Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BLACK CITY GAME 18 - The Defenestration Maneuver

I'm behind on a couple of weeks of game reports because of the short week last week, writing end-of-year reviews, moving offices - real world stuff.  With that in mind, let's not get right down to business.

Defenestration.  I'm not sure I can really call it "defenestration" when the party in question throws themselves out of the window.  (The boy reminds me that defenestration started the 30 Years War).  Please pardon my innocent misuse of the word hereafter.

The defenestration came up because the group didn't want to leave a giant monster behind them from the last game session.  They circled back to plan an attack on the monster, which I called the mega-shocker - since it was a giant version of the little shockers they'd been fighting here and there for weeks.  Listen, I know readers can't possibly remember the details of a game report from 3 weeks ago, so I'll recap a little - the average adult player doesn't even remember what happened last week.  Pretty much the only participants with fully functional brain cells are the 11 year olds.  They have an uncanny ability to recall the most obscure bits of setting trivia and discarded facts from old games.   For instance:  "The jotun's head is in the dungeon, and the body is in the ice - that was part of the dungeon graffiti back in the Well of Woe dungeon" says one of the boys.  Meanwhile, that bit of dungeon dressing was thrown at them in a game session from last June!

Kid's memories are awesome - or maybe they just seem that way when you're middle-aged brain can't remember where you left the car keys, or what you had for breakfast yesterday.  I'm beginning to think the best argument for rules-light gaming is that me and my cranky grognard peers don't have enough working memory cells for mastering weighty rule books.  Hah!  Enough digression.

In that previous game, the party was overlooking a large chamber from within a smaller control room with a glass window, and a massive serpentine monster (the mega shocker) had noticed them, ceasing its slurping of the power conduits and writhing its way over to their wall, smashing the glass with its stinger tail and sending the party retreating for cover.

Now they returned to the scene, having determined to deal with the beasty before going further.  Someone waxed wisely, "Let's not leave a dangerous monster behind us, since it's likely we'll run into something worse and have to flee back this way."

So now the halfling sneaked back to the control room, picked his way carefully to the window, and saw the giant critter curled up on the floor right below.  What followed was much wringing of hands and impassioned pleas for one strategy or another.  At one point, I remember saying in a smirking manner, "If you guys were real vikings, you’d stop deliberating and just jump out the window onto it's back and yell something manly."

Hey, that's not a bad idea, said one of the players.  Why don't we just jump out of the window onto its back and yell manly things?  Defenestration had been on the brain, because one of the players discovered the clerical "Command" spell and has been making lists of the most odd one-word commands he can muster throughout the session:  Defenestrate!  Equivocate!  Prosthelytize!  Capitulate!

"I can't wait until the day we fight a wizard, and the fight is high in a tower, and I have the Command spell memorized, and there happens to be a window nearby, and then he fails a saving throw.  Boy, that is going to be a good time for my cleric!"  Yes, I can hardly wait - now I suppose all my wizards in their towers need to be on guard for clerics with dictionaries.

So that's how we ended up with a half dozen player characters jumping out of the window onto the back of a giant worm monster, hoping to deal it lethal damage before it got too many attacks with its freaky electro-tail.  In the spirit of "rulings not rules", we talked through what this audacious tactic would buy them - double damage with a piercing weapon, a bonus to hit, 1d6 damage if you miss the monster and hit the ground, or a  save vs paralysis to avoid all damage for folks that land on the monster and hang on .  Somehow I got jedi mind tricked into giving everyone double damage for the jump, and not just the spears - bah, you weak-minded fool.  They ended up turning the giant mega shocker (8 HD, 39 hp) into a one-round speed bump.  Here is a sampling of their battle cries for their mad moment:

See you in Valhalla!
For Odin!
For Science!
For Agnar! (one of the NPC's has a serious a man-crush on Agnar the party leader)

After the mega-shocker beatdown, there was the walking, the exploring, more walking, then some resting - Mister T says, "I pity the fool that walks around the dungeon without any Sleep spells" - and later in the night, we concluded with a desperate fight in some ice caves against the clan mother of the Frost Gremlins.

Frost Gremlins are like goblins, but they only seem to have two concerns:  capturing mice and rats in little wooden cages, and killing everything else.  Down below on the floor of the cave, the clan mother was milking the venom from decapitated heads of furry pit vipers, while drummers beat a rhythm on little hand drums, fires danced in braziers casting jumping shadows against the cave walls, and bodyguards with spears chanted around the circle.  Again, it was the sneaky halfling that crept forward to the edge of the passage and overlooked the scene from behind a stalagmite, collecting vital intelligence for everyone else to plan another half-baked assault.  (Halflings are truly the most under-rated BX character class.  Knowledge is power, and no one delivers the intel like a good halfling scout).

The group ended up moving to the entrance and pelting the monsters below with arrows (when a pair of Sleep spells failed to knock out the whole room) while the bodyguards dipped spears in the poison and hurled them at the archers.  The elves were nigh invulnerable in their adamant plate, but Mustafa took a spear wound, and was incapacitated by viper venom.  The party quickly finished the remaining gremlins.

We ended there, on a cliff-hanger… would one of their original fighters succumb to the diluted viper venom when we rolled a save vs death the following week?  Tune in next time.  I'd say "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel", but it'll actually only be a few days instead of next week since I have to catch up.  Besides, I don't even think the kids in our game group would know that reference, or how so many of those old Batman shows ended on a cliff hanger.  Anyone know if Batman is still on reruns somewhere?


  1. I think kids have good memories because a) they care more, since they're closer to the feel of wonder, and b) their worlds are smaller, by which I mostly mean that D&D takes up a more significant chunk of their life experience than it does for us and they don't have a bunch of extraneous things pulling on their brains, e.g. work or providing for family or the errands they need to do later or or or or.

  2. I don't know about the US, but there is french dubbed version of it playing in Canada, or Québec at least. Rediscovering that over the holidays was amazing, makes me want to run a superhero game à la Adam West.

  3. I think the 60's Batman show is always being repeated somewhere.

  4. "Halflings are truly the most under-rated BX character class."

    Maybe it's thanks to The Hobbit being everywhere right now, but I have to wonder if this wasn't a deliberate design decision meant to emulate the LotR stories, which are pretty much all about the "discreet charm" and unexpected badassery of the Shirefolk. Everyone undersells the guy playing the halfling until--BAM--he comes out and saves the party's bacon nine ways from Sunday.

  5. The 60s Batman Movie is on Netflix. I started watching it but it was just too painful.