Thursday evening, we had the second part of the Cthulhu Dark Ages game. This was part of the Caligo Accedendum Tournament module. This adventure had six pregen characters, all with specific back story known to all players and another part of the backstory which was only known to the player playing the actual character. The pregens also had a key to show how they would interact with the other players at the table.
Now a Call of Cthulhu adventure is different than most games. Call of Cthulhu, whether it is the Roman times, Dark Ages, Gaslight era, or the 20th century are all investigative games. The party needs to figure out what they need to do while things are happening all around them.
At no time during the game should one player be flying around, invisible, dropping fireballs on the rest of the party. Even if you have magic, it is usually not hugely helpful. It can be, but not necessarily.
Picking up where we left off last week, we had a new player, Robert. Now Robert has played CoC before, but maybe not with this particular group. This group definitely was good at rolling poorly. This is especially fun when they miss their sanity rolls. Well, it is fun for me, and hopefully for them.
So the party is given a recap of last week’s adventure. This is helpful for Robert. His arrival was good, as his player was the sixth player that was really necessary to make the game work. This particular scenario really needs six players. Just as we are getting ready to start, Daron and Summer show up. They are severely jet lagged, and don’t want to play, but they are happy to be back, and are ready to get into next week’s Call of Cthulhu game set in the 1920’s.
Anyhow, it is hard to describe what happened last night. As the players are trying to figure out what to do. They dissected what the old hag told them. Jason, Eric, Matthew, and Loren were trying to figure out who needed to have their eye poked out, who needed to be bled, who needed to drink the concoction of stewed eye and blood, etc. The mystery was left with what to do with the fancy sword? No one could figure out who the woman was.
So the game proceeded. As the group tried to figure out the puzzle, I dropped in one zombie per player attacking them mercilessly. Things went badly for the party. They got bloodied. Now, when these zombies were killed, they turned into bags of skin that collapsed, leaving a pile of wiggling worms and maggots. Most of the players didn’t like that, in fact some of the players failed their sanity checks, and passed their idea roll. That is the worst type. You see something bad, and because you are smart, you know that it is not right, which leads to short or long term psychosis. Jeremy failed his sanity check, and suffered five combat rounds of suicidal rage. He started poking himself with his dagger. He tried to brain himself with his dagger, by pushing it through his eye socket, but missed.
Now, Jason and Eric thought they figured out what to do. They helped Jeremy cut his eye out. Actually, Jason guided the knife into Jeremy’s left eye, and scooped it out of the eye socket. Eric helped by holding out his ball sack, errr, eye ball sack to hold he eyeball. They let go of Jeremy and he started poking himself in the arm. To which Loren restrained him, then Loren and Matthew started hitting Jeremy on the head trying to knock him out. They gathered the blood, mixed it up in a viking helmet and Eric drunk the concoction, as the old hag instructed.
Now, that may seem gross but anyone who has seen the historical documentary, the 13th Warrior knows that all vikings have an odd penchant for drinking things that we would find questionable.
The party continues on, looking for the next thing to do. They continue down the path, and find a destroyed ancient city. As they enter the city, they find a series of staircases.
The party finds a series of stairs. Each is different, each leads up with someone at the top of the staircase.
- Njal’s dead brother will call to him from atop a stair of glorious black marble…
“this way my brother…you will die without my aid.”
- Wulfmære’s youngest sister, as bright and cheerful as ever she was,will call to him to follow her up a silvery stair. “I forgive you, my beloved brother. But you must come this way. Save me, please… do not fail me again.”
- Brytnoth’s mother and father stand atop a stair of darkest, black stone… “Brytnoth. Our long lost child…come away from the evil that lies within you.”
- Sigferd’s young son, who died from a fall off the cliff-shores back home, will appear on a stair of white stone… “Father, I am not dead. I avoided my fate. You can avoid yours as well. Follow me…I know the way.”
- Anlan’s beautiful mother will appear atop a stair of gold. “Ah, my dear. How far you have flown from me. Come with me, your father and brother are this way!”
- Sveinbjörn (nonplayer character) sees his beloved dead wife, Herdis, who beckons to him from atop a stair of crumbling grey marble.
- Atop a clear crystal stair, a tall man of foreign features and the vestments of a Christian priest will beckon to Skarphedin… “Come my son, flesh of my flesh. Follow me if you would live.”
Svienbjorn runs to his wife, falls into a pit and screams.
The party figures that this is not the way to go.
They stand around thinking about what to do. I ask Loren to make an Idea roll. She makes it. I take her aside, and remind her that her hidden past was that her father was likely a christian priest. She goes forward to the crystal stair, and climbs it. She asks the priest if her character is the son of the priest. The priest grabs ahold of Loren’s character, and drags her through a portal into an enormous chamber, that is a mile or more across, with a green glowing sea, including an island in the middle spewing green flame up to a crystalline ceiling. A rotten hulk of the Geslegen is on the glowing green water.
No one notices her disappear.
Matthew decides that the best way to go is to follow the silver stair, to follow his sister. He makes his spot hidden role, and sees that she has an evil grin as he gets ready to top the stairs.
He decides at the last minute that this may not be the best solution. They go back to the bottom of the stairs, and look around, and notice that Loren is gone. They follow the crystal stairs, and continue through the void to the same chamber that Loren is in.
The party boards the Geslegen, and it leaves for the island.
The short journey to the island is uneventful. When they arrive, they see that there is a large platform that has green goo spewing out of the center, running down channels.
Seeing this dude several issues for the party. Many of them fail their sanity checks, and bad things happen. Eric has an uncontrollable urge to eat the corpses of his dead party members. None are dead yet, but in the event that one dies, he will be uncontrollably distracted to go and have a snack.
The combat is rather brutal. The spawn attacks, and randomly swats at Matthew twice, and Eric once. Now Eric was the one who is supposed to die by this beast, according to the hag’s words.
Now Matthew successfully defends himself from the beast. Both attacks even. Eric is not so lucky. The beast swats him for 4d6 damage plus 4d6 size bonus damage. Eric is lifted up, and popped into the gaping maw of the spawn of Tulzscha. Crunch, slurp, gulp. And Eric is dead.
Now this seems bad, and it is. Except that because Eric choked down the eye / blood cocktail, he is poison to the spawn for 2 entire rounds.
The beast has 45 hit points, and 8 points of armor damage reduction. The players all thought that armor damage reduction was pretty cool when they used their armor to soak all of the damage by the zombies and village people…
But when armor is used against them, especially 8 points of armor reduction, and 45 hit points total, that sucks the big one. What the party doesn’t know is that for the two rounds after the spawn chokes down Eric, all the party has to do is do one net hit point in one strike to kill it. The first combat round didn’t result in any net damage to Mr. Tulzscha. The spawn bitch slapped Matthew, and would have done something like 6,000 damage, but it didn’t. While it is sick, it only does one point of damage also. This was absorbed by Matthew’s armor.
Then Loren saved the day. She does 9 points of damage on a successful attack, which is 1 net damage. If she hadn’t done that, the beast would have recharged and been nigh on impossible to kill.
The entire cave starts to crumble. Robert knows what to do. He stabs the sword into the flame, and the entire crew wakes up again, dying of thirst on the Geslegen. But then they see a misty shore on the horizon. As the mists part and the Geslegen approaches the beach, the party realizes that this is the island that they just left…