When last we left our team of friendly neighborhood murderhobos, they had murderhoboed their way to the front gates of a Keep. Right there on the Borderlands, a Keep. Be still my heart.
Mostly, the same group of players showed up. I suspect we lost a couple players during the Great Literal Shakening. I should point out that, obnoxious as I am here on the blog and in real life, at the table I tend to tilt more at the post-1985 D&D windmills than those of Rome on the Potomac. I doubt any of the people I’ve played with have even heard of The Alt-Right DM, although if any think to google my name they’ll figure it out toot-sweet. Point being, nobody bailed on me out of bitter salty frustration, or from fear of their DM due to his new job on one of the many roving death squads snapping up teh gays, teh googles, and teh Jews. Those days are over for me. The one Jew I did round up broke my heart and my wallet and rarely lets me see the little Jews I used to round up (for bed time). All this despite big monthly checks sent her way and a court order.
Why is the text on my screen getting so blurry?
Back at the politics-free table, what players showed up to play had figured out what was going on here. The goblins, the lizardmen, the keep. This was all too familiar. They table talked about how they were going to get into the keep, and how they were going to deal with the treasonous priest, and where they were going to get rooms…as though there was any need for Town Time strategy. As though I didn’t expect them to recognize the A-1 fundamental, big daddy adventure that broke many a player’s RPG cherry. After two full sessions, they still have no idea who they are dealing with.
After sounding the air horn I use to notify players the game has started, I told them, “having rested up for a few days and replenished your supplies – mark down what you bought – you leave the safe confines of the walls of the Keep, and head…back to the cave system, or head for the lizardman camp?”
That threw them for a loop. They were expecting me to spend two hours making up quirky blacksmiths and tailors so their pawns could discuss whether to get the red hat with the lace on it or the green hat with the feather. We’ll have to wait for the next session, I forgot my revolver at home. The one that I’ve gnawed the site off from chewing on it during child custody discussions with my ex-wife. Next time, Team Cannon Fodder, right now it’s time for dungeons and/or dragons.
They grabbed three faceless spear-carriers and torch bearers, Huey, Larry, and Harpo (marked by a speech impediment, ginger Jew-fro, and a mute with a lute, respectively) and headed back to Hotel Monsterfornia. Lower cave on the right, watch the door, pit trap thirty feet in –
Woah, hold your horses there, Cochise.
The cave opens to 20-feet wide, and runs into the hillside for roughly 120-feet. The walls are decorated with fantasy Egyptian style frescoes. A red tiled path, distinct against the gray, wanders back and forth down the hallway.
Why no, whatever gave you that idea?
Okay, they opt to follow the trail of red footsteps and the thief falls into a pit trap and dies. Larry is promoted from torch bearer to player character. They need a way to poke the floor, and lament that they lack a ten foot pole. A quick retreat to the wilds and they secure a decent sized branch that should work. It does, and they slowly make their way down to the end of the hallway where they are greeted by an arch to their left filled with a purple mist and a great green demon face with a black hole for a mouth. As they get closer, three gems on the arch begin to glow.
They ignore the demon face and start futzing with the archway. Eventually, they hit the right combination of lights and the mist clears. That triggers a memory from one of the players. He knows where they are – don’t touch anything! He argues that they should leave…now. The players won’t hear of it. Much table talk ensues about whether the estimable Mr. Wright would really plonk Acererak’s Tomb down in the heart of a Level 1 Caves of Chaos. My time on the Vegas Poker circuit serves me well here.
They decide that this is all a big double-blind set-up. If this crazy DM would mess with the Caves in this way, then he would also mess with the Tomb in others. They’re right about that, but that’s not relevant this session, because between them they remember that you need to walk through the mist to get to a three armed statue. So they fiddle with the button/lights, summon the mist, and boldly stride through the arch into the swirling mist –
Only to find themselves in a crowded room ten feet across with three levers. Much recriminations are shared amongst the group. Too late, they remember that you want the mist gone
A quick check reveals that the floor and ceiling are both false. The only escape is by playing Death Slots with the three levers. First one down, and the others up. They hear a click. Then two. They hear a clonk. Finally, pull all three down.
They hear a rush of wind as their stomachs leap up into their throats. The last thing they see is the walls of the pit rushing upwards at great speed. The last thing they hear is the death splatters of their comrades hitting the floor 100-feet down.
Aside from one great sopping vagina, the players enjoyed themselves. The beauty of the old ways is that even after three sessions (for the cleric, two for the rest), no one had a serious investment in their characters. They were free to take chances they wouldn’t with the faggotry of a “Build and Backstory” style character. They knew the risks involved, but they also knew that a single decent find in that Tomb would set their characters up for a long time coming, so they went for it. That’s the kind of high-risk play and mature acceptance of defeat in the face of long odds that the RPG community just doesn’t push these days.
My table is NOT a safe space.
But it is a richly rewarding one, even for players that find their little avatars hurtling down a barren shaft at 32 feet per second.
With the TPK, we had some time left for another foray, but the crew decided to wag chins at each other for a while instead and start fresh the next time.