Yep. That’s right. A funnel played by one player. I ran it for Gage. It took me a couple hours of idea-pondering while at work and just under a minute to jot down the ideas I had for the flow of the adventure, leaving just enough room for Gage’s choices.
About a month ago, I created an Excel spreadsheet that would roll 18 level zero mooks per RAW. I know, Purple Sorcerer has one of its own and it’s fantastic. I do these things just to see if I can and it helped me learn about some more advanced Excel functions. Anyway, I wrote it to roll three mooks each for six players. Because this was a solo game, I allowed him to pick six from the list. He did. I erased the rest. We got to playing. Character creation took a button push and about five minutes of making names.
The details of the adventure were simple enough. An old sailor out of a ship came to the ruins in search of treasures he could sell off in order to purchase a new ship, charter, and crew. He entered the enclave, flashed some small change, and hired Gage’s stack of mooks as porters, torch-bearers, and men-at-arms. Then it was off to the ruins outside the enclave.
The second night, they made camp, the commodore reasonably sure they were close to their goal, a secret he hadn’t shared with “the help”. He was carrying a map to an old mausoleum which was bound to have treasure provided it hadn’t previously been looted.
While making camp, they were attacked by a single deep one. Now…while I’m not entirely against NPCs helping the party, I am not a fan of all of the PCs being overshadowed by a more powerful NPC (Commodore Gray was a 1st level Warrior after all), so to kick off events proper, he reached for his sword and wasted no time having a massive heart attack and keeling over.
Gages mook platoon made quick work of the Deep One, with two nat-20s rolled in the first round of the brawl. That kid is going to earn a reputation with that particular d20, mark my words.
They loot the commodore, finding his map. Many … many … MANY games, the players just romp off and wreck an entire adventure by sandboxing it up. I happen to love this style of play as it keeps me on my toes as a GM. Then there are those rare moments when the players do exactly what you had planned for. Gage followed the “script” as though he had read it. (I never script adventures. That’s just a turn of phrase, as they say.) Next morning, six mooks trek out to find the crypt, do so, and come to be staring at the crypt guardian, a statue of a man holding out a goblet (I KNOW I stole this from some adventure or another, probably even a DCC one, but I can’t remember which).
Mook one decides to push open the door. It is trapped to drain the blood of anyone attempting entry. It does. Mook one dies. This one was the first one he named and right out of the gate decided his Intelligence was so low he never talked. Modeled him on Hodor. Bunk was so named by those who knew him because that’s the sound he made when cracking skulls with his warhammer. He was a gladiator. He died first.
Gage immediately made the connection that blood must be poured into the goblet the statue was holding out. He drained two of his mooks half of their HP (2 each) which was just enough to open the door. This had two effects: One, the obvious. It opened the door. Two, the actual vampire was revived from a long, nightmarish slumber. Gage doesn’t know this yet…
Into the crypt… There is nothing inside save for a single sarcophagus. When opened, it revealed a staircase leading down under the crypt. Single file was the only way, so he gave me a marching order…
Erynn, the elf forester would be first. Reaching the bottom, she’d also be skewered by both skeletons down there as the party lost initiative. Erynn the forester, dead.
[Edit] Also, the rest of the mooks wrecked the skeletons…
After a quick round of separating out her gear, they continued on into the one other room under the crypt. A circular room with a lecturn in the center. On the lecturn, a parchment has been nailed down. Once the last of the party moves into the room, a murder-machine name of Franz, the skeleton that was lying in ambush to the side of the entrance surprises them all and immediately skewers Franz before being smashed to pieces against the wall. That left three.
More gear changes hands. Takil, the party’s “wise man”, a shaman, rushes to the lecturn, hoping to read what’s been scrawled in blood. I call for a luck roll. Gage rolls a nat-20, as he does. OOPS. Takil, already drained from his feeding of the statue’s cup, takes 2 points of damage, drained by the cursed parchment … he accidentally brushed it with his hand in his haste. Dead.
Now Gage is nervous. He has two mooks left, Buckets the Cooper and Richard the Armorer. Buckets decides he is going to rip the nail out of the lecturn and run off with the parchment. He hadn’t concluded yet that touching the parchment is what ended poor old Takil. I call for another Luck check and a Strength check. Strength to see if he can pull off a barehanded nail-removal and Luck to see if he damages himself in the process.
Strength check passes with flying colors; Buckets is no weakling with a 17. Luck, however, fails and he takes damage in the process. Sadly, buckets only HAD 1 hp. Down he went as the vampire parchment drank him dry.
This left only Richard, the armorer, a kid of 17 summers who wanted to get out into the ruins for a bit of spare change for his family. He carefully grabbed the parchment after protecting his hand with rags, placed it into the worn mapcase found on the old sailor, and made it back to his enclave with his hide intact, a story to tell, a mysterious artifact, and haunted by the gruesome deaths he witnessed.
Summation, I feel like the funnel changes some assumptions about character creation and turns a potentially boring shopping trip with your nose in the book into a trial by fire where you are granted equipment from your comrades by virtue of living longer. MUCH cooler than gearing up the traditional way.
Also, we now have a character with some background from game play rather than a few paragraphs of writing. Frankly, most of my players don’t bother with much of a background at all, so the funnel will give them one.
The funnel ALSO does one more thing. Yes, DCC is roll 3d6 for ability scores, place in order but with 3-4 (or more) mooks, you actually get a few sets to choose from. You then have to try to manipulate, through your choices, who will more than likely survive to become your PC.
I see what you did there, Goodman Games.
And I like it.