Friday, October 27, 2023

Dubzaron Session 133: Florida Man in Twin Peaks

Chester: L1 Loremaster, Neutral (??). E
Maso Menos: L1 Fighter, Neutral, Gladiator template (RIP)
Standing Mountain: L4 Elven Spellsword. E.
Trabajo: L1 Florida Man, Day Worker template. S
Tuck: L6(5) Barbarian. E
Valor: Cleric L5 Lawful, Turas, Undead Slayer template. E
Xanthos: L7 Cleric, Lawful, Mendicant template. E.

Hench Standing Mountain: Indian Jones (L2 Explorer), Red Sky (L3 Mage), Diego (Sabretooth tiger)
Tuck: Kayezeus (idk)
Valor: Honor (L2 Paladin)
Xanthos: Agenor (L4 Fighter), Dolon (L3 Thief)[RIP]

Time: session played 10/25/23 using 7 days can take actions 11/01/23.

Session Report

The party was back in BROvenloft Twin Peaks this week. They started at the Double R diner talking about how they wanted to save their lost henchmen. A couple of hench, Duck and... someone else (???) got lost back in Session 130 when they got affected by the weirding ways of the Ghostwood. They were pulled through a vortex into the MAUVE ZONE.

"What is the Mauve Zone?" you ask. Well I'm not exactly sure, either. There are some strange ethereal scenes in "Twin Peaks Season 3: 'The Return'" with the Fireman and the kind of fat lady who ponders her orb (it has Laura's face in it). My concept of them getting lost in the Mauve Zone was made up zero prep style in session on a random chart so it was kind of a challenge to myself to come up with a meaning or purpose behind it if they hit that random result. 

The players had a decent plan this week for finding out about the Mauve Zone which was asking Special Agent Dale Cooper. He's frequently at the Double R diner for their fantastic coffee and their cherry pie which "will kill you!" They found him there on 10/25/23 and asked him all about the place.

"I've had strange dreams about a purple and gray place with a stormy see and a castle upon a mountain" he admitted. Then they convinced him to donate to their cause because they rescued Audrey Horne last time but also because Dale was impressed by the Clerics' various deities. He gave them the Green Ring. Some players who know the tv show were like "oh no!" and took the ring but didn't put it on. 

He also offered to take them to the Glastonbury sycamore tree circle in the woods where they could access the Black Lodge and use it to travel to the Mauve Zone.

On their way out of the diner an overweight man approached them calling himself Chester Copperpot. So this fellow is from "The Goonies" and iirc the bad guy obsessed with the pirate treasure. He had a briefcase full of paperwork and studious materials and promised he knew of a pirate cove somewhere but was fascinated with the Party's mission he overheard them talking about. I loved this concept of a Loremaster which is a studios type Ceremonialist spellcaster from the ACKS sadly less used supplement "Heroic Fantasy Handbook". I told players rolling new PCs that most weird af classes would be allowed or entertained if starting a session in BROvenloft. So we have a Loremaster now. And a Floridaman but we'll get to that later.

Maso Menos was outside tending the bushes outside the Double R and he tagged along as well. Poor sap.

I determined the glastonbury grove was not deep in the Ghostwood so they would not need to risk the weirding magic effects from Session 130 since they could skirt the edge. But there were random encounters rolled. I used the chart from the Fiend Folio for this and used the Fairy Forest chart since in my opinion the woods in "Twin Peaks" have a dark elfland quality to them.

The first random encounter rolled (I won't tell the 1e name of the monster) were 3 large panther looking creatures with rainbow tails and the face of a baby. They were growling angry and surprised the entire party EXCEPT Standing Mountain who has a +2 to Surprise when outdoors. The creatures saw Standing Mountain doing something hostile (a spell? I don't remember) and they attacked. 

They mostly focused on the elf because I determined they were feylike but of the oppose court (seelie/unseelie) from Standing Mountain. They mostly missed their 5 attacks each (!!!) but Standing Mountain did take a shot. One engaged with Tuck and did some decent damage. At some point during the combat Maso Menos was struck by a claw and was killed. As was Dolon the thief hench. Neither recovered after the battle despite clerics and paladins doing their best with extricating them and healing them.

The party got themselves together in the first normal round of combat and Valor healed Tuck. In the first combat round 2 of the weird creatures eyes began to spiral and Standing Mountain became Confused as per the spell and Tuck became Enraged as per the spell. 

Xanthos attempted to cast Dispel Magic on those mind affects the next round but unfortunately got hit by a melee attack and his level 5 spell slot fizzled (ouch). 

Eventually the weird creatures were downed (one getting shot by Special Agent Dale Cooper) but Tuck was still enraged to keep fighting and fought his friends. Standing Mountain, each round, had to make a confusion check to see if he babbled nonsense, beat up the corpses of his enemies, or attacked his friends. So for about 30 minutes of game time the players were trying to tackle or find spell solutions to dealing with their mad party members. 

After the fight the party elected to return to Twin Peaks and rest until the morning, staying at a holiday inn or something. The new party member replacement of Maso Menos was his brother Trabajo, a FLORIDAMAN as per the world famous Jon Daker created ACKS class. Click the link to find out more about this amazing claaa! Trabajo was a day worker with something to prove, and to avenge his brother.

Chester had Called to wolves the day before with his ceremonial magic. While they did arrive it was too late to help in the fight. The next day he called 1 as well. So he was traveling with a pet wolf he could talk to.

The party had forgotten to bring Biff Tannon and his mercs with them the day before. The second day of travel around the Ghostwood had only a random encounter of some hillbilly ogres who were smoking meth and didn't notice the party. They decided to skirt these guys. Jon Daker believes I should dock Trabajo's grade for not being interested in the meth since the Floridaman's class telos is all about acquiring and enjoying illicit substances while being antisocial and somehow a superhero. The Floridaman works in mysterious ways.

The party made it to the Glastonbury Grove and the Black Lodge entrance. Standing Mountains sabertooth tiger wouldn't go inside, and neither would Biff or his men since they were mercs, not henchmen. Chester's wolf was convinced. 

They passed through the Black Lodge's red curtain hallways and rooms with no encounters (drat) and did not get lost inside (double drat) and opened a curtain onto the Mauve Zone.

It was as Cooper described with a purpose stormy ocean which they were floating over like a hole in the sky. About 200 yards away they saw the mountain and tower Cooper described but didn't know how to get there. It was getting late and the discussed going back to get a canoe to come back with another session. But Standing Mountain cast "Locate Object" and asked about a Boat. 

Now with zero prep I didn't really know if there was a boat here but it seemed an ok chance. I determined about 20% shot of a boat swaying around in these stormy seas. It hit as "yes" so Standing Mountain tied a rope to himself and jumped in the water to swim. He almost drowned after failing his 2nd swim check and was pulled back up.

Trabajo decided to give it a shot and realized he could fly! It seems if you have a soul you can float around in the Mauve Zone. Standing Mountain, a perfidious elf with no soul, was forced to be carried or pulled along in his boat of shame.

On the island they saw a huge tower of strange geometric shapes. Opening a massive double doors came to a lobby with a big man sized chess set and checkered board floor. They chose to ignore this and flew up the ceiling where there was a hatch door up to the next floor. In this room gravity returned to normal and they found the Fireman and his wife. He talked backwards with subtitles in the sky. I made a Reaction check and he was generally neutral towards the party. He asked them what they wanted and who they were. He liked their answer they were there to save their friends and their purpose was to help the little guy and serve justice. 

The Fireman and his wife led them down some stairs to the strange ballroom with a film screen showing a projection of their recent fight with the weird pantherbaby things. "That's embarrassing" said Tuck (I think). Inside the film, however, were the henchmen they were trying to save; trapped in the film by BOB.

Because right there between them and the film screen was SUPER BOB. The Fireman said "he's more powerful than before" since BOB was kiled in Vegas back in session 30. But can you really kill a demon wraith thing? No. Or mayb. idk. 

So the fight was on and the PCs were worried about getting level drained but Trabajo charged and one shotted BOB who screamed and flew into the film screen burning the image like burnt film and the henchmen came out of the image.

I had determined that magic defense like "only hit by silver" or magic armor etc don't work in the Mauve Zone. So Trabajo's spear/rake thing was as good as a magic weapon against the wraith. The party would have been fine anyway since Valor and Xanthos both made very good Turn Undead checks as well.

The Fireman's wife brough a yellow orb from the ceiling and pondered it a while. It had Laura Palmer's face in it. She released it to the ceiling where it put stars everywhere and Laura's Face went into a constellation. Chester failed his Loremaster check to know which constellation or planet and no PCs have knowledge about such things so: "what means?" idk. Very Lynchian amirite.

So the party took their hench back to the Double R diner and realized they had been in the Mauve Zone/ Black Lodge 4 days. I have a random system for determining how long a person or group is in the Lodge and that has really impacted some folks in the past. 4 days isn't too bad but they realized it was almost November. The BROvenloft alpha DM determined last year that once you are in BROvenloft you can't get out until October ends. They chose to wait until November 1, reaching out to Drakon who has the Deck of Trumps from "Nine Princes in Amber" by Zelazny fame. He ported them out and back to Dubzaron. This was "in character" since Drakon likes Xanthos and I believe Xanthos is his vassal. The dudes stuck on Barsoom will not be getting this sort of VIP treatment to get home.

This was a relatively short session report so now for some musings. The Mauve Zone and Black Lodge weren't that difficult, which was kind of a bummer. But that's because I didn't roll any random encounters in them. The dice decided the forest would be more dangerous this session. Also a great deal hinged on the reaction check with the Fireman and his wife. They are essentially deities so if their initial reaction was hostile or the PCs made them angry, it could have gone bad in a hurry. Also, something bad may have happened if they messed with the chess board room (who knows!).

So right after the session I was feeling like it turned EZ mode after the one fight but that's just how the dice fell. It could have been alot more challenging and alot worse. Additionally, the XP acquired from the Mauve Zone and Black Lodge aligned well with the difficulty they found there: zero. Their big score was getting the GREEN RING from Cooper. Which I'm sure won't cause any problems in the future.

Also in the future please consider backing my e-friend Alexander Macris’s amazing new Kickstarter for ACKS 2. “If ACKS is so great why isn’t there an ACKS 2” you may have once asked. No longer! It’s officially called the “Imperial Imprint” but we know it’s a sequel. It will have all the ACKS rules compiled and improved! It will have (fake) leather covers! And most importantly it will have a POPLAR WOOD SLIPCASE.
Do you really want to be the only guy at your ACKS table without a poplar wood slipcase? Could you possibly show your face if your ACKS books are ACKS 1 (ugh!) or flopping about in your disgusting book bag all cattywampus? I know I’d feel bad for you. Before ejecting you from my campaign! 
So check out this link right here ASAP and open your heart, your mind, and your wallet for the ACKS 2 Kickstarter today!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Dubzaron Session 132: Barsoom Bop

Adventured on 10/18/23 and returned to Helium (safe city) on 10/19/23. Need rest 10/20/23 and can take actions 10/21/23.

Chipette of the Mysteries: L1 Priestess, Courtesan. Lawful. E.
Proteus: L7 Mage, Soothsayer, Neutral. E. RIP
Rory: L4 Barbarian, Death Dealer. Neutral. E.
Sheela: L1 Mage. Neutral.

Proteus: Nonus L4 Fighter
Reaver: Subatite L2 Mage.

The Players were back to their party that was Lost On Barsoom (TM) about A MONTH ago. Barsoom, for those who don't know (and you should if you are reading a BROSR blog... shame on you...) is the weird Mars setting from Edgar Rice Burroughs' fantastic sword and planet tale which began with the book "A Princess of Mars".
The Princess of Mars' name is Dejah Thoris and here in the Dubzaron campaign she's yet to meet the main character of her titular book series: John Carter. Where is he? Probably still out fighting in the War of Northern Agression. 
Our campaign stories on Barsoom are thus a prequel in which we will out do George Lucas both in making a prequel and in ripping off Edgar Rice Burroughs. 
Dejah was still in morning, wearing all black and holding court less frequently in the crystal city of Helium because her sister Jejah Thoris (or whatever) was killed by the Marvins about a month back in session 127 "Lost on Barsoom". She wants justice against the Marvins. Not revenge because Dejah is a heroine not a neitchzien will-to-power revenge filled PC. 
It took a while for us to get this session going because the 3 of us at the virtual table who had read A Princess of Mars (shame on you, Rory) hadn't done so in years. Or a decade in one case. 

So there was some back and forth about what should be in Helium. What Barsoom is like. How the world is laid out geographically. And we went round and round about this for 5 or 10 minutes until I made some fast ZERO PREP STYLE rulings. 

This is OUR Barsoom, gentlemen. It's laid out how we like. And thus I spoke that, if the PCs travelled or searched for hooks we would use Appendix B (DMG appendix for random wilderness terrain) or ACKS rumormongering rules.

The PCs wanted justice against the Marvins as well. And the prize that might come from making this happen, of course. There was some arguing with me that they "could have been" doing this or that the last month. The problem was none of this logged this month of "could have should have" actions in their downtime channels. I gave them some leeway on this by letting them retcon that they searched for henchmen during that month. Should I have been more of a stickler about 1:1 Jeffrogaxian Time and it's requirements for use, dear reader?

Allowing a search for henchmen let me add in some weird space opera style henchman classes from the ACKS setting book "Barbarians of Kanahu" that could be found. 

We had a new player join the table as well so he needed a new PC and I allowed him to choose from these weird classes if he wanted, also. But he chose a mage instead. Which is fine but, as we'll get to later, I decided on some house rules where Arcane casting can backfire on the caster because Arcane magic is simply dangerous on Barsoom. It does have a payoff so stay tuned!

Chipette had apparently spent the last month becoming besties (or BFFs) with Dejah Thoris and Chipette was able to secure information about the last known location the Helium navy and royalty have for the Marvins. Chipette also secured a flying airship to take the Party to the location for recon and/or takedown.

So with my running Barsoom with NO PREP and the PCs needing a POI for an established threat, how did I create this hook and location? Well first I realized the things that mattered to the PCs and the campaign were as follows:
1. Which direction are the Marvins?
2. How far away?
3. What's known about the place we think they are in?

Also: 4. What's on the way there? could have been something the PCs might ask but they didn't so I could just let the random travel to the POI decide as we went.

So I answered "which direction are the Marvins" by rolling a d8 for which direction on a compass. The answer was "East". Then "how far away" I like the PCs roll on this fast chart I made while they talked about nonsense:
"It is X Y where X is 2d6 and Y is (d6): 
1-3. miles
4-5. hexes (which are 6 miles each)
6. mega hex (which are 36 miles each)" Well they rolled like 7 mega hexes so the Marvins were actually 256 miles away (lol, lmao).

This was actually the point where the party was like "oh no we need an air ship or we'll never get there." They secured it.

But now we get onto the milieu of the POI the Marvins were seen at and what they might be up to. It was at this point I used my memory of the John Carter series, some dumb space opera scifi concepts I made up on the spot, and taking suggestions from the PCs to come up with the following list of points of interest for us to roll on:

1. Temple of Issus
2. Burrow of the Ants
3. Obelisk of the Chessman
4. The Burnt Glass Plateau

5. Tarzans House
6. Abandoned Air-Shipyard
7. Cold North
8. Ornithopter Tower

Now tell me you wouldn't want to adventure in ALL those locations. If you say "well Dubs those sound boring I'd prefer to adventure in the Caves of Chaos for the 75th time" then perhaps you should consider another hobby. 

Well the party rolled 1 on a d8 so in full on John Carter of Mars fashion the dice decided that the bad guy was at the Temple of Issus 254 miles to the due east. The players helped me devise how an air ship might work by us using the ACKS rules for regular sea vessels and just doubling their overland wilderness travel movement as per ACKS rules. Flying things can go "as the crow flies" avoiding hills and hollers so that equates to double wilderness travel movement. So despite the Temple of Issus being almost 300 miles away, the party could get there in just about a day. Amazing!

But I didn't know anything about the terrain from prep because prep is for geeks. I broke out Appendix B, the random wilderness generator, in the 1e DMG and got to work. I decided, to save time and because the air ship was moving so fast, the PCs would only get a sense of what each 36 mile hex terrain was in general. Not every single 6 mile normal hex. I also, rather than making a wilderness check for each 6 mile hex (or 42 checks) I'd just assume 1 encounter hit per mega hex. 

Me and a player figured "only flyers could do any damage to the airship" or "be a threat" but then I realized THARKS have those mega plasma rifles which can shoot miles. So if tharks came up as a random encounter the party might have a bad time. 

It's been said by prep addicts that rolling Appendix B at the table would make for a bad session. That the players would be bored bored bored. Well I can tell you that's wrong wrong wrong. 

It really didn't take that long and the main issue we had with time running short for session 132 was the lack of preparation the party had made by not doing any downtime on di1scord and coming to the session with rules worldbuilding questions for me. In our campaign they could have used downtime to figure out where the marvins were and even submitted an idea of what they might be up to and what the POI they were located in might look like. I enjoyed making the hook with my players like outlined above but the fact is this, along with figuring out airship stats (something else players could have done without me in downtime), and hiring hench (something else the players could have done without me in downtime) took up more time than Appendix B.

Why aren't the fake D&D geeks screaming on tw11ter about Players not doing THEIR prep or helping the campaign with milieu? Why do they raise their tiny e-fists in fake indignation at DMs for the sin of making them wait a minute or two for random rolls in session? For not generating reems of maps before the session starts?

Well, the main reason is D&D geeks often have less than charitable attitude to their poor overworked DMs. And as has been discussed on ROLLIN BONES podcast, some D&D geeks have this concept of the DM or D&D as another form of on demand entertainment. 

My players ARE charitable and are NOT geeks. They didn't do as much of this sort of downtime stuff likely due to them being men with lives to live. And I think some were a bit confounded by what they COULD do on Barsoom for a month. Gun shy? 

Back to the session report. Rather than list every thing they saw as they flew across Barsoom in a flying airship (I know you're jealous of this session) I'll just list what each 36 mile hex had and what was seen there AND give you a theater of the mind map of BROSR Barsoom as prep for your next session there. You're welcome:

Mega Hex 1: Wasteland of blasted gold and orange sands. Encountered 4 Wyverns on patrol. No Lair. Party evaded successfully despite Wyverns giving chase. Barsoom wyverns shoot poison barbs from wings and don't have a stinger.

Mega Hex 2: Wasteland gives way to weirding hills covered with giant mushrooms. Encountered a warband of Tharks patrolling. Neutral reaction and chose not to fire on the Helium airship.

Mega Hex 3: Mushroom hills continue. Single narrow mountain juts miles into the sky with a wyvern lair. 6 wyverns leave their lair to run off the helium airship. What riches might their lair hold?

Mega Hex 4: The hills give way to swaying lands of Endor (California giant redwood) forest of massive trees with lavender leaves. "Are there ewoks down there?" one player asked. Maybe.

Mega Hex 5: Endor forest continues.

Mega Hex 6: Endor forest gives way to scrublands of lavender and orange moss. Tiny mushroms dot the flat landscape. Strange 6 legged lizards are seen below grazing on the scrublands.

Mega Hex 7: Mossy scrub continues. The airship picks up and follows a dry riverbed towards the Temple of Issus. Below are seen caribou looking herd creatures with 6 legs and antlers that shine with spotlights that point here and there.

Mega Hex 8: The Temple of Issus is here. The dry riverbed looks to have some water. A rarity on dry Barsoom! They must be close to the temple of Issus, the goddess of water and plenty. 

Now you know what is due east of Helium for nigh on 300 miles. It took about 15 minutes to generate, not counting time spent with the Party pondering how to handle what they saw, running evasion checks, and making jokes.

Approaching the location of the Temple of Issus at about 3 miles away Captain Sinep Gib of the "Tejah's Heart" circled the ship so the PCs could see what was at the point of interest they came all this way to see.

It was primarily a massive circular gash on the ground some 3 to 5 miles across. The river was flowing into it and cascading into it. In front of this was a 60 feet tall black pyramid twinkling with lights and jutted with balconies and walkways. The pyramid was moving slowly around the hole in the ground because it was being carried by hundreds of slaves! These were from Helium and Captain Sinep Gib was quite angry about this. These marvins must be brought to justice!

As they approached they saw the top of the pyramid was flat with a sacrificial altar. Some crazy lady in white robes was doing a ritual and had apparently killed a Helium prisoner atop the altar. 10 of the little marvin creatures were around her jumping around and cheering for her ritual. 

The PCs discussed their play while I got a drink. When I returned their plan was to fly within 210 yards so Subatite could pop off a Sleep spell. They figured all the marvins would sleep and they would then capture the sorceress lady and interogate her for information about this whole marvin thing, and how to get home to the Dubzaron world.

This report is getting long so I'll just lay out the hits of the combat. I checked Reaction from the bad guys as the PCs flew closer and Jadis the White Witch (from Narnia) got angry quickly upon their approach. She tossed fireballs at the ship but that didn't really do enough damage to stop its approach. When they were close enough Subatite put like 3 of the marvins to sleep with his first Sleep spell. And 7 more later. Sleeping them all.

Jadis popped off a Hold Monster spell and paralyzed Captain Sinep Gib, Subatite, and 1 of the marines. She tried to target Proteus but even with the higher level Hold Monster spell it can only target folks with 4 HD or lower. Proteus is 7th level.

Now is when things got bad for the group. Jadis popped off an Invisibility 10' spell to make it look like herself, her fighting man bodyguard, and all the marvins ran away. The PCs didn't notice because they kept talking about how they were ducking to avoid spells and the marvins lazer pistols. So Proteus polymorphed self into a dragon but upon casting it he hit the low chance I made (5%) of arcane spells backfiring when cast on Barsoom. I took the rules for Spellsinging misfires from the ACKS "Heroic Fantasy Handbook". Turns out Proteus "stared into the Logos of creation" and, after failing his Save Vs Spells, became feebleminded. Cue up jokes of stupid dragons and gifs in the chat room.

Rory jumped on Proteus' back, anyway, to fly down and "check things out" down by the apparently abandoned altar. Jadis popped out of Invisibility and shot them both with a fireball. Rory survived by his mount Proteus the dragon didn't Proteus was at 0 HP but fell 70' taking 11 more. I halved the fall damage because Barsoom has lower gravity.

Rory, on the other hand, was able to go full John Carter spring jump mode off of Proteus's back and in Jadis's face and start beating her down. She disengaged from the combat and let her bodyguard fight Rory but the barbarian was the stronger hand and took the fighting man down. At one point Jadis shot off a desperate Cone of Cold at Rory hitting her own people but Rory stood tall with 3 hp left. 

When the ship got close enough the marines rappelled down onto the pyramid from the airship and Jadis surrendered. Chipette intimidated her into giving herself up and telling all she knew. Her reasons were nuts:

"We needed a unicorn horn from dubzaron so we could turn on the ozone destroyer because Issus told us to!"
"But you'd die too?"
"I would become one with the atmosphere and this new atmosphere would bring the holy rains back to Barsoom and my spirit would flow into the planet for eternity!"
"Ok... why sacrifice people?"
"To open the portal to Dubzaron and hunt for unicorns of course."

Ok that's a stupid plan but it all lined up with our previous seeds and hooks. At this point it was late so we did some housekeeping stuff:
-Captain Sinep Gib demanded all the marvins destroyed. Deep in the pyramid breeding pits of black slop was found from which they were crawling. Chipette objected but Rory and Sinep voted her down.
-Proteus's body was checked. He rolled a really bad Mortal Wounds check and the ship and party had no healers. He's dead. Did his items break from the fall?
-Lots of treasure in the pyramid! See below.
-Fly home and send ships back to pick up the rescued slaves of Helium.

I let the players roll up the random treasure and, besides the magic ring Jadis was wearing, there were no magic items in the pyramid.

We ended there but what other adventures might we have on Barsoom? Inside the giant hole in the ground appeared to be a dark city on a lake. A lake on dry Barsoom?! Is this where Issus lives? Dare they return to claim it? Dare they explore the endor forests to recruit ewoks? Dare they cast another arcane spell? 

Find out next time! 

Treasure:1,000 gp, 5,000 ep, 6,000 gp.  2 zircons worth 75gp each, 1 tiger eye worth 25gp, 1 sunset amethyst with the image of sol inside worth 750 gp. 1 Alabaster Jadis statue (the white queen) worth 700 gp, 1 wrought gold tiara worth 600 gp, 1 ivory lapel pin worth 400 gp, 1 porcelain music box worth 700 gp. Total GP Value: 3,325 gp

XP For Kills: 1380
XP For GP: 11,925 (Sinep Gib asking for an equal treasure cut to PCs which he will share with his Marines. With 2 charismatic PCs in the party he's convinced to not get in the running for the Magic Ring)
XP for Magic Items: 6,250
XP Pool: 19,555

Cuts: 10 (1 for marine platoon and 1 for Sinep Gib)
PC Cut: 3,911 xp
Hench Cut: 1,956 xp

Friday, October 6, 2023

Dubzaron session 130: Cavalier in BROvenloft

Hello reader yes I know the last session report was session 117. But I’m going to jump ahead tk the session we had this week because it’s spooky season and they means BROvenloft. Enjoy! -DM Dubs 10/06/23

Edelweiss L9 Neutral Mage, Magical Scholar

Standing Mountain L4 Neutral Elven Spellsword

Special Agent Tuck Burgiden, L6 Neutral Barbarian
Valor, L5 Lawful Cleric undead slayer aligned with Turas

Prelate Xanthos, L7 Lawful Cleric mendicant
Willow, L7 Lawful Mystic
Time: Started 10/04/23. Ended 10/11/23. Need to rest 10/12/23. Can act 10/13/23 on Fridy the 13th. Spooky!
Edelweiss: Frost Weaver L5 Elven Spellsword, Davian L6 Dwarven Machinist, Azalea L7 shaman, Lily L7 bladedancer why were any other pcs there
Tuck: Kanyezeus (class not reported), Duck (class not reported)
Valor: Honor L1 Paladin
Xanthos: My Tigga (6 HD phase tiger (???)), Ulyesses L1 Explorer, Agenor L4 Fighter, Dolon L3 Thief

My PCs surprised me this week by decided to go to BROVENLOFT. This is the bro-ed out version of the old 2e setting Ravenloft. If you don't know (and you should) BROvenloft had a massive braunstein event last year where the all the best bros of the #BROsr took on personas of vampires, werewolves and the like and had a war and make-shift "Diplomacy" game. Check out the #BROvenloft hashtag to peruse all the madness of last year and don't worry if you have no clue what any of it means, neither do we!

So the last two weeks there was a co-DM running my campaign and the party at that time had discovered a field inside the Fairy Wood near the town of Siadanos that worked like the CS Lewis story "The Magicians Nephew". The CO-DM eliminated some of the more difficult aspects of the Forest of Pools which would have confounded PCs so the place, as far as I could tell, became a sort of easily accessible Grand Central Station for other planes access in the Dubzaron world. As you'll see in this session report I added a wrinkle to the Forest of Pools to make it more similar to the book and make the place more dangerous to use. More elements will be added to this because I also felt they were able to learn too easily which of the many many MANY pools in particular led to BROvenloft (and not some random plane that would kill them [fire, water, GenCon]). But this is the risk you run with an open table with Co-DMs. I will pull these sorts of world building items back a bit, place a governor on them as it were, to get things back to game world that reflects the difficulty and tone that I want for Dubzaron (such as the ignored aspect of mine game world were ALL planar travel goes through the Black Lodge).

The Party traveled to the Forest of Pools and found a mist filling the air. I asked for Save Vs Spells and those who saved (including the military troops the party brought who didn't even GET a save) started acting all spacey and wanting to touch grass and only touch grass. Valor's hench Honor was one of these and he just pushed the guy into the pool to BROvenloft. The other party members followed his lead and pushed and cajoled the other PCs and hench into the pool. The troops were left behind in the plane of Dubzaron.

Coming through the portal brought the party to a section of BROvenloft I knew very little about but Co-DM Ambrose had done a bit of fleshing out the previous session or two. The town of Werewolf McQuaid! McQuaid is essentially Chuck Norris and he is a super powerful monk who runs the town; which is like a 1980s California suburb type town in the foothills. Thanks to #zeroprepsupremacy that was really all I needed to work with to lay the town out in play as we went. Again, lets be clear, I had no prep here. None. I have never DMed anything in BROvenloft and knew basically nothing about this particular BROvenloft domain. The co-DM just told me the stuff he knew or the stuff he had added the previous session.

The party tried to set a meeting with McQuaid and a crony at McQuaid's 1980s suburb style dojo told him that the sensei would meet with them the following day. Valor and Standing Mountain went looking around town to gather info about the mission they were trying to accomplish: getting up to Twin Peaks and saving Audrey Horne from Nosferatu Corgan. Check the link I'll place here to the single dumb twitter post I made about this stupid hook to try and dare one of the other DMs from other campaigns in the BROsr Multiverse into running it. My players threw this stupid hook back at me! Live and learn.

The info gatherers walked into a diner/tavern type place which (thanks to zero prep approaches) brainstormed as being that diner from the Back to the Future series. I rolled on the 1e city encounter table and got Mercenaries. who were not currently aligned with anyone (which is only a 30% chance). Who might lead some dumb mercs at the BTTF diner? Well Biff of course. So Biff was being his usual angry self at the diner because the barkeep/soda jerk didn't have any Pepsi left, despite there being signs for Pepsi everywhere. (I noticed recently that Coca Cola doesn't exist in the BTTF films) Standing Mountain approached to try and calm Biff down and offer to buy him beer because "pepsi is disgusting and beer is much better". Reaction checks went in the party's favor and Biff was open to working for the PCs and knew how to get to Twin Peaks from here. So the party nabbed 9 mercs, Biff and his 2 stooges from the film, and a guide to the far off location they wanted to get to. 1e city encounter chart wins again.

The next day the party met with werewolf McQuaid who the co-dm told me was Lawful Good and had somehow found a way to keep his Catholic faith and control his lycanthropy; and teaches others to do the same. McQuaid apologized for making the party wait but he was in deep trainng for the upcoming All Valley Tournament against Cobra Kai. "If Cobra Kai wins they'll take over the town!" One player realized my really stupid world building here actually aligned perfectly with the class entry for the 1e Monk class. Does this speak better of 1e, my dumb ideas, or of the Cobra Kai kung fu soap opera melodrama currently on the n33tflix ap near you? Probably 1e.

The party cajoled McQuaid into giving them some vehicles to cross Brovenloft and get to far off Twin Peaks so my no-prep self hit the google and looked up the most common vehicle on the road in 1984. The F150 (evergreen vehicle) and the humble (terrible) Chevy Cavalier. I decided McQuaid could part with 2 chevy cavaliers but had to keep one available as a reward for his better student (cracking myself up).

The party realized they couldn't fit themselves and their new BTTF mercs in 2 chevy cavs so they bought a trailer and Biff and Co had to sit in the trailer like some day workers out to hang drywall as 2 of the pcs sped down the road at 60 putting everyone in danger of falling off or fish-tailing a trailer because have you tried pulling a trailer in a compact? lol lmao

The party went about town looking for gas since their Cavaliers had a long way to drive across the mists and rolling doom hills of BROvenloft. Coming across a Quik-E-Mart I forced Standing Mountain's hench Indian Jones to make a loyalty check to avoid being hypnotized by the beauty and majesty of a convenience store. The bright colors, the slushee machine, the friendship with locals and antagonism of "teens" trying to shop lift. It spoke to Indian Jones! But he stayed loyal to Standing Mountain upon seeing how cheap gasoline prices were at 1984 prices when compared to the PCs' GP for Dollar values to buy same.

Hitching their trailer and taking off down the Light Road across BROvenloft "Holiday Road" came on the radio and the PCs were making great time before seeing right up ahead in the road some big rocks laid out across the road an about 150 bandits ready to kill them having set up a road block. I asked players for an insane bandit ruler and clearly this group was led by Lord Humungus from "The Road Warrior", keeping us on our 80s theme. Honor the paladin has many big buffs to Reaction against NPCs and was able to talk Humungus down from killing the PCs or at least demanding a substantial tribute. Valor and others were ready to throw down but it was not necessary. Humungus gifted Honor a leather jacket with studs on the shoulder which the paladin tossed out the window a couple miles down the road. BFFs? Never.

Some miles later some treants waved at the PCs as they drove past. They stopped the cars and rested for hte night with no encounters. 

The next day my random encounter was "Gnome Lair" so I dreamed up this was a bit of a rundown suburb with desperate refugee gnomes washing the PCs car windows with newspaper at each stop sign. Some player said the area sounded like New Jersey so this location is now Gnome Jersey. On a will overlooking the Road of Light in a McMansion was Gnomey Soprano who runs Gnome Jersey. The players found this humorous but it was not enough to get them off track and they kept driving.

At a Y intersection some 100 miles or so later one can see the irradiated ruins of Dublin which I believe was nuked or something last year during he Braunstein. This place was led by the Irish Candyman who seems to have no faired that well in the war. I felt like the road probably passed through the nuked landscape and players would get mutations and such and I'd have to break out Gamma World style rules for their passing through (including awesome random encounters I bet) but the old crappy map from last year seemed to imply the road was like 1 hex away from Dublin. So the Pcs could see the green glow of the place off in the distance. They chose "not no but hell no" when I asked if they wanted to check it out. I tried to distract them from their goal! I tried, dear reader.

The next day or so they came to the part of the road closest to Twin Peaks. Kangsta, who built the road, and David Lynch (the ruler of Twin Peaks and the patron I ran in BROvenloft) never had a peace accord of any sort so the road does not continue on to the sleepy town itself. For some reason the really crappy BROvenloft hex map had like 3 hexes (24 miles each) of tundra between the place the PCs parked their chevy cavaliers and Twin Peaks. So I broke out the 1e encounter charts for SUB ARTIC. Have you used those charts? I bet you haven't. Most of us run in TEMPERATE D&D worlds in not-europe and such. So that's another thing to check off my list of BROsr practices letting me do things as a DM I've never done before.

Of course their first encounter were some yetis. Sadly, the PCs surprised them and decided to run away. Rats. Nothing else that hit on the random encounters in the tundra was hostile or noticed the PCs at all. I was bummed. Additionally I made a few other errors: I didn't check to see if they got lost! I'm so sorry, internet. I failed you. They should have frozen to death lost in the Twin Peaks tundra (???). Also I made a conscious decision to not worry about cold weather issues like frostbite from them not having cold weather gear and such. The night was getting late and I was hoping they could make it to Twin Peaks to end the night. This was a terrible decision on my part. Traveling around 70 miles through frozen tundra should NOT have been just another day at the d&d office. Mea culpa, fellow DMs. I will do better in the future.

Arriving at Twin Peaks finally the party found a sleepy mountain town of sorts and the town square had some trinket shops, a move theater, and of course the Double R Diner; which the dumb hook I tweeted said to meet Agent Cooper at for "ordnance and instructions" on saving Audrey Horne and defeating the Nosferatu Corgan.

Players of course grabbed coffee and cherry pie and Biff and his troops were seated outside with card tables and folding chairs. The Double R Diner waitresses were there and we made some fun TP jokes about the cherry pie will kill you and cooper calling the coffee damn fine. Good times.

The ordnance on offer was CSA civil war muskets and pistols. Some members of the party were happy to take these and the party finished off the day looking for a soldier in General Horne's army to let them borrow a musket baller to melt and create silver musket balls to fight undead. They tried to use some spells to make these balls holy and I used the rules from "Deities and Demigods" when asking one's deity for a special favor and none of the 3 clerics who tried it could get a favor. Nor anger their deity, to my chagrin. Just a meh response.

The CSA soldier let the PCs have his musket baller and I improvised a situation realizing that General Horne would of course want his daughter back and her being lost in the Ghost Wood was why he has been just hanging around with his army in a malaise and Twin Peaks has not been at war or marching on some target lately. If Audrey is saved I decided, my patron play with David Lynch and his General Horne would become more kinetic with warfare stuff. So the party's success tonight would lead to mine having different patron play in the future. This is how BROSR and no-prep approach works, reader.

Agent Cooper gave the Party a map through the Ghost Wood to Jackrabbit's Palace which was less a geographic map and more of a "take two steps forward, tap your head, crouch for 5 seconds, then run 9 paces" which went on and on to get to Jackrabbit's Palace. He warned that the Ghost Wood is a dangerous place in which you can get lost in time, go sent off to a dangerous dimension, fall asleep for days... etc. So I decided the players would need to make a Save Vs Paralysis to follow the map properly without any of this bad stuff happening; to simulate them tapping their foot, taking the right amount of paces etc. This was modified by DEX and if they had some of the thief type class abilities like Cat Burglar.

I dreamed up a list of BAD THINGS that could happen if PCs failed that check and came up with rolling 1d8and 1-4 being "warp back to Double R Diner", 5 "warp to the Mauve Zone", 6 "warp back to Siadanos in Dubzaron", 7 "sleep for a day" and 8 being "dizzy for a day, -2 to most checks". So a couple of the hench failed and went to the Mauve Zone and asked "dubs what is the Mauve Zone" which was answered "good question!"

The PCs that went back to the Double R tried to come back through the Ghost Wood while the PCs who arrived at
the Jackrabbits Palace waited for them. And the party set off some members lower.

Finally in the dungeon which was three massive redwood stumps with a door in the center one with stairs going down. The dungeon itself was gothic bas relief with a gothic style carved into the roots of the redwood stumps which served as the walls. They went east and went through a massive dining room and one room with Smashing Pumpkins vinyls in frames on the walls alongside other 90s super bands. They got hit by a hallway full of spear traps to which one PC complained their AC was really really high (for lame reasons) and how was it possible! One of the spears was poisoned but sadly it was not one which hit.

They came to a room that looked like the roadhouse bar in twin peaks but sitting at the tables and playing music on the stage were ghostly apparitions. Audrey Horne was dancing in a daze to the music and I couldn't believe the PCs went right to this room.

For you DMs out there with Prep Addiction I'll tell you how I improvised all this. I used a dungeon randomizer and hit it a couple times to get a layout that looked decently close to what I needed. It was numbered so I randomized with the room number where Audrey is and where Nosferatu Corgan were when the PCs entered the dungeon. I did some quick thinking on what those locations might imply. As the PCs passed through rooms and hallways I was checking for stocking of Monster, Monster + Treasure, Lair check if monster, Empty, Trap etc. So they passed through one empty room, one trapped hallway, and a Monster Lair in the same spot where I had randomized Audrey being. The random monster was some powerful incorporeal undead so I quickly dreamed up a reason and scene why she'd be there and the like.

Oh, Dolon the thief picked the locked door to Audrey's dance hall room since I seemed obvious to me it would be locked if a prisoner was in there. Also a loud alarm went off which blustered through the whole dungeon when the party opened it. Neither Dolon the thief or a dwarf hench detected this alarm "trap".

Anyway, there were 6 incoporeal undead and they were quite angry the PCs interrupted Audrey's Dance so the combat was on. I won't go into all the details except to say the party had 3 clerics and were able to turn all the undead eventually but not before Lily the hench which no one except Edel cares away was drained TWO LEVELS and Tuck who everyone cares about was drained ONE LEVEL. I think another level was drained somewhere. But the PCs eventually won the day and actually killed 2 of the ghostly band members while the 4 other ghostly things flew off to the east through a door which was a cell bar.

The party were able to calm Audrey down who said "where the hell am I?!" and thanks to some decent reaction checks she offered the PCs a key she had to a hidden treasure in the room (it was Monster + Treasure or Monster Lair!) which was a decent score of about 6k gp and a bunch of magic stuff. Dolon carried it in Standing Mountain's bag of holding. The party tried to extricate from the dungeon with their rescued princess and treasure but Nosferatu Corgan intercepted them in the last room before exiting the dungeon.

So a Nosferatu is a very strange unique monster in the ACKS book with some very interesting abilities which are a bit different than Vampires. This raised some strange questions for me during the course of the combat which I mostly ruled in the PCs' favor. Firstly he has gaze attack which hits everyone who can see him immediately. If you fail this you do what the Nosferatu says or, even if he can't speak or whatever, you tried to defend him from getting hurt. About 4 of the PCs failed this so it was time for PC on PC violence! Yeah!

Except wait!!! Edelweiss the Mage had dropped something in the chat room that she and all her hench were walking around the dungeon looking through mirrors. Uh ok. So the player smugly stated that the gaze would not effect those with mirrors. Hmm. Well a couple things about this. First I lost my cool because it was 12:30 am which is at least 30 minutes (more like an hour) past the time we are normally scheduled to stop. Second, I think anyone who ponders what it might be like to travel through a spooky dungeon while looking perpetually through a mirror would probably realize its not even really possible. But, at the very least, you'd be moving very slowly. If this had been called to my attention at the time it was attempted (rather than something in the chat room which I didn't see because well I'm DMing live with no prep creating an entire world whole cloth) then I'd have probably hit Edel and Co with a major movement negative and a very high chance to be surprised in combat.

But at the point where the player hits me with "gotcha pal I dropped a comment in a chat room" it was too late for any of those strategic and travel trade-offs to matter. So upon combat we were just at the question of whether I'd give him and his people the bonus to not get gazed at or tell them no. I should have just said no because the whole thing is about the stupidest approach to PC play I've thus witnessed in my DMing career from a social aspect and an aspect of not respecting a DM's time or having some conception of reality of a game world or of a social group itself. But, I angrily just said "yeah you win who cares whatever" and essentially Edel the mage won the day with some magic thing or something.

So Nosferatu Corgan was dropped to zero hit points because after the really gha3y mirror gotcha there's no way the bad guy was going to win or widdle at PC resources or anything. I probably should have just said "yeah he loses" to anti-climax for the PCs the degree for which the session was done so for me. But we sleepwalked through some attacks and stuff until he was ZERO (throw all your cares and fly).

He turned to smoke and presumedly went back to his coffin. Valor wanted to chase him because "he'll just be a problem later" which I guess I mean I don't really care about this place, dungeon, hook etc anymore after the mirror gotcha and I had trouble motivating myself to even write this report after that turd in the punch bowl of what was otherwise a fantastic and interesting session of amazing no prep highwire DMing, PC play, and fun.

It was 1 am by this point and despite some PCs pushing past my story reasons they couldn't go on (Audrey was too scared... "but dm I cast remove fear") myself and the Caller were just like nah bro it's over.

The party went back to the Double R to cash out and end the session in Twin Peaks in BROvenloft.

Analysis of Dubzaron session 120: “I hate everything and everyone”

Introduction  Today is June 20th, 2024 and my name is BDubs. Below is the session report and relevant stats for Dubzaron session 120. I neve...