Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DCC 14: Fette Beute!

Die Abenteurer besiegen die Skorpione, aber eines der ältesten Gruppenmitglieder stirbt: Gromit, ein fast zahnloser, aber sehr zäher Kampfhund wird durch einen Giftstachel getötet. Immerhin gelingt es dem Streuner, aus den Skorpionkadavern sechs Portionen Gift zu extrahieren. Die Gruppe schafft die reiche Beute nach Hirot und zwei Abenteurer steigen in die 4. Stufe auf.

Bei der Identifizierung der  magischen Gegenstände durch die Hexe taucht ein Dämon auf, der ihr den Zauber detect magic rauben möchte. Die Abenteurer können ihn jedoch durch konzertiertes Vorgehen in die Flucht schlagen.

Ein paar Tage später hat die Hexe eine Vision, die einen vermummten Neuankömmling im Dorf als verfluchten Hexer entlarvt, welcher ein Haifischmaul hat und Menschenfleisch essen muss. Die Abenteurer bereiten sich darauf vor, den Hexer, seine Leibwächter und seinen Kannibalenkoch anzugreifen...

Anmerkungen
  • Die Kämpfe gegen die Skorpione und den Dämon waren ebenso hart sie spannend.
  • Es gehörte viel Mumm dazu, den Dämon anzugreifen!
  • Die Magieregeln von DCC prägten die zweite Hälfte des Abends mit ihren unvorhersehbaren Ereignissen.

DCC 13: Die Schatzkammer des Set-Kults

Auf dem Weg zum Barrowmaze begegnen die Abenteurer einer neuen Art Zombies. Nach einer harten Schlacht ziehen sie sich direkt wieder ins Dorf zurück.

Im nächsten Anlauf erreichen die Abenteurer das Lager des Set-Kults. Sie nutzen ihre per Amulett kontrollierten Zombies, um Fallen zu entschärfen und die Schatzkammer zu öffnen. Ein seltsames, metallverschlingendes Wesen stürmt heraus und verwandelt u.a. das Schwert des Trostes +1 in ein verrostetes Schwert des Trostes +0. Die Abenteurer locken die Kreatur in einen Nebenraum und sperren sie ein. Der Weg zur Beute - u.a. eine 80 kg schwere Schale aus Gold - ist frei!

Kurz vor dem Dorf werden sie im Nebel von zwei Riesenskorpionen angegriffen...

Anmerkungen des Spielleiters
  • Auf diese beiden Zufallsbegegnungen warte ich schon lange. Bisher gab es vor allem haufenweise Begegnungen mit anderen Grabräubern.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Interlude 1)

Interlude 1: The Imperishable Sorceress


A party of new adventurers, having found only death and plundered burial niches in the Barrowmaze, sets out for the mountain stronghold of an infamous witch. The characters avoid some barbarians, kill a giant insectoid with magic missile, and penetrate the fortress. Inside, they spend most of their time hacking to bits the witch's corpse and her vat-grown replacement body. They are attacked by some tentacles and find plenty of gems and an intelligent sword. The decide to leave after a few more rooms -- and then half the party dies in a gas explosion in the dungeon's kitchen. The survivors make it back to Hirot.

Observations
  • I ran the Free RPG Day 2013 module "The Imperishable Sorceress" by Goodman Games for fresh characters not embroiled in the main campaign. It's a great little adventure, oozing atmosphere and sporting another fantastic illustrated map by Doug Kovacs.
  • The gas explosion in the dungeon kitchen sucked:
    • There were no clues to its presence. By contrast, a secret chamber was trapped, too -- but that's something one might expect.
    • It had a large blast radius (20') and I decided it affected the entire party. That was a bad call, as we had played with lax positioning all night. I should have had everyone make a Luck check to see if he or she was in the area of effect.
    • It was very deadly, which is okay, but at [2d6, save for half], it left PCs with few hit points no chance at all (i.e. even a successful save could not save a guy with low hp).
  • I overlooked the traps problematic features when reading the module (which was poor prep on my part) and decided against modifying it once it was triggered (which was true to my credo of not pulling any punches).
  • The warlock's player used spellburn all the time and it was fun seeing the power of magic in action ... and waiting for things to go catastrophically wrong. That never happened, but it was tense. 
In a nutshell
A fun session that ended on a frustrating note. Sorry, guys!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Campaign Evaluation: DCC in the Wilderlands (Sessions 1-12)

Sessions 1-12: A New Hope


The Good
  • Combat is quick, brutal and very tense.
  • Magic is powerful, dangerous and unpredictable.
  • Dungeon crawling does not kill roleplaying. Creative players find opportunities everywhere.
  • There were plenty of heroic acts, all the more meaningful because the risk of death is real.
  • The DM has no idea what's going to happen and is as excited as the players.
  • Due to the PCs' interactions, the village next to the dungeon is taking shape at a rapid pace, spawning opportunities for adventure and roleplaying.
The Bad
  • The Barrowmaze lacks the kind of sword & sorcercy atmosphere and sense of wonder I desire.
  • I dropped the ball regarding faith and religion. I failed to set the mood with the village priest and except for one player's initiative, these elements are largely absent from the game... 
The Ugly
  • Resource management, random encounters and using miniatures on a grid can be tedious at times.
  • Dying - especially dying over and over again - can be frustrating and strain player creativity and compassion. (The players are handling these challenges well, though.)
In a nutshell
The campaign is just like I hoped it would be! All sorts of challenges remain but I'm looking forward to every session. A big thank you to my players -- you're making it happen!

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Session 12)

Session 12: Early Retreat


The characters carefully examine a room with mysterious holes in the floor. They are disturbed by giant beetles and unknown cultists and return to the village early. The characters sell some loot and some of them later examine the enchanted forest nearby, moving into it for a few yards.

Observations
  • The session was quite slow and few things happened: The characters spent a lot of time searching for traps, fighting minor random encounters, selling loot and debating whether to explore the enchanted forest or not.
  • A potential problem rears its head: The players are responsible for pacing and risk management and cannot rely on the DM to provide either.
  • That said, I should have asked them to either examine the forest together - or not at all. There are too many random factors for me to foresee how long various endeavours might take, so solo quests are not really an option. 
  • Grognardia has a nice article on the The Rhythm of the Old School that has a more positive view on some of these issues.
In a nutshell
A session that was too slow for my tastes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Session 11)

Session 11: The Power of Magic


The characters begin to plunder the area where they were ambushed the other week and retreat with some gold. Back in the village, the dwarf attempts to teach other tomb raiders but is foulmouthed by unlucky adventurers. He sets things straight with a duel to the death. Later, the party's witch casts detect magic with critical success. She sees and identifies everything magic in the entire village. Among other things, she finds out that all the children are under a spell. When the witch casts detect magic again some time later, she fumbles and transforms a tavern wench into some kind of earth elemental. Fortutnately, the dwarf is able to repair some damage done to her before the effect wears off after a few days.

Observations
  • After 10 sessions with almost no magical incidents, the unpredictable DCC rules struck twice! The fallout occupied most of the session.
  • Switching gears wasn't easy -- I started rolling for various NPCs' magic items, for instance, but detailing an entire village's worth of adventurers on the fly was too much.
  • DCC's curveball means there's a lot of work to be done (such as detailing the magic merchant's treasures) but I think it's a great opportunity.
  • The players used the unusual opportunities to portray their characters in various ways (CD's fatherly dwarf, HM's opportunistic rogue etc.).
  • CD risked a valuable character in a deadly duel. His character was brand new, true, but also sported above average rolls. The Luck stat provided some measure of safety I assume, but it can't protect against critical hits so it took real courage to enter the duel.
In a nutshell
An unsual but fascinating session.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Session 10)

Session 10: Ambushed!

The witch uses charm on a captured cultist and the party learns something about the Necromancers of Set and the Acolytes of Orcus. The captive also provides a partial map before being dispatched by the party afraid of the spell wearing off. The party then moves into a sector held by the followers of Set and are ambushed on the way out. The enemy's main ploy (skeletons attacking under cover of darkness) fails but it's a brutal fight nonetheless. A veteran fighter (level 3) goes down to a series of lucky attacks and the party's dwarf dies, too.

Observations
  • Prep was a lot more work than usual because I had to decide what the captives knew exactly. I copied a part of the map and edited out traps and room numbers -- always aware of the fact that none of that information might be needed (if, for instance, the party failed to take anyone alive). 
  • The characters act as a true team: HM burned Luck several times to save a comrade and CD and CW continued to willingly hold the frontline.
  • KT jumped through a secret door sliding close to pursue an enemy. He immediately became afraid of his own courage and regretted his act, at least until things had turned out well. I love it how such acts are at once really dangerous and really heroic!
  • KT was contrite about the death of CW's fighter because he had planned much of the party's tactics in the ambush.
  • I wonder if this would have been a total party kill if not for the party's unusual extra light source (a glowing rune). I had forgotten about that item and was unsure if it actually cancelled darkness. I gave the item a 1-in-6 chance of doing just that and rolled it without any consideration for the possible ramifications. Just like I want to handle things!
  • The party has reached a deeper, more dangerous part of the Barrowmaze. I described a change in architecture but I'm not sure the players realized the significance.
In a nutshell
An informative session with a terrific fight and brutal losses.