Sunday, March 20, 2016

DCCRPG World Tour 2016 - Sailors on the Starless Sea at Phantom of the Attic

DCC RPG Pittsburgh at Phantom of the Attic

A few weeks ago I met +Michael Bolam on the DCC Rocks Facebook Page.  He was creating a new Facebook group for DCC'ing in the Pittsburgh area, so naturally I joined.  When I saw that the next event was at Phantom of the Attic, a friendly local game store in Oakland (the university district of Pittsburgh), I wanted in.  I recently joined the Goodman Games Road Crew to run Dungeon Crawl Classics as part of the 2016 World Tour.  So I asked Michael if he'd like a second judge to come join him, and he was totally cool with the idea!  

I've been visiting Phantom of the Attic in Oakland since moving to Pittsburgh in December, 2000.  Whenever I get asked about our local FLGS's, this joint is the first I mention.  The location is right on Craig Street between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.  

I get nostalgic just thinking about the store!

Right when you enter Phantom, you are greeted by a friendly staff, and the awesome gaming glory hits your eyes.  There is a hoard of dice on your right, and a crazy-huge expanse of games to your left.  Along the side wall is a phenomenal selection of gently used role-playing game books, which is what first led me to Phantom in 2000.  Back when I was a broke college gamer, I needed to save as much cash as I could.  I could always count on Phantom to have adventures for a gamer on a budget.  My budget may be a bit higher than in those old days, but I still had to go through all of the "New Arrivals" in the used bins.  

John, Gina, James (me!), Joe, and Jon

After setting up the tables, Michael split up all of the gamers who showed up to play Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Using 20-siders, the four lucky players who rolled highest got to come play at my table.


I'm always nervous before running an adventure, even with a familiar system, and especially when it's all new players.  

For our adventure, both Michael and I showed up to run Sailors on the Starless Sea by Harley Stroh.  My table included two experienced DCC veterans who've played with Michael before (Gina and John) as well as a pair of newcomers to this wonderful game (Joe and Jon).  For a twist, rather than just handing out standard 0-level characters generated by the Purple Sorcerer, I gave each player one character from the Purple Planet generator.

So, in addition to our farmers, wizard's apprentices, and ditch diggers, we had a Spartan Wrestler, a French Anarchist, an Earthling Future Man, and a Sci-Fi Movie Extra (with a Godzilla costume!)  

Highlight Reel

Since I've already featured Sailors on the Starless Sea three times on Living 4 Crits (That 70's Game, Disney Crawl Classics, Cypher Crawl Classics), I didn't plan on writing out a full adventure summary for this event.  But I still have to share some of the highlights of our fantastic quest!  

  • While exploring a coffin-like structure buried beneath a flagstone, Java the Wizard's Apprentice got dragged into a creepy egg by a bunch of... egg-hair... and then fell into the skeleton of a long-dead creature in the coffin.  This whole amalgamation of grossness would become a cocoon.

  • This was the first time running Sailors on the Starless Sea where the characters entered the frozen ice room with the great hide armor and battleaxe made of meteoric iron.  I ended up making the room 50' across, which I now realize is far too big, but the players overcame this challenge by curling.  They used Griffle the Halfling as a curling stone, and just tossed him into the room.  

  • Later, in the Frozen room (let it go!), the party realized that no one was quite strong enough to lift the axe.  Figuring that he was the strongest, Micah grabbed the handle, and started communicating with the axe.  The axe informed Micah that he could be made stronger, to which the ditch digger agreed.  I gave Micah two more points of Strength (bringing him to a 16), but subtracted a d6 from both his Personality and Luck.  But he was uber buff afterwards!

  • Another first for me was the inclusion of Sezrekan's Ring!  This magic item is located beneath the pool in the mosaic room, and is hard to find.  In our game, it was terribly unlucky!  Rip the Earthling Future Man drowned while diving down the tunnel, but still had the ring clutched in his hands when his body was recovered.  Rowan, the next "ringbearer" was dragged overboard by a the Leviathan's tentacle, although Micah gladly cut off his hand so that the party could save the ring.  The ring would end up in Francis' hands in the end, leading up to a Spellburn of Epic Proportions!

  • EYEBALLS!  I ad libbed this on the fly.  Evo the Cheesemaker tried cutting open Java's cocoon, and I decided to hose down Joe's character with some caustic juices.  I declared that the three damage he took was transferred to this eyeball that grew into his hand.  [Spoiler Alert: I got the idea from an old 80's movie called The Gate.  Go watch it when you get a chance.]  When Evo later died, I said that the eye took over, and inflated into a great balloon sized eyeball that started dragging around the Evo-body.  This became a combat, and Joe played the Evo Eyeball Thing. 

  • Speaking of eyeballs... during the battle with Evo's eye, Francis shoved a bucket on the eye's "head" (really just a part of the big eyeball).  Later, Madeline used this bucket to melt some cheese and creating a healing fondue for the party.  I said that some of the eyeball juices were left in the bucket, and four of the other characters gained their own eyeballs (which they all destroyed, causing permanent damage to their characters.)

  • The finale battle was an amazing masterpiece of creative playing and DCC awesomeness!  John and Gina worked out this crazy spellburning moment where Francis burned 18 points of stats to destroy seven of the beastman cultists including the shaman.  Then, Francis was able to Patron Bond with the new Java-Skeleton that hatched from the cocoon, who in turn created a storm of bones to kill more beastmen. Finally, in an incredible last stand, Phoenix the Sci-Fi Movie Extra donned her Godzilla Costume, drew her movie prop weapon (a blaster), and rendered the final blow on the burning effigy demon-thing that had come out of the beastman ritual.  


I'm really looking forward to returning to Phantom of the Attic as part of the DCCRPG World Tour 2016!  Stay tuned, as we're already looking for dates in April!  

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