Monday, May 27, 2013

DCC - Poor Man's Vornheim

Poor Man's Vornheim

I want Vornheim, by +Zak Smith, but I can't have it right now. My players were due in about four hours and I needed to do something quickly to build out an good evening's worth of potential chaos and destruction in a port city setting.

First, I ran out and grabbed this from a random Castles & Crusades pbem site (which I think might be a reused map of Sanctuary -- and I didn't even realize that geocities was still around!):

I had a stack of DCC and OSR adventures that I wanted to use that fit nicely into an urban setting, so I made a simple table with each of the adventure names (or a possible encounter related to the adventure) and a random die roll. I didn't bother with run-of-the-mill random city encounters -- my players are good at creating their own through their random murderhobo actions.

I gave the characters free reign to do whatever they wanted -- essentially a city "hex crawl" and checked for an encounter every four hours they were out moving about or otherwise interacting with the populace. If one was indicated, I'd roll on my "adventure starter" table, and proceed from there with a quick encounter that gave them either a rumor, an interaction with someone involved in a developing story, or a straight up confrontation. What I ended up with was a list of factions, essentially, that through the course of play have some connection to the party -- regardless of whether their friendly, hostile, or neutral.

Murderhobos on the Town

Almost immediately, they fell into the "missing noble's courier" path, this was a lead in to a modified Cult of the Flickering Sign encounter that I'd done for In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer. They managed to gather a few clues that sent them heading across town to the "pleasure district" and a low rent whorehouse. Out of the darkened streets (having started their follow up late), they were attacked by two huge humanoids, heavily robed. The elf took it in the neck and dropped like a cheap chemise. As the short battle progressed, the characters realized they were fighting a couple of white apemen. They managed to fell one, but the other grabbed their dazed elf and leaped to the rooftops and away. A short torture session of the barely alive apeman revealed that the elf was bound for the "Queen of Serpents" ritual, but would reveal nothing more.

This was the beginnings of a quick pre-adventure I'd crafted earlier in the day to get the party to the Demon Idol, by +Jobe Bittman, one of the winners of the One-Page Dungeon contest. I noticed he used a gelatinous humanoid, and I immediately thought of the creatures I'd used in the Tomb of Curses: The Prison of Qo. The gelatinous humanoids became cultists of Qo with their white apemen minions seeking to repair and pilot the Demon Idol for the glory of the Twin-Headed Snake!

Here, I set a timer -- 6 hours until the soft elfy prisoner would end up a tasty treat for the Queen of Serpents. The players did a fairly admirable job of tracking down the cult (I did not make it easy for them) in an abandoned warehouse deep in the slums.There was a quick fight with a single ape man on the roof of the seemingly inaccessible place, as the party was mid-climb down into the ruined interior, but they quickly dispatched the creature and found a trap door to the undercroft.

The party by this time was composed of a warrior, thief, and dwarf PC and three warrior hirelings.

   As an aside, I have taken a lot of various random charts and things from various OSR resources (from AD&D to present) to craft a "settlement generator" using Tablesmith -- one of the best extensible random table generators ever made. If you aren't using it for your game, consider it. It has a very simple scripting language and engine, with which I generate something as complex as a random potential henchman in a tavern:


Nemelian, Wizard
Gender Male

STA 10
INT 14

Armor Padded (+1) no shield
HP 15
Longsword, iron

Wealth 17 sp
practical joker/prankster

Terms: 142 sp and Equal Share (DC 12)

To a full skeleton of the city of Low Glassarbor.

Anyway, the NPC generator is rudimentary (how does a 1st level Wizard have 15 hit points??), but the Traits (directly from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide) are worth the price of admission. With a few simple adjectives, I can throw a few wrenches at the party. My tables for Tablesmith are here, for anyone that's interested.

Back to the action -- The party was underpowered, but pressed on anyway. Down in the undercroft they faced off against three of the apeman beasts and then moved into a maze of passages. Though the main passage seemed to lead to a ritual in progress, they tried to find a way around to a possible back door -- next chamber revealed two apemen and a gelatinous humanoid creature that extruded corrosive pseudopods from various parts of its body. These were defeated, though some equipment was damage and lost and everyone was down to minimal hit points.

Throwing caution to the wind, they approached the main chamber, finding a tripwire that would trigger falling iceblocks. This was merely stepped over and the thief proceeded up to the main chamber to scout the situation. Quickly, the thief took in the situation (2 apemen and a gelatinous humanoid conducting a ritual to a tall wood and wicker idol to a twin-headed snake). The room was crowded with sacrifices, including the party elf. She took a pot shot at the apemen and fled noisily, hoping they'd follow and yelling for the party to move back passed the trap. The apemen blundered into their own trap in their haste to catch the thief. One ended up crushed under a block of ice while the other narrowly escaped that fate, only to be flash frozen when the second effect went off. The party had not moved back far enough, but only managed to lose a henchman to the flash freeze effect.

The final showdown between the party and the gelatinous humanoid was over as quick as a flung oil flask and torch and a collapsing, flaming wooden idol.

The thief was dropped in the battle, but managed to recover. I had kept a good account of time, and when the final confrontation started, the elf had 30 minutes of life left. The ritual had actually already started....

Part 2 tomorrow...


Unknown said...

I was curious of you still have your table smith TownGen looks cool.

Paul Wolfe said...

+Tim Bush: Sorry -- I missed your comment. I have the tables up here: