February 5, 2016

Deep Carbon Deaths

Wow, I need to post more often.

We finished our Deep Carbon campaign, and it was awesome.  We left it on a cliffhanger though because life happened and two of the four players had to drop out.  We're starting a new campaign now, but before I start posting about all that I thought I should share some highlights from our Deep Carbon games.

Session #1 (not counting that session where all we did was make some 2nd edition PCs with 8,000xp and some henchmen with 1,500xp, and also we rolled up some random magic items for the main characters to start off with)

I changed up the setting a bit. http://quibish.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-deep-carbon-observatory-campaign.html

The party is headed to Carrowmore following multiple rumors about some hidden treasure palace under a lake somewhere north of there. They decide to avoid the road due to reports of bandit/cannibal reaver attacks. They instead trust the PC Fighter/Mage who says he knows of a safe path through the mountains.

They become terribly lost.

First encounter of the campaign: Ettin

The Fighter/Mage redeems himself by killing the Ettin with his randomly rolled SWORD OF FREAKING GIANT SLAYING, but not before the ettin kills one of the fighter henchmen.

Killing off a henchman in the first encounter of the campaign really helps set the tone I think.

After that they head into Carrowmore and we go through that event flow chart thing that works like a dream to convey the sense of total chaos and destruction caused by the flood. Seriously, that one page had a ton of fun and gameable material. It's like an entire adventure module condensed down to a single page.

My favorite part was when the Dwarf Sharpshooter grabbed the boy who was trying to steal scrolls and demanded to know why. The boy said "They made me do it." and when he started to point up at a building an arrow shot into his neck and the boy died in the dwarf's arms. 8-0 <---- The guy who plays the dwarf. The Crows are awesome.

I decided early on that the PC Dwarf Sharpshooter had heard a bit about Ghar Zaghouan and Zolushika Von Der Linth, because that background info is too good not to share. He didn't put it together until session #3 though when some zombies attacked and from out of nowhere he suddenly got shot with an Eel Cyst and had did dig that thing out with a knife because he knew EXACTLY what would happen if he failed. Also the cleric got hit with an Eye Bolt which I gave no clues about at all, but the guy who plays the cleric is a smart man and figured it out all on his own, so he started wearing a piece of cloth to cover that eye. That is all that the players know about The Crows so far.

Total Dead: 1

Session #3

The party has a close call with the cow-sized killer platypus. The great beast wins surprise. I decide to read the description verbatim from the booklet in a slow deep voice.

"It has returned: the most dangerous duck-billed platypus to ever walk the earth. The battle begins once more."

It shoots up out of the water without warning and grabs onto the side of the boat with it claws. The boat starts rocking, pitching over to the side. Everyone grabs hold of the boat to keep from falling into the water, some pull out a weapon with one hand. The platypus scores a critical hit ruining one of the dwarf henchman's eyes as it gobbles him up into it's bill preparing to grind him into goo. A critical hit from a party member strikes the platypus in the head and stuns it just in time. The party is able to pull the dwarf henchman from it's horrible duck-billed maw just as it sinks below the surface. They paddle the hell out of there as fast as they can.

Not an actual death, but that's how the dwarf henchman lost an eye.

Session #5

They all survive the flooded lands, the dam, and the golems. They make it to the dungeon entrance and descend down into the deep. In the first room of the dungeon proper they investigate the terraces and statues. The priest of the sun god recites an ancient prayer to Utu (A Greeting to the Dawn) in the traditional ancient Sumerian. Unknown to the players, I decide that there is a small chance that some of the trigger words for this room would have been passed down into the prayers of the sun god (as Utu was the head of security for this complex back in the day).

"Roll a d20 and get a 20" I said. *20!* The first row of statues kneel and bow their heads to the ground revealing the stairs carved into their backs. The priest starts rattling off every prayer he knows to the statues. He speaks slow and deliberately so that they can try to determine what the actual command words are. I decide that there are 3 other relevant prayers, each of these prayers has a 1 in 20 chance of having had the command word preserved unchanged as they were passed down through all those long centuries.

"Roll a d20 and get a 1" I said. 1! The forth row of statues kneel.

"Roll a d20 and get a 20" I said. 20! The second row of statues kneel.

"Roll a d20 and get a 1" I said. 12 :(

The priest and the wizard start calling out every word of ancient Sumerian that they can think of hoping to hit upon that last command word. They never find the word, but all this talking draws the attention of the giant.

He does not surprise them, but is far too close for comfort when they turn to see him squeezing into the room like Eugene Tooms.

They do battle and score a lot of damage (thanks to the d30 house rule), but the giant... He Just Keeps Coming. The priest dies first, horribly twisted in half and gobbled down. The party bolts. They run up the stairs toward the surface, but the giant gets a swipe at the Dwarf Sharpshooter who is the last to go up. Critical hit on the Arduin chart says that the giant grabs the dwarf's nose between his giant knuckles and rips it off his face, reducing the poor guy's Charisma to 4 and screwing up the way he talks for the next 7 months. http://jrients.blogspot.com/2007/08/great-random-charts-from-rpg-history.html

The party runs up the stairs. The extremely long, extremely steep stairs. They make Constitution checks as they run. The giant follows more slowly, but with his giant-sized Con. The party stops to rest once and takes off again as the giant gets close. When another Con check fails some of the party decide to stop and make a last stand on a landing, but most of the others run for their lives when the giant appears.

The fighter/magic-user with the sword of giant slaying and his fighter henchman put up an awesome fight. One of them scores a critical to the giant's neck, but eventually they both are killed. The giant is so wounded after this that he goes back downstairs and eventually dies from blood loss due to the neck wound.

Total Dead: 4
Remaining Survivors: 6
Total Rooms Explored: 1

Session #7

That dwarf henchman who lost an eye to the platypus dies when he is absorbed into the horrible undead red ooze, an animated thickened reduction made in ages past by simmering down the blood of countless slaves. During the game session I might have actually blurted out "Black Pudding" or something, but whatever... I knew what I meant. After the dwarf henchy died the mage proceeded to burn the crap out of the slime monster with a Flaming Sphere spell.

Not a monster from the module as written, but one of the players was sleep deprived or something so when I saw him starting to nod off at the table I decided it was monster time.

Total Dead: 5
Remaining Survivors: 5
Total Rooms Explored: 12


No one expects the Neptunium Child.

In the end the Halfling Thief picks up all three of the items. 15 points of radiation damage, and -1 max hp per day. Next he is compelled to cut out his own tongue, and easily evades the party members who try to stop him. After all this he decides to plunge the green-flamed blade into his own heart, thus carrying the dangerous artifacts with his corpse into the shallow pool of clear viscous fluid.


In hindsight, I should have just kept the -1 max hp per day thing to myself until it became relevant. c'est la vie... ?

Total Deaths: 6
Remaining Survivors: 4
Total Rooms Explored: 20

P.S. and they totally refused to open the big box in room #22, probably because the halfling's death was a bit too fresh in everyone's mind. I am disappoint. Next session is on the 17th, maybe they'll go back and surprise me.


They go back through the first room and encounter a lone zombie standing at the bottom of the stairs. It's holding a long piece of fabric (2'x1') with both hands. It approaches them and holds up the fabric stretching it taut between it's arms. The sign reads "Truce?". The zombie hands over the fabric that was once a pant leg and heads back up the stairs. On the other side of the sign is "If yes give a coin to the next zombie", this is all written in blood of course.

The party camps here in the room with the giant's corpse waiting for the next zombie. The zombie arrives the next day and takes a coin from them. They wait and wait and eventually take turns sleeping and then wait some more.

Frustrated, the party decides to continue exploring. They find and rescue an ancient man locked in metal stocks. He knew the final password and they speak Sumerian, so it all worked out; they got the key and freed him. He babbles on and is far from sane, but he begins to show them the wonders of the Deep Carbon Observatory.

They see the ooze bots, but leave them untouched.

They meet the Toxmen who promise to stay in their air-tight chamber for a day or two if the party would be so kind as to just unlock the door, which they do.

The party meets the salt dryads who try to engage them with stimulating conversation, but overwhelmed and perplexed the party moves on.

The party finds a temple wall covered in dinosaur hieroglyphics and the mage feels compelled to study and interpret them. This takes quite a long time, but the mage begins to decipher bits and pieces; a prophecy about a coming war between dinosaurs and man.

About this time a giant arm covered with many wounds reaches into the room, and the party looks up to see a giant face splattered with dried blood slowly squeezing it's way into the chamber as giant dead milky eyes roll about until it focuses it's gaze upon them. This is Zalushika's finest hour.

End Session
End Campaign

I plan to go easier on the poor PCs next time, but I have to admit that it was fun to have a short brutal campaign where I could bring down the fury.

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