Saturday, July 8, 2017

Family Game Knights - Attack of the Frawgs, Part 2

Exploring the Chained Coffin

Welcome to Family Game Knights, our regular tour through of the Shudder Mountains and  The Chained Coffin box set.  

For those uninitiated with the Chained Coffin, creative lead +Michael Curtis and the rest of the Goodman Games crew have created a wonderful and vibrant fantasy campaign setting based on Appalachian myth and legend.  During this journey, we'll be dipping into all of the adventures written specifically for the Shudder Mountains, as well as tossing in a few other favorites as well, thus turning this into a fantastic, ongoing campaign!  Special thanks to the DCCRPG G+ community for so many wonderful adventure suggestions.  

Here are our previously yarns:

The Adventuring Party

  • Jen
    • Wize Wizard McBride - Cleric
  • Evie
    • Jeffff - Warrior (she plans to add another "f" after each gained level)
  • Carrie
    • P. Specs - Thief
    • Andy
      • Waldon, Friend of the Frawgs - Thief
    • Jeremy
      • Sir Huey, Keeper of the Sacred Door - Warrior
    • Emily
      • Farwyn - Elf

    Attack of the Frawgs, Part Two

    [Judge's Note:  For our second session of +Stephen Newton's Attack of the Frawgs, I made a modification to the background story on the fly.  The original adventure refers to a froggie deity known as Truloq as being the dark god of the Frawgs, but I changed this a bit.  I wanted to inject some Patron coolness into the game, so I made the entity Bobugbubilz from the DCC rulebook.  Easy swap!]

    At the conclusion of our last event, the party was about halfway through their quest to uncover the dark, amphibian evils plaguing Dead Goblin Lake.  Making their way counterclockwise around the lake, their next encounter occurred right at the edge of the water.  A pair of giant crabs were having a quick lunch of dead, waterlogged human.  


    The party peppered the giant crabs with arrows, quickly killing them.  Easy enough.  I should also mention that the crabs exploded when they were killed.  


    The Wize Wizard McBride was pretty interested in what was on the corpse so she sent her own corpse (as in, Brock the Tomb Ghoul) to play fetch.  But as soon as Brock entered the water, five more crabs appeared, and started devouring the poor ghoul.  The rest of the party resumed their archery practice, but the Wize Wizard McBride didn't want to lose his undead friend.  The Cleric charged into the water to help Brock, but the two just ended up getting pinched.  If the crab snips weren't bad enough, the fact that each of the crabs exploded upon death didn't help.  

    The Wize Wizard McBride was able to survive the encounter.  Brock didn't.  All the Cleric was able to salvage of his friend was the head and torso.  The crabs had eaten the rest.  The rest of the party defeated the crabs while the Wize Wizard McBride debated summoning Cthulhu to aid in restoring Brock.  

    [Judge's Note:  Fans of the original Attack of the Frawgs won't remember exploding crabs.  The original adventure was written as a 0-level funnel, and at this point in our campaign we have a few 2nd level characters while the rest are 1st level.  So I added a few challenges.  For the Giant Crabs I gave them an AC boost to 14 (instead of 12), and added 5 more lurking beneath the water (for a total of 7.)  Also, when a crab died, I'd inflict 1d3 damage upon all characters locked up in melee with the defeated crustacean.  This minor modification sure kept a lot of the party at bay, desperate to avoid hand-to-hand combat.  Fun!]

    Sadly, the dead corpse didn't seem to have enough swag to make the entire battle worth fighting.  A sling, a beaver pelt, and a dagger...

    ... wait... a dagger!?!  That's exactly what Waldon was missing, after losing his!  So maybe the battle was worth it?

    Continuing to the northern edge of the lake, the party came upon some infected, mucous covered waters with a dead body floating in the middle.  Waldon grabbed some rope and fished for the corpse of what they would discover to be a frog-humanoid ...

    ... a FRAWG!

    The Frawg was easily the size of a human, and in its satchel was a fishbone artifact, similar to the one they found in the brewery earlier in the day.  While searching around the scummy waters, the party was attacked by a living Frawg scout, but it was dispatched quickly.  

    So many Frawgz!

    It was about this time that Waldon decided to play with the fish bone.  Doing so, he made contact with an entity from the "other side."  

    "Ribbit," the entity said.
    "Ribbit, ribbit," Waldon replied.

    With that exchange the two became connected somehow, and Waldon agreed to aid the entity and swear allegiance and fealty to Bobugbubilz, the amphibi-demon.  As a gift, Bobugbulbilz gave Waldon the power to invoke some frog magic, specifically a spell that would let him take on frog traits.  

    Eventually the team came to a dead end along the lake path... a waterfall.  Using his stealthy skills, Waldon crept behind the water, and found more Frawgs.  But instead of making a sneak attack or getting the rest of the party and charging in for froggy blood, Waldon made the decision to call upon his new patron magic... and gain some frog legs.  

    As soon as the Frawg noticed Waldon's amphibian traits, he felt a kinship and the two started to chat.  Turns out that the Frawgs really just wanted to be left alone to transform Dead Goblin Lake into a scummy, mucous-covered, infection-laden breeding pool for more of Frawg-kind.  That's it.  They didn't want the humans there, but that's only because humans are so terrible, and don't take care of nature.  The Frawg introduced Waldon to the rest of the family: the Frawg Queen and a few of their siblings.  

    That's when the Frawg made a deal with Waldon: chase off the adventurers trying to kill the Frawgs, and they would give him a Periapt of Bobugbubilz and make him a "Friend of the Frawgs."  


    So Waldon went outside and made a big production of scaring off the rest of his adventuring party (who was already in on the deal.)  When he returned to the Frawgs, he was given the periapt, the title of "Friend of the Frawgs," and a Frawg egg to raise on his own.  

    [Judge's Note:  We need to get Andy a frog puppet.]

    The humans who had originally asked the party for help were pretty upset that their lost friends were already dead, and that the amphibious monsters were not able to be defeated. Sadly, they all picked up and left for another part of the Shudder Mountains to call home.  


    [Judge's Note:  I'm thrilled that the party found an alternate means to complete an adventure, rather than just combat.  That last scene with the Frawgs could've been a pretty cool battle, but instead the party (well, Waldon at least) gained a new source of allies, and possibly an interesting companion in the Frawg egg.]

    So, with Attack of the Frawgs wrapped up, we have some important questions to answer!

    • What will hatch out of Waldon's new egg?
    • Will the Wize Wizard McBride be able to restore unlife to poor Brock the Tomb Ghoul?
    • Will Jeffff earn another "f" on his name soon?
    • And most importantly, what should be our next adventure!?!

    A Fine Selection of Quotes from the Table

    "We should be eating the crabs, the crabs shouldn't be eating us." - Emily had a point.

    "Hey Siri, can Ghouls die?" - Carrie wanted to help her grieving mother out.

    "You defilers of the pond!  I will smite you with the power of Bobugbubilz." - Waldon chases off the PC's.  

    Campaign Crematorium

    • Brock the Tomb Ghoul, destroyed by Giant Exploding Crabs.  What a sad moment during the game! 

    Sunday, July 2, 2017

    DCCRPG - Lair of the Mist Men, Part Two

    A Long and Sunken Road

    We did it!  

    It took eleven players fifteen sessions over sixteen months, but last night we completed our journey through the four adventures contained within +Jon Marr's Sunken City Omnibus:  

    Before I dig into our play report, let's take a look at some of my comments from way back in February, 2016 after we had just completed our very first Great SCOT adventure.  

    "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."

    This certainly remains true through this day, although I've done a pretty good job of carving my way through all of these wonderful adventure modules.  Along with the monthly Great Sunken City Omnibus Tour, I've also got the Family Game Knights cutting through a complete Shudder Mountains campaign.  Then I've got the one-shots with the Norwin Game Knights, the DCC Road Crew Events at Phantom of the Attic, Gary Con, and Gen Con.   

    But even with all this gaming, my RoAA still far exceeds my RoAC!  I totally blame the stunning quality of all the Goodman Games and third party publisher adventures on the market.  

    "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."

    Perils of the Sunken City was our initial 0-level funnel, and took us two sessions.  Then we hit the Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, transforming our campaign into an open, castle real-estate infused, seven session sandbox.  By A Gathering of the Marked we needed some fresh meat, so I ran the adventure as another 0-level funnel to refresh our characters stockpile.

    Admittedly, I was a bit hesitant.  Between Ssof, Nicodemus, Watson, Imric, and Razoul, I feared that the new characters wouldn't be able to fit well into the story, and would just be bland additions.

    How wrong I was!

    From A Gathering of the Marked we got Lil Hammy the Pig Paladin, the ever-smelling Gastronomix, "Screaming" Otto, a worm infused Wayne, and the majestic Floyd Pink.  All these characters were just as memorable and awesome as the original members of THE Free Company.

    I was also wrong on my estimate for number of adventures we'd take, but I don't think I was too crazy in my expectations.  We probably ran four sessions heavy on The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk just because we were having so much fun.  In addition, I inserted an adventure titled Return to Slither's End to allow the players some time to role-play their down time at home base.

    "Unlike other campaigns that I've run, for the Great SCOT I'm not asking for any real commitment from the players." 

    This was the part that I struggled with the most when kicking off the Great SCOT.  With a long and protracted monthly campaign, it only makes sense that some players could lose interest and want to move on to other things.  Or maybe they just have time for a few sessions.  But up to this point I was so used to regular campaigns including a set number of players, and those players staying in the game for the entirety of the campaign's lifecycle...

    ... or so I thought.

    Designing a campaign with an accepted mechanism for player churn actually made it easier for those moments when someone decided to take a break.  Not that there was that much churn.  Four of our original six players (Marc, Andy, Craig, and Alex) made it all the way through the campaign from start to finish, only missing a game here or there.  Paul joined the group early within the Ooze Pits.  It was the sixth seat that ended up rotating the most, eventually getting filled for the last third of the campaign by a tremendous gamer from way down south in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jonata.  

    Thank you guys for a truly wonderful experience.  I've never felt so free creatively in a role-playing game campaign, and you have all made me a better game master.  I've learned that the tiniest, magic pig statue can still become the greatest paladin in the land.  I've learned that I should always be prepared for real-estate to rear it's ugly head, especially if the PC's dethrone a bandit lord.  I've learned that the best magic missiles are actually screaming eagles...

    ... seriously, how awesome is it that everyone screeches whenever Craig says that he's casting Magic Missile?

    Together I think we've all earned master's degrees from the Alex Perucchini School of Chaotic Gaming Excellence!

    What's next for The Free Company?

    Last night I made an offer to the group for a second campaign, with an opening plot that blends the best elements of the video game Chrono Trigger and the movie Highlander 2: The Quickening. 

    So if you've enjoyed reading our tales thus far, you need to emotionally prepare yourself for Act 2, as THE Free Company is Banished to the Purple Planet!

    Follow this psychic portal to get your very own copy of +Harley Stroh's incredible Peril on the Purple Planet boxed set!

    The Great SCOT Continues

    The Free Company, our adventuring party happily enjoying the Great Sunken City Omnibus Tour, completed Perils of the Sunken City and last month moved onto the The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk.  If you're interesting in starting this story from the beginning, here are the previous tales:

    This is an open door campaign, so we can always have new players join our group.  Here are our only rules from game to game:
    • 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

    As always, Die Rodney!

    The Free Company Roster 

    Lair of the Mist Men, Part Two

    After a night of tax collecting and heavy drinking, Nicodemus wakes up and realizes that the rest of The Free Company is gone.  So he crawls out of bed, and takes a stroll into the middle of Slither's End.  He's soon greeted by Watson, who informs the thief that the rest of the party is back at the sacred rock of Korik's Heart, and they need a thief.  The two head south, to connect with the rest of the party.

    Along the way they pass Mingus, who originally led The Free Company to Korik's Heart.  For a moment Nicodemus thinks he can hear the voice of Cedric, but then it's gone.  Strange.

    Once at Korik's Heart, Nicodemus and Watson find a sign staked into the ground near the path. 

    "Mist Men this way, come and get 'em." 

    From the handwriting and the smell of fresh pork, it is obvious that Lil Hammy was the scribe.

    So the thief and wizard climb up the trail, discovering along the way the bodies of the Mist Men killed by their fellow adventurers.  Eventually they get to an open and activated portal leading into Korik's Heart, so the two dive in head first.  After a few hops, they are in the experimentation room with Floyd Pink, Lil Hammy, Imric, and Screaming Otto.  Also in the room are newcomers to The Free Company: Saynan, Rikard, and Ralph.

    Saynan is not in the best state, as he has a chicken head growing out of his shoulder and is much older than he was just a few moments earlier.  A test subject of the Mist Men, Saynan was once a young local villager.  But a few moments earlier, the Mist Men infused Saynan with the essence of both a live chicken and an old man.  

    "This is bock... bock... bock... bock... bullshit!" squawked Saynan.  

    But Lil Hammy thinks he can do something to help the poor villager.  The Paladin approaches the man, and calls upon the mighty power of the Blue Fairy, the blessed deity that granted life to what was once just a pig statue.  After a few prayers, Saynan starts to get younger and the chicken head retracts.


    But a moment later Saynan begins to moan and wail.  The pain is unbearable.  The rest of the party then looks on in horror as Saynan enters a birthing position and naturally delivers a really old chicken through some kind of horrific magical means.  

    With a look of relief, Saynan stands back up.  "I'm not gonna lie... that beak hurt like hell." 

    The Free Company grabs the chicken, and takes the green portal to the south into another chamber.  This next chamber appears to be mostly storage.  There is some strange swag in several boxes, but the most bizarre, perhaps, is a giant mahogany foot the size of a cow.  Unfortunately this wasn't something that the team could carry with them for trade.  

    Another of the crates stores a bizarre book filled with occult rituals in an unknown language. Saynan, declaring himself a Wizard, grabs the book and begins to read.  A purple portal opens beneath Saynan's feet, and another above his head.  With a whoosh the once chicken-infested villager is sucked into the portal!  Rikard tries to help the man by fishing him out with a grappling hook, but he too is swallowed up.  The party considers both to be dead.

    Two green doors exit the store room, but there is also a red door.  Imric tries to engage the red door, but instead of an inviting green and bright portal, a black-light gateway appears.  Nicodemus takes a look at the door, and puts his arm in.  When it feels okay, he starts to put the rest of his arm in, but suddenly feels a tingle.  The thief retracts his body, only to find that his arm is missing!  But strangely he still feels the limb.  He feels it moving around on a hot and sandy surface.  He feels some strong, scaly hands touch the skin.  Nicodemus then feels the arm getting tossed into a leather sack.  

    The party bickers for a few moments on whether or not they are all going to go in after the arm, but they decide it's a lost cause.  

    The Free Company leaves the store room by way of the southern gate, ending up in a great room dominated by a glowing, starry orb.  The orb fills most of the room, but there are two portals exiting, one to the north and another to the south.  Floyd Pink and Nicodemus try moving along the edge of the room towards the southern portal, but the giant orb then moves towards them both.  The sphere makes contact with Nicodemus, sucking him in.

    Seriously, it ain't Nicodemus' day.

    With Floyd Pink successfully making his way to the southern portal, it's on the rest of the team to fish Nicodemus out of the sphere, which they do by chucking him a crowbar tied off to a rope.  The rest of the team then moves south, with Ralph serving as the sphere's next victim.  

    Something happens to Ralph while in the sphere, though.  The time inside the starry globe seems to warp his mind, and when he's rescued, he no longer refers to himself as "Ralph," but instead "StarRider." 

    He'll fit right in.  

    Moving through the southern portal, the party finds themselves in a very small chamber, with a serious distinction: one of the portals exiting this chamber is actually broken, revealing a stone corridor on the other side of a great crack.  Nicodemus and Floyd Pink carefully travel down the tunnel until they come to a humming and well lit chamber.  A large, purple, triangular power source of some kind dominates one side of the chamber.  A long cable runs from this power source all the way to a great, triangular portal.  Six humanoids, each wearing an armored uniform with a triangle carved into the mail, perform actions around the devices.  

    Nicodemus looks at the portal, and sees a beautiful vista on the opposite side.  He carefully sneaks up to the cable, and starts to cut through.  This immediately screw up the connection with the portal device, and various images start to intermittently flash on the screen, with an old, television-like "snow" appearing every few moments as well.  

    One of the vistas is a nightmarish hellscape, where a demon is fondling a detached arm giving the beast the finger!

    Before Nicodemus can react, however, the Triangle Men teleport from the southern end of the chamber, appearing right in front of The Free Company.  

    The ensuing battle is quick but fierce.  The Triangle Men are expert duelists, each wielding a pair of light long-swords.  Watson summons some eagle-missiles blasting one apart, while the party's warriors and Nutbiter engage in melee.  Screaming Otto, tough as he is, has a terrible time dueling with the Triangle Men, and they tear him down nearly killing the warrior!  

    While Lil Hammy heals his fellow teammate, StarRider color spray's several of the Triangle Men, blinding two and knocking one unconscious.  The Triangle Men, not being stupid, retreat through teleportation.  

    With the battle over, Nicodemus returns to the cable, but sees that it has been strangely restored.  The thief looks over, and sees the red robed leader of the Triangle Men offering a sign of truce.  Calling himself the "Seeker," the red robed humanoid states that he and his team are no match for The Free Company.  They agree to leave everyone in peace so long as they are allowed to travel back through the portal.  They state that once the cable is severed, it will disable all of the portals in the structure, leaving just an exit into Korik's Heart and back to the world.

    When Nicodemus mentions that he saw his disembodied arm in the portal view screen, the Seeker offers to give him a punch card that would allow the thief to program the portal to take him to that locale.  Nicodemus agrees, as does the rest of the party.  The Seeker creates the portal, and then he and his remaining Triangle Men flee back to their own world.

    Nicodemus puts the punch card into the portal, revealing the same nightmare he saw earlier.  Somehow his arm had ended up in Hell itself!  Looking out onto the blasted, red wastes, Nicodemus squints and sees that a terrible hyena-lizard demon is preparing to devour the arm, placing it atop a pile of other spoils.  Floyd Pink comes up with a great idea.

    The warrior walks Nicodemus through the necessary steps, and the thief then concentrates on his arm.  Finger by finger, the arm sneaks away from the pile and the demon, and towards the portal.  Eventually the demon sees what was going on and he runs after the arm.  But he is too late!  Just before the demon makes it to the arm and the portal, Nicodemus reaches through and grabs his arm back.  With a juicy slurp, it reattaches itself to the thief.  

    The party then destroys the cable to the power source, forever disabling the triangle gateway!

    The Free Company spends a few moments collecting dropped gear from the Triangle Men before heading out through the crack.  But the world they step into doesn't seem to be the one they left behind.  

    Instead of a wild, swampy vista surrounding Korik's Heart, there is a large town full of odd, steam-powered machines.  The party descends down the trail, and finds a small, farm boy who screams in fear for his father.  The father, noticing the visitors calls for the guard, who approach The Free Company in a six-wheeled, horseless carriage.  

    The guards, all adorned with skull-armor, cautiously inform the party that they are in the village of Elocktadia.  

    "Where is the Sunken City?" Floyd Pink asks.

    "He raised it, long, long ago," the lead guard announced.  

    The guard invites the party into the wagon, taking them back through town and towards a much larger city to the north.  After an hour's drive, The Free Company is taken into a small circular building at the edge of the much larger town.  They are given food and drink, and cots and couches to rest upon.  But as soon as they start to partake in the delicacies, a strong gas fills the room.  Floyd and Watson are able to resist the gas, and stay awake to see a great glass panel open on one side of the room.

    A robed figure with a silver mask greets the party.  He makes mention of knowing the party members, especially Watson.  Watson demands the name of the man, and the figure removes his mask.  A bone white skull gazes upon the members of The Free Company.

    It is Cedric!  

    Cedric welcomes the party to their new world... a world dominated by the God Emperor Razoul.  In this new world, Cedric is a grand Knight and right hand of the God Emperor himself.  

    How did this happen?

    Where is the rest of The Free Company?

    What will the God Emperor do with his former companions?

    All shall be revealed in Banished to the Purple Planet!


      "So we're starting to have a bit of a menagerie with Nutbiter and the piggie over there." - Nicodemus takes a look around, seeing how The Free Company's standards had dropped over the last few months.

      Judge James - "There's a live, old chicken lying on the ground."
      Paul - "Looks like another zero level to me."

      "Hey Nicodemus... do you need a hand?" - Floyd to Nicodemus, after the thief lost his arm in the red door.

      "You may have to feel your arm being eaten by somebody." - Marc to Alex.  What a terrifying prospect!

      "If you find an arm, it's mine!" - Nicodemus looking through some treasure.  

      Marc - "Someone get that man some bacon."
      Andy - "I hate you all so much right now."

      "This happened when you broke the HBO!" - Jonata, after the Triangle Men attack following Nicodemus' attempt at destroying the triangle portal's connection with it's power source.  

      The Seeker - "I, in good faith, will put down my weapon."
      Alex - "I, in good faith, will not."

      In Memoriam 

      • Saynan - Sucked through a purple-lit portal 
      • Rikard - Sucked through a purple-lit portal 

      Saturday, July 1, 2017

      The Mousehouse Meet

      There were three things I wanted to accomplish at this month's Norwin Game Knights event:

      1. Run a Dungeon Crawl Classics Road Crew adventure for two new players who expressed interest at our last event (along with a few others.)  
      2. Try out DCC Lankhmar's Fleeting Luck mechanic for the first time.
      3. Use my brand new and freshly painted Reaper Mouseling Miniatures.

      To pull off all three of these in one sitting?  That would be epic!  

      So I grabbed The Madhouse Meet, a 1st level DCC Lankhmar adventure by +Michael Curtis first featured in Goodman Games' Free RPG 2016 promotion.  I flipped through the module, and took a few notes.  I could easily transfer the adventure to the Mouse Guard universe as a way to playtest Dead Mice, my new DCC Mouse Guard conversion!

      The great thing about The Madhouse Meet is that it's super adaptable to any fantasy setting.  There were only a few changes that I needed to make in order to set the Lankhmar-based adventure the Mouse Territories:
      • I set the adventure in the city of Barkstone, around the same time as the War of the Axe (Fall 1152.)
      • I created pre-gen 1st level guardmice using Dead Mice rules.  
        • Timmons the Thief, played by Sue
        • Matthias the Cleric, played by Bella
        • Trixter the Wizard, played by Michael
        • Owyn the Ranger, played by Andy
        • Quarless the Warrior, played by Ed
      • For backstory, I made all the PC's Tenderpaws, working alongside senior guardmouse Miles of Lockhaven.  Miles had brought the PC's to Barkstone to investigate rumors of an ominous and dark order of mice known as "The Axe."  
      • Miles stated to the PC's that he would have to make contact with an associate named "Kenzie," and instructed the PC's to wait for him in a local tavern.  
      • While waiting for Miles to return, the PC's fall unconscious and wake up in the dungeon of The Madhouse Meet.  

      It was at this point that I had to make a few additional modifications, to both the adventure and the Mouse Guard universe:
      • I brought in a troupe of evil rats, led by a Rat-Mage named Tullius.  Rats aren't really in the Mouse Guard comics, so this was something new to the setting.
      • Tullius had promised to aid Shadow, leader of The Axe, in return for mice who wouldn't be missed: Mouse Guard tenderpaws.  Since the life of a tenderpaw can be quick and dangerous, it isn't uncommon for them to fall to the risks of their missions.
      • Tullius' reason for gathering the mice was to feed their energy to a Patron Fairy that he recently discovered, in return for powerful magic.  Each captured mouse was to be force-fed sugary food and drink (in order to make them sweeter for the fell fairy), and branded with a mark that would make them more submissive to Fairy Magic in general.
      • All the "guards" in the adventure were rats working for Tullius.  I used Mordheim Skaven for the rats.
      • Little did the PC's know that Miles was a traitor!  He had been paid to provide the PC's to Tullius.
      • For this particular adventure, I had to carve out a few parts of the adventure since we only had a couple hours to play.  But all-in-all it worked out.

        Thanks to the Purple Sorcerer Demon generator, I was able to craft a Fairy quickly...

        ... did I mention that Fairy's in my Mouse Guard inspired Dead Mice universe are just teeny-tiny demons?  No?  Well they are.  
        • Bowie the Fairy (yes, like David Bowie):  Init +1; Atk Sword +5 melee (1d8 dmg) and Claw +5 melee (1d6 dmg); AC 14; HD 3d12 (16 hp); MV 30' on foot, 40' fly; SP Branded Mice must make a DC 12 Will Save once coming into Bowie's presence, or they cannot attack him.  They may make a new save each round to shake off this effect.  SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C 
          • Demon Traits
            • Communication: Speech (Fairy, Common)
            • Abilities: Infravision
            • Immunities:  Half Damage from non-magical weapons
            • Projection:  Cannot travel planes of own volition
            • Critical Threat Range: 20

        I used a KenzerCo Fairy Meat miniatures for Bowie, painted way back in 2003, just before I gave up miniature painting for having children.  

        I was pretty pleased to get the chance to showcase some of my old miniatures alongside my new ones.  I know that a lot of folks prefer to play DCC with a theater of the mind style during combat, and that's typically how I play.  But every once in a while, I like to show off the figures of my collection, and this was a great opportunity to do so.  

        Also, I need to share that the Fleeting Luck mechanic is AWESOME!

        Saturday, June 24, 2017

        The Dolphinquisition - An MCCRPG Archaic Alignment

        Click here for suggested music to listen to while reading this post

        Nothing's Free in Oceanworld

        That was the title of last night's special Mutant Crawl Classics adventure I ran for charity. Earlier in June, I set out to run an online role-playing game session through the Lawful Good Gaming organization that would benefit Ocean Conservancy. So put out a call for players interested in an MCCRPG 0-level funnel with an aquatic theme, the price of admission being proof of donation.

        I pitched the adventure as follows:

        "Imagine if Waterworld and SeaQuest DSV had a baby, and then took that baby on an a vacation to Disney World... that's the direction I'm going for in this Mutant Crawl Classics 0-level funnel that I'll be running on behalf of Lawful Good Gaming. To celebrate Season Two: Guardians of Nature, I'm going for an "ecological post-apocalypse", with players desperate to make names for themselves on an endless sea."

        A few months ago I wrote a series of "sunken theme-park" encounters for Mutant Crawl Classics titled: A Great Big Nuclear Tomorrow. I ran the adventure for my mom and kids while on our Disney World vacation, but only managed to get through a few of the encounters. 

        If you go and read the encounters, you'll see that there's a lot of room to insert your own plot hooks and reasons for PC's to be exploring a shallow sea above a sunken theme park. The entire premise was pretty basic: a hex-crawl on the high seas. For Nothing's Free in Oceanworld I decided to actually throw together two, legendary, classic sci-fi universes from the 1990's: Waterworld and SeaQuest DSV

        At the core of this adventure was a brand new Archaic Alignment that I thought I'd post right here on Living 4 Crits...

        The Dolphinquisition

        Many seafaring vessels survived the Great Disaster, the most notable being the gargantuan SeaQuest DSV. Known in a prior age for being a great exploratory vehicle that would come to the aid of those needing it most, what is lost to history is that the SeaQuest and it's crew did their best to try and halt the Great Disaster. They failed. Battered and nearly broken, the SeaQuest sailed into open waters for what was thought to be one last time, with only two surviving crew members: Lucas Wolenczak (played by the late Jonathan Brandis), and Darwin the talking dolphin.

        In those early days after the Great Disaster, the intense radiation did strange things to many of the Earth's inhabitants. For Darwin, who had just happened to swim through a pool of intense radiation during his last mission attempting to save the world, it turned him into a super-genius. Darwin believed in the mission of the SeaQuest, and believed that it was up to him (and Lucas) of course, to change the world... but he'd need to repair the SeaQuest.

        Unfortunately, it's pretty hard for a dolphin to do much heavy lifting because... well... flippers.  So Darwin needed more crew. But each time he took the SeaQuest to port, he only found death. After a few years, Darwin realized that there was only one way to get the crew he needed.

        He'd have to clone Lucas Wolenczak.  

        Darwin's intense psionic ability allowed him to gain control of his former friend, and force him to create the first "Lucas Wolenczak Birthing Bay" on board the SeaQuest. Eventually, Darwin had enough Lucas Wolenczak crewmen to make the SeaQuest seaworthy, with huge masts of steel and plastic, and sails of fish skin. It should be noted that by "eventually," we mean several hundred years. During this time hundreds of Lucas Walenczak clones were birthed, lived, toiled, and died. 

        The process repeated itself, century over century, with Darwin and the SeaQuest traveling around Terra AD looking for technology to return his beloved submarine to its former glory. But it was never enough. He still couldn't find the right materials to make the most necessary repairs. The Lucas Walenczak's were helpful, but they weren't the right stock to do battle with the horrors of Terra AD. 

        If Darwin... or Darwinius, as he was now calling himself, was going to go on his grand crusade to rid the world of the ecological nightmares, he would need to gather other breeds of humanity. He would need to collect them, raise them, and train them to be great seekers of the technology necessary to fix the SeaQuest and to better serve the Dolphinquisition! 

        Qualifications: Membership in the Dolphinquisition is open to any pure strain human, mutant, manimal, or plantient who swears allegiance to Lord Darwinius the Dolphinquisitor, and promises to seek out the technologies necessary to better turn the SeaQuest DSV into what it once was.  

        There are three ways to gain this membership:
        • The easiest way to join the Dolphinquisition is through Dolphadoption.  This is when one of the Dolphinquisitor's DLW's (Dolphin-Lucas Walenczak hybrids... think Jonathan Brandis fused to an actual dolphin) finds a worthy candidate between the ages of 3 and 13. The Dolphadopted then grows up on the sailing SeaQuest, raised by male and female Lucas Walenczak clones and DLW's, and is taught how to hunt, fish, sail, and farm on one of the dozen "s--t tugs" towed behind the once great submersible.
        • The Dolphinquisitor is always looking for amazing discoveries from beneath the waves. Membership can be earned should a candidate gift a piece of technology to Lord Darwinius, in particular anything that can help transform the SeaQuest so that it can get back to reversing the Great Disaster.  
        • Finally, it is well known that the modern, evolved Lucas Walenczak clone no longer needs to be born within a birthing bay. Now all Lucas Walenczaks gestate within a host, and eventually push their way out of the host's abdominal cavity through the area just below the right rib. The process is surprisingly painless, but can be difficult to manage (because imagine giving birth to a full sized Jonathan Brandis through your side.) Initiates to the Dolphinquisition who have no gift of technology, can instead choose to host a new Lucas Walenczak. 

        Benefits:  All members of the Dolphinquisition are implanted with a special chip that allows them to speak and understand dolphin language. They also have access to the SeaQuest, it's resources, and all the food they can grow in the s--t tugs.  

        Secret Sign:  A series of dolphin squeaks and whistles that can be translated as "beneath the surface lies the future."  

        Wednesday, June 21, 2017

        Dead Mice - Mouse Guard Meets DCCRPG

        Mousy Musings

        Lately I've been reading David Petersen's Mouse Guard comics to my son Cooper during our bedtime routine.  In particular, these comics are a reward for when we can get him to cooperate with a bedtime earlier than 11:30pm.  It's the summer and we're terrible parents when it comes to bedtimes.  Heck, Monday night we were up almost until midnight playing our family game of Diablo 3.

        Don't judge.

        Anyway, re-reading Mouse Guard piqued my mouse-interest, so this past weekend I purchased eight Reaper Bones mouseling miniatures, intent on turning them into my first "from scratch" Frostgrave warband.  I started painting them on Sunday, and hope to have at least the first four finished by week's end.  If I could get Evie to cooperate, I'd love to see these things face off against my Fairy Meat warband.

        After holding the first two completed miniatures in my hand, the inevitable happened: I started dreaming about playing a Mouse Guard role-playing game.

        Burning Brain Hurt

        I have a strained relationship with the original Mouse Guard Role-Playing Game.  Based on the Burning Wheel system, I first picked it up after discovering the Mouse Guard comics back in 2010.  I quickly read through the rules, couldn't seem to make heads or mouse tails of them, and shelved the book for a later date when I'd have more time to devote to learning the chunky system.  A couple years later, when Carrie was eight years old, I thought I'd introduce Mouse Guard as a "family game" that we could all play together.  

        Again I tried learning the rules, and again the game didn't seem to make any sense.  

        I was so frustrated!  I loved the look and feel of the book, and all of the setting details that so lovingly fleshed out one of my favorite fantasy settings.  But I just couldn't figure out how to game master the system, or at least how to do so effectively.  

        The basic die mechanic seemed simple enough: roll a bunch of six-sided dice equal to the skill or ability your mouse, and count any 4's, 5's, or 6's as "successes."  If you roll a number of successes equal to or greater than the Obstacle rating of the challenge, you succeed in the task.  There are a few more quirks to the basic dice rolling mechanism, and different ways that the dice pool can be increased, whether through aid from teammates or drawing from other character aspects.

        I'd have the chance to play Mouse Guard a few times online with a fantastic game master who really knew the system, between 2013 and 2014.  I experienced a few bumps along the way with the rules, but I seemed to get the hang of the basics by the end of the first session.  But as much as I enjoyed "playing" the game, I couldn't wrap my head around all of the game mechanics controlling the back of the house, game mastery stuff.  For instance, I had a real hard time explaining the two distinct segments of the game session.

        For the first half of a session the game master is in control of the story, setting up conflicts.  I'm not the biggest fan of this "conflict" system, so Mouse Guard, Torchbearer, and Burning Wheel fans are free to correct me on this description.  Each conflict has a disposition (essentially hit points) determined by a few dice rolls prior to the engagement, and the PC's must work to reduce this pool while protecting their own.  In combat the disposition is quite literally the health of the party.  Out of combat it, it could represent the strength of an adversary's will or the expectations of a greedy merchant during haggling.  

        This was one of the places where I had trouble from the player's perspective.  Example: I was trying to roleplay my guardmouse stealing a rival's blue jay mount.  I made some kind of roll, I think I was trying to be stealthy, but only reduced the opponent's disposition by a point or two.  I was then asked to describe what happened.  

        "Uh... so I only stealthily made it half way to the blue jay?"  I could easily have described sneaking past the rival, or failing to do so.  But trying to come up with an example as to how I worked towards being stealthy, but didn't complete the task was a challenge for me.  I guess I prefer simpler dice outcomes:  you succeed or you die.  

        For the second half of the session, called the Player's Turn, the players take control and narrate as they regroup, gather resources, or improve their characters.  I'm pretty sure that this is supposed to take up around half of the game.  Sure, the PC's can go off and do some role-playing during this time, but they are limited in what they can do based on earning "checks" in the GM's portion of the game.  More checks mean more chances for a PC to perform during the Player's Turn.  

        This may come across as me being negative, and I want to assure those of my readers who are Mouse Guard or Burning Wheel fans that I'm not trying to beat up the system.  Clearly, Mouse Guard is more of a narrative story telling system, with mechanics designed to weave grand, cooperative yarns.  There's also a ton of player agency in the game, which a lot of folks really enjoy and I can totally appreciate that kind of gaming, even if it's not my style.  

        The Mouse Guard Role Playing Game system isn't for everyone, and for someone who's brain is now hard wired into Dungeon Crawl Classics, it can feel restrictive, as if the game gets in the way of itself.

        But given that I've gained some interest recently in enjoying the Mouse Guard universe from an RPG perspective, I went on a quest to find my perfect game system for exploring the Mouse Territories...

        ... it was a short quest...

        ... literally all I did was put down the Mouse Guard RPG book and pick up the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG book.  

        So forget about all those obstacles and starting dispositions, and prepare yourself for weird dice and critical hits.

        It's time to FURBURN!

        Dead Mice: DCCRPG Mouse Guard

        First off, to get the full experience of the Dead Mice conversion, you're going to need the following:

        • Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game:  This one is pretty obvious.  Seriously, if you don't have this book yet you need to reconsider your life choices.  
        • Mouse Guard Role Playing Game:  Granted, if you are a big fan of the series and don't have this book you can probably pull something off just from the comics.  But I'm making the assumption that you have either a 1st or 2nd edition printing of the Mouse Guard RPG.  I have the 1st Ed hardback and box set, so that's what I'll be using.  Even if you have a preference for other rulesets, there's a lot to love in this book, and I still believe it to be a necessary purchase for anyone trying to run this game.  I'll be making references later in this post, even to some of the mechanics.  
        • Crawl! Fanzine No. 6:  I like the idea of a Ranger class for this campaign, and this is where you can find them hiding in shadows.  Do you need it?  Well... no.  But I need it.  Okay, the Bard can come too.  


        Full disclosure: the Mouse Guard experience showcased here veers a bit off-course from the original works of David Petersen.  The enchantingly original Mouse Guard comic books featured heroic mouse adventurers struggling to survive against all odds of a natural world.  While some creatures, most notably the mice themselves, were civilized, natural wildlife were purely animalistic.  Predators were brutal, but only from a mouse's perspective.  The owl just wants to eat, but unfortunately, it wants to eat mouse.  

        The main fantasy element was just that the mice had achieved medieval/renaissance level technology.  Magic, sorcery, undead, fey creatures had no place in these stories.  

        That said, Dead Mice turns the Mouse Guard universe upside-down by throwing all that arcane stuff back into the game, along with the undead, and evil, twisted fairies.  Perhaps I just want an excuse to pit my Mouseling miniatures against my Fairy Meat miniatures in an RPG setting?

        When it comes down to it, I love my Dungeon Crawl Classics, and I want to find an excuse to use all of it in Dead Mice.  Does that mean that you need to do the same?  Obviously not.  You can have a lot of fun using this as just a 0-level funnel, or limiting advanced characters to just Rangers, Thieves, and Warriors.  

        But that's not a game I want to Judge.

        So what I offer is a few ways to adapt and reskin the Bard, Cleric, and Wizard so that they have a place too.  

        How to Handle Magic

        The original Mouse Guard stories do not include any kind of "real magic".  There's no wizards running around slinging Magic Missiles, nor priests summoning incarnations of Set to consume their foes.  Since I'm doing a quick reskin, and not some full-length conversion, I'm offering three simple sources for magic: Arcane Science, Fairy Magic, and Ancestral Spirits.

        Arcane Science:  There are some Mice out there who are so learned and well versed in the very nature of the elements, that they can warp them to their will.  They may call themselves mages or sorcerers, but truly they are the Mad Scientists of the Mouse Territories.  Whether they are crafting brilliant bolts of energy or attempting to detect Fairy Magic, it is assumed that any Wizard power is sourced by the scientific brilliance of a Mad Mouse mind.

        Dead Mice assumes that all Wizards use Arcane Science.

        Fairy Magic:  The introduction of Magic into the Mouse Territories is relatively recent.  Fairykind, long held as creatures of myth and mystery, found their way into the Mouse Territories after being pushed out of their own lands by some unknown threat.  They brought with them all sorts of enchantments, spells, and illusionary arts.  But while these powers come easily for the fairies and pixies that are born with them, Mice must learn by being taught.  

        Dead Mice assumes that all Bards use Fairy Magic.  

        Ancestral Spirits:  Some souls of departed mice possess strong wills, ever capable of asserting themselves into the Mouse Territories.  This is why we're calling this conversion Dead Mice!  Why these spirits have such a strong connection, and how they have such power is ever a mystery.  What is known is that paying ritualistic respect to this spirit world can grant mice great power.  Lawful spirits, those that served the Mouse Guard with honor and dignity, guide the paws of a new generation of guardsmice.  Chaotic spirits, those that died in search of selfish glory or cursing their own kind, offer a darker path, with a goal of "re-entering" the realm of the living in some way.

        Dead Mice assumes that all Clerics gain their power through Ancestral Spirits.

        Character Creation

        Let's begin with 0-level, or as they would be referred to in the Mouse Guard RPG, Tenderpaws.  As I mentioned previously, this blog post assumes that you will have access to both the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game rules as well as the Mouse Guard Role Playing Game rules.  I'll be referencing both.  

        Generating a 0-level Tenderpaw should feel similar to creating any other DCCRPG character:

        • Step One:  Generate Ability Scores rolling 3d6 in order.
        • Step Two:  Determine the Mouse's Birth Augur.  

        Okay, let's stop for a brief second... when I go back and read through some of the Birth Augurs, they don't make a lot of sense for a Mouse.  But we're just going to roll with the results.  

        Raised by wolves?  That just sounds more epic!

        Conceived on horseback?  You must've had some adventurous parents, given the size disparity between a mouse and a horse.  

        I think you should roll with the base Birth Augurs.  No need to change anything.  Okay, where were we?

        • Step Three:  Determine Saving Throws.  
        • Step Four:  Languages.  All Mouse characters start with the Mouse Language.  They also can roll 1D30 for additional languages on this chart:


        Since most of these creatures aren't intelligent, these aren't exactly all languages.  But for the purpose of Mouse Guard, and more importantly Dead Mice, characters that have one of these languages can understand the mood and disposition (not the MGRPG mechanic!) of an animal.  Maybe I missed a few, so feel free to add some more.

        *It should be noted that Weasels are intelligent creatures, just like Mice, but definitely villainous.

        Back to the Steps!

        • Step Five:  0-Level Basics.  All Mice begin the game with starting hit points, copper, XP (0), base attack rolls, saving throws, d4 crit die on Table I, and one (1) piece of random equipment (Table 3-4 of the DCCRPG corebook).  
        • Step Six:  Occupation.  It's  now time to refer to page 242 of the Mouse Guard 1st Edition rulebook, as we're going to use the occupations listed there for our starting Mice.  Roll 1d33 for this chart (that's 1d3 and 1d10, and read them the same way you'd read a 1d100):

        32Weather Watcher

        It's important to note that none of the occupations have any starting equipment.  We're going to roll for weapons separately, but when it comes to other kinds of gear, there really isn't any.  I think we're being pretty faithful to the original Mouse Guard RPG in this instance.  None of the starting PC's seem to have anything more than a single piece of gear (already rolled on Table 3-4 for your Mouse), and a weapon.

        • Step Seven: Starting Weapon. Each Mouse begins with one starting weapon, determined at random (roll 1d10).   Ranged weapons come with 2d12 arrows or sling stones. 

        2Hand Axe
        3Hook and Line*
        4Pole Arm
        6Short Bow
        7Short Sword

        *Hook and Line: 1d3 damage, counts as ranged attack, can be used to trip or grapple with successful attack roll and opposed Strength roll. Success knocks the target prone. Cost 5 sp. Range 10/20/30.

        • Step Eight:  Home Town.  Each Mouse naturally has a home town.  The Mouse Guard RPG (1st Edition) lists these starting on page 299.  For the purposes of Dead Mice all you need to to know is the name.  Don't worry about starting Skills or Traits.  Roll 1d8.

        6Port Sumac

        Why is this important?  Because Mice from the same home town gain an additional +1 when helping each other out on a roll.  New rule.  Write that down somewhere on your character sheet. 

        • Step Nine:  Alignment, as in Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic.  
        • Step Ten  Determine Fur Color, Parents, Senior Artisan, Mentor, Friend, Enemy, Cloak Color.  All of this is totally up to you.  Frankly, if you are running this as a 0-level funnel, you should probably skip most of this, because chances are that your Mouse is going to get eaten by an owl.
        • Step Twelve:  Skipping Traits, Belief, Goal, and Instinct.  Because we're not playing Burning Wheel.  If you think these could be incorporated into your game somehow, you can go find them in the Mouse Guard Role Playing Game, and include them for role-playing aids and background story.  Again, I suggest skipping this stuff as a 0-level character.

        Classy Mice

        At some point you may want to take your Dead Mice experience beyond the 0-leve funnel... and why not?  The Mouse Territories are large and what lies beyond the scent barrier offers great adventure!  So let's see what you need to do to add a little class to your game.

        For the purposes of this quick conversion/reskin, we're just going to be dealing with six classes.  The first three are suitable no matter what kind of Mouse Guard experience you prefer (original or the Dead Mice.)  The second set of three require magical sources.
        Non-Magical Classes

        Ranger:  Rangers function as described in Crawl! No. 6.

        Thief:  Thieves function as described in the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game corebook.

        Warrior:  Warriors function as described in the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game corebook.

        Magical Classes

        Bard:  As stated previously, Bards dabble in Fairy Magic.  Otherwise, they function as described in Crawl! No. 6.

        Cleric:  The world of Mouse Guard lacks any sort of deity, but the Clerics are well attuned to  the Spirit World, and all that lurks therein.  Clerics pay homage to the Mice of old, and gain power through these Ancestral Spirits in return for doing their will in the realm of mortal mice.  

        • Clerics must be either Lawful or Chaotic.  Only those spirits with a purpose choose to cross beyond the Spirit World.
        • Clerics have no weapon limitations.
        • Cleric Disapproval comes from angered Ancestor Spirits.  Any rolls or complications should be reskinned to fit this tone.  There are no "churches", and no need to "convert" followers in the Mouse Territories.  
        • Clerics may only turn undead.
        Wizard:  Wizards are nothing more than Mad Mouse Scientists, and all of their spell trapping should be considered as such.  
        • Wizard familiars are enthralled by strong potions.
        • Patron Bond and Invoke Patron allow the Wizard to tap into Fairy Magic, by summoning the power of a crazed, fey creature.  
        • Spellburning allows the Wizard to inject their own natural vitality into their spellcasting. Some may call this Blood Magic, but truly it's just the science of unlocking the vital nutrients inherent in all Mouse blood, and pouring them into the casting.


        The heroes of Dead Mice, through the mystical powers that first allowed mice to gain knowledge, can temporarily destroy their Intelligence and revert back to a more primal, mouse state.  This is called Furburning.  

        The original Mouse Guard RPG has a "Raw Ability" called Nature.  The higher the PC's "Nature (Mouse)", the more feral and actually mouselike they appear.  They I wanted to capture this element, allowing PC's to embrace their animalistic nature when it can help them survive.  But it comes with great cost!  

        At any time a Mouse PC can elect to temporarily "burn" their Intelligence ability to gain a positive modifier to the following:

        • Climbing
        • Hiding
        • Reflex Saving Throws
        These spent points are regained at a rate of 1d3 per day.  During the time that the Mouse's Intelligence is reduced, they can be seen acting in a much more primitive state, perhaps even forgetting some of their actual self.  


        We've covered a lot so far, and really when it comes to adversaries, I tend to do things on the fly.  For Dead Mice, any adversary should fall under one of five categories:

        • Mouse NPC
        • Weasel NPC
        • Natural foe (such as an Owl or Snake)
        • Fairy-kind (all arcane foes)
        • Undead

        Any kind of magical beast would could be warped by fairy magic, while any undead could be  the influx of poisoned or malicious Ancestor Spirits interacting with the world.  

        For Weasels, they are considerably larger than Mice so maybe use rules for Ogres to govern them in play.

        Depending on the Natural foes, some may just be large monsters (like an Owl), while you could consider a Wolf or larger as a Kaiju.  No Mouse PC is going to defeat a rampaging bear.  

        *     *     *

        I'm sure I could've gone into more detail here or there regarding this quick conversion, but if you're serious about exploring the Mouse Guard universe with the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, this should get you started.  I'll be running an adventure using these light rules next Friday for our Norwin Game Knights event here in Pittsburgh, and am excited to see how it goes.

        If you happen to try out these rules, let me know how it goes.  I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!