Filler Session : Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG!
The Portal Under the Stars!
A crowd of wretched peasants gather around the (lice infested) deathbed of Old Man Roberts, straining to hear the dying elders last, whispered words. He speaks of a magical portal that only appears once every 100 years - how he saw it in his youth, but lacked the courage to venture beyond the gate. Now he is dying and bitterly regrets his decision, he encourages this younger generation of brave bumpkins to seize the opportunity to make something of themselves - to embrace a life of adventure and heroism!
The nine would-be adventurers are...
Andy: LOOG the Costermonger (some manner of fruit vendor?) / FRACK the Hunter / FARMER ZEE the Rice Farmer (and his chicken)
Pat: BILLY NO-MATES the Halfling Moneylender / PETE the Minstrel / CHARLIE THE LIMP the crippled Beggar
Tony: MAVIS the Woodsman / SCROTE the Urchin / FARMER GILES the Parsnip Farmer (and his duck)
Assembled amongst the moonlit mounds beyond the familiar boundaries of the village, the crowd of ambitious peasants witness the manifestation of a curious portal amidst the tumbled monoliths. Cautiously, Farmer Giles creeps into the flag-stoned passageway, terminating in a sturdy door, studded with sparkling gems! Farmer Giles immediately begins to clumsily pry the precious stones loose with his trusty pitchfork, his faithful duck companion quacking encouragement from the sidelines. There is a flash of blinding starlight and the greedy farmer is blasted backwards, his hair all stuck up on end. Miraculously (for a level 0 character), he picks himself back up!
Frack the Hunter brandishes his crowbar and sets to forcing the door, which does not appear to have a handle. Another flash of light - another tumbling body - but reckless Frack fails to rise. Acrid smoke escapes from his every orifice.
RIP: FRACK THE HUNTER (fried by a blast of sorcerous lightning)
After Frack's abrupt death, nobody else is particularly eager to approach the mysterious portal, yet they crowd around the hunter's smoking corpse like flies on a fresh turd, squabbling over his gear. Mavis the Woodsman stares thoughtfully at the arrangement of deadly gems on the door, then up at the starry night sky, recognising a similarity. The burly lumberjack hypothesises that when the 'hollow star' that Old Man Robert's spoke of reaches its zenith, the arrangement of stars will match the arrangement of gems. The party kick their heels and sure enough, an hour or so later, the barrier disappears!
Jostling one another, the loathsome horde swarm into the dungeon and soon reach a chamber occupied by four spear-wielding statues. Mavis mislikes the look of this and shoves Pete the Minstrel into the room. One of the four statues hurls its spear - missing Pete by a whisker and only narrowly missing Mavis - before clattering harmlessly off a wall. Pete stays prone, singing about what an utter bastard Mavis is.
Charlie the Beggar takes issue with the woodsman's treatment of his musical friend and the two grapple manfully on the threshold, until the cripple breaks his crutch over Mavis' head. The blow must have knocked something loose in Mavis' brain, as when the woodsman regains consciousness, he suggests that the trap may be triggered by sensitive pressure plates in the floor. He steps carefully into the room - avoiding the spot where Pete fell - and is promptly skewered on the second statue's spear! So much for that theory!
RIP: MAVIS THE WOODSMAN (impaled on a spear)
The rest of the party crawl into the room, the final two spears pass harmlessly over their heads. The survivors claim the 4 spent spears and relieve the statues of their ancient armour - old, but better than a spear in the chest, as Mavis would agree. If he wasn't dead.
Forging on, Pete capers into a large room dominated by a huge statue of a fearsome barbarian. The base of the statue swivels around, the stone savage's accusing finger following the minstrel's movements. Pete capers back the way he came - a sudden burst of flame from the statue's finger sets the garish fabric of his trousers ablaze! Scrote the Urchin and Farmer Zee suspect that the statue can hardly track two targets simultaneously and agree to dash into the room together on the count of three.
Farmer Zee runs into the room - and Scrote does not. Feeling a little bit silly, the rice farmer runs around the statue a few times, hoping to 'confuse' it - but only makes himself dizzy. Staggering back towards the exit, Farmer Zee is engulfed by the next blast of flame. He and his loyal chicken are roasted on the spot, filling the dungeon with the smell of cooked meat, causing Scrote to salivate ravenously.
RIP: FARMER ZEE (betrayed by a feckless youth then burnt to a crisp)
After some lengthy debate, the peasants decide that the statue only shoots fire when someone tries to leave the room and devise a cunning plan. Pete the Minstrel stands in the north-east corner of the room, causing the death-dealing finger to rotate as far as possible from the western exit - then the others peasants bolt through the door before the statue can swivel all the way back around and incinerate them. It works! Huzzah! Pete is trapped in a room all by himself, where nobody else has to endure his 'singing'! Huzzah!
The next room they enter contains a huge, stone throne. An equally huge snake slithers out from behind it and attacks. "Bugger this" the peasants think, slamming the door in its scaly face. Haha! Snakes can't open doors can they? They don't have hands! This one seems intent on breaking the door down with the demonic spike sticking out of its head.... The party flee!!!
Farmer Giles and Scrote the Urchin makes haste for the exit, while Billy No-Mates, Pete and Charlie the Limp clamber onto the huge statue. Only brave Loog the Costermonger readies himself to face the giant demon snake, clutching his bow in trembling hands! Having forced the door, the monstrous serpent slithers into the large chamber, hourglass eyes fixed on Loog. The valiant fruit vendor fires one arrow before losing his nerve and running for cover. His next attack roll resulted in a Fumble. The costermonger trips on one of the snakes coils and twangs his next arrow at the statue, hitting Billy No-Mates in the face. The widely despised Halfling Moneylender falls off the statue with an arrow sticking out of his eye.
RIP: BILLY NO-MATES (shot in the face by a clumsy ally)
Charlie the Beggar immediately climbs down to loot the wealthy halfling's corpse, heedless of the threat posed by the demon snake. Fortunately for him, the serpent is otherwise occupied. Clinging to the statue, singing about how he is about to be eaten by a giant snake, Pete is snapped up in the creatures jaws and swallowed whole! Everyone cheers! Their jubilation is cut short when the serpent starts chasing the others around the room, its reactions made sluggish by the effort of digesting the struggling minstrel. Loog, Giles and Scrote barricade the southern exit, but the snake soon breaks through - at which point they douse it in lamp oil and set in on fire! Scrote finishes off the burning serpent with the axe he stole off the woodsman's body. Defeated, the snake dissolves - leaving a half-digested (but otherwise cheerful) minstrel rolling about in puddle of foul, digestive fluids. Pete immediately begins to sing about how grateful he is to be out of the snake's stomach - Scrote grimaces and bashes his skull in with the axe, silencing his bloody noise forever!
RIP: PETE THE MINSTREL (he had it coming!)
Murderous Scrote also pockets the demonic serpent's horn, on the off chance he can trade it in for some Pokemon cards or something. Kids these days, eh?
Meanwhile, Charlie the Limp pokes around the throne room (from where the snake emerged). He examines a series of clay tablets depicting the rise of a tribe of space-travelling savages. Sitting on the big, stone chair, the beggar experiences a vision of the universe, the timeless expanse of space! Staring up, Charlie begins to drool into his stubbly beard, bulging eyes as vacant as those of a skeleton.
Speaking of skeletons, the room to the east is chock full of the bony bastards, some manner of burial chamber, by the look of it. Loog, Giles and Scrote decide NOT to enter the room and be attacked by the reanimated dead - instead, they stand in the doorway and 'fish' for the treasure within using a grappling hook. They recover a suit of archaic chainmail and a battleaxe, both brittle with age.
Searching for survivors, they discover Charlie still sprawled upon the giant throne with an idiot expression plastered across his haggard face. They take the opportunity to steal the gold and silver that the beggar plundered from the moneylender's corpse, then pop back to the village to hide all their ill-gotten loot, before returning to rouse Charlie from his trance-like stupor. Who doesn't relish the opportunity to slap a beggar?
The cripple insists on exploring the burial chamber and is forced to flee as (shock! horror!) the bones animate and drag themselves from their alcoves. Retreating to a safe distance, Charlie smashes all seven of the bone-piles with his trusty sling.
Exploring the northern door, the four remaining peasants find themselves in a long room, dimly illuminated by a glittering pool. Several hulking shapes shuffle around aimlessly in the semi-darkness, light reflected from their bodies as though they were made of crystal. Charlie approaches the nearest of the figures and strikes it with his sword. He rolls a Fumble and the blade shatters! The crystal brute swings its sparkling fist and sends the surprised beggar sprawling across the chamber! The other figures remain curiously indifferent to the presence of hostile intruders. The peasants reduce three of the golems to dust before realising that the creatures are indifferent to them, unless they are threatened.
And that's where we had to leave it.
To be continued, at some point, I guess.
The players did really well, considering the adventure is written for 12-15 level 0 characters and I sent them in there with only 9 (and forgot to tell them about the whole luck burning rule).