Sunday, February 26, 2023

Crystals of Chaos [session #5]

 Alright, Danielle and the girls are watching the last Twilight movie... let's smash-out this session report!

5 players, the usual gang, more or less.  The party's only sorcerer, Robard the Red is back!  Gath, the prisoner priest returns for his second session, and Jackal made it to 5th level.

So, this session happened the very next week after last week's session.  We had been going every other week, but I won't be able to run the game for the next two weekends, so running a bonus game yesterday was the scheduling compromise.

Because of that, I knew this session had to have some kind of narrative end-point.  I decided to view it like a TV show's season finale.  Even though I have every intention of continuing the Crystals of Chaos campaign (and with the same PCs, no less), you just never know.

Last session, I realized that I hadn't been passing players notes.  That's usually something that I do during campaigns, so picked that up again for this session.  My first note was to Robard's player, letting him know what had been going on since he was zapped by the High Priest at the start of our last game.  Also, if I tell the player privately (via a note), that forces him to describe his experiences to the party, rather than me.  Are you feelin' the PSYCHOCOSM, yet?!? 

He'd been wandering strange-angled purple corridors for what seemed like days, until finally he stumbled upon a swirling portal of energy.  I had imagined it just in front of him, but the player imagined that it might be on the floor so he could just hold his nose and dive-in.  That actually sounded better than what I had stated, and preferring not to ret-con (even when it's only a few seconds), I decided that sorcerers could manipulate the size, shape, angle, and location of portals, as if they were adjusting an object in cyberspace with a mouse.

In he went, appearing between the sand-speeder filled with PCs and NPCs and Jackal, who was about to slash a death-blow to some hippy elf who seemed to be following them - but then the elf fell into nothingness and disappeared.

After getting reacquainted, They all decided to enter the weird space that led to somewhere else - interrupting Glenda the tall woman NPC giving Heighten Chancery Philthrop III a lap massage (I should come up with some bonus for characters who travel with their girlfriend or any sexually active vessel).  Robard felt with his sorcerous senses and realized it was like a dimensional portal, but yet unlike any he'd seen before.

They entered a pocket-universe that managed to avoid the apocalypse that occurred about a century ago.  We decided to call the Cha'alt the PCs were from "Cha'alt classic" and this new world with grasslands, mountains, forests, and blue sky "new Cha'alt." 

There were a bunch of people wearing togas standing around outside a futuristic city, locked-out because some A.I. decided organics couldn't be trusted.  A droid army with lasers also protected the city from humanoids.  Unfortunately, the only way for the PCs to get home (they left all the NPCs on Cha'alt classic to mind the store) was a matrix table inside the city.  That tried and true method of guardrailing adventurers in a certain direction has been used in countless episodes of Doctor Who (and other shows).

However, the toga people informed them of three magical crystals that, when combined, would form a seriously powerful artifact.  And that would assure the A.I.'s defeat, so the city could be opened and the crystal matrix used to find a way home for the PCs.

Finding a guide named Arn with a death-wish and knowledge of A.I. programming (rolled on the spot using Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise), they headed to the location of the crystals - The Lost City.  Upon reflection, that's just sloppy writing having a futuristic, but unnamed, city and then the other location is called The Lost City, but I don't have a writer's room at my beck and call.  However, I feel like the players are totally cool with helping me come up with spontaneous details, which just goes to show that the best kind of game, in my humble opinion, leans heavily on improv.

Anyway, the PCs tackled a mechanical scorpion.  Gath went down, getting pinched nearly to death and stung (failed save led to temporary paralysis).  It had damage reduction, so the warriors with magic weapons and the halfling and priest with blasters eventually took it down.  Arn scavenged the cyber-scorpion's motherboard for later, since he graduated (with honors) from A.I. University - totally not made-up (their school motto was E Pluribus Anus).

Also, I just have to say something.  Sorry for another interjection.  A reviewer lambasted Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 for allowing priests to have nearly unlimited access to healing between battles where an hour's rest is available, because, in his words, it not only wasn't old-school but throws off the whole resource management part of the game.  Which, I understand, from a certain point of view, but if critics could put their poisonous pens down for a minute, being able to recharge between difficult battles keeps the game in motion.  I remember playing D&D in the 80s and early 90s where healing wasn't hand-waved.  The 5-minute adventuring day, as it's sometimes known, just doesn't seem to fit with the fiction.  Short stories, comic books, TV shows, and movies don't have the heroes (even anti-heroes) stopping the journey to rest for 8 hours after every medium-strength encounter, let alone hard ones.  So, CDS D20 makes more narrative sense, and feels pretty damn old-school to me.  Ok, rant over.

By the time the PCs managed to venture inside The Lost City, the session was about half-over.  By turning the halfling thief invisible, the party managed to destroy and get past a chrome security sphere that lasered a small lizard moving around just to show what it could do.

Then, they encountered a dozen small humanoids with translucent skin, so you could see all their organs and whatnot through their flesh.  Gross!  The PCs, especially Jackal, really wanted to decimate these guys, but held back.  The little dudes told the PCs that if they were brave enough to claim the crystals, they could go into that slimy tunnel and get them.

Believing it to be some kind of trick, the PCs got into some verbal altercation which soon led to wholesale slaughter.  When they were all dead, Robard crept into the humid, moist tunnel, got about 15' in and noticed the tunnel was tapering down, getting smaller.  He said that he cast shield on himself and had the equivalent of dimension door at the ready.  Which is good, because that tunnel was some kind of worm creature about to crush him.  Thankfully, he got out of there and the PCs moved on.

Soon, they came to a black pylon.  I had planned for the PCs to search the caves for a small black pyramid that could be placed on an engraved triangle above the door to open the thing, but Crandol wanted to use his arm tentacle weapon.  I let him try to manipulate the triangle opener with his tentacles because why not and also... cool!  He rolled a natural 20, so open the door he did.

Inside it was a black void with a crystal matrix table, just like the one Arn described in the futuristic city.  However, traveling through dimensions was no easy task.  Since Robard knew his way around dimensional sorcery, I gave Arn (who'd done this before) Advantage.  Boom, I rolled double-19s!  Within moments, the black pylon dematerialized through folded-space to where their NPCs were back on Cha'alt classic.  They told them not to worry and hang-on, they'd be back soon, right after getting that artifact which the toga people called Vetus Unus.

Back to The Lost City, the PCs encountered a cave with a nearly opaque barrier but decided to bypass it for the moment since they were on a mission and we had just under an hour left to play.  Anyway, they were distracted by three pedestals further down the main path, each holding a large crystal formation... one fuchsia, one chartreuse, and the other tangerine.

The halfling thief scouted ahead, going towards the back of the cave, stepping on and over squishy, rounded "rock formations."  He could see something at the cave wall, something almost discernable but not quite.  So, he threw a rock at it.  Turns out, the crystals were being guarded by a (minor) Great Old One.

This was the big bad.  Crandol, being the most proactive or foolhardy of the bunch, decided to attack it with his usual gusto.  A friend on twitter asked if I'd provide the Old One's stats, which I thought was an excellent notion, giving everyone an idea of what I think is a super tough but still winnable fight with CDS D20 characters (5 of them) at 4th level on average.

I didn't give it a name, so let me whip something up here now that I have time.  How long are those Twilight movies, anyway?  What about... Yezath-Rha'am, Qa'azol-Kemnakai, Hyna'aj-Quva'az?

Hit-Points: 222  AC: 10  #Attacks: 3  Attack: +7  Damage: 1d12 (exploding)  Save: 3+

Special: Treat this as a minor godling.  Should have been immune to non-magical weapons (high-tech is fine, though), but I forgot to mention that. Pretty much everyone at this point either had an enchanted weapon or blasters.

The sorcerer rolled a perfect 6 on his fireball table, doing 60 points of damage off the bat.  Nice!  Gath used his eldritch-beam, the warriors each got several hits with their magical weapons.  The battle was definitely going their way, when I suddenly rolled a crit on Robard.  After our group calculations to make sure we had it right, the sorcerer was down to negative 13 HP.  Parts of Robard flew around the cave as the Old One's tentacles eviscerated him.

A couple more rounds of both sides taking heavy damage and Jackal (I believe) dealt the killing-blow and was doused with chartreuse ichor... zoth, but in its freshest, innocuous form... like virgin zoth.  Incidentally, the idea came to me several days before the game that zoth should age like fine wine, hookers who've been around the block, and wizards who've seen some serious shit go down... increasingly potent the longer it pools and steeps in sunless places.

Heighten, Chancery Philthrop III grasped the crystals and slowly, carefully merged them together.  The crystal formations altered their structure as they coalesced into the artifact known as Vetus Unus.  A gravely, disembodied voice spoke to the halfling, "Choose the form of the destructor."  After some input from a couple of his companions, the halfling chose a starship.

They got in, busted out of The Lost City, made a b-line to the futuristic city, disabled the A.I. and using the toga peoples' technology and parts scooped up by Arn, forged a crystalline cyborg sorcerer out of Robard... or Ro-Robard as he's now called (or until we can think of something better).  Part human, part cyborg, and part crystal... Ro-Robard lives!

And that's where we ended things.  It felt like a solid, satisfying conclusion, so I'm happy with it.  If the next game is episode 1 of season 2, what's that going to be like?  Well, we all have time to consider it and weigh-in.  I'm assuming the players will want to continue the campaign with their same characters, but if they'd prefer to retire that particular story, or keep the story (who wants to know the deal of that gargantuan banana?) and start anew with different characters, I'd be down for that, too.  Whatever they want, fuchsia sky's the limit!

A lot of weird, funny shit was said, so here are the highlights...

  • "Load-bearing pylon."
  • "The purple maze dimension."
  • "He's tall... not in objective height, but culturally tall."
  • "There's always a die for that."
  • "As long as it's gross, fine by me."
  • "As long as it's disgusting, it's all good."
  • "Sorcerers can sense invisible dudes when they made them invisible."
  • "I graduated from Elementary school at A.I. University."
  • "Now, you're thinking with portals."
  • "Cyber-scorpion is not programmed for dick-mode."
  • "Your paradigm has just been shifted."
  • "They should be called Translucites."
  • "Mage-tentacle?  Is that, like, a spell I could cast?"

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below!  BTW, I'll be running Cha'alt at Gary Con next month.  If there are any seats open, grab 'em.  Or just flag me down to say hi.  I'll also have Cha'alt books on-hand.


p.s. Feel sad you're not in on all this Cha'alt action?  The Cha'alt trilogy is for sale - gorgeous hardcovers (limited edition, signed and numbered) that come with the PDFs!  And why not let me GM Cha'alt for you at VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo this July in Madison, WI.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Crystals of Chaos [session report #4]


Ok, let's do this!  Session 4 happened just this past Saturday.  

Two players couldn't make it, but we still had Jackal the dwarf warrior, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III the halfling thief, and Crandal the half-orc warrior from previous sessions, with a new addition to the table - a human priest named Gath (who's starting at 3rd level, everyone else was 4th).

After killing the guards last session, the PCs burst through the door to find the High Priest torturing her gorgeousity Lady Ska'ai.

Immediately, the High Priest zapped Robard the Red and Zagreus into another dimension (since their players weren't in attendance - don't worry, they'll reappear next session).  Robard's black demon sword being thrown into the lock of a prison cell, about 15' behind the High Priest.

That cell (one of four) allowed Gath (the new PC) to free himself and secure his liberty by helping the adventurers vanquish the violet priesthood.

It was a lengthy and bloody battle.  The halfling thief attempted to free the other prisoners (the remaining three cells), but he failed a stealth check - allowing the High Priest to make an attack of opportunity upon him.  My first three rolls of the game were all top numbers.  I rolled a natural 20 on the attack and then box-cars on the 2d6 damage.  The attack was so spectacular that I asked the halfling's player to make a saving throw to determine if he was still conscious.  [Is this a new rule born at the table?  Perhaps...]  Luckily, the save was decent enough to keep the halfling from passing out.

By the time the High Priest was out of hit-points. A tentacled demon abomination from the outer void clawed its way out of his corpse.  Tentacles were lopped off; a lavender beam of divine light scorched its flesh; the halfling, covered in slime and blood narrowly shimmied away; and several PCs took an unhealthy amount of damage.  Another prisoner was freed and given the halfling's spiked corkscrew helmet and ordered to charge the thing.

It was a gory, eldritch mess by the time other guards and priests arrived, using a laser to burn through the door.  As a 10" hole was incinerated and a hand reached in to unlock the door, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III stabbed with his emerald dagger, pinning the poor fool to the door and was also trampled by the guards rushing in.  They were dispatched, too.

Oh yeah, so I wouldn't forget, I had each PC roll to determine if they were charmed by Lady Ska'ai, remained charmed by Varantha, both, or neither.  A variety of results were produced, which caused much cognitive dissonance in the party, especially in the halfling's mind.  To ease his addled brain, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III had sex with one of the prisoners, a tall woman named Glenda.  Meanwhile, the rest of the PCs were healed by Gath.

Lady Ska'ai claimed the empty black jewelry box which the High Priest had held before her eyes while screaming "Where is your magical ring?"  Ska'ai told the PCs that she needed to go to a certain room in the underground temple to find her ring... her ka'alaxian crystal, reality-warping ring.  The PCs escorted her around the temple.

They killed guards, heard zita'ar music, almost interrupted an orgy, slapped a brain against the wall mid-transplant, came upon a basin filled with blue-green syrup (which the halfling drank) found the ring, found some violet-hued pills belonging to a priest - and some weird purple-glass hookah) discovered a secret door that led further underground, checked that out, slapped a new transplanted brain out of the surgeon's hands (Cha'alt also has a 5-second rule), and left to go find Sa'ab who was still waiting by his sand-speeder.

Before I get to that, let me tell you a bit about the subterranean area beneath the temple.  There was some sort of cult leader speaking to a dozen night-clown apostles.  The cult leader was talking about bananas and achieving gnosis and weird crystals.  Since the PCs already hate clowns, they decided to assault them all, starting with laser blasts to the cult leader (who had three burning spheres slowly circling above his crosslegged form).

He went down easily, and then the clowns attacked.  It would have been life or death if my dice hadn't decided to reverse the extreme luck I'd had at the session's start.  Out of five d20 rolls, I rolled four near-consecutive 5s.  However, one clown threw his red rubber nose that exploded like a grenade and another summoned a balloon-wolf to attack, at one point scoring a critical with poorly rolled damage - I assumed because its teeth were made out of balloon material which had a difficult time piercing flesh.

Doing a Darth Vader type foot-feel for the robed cult leader, they didn't find a body.  The halfling felt a presence as he was recovering from his wounds - another stone that easily came lose, revealing an emerald urn filled with green crystal ashes.  As per usual, the halfling snorted them and had bizarre visions involving green gateways to inner voids of another universe.

Before the session ended, the PCs decided to head back to A'agrybah.  They found another marker in the desert (along with some hippy elves that were high on something) and asked Gath if he could translate.  Turns out, he could!  Sa'ab drove them to two other markers he remembered seeing in his many travels crisscrossing S'kbah.  However, the last marker Gath needed to read was next to a sandworm.  

There was a whole scheme to lure the sandworm away, which only made it rampage towards fleeing humanoids not in the sand-speeder.  Before leaving, due to the PCs' excessive laser fire, the sandworm ate one of the hippy elves from an earlier marker and Sardie, the former elf prisoner rescued from the violet priests (which means the tall woman Glenda and a half-demon male named Zarj remained).

Upon reading that third marker, Gath directed Sa'ab to an rocky outcropping that didn't look like anything special.  At that point, we were nearing the session's end and the PCs considered going back home to A'agrybah.  Strangely, another of the elf hippies was there.  By this time, Jackal had had enough of hippy elves and decided to attack.  It would have been a killing blow, but the elf fell into some space that made him vanish, not altogether, but as if there were a certain line and whatever extended past that threshold disappeared into another world.

At that point, I decided to end things, since it was also just a couple minutes before our 4:00 stopping time.

Yeah, another great session.  I was happy to get this 4th one under my belt as that makes it the longest campaign I've run since 2019.  Seems weird to say that since most gamers seem to be engaging in lengthy campaigns nowadays, but as you know, I became the one-shot King since the pandemic and my goal for 2023 was to run a long-term campaign set in Cha'alt.  

Got to use the dice display pedestal thing, and I think that worked pretty well.  There were a couple times when I got lazy or forgetful and just let the dice remain where they were without putting them back in their new rightful spot.  But most of the time, I set them back where they now belong and then I knew exactly where the dice were when I needed them.  So, I call that a success.

I am strongly considering painting it, though.  I like the seafoam / cyan color it currently is, but how cool would it be to paint it fuchsia and chartreuse... for Cha'alt

Also, got a chance to use the giant red d20 that Robard's player gave me to keep track of Crimson Escalation during combat.  That also worked well.

While there was some fun banter and hilarious chitchat, I don't have any red-hot quotes from the session.  What else... oh yeah, that cult leader had a gold bracer with writing that needed to be deciphered.  Still working on that.  The PCs have amassed a decent amount of gold, talons, and jellybeans from their adventuring, too.  

Next time, PCs will get to see what's going on with that gargantuan banana just outside the golden gates of A'agrybah... plus, a half-dozen other surprises that have been subtly hinted at since we began playing.

Thanks for reading.  If you have a question or suggestion, feel free to comment below!


p.s. Need hardcover Cha'alt books?  Want to attend a kickass old-school RPG convention in Madison, WI this July?  That's VENGER CON.  

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Cha'alt Game Jam Participants


Remember the Cha'alt Game Jam (if you don't, check this out)?  Well, these are the products that came out of it...

The Skeevers of Turner Town by Lord Matteus - an adventure supplement for Cha'alt detailing a post-apocalyptic trailer park.  You can get this little baby for $4 at Big Geek Emporium.  Love all the little character portraits!

The Green Ices of Cha'alt from Peryton Publishing - a Cha'alt scenario in and around a gargantuan dragonfly and dormant volcano.  Simon Trantor did the artwork (and I'm using his cover art for this blog post, as well).

Epic! by Silvia Clemente and Miguel Ribiero - is a lengthy mix of the Red Room's wretchedverse along with Alpha Blue and Cha'alt.  [Sadly, I was just informed that the Red Room's account has just been closed due to DriveThru's claims of "hostile marketing."]

The Boy From Mezteha'as by Paddys Parlor Games - a jam-packed Cha'alt adventure filled with monsters, items, and heroics.

Colin Conn created a Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 / Cha'alt character sheet!  This is the color version, and here is the printer-friendly black and white version.

Vault of Cha'alt by Roger C. Jones of Brainstorm Books and Games - this PDF contains short adventures, plot hooks, and other material to spice up your Cha'alt campaigns (you are running multiple Cha'alt campaigns, right?) 

Last but not least is An Intro To Solo RPG With Alpha Blue by Sean Loftiss.  The name pretty much sums it up.  ;)

Thanks to everyone who took the time and energy to make something for the Cha'alt Game Jam.  Should I do another one next year or maybe as soon as this summer (around VENGER CON)?  Let me know!


p.s. Speaking of VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo, get your ticket for my old-school, OSR, and traditional RPG convention in Madison, WI this July.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Under Fuchsia Ska'ai


So, this is the first issue of Under Fuchsia Ska'ai.  A webcomic that takes place in Cha'alt, my eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting.  

Neckbeardia made a video review of both Cha'alt and The Good Syma'arian.  Very entertaining!

Want the Cha'alt trilogy at a reasonable price (remember, these are luxurious, limited edition, signed, and numbered hardcovers, and includes the PDFs)?  Pricelist and ordering details here!

If you like it, let the artist Jae Tanaka (@TanakaOSR on twitter) and I know with a comment below.  Enjoy, hoss...



p.s. God-tier old-school, OSR, and traditional RPG play this July in Madison, WI.  Check out VENGER CON 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Purchasing Cha'alt Hardcovers


Purchase your gorgeous hardcover Cha'alt books here and now.

Eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse with a side of humor, sleaze, and pop-culture references!

It seems like every day I'm hearing about someone's Cha'alt campaign, how much they love an adventure, random table, or optional rule... one of the Cha'alt books, or the entire trilogy.

Before I forget, have you acquired your FREE gift of Cha'alt Criterion?

Cha'alt is the anti-WotC D&D.  The thing defies conventional everything!  

It's never going to be as popular as what you can find on the shelves of your local game store.  It's never going to have the appeal of authentic medieval whatever.  It's never going to satisfy the gamers who need a thousand pages of rules, nor gamers who prefer slick Scandinavian death-metal graphics and 5 sentences per page.

However, Cha'alt is perfect for mixing, matching, and blending with your favorite OSR thing!  How else are you going to achieve that perfect Carcosa Dark Sun Star Wars Dune ripoff you wish was on late-night skinemax vibe?

Here's the latest YouTube review to whet your appetite!

Cha'alt exists for an exclusive and discerning clientele who want something weird and fun and awesome!  Without further ado, let's get to the 2023 deals, shall we?

Between now and Walpurgisnacht (May eve), I'm selling...

  • The original Cha'alt hardcover for $35 + $5 shipping ($35 shipping outside the USA)
  • Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcover for $40 + $5 shipping ($35 shipping outside the USA)
  • Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows hardcover for $55 + $5 shipping ($40 shipping outside the USA)
  • The Cha'alt trilogy for $120 + $10 shipping ($65 shipping outside the USA)

How to send funds?  The easiest way is via PayPal (yeah, I know... but still).  My email is:

I would also accept Stripe, check, or well-hidden cash.  Send me an email for those alternatives.  Order today!



p.s. Every gorgeous Cha'alt hardcover is a limited edition, signed and numbered by yours truly (and you get the PDF for FREE).  The production values are second to none - no WotC book has ever come close to these quality tomes!

Monday, February 6, 2023

Crystals of Chaos (session report #3, part 2)


Ok, part 1 is over here.  So much happened this session that I just thought it would easier to digest events in two separate blog posts.

Realizing the need to get the fuck out of there before something else occurred, the party left.  As a GM, I believe it's important not to rush the players.  Yes, move things along.  Yes, keep the flow going and give them prompts when needed.  But the decision to stay, leave, hang-out, do this or that is ultimately up to them, not the GM.

BTW, I rewarded the halfling thief with a point of Divine Favor for coming up with the idea to snort a line of undoubtedly evil ashes from a black urn, and being brave enough to execute it, and roleplaying it out.

They arrived at the city of A'agrybah easily enough.  However, they saw a massive banana sitting a mere stone's throw away from the city's golden gates.  I started out by describing the banana's size as gargantuan, but didn't specify any unit of measurement.  It was amusing to learn just how big the players imagined the banana to be before specifying its size.  One player asked if it was as big as a school bus, I think another assumed it was as large as a compact car.  I chuckled to myself while announcing it was so big that standing next to it was like having the suns blotted out.

The banana was a mile long.  So, impossibly big.  They asked a few more questions like if it was already peeled (it wasn't) or normal yellow (it was), then proceeded to ask nearby citizens what the Hell was going on?  The people of A'agrybah explained that it showed up earlier that day, just appearing as if by magic.  No one had more information than that.

The PCs made a b-line for Dookal's tent where they had planned to meet after securing the black demon sword.  Unexpectedly, Dookal wasn't there.  In his place was a new guy.  However, Dookal had left a letter for the adventurers, assuming they'd return before the merchant got back.

I read it aloud to the table, but will summarize here.  Dookal realized something was afoot upon selling that enormous ka'alaxian crystal to his buyer, A'ava'ask, and fled to Kra'adumek.  He warned about a banana, as well.

The PCs immediately wanted to head for the city formally famous for being ruled by a gigantic violet demon-worm.  However, I reminded them that they'd been traveling all day and it was approximately 11pm.  They should really get some sleep before continuing on.  This is another consideration I think it's important for GMs to remember.  Every once in awhile, without being intrusive, remind the players that their characters are wide awake, tired, hungry, horny, hot, cold, have cabin fever... whatever!

So, they went back to the temple of Varantha.  Everyone was asleep, except for Karl who was playing with his action figures in bed... with some kind of larva slime as lubricant.  Princess Leia was especially slimy.  A gnome tucked everyone into bed.

Upon waking, the door to Varantha's throne / audience room was barred and a couple gnomes were standing guard.  Her exquisiteness was "entertaining."  Heighten Chancery Philthrop III noticed a gnome entering a secret door down the hall.  He followed and saw there was a long, narrow galley or gallery running alongside the room where Varantha could usually be found.  And there were peep-holes.  

Without going into detail (you just had to be there, hoss), the halfling thief ended up butchering the gnome only to discover that he was not organic, but clockwork!  WTF?

After Varantha had finished with her guest, she showed off a pretty pink ring she'd just been given and mentioned her rivalry with Lady Ska'ai from Kra'adumek (including the noblewoman's magical chartreuse ring).  She put the ring on as the PCs warned her about the legend of an evil sorcerer named Sauron, clearly got possessed (saying that she would now take her rightful place as the King's love-slave), and the PCs tackled her and cut her finger off that wore the cursed ring.

Upon waking up to what had happened, Varantha bade the PCs take revenge upon her recent suitor (later revealed to be a humanoid named Maz aka the King's dick).  Robard the Red decided to release the demon Za'alkalek to help them find the dude who had just left the temple 20 to 30 minutes ago.

Requiring a pair of Varantha's used panties, the demon sniffed the humanoid out.  Finding him enjoying a post-coital drink at the Chartreuse Dragon Cantina.  Quickly dispatched by Crandal, Jackal, or both, everyone else in the cantina went about their business.  I believe Za'alkalek was allowed to suck the King's dick's soul, as well.  I hadn't planned for that, but thought... sure, why not?

Next, the PCs beeped Sa'ab to transport them to Kra'adumek.  Karl wanted to come, too.  He was anxious to see if his black van was still there in the desert.  

It wasn't.  Only the tires remained.  But there were footsteps in the sand.  I rolled a 2 in 6 chance to see if the tracks were single file to hide their number, after a player made a Tusken Raider reference.  Turns out, that's exactly what they did.  Haha.  

They followed the tracks in Sa'ab's beat-up sand-speeder.  It led to a ruined stone temple.  The party's sorcerer made Zagreus invisible so he could sneak in there and see what was up.  A single cultist stood guard over a circular metallic hatch in the temple's floor.

The upshot was that a cult of at least a dozen humanoids was down there worshiping some kind of statue of a demon or Old One.  The invisible dwarven thief started talking which freaked the cultists out, he stole a gemstone from the statue, got out of there, and locked the hatch.  The PCs decided to come back and open it back up on the way back to A'agrybah, hoping the cultists would turn to cannibalism by then.

Either Karl or Sa'ab new of a somewhat hidden temple stronghold beneath the city of Kra'adumek, so the PCs went that way.  They encountered a weird purple ooze thing (Zagreus picked-up a magical bone dagger and bone sheath with amber jewel in the crosspiece), a violet fungus, and sorcerer who tried to fireball the party; however, Robard quickly pounced by casting dispel magic.  I wasn't 100% on using dispel magic to interrupt a spell already being cast, so I asked for a d20 roll to help determine the effectiveness.  

Robard's player rolled poorly, not even wanting to tell me the result as he quickly tumbled over a fuchsia stone which meant he was spending a point of Divine Favor.  The result of his reroll was a natural 20, so I described the NPC sorcerer self-immolated himself in a pillar of fire (PCs looted a magical ring of lesser shielding from the charcoal ex-sorcerer).

The session ended with the PCs killing a couple of priest guards before opening a door revealing some kind of High Priest torturing the beautiful, fuchsia-skinned Lady Ska'ai.

So, yeah... a lot happened this session.  I honestly don't know how GMs can run a 6+ hour game.  After 4, I'm pretty much wiped-out.  But it was an extremely satisfying segment of the Crystals of Chaos campaign, and there are plenty of threads to follow for the future.

Below are the amusing phrases uttered around the table...

  • "You ever smoke a wizard?"
  • "You need a King's dick for when his majesty is too busy to fuck."
  • We thought of several gnome names after a player asked who a particular gnome was and I was stumped for a few seconds... Gnomington, Gnome Chomsky, and Gnome Alaska.
  • "Task mistress"
  • "Trust in the Old Ones, but tie up your riding lizard."  [A reference to one of my favorite childhood movies - The Golden Voyage of Sinbad]
  • I can't remember exactly what was said, but after a couple minutes of discussion, the PCs decided to put the pink "love-slave" ring around Maz's or "the King's dick" dick and his balls on either side... in a decorative box, of course.  

Oh yeah, the PCs who completed two full sessions got to level-up before session #3 started.  So, Robard the Red and Jackal both went into this adventure at 4th level.  The sorcerer rolled 1 additional HP and the dwarf warrior rolled 7.

Feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, comment, etc.  Oh, and if you haven't already backed the Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss kickstarter, please do.  And share it with your gaming friends!



Sunday, February 5, 2023

Crystals of Chaos, session #3 (part 1)


Remember, I'm coming at this campaign from a strange position or background.  Before this, I hadn't run a long-term campaign since 2016.  Only face-to-face and virtual one-shots.

It feels like we've been playing in this Cha'alt campaign (that I'm calling Crystals of Chaos) for longer than three sessions, but on the other hand it also feels like we're only at the very beginning of our journey.  So, it's freaking me out a bit... in a good way.

This is part 1, and here is part 2.

5 players for the game on 2/4/23, here are the Player-Characters...

  • Crandal the half-orc barbarian
  • Heighton Chancery Philthrop III the halfling thief
  • Zagreus the dwarf thief
  • Jackal the dwarf warrior
  • Robard the Red, dwarf sorcerer

I decided to start the session just as the adventures had reached their latest significant destination.  In short order, I told them the backstory - their merchant friend and sort of business partner, Dookal, suggested they search for a black demon sword.  He had a map and the journey would take a couple days.

The PCs reached the limestone steps twisting down into the desert's heart as play opened.  The first reason I opened it this way was to make the time-jump feel more cinematic... or whatever the TV equivalent is called.  The second was because I knew the next bit would involve a lot of social interaction in the city and I have a habit of starting with a number of social interaction and exploration encounters / moments, only getting to the combat stuff later on.  Rather than do the same exact thing as the previous two sessions, I wanted to start with some combat, have the social interaction stuff in the middle and end with exploration and more combat.

As the adventurers descended the stone stairs, they discovered a high tech thing high up on the wall.  Zagreus investigated, determining that it was most likely a surveillance device.  He still had a pair of lacy panties from session one's successful pick-pocket attempt in that crowd.  So, he covered the little camera lens with the panties and they continued on... just as they heard a woosh sound coming from further down below.

Sure enough, 3 blind cultists were standing in a 15' square stone room at the bottom of all those steps, the only door behind the malevolent worshipers. The limestone floor of this room was covered with 7" metal spikes, each a foot apart.  And the cultists had some organic slimy green substance attached to their hand and forearm that ended in three long tentacles.

Discovering these guys weren't part of the welcoming committee, at least not a friendly one, battle ensued.  Immediately, one of the cultists was cut in two, his top half falling upon one of the spikes, blood spurting up as his torso sank down upon the spike... tentacles thrashing.

The party's two warriors were both struck by the tentacles during combat, and both failed their saving throw.  After the battle was over they felt weak, diminished potency.  They rummaged around the cultists' robes, hoping for some kind of antidote and found a single vial of yellow liquid.  They weren't sure there was enough liquid, assuming that would help them, so Jackal took half and Crandal put on the Lovecraftian organic device.  Moments later, its fine tendrils dug into his forearm's flesh.  Both warriors' health improved.

Opening the black door, they entered a larger stone ritual chamber with the black sword in the center, on a dais.  Immediately upon grabbing the black sword, a demonic spirit withdrew from the blade, coalesced into a physical creature, and started attacking the party - with the black sword inexplicably appearing in his own clawed hand!

It took some doing to eventually slay this demon, making the nigrescent fiend crumble into rubble as its infernal essence returned to the sword.  Zagreus was knocked unconscious, and a couple players remarked how fortunate it was that the dwarf had not succumbed to his wounds back in the square, spiked room. Someone bandaged Zagreus as the others investigated the black sword, fearful of re-summoning the demon they had just fought.

Robard the Red used his sorcery to investigate the situation.  Turns out the black blade had subtly etched glyphs upon it, and that saying the name of the demon would render him powerless to leave the weapon.  Robard's spell emblazoned the nearly undetectable glyphs in glowing emerald green.  They spoke his name while grasping its hilt, and the sword was now usable by them.

Stats for the black sword named Za'alkalek after the demon residing in it.  It does 1d12 damage, it's a +3 weapon.  When top damage is rolled (a 12 in this case), a black portal opens and tentacles reach for the sword's victim and pull what's left of him into the unquiet void (save to avoid).

Before leaving, Heighten Chancery Philthrop III did a deep search of the ritual chamber.  Eventually, he found a block of limestone that was fairly wiggly and loose.  With a little effort, the halfling thief pried the stone out, revealing a black urn containing ashes.  Three letters were carved into the urn... SWK.

Heighten Chancery Philthrop III decided to snort some of the black urn's ashes... because he's fucking insane.  I quickly remembered that I had a random table for weird drug trips in Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows, and proceeded to roll.  

To the rest of the party, the halfling seemed to stare off into space for about 20 minutes.  But for him, it was a trip to the hospital where he was operated on as his insides became a black abyss that one of the surgeons fell into.

The halfling really wanted to do another line, but the rest of the party suggested they keep the rest of the ashes, possibly selling them back in A'agrybah.

Even without going into excruciating detail, this is turning into a long session report.  I think I'll break it up into two parts, with part two coming tomorrow.

Before I go, just want to say that it was a blast.  We had a criminally indecent amount of fun, and the location couldn't have been better.  Even with some technician coming into our library meeting room to adjust the smoke alarm or change the furnace filter or whatever he was doing on three separate occasions while we were there, it was still super awesome.  The wooden table was long - big enough for us to have 10 players - though 5 or 6 is ideal, I think.  The chairs were incredibly comfortable, too.  And it was quiet enough for me to bring in my portable Bose CD player so we could have dark ambient music in the background.

One more thing, we discussed something that I saw at my last convention, Game Hole Con, in the dealer's room.  It was a little wooden dice display... thing.  Just a thing with 7 risers at different levels where you can place your dice when they're out but not currently in use.

The moment I saw it, I thought what a strange idea... but further consideration made me think that it, indeed, served a valuable purpose.  How many times have I taken dice out of my bag to have them at the ready, but during the session, in-between rolls, I'd just stash them at the far corner of my dice rolling tray or near my phone or on the other side of my Cha'alt book?  There really wasn't one perfect place to put my dice when not in use.

But if I had one of those dice display things... I could put them there after my rolling was complete.  So, now I'm on a mission to find the most awesome, as well as, economical version on Etsy.  

If you have any experience with these devices, let me know.  Would you use one?  Have you ever seen them before?  If you've spotted a fantastic looking one, let me know.  I was thinking about buying a plain-Jane version and then customizing it myself.

Ok, have a great Sunday!


p.s. Yeah, the Kickstarter is still going for a few more days... Advanced Game Mastering Like A Fucking Boss!