were also the first ones up, and the first to get to the gaming. Here I'm running Evie over to see if we could get her into a DCC game with some generic tickets. 

    Lucky for her, Brendan LaSalle had a seat saved for her. 

    Best dude ever!

    Then I ran over to the Monte Cook Games room and found out that the 10-noon game of No Thank You, Evil!, with GM Jules, was cancelled. 

    So sad!

    More great DCC people! Judge Valerie Emerson, and DCC Rocks! Facebook Admin Jonathan Perkel...

    ... he does exist! 

    If there is ever a DCC module titled "Two James' Vs. a Giant Gong" this would be the cover!

    More swag-shopping with Shoto I mean Carrie. 

    "Don't I look so emo, dad?"

    Kid, I remember when Emo didn't mean anime and Hot Topic. Back in my day, all we had was Dashboard Confessional, and we liked it!

    Best. Hat. Ever! 


    By the end of Sunday we were starting to burnout. So we crashed in the lobby of the Omni Severin and hung out with great peoples!

    All the great peoples!

    On the floor!

    I think I successfully passed on the tradition during this Gen Con. Here's a scene from the last game of our trip: Judge Evie running Dungeon Crawl Classics in the lobby with three young players. 

    There's so much beauty in this adventure. You may not even notice it.

    Unless you know what adventure she was running, in which case you're probably crapping your pants right now.

    Happy Gen Con 2018 people!