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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Sea Queen Escapes - Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

I have run yet another session of Dungeon Crawl Classics tonight at the game store as part of the DCC World Tour program. Not that I want to toot my own horn (at least, not in public) but I am going to go ahead and guess that I have run more World Tour sessions of DCC RPG in 2014 than anyone else on the planet. I believe we just finished session number 18.

My group was shaky for a while, but I was able to stabilize some potential social hazards and now the players are starting to gel just a bit. In the last few weeks, I've embraced the idea of allowing time in the beginning for "maintenance" - rolling up mercurial magic, checking on certain rules, that kind of thing.

Just the other day I got a massive box of swag for free from Goodman Games. The more sessions of public play that you run, the more stuff you get. My box included:
- 7 patches with the face of a bloodied Hugh the Barbarian
- 7 DCC RPG beer cozies - which were extremely popular with my group
- A DCC RPG trucker's cap, given to our youngest player who immediately donned it.
- 7 DCC RPG sticky notepads, distributed evenly
- A DCC lined notepad - for me!
- And my favorite item, a pad of DCC RPG graph paper. That is awesome.

I had declared that some old PCs had gone through a portal to New York City on Earth in the year 1986 (long story). Tonight, a player requested that we do an adventure there. I will cook that up sometime soon. I know for sure that when they go there, they will have to deal with a gang who pull switchblades on them on a subway. Also, there needs to be a dude on roller skates holding a huge boom box on his shoulder somewhere in the adventure.

We picked up where we left off last week. The heroes are in the middle of a module called The Sea Queen Escapes, a fantastic adventure written by the great Michael Curtis. He is fastly becoming my favorite adventure writer of the current era of gaming (my all time favorite is Monte Cook). I especially love Sea Queen because it involves ships. I am always a sucker for campaigns at sea, like the Savage Tide and Skull & Shackles adventure paths.

We are now heading into spoiler territory.

The adventurers had obtained this magic horn from a giant clam. They'd barely survived a fight with a giant hammerhead shark. They rested on their ship, and then blew the horn.

Out of the water came... a turtle the size of an island... WITH A DUNGEON BUILT INTO ITS' SHELL. Sold, right? This is already worth the $10.

The heroes need to get a key out of this dungeon. There's a hatch in the shell and they climb in. This group has a fairly common issue - nobody steps up to lead. I'll say to them, "The hatch drops 10 feet down into a room with fish flopping on the floor. What do you do?"

They all look at each other. Nobody says anything. When I can't take it any more, I have the miniature woman of extraordinary beauty (a wizard's familiar) pipe up a suggestion - use a rope to climb down!

You'd think after 18 sessions this wouldn't still happen. I guess some people are just not comfortable taking a leadership role. Maybe that's why so many people prefer to be a player than to run a game (I hate being a player).

The Sea Cursed People: This room was lined with kelp. Three people were underneath the kelp, cursed to become weird monsters. There was a guy with an eel that could pop out of his torso to attack, a lady covered in crabs (the jokes write themselves) and an elf with poisonous coral on his face.

The heroes were clever and cautious, and avoided being surprised. A sleep spell helped big time, but it was a lengthy battle. Then they saw a door held closed by "golden lobster claw clasps".

The Sea Curse: If this door is opened, the PCs are supposed to make a DC 22 Will save. That's pretty much an impossible feat for most of them. The result if you fail this check: The players hand each other their character sheets. Their characters' minds are switched into other characters' bodies. This can't be cured until the end of the adventure.

This kind of thing is a fun idea, but I had reservations. The players have a hard time with their stats as it is. Handing them some class they've never played before is going to slow things down, big time.

Another issue is that I just resolved some inter-player conflicts, and this situation would likely create new ones.

The module gives another option. A PC turns into a giant crab. Kind of cool.

I decided to talk it over with them and in the end, we just declared that the Sea Curse would simply turn them into kelp-monsters like the crab lady if they stayed in the dungeon too long.

The Jellyfish: I thought this was really awesome. A huge hovering dead jellyfish has treasure inside of it, including the key that they need. If you slice it open, goo sprays out. Those hit by the goo make a save or are paralyzed... forever! Or at least, until they can be magically cured.

Again, our heroes were cautious. They eventually cast a patron spell, summoning a Shield Maiden to slice it open for them. She became paralyzed as the stuff poured out of the jellyfish. The heroes were concerned that she'd die of starvation (not sure if she needs to eat or sleep as she is something of a "warrior spirit"), and hated the idea of lugging her around, as she had been summoned for one week. The new guy had a clever idea. He cast banish on her, sending her back from whence she came.

 The adventurers cleared the other side of the turtle dungeon with no problem.

They sailed three days to the island where the mysterious sea queen was imprisoned. The water around the island has tar floating on it, with dead seagulls stuck in the tar. Awesome!

The adventurers are wary of the tar and use magic to cross it. On the island is a building in the shape of an "isosceles trapezoid". Inside is the dungeon that contains the sea queen.

The dungeon has two feet of flammable tarry water on the floor that the adventurers need to wade through.

The Collapsing Room: In here, an earthquake has de-stablized the room. PCs have to carefully move across, or risk rubble falling on them. There's this glowing green capsule in a corner by a weird rock.

One hero decides to cross alone. He makes it. He grabs the capsule, which is 2 feet long. Another hero joins him, and boom - collapse. He's pinned! And worse, the noise has roused a slumbering beast. That weird rock formation by the capsule is actually a giant "adamantor lizard" that has properties of a chameleon!

So we have an epic battle with a tough lizard (it has a very high AC) while rocks fall from the ceiling. The spellcasters critically fail some spells. A cleric accidentally shoots fire out of "a random extremity" cough cough and burns the wizard. The wizard has a clever idea to cast spider climb and topple rubble onto the lizard, but she critically fails and her feet end up stuck to the floor!

Once the lizard was defeated, the store was closing. The players were very happy and some noted to me that the game is much better now that we sorted out our issues.

One player feels that his spell "force manipulation" is "broken". He can throw an apple-sized ball of force that does d6 per level. He just hit level 4. 4d6 is a lot of damage in this game!

He also feels that his cleric's AC is so high and he no longer fears being hit (he has an AC of 19). Most monsters have around a +4 to hit, so I need to roll a 15 to hit him. I didn't worry too much about this comment, because spells will still hit him and I will roll plenty of 15's. Plus, that -8 to swim checks because of the armor keeps biting them in the ass.

Overall it was a very good session and this is a really good adventure. You should definitely check it out.


Michael Curtis said...

Glad you and your players had a good time with this one, Sean! Thanks for sharing the recap

Sean said...

Michael, thanks! Sea Queen is going quite well. Looking forward to The Chained Coffin, too.