DCC Campaign Reboot–The Funneling! (May 2nd, 2013)
It’s been a few weeks, but I’ll update how the Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign started out with our brand new funnel. This particular funnel was one that I created top to bottom, which was fun for me, but I did have a bit of an experiment in creating the funnel.
The core concept of this new campaign is to really go Appendix N. There are elves and dwarves in the setting, and other sentient creatures, but they tend to live “over there,” not unlike the Newhon books, where Fafhrd and Mouser might run into ice gnomes far away in the mountains, or ghouls, or what have you, but they didn’t run around in the cities and weren’t common sights.
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So everyone is human or halfling. I expanded the classes to include the Bard, Ranger, and Paladin classes from Crawl Magazine #6, just to give us a bit more diversity. None of that really comes into play at this point in the game, however.
The funnel began with the PCs all being captives of a demonic cult that had taken up residence in a long abandoned fortress near the seaside town, and began sacrificing the townsfolk in order to give 1300 souls to a demon lord in order for him to fully manifest in the material plane.
A great elven hero, exiled from the decadent elven empire to the east, carrying the sword called the Voice of Heaven, which gives him missions from the gods, arrived to face the demon lord. The first order of business was to show up in the fortress, count the number of captives, and kill so many townsfolk that the sacrifices couldn’t complete the ritual to fully bring the demon lord into this plane.
After the elf had banished the still weakened demon lord, he opened the locked doors for the remaining townsfolk (the PCs) and teleported away, telling them to be careful navigating the fortress to escape, and causing several of the players to rightly deduce that elves are jerks in this world.
The experiment that I tried to conduct was to use monsters from Critters, Creatures, and Denizens book for DCC (3rd party publisher). I liked a lot of the monster concepts, but upon actually looking at some of the numbers, I have no idea what to do with some of these monsters. There are a lot of interesting and imaginative creatures in the book, but there are also a lot of monsters that would be impossible for low level parties to hit while posing almost no threat to high level parties, for example.
In a few places, I took inspiration from the book and then tweaked the stats until they “felt right” to me, which is nice, because it’s not that hard to do in DCC.
The party immediately split up, which is always a good sign. Most of the group headed into a maze which functioned as a habitat for the demon lord’s pet demon monkeys, while another group decided to try and take the stairs up, and found a box with a genuine magic item that granted luck . . . which was ironic, because it took them so long to uncover the box with the magic item in it that they attracted a pack of ghouls.
The first group of adventurers got a little lost in the maze, and the second group, after losing a member or two, caught up with the group, and brought the pack of ghouls right down on the party. One of the PCs (Groot, who was raised by trees), tripped one of the party members that brought the ghouls to them to slow the ghouls down with fresh meat.
Eventually the group divided and conquered the ghouls, after the ghouls had a few snacks.
Before they escaped the habitat maze, the PCs ran into some of the demon monkey chow, which caused stamina damage, and then ran into the demon monkeys. I’ll admit, I didn’t quite tweak these guys enough, because they never really got a hit in and yet it took too long for the PCs to finish them off. Live and learn.
One of the 0 level characters that I handed out was the most insanely over powered randomly rolled monstrosity I’ve ever seen in DCC. Between his strength and his lucky roll, he was +5 on damage rolls, and had almost no below average stats.
Thus it was when the Guardian of the Gate, a mist like demon that possessed corpses to gain a physical form, challenged the party, one of the party members convinced the amazingly lucky and unfairly gifted character that his role in life was to be a champion, and once that character challenged the demon to a one on one fight, everybody else broke for the door, except for the people that went for the smaller hidden door that might have treasure in it.
Our poor doomed champion managed to take a hand off the demon before he died, and then a few cheap shots by the rest of the PCs killed the Guardian of the Gate, or at least his current body. The PCs that went to loot the hidden door had to run by the newly animated “champion” that had just fallen, the new vessel of the Guardian of the Gate, but running like Hell prevailed, and everyone moved on.
At the next juncture of the fortress, the PCs found more survivors, and if they rescued the other survivors, they had the option of using the rescued village folk as human shields of things went bad. If they didn’t use them as human shields, they would gain an extra point of luck for proving that they were the stuff of heroes.
Eventually the group navigated the difficult terrain with no fatalities.
The final challenge before exiting the fortress was a young wyvern, a creature thought almost extinct in this area, and several PCs stole bits of treasure from it and ran out of the fortress, enraging the beast and making sure it was hostile for the rest. The wyvern took out a few more PCs, but eventually it was decapitated on one fell swoop by on of the PCs.
Outside of the fortress, the group found out that many of their townsfolk were turned to zombies, and they had to wade through the walking dead to reach the boats that would take them safely away from the damned town. After a few more fatalities, the remaining PCs as well as the surviving townsfolk made it to the boats.
I gave the PCs the option to retire a PC to gain a point of Luck, to thin out the individual player herds. One of the retiring PCs was a minstrel that managed to roll a natural 20 on their check to compose a ballad about their escape from the fortress, which played up slaying demons and a dragon (not a very young near dragon . . . details that aren’t that important for ballads), and the song made the remaining adventurers famous enough to apprentice themselves to a group of famous adventurers to begin their careers in earnest.