There is a long standing theory in the OSR scene that players have more fun when they don't know the name of the creatures they are fighting. That the GM should never say "you see 5 orcs and they attack you with spears". "That's boring!" they claim. "Better you roll on this random chart I'm selling which has 12 weird features of orc type creatures. That way your players will always be confused because of the MYSTERY of it all. Certainly assure that the orc-type monsters your Players face are in an interesting lair with weird descriptions of what's in the room."
|beastmen. does it matter |
what they are if they're dead?
Session 7 of my ACKS game put the lie to all of that.
The players face a dozen or so "pig men" (orcs, probably?) in a square room. They were just standing there waiting for the players to enter a square featureless room, like your DM would have happen when you played DND in middle school. Did you really care? Well that's not exactly true, I tossed out some throwaway line about how the not-orcs were sparring with their spears like they were in a Star Wars prequel, thus explaining why they were surprised.
But the monsters didn't do anything particularly interesting in combat, just died mostly. And guess what? The players said this was the best session yet!
Well I believe the real fun for the players came from their own jokes with each other and the fact that they won and (so they thought) acquired a nice treasure haul. They also confirmed, in the most dramatic way possible, that a staff they acquired a month back has some sort of healing magic capability. Once I tallied up the treasure later some of the players adjusted their rating of the session saying it was great but they thought they made more cash.
So it seems that the "fun" factor in old school DND type games doesn't necessarily hinge on great evocative descriptions from the DM or mysterious monsters. There's something else there, something I haven't yet grasped. Stay tuned!
Just a few minutes into the players logging into the voice channel and they were already saying "Blister of Doom!" That's the name they've given to the dungeon in the introductory ACKS module that I used to start my campaign. We've added a great deal of other locations and hooks as the game has progressed but that dungeon has been the linchpin of the campaign; letting players return to it if they were strapped for crazy creative schemes else where. The "Blister of Doom" is filling the role OSR theorycrafters said a megadungeon would: allowing the Players a quick location to jump into with little thought.
They set out from Turos Tem and at the end of a day of travel into the viney Viaspen Forest they rest at the Brigand Camp with whom they've made friends. The player of Mandonio (PC Fighter Level 1) has expressed interest in seeing what can be done with the Brigand Warlord Inthorn. The players are convinced the warlord NPC, a retired Lawful Auran general, is being controlled by his chaotic cultist paramour and/or his chaotic mage friend. They believe it has something to do with the odd helm the warlord wears which has a puffy plume. This session, however, the party simply spent the evening resting at the camp for safety through the night in the Viaspen Forest. No schemes to save the Warlord... as yet.
The next morning the party arrived at the "Blister of Doom", a big dome of black rock burying an ancient chaotic temple of some sort. Their plan was to check out the section of the dungeon they believed the bandit Drusus resides in. There's a warrant out for his capture of execution and the party hoped to collect. Sadly, however, they knew that last week an NPC party had attacked Drusus and (as per rumor) "driven him deeper into the dungeon".
The party explored Drusus's supposed wing of the dungeon for quite a while, about an hour of game time. They found dead bandits everywhere tossed over sleeping pallets. They came to a heavy barred door deep into the lair which they unbarred and explored, finding stairs leading down. Likely to LEVEL TWO of the dungeon. The players debated going deeper, weighing the risk and rewards but cautiousness won the day. Instead of delving deeper into the earth they decided to make a hit and run on the "orcs" section of the dungeon.
Traveling there they found and surprised three jackalmen who were investigating the bandits the party had killed 2 weeks back. It was a slaughter, with the monsters not getting off a single attack.
Then the party traveled to a chamber they've deemed "orc barbeque" because they burned up some orcs with military oil there some sessions back. Delving deeper into this section of the dungeon brought them to 6 pigmen (orcs?) sparring with their spears as if they were practicing for their part in "A Phantom Menace". The party, despite having some zoomers among them, quickly eradicated these orcs.
While the party investigated the chest the orcs kept, more of the beasts came from the west and south. Many entrances to this nondescript square room! A full on battle began with the party's shield wall members, Gaius (PC Fighter Level 1) and Mandonio taking separate hallways to prevent a full on assault on the room from multiple fronts. Jack Filcher (PC Thief Level 1) at this point was nearly naked to investigate the chest because "that's how I work ok. Don't question it." Apparently #skyclad has found its way into my campaign as well.
The battle waged with a second wave coming that included some kind of pigman champion and a warg being led by handlers. The warg got loose and into the room at a bad moment and was able to get a good chomp on Broll (PC Barbarian Level 1), leaving him nigh dead on the brick floor.
The champion decided to make a strategic retreat once the players were winning the day and this is where things go interesting.
Broll has a "Fate Point" which allowed him to basically cheat death once. He used it and was mostly ok because Barbarians are hard to keep down. But Marina the henchlady (NPC Henchmen to Yllmeeton Level 0) fell during the battle and Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 1) was unable (or unwilling, I can recall) to heal her up. She was truly dead. Not to return unless she received magical healing immediately.
Yllmeeton (PC Shaman Level 1) decided to try out his brand new brass staff designed to look as two snakes entertwined. He knew it was magical but not how. He prayed to his Neutral patron "The Seeker" and raised the staff high. Bringing it down on Marina... she stood! She was healed!
At this point the players hit the ceiling with excitement. A healing staff! Some of the PCs pledged to serve "The Seeker" and believe in him. Jokes flew and crosstalk abounded. Glorious. True D&D.
Jack Filcher meanwhile was attempting to stuff some of the coins from the chest in his boots. He failed his Pickpockets check and was caught by the rest of the party. What a rascal!
The party exited the dungeon with the chest in tow but found that Gio (NPC Torchbearer and Mule/Horsewatcher) was dead along with Daria's horse he was supposed to be guarding. Yllmeeton tried the the staff again and Gio was able to talk but was fading to the death lands fast. He said "I got stung by a giant scorpion man. It was wild!" When Yllmeeton tried the staff again it did more harm than good shocking Gio and sending him to eternal rest. The party was forced to lug his large corpse back to Turos Tem, slowing them down.
Just before escaping the forest a day or so later a green dragon was swooping over the party looking them over. Jack decided to quaff his "Potion of Dragon Control" and give it a shot! It apparently failed and, while the rest of hte party hid in the bushes and brambles, Jack tried to save his bacon by flattering the giant lizard and informing it of the nearby Brigand Camp of Inthorn and his Chaotic minions nearby. "Go there and kill them to find great treasure!"
The party returned to Turos Tem and arranged a funeral pyre for Gio. It wasn't until some days later they heard rumors of Inthorn's Brigand band traveling with the dragon and attacking the nearby town of Siadanos. Inthorn's mage mounted on the back as the brigands hit the town hard and successfully.
Live and learn? Probably not, for a thief.
Surviving PCs Present
Broll (L1 Barbarian 10% xp bonus) played by RR. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total: 200
Daria (L1 Bladedancer 0% xp bonus) played by JB. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 86 Current Total: 453
Gaius (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played
by VoC. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total XP:1,799
Jack Filcher (L1 Thief 5% xp bonus) played by Chant.Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 90. Current Total: 373
Mandonio Terkikos (L1 Fighter 10% xp bonus) played by RM. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP. XP gained in Session 7 was 86. Current Total XP:953
Yllmetoon (L1 Shaman 10% xp bonus) played by SS. Liquid treasure gained in Session 7 was 146 CP, 76 SP, 21 GP due to 15% of cut going to Marina Henchwoman. XP gained in Session 7 was 95. Current Total: 490
Bucky (L1 Barbarian 5% xp bonus) played by VoC. Current Total: 27. Location: Turos Tem
Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR.
Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by
MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.
Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Hektor (L1 Paladin) played by Moai. DECEASED. Cause of Death: goblin warg rider throat removal surgery in Session 2
Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498 DECEASED.
Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken
in Session 6. Body not recovered.
Mard the Mage (L1 Mage) played by Nicholas. DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.Alexa this is so sad play "don't stop believing" by journey
Session 7 on 12.23.20 quick notes PCs Present: Broll, Daria, Gaius, Jack, Mando, Yllmeeton (12 XP cuts) Hench Present: Marinia (hench to Yllmeeton) (1 XP cut) No Deaths XP from Kills: 3 jackalmen (60 xp), 16 pigmen (160 xp), 1 warg (140 xp). Total: 360 XP from Treasure: 1,000 CP (10 xp), 400 SP (40 XP), 150 GP (150 XP). Total: 200 Total XP: 560 Each PC receives: 86 XP 5% bonus: 90 XP 10% bonus: 95 XP Hench: 43 XP Liquid Treasure (see above): each PC receives 172 CP, 66 SP, 25 GP Yllmeeton receives: 146 CP, 76 SP, 21 GP due to 15% of cut going to Marina Henchwoman. Note: Jack failed in attempt to Pickpocket gold so no bonus to XP from treasure for him to party detriment.