Saturday, 24 January 2015
DCC Campaign Update: "I Love you, Dr.Theobald!"
In today's adventure, the PCs were surprised to find:
-That they'd figured out a new method to get rid of Cold Mutant "Deciders": get them high with a magic staff and then have their own people throw them off a balcony.
-That the Cold Mutants don't care much for visions; the old shaman used to get those, and they threw him off something for it.
-That the universal tactic for kidnapping someone (throughout the various planes, even) is to tap someone on the shoulders and say "excuse me mister" while a partner sucker-punches them from behind.
-That their party's cleric can be completely missing for well over 24 hours without anyone even noticing.
-That for Ricandra, to only steal the nominal sum of 10ep from your party-mates room while investigating their possible kidnapping is "being nice".
-That it doesn't matter how much you turn up the heat in Ice Dome Zero, Cold Mutants are always cold; it's just a racial trait.
-That the Plane of Jade is ruled over by the extremely old Jade Empress, who has been kidnapping the handsomest humanoids in all the material plane, to have them participate in 'the games' to see which will be her consort for life.
-That she means their life, not hers, since Material Plane humanoids are absurdly short-lived compared to Jade People.
-That by "games" she means a series of duels to the death, using what they call "Thunderdome Rules".
-That Jade People don't know much about the biology of carbon-based humanoids from the material plane, and didn't actually know the difference between humans and elves.
-That if you're a cleric in this party and you've been kidnapped, you hold no hope or expectation that your team-mates will bother to rescue you; so plan B for you is to convince the Jade People to kidnap your whole party too.
-That Rick/Ricandra, even in male form, registers as 'female' to Jade People sensors.
-That when in doubt on these matters, the Jade People use something called "the Probe" to make sure.
-That "the Probe" is not nearly as ominous or uncomfortable as it sounds.
-That when you need to understand a bit more of the context of Jade Person society, you need to get the help of a Historiologist, and a Carbonologist as well.
-That you can tell who the Historiologist is because of his ridiculous hat.
-That the Jade Court is getting quite desperate, as the Empress is pretty venerable at this point, and still hasn't been able to produce a single heir from any of her material-realm consorts.
-That the basic "birds and bees" of just how Jade people reproduce (it involves chips/shavings off their bodies) doesn't in any way sound like something any humanoid has any business, or indeed even capability, of being involved in.
-That in fact, it's biologically impossible for Jade People and humanoids from a completely different plane to reproduce together; but no one in the Plane of Jade had realized this until just now.
-That Chok the Cold Mutant, who got kidnapped by accident with the PCs, thinks that the Jade Empress' interest in humans who live one-millionth her lifespan and don't seem compatible with her reproductive needs sounds a little bit like what a guy in his tribe named "Orkuk the Penguin-Lover" gets up to.
-That actually, someone HAD apparently realized this before now, and is quite willing to murder Jade People scientists in order to keep the secret.
-That the whole thing may be a set-up from within; and the Jade Empress has been in it all along because as soon as she produces a male heir she won't be in power anymore.
-That the Games Co-ordinator has started to figure out what the Scientist died for, and after getting the whole story from Ricandra and realizing that he's been forced to run over a million 'games' in his career instead of just one, he's come to the conclusion that the Empress is a complete bitch.
-That, even when presented with a viable escape plan to get the fuck out of there and be done with it, the party decides to stay, because they haven't really done their job if they don't utterly ruin every place they visit.
-That Bill the Elf in particular won't be satisfied if he doesn't leave the Plane of Jade in utter politico-social chaos and possible civil war.
-That things get complicated when the Games Co-ordinator has mysteriously disappeared. Now the Historiologist has to be the new Co-ordinator, because that's the "natural line of succession".
-That no one in any of the various cultures of the Last Sun seem to have any rational way of organizing anything.
-That the old Co-ordinator may have been murdered by the Empress' Chief Intelligencer, Lord Wallhead.
-That Wallhead's agent (named "Stone; Jade Stone") has a few questions for the PCs.
-That while Stone learns very little from them, the PCs are able to deduct from Stone's questioning that in fact the Co-ordinator is not dead. Unfortunately, he does seem to have used the Jade Empire's great planar gate to flee into hiding in fear of his life, and won't be of any help in getting Bill his violent revolution.
-That while Jade People don't need to eat organic matter, they realize that their humanoid captives do, so they provide them with decorative crystal baskets of colorful fruit.
-That since Jade People also don't have any need for toilets, the decorative crystal baskets, once bereft of fruit, serve a dual-purpose.
-That while the rest of the PCs will now have to fight to the death in "the games", Ricandra may be of some help in any future plans as she has had her request granted to remain on the Plane of Jade as a spectator of the games, and been invited to spend the games in the "Empress' Box".
-That "the Empress' Box" is not a reference to her special area in the Thunderdome, but to a literal small locked box next to the Empress' viewing throne.
-That the first day of the games would consist of 16 gladiatorial fights among 32 contestants, and the next day would be the 'round of 16'.
-That among the other prisoners present for this round of the games are: a savage looking Apeman, some kind of Insect-man, a human peasant with a bucket and a frog, a tough looking ranger, a floating wizard with enough corruption and patron-taint on him to make it obvious he's really powerful, a non-floating wizard who is clearly of lower level, a sneaky rogue that may be from Arkhome, an Emo Elf, an Ogre named Trog who seems to be the only person that actually willingly wants to participate, a hapless cleric named Marvin, and a bunch of guys who look like 1st level cannon fodder.
-That the savage-looking Apeman is actually named "Doctor Theobald", and is an erudite scholar with an upper-crust English accent and a pipe. The peasant with the Bucket for a helmet, on the other hand, is named Jethro Bucket, and he really is a moron.
-That there's also a last-minute replacement for Ricandra who is a barbarian warrior-babe in bikini chainmail named Sandy, that is 100% biologically female; pretty much proving that the jig is up and everyone in power knows the games are a scam.
-That after a lot of arguing (getting 32 adventurers to agree on anything is pretty hard) the plan becomes to make it seem that the Empress reveals her deception to her people, and then kill her (making it look like a suicide if possible by magically pushing her off the balcony, but if not just magic-missiling her to death), in the hopes of causing an immediate succession war and high-tailing it out of the dimension with as much loot as they can steal, before anyone notices.
-That in order to stop Trog the Ogre from spilling the beans, you just have trick him into eating Jethro's hallucinogenic frog.
-That if you're stuck in the Empress' Box waiting for the Empress to arrive and the games to start, it's probably not a good idea to hint at your plan to kill the Empress to some random noble who sat down next to your box.
-That its a particularly bad idea if that random noble turns out to be Lord Wallhead, the Empress' Royal Intelligencer.
-That since Ricandra is a threat to the Empress, and the Empress' box cannot be opened except by her command, the only solution for Wallhead is to take the whole box with Ricandra in it to his offices.
-That when you're left alone inside a locked jade box in the headquarters of the Secret Police, it's convenient that you have a constant magic-missile floating around your head to gradually carve your way out of the box.
-That the whole elaborate plan to kill the Empress at the start of "the games" is only any good until your keen elven eyes realize that's not the Empress up on the balcony but her body-double.
-That a cleric can save the day by using Word of Command to force everyone in the Empress' Balcony to "Confess".
-That everyone in the Royal Balcony had some dark secret to tell, except that one guard who's really fucking boring (though he confesses he secretly wishes he could have something interesting to confess).
-That the Empress' Body-double speaks in an Australian accent, for no good reason.
-That Wallhead's assistant confirms that in fact the Royal council had known about her plan all along, and the Empress just doesn't give a shit what happens to the Jade Empire after she finally croaks childless.
-That at least one distant member of the royal family was already planning to assassinate the Empress and try to take power.
-That the accumulated weight of all these secrets causes a general panic among the crowd.
-That the Jade Guard are rendered less effective without anyone to give them immediate orders, once the ranger fires a grenade-arrow into the Royal Balcony, causing all the people ostensibly in charge to flee for their lives.
-That Jade Guardsmen are really tough. Like, survive a grenade-arrow tough.
-That if you get out of the Empress' Box and leave behind a pair of Cobalt Mines as a trap for Lord Wallhead when he returns, it would have been better to make damn sure you were going to be farther away than the front lawn when the mines get triggered. And ideally, you'd have been wise to make sure it was Wallhead who triggered them, and not Agent Jade Stone, of her Majesty's Secret Jade Service, who already desperately wants to use his License to Kill on you.
-That with enough team-work, getting out of the Thunderdome arena would probably be a real possibility; so of course the 32 adventurers almost immediately split into various groups with completely different plans. About 18 of them die almost immediately, too.
-That Dr. Theobald is a cool ape under pressure, and a good ape to have when you're trying to find the way out of Thunderdome, and over to the Planar Gate to destroy it (not so much so that the Jade Empress can't keep kidnapping humanoids from the material plane to use in her death matches, but so that the Jade Empress can't get any ideas of sending revenge squads after you personally; never let it be said this PC party did anything for purely selfless reasons).
-That when you're about to be brutally murdered by a 100% Jade version of 007, if you're a member of this PC party, you will gladly sell out your team-mate's plan to save your own hide.
-That with just about every Royal Guardsman busy protecting the royal palace from complete chaos, the Jade Empire Institute of Jade Sciences is practically undefended. Except by Jade Empire Science-Nerds.
-That even a Jade Nerd-fight can be pretty dangerous, given that Jade Nerd Fists do a D8+1 damage and the average Jade Nerd has 7 times more hit points than the average human.
-That if you're the Jade Nerd scientist who invented the Planar Gate (and probably the only one who could rebuild it), it's probably a bad idea to say so in an angry nerd-tone to the guys who just came in to destroy the gate forever.
-That things only get worse when Secret Agent Jade Stone busts down the door ready to shoot at anything in his path, using Rick/Ricandra as a human (or rather elven) shield.
-That Sandy the Bikini Chain Mail Barbarian can fortunately kick Agent Jade Stone's jade ass; particularly with a bit of help from Jethro Bucket (who has turned out to be a surprisingly efficient 0-level redneck).
-That when the Planar Gate is destroyed, the Jade Secret Agent is dead, and an entire plane is plunged into social ruin, it's time to planewalk it out of there back to Ice Dome Zero. And to take the survivors of "the games" with you (which happen to be Dr. Theobald, Sandy the Bikini Chainmail Warrior Woman, Jethro Bucket, Jal-udin the backstabbing rogue, and Marvin the Cleric).
That was it for this session; good fun was (as always) had by all. Now, the PCs plan to recover, try to talk Dr. Theobald to stay on (he's rapidly become their favorite ape-man scientist; but he plans to return to the Southern Ape Kingdoms as quickly as possible), and finally get down to the business of tracking down Feld (son of Feldstein) the dwarf and the stolen treasure hoard of Tiamat.
Currently Smoking: Castello 4k Canadian + Image Latakia
Addendum: A note on DCC Elves
Someone asked me if "elven barista' came out of a misreading (an intentional one, in this case, similar to accidental misreadings that has been made before) of the Elven Barrister profession?
Well, sort of: before the campaign even started, I read that and thought "barista" and then came up with the idea that in my DCC world all the elves are useless Hipsters, essentially the "Trust fund babies" of the Last Sun, living in the (illusory) security of their Dome (cities) where their every need is cared for by machines and they are free to argue about fashion, drink increasingly complex beverages and pretend they're writing a novel. The whole thing being a long slow decadence, since the Ancients vanished, and G.O.D. went mad, and the Dwarves were driven out of their Machineholds by the Dark Ones, so there's nothing to keep the systems the Elves depend on going. Most of the domes already failed; the remaining Hipster Elves in the remaining domes happily whittle away their lives on trivialities not realizing that the machines they depend on will sooner or later screw up and then they'll all be dead because of how useless they are (or almost always, there's in each generation a handful of useful elves, among which we hope are the PCs).
Later on in the campaign it was revealed that there are more than just one type of Elves: There were, beside the Hipster Elves, also the Smug Elves and the Emo Elves, both of which also live in domes. There was also, apparently some great kickass empire of warrior elves known as the Pythian Knights, who totally destroyed themselves (it would seem) several thousand years back. They had fleets of sky-ships and apparently lived up on the flying rocks that orbit the sun. It's not yet clear what relation, if any, these elves had to the Dome Elves.