Tuesday, November 30, 2021

ACKS Session 36: Diamonds and Xenomorphs are Forever

This session was played on 11/17/21 with PCs Adventuring for 5 days. 1 day of rest as per ACKS rules means PCs can participate in Downtime and Session play on and after 11/23/21.

Foreword

Rick Stump has the longest running 1e Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign which has been run for like 40 years or something absurd. He's OG and has a terrific blog here. On a recent Geek Gab he discussed Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping and something he calls Psychotronic Gaming. Definition? No matter how gonzo an idea is it's good to go in your D&D game if it has some internal consistency to your game world. 


It's a great BROSR discussion with the Geek Gab Guys and I highly recommend you give it a listen. The BROSR Elite are the only ones having interesting conversations about D&D and TTRPG right now and the nerds who copy our concepts for their lukewarm boring theorycraft blogs really should be giving us credit. I'd link you to them but who even cares.

Rick's advocating of Psychotronic Gaming inspired me! How? Well... I decided the Alien from "Alien" belongs in my campaign world. Here's how that went:

Session Report

I took about a month and a half off of running sessions and only checked downtime requests once a week or so in September and October. During that time Rat Face (PC Thief Level 2) decided to spend a month "Treasure Hunting". In ACKS this is when a PC begs borrows and steals to learn about some hidden treasure vault, megadungeon section, monster lair, or mega lair that's supposed to be flush with treasure. Rat Face only had about a 15% chance of finding such a map after a month of searching but the dice are strange, aren't they? He found one!


The treasure map Rat Face found was supposedly to some gems including 2 flawless black diamonds called the "Eyes of Dirgion". Not purported to be magic but just very valuable indeed and supposedly hidden in a sinkhole in the Naungolle Forest a ways away. The party left Cyafaraun and traveled along the roads for a few days, passing through Turos Orn and not stopping to shop or anything. 

They entered the forest from the northwest section and traveled for two days into the woods. The found the forest itself to be mostly mossy soft ground with canopy from large oaks making the place nigh dark even in the day. The PCs spent only 2 hours searching for the sinkhole itself with Smarticus (PC Mage Level 1) pondering the map and talking loudly. Smarticus was a classic Rainmain being extremely smart by with no Charisma to speak of; social interactions confused and confounded him. He talked loudly to himself as he followed the treasure map around the old woods.

To handle the randomly generated treasure map and the random nature of the PCs following it to some random spot in the woods I decided on; I made some house rules. We used the "Searching for Lairs" rules in the ACKS Lairs & Encounters book; simply positing that the PCs would need someone with Navigation Proficiency to search for the treasure in a hex or the Mapping Proficiency to search for the treasure in the wilderness at a negative to the roll. Smarticus happed to have Navigation so the party was primed for this particular randomly generated quest/hook.

As Jeffro says, you don't really need modules. Random PC and Patron decisions will create a session for you. In this case, it was some random downtime play and rolls.

Once they found the 8 foot wide or so sinkhole under an escarpment the PCs set up a rope and Rat Face was the first to climb down. Down about 50 feet was a balcony and the hole continued to descend from there. His understanding from the Treasure Map is a small chest of gems was buried on that balcony. He never had a chance to dig and see. While he was investigating the rest of the party, still topside, heard Rat Face scream then suddenly go quiet.

Smarticus bravely descended the rope to the balcony with Rapunzel (PC Priestess Level 1) following just behind. Rapunzel tried her magical disney princess singing proficiency to "put the best asleep"; the beast they assumed grabbed Rat Face and hid deeper down the sinkhole. PCs had no idea if this worked or not since they couldn't see whatever the threat was. Or hear it.

Smarticus began to dig for the treasure chest realizing they could be on the clock before whatever the creature is comes back. Suddenly a Xenomorph was about 40' away from them down the hole from the balcony; it snuck up on the party but didn't surprise them. 

Combat began and Rapunzel scrambled back up the rope as fast as she could. The PCs who were topside dropped military oil on the xenomorph and Kortes (PC Explorer Level 1) shot flaming arrows at it. Fire was blasting everywhere in the sinkhole. A sleep and I think charm spell was cast on the alien to no effect!

Smarticus attempted to be a hero and jump down the hole so the alien would chase him down away from the party but the xenomorph grabbed him and carried his unconscious body to the bottom of the hole (perhaps to introduce the nerd to a facehugger?). The nest or location at the bottom was straight down then a sharp right turn so the PCs couldn't see the alien or her nest (or whatever) from the top of the sinkhole.

The players began to debate if they should make one last run at the chest of gems they assumed were buried on the balcony in the hole. Or cut their losses (Rat Face and Smarticus) and retreat. I got glass of whiskey because they went on and on. But I do so love hearing PCs make schemes about life and death and gold!

I'd love to have been a PC in this scenario because it's the exact type of "push your luck" mechanic I love about old school dungeon delving. The risk and reward was clear as day. So a player must needs develop a scheme or decide what they're prepared to lose. 

The party decided to give it another go and a henchman and 2 PCs went down the rope. It was Aurora (PC Priestess Level 1) and Kortes. They were down on the balcony a pretty long time as they searched for secret doors and began to dig as fast as they could. As soon as they had the little chest of gems in hand the xenomorph appeared down the rope again and it was coming back for more victims!

Kortes was climbing out quickly and Aurora put the chest in a sack and tied the sack to the rope and started to climb up with her henchman. The masterstroke the PCs surprised me with is when they tied the topside end of the rope to a horse and slapped it to make it pull up the PCs hanging on to the rope at Warp Speed. The henchman took a hanging rock in the face as he was pulled up the hole so quickly but  didn't die. Aurora was fine and crested the top of the hole no problem.

The PCs posted up at the top of the hole hoping the alien would chase them into the open and they could attack it with all their number and their mercenaries. I made a Reaction Roll to see if the xenomorph was angry or crazy enough to try it but the dice said no. She never followed. The PCs decided to run and cash out their massive take of gems; about 12,000 GP in value. 

Every single PC and henchman who was part of the treasure hunt leveled. 

Afterword

I asked my players what they thought of this session and there was an interesting discussion. Rapunzel's player stated that the highlight of the session was the tone. I attribute this to Psychotronic Gaming. 

The Player said "mentally I was picturing an animated d1sney movie but instead of of little birds and mice and other forest critters, you have a classic sci-fi horror movie monster". Yes! Classic horror movie monsters fit in perfectly with the classic dnd thief (Rat Face) and the classic nerd-mage of Smarticus. 

When I decided on using the xenomorph I just thought I'd go for it. Rat Face's player has stated multiple times "Alien" is one of his favorite films so when he was the one that generated the hook due to downtime random rolls I felt it was a great fit for the player specifically. 

ACKS Player's Companion PC templates were also praised during the after-session discussion of Session 36. "I really like how randomly rolling for character templates has a tendency to drive the game into new directions (and force the players to player PCs they would never make under a system like 5e". It's my contention that when a Player has "full freedom" to "build" whatever PC they want in Nu-skool systems they'll generally build the same 1 or 2 character concepts they always run. 

Jeffrogaxian Timekeeping forces Players to have multiple PCs if they want to play in every session. Psychotronic Gaming allows PCs to drop goofy ideas like a d1sney princess archetype into the campaign and it still makes sense to the milieu. 

It's time for you to embrace the BROSR and Psychotronic Gaming approach to DND and have a better campaign for it. Read more here and follow the #brosr on tw1tter to find out how!

Surviving PCs Present

Aurora (0% XP bonus): Level 1 Priestess. 3,063 xp gained. Total: 3,063 [LEVEL UP TO 2!]

Kortes (0% XP bonus): Level 1 Explorer. 3,063 xp gained. Total: 4,615 maxed to 3,999 [LEVEL UP TO 2! and 1 xp from 3!]

Rapunzel (10%) XP bonus: Level 1 Priestess. 3,369 xp gained. Total: 3,369 [LEVEL UP TO 2!]

Henchmen

Niveed (Aurora) leveled up to a level 1 Explorer

Prajna (Aurora) leveled up to a Level 1 Fighter

Deceased:

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.

Polydoros (L1 Fighter). Total XP: 0. Had his legs ripped off and eaten by Akira monsters in the dark canopy of the Viaspen Forest in Session 28.

Odrum (L1 Explorer). Total XP: 287. Javelin to the heart from the hands of weird vine goblins hidden in the walls of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.

Garvin the Nutless Wonder (L1 Mage). Total XP: 0. Fell off the side of Ferigno's lair 20 feet to his death in Session 30.

Blackmoon (L1 Assassin). Total XP: 768. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while stealing treasure from Ferigno's dragon horde in Session 30.

Xanthus (L2 Cleric). Total XP: 2,364. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while hanging out on the roof of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.

Turin (L1 Cleric). Total XP: 0. Eaten by Wargs in Session 32.

Rat Face (L2 Thief) Total XP: 1,577. Seemingly grabbed in the dark by a Xenomorph in Session 36. In a sinkhole your party can hear you scream! 

Smarticus (L1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Captured by a Xenomorph in Session 36 for all the party to witness. Taken deep into a sinkhole.

Alexa this is so sad play "Face Hugger" from the "Alien" official motion picture soundtrack.

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