I was able to squeeze-in another quick playtest session over this past weekend.
It was all returning players (including Prince of Nothing). Obviously, my old-school and rules-light version of 5th edition D&D isn't to everyone's liking. Same thing with the text-only. However, the people that do like it, really like it... so that keeps me going.
The Cremza'amirikza'am megadungeon isn't a cakewalk, so all 4 players started with 2nd level characters.
I'm at the point where I pretty much know everything that's going on in level one. But running it helps solidify things, new things jump out at me (just writing this blog post, I've got a half-dozen new ideas), and I can feel where it needs more - additional worldbuilding, encounters, loot, interesting decision-points, etc.
For the first 50 minutes, exploration and social interaction were the only pillars utilized. Between the NPC who really wanted to acquire cheese in order to trade it for the fuchsia malaise drug and Monsieur Froma'aj (dare I base him on Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs?) who had a lock on level one trade, the PCs barely had time to investigate that otherworldly magenta-violet light (maybe I should create a new weird spell effect table for the first three levels of the megadungeon?) or the giant feathery blueberries.
It wasn't until the end of our 75-minute session that we got some combat - the PCs got in the middle of a firefight between security droids and devil-worshiping monks. An interesting aspect of the fight was that the PCs didn't get involved until the 2nd round.
I could have gone either way with Crimson Escalation. Start the crit range with 20 at round one as the PCs entered the fray or begin their participation with round two so crits range from 19-20 right off the bat. I decided on the latter. After all, the battle began when the battle began and this would be the one and only combat of the session.
Prince of Nothing was playing a stealthy lock-picking droid named 13F. As usual, he rolled abysmally when finally getting to attack from his hiding spot. I let him use his Divine Favor to re-roll both his Advantage D20s. And I'm glad that was my ruling because his first three rolls were a 6, 4, and 5. His fourth and last attack roll was a 17, allowing him to utilize his sneak attack damage to utterly destroy one of the droid guards (the rest of the PCs were attacking the monks).
The monks had blasters. Thankfully for the PCs, I rolled crappy for damage (an 8 and 5). Matthew's character Grimm Da'ark the Savage rolled a natural 20 for a crit.
The other two PCs, Borguul the fighter and Murderbell (love that name!) the pixie-fairy fighter, held their own, getting some decent shots in.
Even though we got to the 4th round where 16 and above crits, the only other crit rolled was another natural 20, proving that even if no mechanical benefit is awarded, combat becomes more thrilling with Crimson Escalation because of the element of surprise and possible danger that goes with ever-increasing critical-hit ranges.
Just as the opposition were decimated, my parents arrived at the house for lunch. So, I had to stop the game a minute or two short.
So, for their benefit and yours, here's the treasure they looted from the bodies...
- $1,600 in Monopoly money
- 5 blasters
- Security droid spare parts
- 174 talons
- 32 gold pieces
- 6 vials of zoth
- Crystal hologram of Adam Koebel inducing a non-consensual robot orgasm in some livestreamed Alpha Blue game.
p.s. The 3-sentence opener contest has only three more days to go. Please, consider submitting yours.