Dungeon Crawl Classics Game 1: the Goblin keep

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for the first part of Brian W.‘s Dungeon Crawl Classics demonstration, which he hosted and ran at his home in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 30 July 2012.

In one world, there was a region where magic and nonhuman races thrived. At the edge of the human kingdom of Hifalendor, the town of Plegmsad (once known as Pledwilt) suffers from raids by barbarians and humanoids.

In the new barony of “Kurick Stormborn” [Dave S.C./Non-Player Character], a call goes out for brave adventurers to help the frontier farmers. The following [zero-level] people meet in the market square:

>>[Gene D.:]

  • Nails“-male Hifalendorin human armorer; Alignment: Neutral
  • Burdik“-male Hill Dwarf herder; Align.: Lawful
  • Lem“-male Barbari human former slave; Align.: Chaotic
  • Sal“-male Hifalendorin human grave digger; Neutral

>>[Josh C.:]

  • Rayang“-male human gong farmer; Lawful
  • Cerban“-male Halfling mariner; Lawful
  • Ingsay“-male human guild beggar; Neutral
  • Nyhit“-male Halfling glovemaker; Lawful

>>[Bruce K.:]

  • Random Happenings“-male human cutpurse; Chaotic
  • Dykwyk“-male Elf sage; Neutral
  • Joe Jonas“-male human, singing turnip farmer; Neutral
  • Oscar the Grouch“-male Halfling vagrant; Chaotic

>>[Rich C.G.:]

  • Asura Questinar“-female human astrologer; Neutral
  • Axebeard Beardaxe II“-male Dwarf mushroom farmer; Chaotic
  • Elijah Rumbletummy“-male Halfling dyer; Lawful
  • Hobnar Grudgebearer“-male Dwarf herder and heir to the “Book of Grudges,” with sow “Maisy Dukes”; Neutral

Kurick’s accountant, a strange gentleman named “Val Shriboe” [Brian/N.P.C.], explains that local peasants have been paying a tribute of goats to a nearby band of Goblins. As his Halfling assistant collects the names of those assembled, Val notes that Elmer, the son of innkeeper Hamfast Rabbit, has been kidnapped.

Val offers a bounty of 15 crowns (gold pieces) total for Elmer’s safe return. In addition, he says he won’t levy taxes on any booty found in a raid on the Goblin camp, which is in an abandoned temple about a day’s march to the east of Phlegmsad.

Lem just wants to leave his life of bondage, and Dwarves Burdik, Axebeard, and Hobnar have no love of sneaky Goblins. Rayang’s odor keeps others at arm’s length, and Ingsay and Oscar are eager for any coin.

Dykwyk and Asura are less certain about getting dirty in the wilderness, but Nails and Random are confident that they can rescue the child. Sal expects business no matter what happens.

The large and motley crew hikes across the borderlands until it sees the stone walls around a onetime temple to Urda, lord of the sky. Smoke from the central tower and outbuildings proves that the Goblins have taken up residence.

Goblin fort
Goblins occupy ruined temple of Urda

As the afternoon sun begins to set, the would-be heroes discuss tactics in the absence of heavy weapons or armor. A stealthy squad, including Rayang, Ingsay, Random, Oscar, Asura, and Elijah, will sneak up to the ruined front doors.

Meanwhile, a larger group — Nails, Burdik, Lem, Sal, Cerban, Nyhit, Dykwyk, Joe, Axbeard, and Hobnar — enters through a breach in the outer wall. The brave band circles the central keep, and Joe opens a back door to the chapel. A wooden pew crashes down, but nobody is hurt by the boobytrap. A dozen Goblins emerge!

Nyhit squeezes past the bench and kills a Goblin with his awl. Cerban charges in and smashes another. Axebeard swings a bag of rocks (which normally holding mushrooms) into one humanoid, as Hobnar throws a flask of oil.

Lem pulls out a blackjack and Burdik wields his shepherd’s crook as a staff. Joe and Dykwyk wait for a chance to follow. Axebeard and Hobnar fight back to back until they are joined by fellow Dwarf Burdik.

Axebeard wounds another needle-toothed Goblin, and Hobnar finishes him off. The nasty critters miss Axebeard and Burdik, but they impale Cerban, killing the Halfling. Enraged, Joe spikes and throws a foe with his pitchfork, as Dykwyk’s dagger misses.

Lem almost hits himself with his makeshift club, and Burdik smites a Goblin with his staff. However, more Goblins arrive and start throwing stones from the rafters and balcony. Joe dodges the rocks, and Axebeard is slightly injured. Burdik is less fortunate and is also slain. Nyhit responds by also hurling stones.

The Goblins miss the surviving Dwarves and Halflings, but Dkywyk is also hurt. Axebeard ducks behind a bench for cover, and Hobnar charges the far wall, behind which wait the stealthy reinforcements.

Joe kills a Goblin facing Hobnar while Dykwyk throws rocks. Lem smashes his opponent in the knee, but Sal misses with his shovel. Nails hits another with his hammer. Nyhit and Cerban chase the last Goblins into the stealthy squad, which finishes them off.

The reunited explorers quickly search the chapel. They collect goat hides for armor, clubs, pointy sticks, and a sack of colorful pebbles. Asura retrieves a tarnished brass holy symbol of Urda from the neglected altar.

Axebeard and Hobnar swear vengeance on behalf of fallen comrade Burdick, but Sal and Asura note that there’s no time to properly bury him or Cerban as long as other Goblins — and captive Elmer — can be found in the temple complex.

The 14 infiltrators descend and find a row of monks’ cells. They also find an ossuary and an astrological symbol that Asura recognizes. Rayang urges his companions to leave immediately rather than disturb the graves. They agree.

At a building in one corner of the palisade, Nyhit opens a door and is nearly overcome by the smell of rotting carcasses. He runs, and Random quickly closes it. Rayang, Joe, and Nyhit lead the way to one of the front towers, but the wooden stairs and walkway are rotten and rickety.

In the other tower, the group finds a Goblin that has been dead for a while. Apparently, the squatters weren’t expecting to need to keep watch for attack from Phlegmsad. Rayang is swarmed by fist-sized spiders, and Oscar nearly closes the door on him.

The others brush some spiders off manure spreader. At the main tower, Hobnar finds that the door is trapped with a magical rune. Sal tries to open it from a distance with a chain, but he gets a nasty shock.

While the wounded party members wait outside, the others go up to the second story. They find a workshop and laboratory. Elmer calls from a cage, which Ingsay unlocks. Lem eyes beakers and books but has no idea what they are for.

An evil Wizard named Otto descends from the third floor, carrying a crystal globe. Asura wears a robe with similar stars embroidered on it. The spellcaster smashes the sphere, which emits a green smoke. The gas begins to coalesce into a bestial form, forcing the group back.

Random grabs Elmer, and Sal tries to torch the lab. Nails throws a beaker at the cloud, and Rumbletummy throws a cloth over it. Outside, hordes of skeletal goats and Goblins emerge from the building with the bad odor.

Hobnar calls for a retreat rather than fighting through Otto’s charnel house. Joe stabs the cloud with his pitchfork and sees snake heads and eyes that glitter with dying stars. Otto retreats as his skeletal constructs advance.

Rayang and Asura observe that the constructs have some sort of sack in their ribcages and aren’t “true” Undead. The rescuers head back to the town, avoiding Otto’s automata on the way. Nails, Rayang, Random, and Asura use their reward money to buy equipment and training as a Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, and Cleric of Urda, respectively….

Brian, I enjoyed our first oldschool Renaissance session, and I look forward to our Level 1 adventure in just over a week. In the meantime, I also look forward to the next FATE 3e “Vortex” telecom space opera and Jason’s final “Glassworks” superhero game.

Also, don’t forget to reply to the discussions on the Yahoo/eGroups message board about which retroclone to use for my upcoming “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign and about Josh and Jason’s proposals. Later, -Gene

2 thoughts on “Dungeon Crawl Classics Game 1: the Goblin keep

  1. How did you guys find the system? I’ve been wading through retro-clones and mish-mashes of rules sets (my current system of choice is a tweaked MicroLite20), and DCC caught my attention but I haven’t been able to investigate it properly. It would be lovely if I found a high fantasy RPG system that I didn’t feel like I HAD to house-rule to be happy with.


  2. We liked the system, Gabe. The retro-clone rules were similar to what some of us remembered from early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, with some modernization.

    Skills are lighter than in most D20 games, spellcasters get interesting tables, and combat is fairly free-form. The black-and-white line art in Dungeon Crawl Classics is very evocative to grognards, even if the core rulebook is a bit unwieldy and lacks a proper index.

    I have yet to post my notes for the second DCC session, which also went well. After “the funnel” focused and thinned out our starting (zero-level) Player Characters, we chose a few first-level ones to raid an old tomb.

    Ultimately, however, my current face-to-face group chose the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, because it’s available as a free download, separates race and class, doesn’t use THAC0, and is mostly compatible with other retro-clones, including DCC, Labyrinth Lord, and Adventurer, Conqueror, King. (We had also considered Pathfinder and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre.)

    Part of the do-it-yourself ethos of the old-school Renaissance enabled by the D20 Open Game License is to allow for easy house rules. I sympathize with your desire for a relatively complete fantasy game that doesn’t require a lot of tweaking. I think your choice of system depends on the style preferred by the Game Master and role-players, how comfortable everyone is with a rules set’s complexity, and how much time and money people are willing to spend mastering them. Happy gaming!


Comments are closed.