Thursday, March 28, 2013

Checking In

Greetings, readers!

It's been a little while since I've posted, but fear not: The blog hasn't been forgotten. I've just been busy with work, taxes, and all of that sort of unpleasantness. I'm hoping that things will clear up in the next week or so, and I'll be back to more frequent posting. Please, bear with me until then.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

MGoU-H: Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God, Final Session

Well, we finally finished up this monster of a module. All in all, it wasn't nearly as deadly as it probably should have been. +Gabriel Perez Gallardi has already blogged about it, over here. I am going to steal shamelessly from his descriptions and add a bit of my own to them, as well as some thoughts about the the first playthrough of this module.

Our players this week were +Adam Muszkiewicz+John Iverson, +Gabriel Perez Gallardi, as I've mentioned, +Bear Wojtek, and +Wayne Snyder, each with 2 characters. +phil spitzer had a time conflict, and was not there for the final session, but we've got a bit of treasure for him. Phil, talk to the guys about your fabulous parting prizes.

The characters were:

Denny: 2nd level Thief
Jerkal: 1st level Wizard
Vane: 2nd level Warrior
Abel: 1st level Wizard (Abel was paralyzed. Bear went with Vane, only)
Banvha: 1st level Halfling
Aram: 1st level Cleric
Doug: 1st level Warrior
Chuck: 1st level Warrior
Formerly Ian: 1st level Wizard
Morfans: 1st level Dwarf
4 Urchins, a.k.a. "The Blue Vaners" (Don't ask me; I didn't name 'em.)

The PCs had ascended from Level 3, and had emerged once more from the secret door that led down to that level. Now on Level 2, they were in a corridor just outside of the Brooding Chamber. They had no idea what they might find, but something nasty was behind Curtain 2, or at least behind another high tech door. They crept up to the door and found another panel. Using the proper buttons, they somewhat recklessly opened the door. Occasionally these guys just do things. I blame Vane, the chaotic fighter (and now a youth mentor to four Urchins). 

The door opened on a truly frightening scene. There, before them, stood a monumental machine with a vast, central, egg-shaped chamber (about 40 feet high) full of swirling red plasma, atop a high platform, surrounded with six smaller chambers, also red and egg-shaped, but only six or seven feet high. A vertical pipe of black metal stretched from the central chamber up through the ceiling of the chamber. One of the players speculated that the pipe might lead up to the altar's drain. That was the correct answer. The blood of those children was fueling the fearful apparatus, which, now it can be told, was being used to create serpent men. The other monsters, like the Degenerate Serpent Men and the Chaos Serpent Blobs were mistakes, created before the Eternal Egg had been repaired and tuned properly. And who was doing this repair?

The Serpent Lich! This is the high priest of two-headed snake god of cyclopian visage, Sssaa'a Laasss (sounds snaky, doesn't it?). The Serpent Lich, of course, had plenty of minions on hand, including several True Serpent Men, 2 Chaos Serpent Blobs, and 3 Hunter Automata. Things looked grim indeed for the gang. Nonetheless, they (or at least Vane) were game.

Vane charged into the room. The Serpent Lich cast Spider Web to great effect. Vane was entangled, and the stair and hallway behind him were filled with webs. Some advocated to close the door and escape. The True Serpent Men were also spellcasters, and it could get ugly. Ultimately, though, they relied on... team work. What the hell? How did that happen. A combination of Strength Checks liberal application of flaming oil, Flaming Hands spells, and the span of only a couple rounds, and the webs were pretty much gone. So much for my early successes. It would only get worse for the bad guys after that. The players' rolls were just ridiculously good. Mine were, at best, mediocre, at least after the Serpent Lich went. However, not everyone was quite as lucky, or at least not just lucky. Occasionally things when the other way, and the PCs became their own worst enemies.

Gabriel said:

The Wizard Formerly Known As Ian cast 5 Sleep spells in a row, sending into a deep slumber between 2 and 4 serpent men each time. And grew five inches of hair too! That streak granted him the nickname of "The Sandman".
This was just sad to watch. After the wizard had Slept most of my bad guys, it was up the the Serpent Lich to hold down the fort. Unfortunately, he got made dead, but not before he had paralyzed Chuck. The Serpent Lich went POOF! and disappeared upon his defeat. If the Eternal Egg hadn't been destroyed, he would have respawned the next day, and resumed his grim work. I wasn't that lucky. Formerly Ian continued to Sleep the bad guys, and Jerkal the Blazin' lived up to his name by rolling criticals with his Flaming Hands spell. Fabulous! He was like a fucking napalm strike on a whole group of three enemies. Eventually Jerkal was taken out by a Hunter Automaton, and paralyzed.

After wiping the floor with the remaining enemies through a combination of swordplay and spellcasting, the PCs approached the Eternal Eggs, seeming instinctively to know What Had to Happen to Fuck It Up. Aram the lawful cleric wound up and smacked the shit out of it with the Frosthammer of Graki Deathstalker. It erupted in a gout of plasma, burning Vane pretty badly, but he rolled (yet another) saving throw, halving damage. Aram was protected from fire by the Frosthammer's magic. The Eternal Egg lay in ruins, and the threat posed by the Serpent Men had been averted. And they made it look easy. All my hard work had come to naught.

Curses, foiled again!

Wayne observed in a comment:
I was feeling pretty kick ass last night when I maxed out the rolls for Jerkal the Blazin's Flaming hands spell. Twice! Dude was a virtual walking flame thrower. Awesome. Only to be completely side lined later in the same turn when The Wizard Formerly Known As Ian cast Sleep and his mighty dice had him sleep every enemy in the room (5) who wasn't already asleep from his previous Sleep spells. The blood fueled sci-fi and sorcery birthing chamber of the hideous serpent men was looking like "serpent man sorcerer sleep over party" and we calmly walked through poking holes in the sleeping snake men like it was nothing. Ian is the sleep master. When it's good, it's so good, and when it's bad, he's in a magical coma for a week.
The party could, at this point, have left the Temple behind and returned to Samsara. They did not. This proved consequential. Entering another passage to east brought them to another sci-fi door. They opened it and found more enemy. It was a little crazy for a short while, but they eventually defeated them. This was, I believe, when The Wizard Formerly Known as Ian had a bad outcome with his final Sleep spell, putting himself into a coma until magical healing could be effected. On top of this, Aram the cleric had some trouble Laying on Hands, and incurred Deity Disapproval, putting his healing checks at -4 for the rest of the session. He was out of commission, and Vane who had (once again) charged into a meat grinder, was badly wounded. Banvha the Halfling also had depleted her Luck supply for the interim. Things were starting to turn my way again. Mwahahaha!

Then it got better. They opened another room, finding a large chamber with rows of Serpent Man-sized holes about 3 feet off the floor on opposite sides of the chamber. At this point we lost about 5 minutes to jokes about glory holes. I observed that the holes were pretty damned big, and they were about to get fucked roughly by the now-enraged True Serpent Men. This was, it was now revealed, the barracks for the True Serpent Men (and an Armory, as well, though the PCs had to run before exploring it).

The problem started when Vane decided to throw flaming oil into one of the holes. This activated about nine more enemies. They fled the chamber, and kept heading north. They found a locked door and activated the panel to open it. A tunnel led toward a chamber they'd been in before, the one with the first machines they'd encountered. Unfortunately, there were also two hidden rooms that suddenly opened, revealing 6 Hunter Automata. Things were pretty grim for our PCs, at this point, and they started getting a little whiny about it. After killing my guys and destroying a very, very expensive machine? The gall!

I reminded them that they could have gone through safe areas to escape, but they'd gotten greedy. Not satisfied with the treasure they'd gained already, they wanted MORE. Now faced with overwhelming odds, they ran away.

Yep, pretty much like this.

They broke the electronic panels on two of the doors, and escaped through the safe areas of the temple. Then they used Ward Portal to block the other entrance, from under the Snake God Statue cum Laser Turret, in the main temple. This was pretty awesome, as their result on that spell made the door simply disappear for several weeks. WTF? So, the pursuit had been neutralized for all intents and purposes. That's what you call lucky.

Gabriel observed:
Having defeated the serpent men and destroyed their wicked breeding machine, the party, instead of leaving the place (Chuck and Jerkal were paralyzed, and Vayne badly wounded), decided to keep exploring for more treasure. That's when Wizard Formerly Known As Ian ran out of luck or lost the favour of the Metal Gods. He fumbled a Sleep spell and fell into a coma. With the serpent men closing in the group grabbed their out-of-action comrades and ran the hell out of the Mysterious Temple of the Serpent God
We sailed all the way back from Samsara to Ur-Haddad avoiding a huge storm. Upon arrival, we handed the Eyes of the Serpent to Amor Ba'Gish, the wizard who employed (and poisoned) us, along with the chest  full of platinum bars we were supposed to give Balas Forktongue (who we found dead, tortured and killed by the Serpent kin) as payment for the Eyes. After receiving the antidote and a succulent reward we headed to celebrate, with the promise of more jobs from the wizard.

They got their treasure. Instead of keeping what they knew to be 50,000 gp worth of platinum bars (and this is a silver standard monetary system, mind you), they returned the unused payment to Balas Forktongue. This was the right choice. The Wizard, Amor Ba'Gish, would have killed them if they'd attempted to hide it from him. They got their payment in silver from the Wizard, for which they'd already been contracted. In addition, they were given 25 of the platinum bars with a total value of 2500 gp. That's a shitload of money in this world. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. 

I think this would be a really, really good time to continue working on the faction rules we've only playtested once. Adam, please send me your notes from the playtest.

So, that was The Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God. This is one of the most intense projects I've worked on, and I got a chance to do some really fun and interesting (to me) things. Once again, I used the "song titles to name your scenes" method to write this. The band High on Fire were the stars this time. It was incredibly challenging to conceive a story that only used those titles as prompts. It often drove the story in ways I hadn't intended, to begin with at least. For example, this was going to be in the frozen north, but "Snakes for the Divine" precluded anything but a jungle adventure, in my mind, conjuring visions of blocky, jungle temples, huge snakes, high priests and sacrifices, and other neato stuff like that.

I'm not really "done" with it at this point. There are a lot of rough patches in the written material, partly because I had some better ideas as I went along. I also forgot to do some of the things I had planned, or had to adapt the plan a bit to make sense of things that I hadn't anticipated. All in all, I think the module has a lot of promise. I'm going to continue to polish for the inevitable Kickstarter (Yes, I'm kidding). However, I will actually try to get it into shape for other people to try out. I had fun running it, and I hope my players enjoyed the experience of running through it.

Next up: Adam will run a zero-level funnel for us. We're all gonna die! Fun!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

MGoU-H: Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God, Session 7

As we began the 7th session of this adventure, Aram the lawful cleric had taken possession of the Frosthammer of Graki Deathstalker. The PCs had looted (to the extent that they could) the Vault of the Frosthammer and the associated treasure room. The PCs consisted of:

Denny: 2nd level Thief
Clave: 2nd level Warrior
Vane: 2nd level Warrior
Abel: 1st level Wizard
Banvha: 1st level Halfling
Aram: 1st level Cleric
Vergil: 1st level Warrior
Klaus: 1st level Thief
Doug: 1st level Warrior
Chuck: 1st level Warrior
Formerly Ian: 1st level Wizard
Morfans: 1st level Dwarf
4 Urchins

Everyone showed up for this session, so we were rolling with a large PC contingent. Resistance was futile before their might. Nonetheless, Van managed to get himself nearly killed a whole bunch of times.

The first thing that they did was to return from the Vault. They decided that the urchins and the characters not running with the party this session would loot the Vault and take the treasure up to the main temple. Denny the Thief decided that he'd skin some of the dead giant snake for later, and someone else took snake teeth. There was some discussion of just taking the Eyes of The Serpent and heading back to Ur-Hadad, but a combination of greed, murder-hoboism, and a tiny amount of concern for humanity got them to stay around. They decided to explore the passage leading east from the room with the Vault entrance in it.

The way east was blocked with a cell-style barred gate. They proceeded through it and discovered a 4-way intersection a feet yards further on. To the east was a barred gate, beyond which were two of those giant lizards with the brillant blue and yellow striped hide. There was also a nest of eggs. A few potshots were taken, and then fire was applied liberally through the use of Flaming Hands. It worked out fabulously. One Spike Lizard was killed outright, and the other fled down the passage to the east. At this point, Denny decided to go check for more treasure, finding 1d6 Spike Lizard eggs. The number was 6. Those could be fun later.

Another portion of the party proceeded to the south, finding a passage ending in a cave-in, and containing a nest of these guys (7 of them):

Claw Wyrm of Sssaa'a
Init +1; Atk claw +3 melee (1d8+1) or sting +3 melee (1d6); AC 13; HD 1d10+2; MV 20’; Act 2d20+1d20; SP If it manages to hit with both claw attacks, it will use its Sting- if it makes a successful sting attack, target must make DC 13 Fort save or take 1d4 damage and be paralyzed for 1d6 rounds; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

These guys were both unlucky and lucky in the encounter. The Claw Worms were pretty tough, and the party didn't roll particularly well. As a result, Vane got nailed a couple of times, as did others. Vane took the most damage of all. The were lucky in that the Claw Worms failed to get a sting attack against anyone. Eventually, a combination of fire, melee and missile damage did the trick, and the foes were vanquished.

They went back the intersection and headed north. By this time, Denny and Klaus had finished with the Spike Lizard nest and found the gorge-side entrance partly hidden by the waterfall. Denny had disarmed a trap, and was prepared to open a door he'd found to the north. The party opened the door and found 12 of the villagers, the only remaining group of the hundreds taken by the Serpentkin. The village of Samsara has been much depleted by their losses. The party sent the villagers topside to wait for the trip back.

Before leaving, the villagers warned that a Hunter Automaton was nearby, through a door in the same chamber. The door was locked, and controlled by a panel with four buttons on it. I let the party mess around with it for a while, but eventually they found the "open" combination, and the door did a Star Trek "whoosh" to open into a wide corridor. Only one Hunter Automaton was here, and they managed to dispatch it before it did much damage. They opened the next door, and entered a very strange chamber.

Here's the description:
These are holding cells of bizarre design, made of jade glass and black metal. Inside of each one is a black metal table with a vaguely humanoid depression in it. Some tables lay flat, and some are elevated. Each has an integral system of manacles and other restraints.
3-6a: This cell has been damaged, and the "glass" portions are shattered in their frames, but the glass hasn't spilled out onto the floor. There are signs of fire within the chamber, and a charred, dwarven skeleton. Close examination will reveal that the skeleton is heavily infused with black metal.
3-6b through 3-6d: This cell is empty. The front of it consists of an empty doorway in the shape of a long, hexagonal lozenge. Peculiar knobs of black metal protrude from the inner frame of the doorway at intervals of about six inches, all the way around.
3-6e through 3-6f: Holds a human being, immobilized by restraints, and surrounded by a greenish glowing aura. The victim's eyes blaze with greenish yellow light, and plasma of the same color arcs like flailing whips around the interior. Whereas the fronts of the empty chambers are open, a glowing wall of pure magical force blocks the entrances of these chambers, and the metal knobs blaze with whitish-green energy, crackling almost like lightning. Any attempt to touch this will cause 1d8 damage, though a DC 15 Fort save will reduce damage by half.
The human prisoners are undergoing the first stage of conversion into Hunter Automata, wherein their bones and sinews are infused with black metal. 

So, the first thing that happen was that Vane decided to break the glass on one of the active chambers. He make a saving through, and took only half damage as a mighty gout of greenish-white plasma vented through the hold and out of the chamber, pretty much right in his face. He took a lot of damage (again), but not enough to kill him. This guy is running low on Stamina, though, due to repeated... miscalculations.

The other PCs figured out that you could turn off the active chambers by pressing the lighted buttons, and shut down the other one. The prisoner was beyond help at this point, with metallic bones and sinews, and the beginnings of a bizarre, ophidian transformation. They killed them, of course.

So, at this point, the party has pretty much explored the lower levels. It took a little while, but they remembered that there was more of Level 2 that they haven't seen. Could it hold the secrets of the temple? Will they be able to derail the fell machinations of the Serpentkin? Only time can tell.

Oh, and speaking of time, the Hourglass poison is still active in their systems. They've been gone about 10 days at this point, and only have about 20 days to finish their business, return to Ur-Hadad, and seek the antidote. There's also the small matter of what to do with the chest of platinum bars they left on the ship sitting back at Samsara's wharf. The man they were to pay, Balas Forktongue, is dead. So, who gets paid? There are 50,000 gp worth of platinum bars (and this world is on a silver standard). It seems like they've had an incredible windfall, doesn't it? Surely Amor Ba'Gish, the wizard who has employed them, would understand if they kept it for themselves, wouldn't he?  Surely he is the soul of generosity, and would agree that they'd earned it, once they return with the The Eyes of The Serpent. Of course he would.

So, next time we'll see if the PCs can avert the unseen apocalypse that's about to be released on an unsuspecting world. Or maybe they'll fuck it all up, and we'll be hip deep in Serpentkin bent on conquest, thereby reversing the man's ascent, and throwing into doubt the true power of the Metal Gods. That would be... unfortunate.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DCC Characters, Ordered Off of A Menu

+John Carr  just posted something yesterday that I found interesting: various versions of the Ranger class for DCC. He didn't just put his own up. He put up others' versions of the same thing. They did have some distinct, and distinctly interesting, differences. The post got me to thinking about DCC classes, and how they might be tweaked to allow for some wish fulfillment to occur.

What if we took every power from every class in the game and stuck them into boxes. In this box over here we have something we'd call "Powers," things like the ability to use Deed Dice or cast spells or whatever. These are core mechanics that allow for doing damage or achieving large, in-game effects.

Over in this other box we have something we'd call "Expertise" (or whatever). These are supplemental mechanics, like thief skills, that allow the PC to do things other than cause damage or achieve large, in-game effects. They are incredibly useful, at times, but not really as useful as the Powers, nor as powerful in terms of their in-game effects.

In this last box, right over here, we'd have something called "Advances," which would determine how the character should improve over time. This would be pretty simple, and would depend (to some extent) on the selected Power and Expertise. So, if a PC had Spellcasting as a Power and Thief Skills as an expertise, he'd be tied to one of Wizard  or Thief as an advance. If he wanted to get better at one of those, he'd have to spend a level advancing as one of those. Everything that comes with it would occur.

Example, let's say I want to make a guy who's an arcane assassin. I'd need some thief skills in the Chaotic flavor. I'd need some spell skills to add illusion magic of some kind. Now, just thinking this through, I have a choice. Do I advance first as a thief or as a wizard? Or, alternately, do I choose limited powers from each and advance as a hybrid of both? For simplicity's sake, let's take the first version. I take thief to start, and advance as a thief. Then, when I reach 2nd level, I can choose to advance as a wizard instead of a thief. I probably shouldn't get what a 2nd level wizard gets, but I could get what a 1st level wizard gets. This also means that my hit dice at that point would be d6+d4 (or we could split the difference and call them both d5).

In the alternate version, the d5 hit dice make more sense. I advance as both a thief and a wizard at the same time, but I have to limit what I take from each class. So, maybe I get 2 spells instead of 4 (Powers), and I get half of the the thief skills (of my choice) but not all of them. Then I advance as normal in terms of XP, but my hit dice are the average of the two classes (d5). I also only get half of what I normally would from each class.

Another example of this: a hybrid Warrior/Thief. Call it a Bounty Hunter or something. Maybe if I took warrior Powers, I'd get a Deed Die. But it would only advance at half the rate of the regular Deed Die. If I took thief Powers, I'd get a Luck Die and the ability to regenerate Luck. If I took warrior Expertise, I could choose the warrior's critical hit table, but advance on that more slowly. If I took thief Expertise, I'd get thief skills, as above. If I chose to Advance as a warrior first and then as a thief, then I'd improve things like my initiative as a warrior and/or my attack bonus OR  (if alternating) I'd improve my Luck Die. If I'm doing a hybrid Advance, I'd advance with a d8 hit die, advance more slowly in my warrior stuff and with limitations on my thief skills. Something like that.

It would be important that the two boxes stay pretty well-defined and separate, because the character building process would otherwise give rise to the worst of the power-gaming tendency. I'd also require that the player who wants to do this declare the intention at 1st level. Thereafter, the choice is made. That's how your character works. You don't get to change it later.

So, Hive Mind, what do you think? Is this workable? Also, did I just replicate somebody else's idea and I'm just ignorant of it?

Friday, March 1, 2013

MGoU-H: Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God, Session 6

Oh, boy, did we have a hell of a session tonight. The players who were able to make it were Adam, Bear, Wayne, and Phil. John had to work, and Gabriel was on vacation. James is in school till May, and won't be able to rejoin us until then, which is sad because we found some stuff he might find... interesting.

So, we joined the party at the bottom of a long tunnel leading from the surface to the second level of the temple. They'd found the High Priest's secret entrance in the ruins on the surface, and, rather than face the stiff opposition they'd seen going down through the main tunnel, they went in through this backdoor. When we joined them, they had just finished killing a true (not degenerate) serpent man and a chaos serpent blob. The PCs consisted of:

Clave: 2nd level Warrior
Xalto: 1st level Cleric
Vane: 2nd level Warrior
Smolken: 1st level Cleric
Banvha: 1st level Halfling
Caifenn: 1st level Cleric
Vergil: 1st level Warrior
Klaus: 1st level Thief
4 Urchins (More about them, later.)

Immediately, I asked the PCs closest to the bottom of the stairs to make a Luck check. Two of them succeeded well enough to spot an older trail of blood and shit emerging from the western wall at the bottom of the stairs. They figured out that it was a secret door, and quickly learned how to open it by manipulating a wall sconce, Scooby-Doo style (as someone mentioned at the time). They didn't spend too much time exploring the corridor they were already in before opening the secret door. All they learned: The corridor went east quite a ways. They could hear water trickling down from above. So, they opened the door.

They found a long sloping passageway that led down to a landing with an arched doorway, about 30 feet deeper. The doorway led to a staircase that wound around and around to the left in a series of right-angle turns. It probably dropped another sixty feet. Along the way, Klaus the thief did a good job scouting and checking for traps. He found none, and no damage was taken. Eventually, the stairs ended and they found themselves in a long corridor leading to the east, and ending in a secret door. It wasn't so secret from this side, as a lever in the wall made the mechanism for opening it quite obvious. They checked for traps, found none, and opened the door.

The door opened into a large, square room with three major features: a gate of black metal bars in the east wall, a large, black metal grate in the floor, covering a cistern (the water they'd heard in the corridor upstairs dripped down into the cistern in a steady stream), and, most importantly, a large, black metal panel in the floor. The panel was about 10x10 feet, and marked with a dwarven hammer being constricted by a large, two-headed cobra-like snake. They had found the Vault of the Frosthammer! (musical interlude)

Songs about ancient relics make for great DCC fodder!
So fucking metal!

I was not, however, going to make getting inside easy for them. Vane, the big, dumb, chaotic lummox of a warrior decided to touch the door. He got zapped with electricity and knocked back about 10 feet, but made his Fort save. He took 3 points of damage. "Maybe it's discharged now," they guessed. Nope. Vane (or someone--can't remember who--got zapped again). After watching (with much amusement) as they attempted to figure out the trap, Bear (I think) came up with a plan: They would soak some rope in the cistern, and use it to draw the power from the trap. They soaked the rope, left one end in the water and threw the rest of it on top of the metal trapdoor. ZAP! The rope more or less vaporized, only the smoldering end emerging from the cistern surviving. The trap was disarmed. They opened it, and found a ladder descending into the depths, leading to a landing about 20 feet below. They descended.

Side note: Up to this point, there had been lots of jokes about throwing the urchins on the door to discharge it. They were kidding, of course, but the urchins were just sort of... there. We decided that they (for whatever reason) think Vane the chaotic warrior is The Shit. Strangely, he welcomes their attention, and clearly could be source of many wholesome teachings about life, love, and proper adventuring technique. Also, he could explain the facts of life, especially if those facts include hacking the testicles from giant apes and using them as trophies. It was decided that this could make a really cute family comedy on, say, the CW or ABC Family. We started thinking of names. Someone said "Vane in Charge," and then a meme was born: Witness this exchange from Roll20 chat:

Edgar J. (GM):Who's the Balls
Bear:"Who's the Balls?" Oh, fuck.
Wayne S.:check that shit out

Oh, how we laughed. I managed to choke out, at some point, "Failed... Will Save... versus... Funny." and then laughed some more. And this morning in my feed, Bear said, I'm going to sleep, dreaming of writing the pilot for "Who's the Balls?"

So, yeah... we now have a role roll model for our urchins, it's just that, well... it's fucking Vane fergawdsakes! This is going to be a running theme, I can tell already. I have so much fun in this game.

Anyhow, moving on...

There were more stairs, lots of them, leading down through a series of 90 degree turns to the left. Klaus the thief, once again, scouted the stairs and checked for traps. There were none. The stairs went down a long way. No traps, no distinguishing features, and eventually let out into a corridor leading east to a stone door, which was mortared into place.

At this point, I really have to pat myself on the back for designing this adventure the way I did. All of this time without traps had made the players just a little incautious. Three of them rushed down, including Vane (who led the charge), Smolken, and Xalto. Note: those last two were two of the party's three clerics. Well, of course they walked straight into the worst of the traps they would encounter (at least to this point). Even more hilarious... Oh, just read the description from the adventure text:

This trap is likely to be deadly, though it is, potentially pretty easy to spot, due to the sheer scale. The floor and ceiling both look oddly "constructed" compared to the rest of the natural stone which surround them. This is especially true of the ceiling, which might keep the PCs from looking at the floor. If the PCs look, they could see that both are a bit "off" pretty easily. DC 5 to spot (Intelligence mods apply).
The trap itself consisted for a 20' pit below, and a whole bunch of falling rocks from above. Vane (the guy who triggered it) managed to jump back at the last second, but both clerics dropped, got rocked, and I rolled for damage: Dead as doornails, the both of them. Here's the thing, though. They didn't actually die. Because of this rule (from DCC Core Rules, p. 93):

Recovering the body: If the body of a dead ally can be recovered, there is a chance the ally may not be truly killed. He may have been knocked unconscious or simply stunned. If a character reaches a dead ally’s body within one hour, the dead character may make a Luck check when his body is rolled over. On a successful check, the dead character was badly injured but is not permanently killed, and the ally is able to keep him alive. The “dead” character was simply knocked out, stunned, or otherwise incapacitated. Once an ally shakes the downed character awake, he recovers to 1 hit point. The character is groggy for the next hour (-4 penalty to all rolls) and sustains a permanent injury of some kind, reflected as a permanent -1 penalty to Strength, Agility, or Stamina (determine randomly).
*sigh* They both made their Luck rolls. They both survived 5d6 points of damage that should have smashed them like bugs. They totally deserved to die for being stupid, yet they survived. IIn most rulesets, they would have been dead, but not in DCC. This doesn't seem very Metal to me. From now on, new house rule: Recovering the body is not going to be a thing in my game. If you die, you die. The other players can quest to resurrect you or get you reincarnated or whatever, but recovering the body is just ridiculous in this context. I mean these fuckers were smashed to Hell and back, and they really, really deserved it! I really don't mean to be a psycho GM, but fair is fair. Playing dumb should get you killed, and from now on it will.

In a spirit of fairness, the players decided that those two were not going to be able to continue the adventure this evening, and they were sent upstairs to meet up with the rest of the party, up in the main temple. Denny the theif and Abel the wizard were sent down to replace them.

The party crossed the pit, and were able to chip free the sealed, stone door. Inside they found an altar surrounded by a bluish glow. On top of it... THE FROSTHAMMER OF GRAKI DEATHSTALKER!

Go listen to that song again. I'll wait. ... Okay, now on with the adventure.

This was a very, very special trap. It more or less created a sort of Spell Duel situation, but was not a spell duel: It was a test of wills. From the adventure text:

This altar has a magical trap. If triggered (This will happen if someone attempts to force it), it will do Chain Lightning damage to all within 30 feet of the door. This version is more deadly than the spell of the same name.

Chain lightning! A single lightning bolt that jumps between up to six targets. The lightning bolt cannot loop back to a prior target. The first target takes 4d8 damage, the second target takes 3d8 damage, the third target takes 2d8 damage, and the fourth target takes 1d8 damage. The final two targets take 1d6 and 1d4 damange, respectively.

Once triggered, it will take 1 hour to "reset," at which point it will be fully armed, once again. Only a wizard may attempt to disarm this trap. Treat the attempt by the wizard to unseal it as an opposed casting test with the door itself: The door's check is 1d20+6, and wizard may act to counter with a straight casting roll of 1d20+Personlity Mod+Caster Level. The wizard will be hard pressed to succeed without either help or Spellburn. He must make three rolls in this Spell duel, and the door makes three opposed rolls. Each other spellcaster helping adds his or her caster level and Will mod to the total. If the door "wins" after three rolls, the spell is triggered as normal, plus the wizard (and any helpers) takes attribute damage of 1d8+total difference in rolls made.

In the end, two wizards took it on. Abilities were spellburned. The halfling added two points of Luck, and they succeeded in disarming the trap. Whew! It could have been ugly.

Host: Edgar! Tell our players what they have won!

Me: It's a handsome Frosthammer of Graki Deathstalker!

The Frost Hammer of Graki Deathstalker:
Warhammer; Atk +1 (+2 against coldblooded creatures); damage 1d8+2 (+1d4 against cold-blooded creatures); AL L; Bane: Serpent People; SP  natural 20 and the target must make Fort Save or be frozen solid. Only useable by Lawful PCs. If not Lawful, take 1d4 cold damage per round.

The hammer is about three feet long. The haft is made of a grayish, ivory-like material (actually frost giant bone), and set with a head of opalescent star metal which ripples with colors like the aurora borealis. It is clearly a masterwork of dwarven make, and designed such that each striking surface of the hammer is in the form of screaming dwarven warrior rendered in a compact, blocky style, almost like a tiki, but more, well… dwarven.

But there are some complications. Did I mention that everybody in the party is chaotic or, at best, neutral? That's a problem. I rolled some stats and alignments and HP for the urchins. Two were Lawful. Crisis averted. Francois the (French) Elf is also Lawful, but has a Strength of... wait for it... 5. Oof. Better leave it to the urchins, then.

Also in this chamber, they found a secret door. After entering the door, this time, they remembered to check for traps. Good thing. Spike trap was disarmed. Inside they found the following:

Inside the treasury is the corpse of a gigantic snake. Mummified and inscribed with arcane writing like that which covered the body of Balas Forktongue, the creature's belly bulges with its contents. If investigated, the PCs will discover that it contains the mummified corpse of an armored dwarf. These are the remains of Graki Deathstalker, still in his armor.
By freeing the body of Graki Deathstalker, the PCs each gain 1 point of Luck, permanently. Lawful characters gain 2 points of Luck, permanently.
The writing on the snake's body is a spell. If Read Magic is cast it is revealed as the Binding 3rd level Cleric Spell.
The Armor of Graki DeathstalkerThis armor allows the wearer (who must be a Lawful dwarf) to receive an automatic "3" result on a mighty deed of arms once per day, and to reroll (without penalty) a "1" on an attack roll once per day. Otherwise, it's a suit of dwarven plate mail made from an unknown, nonferrous metal of bluish-white opalescent hue, which gives it the the encumbrance effects of banded mail (+8 to AC, -6 to Checks, -5’ movement, d16 fumble die).
If the wearer is not a dwarf of lawful alignment, the metal will affect the wearer as if it was iron and the wearer was an Elf.Other treasure
There are several metal caskets here.
Casket 1: This is the largest one. It contains ingots of black metal (weight: 250 lbs). There is twice as much of it as in Casket 3.
Casket 2: This is the smallest one. It contains 5d30 cut gemstones worth 1d100 silver pieces each (weight negligible).
Casket 3: This medium-sized casket contains ingots of mithril (weight 100 lbs).
Casket 4: This one is flat and just a bit larger than Casket 2. It contains a grimoire made of thin plates of black metal. The cover is decorated in blood-red gemstones and graven with enchantments in the script of the Serpent Men. ... However, anyone who attempts to pick it up and read it must make a Will Save at DC10, or will be put in stasis (duration as per 3rd level Cleric spell, Binding—assume the maximum result of 34+)

The wizards, Jerkal and Abel (bless their hearts) tried to read it and failed their Will saves (hehe). They are in stasis for 7 and 8 days, respectively. Once again, impatience leads to bad outcomes. Yep, the wizards are furniture now, at least for a while, and will need to be carried by someone. At the end, the players were trying to figure out if a period of rest would be wise. I'm gonna go with, "Yes."

So, they're gonna be rich, but first they have to get a whole bunch of really, really heavy treasure out of here, through the jungle, and back to Samsara. They'll have to be carrying the static wizards. Also, they need to avert the impending Serpentkin Crisis. Please also remember that these Serpentkin are spellcasters in many cases, and now the party is down some wizards. Oops. Oh, and don't forget, they're on an "Instant Death Countdown" due to the poison with which they are infected.

They set the urchins to carrying treasure up to the main temple, where the rest of the party is, and that's where we ended.