Sunday, March 13, 2016

DCCRPG - Perils of the Sunken City - Part Two

Great SCOT!

The SCOT stands for "Sunken City Omnibus Tour," and what makes this series of events "Great" is that we plan on running through all four of +Jon Marr's amazing adventures one by one:

 The Sunken City Omnibus comes with four adventures:

Last night we finished Perils of the Sunken City, in a game that I will remember for years to come!  It was one of those very special tabletop evenings.  The adventure was perfect, the players came ready to role-play their characters, and the overall level of comedy and humor was delightful but never derailed the gameplay.

I'd call it "outlandish" without being too "over-the-top" campy.  

When we wrapped up our session last month I allowed every player to advance one character to 1st level.  Some of the players still had multiple 0-level commoners at this point, but I thought the game would move faster if we didn't have an entire mob of 1st level characters in the game.  Since the adventure is written as a 0-level funnel, I figured that five 1st level adventurers would still fare well against the terrors of Madazkan's Dungeon.

I should also point out that one of our players, +Michael K, opted to choose an alternate class for his dwarf: a Dwarven Priest, written by +Jeffrey Tadlock and featured in issue #10 of the Crawl! Fanzine.   After witnessing the character class in play, the Dwarven Priest reminds me of a Fighter/Cleric from AD&D 2nd Edition.  There was a Kit featured in the Complete Book of Dwarves called a Champion that resembled the Dwarven Priest.  The Dwarven Priest gains a Mighty Deed die at higher character levels, and has a few less spells than a Cleric.  But they still gain the Infravision and Underground Skills of the rest of their dwarven brethren.  The only thing the Dwarven Priest really lacks is healing ability... but who needs that?

After reading the class in full, this is definitely something I would play if given the opportunity.  

Perils of the Sunken City, Part Two

The Free Company chose its five strongest souls to explore the depths of Mazkadan's Dungeon, facing off against undead, slimes, and a giant catfish named Whiskers.  The five encounter Malloc, the Dark Creeper, and one of their own dies in an outlandish attempt to appease a newly formed Patron Bond.  

Die Rodney!

Dramatis Personae 

Adventure Summary

The Free Company began the next phase of their adventure in the lowest depths of Madazkan's Dungeon.  The long drop from the arena ended with a plunge into a healing pool of water.  The room containing the pool was circular, and consisted of one doorway to the west.  Five members of the Free Company chose to further explore the dungeon's depths.  Nicodemus, Mason, Watson, Bellows, and Ramson all felt adequately "advanced" enough in their understanding of basic adventuring protocols and etiquette to stand as a bastion against the fell creatures that inhabited the darkness.

[*cough* Level Up *cough]

[Judge's Note:  While dealing with basic campaign management, the topic came up of Dwarven Gods.  Michael was putting the last minute touches on Ramson's Dwarven Priest class, but since this is a mini-campaign, I didn't have a list of deities available.  So I thought I'd let the players choose.  Marc came up with Igneous, so he earned his character a point of Luck.  Igneous the Stoic is now the Lawful Dwarven Deity of Stone and Smithing in this world.  Let the Campaign Mythology begin!]

The stones walls surrounding the pool were full of cracks, revealing an eerie green light.  Mason's keen elven eyes were able to see through the cracks, and he described that the Free Company was in the middle of prisoner cells, each containing piles of bones covered in chains.  Knowing that they had to move forward, Nicodemus checked the door to the west and gave the all-clear.  The party opened the door, and everything remained still and serene.

But as soon as Nicodemus stepped into the larger chamber all of the chain covered skeletons started to rise.  In addition, a terrifying Minotaur skeleton appeared from a corner, clutching a steel pickaxe riding a spectral mine cart...

... it was the dreaded skeletal Mine-o-taur of myth and legend, spoken of only in the wicked far, north-eastern corners of the Great City.

[Mine-o-taur: same stats as the Chain Skeleton, but with a Pick Axe that does 1d8 damage, 13 hit points, and the ability to do a Spectral Mine Cart Charge (+2 to hit and damage)]

[Judge's Note:  Just before this happened the topic of Minotaurs came up, and Marc revealed that he pronounced them "Mine-o-taurs."  It must be a New England thing, but I had to twist the knife and put one of these terrible creatures into the game!]

Nicodemus ran back into the pool room and slammed the door, but the Mine-o-taur just used its spectral mine-cart to slam through the portal.  But Bellows was ready!  The dwarf announced that he was readying his spear to make the first strike.  As soon as the Mine-o-taur came through the door, Bellows stuck his spear into the wheels of the spectral mine cart, causing the creature to fly through the air and land in the enchanted pool.

[Achievement Unlocked:  MIGHTY DEED!]

With the Mine-o-taur taking damage in the water, THE Free Company turned their attention on the chain skeletons that were pouring through the doorway.  What happened afterward was a blur, so here are some of the highlights:

  • Knowing full well that the Stick of Smite attained during their first quest could cause extra damage against anyone or anything with a name starting with the letter "R", Mason the Elf screamed out "DIE RODNEY!" when attacking a skeleton.  It was Mason's hope that the skeleton had a name starting with "R" before it found itself amongst the ranks of the undead.  Unfortunately the skeleton's name had been Horance, but "DIE RODNEY" became The Free Company's new motto.  

  • During the battle, Watson cast his Magic Missile Spell against some of the chain skeletons on the other side of the doorway.  While most Magic Missiles appear to be bolts of fire, or blasts of ice, or maybe just enchanted arrows flying in mid air, Watson's spell had a very different manifestation.  Upon casting the spell, a giant eagle appeared and flew into the skeleton with a piercing shriek.  The stories of this spell would become so legendary that "Watson's Eagle-Eyed Magic Missile" would become the basis for a show called The Colbert Report hundreds of years in the future... on another plane of existence.  

  • After a successful casting of Mason's Runic Word spell, the doorway to the rest of the dungeon became blocked by an enchanted barrier.  The rest of the battle played out like a scene from the movie 300, with a lot of slow-mo spear and sword action.  Nicodemus even shouted out "Die Rodney" a few times, in solidarity with Mason.  

Once all of the skeletons were defeated, the party gathered some of the chains, as well as the Mine-o-taur's pickaxe, and explored the next series of chambers.

The central chamber of Madazkan's consisted of a dozen or so ancient prison cells, doors to the east and west, and a large archway leading to a chamber to the south.  Using his keen elven eyes, Mason managed to find a secret doorway to the north.  Knowing that they would need more gear and equipment to survive the horrors of the underworld, the party picked the rooms clean, grabbing everything they could find.  

One of the more unique artifacts was in a closed chamber to the northeast.  Nicodemus found a chain skeleton with a pierced skull.  Apparently the Mine-o-taur had become annoyed with this skeleton, and rightly so.  When the Thief lifted the skeleton, turning the face towards his own to reveal a mouth full of gold teeth, the skull began to speak!  

His name was Cedric of Redwater... or at least he said that was his name, as Cedric was a bit of a liar.  Not just a casual liar, but a blatant, over-the-top, compulsive liar.  He wouldn't even admit to being a skull trapped in a dungeon, but insisted that he was selling produce in a South Redwater market.  He certainly didn't give The Free Company any help in exploring the dungeon. 

[I should point out that "Cedric" sounds like "Mick" from Rocky.]

Unsure of whether he would keep Cedric for his gold teeth or as future entertainment, Nicodemus threw the skull in his backpack, and continued searching the room.

Eventually the party tired of the prison cells and approached the secret door that Mason found.  On the opposite side was a weird den of wicked desires and debauchery.  Leather straps and buckles.  Plush yet worn benches.  If the Mad Necromancer Madazkan were there he would tell the party that he didn't do romance, and that his tastes were very... singular.   

There were four doorways out of the secret room, and a bookshelf with one remaining intact tome.  The party took down the secret door (it was just a series of stones), and entered the chamber.  The leftover tome was definitely a spell, and Watson greedily grabbed the book.  Not happy with remaining unarmored, Mason took all of the straps and belts and covered himself with a weird, jury-rigged leather armor resembling a gladiator's manica.

But it wasn't what was "in" the room that got the attention of Bellows and Ramson, but what was beyond the doorway to the northwest:  Gold!

The dwarves could smell the rich substance, and wanted it immediately!  The rest of The Free Company agreed, and followed the dwarves through the doorway and into a long corridor until they all came to a sudden, terrifying stop.

The next room was a great, circular chamber with a giant stone tree sporting an organic, living mouth in its trunk.  The teeth of the tree moved and manipulated the body of some poor bloke who must've found his way into this chamber only a few hours earlier.  But at the tree's edge rested a golden cup filled with jewels, so despite the grotesque and otherworldly entity, The Free Company didn't flee the scene.

Eight deep holes circled the stone tree, each situated at a compass point.  Nicodemus approached the nearest hole, but a great tentacle-like root sprung up from the void, grasping the Thief and throwing him against a nearby wall.  The Thief was knocked into unconsciousness, and the party feared him dead.  Mason started to approach, but found himself contacted by the tree... 

... but it was not truly a tree...

... it was Malloc, the Dark Creeper!

Malloc called to Mason, offering a bargain if only the Elf would submit and cast the appropriate spell [Patron Bond]  Mason agreed, cast the spell, carving the images of trees into his arms and legs [Spellburn], and felt himself deeply connected to the somewhat alien entity.  The casting was quite successful, and Mason felt as if he could almost call the Patron his "friend", or at least a very dear acquaintance.  

So when instructed to surrender either the dying Nicodemus or another party member as a blood sacrifice to Malloc the Dark Creeper, Mason felt very comfortable asking for a few minutes to think the decision over while he dragged the thief to safety.  At this point the rest of the party had run back down the hallway to another chamber, quivering in fear that another tentacle root would appear.  There was some discussion as to whether or not one of The Free Company's other members [the remaining 0-level characters] would be sacrificed to Malloc, but everyone hoped that they could find another sacrifice somewhere in the chambers.  

The Free Company continued their search, discovering several interesting chambers in Madazkan's Dungeon:

  • The very next doorway actually led to the dungeon's exit.  A trapdoor in the ceiling of a long stone hallway revealed a ladder leading to the surface outside of the arena.  Mason considered climbing up, but got the feeling that Malloc would disapprove.

  • Another hallway to the east of the "Singular Taste" room led The Free Company to a skeleton wearing a golden medallion.  "Gold!" screamed Bellows, but when he reached the skeleton there was a partial cave collapse.  He took some damage, but survived with an amulet depicting Malloc.  

  • To the west of the central chambers the party discovered a strange altar with ten clay vases.  Smashing open several of the vase the characters released single electrum pieces one by one [each worth 10 gold pieces].  Pushing their luck, one of the vases exploded in a noxious gas.  Rather than risk any further damage, The Free Company stashed two of the vases.

  • Everyone loves singing slimes!  South of the "Press Your Luck" room was a dungeon bathhouse, featuring several tubs for washing, a few pits for crapping, and a well crafted chest with Malloc's symbol on the outside.  Covering the walls of this chamber were thousands of tiny purple slimes, each one singing a song of praise and worship.  The Free Company tossed two of their remaining vases into the room, unleashing a horrific poison that killed off all of the little slimes, but caused two large purple slimes (singing, but with much deeper voices) to reveal themselves.  A combination of Watson's Choking Cloud and Mason's Sleep spells took one of the slimes out of action, while Nicodemus bashed the remaining one with a flask of oil [he had asked Cedric the lying skull to pass him a sword, but was instead given the bottle.]  

Four passages, and still no blood for Malloc.  The Dark Creeper was growing impatient, and Mason started to fear for his own life.  There was just one chamber remaining in Madazkan's Dungeon, located behind the large archway on the southern wall of the prison cell room.  

Passing through the archway, The Free Company came to a great underground pond filled with thousands of tiny glowing crayfish and a twenty-foot long mutant catfish...

... wait...

... yeah, I read that right.

In the middle of the pond the party saw a small island covered with loot, but getting there required swimming through twenty-foot long mutant catfish infested waters.  Mason approached the edge of the pond, and dipped a pole in the water.  From out of the depths, the great catfish [let's call him "Whiskers" since that's his name] jumped up and took a bite out of the elf's shoulder.  

For most adventuring companies, the scene of an orca-sized catfish chomping down on, but not killing, a fellow party member would end the encounter.  But not The Free Company!  They decided to strap a bunch of chains to Mason and use him as bait, with the hopes that they could all get attacks off on the catfish.  Once dead, they could drag it's bloated body back to Malloc and quench the Dark Creeper's thirst for blood.

Let's just say now that the plan worked, and only caused the party 20% casualties.

Twice the party goaded the creature into jumping at Mason, and each time they nailed the beast with spears and swords.  But on the second "fishing attempt" Whiskers succeeded in getting all of Mason in its mouth before dying.  By the time the party made it to the elf, pulling on his legs, all they got were legs.  The rest of the now dead elf was inside the great catfish.

With not a moment to waste, the four remaining members of the adventuring party dragged the catfish (and Mason's body) back to Malloc, flopping the two right in front of the strange entity.  The stone tree statue consumed the blood of the catfish, and pulled Mason's legs into its circular mouth, chewing until satisfied.

"Do you seek the blessing of Malloc?" the Dark Creeper asked.

It seemed like a loaded question.  

Ramson backed away, fearing that he could anger Igneous the Stoic [wise choice, +Michael K!] but everyone else stood their ground.  Watson requested the golden chalice, and was given permission to approach and grab the cup.  Nicodemus and Bellows both wanted that "blessing", and each was given a boon granting improvements to their core attributes at a minor cost.  Nicodemus grew a tree-shaped mark on his face and Bellows would never be able to cause harm to a tree again.  

Biding Malloc adieu, the party returned to the island and grabbed the remaining swag before collecting their commoner allies.  The portal to the surface was located just a few hundred feet from the Sending Stone that teleported The Free Company back to the entrance of the Sunken City.

Die Rodney!


"I say it's foul sorcery!" - Ramson is not a fan of foul sorcery.  

"I've always pronounced it with the long 'a'." - Marc pronounces Minotaur "MINE-o-taur".

"DIE RODNEY!" - Mason's war cry.

"There's some wicked lahge MINE-o-tars in heere." - Jim mocking poor Marc.

"We've got a compulsive liar, disembodied head... awesome." - Craig mocked Cedric's appearance in the adventure.  

"You know, I'm an elf, it's a tree, we can make that thing work out." - Andy's all about the upside.

"Given Andy's outfit, is this gonna give him Patron Bondage?" - Marc needling Andy's choice of armor outfitting.  

"So... I made a deal... with an evil tree... it's a nature spirit." - Mason to Nicodemus, trying to rationalize the whole situation.

Alex - "Can we make a fishing reel out of the chains?" 
Jim - "Sure."
Alex - "Well, I'm not smart enough to suggest that."

In Memoriam 

  • Mason - used as bait for Whiskers the Catfish

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