Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Two TPK Event - Running DCCRPG Twice in One Evening

Sixteen Characters Gone

It was one heck of an evening with the Norwin Game Knights last night!

Every month our growing group of gamers meets near Pittsburgh for a fun, family-friendly evening of gaming.  Although I'll pick up the occasional board game, typically you can find me at the role-playing game table.  For many gamers, especially our younger crowd, these sessions at the Norwin Game Knights events are their very first tabletop RPG experiences.  So it's very important that each and every one is memorable in some way.  

Last night was historic!  

It's well known that Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures tend to be brutal, especially 0-level funnels.  You may start a game with sixteen player characters and end up with over half of them dead and buried.  Heck, when I ran Well of Souls at Gen Con I slaughtered twenty-two characters before we finished the adventure…

… but at least two from that session survived.

Well last night I had my first TPK (total party kill) in DCCRPG… 

… and then, forty-five minutes later I had my second TPK… 

… and it was everything I could ever have hoped for!  


Perils of the Sunken City, Part 2

Characters:  Babs, Chuck, Sybil, Steve, Dirk, Kingslayer, Choco, Paper, and Bueno the Opossuman Guide.

Last month we ran the first part of Purple Sorcerer Games' Peril's of the Sunken City at the Norwin Game Knights.  We had five players, and a total of sixteen 0-level characters.  Well, seventeen if you could Bueno the Opossuman Guide picked up mid-session by Jeremy.  The session ended with six of the players making their way to the pit at the center of the arena, and then jumping down.  I promised the players that between August and September I would level those six characters up to 1st, so that everyone would have a class.

Unfortunately I've had a busy month.

When I showed up last night I broke the news to my three returning players:  

There would be no class levels for the session.  

There were some nervous glances as I handed back those six 0-level characters, but I assured the players that I wasn't completely heartless.  After a bit of retconning, I announced that the rest of the characters who hadn't entered the arena managed to make it to the pit as well.  So they would have nine characters…

… and then I announced that one of them struck Bueno in the head during the fall killing the Opossuman…

… so eight characters.  Perhaps I am a little heartless.

It didn't matter too much, since they were all goners from the get-go.  The chained skeleton encounter at the bottom of the pit sealed the characters' fates.  Completely forgetting that they had acquired the Rod of Chains in the last session (despite my reminder), the players decided to battle the undead.  But bows and swords have little effect on boney constructs!

The skeletons claimed the lives of Paper, Choco, Dirk, and Steve.  I felt especially bad for our one player Craig, who lost both of his remaining characters just after a rolling a pair of back-to-back fumbles.  We knew the game wasn't going to last much longer after this encounter.  

Kingslayer, Babs, Chuck, and Sybil picked the bones, and grabbed what they could before heading south into Whiskers' chamber.  Whiskers was a twenty foot long giant catfish inhabiting a large underground pool with an island at the middle.  The promise of treasure was too great for Kingslayer, who made a boat out of a giant, eight foot brazier and paddled across.  He managed to elude Whiskers the Catfish once, and even gathered some of the great swag on the island.  There was even a journal from a dead man claiming that Whiskers preferred to be called Errol.  

Kingslayer and the fish had a long conversation, and the fish promised to play nice, so long as he was given gold or food or something. 

Obviously all fish are liars, and as soon as his Kingslayer put the offering in the catfish's mouth, he was in trouble.  The catfish chomped down, biting Kingslayer, and pulling him into the water.  Kingslayer couldn't swim due to his scale armor.  Chuck tried rescuing him with a ten-foot pole, but his player fumbled.  So Chuck got grabbed and eaten by "Errol" and Kingslayer soon drowned.  

"That's what you get for talking to a fish," Craig stated, while shaking his head.

The remaining two characters, Babs and Sybil, were done messing around with that stupid, fish, so they left the chamber.  They would make it as far as the latrine room, but the two purple slimes quickly consumed the hopeless 0-levels.  

If there is a lesson to be learned in this adventure it is this:  If you have a rod that portrays a skull covered in chains, and you are being attacked by skeletons covered in chains, think about how that rod could possibly aid you in your quest.

Another important lesson is that weavers are an integral part of math:

"So Sybil is a weaver, and everyone knows that weavers were mathematicians in their days." - An excerpt from Andy's book of wisdom.

Grimtooth's Museum of Death

Characters:  Bob, Sparkles, Vahl, Mister Chop Chop, Hard Johnny Depp, Abaddon, and Shia LaBeouf.  

I thought my evening was over.  I thought we were done with DCCRPG until October.  I thought that no one would want to come back to the gaming table after that Perils of the Sunken City debacle.

I was wrong!

One of my players, thirteen year old Jeremy, wanted to know if I had any other adventures with me.  It just so happened that I did!  For some reason I had packed Frozen in Time and Grimtooth's Museum of Death along for the event.  Always best to be prepared.  Glancing at the clock, I realized we only had another hour or so left to play.  So I picked Grimtooth's adventure and called out for anyone who wanted another go at DCCRPG.

It wouldn't take an hour to finish the game.

Much to my excitement we had seven players for the second session, and for one of them it was their first tabletop RPG session!  There was absolutely no reason to make Grimtooth's Museum of Death any more deadly…

… but I did so anyway.

I only allowed each player one 0-level character.  Once they were dead, they were out of the game.  So it was kind of like a tournament funnel, only there was no one else waiting in line to die.  

Each player quickly got to naming their characters.  Bob, Sparkles, Vahl, and Abaddon were terrific names!  One player, realizing his character was a butcher, went with "Mr. Chop Chop."  There is always a kidder in the group, so I wasn't surprised to see someone choose "Shia LaBeouf" as a character name.  

But with "Shia" taken, another player wanted take character naming to the next level.  He wanted something classic, but also tough.  

"I want to be Johnny Depp, but tougher.  I'm going to be Hard Johnny Depp."

There was a great pause on my side of the Judge's Screen.  I didn't think I could run a game with a character named "Hard Johnny Depp."  Despite some pleadings from the player, I told him that his character had to be regular Johnny Depp.

The adventure itself was a bloodbath.  I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just give you the death reel:

  • Bob was electrocuted when he tried using the wrong key in the wrong keyhole on the elevator.
  • Sparkles was killed by a giant cave octopus after he tried fleeing the castle.  His player got freaked out by the death of Bob, and he figured that his character was going to live. The random, rogue giant cave octopus changed that.
  • Abaddon fell into a pool of acid and was quickly dissolved.  
  • Hard Johnny Depp died trying to save Abaddon.
  • Mr. Chop Chop tried swinging across a great pit of steam towards some orcs, but failed because of [*NO SPOILERS*]
  • Shia LaBeouf had a giant rock fall on his head.
  • Vahl was eaten by vampire bats.

In less than half an hour the adventure was over.  I have to say, that a a father, I'm so very proud of my daughter Carrie since he character (Vahl) was the last to die.

*     *     *

Hats off to +Jobe Bittman!  Grimtooth's Museum of Death is a masterpiece and I can't wait to run it again.  Granted, I'll probably use higher level characters, play the game with more seasoned gaming veterans, and ensure that there is plenty of beer in the fridge for a rip-roaring, trap-laden, crawl-of-doom!

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