Friday, November 17, 2023

Dubzaron Session 135: Reefer Madness

This session took place on 11/15/23 through 11/16/23  needing one day of rest on 11/17/23  can take actions 11/18/23. 

Norton L1 Thief (Neutral), 

Mountain L4 Elven Spellsword (Neutral)

Trabajo L2 Florida Man (Neutral)
Tuck L5(6) Barbarian (Neutral)

Standing Mountain: Indian Jones (L2 Explorer), Red Sky (L3 Mage)
Tuck: Duck (?), Kanyezeus (?)

XP For Kills: 0
XP For Treasure: 9,000
XP For Magic Items: 4,438

Total Cuts: 12
PC Cut: 2,240  xp
Hench Cut: 1,120  xp

Session Report

The players surprised me a bit tonight by having memed up a hook for themselves in downtime. They used some random encounters that happened during their city or wilderness downtime play and also did some rumormongering. The latter is where Dubzaron's game theory and shared "OUR campaign" world comes into effect likely more than the other (inferior) #brosr campaigns currently running.
I long ago encouraged players to collect rumors during downtime. Players asked for this in like session 2 downtime play and I obliged. 

But found I never had enough good ideas or time to deliver the worldbuilding to the downtime rumormongering player every single time they asked. So I instead created a rumor "stacking" system wherein 2 or 3 rumors could be put together and the players themselves could tell me the general theme or crux of the rumor. In this way they are creating game world content and hooks for themselves that I then flesh out during session play. 

The hook/rumor today was very, very stupid. "Well you see, Dubs, we learned of a weed farm in the swamp mountains which is drowning the market of Fishton with weed. We want to go check it out." uh ok? "Oh and Drakon offered us 5,000 gp to get him a meeting with the leader of the weed plantation. The guys name is uh Marijuanaman. Elves are probably involved." I facepalmed.

So as you might imagine the players can use my rumormongering meme system to exploit the game a bit. So far this sort of exploitation hasn't been too egregious. I feel this particular hook wasn't an exploit since, in session, I'd be creating what exactly is at the point of interest (POI) in session as my brainstorming and zeroprep mastery came to me, as shaded by the random encounter rolls I was making. 

So how did I take this really stupid hook and spin it into gold? First I determined if elves were actually involved. Most peasants etc in my campaign world think elves are the fault of everything from cosmic war to a hangnail so I always give a chance elves simply aren't the problem; just blamed. I rolled like 50/50 and the dice told me "no elves". Ok. Next I needed to figure out who this Marijuanaman is. 

Recently I realized that I am pretty terrible at classed NPC tactics and strategy. My DM skill leans towards really fast world building and rulings; not tactics. When I PC I tend to avoid martial characters most especially those who are going to lead troops, because my taste and skill doesn't lean towards positioning and battle planning. So I went to the ACKS discord and asked all the guys in the #poplarcrowd there if they had some PCs rolled up that I could place in a sort of rogues gallery for myself. A quick paragraph about the goals and tactics of the PC would really help me, as well. ACKSbros tend to spend alot of time building PCs and considering how all their class skills and equipment might be best used to own in a battle. One such ACKSbro, the fellow who ran the Scaled King patron about a year back, reached out to me and dropped me like 9 NPCs, including their main retainers, goals and most common tactic/strategies. Amazing stuff!

One such NPC was a Beserker dude named Kushta. I renamed the guy Kush to align with the really dumb "weed lmao" hook and started building Kush's plantation POI as the PCs adventured out to his location. Each time the players were debating what to do about a random wilderness encounter I was drawing up Kush's plantation and rolling to see what manpower and resources he'd have on hand. This is how you do zeroprep and don't waste the players time (although most dnd pcs deserve their time wasted; the "bejewled" loving, twitt3r scrolling, work call taking, smoke break announcing, che3toh stained, half inebriated, goofs).

During the travel south into the swamp mountains, the PCs encountered a whistling wind which spoke to Standing Mountain via telepathy and demaned he surrender a magic item to this wind "or you will die". It started with Standing Mountain because he and his henchmen were flying on the backs of giant hawks in the sky. Standing Mountain said "no" and I rolled reaction check: the thing (whatever it was) didn't become hostile. It then went to each leveled PC who had a magic item and made the same demand. Amazingly for the PCs I rolled no Hostile reaction check upon each denial to surrender magic items. The dice were in the PCs' favor tonight and that trend would mostly hold as you'll see.

Next they came upon some Weed Giants (tanned with dreadlocks) who were lost in the mountains trying to make their way back to Kush's plantation. I decided they were lost because they were Surprised by the PCs and had a generally positive reaction roll. The party approached and Standing Mountain spoke Giant and was able to talk with Cheech and Chong as giants. 

"yooo man" they said "we're looking for Kush's place". "You mean Marijuanuaman?" "whooooa bro don't call him that he hates that name, you gotta kill him Kush"

And on the stupid dialogue and weed (lmao man) went until the final word was the 2 Weed Giants agreed to accompany the party to Kush's plantation and fight by their side along the way. Trabajo was really playing up his Floridaman class, being very excited to score some sweet illicit substances as soon as possible. His excitement and elaboration of his PC really helped me jump into the themes and feel of this stupid hook. Excellent PC play!

They came upon the plantation some hours later. I described it as a sheet metal pieces built into tree trunks and such to surround a plantation of weed of about idk like 3 to 5 acres. There wasn't really a defensible gate, per se, but there were some jutlanders (nordic sorts of barbaric dudes) standing at a makeshift gate at ground level. They had a weed giant with an iron collar nearby who looked half out of it staring at his hands and giggling to himself. 

The party approached the gate and I rolled an atrocious reaction check which colored most of the rest of the session. These barbaric dudes knew exactly who Tuck the barbarian was and had zero respect with him. 

Tuck was digging that his own people were controlling this plantation and decided he'd lead the parley. Well the guards, the main one get named Heinlan or something like that by the players, was clowning on Tuck the whole time. Calling him an oathbreaker, a coward, and my personal favorite (since Tuck is the mayor of Fishton under Queen Edelweiss of Fish City) called him a Broad Obeyer. 

Tuck was exasperated and threatened the men at the gate who admitted "sure we'd probably die but we'd go to Valhalla and you'd go back to the Longhouse" or other similar jokes I can't exactly remember.

When asked if the party could meet with Kush, Heinlan and co said "maybe in a few days". During all this Norton the thief snuck into the plantation and was scoping the place out; determining how many buildings, what the troop numbers looked like, and such. He also copped a few loads of product into Standing Mountain's bag of holding. Norton also saw a tiger and a witch type lady in tiger skins in the makeshift mead hall in the center of the place. There were also more weed giants and about 30 fighting men.

The party went back into the wilderness to stew and develop a plan. The main point of contention is Tuck wanted to burn the place down because he was so mad at the gate guards. Norton and Standing Mountain were not into this because they didn't see the profit. Drakon wouldn't pay them for a meeting with a guy who no longer had a taxable resource. And if the plantation was destroyed they, the PCs, couldn't exploit it for their town of Fishton (Tuck is the mayor, remember). 

The eventual plan was to send someone back to Fishton to fetch Tuck's army and they were working on that until Kush, a weed giant, and like 5 fighting men barbarians came out to parley with Tuck and co.

I really enjoyed this NPC. Probably my favorite all year. 

"Tuck Oathbreaker, there is no reason for us to war. I would perhaps lose but you would take great losses. None of us would gain anything. Do not send for your troops as you, nor the elf you send to fetch them, will survive the trip back to Fishton."

Tuck made some comment about how Kush somehow spied on them and their plan and Kush called him gh33y. 

"I have no interest in dealing with Drakon. I have made oaths to the dark gods and Kaleth of the bloodshot eye in particular and Drakon would not abide me to live. In death I'd be unable to flood Fishton with my devil weed and make a foothold for Chaos in your city. I propose you tax my product coming into Fishton instead."

Tuck threatened and blustered some more about how he'd easily kill Kush and how he (Tuck) had killed the chaos demon CTaylor (the Dubzaron verson of Cthulu mixed with Tayl0r Sw1ft which played out a couple months back before she destroyed Fishton).

"I know you attacked Lamalla and Cthaylor and I am not impressed. They are not dead as chaos will never be killed. I will find a way to wake Cthaylor and she and her swifties will kill you one day."

And on it went with Kush talking absolute mad junk on Tuck who did not demand satisfaction. The main roleplay element I leaned on was Kush making oaths to the chaos gods (as Chaotic alignment) and Tuck having made no oaths (as neutral alignment). Eventually there was an agreement made that Tuck would take 50% of the profit for the weed trade coming into Fishton and Kush suggested the party come into the mead hall to celebrate.

So, a chaotic aligned carouse is a bit, lets say "gross". It proved too much for most of the neutral aligned party. Debauchery and drunkness commenced. Kush and Tuck stayed mostly sober and kept eyes on another in case of betrayal. Trabajo hit the b0ng the weed giants were hitting and was shaking on the floor. The main thing that give PCs the ick was an adult Black Dragon showed up and the chaotic revelers were getting quite personal with it. Gross and terrifying in equal measure. Perhaps Kush was not exagerating that he was more powerful than Tuck believed?

Norton meanwhile had Invisibility cast on him from Standing Mountain and had snuck into the back rooms of the mead hall to burgle the place. This took up most of the remaining session time. Despite being a level 1 thief he was rolling very well; doing the following:

-picking a locked door into Kush's harem
-sneaking past the trollops therein into the back bedroom
-finding a secret door into a treasure room under the bed
-finding and removing a trap on a chest

He had grabbed up a footlocker at the base of the master bed when a secret door to the outside wall opened and Kush's witch came in. Norton successfully put the footlocker back in place without making enough noise to be noticed which likely saved his life. One might realize that you can't hide from a suspicious witch with invisibility. But she didn't become suspicious and instead went into the h4rem in the next room over. 

Norton got down to Kush's secret treasury and scooped ALL his treasure into Standing Mountain's bag of holding, then escaped to the outside via secret door. He went and found the party and advised they get out of dodge before the missing treasure was noticed.

At this point I rolled a reaction to see if Kush would become suspicious of Tuck leaving the party suddenly (yes) and if he'd get his men together to pursue (maybe). On the trip home in the middle of the night I checked to see if the party got lost trekking over about 10 miles of swamp mountains (no), if they had any hostile encounters (no). 

Then I was checking some stuff with possible pursuit from Kush. To my chagrin Kush either decided not to pursue or failed to catch up to or find the party. They successfully burgled much of his treasure. 

Will he take revenge? Can he take revenge? This is the type of dynamic situation which BROSR campaigns are deservedly known for. I have some ideas about what might happen. You need to keep in mind that Kush is chaotic and likely very angry indeed. He has some weed giants, some fighting men, a witch, a black dragon, and a bad attitude. 

But Tuck is in a town and has walls to protect him, other PCs watching out for him, and the threat of telling super Lawful Drakon about a Chaotic VIP a week or so outside his empire. Will Drakon care if he did? Fishton are decidedly Neutral lands.

Oh and don't forget about Cthaylor under the river just near Fishton. Could she have a part to play in all this? Will Travis Kelce be involved? Find out next time!

PC Class Grades and Thoughts
Norton L1 Thief (Neutral): E for Excellent. Despite being level one he was able to do the exact things an appendix n thief should do; burgle people, lie and cheat.
Standing Mountain L4 Elven Spellsword (Neutral): E for excellent. While he didn't really get into battle or clammer for it, he did use spells to great effect and reacted to the magic wind situation in a very elfy blase way.
Trabajo L2 Florida Man (Neutral): E for Excellent. He was chasing substances, asking to help with field work, and even (at the party) landed a beautiful mid amiga to call his own.
Tuck L5(6) Barbarian (Neutral): F for Fair. Gygax defines this grade as "more norm than deviations" but it would be worse than S (superior) for "deviations minimal but noted". Tuck's refusal to demand a duel or nigh immediate attack for all the times he was disrespected by fellow jutlanders is way outside of anyone's conception of a barbarian. You'd be unable to find an Appendix N or adjacent story where a barbarian sort of fellow allowed more than one or two insults before he simply attacked or (if more a calm and thoughtful) demanded a duel or somesuch. Conan would not put up with that, Skafloc would not put up with that, none of the 13 warriors would put up with that.  

Friday, October 27, 2023

Dubzaron Session 133: Florida Man in Twin Peaks

Chester: L1 Loremaster, Neutral (??). E
Maso Menos: L1 Fighter, Neutral, Gladiator template (RIP)
Standing Mountain: L4 Elven Spellsword. E.
Trabajo: L1 Florida Man, Day Worker template. S
Tuck: L6(5) Barbarian. E
Valor: Cleric L5 Lawful, Turas, Undead Slayer template. E
Xanthos: L7 Cleric, Lawful, Mendicant template. E.

Hench Standing Mountain: Indian Jones (L2 Explorer), Red Sky (L3 Mage), Diego (Sabretooth tiger)
Tuck: Kayezeus (idk)
Valor: Honor (L2 Paladin)
Xanthos: Agenor (L4 Fighter), Dolon (L3 Thief)[RIP]

Time: session played 10/25/23 using 7 days can take actions 11/01/23.

Session Report

The party was back in BROvenloft Twin Peaks this week. They started at the Double R diner talking about how they wanted to save their lost henchmen. A couple of hench, Duck and... someone else (???) got lost back in Session 130 when they got affected by the weirding ways of the Ghostwood. They were pulled through a vortex into the MAUVE ZONE.

"What is the Mauve Zone?" you ask. Well I'm not exactly sure, either. There are some strange ethereal scenes in "Twin Peaks Season 3: 'The Return'" with the Fireman and the kind of fat lady who ponders her orb (it has Laura's face in it). My concept of them getting lost in the Mauve Zone was made up zero prep style in session on a random chart so it was kind of a challenge to myself to come up with a meaning or purpose behind it if they hit that random result. 

The players had a decent plan this week for finding out about the Mauve Zone which was asking Special Agent Dale Cooper. He's frequently at the Double R diner for their fantastic coffee and their cherry pie which "will kill you!" They found him there on 10/25/23 and asked him all about the place.

"I've had strange dreams about a purple and gray place with a stormy see and a castle upon a mountain" he admitted. Then they convinced him to donate to their cause because they rescued Audrey Horne last time but also because Dale was impressed by the Clerics' various deities. He gave them the Green Ring. Some players who know the tv show were like "oh no!" and took the ring but didn't put it on. 

He also offered to take them to the Glastonbury sycamore tree circle in the woods where they could access the Black Lodge and use it to travel to the Mauve Zone.

On their way out of the diner an overweight man approached them calling himself Chester Copperpot. So this fellow is from "The Goonies" and iirc the bad guy obsessed with the pirate treasure. He had a briefcase full of paperwork and studious materials and promised he knew of a pirate cove somewhere but was fascinated with the Party's mission he overheard them talking about. I loved this concept of a Loremaster which is a studios type Ceremonialist spellcaster from the ACKS sadly less used supplement "Heroic Fantasy Handbook". I told players rolling new PCs that most weird af classes would be allowed or entertained if starting a session in BROvenloft. So we have a Loremaster now. And a Floridaman but we'll get to that later.

Maso Menos was outside tending the bushes outside the Double R and he tagged along as well. Poor sap.

I determined the glastonbury grove was not deep in the Ghostwood so they would not need to risk the weirding magic effects from Session 130 since they could skirt the edge. But there were random encounters rolled. I used the chart from the Fiend Folio for this and used the Fairy Forest chart since in my opinion the woods in "Twin Peaks" have a dark elfland quality to them.

The first random encounter rolled (I won't tell the 1e name of the monster) were 3 large panther looking creatures with rainbow tails and the face of a baby. They were growling angry and surprised the entire party EXCEPT Standing Mountain who has a +2 to Surprise when outdoors. The creatures saw Standing Mountain doing something hostile (a spell? I don't remember) and they attacked. 

They mostly focused on the elf because I determined they were feylike but of the oppose court (seelie/unseelie) from Standing Mountain. They mostly missed their 5 attacks each (!!!) but Standing Mountain did take a shot. One engaged with Tuck and did some decent damage. At some point during the combat Maso Menos was struck by a claw and was killed. As was Dolon the thief hench. Neither recovered after the battle despite clerics and paladins doing their best with extricating them and healing them.

The party got themselves together in the first normal round of combat and Valor healed Tuck. In the first combat round 2 of the weird creatures eyes began to spiral and Standing Mountain became Confused as per the spell and Tuck became Enraged as per the spell. 

Xanthos attempted to cast Dispel Magic on those mind affects the next round but unfortunately got hit by a melee attack and his level 5 spell slot fizzled (ouch). 

Eventually the weird creatures were downed (one getting shot by Special Agent Dale Cooper) but Tuck was still enraged to keep fighting and fought his friends. Standing Mountain, each round, had to make a confusion check to see if he babbled nonsense, beat up the corpses of his enemies, or attacked his friends. So for about 30 minutes of game time the players were trying to tackle or find spell solutions to dealing with their mad party members. 

After the fight the party elected to return to Twin Peaks and rest until the morning, staying at a holiday inn or something. The new party member replacement of Maso Menos was his brother Trabajo, a FLORIDAMAN as per the world famous Jon Daker created ACKS class. Click the link to find out more about this amazing claaa! Trabajo was a day worker with something to prove, and to avenge his brother.

Chester had Called to wolves the day before with his ceremonial magic. While they did arrive it was too late to help in the fight. The next day he called 1 as well. So he was traveling with a pet wolf he could talk to.

The party had forgotten to bring Biff Tannon and his mercs with them the day before. The second day of travel around the Ghostwood had only a random encounter of some hillbilly ogres who were smoking meth and didn't notice the party. They decided to skirt these guys. Jon Daker believes I should dock Trabajo's grade for not being interested in the meth since the Floridaman's class telos is all about acquiring and enjoying illicit substances while being antisocial and somehow a superhero. The Floridaman works in mysterious ways.

The party made it to the Glastonbury Grove and the Black Lodge entrance. Standing Mountains sabertooth tiger wouldn't go inside, and neither would Biff or his men since they were mercs, not henchmen. Chester's wolf was convinced. 

They passed through the Black Lodge's red curtain hallways and rooms with no encounters (drat) and did not get lost inside (double drat) and opened a curtain onto the Mauve Zone.

It was as Cooper described with a purpose stormy ocean which they were floating over like a hole in the sky. About 200 yards away they saw the mountain and tower Cooper described but didn't know how to get there. It was getting late and the discussed going back to get a canoe to come back with another session. But Standing Mountain cast "Locate Object" and asked about a Boat. 

Now with zero prep I didn't really know if there was a boat here but it seemed an ok chance. I determined about 20% shot of a boat swaying around in these stormy seas. It hit as "yes" so Standing Mountain tied a rope to himself and jumped in the water to swim. He almost drowned after failing his 2nd swim check and was pulled back up.

Trabajo decided to give it a shot and realized he could fly! It seems if you have a soul you can float around in the Mauve Zone. Standing Mountain, a perfidious elf with no soul, was forced to be carried or pulled along in his boat of shame.

On the island they saw a huge tower of strange geometric shapes. Opening a massive double doors came to a lobby with a big man sized chess set and checkered board floor. They chose to ignore this and flew up the ceiling where there was a hatch door up to the next floor. In this room gravity returned to normal and they found the Fireman and his wife. He talked backwards with subtitles in the sky. I made a Reaction check and he was generally neutral towards the party. He asked them what they wanted and who they were. He liked their answer they were there to save their friends and their purpose was to help the little guy and serve justice. 

The Fireman and his wife led them down some stairs to the strange ballroom with a film screen showing a projection of their recent fight with the weird pantherbaby things. "That's embarrassing" said Tuck (I think). Inside the film, however, were the henchmen they were trying to save; trapped in the film by BOB.

Because right there between them and the film screen was SUPER BOB. The Fireman said "he's more powerful than before" since BOB was kiled in Vegas back in session 30. But can you really kill a demon wraith thing? No. Or mayb. idk. 

So the fight was on and the PCs were worried about getting level drained but Trabajo charged and one shotted BOB who screamed and flew into the film screen burning the image like burnt film and the henchmen came out of the image.

I had determined that magic defense like "only hit by silver" or magic armor etc don't work in the Mauve Zone. So Trabajo's spear/rake thing was as good as a magic weapon against the wraith. The party would have been fine anyway since Valor and Xanthos both made very good Turn Undead checks as well.

The Fireman's wife brough a yellow orb from the ceiling and pondered it a while. It had Laura Palmer's face in it. She released it to the ceiling where it put stars everywhere and Laura's Face went into a constellation. Chester failed his Loremaster check to know which constellation or planet and no PCs have knowledge about such things so: "what means?" idk. Very Lynchian amirite.

So the party took their hench back to the Double R diner and realized they had been in the Mauve Zone/ Black Lodge 4 days. I have a random system for determining how long a person or group is in the Lodge and that has really impacted some folks in the past. 4 days isn't too bad but they realized it was almost November. The BROvenloft alpha DM determined last year that once you are in BROvenloft you can't get out until October ends. They chose to wait until November 1, reaching out to Drakon who has the Deck of Trumps from "Nine Princes in Amber" by Zelazny fame. He ported them out and back to Dubzaron. This was "in character" since Drakon likes Xanthos and I believe Xanthos is his vassal. The dudes stuck on Barsoom will not be getting this sort of VIP treatment to get home.

This was a relatively short session report so now for some musings. The Mauve Zone and Black Lodge weren't that difficult, which was kind of a bummer. But that's because I didn't roll any random encounters in them. The dice decided the forest would be more dangerous this session. Also a great deal hinged on the reaction check with the Fireman and his wife. They are essentially deities so if their initial reaction was hostile or the PCs made them angry, it could have gone bad in a hurry. Also, something bad may have happened if they messed with the chess board room (who knows!).

So right after the session I was feeling like it turned EZ mode after the one fight but that's just how the dice fell. It could have been alot more challenging and alot worse. Additionally, the XP acquired from the Mauve Zone and Black Lodge aligned well with the difficulty they found there: zero. Their big score was getting the GREEN RING from Cooper. Which I'm sure won't cause any problems in the future.

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So check out this link right here ASAP and open your heart, your mind, and your wallet for the ACKS 2 Kickstarter today!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Dubzaron Session 132: Barsoom Bop

Adventured on 10/18/23 and returned to Helium (safe city) on 10/19/23. Need rest 10/20/23 and can take actions 10/21/23.

Chipette of the Mysteries: L1 Priestess, Courtesan. Lawful. E.
Proteus: L7 Mage, Soothsayer, Neutral. E. RIP
Rory: L4 Barbarian, Death Dealer. Neutral. E.
Sheela: L1 Mage. Neutral.

Proteus: Nonus L4 Fighter
Reaver: Subatite L2 Mage.

The Players were back to their party that was Lost On Barsoom (TM) about A MONTH ago. Barsoom, for those who don't know (and you should if you are reading a BROSR blog... shame on you...) is the weird Mars setting from Edgar Rice Burroughs' fantastic sword and planet tale which began with the book "A Princess of Mars".
The Princess of Mars' name is Dejah Thoris and here in the Dubzaron campaign she's yet to meet the main character of her titular book series: John Carter. Where is he? Probably still out fighting in the War of Northern Agression. 
Our campaign stories on Barsoom are thus a prequel in which we will out do George Lucas both in making a prequel and in ripping off Edgar Rice Burroughs. 
Dejah was still in morning, wearing all black and holding court less frequently in the crystal city of Helium because her sister Jejah Thoris (or whatever) was killed by the Marvins about a month back in session 127 "Lost on Barsoom". She wants justice against the Marvins. Not revenge because Dejah is a heroine not a neitchzien will-to-power revenge filled PC. 
It took a while for us to get this session going because the 3 of us at the virtual table who had read A Princess of Mars (shame on you, Rory) hadn't done so in years. Or a decade in one case. 

So there was some back and forth about what should be in Helium. What Barsoom is like. How the world is laid out geographically. And we went round and round about this for 5 or 10 minutes until I made some fast ZERO PREP STYLE rulings. 

This is OUR Barsoom, gentlemen. It's laid out how we like. And thus I spoke that, if the PCs travelled or searched for hooks we would use Appendix B (DMG appendix for random wilderness terrain) or ACKS rumormongering rules.

The PCs wanted justice against the Marvins as well. And the prize that might come from making this happen, of course. There was some arguing with me that they "could have been" doing this or that the last month. The problem was none of this logged this month of "could have should have" actions in their downtime channels. I gave them some leeway on this by letting them retcon that they searched for henchmen during that month. Should I have been more of a stickler about 1:1 Jeffrogaxian Time and it's requirements for use, dear reader?

Allowing a search for henchmen let me add in some weird space opera style henchman classes from the ACKS setting book "Barbarians of Kanahu" that could be found. 

We had a new player join the table as well so he needed a new PC and I allowed him to choose from these weird classes if he wanted, also. But he chose a mage instead. Which is fine but, as we'll get to later, I decided on some house rules where Arcane casting can backfire on the caster because Arcane magic is simply dangerous on Barsoom. It does have a payoff so stay tuned!

Chipette had apparently spent the last month becoming besties (or BFFs) with Dejah Thoris and Chipette was able to secure information about the last known location the Helium navy and royalty have for the Marvins. Chipette also secured a flying airship to take the Party to the location for recon and/or takedown.

So with my running Barsoom with NO PREP and the PCs needing a POI for an established threat, how did I create this hook and location? Well first I realized the things that mattered to the PCs and the campaign were as follows:
1. Which direction are the Marvins?
2. How far away?
3. What's known about the place we think they are in?

Also: 4. What's on the way there? could have been something the PCs might ask but they didn't so I could just let the random travel to the POI decide as we went.

So I answered "which direction are the Marvins" by rolling a d8 for which direction on a compass. The answer was "East". Then "how far away" I like the PCs roll on this fast chart I made while they talked about nonsense:
"It is X Y where X is 2d6 and Y is (d6): 
1-3. miles
4-5. hexes (which are 6 miles each)
6. mega hex (which are 36 miles each)" Well they rolled like 7 mega hexes so the Marvins were actually 256 miles away (lol, lmao).

This was actually the point where the party was like "oh no we need an air ship or we'll never get there." They secured it.

But now we get onto the milieu of the POI the Marvins were seen at and what they might be up to. It was at this point I used my memory of the John Carter series, some dumb space opera scifi concepts I made up on the spot, and taking suggestions from the PCs to come up with the following list of points of interest for us to roll on:

1. Temple of Issus
2. Burrow of the Ants
3. Obelisk of the Chessman
4. The Burnt Glass Plateau

5. Tarzans House
6. Abandoned Air-Shipyard
7. Cold North
8. Ornithopter Tower

Now tell me you wouldn't want to adventure in ALL those locations. If you say "well Dubs those sound boring I'd prefer to adventure in the Caves of Chaos for the 75th time" then perhaps you should consider another hobby. 

Well the party rolled 1 on a d8 so in full on John Carter of Mars fashion the dice decided that the bad guy was at the Temple of Issus 254 miles to the due east. The players helped me devise how an air ship might work by us using the ACKS rules for regular sea vessels and just doubling their overland wilderness travel movement as per ACKS rules. Flying things can go "as the crow flies" avoiding hills and hollers so that equates to double wilderness travel movement. So despite the Temple of Issus being almost 300 miles away, the party could get there in just about a day. Amazing!

But I didn't know anything about the terrain from prep because prep is for geeks. I broke out Appendix B, the random wilderness generator, in the 1e DMG and got to work. I decided, to save time and because the air ship was moving so fast, the PCs would only get a sense of what each 36 mile hex terrain was in general. Not every single 6 mile normal hex. I also, rather than making a wilderness check for each 6 mile hex (or 42 checks) I'd just assume 1 encounter hit per mega hex. 

Me and a player figured "only flyers could do any damage to the airship" or "be a threat" but then I realized THARKS have those mega plasma rifles which can shoot miles. So if tharks came up as a random encounter the party might have a bad time. 

It's been said by prep addicts that rolling Appendix B at the table would make for a bad session. That the players would be bored bored bored. Well I can tell you that's wrong wrong wrong. 

It really didn't take that long and the main issue we had with time running short for session 132 was the lack of preparation the party had made by not doing any downtime on di1scord and coming to the session with rules worldbuilding questions for me. In our campaign they could have used downtime to figure out where the marvins were and even submitted an idea of what they might be up to and what the POI they were located in might look like. I enjoyed making the hook with my players like outlined above but the fact is this, along with figuring out airship stats (something else players could have done without me in downtime), and hiring hench (something else the players could have done without me in downtime) took up more time than Appendix B.

Why aren't the fake D&D geeks screaming on tw11ter about Players not doing THEIR prep or helping the campaign with milieu? Why do they raise their tiny e-fists in fake indignation at DMs for the sin of making them wait a minute or two for random rolls in session? For not generating reems of maps before the session starts?

Well, the main reason is D&D geeks often have less than charitable attitude to their poor overworked DMs. And as has been discussed on ROLLIN BONES podcast, some D&D geeks have this concept of the DM or D&D as another form of on demand entertainment. 

My players ARE charitable and are NOT geeks. They didn't do as much of this sort of downtime stuff likely due to them being men with lives to live. And I think some were a bit confounded by what they COULD do on Barsoom for a month. Gun shy? 

Back to the session report. Rather than list every thing they saw as they flew across Barsoom in a flying airship (I know you're jealous of this session) I'll just list what each 36 mile hex had and what was seen there AND give you a theater of the mind map of BROSR Barsoom as prep for your next session there. You're welcome:

Mega Hex 1: Wasteland of blasted gold and orange sands. Encountered 4 Wyverns on patrol. No Lair. Party evaded successfully despite Wyverns giving chase. Barsoom wyverns shoot poison barbs from wings and don't have a stinger.

Mega Hex 2: Wasteland gives way to weirding hills covered with giant mushrooms. Encountered a warband of Tharks patrolling. Neutral reaction and chose not to fire on the Helium airship.

Mega Hex 3: Mushroom hills continue. Single narrow mountain juts miles into the sky with a wyvern lair. 6 wyverns leave their lair to run off the helium airship. What riches might their lair hold?

Mega Hex 4: The hills give way to swaying lands of Endor (California giant redwood) forest of massive trees with lavender leaves. "Are there ewoks down there?" one player asked. Maybe.

Mega Hex 5: Endor forest continues.

Mega Hex 6: Endor forest gives way to scrublands of lavender and orange moss. Tiny mushroms dot the flat landscape. Strange 6 legged lizards are seen below grazing on the scrublands.

Mega Hex 7: Mossy scrub continues. The airship picks up and follows a dry riverbed towards the Temple of Issus. Below are seen caribou looking herd creatures with 6 legs and antlers that shine with spotlights that point here and there.

Mega Hex 8: The Temple of Issus is here. The dry riverbed looks to have some water. A rarity on dry Barsoom! They must be close to the temple of Issus, the goddess of water and plenty. 

Now you know what is due east of Helium for nigh on 300 miles. It took about 15 minutes to generate, not counting time spent with the Party pondering how to handle what they saw, running evasion checks, and making jokes.

Approaching the location of the Temple of Issus at about 3 miles away Captain Sinep Gib of the "Tejah's Heart" circled the ship so the PCs could see what was at the point of interest they came all this way to see.

It was primarily a massive circular gash on the ground some 3 to 5 miles across. The river was flowing into it and cascading into it. In front of this was a 60 feet tall black pyramid twinkling with lights and jutted with balconies and walkways. The pyramid was moving slowly around the hole in the ground because it was being carried by hundreds of slaves! These were from Helium and Captain Sinep Gib was quite angry about this. These marvins must be brought to justice!

As they approached they saw the top of the pyramid was flat with a sacrificial altar. Some crazy lady in white robes was doing a ritual and had apparently killed a Helium prisoner atop the altar. 10 of the little marvin creatures were around her jumping around and cheering for her ritual. 

The PCs discussed their play while I got a drink. When I returned their plan was to fly within 210 yards so Subatite could pop off a Sleep spell. They figured all the marvins would sleep and they would then capture the sorceress lady and interogate her for information about this whole marvin thing, and how to get home to the Dubzaron world.

This report is getting long so I'll just lay out the hits of the combat. I checked Reaction from the bad guys as the PCs flew closer and Jadis the White Witch (from Narnia) got angry quickly upon their approach. She tossed fireballs at the ship but that didn't really do enough damage to stop its approach. When they were close enough Subatite put like 3 of the marvins to sleep with his first Sleep spell. And 7 more later. Sleeping them all.

Jadis popped off a Hold Monster spell and paralyzed Captain Sinep Gib, Subatite, and 1 of the marines. She tried to target Proteus but even with the higher level Hold Monster spell it can only target folks with 4 HD or lower. Proteus is 7th level.

Now is when things got bad for the group. Jadis popped off an Invisibility 10' spell to make it look like herself, her fighting man bodyguard, and all the marvins ran away. The PCs didn't notice because they kept talking about how they were ducking to avoid spells and the marvins lazer pistols. So Proteus polymorphed self into a dragon but upon casting it he hit the low chance I made (5%) of arcane spells backfiring when cast on Barsoom. I took the rules for Spellsinging misfires from the ACKS "Heroic Fantasy Handbook". Turns out Proteus "stared into the Logos of creation" and, after failing his Save Vs Spells, became feebleminded. Cue up jokes of stupid dragons and gifs in the chat room.

Rory jumped on Proteus' back, anyway, to fly down and "check things out" down by the apparently abandoned altar. Jadis popped out of Invisibility and shot them both with a fireball. Rory survived by his mount Proteus the dragon didn't Proteus was at 0 HP but fell 70' taking 11 more. I halved the fall damage because Barsoom has lower gravity.

Rory, on the other hand, was able to go full John Carter spring jump mode off of Proteus's back and in Jadis's face and start beating her down. She disengaged from the combat and let her bodyguard fight Rory but the barbarian was the stronger hand and took the fighting man down. At one point Jadis shot off a desperate Cone of Cold at Rory hitting her own people but Rory stood tall with 3 hp left. 

When the ship got close enough the marines rappelled down onto the pyramid from the airship and Jadis surrendered. Chipette intimidated her into giving herself up and telling all she knew. Her reasons were nuts:

"We needed a unicorn horn from dubzaron so we could turn on the ozone destroyer because Issus told us to!"
"But you'd die too?"
"I would become one with the atmosphere and this new atmosphere would bring the holy rains back to Barsoom and my spirit would flow into the planet for eternity!"
"Ok... why sacrifice people?"
"To open the portal to Dubzaron and hunt for unicorns of course."

Ok that's a stupid plan but it all lined up with our previous seeds and hooks. At this point it was late so we did some housekeeping stuff:
-Captain Sinep Gib demanded all the marvins destroyed. Deep in the pyramid breeding pits of black slop was found from which they were crawling. Chipette objected but Rory and Sinep voted her down.
-Proteus's body was checked. He rolled a really bad Mortal Wounds check and the ship and party had no healers. He's dead. Did his items break from the fall?
-Lots of treasure in the pyramid! See below.
-Fly home and send ships back to pick up the rescued slaves of Helium.

I let the players roll up the random treasure and, besides the magic ring Jadis was wearing, there were no magic items in the pyramid.

We ended there but what other adventures might we have on Barsoom? Inside the giant hole in the ground appeared to be a dark city on a lake. A lake on dry Barsoom?! Is this where Issus lives? Dare they return to claim it? Dare they explore the endor forests to recruit ewoks? Dare they cast another arcane spell? 

Find out next time! 

Treasure:1,000 gp, 5,000 ep, 6,000 gp.  2 zircons worth 75gp each, 1 tiger eye worth 25gp, 1 sunset amethyst with the image of sol inside worth 750 gp. 1 Alabaster Jadis statue (the white queen) worth 700 gp, 1 wrought gold tiara worth 600 gp, 1 ivory lapel pin worth 400 gp, 1 porcelain music box worth 700 gp. Total GP Value: 3,325 gp

XP For Kills: 1380
XP For GP: 11,925 (Sinep Gib asking for an equal treasure cut to PCs which he will share with his Marines. With 2 charismatic PCs in the party he's convinced to not get in the running for the Magic Ring)
XP for Magic Items: 6,250
XP Pool: 19,555

Cuts: 10 (1 for marine platoon and 1 for Sinep Gib)
PC Cut: 3,911 xp
Hench Cut: 1,956 xp

Dubzaron Session 135: Reefer Madness

This session took place on 11/15/23 through 11/16/23  needing one day of rest on 11/17/23  can take actions 11/18/23.  PCs:  Norton L1 Thief...