Last week, I ran three different sessions in my Cha'alt campaign. This post will highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This was on Roll20, and it was kind of a disaster. Every player seemed to be on a different page or possibly different book.
They arrived at the golden gates of A'agrybah, and learned a bit about the city and taxes. Apparently, paying taxes is a fate worse than death because several PCs (one in particular) was preoccupied by imminent tax collection for the entire scenario. Always looking for somewhere to hide his meager wealth so the tax man doesn't take a cut.
A third PC wanted to go off completely on his own to the palace (the rest of the party was in the tavern making friends). And when he got there, he wanted to speak directly to the King. That didn't happen. Instead, the PC talked to a servant and when that wasn't good enough, he attacked a royal guard. The PC almost killed the guard, but reinforcements were called. And when multiple guards eventually killed the PC, the player complained about poor dice rolls. Really, dude? You chalk that fate up to bad luck? Wow, ok...
A fourth PC decided he would take down the biggest guy in the bar who had two companions sitting next to him. That lasted a whole 2 rounds until the PC was skewered dead on the end of the barbarian's obsidian blade.
The fifth PC tried to make the most of his adventuring time. I felt bad for him, since his party just collapsed under the weight of their own distraction or incompetence.
Same set-up as before (also a Roll20 game), the PCs enter A'agrybah. This time they enter the marketplace, find a guide, and get a tour... until a couple of thieves make off with their coin purses.
They track the thieves to a blind alley and combat takes place. It's quite the battle, ending with the most murderhobo PC ripping the head off a thief when he was trying to run away.
It was fun, and everyone had a great time!
Each of those games lasted about 70 minutes, so there wasn't much time for anything else.
This was face-to-face at my FLGS, and a blissful four-hours long. I'd been waiting weeks for this game. Crummy weather (ice and snow) almost ruined things, but luckily there was a window.
BTW, all three sessions used my Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 hack of both OSR and 5e. FYI, the cleric isn't broken! Not only does he allow the party to keep fighting past the 2nd encounter without having to rest for the day, he allows the wizard to keep casting spells (both during and between combats).
Patrick played a cleric moon-elf, Pat played a fighter blood-elf, Michael played another fighter blood-elf, and Steve played a sky-elf wizard (who became his own familiar).
Three of the four players ran through The Black Pyramid a couple months ago. Instead of starting at 1st level, I suggested they make 3rd level characters and rolled on that d100 past event random table from How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss.
In order to successfully raid the off-worlder's base, Elysium, they'd need either high-tech weapons, magic items, or both.
Rumors of relics and artifacts within The Black Pyramid abound, so off they went. As per usual, just the tip of the pyramid was visible, shiny black, the majority submerged beneath irradiated sand.
They met a demon attempting to open up a gateway to some Demon Lord, and decided to help him. Each PC was bestowed with an infernal blessing, and the gate-opening demon became an NPC hanger-on.
The PCs spent a little time with The Community, but nothing substantial happened there. Then, they wandered into a Tiki bar and chatted with a demonic vacuum salesman (vacuum sales-demon?) and the negotiations began. The vacuum demonstration included sucking up some NPC into another dimension (ok, maybe it was demonic). Two vacuums were purchased.
After that transaction, the PCs felt this would be the perfect initiation for their new demon friend, Qa'atz. His rite of passage will be to kill the salesman and loot his body as the other PCs watched.
Qa'atz got advantage on a surprise stab to the stomach. Sadly, I rolled badly and Qa'atz missed horribly. The salesman backed away and disintegrated him in one shot (rolled bad on the saving throw, too).
The magic sword had an unbreakable glass pommel and a variable plus to hit and damage, so one player suggested the current "+" number would be visible inside the little glass sphere as an indicator. A brilliant idea and the kind of thing that could only happen in an RPG.
A hive of reptilian insects was in another room, and they became fodder for a fireball spell, as well as, the magic blade. A decent amount of treasure was found searching the honeycombs.
A wandering humanoid offered to sell his own magic sword. It had a strange name, Kenyur-Trova'ak. Not having a translation handy, I looked for the closest thing in the Viridian glossary at the back of How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss and came up with "passionate oblivion"... a better translation would be "the strength of nothingness." Then ended up trading a vacuum and a turquoise slab for the sword.
The last room before Za'argon was full of his devoted worshipers who occasionally offered themselves to the minor god when he was feeling especially peckish. The PCs didn't think much of them, playing strategy games and plucking their zita'ars.
The PCs had a whiz-bang idea of removing the chartreuse sphere from an adjacent triangle-shaped room so the worshipers could use it as a new age music room with excellent "triangular acoustics".
This little table was rolled on. The wizard's player rolled a 6. Ouch! Knocking half its Hit-Points down, the rest of them dealt damage like true adventurers.
The cleric dropped down onto the titan's head so he could dish out a holy invocation to Lovecraftian abominations. The fighters (they both had magic swords, but especially the one with the variable +) wailed on him.
Za'argon slapped all of them around with a couple rounds of tentacles, practically killing the cleric. The wizard asked if it was possible for him to cast a spell to save his companion's life. I deemed that it was. The wizard could try preventing the cleric's soul from leaving his body. The wizard cast his spell and the cleric would need to make a saving throw. Luckily, he did.
Finally, the killing blow cut the titan in twain. The PCs looted his chamber, the demon sorceress took her giant ruby, and her champion did not return the sword even though she was done with him. She vanished into thin air before the PCs could turn on her.
Za'argon's horn bestowed enough power making the party's spell-caster a Very Powerful Wizard (at long last). He used that temporary power to destroy the enemies within Elysium. Also, the PCs became 4th level.
Having survived The Black Pyramid was no easy feat. For years and years, they will be able to tell their children and grandchildren of their bravery, cunning, and unbelievable fortune!
p.s. One thing I like to do is look back at my sessions and see if there's something I could have done differently, that could be improved upon. The demon sorceress should have been sexier and a potential love-interest for one or more PCs.