Alrighty, the meat of this blog post will be my 2nd Cha'alt game and a little about the final session of VENGER CON... Alpha Blue.
We started with 4 players - Imur a droid warrior (an old assassination-droid with the serial numbers filed off), Gabriel a human cleric (and worshiper of the King in Yellow), Frank Beezlebub a demon sorcerer with made an ill-fated pact with a demon and was sentenced to Cha'alt as a punishment, the droid thief ST-K1 who goes by "The Saint" and keeps killing folks wielding scimitars without the proper license and registration... and halfway through, we picked-up a 5th player who played Black Destro, a human warrior.
This is the session that ventured deep down into Cremza'amirikza'am. It's why I brought the magenta lamp - the lamp that never got used because I plum forgot about it! Oh well, next year. On the plus side, I did remember to bring my travel drum. It was only for one encounter (could have used it more, I suppose), but it lent a certain amount of je ne sais quoi to the session.
I know I've said this elsewhere, but if I'm running a session primarily set in a certain location, I usually don't begin there. I start the PCs in another place and let them arrive at the place they'll be exploring after 15% - 25% of mucking about in a tavern or wandering the desert or on a starship. In this case, the PCs were locked behind laser bars on a starship headed for Cha'alt. Cha'alt was listed as a Federation penal planet, and the PCs were prisoners. In several hours, they'd be starting their new life on Cha'alt.
Of course, ST-K1 was familiar with the planet... as was an NPC I cooked up named Za'av - green skin, former gladiator with a badass weapon that would be too difficult to describe with mere words (it was named Ka'arl).
The PCs became acquainted (also an important step in my games), got to Cha'alt, but no one was around - all the crew had vanished. They re-acquired their stuff, took as much info as they could from the ship's computer, and walked out into the desert. Getting a bird's eye view, the demon sorcerer noticed a stone temple that had seen better days. They walked to it.
Inside was a ball of yellow light that could speak directly into their minds, and a stone spiral stairway leading down to Cremza'amirikza'am. In my best Thundarr villain voice, I instructed them that Iva'ak-Na'az, the great and powerful, wished them to travel down into the under-realm and bring back the Lokna'ar!
Gabriel believed this was a direct message from the King in Yellow and gladly obeyed. The rest either felt like there was something to be gained, or that it was at least a starting point in their adventuring career.
I used the Vanessa and her banana-men servants as the opening - once they got past the black robed Kort'thalis worshipers flaying the back flesh from a humanoid corpse with none other than a crystal-rimmed jaccard - a thief's tool of inestimable value that was slumming it in the hands of depraved cultists.
From that moment on, ST-K1 used the crystal-rimmed jaccard as a "whip-missile" like from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the weapon employed by the blue guy. Why the fuck not?
Wanting to help Vanessa and find the Lokna'ar, the PCs ventured forth, exploring the first level of Cremza'amirikza'am. They encountered more cultists, androids, replicants, and a tentacled clown-worm before discovering a secret cave leading to a subway tunnel with active subway! The PCs decided to get on board and see where it took them. After climbing aboard, they realized it was a 2-day journey to someplace they didn't know.
After a random encounter of a unicorn murdering an NPC passenger, the subway car was attacked by a warlord wearing black serpentine armor and his minions. They jumped on top of the subway car and laser-sworded a circle in the ceiling to jump down. Several were shot with blasters and assorted weapons by the PCs before getting into melee range. It was a good battle.
Hours later, the subway slowed down in front of The Black Pyramid of Cha'alt and the PCs decided that's where the mettle of real adventurers are probably tested, jumped out, and headed for their fate.
We had a lot of fun, and many jokes were made... my favorite memorable line was the following, "This timeline is from a damaged prophecy."
I did get a chance to use the moon dice, and realized that it didn't provide the punch that I wanted. The way I approached the mechanics, it emphasized something slightly different than what I was after. I was reminded that in game design, you should make your design fulfill a variety of purposes. However, at the end of the day, decide which has the highest need and go about fulfilling that first and foremost.
With the moon dice, I wanted it to serve many masters, but in the end, I mostly wanted a way for the PCs to attempt epic, legendary actions that would normally be out of their reach.
Since the convention, I redesigned the moon dice, mechanically speaking, in order to meet that highest design goal. Thanks to my speedy layout guy, I already have an updated PDF for Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised.
So, the last session was Alpha Blue. As I stated in my latest (as of this writing) video, character creation just sort of fell into place. I saw it from a different angle, and that objective perspective made it clear how to proceed.
Here's what I did...
- Everyone roll either on the scoundrel or respectable career table (just one time per PC).
- Then choose if you want to be an alien, robot, mutant, or human (other)... which means rolling on the d4 table allowing you to have psionic powers, zedi abilities, etc.
- Finish all your rolling on the other tables as seems reasonable (outfit, gun, backstory, name, etc.)
- If you rolled on the respectable career table, your combat dice pool is a 2d6. If you're a scoundrel, roll 3d6.
After arrival, they went to a Mos Eisley cantina style bar where deals usually went down. There was some space hanky-panky in the champaign room to start things off.
It was then that I decided, as the GM (or Bold Dungeon Space Master) that I decided to fly too close to the sun. There was a guy tailing the PCs and he had a boss. The PCs found someone who had a boss that might want to buy the blue juice. And there was the bounty hunter who wanted the money owed to him - plus interest. And who knows, maybe another guy, as well?!?
I got lost in all the guys with bosses, deals being made, names, appointments, and just everything. Luckily, the PCs had taken notes and got me sorted out.
There was some high-level grifting, wheeling and dealing, and a white-knuckle shoot-out back at the cantina. The scenario only lasted about 3 hours, but it was the tail-end of the convention, and we came to a satisfying conclusion. Time to pack it all up, say goodbyes, and drive home.
It was a great time, while still leaving room for improvement. If you want to mark your calendars, the official dates agreed upon by my wife and several of the attendees I talked to over the weekend are Friday, July 19th - Sunday, July 21st.
Unfortunately, those dates don't work for the hotel (which is weird, because even during our convention the day-of there were room vacancies), so I'm going to shop around for another venue. I'll keep you posted.
That's it! Thanks for going on this journey with me, even if it's just reading the post-con report blog posts. I appreciate your support.
p.s. I did sell a number of books, including the magnificent and gorgeous Cha'alt hardcovers that are still on sale! Ordering details here!