Monday, March 31, 2014

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Session 3)

Session 3: Dungeon Delving 101

The party finds out that the dungeon has been repopulated. They carry on, using a (phenomenally tough) wardog named Gromit and charmed monsters to take the point. A major fight with giant beetles leaves two PCs dead and another (plus Gromit) unconscious. Things almost turn into a Total Party Kill (TPK). After some dealings in town, the party eagerly returns for a third foray. The players are getting the hang of dungeon delving and spot and neutralize a deadly spider, look in the right spot for a secret door, and leverage the movement rules to fight zombies without risk. W00t!

  • Everyone forgot about DCC's Luck mechanic. The two dead PCs might be alive if we hadn't.
  • There was a lot of heroism. CW has her (tough but injured) character attack with only 1 hp left and she dies. CD sends his character to the front line in order to match CW's courage. His character dies, too.
  • CW names her second PC "Secunda" and seems resigned to quickly lose her and all future characters. The new PC has poor-to-average stats, too, which visibly impacts her motivation.
  • I announce compensation for poor stats (50 gp or XP per total negative modifier or 100 - that is the question now...).
  • Reacting to player input, I introduce a new rule to make armor offer protection against poison needles and the like (i.e. in situations where no attack roll is involved).
  • I allowed the Charm spell to include low-key telepathy to enable communication with charmed vermin. This was a mistake. I was being soft on the player. Also, the spell is powerful enough as it is. I will rule that this is (a) limited to vermin and (b) specific to this character only. Fortunately, this perfectly fits on account of the mercurial magic roll for this spell.
  • I changed one (harmless) monster power on the fly: A ghost caused unconsciousness rather than fear. I don't like fear effects, as they are humiliating and take away agency. On second thought, however, the fear effect could and should have been described as magical, lessening the humiliating aspect. Also, this was a mistake as I violated my principles. I should not change the powers of monsters (at least not like this, i.e. on the fly and for dubious reasons).
  • Random rolls were really tough this time around: The dungeon was restocked with plenty of very dangerous monsters and the beetles' random reaction was "hostile". I fear that the dungeon seems insurmountable and video-gamey as a result.
  • The Barrowmaze has monsters popping up all over the place (due to the restocking rules) or waiting in isolated areas without exits, rhyme or reason. I do have an explanation for this but I'm afraid none is visible to the players at the moment. I'm afraid that the dungeon must seem very artificial and video-gamey as a result (and Philotomy's "Mythic Underworld" aesthetic is an acquired taste).
  • The zombie ploy should not have worked quite like this. I forgot about the maneuver "partial charge". Fortunately, the zombies rarely had the room for that so in this case the outcome was unaffected by my oversight. I will inform the players and/or change zombie tactics to "overrun the enemy regardless of opportunity attacks".
In a nutshell
An enjoyable session with lots of mistakes behind the scenes. I need to get my act together.

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