Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Game of Taps: Hey, buddy, you're the one with the pig...

Last night was another fantastic session of the Game of Taps featuring, yet again, a dearth of the crew from "People of the Pit" and another new player, so we dove right back into the Keep on Kickassistan. Good thing I'd just written up Area B a few days ago (and am currently working on Areas C, D & E), so the guys had stuff to go kill. Right, so, who were our intrepid players and their adventurers?
  • Chris L was there as ever, ready to rock. His B2 characters are (so far):
    • A nameless elf who's pretty deadly with a bow. Playing to stereotypes much, Chris? Seriously, though, this guy's +1 to hit with a bow dropped more boar folk than it should have, along with his super-crazy crits on spell rolls. First it was Charm person, and this week's spell crit was even cooler (for them, not for me). 
    • A similarly nameless cleric of Cthulhu who did a lot to displease He-Who-Sleeps, apparently. This was my first opportunity to adjudicate a cleric and it was surprisingly simple. All of those rules and bullet points in the Cleric section of the Class chapter really aren't that intimidating once you have to dig through them. 
  • Doug B's name sounds like he could be an 80's rapper: "Yo, yo, yo, it's Douggie B!" Doug had only one remaining PC from last session:
    • Gorby, level 1 warrior and fortune teller. Gorby took the Higgabooga king's giant cleaver (treated as a battle axe) and did a spectacular job of hitting very few things with it. Heavily armored, they tended to put Gorby on the front lines and let him take the hits so no one else had to.
    • Doug replenished his squad of level 0's, picking up a trapper and some other guys who I can't remember because only the trapper survived.
  • Sean is Chris's ex-roommate (I think?) and a new guy at our table, but he performed admirably. His pack of 0's included:
    • A fortune teller who was seriously weak and clumsy but pretty smart. (Dead)
    • A dwarven miner who was strong and quick and surprisingly smart. (Dead)
    • An elf chandler who... pretty much sucked except that she has super lucky. 
    • A minstrel who had all around better-than-average stats and would have been a nigh-perfect bard if DCC included classes that suck. The good news is that Goodman Games doesn't hate us and we therefore have no bards.
Not quite exactly like this, but this
The players heard my dramatic reading of the player introduction that you can find here, then they were ready to head into cavern B. After making a few Luck checks and failing them all, the players failed to notice the boar folk head amongst all the severed ones on the wall until it moved, but by that time, it was too late and the boar folk were all up in their collective grills. The party started moving toward the nearer guard post and got caught between that group and a group of freshly-alerted guards who were coming in from deeper in the warren. This pincer movement proved pretty rough for the group and Doug lost his two level 0s that I can't remember; Sean, on the other hand, managed to pull of some pretty spectacular rolls and managed to survive with all four of his 0s intact. Chris's cleric managed to mis-cast a few spells, leading to a pretty substantial disfavor factor, then managed to roll a "1" on a Lay on Hands check, drawing the ire of Cthulhu. Cthulhu commanded him to spend an hour in prayer, atoning for whatever he had done (luckily, he didn't have to do that right away, but was at -1 to spell checks until he did). The group took out all nine boar folk and started to search the area.

It's a fun thing, fellow DMs, to poke and prod players into doing stuff you know they shouldn't, isn't it? Like, after they've finished looting and piling up the disgusting bodies of nine dead boar folk, and the players know that they really should be waiting for the party cleric to finish off his paeans to R'lyeh -- there's just a half an hour left, after all -- egging them toward further exploration and discovery can be terribly satisfying if they take the bait. You know, like sending the Agility-penaltied fortune teller off with a lantern to investigate just what's down that passage off to the west.

Sean's fortune teller took a closer look down that passage and came face to face with another boar man and both stopped dead in their tracks! The party now found themselves facing off against 12 boar folk and one cleric down. Sean learned quickly that risking action without the party medic on hand is risky as two of the boar folk charged his fortune teller and the poor guy went down. Gorby sprang into action and tried to make a trap with some lantern oil, but his toss put the stuff too close to the giant fire pit in the room and the thing went up in flames, building a barrier between (some of) the PCs and the boar folk.  Gorby ended up going down after getting charged by lots of boar men, and nearly bled out. Chris's elf distinguished himself again with the elf, casing a well-planed Sleep that knocked out three of the boar folk, then using a careful strategy of attacking (at range with javelins) and withdrawal, the players managed to control the numbers of the advancing boar folk, only losing two of the 0s in the fight (Sean's dwarf and fortune teller ended up biting it in this fight) and (just barely) saving Gorby while the cleric kept up the "Cthluhu ftaghn" outside.

And then things got weird.

Sean found that, in the wallow where the boar folk had been, well, wallowing, there was a pen containing their young. This group avoided the usual "Should we kill them? Let them live? Free them? Raise them as our own?" conversation and went straight to "could we sell them into slavery?" and "could we let them loose and herd them down hallways to detect traps?" In the end, Chris and Doug decided to not interfere if Sean wanted to try to herd a boarling down the hall to "check for traps." After some agonizing how to do it or even whether he should do it, Sean asked his fellow adventurers for advice. I believe it was Doug who, not wanting to get involved, said "Hey, buddy, you're the one with the pig." When the swineherding turned up no traps, Sean's elven chandler slaughtered the boarling when no one was watching.

One thing that the boarling did turn up was some doors, and while the PCs bashed away at the locked one, some boarfolk poked their heads out of the other one to see what was going on; one of their squealing young had just been murdered outside their door, after all, not to mention the racket these guys were making a hundred feet away or so. And so the last fight of the dungeon segment (and its boss fight) ensued. And two rounds later, it was over.

Here's what happened.

Snurk, son of Wheesquin, devourer of Wheesquin, and his two ladies were behind that door, and it was one of the ladies who opened it and charged the adventurers (I think it was Chris's cleric). As the group got set up to face off against the new threat, Chris asked "Hey, what does Color spray do?" Snurk came out of hiding, managed to get off a pretty big hit on Gorby, then WHAM!, Chris's elf crit with Color spray. Okay, so it's not like crits with spells do more damage than other casts, but the result that 20+1 ends up with blinds enemies less than 2HD and gives those of 2HD or more two Will saves; if they fail both saves, they're not only blind, but also unconscious. Well damn. Two failed Will saves later and the threat posed by Snurk was over, crushed beneath the heels of the PCs and awesome dice rolls.

It wasn't quite over there, though. Gorby picked up Snurk's maul, the demonic weapon Backbreaker and began a journey down a very dark path indeed. He used the maul to bash open an iron chest in Snurk's secret treasury and attempted to repeat the feat on the other door in the cavern, the locked door that they had been trying to bash in when they attracted Snurk's attention in the first place. The red tide of fury that washed over Gorby consumed him for a few moments and he lost control, smashing everything in sight, including all of the chests and crates behind the door, one of the several shields in there and (due to a failed Luck roll) the crossbow that was in a now-crushed chest. When the rage subsided, and Gorby realized the implications that his new weapon might have, he giggled with impish glee.

The rest of the night was clean up, selling off treasure, dividing it up, some carousing and first level decisions, stuff like that. Three of the 0s that survived the night were 3 xp shy of 1st, so their players decided to opt for carousing, dropping bunches of cash down the xp hole. Here's what they ended up with:
  • The trapper (Doug) became a warrior.
  • The minstrel opted to become a wizard (Sean) and
  • The elven chandler became, well, and elf (Sean again).
Here are some thoughts on the session:
  • The players get one set of 0s from here on in. If they get "reinforcements" from the Keep, then they'll start effecting the population of it, which means that they'll probably run afoul of the castellan.
  • This was my first time Judging a cleric. Clerics in DCC are just as powerful and full of potential as wizards and the differences between DCC clerics and D&D clerics are interesting. I love the alternative consequence deceleration mechanics that DCC uses for spellcasting rather than Vancian gaminess and this session gave me two opportunities to see how well Disfavor acts as a decelerator like wizardly spell loss, corruption and patron taint. 
  • I keep thinking that carousing rules aren't the best fit for DCC or that the guidelines listed in the DCC rulebook should be more closely adhered to, but I've decided that after 1st level, carousing uses a d3 instead of a d6. 0s have a lot more room for improvement, after all. 
  • I need to use more traps. Half the time, these players are really cautious, the other half, they seem completely reckless; not a bad dynamic, but I might need to knock them down a few pegs lest they get too cocky.
  • Backbreaker had a good start, but that thing is getting a facelift. Instead of just being a simple "port" of the cursed tomb axe from Sailors on the Starless Sea, Backbreaker might just become a more Stormbringer-esque sort of force that could lead Gorby down the path Chaos Lordship. Oh, and berserker rages.