Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bloodocalypse: Session 1

Last Friday I ran the first session of my Bloodocalypse campaign, following some intensive days of working on campaign notes and house rules to get it to be what I want. While the campaign world is not complete, it was ready for the first play session.

For those of you that don't remember/care, Bloodocalypse is the working title for my Gonzo Science-Fantasy campaign I am designing for DCC RPG. A world of barbarians and laser guns.

Things seemed to go great. The group got together and rolled up zero level PCs on the new tables I designed. I created a couple different groups of humans with different racial occupations to help establish the themes of the game. We also used the alternate luck rule I came up with - where PCs are allowed to risk their luck if they start with a 9-12 luck score, which could result in the changing of their luck. This had some very unexpected results.

Out of the 4 characters who risked luck, only one got a positive modifier out of it, the others ended up with negative modifiers. However the unexpected result is that the random events that happened when they were younger, ended up resulting in them having a backstory and there for a stronger personality.

For example, one of John's characters was a vat farmer - they use the old vat technology to grow foodstuffs, that taste horrible. His character had decided he wants to make a name for himself, and went wandering into the Pit when he was young. He decided he would use his personality to get out, and used Personality to pray to the gods for help. It failed. Something attacked him and he woke up near the stairs of the Pit with a hole in his head and no memories of what happened since then. Throughout the funnel he was called "Brain slug guy", and continued to talk to the voice in his head that he thought was god.

The character did not survive the funnel, having a -2 to your AC from a 4 luck with "Charmed House" lucky sign is a bad thing. However he had a blast with the character, and the negative luck "event" gave him something to role-play.

I don't want to get into many details of the session, because I plan to write it up at some point. The general idea is that there characters were chosen by acolytes of the Blood God to be sacrifices in the arena. They fought their way to victory and have earned gold and glory in the process.

This week we plan to have two more players at the table, so we'll be seeing where things go from there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Fane of the Frog God: Part 2 - Where the Wizard Does Something

When we last left out heroes they were just camping out in the abandoned armory of the subterranean shrine, trying to recover from their pitched battles against the Bullywug forces they had encountered thus far. If you remember from last session, Scott's wizard is having trouble getting off any spells - In fact with one magic missile he burned 6 points for a +6 to his roll, and still ended up with a failed cast (Getting less then 12).

Our cast of characters:

Drake the Moller Mauler - A chaotic dwarf with a penchant to bash out teeth of his enemies and affix them to his shield. Played by Randy.

Farmer, the Witness of Ildavir - a neutral cleric in service to the goddess of Nature. Also played by Randy.

Jess the Thug - A chaotic smuggler turned thief with assassin leanings. Played by Ginger.

The Silent Mage - Wizard bound to the King of the Elf Lands. Played by Scott.

We also had two new zero level PCs join in the session, brought in by Scott. An Orphan boy and a Dwarven Blacksmith - Though these come in a little later in the session.

The party has managed to make it through the night without being disturbed. The Bullywug's must not of thought to check the room full of deadly skeletons for the invaders. Jess pops out of the room to do some scouting and finds the hall empty. The head back toward the altar room where they had found the two potions the previous week. Upon entering the room they encounter five bullywug guards, armed and on the lookout for the invaders who have been slaughtering their kin.

The frog-men win initiative and rush in to attack the dwarf blocking the door. One of them runs to the hall and starts croaking - which the players assume means he was calling for reinforcements. Things can get rough quick. The dice at this point are falling in favor of the frog men. A couple of hits and Drake the Dwarf is down on the ground.

Some quick healing from Farmer saves the dwarf. Jess runs past the group and pushes the door shut, on the next round she quickly spikes the floor infront of the door to prevent the reinforcements from entering right away. The sounds of frantic frog hands hammering at the door are heard.

The battle continues to go poorly for the party. The Silent Mage attempts a choking cloud only to have it fail. Jess goes down a critical hit from a bullywug sword, and Farmer is unable to heal her (failing his roll). The Silent Mage grabs one of the potions that had found and pours it down her throat in time, and she wakes back up fully healed and feeling amazing. The tide of battle quickly turns and they have the four remaining Bullywugs down and bleeding out on the stone floor.

They don't have time for a rest, as the door is hit by a massive thud. The party assumes the frogs have brought a battering ram and quickly prepare spell and blade for the attack.

The door breaks down as a massive bear charges into the room. Surprised by the bear, they quickly recover and Farmer manages to critical on his casting of paralysis, allowing him to paralyze the bear in place, blocking then door.

The Silent Mage spellburns again to recast his choking cloud, and gets a minimal effect - a small cloud of stinking smoke that burns the eyes of the bear. His slug familiar moves into position above the door, to paralyze the next thing through after the bear.

They hear spellcasting behind the bear - it must of been summoned. Then the bear is moved out of the way by an enlarged bullywug warrior who stands ten feet tall. He attacks Jess with his massive sword but rolls a fumble, smashing the blade into fragments. The slug then attacks it, paralyzing it when it fails it's saving throw.

The Silent Mage gets off a spell this time, and with a little spellburn was able to cast a potent magic missile this time - killing a distant relative in the process with his mercurial magic. He fires off six missiles that each end up dealing 1d6+1 damage, splitting them between the big bullywug and the caster - Both targets drop in a scream of bloody eagles (the manifestation of his magic missiles) which also dismisses the summoned bear.

Drake the Moller Mauler smashes some Bullywug face and drops the other combatants with the assistance of Jess. Looting the bodies and looking around, the find two prisoners in the hallway, bound up, that the bullywugs had captured from a nearby town to be used as sacrifices. Vowing revenge, the Orphan and the Dwarven Blacksmith join the party and are quickly outfitted in slimy Bullywug leather armor and given longswords.

They had discovered last session that the main hallway was blocked by fallen rubble, so decided to investigate the doors in the "bathing room" they had found before. Heading back inside they find the room empty, and go to climb the vines to get to the ledges above, and the doors they had seen. Farmer is volunteered to go first - The Silent Mage attempts to cast spider climb on him but only gets to cast that spell with a d14 - and thus fails (The Silent Mage has some of the worst Mercurial magic affects I have ever seen). The cleric makes it up easily, however.

They decide to go up the northern passage where the bullywug crossbowman had been guarding the previous day - and venture down a long hallway with a downward slant. The walls here are etched with images of frogs worshipping a giant frog and killing snakes.

In the next room they find a large room, empty of creatures and a door on the right wall. In the center is a clear crystal fountain with a trio of frogs spitting a stream of water into the fountain basin, which shimmers with the flicker of jewels under the water. The Silent Mage believes it is trapped, but Jess the thief is more interested in the jewels and Drake rushes over to join her. As Jess tries and scoops out some gems with a spear they see the spear melt into nothing - and the fountain chimes loudly, and then begins spraying acid all over the room.

Jess manages to dodge behind Drake before he goes down from the acid. She quickly drags him back to Farmer to be healed and the party waits for the acid spray to stop. Choosing to leave the fountain alone for now they pass through the next door, and out into the hallway on the opposite side of the fallen rubble they had found before.

They discover a set of massive double-doors as the end of the hallway with torches burning on the wall to frame it in flickering orange light. They decide to investigate a side passage first, heading down a hallway and listening at the door - where they hear the sound of water. Opening the door they discover the a massive spawning pool of the Bullywug, guarded by several bullywug warriors. Piles of eggs and tadpools swim in the waist deep swamp water. The room smells of rot and swamp gas.

As the Bullywugs rush the door, The Silent Mage gets an idea and starts prepping some oil. The Blacksmith and the Orphan borrow some of his oil and do the same. Drake blocks the door to prevent any of them from getting in, smashing and killing one with his shield.

Jess joins in the fight when Drake goes down to a bullywug attack. Farmer provides some quick healing and the dwarf rises to push back the frogmen. The trio in the back toss in their burning oil, lightning the swamp gas and soon there is a raging inferno in the room sucking the oxygen out of the air around them. Drake kicks the last frog back into the flame to join his burning companions and young, and they shut the door to let them cook.

With no where else to go, they venture to the large set of double doors. Listening at the door, they hear nothing so open up one of the doors. Inside they see a large chamber with still, brackish water just below floor level - with stepping stones slick with slime across the water to an island with a bronze statue of a frog. Red jewels for eyes the size of saucers, and a pile of treasure between it's feet. A brazier burning hot in the palms of the statue.

Seeing the gold, Drake rushes across the stones but falls into the water after slipping, hurting his back and having to scamper to grab the stones to keep from sinking in his chainmail. Jess dances across the stones and notices some strange greenish nodules smeared on the gold, as if something had been using the gold to scratch off it's skin. However she is more interested in the large gems than the gold, and begins climbing the statue.

The others notice a large dark form rising out of the depths, and then it rises from the water. A huge, hulking green creature with rubbery blister and nodule covered flesh. Sickly yellow eyes and a maw full of jagged teeth. He mauls the Dwarf in an instance, tearing out ribs and tossing his body to the side on the stones.

They know they are in trouble (though they didn't know this was a troll - and I got to say, DCC trolls are nasty) and spring into action. At this point I have to say, the Silent Mage made up for being so terrible at casting spells the whole game. He put everything he had into an invoke patron, and his sword began to glow a rainbow hue - Not knowing what it would do, he passed it off to the Orphan who charged across the stones and swung the sword burning a large chunk of his luck to hit the thing.

It had to make a DC 12 Will save to fail, with a +8 to it's roll. I rolled a 2.

The troll is banished to the elflands for 500 years. A scream of victory comes up from the characters (and the player's alike). They begin going through the treasure they can carry out of the temple, and Drake decides to go exploring a bit. Diving under the water, he discovers a cave. Further investigation and he finds a hidden chamber with more treasure, the lair of the troll as well as a glowing one foot tall golden statue of a squatting frog, and a sheathed sword that seemed to be holding up well in the moisture. He fills his pounches with some gems and gold, and swims back through the water.

Drake discovers when he dives under the water that his fingers have developed webbing and he can swim fast - as well as he does not need to hold his breath. He sets down the statue and nearly drowns on his lungful of water before picking it back up and swimming to the surface.

Investigation of the Sword reveals it is intelligent, and calls itself Ezeral, the Defender of Esterfay. A blade forged to defeat the darkness at the heart of the depths. To bring balance to the world. Sheathing the blade the group heads home for some rest.

They make it out of the swamp without issue, and hit up some shops in town to get armor and weapons for their adventure next week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Campaign Building: Title Needed!

I am drawing a blank on the title of this campaign. I have ideas bouncing around in my head, but I still have not decided the mood of the game. Mainly, I don't know how serious I want to take this. After my blog post I had some friends express interest in the Swords and Lasers campaign idea so I thought I would put some effort into developing the idea and see where it goes. For an experiment I plan to catalogue the development process on the blog.

The level of seriousness depends a lot on my mood at the time. I am currently leaning more toward a very gonzo barbarians and lasers style of game and less of a serious game. I still want there to be a drama, action and danger I just want this to be a game where we can get drunk while playing and it will only get more fun.


The working title at the moment. Some other ideas: Savage Lands, Blood and Rust, Forgotten World, and Spaceships and Savages. Of course the content of the campaign, the setting and the adventures I can run in it are the most important details here I really want a strong name that allows me to convey the mood and themes of the game to the players as well as myself.

Setting Elements Brainstorm

My first step when creating a new campaign - after picking the name if I can come up with one - is to come up with some elements for the setting. This is usually just a brainstorm of ideas that I would like to incorporate into the setting. Not all of these will make the final cut, but may be picked up again later for story ideas. Here we go:

Rusted Cities - The world used to be more technologically advanced. No one knows how to make any of the high tech stuff anymore. Working technology is rare and is usually in serious need of repairs.

Uneducated - Most people are uneducated. Reading and writing is rare. City folk tend to be tradespeople who practice family business.

Life is cheap - The strong take what they want from the weak.

Slavery - Captured enemies are enslaved in the city states. Roaming gangs of slavers prey on the weak.

Magic is real - Magic was discovered some time ago, but comes from an external source. The Gods grant power to a very select group of devote followers. Wizards are rare, and must make deals with exotic beings for their power.

Magic is feared - Common people fear the power of magic.

Falling Stars - Crashed ships litter the world. Crafts from the great beyond which have crashed on the dying earth. Strange alien beasts roam the wasteland. Not common, but they are out there.

The Mythic Underworld - The depths of the earth is a place where the laws of reality are weak. Living dungeons that treat invading people as foreign bodies, with traps and monsters being sent forth as it defenses. Dungeons are born from cracks in the surface of reality. The universal laws are breaking down and chaos is leaking through from another dimension.

Things grow more chaotic - The world is dying, reality is cracking. Chaos is reigning supreme. The forces of law lie dead on the higher planes of battle. The blood of their wars drip down driving the men of the world mad with rage.

The Land is in Flux - Things don't stay where they are supposed to. Distances between places are not set in stone. As more chaos leaks into the world things become fluid. The wastelands grow more dangerous.

The Gods are Petty - The Gods seek worship. They demand strange service. They are not kind to their followers. Wars between religions are commonplace.

Putting It Together

So from the brainstorm we have some common themes. The forces of Chaos are winning in this world. As the world nears it's end, the barrier between the world and other realities are growing thinner. Darkness, chaos and madness creeps in to the forgotten corners of the world.

I really like the idea of there being some great war between Chaos and Law, and the metaphorical "Blood" dripping down on the world is responsible for some sort of growing bloodlust or rage. Maybe there are tribes of barbarian savages that have been taken over by the complete death of law - agents of destruction that seek to tear down the rusted cities, the last bastions of decaying law in the world.

Magic is very rare and dangerous. We can assume that magic is a force of Chaos, and perhaps it's discovery led to the walls of reality originally growing weaker. Now with each spell cast the forces of Chaos grow stronger. The only way to fight them back is with more magic.

Technology will be around. Rusted metal walls, cracked domed cities and non-functional vehicles. What does work will be more valuable than gold in the right hands. Technology and magic with both be feared. Some technology, things that were made to be simple and function for a long time - like growing vats for crops and the like, probably still exist enough that they are in common use. Things like lasers and vehicles are much rarer.

Key Locations

Now we come up with a few locations to incorporate some of these elements in them. I know I want a main city to base this game out of. Playing around with some German words in google translate, I come up with something I like - then mash those words together, remove some letters and come up with our first location.

Rotenstrad - The City of Rust

Rotenstrad is situated along the Blood Coast. The largest inhabited city of the known world. Called the City of Rust by most, named so due to the many abandoned rusty metal towers and collapsing metal walls of the old city. The city is sprawling, and has long ago outgrown those old walls. Most of its inhabitants live in squalor under the dangerous red-orange glow of the sun. Food is scarce, as the subterranean food farms aren't able to support the growing cities' bloating population. Even with imported foodstuffs people die of starvation in the streets every day.

The city is most known throughout the world for it's famous Arena of Blood. Where slaves, prisoners and gladiators battle every day for the entertainment of the populace. Gambling on these events is the main source of entertainment for those who can afford it. The combatants that die are drug off to be made into food for the poor.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Too Many Ideas - Not Enough Time

I would consider myself a pretty creative guy. Sometimes it feels like ideas just keep growing and growing, and I need to get them down on paper before my mind explodes. I get a little obsessive creating a new setting, or an adventure, or a totally new roleplaying system. Sometimes they ideas develop into something I use. Often times they just get forgotten in a notebook. Regardless, I feel better for putting the thoughts down and on paper and allowing my mind to move on to something else.
This post is going to be composed of random thoughts on gaming, weird ideas I have and some inspirational pictures found online.
I like the look of this little guy. Makes me think of a gnome. In fact, I would love if this is what gnomes looked like - or some gnome like alternative in my game. Something that looks a lot less human than the standard gnome. It looks friendly, but also alien. Something you could see living in the depths of the earth, inventing weird things and crafting strange magics in the dark. I'm going to call his race the Tovi.
The Tovi are distant relatives to the goblins, but also share some dwarven mixed blood somewhere else down the line. They are creatures of the earth, that prefer the deep dark places, and are perfectly at home in the Mythic Underworld. They are generally good natured, yet cunning and mischievous. This puts them at odds with the various other creatures that inhabit the deep dark places.


The Tovi live in very alien labyrinths of their own design. Organic yet crafted, often smoothed stone and metal are used in the construction of their communities. They care less about symmetry, and claim to be "listening to the earth" as they craft, which gives a very chaotic appearance to their tunnels and rooms.

The Tovi live in large communities, from hundreds to thousands in a series of these twisted tunnels and labyrinths. They have a strong sense of community, but their minds are a little bent. Leaving most of them toward the neutral alignment. Lawful members of the community tend to be the leaders and spiritual deacons, where as the chaotic members of the society tend to be the trap-crafters, soldiers and spies that put their bent minds to work to weaken the dangerous other inhabitants of the deep dark.

The Tovi are terrified of the Dwellers in the Dark, and work endlessly to protect themselves from the madness that those beings spread. They construct death-trapped hallways and rooms, lures for the beings of chaos, insulating their community from the rest of the mythic underground.

Perhaps I will stat these guys up as a DCC race at some point in the future. I could see these making interesting additions to a party once contact has been made with a colony of them. They are likely to be the only allies the PCs would find in the deepest reaches of the earth.

Random Setting Idea: Dying Earth and Science Fantasy

A world of laser, sword and spell

I really, really, really want to run a game with a mix of fantasy and sci-fi. Some hardcore, heavy metal themed world of crashed alien spaceships, wicked monsters and barbarians. Barrier Peaks and Cthulhu all over the place. Mad Max with a broadsword, some influences thrown in from Borderlands, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards and Dying Earth. The idea has my brain simmering with excitement. I just don't know when I will have the time to run this with my current games I am doing - or if I will even have any interest. It's been my experience in the past that players don't like Sci-Fi in their Fantasy.

Oh, and the setting has to have gratuitous nudity and scantily clad female warriors. This is a must.

What happened to this world? Well.. I don't know yet. In my head the world had become very advanced. Similar to the world depicted in the Dying Earth series. The world is near the end of it's life time. Humanity had become very advanced but something has happened - some great disaster or catastrophe. Things have been set back to a much more barbaric time. Magic exists now. Dark things creep into our world through cracks in the fabric of reality. Alien ships have crashed, and some of the high technology functions for those who can hold on to it.

It is a world of conflict and war. A world where the strong rule over the weak. Where magic reigns and life is cheap.

This is a setting I really want to run.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Homebrewed Species: The Dwellers in the Dark

They lurk below. Within the realm of the sightless, yet they see all. They are the twisted abominations of the darkest reaches of the world. Where the abyss and earth meet, on the periphery of reality they wait, hungry for the minds of mortal men. Their madness poisons the roots of the earth, allowing their insanity to seep into the world of light above.

I've been trying to come up with a name for the creatures that exist in the depths of the ruins of Esterfay. I would like to share some information here without spoiling anything in the campaign.

When I started making the ruined halls I wanted there to be something very alien, something very old, that were the original architects of the halls. The place would have been basically a giant strip of fly paper for them to catch civilizations in to feed their inhuman hunger.

The weird stuff that exists within the halls is a product of their madness leaking to the surface. Some of the weird things were created by mad wizards falling prey to these dark creature's malign influence. Others were created by the creatures themselves, to lure in the greedy, vain and prideful.

The other reason I made the Dwellers in the Dark? I love Mind Flayers and Beholders, but they are totally owned by Wizards of the Coast. I wanted something that I could call mine. Something I could do anything with and mold into the antagonists I wanted in my game.

Description: The Dwellers in the Dark are a few feet taller than a man, but irregular and slender. Above their shoulders resembles a snakes, long and serpentine, with no disenable difference between neck and head. Eyeless, with a pair of wicked mandibles framing a sucker-faced jaw of many rows of circular teeth. They have four arms and two legs, their shoulders and joints pointy yet thin. Their skin is scaly and slick, often colored pale white, indigo or other bizarre, unnaturally bright or pale colors (Weird Lizard Colors). They dress in robes most often, but the more martial members of the race wear strange proto-organic armor that makes them blend in with the darkness as they move.

Combat and Powers: I don't want to get too much into this, for fear of giving too much away. The Dwellers are very strong physically, but often prefer to use their potent magical abilities on their victims. One such power they have developed is a powerful defense mechanism. They can force their skin to flicker brightly, emitting a blinding hypnotic flicker of light that causes sighted creatures to make a will save or become paralyzed by their own nervous system going into shock.

Some sample magical abilities, in no particular order: Charm Person, Command, Paralysis, Sleep, Detect Magic, Invisibility, Spider Climb, ESP, Magic Missile, Lightning Bolt, Magic Shield, Teleport

Of course, individual powers will vary.

Servants of Flesh and Spell: The Dwellers in the Dark make things. Spell and flesh woven together to create servants to enact their will upon the sighted world above. They make their madness manifest in an assortment of ways, and no two things are exactly the same. That said, they have some "common" creations that they use to serve them.

  • The Sightless Hounds - Pale slime skinned hounds the size of a horse, that can run down prey for the Dwellers. A single pack typically serves a single Dweller. They are deadly, with a poisonous bite and vicious claws. Many appear mutated in strange ways - faces on their hides that scream in pain and beg for death; tentacles covering their hide, grasping and pinning those they fight; or strange appendages and spikes.
  • The Crawling Madness - Deadly worms that first appear as tiny parasites too small to see. The Dwellers have released these parasites into much of the drinking water, and they can also be transmitted via bodily fluids. An infected individual first appears to have their eyes "Swimming with madness" as the worms multiply quickly in the body. They grow stronger, gaining bonuses to their strength and stamina, as well as growing smarter, gaining bonuses to intelligence. Their bodies begin to mutate as the worms reweave their flesh from within. Soon, they become so insane with bloodlust that they attack on sight anything that is not under the control of the Dwellers. A rare few will be chosen by the Dwellers to undergo the Apotheosis, and be transformed into Dwellers themselves.
Just some teasers. Maybe it's too much?

Back Gaming!

I'm back in my hometown with the old crew and getting some games going. I am currently running two games, and thought I'd share some of what is going on.

Ruined Halls of Esterfay

Started a new group to DCC, and decided we would play in my Ruined Halls megadungeon with a couple of sandbox adventures in the area around them. They are given the freedom to do what they want, chasing down adventure leads or plumbing the depths of the megadungeon for their riches.

The first session was the character funnel, where the players each had four 0-level characters and went through "Portal Under the Stars" the DCC introductory adventure in the book, which was also the first adventure I got to play when my friend Kevin introduced me to the game.

They had a blast, and the death toll was high. My friend Randy, new to DCC but has been playing with me since the 80s, lost all of his characters. Ginger, also an old friend of mine but new to DCC as well lost all but one. On the next session we had another player join us, Scott, who rolled up a wizard with the worst mercurial magic effects I have ever seen.

Randy rerolled a set of characters, I allowed him to pick two to level to first level - He chose a dwarf and a cleric. The party then met up in the Wanton Wench, a bar in the city of Loris that caters to treasure hunters. They listened to some rumors of wealth and opportunity, and decided that they should check out the frog men of the swamp to the east that have been attacking villages.

The ventured to a town on the edge of the vast swamp. Really just a couple of families living close enough together to be called such. They met a farmer who had been attacked by one of the frog men.

He had seen them rooting through the abandoned farm next to his own, and the next morning they came to his place. He caught one in his barn, tried to drive it away and it drew a sword and ran him through.

The party, armed with the knowledge that the frog men had weapons, went to investigate the old farmhouse first. They discovered it had been stripped of anything of value, and even had boards taken from the walls. with more questions than answers they pushed forward into the swamp.

I would like to point out here that this is a random adventure I created by rolling a couple of dice of a random adventure name table and coming up with the adventure from there. This adventure is titled "The Fens of the Frog God".

In the swamp they quickly got lost, but since they didn't know what they were looking for it didn't matter. A couple of hours later and I rolled up a random encounter. While passing through a treacherous section of the swamp they are attacked by waterlogged bloated corpses.

The party quickly pulled up to some nearby dry ground to defend themselves. The battle was pitched, but they came out victorious. This is the first time that Scott's wizard got to cast some spells - One of the things I have been doing lately is rolling up the mercurial magic effect the first time the spell is cast - So it's a mystery until the wizard finally unleashes the spell. Scott discovers that every time he casts magic missile someone he knows dies! Lucky for his friends and family he can't manage to cast the spell without failing.

The cleric (who's name is Farmer - Randy says his father had a sense of humor about it) attempts to turn the undead with the power of Ildavir, and fails. His second attempt even nets him disapproval, forcing him to have to pray for ten minutes following the combat.

The thief Jess, played by Ginger, and the dwarf - Who's name is currently escaping me, both make quick work of the zombie horde, though are seriously wounded in the process. Jess falls unconscious and loses one of her daggers in the high swamp grass.

After dispatching the last zombie and healing they decide to press on a little more before resting. The cleric conjures forth a feast for them all, scoring a critical on his cast and summoning a feast to feed over a dozen people. They leave the remaining food as bait for wandering monsters and find somewhere out of the water to rest.

Camping on a wide fallen tree, they manage to make it through the night without any further incidents. The next day while traveling they spot a massive twenty foot tall elf in the distance, wearing leather and moving silently. They fail to hide and the thing approaches, demanding that they explain themselves.

Only the cleric in the party speaks elvish. There was a level 0 elf traveling with the party as well, but he was too stupid to speak his own language.

After some quick banter with the giant elf, they learn that the giant is hunting a dragon. He tells them where they can find the bullywugs they are hunting, and tells them they have recently moved in to an abandoned temple in the swamp. They thank the giant, and the they go their separate ways.

They reach the mound of  the temple entrance. Descending the tunnel, they find the central entry chamber is a below ground garden full of frog topiary hedges. A fountain in the middle is full of glowing mushrooms. A trio of the bullywugs is here, and leap to attack.

The battle is deadly! Both of the random zero level dudes go down to the bullywug's blades. Jess the Thug gets to ambush one of the frogs and slays him. The wizard drops to a flurry of blades and nearly bleeds out before being saved by Farmer. They finally stand triumphant over the mutilated frog corpses. They find that the frog men have a surprising amount of treasure on their persons, gold, silver and even a gem. One even has a piece of platinum. There must be more treasure within! They pass through the double doors to explore further.

The main hallway goes a good distance before splitting. Evidence that the tunnel had collapsed before is found, and a large section is still blocked off. They find some side passages to explore. In the first room they encounter a group of frog men bathing in slimy knee deep water. They do not have their armor, but the frog men seize initiative and get to their blades. A fourth bullywug peeks out over a ledge along the wall and begins shooting his crossbow down into the group.

This battle goes much better for everyone but the wizard, who continues to lose spells and fumbles with his blade. The dwarf has now taken to calling himself "Moller the Tooth Smasher" as he uses his warhammer and shield to smash the teeth out of everything he fights. After killing the frogs they discover two more passages out of this room, both up off the ground level but decide to go back to the other passage they discovered off the main hall.

This room has a pair of bullywugs speaking in croaks, standing near a blood soaked altar. The room filled with columns. The party does not give them a chance to attack first, and rushes them down. Killing these two easily. Searching around they find a secret compartment in the altar, that contains a few coins and a wooden box with two potions.

Note: I use a special system for potions in my game. Different potions can be identified by their characteristics. This is just an example, but a healing potion might be a golden thick liquid with swirls of red color, that smells of lavender and tastes sweet. They would then know that any potion matching that description would be the same type of potion (though there may be different looks to the same potion - and some poisonous liquids may be improperly brewed versions of that potion).

After some discussion they decide to not try the potions unless they are desperate and proceed on through a door in this room. They find another hallway heading toward the collapsed section of the temple, as well as a door marked with a red x. They investigate, discover the door is locked and open it up anyway. Inside is an abandoned armory filled with rusted weapons, armor and piles of bone. They step inside and the bones start to rise, forming into frog-men sized skeletons.

They rush in and battle, Moller the Toothsmasher leads the charge with a bulrush and a tackle, taking out two of the skeletons in one go. The third one falls to the thief with a warhammer, and the others get turned and backed into a corner where they crush them into piles of dust.

They decide that his might be a safe place to rest, since the frog men obviously don't come in here anymore. They close and lock the door, and prepare to sleep.

End of session two.

We play again next Monday, so I will give you all an update then.

As far as my second campaign I am running? I will save that for another post.

Ruined Halls of Esterfay: Strangeness in the Megadungeon

As I return to playing my campaign and dust off the binder containing the dozens of pages of megadungeon maps and notes, I remember all the cool random things tucked away in the dungeon that the players last time through got to see. There were also countless things they didn't get to see, because that's just the nature of a megadungeon. When you're first dungeon level has six hundred rooms the players are going to skip over a few things.

I thought I'd share a few of my weirder things here. Maybe someone can borrow something and put it to good use.

The Fountain of Youth and Beauty

I love making dangerous fountains. Just something about a beautiful fountain in a cursed and deadly place makes me cackle like a mad man. I think it goes back to when I was young and first read the Dungeon Builder's Guidebook. There was this excellent picture of a group messing with a fountain and getting sprayed with deadly acid. That has always stuck with me, and perhaps makes up a core of my being.

A large chamber somewhat near the entrance of the dungeon. On the walls leading up to it, the kobolds that live in the area have scratches warnings to their fellows into the wall. The players might see the two foot high cross scratches by the time they hear the fountain bubbling and splashing.

The chamber lights up when light is brought inside, reflected upon the perfectly polished mirrors that line the walls. There is a wide hall exit from the four cardinal directions of the room. There is also a 1 in 6 chance of there being a skeleton or rotting body laying next to one of the mirrors, but the giant rats and slimes that clean this section of the dungeon usually sweep through here for an easy feast.

In the center of the chamber is a massive fountain of polished white marble. A statue of a maiden with a strange looking face- vertical eye slits, fanged mouth and naked - sprays water from her outstretched hands into the pool around her. The water shimmers clean and bright. A few coins sit on the bottom of the pool, from countless travelers making a wish.

Effects of the Fountain

Drinking from the fountain has a variety of effects. Failing a charisma/personality test causes the character to gain a point of the stat. Their ugliness fades, wrinkles and scars vanish and they just radiate attractiveness.

Succeeding on the roll does not grant beauty, but it does grant youth. Restoring a lost year to the character from a sip, making them younger.

Either way, a character that drinks must make a saving throw (will in DCC) to avoid drinking again. In my game the DC was 15, +2 for each drink the character has had. Failing causes the character to become addicted to the beauty they can receive from the fountain and gorge themselves on the water. Unless physically stopped from drinking (and they will fight to drink) they will unmake themselves in a matter of minutes.

After drinking, even with making a save to resist drinking again, the character must make another will save to leave the room, failure meaning they stop to stare at themselves in any mirrors they pass (remember the walls here are also covered in mirrors). They will waste away staring at themselves in the mirror, their vanity becoming so great they wont eat or drink anything for a week save for staring in any available mirror.

Mimics in DCC - AKA Dwarfbane

In Dungeon Crawl Classics, the dwarf has the ability to smell gold at a distance of up to one hundred feet. As I thought about the monsters that might inhabit my megadungeon, I thought about what sort of evolutionary changes I could make in a classic monster to make it fit into the setting. I always loved mimics, and somehow this idea popped into my head: Mimics love the taste of dwarf flesh.

Mimics in my world have developed the ability to smell like gold to a dwarf. Each one is born with a strange cluster of gold in an organ in their body. They can "flex" this muscle to emit a potent waft of "gold smell" out of their body. They often incorporate gold into the camouflaged forms they take when laying in wait for food.

This has led to some interesting encounters with mimics, when the party allows the dwarf to lead them around by his nose.