New faces

Character Portraits second string

  • Chub the thief has discovered three vials of poison made of hairless cat vomit
  • Whipplestan Bearslayer esquire, the elf, was banished from the deep woods for the crime of ennui
  • Hot Dog the warrior, purveyor of fine troglodyte sausage
  • Ra’Lerl brings from the northlands the rites of her deity Amon Tor, god of mysteries and riddles
  • Sir Robin the halfling gypsy carries a hex doll nearly as tall as he

Elzemon and the Blood-drinking Box

Elzemon and the Blood-drinking Box is more of a horror module than an adventure module. There is no map to speak of, so no “mode of exploration”. Instead, the characters spend most of their time walking down a long, seemingly endless staircase. Cue death by boredom! This adventure is grueling and torturous, appealing to the DM’s sadistic side, and I enjoyed keeping the characters up all night with Elzemon’s powers of illusion. Unfortunately, our game had a 5 hour time limit, so the characters never got to battle the swarm of fangsights, which were the coolest monster here. By contrast, the giant hairless cats were slightly comical. Most of all, this adventure relies on the “mode of logistics” – Encourage everyone to bring extra torches, lest the second half will take place completely in the dark. I enjoyed this one as a departure from a regular map-based adventure, but I think something is missing if the characters are never faced with choices such as which door to open. The creepy setting was cool, but our party of adventurers made quick work of the hairless cats and of invisible little Elzemon since both clerics have the Word of Command spell. There were no major fatalities: Only a 0 level and the three hirelings died. Am I a bad person for wanting a higher body count? If only the fangsights had come into play, I’m sure we could have had our first 1st level fatality. Sigh.

Our heroes this time…

Pog with eyes2

  • Pog got his eyes back!  He now carries the “magic crossbow” found within the Ghost Ice.  He has joined the congregation of Choranus and is secretly an agent of the Dwarven Brotherhood, working to overthrow King Archie.
  • Pious the cleric has been tasked with bringing the head of Uldor Oryx to the nearest temple of Law.  He’s been given a small crystal ball with which to predict the whims of his disapproving deity, Choranus, lord of creation.
  • Storg the warrior wears a suit of full plate mail (Armor Class 17) and carries 6 magic coins which, instead of depicting King Archie, show a frowning wizard with a resemblance to Curwen.
  • Curwen the wizard has found his first scroll.  His ancestors continue to visit him in ghost form to warn him from the path of wizardry, and he has learned Sezrekan the wizard was his great great grandfather.

New additions to the party:

  • Whipplestan Bearslayer, esquire, (the elf) learns he was banished from the deep woods for the crime of suicidal thoughts, considered unthinkable to the immortal races.  His punishment was to be made mortal.
  • Chub the evil turnip farmer has given up honest work for the path of the assassin.  A turnip-based diet will do that to a guy.
  • The northlanders Ungal the Untamed (warrior) and Gak the fisherman (thief) now crave the metal weapons and gold of the civilized lands.
  • Ra’Lerl the northlander is ready to level up but has only a Luck of 3, making her prospects in the civilized lands seem dismal.  Being a thief would suck, but she might make a decent warrior or cleric.
  • While in the northlands, Pog, Storg and Curwen took barbarian brides (0 level hunters and gatherers).  Can the denizens of King Archie’s realm interbreed with the northland races?  Tune in next time to find out.

Frozen In Time

This module harkens back to ye olden days by evoking The Expedition To Barrier Peaks.  The sci-fi time-travel theme was pretty sweet, and the players really got excited by the “wingless dragon” and spent lots of time plotting how to avoid it whenever the force field eventually failed.  Luckily, they brought enough rope and were able to traverse the lift tubes after the power went out, managing to avoid battling the wingless dragon entirely.  Good job, lads!  There was a minimal bodycount this time, but a couple of deaths early in the game while scaling the glacier face put everybody on alert that the danger was real and low rolls meant an early grave.  I made a few changes to the printed adventure, using the naked man in the menagerie as our adventure hook, and adding a few different treasure items to the treasury room.  But most of all, I had to change the blaster rifle so it never explodes–That’s just too mean!  And I figured that anyone trained in crossbow could operate the blaster rifle with no problem.  For the finale of the adventure, I used a timer in an idea stolen from Bride Of The Black Manse: One hour real time after leaving the power plant, it explodes, putting the premises on back up power.  Fifteen minutes real time after that, back up power fails and all security shields go down, releasing the menagerie, the wingless dragon and the treasure plinths.  Other items on the plinths included a box of thin, colorful books (comics) and several figurines attached to colorful placards that could be read with Comprehend Languages to say “Stormtrooper”, “Snaggletooth” and the like.  Zepes Null-Eleven was just a collector nerd after all!

I also worked up my own random event chart for when the characters returned to the primitive village and found themselves stranded there.  Roll 1d6 for each week the characters live among the savages:

1 Mating Season: It is time for another inexplicable religious ceremony of these savage people. All characters roll under Personality for the option to marry a barbarian bride and roll a new 0 level character from the Primitive Occupations chart (p.13). Should this result be rolled more than once, the tribe practices polygamy.

2 Cannibals Attack: A foreign tribe of starving savages attacks the village with cannibalism in mind. Combat is required of all heroes. The villagers respond as well, leaving 1d3 cannibals per character for the heroes to battle. Cannibals (1d3 per character) : Init ­‐1; Atk club ­‐1 melee (1d4‐1); AC 10; HD 1d4; MV 30′; Act 1d20; SV Fort ‐1, Ref +0, Will +1; AL N.

3 Barbarian Festival: It is time for another inexplicable religious ceremony of these savage people. All characters of a randomly selected alignment receive +1 Luck. Roll 1d3: (1) Lawful, (2) Neutral, (3) Chaotic.

4 Food Shortage: The frozen lands are unforgiving. All characters are required to hunt for food instead of healing. Roll 1d20: A fumble is an injury that prevents participation in all future village events. A critical hit means your hunting prowess wins you the admiration of a new wife and you may roll up a new 0 level character from the Primitive Occupations chart.

5 Severe Weather: Blizzard or freezing rain catch you unprepared. All characters roll under Stamina or suffer frostbite (-­1hp damage and make DC 6 Fort save or lose -­1 Stamina permanently.)

6 Talking Wolves: The village is visited by a family of 2d2 talking wolves. They say “Winter is coming,” and “The book was better.” The character with the highest Personality may roll under Personality for the option to parley with the verbose beasts, otherwise combat is required of all heroes. In parley, the wolves will happily answer questions, but they know nothing outside of the frozen north and the George R.R. Martin canon. They speak Wolf, Common and Barbarian. Talking Wolves (2d2): Init +3, Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 40′; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL L.

The One Who Watches From Below

This is the first DCC module I bought, because the cover art is so great! The eyeball theme is well used and really defines the adventure, with the curse, the giant eyestalks, and the pit full of eyes at the finale. Two characters were afflicted by the curse of the emerald eye before the party realized they shouldn’t be touching that, and the curse gimmick made it possible for the lowly 1st level to become as strong as an owlbear. I love a good gimmick, and this one really mixed things up. At the end, the random eyeball rays were pretty good too, as our wizard’s exit strategy was foiled by a polymorph ray turning him into a cat and losing his father’s sword in the process. The warrior survived a death ray with a memorable lucky roll, and only two coffers of treasure were extracted from the caverns. I dig how stingy DCC modules are with treasure—You’re more likely to die than walk out rich! I allowed each player to have a second character of 0 level to act as porter, trap tester, and extra weapon, and I think that encourages players to take more risks. They’re less timid knowing they’ve still got another character to play. I still had to reduce the number of foes so our party of only four 1st level characters could have a chance of survival. I removed the Brood Pit entirely as well as reducing the Undertemple to three rooms only. In the final room, I decided to have the Primordial Titan not appear unless its name was spoken. This made room 2-11 a kind of trap where our wizard learned a word (Shigazilnizthrub) that would trigger a likely TPK in the final room, and he nearly fell for it thinking its utterance would aid him—Luckily the cleric convinced him to hold his tongue. Instead of throwing the Primordial Titan at them, the pit was full of an infinite number of Wall-of-Eyes which emerged one per round until everyone realized they were never going to stop and it was time to run. Overall, this adventure was a good time with some novel threats and interesting events. The only thing missing was a random rumor chart. Since every adventure needs one, I wrote my own. Attached below you can view my campaign-specific introduction, random rumor chart, and the specific alterations I made for a smaller party to play in a single session:

The One Who Watches From Below (introduction, rumor chart, etc.)

Sailors on the Starless Sea

It was a near TPK.  Mike and Rob both came out with one original 0-Level guy still alive, but Larry and Brian were killed off.  I had a stack of new pre-rolled, and every-time someone died they got a replacement, so every player had 3 characters at all times.  Nonetheless, I still had to skip the leviathan lurking in the underground lake and hurry the party up the ziggurat and past the 22 beast-men.  Was the module supposed to be that hard?  It was a total bloodbath, which is absolutely perfect for our inaugural game.  As I see it, a total bloodbath is needed to prove that all characters are mortal.  This adds some stake to the game, because the players know they really could die at any time (unlike the heroes of The Hobbit 2).  I like the 0-Level system a lot, because now we are set up to create 1st-Level characters who already have a backstory.  And I like the Luck system, which gives even wimpy 0-Level guys a chance to do something bad-ass.  As for this particular adventure, Sailors On The Starless Sea, I didn’t like the intro or rumor chart, so I made my own which you can find attached here as a pdf:

Sailors On The Starless Sea (Alternate introduction and rumors chart)