Saturday, August 8, 2015

Perils of the Sunken City Part 1 - DCCRPG with the Norwin Game Knights

Yes that's my Gen Con badge.  No I don't plan on taking it off.

Invoking the Purple Sorcerer

Every Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game fan should already know of the legendary Purple Sorcerer, +Jon Marr.  If you are not a DCCRPG fan, consider this your "schooling."  Purple Sorcerer Games is an website devoted to excellent adventures and free gaming tools that absolutely make any DCC Judge's game 5000% easier.  

Do you need a stack of 0-level characters randomly generated within the next 10 minutes?  Invoke the Purple Sorcerer!

What about a 4th level character for your buddy's Purple Planet campaign?  Purple Sorcerer!

Generate a Demon?  You guessed it… Purple Sorcerer.

How about a Magic Sword?  Do I need to keep repeating myself?

Not only are all of these tools absolutely free, but if you go on your smart phone, chances are you can download the free Crawler's Companion that puts all of those crazy, funky dice (like d5's, d24's, and d30's), on top of the aforementioned generators, in the palm of your hand.  

What you can also find at Purple Sorcerer Games is a stack of really great adventures for your DCC game.  Following a thrilling jaunt through Portal Under the Stars with the Norwin Game KnightsI was on the market for a few new adventures, and found myself perusing the Purple Sorcerer's wares.  The first adventure to catch my eye was Perils of the Sunken City, and I noticed that it was actually part of a larger work:  The Sunken City: Adventure Omnibus & Guide.  

So I had a choice:  purchase one adventure PDF for $4.99, or four adventurers including a mini-campaign setting, rules for a new Patron and Opossumen characters, maps, and battle maps, all for around $20 (soft-cover print & PDF.)  What do you think I did?

You're darned right!  I grabbed it all, and now the beautiful book is right next to me.  I'm looking at it right now, actually… 

A picture of me blogging in my blog… *Inception BWAH!*

In all seriousness, this book is a tremendous value.  Having only played through half of the first adventure (we'll get to the adventure summary in a minute), I know that we'll have fun exploring the Sunken City for quite a few sessions.  The Omnibus includes four adventurers:

  • Perils of the Sunken City - a 0-level funnel
  • The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk - another 0-level funnel
  • A Gathering of the Marked - yet another 0-level funnel
  • Lair of the Mist Men - an adventure for 1st level characters.

I want to use this series of adventures for my local game club over the next several months, which means some new players will be added each session and a few will probably pop out to play other games.  Having four low-level adventures, all somewhat connected, is perfect for us.

Although this isn't a formal review (others do that so much better than me) I do want to mention how much I enjoy the art in this book.  +Jon Marr does the cartography and much of the interior art, as does Benjamin Marr (I'm guessing they are related)  What's enjoyable for me is how much of a departure this Saturday-morning cartoon style is compared to the hardcore, gonzo-grittiness of other DCCRPG modules.  Everything is smiling in this adventure, and yet everything pretty much wants to kill you.  The creatures in the Sunken City are cute, fluffily, and willing to flay you alive and tear out your insides…

… so awesome, I love it!

To capture the full effect of The Sunken City artwork, I wanted to wear something sweet and adorable myself.  If you saw our Gen Con T-Shirt reveal video you may remember the Rainbow Stash shirt +Jennifer Walls bought me.  Perfect fit.

The Poor Souls

Obviously we used the Purple Sorcerer Games 0-level generator to come up with this stack of characters…


  • Babs, Elven Artisan
  • Chuck, Dwarven Stonemason
  • Arlo, Elven Forester
  • Sybil, Weaver


  • Steve, Wizard's Apprentice
  • Bob, Guild Begger
  • Dirk, Hunter
  • Flint, Dwarven Miner


  • Garbanzo, Tax Collector (acquired mid game)


  • Benthre, Hunter
  • Lenny, Cheesemaker
  • Jim Bob, Elven Forester 
  • Squeebs, Elf Chandler


  • Kingslayer, Noble 
  • Care, Healer
  • Choco, Cooper
  • Paper, Halfling Moneylender
  • Bueno, Opossuman Guide (acquired mid game)

Perils in the Sunken City, Part 1

Our brave yet foolish band of wannabe adventurers gathered at the Soiled Dove in Mustertown, the small, ramshackle village situated just outside the walls of the Great City.  Those poor, downtrodden souls, had no other options to achieve greatness other than risking their lives in the terrible black swamps of the Sunken City to the north.  After creating their own Free Company (which remains unnamed), the party of ne'er-do-wells spoke with No-Legs, a former adventurer who offered useful information on how to navigate the Sunken City through the powerful Sending Stone.  He also informed the party that he would be willing to purchase any special "prizes" found during their quest.  

Bidding Mustertown adieu, the party set off for high adventure!  

Several hours into their march, the adventuring troupe encountered The Lady's shack.  A small hovel along the causeway, most of the party wanted to keep walking and ignore the home of someone everyone believed to be a witch.  But the Kingslayer was not afraid!  Walking up to the door, the Kingslayer knocked and introduced himself to a very old woman. The Lady offered a boon (in the form of a Luck bonus), in exchange for something "special".  The Kingslayer removed his ring and handed it to the woman.  Murmuring some kind of incantation, the Lady took ash from a pouch and drew an ankh on the Kingslayer's forehead. Before anyone else in the party could make a similar deal the Lady closed her door.

A few hours later the party appeared in front of a clearing.  A large broken wall, the ancient border to the massive Sunken City, lay in front of the characters, and a pair of unearthly, twenty-foot stone monoliths rose from the ground: the Sending Stone and the Proving Stone. Touching the Sending Stone would send someone to a part of the Sunken City where they could find glory and treasure.  Figuring that they didn't come all this way for nothing, all sixteen party members touched the stone at once…

… and appeared in a soggy swamp, untold miles away.

Several hundred yards to the north, on the other side of a fetid marsh, stood a strange, pristine arena untouched by time.  To the east, the party's four elves could smell meat roasting over a fire.  Dirk the Hunter took point, and started leading the gang directly towards the arena.  

As the ground became softer and soggier, it was clear that the marsh was giving way to a full-sized pond.  A dead body rested at the edge of the water.  Bob carefully approached the scene, and saw the the corpse was surrounded by some mighty sweet loot.  The guild beggar moved forward and grabbed the arms of the corpse, hoping to pull it free of the water…

… and that's when the giant crocodillo appeared, ripping Bob apart.  Bob also dropped his club in the process.  

[Judge's Note:  The Crocodillo scored a critical hit on Bob, causing him to fumble his weapon as well as die.  Would've loved to see that in full Peter Jackson CGI!  Craig wasn't all that bothered by losing Bob.  Of his four characters three (Bob included) only had a single hit point.]

The insane, magically created mash-up of a crocodile and an armadillo was ferocious and terrifying, causing several of the party members to flee backwards.  But not Dirk!  The hunter nocked an arrow and let the dart fly.  


The arrow struck the crocodillo in the head, causing it to stumble backwards disoriented.  The team took this as an opportunity to charge.  With cudgels and clubs, staves and blades the party hacked away at the first crocodillo…

… did I say first?  I think I forgot to mention that there was a second, mommy crocodillo.  We'll get to her in a moment.

[Judge's Note:  Big oops on this one!  I wanted to have the second crocodillo be a surprise, but accidentally referred to the "pair" of creatures.  Oh well.]

The party took down the daddy crocodillo quickly, only losing one more member of the team (poor Care the Healer).  The second crocodillo never had the chance to strike, suffering greatly before it rolled over dead.  That's when the team heard groaning and crying, coming from inside the mommy-croc!  The Kingslayer grabbed his sword and sliced open the belly of the Crocodillo, revealing Garbanzo, the Tax Collector!  Garbanzo thanked the party, and offered his assistance.  The crew collected the gear of their fallen comrades, as well as the swag from the water-logged corpse.

[Judge's Note:  Craig's son Dylan arrived at our event and wanted to play.  I grabbed another 0-level character and tossed it Dylan's way]

Realizing that the smell of cooked meat was getting stronger, Babs the Elven Artisan wanted to investigate.  Carefully she approached the source, but came to the sickening realization that it wasn't animal meat on the spit… but burning man-flesh.  When Babs emerged into a small clearing she found herself face to face with a posse of opossumen!  Screaming in their terrible language, the creatures tried to strike Babs, but the elven woman was too nimble.  She ran back to the rest of the party and reported her findings.

Paper the Halfling Moneylender was unfazed by the existence of the opossumen.  Knowing the opossum tongue well, the tiny loan-shark approached the bestial camp and offered an opportunity to parlay in exchange for a single candle.  Amazingly the creatures agreed!  

[Judge's Note:  I was floored by this turn of events.  Paper's Personality was 5, but Jeremy rolled really, really well.  Just goes to show that not every encounter needs to be met with sword and steel!]

Paper's initial deal opened the way for Squeebs the Elven Chandler to approach.  Squeebs had a whole sack full of candles, and interestingly enough, also spoke perfect opossum.

[Judge's Note:  Go figure… now everyone was choosing the opossum language as one of their languages.  I guess Rosetta Stone has a kiosk in Mustertown.]

Paper and Squeebs continued to haggle with the opossumen, hoping to get some kind of information about the arena.  The leader of the opossumen, pleased with the gift of candles and a finely polished rock, allowed the humans and demi-humans to follow "Bueno" to the arena.  Bueno, the opossuman guide, was a paragon among his kind, skilled with a cudgel and eager to please his new employers.

[Judge's Note:  Bueno, a converted cheesemaker, had some terrible stats:  Str 10, Agi 9, Sta 6, Per 9, Int 6, Luc 7.  Having 3 HP was pretty nice though.]

Bueno led the team to the front of the arena, and a large gatehouse with the word "Madazkan" in a large font carved into a cruel looking arch above the portcullis.  Aside from the main entrance there were two side entrances, accessible through a pair of stone staircases.  Garbanzo ran ahead of the party and climbed the western staircase.  About halfway up, the structure collapsed, crushing Garbanzo.  RIP, poor tax collector.  

The rest of the party took Garbanzo's death on the stairwell as a sign that perhaps the front door was the best way into the arena.  Carefully the party entered the gatehouse, and took note of the arena on the opposite side.  It was an enormous structure, capable of seating over a thousand spectators.  No living creatures remained in the stands, but there were several hundred skeletons, each with obvious scorch marks covering their bones.  The arena floor was a series of sloping platforms, angling towards a large hole in the center.  Where the hole led was a complete mystery.  

On the opposite side of the arena a towering, ornate box rested, allowing occupants a perfect view of the entire facility.  Next to the box seats was a forty-foot tall iron pillar, topped with an eight foot metallic sphere.  


Believing Madazkan, or at least some of his belongings or prizes could be acquired in the box seats, the party approached by walking through the stands.  The entrance to the box was blocked by stone, but luckily Flint the Dwarven Mason was adept at stonework.  The dwarf carefully removed the stones blocking the entrance, allowing the team access to the cursed room…

… did I say cursed?  I mean "naturally unlucky."  

Inside the box was a series of seats, including a large, polished "throne."  Several skeletons clad in black scale mail and clutching with long swords and short bows lay on the ground.  In the throne was the corpse of Madazkan, still holding a strange, chain-bound metal rod.  After carefully examining the item, Steve the Wizard's Apprentice announced this was the "Rod of Chains", and while arcane in nature, it was not designed to be a weapon.

[Judge's Note:  I wanted to be clear to the group that while the item was "magical" it was not a magical weapon.]

In front of the throne were four levers.  Each lever controlled a different part of the arena's mechanisms of death.

  • The first controlled spikes that shot out from the outer most walls
  • The second caused spikes to stick out from a smaller interior wall
  • The third caused the lowest curved platform to start "spinning"
  • The fourth released an elemental from the metal orb attached to the forty foot rod adjacent to the box (when Flint grabbed this, he was immediately electrocuted.)
At this point the entire box, now under the control of a twisted and insane elemental, tipped forward, dumping several of the party-members into the arena.  Babs, Arlo, Steve, Dirk, Lenny, Jim Bob, Squeebs, and Bueno all tumbled out onto the first level of the arena.  

[Judge's Note:  The party didn't seem that interested in going to the lower level of the arena.  I mean, who wants to go into a hole in the ground leading somewhere most likely "bad" after just finding a semi-arcane item like the Rod of Chains?  I decided to let the elemental make the choice for them.]

Once on the ground the party was exposed to some terrible mechanisms of death.  The upper level of the arena appeared safe at first until deadly roulette balls began firing out from holes in the arena wall.  Arlo was struck and killed instantly by a flying metal bowling ball to the head.  Quickly the adventurers realized that the only safe way out of the arena was "down", and so they began climbing the inner wall towards the lowest platform.  Since this wall had spikes shooting out in random intervals, timing the jump over these spikes was difficult.  This cost Lenny his life, but the rest of the team made it over.  

With nowhere else to go, Babs, Steve, Dirk, Jim Bob, Squeebs, and Bueno the Opossuman Guide decided to take their chances with the giant dark pit in the middle of the arena.  Those that didn't fall down the hole accidentally jumped on their own accord.

… to be continued … 


  • Bob, crocodillo bite
  • Care, crocodillo bite
  • Garbanzo, loose steps
  • Flint, electrocuted by crazed elemental release
  • Arlo, rolling roulette ball of doom
  • Lenny, arena spike to the face

Magnum or Blue Steel?

The Norwin Game Knights

Live in the Pittsburgh area?  Interested in a family-friendly environment to play some great games with interesting people?  The Norwin Game Knights may be the place for you!  We are a group of tabletop enthusiasts who play card games, role-playing games, and board games on a monthly basis.  We are always on the lookout for new players.  

If this sounds interesting to you, please check us out on Facebook here or contact me through Google+.

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