Friday, July 6, 2018

The Creepy Crawl Chronicles - Sessions 48 and 49

Creepy Crawl 48
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 5 Dampyr
Tarvinir – Lvl 5 Magic User
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 6 Cleric/Vegetable
Tysis – Lvl 5 Fighter
Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Monsters Mashed:
7 Corpse Jellies – Magic Missiled, Arrowed, and Fireballed.
210 EXP/4 Players – 52 EXP for Vlad, Rael, Arongoth, Tarvinir

Creepy Crawl 49
Greed – Lvl 5 Homanculus
Rael – Lvl 6 Thief/Werewolf
Vlad Draculastein – Lvl 5 Dampyr/Lawn Ornament
Tarvinir – Lvl 5 Magic User
Arongoth of Hogendaus – Lvl 6 Cleric/Vegetable
Tysis – Lvl 5 Fighter

Ritzy – Lvl 5 Homanculus

Items Acquired by Greed, Tysis, and Ritzy: A bronze helmet that seems to generate air.
A clay tablet that bears the cryptic message: “Tell them: “Stone Men of Old, bring me the…” The end of the message is obscured because it’s broken off.

And speaking of not getting the message:

Events of note:
Arongoth, Rael, and a petrified Vlad are galloping more or less in the direction of Strangledorf, having encountered an owlbear and a medusa sent by Morgus on the road.
Tarvinir is lurking in the bushes above the basin of Lake Mogeura.
Greed, Ritzy, and Tysis have descended the stairs deeper beneath the sunken keep and are now faced with either pushing open the stone slab to the E or messing with the coffer and its 4 armed skeletal guardian.


I have never been so ticked off at a table full of players as I was at the fustercluck that ensued over these two sessions. 

Sometimes hints don't work, I guess. Or maybe I was just operating on assumptions and that made an ass out of my umptions. 

There's a rule of thumb, mostly kind of meta-functional, that old schooley types like to repeat, and I think that was one of the suppositions I was operating on: 


Your characters are weaker alone than they are as a team. The rules are generally not calibrated such that a lone person or a small group of 3 or less can take on a lot of the threats you'll encounter. You have to be very smart, or very lucky, to be able to solo it.

Also, you're sitting at a table full of people. It makes it harder on the single guy who has to serve you the world if you're splitting up the team like the frikkin' Mystery Patrol from Scooby Doo. It's bad form. It makes things confusing and slows down the game. Whatever segment of the group who's not in the spotlight of the DM's attention is sitting unoccupied and possibly bored as they wait their turn. 

Plus it breaks immersion (pun semi intended), because if you don't split up the physical, real world group around the table, then their characters are privy to stuff they just wouldn't have knowledge of without telepathy or some kinda remote TV feed.

It's a bad idea. Don't do it!

 So anyway, what happened is the party had this map leading to a treasure under the surface of Lake Moguera. So the party's offensive line, namely Tysis the fighter and the two Homanculi Greed and Ritzy get set up with Water Breathing spells from the magic Hook and the Mermaid Cutlass and wade in to check it out. 

The rest of the party decides to camp out on the lake shore and wait for them. Even though there are plenty of Water Breathing spells available. 

So already we're in "What are they thinking?" kinda territory. Okay, lets explore the dungeon. Half the group will wait here by the door while the rest of you go in. 

What frikkin' game are we playing here? 

I think part of it was an irrational stinginess I've occasionally seen from players about magic item use. I've seen players hold on to item charges and potions and scrolls and never use them even onto the point of being masticated by monsters because they don't want to "waste" them.

They're there to be used! The DM put them there as possible answers to the questions posed as they explore the various scenarios they find themselves in. If you sit on this stuff and never use it it's pretty much the same as if it had never been introduced into the game at all. 

If you stock up your pantry, you gotta eat the food eventually, or else you're just setting up an elaborate and expensive compost heap.

I think that was part of what was going on. We don't want to waste Water Breathing spells, even though we're here on the edge of a lake that holds an amount of treasure, even after we've left the coastal city and are halfway into a trek up into the frikkin' Alps. As in the mountains, where lots of water isn't. Oy gevalt.

The other factor was that some members of the party had chosen... counterproductive characterizations for their characters. Arongoth had committed to playing an amoral scumbag who didn't really care about his companions. (Always a charming pose to take when playing with a group who are ostensibly your friends.) Vlad had decided his character was a coward, strongly inclined to not going into dangerous situations. Thus he chose a characterization that made his character not inclined to do the main thing the characters are supposed to be doing. Kind of like playing Scrabble but deciding you hate spelling. 

So anyway, to nudge the group on the shore into maybe joining their companions down under the lake, I send some monsters at 'em, since the hard, fightery types were all below while the squishy spellcasters and thieves were up top. A bunch of corpse jellies, essentially oozes piloting skeletons around, came ashore and menaced our campers. 

BTW, the corpse jellies are the throbbing brainchild of Patrick Wetmore of Henchman Abuse, the mad genius behind the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, which is a fantastic gonzo megadungeon campaign and one of very few campaign worlds not originated in my own brainpan that I would jump at running if I had the chance. 

So anyway, rather than taking the hint that it was a bad idea for the delicate subset of the party to separate from their meatshields, the shore side group decided to mount up and make a run for Strangeldorf, which I clearly informed them was still a couple days away. All while the rest of the team was exploring a dangerous dungeon under a lake. 

Which is about as split as a party can get. 

Even worse, the player playing Tarvinir the mage kinda grokked my displeasure at their proposal to scatter the party all over the map and decided to stay, and so wound up as a solitary mage hiding in the shrubs from the shambling skellies in jelly that would occasionally patrol the shore. 

Nothing I threw up in their way could deter our errant party members (I use the term party member here very loosely.) They rode past a medusa from Morgus, who petrified Vlad in the saddle as they thundered past. They blasted past a frikkin' owlbear. Every thing I could think of to say "Stop! Turn back and regroup!" was being met with "We must keep running home!"  


Tune in next week as we scrape up the scattered pieces of the campaign and put it back on track... 

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