The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by Netherstorm »

Encounters was good this week. In two weeks, the new 'season' starts up. It involves Neverwinter, which none of us are too pumped about. I'm going to run it though - for who, I'm not sure. I may run it in the 5 PM slot.

So we did the encounter and then got back to the Tomb of Aethering the Damned, which is from a Judges' Guild adventure book from the late 70's. The detailed summary is here:

TLDR version: They fell into a pit trap. It dropped them in a room with two undead giant lizards. The got bit a few times but killed them. The party then fought three weird statues with the power to cause amnesia, kill you in d6 rounds, and fire a heat beam respectively. One PC went down but was 'rolled over' and saved, though he accrued a -1 to agility.

Two questions came up:

Can you backstab with a sling?

As far as I can tell, yes. As long as the enemy is unaware of you.

If you cast Color Spray into a crowd, is there a chance you'll hit your allies?

Color spray says: "You summon forth a spray of brilliant colors that blind and dazzle your target"

... The 'firing into melee' rules refer to a bow/crossbow/dart/thrown dagger/other missile weapon, nothing about spells... So I'm going to say that color spray does not have a 50% chance of hitting an ally.

I haven't been using the 'withdrawal' rules because i am so sick of attacks of opportunity. I probably should start soon though.

It continues to go extremely well. The battles are terrifying. I am verrryy slowwwly making them harder. I'm kind of fine-tuning the ACs and hit point totals so I can gauge what's a challenge. So far they've been having no trouble. And they seemed to get a kick out of the 'spend gold to get xp' concept.

A week from this saturday is a game day... the kick-off to neverwinter. I might see if i can get them in to the store to do a special session of DCC where we have more time to play.
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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by Netherstorm »

We missed a week or two due to a request for me to run the sequel to Dark Legacy of Evard. I'll be running it one week, and DCC the next mostly. But the way things worked out, I ended up running DCC today and will again next week.


One paragraph version: They continued to search the dungeon. The warrior fell into a pit trap and dropped to 0 but was healed. Other traps were avoided, many secret doors were revealed, and much to my surprise, the heroes made their way to the final two rooms of the dungeon! In the first room, they fought a wraith and four skeletons with platemail & shields (AC 18!!). They turned the skeletons and pummeled the wraith. In the second room, they fought Aethering's mummy and two maug zombies. The maugs were whittled down, but the mummy could only be hit with magic! I ruled that mithril swords could hit it, and holy water could too. No one thought to use fire, the mummy's weakness, but they won out. One cleric was dying when we stopped for the night, though...

Honestly, I was rusty. The last few weeks I've been playing and running lots of 4e and I'd forgotten some of the rules of DCC. One thing I did start doing was using the 'withdrawal' rules. If the monster had attacked the PC on it's last turn, and then the PC tried to abandon it (circling it is fine), it got a shot.

I'm also allowing moving past the monster, even through enemy squares (we used maps tonight, I just bought the dungeon map pack from Paizo, and they're perfect for this dungeon!).

The main problem was that there was tons and tons of page-flipping. There are so many charts. It really started to annoy me. We were looking up deeds of arms, crit charts, fumble charts, turning undead, you name it. I have the handy 24 page reference sheet printed out.. but it's 24 pages! I still have to flip through it!

My plan is to get my butt to office depot and to print out 1 or 2 copies of the pdf bound. Then, make sure each player has their relevant info printed out and in their hand. The biggest slowdown tonight was when someone would crit, nobody knew what their crit die was. I want them to have their own crit chart handy with their crit dies written right on them. We only have two hours and I hate wasting it on stuff like this.

I am also worried that now that my heroes have plate mail, my low level jabronie monsters are not going to be able to hit them! If I have +1 to hit and their AC is an 18, well... that's a bit nutty.

Questions that came up:

What is the penalty for blindness?

When I went to page 64 to look this up, I saw that it gave people a +2 to hit blind creatures, but no mention of the creature's penalty! In the mighty deed of arms section on page 71, it says there's a -4 penalty to hit if temporarily blinded, and -8 if completely blinded. I have a wizard who is color spraying a lot, and blinding major foes. -4 is rough, -8 is insane!

What kind of action is getting up from prone?

I wasn't sure at the time, but looking now it appears we made the right call. It is a regular action, not just a move. Prone in DCC is no joke!

Mighty Deeds need to be chosen before you roll?

Yep. Page 73: "The warrior must declare the Deed before his attack. If he rolls the dice before declaring what Deed he attempts, then no Deed takes place, even if he rolls well on his attack die.

I was lax on this tonight but we'll have to tighten it up! No big deal.

Overall: The page-flipping was ridiculous, but everyone still loves it. We just need to get organized. Once we have the rules down this won't be as much of an issue. I threw some tougher monsters at them, and they persevered. I figured that though the skeletons had ACs of 18, they could still use spells. And they did.

I think I need to try throwing 10-15 low level goons at them to see how that works out. Could be deadly!

We've been planning for our future as a group. I want to cut back on how much I run. My current plan is to run a new 'ultimate campaign' on Mondays (once I finish a short mindflayer campaign which is in progress right now) and then encounters on wednesday, and that's it. Because I've gotten tired of 4e, I think I'm going to run my 'ultimate campaign' using Dungeon Crawl Classics, but in the world of Greyhawk. That might mean that we have to abandon this campaign in a month or two.
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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by Netherstorm »

Well we had quite the session today!

Shorter version: 1. The heroes looted the tomb. Invisible stalker killed warrior. He was rolled over and got -1 to agility.

2. Ssendam.. Lord of Entropy...! Attacked the dwarf hall! Dwarves died. And then.. the heroes rolled critical after critical, breaking open Ssendam's brain! and he teleported away. More on this below.

3. Patron mini-quest #2 - rescue comical living boulder sidekick from getting stuck high up in a canyon.

4. Patron mini-quest #3 - get an evil sword from a trapped demon lord. The demon lord began possessing the heroes and making them free him, but they were able to keep him contained and they got the sword.


We used the new cleric and the new thief rules, and everyone liked them. The cleric especially liked not having the cumulative -1.

Now as for Ssendam. He's a major entity in the fiend folio. Can't be hit by less than +3 weapon, has 197 hit points, 85% magic resistance. My idea of him attacking is because he wants to test Golila's agents and see if maybe she is worthy. So he starts off by killing dwarves and driving them insane. In my head, I decided that Ssendam could only be hit by criticals.

I planned the fight to go

Round 1: "Good gawd it's Ssendam!" and Ssendam puts symbol of insanity on prominent NPCS.
Round 2: Spirit dwarf guardians of Legion Hall arrive and fight Ssendam while the heroes do whatever.
Round 3: As Boulderloch told them a few sessions ago, he hated Ssendam and if the opportunity arose, he would attack him. So, Boulderloch shows up and makes the save, and both teleport somewhere and continue their battle away from Legion Hall.

Now, Ssendam's main form is that he's a giant golden amoeba-thing with tendrils. Inside him, you can see a floating brain. The heroes all said they were targeting the brain. OK, I thought, let's see what happens.

Here's what happened in about a round and a half:

Critical hit!
Failed spell.
Critical hit! Chart result: If target doesn't get magical healing, it dies in one hour!
Failed spell... missed attack..
Critical hit!
Critical hit!

FOUR CRITICALS. It was awesome. Once that second critical rolled in, I thought it would be cool if they maybe did kill Ssendam! So I'm kind of wracking my brain as the crits keep rolling in, and ultimately decided that Ssendam teleported to Limbo (I'm going to make up a limbo-equivalent, and also a slaad-equivalent for next time) and is either dead or in a type of catatonic state.

I know that the PCs shouldn't have been able to touch Ssendam. But because of scheduling and stuff, this campaign will be ending soon. Beating up Ssendam is a nice twist that can fast-forward us to the ending. I could have had Ssendam just beat the bejeezus out of them. The point of this scenario originally was just to get them to hate Ssendam and want to stop Thurfang's Ssendam-fueled plot. He was going to kill some dwarves and be all huge and awesome. But when the crits started rolling in, I decided to go with it, as it felt more interesting to me.

So the whole story of my campaign is that two servants of Ssendam are feuding. One, Thurfang, is creating speel-crypts to give himself enough power to rule the vermilion steppes in the name of Ssendam. Golila also serves Ssendam, but she is not in his favor and had been trapped in her tower. Ssendam has even placed a demon that is preventing Golila from entering her own dungeon to use her magic items.

So... if Ssendam is dead, does that mean these two villains lose their spells? Or power? I don't know. And how would this affect them? Would Golila now be able to leave her tower?

Then I had introduced a third wizard who was involved with Ssendam - Zebulon the venerable. He's actually the one who sicced Ssendam on the heroes, as the heroes had told him of Golila's plans in one of the first sessions.

At the end of this session, my players were discussing rounding up the dwarves and bringing them to Golila's tower in a full-on assault. Which sounds awesome.

The king of legion hall and one character's mother had a symbol of insanity placed on their forehead. A cleric asked his goddess how to cure it, she told him vaguely "when the time is right, you will know". Because I wanted time to decide on that! A lot was happening at once.

Here's my tentative plan:

Session 8: The heroes ride with the dwarves back home and attack Golila's tower! Her lightning skeletons fight back. If the PCs win, her brother begs them to spare her and tells them her pathetic origin. In addition, she's a bit evil and crazy, but she could be a powerful ally.

Session 9: It turns out that the thing they need to cure the insanity symbols is in her dungeon! But the demon is blocking it. The heroes must defeat the demon and maybe claim the magic items for themselves!

Session 10: Thurfang has gone to (Limbo )the "demi-plane" as I am calling it for now) to find what's left of Ssendam... and do some magic to take his place, come back to the Vermilion Steppes with Ssendam's (slaads) "demons" and rule it utterly! The heroes must defeat him in limbo

Session 11: Thurfang retreats to his orange spell-cryot, mortally wounded. He's trying a last ditch spell ritual regain his power. The heroes must at last go to the spell-crypt to finish off Thurfang once and for all.

There's loose ends:

Zebulon - who could be an aid to the heroes or racing against thurfang
The evil sword - they just got it. They will probably give it to the servant of Otiax. I'd like to tie that in to this story somehow.
The elf they saved - I had meant for them to go to her city and meet up with her

So yeah a lot going on here! Any ideas or advice is appreciated!
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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by Uncle Shecky »

I'm really enjoying your recaps. I like that you're using the Fiend Folio to bring in some unfamiliar monsters. I think other games could be a good source for these too (especially Call of Cthulhu).
Netherstorm wrote: ...
One thing I need to do is to figure out a find familiar chart for Friedrich. He has the spell, but I need to find a cool old familiar chart to roll on.
Dragon Magazine issues 84 and 86 (from Apr. and June 1984) had articles on additional possibilities for familiars. Issue 84 added a larger variety of normal animals, while issue 86 introduced a variety of new creatures from the Planes that could serve as familiars. Both very useful.

I'm sure there were other, more recent Dragon articles on familiars too, but I only recall those 2.
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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by Netherstorm »

Thanks Uncle Shecky! Unfortunately, I don't think I have those issues of Dragon. I dug out the old, boring find familiar chart from the 1e PH. The result was a crow. "Excellent Vision" was the trait. :|

Took me forever to finish this summary. I'm actually playing again tonight. But here's what happened last week:

Short Version: The heroes had mortally wounded Ssendam. Otiax, god of portals, found out that Thurfang was in the Orange Spell-Crypt trying to drain Ssendam's power into one of his gem eyes! Should this process succeed, Thurfang would have incredible power and would no doubt rule the Vermilion Steppes and it's demon-blood-soaked plains!

So Otiax sent them to the Spell-Crypt and the heroes hacked their way through tricks, traps, and monsters. Until they got to... the flail snail! That thing beat the crap out of everyone and almost caused a TPK!

Bad News: I have noticed a major problem with DCC. When the wizards have their spells, fights are easy. Once those spells are gone, it is certain doom! Also, the players are becoming increasingly unhappy with the major penalties. I'm talking about the corruption table, the "roll over" rule where you lose a stat point, and the critical miss table. They have so few hit points to start with, they already feel fragile. Coupled with the steady stream of penalties, it seems to be making for an increasingly unpleasant experience. The question they've been asking me: "How the hell are we going to make it to 5th level?".

I suppose the answer to this is that I could make sure to put in plenty of objects like magic fountains that give you stat point boosts. Or try to make the encounters easier. But I'm having a hard time with that.

Originally I liked DCC so much that I was going to make my next campaign using DCC instead of 4E, but the more we play, the more problems I see. And Chris Perkins' 4E columns every week are really re-selling me on the whole 4e experience.

So it looks like the plan is for me to run DCC tonight, to play out the final battle with Thurfang and end the campaign. I definitely plan on using the 0-level rules to kick off my 4E campaign, but switch to 4E once they hit level one.

I guess I shouldn't be appalled that wizards is putting out 0-level rules and a 0 level adventure on their site this month, but I kind of am.

I'll post more on the final fight tonight hopefully!
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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by GnomeBoy »

Netherstorm wrote:...Originally I liked DCC so much that I was going to make my next campaign using DCC instead of 4E, but...
Just keep in mind you are playing a *beta* version of the game, not even the complete beta version, and that those rules represent where things were some months back. The game's development has moved on since then and it certainly sounds like the author is addressing issues brought up here in the forum.

If you enjoyed DCC initially, you might assume that the final release will resolve the "problems" for you and make for a fun campaign... :)
Last edited by GnomeBoy on Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

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Re: The Spell-Crypts of Thurfang Bormaug

Post by sgtqueso »


You should talk to Mr. Goodman about turning this into a module or series of Modules, this is a fun story arc!

Great Job!

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