DCCRPG: Welcome to the Hell Funnel

Eric couldn’t make it to finish up Doom of the Savage Kings, so I asked Rachel and Renee if they would pick up the characters who died in Frozen in Time and play in an idea I had, playing their dead characters in a Hell Funnel.

Good times.

As with all Dungeon Crawl Classics games I run, I start AP threads remembering the dead, in this case, the dead were already dead but now their souls have become part the infernal flora of hell.

*Rest in Hell*

Elsen the Watchman of King’s Landing, killed by stirge-like apprentices in a wizard’s tower, just off the River Styx.

goldcloaks

*Welcome to Hell*

I monologued for maybe too long to set the tone. It might’ve been the longest exposition I’ve ever given to start off a game but hell’s tricky.

The characters found themselves in a 20 by 20 cube, a cage made of iron ribs, on jagged wheels, being pulled by a beast of burden that seemed to be made of the bodies of dozens of sinners, slammed together into a vaguely oxen-like shape, if you were around when oxen were created but don’t really remember or care about the particulars.

There were three comets in the sky, one much lower than the others. The comets stand out specially because the sky seemed to suck light. One was low on the horizon, probably about to crash into the ground.

Everything hurts. Time is odd and difficult to manage. It feels like coming out of a fever dream, the rhythmic creaking of the wheels. The desert sands are bone white. The last thing you remember is dying.

That kinda shit.

*The Devils*

When the comet crashed, the devils flying around the cage grew agitated and began to argue in Infernal, which sounds like a mixture of every ugly word in every language and vomiting. They packed up the items the characters had on them when they died and began to leave.

Maze the Thief tried to beg them to let them out before they left. I reckoned that begging a jailer is a skilled roll for a thief. The roll failed and the devils laughed. One spoke common.

“To the west are the mountains, Asmodeus. You could take your chances with him. To the north is Dis; you won’t make it there. To the east are the Drowned Swamps. To the south is the Styx.”

And with that the demons flew away with all of their stuff.

*The Iron Ribs Cage*

It turns out the cage was a Frost Giant an the lock, its head, still talked. I knew the lock talked when I had envisioned the encounter. I really had no idea how or if they were going to get out of the cage cube. Renee’s character, Nanny Millhouse Cromwell was a blacksmith, so I made a personality roll to talk an iron cage into opening for them a skilled roll, due to her familiarity with iron.

A stretch? It is in hell. Wtf.

She talked the lock into opening and she rolled so well that the lock asked to be unscrewed from the cage, to come with them and perhaps lock up something else somewhere.

After a brief discussion, it was decided that any opportunity to see the Styx in-game should be taken. South they went.

*Prep?*

I didn’t do much prep. I jotted down some ideas for what was in each cardinal direction and daydreamed some ideas of what encounters are like in hell. It felt like prep I would’ve done when I was 14 and winging it, high on Mountain Dew and youth.

*The Ferryman*

On the Styx was a ferryman, some patches of scalp and hair still clung to its scalp and it was going through a bag, tossing items aside that it didn’t want. In the hold of its barge were a dozen or so souls, newly arrived, just like the PC’s. They were begging.

They overhead the ferryman talk to a cultist in the hold because he spoke Infernal but the ferryman was unswayed. On the ground around it were ceremonial knives, coins, tiny polished stones, boots, flowers – things people might’ve been buried with. It pulled a long noose out of the bag.

The barge was held to shore by a longer noose rope

After Mave the Thief did some sneaking and got his hands on a few knives – one silver and one bronze. They decided to untie the noose and try to get on the boat and into the Styx’s rough current before the ferryman could catch them.

There was rope swinging and stabbing and derring-do. Nanny fell into the Styx and failed her Stamina roll, getting amnesia, no longer remembering dying at all, no longer aware that she was in hell (I figured if she was in the Styx longer she’d lose more and more memory).

The ferryman was stabbed off the rope.

They found themselves on a barge, floating on a fetid, oily river with treacherous currents.

Mave picked up the ferryman’s pole and made a solid Int roll to navigate the river; that turned out to be a big, big deal.

*The Souls*

Nanny asked for her love. Mave assured her that her love was fine. “She’s fine because she isn’t here. We’re in hell, actually in Hell.”

Mave found the key to the hold in a bag of silver and freed the other souls. Renee rolled up 3 more characters to add to her funneling.

The ship went down the river for four years, it seemed. No one really talked for those years, too scared to upset a shipmate. It felt like an awkward four years on a boat. The river branched off, one area was a calm cove and the other was rough. When one of the souls suggested that a calm cove in hell must be a trick, Mave aggreed and turned into the white water.

charon

*The Tower and Charon*

They came upon a broken, charred tower that was easy enough to dock at. When people stepped off of the boat, Mave felt a churning in her gut, as if something was wrong. It was her first biological feeling in a long time.

Renee’s new characters, all with pretty posh stats, went ashore to see this tower. It had no doorway but had several oblong oval windows.

There was a stretched skin of an abusive wizard, who said his apprentices must’ve cursed themselves with his magic. He had a long conversation with Elsen the Watchmen, who Renee decided had been from King’s Landing.

When the apprentices buzzed into the tower, Renee’s two characters who were at the foot of the tower, casually turned their back on him and walked back to their own barge.

Elsen died, trying to lead the, Anophelii-inspired, stirge-like apprentices back to the ship. George R. R. Martin would’ve been proud as Elsen of King’s Landing’s blood was sucked dry and he was dragged into the tower to be fashioned into a throw rug to go over the wizard-skin. Renee seemed relieved that her excuse to make Game of Thrones jokes was off the table.

Meanwhile, back on the boat, a ship came out of the mist for Mave. She knew it came for her. Charon walked off of his ship from a plank and boarded Mave’s recently stolen ship.

Charon took the bag of silver that the key was in.

J: Renee, did you take the bag of silver?

R: I didn’t say I did, so I guess I didn’t.

J: Asshole Judging is in effect! The silver is still in the front of the boat. Charon takes it.

Charon explained to Mave that she owned him silver for each of the souls she had transported across the river. She offered the silver knife she had stolen and Charon took that and complimented her river skills.

Charon: Would you like to be unmaksed? (showing a sharpened hooked thumb-bone)
Mave: No, I will remain masked.

After explaining that Mave was to charge one silver for each eye of each passenger, Charon walked away.

“The first eye is mine. The rest is yours.”

Renee: 50%, you won’t find a better deal in all of Hell.

XP

Cage – 2
Ferryman – 3
River Styx – 2
Tower – 3

That was fun and a great way to stay sideways connected to the ongoing game but not moving on without a player. If I could’ve gone back and done a bit more prep, I would’ve had a random encounter table for each direction and a loose map for my own use and inspiration.

I’m excited to find out what life is like for a group of damned souls moving with the Styx’s current, with a anointed ferry-woman leading the way.

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Frozen in Time #DCCRPG

Frozen in Time, Session 1

Short Review: Fun dungeon, great maps. I liked it quite a bit as a place to start with DCCRPG.

as a 0 level funnel

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!

At the end of the session, the surviving characters hit level 1. It would be a little over a month until we’d play again.

Session 2

First thing’s first:

RIP’s
RIP Maeve the Thief and Isidore the Dwarven Priest of the Whale God.

Maeve dared to dream beyond being a simple wainwright, making a short living by her stealth, luck and wits.

Isidore was born deep under the earth and found faith in a deity of the sea. Perhaps that combination was what led him to die in that haunted glacier.

They both died climbing out of the haunted glacier while its demons yelled misunderstood warnings to them all from the infernal walls. The crevasse did them in where the T-rex, mutant ant man and killer robot did not.

Finishing Up
The party had accrued enough XP to get to level 1, so in the month between games, we leveled them up to level 1. It was a big group, with only 2 being killed in the first session (and 2 more tonight).

T-Rex and Art
I had been inserting some power glitches after the big robot fight and had the stasis field go down around the t-rex, causing its eyes to focus on the party just before the field went back up. This might’ve tipped them off too much but I liked the effect.

They went through this room, ignoring the art and getting to the tube.

The Menagerie
The mutant ant-man was getting pouched on by the party, getting nickled and dimed by them. I knew that the owlbear would seen come out of its field. Renee’s thief wanted to hide, get away from the combat. I asked her where she wanted to hide.

“Behind the owlbear, I guess.”

Nice.

Eric’s wizard still has the katana from the Shogunate of the Lich-Shogun. Groat made the killing blow against the ant-man.

Then the owlbear lumbered to life. Renee’s thief made a backstab against the owlbear that had no idea anyone was there. Then Groat stepped up with the katana and did a crit, finishing it with another blow.

I said that the katana, clearly magical, seemed like it was made to do this, made to behead enemies but that it clearly hungered to do something more. The katana is sleeping but can be awakened.

It was really important to figure out where everyone was. It wasn’t a matter of having pieces on a map, just a matter of asking good questions when the players announce their actions.

Emergency Lighting
I had some trouble describing the time machine. Renee cautiously tapped at it with a staff and as described in the adventure write-up, a successful Luck roll means nothing happened. When her character made that roll, I described the character feeling as if they were on the edge of a terrible precipice, a bottomless pit, that they were very lucky that nothing happened due to their meddling.

They left the time machine alone.

But Eric’s thief was still in the room, trying to cut out the ant-man’s poison sacs. He was successful but couldn’t get out of the room, as he didn’t have the gold pass-key. When the stasis fields came down, the thief hid successfully while the 3-headed tiger devoured the human and the walrus man backed up to the door, claws and tusks at the ready. The slug climbed to the ceiling.

They went back for the thief and the tiger was sated, fat and content from devouring the human. Knowing that the t-rex was waiting for them above, they climbed into the room where the yeti had been, using their rope and grappling hook to good effect.

The yeti had left when the explosions hit. The crevasse claimed 2 lives when Eric’s wizard failed to cast Feather Fall. But their bodies were retrieved.

Thoughts

I love how the power going out changes the rooms entirely, letting beasts out and making levitation tubes into dangerous smooth surfaces to climb.

Describing modern things to a non-modern mind is fun and funky, though sometimes I’d just say it, “If this was a movie, the audience would recognize the Mona Lisa but you’d just all see it as a woman with an enigmatic smile in an odd dress.” Though I insisted on calling the laser rifle a stringless crossbow.

I have to learn the characters’ names now that they are first level.

Next Up

Doom of the Savage Kings!

NOTE: This was cobbled together from a few AP posts on the DCCRPG G+ group but wanted to save it here.

What happens when your character drinks in Dungeon Crawl Classics?

From this thread on the G+ group. You are drunk and you know that if you go home now, all will be well. You will go to bed, have some odd dreams and wake up with a headache, having never seen the darkest alleys this town has in its shadows, nor will you have sipped from its sweetest fountains. If you don’t go home – you keep drinking, tell me what you have on you and what you left back in your room and make a Stamina Check and a Luck Check, DC 5! No matter what the dice say, something fun is about to happen. Maybe dangerous, maybe embarrassing, maybe lovely.

"Hold up! One more drink couldn't hurt. Right?"

“Hold up! One more drink couldn’t hurt. Right?”


Succeed on both. You wake up back in your room with a lovely local and have given them a good, lusty story about the joys of spending the night with an adventurer. They are waking up and you have no idea what their name is.


Failed Stamina, Successful Luck. You wake up vomiting in the bed of (NPC the character would actually really like). You are going to be so sick and don’t remember anything about the person whose bed you are in other than that you remember a vague feeling that they might help turn you life around. Take -1d to all rolls until you rest for 2d20 turns.


Successful Stamina, Failed Luck. You wake up in your own bed, in the company of a lovely local who will likely always remember this lusty evening spent with an adventurer. There is a knock at the door. Someone is angry about your evening plans and is about to make your life difficult.


Failed both! You wake up in a tangle of slumbering bodies covered in bite marks, bruises and ritual scarring in the shadow of an altar to a chtonic deity. What the fuck happened last night? You remember nothing. You have 1 hit point. Take -1d to all rolls until you rest for 2d20 turns.

Bloody Thumbs on the Scales of Law and Chaos #DCCRPG

From last night’s game, Doom of the Savage Kings

Groat was a slave, once considered an elf’s property. Now he’s a katana-wielding cleric, worshipping the Chaos Titan.

Hugo was a rutabaga farmer and now he’s a wizard under the Patronage of the 4 Maidens; Hugo is of Lawful alignment.

And sometimes a slave turned Chaos Titan Cleric and a rutabaga farmer turned Lawfully aligned wizard find themselves in a crypt, fighting side by side against tomb ghouls with nasty ghoul snakes in their guts. Life is funny that way.

Law-and-Chaos-Michael-Moorcock-Wendy-Pini

An image commemorating my childhood memory of Moorcockian cosmic battles between Law and Chaos.

Hugo got clawed by one of the ghouls and managed to avoid the snake’s bite before it burrowed back into the ghoul’s guts, waiting for someone else to touch the corpse. Groat healed him, against the Chaos Titan’s orthodox traditions.

Eric mentioned something about divine disfavor and read the rule, something about between 1 to 10 points of divine disfavor..blah blah blah. I figure I’ll roll 1d4 for each level of the Lawful entity healed with the Chaos Titan’s power unless they take the Devil’s Bargain offered.

But first, time stops, all of time except for Groat and the snake in the ghoul’s guts.

The Ghoul Snake talks and I know that they can’t talk but in these moments between time, carved off of creation by the power of a Chaos Titan and a Chaos Titan’s prophet, they sometimes make words when it suits them.

“Ghoul snakes are a creation of one of the Chaos Titan’s children. Your deity wants you to take me into your bag and put me into the Jarl’s Great House so that I might bite him. If you do not do this, you will earn the disapproval of your deity.”

Groat took the snake into his bag where it curled up in a neat little ball, hoping to bite the Jarl (whom the entire party hates) later.

It occurs to me that it is moments like this that can put an adventurer’s bloody thumb on the cosmic scales of Law and Chaos.

Wake up, Magic Items. Wake up. #DCCRPG

In Frozen in Time, a PC found a katana dating from the Eternal Shogunate of the Lich Shogun. It was listed as +1.

Inspired by the katana dating from the Eternal Shogunate of the Lich Shogun, here are rules for awakening swords.

When items sit in a ruin for a long time, especially when they are removed from their original context they fade and shrivel in power. To restore the item’s puissance they have to be awakened, usually through a short ritual that connects the item with its original purpose.

How to wake up an item can be discovered via a Cleric’s Detect Magic spell of 16 or higher or a DC 20 INT skill roll (+1d if you have a relevant library at hand).


Katana of the Eternal Shogunate of the Lich Shogun

I have to keep this secret because it is in game. Sorry.

Awaken

REDACTED

Powers

Once the sword is awakened, it will REDACTED


Silver Sword of the Lich-Queen

These bastard swords are made from a metal that no one on the Prime Material Plane can recognize, having been forged in dragon-fire, crafted from the bones of a dead god.

Awaken

To awaken the blade from its dormant state, the wielder must deal the killing blow to either a Githzarai or an Illithid.

Powers

Once it is awakened the blade will glow a ghostly silver. It will allow the wielder to cut extra-planar’s ties to target’s home plane, stranding them on the plane where the sword took their hit points down to less than half. Silver Swords of the Lich Queen do double damage and +1d to-hit against any manacles, chains or other devices used to tether any creature against their will. If the blade is gently laid in a pool of water, it will point to the nearest gate to the astral plane, Illithid or Githzarai, as per the wielder’s request.

Once the blade is awakened, Githyanki will seek out it (3d30 months for the first Githyanki Silver Retrieval Platoon to hone in on the blade’s whereabouts.) likely killing the wielder and anyone who dares defend the foul thief.

All Hail the Victorious Dead: Waking Playing Characters

Inspired by this post:

(PC funerals are an underutilized thing, I believe.)

I agree! Some ideas on adding some mechanical punch and oomph to waking an adventurer in a few games.

D&D

When a character is waked, every character who shared a memory can take an inspiration if they change either their Ideal or Bond to reflect how knowing their dead comrade changed them.

Dungeon World

When you wake a dead player character and have recovered the body, all of the characters talk about a memory they have of the character. If they have the body and can put it to rest as per appropriate custom, the dead character will show up in the future. The player allows one character to have access to one of the dead character’s moves, showing how the ghost returns for one shining moment to defend an old friend.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

When reavers, cut-purses, heathen-slayers and warlocks lose one of their band to death and chaos, it is often an orgy of alcohol, drugs and other vices that blur their pain, allowing them to put it out of their minds that next time it could be them. Every character should give a remembrance, be it somber and respectful or loud and heretical. If the body is recovered and can be put to rest via the character’s religion (as understood by the other characters) any extra XP the character had is spread among the party in any way the player pleases. If the body was not recovered, the wake goes on just the same but in the end, the extra XP is lost to chaos. 1 Luck for every character level the deceased character had at the time of death is distributed among the party, as decided by the dead character’s player.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

When you wake a dead character in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the uncaring universe offers the silence of the void that will eventually swallow you all. Was anyone covered in their gore when they died? If so, they can see the restless, silent dead who quietly watch the party, waiting for another to fall and join them in the quietlands whenever they reach 3 hit points or less. Now is a good time to hire an accountant, invest wisely and stop adventuring.

Apocalypse World

When you wake a dead character in Apocalypse World, the body with all the gear is sitting between you all.

Roll + Hot (+1 if you provided any grub or hooch for the wake or ever had sex with the deceased back when they were alive) when you want to lay claim to a piece of gear off of the body.

On a 10+ you take that piece of gear. There might be some grumbling but for now, it is yours and no one is saying shit about it.

On a 7-9 you take that piece of gear but someone has a problem with it. You’re going to have to offer them something or force them to back the fuck down.

On a miss, the wake erupts into screaming and bullshit and violence. Maybe this will be a two-for-one wake.

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.