If you want to start at the beginning, this is part 1.
Five players was a decent turnout. I was hoping for something ridiculous, like 12... with spectators standing nearby, hoping someone would unceremoniously die so they could jump in, taking the dead PC's place. Alas, I'm not there yet. Soon!
- Kalovi: female blood-elf fighter, quick to draw first blood.
- Dome Clo-Kar: human fighter, sturdy and tough, his right arm blackened and cursed.
- Ultimus Van Huka'a: moon-elf, thief, came to Cha'alt for the rich zoth deposits.
- Sasha: female sun-elf cleric whose family lost their name because of some disgrace, but still carries herself with pride. Also, has a demon that she must appease.
- Bandalorr: midnight-elf wizard. Absorbed in the dark arts, he shocked his own people and was captured by slavers.
I wanted something really simple, direct, and flavorful to begin with as the PCs were ushered into The Black Pyramid, which was the meat and potatoes of this session.
Marched through the desert wastes for a couple hours by slave master Kell, the PC slaves finally reach the shining black capstone to the pyramid of wondrous mysteries and unutterable doom.
In three days, Tyra'ak the prolonged of life will turn one-hundred-and-eleven. Kell took the 5 most able-bodied slaves to The Black Pyramid in order to obtain a magic item for the birth-festival of Tyra'ak.
If a magic item is retrieved from the weird depths of that nigrescent sepulcher, a slave shall win his freedom.
Incidentally, the players interpreted this as 'they find one magic item and bring it out, then all the survivors go free'. What Kell had in mind was that freedom must be bought with one magic item per slave. As you'll read, in the end, it didn't matter.
As per usual, the PCs entered the pyramid and began to explore. I'll present the highlights as bullet-points to keep things moving and to avoid spoilers.
- Dome Clo-Kar did something which no one else has tried, and I didn't really anticipate (that's just one of the many things I love about roleplaying games). He exited the conduit between rooms and was able to walk upon the outside surface of a room. The hardened fighter stood there, surrounded by the inky void of blackness... before coming back inside.
- Exploring the movie theater playing Escape From New York, I feel the players really got a sense of The Black Pyramid. It's not just a tomb of horrors waiting to crush PC bones into dust. Rather, it's a strange environment with people looking for not just survival but entertainment, power, and looting the room that contains god's shadow.
- There were a number of great lines heard from the in-character banter back and forth between PCs. My favorites were, "All men are free when the slave masters aren't around," from Dome Clo-Kar. And the gloomy Bandalorr, "We'll be free when we're dead."
- Bandalorr acquired himself a magic item via Logan's Run. After he identified and attuned it, he went up a level. I decided that for this one-shot, it made sense to incentivize the acquisition of magic items above all else.
- It's not a dungeoncrawl until a PC goes all murderhobo on some poor unsuspecting NPC. Kalovi decided to slit a priest's throat for no reason in particular. That led to interrogation of the dead priest's companions and eventually bartering with amicable psionicists.
- The last room explored contained a gigantic devil-toad slumbering next to a pile of treasure. Amongst the treasure was a magical sword. Dome Clo-Kar really, really wanted that sword. So, he stole it, waking the devil-toad, failing to correctly answer a riddle, and then the rest of the party tried to kill the infernal, tentacled godling because... it's D&D, I guess. Well, that proved to be a fatal mistake for all but one party member. Bandalorr used his fireball spell (thanks to my little fireball hack d6 table) and rolled a 1. He used divine favor to re-roll... and got another 1. Then no one made their saving throw and all the PCs were either burned to a crisp right then and there or died in the next round of combat against the devil-toad.
- Using his newfound magic item to escape harm, Bandalorr walked, between universes, out of The Black Pyramid and back to slave master Kell. In exchange for the sanctuary medallion of renewal, Kell rewarded the sorcerer with not only freedom, but a spot in the highly coveted sorcerer's training program that Tyra'ak instituted not long ago.
While I was routing for the players and their characters to not only survive but flourish, I realized that glory was not to be there's as they willfully engaged in battle with such a creature.
There were many chances to avoid the fight, but apparently that was not the adventuring party's destiny.
Still, a sole survivor is pretty badass and the legendary lethality of The Black Pyramid remains.
Any questions? Feel free to ask! I really wish I had the time to run Cha'alt 5 days a week because it's both very much like, as well as distinctly unlike, anything I've ever created. Cha'alt has a life of its own.
If you're looking for the Cha'alt PDF, it's here. If you prefer the fancy hardcover (the PDF is a FREE bonus), it's there.
p.s. I also want to thank Misty Mountain Games for allowing me to hold the Cha'alt book release party at their store. Also, the Dominos pizza was pretty good!