As mentioned, two of our regular players are down for the count with real life things. My wife and daughter were on the return trip from Washington, DC. Steven joined us (with some initial technical difficulties) via Skype.
This was our first DCC RPG game. It’s been said that DCC isn’t for everyone and I can see where that could be a very true statement. The random element is strong. This, however, was not the case with our group. We enjoyed the hell out of this game and will continue to do so for a long time to come, I think.
We used the setting I have been running for the last … many many years: Worldstone. Only in the last few months did I realize that name came from the Diablo franchise. I thought it was original. I was dismayed that it wasn’t. It came from somewhere in my Diablo-soaked subconscious. The premise of the setting is simple: the source of all magic, regardless of implementation, is a single artifact, The Worldstone. Stories focus on events that are derived from this source of magic.
To keep things easy, for now, we continued our forays into a lovely little dungeon known as Dwimmermount with a very simple fetch mission. Time was short and I wanted to complete the adventure in one go. In fact, there were only two combat encounters. Most of the five hour session was roleplay as they settled into their new characters.
Steven via Skype (Dalgrid, Level 1 Dwarf):
Tony (William, Level 1 Thief): Normally playing our cadre of clerics or acting as a second DM, Tony decided to show the players how a proper thief is played.
Gage (Mordock, Level 1 Wizard): This was Gage’s first wizard. He usually plays a big dumb fighter. I was excited to see how the wizard played in DCC. No one was disappointed.
Hannah (Sadron, Level 1 Elf): I decided that some of the elves of my setting had become corrupted over the centuries as they turned to worship of fell beings. Inspired by Elric, they became a race of albinos, sinister and even more feared by the common folk.
As mentioned in a previous post, we decided not to run the funnel for our first session and wisely. The technical difficulties we ran into while bringing Steven in were distracting. Next session should be even more fun as more folks will need to be brought in online. We went with roll 3d6 for ability scores, but in the interest of allowing them to pick their classes, I let them distribute the rolls as desired. The thief decided to put his 4 into luck. Perfect.
The first two rolls of the game were natural 20s. One by Tony and one by me. The 20s and 1s kept going on all sides and hilarity ensued. I love it when sessions give more than their fair share of wacky rolls.
Our not-heroes began the session huddled around a table at the inn (cliche? Yes) having been gathered by a local wizard named Loomis. As the campaign has grown, Loomis has become a sort of go-to for all things weird as the players usually don’t play wizards. Need an identify spell cast? See Loomis. A bit of ancient lore has you stumped? Loomis. Around that table, in the still night hours, by the low embers of the fire, Loomis offered them a job: Go into the Mountain of the Man-God and find a ring for me. It is kept by an orc shaman. It’s very special to me. I will pay you handsomely when you return with it and you can, of course, keep anything else you find. When asked why he wanted this ring, he only replied he needed it for “academic purposes”. Loomis, Keeper of Mysteries, is aptly named.
Wil decided to begin the lesson in playing a proper thief by haggling with Loomis, asking for a small portion of the fee up front. They would, of course, need to gather supplies before heading into Dwimmermount to hunt the orc with the ring. I called for a haggling skill check. As a former wainright, Wil has some skill in making deals, so I allowed the check on a d20, set the difficulty to 15 (Loomis is no stranger to the wiles of adventurers and thieves and is reluctant to part with gold before a job is done). Wil asked for 5 gold apiece (of the 50 gold each payment) and Tony rolled a 20. Loomis parted with half of the payment up front, bid them good luck, and left them alone in the common room to discuss their plans.
Mordock immediately went to his room to study his spells and sleep.
Dalgrid finished as much of the ale as he could before passing out face-down at the table.
William slipped out into the quiet night to get himself up to no good. Look for shops to rob or drunks to roll for change.
Sadron followed Wil at a distance, keeping to the darkness.
I decided to roll a luck check as I had no idea how events would play out. Against Wil’s 4 Luck, I rolled…a 20. When he saw the roll, he just shook his head and smirked.
The result of the roll: two of the town’s temple soldiers (zealots of Mavors who also serve as the watch) followed him around everywhere. When he realized he wasn’t going to get a moment of peace, Wil decided it was time to sleep. He went back to the inn, into the stable, and found himself a pile of hay to sleep in. Sadron lurked in the alley all night, entering his elvish trance. The two templars sat across the main thoroughfare, watching for the shifty bugger to come out. At dawn, they were still there though one had nodded off.
Mordock, in the night, gains little rest as he is haunted by a nightmare. His vision is filled with shades of red and a woman’s screams of terror and agony chill his soul. He chalks this up to the general weirdness associated with wizards and their unpleasant otherworldly contacts, residue from some spell or secret he researched in the past.
Dalgrid snored. A lot.
The night previous, the band of ne’er-do-wells had decided to leave for the mountain at eight bells. At six bells, Olaf the innkeep was cooking breakfast for the camp. I took some inspiration from the Deadwood TV show for this. The town, named Muntburg in Dwimmermount became an abandoned border keep that fell to ruin when our first band of adventurers discovered it some time ago. I had renamed it Tol Baranoth. Recently, as the ruin has become a camp and is being rebuilt by the church, the players renamed it Greymere. Despite its growth, it remains a camp. The inn is the prime source for cooked food. That morning, it drew the patronage of three outlander assassins bent on claiming Dwimmermount for their people. Olaf, realizing where they come from, was none too pleased with their presence and stalled in serving them. While serving the player characters, he is questioned by them about the newcomers. He tells them that these Samyrrans are rumored to be responsible for a number of recent bodies discovered by the watch.
Mordock notices, during the conversation, that Olaf has a tattoo of a dragon on his forearm, inked in black. This triggers a memory of his own studies: Olaf was a member of the survivors of the Battle of Blackshear and marked as one of the soldiers who slew a black dragon that was part of the opposing force…and ending the battle. What is unusual about this is that battle took place hundreds of years ago. Sadron, a child when the battle was fought, also remembers from her own academic background. This is, of course, all flavor that will lead into a larger subplot down the road.
Mordock, mistakenly, decided that the three Samyrran killers might be convinced to help them retrieve the ring. Gamers do like their hirelings. He approached them with the offer. Two of them ignored him completely, the sorcerer was simply not worth their time. The apparent leader among them sneered at the offer, informing Mordock that it was THEIR mountain and their trespass would not be tolerated. At that point, Dalgrid (who had been kicked awake by Wil earlier) joined the conversation with the probably intent of pulling Mordock away to safety but Mordock, being the snarky bastard that he is, resists and plants a kiss on the dwarf’s cheek. That earned him a headbutt that knocked the wizard out cold. Breakfast had and eight bells approaching, Dalgrid and Sadron drag the wizard’s unconscious form out of the inn.
But where did Wil go? Unsatisfied with the previous night’s lack of activity, William had left the inn in search of a mark. His intent was to find a proprieter of goods, drag him or her into an alleyway, and murder them. Apparently, our thief “has no chill”. He thought better of his plan, though, as he did notice quite a bit of activity among the commoners and the growing presence of the town watch. Instead, he looked for a shop to rob. After describing a few potential targets, he settled on the apothecary. Because potions. The short of it, when he convinced the shopkeep to turn and get a minor potion of healing for him, he pocketed a random vial. When the shopkeep turned back, he paid the man, smiled, and bid him good day. Upon return to the rest of the group, Wil informed them it was time to go. Right away. No more tarrying in town. They had a job to do.
And off they went, starting the three mile trip to the dungeon entrance.
They were, of course, being tailed by a trio of men with dark purpose which no one in the party noticed. This was the result of a random encounter I rolled for, got, and decided that it was the Samyrran assassins come to stop them from entering the mountain. I asked Sadron, the only one actually paying attention, to roll an Intelligence check. Hannah failed the roll and the party was surprised.
Kicking off our first fight in DCC, Wil was singled out as the first target and took an arrow through his thigh. Dalgrid was the unlucky recipient of the other two attacks, but they missed and a round-by-round fight ensued. The fight was short and quite entertaining. Steven started getting his bearings with the Mighty Deeds rules, though he never actually succeeded with one. Tony discovered that a combination of Wil’s awful luck and his own (as a player rolling ones) that a thief in DCC is not a great front line fighter. He had also failed a sneak check to disappear into the brush. Tony has yet to toy with the luck burn rules, but that will probably come up in a future session.
Gage, who had just tried to convince Tony to switch characters because “wizards suck!” learned that wizards do not, in fact, suck. Low hit points and awful armor class is not the end all/be all of a combatant. A few castings of his Flaming Hands spell and a natural 20 on Hannah’s Chill Touch casting gave him a whole new perspective on how awesome magic can be. One foe was bashed into the next life by Dalgrid’s mace, another was reduced to cinders by Mordock, and the last was left nothing more than a dessicated husk after having been completely wrecked by the pointy-eared, chill touchin’ demon worshipper. Somewhat battered from the melee, they looted the bodies, scoring a trio of kukri knives and a set of leather armor for Wil (he had been wearing padded and badly wanted an upgrade). He also found a handful of gold coins. Wil kept half for himself and offered the other six coins to the others to present himself as generous. Keeping appearances is important. Dalgrid’s check to detect this dishonesty (dwarves can detect gold, down to the single coin with a check) failed miserably. They gathered themselves and continued to the Red Doors leading into Dwimmermount.
They discovered the door to the dungeon slightly open, the only sound being the howling of a low wind through the opening. Hilariously, none of them wanted to touch it. They groused about who would open the doors as doing so was certain death to the unlucky bastard what disturbed the mountain. Eventually one of them pushed them open. No one died. Sigh of relief.
Now, previous parties had already been in Dwimmermount, played by these players. I am also running Barrowmaze as another excursion in the region, but that has no bearing here. The short of it was that these players knew others had been in the mountain, but they played it off nicely, that THESE characters had no clue. It was getting very late and I wanted to conclude the adventure in one go, to give a proper start to finish for our first session because I wanted to have a complete (if short) perspective on the game rules. After some dithering, they headed east, into the great corridor. On the floor in front of the first door on their left, they discovered the rotting remains of a few Samyrran soldiers, slain by denizens of the mountain. The door, it turned out, was unlocked and untrapped. Easy to open, in fact. Within, three goblins and an orc shaman waited in ambush, having heard the approach of the outsiders.
No one was surprised. Another fight broke out as the goblins immediately attacked. The shaman, lurking in the darkness of the other side of the room and having scored terrible on his initiative, was unnoticed. The adventurers made quick work of the goblins; if memory serves only one of the goblins even got to attack. But the initiative count wound down to the shaman who, from the darkness, hurled a blast of acid at Sadron, dropping the elf to zero hit points.
After a very brief conflict with his selfish nature, Mordock rushed to Sadron’s aid, using his wizard’s knowledge of anatomy to bind the elf’s wounds and keep him from dying. Meanwhile, Dalgrid beat the bejesus out of the orc, killing him quickly.
A looting of the bodies turns up a small handful of gold, the ring, and a grimoire covered in red leather and bound in iron. The tome made Sadron’s skin crawl and he refused to touch it, but Mordock went right for it. As soon as he placed his hands on the book, he dropped, unconscious, and was assailed by a vision. He was standing in a room splashed floor to ceiling in gore, old and new. A woman, wearing tattered clothing, was chained to a bed. Her abdomen was no more than a bloody cavity that no mortal being should be able to survive, yet she was alive. Mordock couldn’t move. She spoke to him: I will grant you power. In return you will grant me power. Mordock woke up…
We left off there. And it’s time for me to design a Patron…
I granted everyone 5 experience for the whole of the adventure and they began their return trip to Greymere. We will pick up the aftermath of their adventure in the next session.