Monday, October 29, 2012

B2: Keep on Kickassistan

Last week, in the session of Game of Taps described in this post, I gave you a bit of a peak inside how the world of B2: Keep on the Borderlands is a bit different when the eponymous Keep is placed in Kickassistan.  First off, we had the complete lack of kobolds. In their stead, we have the Higgabooga tribe of gila men, which, if you ask me, is a much cooler thing. The Higgabooga king and his booga brides were the session's ultimate boss fight which was really fun, really tough, and claimed the lives of many PCs and the entire Higgabooga court. This session was a blast, and got me thinking: what's going to happen next time I don't have the standard crew or have more new players without characters? And then I realized, I've got to keep the Keep on Kickassistan alive.

Module B2: Keep on the Borderlands is kind of perfect for a low-commitment role playing environment. Each set of caverns in the Caves of Chaos is (relatively) self-contained and represent a group of threats that a group of PCs can spend a night tearing through, get done with, go sell off their loot and spend the rest of the night carousing. Even failed forays (again, see this session's write up) can have their losses cut with enough time in a single session to go back in and make up for lost time. All in all, Keep is a pretty solid module for a group that changes its composition on a routine basis and isn't capable of the long-term commitment necessary to make it through many of the uber-long modules out there.

The first major change that I had to make was the change from kobolds to gila men, but many other changes are going to be necessary. Not only does Kickassistan not contain kobolds, but there also aren't any goblins, orcs, hobgoblins or ogres, so those guys are going to have to change. Furthermore, the whole backdrop of the D&D version of Chaos is a bit different than the DCC version of Chaos; the D&D version doesn't have nearly enough tentacles for my taste, so those undead and chaos priests are going to have to change a bit. I'm working on putting together some ideas of how each "node" of the Caves of Chaos are different, and as I see it, the work that I need to do right now involve figuring out how the following are different:

  • Orcs: there are two different tribes of these guys. What's up with them? Since they're not orcs in Kickassistan, what are they? What do they do? Right now, I'm thinking about playing up the "pig-nosed orc" concept and turning them into boar-headed beast men; this idea needs to ferment a bit.
  • Goblins: are small, tricky dudes. Maybe small ape men? Ape men seems appropriately DCC, but I'm not sure if they fit in the vibe of "lots of crazy beast-type guys." This one still needs life breathed into it.
  • Hobgoblins: are militaristic, organized and probably the least Chaotic of the tribes in the Caves of Chaos. Since they're not as sneaky as the other goblinoid races, I'm not worrying about making them consistently related to the other goblinoid monstermen (goblins and bugbears, being sneaky can be linked species-ically), so I think maybe I'll be going with something drastically different. Maybe goatmen? Goatmen sound like fun even if they might get too dangerously close to the beastmen of the Warhammer universe.
  • Bugbears! What the hell would make a good large, strong but sneaky group of beast men? The good news is that these guys are a bit higher up in the Caves, so I doubt the players will get to them any time soon. Hmm... what is big but sneaky? Are bears sneaky?
  • The Ogre: If there's one thing that strikes me as the most iconic monster of Keep, it's the Ogre. Back in the day, when my middle school group ran Keep (and I DM'd), the part that they always remembered the most was the Ogre whom they befriended (his name was "Hep") through bizarre circumstances that I can't quite remember. Hep survived his encounter with those PCs and periodically over the next few years of gaming, he'd show up during their adventures, usually just as comedy relief. Lots of great memories there. For the Keep on Kickassistan, I don't necessarily need to keep the potential for the comedy angle (but the "Bree-Yark!" angle is definitely still in), and so will be reinterpreting the Ogre the same way that the DCC rulebook does, as a mountain ape. MOUNTAIN APE!
  • Most of the rest of the stuff will sort itself out or require only minor flavor tweaks. 
Over the next bunch of time (who knows?) I'll throw out some of the stuff that I convert from D&D to Kickassistan. Some of it I might have to save until after it's shown up in the Game of Taps, but look for all (or most of) it here.