Dungeon Crawl Classics: The Tavern Between Dreams, a pocket dimensional demi-plane

The act of leaving everything you know behind in order to face chaos, death and blood carves a space out of the world, A seed that sprouts slowly and subtly but grows more concrete as adventures are scarred and beaten in the ruins, tombs and towers where they gain their gold and experience. This magic starts as something subtle, barely remembered dreams, shapes of adventures to come. Time and survival carve out a piece of dream-space where future delves can be planned and past adventures can be memorialized in a room-sized pocket dimensional demi-plane: the Tavern Between Dreams.

Judge Notes

During those first levels, they have vague dreams of symbols that represent the modules that could come next, perhaps if there is more than one to choose from, you allow them to choose a vague symbol representing an adventure to come. The dreams become more clear, more lucid over time. There is a table for the group to sit around, a tome to write down their intentions when they wish to break the laws of creation (DCCRPG, 306).

Eventually, someone is there, a castellan, a servant, sometimes referred to as a tavern-keeper. The Tavern-Keeper serves drinks and offers an understanding ear. Whether the Tavern-Keeper is a soulless construct, a ghost or some kind of gestalt soul of all of the adventurers who died on the way is unknown.

Levels

1st: Experiences in the space are vague and misty, INT check DC 10 to see if you remember anything but a single symbol or image upon waking.

2nd: It is all a faraway dream but growing more tangible while you are there, INT check DC 5 to see if you remember anything more than a single image or symbol upon waking.

3rd: A vivid and clear waking dream, the table and the tome with its quill are solid, you remember everything upon waking.

4th: The tavern-keeper is present, acting as if it was always there.

5th: Grottos for trophies and memorial statues representing those who have died are present. All trophies are dream-objects representing great deeds. Scrolls recording the band’s adventures are present. Real world items that were being held while falling asleep can be stored here.

6th: Party members can invite an ally to join them here for a lucid dream. Oaths made here are unusually binding.

7th: Friends and loved ones can offer a token while in the Tavern Between Dreams, this token can be used to contact them through dreams.

8th: Messengers arrive who can send and receive missives to mortals through dreams.

9th: The messengers within the tavern-space can petition greater powers (demons, devils, elemental lords, beast lords, archmages, liches, etc.).

10th: The Tavern Between Dreams anchors itself into the waking world, becoming a pocket plane with a door that can open whenever 3 or more members of the band are within sight of one another.

Essentially, this whole thing is a corny reason to deposit the group from one DCC module to another with a thin in-game magical excuse, giving the group an arcane place that grows with their characters in which they can celebrate their victories and raise their cups to the victorious dead.

Nice moments at the table lately.

Circle of Hands

Bret set up a really solid Venture with no easy solutions.

We killed the wizard who thought he was defending the town but we didn’t know he wouldn’t die, that he’d just turn into a silver dragon and come back. He did. My character really didn’t want it to turn to blood in the first place. We couldn’t beat the silver dragon. We’re bad-ass Circle Knights but we’re also pragmatists. We walked away, with the asshole silver dragon flying over us, to make sure we aren’t up to any bullshit.

We walked away, knowing full well we’d go back some day and get that emmer effer.

Burning Wheel

Our G+ game using the Kingmaker Adventure Path as its starting inspiration point has been having so many fine moments that it is hard to narrow it down. It is interesting watching this game set on the frontier turn into a muddy mess as refugees pile in front nearby wars. I’m eager to see where this game is headed.

Dogs in the Vineyard

I missed this game and I’m looking forward to making a new town for the next game.

The initiation conflicts: Will Janaki’s Watchdog find faith in the words of the Book of Life? No.

Will Laura’s Watchdog forgive her Steward for what he did to her? Yes.

Next game will be her hometown. She wants to confront her Steward.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

When the game starts with a dozen nobodies piling into a haunted glacier, every little detail becomes a foundation of world-building.

Locals who trade the PC’s throw in a holy symbol of the Whale God.

Eric has both a slave and an elven glass-blower among his starting 0-level quartet. He decides the elf owns the slave. Now elves own slaves. It is a thing, just in case you needed another reason not to like elves (effing elves).

There is something about the danger, chaos and death that makes details stand out.

Advanced Wizards & Wizards

Seeing Matt’s d20 game design is really cool. He’s put together a really nifty system that makes 3E magic and parties filled with wizards really work. I came in at the end and will be ending in the next few weeks.

These aren’t all weekly games. Circle of Hands and BW are regular. DitV is a fill-in game. DCCRPG is catch-as-catch-can; our next game is scheduled (Yay!).

What is happening at your table?

Dead Wizards

Wizards fill their skull to capacity with alien concepts so they can open short, somewhat-controlled gates to other worlds in order to make effects occur in their own worlds. This has consequences.

Within the first year of their death, a wizard’s skull bursts open and their rotting brain hits the ground with a acidic splat. Their spells become rooms (leading credence to the theory that all spells coincide with places, the subject of another treatise), their cunning becomes traps, their fears become monsters and their wisdom becomes treasure.

Also, their treasure becomes treasure.

Wizard tombs are designed like seeds, ready to expand when their arcane brains burst open with arcane pollen but it doesn’t matter. It becomes messy when a wizard dies and rots in an urban sewer, or a noble’s mausoleum or an abandoned barn only to have something grow in another place’s midst. Sometimes a wizard might die in a dungeon made from another dead wizard, leading to areas where their brains overlap and spells merge with spells, cunning with wisdom, treasure with fear. This is one way in which mega-dungeons are born.

A lich can take their own brain and seed it like a farmer, guiding the tunnels made from their own mind, pruning it like a tree.

0-level funnel idea: Cage in Hell

I have an idea for a Total Party Kill 0-level funnel. Please respond to the below question and help me develop it a bit.
Thank you!

Your group was prepared and had a solid plan but a few bad rolls and some unlucky decisions led to a total party kill. You are the first half-hour into the game.

The Judge doesn’t seem worried.

“Tell me which of your characters went to heaven and which went to hell?”

Hell

Your characters’ souls are stuck in a barbed iron cube cage, 30 x 30. Winged devils wheel in the black-clouded skies overhead and the white salt plains stretch out to the Devil-God’s body, stretched across the horizon like a mountain range. Whatever lumbering beast of burden is pulling the cage might haveve been human; you aren’t sure.

The Devils take whatever they can carry (including many of the items the PC’s were carrying when they died) to avoid a coming storm. You over-hear them say something about making it to Marrow-town, by flying towards the Devil-God’s feet for half a day, before the storm hits.

You are 0-level, no matter what level you were in life. Your experiences are in the items the devils are carrying with them to Marrow-town.

Local flora takes the shape of bodies stretched out as if in the midst of a painful spasm. Local fauna look like they might be made of people’s souls molded to look like a devil’s memory of the real world’s predators, prey and domesticated animals.

The winged devils are specks on the horizon. Your cage’s beast of burden has wondered back into the area, chewing on a cactus that looks like a screaming thing. The wind is picking up. Thunder and lightning are growing closer.

What do you do?

Paladin in Hell by  David C. Southerland

Paladin in Hell by David C. Southerland

P.S. Thoughts on leveling up and dying in hell will be saved for later…

Frozen in Time: Bore Bugs and a Robot in a Haunted Glacier

Wrote this up as a post on the DCCRPG G+ Community but wanted it on the blog too.

Tonight we played Frozen in Time as a 0 level funnel.

If you don’t know what a funnel is, it breaks down like so. Players have four 0-level characters with vocations like beekeeper, blacksmith, elven glassblower, slave, wainwright, etc. They go through a dungeon adventure with 1-4 hit points and those who survive become the player characters.

First thing’s first…

Rest in Peace

Nannie Milhaus Cromwell the smith, femoral artery pierced by Bore Bugs

Delbret the Beepkeeper, skull crushed like a grape by a robot’s pincer-hands, skull cavity licked thoroughly by Carl the Pig (not a nickname, an actual pig)

Highlights

Hugo trading for a grappling hook and a Holy Symbol of the Whale God just outside the caves with the locals who came to watch the crazy foreigners go into the haunted glacier.

Players winning the yeti over with food when fire didn’t work.

Groat the Slave, in the midst of the battle with the robot, praying over his strange shaped rock to the Chaos Gods for aid – no response.

Players wrapping the robot up in a chain, winning a big Strength test and holding it down for a while. Once 5 PC’s were holding the chain, I asked them to make a Strength roll vs the robot, with the highest Strength modifier and the players rolling a d30 vs the Robot’s d20. They won and held it down for a bit.

Then was a funky moment where Groat gumbled, Eric rolled on the fumble table and rolled a 16+ but with the robot subdued, it made more sense for a really bad fumble to mean cutting the chain and with the group’s blessing, that is what I did.

Then Groat picked up the katana of the Enteral Shogunate of the Lich Shogun, fumbling and cutting the chain that was holding down the robot.

Group killing the robot just before it could kill Groat.

Llaras fitting into the Petal Knight’s full plate armor after making the roll of a 17 on a Luck check.

E: Llaras would like to wear the armor. Does it fit?

J: I dunno. Make a luck roll!

Thoughts

There are a whole lot of slow, even nearly harmless rooms but that ramps up the tension for those rooms where there is a whole lot at stake. Fun times for my first time as a DCCRPG Judge!

Spelljamming Memories

Keith posts these fun retrospectives about Dragon magazine on G+ and the latest one got me thinking about Spelljammer.

First Time: In Media Res

The players made up characters and picked a ship. One of the players mentioned that they didn’t have a Thief. I had just learned about in media res in English class.

“We’re starting in media res!,” I announced, proud of my ability to play 8th grade English to D&D. “You are chasing this fiery pyramid through space, trying to catch and kill the Sun Pharoah!”

“Why are we chasing him?”

Why? Huh.

“Because the Sun Pharoah killed your party’s thief!”

And off we went…

The Next Time: Bral Prison

I was in college and we had spent the day in Ithaca’s gorges but had gathered in the late afternoon at a friend’s house. We were perusing his milk crates of 2nd edition material. Someone said something about gaming and someone else said something about how off-the-cuff games never seem to work. Jason looked at me because he knew I’d take that as a personal challenge.

Jason was right.

I asked the players to make up anything they could make from the material in the crates – their characters had to be criminals who were imprisoned on the under-side of the Rock of Bral. “The only catch is that you were not framed. You did the crime.”

While they made up characters I jotted down a page full of names. We gamed out asses off and it was good fun.

Good times, Spelljammer.

The Friday the Sun Returned: Reading, Planning, Writing

Reading: I’m caught between a bunch of books. A book about a rat, a book about a cow and a game about Night Witches. On the train I’m re-reading the second book of Fafrd and the Grey Mouser. I’m thinking about books concerning prison for a gaming idea.

Planning: Gaming tonight! This weekend will be about vacation planning and laundry. Exciting.

Writing: This and that, I’ll be more specific next week.

And you?