Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Catching Up With Quasquetherion

It's been awhile since there have been any updates here on the state of affairs in my Quasquetherion game, and that's the sort of interruption in service that just won't stand here in Kickassistan but is totally to be expected with holidays and other winter time nonsense. And so, what's been happening in the Quasquetherion campaign? Let's hit the highlights.

The Session With the Black Metal Doppelgangers

The gaming group has lost one of its players (maybe, I can't really tell, but this kid hasn't been there four times, so I'm counting that as an "I quit"), so, instead of letting the campaign grind to a halt, we picked up two more. These guys -- who are a lot of fun -- have experience playing modern rpgs (the only rpgs I could see on their shelves, though, were 4e and 13th Age), but none with the old school. Perfect... They rolled up a thief and a magic user, roles already filled in the group, and joined the group on its foray to retrace its steps to where they found all of the neat magical pools (they refer to it as the "toe juice room" due to the party's original thief's experiment with the healing potion pool, her toe and something we all referred to as a "toegasm"). After some strange experiences with the feral halflings dressed in fancy costume-party-style costumes and a near brush with the grimace-inspiring ratlings (not to be confused with vermen... these are the rat-halfling hybrids that +Ben Djarum added to his excellent wandering monster charts) who ran off into the darkness, the party found itself at the "toe juice room." The party explored a little further, but it was in the pool room (again) that they faced off against evil Black Metal doppelgangers of themselves (even the new guys!). In the process of this fight, the new thief (temporarily blinded for some reason I can't remember) accidentally triggered the re-emergence of the Green Slime beast from several sessions previous and our intrepid fighter, Thendrex (played by +Shane Jones) put a very long-running joke to rest.

The joke that he killed (literally) involved the incorrect name that the whole party had been using to refer to Shane's PC, Thendrex. When Shane rolled up his character's possessions, he rolled just a shield on the armor chart, meaning that he had no armor, just the shield. Shane took this in the Appendix N direction by interpreting it as meaning that Thendrex was walking around in a loincloth and fuzzy boots. Somehow that loincloth ended up becoming a thong in our minds and eventually, the character named "Thendrex" became "Thong-gar." Whenever we wanted to get a rise out of Shane, we'd just call his character "Thong-gar," and that's all it would take. "It's not Thong-gar! It's Thendrex! Thendrex! See? It says it right there on the character sheet! Thendrex! Why is that so hard?" A good laugh was had by all. Except for Shane.

And so, when the party's Black Metal doppelgangers showed up (again, inspired by +Ben Djarum's badass wandering monster table), their fighter leader was naturally named Thong-gar. We ended up toying with most of the BMDgs' names, and so there was an Iceland (doppelganger to Zealand, the party's legless nature mage) and ... some other jokes I can't come up with. At first, the party tried to get the BMDgs to help them fight the Green Slime! monster, but they weren't very compelling, so Thong-gar and company focused on killing them some PCs, but were only partially successful. In the end, the BMDgs all went down (just barely), the Green Slime! monster went down, as did the party's new thief (as played by new guy Tim), whose name I can't remember. Shane's Thendrex managed to vindicate himself and kill off the bad joke that had haunted him his whole career. Well done, Thendrex! It had gotten late, however, and the players decided that they were going to try to survive the night in the dungeon despite their previous attempt (which resulted in Thendrex's prior temporary blindness and Brooke's thief's current limp). The party locked themselves in and hunkered down while Tim rolled up a new character. 

[Edit: I realized after this was posted -- many hours after it was posted -- that I should point out that the Black Metal Doppelgangers weren't doppelgangers in the sense of the actual monster called the doppelganger, but were, rather, doppelgangers of the original party in the strict, true and original sense of the word. They were actually a party of NPCs that happened to be sort of a like the Mirror Mirror-verse version of the PC party, if the Mirror Mirror-verse was filled with Black Metalheads in full corpse paint all the time. I feel like knowing this important piece of information might enrich your understanding of the rich tapestry of gaming that is Quasquetherion and why that rich tapestry closely resembles an acid trip. - Adam]

The Session Where I Killed The Fighter

As the party took a break in the dungeon to catch some well-deserved z's, they were happened upon by a crusading cleric of a mysterious divinity we're currently calling "Dungeon Jesus." This is Tim's new PC, the strange crusader known as Acolyte Haraldrus. Later on, we would go on to highlight one of the key differences between old school and new school games when Haraldrus tried to cast a cure spell only to discover that clerics don't get spells at level one in Delving Deeper. "But I get Turn Undead? Huh. That's why you described the cleric as a monster hunter, I got it." Haraldrus, it seems, had been tracking the Black Metal Doppelgangers from the previous session and was waiting to... ambush them? Pick them off one at a time? In retrospect, we hadn't really sorted this out beyond "bring them to justice." We'll see how it goes.

The party, fed up with retracing their own steps over and over, decided this session to start exploring new ground. Should they explore the corridors closer to the front of dungeon? Nah, we can hit them on the way back. Let's investigate the halls as far as possible from any sort of escape from this hell hole. So, that's what they did. In the process, though, they found an odd training room that they (correctly) surmised had belonged to Harrowvar the Ironic and the fancy-pants library that (again they correctly surmised) had belonged to Zonn the Mindbreaker. Only one of those two rooms had an opportunity for treasure, and it wasn't the gym. 

The party also finally got to experience the "black dwarves" of Quasquetherion, which they'd heard a few rumors about, mostly that they were weird and mute. This session, they got to discover just how weird and mute as the things did some sort of strange dance and looked like they were talking in a burble-y, mumble-y language but yet weren't making any sounds. When I described their movements, I wanted to evoke the Man From Another Place in the Red Room from Twin Peaks, but I've been on this kick of trying to explain stuff in a way that appeals to the PCs' knowledge, not the players', so I couldn't talk about the guy moving in reverse, as if video were being rewound. Instead, I talked about how each movement the things make seems to precede the one that it follows. Sort of the same thing, but it took some semantic gymnastics to pull off in a sentence. 

The "black dwarves" are, of course, Miri Nigri from the Cthulhu Mythos for those in the know. I obviously play them a little stranger than they're written, but that's to be expected in my particular idiom.

"I'll be your new fighter!"
Anyway, the party had two encounters with the black dwarves. In the first, they made their reaction rolls really well and didn't quite befriend a pair of the strange creatures, but they definitely weren't attacked. The party asked the dwarves some questions and didn't get the sort of answers they could understand but, at some point, they coaxed the dwarves into drawing on the walls, which they did with aplomb, jointly drawing a huge and very realistic-looking picture of a vast, shaggy, frog-like man-thing with long ears. When asked what the thing was, the dwarves pointed downward, which filled the party with a certain degree of dread. This thing was down there somewhere in the mountain and man was it weird. 

The second encounter with the black dwarves didn't go quite so well. Instead of making friends, they made enemies very swiftly and faced off against three of these things. Now, here's the point where the divide between old school gamers and new school ones makes itself apparent. These kids, my New-To-Old-School crew, do not have a solid book of old school tactics to refer to, and so, they flubbed this one. They had bought all sorts of useful stuff in town (flasks of oil, people!) and even had some furniture with which to shape the battlefield to give themselves an advantage but resorted to "I charge in and stab stuff!" logic. Yep, even the magic users (to be fair, Zealand the Legless did cast Protection from evil on herself before she waded in). In the end, it was inevitable that someone die. What none of us foresaw was that it was +Shane Jones's recently-vindicated Thendrex and his war dog (named "Doge" which, apparently, is not a reference to Venice) both died horrible, messy deaths. New guy Tyrus almost lost his magic user, the shitting-you-not-this-kid-didn't-get-how-this-was-a-Star-Wars-reference-despite-having-named-the-character-himself mage Tarkin, so the party has gathered up everything of value that it has found thus far (not much) and is heading back to civilization to rest, recuperate, research and possibly find itself a new fighter. 

Shane, meanwhile, has rolled himself up a new character and, after the predictable bout of "lost my awesome character" blues, has gotten excited about it. The players are beginning to make plans for what they'll do back in town (a visit with the very excellent Shimot bar Ulgobaz is in order), but I'll be off in the wilds of Michigan skiing this weekend, so their further adventures will have to wait. Quasquetherion has claimed her first victims, so any lingering doubts I had about going too easy on these kids have been quelled. Despite the deaths -- or perhaps because of them -- every single player has expressed their excitement over their next shot at the depths of Quasquetherion. Fight on!