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!

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