Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dwimmer-Game 5 - Invest on their Blood!


My wife does this thing every New Year's where she invites anyone she's ever met over to the house for a New Year's Day potluck.  It's good for me to have some forced mingling and small talk on topics other than work and gaming, so I can continue to function as a normal human, at least once a year.  However, by evening, all the neighbors that play D&D had heard my kid's rave about the Dwimmermount game, and a number of them engineered to come back over for an evening dungeon romp.  We had 9 people packed into the upstairs study for a New Years Day jaunt into Dwimmermount.

Cast of Characters for Game 5:
Marthanes, a desert sorcerer
Tancrede , a cleric of Typhon
Wolfengard, a dwarf fighter
Utor, an elf enchanter
Bud, a dwarven cleric
Drev, a swashbuckling bard
Parquas, an elf magic user\thief
Big Bart, a fighter*
Jarvis, a fighter*

*Bart and Jarvis were the mercenaries Ploppy and Fluffy; they earned enough experience to go from zero level man to 1st level fighter, and have since been taken over as characters by new players.

This Dwimmermount campaign is shaping up to have a component of "passing the torch" to younger gamers.  We had 3 dads and 6 kids in the game, with kid ages ranging from 9 to 15.  One of the precepts is that the kids do the planning; the adults can offer advice, but kids make the decisions (for better or worse).  When it comes to planning, there is a strong bias towards fighting, action, and getting back into the dungeon as quickly as possible.  After getting the new players up to speed on the 'story so far', the kids decided they wanted to try and find the Moon Pool on level 1 once and for all.  (The other options they discussed were going to level 2, or breaking their alliance with the orcs of level 1 so they could loot them.  There was a certain bloodthirsty contingent that wanted to beat up the orcs.)

Once they reached the caverns again, they tripped a kobold ambush and ended up fighting a room full of kobolds.  Dwimmermount kobolds are small, misshapen dwarves, closer to kobold folklore, not the reptile headed dog men of traditional D&D games.  As a group, they charged the kobolds with weapons swinging.  When the kids get into these types of scrums, there is only one rule - "everybody fights, nobody quits".

Over the next few caverns, the major finds included the Moon Pool, a secret exit out of the dungeon (the hidden Dwarf Door), and a cavern with a pod of Shrieker Mushrooms; the players created a tactical position after dealing with the Shriekers, and then ambushed a large gang of kobolds coming to investigate the sounds (and they leveraged the high armor fighters to form a strong defensive line).  As an aside:  the Moon Pool has mind-expanding powers, and the players scooped a ton of Moon Pool water into flasks; sadly, they learned at the end of the session, back in town, that the water loses its Moon Pool properties when taken out of the pool, and is worthless outside of the dungeon.  They're considering an alternate way to monetize access to the Moon Pool.

After another round of voting, the kids decided it was time to head down to level 2.  They knew about two sets of stairs - an eastern set leading to a level called 'The Reliquary', and a western set leading to 'The Laboratory'.  The orcs (their erstwhile allies) guarded the west stairs, so the players chose the eastern stairs.  A "hall of memories" led to the stairs down, where the players viewed brief magical holograms showing pivotal moments in the history of the Thulians.  This was the player's first introduction to the idea that the dungeon is full of history, and the kids were very interested in seeing that dimension of the dungeon - good!  This first historical exposure was a big moment in the game, as I believe unraveling Dwimmermount's history is a satisfying goal for any Dwimmermount campaign.

It was at this point, the descent to level 2, that things took a turn for the zany.  The first room on level 2 was inhabited by a handful of those "Eldritch Bones", the metal skeletal Terminator-like destroyers that terrorize level 1.  The bard started doing his once-per-day Inspire Courage to improve the group's chance at surviving, when George (the 9 year old that plays Wolfengard) jumped in to do his own pep talk and "show the bard how it's really done".

"This is the day, my brothers, get ready to fight, my brothers, get ready to destroy them, brothers, we will INVEST ON THEIR BLOOD !"  George is English-as-a-second-language, so sometimes he gets his words wrong, plus he's the youngest guy (9 years old).  Maybe he was trying to say "we will feast on their blood?", I dunno.  From that point on, the gang of kids implored their compatriots to 'invest the monsters', roll really well and 'invest the dice', they'd even chant "invest, invest, invest, INVEST !" while pounding on the tables in advance of key dice rolls.  It was funny and endearing that they got so excited by George's speech and adopted "Invest" as their battle cry.  By the end of the night, they changed their company name from Muntburg Broncos to The Investors.

The Eldritch Bones were threatening enough that Marthanes summoned his berserkers to join the fight and get in on the "investing".  Because the berserkers last for 3 turns, the kids are focused on immediate action after a fight.  It's the polar opposite of the careful adult players.  The kids finished their combat with the EBs, concluded a mandatory turn of rest, and quickly tried to find another chamber with monsters before the spell ended.

The next room was a large vault with multiple wights.  The remaining berserkers perished quickly, and the players had to finish the wights themselves.  Everyone that could use a silver dagger or holy water had one at this point in the campaign (wealth was no barrier to this type of gear) but any hit by a wight is still instant death for a first level character, so the monster attacks were very tense.  No one died, but the drama made for a fitting end to an exciting session.

Leaving the dungeon, the players ran into the Five Delvers on their way out.  There was a brief debate whether to attack them - Marthanes implored his companions, "what happens in the dungeon stays in the dungeon…", but they settled on Plan B, which was to offer to sell the Delvers their complete map of level 1 and coax them into facing that demonic spider voice the party had deliberately by-passed.  The players had no intention of staying on level 1 anyway, so they cashed in the map.  With a heavy bag of gold, and the hopes that they've sent their rivals off to face a horrible demon spider, the players returned to Muntburg.  Happy New Year!