I pray for the health and safety of you who are reading this. You are a child of Christ.
The players spent all their downtime between Session 25 and this one hiring a bunch of mercenaries. Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Cavalry, the works. So I was certain they'd take to the wilderness again, go ranging far and wide! No.
Down in the sewer of Cyfaraun we go!
The players had an offer from a major NPC, one Lanista Nuvicus, to go capture the lizardmen his smugglers accidently let loose into the sewer. He was bringing them into the city to fight in the arena for his gladiatorial school... but all went awry. This is the same guy that asked the PCs to capture the crocodile two sessions back, same botched operation.
The players decided on this mission over the one offered by an actual Patron (a major NPC played by a real person). The Patron, one Liber Faunus, was offering them cash and prizes to bring back some elven antiquities from the Nethercity the PCs discovered way back when below the sewer.
Doing a mission for a regular boring old NPC instead of a Patron PC? Somewhere, Jeffro is crying into his 1e DMG.
Well the mission for the Patron seems, to the players, to be one that would take multiple sessions. The one they decided on to capture the lizardmen appeared to be a one session event type thing. This aligns with what Jeffro discovered in his 1e campaign that this sort of play will lead to players focusing on smaller delves and events that can be addressed in one session of play. As such this sort of play reflects the old fantasy pulp short stories with one weird event that can be read in one sitting rather than long drawn out Game of Thronezzzz or Wheel of Time style intrigue that goes on and on and on and on with thousands page books.
I've found the same. Recon sessions are rare since few of the players want to risk having a 0 XP session for recon with promise of returning later for the Big Score. Said player might not be around for the Big Score session!
When my players have had a recon session it's usually after they went after a Big Score and realized it was already gone or their info wasn't as good as they thought. "Well there's no dragon hoard here but maybe we can take a look at Level 2 of this dungeon and figure out what to bring next time?" Something like that.
Does this mean that the #brosr has killed the megadungeon?! Perhaps! I will ponder that and poast more about it later. Back to the session report!
The players were waiting for Marn (PC Mage Level 3) to get out of Time Compression of his learning new spells upon leveling so he could bring his Sleep spell to this "capture alive" operation. Well Marn's player couldn't play tonight. So the party, despite having waited a week to try this mission, decided to do it anyway without him! (?????) This meant they would be using nets and the edge of their weapons to try and take the lizardmen down without killing them.
They started off by having Xanthus (PC Cleric Level 2) Commune with his god Istreus and ask 3 questions about the location of the lizardmen's lair in the dungeon. This was done safely from the Tavern. Xanthus tried to do the Commune in his room privately since Istreus has taken to personally showing up and walking around whilst fielding questions. Locals then fall to their knees in awe at the presence of a deity and Xanthus didn't care for all the attention. Istreus decided to follow him into the tavern room anyway and NPCs fell to their knees. It was a big thing.
(I read a bit of Moorcock and have decided to have deities show up in the campaign. Why not?)
The party marched across the city a few districts into the Festival District and used the answers the Deity gave them to pinpoint the best entry into the sewer to be as close to the lizardman lair as possible. They entered the stench filled dungeon and marched in single file since the platform above the sewer sludge of waste was only about 5 feet wide.
About 20 minutes into the delve I rolled a random encounter: 1 lizardman. Well that's helpful.
The party attacked it but not to kill. Subdual damage only since the lizardmen were worth much more alive than dead to the Lanista quest giver. The lizard warrior was toting a dockworker prisoner, presumably to eat, and had no such qualms about Mortal Kombat. He downedTimothy (new PC Venturer Level 1) and Sabo (NPC Henchmen to Blackmoon L0) with an attack and a cleave, before the party could knock him unconscious. Timothy fell in the sewer sludge upon his apparent demise. The party was able to save his life but he lost an eye (-2 to missile attack rolls) and would need 2 weeks of bed rest before adventuring again. Catch you later Timothy. The henchman had no such luck. Doornail.
|believe it or not there's
treasure to be found here!
With the lizardman captured the PCs went to interrogating him. Xanthus could speak scaleyboy language so the calm cleric set to interpreting all the vile threats the PCs wanted their tied up captive to hear. Gundro (PC Gnomish Trickster Level 2) used illusion to create the image of a Crossbreeding Vat. The player of Gundro asked me what a lizardman most fears and I tossed out something like "being crossbred with an inferior creature" and the Players' ideas of how an illusion of such a fear might look just went on and on.
I think by the end of it one of the PCs was threatening to dip a pug dog into the vat and toss the lizardman in behind it. What an insult to a glorious lizard warrior! The vat being completely illusion ofc. Is this storygaming?
Eventually the lizardman agreed to show the PCs to the lair of his fellows. It was some thirty minutes deeper into the dungeon. Upon closing in on its entrance the gnome tripped off a trip wire alarm near the lair with a bunch of metal tied to it to make noise. He used Ventriloquism to say "oops, I slipped" in lizardman language in hopes the occupants of the lair wouldn't prepare themselves.
Blackmoon (new PC Assassin L1), his remaining henchman, and Gwenael (Henchmen to Daria Fighter L1) were tasked with taking the lizardman prisoner back to the sewer ladder so he wouldn't try and escape during a battle.
At the lair itself were some stairs which raised up from the sewer platform into what looked like an old elven shrine of some sort. Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 5) and Gaius (PC Fighter Level 4) ascended the stairs quietly but the lizardmen, prepared for approach, surprised them. Attacks were made on Daria and I spent the rest of the night ruling the lizardmen were smart enough to not attack Gaius until last since his armor was obviously so much stouter than all other PCs.
Daria cast Hold Person but BOTH of the lizardmen made their saving throw. At this point a hidden lizardman jumped out of the sewer sludge behind the group's back ranks of Gundro, Xanthus, and Timur (PC Barbarian L1). The beast got some scratches and hits on Gundro and Timur but couldn't kill either of them. Xanthus make a fighting retweet to wisely battle another day!
Timur moved up the stairs with the front ranks to hopefully save Daria from getting knocked down in defeat, leaving Gundro to fend for himself wherein the lizardman ripped the gnome's mouth off and ate it laughing. Gundro died.
Daria cast Hold Person again and the leader of the lizardmen was held in place by the power of Ianna. Gaius beat the other lizardman down with subdual attacked until it hit the floor of the sewer unconscious. Timur had ran back down the stairs to save Gundro but it was too late. He and Gaius chopped the lizardman in the sludge to death since it didn't have the brand indicating it was trained to fight in the arena. Thus, not worth a big cash prize from the NPC quest giver to bring in alive. Sorry, scaleyboy.
Blackmoon and Gwen, during all this, had been attacked by a ratman on their way back to the surface. I ran this combat at the same time as the lizardman battle, even though it may not have happened at the exact same time in the game world. That's an old trick I picked up running 3e so a split party could have a fun combat at the same time and not have to sit around waiting for a combat to end that they weren't a party of. 3e combats were sooooo slow, it was almost a necessity.
During this combat Gwenael grabbed the ratman in a wrestling hold and pinned its arms. It screeched and growled angrily as Gwen said "go go go!" to Blackmoon and his henchmen. Indicating they Secure the Bag of the lizardman prisoner rather than risk it breaking free whilst PCs were distracted.
The best part of this was when we all realized Blackmoon took one of the two torches with him. Gwen had to drop her torch to wrestle and I rolled a 1d6 to see if it burned out upon falling on the floor. This is an ACKS Core rule btw 1= torch wen out. I rolled a 1. Her torch fell in the sludge and went out.
So she wrestled the ratman in the dark surrounded by the stench of a sewer dungeon. Hearing only growls of a lycanthrope pinned beneath her and her comrades footfalls echoing further away in the distance.
Eventually she pushed the ratman off her and run through the darkness towards the ladder out of the sewer, the vile lycanthrope hot on her heels.
As per ACKS in Dungeon Chases you make a Save Vs Paralysis every time you take a hard turn or whatever so I ruled she'd have to make one to grab the ladder and not slip enough to stall her movement, wherein the ratman could chase her down, closing the distance and returning to melee combat. Saving throw succeeded and she ascended into sunlight. The beast didn't take chase.
The other party eventually followed behind and brought the other prisoners into the street above and the party cash outed their reward. Later they were visited by an NPC from the Tower of Knowledge who offered them 600 GP for a map to the Lizardmans' Lair since it was an elven ruin of some esoteric interest. The delve was a success.
During this writing I was discussing with the Caller about the party's tactics and he had this to say:
"we used to be soft on rear guard because we'd clear a dungeon, knew where we were. Now we make precision delves but get attacked from behind more. Interesting evolution."
I think this may put a lie to the claim that my campaign, and others like them, have killed the megadungeon. The Caller is correct that their party, in earlier sessions, would do multiple delves to map an area well and keep the danger in front of them. I believe this evolution may have much to do with the fact the party has changed its makeup quite a bit. In early sessions, as often happens in TSR Era dnd, the party quickly realized how necessary it is to put some plate armor wearers up front and keep the fighter in a doorway or hallway.
Regular human sized enemies are unlikely to get past a front line of two or more stout plate wearers. But the party lost Mandonio (deceased PC Fighter Level 4) and now only have one mid level fighter with plate in Gaius. Their combat tactics have changed and thus so has their preferred mission choice.
I am uncertain if this party of players will ever return to delving a mid to large sized dungeon, and that's fine. But I think the megadungeon still has a place in a brosr campaign. One way an enterprising brosr DM might consider handling a megadungeon the PCs have abandoned is consider each level of the dungeon as a small army. Each dungeon lair as a unit or two. So level 2 of a dungeon with a lair of 50 lizardmen, and a lair of 50 gnolls, might come under the command of a Big Bad in either tribe (or a lone evil wizard on the dungeon) where they depart the dungeon to range the nearby wilderness as a small army. Or, if the megadungeon is below a city, do small raids into the city above to capture prisoners here and there, rob a jewelry shop or take prisoners for crossbreeding from the temples or whatever. Give this military unit to a Patron player, perhaps, and watch the sparks fly.
In my campaign the PCs just sold a map to the entrance of a megadungeon to a city Patron player. Perhaps the future of the megadungeon in my campaign is to do abstract dungeoneering for Patron player(s) who may see it as a sort of resource to be mined for treasure and magic items wherein they compare the Profit to the possible Losses? Perhaps this Patron comes up against a Patron monster in the dungeon proper and I have a bit of in city mass combat happenings? Time will tell!
Surviving PCs Present
Blackmoon (0% XP bonus) Level 1 Assassin: 321 xp gained. Total: 321
Daria (0% XP bonus) Level 5 BladeDancer: 321 XP gained. Total: 13,264
Gaius (10% XP bonus) Level 4 Fighter. 352 XP gained. Total: 10,032
Timothy (5% XP bonus): 336 xp gained. Total: 336
Timur (10% XP Bonus): 352 xp gained. Total: 1,935
Xanthus (10% XP bonus) Level 1 Cleric: 352 xp gained. Total: 2,064
Gwen (Daria Hench, Fighter L1): 160 xp gained. Total: ???
Surero (Blackmoon hench): 160 xp gained. Total: ???
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
Leonidas the 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.
Yolo Baggins "My friends call me Swaggins" (L1 Gnomish Trickster) played by J. DECEASED. Paralyzed and eaten by ghouls in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Jack Filcher (L1 Thief) played by C. DECEASED. Shot full of arrows by Inthorn's brigands in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Swoleous Maximus (L1 Paladin). DECEASED. Captured then drawn and quartered by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Damianus (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Captured and beheaded by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.
Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.
Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.
Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.
Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Yllmeeton (L3 Shaman). Total XP 4,563. Bludgeoned by the corpse of a bowmen by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Longinus (L2 Assassin). Total XP 2,036. Had his face ripped off by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Mandonio (L3 Fighter). Total XP 4,779. Charred to a leprous crisp by diseased Dragon breath in Session 22.
Corydon (L1 Joker). Total XP: 0. Burnt to a crisp by chimera breath so thoroughly his corpse wasn't even fit for the crows. Died with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. that's life and as funny as it seems... some people get their kicks, stomping on a dream... In Session 25.
Donny Keebler (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP 2,238. Had his legs burned completely off by chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Marina (L2 Fighter). Total XP: 2,204. Burnt into ash by a chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Gundro (L2 Gnomish Trickster). Total XP: 2,575. Had his mouth and tongue bitten off by a lizardman ambusher in the dank sewers below Cyfaraun in Session 26.
Alexa this is so sad play "Stayin alive" by the bee gees