Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dwimmermount Finale: Reservoir Dogs

A short-notice faculty meeting threatened to play havoc with our last scheduled club meeting of the year, but an old friend came to the rescue and provided supervision while my daughter ran a game of werewolf for the 20-some kids assembled.  The villagers won, but by the time I could return to club we only had about an hour left.

While Catan, Citadels, chess, and Betrayal at House on the Hill ramped up at other tables, we dove right back into the action on Dwimmermount's third level: "The Reservoir."

Last time Brunhilda (still grieving the loss of Ferdik) Dillam the Wizard, Danny the Arthropod, Ghaul the Elf and friends had finally discovered the chamber they had sought for roughly the last 10 sessions.

Image result for control panelUsing a recently discovered Engineer's Rod and a Comprehand Languages spell, Dilliam was able to follow the instructions that Loomis Dooin had given the party.  Reddish lights buzzed to life in the surrounding hallways, there was the swish and gurgle of fluid gushing through unseen pipes, and the very stone of the Dwimmermount began to gently vibrate beneath the explorers' feet.  They had successfully reawoken the mountain!

Reading the scrolling schematics that lit the strange, vitrium wall panels, Dilliam learned that this level contained a vast grotto-network reservoir of azoth ... hundreds of thousands of gallons (perhaps millions) of the precious, combustible stuff of raw, interstellar magic!  Making a few notes from the shifting map-display, he led them hasily toward the massive, adamantine hatch that sealed the storage caverns.

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When efforts to force the hatch failed, Brunhilda and Dilliam soon fell to using the azoth they had recovered elsewhere to try and blow it.  A strange, gray garment, its sleeves and collar knotted, had been converted into a container for several gallons of the stuff.  Wedging this bag in place, they managed to detonate it without killing anyone.  The adamantine hatch was scorched but still intact.  The surrounding wall, however, cracked along the hatch-seam, creating a small gap. 

Elated, Brunhilda started making plans to shove a torch through the crevice in hopes of detonating the reservoir and blowing the top off the mountain!

Brunhilda, it seems, wished to make all of Dwimmermount into a mighty pyre for her beloved.  Dilliam, having been corrupted by the mental carress of Arach-Naca, was intent on freeing himself from the influence of the dreaded demon the only way he could!

Perceiving that doom was at hand and having no strong desire to be blown to bits, Ghaul sprang to stop the pair with Kermit, the kitten, and Danny at his side.

While Matilda and Zekiel took to their heels, racing for the surface, a desperate battle between the party members errupted behind them.
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As much as I value player agency, I don't usually allow PvP / combat within the party in my middle school games as it tends to result in squabbling and hurt feelings, but this made sense within the context of the campaign and it was our final session of course. 

The battle see-sawed back and forth with Ghaul going down early under Dilliam's blows.  Danny (who abandoned his veggie-balloon) played a pivotal role, his poison forcing Brunhilda to suffer disadvantage on her attacks once his bites finally found a chink in her plate harness.  Kermit's spear snapped about the time that Dilliam fell and Brunhilda punted the kitten through the crack and into the reservoir.

Image result for caryatidIn the end, Kermit and Danny prevailed, though each had but a single hit point left.  Stripping but a few items from the fallen, they staggered back toward the stairs ... and straight into the arms of the cruel, marble maiden that guarded the top of the steps!

A natural 20 attack roll spelled swift doom for Kermit, but baby-headed Danny managed to wriggle free and scamper off into the shadows of level two ... becoming yet another strange inhabitant of Dwimmermount.


All in all, a good season with a great deal of fun had by all.  Unlike last year's group, these players were less interested in unraveling the deep mysteries of the mountain and its origins--frankly they were happy just to stab things and look for loot.  Irony, pratfalls, and unique characters made this group especially memorable.

Though this weekly campaign is over, I'll still be doing a fair amount of role playing this summer: 

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  • my Olde School Wizardry homebrew RPG is now around session 120 and a I hope to have a fresh print copy on the table soon
  • my older daughter has made about 20 delves into Stonehell and we still dabble from time to time
  • A new brick and mortar game store, Your Hobby, has opened in our area and they seem very accommodating to having folks come in and play some pick up games
  • our Home Guard B/X game is a couple sessions into Castle Amber
  • a group of former students, now high schoolers, have asked me to run a 5th ed one-shot reunion for them (I'll grab something from the One Page Dungeon Contest)
  • finally, in July, I'll run two weeks of Adventure Games Camp for about 26 middle schoolers and my oldest is prepping Castle Ravenloft, practicing scenes with me
I'm pretty sure that it's going to be a full summer!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dwimmermount: Our Penultimate Session

We began our penultimate session with the party on opposite sides of an impregnable force field, having discovered a metal drum with about 40 gallons of precious, volatile azoth sloshing around inside.

But how could they get the azoth through the narrow gap behind one of the looming statues that flanked the force field?

In their stomachs of course!
Image result for couldn't possibly eat another bite meaning of life

The first quarter of our session consisted of almost every party member (only Matilda the Witch abstained) choking down as much azoth as they could stomach amid handfuls of saving throws.  When they began to grow ill, they switched over to azoth-infused pulled pork to try and keep the unstable stuff of raw magic down.

Chaotic mutations, both useful and malign, began to follow, much to the group's lasting delight.  Ghaul the elf suffered a Giger-esque elongation of his skull.  A few characters had hit points increased or decreased, but the turning point was when Brunhilda acquired a spontaneous, intuitive, directional sense.  By concentrating, and frying her brain a bit, she could act as a sort of living compass.

An earnest debate broke out over whether Brunhilda should try to find the mechanism for lowering the force field, or psychically quest for the "red-iron hatch" and the chamber for reawakening the "perpetual motion mountain spirits" marked on the partial map furnished to the group by Loomis Dooin.

I was surprised when, in the end, they chose the later.  Squeezing their stray party members back through the gap and emptying flasks containing water, oil, and healing potions so that they could bring along a few more swigs of azoth "for the road," the explorers set off to complete their original mission.

Danny, having made contact with the forces of chaos through his azoth-addled brain, uttered "The Hissing Curse."  He wasn't sure what this new found power could do and was eager to find out, so he directed his curse at the party's kitten.

I had Danny's player set his phone to play a YouTube video of two straight hours of hissing static, signaling him to increase the volume every 15 min or so. 
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Shortly thereafter, they ran afoul of some floating, gas-bag, vegetable, monstrosities who ensnared a few of the party with paralyzing tendrils, but Kermit the Brute plowed through them, his armor saving him from their grasp while he slashed away like a madman (switching to a moon silver dagger when his short sword broke).

Of particular note in the battle, however, were the deeds of Danny the Arthropod.  Azoth-mutated so that he now had a pear-shaped, mandible-adorned baby head on his centipede body, Danny managed to drop from above and chew a hole in one of the fleshy, plant-balloon things.  Thrusting his abdomen down inside, his antennae-waving baby head now protruded like a cork from the thing's floating, flatulent, bulk.  He spent the rest of the session wiggling to release noisy bursts of gas that propelled him clumsily to and fro.

Confronted by a chamber full of silvery-black fungus, the group slipped on the strange, rubbery, grey robes that they had found in some cabinets elsewhere on level three, finding them to be at least partial proof against the strange spoors.  Meanwhile, Kermit, who has time and again prevailed in his saving throws against toxic Yellow Mold ... even eating the stuff at one point ... proved once and for all that he was immune to Dwimmermount's fungal horrors, eschewing the protective robes to stride boldly through the grove and rolling a 20 on his saving throw.
Image result for nasa control room
The red-iron hatch they sought waited just beyond, admitting the party to a humming room full of strange controls and glossy panels of unknown material--the chamber of the perpetual-motion-spirits discovered at last!


So, next session will be our last of the school year, and of course I can't begin to guess what the gang will get up to.  

  • Will they be successful in awakening the ancient forces within the mountain?
  • Will they figure out a way to avoid the deadly, animated column that blocks their only known route out of the dungeon?
  • How much azoth will they recover and will they accidentally blow themselves up with it?
  • Will they be ready to deal with the vengeful Delvers, who have had plenty of time to prepare an ambush of their own?
Finally, as a dungeoncrawl that focuses on player agency over pre-determined plot lines, will our 30-odd sessions end with a bang or an anticlimactic whimper?