Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Old Penderghast House, Part 2 (Silent Legions Session Report)

Our brave, doomed investigators continued exploring the Old Pendergast House in our Silent Legions game. This time around we got our first case of delirium, as well as our first PC death. Now that’s a proper horror game!

The Investigators:
  • Bernadette "Bunny" Kennedy (Tough/Bodyguard)--A former circus strong woman who turned to occult investigation "just like the old gypsy lady said."
  • Veronica Richardson (Socialite/Artist)--She's been having dreams about obsidian mountains under a red sky full of black stars, tentacles, and milky blind eyes.
  • Lucian Stone (Scholar/Programmer)--A hacker who lives and breathes the occult sites of the Deep Web. An occult Alex Jones.
  • Vinne Morg (Investigator/Business Owner)--A pawn broker who had to leave Atlanta after he sold the wrong piece of weird jewelry and attracted unwanted attention from mysterious forces. 

The Highlights:

The PCs find an old black and white TV on a rolly cart. It’s screen flickers with static, even though the cord isn’t plugged in, and the house has no electricity besides. Fiddling with the antennas, the image becomes clear—a super-massive black hole in the heart of interstellar space. A subsonic thrumming grows louder as a crystalline mass appears in the center of the black hole. Vinnie and Veronica’s eyes and ears begin to bleed, and Vinnie shoots the TV.

The noise attract the Logan-Thing. The panicked PCs all hide in the closet and wait for him to shuffle away, anxiously clutching their limited weaponry. It was a high-point in my GM career. 

Bunny finds the missing Ashley’s cellphone in the closet. Looking at her text messages, they discover that the girl just broke up with her weird boyfriend Kevin after he refused to show up for the party in the haunted house. He apparently skipped town and warned Ashley to get away from Amber and Chase. Ashley clearly didn’t take his advice. There’s also glitchy video of the sinister Chase using some incantation to pass through the alien metal door in the basement.

They find the remains of a burned journal in a fireplace. Scraps indicate that Penderghast buried his wife Ligeia somewhere on the property after her death. It also mentions that he and his wife trapped some eldritch creature in a prison Kelipot—some creature that serves The House of Broken Glass.

A skinless woman (Amber?) appears in a mirror. She grabs Vinnie and pulls him half-way through. Behind the mirror, he sees the horrible liquid-silver energy grid that forms the underlying foundation of the illusion we call reality. At the center of it all spins a crystalline mass that radiates contempt and hatred. Vinnie’s friends manage to pull him out of the mirror and shatter it. This ordeal costs him a ton of Madness, and the poor bastard develops an uncontrollable (if understandable) phobia against reflective surfaces.

They find a secret closet in the old study and discover an ancient book, L’abces Chache (The Hidden Abscess), that describes the nature of Kelipah and contains a couple of spells. They also find a blood-stained clay disk, The Talisman of the Stable Threshold, which they can use to counter the impossible geometry of the house.  

All this time, Lucian has been posting photos and questions about the Old Penderghast House and the House of Broken Glass on occult conspiracy message boards. Someone called Anonymous Black has been deleting his posts followed by vague threats. A user on another forum, Occult_Warrior_17, warns them not to mess with “The House of Broken Glass” which the players eventually discover doesn’t refer to this house, but is actually the name of an alien pantheon of dead gods.

Poor dead Veronica.
After dealing with more impossible geometry, the investigators encounter the Logan-Thing again. The monster is unstoppable. Bunny is beaten unconscious and Veronica is killed. (This was mostly due to simple bad luck on the players’ dice rolls. The Logan Thing only has 3 hit dice and his AC was the equivalent of a man in leather armor. All the PCs had weapons; they just could manage to roll anything higher than a 6.)

Lucian and Vinne drag their friends away from Logan, and Lucian uses the Talisman to stabilize the house’s geometry and put some distance between them and the monster. With dead and bloodied friends, they decide to get out of the house and lick their wounds.

After a day in the hospital, Veroinca’s replacement shows up. It’s Abigail Spencer, aka Occult_Warrior_17 from the internet! Abigail (Tough/Reporter) is a You Tube ghost hunter who’s tangled with the House of Broken Glass before when the rest of her ghost-hunting team was killed while filming in an abandoned asylum near Spokane. It’s clear that these people in Seattle need her help.

After resting up, the PCs go to the gun store and get some better weapons. They get a free MAGA hat with their purchase, but no one decides to wear it.

Back at the Old Penderghast House, Bunny climbs the porch to get directly to the attic window. In the attic she finds an old trunk full of Penderghast’s old adventuring gear:  pistol, bullet-proof vest, and MREs from the 1990s. She also finds a painting of Penderghast and Ligeia standing in front of the alien clock. Bunny makes note of the time on the clock face and heads back out the window.

That’s when the cop (Officer Park) drives by and asks what the investigators are doing standing around the abandoned house with a bunch of shotguns. The PCs panic and run into the house. Officer Park fires at them, misses, and follows them inside. They manage to lose him in the impossible geometry, and avoid a Scooby-Doo chase scene.

At the alien clock, they match the five clock hands to the time shown on the painting. A secret door opens in the clock, leading to a small kelipot that serves as (wait for it) the Tomb of Ligeia. It’s a pleasant place with vaulted stone ceilings, a grassy floor, and air that smells like honey. Tiny brass and stained glass insects flitter through the air. Ligeia’s pink marble coffin sits in the center of the chamber. Opening the coffin, they find the well preserved body of Ligeia holding a key made of the same blue alien metal as the door in the basement. Vinnie takes the key, and the brass-and-glass insects begin swarming and stinging. The PCs scamper out of the Kelipot and back to the house as the passageway closes behind them.

They’re back in the house. That’s when they hear a scream and a series of heavy thuds. Officer Park’s head rolls down the stairs into the foyer. The PCs hear the thump-drag of the Logan-Thing’s footsteps, and the session ended.

The game has gotten off to a good start so far. We’re playing again this weekend, and I’m confident the team will wrap up their investigation of the Penderghast Place next session, then move on to following up on all the hooks I’ve scattered through the adventure.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Flumph for Toon [Flumph Friday February]

Toon is a game I was obsessed with in the mid-90s but couldn’t find anyone who wanted to play it with me. I actually got to play it a couple of times a couple of years ago, and had some fun with it. Even as a relatively lite game, it’s perhaps a tad too numbery for wacky cartoon hi-jinx. Still pretty fun, even is there’s diminishing returns on the supplements.

Anyway, here’s the blog mascot statted out for Toon.

(I am rapidly running out of RPGs for this thing...)

"Hey eveyone, it's me Bernie the Flumph!"
Bernie the Flumph
Description: A rubbery yellow jellyfish-like alien with googly eyes on the ends of long, wibbly stalks. He has a voice like Emo Phillips and carries a multitude of dice, pencils, and other sundries tucked up in his tentacles.

Beliefs & Goals: To make sure everyone’s having a chill time while avoiding anything like actual work.

Hit Points: 9

Muscle: 2
Break Down Door: 2
Climb: 2
Fight: 4
Pick Up Heavy Thing: 2
Throw: 3

Zip: 3
Dodge: 7
Drive Vehicle: 3
Fire Gun: 4
Jump: 6
Ride: 3
Run: 6
Swim: 3

Smarts: 4
Hide/Spot Hidden: 6
Identify Dangerous Thing: 4
Read: 5
Resist Fast-Talk: 6
See/Hear/Smell: 4
Set/Disarm Trap: 6
Track/Cover Track: 4

Chutzpah: 5
Fast-Talk:  8
Pass/Detect Shoddy Goods: 8
Sleight of Hand: 5
Sneak: 5

Tentacle mass of many things (5)


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Running DCC at BASHcon 2018

I ran a 0-level funnel adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics at BASHcon at the University of
Toledo on February 17, 2018. I’ve been running games at conventions since the mid-90s, but I haven’t run a game at BASHcon in 5 years. This was the first DCC game I’ve run at a convention, as well as the first non-QAGS con game I’ve run in many years.
I wrote my own adventure to run, ”Sanctum of the Snail.” This here was the burb:
You’re no hero! You were on a ship with several travelers--peasants, pilgrims, and gong farmers--when the storm hit. The ship sank, and now you and the other survivors are stuck on this jagged spire in the middle of the ocean. The storm rages all around you while monsters crawl out of the sea. It looks like the only way off this rock is down through that weird door. Who will live and who will die in this 0-level funnel adventure?
Toledo is a Pathfinder-heavy town, so I wasn’t sure how many players I’d get. Thankfully, I had a full table, perhaps a little too full. I’ll get the bad parts out of the way right here. I botched my player/PC numbers. I normally top out my con games at 6 players. I’ve learned through hard experience that if I have more than that then individual players don’t get enough screen time. Pacing bogs down, and players get bored. But I was so happy that I had players, that when the last guy to buy a ticket asked if I could let his two daughters also I play, I said “certainly!” That could have been manageable, but I still let everyone play 4 characters. Thirty-two zeroes are a lot of PCs to go thru, and there were times when combat became a slog. Next time I’ll crunch the numbers better.
But that was really the only real sticking point, and overall the game went very smooth. Out of the eight players, three were new to RPGs, one guy was an RPG vet but had never heard of DCC, two owned DCC but never got to play it, and two had played DCC a couple of times. A good mix of familiarity levels.
The game started with the zeroes marooned on a small stone spur in the middle of the sea, under attack from a pack Sharkboys that quickly killed a couple of their numbers. After dispatching the monsters, the PC made their way through an ancient, water-proof door into the tunnels below, hoping to avoid the rising tide. Down in the ancient complex they made their way down a long dark stairwell, overcame a jumping puzzle, and encountered Blorgamorg, the Chthonic Snail. This ancient power of Neutrality bade the party to destroy his wayward minion, Salykari. This sorceress had turned her heart to Chaos and dared to make her home in this Neutral dungeon, on her former master’s very doorstep.
Making their way down a slimy slide tunnel, the party discovered the body of a giant turtle on the shores of mutagenic lakes. The players were appropriately disgusted as their characters were assaulted by giant tapeworms, much to this Judge’s satisfaction. One of the PCs made a swell helmet out of the giant turtle’s skull.
Later the characters solved a riddle that revealed a secret cache of ancient weapons, which they used to great effect fighting a couple of bands of Chaos Man-Slugs. Finally, the PCs made their way to the final chamber, where they handily defeated Salykari and her demonic minions.
At the end of things, one player lost all their zeroes, one still had all four, and most were down to two. Not the brutal blood-fest I could have hoped for, but still a solid four hours of fun.
BASHcon had a rough couple of years, but things ran pretty smoothly this year, with good engagement from the coordinators. After abandoning the con for several years, this year was a test-run, and I was pleased enough that I will be back next year to run more DCC. I hope the convention’s number start to climb again.
As a side note, I was delighted to discover that one of the new vendors this year carried a lot of DCC and OSR stuff. He got most of my money this year, as I picked up Atomic Overlord, Blades Against Death, Croaking Fane, and Fever-Dreaming Marlinko. A good haul!

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Flumph for Barbarians of Lemuria [Flumph Friday February]

Barbarians of Lemuria is one of my favorite fantasy RPGs (in fact, probably my absolute favorite for loincloth & broadsword S&S) that, sadly, I've only had a chance to play a handful of times. 

So here's a Lemurian Flumph...

Flumphs are strange alien creatures that came down from the stars 1000 years ago, escaping some nameless evil from the Outer Dark. Flumphs resemble floating leather jellyfish with a multitude of tentacles and two black eyes on long stalks.

Flumphs live deep in the Kasht Swamp, keeping to their weird spherical temples of bronze and glass where they quietly worship alien gods.  Flumphs are mostly benign, but wary of strangers. To those brave enough to tread the swamps and find their temples and savvy enough to befriend them, Flumphs can provide a wealth of insight into forbidden lore and alien science.

Creature size: Small

Normally Found: Kasht Swamp

Strength: -1
Agility: 0
Mind: 3
 Appeal: 1

Combat Abilities
Initiative: 0
Melee: 0
Ranged: 1
Defense: 2

Priest: 1
Alchemist: 1
Magician: 1
Scribe: 1

Lifeblood: 9

Vitriolic Squirt
Attack +1
Damage: d6+ special
Targets hit by the Flumph’s vitriolic squirt must make a Strength roll. Failure means they gain the flaw Blinded for 30 minutes, unless otherwise cured.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Flumph for Tunnels & Trolls 7th Edition [Flumph Friday February]

Flumph Friday continues! I can’t believe it took me three years to stat out the Flumph for Tunnels & Trolls.


Monster Rating: 30 (typically found on dungeon level 1)
Combat Dice: 4d6+15
Special Damage: 2/Blindness – The flumph causes blindness with a squirt of noxious chemicals.
Special Abilities: Fly Me – The flumph can fly on jets of air.
I Gotcher Back, Buddy! – The flumph can heal 1 CON per turn.

Flumphs resemble rubbery yellow jellyfish with friendly eyes on long stalks. They float through the air on natural air jets and speak in wispy sing-song voices. These benign creatures typically make their lairs in the upper levels of dungeons where they act as guides and support services for friendly delvers. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Flumph for Nightlife?! [Flumph Friday February]

It’s February, and it’s Friday. That means it’s that most wonderful time of the year again. It’s Flumph Friday!

This year, I’m kicking things off by adapting the Flumph to one of my favorite games ever, Nightlife.

Needs more crosshatching!
STR: 10                 PER: 30
DEX: 15                ATT: 5
FIT: 20                  LUCK: 20
INT: 25                  HTH: 3
WILL: 30              SP: 40

Max Humanity: 60
Humanity Damage Modifier: +1/1 per 10

Edges: Drain (life force), Flight, Healing, Shunting, Telepathy
Flaws: Substance Vulnerability (fire, double damage), Horrifying Appearance, Special (Clumsy on the ground, ¼ normal movement)
Skills: City Knowledge, Medicine, Parking, Scavenging, Survival
Faction: Neutral

Description: Flumfs originally hail from the Wormholes. They were driven out of their subterranean homelands due to territorial wars between the Suckers and Nasty Muthas. Flumfs first appeared in New York in the 1930s and established small communities where they operated as healers, guides, and cleaners for other Kin.
Flumfs possess flat, rugose bodies mounted atop a central tentacular mass. They move by using their Flight edge, and are very clumsy on the ground. Despite their generally benevolent demeanors, the Flumfs’ utterly alien appearance and Wormhole origin make them are largely distrusted by other Kin.

Former Friday Flumphs
Fate Accelerated