As always, Gary Con was a blast. If you are a fan of the OSR, or even just reminisce about AD&D, OD&D or BECMI from time to time, you owe it to yourself to make it to this convention. Much like NTRPG, Gary Con boasts an insanely high “former TSR employee to gamer” ratio. You can’t enter a room without encountering the likes of Mentzer, Kask, Easley, Diesel, Ward, Weis, the extended Gygax family, or a dozen others that I just don’t recognize on sight. It’s an incredible experience to be in Lake Geneva, throwing dice while enjoying the same sunsets, woods and environs that helped to give birth to this hobby we love.
I ran two sessions of Doom of the Savage Kings and one playtest of The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust, while Doug ran a DCC session for the Skach family and friends. Michael Curtis of Dungeon Alphabet fame was on hand, and we had the chance to talk about his upcoming Free RPG Day DCC, and how his adventure got to be so weird and creepy.
As for the games …
One of the very cool things about the DCC RPG is when you hit that sweet spot where players forget they are “DnDing.” To wit, in my first session of Savage Kings we had a very savvy, very intelligent old school player running a thief. At the crux of the adventure our party encounters a towering pair of rune-scarred stone doors.
In any other game, he would have prodded and poked for 10 minutes, certain that a trap was in there, someplace. But not this time. Our rogue was so into the exploration that – without even a hint of checking for traps – he pulls on the doors.
Nothing. But they are heavy stone doors. So he calls over his friend, the warrior.
She, of course rolls the natural twenty. The fake doors (actually disguised pillars) come out, dropping the ceiling on the party. Before you know it, debris is falling everywhere, clouds of dust are choking the air, and the resounding roar of the rubble renders communication impossible. By the time the dust (literally) settled, the paladin was trapped beneath a slab, half of the rest of the party was crushed, and only ones to make it out alive were saved by the quick thinking of another warrior.
Not a bad way to end a session.
Now, in fairness, the player might log on and refute this post with, “Harley it was near the end of our slot, I was just screwing with stuff,” but it didn’t feel like that was the case. I think he was honestly into a “what the heck is behind that door” mode, brought on by the immersion in something at once very similar but very different from D&D.
Another great climax came at the end of the Stardust session. Earlier in the game, Adananx the Awesome, sorcerer without peer, happened across the skull of a demon. Rather than use the skull as written in the adventure, I decided on the spot that the skull was actually Adananx's own
skull from a distant future where Adananx goes on to become a nigh-almighty demon lord. (An idea I lifted from Reverend Dakota’s CRAWL!
zine, btw). The demon skull was here to set his past self on the road to absolute dominion of the multiverse, and all that was necessary was that the sorcerer sacrifice one of his own allies.
This sort of thing is always risky when you are playing with folks you don’t know, but Adananx handled it flawlessly.
The adventure continued and soon Adananx failed a spell check, calling for a Major Corruption. And wouldn't you know it, but the player rolls the "grow a set of horns" result. So by this point Adananx is actually starting to look like the freakin' demon skull
. All that remains is the sacrifice ...
In the concluding encounter of the adventure the sorcerer hung back during the battle, tossing flask after flask of oil into a spider-filled chamber. But, unnoticed by his allies, he never quite got around to lighting the flasks. Instead, he waited until the battle was ended and the entire party (save for Adananx and a rogue) tromped into the chamber.
At that point, without the slightest hint of hesitation, Adananx cast flaming hands
into the chamber, incinerating the party, and slammed the doors shut, barring them closed.
But it was a gamble – there was still that one thief left outside, who has just witnessed a hired-sorcerer incinerate his entire band. And bear in mind our wizard has AC 11 and a paltry 6 hp. At any point the thief could have easily taken him out.
In a masterful bout of roleplaying (no dice involved), Adananx convinces the rogue that one of his erstwhile companions was tainted with chaos and needed to be immolated.
The rogue declares that as punishment, the hired sorcerer has forfeited his share of the treasure and orders him out of the jewelry shop. Adananx vanishes into the night, going on to become the Demon Prince of Worlds.
A big thank you to all the folks that turned out for the DCC RPG games. When you have legends like Mentzer, Kask, and Ward running games, it means the world to me that you guys would take the time to help out with our playtests. The DCC events were sold out nearly from the day they opened registration, so my apologies to anyone that wasn’t able to get into a game. Hopefully next year we’ll have more staff present to run even more DCCs.
Finally, special thanks to the Bloodkings (of DCC tournament fame) for con support. They were on hand to help out wherever needed, and were all around cool folks. Good people to have in the DCC family.
Next up … see you at Gen Con!