Monday, December 30, 2013

Playtesting: [to be announced] ~ 12.22.13

Despite this being slated for mid-level PCs, we're doing it a little differently this time...and keeping the current line-up.  

Bjorn Berber: Dwarf/2
Wilber Wifflelinks: Halfling/2
Garrett: Halfling/2
"Captain" James: Warrior/2
Morgren Pickbeard: Dwarf/2
Nallo Morningstrider: Elf/2
Eridan: Wizard/1
Terezi: Thief/1
Growlen: Thief/1
"Outlaw Lepus" aka Remus: Cleric/1
Toad: Thief/2
Wraif: Dwarven Chestmaker/0
Red: Locksmith/0

Sorry, details on this one need to remain redacted until such time as the adventure is published.  In the meantime I'll be sharing them privately with the table, the author, and the publisher.

[Spoiler: They all came out of today's session alive.]

{TBD} - Michael Curtis / Goodman Games

Post-adventure math:
Bjorn: +17 XP
Wilber: +14 XP
Garrett: +14 XP, +3 Luck (stardust)
James: +17XP
Morgren: +14 XP
Nallo: +14 XP
Eridan: +14 XP
Terezi: +14 XP
Growlen: +14 XP, +1 Luck (stardust)
Lepus: +17 XP
Toad: +14 XP
Wraif: +14 XP
Red: +14 XP

PARTY LOOT:  2 sets chainmail / mace / handaxe / leather skirt / studded leather / flail / rolled maps of [tba] / copper scroll tube (containing 1 sheet of papyrus) / 5 gold ingots

Bjorn: garnet nose ring
Bjorn: bronze helmet
Toad: arm portion of electrum statue

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust ~ 12.08.13

Full table of 8; includes two new recruits!

Bjorn Berber: Dwarf/2
Wilber Wifflelinks: Halfling/2
Garrett: Halfling/2
(Captain) James: Warrior/2
Garrick: Wizard/2
Stieg: Warrior/2
Morgren Pickbeard: Dwarf/2
Nallo Morningstrider: Elf/2
Eridan: Wizard/1
Terezi: Thief/1
Growlen: Thief/1
Remus:  Outlaw/0
Ashir:  Elven Falconer/0
Omar:  Corn Farmer/0
Elric:  Fortune Teller/0
Rygar:  Cheesemaker/0
Grethian:  Animal Trainer/0
Udyr:  Gravedigger/0
Garen:  Jester/0
Rammas:  Guild Beggar/0
Zelian:  Astrologer/0

Alternate title for today: "We finally get to shop and sell stuff!!"

Indeed, for the first time since the veteran explorers set foot inside the chaos keep, they have the option to unload all the extra equipment acquired from adventuring (and from the demise of their 0-lvl kinsmen).  The stores in the city known to Paragon as Great Bell welcome them and give them a few coins for the odd kitch, such as robes embroidered with chaotic sigils.  Word travels rapidly amid the mercantile district as "Whisker", the rapier, is easily recognized, and a reward is bestowed upon the group for eradicating the threat of Savage Quenn along the coast.  They even find an alchemist well-versed in the methods of researching chaotic items prior to destroying them, and are able to offload the albatross-like Scales of Truloq and Black Pearl.  In the few days of downtime to follow, they procure a handful of additional healing poultices; the dwarves tour the local pub scene with an eye for quality (befriending a good number of locals); Nallo volunteers to work with the constabulary; Growlen Legbinder decided that healing is a bit passe and trains at the local thieves' guild (along with Terezi) instead; James (donning Captain Quenn's fancy coat) hires a boat from the wharf to take him up the coast to find Paragon, reuniting the party with the remaining rescuees on board; and Garrett uses the pipe weed he'd found so long ago as a method of client development, treating key merchants and pub owners in Great Bell to a relaxing smoke as he gives sales pitches on Dead Goblin Ale and possible distributorship.  

At the thieves' guild, Growlen and Terezi are looked after by Therati, the poor sap in charge of the new pledges.  The sole item remaining unsold is the crown retrieved from the Emerald Cobra: So few merchants are willing to part the gemstones from the crown, but none can provide a solid figure of worth, especially concerning the center gem.  Boss Ogo might be able to help -- he's a well-known fence jeweler that the thieves often have to go through.  Problem is, he hasn't been reachable for the better part of a month.  His shop and home are boarded up, but nobody's heard word of him leaving town, and even the "bad seeds" aren't fessing up to knowing anything about him.  Everyone seems content to leave him be, but this could really change the face of business for the thieves' guild as a whole.  Sure, they're happy to look into it -- how bad of a hazing ritual could it be? -- and they predictably find Bjorn & co. parked on barstools, regaling anyone who'll listed with their tales of adventure, or even just critiques on the house's booze offerings.  Eventually the party is gathered, with the addition of 10 new faces, eager to make their mark on the world too.

It's a moonless, rainy night, but the night watch is still on patrol.  The new thieves decide that since there's no way in from the ground floor, they should hop over the garden wall and try for a more secluded approach to breaking & entering.  It's a good plan, except for the trio of hound-sized, spider-like creatures that seem to materialize on top of them as soon as the back door is breached.  The small spiders in the garden are black, as they should be, but the large ones actually refract the torchlight.  Terezi is knocked out cold by a single creature dropping on her, which is summarily dispensed of by Morgren on the first attack of the night.  Growlen is pinned by one of these six-footed monsters, prone, as a carpet of tiny spiders slides down from the trees toward him, the large thing ripping off chunks of flesh open for them to enter.  He is saved by Eridan throwing up an illusionary wall of fire, which scatters the natural spiders long enough for the rest of the party to kill the large one.  The third fails to grab anyone, and is slashed by many a blade until Garen scores a great melee hit with his spear and earns the respect of the fighters in the group.  Terezi is recovered and brought back around with the aid of leftover healing putty.  Once healed, Growlen, in a cold rage, succeeds in obtaining 4 vials of venom from the creatures with nary a drop misplaced.  Ashir, the falconer, frees the crow from a web strung between trees before following the party into the building.

After ensuring they're alone inside (at least on this floor), a few take a seat at the table, some PCs go for the kitchen/pantry, a few guard the stairs, a few head for the closed door, and a few more go up the stairs.  Steig rummages for firewood and sets a fire under the "decorative" cauldron in the fireplace, effectively sealing off that method of passage -- for friend or foe.  The ones in the pantry easily find the trapdoor and about half of them head down the ladder.  [Judge's note: Screw you all for the 5-way party split. You deserved far worse than you got!] 

Basement first.  They found 3 bodies strung up from the rafters, completely encased in webbing.  Bjorn holds his torch up, hoping to sever the webbing stringing them up, and one of the forms is toast.  They then pull down the other two and pull off the webs, revealing bandaging with a continuous inscription dedicating them to "crawlers". Stricken with remorse for the taken life, Nallo actually takes the time to sever the bandages on one of the bodies -- and the whole time, there is a non-stop two-way stream of what appear to be tiny, black, natural spiders entering and exiting through the victim's mouth.  They finally stop entering as the bandages are damaged, but the ones coming out are unending.  Finally it is agreed that death would be kinder, and they end it for the two they've cut down.  As far as they can tell, none of the three match the description of Ogo, so a thorough body-rolling party is had, netting a small amount of coin and a mithril dagger hidden in a boot.  Bjorn looks around and immediately spots the different construction leading to a secret entrance to the sewers.  He peels a little of the lathe to make sure, and a rat on the other side taunts him.  Bjorn, formerly a rat-catcher, goes ballistic and the sewers are now plainly open to them (and anyone else trying to get in).  The basement extends in the opposite direction and is inspected to find a tall iron cage, currently empty, large enough for perhaps two people to stand upright inside, directly underneath a chute coming from the floor above.

1st floor: After a quick breather, Terezi goes to investigate the shopfront with Steig and James.  They find many goodies in the safe boxes behind the counter, and greed gets the better of them: The thief saves herself from the pit trap, but the two warriors slide fecklessly through the chute....and into the oubilette in the basement.  A couple of combined efforts breaks the locked iron door open.  At that point, everyone below the trapdoor shuffles back up out of the basement, some a little shame-faced.

2nd floor:  The first wave upstairs gets a bit of time to dig around the study that's already been tossed.  Not a single intact book remains.  Rubbish up here, all of it, declares Garrick.  As the others eventually catch up, they push open the double doors before them, and find a room pitched into darkness blacker than the moonless night outside -- but with a single red candle casting far more light than it should, melting atop the skull of a demonesque goat, all within a circle of some sort that's been carved into the floor.  Some of the new local recruits edge their way around the room, keeping to the shadows, and finding another set of doors on the other side.  This doesn't look like anything good can come from it, so Garrick spellburns for his first time as he summons an animal for assistance (and looks a bit weaker).  As a giant viper materializes in the shadows, Garrett pulls out a vial of holy water and hurls it perfectly onto the candle, extinguishing the flame.  The room actually gets a bit lighter, as the torchlight returns their surroundings into the state they'd gotten used to.  Many people (and the snake) are attempt to approach the candle, but cannot cross over the etchings in the floor.  Nallo shoots at the skull, knocking it outside the magic circle, and Omar notices something rattling inside it, so smashes the bones to the chagrin of others. Revealed is a literal fly in amber. The wizards immediately know that it's a phylactery of a minor demon, and Eridan pulls out the stone box found the prior week to safely house it.  Once secured, they whip open the next set of doors and find themselves in a room so dark that even their torches' light is diminished.  In the center of the chamber is a large violet crystal lit from within, with a strange column of swirling lights emanating above it....and a man's hand seems attached to it.  Attached to the man are four of those giant tick-spider-things. And there are hundreds of thousands of tiny black spiders shifting about the room in the supernatural darkness.  Remembering the bodies in the cellar, the party swarms at the five large targets -- including Ogo, since the other humans turned out so well.  The man turns and screams at the intruders, calling them heathens, and Steig concentrates on breaking Ogo's grasp on the crystal before he can do anything further, killing him almost instantly.  The whole party, including the viper, joins the fray.  Rammas is the sole casualty, done in by a Spider.  Rygar, Zelian, Remus, and James (with the mighty black flail) finish off the Spiders.  Eridan stops at the crystal, trying to study it before touching it.  It takes a while for the magnitude to sink in, but by the time the last foe is slain, he has put a large sack over the crystal, and is trying to move it off the pedestal.  Once he convinces Morgren that it is more valuable in pieces than as a whole, the smashing commences.  Nothing further of interest here, so they backtrack to the study and up the next round of stairs.

3rd floor:  The safehouse yields nothing people want to bother searching.  All the good stuff's behind doors, right?  [Little do they know...]  Growlen easily picks the lock of the door to Ogo's office.  Terezi searches the desk and finds an accurate set of scales (vs. the ones last used), a brace of silver throwing darts, a dagger, and a key ring with four keys: copper, silver, gold, and electrum.  They also detect a secret door opposite the fireplace and peel away the false panel to find a keyhole.  Bjorn, being by far the sturdiest of the crew, takes up the key ring and tries the silver key.  A trio of blades come up from the floor, catching him full on.  Gold key next.  Same result, slightly less damage (he must've seen it coming this time).  Electrum key next.  This time his HP is knocked down to single digits.  He pauses for a moment to apply some of the dwindling supply of healing putty, then tries the copper key in desperation.  The door slides open to a long narrow hall, with three doors along the opposite side [where the exterior wall should be, but they don't know this].  Growlen steps fully into his role and inspects the hallway before allowing anyone else to enter.  He even checks each individual door, and quite cleverly notes that none of the keyholes show any signs of wear.  Knowing this, he begins to tap on the adjacent wall, and finds a secret door, into which he inserts the copper key.  Ta-da!  Vault!  Well, what's left of it.  The only gems worth anything are in here [bummer about the storefront finds, guys], and there's a black velvet pouch sitting on a shelf, containing a glittering dust that looks a lot like the stuff created from smashing the crystal on the second floor.  After a considerable debate, Garrick gives in and pours out a handful, admiring what he will later keep as potential components for a new spell [and making the save, thus garnering him +1 Luck].  Eridan copies Garrick with the bag he's carrying, with similar results.  Wilber reasons his way in, seeing as how he is the party's lucky charm and all, and Eridan shares a touch.  [Wilber's nat 20 save = max +1, for a total of +4 Luck.]  The argument for using the stardust vs. hoarding it continues with no end in sight.  

Eventually the party makes their way back out, by way of the sewer exit to keep things on the down-low -- and some of them really had issues jumping over the garden wall in the first place.  The last thing they needed was to get stuck and get caught with all the loot in hand.  They know they're not going to be able to sell any of the gems in town, either, lest someone who knows Ogo turns them in...  In the meantime, they have reported back to the thieves' guild, where Terezi's and Growlen's first months' dues will be gratis in exchange for their services.  As a show of thanks to the rest of the party, Therati was able to hook them up with a finite amount of healing herbs -- for a price, of course, but very few were able to find them among the mercantile.

"The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust", Harley Stroh / Goodman Games

Post-adventure math

Bjornr: +15 XP
Wilber: +15 XP, +4 Luck (stardust)
Garrett: +15 XP
James: +15 XP, +1 Luck (RP)
Garrik: +15 XP, +1 Luck (stardust)
Steig: +15 XP
Morgren: +15 XP
Nallo: +15 XP
Eridan: +15 XP, +1 Luck (stardust)
Terzi: +15 XP
Growlen: +15 XP, +1 Luck (RP)
Remus: +15 XP
Ashir: +15 XP
Omar: +15 XP
Elric: +15 XP
Rygar: +15 XP
Grethian: +15 XP
Udyr: +15 XP
Garen: +15 XP
Zelian: +15 XP

PARTY LOOT:  3 PP / 30 GP / 115 SP / 25 CP / 3 rubies (50 GP each) / 4 diamonds (100GP each) / jewel-encrusted serpent-shaped dagger (150 GP) / 1 opal (10 GP) / 2 emeralds (25 GP each) / 1 large ruby (309 GP) / velvet pouch w/10 "gems" / amber phylactery / bag w/2 handfuls of stardust of Ygiiz 

Morgren: mithril dagger
Steig: silver & ruby necklace / 2 handfuls of stardust of Ygiiz (keeping=components)
Eridan:  amber phylactery 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Spellburning the candle at both ends...

In the spirit of cross-posting for the goodness of the cause: Go listen to the latest episode of Spellburn!  I love catching up with the J3 Judges and what they've been up to between shows, and if I wasn't already excited for the 2014 gaming season {which lasts year-round, of course}, I am now!

What have I been up to this month?
Not-so-gaming stuffs ~
-biweekly local client requirements (read: steady checks are a good thing)
-getting out the physical holiday mailings to friends/family/clients (closer to 200 than 250 this year - huzzah!)
-playing catch-up on late client missives and trying to clean the audit hurricane that hit my office {this really should be highest priority, yet here I am}

Gaming stuffs ~
-playing in two of the hubby's AD&D 1st Ed. games (1 weekly, 1 biweekly)
-working feverishly on getting ALL my 2013 DCC RPG game sessions chronicled
-updating the loot & XP rosters for the FLGS group
-making lists re: this campaign and checking them thrice, which leads to creating more lists
-lining up the next module to hit them with
-conferencing, researching, and rough-drafting on this new writing project**

**Yeah, there's probably a descriptor necessary if you're not on G+ or FB, or if you missed my week of updates...  Ernie Gygax could not contain his enthusiasm as he showed us the drafts for his Hobby Shop Dungeon adventure, which is slated to be printed by TSR in the near future.  (I'll admit it was pretty damn awesome to see his original notes and maps from 30-40 years ago.)  As the months drew on, the hubby was brought on board to create a key character in the HSD world and write about him...and they kept pitching it to me, as they need someone who can write a strong female character.  They finally gave me a couple key phrases to work with, and it's blossomed from there -- so I shall be writing for their Shieldmaiden, a cleric whom I see as a medieval battle sister.  =)  The Crossroads to Adventure books will tie in with the HSD and future modules.  This interview with Benoist Poire gives a pretty good run-down on the whole deal.  Despite my utter abundance of free time (HA!) I'm stoked to be on the project and my first text submission was a success.  Only *cough* *wheeze* -thousand words to go...

Okay, enough about D&D.  Back to DCC brain....more Spellburn!

Playtesting: Silent Nightfall ~ 11.10.13

We diverted from the campaign setting for a smidgen of playtesting.  After reading through it, I thought it best to assign one-shot, pre-generated PCs for this one.  It would've sucked if one of the hard-earned PCs bit the big one because of a yet-undiscovered unbalanced feature.  That's why we playtest these things, after all -- to find the bugs features!

We also scored three new suckers recruits today!

I've been holding off on this one because of spoilers, but now the adventure is out!  {CAVEAT:  If you have not yet seen this module, you may want to hold off on reading this review: I'm deviating from the normal recap format to review this session, paraphrasing from my official report to the author, vs. telling you a story about the gameplay.}


8 players/characters:
2nd level Thief, Dwarf, Cleric
3rd level Cleric, Dwarf, Wizard, Thief, Halfling
Tried to get an elf/more wizards into the mix, but to no avail.

Open table.  3 players new to DCC RPG.  Spent ~6 hrs in nonstop play.  

There are a lot of potential plot hooks, but I figured the easiest way to get them into the adventure for this one-shot was to lure them in with the grallistrix.  Took ~45 mins of RP to give them the closed-up town, feed them the nursery rhyme (by way of a little girl skipping down the stairs of the pub they broke into -- damn dwarves), throw them a brief encounter in town, and give them kids singing the other rhyme the next morning, leading to their brave "we'll get to the bottom of this" storming into the forest.

Saw weird animal behavior in the forest but they were intent on finding the owl-things.  Even after the makeshift molotov cocktail was dropped down into the shaft to gauge depth, the resident crawler was so far down that he didn't make it up before we had to stop for the night.  The other shaft-dweller...well, with 8 players, things were already going pretty "Albuquerque" so I skipped it in favor of trying to get to the story's climax.  

Ulibex, the fungus deity, was totally and utterly defeated.  The first person to approach the altar was a lawful cleric, who played it straight during the telepathy and said "NO" to the neutral demi-god (and netted himself a huge stat damage as a result of the link severing).  The cleric then warned everyone away and called upon his deity to eradicate this abominable creature posing as a god.  His roll was spectacular, so a column of light appeared, and the altar disappeared (having moved Ulibex to a different plane).  He later tried to heal someone, failed with his newfound +10 disapproval range (after Divine Aid), and immediately spent the time to burn down gold and pray/repent.

Way too many people seemed focused on collecting the molds for components throughout this place.  I started implementing spore damage as a basic penalty to try to get them to focus on the rest of the surroundings.

One character tried to communicate with the first grallistrix they saw, but then he brandished his weapon, which set everything off.  

The timing for the appearance of the backup gallistrix trios can be tricky.  This group dispatched the first sets so quickly, there was actually a round of nothing but the screeching younglings before the next wave approached.  Food of the Gods was cast to try to shut the owlings up (drowning one). 

Force Manipulation and Color Spray were used with great success, as were shield bashes coupled with mighty deeds.  The weather patterns of the forest above were irrevocably changed -- the resulting drought, hurricane winds, and an eclipse over the town would've been fun to play out in extended sessions.

One of the dwarves found the levers.  And pulled every single one.  At least once.  The grallistrix were torn about which direction to defend, with portcullises scraping on every level.

Further down, a dwarf hit the violet fungus with a blunt weapon, one of the thieves flipped the mattress off the brass bed, then Food of the Gods was cast upon this fungus which has evolved from a spoiled food.  The thief's urge to attack himself was not quelled until its demise, causing a lot of confusion.  Another cleric used a high result on Detect Magic to find the scrolls & journals before furniture was destroyed.

They hit the next "family room", never shut the kids up, and had to deal with 6 waves of backup trios -- who then had to deal with a dwarf 3x his normal size, and AC 20.  Even with a molotov thrown in, that took forever.  At least the party started tracking them to see which were the psychic hunters, and targeting them first.  There was a LOT of healing going on, between the two clerics.  One also used Lotus Stare to get one of the hunters to protect him, which worked until the other hunters turned on it.  This room alone took close to 1.5 hrs with the unending waves and psychic blasts every time a new trio came in...and tracking every 3rd round for each of those hunters.  Would recommend scaling back the reinforcements during future play, as it prevented us from getting to the primary goal: discovering why the gallistrix were here in the first place.

Sadly, we didn't get any wrap-up time due to the FLGS closing for the night...and there were "aww"s when we had to go.  That said, this has HUGE potential to be the central point for a campaign.  


"Silent Nightfall", Daniel J. Bishop/Purple Duck Games

Again, definitely one-shot characters. No post-adventure math here.