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

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“School Daze” one-shot: Taco surprise!

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for the School Daze one-shot that Rich C.G. hosted and ran at his apartment in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 2 July 2012:

>>”School Daze” Player Characters:

-“Lars ‘Weedy’ Wiedermeyer” [Gene D.]-male human senior at Trowbridge High School in Iowa; chemistry whiz, “crank” (small-time drug dealer) looking for a girlfriend for the summer before college

-“Vincent Marsocchi, a.k.a. ‘Vinny Mars‘” [Brian W.]-male human junior at Trowbridge H.S.; resourceful “jank” (mechanic) trying to avoid bullies and pull a prank at the prom

-“Frank Thomas” [Josh C.]-male human student at Trowbridge H.S.; corn-fed hockey player and romantic drunk looking for a prom date

'80s Redux collage 2
Comedies of the 1980s directed by John Hughes

>>Nerds and jocks

Students arrive in the parking lot of Trowbridge High School for classes a few days before the prom. Weedy parks at the edge of the lot and meets with Clark/”Speedy,” a budding journalist and customer. He’s also nervous about getting a date.

Vinny drives up in his vintage Chevy Nova and immediately gets egged by Biff Thompson, captain of the hockey team. Fortunately, Frank shows up. Since he’s friends with both the jocks and nerds, he defuses the situation — this time.

Weedy scopes out passing cheerleaders while Vinny tells him about his plans to pull a prank at the prom. Frank reminds his pals to watch out for the “Monkey Squad,” three A/V geeks who are loyal assistants to Mrs. Moore, the prom organizer.

All eyes at the parking lot and nearby athletic field turn to wealthy heartthrob Lance Ingbert, who is pursued by Morgan L. Fay, a choirgirl, cheerleader, and skank.

Cynthia Hoskins, a reporter for The Sensible Squid, watches as Lance chats with “Fighting Octopi” teammates Troy Vanderbilt and Biff. Morgan isn’t happy when Lance walks off to talk to others.

“Stealth babe” Hoskins also catches the attention of Weedy, Frank, and Speedy. They each vow to try to get her as their prom date. They reunite in homeroom, where Mrs. Moore drones on about the prom and the musical Spring Awakening.

Cynthia delivers a televised report on how the cafeteria’s taco meat contains carcinogens, and she ambushes the lunch lady. Doris is too surprised to say anything.

Weedy goes to Chemistry, one of his favorite classes. Flaky lab partner Stacy Felicity asks him if he can find out if Frank has a prom date. She and Frank have been friends since childhood. Weedy slips a Bunsen burner into his bag to deliver later to his supplier Carlos.

Vinny tries to stay awake in Mr. Buckson’s Algebra class, since he’d rather be in Shop with Mr. Durgin. Frank goes to Mr. Burlaney’s American History class, where he daydreams about Cynthia.

Speaking of which, Cynthia pulls Weedy and Vinny aside and asks them to wear and distribute T-shirts saying, “Taco meat is murder” at the prom. She explains that she has contacted Chet Carlson of Channel 5 News. Smitten — and already intoxicated — they readily agree.

Weedy later gives out shirts to his customers, including Speedy, Otis, football player Brock, preppy journalist Zack, and Beth. They are impressed with his wares and reluctantly agree to wear the shirts briefly at the prom.

Alvin, Simon, and Ted, a.k.a. the “Monkey Squad,” almost corner Vinny into helping them. He begins hatching a plan, with Troy’s encouragement. In the lunch room, Vinny gets an extra helping of tacos from Doris and avoids bully Biff and dreamy Lance. He boldly asks Amy Kwan to the prom, and she surprises everyone by agreeing!

However, Amy has one condition: Vinny must meet her father, Baptist minister Bishop Parsons, for dinner. Frank tries to talk to Cynthia, but she is busy trying to track down Chris and Lance.

Discouraged, Frank ducks into the lavatory. Troy gives him a pep talk. Weedy and Frank are almost caught smoking by security guard Franz, nicknamed “Col. Clink” by some reprobates.

Inspired by Amy, Vinny excels at poetry about butterflies in Daisy Pfeffeneusen’s English class, but Weedy cuts Phys Ed, which is Frank’s favorite. Frank earns praise from Coach “Bullhorn” Lewis.

Weedy does attend Mrs. Iris Carbuncle’s Economics class, one of the few he aces, thanks to his small-business experience. He pays little attention to exchange student Inga, figuring that she’s out of his league.

>>Coming together and falling apart

Wallpaper for Judd Apatow's comedy TV series
Judd Apatow’s landmark high school TV series

After classes, Vinny drives his heap to dinner at Amy’s house in a respectable suburban neighborhood. He is surprised when Doris answers the door. Apparently, the lunch lady is Mrs. Parsons as well as Amy’s stepmother!

Frank practices with Biff, Lance, and Troy on the field, while Weedy conducts business on the sidelines. Weedy draws skulls and crossbones in his notebook because his romantic plans have gone awry. Stacy was heartbroken to learn that Frank expected to go to the prom with Cynthia rather than her. Cynthia, meanwhile, barely acknowledges Frank and Weedy.

At the Parsons-Kwan household, Vincent tries to make small talk over an elegant meal. Bishop Parsons questions his intentions toward Amy, invokes the wrath of God if he should deliver her home later than 2:00 a.m., and invites him to Sunday services. Fortunately for Vinny, Amy is the apple of her parents’ eyes.

Weedy is shocked to learn that Lance shares an interest in unicorns with Stacy, whom he had started to consider as a backup date. With Vinny securing Amy and Frank still pursuing Cynthia, what is Weedy to do? He confronts Morgan after cheerleading practice and tells her about Lance.

Morgan is disgusted. She storms off, but not before telling Weedy that Cynthia has been playing him and Frank all along. Not only will she embarrass Doris — and, by extension, Amy and Vinny — but she’s actually working on an expose of the drug and alcohol dealers in the school, directly endangering Weedy and Frank’s graduation chances!

Weedy goes home to his long-suffering mother Delores and tries to call his friends. They want nothing to do with him as they get tuxes ready for the prom. In homeroom the next morning, Weedy pulls Vinny and Frank aside and tells them everything.

Vinny agrees to turn the “Taco meat is murder” shirts inside-out and stencil “We heart tacos” on them in shop class. Frank is distraught and vows boozy vengeance on Cynthia, who may actually be pursuing Clark. However, before Weedy and Frank can find new dates, they are distracted by a fight in the lunch room.

Handsome Lance and bully Biff brawl among the linoleum tables. Frank and his hockey mates dive in and separate them. Weedy asks Lance and Stacy, who attends to his wounds, what’s going on, but they are reluctant to open up to him.

Vinny happily goes to shop, ready for his unlikely date and to make mischief for the prom….

We all enjoyed this one-shot, which reminded us of John Hughes’ movies in the 1980s or Freaks and Geeks. Character creation is easy for School Daze, which is a rules-light storytelling game somewhat similar to Fiasco. Just jot down your character’s favorite subject, “ranks” (specialties), motivation, and relationships, and you’ll have a recognizable archetype from high school.

I could easily see this game being good for horror (Buffy: the Vampire Slayer), fantasy (Harry Potter), noir mystery (Brick), superheroes (Spider-Man) or science fiction (Teenagers From Outer Space and lots of anime). I’d recommend School Daze for miniseries and pickup games like this past Monday, when we didn’t have quorum for the Way of the Wicked adventure path.

Rich, let me know if I left anything out, and I look forward to upcoming sessions of the FATE 3e “Vortextelecom space opera and Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks” superhero scenario! Have a good weekend, -Gene

“Fortune’s Fool” one-shot notes

Giuseppe de Cellini
Halfling swashbuckler

Josh and fellow role-players, thanks again for your and Sara’s hospitality this past weekend! I enjoyed your Fortune’s Fool one-shot on Saturday, 29 October 2011. Here are some notes from the alternate history/fantasy game:

>>Player Characters for Josh C.’s Fortune’s Fool scenario:

-“Giuseppe de Cellini” [Gene D.]-male Italian Halfling, gentleman rogue and swashbuckler

-“Ziva Avram” [Sara F.]-female Middle Eastern Goblin, merchant

-“Tatiana Du Lupin” [Ginger]-female French Sylvan Elf, aristocrat and pagan, with hawk

-“Farouk ibn Alahad” [Rob]-male Moorish Orc, duelist and demon hunter

-“Pierre Lefew” [Robyn]-male French Halfling, pauper and thief

-“Santidio Ravoche” [Bruce K.]-male French Elf, duelist and scoundrel

-“Axbeard Beardaxe” [Rich C.G.]-male Italian Dwarf, wealthy merchant with wolfhound

>>”Paris, 28 to 31 October 1546 A.D./C.E.:” My dear brother, while you attend to family matters back in Roma and Firenze, I have had an eventful vacation here in the City of Lights. As you well know, I first arrived in the French capital without prejudice, and I have found its people and cuisine tres magnifique, if occasionally obtuse.

In fact, I was initially so impressed by the court of King Francois I that I’ve considered buying a small chateau. The High Elves have renewed interest in classical art, and painting, music, and sculpture have flourished as they have at home.

However, dark dealings shadowed my stay, and I must confide in someone in our family. We have yet to fully plumb these murky depths, but I want word of my misadventures to reach your eyes before foes add slander to our injuries.

Bishop Victor Garceau, a fellow Halfling and highly placed cleric, summoned our motley group. He asked us to look into rumors of a cult that supposedly planned to summon demons beneath Paris on All Hallows’ Eve. As indulgences were offered, I happily accepted, but others needed gold or other favors to be convinced.

I hired scruffy Pierre to be my manservant, but only after he got a bath. Unfortunately, it would take me too long to acquire proper tools for the Halfling rapscallion, but I could at least share my love of fromage, truffles, and pasta. Pierre was most eager and helpful.

I found Mlle. Du Lupin to be an excellent representative of le ancien regime, with Elven knowledge deep of things in the woods. By contrast, Mssr. Ravoche’s freebooting attitude is a good match for my own, and he engaged in verbal duels with a Dwarf countryman of ours, Axebeard Beardaxe.

Indeed, even peoples beyond Christendom were represented in our band, including the quiet but clever Goblin Ziva and the looming but impressively civilized Orc Farouk. With such a diverse collection, it should come as no surprise that it took us some time to decide on a course of action.

I, Giuseppe, went with Farouk to the Sarbonne, but the Inquisition (whose very name I even hesitate to commit in ink) had preceded us in scouring its tomes of land records and demonology. At least we knew we were on the right trail.

Ziva and Axebeard made discreet inquiries with their underworld contacts. I later learned that they even posted a bounty for information on cultists, but that instead drew the attention of one “Merlin,” an Elf met at one of Paris’ many cafes.

He claimed that the Roman Catholic Church, which is in league with the crown, sent us to persecute dissidents hiding beneath the city. This Merlin said that those we actually needed to worry about were preparing for Samhain in the woods to the north. A man named Giles and a dozen followers were the cultists we sought, Merlin said.

Meanwhile, Santidio, Tatiana, and Pierre snuck into the mines near the metropolis. They observed men in aristocratic garb copying various manuscripts. Tatiana made herself invisible, but unfortunately not inaudible. Pierre managed to grab a book and run out, and Santidio slipped away and reported their findings so far to the bishop.

My companions and I reunited at a café for strong drinks and stronger words. Axebeard took the book of witchcraft that Pierre had seized and put it in a safe. With nearly three days before the holiday, we ultimately decided to first check out the mines, which I understand would make fine catacombs like those in the Eternal City.

Farouk, Santidio, Axebeard, and Ziva led the way, while Tatiana with her hawk, Pierre on Axebeard’s dog, and I waited outside to prevent any foes from escaping. In response, the people hiding in the mine retaliated with a Fireball spell and summoned a gargoyle or drake!

Drawing his blade, Farouk’s first lunge was a miss, as was Axebeard’s first swing. Santidio dropped his weapon belt in an attempt to parley, but he soon had to chase after the leader. Ziva fired her crossbow at the winged beast.

Pierre went to see what the noise inside was about, and Tatiana and I soon joined the fray. Farouk and Axebeard’s luck improved only slightly, with the Dwarf’s axe cutting the imp in twain. Santidio caught the leader, whom we threatened to turn over to the Church unless he explained.

In fact, Merlin was correct: The scribes were copying books of demonology in desperation and an attempt to discredit the ruling authorities. They had no plans to summon any monsters around All Hallows’ Eve, so we had to make haste toward the woods….

Despite a slow start and the arrival of this past weekend’s Nor’easter, I thought the Fortune’s Fool scenario went fairly well. It was nice to play alongside people I normally don’t get to do so with, and I look forward to other one-shots, such as Jason’s Fvlminata or Rich’s Call of Cthulhu! I hope you had a Happy Halloween….

P.S.: Here are my character‘s stats…

>>Fortune’s Fool Player Character: Giuseppe de Cellini

>>Role-player: Gene D.

>>Game Master: Josh C., 29 October 2011

>>Attributes:

Agility: 9

Body: 4

Heart: 7

Perception: 7

Status: 9

Martial: 3

>>Race: Halfling

Gender: Male

Size: Small (-1 movement on foot)

Age: Youth

-Birthright: Eldest

Environment: City (Roma)

Social class: Nobility

Wealth: Rich

Religion: Roman Catholic

Fate pool/twists: 2 (from religion) — Harbinger of Death (pull Death card), Prudence (minor Arcanum)

>>Skills (and source; out of 12; +1 expertise point from youth):

-Art (class): 8

-Charm (class): 8

-Culinary (race): 7

-Driver (gender): 7

-Etiquette (environment): 9

-Languages (birthright): Italian, French

-Latin (religion/arcane): 10 (advanced)

-Literacy (birthright): N/A

-Scholarship (class): N/A

-Traps (to get?)

>>Martial skills:

Fencing — allows use of half Agility rather than half Body to determine Hand Combat with a fencing blade; can put opponents on point if foe blunders, disarmed, or stunned

Instinctive Parry — can parry ranged attacks (not firearms)

Toughness — may ignore Incapacitation and Stun effects on successful Heart draws

Weapon Expertise: +1 to hit

>>Derived attributes:

Dodge: 9

Hand Attack: 5

Ranged Attack: 7

Movement: 6 (before the -1 size penalty)

Initiative: 8

Stealth: 8

Hit Points: 19

>>Weapons:

-rapier: 7 to Hit, 3 Parry, Type: Lethal, Damage — Frowns 5, Smiles 10, Shines 15

-parrying dagger/main gauche: 7 Hit, 2 Parry, Type: Lethal, Frowns 4, Smiles 9, Shines 12

-pistol: 7 Hit, Type: Lethal, Range: Short, Frowns 7, Smiles 17, Shines 21

>>Armor: leather jerkin, Light, 1

>>Fortune (race):

Smiles: Cups, Swords

Frowns: Pentacles, Wands

>>Major arcana shines (and source):

-Chariot (VII; environment)

-Hanged man (XII; environment)

-Hierophant (V; environment)

-High Priestess (size)

-Justice (XI; environment)

-Lovers (VI; age)

-Star (size, age)