Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DCC #4

In our fourth session the PCs make their way deeper into the war wizard's tomb, discovering a strange shallow pool of water. The floor of the pool is dotted with small gems arranged in the pattern of the night sky they saw outside. A shattered robot lies in the pool. Brave (or stupid?) Jo Bobbius climbs into the pool to test the gems and discovers the robot's bronze spear. Messing around with it he gets lucky and figures out the spear can issue a blast of energy to strike distant targets.

Soon a procession of weird men of metal come into the room. In the lead are two broken and busted up robots. They are followed by what can only be described as men half of metal and half of flesh. The PCs realize suddenly that they are looking at their former walking around again!

A few of the re-animated have a flash of awareness and memory upon seeing the faces of their allies. They shake off the strange magic working to assimilate them into the robot matrix. Battle ensues as the other bots realize what has happened.

The PCs are victorious against the bots and in the end Ammet, Aiken, and Arble rejoin the party...albeit with robot parts. Can the day get any stranger for these poor schmucks?

A door is opened and down they go to discover weird treasures. Oryx, opening an arcane looking book, is blinded by it. His father Voss, considering Oryx to be a weakling, essentially abandons his son for dead. Only a fool would let himself get blinded. And where is the booze around here?

They discover an army of over 60 robots standing in silence in the lower chamber. Leading them is a giant figure similar to the war wizard's statue upstairs that burned so many of them to a crisp! Previous battles with bots demonstrated that water causes them serious harm. And wait...what is that sparkling on the ceiling? The gems from the pool above!

Voss shoves his blind son into the room in anger, then rushes up the stairs to pluck the gems from the floor, hoping to flood the chamber with water. The robots awaken! They begin to ambulate.

The team rush up to help with the gems, poking and prying at them furiously. Soon they have removed dozens and the floor begins to crack. They run, though it is too late for Voss, Einstenius, Wandius, and Calliope. They fall through the floor helplessly to their doom.

The flood of water takes it toll on the ancient robots and they begin to pop and crack and explode. The army is defeated! And Voss, tough old bastard that he is, climbs out of the wreckage and up upon the throne of the war wizard at the head of the room...there is the crystal ball Hella Nor sent them to fetch!

Upstairs the team faces a few robots that made it out of the pool and defeat them with surprise and force.

Voss rubs the ball and Hella Nor's face appears in it.

"Nice work, losers. But see I only need to bring out the guy holding the ball. Why would I waste energy on the rest of you?"

Oh no. But wait, these poor bastards can offer something surely. They agree to help Hella with a future project and she then whisks them all out of the tomb and plops them down on the roof of the Four Winds Bar in the great city of Seapath...a place as alien to them as anything can be.

What will become of these disparate bandits? What of their fields of corn back home? What is home? Hella said their home city was a sham, an illusion, a "city in a bottle"...what does that mean?

No time to think about it. That crazy devil girl will return in a few months and expects them to do something even crazier. Best get ready...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

DCC #3

The party of newbs, having found their way into the war wizard's tomb, faced spear-throwing statues and a fire-spurting statue of the great wizard himself.

They discovered a room which appeared to be a workshop with piles of metal and wire and half-finished men of metal. Along the walls in 7 alcoves were colorful buttons...some flashing. Naturally some buttons were pressed. Soon a group of 3 metal men entered threateningly and cut down one of the PCs after a valiant battle. One lone hero named Calliope bested two of the robots on her own.

Enter: the Surgeon. This tall robot, named Sararug, was the war wizard's surgeon. He lead the PCs to his chamber and assured them that he would "transform their frail bodies into perfection". No one accepted his invitation to become immortal men of metal and the Surgeon grew angry. A very well placed spear by big-boned Wandius took the Surgeon down and Einstenius the sage discovered an alien weapon in Sasarug's possession. Could this device be usable?

Ammet, Aiken, Yosemite, and Harry all met their makers in this week's episode. Mostly by fire.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

DCC #2

In the second session we were joined by a fifth player. Luckily, 4 more characters were alive in that foul pantry and made their escape as well.
In this session the PCs discovered that a beautiful horned woman named Velma Nor was trapped inside the blue gem necklace of the man-bat leader. Her sister, Hella Nor, was trapped in the scepter on the man-bat altar. First they must free Hella, then Hella would free Velma. Sure, they said.

Hella was freed and the red, naked, devil woman was not really happy about it. Right off the bat Han the outlaw, feeling plucky, hit on Hella Nor and lost his head in the process.

So Hella, rather than killing all the fools, sets them to a mission. Retrieve her crystal ball from a tomb of one of her old lovers.

Entering the tomb was not easy. Arble the butcher was burned to ashes as a result
of tampering with the door. But Atticus cleverly figured a way in and the team of hooligans now stands before four statues threatening them with spears.

During this session we also say goodbye to Bowteesta the woodworker and Jethro Cobblepot the parsnip farmer, who were lost to the 2000 foot drop from the aerie of the man-bats.

It is too early for me to give this campaign an official name, so I won't do it. I'm gonna wait and see what happens next. The players may take me into areas I didn't anticipate. Who knows?

DCC #1

The new DCC campaign kicked off a few weeks ago. Started with 4 players, the crew from the Frimmsreach Labyrinth Lord campaign, each with 4 PCs of fabulous zero level.

In the first session the PCs awaken to find themselves caught in some sort of sticky, tough webbing inside a weird sphere composed mostly of tree branches and hides. Many bodies are strung up on the ceiling in a similar fashion. It appears to be some kind of storage area for live meat.

The captors are man-bats! And the monsters are engaged in a battle of their own against little metal men with strange blasting weapons.

Escape and investigation ensues. Poor Moloch the rutabega farmer was eaten by a flying worm before he could make his escape. And the exotic Xaius Fe, outlaw, was blasted by a man of metal's zapping spear.

The 2-hour session ended with the party being held by the men of metal.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Top Ballista

I recently scored a very nice copy of PC2 Creature Crucible: Top Ballista by Carl Sargent. This book came out in 1989 just as AD&D 2nd Edition was hitting the racks.

Top Ballista is a resource book for the D&D line ("basic" or BECMI), not AD&D. I got started with the BECMI red box in 1984 and played with a mix of that + B/X + AD&D materials. To me it was all just D&D, though I vaguely recognized that the two lines were slightly different.

I remember seeing Top Ballista on the shelf of the local book store. It was shrink-wrapped so I couldn't flip through it. I saw a plane on the cover and some whacky looking goblins. There was a sort of quasi-military vibe to it...and even though Iron Maiden's "Aces High" was probably going through my head I just didn't feel like it was a justified purchase. "Meh." I may have said.

Boy was I wrong. This book is awesome. It is full of awesome.

First, it is a module complete with disconnected cover and maps. It includes a large poster map of the flying city of Serraine, the city of gnomes.

More importantly it is a source book for playing a bunch of cool new classes: faenare, gnomes, gremlins, harpies, nagpa, pegataurs, sphinxes, and tabi. Remember, in classic D&D race and class are the same thing. That seemed perfectly natural to me when I was gaming on my own with my red box and blue BX Expert books. But once I hooked up with a proper group of hooligans playing AD&D I suddenly wanted race and class separated. Makes more sense right?

Balls to that. Race-as-class is awesome. The degree of color and style you can put into a class based on a race far surpasses the separated races of AD&D. I mean...gremlins.

Gremlins are friggin' great. They get to hide in crannies. They get a Murphy's Law aura. They can tumble and jump and cast natural spells. And perhaps coolest of all is their "foe fumbles". When an enemy attacks a gremlin and misses they must make a second attack roll...against themselves! And as the gremlin levels up there is a bonus to that second attack roll.

Ah, the chaos.

The other classes look cool too. I'd play a gnome any day. And there is the possibility with some classes of playing a spellcasting version like a shaman. That essentially means some race-classes are actually two different classes, broadening the possibilities even more.

Add to all this the wonderful artwork by John Lakey and this book is 100% cool. It has gnomish airplanes for pete's sake.

Now I have to score the other Creature Crucible books, which I have never had the pleasure of even seeing in person: PC1: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, PC3: The Sea People, and PC4: Night Howlers. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


As our Labyrinth Lord campaign drew to a close I began to think about Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I discovered that game in 2013 by way of the Spellburn podcast and was almost immediately drawn in. It only took a few weeks of pondering to decide to drop $50 on the badass wizard cover DCC rulebook. And I do not regret it one dime.

I ran about a dozen sessions of DCC at home, at a friend's place, and at a local bookstore (Book & CD Hut!). Much fun was had. During that time I basically discovered that the OSR existed. And BAM. I was exploring dungeons again. I was geeking on OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord like nobody's business. Felt like coming home (said a thousand of us "older" guys at once).

So now I'm picking back up with DCC RPG, which I think is a game that simultaneously represents the good innovations of modern FRPG systems and the whole hog full blown spirit of old school gaming. Some might even say it's a little TOO old school. I disagree.

Gimme the funnel. Gimme the dead PCs. Gimme 3d6 in order and dice rolls that actually matter. When the warrior rolls a 19 or a nat 20 against the boss cultist you KNOW that shit is real. When you gotta fake it to make it...not so much.

DCC's strong suggestion to stick to the dice rolls coupled with its robust heroic mechanics (spellburn, Luck, etc.) make for a perfect amalgam of hardcore let-the-dice-fall and player-driven authorship. You want this roll to mean the evil cultist high priest's head comes off? Burn some luck, buddy. Narrow the gap between what you roll and what you wanna roll.

But nothing is guaranteed. And that's what makes it feel so good.

So my players have graciously agreed to join me on a DCC campaign quest. We began our campaign last Monday with part one of a funnel in which the happless zero-level PCs found themselves trapped 2000 feet in the air in the aerie of some kind of man-bats who were gripped in a battle with little metal men that fly. Two PCs died in the opening session. Poor Moloch had the upper half of his body eaten by a wingworm and Xiaus was blasted to smithereens by a metal man's zapper spear.

Who knows what fate has in store for the others. With any luck a few of them will crawl out the other side of this nightmare and, if they are either brave or stupid, may decide that a life of danger is worth the risk. Then we'll have some first level characters.



No. Enc: 3d10
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1+special
Damage: 1d4+special
Save: F1
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 22

Nobberlochs are the servants of dark deities and tend to spawn in black caverns or pools of ruined water where such entities are worshipped. They appear as slimy, yellow-green bipedal humanoids with thin, lanky limbs and a bulbous stomach. Their heads are potato shaped with large, fish-like eyes and a mouth full of writhing worms that serve as a tongue. They cannot speak but can communicate with one another telepathically over a distance of 200’.

The stench of a nobberloch is so foul that anyone within 60’ must pass a saving throw vs. poison or begin vomiting, unable to take any actions or movement for one round. Once the save is made an individual can stomach the odor for the duration of their exposure to it.

In combat, nobberlochs attempt to grab their targets and bite with their wormy mouths. On a successful attack roll the sticky mucus on their hands allows them to latch on and make a second attack roll to land a bite. To break the grip of a nobberloch, the target must pass a Strength check on the following round after being grabbed.

The bite deals 1d4 points of damage and the target must pass a saving throw vs. poison or be infected with a nobberloch worm which will hatch from the throat of the victim in 1d4 turns. The birth of the worm deals 3d6 points of damage to its host.

A cure disease or remove curse will safely remove the worm. The only other way to destroy it is to pour salt on the wound. This action will cause 1d3 points of damage to the victim and has a 4-in-6 chance of killing the worm before it emerges.

Nobberlochs are able to use their webbed, mucus-coated hands and feet to help them climb any surface (90% skill). They do not carry weapons and do not care for treasure. Their only purpose and desire is to serve their dark masters. Anyone touched by a nobberloch will stink for 1d4+1 days. Normal clothes, armor, and items will have a permanent stench. The secretions of a nobberloch can be used to erode stone or corrode metal, though this is not an effective attack mode.

Nobberloch Worm

No. Enc: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5+2 (see below)
Attacks: 1+special
Damage: 1d8+special
Save: F5
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 860

The nobberloch worm is born from those infected by the nobberloch’s bite. This creature is 3’ long at birth and grows to 10’ within 1d6 rounds. It is very tough and has a slimy texture that makes it impossible to grip.

At birth the creature has 1+2 hit dice and gains 1 per round for 5 rounds.

The bite of a worm is poisonous and those who fail to save will take 1d4 ongoing damage (save ends) and be infected with another worm (see nobberloch description). This creature’s only purpose is to consume living flesh for the glory of the dark gods.



No. Enc: 2d4
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Running: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d8
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VI
XP: 140

These 4' tall reptilian humanoids have a long, dinosaur-like snout and three vicious claws on each hand. They dwell in large, round caverns where they nurse their eggs to maturity and drag slain animals and (preferably) humans to the meat pile for consumption.

Using their long tails as a counterweight, they are able to run in an exaggerated, forward-leaning stance and reach speeds of 60' per round for up to 3 rounds at a stretch. In addition to possessing sharp claws for slashing and a huge, toothy mouth for biting they are able to breath a 10' x 10' cloud of black poison gas once per day. Anyone within this cloud must save vs. breath attacks or take 2d6 points of damage (save reduces by half). Those who fail this saving throw must also pass a save vs. poison or else take 1d4 additional points of damage each round until the save is made.

Herpors possess telekinesis which they can use once per turn. This functions like the spell but the duration is 1d4 rounds and the weight limit is anything up to 200 lbs. Any group of 10 or more herpors will have at least 1 greater herpor. Any herpor lair will possess 10d10 herpors and 1d10 greater herpors, one of which will be the lair queen.

Herpor, Greater

No. Enc: 1d4
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Running: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8+1
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, or tail
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d8, or 1d6
Save: F8
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XIV
XP: 2420

This creature is the female of the herpor species and stands 7' tall with powerful muscles and a tail capable of knocking opponents prone on a successful hit roll of 18 or higher. The greater herpor has all the abilities of the males but may affect up to 500 lbs. with her telekinetic ability. The poison breath of a greater herpor fills a 40' area and deals 4d6 points of damage (save for half). The continuing poison damage that occurs on a failed save vs. poison is 1d6 (save ends).

The female of the species may issue a piercing shriek that will magically summon 1d10 herpors on the following round. Females are capable of casting Magic-User spells as a 3rd level caster and are intelligent enough to speak common plus 1d4 other languages in addition to their own primitive speech.

The herpor queen, leader of the lair, is a 12 HD monster that casts spells as a 5th level Magic-User. The queen also possesses wings and may fly at a speed of 150' (50').

Frimmsreach Episode #42



Game Date: 01-12-15
Cast: Sparruu, Frothgar, Argus, Azmooth

Blood on the altar! A portal of unknown portent! And the wizard Blart on the stairs...what is going on in the Shrine? Where are the captive villagers? Is this THEIR blood?

And why is Blart acting so weird?

"A fine mess." he says. "Do you know how hard it is to summon a terror worm? I did all the rituals. But we're short by one piece on the list...the blood of a king. Or at least the descendant of one..."

With that, Fjarlneski the giant slayer whirls around and slices at Argus! His blood splatters into the pit...what treachery is this?? And is Argus the heir of a throne??

The retaliation is fierce. Uul Ulu, Fjarlneski's companion, is stunned as well. He is not on the side of evil after all.

A few sword swings and spells later and the two worm villains take their final plunge into the abyss, satisfied they have pleased their dark mistress...for the ground begins to shake and rumble! The stairs crack, the well portal swells...and out of it emerges the great black terror worm!

The heroes flee as the temple crumbles. But there is no where to go. And then they see it...the dwarven hammer Thrumbok! Churned up in the rubble, lying near the beast. Argus and Frothgar run to reclaim it. Meanwhile the others engage the monster.

Soon the hammer is in Frothgar's hands and he lands a mighty, mighty blow! The hammer's head, already cracked, shows another crack. The lore says the hammer was damaged when it was first used against the worm gods. Frothgar knows it has but a few blows left in it. He must make his strikes true.

Argus lends aid with the mighty Haverok and between the two combatants the terror worm takes much damage. From a distance Azmooth punctures the beast with her arrows. Sparruu, lacking other options, decides to become a gnomish hero and stab at the thing with is own sword. Uul Ulu strikes with his staff while Falki the hunter hurls a javelin.

Moments later the beast snatches Falki by its teeth, crushing the happless hunter!

Another thunderous strike from Frothgar crushes the middle of the monster. It begins to thrash about, rolling madly in its pain. And in this thrashing is caught the brave trickster cleric Sparruu, jungle gnome far from home! He is pulverized by the giant body and rejoins Miana Musina in his/her paradise.

Having no time for sorrow, the heroes redouble their efforts. Sword, staff, arrow, and hammer come to bear and Argus lays the finishing blow by cutting the monstrous thing in half.

The heroes gather the body of Sparruu and flee the temple by the way they came...

As the sun rises the remaining shattered townspeople of Frostmyr hold a ceremony to celebrate Winterturn and to celebrate the gnome who so recently aided them and paid the ultimate price. Frothgar speaks highly of Sparruu, invoking the names of Frimm and Miana Musina.

During the festivities Azmooth and Quilliam are not to be seen, something about "inventory" at Bjarns.

Argus displays an occasional tear for his friend trickling down his sinewy cheek. But Aggi Migloden the healer is quick to wipe them away.

And so ends the saga of the Shrine of Worms. Our adventurers can rest...for now.

End of Episode #42

Frimmsreach Episode #41



Game Date: 01-19-15
Cast: Sparruu, Frothgar, Argus, Azmooth

Down, down, once more into the darkness of the Shrine of Worms! A recent cave opening yawns. Nearby several trolls and giants are eating...perhaps dead villagers?

The heroes bypass this threat and head down into the hole. Down, down they go back into the Shrine, cleverly avoiding traps. But they are menaced by a small band of drow...evil little imps with illusion magic at their command. They strike a truce with the drow only be be betrayed by them moments later as the drow scream ahead to warn a team of orc guards.

Sparruu clocks one drow with a well-placed sling stone, followed by the most annoying gnome laughter imaginable.

The orcs prove no challenge as Uul Ulu puts them to sleep.

Inside the Shrine the adventurers encounter strange, stinking reptile men and discover that the well atop the Shrine is now some kind of swirling vortex...surrounded by fresh blood. Are they too late? Are the villagers all dead?

Turning away from the vortex they are met by old Blart, the wizard who lived near the village of Frostmyr. "A fine mess." he says.

End of Episode #41

Frimmsreach Episode #40



Game Date: 01-12-15
Cast: Sparruu, Frothgar, Argus, Azmooth

Our heroes stink! The foulness of nobberlochs is all over them. Standing in the small ice house with Aggi Migloden this fact quickly becomes overwhelming. They make their way toward Bjarn's to clean up and change clothes when sounds are heard to the north. Azmooth stealthily speeds into the darkness to investigate. Sparruu returns to Aggi and the children to watch over them.

As Argus and Frothgar stand in the night snow two arrows thump into the barbarian's back, bringing him to his knees! The arrows came from the south. The two take refuge behind the nearest house and soon the voice of Luud the hunter rings in the night.

"Gimme that sword, boy. It belongs to me. Drop it and walk away. Nobody has to die."

Argus, himself on the edge of death, disagrees. Somebody has to die.

Meanwhile Sparruu has discovered something in his pocket. The cleric's instincts light up. It is a gift from Miana Musina! She is not happy about being shut out by the dark goddess K'lixtra. A magic ring. Putting it on, he uses one of the ring's powers and calls up the illusion of a great red dragon to harrow Luud and his cronies.

Taking full advantage of this ruse Argus and Frothgar rush the hunter, who promptly drops to the ground and begs for his life. But to no avail. Argus ends the conflict with Haveroc, the sword Luud came to steal.

To the north Azmooth has discovered the sounds are that of Fjarlneski Itti and Uul Ulu, her sorcerous companion. They are traveling with the local hunter Falki, hunting orcs and giants.

The two groups join forces.

And Frimm, god of the north, speaks directly to Frothgar...filling the cleric with healing magic and power. Frothgar's touch restores his companions to health and vigor!

Soon they are joined by the spirits of dead dwarves...another gift from the gods! There stands Brickwallow Stormshot, Tankfellow Stormshot, Bruiser Barrackbomb, Boomer Earthcleaver, Zapper Earthcleaver, Shank Earthcleaver, Urfnozzle Doorbreaker, Nabby Doorbreaker, and even Silverchain.

Brickwallow, default leader of the dead dwarves, offers his axe on this dreadful night.

The gang of heroes, following the obvious trail left by marauding monsters, traverses the ice lake. But it is not to the island at its center that they go, but rather past it. On the far shore...where waits a gang of drokks to harass them.

Battle ensues and the dwarven spirits take lead, allowing the heroes to continue the journey into the darkness.

End of Episode #40