Thursday, February 25, 2016

Gathox Session #12 Play Report

A pared-down crack team of Firestarter die-hards entered Ce-C'el with goldlust and murderous intent. They reentered the dungeon through the retractable statue in the first room, following bloodstains from some apparent attempt at dungeon corpse removal. After briefly checking in with the gimps at the forge, the Firestarters proceeded to the northwestern section of the main blue halls, finding a chokepoint access to the back end of the Gongwarped Fishermen's encampment.

Like this, but with extra horror.

The team ambushed a large contingent of Fishermen and managed to keep them divided  between two rooms. After picking them off one at a time, they finally defeated the monstrous and now-headless leader of the beasts and made friends with one of the remaining mutant freaks. Hauling a large cache of goodies proved slow and dangerous, leading to a hard scrabble out of the dungeon and into fresh air.


*Amadeus "Elf Boy" Marmaduke: splitting heads and finding any excuse to write anti-Kermen graffitti.

*Brother Saget: casting a 'Huygen's Barrier' spell and overloading, which summoned a bouncing Filth Elemental to roam the heated battle, randomly smashing things.

*Mutant Thla: teleporting a laser pistol from the hands of the Fish Boss, thereby saving the party from a volley of deadly (and armor ignoring) laser fire.

*Mike the Mutant: rolling more natural 20's and hits than anyone else,  even causing a Vulzari to die in a cartoonish poof of feathers. Also, for collecting teeth. Also for recruiting a two-headed dog man named Rex & T-Bone as his hireling.

The Take:

4 Gongwarped Fishermen
1 Fish Boss
3 mutant freaks
4 Vulzari
9 Retch Flies
1 Pinko Cultist
*Tapestries worth 750 gp
*3 mysterious beakers
*Scroll of 'Falling Leaves'
*Gold stashes worth 760 gp
*1 Stretch-O-Matic brand (TM) (R) Torture Dungeon Couples Play Rack, worth 1,400 gp
*1 mutant freak hireling, a two-headed dog-man named T-Bone and Rex

Each player receives 1,265 xp and 722 gp.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gathox Sessions #10 & #11 Play Report, In Brief

The Firestarters  were contracted by the Dohjaks to clean out the long abandoned and shifting ruins of Ce-C'el beneath their base. Providing a variety of paid targets, the Dohjaks were most hopeful that some of their soldiers would be returned to them.

For their first delve into unexplored ruins, the party survived largely unscathed. They befriended dungeon gimps, found a save tent, met the curry-obsessed Lumigoy, captured and tortured some Kermen, avoided turtle cultists, and fought dearly with the Gongwarped Fishermen. Succeeding in returning a badly injured Dohjak to his brethren, the Firestarters emerged from the yeast-choked ruins with no worse than moderate hospitalization awaiting them.

The Take:

6 gimps
1 Baaligir
8 mutant freaks
4 Kermen
4 Fishermen
6 Scavengers
a modest pile of gold
1 purple vial

Per Party Member:

Sidekick Cheetah gets 121 xp
78.5 gp
32 gp for Cheetah

The Analysis: 

This was my first chance to play around with the notion of a megadungeon in Gathox. I took note of the work Keith Davies did with his node-based megadungeon design and Jaquay'ed the living hell out of it. The resulting mix provided all sorts of revealing interconnections and, ultimately, surprising and delightful play for the entire table. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gathox Session #9 Play Report: Loose Ends and Brain Hacking

Leveraging their knowledge of Jiang Bao's circumstances as well as their possession of the Trepanator, the team managed to negotiate the restoration of Mua's mind for greater gold and top-notch future discounts on antiques.

The team entered the bent and shattered mind of Bao's son and began their search for a cure. Apparently, all minds are puzzle dungeons!

Go! Go! Go!

Puzzles solved:

*The Fear Room, where reckless abandon teaches you to run straight at walls.

*The Hope Room, where watering plants causes verdant jungles to grow throughout the mind.

*The Language and Pain Rooms, where linguistic abilities were temporarily suspended. Also, pain is a parlor, full of tricks and deceit.

*The Memory Room, a vast and disorganized library with ladders reaching upward for miles.

*The illusion of the Awe Room, the silent-film conflict against the Father in the Misery Room, and the shattered portraits of the Hate Room.

The Take:

200gp per player and 300xp. Also, the Trepanator remained property of the Firestarters, and the gang has access to one business quarter's time in which to access discounted antiques.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gathox Session #8 Play Report - A Truly Epic Session

 Our hobos began the session by scoping out the flow of traffic into the back rooms of the casino. Eventually, mutant Thla made psychic contact with the floor boss's mind, gleaning some information and then accidentally spamming his brain with psychic effluvia, causing him to convulse on the ground. Additional guards rushed into the office to investigate the commotion, which provided the excuse for cosmic doctor Sergio to enter the room under the pretense of aiding the screaming boss. Casting a sleep spell which overloaded, Sergio silently dropped all the guards in the room and caused the floor boss to disappear from this plane of existence.

The team ransacked the office, finding complete floor plans for the casino (including the location of an ominous pit), and subsequently finding a secret safe room. Sergio cracked the safe, only to be crippled by a poison arrow trap. Brother Saget, the spider-headed faith healer, began to set a fire trap on the main office door while the rest of the party split between guarding the room and exploring the dormitories of the employees.

 Pictured: A common tactic, but add fire.

Fake elf and blood crusted martial master Amadeus began exploration with Mangleface Steve and newcomer stink-mutant BullChevy Picklefarts, raiding footlockers and kicking over bunkbeds. Two guards met their end at Amadeus's hand, and a third was smothered in his sleep by Steve.

Coming to the boss's suite, the three teammates found the door barricaded by three elite smokeroom attendants. Steve muscled the barricade open, only to have an attendant hurl a deadly accurate dagger which severed her left arm and left her bleeding out. BullChevy was subsequently knocked out by a well-placed blow to the chin, leaving Amadeus to duke it out in a desperate bid for survival. Three dead attendants and a brainpunch later, Amadeus exited the room rich with additional plunder.

Regrouping and waking up unconscious teammates, the gang made a plan to arm the fire trap barricade at the office door and enter the sub-halls of the casino in a fast and furtive push to locate Jiang Mua. Diverting guards in the dark halls with a clever ruse vis a vis Sergio's silver tongue, the team made it to a rough hewn pit where the casino dumped bodies. Mutant Thla felt the psychic call of something immense and terrible below and volunteered for the spelunking.

Pictured: A good idea. For reals.

Making his way down 80' to a dank cavern floor, he found the place overgrown with a carpet of moss and bioluminescent fungus. In the distance, a great glowing winged entity, pulsating with psychadelic colors, hovered over the body of Mua, tendrils of energy engulfing the young man as well as extending into the casino floor above. Thla retrieved Mua, hefting the man's body while waging a dire psychic battle. The mutant finally escaped, but not before feeling the long term effects of mental contact with one of the Zhezhn of Gathox.

With the boy and the Trepanator retrieved, the gang needed to make a quick and dirty exit. The guards and employees finally burst down the office door, only to fall prey to Saget's fire trap, while the team detonated a stick of dynamite to enhance the confusion of the scene. They escaped through the cashier's door, where stink-mutant BullChevy hocked a paralytic loogie directly into the cashier's mouth, silencing her.

With the casino burning and half in ruins, the team escaped into the free air of Kermen territory and returned to Bao's antique shop. Bao paid in a timely fashion and with deep thanks, but desperate to wake his son from his psychic torpor. The team surreptitiously kept the Trepanator for the time being, returning to Dohjak territory to settle in for hospitalizations and carousing.

The Highlights:

*Amadeus brain punching attendants to death' covering himself in their blood, and writing the team's new gang name, Firestarters, in blood everywhere.

*Sergio's incredible luck in overloading the sleep spell, which teleported the floor boss to destinations unknown. Also, his charm with guards and elderly casino regulars alike.

*Mangleface Steve's epic accidental quest to roll more times on the Death and Dismemberment table and lose the most body parts out of any gang member.

*Saget's prudence, both in hanging back from battles and in strategic trap construction.

*BullChevy's magnificent powers of stench overwhelming guards, and his incredible aim when spitting.

*Thla's investigation of the psychic and psychadelic, leading him into contact with entities from beyond the physical plane. Also, his dangerous gambit to rescue Mua.

*Finally, FOUR Death and Dismemberment rolls, miraculously without a single PC death!

The Take:

*11 dead or defeated guards
*3 butchered casino attendants
*1 plane-banished floor boss
*1 missing person rescued: Jiang Mua
*1 artifact recovered: the Trepanator

GP per PC: 640
XP per PC: 719
RP per PC: 1

The Firestarters have expressed their desire for more serious dungeon delving, but would first like to solve the issue of Jiang Mua's psychic torpor. We'll deal with Mua next, which will allow me time to develop the next dungeon (a megadungeon, perhaps?).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gathox Session #7 Play Report

Our team, deciding to make a missing person un-missing for money,  met with Berling the Pusher for a quick round of funfetti cake, lengthy paperwork, and some investigative Q&A.

Interviews and some good old fashioned gumshoeing ensued at Jiang Bao's place, where our hobos acquired a cypher, a burnt key, and some eyeball tokens. Bao needs his son, Mua, to return so he can enjoy a fat cat retirement with the family antiques business intact.

Jiang Mua's childhood bestie, Laddy Birkenauer, copped some attitude and received a talking to, but ultimately managed to recall some key facts concerning the final known whereabouts of Mua.

The team made their way back into Kermen territory, where they encountered some Kermen street thugs who soon became street detritus.


In the Den of Dreamers, PCs played blackjack and craps, courted elderly gambling addicts, had crazy trips on Sho-Maht, and scoped the place out.


*Amadeus tagged the casino's outer wall with Kermen blood, ensuring the notorious future of the team's upstart gang.

*Mutant Thla became a seasoned psychonaut after swimming into the depths of a Sho-Maht hallucination and finding strange presences there.

*Sergio gathered intel by catering to the impulsiveness of an old gambler from the Craw.

*Brother Saget made like Sherlock with the clues - his self-banter getting closer to the heart of the mystery than even he realized.

The Take:

*4 Kermen Street Thugs

*30 gp

*Each player receives 15 xp, 7 gp, 5 sp.

The Analysis:

This is where the players really began to ramp up their hate for the Kermen, making overtures of war against the one-eyed aliens. Also, given that these players were still quite new to gaming, they were of course testing the borders of acceptability in play. I managed to accommodate most of those impulses in a fair manner, providing natural consequences for most of it. Those kinds of understandings between players and referees are another emergent property of play, concurrent with narrative.

Will the players solve the mystery and return Jiang Mua to his home? Find out next week!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gathox Session #6 Play Report: Kill All Kermen!!!!!!

Having regrouped at the Bar With No Name, the team decided to make a surgical strike on the Kermen safehouse where the Huttimer holy book was purported to be located.

Making a cautious approach, the team scouted the area. Guards and watchmen abounded, and with no obvious entrance, the party took to the sewers. Locating a sub-floor entrance and avoiding traps, the team entered the basement of the safehouse.

Just in time, too, as the Kermen were reenacting a perilous sex magic ritual from the book. Defeating the Screaming Bog-Hazz guardian, they snatched the book and made for the tunnel exit.

A dozen or more Kermen swarmed them, chasing them into a tight, compact tunnel. With Steve the Psychic near death, Brother Saget made the only play he could and cast "Summons From Beyond The Seven Pillars of Earth."

A lake of blood erupted from the earth below, shattering the bedrock and rending reality. A great firebreathing beast burst forth, destroying the safehouse and leveling a city block in its attempt to locate the caster. Luckily, the team was already moving through the sewers and across the city.

The PCs managed to return the book and collect their hard-earned reward with 3.5 hours to spare. The Kermen have vowed vengeance, although they likely don't know the identities of the perpetrators.


*Steve  "The Manglefaced Psychic" and Brother Saget continuing a long-standing tradition of improvised arson.

*Amadeus Marmaduke's stealthy recon resulting in solid intel.

*Mutant Thla's teleportation of the book mid-ritual, halting the dangerous and sexy magic in progress.

*Brother Saget's Hail Mary spellcasting resulting in both the destruction of a block of Kermen territory as well as the replacement of his head with a giant black widow.

The Defeated:

1 Screaming Bog-Hazz
10 Kermen mooks
1 Kermen Lieutenant

The Take:

520 gp each
675 xp each

*Congratulations! Everyone except Brother Sagett has reached 2nd level!

The Analysis:

Here we begin to see the players choose sides in the inherent conflict of the city. They'll work for the conservative Huttimer when the price is right, and they begin to show a bias toward the one-eyed Kermen. This is really the first seed of an ongoing war between the PCs and the Kermen, which reaches a devastating peak around Session #18 (no spoilers, but there are car-sized piles of burning human waste). Of course, being that the Kermen were merely standing between the players and their goal was sufficient cause for animosity. What surprised me was the extent to which that animosity expressed itself - spectacular public displays of violence and degradation.