Saturday, December 12, 2015

Actual Play: Funnel and Science Fantasy

I ran my first Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG funnel today, and four out of eight PCs met their ends in the process. The Kraken picture above is actually representative of the first encounter, where the ship the characters had signed onto was attacked by a giant sea monster. The PCs only had to beat back the tentacles, which still took a couple of characters. Then they rowed the two ship's boats to a nearby island as the ship started sinking, only to be taken down by the squid.

On the island the players actually took with gusto to surviving the night, which was one place that the funnel format showed off a wrinkle I hadn't thought of: a weaver was making a lean-to, an indentured servant starting a fire, a potato farmer finding edible tubers: characters doing survivalist stuff with the funnel skills. If you wanted to do a Swiss Family Robinson or Lost multi-part scenario in a fantasy RPG, a DCC funnel is actually a pretty great way to start it. Especially when there are a lot of interesting factions on the island.

But my scenario focused on a ziggurat at the center of the island, where things led. After a lizardman attack in the night, the characters went to the step pyramid and explored. Eventually they found a giant lizard, which took a PC out. But they found a back way down and a series of chutes that, carefully explored (though still losing a PC to a spear trap), led to an uncanny room that turned out to be a buried spaceship. I've been wanting to use one for a long time, and this one took off once the PCs sat in the command chairs. As of the end of the scenario, they were level one PCs en route to Mars.

The overall campaign setup is one I've wanted to do for a while, basically a mashup of Poul Anderson's The High Crusade with the classics of planetary romance. Crusade is science fiction where a group of English peasants commandeer a starship and get on with conquering alien worlds. Anderson's book is pretty much a romp for the humans, but I just want to take the basic image of medieval pseudo-Europeans with a starship and run with it. As a classic concept I just don't think it's done enough.

(Of course, I used an ancient astronauts explanation for the spaceship rather than a failed first-contact invasion, but that's just because it's more fun IMO.)

Adventures beyond this one are going to be using the Warriors of the Red Planet RPG as a supplement for Barsoom material. It's a retro-clone type of game by Al Krombach that provides a thorough D&D-alike conversion for the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom with the serial numbers filed off (or at least down to a near-rhyme; I mean, the sample character is Pars Parthas). But it will be using the DCC RPG, which I think is a good fit for sword & planet type adventure.

Beyond Mars / Barsoom, there are many worlds I'd like to explore in broad strokes. Venus, of course, with others in the solar system; and maybe even savage Almuric, the Purple Planet and its weirdling sun, Jorune, and frozen Yuggoth and dim Carcosa.

Really, the only problem is picking where to go first.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like an amazing idea - very in-keeping with the Appendix-N-ness of DCC.


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