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So the party was in a mood last Thursday night.  It was a packed table.  Everyone was there except Mike.  You see, Mike was having his last day at work, I am retiring and so freaking happy party.  Mike (and Sue) showed up late, but they hung around.  Mike didn’t play, he just watched the slow train wreck that we call DCC.

Mike did show up with his newest creation, his own private Necronomicon, which he made out of a hollow book.  This way he can store his dice, cut off fingers, you know, whatever he needs to.

We are all happy for Mike.  He keeps saying things like ‘now that I am retired…’ followed by the following:

  • I may have time to DM a game
  • I may have time to paint miniatures again
  • I may have the opportunity to dust off my games and play them
  • I may have time to play more RPG’s

and stuff like that.  You notice that he isn’t committing to anything.  He is simply saying he *may* have time…

Anyhow, Mike will be missed at work by everyone.  I have enjoyed working with him for the 14 and a half years I have worked with him, and feel fortunate that I get to keep playing games with him.

Anyhow, the autocorrect suggestions for “necronomicon” are interesting.  The three top suggested replacement words are “microeconomics”, “macroeconomics” and “uneconomic”.  Now in college, I took both Micro and Macro Economics.  I believe that the Autocorrect program isn’t far from the truth here.  The twisted logic of theory and costs of production, consumer demand theory, elasticity curves and oligopolies really do work well inside the concept of a book of unspeakable evil.  Besides, with graphs like…

Do you really think that they are teaching students to determine the optimum price and quantities?  No, this is part of the unspeakable horrors of summoning evil.  Pure evil.

But then, I digress.  I seem to do that a lot.

So as I said, the party was in a mood.  And it wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad.  It was “Let’s mess with the DM, and not let him run that nice little book that he brought” type of mood.

The party went back to the town, and found that the town had a very nice carnival.  Kids were having lots of fun, parents were enjoying themselves.  There were rides, everything was free.  The food, drink, rides, all of the fun was free.  The Party went in and had some fun.  Then they got tired and went back to the inn.  No they didn’t.  They decided that even after finding gold and valuables in the dungeon, they were not going to spend any more money in this town.  They went to find an abandoned house and broke into it, and crashed… err squatted in it like a homeless person in Portland.

They settled down for a nights rest, after all they needed to restore all of their magical and clerical abilities, along with other things.  They worked out their guard shifts and bedded down for the night.

About 1 AM, they heard screaming coming from the town.  What does a party of adventurers do?  Jump up and try to figure out how they can save the day?  No.  They roll over and go back to sleep.

More screaming.  More grumbles from the party.  More snoring from the party.

Then they start knocking on the door.  Knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking.

Finally, Eric gets up and tries to see what is going on.  Now Eric is lawful.  Lawful may rhyme with “awful”, but that doesn’t mean that this is the true meaning of lawful.  It seems that the children are missing.  All of the children.  The parents in the town are beside themselves.  Eric discovers that people are frightened, the area that was the fun carnival now looks evil, and there is glowing pink mist everywhere down in the carnival.

Eric yawns, and tells them they will investigate tomorrow morning, closes the door and goes back to bed.  The parents are having nothing of it.  They start knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking.

So Jason gets up and opens the door.  Essentially, Jason wants to know why these people won’t take a hint and come back in the morning, after all, the party is tired.

Image result for honey boo boo tired animated gif

The townspeople aren’t taking any of it.  They yell at Jason.  Jason takes out his fancy venom dagger and murders one of the fathers in front of everyone.  He just stabs the poor unfortunate bastard and drains the life blood out of him…

Now in Jason’s mind, this is all logical.  After all, the magic users and clerics are tired, and are desperately trying to rest so that tomorrow they are effective at their spell craft.  The people who can heal the rest of the party need to be able to do so.

So after murdering the father, Jason goes back to bed.

Image result for honey boo boo tired animated gif

Aghast, the townspeople realize that the party is not to be messed with.  However, the townspeople also realize that what other hero’s are around?  After all, the townspeople are simple scavengers and business people.  They live to go out to battlefields, after all the brave fighters have died, and pull off pieces of armor and weapons and refurbish them, then sell them at the best prices available within 50-feet.  Maybe even 500-feet.

So the townspeople want their children back, so they begin knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking on the door.

At this point, Brian and Eric decide it is time to go out and figure out how to stop these horrible people.  Brian walks out, in all his blue elf glory and explains that they will be happy to help… in the morning.  Unfortunately, all the townspeople heard was that they will be happy to help.  So they literally drag Brian off to the carnival site. Eric follows along.  The rest of the party sleeps through the knocking of desperation.

So Brian and Eric find that the fun little carnival is indeed a place of horror at night.  It might be the lighting, or it could be the glowing pink mist… maybe they were just tired and cranky, but this place looked really bad.

Brian turns around and informs the people who dragged them here that they would help in the morning.  He emphasized in the morning quite strongly.  He also wanted to know why the helpless people wouldn’t go in and get their children.  The townspeople had answers, but nothing which would satisfy the tired and cranky Brian and Eric.

So Brian sneaks off and finds another house to sleep in.  Eric goes back and snoozes until morning.

The next morning, the party wakes up to a beautiful morning.  The sun is shining, the cool air has that feeling that it is going to be a wonderful day.  The Party leaves the house, and finds that the carnival left last night.  The children are still gone.  And the parents are upset.

Now, the party wants horses.  Good horses.  The townspeople say no, after all good horses have value, and these people are businesspeople.  This is where the party and the townspeople come to an impasse.  The party can’t understand why the people in the town aren’t willing to help get their children, let alone let the party have access to equipment, weapons and horses to get the children back.  The townspeople seem to think that the adventurers should do this out of goodness and butterfly kisses.  The party figures out that kids must be like Doritos for the townspeople.

Image result for doritos well make more

So Loren talks the townspeople into supplying a horse and cart.  That way when they recover the children, they can bring them back in the cart.  Daron decides that the townspeople owe the King, Emperor, or other royal a horse, so as a former tax collector he seizes one.

This leads into a metagame discussion of why he could justify this as a lawful tax collector.  He is an ex tax collector, not a current one, as he left behind his old life when he became an adventurer (after all when you leave the employment of the IRS to do another job, the IRS no longer pays you, nor wants you to freelance your services).  Anyhow, Daron has convinced himself that he indeed needs the horse.  So he takes it.  He tries to explain that it is like a police officer taking a car to follow a robber.. you know, exigent circumstances…  That is OK, it will catch up to him at some point.

So the party leaves.  Matthew and Eric riding Ms. Worm.  Daron on his ill gotten steed.  The rest of the party on the cart.

After several hours of following the tracks of the carnival, they are attacked by small dog faced humanoid creatures.  They are kobalds.  These guys are popcorn. but they have a nasty sting.  The battle is nasty, and Eric tactically retreats (runs away) when he gets to one hit point.  Matthew also gets shot up by kobald arrows, and sees that Eric was genius.  He also bravely hides in the bushes.   I am not sure, but Eric and Matthew may want to be bards, and you know, someone needs to live through the encounter to make sure that the tale is told.  Loren uses command words to make several of the kobalds run away.  These little guys  must also want to be bards.

Brian color sprays three of the kobalds, and knocks them out.  The rest are killed by brutal combat.

Now this is where the players show their true selves, coming from D&D, Pathfinder and other games.  They expect loot.  You know, they got a bloody nose, and damn it, they should get some sizable loot for the effort. They found some half eaten lizard legs, a dead rotting mouse, four shortbows of poor quality and 20 arrows, and a bunch of crappy short swords a goblin wouldn’t even use.  Brian was having nothing of it.  He wanted something. So I gave him two balls of string.  Each ball was made up of 6 to 12-inch lengths of various string that had been tied together.  Brian said “Cool!  I get two balls of twine!”  I respond, no, and explain the string concept again.

Oh well, some string is better than nothing.

So the Party decides to continue on.  They heal up, then move off to follow the trail.  They arrive at the next town, of identical size and description as to the last one, just as happy people are leaving the carnival at sundown.  The carnival is closed.   The party watches through the sunset, and it is just dark.

They go to the town, and wait.  Sure enough, at 1 AM, all of the parents are freaked out, since they have no children anymore.  Now the intrepid party decides to investigate.  Two and a half hours after starting the session, I get to open up the book.

Jason, being the kind and gentle person that he is, says something like “I wanted to keep this off the rails for the entire session, but I figure that you should have some of the fun too.”

Image result for asshole

Anyhow, the Party approaches and sees that the gate is kind of freaky.  There are two evil statues of  clowns flanking the entrance to the carnival.  Leaving that behind, they approach the first thing they can see.  A tall statue rises from the mist.  As the Party approaches, well some of the party.  You see, only Daron, Eric and Jason decided to approach the statue.  As they approached, they observed a large statue of an evil looking jester holding both arms out in front of him.  In each hand is a skull.  Each skull is oozing dark fluid out of the mouth.  The oozing liquid drops into a pool of dark liquid, and there are heads bobbing around in the pool.

Image result for evil jester costume

Is this a creepy bobbing for apples thing?  Should they destroy it?  Nope.  Then Daron.

Now usually saying “then Daron” results in pandemonium.  Not this time.  Daron reaches in and pulls out one of the heads.  It is partially rotten.  Daron looks at it, and the head screams an unearthly scream.  Daron replaces the head in the pool, and picks out another one.  Eric comes forward and pulls out his skull with the glowing eyes and shows it to the jester.  Nothing happens.  Daron pulls out another skull.  I am not sure what he is hoping for, but he seems to want to find the correct skull.  After pulling several other skulls out of the pool, replacing each one after they don’t scream, he loses interest.

There is a plaque on the statue, saying “In the land of madness, only the mad are sane”.  Nobody clues into what possible meaning that could be.

So the party continues on.  They approach a large tent.  The tent is 30-feet high at its highest.  The outside of the tent is about 30-feet wide, and about 120 feet long.  The entrance to the tent is on a raised platform.  The party goes onto the platform, and Eric, Jason, Matthew and Brian pull back the curtain.  Inside is a large ball pit.  The pit looks to be about 4-ft deep, and is filled with multicolored leather balls.

Image result for ball pit from hell

And that is where the entire adventure degrades.  Jason proceeds to make repeated jokes and other comments about balls.  Loren responds, at least it isn’t a testicle pit…  and things go from bad to worse.

You see, in addition to having a party which takes the adventure off the rails at every chance, they are particularly immature.  Please note that this is not a negative comment on my friends I play with.  I share the immaturity.  Quite regularly, my 17 year old son is the most mature person at the table, as we giggle, laugh and snork at innuendos (which of course is an Italian suppository).  But after 2 hours 45 minutes of being off the rail, I was almost on track with the adventure.

Then Jason.

Just that simple.  He derailed the adventure again, only through childish immaturity.  I approve wholeheartedly by the way.

So Jason, Eric, Brian and Matthew dive into the ball pit.  Eric being a halfling was not tall enough to stay above the ball pit level.  See Eric was under 3-ft tall, and the pit had 4-ft deep of leather balls.  Or as Jason and Matthew were talking back and forth… “shweddy balls” and such stuff.

Jason tries to stab the balls, hoping that they would pop.  Nope, they were filled with some sort of fluff, and his sword just shish-ka-bobbed them.  Jeremy, another halfling, who didn’t want to get into the ball pit decided to walk around the edge of the ball pit.

Loren decides she doesn’t want to go through the ball pit, so she tries to exit the area.  She finds that the bottom of the steps have an invisible wall of force.  Ah Ha, she says, pointing her finger accusingly at the nice DM…  So she decides to investigate the side, to see if she can climb down.  Now there are four feet of steps leading up to the waiting area, and the pink mists are completely blocking the view…  For some reason, Loren is convinced that she should not just jump off the side of the porch.  Not sure why.  So Loren tries to hang off the edge of the balcony and swish her torch.  I ask her if she has a lit torch.  Of course I have a torch, she replies.  I ask her if she has a method of lighting the torch.  She gives me a look.  This kind of look is usually the type of look that you see on movies where one person is about to eviscerate another…  She has no flint and steel.  She does find another player who does have fire starting equipment.  She leans over the side of the porch, and I ask her to make a dex saving throw.  She botches it.  Now normally, a player would fall into the abyss, but I really didn’t want to kill off any characters completely, not yet.  First you need to play with them, then give them a little hope, then decimate them!  I mean it is no fun if the characters just autodie, so you need to let them have some fun too.  So I had her drop the torch.  The torch falls through the glowing pink mists, and they don’t hear a thump.  Loren figures that they are something above 4 feet in height…  Seeing nor alternative to the DM’s carefully laid trap, she enters the ball pit.

Eric, Brian, Jason and Matthew starts moving forward.  Eric is leaving a small wake of leather balls behind him, as he tunnels through the balls.  More comments from Jason.  It was almost like a howler monkey pack.  One hoots, then the others all respond with hooting.  Jason would say “Balls!” while giggling and everyone else followed in suit. I am sure that there is some sort of Masters thesis here, if I could just get funding…

Then bad stuff started happening.  Eric, Brian and Jason all felt something slimy and full of suckers grab their ankles and pull them forward.  The battle should have been long, but it wasn’t.  Loren pulls out her grappling hook and rope and tries to hook it on the rafters of the tent.  She fails pretty badly.  Then Matthew uses his awesome rope trick spell to raise the grappling hook to the ideal location and Loren is ready to do something.  We are not sure what she intended to do, because it was all over so quickly.

The tentacles that were wrapped  around the three party members pulled them forward.  Brian got the worst of it.  He was dragged into a giant maw, dropped below 0 hit points, and then Jason hit the tentacle with a poison dagger, and autokilled the beast.

To which, Jason looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said “I figure that I will be losing that dagger pretty soon”.

So Loren was standing there holding onto her rope, ready to do something epic, Eric was under the balls, and didn’t know what happened.  Jason was pretty happy with himself.  Matthew was pretty stoked, and just ready to do something awesome, Daron was ready to kill something for Cthulhu, Jeremy was happily walking along the top of the wooden wall, about 6-feet above the top of the balls.  And then we are out of combat.

Except someone had to find Brian, and rejuvenate him.

This is where Brian learned one of the inconvenient truths about DCC.  If you go below zero hit points, and are revived, it isn’t for free.  You have a good chance of lifelong problems, along with the fact that your stamina is permanently reduced by 1, each time your are revived.  Brian realizes that he now has a stamina of 6.  That is not good.  The shit just got real for the blue elf.

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