We made it to X, hoss! That's an exciting milestone for the 2023 Cha'alt campaign.
Still doing levels every other session. I'm finally getting to see what 5th, 6th, and 7th level characters can do in Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 for the first fucking time! I'm happy to say that they're hardier and stronger, but not so much that it breaks the game or makes it incredibly difficult for the GM. So, mission accomplished, I guess.
I also came to a conclusion just before the session started. Regarding personality and roleplaying, I want maximum flexibility and autonomy with a minimum of keeping track of shit. I have enough to remember, juggling at least 16 balls in the air simultaneously, without all the stuff that the players themselves are supposed to be in charge of - roleplaying their character.
So, I'm still going to reward players throughout the session with Divine Favor (if an hour or two has gone by and I've forgotten about it, please remind me), but not going to implement any kind of personality alignment in the form of vices, virtues, obsessions, or character expectations. That's entirely the player's purview. I don't want to keep bogging the system down with extra rules or anything that gets in the way of "arcade-mode D&D."
Ok, we were down to 4 players because of vacation and family issues.
I really need to keep all my campaign notes in one spot. I have about 3 places that I use, ensuring that I'll never have exactly what I need in front of me when it's needed. For instance, there was a short message carved into the obelisk from last session that no one could remember... and, of course, the notes in front of me were not from that session. It was irritating, but nothing too horrible. The players sometimes take notes, too, but no one brought them to the game. Yeah...
Anyway, overall good session. One additional detail before I forget, I got my Mom a big cathedral-style amethyst geode for Mother's Day the next day (Sunday). Since I needed someplace to store the amethyst, I perched it atop one of my bookshelves in the game room. That kept it away from the kids while also giving our play space some much needed crystalline awesome-juice.
Ok, let me recap what happened...
The PCs had slept back on their starship Jefferson and then teleported back to Cremza'amirikza'am once they had sufficiently rested. As we were going through the logistics, I had an idea. Sorcerers should be able to spend an extra point of vitality to preserve spells in a sort of "background readiness" until they're needed. So, that's a rule now. Robard did precisely that in order to keep his portal preserved for when they wanted to exit. Hmm... maybe this is something that wizards of 5th level or higher can pull off?
So, they got back to the megadungeon saturated with magenta illumination. They wandered around, finding a cave behind a purple energy barrier. It was translucent, and could see a bunch of dudes sitting on beanbag chairs with high tech helmets over their head and face with a big sign that read "PornHub" in the background. They chose to explore elsewhere. FYI, this isn't in Cremza'amirikza'am as written, but something I pulled from my upcoming free adventure that will be released to several smaller PDF retailers tomorrow (5/15/23). It's called The Violet-Haunted Crypt.
Speaking of magenta illumination, I used the special magenta lamp in the game room after dimming the lights. And the lurid, sleazy effect it had on the session was palpable. So, if you happen to run Cremza'amirikza'am at some point, I HIGHLY recommend including the appropriate ambiance for the first three levels.
The party found a bunch of wasp-men bodies, along with some leftover hexagonal honeycomb currency (that tasted like honey). They stumbled upon turquoise cacti with orange spines and flowers (that tasted like orange chicken). While the rest of the party experimented with the unusual flora, Zemit rubbed his detachable penis onto a large magenta crystal embedded in the rock wall. Why? Because he wanted to impress Vanessa. Robard told him he didn't have to go to all that trouble, since the sorcerer could simply cast glamor on him and the magenta resonations would do the rest.
Sure enough, Zemit took a little walk with Vanessa and got the job done.
Then, they fought an adolescent clown-worm that kept nauseously bellowing about pina coladas and vaginas. The party probably would have moved along if not for the stairs down to level 2 behind it.
The battle was significant because the PCs, being short-handed and all, were afraid they might not be able to best the clown-worm. It managed to crit on one of the NPC banana-men servants of Vanessa (who inherited a fried chicken and brothel establishment on the 2nd level of the megadungeon), and the sight was glorious. The clown-worm's tentacles squeezed the mush out of the banana-man, then messily scooped what had been squeezed out into its mouth, and finally proceeded to tongue-rape the empty peel with its infernal appendage. Before that moment, I started counting how many times Robard's player said "gross." By the session's end, I managed to rack up 8 times. All of them well earned. Yes, that's pride swelling in my pants... pure pride! ;)
Without Robard's "natural 6" fireball, I'm not sure the PCs would have made it. He did a whopping 60 points of damage right from the get-go. Jackal stabbed and the thieves used their blasters to finish the job.
After defeating the clown-worm as it began to liquify, Robard (upon rolling a natural 20 on his "arcane senses" check - which I just made-up on the spot) detected a powerful magic item inside the corpse. It was the god-slayer trident of legend. They used it to create a chromatic zoth from the clown-worm's blood enchanted by the trident.
Robard drank the chromatic zoth, experienced visions, got an extra point of Divine Favor as the Old Ones said "What up?," and became extremely paranoid for some time afterwards... which Robard's player portrayed excellently (without needing any meta-game hoohaha).
The clown-worm had been guarding the stairs to level 2. So, the PCs went down. Zagreus was the only one who stepped on a landmine (but thankfully he was skilled enough to disengage it before the thing went off). Then they disturbed a few giant vampire bats and slew them. Oh yeah, they encountered a banana-man walking his banana-pet who was eating a naturally growing banana from the cave floor. The banana-man also carried a sign that read "The unknowable banana-Gods are angry. The end is nigh." Not wanting to see a prophecy go unfulfilled, Jackal decided to try out his trident. The banana-man was easily slain as his banana-pet ran off into the magenta darkness. Will we see it again?
I like to include one or more humanoid tribes living "naturally" within my megadungeons, and Cremza'amirikza'am is no exception. The PCs interacted with a nudist colony down there led by Ron Jeremy (circa 1983). They got information about Commander Andrak who had crossed through their asking about a powerful artifact the day before.
They also went into the "smash cave," a name I borrowed from The Jersey Shore. They had a "smash room" where members of the Jersey Shore house would hook-up, away from the other roommates. This cave was also filled with crystals... cleansing crystals that gave off healing energy.
Ron Jeremy (BTW, I had to prompt Midjourney with Rob Jeremy because of their stupid anti-porn restrictions) showed someone, can't remember who, a "dimensional peephole" that allowed remote viewing of the smash cave. I was told that was actually scrying, but dimensional peephole sounded more appropriate. Everyone at the table agreed.
Robard wanted to keep going, in part because of his cosmic paranoia. But the rest of the party convinced him at knife-point to partake in the nudist colony's hospitality. After an hour or so of fellatio, soothing chimes, and good vibrations, the adventurers felt entirely relaxed and cleansed.
There was a cave painting there, too. It depicted some really cool, potentially game-changing Cha'alt lore that I was excited to introduce into the campaign.
As zoth is the Great Old One ichor that spilled out of the dead gods, revitalizing the planet and making sorcery widespread as in Cha'alt's golden age, the essence or soul-energy escaping to another universe was filtered through the very rock, imbuing crystals with power.
The PCs made the connection between their purple labyrinth H.P. Lovecraft visitation and this new discovery - if the spiritual energy of the Old Ones is somehow locked inside Cha'alt's crystals, then maybe they shouldn't be using them to fuel their starship and other various technologies. Heighten Chancery Philthrop III made the counter-argument that perhaps using the crystals released the rest of the Old Ones' essence into space. I don't think anyone else in the party was wholly convinced of that.
Something for all of us to ponder in the coming days...
Before long, the PCs (still chilling in the smash cave) heard the distinctive sound of spurs clinking and clanking. They walked to the cave entrance to see a bounty hunter wearing an even more distinctive deep v-neck poncho with tendril fringe in traditional southwestern hues.
The bounty hunter was looking for a thief and former bartender named Zemitorius. If the PCs handed him over, he'd give them 500 gold pieces (about half of what he was worth, but the bounty hunter didn't mention that part). They asked what he did, and the bounty hunter told them a little story.
Back when Zemit was a bartender, he fucked a watermelon and then used that watermelon to serve fancy drinks on Korgoth's sail-barge (Korgoth was a retired adventurer who is "better than you in every way" according to Colin who created him for that playtest in Cha'alt he ran last weekend).
For that much gold, the PCs gave him up (since he wasn't exactly a member of the party or that useful). Robard put him back into the crystal orb where he belongs, but not before relieving Zemit of his detachable penis.
After Zemit was back in the crystal sphere and handed over to the bounty hunter, Zagreus noticed a little orange button on the side of the detachable penis. He pushed it, emitting a holograph like Princess Leia, except that it was Zemit himself bequeathing his most prized possession to his good pals who must have survived him. It was his crystal-rimmed jaccard hidden inside the detachable penis.
Everyone had a good laugh because of the call-back to my improvised creation of some fictional thieves' tool that nobody had ever heard of, except for my character Charkuteri in that aforementioned playtest.
The last bit of the session was spent fighting a gigantic mutant crab (technically godlike, so Jackal was able to use the trident's god-killing +5 bonus). After a small fireball and taking a claw to the leg, Robard was weakened enough to get the fuck out of there, back to the smash cave. The rest of the party remained to kick its ass. Zagreus almost went down after the crab scored a critical hit, and then Jackal got one of his own, pulverizing the poor excuse for a crustacean god.
In its fishy lair, there was a magical shield of sandworms attacking starships in the sky. When anointed with humanoid blood, opponents are at a Disadvantage when targeting the shield bearer (lasts for 20 minutes).
That's it. Thanks for reading. In two weeks, we shall continue with yet another session.
p.s. We're running out of time for VENGER CON, so get your tickets while you can! The Kickstarter is still going for the Cha'alt webcomic Under Fuchsia Ska'ai, with a top backer tier including the Cha'alt hardcover trilogy.