Posts Tagged With: Dungeons & Dragons

[DCC] Portal Under the Stars

Note: Because the following post will be talking about content in a pre-made adventure, spoilers will be inherent and not marked. If you are planning on PCing this module, please do not continue reading. If you are GMing, then feel free to read about my experiences with this adventure.

So after that (hopefully temporary) one-time session in which my cat character is now in stasis, my DM directed me and another friend of mine (whom I will christen as ‘M’ here onwards) to another tabletop game known as Dungeon Crawl Classics (abbreviated to DCC) and follows game mechanics from the earlier D&D editions. Some of the ability score names have changed: for example, DEX is referred to as Agility (AGL) and CHA is known as Personality (PER). Wisdom is not present in this game and is replaced by Luck, which can be burnt to boost skill checks. To start us off, our DM gave M and I six or seven 0-level character sheets each, and for good reason: it is very, I repeat, very easy to die in this game. The key was to run these characters through a funnel campaign, where characters that survived after the end would go on to become level 1 characters and thus less squishy. As this happened months ago, some details may be lost to time.

The adventure started off with characters who, from a nearby village, investigate a magic portal that appears when the stars are right and lets travellers into R’lyeh a long forgotten dungeon full of dangers and treasure. The corridor was blocked by a door with some symbols on it. Using an Intelligence check, our smart guy Max (with a +2 skill modifier for INT) deduced that the door depicted the stars in a certain alignment and that their real life counterparts would match them within 2 hours. Me, being the impatient bastard that I am, had the premade character–Ghost–use some Thieves’ Tools to attempt to pry open the door.

Natural 1.

In a rare twist of fate, the attempt was so bad that he ended up falling on his ass as a beam of searing light soared over his head and incinerated Merlina the dwarf behind him. First character gone. After realising this we decided to just wait the two hours, and lo and behold, the door opened.

Further in the party comes across four armour-adorned statues with spears that are thrown at them, jousting two of the members into negative HP and skewering them with extreme prejudice. The remaining characters took the heavy spears (1d8 damage!) and stripped the armour off of the statues, giving a few characters a boost in AC. After experiencing the loss of three party members already due to stupid actions, the rest of the party opened the following door cautiously.

The next room was a dark room, with barely any light. A towering statue of a muscular barbarian stood in the centre of the room, with an arm outstretched and a finger accusingly pointed at the adventurers. On the other 3 walls were wooden doors just waiting to be opened. As the party moved to the door on their left, the stone swiveled and kept its finger trained on the party. Then Mally (the other dwarf that still lived) and a few others walked over to the door on the right. The finger was still pointing at the people by the left door. It wasn’t until there was an equal number of people at both ends that the finger began swaying halfway between the two groups, unsure as to whom to choose. Max, with his +2 to INT checks begins examining the statue more closely and observed that the base of the statue was well oiled, allowing it to turn easily. The farmer of the group, Tiana, got the idea of striking her pitchfork along the stone ground to generate sparks.

The statue was set ablaze and lit up the entire room, but nothing of note was found. At the same time, a jet of fire blasted from the fingertip and set the left door on fire while the rest of the team stayed huddled around the right door, which one of our Chaotic characters, Amnion, cautiously opened with a 10-foot pole. The room appeared to be a burial chamber as bones were ceremoniously placed in alcoves. On the far end was some equipment; a rusty sword with an enchantment bonus of -1, a suit of chainmail (+4 to AC if I remember) that when Max (who ended up with a natural 1 while studying it and began freaking out), and a +1 battleaxe. We were not the only ones in the room; seven piles of chattering bones taunted us with their clattering teeth. While killing (if that is even possible) the bones would have been the standard response for an adventurer, the frequency of (typically) inanimate objects gave me pause and I suggested that perhaps we should try to acquire the armour without going near those things. LONG LIVE THE 10-FOOT POLE!

By this time, the statue ran out of fuel and sputtered out as the door on the opposite crumbled into ashes and our party took the time to enter this next room.

It was a pretty bad idea, as what we received after clearing it has proven to be useless (for now). In this room that would have been better off left alone, the party came across a demon snake with a single horn on its forehead. First thing that happens? We get our handy lock-picker from the beginning (clad in armour) picked off with a strike that takes off 7 HP out of his 5 HP person. BLAM. Dead, and armour is rendered useless. The demon snake then attacked with a measly 1 DMG one of the party members who happened to have only 1 HP. The fact that it wasn’t overkill was jimmy-rustling.

Eventually, it ended up with Mally the dwarf being knocked prone to the ground on holy water who started rolling around in it. Through DM fiat, the snake took 1 DMG from the holy water; the tide began to turn as more party members were able to hit the creature and inflict damage. After a few hits, the snake crumbled into a pile of smouldering unholy ashes, leaving the horn behind. With the danger removed, the surviving members of the party noted several tablets in the room depicting some images of war. Collecting the ashes and the horn, the team left the room and headed through the third door that was behind the statue.

This room was fairly nondescript; the only things of interest were a pit emanating light and six crystalline humanoids. They did nothing when we approached, save for them being very interested in our torch-bearer. As we lured the crystal creatures away by throwing the torch away, further examination of the pool revealed that there were gems embedded in the sides. A human by the name of Jennifer decided to fill her waterskin. Our intrepid dwarf Mally and two of our party descended and began to pry the gems off of the walls. With each gem removed, the pool gradually became shallower. After removing about 200 pieces over the course of a few hours, the pool floor suddenly gave way and the three people inside fell into a large room and miraculously, only Mally survived, albeit taking quite some damage, probably from having the other two cushioning her fall.

The room that she fell into was filled with clay statues of ancient warriors (about 80 or so if I recall correctly). As soon as she gained her bearings, one of them, presumably a warlord, began to move and raised a glass orb, imbuing the surrounding statues with magic power, animating them as well. Thankfully, because of the water that had been leaking down from above, the clay statues took some initial water damage and incurred 1 DMG per round. Jennifer decided to throw her filled waterskin down at the warlord. With a high die roll, the water flask burst open on impact, dealing more damage to the statue. Without further ado, the rest of the party hightailed it through the door and descended down some flights of stairs before coming face-to-face to some clay statues outside the room. They spent two rounds making sure that these porcelain figurines didn’t come to life; thankfully, they did not.

While that was happening, one of the clay soldiers threw a spear right at Mally and brought her health down to 0. She was killed just as the tick damage destroyed the clay warlord, and with its destruction the rest of the clay army ceased moving and disintegrated into soggy mud. As M and I sighed in real life, our DM confided in us that there was a saving grace, a Schrodinger’s roll, if you will: as nobody had witnessed the killing blow to Mally, the hit could be cosmically retconned into something non-lethal. M had to roll a d20 to potentially save her, but it had to be a 20. The thought of a 5% chance of keeping the character in play hung over our heads as we watched the die roll on the table.

Natural 20. The next few seconds were just the two of us making incoherent sounds of elation. The RNG decided to smile on us this fine day. The chain of events was re-written to having the spear pierce Mally leg which caused her to collapse in shock. The leg injury ended up with her taking a permanent -1 penalty to AGL, a small tradeoff for the character.

Our party rushed in and made sure that Mally was (relatively) fine before exploring the room. Max took the orb that the warlord had been wielding and examined it. It was a magical artifact, an orb of scrying that for now served no purpose. One of our remaining elves, who was simply dubbed “One,” sensed that there was a hidden door and after some searching, discovered a secret chamber with a variety of items for the taking. Besides another suit of chainmail, an unlit copper sconce and a half of a bronze rod were among the items of interest. As the party moved toward the centre of the room, the orb began to glow, reacting to a pedestal with an indentation in the middle. When Max placed the orb into the groove, an otherworldly voice greeted the party. It asked them to do two things:

  1. Procure some wood from a dryad tree and place it in the sconce. When that is collected, burn it with the fire of a living flame.
  2. Find the other half of the bronze rod.

With these two pieces of information in mind, our adventure finally drew to a close and we got to do the most exciting part of the session: levelling our characters and making them less squishy. The breakdown were as follows:

  • Wizards: Max and Finch
  • Warriors: Tiana and Amnion
  • Cleric: Jennifer
  • Elf: One
  • Dwarf: Mally

Any non-human races got their own character sheet and their own perks. I’ll go more into that when I talk about the next campaign, Doom of the Savage Kings.

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