Sunday, December 2, 2012

Return to the Crypt of the Lizard King, part 2


Yesterday, my face-to-face gaming group got together in its entirety. This time we were rejoined by Kevin, who had to work the last time we played. Also playing were Jason and John, and my 11 year old, Lucy.

All of them except for Kevin had earned some XP last time, so presumably would be leveling if they managed to survive this session. This manifested itself in somewhat cautious (but smart) play, at least at times. There were other occasions when the players got pretty ballsy with the various dangers. It's an interesting dynamic. I think a lot of it comes from uncertainty about the new game system, and how it compares with others they've played. Old school approaches have a reputation for high mortality, anyway, and DCC's 0-level funnel approach raises the danger level even more.



It took us a while to get to the playing, because a couple of players were a bit late, but we eventually got started. When last they played, the characters had killed off the bandits and freed the healer. Their concern at this point was the blocked off side passage, where supposedly some creature had killed one of the two bandits who had dragged the healer's daughter into it to ravish her. One was killed, one got away, and the daughter's fate remained unknown. 

Kevin, showing a great deal of common sense said, "Well, we've killed the bandits and found the healer. Let's go claim our reward." He wanted nothing to do with that side passage. However, after some very serious consideration of doing just that, a measure of greed on their part and subtle implication on my part that Ur-Hadad was not the cheapest date on the Winedark Sea, and that they might need some more resources, finally persuaded them to take the plunge. John, frankly, was ready for the adventure of it all. They'd killed the bandits and he was ready to get to the next part of the story. So, in the end they decided to clear the passage. After about 20 minutes the characters were able to clear the side passageway, revealing a narrow passage--a 5' wide, 7' high, natural tunnel.  A cool, steady draft of air flowed from it.

They sent one of the halflings forward, as this allowed him to try out his infravision. After some argument about which of the three wee little men should go, Kevin sent his character, Frits, forward into the tunnel. His explorations revealed that the tunnel opened into a larger room after with human-sized fading heat source on the ground in the chamber beyond. He was not able to provide a lot more detail than that (he has a 3 intelligence, mind you, and has enough problems without having to remember every little thing, you know). Further inquiry with the healer revealed that the passageway had been blocked off only about 7 hours ago.  Frits reported seeing a (mostly cool) body on the floor of the room.  

This launched us into a discussion of how infravision actually works. The DCC rulebook refers to it as the ability to see in the dark. My own (D&D influenced) version was more like detection of heat signatures. There was some back and forth about infra- and ultravision, but ultimately it came to nought. For next time, we'll just say that you can see in the dark and call it good. How something "really works" in a fantasy game setting is pretty much what we say it is. Rulings, not rules.

So, they lit some lanterns and sent The Girl's characters ahead, into the gloom. Their lantern light revealed a small natural cavern, and a bloody corpse wearing a peasant-style dress. Once into the room, they saw some rubble to the left side and an opening beyond.  The dead body – the healer's daughter of course-- was mauled (w/ deep scratches on the neck and back), and half her face and head eaten away by... something.  

Debris at the opening is natural with some cut stone too (which has runes on them that are unknown “which make your teeth itch”).

The players went to go find the healer, who identified her daughter as the victim. She opined that the wounds caused to the body were from some sort of animal (maybe a bear), and then corrected herself when she found a scale on the floor. It was flat, gray, and shiny, about the size of a nickel.  Further inquiry by Jason confirmed that the scale is stand-alone type, not the overlapping “mail” type (think snake vs fish).

The party decided to send the healer back to the village of Redflood, and Lucy's character (Crystal) gave up her linen to make a shroud. They warned her not to fuck with the winged monkeys, and off she went. The party continued to make its way into the tunnel.

Lucy's swordmaidens (and the guy who used to be named "Skylar") enter and find an open room with stairs leading into the space.  Hexagonal flagstones in the room are all cut and laid out. Four huge, carved pillars (rough-hewn but have designs in them which look dwarven, but are somewhat crudely done) and murals along the side walls, depicting battles between humans and lizard-people pictured on the walls.  The humans are getting their asses handed to them. Actually, the humanoids are elves, but they artist hasn't captured the difference very well. Presumably all of those softskinned races look the same to them. 

There are a bunch of urns (both upright and overturned), all empty.  It's determined that the urns are for storage, rather than funereal purposes. Also, in the northern part of the room, there a large cave-in with a pile  of rubble (12') from the wall and ceiling. 

Excerpt from Jason's notes: Body laying on the floor ahead of us and piles of bones also (glint of metal within the piles).  Rusty mace and broken short sword.  Body has blood trail leading into the darkness.  From that direction, a bipedal, humanoid lizard creature (alligator jaws with scary claws) spotted at the edge of the light.  John's character charges and drops it in one shot (it was already wounded).  Desiccated and did not bleed (possibly zombie/mummy).

At this point, the players are starting to get a bit more cautious, and Kevin makes the case once again for going back to the village to spend the money they've earned. It's pointed out that they've pretty much tapped the depths of Redflood's meager war-making ability, and that no further weapons or armor would be secured. So, that. Also: Adventure!

Double doors of dull, black metal on the far side (east).  "Non-Euclidean" geometric designs cover the surface.  They open the doors, revealing a divot that spans the hallway (5' east/west by 10' north/south).  Roundish gouges mar the walls from the floor level to about 5 feet above the floor. The lantern light reveals that the walls sparkle with semi-precious stones.  Jason offers the (correct) supposition that the trap was something that fell from the ceiling and rolled down the 15 degree slope of the tunnel. Further investigation revealed that the trap had already been sprung, and the stone "roller" was in a pit at the end of the passage, which ended in more double doors of the same black metal as the first set.

The characters were able to pry 58 silver pieces worth of semi-precious gemstones from the mosaics on the walls, a very nice take.

John sends one of his characters careening down the corridor to leap the pit at the end. He failed and died. Subsequent discussion of the Luck mechanic revealed that (a) one point of luck burned would save him from that fate and (b) later, that Luck only applies to one's own rolls, not those of the "enemy." So, we did a "rewind" to un-kill his character. I'm still getting a handle on some of these rules.

Eventually John opened the left door.  Then (Why, for fuck's sake?) he opens right door and trips a trap in the ceiling, which sends a shower of javelins from unnoticed holes in the ceiling (they had never examined it). The "b" part of what we learned about Luck was about whether it could be used to reduce damage. The rule reads, "Characters can burn off Luck to survive life-or-death situations. Any character can permanently burn Luck to give a one-time bonus to a roll." Thus, it will not affect the GM's damage roll for the javelin trap. Kevin and Lucy both lose 1 character as the trap impales them, and 7 bronze javelins are acquired.

With the doors now open, a large oval room is revealed that has a large bronze statue picturing a large lizard-man wearing brightly colored armor.  There are more lizard-man creatures at the base of the statue who move forward towards the party.  Roll initiative. Party fights them, and then another one pops out of a sarcophagus. He's wearing armor like the “king.”  Once that one is dead, the brightly colored scales drop from the corpse.  Jason's character tries one on bare skin. Since he's a neutral character, he takes 1 point of damage per day for having it attached to him. 

Lucy adds this chaos armor to her chaotically-aligned character.  It binds directly to the skin.  -6 check penalty, -5 speed, armor as ½ plate, penalties as banded mail, AC 18 due to her Agility bonus.  I explained that they are sea dragon scales that have been “magicked up.”

There also are 2 moldering wooden chests on the far side of the statue (which have collapsed in on themselves).  They contain glazed ceramic containers unlike any the players have seen before.  It was suggested that a collector of antiquities in Ur-Hadad would likely be interested in such a find.

Jason's “scale” character waited until the rest of the party moved on and headed back to the fishing village (but took the glazed containers with him, unbeknownst to the party).  His goal is to find the healer to have her remove the scale.

As for the rest of the party, they found that a crack in the floor had damaged what used to be a secret door. Some work with a crowbar reveals a long stairway extending east, down into a long room with a large sarcophagus at the very end of it.  A successful search of it revealed that the lid was trapped.  A corroded dart trap was safely disarmed. After taking off the lid, they found a corroded bronze ladder leading into the darkness. The floor below is rough-hewn stone, forming a room is about 20' by 30' with a stairway that leads further down, to the west.  The party lowers the “tanks” by rope and then make their agility checks to enter the lower room. 

The stairway is wider than any of the others previously encountered, 20-25' wide, 20' ceiling.  An archway at the end of the stairs led down into a large room with large pillars.  In the dim light from their lantern and torches, a large amber ship sit inside the coping of a pool (like the boundary for a fountain but with no water).  The water has drained down a crack caused by the recent earthquake. 

Further inspection by Kevin revealed that the pillars are actually pedestals, and are topped by “big, hulking shapes that are not moving.” Basically this (but with an alligator's head):



As John's character breaks the back line between the rear pillars, there is a grinding noise (stirring) at the top of the pillars.  Croco-dogs atop the pillars (described as mastiffs with alligator heads) jump down and the party engaged them in combat. It was touch and go for a while, and Kevin and Lucy both retreated before the end. Eventually, though, John and Jason killed off the beasts. They also more or less claimed all of the treasure, much to Lucy's chagrin. One of the jokes about her gameplay style is that she's got the "auto-loot" feature on. I might add that it's on, and "turned up to 11." There may have been some grumbling about intraparty mayhem if she can't learn to share loot.

Further inspection revealed that the ship was actually a structure (amber material).  On its deck were two chests of the same material.  The lizard king actually reclines on the bier at the back of the ship, wearing bright armor (more so than that they found earlier).  The spear is touched by John's character "Chuck" who is "re-aligned" to be chaotic by its fell influence. The now-chaotic Chuck also attaches sea dragon scale armor and helm. He will end up being a fighter, I'm guessing.  The three treasures of the Lizard King are listed below.

Further trap checks are made, revealing no traps on the chests. They loot the contents (also listed below)

The large fissure to the right of the ship leads down.  Air flow, cold, damp … there is running water far below somewhere.

That's where we ended. 

Note: The party would be smart to remember the jeweled eyes of the statue of the lizard king, as they make their way out of the crypt.

Here's are the treasure descriptions from the module:

Item 1: Spear of The Lizard King

The Spear of the Lizard King is a fearsome-looking, bloodthirsty and willful weapon, with a preternaturally sharp, serrated blade of an unfamiliar, incredibly hard black metal. It will continually urge its user to seek power, to slay all enemies, and otherwise to dominate people and situations. This dynamic emerges as the user becomes more attuned to it. Any person picking up this weapon will be converted to Chaotic alignment.
Type: Spear (1d8+1d3 damage); AL C; +1 to hit (or +2 if previous hit drew blood); Int. 4; Comm.: Simple urges/ Bane (Warriors)/ Special Purpose: Dominate All Others; Power: Cleave. Each time an enemy is slain with this weapon, the wielder automatically receives another attack against the nearest creature at +1 to the existing bonus (this bonus can continue to stack to +2, +3, etc.) but the wielder does not gain an additional move. If the creature to be attacked is an Ally, the wielder must make a Will Save at the negative of the to-hit bonus or strike the ally (i.e., if it's at +2 to hit, then it's at -2 to the Will Save to avoid attacking the ally).

Item 2: Helm of The Lizard King

Type: Helmet; AL C; Powers: (see below).
  • If someone puts on this helm, it will bond closely and permanently to the person's head. The helm may be removed by magical means, but no mundane means short of decapitation will do so.
  • Wearer gains a 3 point bonus to for any task involving influence, leadership, or persuasion.
  • Grants the wearer the ability to find his or her way while afloat on water, and to detect currents and hazards like rocks, reefs, whirlpools or storms.
  • Unless the wearer is of chaotic alignment, he or she will lose 1 hit point per day unless the helm is removed.


Item 3: Armor of The Lizard King


Like the helm, this armor is made of a beautiful, iridescent, chitinous material (actually sea dragon scales) engraved with runes and symbols.

Any person who attempts to don the armor will have it bond permanently to his/her body. Any person not of Chaotic alignment will take 1 hit point per day of damage, until the armor is removed. It can be removed by magical means but not mundane ones (quest time!). The armor protects as half-plate (+7 AC) but only encumbers as banded mail (-6 Check Penalty, -5 movement, Fumble Die 1d16).

Flanking the bier are two stone chests made of the same material as the ship. They are elaborately carved and probably weigh about 17 stone each. If opened, the PC will find some treasure.

The first chest seems to have been filled with a variety of clay bottles, now dry. The vessels themselves are alien in design, and might be worth something to the right buyer. There are several chunks of raw amber totaling about a pound, and several large pearls in here, worth 15, 25, 26, 27, 37, 39, 40, and 44 s.p. each.
The other chest contains 5 large, burnt-looking chunks of an unknown metallic mineral (totaling 22 pounds). It's actually star metal, and may be worth something to right smith or wizard.


The large fissure to the right of the ship leads down.  Air flow, cold, damp … there is running water far below somewhere.

That's where we ended. 

The party would be smart to remember the jeweled eyes of the statue of the lizard king, as they make their way out of the crypt.