So much news in this blog post - it's insane!
First, let's talk about The Good Syma'arian anti-abortion Cha'alt scenario that I just uploaded onto Big Geek Emporium for FREE. Here it is!
Next, we should get into my appearance on Legon of Myth. I was asked to attend Max's Friday night chill stream to talk about the new release of Encounter Critical III, PDF available here. But I thought it would be more instructive and fun to actually game... because why talk about roleplaying when you can just roleplay?
This is the video, after 5 or so minutes of starting the stream and announcements, I come on. Then, we proceed to chat about Encounter Critical III before Max and Victor choose characters, and I start running the game.
Hopefully, this gives aspiring gamers and old hands a helpful window into my GMing style. It's not for everybody, but what I like - and most players I've encountered over the decades have enjoyed it, too.
And the day after that stream, I fulfilled the first tiny step of my 2023 resolution - to run more local face-to-face sessions that eventually become a Cha'alt campaign. Still thinking of a name for the campaign, but I'm planning on GMing every other week for the rest of this year.
Inspired by Jordan Peterson's admission that he goes into interviews and various discussions with notes but not anything pre-planned, I decided to create mostly original content based on various notes and ideas jotted down (also borrowing bits and pieces from previous sessions these particular players weren't involved in). Some of this stuff might make it into Book 4 of the Cha'alt trilogy down the road.
Because of scheduling conflicts and a last-minute cancellation, I only had 3 players (one of which was brand-new to Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 and Cha'alt). It was a social interaction and exploration heavy game, as per usual.
All three played dwarves, and I allowed them to start at 3rd level for survivability during the 4-hour game. Although, it was really 3 hours when you account for the chatting and eating (the game took place inside a pizza place).
- Colin's dwarf sorcerer was named Robard the red. He was a "show mage" specializing in close-up magic, like flaming card tricks.
- Pat's dwarf warrior was named Jack-Hole or Jackle. One leg was a little shorter than the other, making him slightly off-balance. When fighting, his "disability" gave him +1 to damage.
- Chad's dwarf thief was named Zagreus. No beard, but he did have a black curly handlebar moustache (and might have looked suspiciously like Mario).
The trio of dwarven adventurers started out in the city of A'agrybah. A procession wound its way through the streets, a golden platformed, upon which laid a beautiful woman, every inch covered in a tactile magenta glitter, almost like a sensual, skin-tight tree bark.
Not knowing what the Hell was going on with this woman on parade, they asked various bystanders. They discovered her name was Varantha, a small cult worships her as the avatar of a God, and that her condition was due to her being cursed by another divine being... although, perhaps it was the King who was actually targeted with that curse because Varantha was a consort of the King before stricken by the toxic magenta film.
Zagreus successfully pick-pocketed someone in the crowd, yielding a pair of lacy red panties. Score!
Instead of rewarding players with Divine Favor at the end of scenes that had plenty of roleplaying, I ended up handing out 2 points (physical fuchsia stones I got from a gift shop to represent the Divine Favor) each during the 3-hour session.
If your table is ready to roleplay, you won't have to dangle the carrot of social interaction in front of them. But if they're new to the concept or shy or whatever, let players know that using something in their background to strike up conversation gets them a possible get-out-of-jail-free point.
Meanwhile, the dwarves ran into a human sorcerer from Earth named Vaughn who racked up considerable gambling debts betting on gladiators. He knew of a nearby mine containing a type of crystal lost to collective memory. Before the apocalypse, in ancient times, ka'alaxian crystals (thanks to Pat for the name, and thanks to Rick and Morty for inspiration) were prized by the natives of Cha'alt, especially priests and servants of the Old Ones. Somehow, Vaughn knew that Ka'alaxian crystals allowed sorcerers to alter reality.
If the dwarves liberated the reality-warping crystals for Vaughn, they'd split them. Plus, the Earth-born sorcerer would make Varantha's coating less toxic. I believe the idea was either to kidnap her or give her to the King of A'agrybah as a tribute, allowing them to collect a reward.
They'd meet to finalize the acquisition of the ka'alaxian crystals at the Chartreuse Dragon Cantina in an hour. That left the trio with enough time to schmooze with Dookal a merchant that gestured for them to enter his tent and see his expensive wares. The dwarves ended up buying a decorative dwarf helmet and a clear crystal sphere containing a thief who was somehow trapped inside.
The dwarven helm had runes carved into it that read "Don't worry, be happy" when translated.
Eventually, Vaughn got the PCs to the mine with the help of Sa'ab who drove a beaten-up and broken-down sand-speeder. Wanting to tie the back-to-back scenarios together, the transport slowed down for a hitchhiker waiting next to a black van. This was wonky-eyed Karl.
Once inside the network of tunnels and caves, the dwarves fought off some tentacled insectoid creatures until they skittered away. The thief was made invisible by the sorcerer and collected the glowing greenish-yellow crystals (Dune internal monologue: What is the connection between ka'alaxian crystals and zoth?), narrowly avoiding a demon munching on human remains.
I don't recall if they fought the demon (will have to ask the players - they avoided the demon), but I know Karl did some off-the-cuff healing. I didn't expect him to have the power of prayer... so, I gave it a couple rolls. The first was good, something like a 14. The second, a natural 20. Thus, the party was healed.
More crystals led the thief to a circus of clowns (is that was a group of them are called?) trading stories around a camp fire. One of the night clowns had an indigo-glowing magical sword in his lap.
Not wanting to be hasty, the dwarves explored the last remaining area of the mine. It contained humans, elves, and half-demons performing some kind of ceremony. There was head shaving and dipping melee weapons in a pool of zoth, perhaps preparing for battle.
Egged on by the sorcerer and warrior, the party's thief was instructed to steal the magic sword, cutting off the night clown's head before running away, as the thief still had a few minutes of invisibility remaining. And that he did with Advantage and sneak-attack. The clown was decapitated, his head rolled through the campfire, startling the dead clown's companions like a flaming skull.
As the other clowns exited their cave, they ran into the shaved head humanoids wielding glowing chartreuse weapons. A battle between the two factions fortuitously occurred as the PCs ran towards the waiting sand-speeder.
The indigo glowing two-handed sword was, indeed, magical. A +1 weapon with glyphs carved into both sides of its blade. When translated, they read the following... "Sucks to be you."
Upon return, they met at the Chartreuse Dragon Cantina and divvied up the ka'alaxian crystals, but not before Vaughn used his sorcery to alter reality... the ka'alaxian crystal vanished in his hand as he concentrated all his mental energy on reprogramming the universal code.
The dwarves went to Varantha's temple within the city, and not far from the palace. There, they found her merely stained magenta, rather than covered with toxic magenta glitter. Finding her stunningly gorgeous, they immediately accepted her offer to stay in nearby temple quarters and she became their patron.
Just before bed, a gnome wearing a silly gnome hat came into their quarters to tuck them in. Jack-Hole wanted some company before sleep, so the gnome brought a few girls around to pleasure whoever was interested. Jack-Hole and Karl availed themselves of the opportunity, as the rest found other things to do.
And that's where we ended the session. Next game is scheduled for Sunday, January 22nd. Now that I'm running a legit campaign, and in-person no less, finally after so many years, so many opportunities will open-up with threads and stories and ideas (recurring characters!) that don't have to be abandoned when I walk away from the table or log-off from Roll20. One-shots are a ton of fun, but pretty much everyone in the OSR agrees that long-term campaigns (when feasible) are better.
If RPGs are about immersion and the joint creation of pulp sword & sorcery stories, reinforcement of the veiled reality, this other world, via episodic sessions of a long-term campaign, can only strengthen that immersion. By the end of 2023, I believe we'll achieve PSYCHOCOSM the likes of which even God has never seen!
Thanks for reading,