Monday, April 17, 2023

Crystals of Chaos [session report #8]


Before diving right into this session report for the 2023 Cha'alt campaign known as Crystals of Chaos, I have a bonus session report to squeeze-in first.

The day before session #8, I ran a quick 90-minute game on Roll20.  It was in the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic world of Cha'alt using the same old Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 for both sessions (fuchsia burn was mentioned, but never used).

During the Roll20 one-shot, the 3 players (started with 4) were gamers I knew from social media.  So, after the game, I got to hear their positive feedback via Twitter...  

  • "Rules light, loads of RP, and action packed."
  • "His game might be the best of the OSR games. He throws out a lot of unnecessary bullshit and gets to playing."
  • "After today's session, I definitely want to pick up a book or two."

After a 3-month break from running virtual games, glad I haven't lost my touch.  ;)

I posted a generic title for the session when advertising for players on Roll20, but now that it's "in the can," I'd call this one A'agrybah Has Fallen.  Basically, the Federation has had it up to here with the people of Cha'alt.  They just decided to invade and take the planet by force, starting with the most populist city - A'agrybah.

Simple set-up... the PCs' mentor is dying and asks the adventurers to take something special (in this case, it was a vial of tangerine zoth) to the mentor's priest friend who's currently holed-up inside the Temple of Yog-Soggoth.

I won't go into further detail as I'll probably run that particular scenario again, but obviously it was a crowd pleaser.  And that goes into something mentioned on Raven Wulfgar's Cha'alt part 2 video here.  It's a 2-hour beast featuring both the Red Room and my friend and Crystals of Chaos player, Colin.  In the video, the co-host (I think) mentions that Cha'alt can be run many different ways.  It doesn't have to be slap-stick sleazy gonzo... unless you want it to be.  You can run it like grim and dirty survival horror or a space opera quest to save the planet and/or galaxy a la Star Wars and Dune.

Anyways, it was loads of fun, and I'm looking forward to more Roll20 one-shots maybe this or next week.  Stay in touch with me via Twitter, the Conservative OSR facebook group(s), and this blog.

Need a recap?  This is session #7.

5 players, the only one missing was Zagreus the dwarven thief.  Everyone is 6th level now, except the latecomer Gath who is now 5th.

So, the PCs burst into the room looking to take out the generators that create the phase-shift around various planets, including Cha'alt, but find out a few unfortunate things... Ro-Robard's invisibility spell has worn off, there's an anti-magic zone in this room, and Commander Andrak is waiting for them with 10 Federation soldiers (the elite kind, not the ordinary stormtrooper scrubs) ready with blasters on stun.

I thought about springing the whole "Hey, relax, you were only stunned." thing after everyone went down (assuming they did), but didn't want to create a TPK panic attack when things went according to likely probability.  Of course, I had a contingency plan, too, in case the PCs somehow got out of that mess.

So, what I did was if the blasters (set to stun) hit, the PC would have to make a saving throw to stay conscious.  If they succeed, no damage is taken and really nothing happens.  But if they fail, they're effectively "stunned" for several turns.

The adventurers find themselves strapped to big circular tables set at a 45-degree angle, naked except for their underwear.  The Commander and a Federation doctor is there to administer a drug.  He injects the PCs in the neck, which makes them more susceptible to some horrible creature contained in this transparent tube.  The creature gives off these vibrational waves that make it more difficult to lie, and when you do, it floods your brain with unwanted thoughts.

There was a lot of funny scatological humor as lies caused a PC to feel like the creature was peeing on his head or shitting on his chest, gross stuff like that.  When I re-use this bit, I might go for less humor and, instead, go into darker nightmare territory.  I'm thinking of that "re-education torture" part of the V-miniseries where the blonde is being terrorized by a huge lizard, but it's only happening in her mind.

Ok, so the enhanced interrogation did a couple of things.  First, it evened the playing field because now the Federation knows more about the PCs and what they're up to, also the resistance, etc.  Second, it refreshed the players on what they'd been doing and how much they've overcome various obstacles. 

Additionally, I had the Commander ask the PCs about a set of three ancient stone tablets that were recovered on Cha'alt awhile ago.  The Federation encased the tablets inside transparent aluminum, which also displaced their weight.  I came up with that on the spot, but think it works well.

The sorcerer could read the tablets' glyphs - they described a defensive artifact buried underground, something that could save Cha'alt in the event of a planet-wide attack, and seemingly connected to the mystical rainbow-hued crystal keys they were given by the nightmare clown in weird space.  The stone tablets also gave the artifact's location - inside the carcass of Cara'akis (a Great Old One renowned for his gargantuan size).

Afterwards, the PCs were imprisoned on the Federation base, behind laser bars.  I had just seen Dude, Where's My Car? the night before, so Andy Dick as a fellow prisoner was firmly in my mind, and I did my best to do an impression of him.  Zik the disheveled prisoner with many, many personal problems.  "Why can't I be your robot cat?"

Long story short, Ro-Robard (being part cyborg) tried to seduce the detention-droid, but that didn't work.  However, the detention-droid (OZ-13) was interested in joining their gang.  He had been a justice-droid before his re-programing, and didn't like his daily life on the Federation base.

They got their stuff - the Federation cleaned everything and re-charged all the energy cells (which was very nice of them).  They sliced and diced some random troopers and I.T. guys, found where the anti-magic technology was being housed, destroyed that, freed, Garren Voy and Graaawl, and then went back to blow those generators.  Ro-Robard, realizing at the beginning of the session that he was practically useless in a fight without his magic or a blaster, had successfully disabled the forcefield around the generators.

So, when the PCs returned, they blasted the shit out of it, then the sorcerer fireballed a second wave of troopers, scorching the crap out of Commander Andrak, as well, who teleported away just as he was in Crandol's tentacled.

They rigged the base to blow before heading for the impound and getting their ship, Jefferson, back.  Once in the air, they destroyed the rest of the base that didn't get blown-up earlier, dropped Ro-Robard down a rope-ladder to retrieve the stone tablets of Cha'alt.  The transparent aluminum made them easy for the cyborg-crystalline-dwarf sorcerer to carry back up to the ship.

The PCs high-tailed it for Cha'alt.  They flew over A'agrybah to see the gigantic banana peeled and a thousand banana-men had taken over the city.  Jefferson was ordered to strafe the city (killing about 80 banana-men), and then the PCs devised a plan while the sorcerer's player had to take an emergency work call.  I decided that Ro-Robard was likely working out the finer details of the stone tablets as his companions plotted their own take-over of A'agrybah.

The others ordered the ship's A.I. to create a short-lived virus deadly to bananas.  Yes, they were prepared to commit fruiticide.  Luckily, only 10% of the population needed to be killed off before the banana-men leader gave up control of the city to the PCs.

Just as the PCs were celebrating, a message came through the palace throne room or wherever the adventurers currently were - the brains behind the banana-men brawn revealed himself.  It was a new antagonist (or is it?!?) calling himself The Black Skull.  After The Black Skull swore revenge, the PCs had Jefferson triangulate his position, far, far to the south.

And, that's where we ended it.  Ro-Robard, and his player, was surprised to learn the PCs took over A'agrybah so quickly.  Below are some funny things that came out of the session.

  • Ludicrous speed - everyone's clothes went plaid (including the halfling's purple cloak).
  • The PCs were grateful for the Federation's OCD, and even logged onto Zelp! after their escape and gave the Federation base and prison colony a 5-ztar review.  "Greatest prison ever!"
  • I wanted to do a cut-scene at the very end of the session where we see a Federation guard / janitor refitting a fresh energy cell onto the PC's confiscated blaster, but I forgot all about it.
  • In the prison cell, everyone got bathrobes - they even had terrycloth sheaths!
  • Heighten Chancery Philthrop III proclaimed "I'm working for the glory of the next zoth hit," as he was asked what his function was on Cha'alt by Commander Andrak.
  • We learned that the crystal part of Ro-Robard might be female.  I blame the current year!
  • Sharp tang somehow goes well with dark taint... but don't ask me how.
  • Lots of banana puns (not really puns, but names for stuff with banana at the beginning) and such, like banana-speeder, banana bones, banana organs, banana brains in their banana skull, banana zombie apocalypse, getting sand in their peels, bananenchmen (banana henchmen), banana-cution, etc.
  • The PCs lured OZ-13 to their side with promises of taking him to Alpha Blue so he can get it on with female droids.  They were going to buy him a space station brothel multi-pass for not only Alpha Blue, but other space station brothels.
  • Oh yeah, and they managed to steal 30 spice capsules of refined zoth (each capsule goes for about a thousand credits).
  • Also, the PCs dropped Garren Voy and Graaawl off in the S'kbah desert and later picked-up both Karl and Sa'ab.

Ok, I think that's it.  Next game in just under two weeks.  I'm looking forward to it because it'll get everyone back to Cha'alt and back to a "normal" type of gameplay... possibly an all new megadungeon?

Thanks for reading!


p.s.  If you want your own Cha'alt campaign toolkit, here you go.  They are signed, numbered, and personalized deluxe hardcovers that are so high-quality and well-built they should last you years and years and years.  Also, don't forget about VENGER CON II: Electric Boogaloo this July in Madison, WI.  It's just going to be me, 20 - 30 gamers and nothing but an entire weekend of old-school, OSR, and traditional roleplaying games (plus, eating, drinking, joking around, and talking about tabletop gaming).


  1. The Game was fun on Roll20. Reminded me a lot of Conrad's Fantasy / Barony by Better Games. Perhaps I can run for you sometime. Player Facing gives the GM Freedom.

  2. I find it hysterical that their starship is named "Jefferson (Starship)"
    Just me?
    So how does one reserve a Roll20 spot? Is there a queue? I've run and played games on it, but never signed up for a "LFG" uhh.. group. And would you consider being a player in someone else's one shot?

    1. Yes, I'd consider playing in someone's one-shot.

      You just have to be available when I'm running a game. I advertise on FB and Twitter. Sometimes, I'll email individuals who specifically ask me to let them know.