Original Edition Delta Plus DCC

As much as I’m looking forward to getting back to the stark simplicity of OD&D (as streamlined and simplified by Original Edition Delta) there are certain rules from Dungeon Crawl Classics that I’m unwilling to do without because they fix what seems to me to be genuine problems with OD&D (at least for me and my players).

  1. Mighty Deeds for Fighters. The DCC Mighty Deeds rule just makes Fighting Men more fun to play, and really makes up for the relative lack of options that FM get as they level up and the other classes get more and better abilities.  More than that, it gives me as Dungeon Master and simple and consistent way of adjudicating all the crazy shenanigans that Fighting Men ought to be getting up to: tripping, disarming, swinging from chandeliers, throwing sand in the face of the foe, etc. Of course I can make rulings on the fly, but I appreciate having a rough framework to help.  Gygax, et. al. had an actuarial approach to combat: as long as over hundreds of rolls the statistics worked out, who cares what happens moment by moment in a combat round.  Only everybody I play with regularly, that’s who.  Even back in the 70’s we never really paid attention to the “fast and furious” one minute combat rounds.
  2. Luck instead of Wisdom.  Since OED removes Clerics, and I agree with the reasons for doing that, it leaves Wisdom as a dead stat.  Luck is better for a pulpy game, and the ability to spend Luck when you really need to succeed, coupled with the sure knowledge that your Luck is running out when you do that does great things for the game, IMO.  It also helps with the the problem I sometimes perceive of an allegedly competent character getting a few unlucky rolls and coming across as a useless twerp; yes, in the long run the probabilities will prevail, but in a game with a decent dose of lethality we may all be dead before the long run. I’m not usually a fan of “meta” game currencies like Hero points and the like, but Luck is different… characters like Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser worry about their luck in a way that makes more sense with Luck as a spendable resource than just what you get from rolls of the dice.
  3. Luck Die for Thieves. as per DCC Thieves cans add their Luck Die to any of their rolls by spending a point of Luck, which they recover 1 point per level per night. Thieves in OD&D suck, and OED just simplifies the math around that.  I know all the apologetics for really low chances of success at anything except climbing (not even reaching 50-50 chances until nearly name level), and probably have written a few myself.  The fact remains that, except for climbing, you’d be better off playing a Fighting Man or Magic User that sneaks around and steals stuff.  The Luck Die fixes all that.  Even with your terrible starting probabilities, if you spend Luck you can make it count when it’s important.
  4. Recovering Spells Through Spellburn. I’m not going whole hog into the DCC spell charts, because as great as I think they are, some of my players seem to really resent the randomness.  So we’ll be using the clearly defined OED Book of Spells and the usual spells per day charts, but since I think that oh, you’re out of spells, you can just throw daggers is and always was lame, while the 5e solution of endless cantrips makes the game feel like a JRPG setting I’m going to let Wizards attempt to cast an already expended spell via Spellburning. Same as DCC rules, it’s a point of Spellburn per level of spell… plus to succeed they’ll have to roll a check against DC 11+ spell level. The points of Spellburn to recover the spell won’t add to the roll, but I’ll probably let them burn more to try to make sure that the spell actually goes off. I’m definitely going to make them roll on the creepy Spellburn actions chart instead of just ticking off the points of STR, DEX or CON.
  5. Rolling the Body. Instead of death at zero HP or Delta’s rule allowing a Death Save, just roll the body after combat per DCC: roll less than your remaining Luck and you miraculously survived… you haven’t burned all your Luck, have you?  Heh. Heh.  The loss of a point from a random physical attribute will keep this from being a permanent “Get Out of Death Free” card even for players who hoard their Luck.
  6. Crits and Fumbles from DCC. I like Delta’s rule about being able to save against crits and fumbles, as well as 1 HD or less creatures not generating crits, but the Good Hits and Bad Misses chart from the Dragon magazine that he uses strikes me as both too bland and too punishing.  I think I prefer the DCC charts as well as the way that Fighters’ crits are better than other classes and improve with level.  I think I’m also going to keep DCC’s rule that Thieves crit on back-stab, too, instead of just boring old double damage; the victim will still get a save as per Delta.
  7. Dwarves can smell gold, and Elves are allergic to iron. Those are just too much fun in RP terms to part with.  Magic armor and weapons won’t pose a problem to elves, that would be too cruel, but they better stick to leather and weapons like bows and spears or try to find some mithril until they can get magic. I note that in OD&D encounters in the wild, bands of Elves have AC 5, which implies either chain without a shield or (more likely at least in this setting) Leather, Shield and a +1 from DEX.

Random E.L.F.s & Espers Character Generation

Start as Follows:

Attributes: Tough: 2 Will: 2 Stamina: 2 Actions: 2
(you may swap points in attributes 1 for 1)

You then get Powers and Shticks, based on what you roll on the following tables.  Don’t worry about the details, just record what you roll and the GM will help you with the rest.  You are free to choose from the table instead of roll (since you could just make up a character from scratch); the tables still provide a handy guide for how common you can expect the entries to be in the setting.

Powers: 3 Powers @ 6
Shticks: 2 Shticks @ 3, or 4 if they fit the stereotype

Restrictions: 1

If rolling on the tables grants you more than 3 Powers, you can change some of them to Shticks or accept more Restrictions.  If you get less than 3 Powers, you can increase an Attribute by 1 for each Power less than 3, or take 2 Shticks.

Type

Roll 2d6

Android
3-4 Evolved/Mutant
5-8 E.L.F.
9-10 Esper
11 Robot
12 Alien

Initiation  (optional)

Roll 1d6.   Choosing an Initiation changes your Template from Unique to either Bad-Ass or Crew, depending on whether you want to be more combat or skill oriented.

1 Technomancer (can operate pentacorders, all-purpose scientific devices; changes your Template to Scientist)
2 Robomancer (can build and control robots)
3 Biomancer (can design and repair E.L.F.s)
4 Roguechemist (can brew potions and fire them with their “casters”)
5 Trooper (can operated powered armor)
6 Archaeomancer (can read ancient scripts, and learn prehistoric languages; lower chance of Mishap when operating ancient tech)

Android

Roll 1d8

1 H-E.M.A.N. (Hyper-Enhanced Male Android Newtype)
2 S.H.E.R.A. (Super Human Emergency Response Android)
3 D.A.T.A (Danger Adapted Terrestrial Android)
4 M.A.R.V.I.N. (Metallic Android Researching Various Induced Neuroses)
5 A.S.T.R.O. (Android System Terrestrial Remote Observation)
6 G.O.R.T. (General Operations Rescue & Training)
7 V.I.C.I. (Voice Input Child Identicant)
8 A.R.A.L.E. (Advanced Research Android Limited Edition)

Evolved/Mutant

Roll 1d6.  1-4 Base is human with 1d4 Mutations; 5-6 Base is animal (1d20 for type) with 1d3 Mutations + Enhanced Intelligence

Animal Type

1 Fish: Bass, Clownfish, Dolphin, Eel, Lionfish, Marlin, Puffer, Shark
2 Bird: Crow, Dove, Egret, Hummingbird, Ostrich, Parrot, Raven, Robin
3 Insect: Ant, Bee, Beetle, Butterfly, Centipede, Cricket, Flea, Fly, Moth, Wasp
4 Arachnid: Mite, Scorpion, Spider, Tick
5 Rodent: Bat, Capybara, Gopher, Mole, Mouse, Rat, Squirrel
6 Canine: Dingo, Dog, Fox, Hyena, Jackal, Wolf
7 Feline: Cat, Cougar, Leopard, Lion, Lynx, Ocelot, Puma, Tiger
8 Bovine: Antelope, Auroch, Bison, Bull, Buffalo, Gnu, Ox, Yak
9 Marsupial: Bandicoot, Kangaroo, Koala, Platypus, Possum, Tasmanian Devil
10 Pachyderm: Elephant, Hippo, Rhino
11 Raptor: Eagle, Falcon, Hawk, Owl, Osprey, Peregrine
12 Amphibian: Frog, Newt, Salamander, Toad, Turtle
13 Aquatic Mammal: Beaver, Manatee, Orca, Otter, Porpoise, Whale
14 Reptile: Alligator, Crocodile, Gecko, Gila Monster, Iguana, Komodo Dragon
15 Snake: Anaconda, Boa, Cobra, Coral Snake, Mamba, Viper
16 Dinosaur: T Rex, Ankylosaur, Triceratops, Allosaur, Pteranodon, Raptor
17 Extinct: Giant Sloth, Mammoth, Mastodon, Saber-tooth Tiger
18 Primate: Ape, Baboon, Chimp, Gibbon, Gorilla, Lemur, Monkey, Orangutan
19 Equine: Camel, Deer, Donkey, Horse, Reindeer, Zebra
20 Invertebrate: Jellyfish, Octopus, Sea Anemone, Sea Urchin, Squid, Starfish

Mutations

Roll a d3 for number of powers: on a 3 you get 2 powers, but re-roll and add; keep doing that until you stop rolling 3’s. (aka 1d3p)  If you roll a power again, increase its Power Level by one.  You get one Defect, plus one more for each time you re-rolled because you rolled a 3.

For each power, roll 1d6 on a 1-5 it’s a physical mutation, on a 6 it’s a mental mutation (roll once on the Esper chart).  Having any Mental mutations automatically means you have an over-sized head, for whatever physical stock you come from.  Roll 2d6 to see what kid of mutation.

Realistic  (an actual mutation such as albinism, extra fingers or limbs, resistance to certain diseases)
3-4 Defect (roll again, except it’s bad; roll a d4, on a 1 the defect is Background, on a 2-3 it’s a Complication, on a 4 it’s a Restriction)
6-8  Plausible (roll on animal chart for some ability from another animal, e.g. a chameleon’s ability to blend in, cobra’s poison fangs, or an electric eel’s shock)
9-10 Science Fictional (immunity to disease in general, or poison, or radiation)
10-11 Magical (ability to use magic; consult the GM)
12 Absurd (comic-book style mutant superpower, e.g. phase through objects, or weather control)

E.L.F.

Roll 1d6

1 D.W.A.R.F.   Deep Warren Adapted Rock Form
2 H.O.B.B.T. Habitat Optimized Biologically Based Technology
3 G-N.O.M.E. Genetic-Nonce Organism, Modified Experimental (roll 1d4 times on Evolved table for animal traits)
4 O.G.R.E. Organism Grossly Reinforced Experimental
5 M.A.G.E. Magically Adept Genetically Engineered + re-roll.
6 C.O.B.O.L.D.s Common Order Biologically Optimized Layered Design
7 Gray E.L.F.  Fungus-based E.L.F.
Green E.L.F. Plant-based E.L.F.

Esper

Espers are big-headed human-stock descendants, though mutants will also sometimes have Esper powers.

Roll a d4 for number of powers: on a 4 you get 3 powers, but re-roll and add; keep doing that until you stop rolling 4’s. (aka 1d4p)  If you roll a power again, increase its Power Level by one.

1 Apportation – Materialization, disappearance, or teleportation of an object.
2 Aura reading – Perception of the energy fields surrounding people, places, and things.
3 Autonomic Nervous System Control – Conscious control over ANS (heart rate, perspiration, pupil dilation, etc.)
4 Astral projection – An out-of-body experience in which an “astral body” becomes separate from the physical body.
5 Bilocation – Being in multiple places at the same time.
6 Clairvoyance – Perception outside the known human senses.
7 Death-warning – A vision of a living person prior to their death.
8 Divination – Gaining insight into a situation via a ritual.
9 Dowsing – Ability to locate objects.
10 Healing – Diagnosing and curing disease
11 Levitation – Bodily levitation or flying.
12 Mental Domination – Controlling somebody else’s mind.
13 Precognition – Perception of future events before they happen.
14 Psychic blast – Causing damage with psi power
15 Psychokinesis – Manipulation of matter or energy by the power of the mind.
16 Psychometry – Obtaining information about a person or object.
17 Remote viewing – Gathering of information at a distance.
18 Retrocognition – Perception of past events.
19 Superior Intellect – genius level intellect
20 Telepathy – Transfer of thoughts or emotions.

Robot

Roll 1d10.

1-3 General Purpose (1-4: Humaniform, 5-6 Functional)
4-5 Industrial
6-7 Heavy Duty Industrial
8-9  Vehicle
10 Military

Alien

Roll 1d6

1 Time Traveler (roll on Temporal Origin)
2-4 Extra-Planetary (1-10 Habitats, 11 Mercury, 12 Venus, 13 Moon, 14 Mars, 15 Asteroid Belt, 16 Jupiter, 17 Saturn, 18 Uranus, 19 Neptune, 20 Pluto)
5-7 Extra-Solar
8 Interdimensional

Temporal Origin

1 Classical (Ancient Greece or Rome)
2 Medieval European
3 Ancient Norse/Viking
4 Feudal Japan or China
5 Ancient Egypt
6 Ancient Africa
7 Biblical Middle East
8 Renaissance European (e.g. Musketeers, Cavaliers)
9 American Old West/Civil War
10 Napoleonic European/American Revolution
11 Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica/South America (Inca, Aztec, Maya, etc)
12 World War I
13 World War II
14 Roaring Twenties America
15 18th Century Pirate
16 Cold War
17 Alternate Dimension
18 Alternate Time-line Earth
19 Pre-Apocalypse Future (compared to now)
20 Far Future

A Brief E.L.F.s & Espers Glossary

E.L.F.  Engineered Life Form

D.W.A.R.F.   Deep Warren Adapted Rock Form
H.O.B.B.T.
Habitat Optimized Biologically Based Technology
G-N.O.M.E.
Genetic-Nonce Organism, Modified Experimental
O.G.R.E.
Organism Grossly Reinforced Experimental
M.A.G.E.
Magically Adept Genetically Engineered
O.R.K.
Organism for Relentless Killing
H-E.M.A.N.
Hyper-Enhanced Male Android Newtype
S.H.E.R.A.
Super Human Emergency Response Android
C.O.B.O.L.D.s
Common Order Biologically Optimized Layered Design

Actual Play: Castle Nicodemus, March 12

My Lord,
Once again I found myself at Castle Nicodemus, in the company of Philip the Bloody, Darf and his bugbears, and a newcomer who introduced himself as Hayle, and proudly announced that he was a Thief.  What is the Guild teaching youngsters nowadays, I ask you?

We returned once more to the building where I had previously bested the Gelatinous Cube, hoping to find the stairs down and perhaps recover some more treasure.  I swear that I’ve spent more on oil on these expeditions than I have recovered in gold. But hope springs eternal, eh?

Taking care to spike the doors open behind us, so that we would have no more of the foolishness of being unable to chase the mysterious spear-flinger due to recalcitrant doors, we were able to map out the section of the building that led to the room with a desk where the dwarf lost his hand (and no more, thanks to my quick action with a tourniquet, not that he ever thanked me. Dwarves.) and past the greasy remains of the Cube.

We were attacked  by a shadowy figure, again throwing a spear.  The mage, Philip, used a wand of unusual design the emitted a weird ray, but was unable to hit the fleeing creature, nor were we able to overtake it before losing it.  We suspected a secret door, and indeed it was slightly past this section where, Philip sensed some opening, but was unable to pinpoint it.  With the aid of some fine sand, I was able to detect an air current, which revealed a secret passage.  The passage was narrow, and led to a room much like the desk room, but full of shelving with shattered jars.  There was a funny, acidic smell, and a ochre-colored sludge started flowing towards us.

We retreated through the secret passage, and attacked it with fire. This had some effect, but it kept advancing.  The wizard used his wand of rays (which he called his phaser, I know not why.  Perhaps its power is related to the phases of the moon? At one point he handed it to me, but I was unable to examine it closely). As usual, he was ineffective, but it caused the jelly to retreat to a position above the doorway and out of our line of sight.  A jelly of unusual cunning, it seemed.

I poured out some of my stock of oil in front of us, and threw a chunk of rations beneath the doorway.  This had the desired effect of luring it once more into view as it oozed down to engulf the treat.  Once again we attacked it with torches and the “phaser”, and it oozed forward and attacked me.  Unfortunately, it scored a hit on me, and only my armor saved me from certain death.  The armor was ruined, but I was merely stunned, and my companions had the wit to drop a torch into the oil slick that I had prepared and roasted the beast… it retreated but this time the wizard was able to hit it with the beam and it finally stopped moving.  He fired into it again to make sure.

At this point I was more than ready to retreat and lick my wounds, but my companions wished to press on.  Not wishing to dare the way out alone, with the mysterious spear-thrower lurking about, I reluctantly followed; at least one of the hired men offered me the use of his armor.  I demurred, since even I would not stoop to taking candy from the mouths of babes, but he insisted that he hadn’t been in the slightest danger so far.  Seeing as how God loves fools, it seemed to me he would be safe enough.  Since I am not one, I donned the armor.

Past the ruined room, we found a door, and from behind the door came the sound of heavy breathing. After a quick, but not nearly silent enough conversation (honestly, amateurs), the party opened the door, only to be confronted by an enraged Owl Bear.  Philip’s sleep spell was ineffective.  We ran, proving we were not so foolish as all that, and made it safely out of the castle, shutting the secret door on the Owl Bear….only barely after the dwarf made it through.  I harbor some doubts as to whether Philip actually intended to wait for the dwarf; I should perhaps be more wary of letting him get behind me in the future, should our paths cross again.

Having restocked my supplies, I intend to have another go tonight.  We shall see if I survive, or manage to recover anything of worth.  Should you not hear from me again, know that that I remain,

your obedient humble servant,
Kylie

Brynn’s Saga

Brynn’s Saga, being an account of the early adventures of Brynn, at the behest of Jeffrey of Osthoff, curator of the XPs

Brynn
iron armed, bicep bulging
hale and hearty Brynn
Warden entrusted, elf-maiden wanted
Sallies forth, friends found
stag on snow, blood bespattered
Elf-maiden safe away
Shrine spider-infested
Brynn bitten, spider squishing
stratagem suggests
offal arranged, oil arrayed
arachnids alight, shrine saved
Brynn
arrow attacked, woefully wounded
goblin’s guggle to zatch unzipped
Awful altar ablaze
grotesque goblin guts
vile vitals vented,
Wardens win
Brynn,
boon beseeched
false friend, creature’s captive
Paladin’s palliation proffered,
senile semblance sloughed
egregious evil exposed
White Lady’s wyrd, warriors warded
craven cowardly Corrruptor creeps
away. Avaunt!
Vile villain vanished!
Boisterous, bouyant,Battle-tested
Brynn

Faster Than A Speeding Recap

  • Brian managed to show up, and played his super-speedster Fasttrack.  Fasttrack was originally created for a Silver Age Sentinels game that never got off the ground (I blame Doug and Paul for breaking the system before we even started), and a version of him became Brian’s main character in City of Heroes.  He seemed pleased to finally be able to role-play him….and he roleplayed the heck out of him, much to the amusement of the other players.  They were particularly taken with his rapid stream-of-consciousness speech patterns.
  • Fasttrack showed up in time for a brief confrontation between the Order of St. George (Vatican Special Monster-hunting Squad) and the super-group over the disposition of the Wraith’s (Doug’s) evil brother, The Revenant.  Eventually it was resolved with the Vatican “heavy hitters” Codex and Joan completely destroying The Revenant’s body with holy flame, releasing all the souls that he’d consumed over the years in a spectacular spiritual light show.
  • A call for help from Dr. Kelso at Paradigm labs brought the team to the lab complex, which was on fire.  Fasttrack leapt to evacuating the civilians, while the rest of the team plunged into the lab building where Dr. Kelso was, only to  come under attack by gorillas wearing exoskeletons.
  • The gorillas were led by a silver-back, sans exoskeleton, dragging Dr. Kelso by one ankle.  There we broke for the evening.

When next we resumed, the players were treated to the first genuine villain monologue of the campaign, which they sat still for and even seemed to find amusing.  At least part of the reason they bore it patiently is that last time they interrupted a villain’s monologue (in the Weird West Campaign), they destroyed the Universe before the villain had time to warn them against it.

  • The gorilla leader called himself Ape X, or Apex, was a product of Dr. Kelso’s continued research into nerve regeneration and repair.
  • He had dosed the other gorillas with it, but it took a while to take effect, and Dr. Kelso had managed to get away and call in the team before he was ready.
  • Apex tele-operating the other gorillas via the exoskeletons, using a modification of Redline’s (Mike’s) exoskeleton’s kinesthetic feedback controls.
  • Dr. Kelso was dying, neck broken by an inexpertly wielded tele-operated gorilla, but Apex planned to save her momentarily by putting her in a “Captain Pike” chair, where she’d be less trouble.
  • Attacking Apex failed, since what they saw was just a hologram.  “Didn’t I mention that I’m smarter than you?  I’m pretty sure I did.”
  • Jungle Gal was able to use her Animal Friendship to calm the rampaging gorillas, but before they could pursue Apex he warned them that he had sent some of his gorillas to set the Null Energy Generator project in Lab 57 to go super-critical so if they wanted to prevent the Earth’s atmosphere from being stripped away they should probably attend to that.
  • The team managed to stop the Null Energy Generator explosion through teamwork and the first “Power Play” of the campaign (a Kapow! rule that lets players combine their powers and through comic-book logic create a new power).  They then found that it was all a bluff, and if left alone the destabilized field would have damped itself out instead of destroying the world.  “The villain lied to us!” exclaimed one of the characters.
  • The team (except Jungle Gal) agreed that the remaining gorillas would have to be put down, since the evidence was that gorillas granted super-intelligence through the formula were dangerous.
  • Jungle Gal (Wendy) snuck back into the labs and absconded with the gorillas, using her wealth to charter a plane to some jungle island hide-away where she would reign as Queen of the super-intelligent gorillas… or at least guide their development so they didn’t become evil.   Wendy decided to use this as an opportunity to put Jungle Gal on the back-burner and develop a new character.
  • In other developments, the teleporting villain Technik invited herself on a date with Harbinger (Dan); this seemed to freak Harbinger/Dan out much more than I thought it would, given his character’s attitudes towards other attractive NPCs they’d run into.
  • Beef, the minor villain that Namaste and Jungle Gal had defeated, having been released from jail showed up at Namaste’s yoga studio seeking to study under her and “fix up his Karma and shit.”
  • Police detective George Kim showed up at the base, wanting to know what happened with Revenant.  Redline told him, only to find out that he was unhappy that the Vatican had exceeded its authority in this case by executing Revenant without due process.  The team had let them go ahead because they were dubious about the police and prisons being able to hold Revenant, and were afraid that he’d go on a killing spree as he had apparently done back in the late 19th century.  Kim didn’t blame the team, but explained that while in the past they had to rely heavily on the Order of St. George to track down and capture supernatural monsters they weren’t supposed to go beyond that, at least without a trial, and the police had reliable ways to deal with supervillains once they had been captured: there were power-nullification holding cells (using a bulkier version of the tech in the Wraith’s gloves) and for long-term imprisonment there was the super-max prison, the Oubliette, in a dimension where no super-powers of any kind worked.  Part of this was, by agreement with the players, to establish more firmly that the setting really did permit the heroes to turn over captured villains to the authorities without having to worry about a Arkham Asylum revolving-door situation.

All in all it was a highly satisfactory set of sessions.

Kapow! Mini-Recap

We’ve had a couple of sessions since the last report, and the players seem to be enjoying it a lot, but I’ve been too busy with other things (such as working on the manuscript for Kapow!) to do proper recaps.

Just so that we don’t forget what’s gone on so far:

Redline has been working with Dr. Barbara Kelso, the scientist who developed the original treatment for the degenerative nerve disease that young Artemis Simon was suffering from, which eventually led to her being banned from the Olympics (and years later to her become Olympia) and Dr. Kelso being booted from her university on ethics charges.  Dr. Kelso landed at Paradigm Labs, Where the Future is Today!, where she’s being continuing her research on apes.  Redline felt guilty about falsely accusing her of being in cahoots with Olympia, so to  make it up to her offered to help fund her research at the lab; this led to them collaborating on some research having to do with the neuro-mechanical linkages he’s developed that let him control the Redline suit.  Of course, he’s doing all of this obliquely,showing her the interface components without the suit to try to preserve his secret identity.

While he was at the labs he got a call from the CFO/accountant at his small business, saying that he had found something disturbing going over the books before the audit that was supposed to happen in 48 hours as part of the deal Redline was setting up providing certain pieces of the Redline technology on an exclusive basis to a large motorcycle manufacturer; before he could explain what it was he found, the call was abruptly cut off.

Racing into action, Redline headed back to the firm.  On the way back he was challenged to a drag race by a mysterious silver-and-blank racer… and he lost.  Arriving at the parking lot of his company, the silver and black racer was waiting… and transformed into a powered armor suit of an unfamiliar design.

To be continued…

Kapow! Quick Hit

Last night wasn’t scheduled to be a Kapow! session, but since there was some confusion due to skipping last week’s session to finish Russell’s Gradulfiad arc, Dan didn’t bring his game, so Kapow! it was. Since both Redline’s and Public Defender’s players were absent, I sidelined their plot threads; also, because the players were starting to use Out-of-character reasoning about a mysterious conspiracy tying all the threads together, I took the trouble to disabuse the players of that notion. While it would have been amusing watching them chase their tails for a little while, I know from bitter experience–bitter I tell you!–that if you let this group of players start to get paranoid it’s a death-spiral for the campaign. Telling them flat out that it was just separate plot threads that coincidentally all started at once because it was the beginning of the campaign will save heart-ache down the road. That left tracking down whoever had killed and cut the heart out of the young woman in the park according to the forms of an ancient Inca ceremony.

In the interests of GTTFM (mildly nsfw), while the group was discussing a road trip to Connecticut to consult with the only other expert in the US who could have accurately reproduced the ceremony, a news flash came on the TV: a scantily-clad woman with a 20′ albino ghost anaconda had taken a bunch of children hostage at the Public Gardens and was issuing a challenge to Akela, the Jungle Gal.  No, really I had that part planned all along…the villain came to the US to confront Akela, so there was no reason for her to skulk around waiting for them to find her.

The group raced to the park to confront the villain, who revealed herself to be a rival of Akela’s from the jungle village that had (partially) raised her… Nusta, the daughter of the witch doctor who taught Akela her secret jungle recipes.  She had come to America to hunt down and punish Akela for her cultural misappropriation, abandonment of the People to side with the Outsiders, misuse of the secrets entrusted to her by the traditions of the witch doctors, and generally being a pain in the ass all those years growing up and overshadowing Nusta.   This, of course, pushed all of Akela’s buttons, and she was ready to offer a truce and to show Nusta that the Outsiders really weren’t all that bad and that she was just helping people as the witch doctor would have wanted… until the others reminded her that this young woman had cut the heart out a girl in the park just the other night in order to summon the demonic snake that was menacing the toddlers.  And so the fight was on!

The fight went reasonably well from the point of view of play-testing some of the system.  We tried out the new way of handling actions in turns (basically having to declare all of your attacks at once if you’re making multiple attacks, instead of making one, waiting to see if it worked, making another, etc.) and it did indeed speed up people’s turns so play went around the table quicker.  The rules for disabling powers got a workout when it turned out that Nusta was quick enough (and people were rolling rather poorly) that they were having difficulty tagging her straight-out.  First the Wraith disrupted the ghost snake, then Harbinger managed to take away Nusta’s spear, and the Wraith drained her Super Speed.  Akela finished the fight magnificently by combining her powers with her jaguar’s to KO her rival.  It really did feel like it was straight out of the comics, at least to me.

As she was being hauled away by the police, Nusta vowed that this wasn’t the end of it, and the pharmaceutical companies that were going to tear up the jungle around the village searching for medicinal ingredients would be stopped.  Of course, this left Akela further conflicted.  Ah, complications.

One thing thing that, unexpectedly, some people found confusing was how the increasing die-sizes work.  The problem is there’s no such thing as a d14, d16, and so on, so unless I force everyone to use an electronic die-roller I have to fudge the progression.  The progression d8, d10, d12, d8+5, d10+5 was deeply counter-intuitive to the less rules-crunchy types, so much so that I’m considering whether to replace it with d8, d10, d12, d10+d4, d10+d6…  All in all, the shakedown continues to go pretty well, I think.  I hope the others chime in with their impressions.

Stonehell: the Joys of Megadungeons

We had a very good session with the kids exploring Stonehell last night, and it was gratifying to see that one of the primary features of a megadungeon that you return to again and again has started to pay off, namely that they are remembering and taking advantage of their knowledge of the places and creatures they’ve run into before. When they killed a wandering giant ferret that attacked them on level one, they headed over to the Kobold marketplace to sell it, figuring the hide must be worth something (and it was). Later on, on the way out of the dungeon, they used their knowledge of the layout to duck out of the way of a group of hunting Neanderthals… the Neanderthals had come close kicking their asses several times before and now they give them a wide berth when they can.

During the session they almost lost a party member to the haunted straight jacket, and unwisely sat down to party with the Piskes whom they mistook for their benevolent relatives the Pixies; they survived that encounter, thanks to a lucky roll by the party cleric in smiting the Piske shaman, but it was a near thing. They also got some interesting magical loot that I threw in, a potion that granted 10 minutes of unkillability (damage taken while the potion is in effect regenerates) and some random magic lollipops (these were licorice, cure poison).

A good time was had by all, and three of the party leveled up (which reminds me I should make a cheat sheet to make that easier next time).