Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Session 114: The Search Continues

DM Dubs here again with another session ran by DM Brig. I was not here but I’m jealous of the PCs to delve this dungeon. There’s so much going on in this place. A jade Minotaur head which oozes blood when the god of death’s name is spoken aloud, ceilings and floors with strange chaotic Lovecraftian patterns, murder chickens! Great stuff all around. 

Nezra is a weird class indeed called a Dwarven sporecaster. It’s from the new ACKS splatbook all about dwarves called “By This Axe”. I just recently got my physical copy and will start reading about the sporecaster. It’s my understanding the beta test of ACKS 2e has banned the sporecaster for being really dumb I mean overpowered. I think what I like the least about the class is making zombies and undead kind of bland. The sporecasters hench are like plant zombies which does indeed have some Appendix N influences or at least some early dnd influences like “forbidden city” wherein Gygax had some plant zombies attack so they wouldn’t be able to be turned as undead. I think Gary always hated Turn Undead as this is at least the 3rd place where I see he made it less useful in a module (the other being b2) or a splatbook (“monster manual 2” where you’ll find pseudo undead).

I ran as a Pc with nezra once and found the class to be ok. It has decent flavor to play on with its alchemical themes that we riffed on when I created the Baja blast dwarves. However I still think that dwarves and alchemical plant zombies aren’t really themes that mix well. Where is this in Appendix N? Even fantasy written after 1980 (which you most certainly should NOT read)? 

It’s not as if the sporecaster in dubzaron is overpowered or taking over the campaign. It’s more than the power level exceeds the “cool” or “pulp” aspect of the class. The plant zombies don’t detect as evil. Why? That aspect alone makes the whole thing kind of boring and more video gamey. 

I’ll have more thoughts on the class at a later date when I finally read a bit of “By This Axe”. I support Macris and ACKS but as we’ve learned in the BROSR, the more you play the actual game the less interest you have in collecting ttrpg books you don’t actually need or read splatbooks. Who needs splatbooks when I have a dozen or more players trying to break my campaign world in half every few weeks?

So please enjoy this session report from DM Brig wherein the PCs try to find a unique scroll artifact which would break the entire magic system in dubzaron if they were to find it. -DM Dubs 09/06/23

6/7/23, 6/8 rest, 6/9 active
PCs: Brolly, Nezra, Aelways, Miles, Thane 
Henches: Alejandro, Bob #ACKS 

This week the players were back on the search for the Uberscroll, or whatever it’s called, a scroll rumored to never read the same information twice. No one really knows what that means, but Edelweiss the Mage was keen to pay some adventurers to bring it to her so she could find out. We fired off the session in the dwarven vault-city of Azen Radokh. 

There was some chatter about trying to improve the margin on the mission by getting the dwarves involved to sell them back their own vault or something, I didn’t really follow, but they decided to chase some diplomatic action in downtime due to the Take Me to Your Leader rules in Dubzaron. You can’t just walk up and talk to important folk, you gotta get on the list. That takes time and 1:1 time is more valuable than gold.

Some small visits to the market for supplies and recruitment added Thane the Vaultguard to the PC group (Welcome!) and they were off, making it back to the cursed vault dungeon with little difficulty. Nezra the Sporecaster retrieved his waiting zombified carcass scavenger from where he had it bury itself nearby and the crew got formed up with marching order and light sources. The party anticipated the giant lizards in the first room of the vault which had been there every previous visit. This time the usually docile creatures lost their minds on seeing the adventurers and immediately attacked but the crew was ready. With the zombie crawler up front throwing paralyzation attacks and solid tactics, it wasn’t much of a fight, most of the damage taken soaked by the disgusting fungus grub. The real swing in the party’s favor was Nezra’s reanimation of several of the lizards into zombie lizards, with Thane commenting to Miles the Paladin, “You’re alright with this?” The spore zombies don’t register as evil so Miles just shrugged it off as weird dwarf shit.

They easily found their way to the portcullis leading to level two which was still staked open from their previous visit. The zombie critters descended in front of the party where they were completely unconcerned by the chaotic labyrinthine pattern carved across the threshold of the landing, but Miles was bothered all over again. Crossing the pattern caused no negative effects and the party kept it moving. A fumbled hear noise check had them jumping at ghosts, swearing there were ogres on the other side of the next door. They plotted an entry and sprung it, finding nothing but some curtains waving suspiciously from their horizontal hanging along the ceiling. They pulled the curtains down with spears, revealing the entire ceiling to be covered in that same chaotic pattern that adorned the threshold to the level. The next chamber had an expertly crafted archway for an entrance, which is standard for this vault, but this one was carved with various jester faces on each block. You can throw demonic runes and undead and whatever else at players but mention clowns and suddenly the dungeon’s too dark and scary.

Behind a portcullis in this room the dwarves were certain there had to be something secret. Now I’m a huge fan of randomized dungeons which often have dead ends and pointless features, but this one actually had something in it. After hearing some murmuring voices like eavesdropping on a dinner party, the dwarves uncovered a small compartment the size of a P.O. box that held a minotaur’s head made of jet.

Much discussion was had about the head, which definitely popped for Miles’ detect evil, until Thane just grabbed it, made his saving throw vs Death, and said, “Ok, let’s go.” A bit of stunned silence followed, then they laughed and ran some theology checks now that they could see it better. It was much heavier than it should have been, Thane with his big guns having trouble holding it for very long comfortably, and reminded Nezra of Nargund, the Cthonic god of the night, predators, and hunting. When Nezra spoke this aloud, fresh warm blood oozed from between the head’s teeth and dripped onto the ground. Thane took this opportunity to run this blood over the blade of his axe in the hopes of increasing the weapon’s combat effectiveness then put the statue in his pack. The party moved on, trailing fresh blood from a dripping axe. At the room where they left the cockatrices staked in the last session they found that their stakes were still in place. Thane was going to open the door and they would rush the room with zombie creatures to soak up petrifications while the second rank and ranged tried to throw oil and shoot at the nasty roosters. Unfortunately, the monsters were alerted to the party and ready, charging at the door as it was opened before Thane had a chance to get behind the lizards.

The crew laid the lumber on the birds in the first few rounds of combat, but unfortunately Thane caught a peck on the cheek and turned to stone, the Nargund statue with him, before they were able to kill the pesky birds. They found several figures in the room with some evidence of wealth on them in jewelry or fancy armor, including a medusa, hobgoblin, and ogre. They broke the medusa’s hand off with a ring on it and failed to chisel free a crown off of her head, instead shattering the head and crown into pieces. The hopes were that they’d be able to get the items restored with magic. Thane was left to decorate the doorway while they searched deeper into the dungeon, finding a room filled with spider webs that of course they burned. The spiders hiding in the webs escaped through a hole in the ceiling, leaving behind a few desiccated corpses that had a bit of treasure on them. Feeling pretty good about themselves, they kept going, descending to the third level of the cursed vault. This level’s archways were not the works of art of the levels above, crafted in uneven jarring angles. It was also darker, more oppressive here, with faint bioluminescent fungus growing along the base of the walls in a dark purplish/blacklight color giving off ominous vibes and causing Nezra to let loose with a manly giggle.

There was a fountain carved into the corner of the landing with a beautiful mountain waterfall scene burbling peacefully. Nezra took a drink from the water, probably inspired by Thane’s bold handling of the definitely not evil minotaur head, and reported the water was cool and clear. The first door they came to was carved with an inverted pentagram of arcane runes filled with the reddish brown of dried blood. With no arcane casters or proficiencies the crew shrugged that off and moved on through a square room lined with fungus and down a long hallway lined with fungus. They tried to enter a door that was stuck but had to force their way in, stumbling into a room with a shrieker in one corner that went berserk with a shrill whine. Nezra tried to commune with the shrieker, touching it gently and cooing in fungal tones or something. He picked up that the shrieker was scared but not a lot of complex thoughts coming off of a big mushroom. Miles chopped it down and the party was eager to be away before something nasty showed up. They chose deeper in, where Aelways the Machinist was able to hear some voices behind the next door calling for help.

They entered to find a human male and female both hanging from some weird contraption of chains and spikes. Suspicious immediately, some members opened a dialogue with the man who was pleading to be let down. He told them there were robed, fanged creatures that came from the door to the northwest, but Miles detected these folks as chaotic and let the team know. Once the creatures heard this exchange they dropped from the contraption, apparently not held at all, and started backing away. The party sprung into action to stop them and the fight was on.

Winning initiative helped the adventurers, with the front line charging to engage the creatures before they could escape. As combat was joined, the monsters changed shape from human into smooth-skinned humanoids with bugged out eyes and sharp claws and teeth. They exchanged blows, with Bob the hench getting brutally bitten and killed before the PCs were able to emerge victorious. There was a cultivated pentagram of the bioluminescent fungus off to the side which was promptly destroyed while the contraption was searched over, Aelways again finding a secret compartment that had some gold and other small personal trinkets. The group packed away their bits of loot and returned to Thane’s statue. Some various plans were tossed around about getting him out, but a solid stone dwarf is a hefty endeavor. Ole Bdubs has a house rule about moving petrified people because it happens so often in Dubzaron. With the manpower that they had, the PCs were able to get Thane out of the dungeon. They then lashed the statue to the back of several zombie lizards and slowly made their way back to Azen Radokh, thankfully having no random encounters, but they did bash Thane’s stoney knee against a rock. That’s gonna sting if he ever gets turned back to flesh.

Grades: Brolly: Called the session, tracked at every opportunity, E Aelways: Grade on thief curve, stayed clear of danger, used abilities, E Nezra: Idk, weird ass class. Thief progression with weird necromancer kit. Stayed clear, excited about fungus stuff, used abilities, E Miles: Paladin bold, eager to rescue those in need, smiting of evil when discovered, E Thane: New guy, bold, direct, courageous front liner, E. Session 114
Xp from Kills: 1580
Xp from Loot: 4121
Total XP: 5701
Cuts: 9
PC: 0% 1,267 5% 1,330 10% 1,394 Hench: 0% 633 5% 665 10% 697 No xp for Thane due to petrification, no xp for Bob due to death.

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