Sunday, January 19, 2014

Godly Grace in a Mortal Shell

Yesterday, while playing in +Shawn Sanford's DCC FLAILSNAILS game, my longest-running DCC character, Kormaki Lemmisson, almost met his end, and at his own hand.

Here's what happened.

We'd gotten very nearly to the end of Michael Curtis's excellent adventure, DCC #77 The Croaking Fane. Only a couple more rooms to look at before heading back to Punjar to heal up and resupply before tackling Emirikol Was Framed. Surely, that wouldn't be a problem, right? It's just a couple rooms. We could handle it, right? Very nearly not, it would turn out.

The room at issue was behind a barred door. The door was barred to keep whatever was behind it, well, behind it+Barry Blatt noticed that small fact, and advocated for a swift retreat with our ill-gotten loot. In our hubris, in our greed, we ignored his wisdom.

In part, I ignored him because of my success in casting a spell. After we removed the bar, revealing some kind of crypt behind it, Kormaki cast Divine Symbol, a spell that imbues the cleric's symbol with holiness. Here's the result of the casting (a natural 20, btw):
For a duration of 3d6+CL rounds, the cleric can attack with his holy symbol as if it were a magical weapon of +2 enchantment. It deals 1d14+2 damage (modified by Str, as usual), with an additional +4 damage bonus against unholy creatures. In addition, as long as the cleric is visible to his allies and followers, they receive a +1 bonus to saving throws and morale checks. Finally, the cleric also receives a +4 bonus to all spell checks to turn unholy while using his holy symbol when under the influence of this spell. (DCC RPG Rulebook, p. 275)
Time to kick some undead ass, right? Kormaki had Soul Power (for 19 rounds!), and, yes, was most assuredly feeling Superbad.

Unlike Kormaki, JB understands how things can go, sometimes: Super-badly.

In the end, Kormaki had only himself to fear. After initially having great success in dealing damage to his undead, amphibious foes (big-ass zombie frogs with like a million HD), and failing to turn unholy (because of those many, many hit dice), Kormaki lined one of those bastards up in his sights and swung mightily. He rolled a natural 1 (of course). Subsequent rolls on the fumble table (d16, because: Banded Mail) ended with him doing 12 points of damage... to himself. He was also (of course) the only cleric in the party, so no healing for him. There were some potions we found, but I had the feeling they wouldn't be very healing, so I gambled, and declined such aid. 

I (Edgar, not Kormaki) suddenly found myself reflecting on the real possibility of the death of my oldest character. Kormaki has been around since the Metal Gods crew started playing together. +Adam Muszkiewicz doesn't exactly shower us in unwarranted XP, and he and I alternate judging duties, so it's taken me a long time to get him to 3rd level. He's a veteran of Fort Simian. He's met Space David Bowie, in his Ziggy Stardust aspect. He smoked the purple tentacle, for Lemm's sake! He's been through some shit, let me tell you. How could he die? Who might replace him? My mind pondered these possibilities as the rest of the party mopped up, and watched Kormaki bleed out, helpless to do anything about it.

But there was a possibility that he might still live--the "Recover the Body" rule:
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... (DCC RPG Rulebook, p. 93)
Now at only 7 points of Luck, Kormaki's chances were a bit slim (35%) to "recover the body" as per the rules. The Metal Gods smiled upon him, and the Iron Fist of Lemm did shelter him from harm: I rolled a 2. 

So, Kormaki lived. He's down (another) point of Stamina, reducing him to 8, and incurring a -1 penalty as a result. He suddenly feels like that cop who's three days from retirement, and "too old for this shit." He needs to go back to the chapter house, to heal up, to drink and whore, and to do all of those things a man of his stature ought, before things go pear-shaped for good. 

Knowing how things go, though, he'll probably just go out adventuring again. His inevitable demise is only a matter of time. In the end, death waits for us all.

Dax, baby? Sing us out. Sing something about death.



Maybe you're dead and ya just don't know
A shadow dressed only in sorrow
Tomorrow might not exist and ya should've been dead