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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Campaign Diary: DCC in the Wilderlands (Session 9)

Session 9: The Thing in the Pit & Masked Strangers

The party uses the newly discovered entrance and scouts the area. The characters find a deep pit trap and are attacked by a huge insectoid creature living in it. One of the party's rogues kills it with a poisonous arrow. Next, a party of masked strangers accompanied by two zombies appears. The mysterious strangers talk about their plans to attack the Acolytes of Orcus - and who the hell is that?? - deeper in the Barrowmaze. The two parties decide to join forces. Even though the characters are betrayed and attacked almost immediately they manage to dispatch the strangers easily.

  • I had rolled up the thing in the pit several evenings ago and had been expecting a massacre ever since. However, the party never ventured down that particular corridor until this session. KT's gut instinct (and good memory perhaps - NPCs had described a man being dragged off into that corridor) and HM's poisonous arrow saved everyone's ass. KT has since pointed out that he was merely roleplaying: He wanted to portray his character's superstitiousness and chose a random corridor to fuss over (rather than holding up the game by doing this all the time). =) =) =)
  • I like how the deadliness cuts both ways: Monsters have to save or die, too (or can be ripped apart by a lucky crit).
  • I gave the players some glimpses about things going on behind-the-screen: I noted that the insectoid creature had been a dangerous monster but that I had rolled no treasure for it whatsoever. Sorry guys!
  • I resisted the impulse to comment on the strangers' tactics despite my players' curiosity. The players judged the strangers' tactics ineffective and were wondering what was up with that. 
  • The party has begun to employ scouting tactics. To my surprise, HM seemed not at all concerned when his rogue sneaked up on two giant scorpions by himself. He was bent on how to kill them rather than afraid for his life.
In a nutshell
A tense session, especially from my perspective.