Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Quattro con Carnage - Session 3 - Dungeon Crawl Classics

Yes, these definitely go together!

Welcome to Dungeon Crawl Classics

Last night, after two weeks of exploring Tanryth (Realm of… Something) using Basic Fantasy RPG, my Quattro con Carnage players experienced their first system transition.  It was time for some Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, a tremendously epic system by Goodman Games!  DCC takes the old-school feel of 1970's era, Appendix N'spired adventuring, and throws in some of the best mechanics from more modern RPG systems.  Ascending armor class and base attacks, reflex/fortitude/will saving throws, and a difficulty class based thieves' skill system are just a sampling of the updated rules.  

With a new system, there obviously had to be some adjustments to our cast of characters.  The most noticeable difference is that while Basic Fantasy RPG uses a race/class combination, Dungeon Crawl Classics uses "race as class."  An Elven Fighter/Magic-User in BFRPG is very similar to an Elf in DCC, but a Halfling Thief loses most of its rogue-skills when shifting to the Halfling class.  

Another obvious change was a reduction in level.  Our hometown heroes were 3rd level in BFRPG, however DCC runs from 0-level through 10th.  If this were a "native" DCC campaign, the characters would begin at 0-level, with 1d4 hit points.  By level three they'd effectively have three hit-dice.  

Another important change was the attributes.  DCC uses Strength, Agility, Stamina, Personality, Intelligence, and Luck.  Personality takes the place of both Charisma and Wisdom, while Luck is... different.  In DCC, a character's Luck score affects fumble and critical hit rolls, but it also can be spent to improve scores by burning it off on a one-to-one ratio (or two-to-one for Halflings).

Dramatis Personae con Carnage

Umbrin, played by Jeremy
A guard-for-hire from Tannryth once in the employee of a wealthy Archon
  • Warrior
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str: 14,  Agi: 12,  Sta: 11,  Pers: 12,  Luc: 14,  Int: 10  
  • Hit Points:  18

Lomman Senan, played by Marc
A devout crusader of Ogmios looking enforce some "justice healing"
  • Cleric
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str: 10,  Agi: 8,  Sta: 17,  Per: 17,  Luc: 11,  Int: 12
  • Hit Points:  14

Rydian Ornitiar, played by Andy
An Aarenian relic-hunter who longs to recover a lost family artifact
  • Elf
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Str: 13,  Agi: 15,  Sta: 12,  Per: 8,  Luc: 14,  Int: 18
  • Hit Points:  12

Jorin Everlast, played by Craig
A pilfering initiate to the Embrace who just "made bones" 
  • Halfling
  • Level: 2
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Str: 14,  Agi: 16,  Sta: 13,  Per: 11,  Luc: 9,  Int: 9
  • Hit Points:  15

Running Around Half-Cocked

After returning to Zerlina's Rest following their successful exploits at the Fountain of Health, Umbrin, Lomman, Jorin, and Rydian found Rhadaro's gratitude to be quite generous.  The dwarven armorer, grateful that his daughter was healed, handed Lomman the Shield of the New Mountains, and informed the party that their expenses at the Silver Reed were fully paid for the next four days.  The morning after their return, the party slowly made their way down to the Silver Reed's inviting dining room and helped themselves to breakfast.  A decision had to be made as to the next mission the heroes would undertake.  

There were still several opportunities for adventure in Zerlina's Rest.  Even though it was mid-autumn, an unseasonably brutal blizzard was blanketing the town.  Rydian feared that his recommendation to Erik the Rifter, the man hoping to free the village of Happenstance from an eternal winter, may not have worked.  

Do you remember Rydian's suggestion?  Here, let me refresh you… and yes… this is exactly what Rydian told Erik:   

"Go find some things I know exist that will take a while to procure, like, you know, feathers of somethin' or other, or some plants that grow over here, and boil it in a pot and spread it over the door frames, then burn it for a while, then winter will go away after a few days."

So… yeah… maybe the blizzard in Zerlina's Rest was Rydian's fault.

Jorin, a member of the Embrace (Halfling Mafia), still hoped that there was a chance he could retrieve the pail of milk from the cursed estate across the lake, and make good on his  commitments to the organization.  But as the diminutive thug looked across the room and at the Posting Pillar, a strange dagger caused his heart to sink.  Approaching the blade, Jorin knew it to be a calling card of the Embrace, a sign that a debt needed to be collected.  Since he had only "made bones" with the Embrace due to a family connection, Jorin had a limited amount of time to make good.  If the Embrace knew that Jorin was in town, and had passed up the mission to the cursed estate in favor of the Fountain of Health, the halfling would have a big problem.  

While Jorin was looking at the dagger, careful not to touch it, Ferra the traveling bard approached, gazing at the Posting Pillar.  She asked about the knife, and then asked if Jorin was interested in helping with a small quest.  Umbrin approached the woman and invited her back to their breakfast table.  The bard claimed to be sick with a cough, but needed to take a journey to Everain the next day.  She was hoping that some herbs acquired in the fields to the south of town could help with her ailment.  Lomman hoped that he could heal the woman by laying on hands, and offered to do so.  Unfortunately, the cleric's deity seemed to have a strong disapproval of the bard, and the attempt failed.  The party in turn agreed to find the herbs for Ferra, and return them as soon as possible.  

Blizzard.  Milk.  Herbs.  Could the new heroes of Zerlina's Rest complete all three quests?  

They sure as hell were going to try!  

Umbrin and Lomman headed over to the town docks.  If they could get a boat modified to cross the frozen lake, maybe they could quickly bring the milk back to town before heading over to Happenstance.  Most of the fishermen weren't interested in heading out with the weather, but there was one man… one strange individual… that claimed to have mounted skies on a boat before.  His name was Calhoun.  Crazy Calhoun to most of Zerlina's Rest.  Calhoun claimed that his forty-foot fishing vessel could easily take the party across the lake, but he was missing a sail.  Calhoun claimed that one of the other fisherman stole the sail, and asked for it to be retrieved.  Lomman and Umbrin approached the other fisherman, but realized that the sail had actually been acquired in a semi-honest game of Three-Dragon Ante.  Calhoun was being less than honest, probably because he was a bit nuts, but this didn't stop the party from heading back in to town with the hopes of finding a sail.  

After Lomman made a pit stop at the Temple of Ogmios to make a sizable donation (and therefore get rid of some of this disapproval with his deity), the party reconvened and continued scheming.  Rydian admitted to the rest of the party that he could be more effective as a spellcaster with a patron, a sorcerous entity that could bestow great magic.  To create a patron bond, however, a ritual would need to be performed, and after several weeks of preparation before the Fountain of Health quest, Rydian was ready.  Gathering his team, the elf traveled south into the wild fields.  Not only could they help Rydian with his ritual, most likely the proper herbs for Ferra could be acquired south of Zerlina's Rest.

Just a few miles south of Zerlina's Rest, following a trip that took several hours due to the terrible weather, Rydian stopped the party and started arranging the small stones for his patron bond spell.  Drawing the ceremonial marks on his face and then cutting into his skin to create permanent scar-like tattoos [spellburn!] Rydian cast the spell, and gained the attention of the King of Elfland, a powerful fey.  But as the Elf began to pack his material components into his backpack, he noticed several torches just south of the team.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" snarled one of the voices.  

A cadre of eight thuggish halfling mafiosos, each trailing a pair of longswords too big to carry, came out of the storm. It was the Embrace, and they had come for Jorin!  The mission to collect the herbs must have been some kind of setup.  The Embrace gangsters demanded that the party accompany them to the docks, where they would immediately depart for the cursed estate.  Alternatively, they could hand Jorin over.  While the new heroes started to consider their odds against the small little demi-humans, the leader of the gang quickly quaffed a potion and grew to the height of a human, but with halfling proportions.  As Jorin and Umbrin jumped into combat, the other seven thug halflings drank similar potions…

The team was now facing eight Dire Halflings!  

The battle was swift but brutal.  Umbrin couldn't land a blow for much of the fight, possibly because he switched his fighting style just a day earlier, choosing now to fight with the weapon two-handed rather than with a shield.  Rydian's spellcasting was extremely effective, nailing one of the dire halflings with a terrifying magic missile made out of acid, and then summoning a strong magic shield to help deflect attacks.  Jorin's twin short blades may not have had the reach of his old compatriots' longswords, but they were much faster.  After killing the lead halfling with a pommel strike to the throat, Jorin waded into the rest of the dire halflings, cutting, stabbing, and crippling.  

Poor Lomman had terrible luck in this battle.  After taking a few nasty strikes by the dire halfling swords, the crusading cleric cast a paralyzing prayer on his hammer.  He'd manage to land one hit on a dire halfling before getting cut down, falling face first into the snow apparently dead.  By the time the rest of the team was done finishing off the gangsters, it seemed like Lomman was done for, but Umbrin believed there to be a bit of life left in the priest.  Lomman's breath was weak, so the team carried him as fast as they could back to the Silver Reed, letting him rest for the night after patching his wounds.  

The next morning Lomman felt a little better, so he laid hands on himself and then the rest of the team.  The blizzard was getting worse, and the party didn't have time to just wait around healing naturally.  Soon they were ready to head off to Happenstance, and Umbrin and Jorin arrived with four riding horses and proper traveling equipment.  Three days later the party was in Happenstance, searching for the source of the never-ending storm.  The village was completely frozen over, each building covered in snow and ice.  

Each building but one.

On the side of a great cliff, overlooking the Ever After, there was a small keep that seemed to be untouched by the weather.  As each member of the team gazed upon the ominous structure a wave of fear washed over them.  Within the walls of that foreboding building lurked something truly evil.  

Something that was just begging for a little "justice healing."  

Most Notable Quotations

"On the scale of porridges, so-so is quite high!" - Marc knows good porridge  

Jim - "A horse is 75 gold pieces."
Jeremy - "What about a snowloper?"  

"Was that a one-horse sleigh?" - Andy was up for a trip to Happenstance.

"Winter can wait." - Jorin didn't quite know the Stark family's words.

"This here is my traveling companion, Jorin Evershort." - Umbrin to Ferra
"He's lucky I can't pick pockets anymore." - Craig

"When you said 'bard' I should've just transposed hippie." - Marc has a thing against bards.  

"Calhoun's a card… you'll like him… I think." - Umbrin thought that the new piratical NPC would get along great with his team.  

"Gods are gangsters in this game…" - For Marc, having to pay his church 50gp to get rid of each point of disapproval was getting old.

"Before we go, I'd like to buy a ten foot pole and a flag and attach them to the halfling!" - Jeremy

Behind the Schemes

With only one game of DCC under our belts, I didn't notice that much of a change for the majority of the evening… at least not until late in the night when we entered combat.  The non-combat portion of the session was virtually identical to BFRPG, and without a significant skill system, we handled most of those scenes through role-play (my preferred method!)  But once combat was entered, there were a few interesting developments.  

Unfortunately for both Marc and Jeremy, the battle was not in their favor.  Lomman ended up taking the brunt of the party's damage initially, and "died" towards the end of the battle.  Umbrin just couldn't it anything. Luckily for the Cleric, however, DCC has a rule called "Recovering the Body", that allows one last chance against death.  If a player character falls in combat, and "bleeds out" (exceeds a number of rounds equal to the PC's level), they may very well be dead, but if another player character attends to the body, the "dying" player can roll a simple Luck check.  On a success, the character lives!

Craig's halfling, Jorin, had modest success in battle, wielding his two short-swords very effectively, and spending his luck points wisely.  In DCC, any character can spend Luck, on a 1-to-1 ratio, but Halflings can spend on a 1-to-2 ratio.  But if there was a big winner in this game it was Andy.  As an Elf and a spell caster, Rydian's Magic Missile was devastating, and his Magic Shield kept him away from death's door.  When Rydian missed on his Magic Missile, thus losing the spell for the day, he drew his two-handed sword and started swinging away. 

Next session we'll be engaging in quite a bit more combat.  If it's as bloody as it was last night, we may have more than one player character making those final Luck checks.  

Miss a Quattro con Carnage Post?  

All of the fun so far:

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