Thursday, May 30, 2024

Dubzaron Session 154: Dancing with Darkness

Session 154: Dancing with Darkness 

Time: 05/22/2024. Rest 05/23/2024. Can take actions 05/24/2024

Einar: L6 Barbarian, Death Dealer, Neutral. 
George (of the Jungle): L5 Beastmaster, Lawful. 
Kyrandis L2 Wonder-Worker, Wrath-Bringer, Lawful.
Rory: L6 Barbarian, Death Dealer, Neutral.
Tuck: L6 Barbarian, Neutral.
Xanthos: L7 Cleric, Mendicant, Lawful.

Hench (others were brought but did not dungeoneer for XP)
Einar: Magos (Mage 4), Thiefos (Thief 2)
Tuck: Duck (L? Class?), Ye (L? Bard)
Xanthos: Agenor (Fighter 5), Tigga (Phase Tigga 6HD)

XP For Treasure:33,025
XP for Kills: 2,850
XP for Magic Items: 0
Total Pool: 35,875
Total Cuts: 18
PC Cut: 3,986
Hench Cut: 1,993

Session Report

I am writing this session report over a week after it was played so my memory may be fuzzy. However I feel this report has something to offer since it was nearly completely NoPrep and the random charts and rolling helped inspire me to create and give exposition on some major world-building of the Immortals scale. 

For months now the Dubzaron campaign has been slouching towards Ragnarok. Last summer I was chatting with Kyle Oconner (Patron) about how his witch got her soul eaten by the evil sword/demigod Stormbringer during Operation Muscle Thunder. This event set off a chain of deeper events within the BROSR multiverse (along with BROvenloft) wherin Mr Wargaming was asked (demanded of) to run a cosmic war for the Fate of Stormbringer. The links in this paragraph will lead you to some of the most incredible D&D content and moments that anyone has ever done. Or as the #BROSR calls it, Tuesday.

During my talks with Kyle we were also wondering what more could be done with Queens Rest Mountain; the extremely high level dungeon inside a volcano at the edge of his domain. The Necromancer Queen who was in torpor in the place woke up last year and split; she's assumed to be deep in the Wastes growing an undead army. 

(The NPC and Dungeon is based on ACKS "Sepulcher of the Sorceress Queen" module. I recommend it if you are a module enjoyer with a high level party you're having trouble challenging.)

Since the dungeon is empty of its original stocking I've been restocking it on the fly with the random encounter charts from the Fiend Folio. This has made the place very deadly and very very strange.

So what more could be done with the dungeon? How about an interplanar war? Yes! I told Kyle I loved the idea of perhaps bringing a Neutral pantheon to the world of Dubzaron. ACKS's pantheon is a nice Not-Rome group that works well for its three point alignment but, for my money, there's a big hole for the Neutral barbarian sorts. One can assume they do ancestor worship and maybe like the nature and war gods of ACKS just fine. But one can also break out the AD&D Deities and Demigods book and think "wow the Norse pantheon rules".

So after this conversation with Kyle last year I've been dropping hints here and there about the Queens Rest Mountain dungeon and how it was some focal point of a planar... something. I really didn't know or need to unless play took us further in that direction. 

Kyle wanted his witch back so he dropped a hook to go into Queens Rest Mountain to find a way to get her back... across the planes or something. Because it's me I told him "there's some Twin Peaks curtains in there somewhere which a seer says leads to Celeste your former witch". Simple.

Slowly little story points in the bog standard dungeon delving have given life to the dungeon and life to the original vague concepts. During this session, it really started to become clearer. Here's how.

They entered the front room of the dungeon and found their Cloud Giant friend Primanti laying on the floor dead. Dead as a doornail. Why?

They hadn't been back to the dungeon in a few weeks due to it spewing poisonous gas. So I decided there should be a chance something bad (or even good!) might have happened to him. I took on DM Brigadine's 2d6 method of this sort of question. 12 = great!, 9-11 = good, 6-8 = nothing happened, 3-5 = bad, 2 = TERRIBLE. It's like a B/X reaction roll. And I rolled snake eyes.

So he's not only dead but all his treasure is gone. Here's where the session magic happens. I didn't really know WHY he was dead but the players had a tracker and wanted to investigate. I think the tracker failed by looking more and more over the body they realized his big honkin neck was covered in vampire bite marks. 

Why? Because a few weeks back the found that Slenderman was lairing in this dungeon. He's a not-vampire they met on Barsoom who absconded through the portal to Dubzaron when they Escaped from Barsoom. His powers are very similar to a vampire but there appear to be something differences which we'll get to later.

Well the players know that Einar the Barbarian is charmed by Slenderman so they got on edge. How could the vampire kill their friend! Some of them wanted vengeance but they realized Einar might not help them fight (or worse!) and also realized that Slenderman has 4 ladyvamps and they would be taking 5 (FIVE) level drain (TWO LEVELS) attacks each round if Slenderman and his ladies had the standard Vampire attack routine. Yikes.

So the stage is set for one of my favorite Dubzaron big bad evil guys since The Man from Another Place or Ferigno.

In the next room however the good guys got some help. I randomly rolled up a restocking for a room they'd been through 9000 times and got some ultra powerful thing in the Fiend Folio that was essentially an archon or angel or something and Lawful Good. The plot thickens!

In the monster entry (I don't remember what the thing was called) it was described as like a colorful unicorn made of wind. Ok... and it had the ability to build wooden things at will. Oh here we go. Well in this room was an evil altar that the PCs destroyed like a year ago or more. So I determined the air unicorn was creating a Lawful Good statue where the altar once was. And the statue was of THOR!

The players investigated and the guy with knowledge skills hit his roll to determine who the statue depicted so I described all that to him. Then Xanthos started talking with the wind unicorn. Who really liked him of course because alignment matters in real D&D.

Here's where I just started giving exposition for my vague concepts of Norse stuff going on in this region. The hits that the archon shared with Xanthos and the party were something like this:

-Dubzaron world will be the field of the next battle leading to Ragnarok
-Surtur the fire giant of Jotunheim of Norse myth is falling back in the ongoing battle because Celeste the Witch (Kyle's lost witch) is there in the planes and helping the Asgardians with planning and such (Joan of Arc coded)
-Thor is leading the Asgarding host and must claim Dubzaron world for the good guys of the pantheon or Terrible Things will happen
-They're in another world right now but the battle there is winding down. What the PCs do here will impact that battle and may decide the winner and Celeste's fate.
-The twin peaks curtains are how all of this will come to dubzaron world across the bifrost bridge. They'll likely see Heimdall if they can get the curtains to work.
-Strormbringer is involved... somehow. (Audible gasps from the players.)
-the curtains are north then west (Xanthos got the nigh exact location of the thing they had been trying to find for months).
-Slenderman is between here and there in the dungeon.

The last two were more direct items they just needed to keep moving and do their PC goal. The Slenderman comment had them all groaning. Rory the Barbarian (despite being kind of dumb) started wondering out loud if may his pal Einar was charmed by Slenderman and how if they went against the vampire Einar would not help or fight them. Xanthos and Kyrandis discussed if there's something they could do while Einar assured them Slenderman is great, a good friend, no problem. 

The next room had the giant statue of the Necromancer Queen which needed the Scepter and Orb placed in her hands to open to the next room. The party took months collecting these items and finally placed them to open the door (even though Einar almost broke the Orb dropping it during his climb up the statue).

And right there in the next room was Slenderman and his 4 dames. They were doing some swing dancing to a ghostly band in a giant sepulcher room with beautiful coffins for each of them. 

"So nice to see you Einar!" 
"You too man!" the barbarian replied "but you haven't been lifting! Look at your spindly arms!"

It went on this way with the two "friends" chatting it up as all the rest of the party stood awkwardly and Xanthos and Kryandis angrily held their tongue and damaged their cleric class grades.

Slenderman had a positive reaction check with the party arriving at his new much fancier lair (filled with the Cloud Giant's lair treasure, natch) and allowed them to search for secret doors to get to the curtain room.

Finding this secret door took them to another room where they fought a cloaker (thanks Fiend Folio!). The room had a big treasure haul of like 6,000 platinum pieces which they gathered up. Then finally to the room with the purple twin peaks curtains.

The curtains moved like the little room was fool of wind even though it most certainly wasn't. On the opposite wall was a mural of the Asgardians fighting with the Jutenheim giants and Celeste by Thor's side.  More hints at DM Dubs' vague worldbuilding. In play I changed the mural from being an ACKS focused one. Using a module's map and general room concepts for your own material is that easy.

The party debated going into the curtains or not and ended up voting on "not". Most of them believed they may get in a fight with Slenderman's crew and they wanted to have game time to deal with that. Also they were doing the math on their score of the platinum pieces (and some other smaller score I've forgotten about) and wanted to secure their level and cash for training. 

Only Rory's player was really pumped to open the curtains and made his opinion known despite falling in line behind the overall decision.

On the way back out Slenderman was still happy to see the party and grilled Einar for information about the twin peaks curtains, getting their general location. "I think I'll check out those curtains," the vampire replied. "No need to that," Einar tried to convince him to no avail. "Oh I'm looking at them," he said between lindy hops.

The party escaped the dungeon and got back across the wilderness to a safe spot without further impactful encounters.

But they did debate what they could do about Slenderman. How can they remove Einar's charm or curse or whatever. Would Slenderman just start the Ragnarok himself? How would he be involved? Would he find a good enough follow for his flawless lead?

DM Musings

This was alot. I'm sure most of you didn't follow all the years of worldbuilding implicit in the above or why it's so important. The worldbuilding is important because it was almost all done IN PLAY so at least some of the players at the table each week care about some of it. It's not all just in the DMs head where he ponders how great his ideas and personal immersion is.

It's also important because I hope this will show you why Gygax states in the forward to the AD&D Deities and Demigods book that it's "obvious to anyone who plays D&D why this book is important". I'm paraphrasing. 

Just reading D&Dg likely won't instill understanding of its importance. Playing D&D will. It's an absolutely necessary addition to real D&D campaigns. 

The above information is also important because one of my gaming goals with all this is to have it all lead to a MAX LEVEL Battle Braunstein. In ACKS that's level 14. Guys like Kyle Oconner and Drakon Invictus need a real game to play, not just solitaire. But max level lads like them (and Macho Mandalf if you're talking about Trollopulous) need AND DESERVE something earth shattering. Something incredible. Something epic and campaign shaking. 

They need Ragnarok. And it’s coming. 

Class Grades

Einar: L6 Barbarian, Death Dealer, Neutral. Grade: E. Dealt Death
George (of the Jungle): L5 Beastmaster, Lawful. Grade: E. Tracked and did his part in combat.
Kyrandis L2 Wonder-Worker, Wrath-Bringer, Lawful. Grade: S for superior. Allowing a vampire/undead to just keep rocking it is hitting Divine Lawful spellcasters in this case due to the circumstances of Slenderman destroying a Lawful creature in the dungeon and no clear in session planning against this great evil. I understand the argument "class grade shouldn't mean suicide" but I feel its egregious enough situation (and between downtime actions of cleric-types not looking into the vampire issue) to cause a one step grade hit.
Rory: L6 Barbarian, Death Dealer, Neutral. Grade: E. Dealt Death.
Tuck: L6 Barbarian, Neutral. Grade: E. Did his barbarian thang.
Xanthos: L7 Cleric, Mendicant, Lawful. Grade: S for Superior. See Kyrandis above. I was also concerned about not much Divination cast but it looks like that particular slot was used. It's a shame because the conversation with the wind unicorn was great!

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