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.

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