Friday, March 4, 2022

Dubzaron Session 45: The Mummy Part 2 (Review of ACKS "Secrets of the Nethercity")

This session was played on 02/09/22 wherein the PCs delved for 1 day. Needing one day of rest as per ACKS rules they can adventure and make downtime requests on and after 02/11/22.

Session Report

The Party had been having so much success delving the Nethercity that they decided to return YET AGAIN! 

They rolled through the sewers to get to the entrance of the Nethercity and came upon a clutch of Shriekers in the sewer muck. The shrieking began! The PCs decided to just run past them and there were no extra random encounters thanks to all the racket.

Then just before the dungeon entrance 15 giant rats were loitering. Rapunzel (PC Priestess Level 4) used her beautiful disney songs to put them to sleep. The party went into the dungeon.

This would be the last time the party would have to trudge through the sewers to get to the entrance of the Nethercity since Rapunzel bought the public latrines above it from the city (bribe). During this delve she already had craftsmen building the location into a Shrine with stairs (and secret doors) going down to the entrance of the Nethercity. Yes she and the party used their downtime and money to construct a way of avoiding 3 random encounters coming and going from the Nethercity entrance. This is the sort of thing I've never witnessed done in campaigns without 1:1 time and the downtime actions that result from it.

I rolled no random encounters as the party explored the volcanic tunnels and crypt halls deeper into the dungeon. They came to a stone crypt door and decided to push it open since, thus far, they've been pretty lucky at finding rooms full of treasure beyond these doors. When they're able to actually open them...

It took them quite a while to open the door this time so I checked out what was beyond it. The module has a helpful little guide wherein you roll randomly on if the PCs struggling with the door wakes up an undead occupant and what his or her disposition might be. Well the mummy cultist in this room was angry at being disturbed. She had about 5 rounds of the PCs pushing and prying the door to get ready so she cast a handful of buff spells (including protection from fire), Summoned 4 Giant Pythons and a Summon Insect Swarm spell.

The crypt door rolled and crashed open and there this crazy undead elf lady cultist stood laughing and directed a bunch of scarabs and such at the party. ACKS "Swarms" are their own kind of creature with a set HD and special defenses. Some swarms only distract you, some knock you down (rats), but these do 2 damage per round to anyone in a 30'x60' area (a whole marching order, in most cases).

The party acted fast but all of them were taking damage from the multiple insect swarms. Nubbs (Thief Level 3) sadly had scarabs drill into his ears and eat his brain. He died.

Xanthos (Cleric Level 3) acted fast in casting Protection from Evil which I ruled prevented the summoned creatures from approaching him and those the spell was protecting.

Daria (PC Bladedancer Level 5) fought the snakes and swarms as best she could alongside Oliver (PC Paladin Level 1) but the constant damage from the swarms was starting to get even the higher level PCs close to death.

Daria almost died and jumped into the sarcophagus and closed the lid to hide from the bugs  and there was an awkward few rounds when Olivier jumped inside as well to hide from same. "Madame... ahem... pardon me..." he said as he tried to be as modest with her in the small space as possible.

The jokes about what they were up to in the sarcophagus continued on through the night and THEN into the following sessions' pregame joke/planning sessions. Are Daria and Olivier and item now? 

Besides that not much happened. Rapunzel had succeeded at turning undead on the Mummy Cultist early in the fight. Once all the bugs and snakes were dead Daria and co beat the mummy lady down while she cowered in a corner from Rapunzel's holy symbol. The players looted the crypt which was pretty flush with cash and prizes, including the swanmae cloak.

They left the dungeon and had no random encounters on the way back.


Since this is a simple session report I will use some space to review and analyze the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS) module we are playing in, called "Secrets of the Nethercity"

Players are loving this module because it's a dungeon right under the medium city of Dubzaron so they can delve and come right back up and sell their treasure. It also limits the amount of time coming and going from the dungeon which is a major boon when dealing with 1:1 time. I know they love it because they've delved it like 6 times in a row.

The player for MadEye (Venturer Level 3) is enjoying the module since it has some good built in story elements such as Lore that can be gathered and grokked by PCs that tie back into the Auran Borderlands region, myths, lore and such. From a DM perspective I'm glad to have alot of that stuff, including history and the like, baked into the module where it's already figured out in a sensible way. For instance the fact that the mummies thus far have been elves has some of the players scratching their head and being curious to learn more. What means? Well, a means to find out is probably in the pages of the module, fellas.

 playable af

The layout is perfect. Just perfect.

It has a big macro map with everything on it. But then it's numbered with letter and number combo. Room A1, Room H17 and the like. The letters designate a sort of section of the dungeon, Section H being the Grand Temple, for instance. Then the map is chopped up and the Section Map is put nearby its key for each room.

The exits from a section even note the room they'll enter into. Example: Room A5 southern door will have "Exit to B1" next to it on the map. So if players go through that door you can flip over to Section B chapter and keep going.

Finally, layout wise, the contents of the room DM info is broken down to "Monster:", "Treasure:", "Trap:" and "Lore:" sections. So you can quickly scan a room entry key and see if there is a monster or trap in there, on the fly, as you come to each room.

For me this has meant that I've read pretty much NONE of the room entries except and until the players get there. Everyone talks about how prepping yourself and the book for running adventure modules is just as much work as creating your own dungeon. I find that often to be the case, as well. Not with "Secrets of the Nethercity".

The content that I've seen (since I've not read the whole book) is fantastic. This is a dirty volcanic tube and sewer location with wall crypts from floor to ceiling. Special hand carved crypt complexes with black tiled floor. High galleries with constellations of doomed events on the ceiling. It's simply a scary and freaky place. In Session 47 (as you'll see later) I think the spookiness of the place really stood out as the PCs were chased by voices in the dark.

Adding on to the content is the sensible way in which many crypts (as the PCs noticed) have these big heavy doors in front. This gives an internal logic in why the high level undead in the place aren't just running around or going topside to destroy the city (yet). It also forces the PCs to deal with the actual environment in the place, not just "enter room, fight, next room, fight". But they have to play ahead to have strong characters to even get into the rooms where, it seems, most of the big treasure is.

There are a million real concerns and planning the PCs must address before they enter the place. Not enough Clerics will mean certain doom in the crypt areas. But no druid sort to deal with the rooms full of bugs is its own problem. Among other things.

Generally speaking the #BROSR , of which I am a founding member, are anti-module. I address this stance in general in this session report. But I will elaborate some more on my initial thoughts back then. 

Jeffro is right in that you don't NEED very much to run a REAL D&D session. One dumb lair of a randomized number of orcs or something will handle an evening of session play just fine and quite often (usually?) better than your fancy module full of story/flavor neither you nor your players care about. And you're able to storyfy it or flavor it to the needs of your actual table. 

But that sort of gameplay is better suited to wilderness travel and hex exploring. Which is GREAT gaming but not the only kind of gaming. The BROSR has even floated the idea that DUNGEONEERING isn't even Real D&D because many of the stories about Gygax and Arneson's original games was about hex crawling armies around the map to fight eachother.

For a while I thought that may be the case but "Secrets of the Nethercity" has firmly established for me that dungeons, even "kilodungeons" as Macris markets this as, have a very useful place in Real D&D.

These delves have been my BREAK from the high test and high stress army crawls, intrigue, wilderness exploration etc my Patrons are engaging in and my PCs are engaging in downtime. For a DM in Real D&D then; dungeon delving is a stress reliever. 

And a published module like "Secrets of the Nethercity", one I've barely read at all except as PCs come upon the room, serves that purpose perfectly. 

For PCs? It's a place they feel like they can find good and sustained session to session rewards each week, leveling up their PCs at a steady pace to eventually ascend to Patrons themselves.

Five stars for ACKS Secrets of the Nethercity.

Surviving PCs present

Daria (0% XP bonus), Level 5 Bladedancer. 1,336 xp gained. Total: 24,495 [LEVEL UP TO 6!]

Kortes (0% xp bonus), Level 3 Explorer. 1,336 xp gained. Total: 5,783

Olivier (5% xp bonus), Level 1 Paladin. 1,470 xp gained. Total: 2,640 [LEVEL UP TO 2!]

Rapunzel (10% xp bonus),  Level 3 Priestess. 1,470 xp gained. Total: 9,372 [LEVEL UP TO 4!]

Xanthos (10% xp bonus) Level 3 Cleric. 1,470 xp gained. Total: 5,098


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.

Lord Zyklon (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP: 0. LORD ZYKLON DISEMBOWLED LORD ZYKLON upon finding himself on the losing side of the Desolation of Turos Tem.

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.

Hearticus (L1 Cleric) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 after projectile vomiting all over himself from the stink of sewer sludge.

Mickey Mouser (L1 Thief) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 in the happiest place on earth: the Cyfaraun sewer!

Aenes (Level 1 Paladin) Total XP: 62. Swarmed by giant flies in the sewer beneath Cyfaraun in Session 40.

Acianus (Level 1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Chopped to pieces in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue from behind and quickly forgotten about by his compatriots who saved MadEye and lamented Hardar instead. But I'll never forget you Acinanu nanu...nanite... nananaa...

Hardar (Level 2 Mage) Total XP: 2,832. Chopped up in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue as he held his Darth Vader Choking Grip spell long enough for his compatriots to escape an unwinnable battle. His dream to become the most evil being in the universe suffers eternally the indignity of being remembered for self sacrifice and laying his life down for his friends.

Nubbs (Level 3 Thief) Total XP: 4,017. Swarmed by scarabs which bored into his ears and brain in Session 45.

Alexa this is so sad play anything by the beatles

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