Saturday, October 10, 2015

DCCRPG - Crawling Under a Broken Moon - Mall Maul

Old Man Legolas's headless goat armed with sharpened crayons

A Crawling Tradition

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is becoming a bit of a tradition with the Norwin Game Knights, especially with our younger players.  It all started back in April when I ran a Star Wars - Stormtroopers themed DCC adventure set on Tatooine for International Tabletop Day.  A few months later in July I ran Portal Under the Stars for some of the same players.  In August I showed up with Purple Sorcerer Games' Perils of the Sunken City, continuing our quest in our September event, along with an attempt at Grimtooth's Museum of Death.  

I feel ashamed to say that for our October NGK event I was thinking of just sitting back and playing Last Night on Earth.  It wasn't that I was tired of playing DCC, or any role-playing games for that matter, but I've been really busy outside of gaming and the idea of zoning out with some board games was a little tempting…

… and then word got out amongst our kiddo players that there wasn't going to be an RPG!

The revolt began on Skype.  My eldest daughter Carrie, who plays DCC in our monthly NGK typically with two to four of her friends from school, let the cat out of the bag online that there wasn't going to be any RPG'ing.  There was much sadness and despair, and as soon as I got home from work my wife approached me when I got out of the car.  

"Do you have any RPG stuff that you can throw together quickly?" she asked me.  Jen knew that I wasn't prepared to run a game.  

"I'll come up with something," I said.  

That "something" ended up being +Reid San Filippo's Crawling Under a Broken Moon… leading to an event that will become legendary in the Norwin Game Knights.

Crawling Under a Broken Moon

I've been in the mood for a little post-apocalyptic role-playing lately, so choosing my stack of CUABM 'zines as inspiration for Friday's game was an easy choice.  Now that I can drive through the Pittsburgh area shiny and chrome in my new car, I day dream about becoming one of Immortan Joe's War Boys.

Witness me, brothers!  

That said, I've never quite found the right post-apocalyptic RPG for me.  I've played a few one-shots using TSR's Alternity system, and ran a mini-campaign with D20 Modern back in the mid-2000's.  Paranoia was a lot of fun, and I used to have some of the 1st Edition books before selling them off about four years ago.  Most of the time I get to scratch a lot of my "post-apocalyptic" itches with Numenera, but every once in a while I want to try something zany, outlandish, and over the top.  

Imagine my delight when I discovered Crawling Under a Broken Moon!  

There are so many amazing DCCRPG adventures, but if you ask any hardcore DCC fan about unique and interesting campaign settings they will most likely point you towards their favorite fan 'zines.  In just a few months I've discovered Crawljammer, Black Powder Black Magic, Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, and of course Crawling Under a Broken Moon, just to name a few.  As well as being terrific setting resources, all of these products offer DCC Judges new rules, patrons, classes, and adventures for DCCRPG.  

Crawling Under a Broken Moon is, by far, your DCC-based response to players looking to emulate Mad Max, Fallout, or Borderlands with a dash of He-Man.  

As +Reid San Filippo wrote in Issue #1:  

"… I grew up obsessed with Thundarr the Barbarian, robots, aliens, mutants, and other such wonderful nonsense.  When I first read through the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG it immediately struck me that I found the perfect system to relive the adventures under a broken moon."

Reid couldn't be more right!

I've read through all of the Crawling Under a Broken Moon 'zines, and I knew that a tight time-frame wasn't going to stop me from running a great game for my young players.  Crawling Under a Broken Moon Issue #3 features complete rules for creating 0-level wastelanders, and the perfect 0-level funnel adventure: Mall Maul.  

In Mall Maul, the player characters are residents of a poor wasteland village.  Local raiders have demanded tribute and the players must survive the horrors of the forsaken mall and scavenge whatever lost wonders and artifacts they can to appease the warlords.  Mall Maul takes dungeon crawling and mashes it together with themes from HG Wells' "The Time Machine", and your typical Sunday afternoon at Sears.  

In the adventure the party must put together their "tribute" to the local raiders in a salvaged "Tribute Truck."  Every good that the party pulls from the forsaken mall is measured in "TT's", or Tribute Truck points.  To help the players figure out how much they had collected during their quest I used poker chips.  Every chip was assigned a value, and as the players gathered gear I tossed them chips.  It was a terrific way to track the players' progress!  Since the goal in the adventure was to get to 200 TT's, each small scavenged tidbit brought them one step closer to victory, and the chips were a great visualization.  

Prepping the adventure was easy.  Purple Sorcerer Games remains your one-stop "shop" for DCCRPG character sheets.  You can even use the 0-level character generator to create customized Crawling Under a Broken Moon characters!

As always, I'm excited to see what kind of characters the players end up with, as well as the crazy names they choose… 

Carrie and Dylan ready for action


When I passed out the post-apocalyptic character sheets the entire table started to giggle with excitement.  Scavengers, gangers, mechanics, pharmacists, the profession options in Crawling Under a Broken Moon certainly fit the setting.  As a Judge for younger players, its always a lot of fun to see what kind of crazy character names everyone comes up with before the game.  Often the players are trying to outdo each other, as you will probably notice.  

  • Jeremy 
    • Lithium Shield, Halfling Armorer
    • Electro Outlet, Mutant Electrician
    • Mech Tech, Human Mechanic
  • Matthew
    • Wool Smith, Mutant Historian
    • Joe Tetti, Human Soldier
    • Mr. Luck-Who-Has-No-Life, Elf Peddler 
  • Carrie
    • Crypten, Mutant Soldier
    • Rayzor, Mutant Armorer
    • Lisa, Dwarf Ganger
  • Dylan
    • Sparkles, Dwarf Mechanic
    • Porkchop, Halfling Cook
    • Scrooge McDuck, Robot Pharmacist 
  • Ben
    • Toby Tire-Iron, Elf Mechanic
    • Milo Abernathy, Dwarf Accountant
    • Bucketzz, Robot Janitor
  • Braden
    • Druggs McPills, Halfling Pharmacist
    • Mr. Handy, Robot Handyman
    • Winne Andy Cooler, Mutant Brewer
  • Evan
    • Bear Grylls, Human Scavenger
    • Docta, Human Medic
    • Old Man Legolas, Elf Livestock Rancher
  • Zachary
    • Doug, Mutant Scavenger
    • Mr. Bicycle, Halfling Peddler
  • Ryan
    • Bob, Robot Carpenter

Our Mall Maul map

Mall Maul

After a rousing Neuqua Village assembly organized by Mayor Glumpton, along with a motivational speech by the local Priest of Kizz, the party of wicked wastelanders were ready for action.  The annual tribute truck to be supplied to local raiders was still empty, and unless Neuqua filled the truck, their entire village would be sacked.  Neuqua's only hope would be to send their best and bravest into the terrible, dreaded, forsaken lost-domain of former commerce…

… the Mall.

The team rode to the Mall in an old big-rig tractor trailer, driven by the legendary Phil.  Although he was far more mighty and powerful than any of the other wastelanders, Phil's time as a warrior was past.  Now he was in retirement, and simply came along to help gather the team's trailer tribute.  

Before entering the Mall's parking lot the team tried to think of creative ways to help fill the trailer.  To get a head start on their tribute, they reviewed their gear and equipment to see if anything they were carrying would "count."  Phil took some minor gear as well as one of Old Man Legolas' headless goats to "prime the pump" on the tribute gathering.  

Between the parked trailer and the ancient Mall entrance was a vast plain of cracked concrete.  The people of the past would've called this place a "parking lot."  Several wheeled metal baskets were parked in good working condition throughout the parking to, and Druggs McPills decided that he wanted to go for a shopping cart ride.  But when the Halfling Pharmacist approached one of the carts, a vicious spider/amphibian hybrid (a trapdoor toadspider) rose up from a manhole cover and grabbed Druggs with its long tongue.  The halfling was devoured in a single gulp.  

Mech Tech the mechanic thought that perhaps he could talk to one of the toadspiders, but suffered the same fate.  Even with Joe Tetti offering some protection with a bolt action rifle, the toadspider was just too fast.  Joe did notice that every pristine shopping cart just happened to be parked next to a manhole cover, and that several dead bodies were strewn about the center of the parking lot.  

On second thought, perhaps it would just be best to leave the shopping carts alone.  

Rather than enter though the front door, the team chose to climb up into the truck delivery bay.  Some of the shelves were full of camping gear, still wrapped in plastic.  Rather than open the gear and use it during their quest, the wastelanders handed off the camping gear to Phil so that it could be considered part of the Tribute.  The only other point of interest in the delivery bay was a single large trash compactor.  Porkchop tried climbing up onto the edge of the compactor, only to find a massive, oozing, single-celled organism filling the metal container.  The slime slapped Porkchop, knocking him off of the compactor.  The Docta hoped to heal poor Porkchop but ended up using his scalpel rather than his first aid kit.  

Porkchop was not amused   

The team opened a nearby door leading into the access hallways of the forsaken Mall.  The area was completely dark, with very little light remaining from the open truck delivery bay doorway.  Electro Outlet exclaimed that he could easily create an electric lamp, but would need a few things.  First, he would need some wire, which he had.  Then, some fuel, which he was able to scavenge from the group.  Finally he would need a robot volunteer.  Scrooge McDuck happily bounded forward…

… that's when Electro Outlet removed Scrooge's head, yanked out his CPU, and turned the robot-noggin into a lamp.

Poor Scrooge McDuck!

Using the Scrooge Lamp, Electro followed Doug into the back hallways of the Mall.  There were quite a few doorways, and so much good loot for the party to bring back to the tribute truck!  More camping gear, cardboard boxes, rope, and some protein bars were among some of the best finds.  

Lisa the Dwarf Ganger entered a strange watch store that was distorted by a temporal anomaly.  While searching the store she aged a full ten years!  When Porkchop realized that his teammate left empty handed he went into the watch store himself and was gone quite a while.  He dragged himself out of the room, his body wracked by over a hundred years of additional time, clutching an ancient Casio watch.  

Then Porkchop died.  

Hoping to head further into the Mall, the party started down a hallway to the north only to hear something terrible!  A most terrible trap was on the ground, blaring out awful saxophone music…

… it was Kenny G!  

Doug dropped to the ground and rolled away but Electro Outlet couldn't stop the music.  The sound forced Electro's brain to pull itself free from his head and drag itself across the floor into a crack in the wall.  Luckily, Doug ran over and threw the boom box against the wall, causing the song to shut off.  

So Electro's brain returned and climbed back into his skull.

Music would again be the enemy when the party entered a sporting goods store.  A lone, dead halfling was impaled on a long spear in the center of the sporting goods store, with strange music playing from his pocket… it was Smash Mouth for sure.  But when the team took the futuristic iPod from the dead halfling's pocket, the music became louder and a creature was summoned… a Pigtipede!  One hundred legs of porcine death, the long creature entered the room looking for sentient food.  It only took a single shot to drop the creature, and then Bear Grylls carved it up for some Tribute Truck ham!  

With the Tribute Truck almost filled to the brim, the party finally entered an abandoned shoe store.  Bear Grylls started assembling shoes, realizing that most of the right-footed shoes were missing.  About fourteen complete pairs were gathered, and Bear triumphantly held them up in the air for everyone to see just before he died.

Apparently the laces were covered in poison, and after contacting the powdery substance, poor Bear gagged and choked and collapsed in a heap.  The rest of the party was careful in handing those shoes off to Phil.  

But all of that choking and coughing must have caught the attention of some of the Mall's most dreaded inhabitants… the Malllocks!  Fifteen of the bestial creatures arrived, their pale and pasty hands clutching clubs, cudgels, and assorted shelving units.  They were ready for battle…

… a battle that Wool Smith was committed to avert!  

The pacifistic Mutant Historian stepped forward and started assembling all of the left handed shoes in a strange tower.  Wool claimed that the tower was a "peace offering" and it was his hope that the magnificence of the tower would convince the Malllocks to stand down.  

[Seriously… this was happening.]

Despite Wool's efforts, Lisa, Crypten, and Razor believed that battle was inevitable… so they gathered together and started to hug very tightly.  So tight, in fact, that they became one creature… a new hyper-mutant named Lisrayten…

… and then Lisrayten started helping Wool build the tower.

One by one, each member of the team aided in building the peace offering.  By the time the Malllocks were ready to charge, they were too enamored by these Neuquan intruders to do anything.  Only one of the Malllocks remained committed for blood.  The creepy near-human stepped forward and offered a compromise.  If Wool Smith came with the Malllocks, the rest of the party could leave with their tribute.  Wool agreed, and he was carried away.

Wool's last words were that he hoped to become the "crowned king of the Malllocks."  Wool was close.  His body was turned into a "crown" for the Malllock king.  

The remaining characters quickly left the Mall and headed back to the trailer.  With all the value left behind, they figured that perhaps next tribute they would return to the Mall again.

Matthew and Carrie stare in wonder at the peace offering mock-up


I didn't make much of an effort to write down quotes during this adventure, probably because I was trying to keep nine players (8 under the age of 14) under control.  But I had to note two specific quotes that leave me slightly afraid for the next generation of gamers.

"We're building them a gift of peace.  Someone will love us!" - Matthew

Jim - "You haven't made it out yet!"
Evan - "We don't care, our village is safe!"

Back in my day neither of these comments would have occurred!  What is happening to the youth of Umerica?!?

Carrie's combined mutant character


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