Sunday, February 14, 2016

DCCRPG - Perils of the Sunken City - Part One

Planning for the "Great SCOT"

[You have to yell out "Great SCOT" for the proper effect.]

Since acquiring The Sunken City Omnibus by +Jon Marr last summer, I've read through the adventures at least twice, each time thinking "wow, I can't wait to run this!"  Of course I feel the same way about a lot of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG adventures that I have, so you'd think I would stop acquiring new modules.


Like many other DCC fans, my rate of adventure acquisition exceeds my rate of adventure completion:  RoAA>RoAC.  To make this more challenging, during the DCC 4th Printing Kickstarter I went hog-wild and pitched in to grab a whole mess of new modules.  

Legends will tell of how the Great SCOT turns the tide in this battle against my DCC modules!  It  is the beginning of my plan to plow through some incredible adventures in order to make room for the copious amounts of DCC swag that keeps showing up in either my mailbox or DriveThruRPG account.  

So what is the SCOT?  SCOT stands for "Sunken City Omnibus Tour."

The Sunken City Omnibus comes with four adventures:
Technically the first three adventures are designed as 0-level funnels, but given the flexible nature of DCCRPG, it won't take much to make them playable for 1st and later 2nd level characters.  This will probably take between 8 to 10 total sessions to complete.  

Unlike other campaigns that I've run, for the Great SCOT I'm not asking for any real commitment from the players.  Personally, I would love to have the same folks back to the table every two weeks.  Last night's session was so much fun!  But I also know that it can be unfair to ask people for ongoing commitment for a Saturday night slot week after week.  

Between work, kids, spouses, family-gatherings, weddings, and human sacrifices, Saturdays are very busy!  

That's why this is the "SCOT" and not the "SCOC."  Since this is a Tour and not a Campaign, I welcome players to join in for some sessions, and perhaps swap out for others.  I plan on following some simple player rules:

  • Schedule five players for each event
  • Hold a sixth seat free for last minute additions
  • Players who complete an adventure have "dibs" on joining the next adventure
  • Players can bow out, and rejoin later with living or new characters so long as there is a open spot at the virtual table
I'm hoping that I don't need any additional rules to coordinate the Tour.  Should you have any suggestions on running something similar, I would greatly appreciate the advice!

Well, I think we should move on to the adventure itself... 

Perils of the Sunken City, Part One

In which Ramson's The Free Company (not to be confused with Ramson's Free Company) sets out for the Sunken City, battles opossumfolk, and has an electrifying experience in an ancient colosseum.

Dramatis Personae 

  • Jimmy the Snitch, Cutpurse
  • Nicodemus, Alchemist
  • Timmy the Guy in the Red Shirt, Caravan Guard
  • Mason, Elven Barrister
  • Wade, Cutpurse
  • Renaldo, Jeweler
  • Caldwell, Astrologer
  • Watson, Parsnip Farmer
  • Vander, Elven Glassblower
  • Leif, Elven Forrester 
  • Bellows, Dwarf Blacksmith
  • Sigourney, Weaver
  • Ramson, Dwarven Herder
  • Wanna, Mendicant
  • Yicky, Gravedigger
  • Pitt, Costermonger 
  • Zevon, Trapper
  • Bata, Cobbler

Adventure Summary

Upon meeting up at the Soiled Dove in Mustertown, at the edge of the Great City (so great that no one called it anything else), Ramson the Dwarf Herder announced to everyone in the tavern that he was forming a free company.  It would be a new group of adventurers, with a bold name to announce to all the minions of darkness that this particular company would be a force to be reckoned with...

... it would be The Free Company.  

This generic name, thought up quickly by Ramson, brought forth much scorn and ridicule from everyone in the tavern.

[Judge's Note:  I took 2 points of Luck away from Ramson for this uninspired name, and then another point from everyone in the party for going along with the title.]

Gathering The Free Company together, Ramson announced that it was time to leave.  Some of the troupe, Bellows in particular, wanted to do a little light shopping.  Perhaps pick up some rope.  But there was no time!  The Free Company was not on a deadline and had nowhere to be anytime soon... and they needed to get there fast!  When Bellows refused to leave Mustertown of his own free will, some of his compatriots picked up the dwarf and dragged him towards the Causeway.

The Causeway to the Sunken City was a muddy, stinking path through the deep and fetid swamp.  With the journey north relatively uneventful, The Free Company made a quick pitstop at the Lady's home.  The Lady, known for being something of a fortune teller, could possibly bestow some fortune on the party... for a price of course.  Leif was the first to call out to the Lady. 

"IMPRESS ME!" the Lady cried out to her new petitioner.    

The Elven Forester offered some of his fine herbs for a blessing.  In turn, the Lady rubbed some ashes on the elf's face, giving him a small boon for later.  

Renaldo wanted a bigger, better blessing, so he produced a fine gem, cut by his own tools.  The Lady promised a much more amazing gift for such a token, and waded into the swamp. The old crone dug through the muck before pulling out a big, slimy stick.  With a big, toothless grin the Lady offered the branch to Renaldo.

"Here, the Stick of Smite!" she cried out.  

Renaldo seemed unimpressed, and asked how the stick "worked."  With a single snap, the Lady struck the Jeweler dead.  

"See, that's how it works!"  The Lady dropped the branch, and waved goodbye to the rest of the party as they headed north.

[The Stick of Smite:  1d6 damage, +2 to hit and damage against anyone, or any creature, whose name begins with an "R."  Also against pirates... arrgh...]

Once at the Sending Stone and Proving Stone just outside the Sunken City, The Free Company took note of the demon face carved into the Sending Stone.  Leif stepped forward and placed his hands on the stone, teleporting away a few seconds later.  Zevon was soon to follow.  But the rest of the party seemed nervous, and waited a minute before traveling with their compatriots...

... this minute would cost Zevon his life.

Since Leif and Zevon were first, they found themselves face to face with a lone Degenerate Opossum Man.  Perhaps the creature was foraging, or maybe he was just out for a walk.  Either way, Zevon tried offering some inviting words to the opossum man.  Unfortunately, Zevon's mutterings got lost in translation, and the opossum man took a step back and lobbed a javelin right into the trapper's heart.  Terrified for his life, Leif took off towards the east.  There was a fire in the distance, and the Elf hoped that some friendly faces awaited.

About a minute later the rest of The Free Company arrived in the Sunken City.  To the north east stood a massive marble arena, trimmed with metal, with the word "Madazkan" carved into the entrance  To the south was a lone opossum man picking the gear off of a dead Zevon.  Enraged, Wade the cutpurse charged forward slicing off the opossum man's ear before Yicky bashed in the creature's head with a shovel.  

Sigourney noticed that the dead opossum man had some dirty cloth armor.  Perhaps she could fashion some kind of woven-mail out of the rags, if only she had some reeds.  Between The Free Company and the arena was a small bog, so Sigourney started looking through the plants for fine reeds.  

"LIZARD!" a voice to the east cried out.

Everyone in The Free Company looked about, bewildered.  Everyone except Sigourney, who was swallowed whole by a raging Crocodillo (a crocodile/armadillo hybrid creature native to the swamps of the Sunken City.)  

The voice belonged to Leif, who was returning to the scene of the initial teleportation.  After traveling east, all the elf found was an encampment of more opossum men, so he decided to come back and wait for his team.  He arrived just in time to see the first crocodillo.

Quickly The Free Company sprang into action.  Wade and Leif charged forward, cutting down the first crocodillo in mere moments.  Soon, the second was surrounded by Bellows, Timmy, Nicodemus, Watson, Yicky, and Wanna.  Hack and slash, hack and slash, each of the adventurers tried their best to fell the beast, and their plan was working...

... until the crocodillo started spinning and whipping everyone with its deadly tail!  The spinny-whippy attack tore through Vander and Timmy, and knocked several others on their backs.  

Standing far away, Pitt and Bata never planned for a coordinated attack.  The costermonger was going to lob a banana peel at the crocodillo, but accidentally tossed the banana.  Armed with the late Zevon's sling, Bata went to chuck a rock at the crocodillo, but ended up putting Pitt's peel into the sling.  Fortunately, the banana peel smacked the creature in the eye, causing it to be temporarily blinded.  This brief stroke of luck allowed the rest of the party to take down the last remaining crocodillo, with Wade ending the creature's accursed existence with a dagger stroke.  

Dipping his quill in the dead crocodillo's blood, the Elven Barrister wrote on the shell of the wicked beast.

The Free Company, was all Mason wrote.  Perhaps their group's name was dull, generic, and unoriginal.  But by the Elder Gawds, The Free Company was here to stay!

[Given Mason's badass graffiti, I restored some of the party's Luck lost during the initial company naming.]

After hearing Leif's tale of the opossum men to the east, The Free Company chose to head north into the colosseum, hoping to find more glory and riches in the Sunken City.  Jimmy the Snitch and Nicodemus led the way up the eastern stairwell into the arena, reaching a large metal door at the top.  Carefully the cutpurse opened the door, revealing a massive chamber.  

The circular arena featured a large viewing area, covered in risers, overlooking a strange floor.  Where one would typically find sand or stone, the floor in this arena was metal and stone, crafted into several tiers.  The first tier, closest to the wall, was slanted towards a central, circular wall.  On the other side of the wall was a great funnel dropping into the unknown.  Standing over the entire structure, a great pavilion of marble dominated the northern edge of the arena.  The final unique portion of the structure, was actually just outside of the arena's walls: a large spire, with a big steel globe at the top.  From the globe, the party could here an occasional buzzing.  Most strange.

Oh, and there were skeletons.  Hundreds of them!  

At first the boney remains gave The Free Company pause, until it seemed apparent that these dead were most likely "really" dead, and not undead.

[At least not yet.]

Free pickings!  After Leif took a shiny brass belt buckle off of one of the skeletons, several other party members started looting the remains of ancient spectators.  Hoping for something more substantial, Jimmy the Snitch sauntered towards the pavilion and climbed inside.  On a large throne sat the remains of Madazkan the Necromancer, with a chain covered rod still in hand.  Three dead guardians, each adorned in black scale mail and armed with longswords and short bows, lay on the floor.  Jimmy and Nicodemus started looting the room, and were soon joined by the rest of the party.  

At the back of the pavilion The Free Company noticed several levers.  The first activated spikes in the arena.  The second fired small metal balls into the arena; steel bowling balls of death and dismemberment should anyone be on the floor.  It was probably best, everyone thought, to stay away from the floor.  

The Free Company was not a team of hotheaded youngsters!  No, these newly crowned adventurers were brave and bold, but they were also wise and knew when to cut and run.  Once it seemed that all of the booty had been gained, the party decided to leave the arena...

... but the arena was not ready to see them go! 

With a zap of lightning, the spikes and firing metal balls started to blast across the arena floor, and all of the doors to the building closed.  The Free Company was trapped!  To make matters worse, all of the skeletons started to rise, their necks creaking as decrepit heads turned towards the defilers.  Not sure whether they could handle several hundred skeletons, the members of The Free Company all ran towards the pavilion.  The only way out of the arena seemed to be the pit at the center of the arena floor.  

Jimmy tried grabbing one of the levers, hoping to shut off the machines of death below, but quickly pulled back his hands, realizing that there was electricity running through the machine.  Yicky was not so lucky.  Seeing the skeletons march towards the pavilion, Yicky tried pushing the metal door closed, but started to shake and convulse.  While Mason was able to shut the door using the Stick of Smite, all this did was stop the skeletal bodies.  The electrified ghosts simply passed through the wall, and started to scratch and claw at the living.

"Over the edge," cried Jimmy the Snitch, who led The Free Company onto the arena floor where they were forced to climb over spikes and dodge metal balls of doom.  Mason and Wade pondered staying behind, but quickly they came to their senses.  The only way to salvation was through the funnel.  

Despite the apparent presence of death, and with a little luck [actually a LOT of Luck... the players really burned themselves down during this encounter] each member of The Free Company made it to the wall in the center of the arena, climbing over and sliding down into the pit below...

... each member except for Jimmy the Snitch.  Jimmy just couldn't get over the wall, with all that ball-dodging and spike avoiding.  The ghostly skeletons soon descended upon the cutpurse, and dragged him away, kicking and screaming in terror.  

But was Jimmy the Snitch's death a blessing in disguise?  What awaited The Free Company at the bottom of the funnel?

... to be continued... 


"Impress me!" - The Lady's demand.

"So as long as we don't touch it, nothing can go wrong?" - Todd's logic.

"The best part about this game is it actually sucks you into a funnel." - Andy noting the funnel at the bottom of the arena in this 0-level funnel.  

In Memoriam 

  • Renaldo - Whacked by the Stick of Smite
  • Zevon - Introduced to an Opossum Man's dart
  • Sigourney the Weaver - Crocodillo food while making reed armor
  • Timmy the Guy in the Red Shirt - A crocodillo's tail
  • Vander - A crocodillo's tail
  • Yicky - Jolted by electricity while trying to work a lever
  • Jimmy the Snitch - Killed by electric ghosts

Parting Shot

Social media gets a really bad rap.  

Sure, it sucks down much of our free time and pulls us away from our family at the dinner table.  Yes, it reconnects us with long lost friends only to shatter our rekindled connections once we are exposed to their outlandish political leanings.  Often it ironically shames us with memes about its abuses and detriments.  Many times it tells us how we are "having fun wrong," and how someone else's way of having fun is far superior.  

But occasionally, social media is amazing.  This is one of those stories!

On Wednesday night I was pining about not having any gaming events set up for this weekend.  Granted, last weekend spent in Grand Rapids was chock full of some seriously sweet role-playing sessions, but I wanted more.

I always want more.

Like a "Commissioner Gordon" of the RPG'iverse, I put out a call to the faithful:

"Hey DCC fans and/or DCC-curious gamers! I've got two spots available for a run through Perils of the Sunken City by Purple Sorcerer Games. We are playing this Saturday, starting at 8:30pm EST, probably until 11-11:30 EST (this may be a two parter...) 

If interested, respond below."

I posted the call on Wednesday, and within twenty-four hours I had a full virtual tabletop.  Say what you want about all of the negative aspects of social media, how it is destroying the fabric of blah, blah, blah, *snore*....

The truth is that I wanted to game on Saturday night, and not with a bunch of artificially intelligent non-player characters.  Games like Pillars of Eternity or Torchlight or Diablo help to scratch an itch, but for old-school tabletop gamers like me, I always crave more.  I want real people, real laughter, and completely fabricated stories that I'll share year after year.  

If getting this connection whenever I want means having to look at endless, over-posted memes, and awkward and completely unflattering selfies, so be it!'

I got to game this weekend with some incredible people... so... boo yah.  

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