Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)
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What ROLE-PLAYING have you been doing?
Andi Lennon wrote: That's awesome, I need to get some more DCC modules as I really love the ruleset and vibe the game aims for. Any recommendations?
Bryce's list of top-tier adventures is a good place to start. Scroll down for search for "DCC" to pull up the DCC specific ones:
General rule #1: anything written by Harley Stroh or Michael Curtis are very good.
General rule #2: there's an older line of modules that Goodman Games did under the "Dungeon Crawl Classics" imprint which were written for D&D 3.5e, before the creation of the DCCRPG. These are generally not as good (even if written by Stroh/Curtis). Some of these have been converted from 3.5e to DCC, but they are still not very good.
You can also pull up a ranked list of RPGgeek:
Scroll down to the list of items, change the category to only display "Scenario/Adventure/Module," then sort by rank.
I highly, highly recommend the Chained Coffin book. It’s Curtis, and it’s an -Appalachian- based setting. It’s extremely bad ass and spooky. There’s much more setting material than is usual for DCC books if you want to do a 0-5 full campaign with it.
Jobe Bittman’s The One Watches From Below is pretty excellent, and like Intrigue at the Courts of Chaos it puts the characters up against the kind of stuff it takes 10-20 levels to get to in D&D. I really love the latest book, Accursed Heart of the World Ender- a Brendan LaSalle joint that kind of has a kaiju battle in it as well as a bloody flying heart the PCs have to hunt down. Joseph Goodman has a couple of bangers too- People of the Pit (L1) and The Emerald Enchanter (L2) are top notch. Neon Knights is LaSalle again, and I really dig it too- an M1 Garand is magic artifact in it if that tells you anything.
The only one I’ve run that I’m not crazy about is LaSalle’s The Hole in the Sky. It has a GREAT set up and concept...but it feels really sketched out and doesn’t lend itself to a satisfying conclusion despite this goofy Wheel of Fate thing that I actually cribbed to use at the end of Sailors. It just feels like the Judge needs to work with developing some of it a little more- half the adventure is walking over a bridge with a pretty boring encounter in the middle.
DCC has become my favorite system...Thursday night our dwarf called a Mighty Deed that was basically using his shield as a wakeboard to zoom by and hit this water serpent in a shallow pool. Rolled a nat 20 and a 3 on the deed roll, critical table gave him an extra attack. So the serpent sloshed around creating a wave that he carved with an agility check and he delivers the finishing blow.
If anyone's never read Wellman, here's a fine overview:
So, imagine a young Johnny Cash roaming the Appalachians to fight off unspeakable horrors and ancient evil, and you’ve just about got it.
It's good stuff.
I'm super keen to get a DCC campaign up and running. I'm doing Mork Borg at the moment but have been converting other system modules for another group i'm running for who are still pretty welded to 5e. So far I've done the Abbot's Hoard from DCC and I'm in the midst of prepping the Best Left Buried Book 'Beneath the Missing Sea'. I may prise them away from their preconceptions yet as feedback so far has been 'better than kobolds!' etc. I'm looking at Deep Carbon Observatory too as the hype on that is deafening and Patrick Stuart's stuff is always good. I adore how DCC embraces the goofier side of things though, and in a way that doesn't detract from the drama and danger inherent in a good crypt crawl.
Michael Barnes wrote: Thursday night our dwarf called a Mighty Deed that was basically using his shield as a wakeboard to zoom by and hit this water serpent in a shallow pool. Rolled a nat 20 and a 3 on the deed roll, critical table gave him an extra attack. So the serpent sloshed around creating a wave that he carved with an agility check and he delivers the finishing blow.
That sounds rad as hell. I ran the 'Bloat' adventure in Mork Borg last week and it too led to some awesome emergent moments, though obviously with a more sinister vibe. There was improvisation of cultist chanting that evolved into " Blood mother, bile mother, all for Silas. Tale my flesh, take my bones, roll it in your biscuits". It's been stuck in my head all week now.
ASE is really good...it’s very gonzo- very much in the vein of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks but...more. There’s a time traveling bear with a broke-down spaceship. Clerics pray to satellites. The setting is cool. I’ve not run it. But I thought about using DCCC with it.
DCO is -amazing- but..........I really think you need to get 100% buy in with a group to play it fairly straight. It’s incredibly grim and atmospheric. It’s very artful and heavy. I don’t know if an average gang that falls somewhere along the murderhobo spectrum will get the most out of it. I think it may be more useful as inspiration, like a lot of Stuart’s uniformly excellent books tend to be. The Crows are just an incredible piece of RPG writing. I am on the KS for the revised edition.
Ran the kick off for a new Morhership campaign...I’m using Black Pyramid as the intro adventure but basing them in Prospero’s Dream from A Pound of Flesh. I sold it to them as a cross between Cowboy Bebop, Indiana Jones, Alien, and PKD. It’s set a couple of hundred years after the Times of Woe, which began in 2020AD, which culminated in the disappearance of Carly Rae Jepsen. Although megacorporations and PMCs Control everything, there is a Cult of the Ascendant Empress that believes CRJ will return to lead Earth to imperial glory among the stars.
But that’s in the background. Our party is hired by the Drax Corporation CEO Gamila Hassan to explore an anomaly that has appeared at the edge of frontier space- a crystalline black pyramid superstructure that seems to contain an actual earth pyramid and a temple. It’s emitting harmonic disturbances. it turns out Gamila is the resurrection of a murdered wife, killed by a “lost” Pharoah. The pyramid is actually this pharaoh’s tomb; he contacted an extradimensional entity that granted him immortality and actual spiritual transmogrification. Basically, he’s a super powerful space mummy coming back to our plane. Under the guise of corporate interests, Gamila wants his canonic jars so she can get revenge on her murderer.
There’s also labor disputes, gang warfare, a strange sickness affecting people with cybermods, and lots of drugs. The station is kind of like a frontier town/DS9 kind of thing.
One of the players asked to be an Android that doesn’t realize he is an Android so...oh boy.
Anybody reading this thread probably has extensive experience with rpg combat. You choose your character's action(s) each round, and roll dice to see if you hit your opponent. Depending on the system, your opponent might get a defense roll, and there might be a consideration of armor. If an opponent does enough damage to your character, your character might die or fall unconscious, or even suffer some type of crippling injury. In any of these situations, you as a player lose at least some control of what your character can physically accomplish for at least some duration.
The big, bold idea of The Dying Earth is that a social interaction could function in a similar manner. Your character argues with an opponent, or perhaps tries to manipulate or intimidate your opponent, and your opponent may be trying to do the same to your character. Dice are rolled, and points from the relevant skill pool might be spent for re-rolls. In the end, somebody may win the social interaction, and force their opponent to do something they wouldn't otherwise want to do. However, really extreme suggestions automatically fail, like say trying to persuade an opponent to kill himself.
Sounds okay at first. Plenty of role-playing games have allowed player characters to persuade non-player characters, maybe even seduce them or deceive them. But those other rpgs generally stop short of ever allowing an NPC to use those same types of skills against player characters. Why? Because your typical role-player doesn't want the experience of losing control of their character unless maybe due to an esoteric effect like magic or psionics. And they don't want some npc grifter ripping them off or seducing them or anything else that would feel like a fundamental loss of control of their character. Even though those same players are quite accustomed to temporarily losing physical control of character in combat due to death or injury.
In 2018, I ran a few one-shot Call of Cthulhu adventures for the regulars from my Ptolus campaign of 2012-16. All of the player characters in each session were pre-generated to ensure that certain conflicts or interactions would come into play in support of the adventure's theme. In the first session, there was a dramatic situation that ensued when a player character soldier killed another pc soldier who was blackmailing him (from their respective backstories), and the commanding officer player character was a close childhood friend of the killer. The killer was in the brig and begging his old friend to let him out. I allowed the killer to roll against Persuade and he was successful, but rather than just dictate to the player running the officer, I informed him that his old friend made a strong persuasive case for release. But I allowed that player the freedom to disregard the persuasion, which left the other player unhappy. If this same situation came up in a Dying Earth game, the successful persuasion roll would have forced the other player character to let his old friend go free.
The social conflict is crucial in The Dying Earth setting. It would be directly relevant and useful in situations such as haggling, seducing, trickery, interactions with law enforcement or government officials, or even bargaining with demons. Stripping it out of the game would lead to a more generic fantasy rpg experience. But I still feel like giving this a try, though it might crash and burn within the first encounter.
The Empire of the East setting might be okay. It's mostly standard fantasy with some abandoned high tech scattered about. It is the same setting as Saberhagen's more popular Swords series, but the Swords themselves would problematic for a DM. The players will greatly covet those Swords, as each one is a powerful artifact. Despite each Sword having significant drawbacks, they would tend to overshadow the rest of the game, just like what would happen in a D&D campaign where a player got ahold of an artifact.
I like the idea of a DCC Dying Earth, but the social conflict aspect of the Robin Laws rpg feels like it is central to the theme and setting.
Andi Lennon wrote: Speaking of Bryce's top ten, have any of you got experience with Anomalous Subsurface Environment? It looks ace but I'm not sure if i'm keen on an entire campaign being set in the same megadungeon. Ditto for Barrowmaze.
I've read both but haven't played either.
ASE is great, definitely gonzo. It gets crazier as you go deeper, which initially turned me off, but then I realized it's probably necessary to keep the tone consistent -- otherwise players get used to the weirdness. Gotta up the ante. I liked the gorillas with TVs on their heads, and the zombies with knives through their palms. The clown faction was a little much at the time but in retrospect I think it would be fun.
Barrowmaze is excellent as well. One thing I really like about it is the mini-delves -- there's one big megadungeon but also a couple dozen little mini-delves all around the immediate area. One- to five-room little crypts suitable for a quick smash-and-grab. I did find that I got a little tired of all undead, all the time. It also has the odd effect of making clerics much more powerful than a typical campaign where you have a mix of various types of enemies.
They are both excellent and have all the things one wants in a megadungeon: mutliple points of ingress/egress, multiple factions, lots of puzzly things, empty rooms, and weirdness. If I had to choose I'd pick ASE, but I'd go with Stonehell over both of them.
As to whether or not to base a campaign around a megadungeon, of course that is up to you. If your players are into it, I'd say go for it. Any good megadungeon will have plenty of variety in it, and all the stuff you'd get out of a normal campaign anyway -- quests, secrets, betrayal, mysteries, weird NPCs, etc.
Shellhead wrote: The social conflict is crucial in The Dying Earth setting. It would be directly relevant and useful in situations such as haggling, seducing, trickery, interactions with law enforcement or government officials, or even bargaining with demons. Stripping it out of the game would lead to a more generic fantasy rpg experience. But I still feel like giving this a try, though it might crash and burn within the first encounter.
I ran a session of this and did not especially care for it, despite loving the Dying Earth books and Vance generally. The social combat was fine but the system was not my thing. Rolling and then spending points to re-roll was just not to my taste; plus the whole system being "roll a single d6" was just weird. I like systems with a little more teeth in them.
Also, my players had not read Vance and had a really hard time falling into the flowery language. They mostly stammered and tried to play it like D&D. If I had to do it again, I'd email out the first chapter of Cugel's saga, then wait until everyone read it, and then have a speech on setting expectations.