Monday, March 12, 2012

In Which I Play Dwimmermount

So this past Saturday night I was kindly asked by Tavis Allison (of MuleAbides, Adventurer-Conqueror-King-System, Kickstarter-extraordinaire fame) to participate in a sneak-preview playtest of James Maliszewski's Dwimmermount megadungeon setting at a local gaming venue. What an opportunity! Rarely do I get to sit in the player's seat, and man did I need a break from furiously writing math lecture notes all day and night the past few weeks.

Tavis may have more courage than I do, because he had something of an open call out to players, and once we had dinner, piled into the Brooklyn Strategist, and set up to play around the custom gaming table there, he had no less than nine players ready for the session. Sadly I don't think I caught everyone's name, but among the players nearest to me were Pete, Miguel, Ben, and Eric. Paul Hughes was there (the creative force behind the mind-bending dungeon-map-random-dungeon-generator poster, currently on Kickstarter). And so was Stefan Pokorny, master sculptor and founder of Dwarven Forge, who provided an eye-popping array of miniature terrain to play with. And we were all here to pillage Dwimmermount. Now that's a game!

Tavis was pretty generous with how characters were procured, rolled, or flat-out stolen from someone else. On a whim I'd brought my little sheet for a 2nd-level dwarven fighter named Garrick, who previously saw action in a Google+ game run by my gaming-expert friend Paul. Since most PC's were being generated at 4th level, about the first thing that Tavis said to me was, "You can have 4 henchmen, does that appeal to you?" Does it!? (I'm semi-infamous for gleefully playing multiple characters. Here I would get to play a whole crew of 5 dwarven plate-armored fighters. This was a very good sign.) With similar rulings around the table, we had a total of eighteen characters assembled and marching up to Dwimmermount.


On the slopes outside the dungeon entrance, we were trying to negotiate our way over a treacherous rockfall, when part of the cliff above us fell away and we found ourselves facing several frickin' gorgons in a newly-revealed cave. After some not-very-effectual missile fire (and my dwarves not having any long-range weapons at all), some clever soul hooked onto the crumbly cliff face with a grappling hook and brought it down on top of the cave entrance -- which was then locked in place with a web spell. Thus saved, we continued to the entrance and into the dungeon.

An earlier explorer had a pretty complete map of the first level, and it seemed like the area to the east looked promising, so we assembled in good marching order and proceeded in that direction (this was nontrivial with our numbers, but Stefan wrangling terrain and miniatures helped immensely). We traveled through a hall of statues, and broke through an orc-assembly area, lighting an enormous fire to keep the way clear (I think). Then we made our way into a room of seemingly-trapped fixtures on the walls. Here someone points out a corpse that preceded us:


Some of our elven compatriots felt that the lone room to the north should be cleared first (I think they were reading from a book of notes from earlier adventures: "Ack, never trust anything written on paper", says I). So this precipitates a rather hair-raising fight with undead. There is a standard-weapon-immune, energy-draining creature involved: since almost none of the party has magic weapons, Garrick calls for a general dwarven charge to batter the creature and get some desperate licks in with his one silver dagger; meanwhile, a fellow party member pulls out a magic sword and joins in. Unfortunately, more undead attack the party from our other side, and the casting of a web spell goes awry, trapping some of the party and cutting off the rest. What a mess!


The cut-off members of the party try to hold off the undead host, throwing flaming oil at the chokepoints and fighting furiously. Unfortunately, several members are cut down, and our cleric Father Roy is caught up by a gang of them, slain, and then carried off to parts unknown. But his sacrifice allows the rest of us to re-assemble and locate a sizable amount of treasure. (Sorry about the magic item the dwarves smashed in their fury. Our bad!)


We explore some more rooms further south, but hear the sounds of numerous creatures that seem to be stalking us with violent intent. So we turn about and decide to meet them in combat -- and our aggressive posture pays off. Sleep + 5 dwarves rushing in with spears and hammers = totally wiped out group of kobolds.


After this, it was time to head back to town with our treasure, experience, and a map to a discordant subterranean area located near a frontier fortress. A successful exploration! We cleaned up and left the area in the Brooklyn Strategist for the next adventurers who might try it.


A few notes: An immensely enjoyable game run by Tavis, with all the players involved. I'm also pretty happy with how I'm playing these days, actually -- I didn't lose a single one of my dwarven fighting squad, even though they were all 1st level (plus Garrick at 2nd), and composed most of the front two rows of the party (so as protect the rest of the group with their heavy armor, and allow shooting over their heads and whatnot). And we benefited from a most generous split of the treasure (seeing as together we were one-third of the whole party left at the end).

In my short play experience, it seems that James Maliszewski's Dwimmermount is a whole lot freakier than I expected -- and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Of course, we were dealing with things like orcs, kobolds, and skeletons -- but no element appeared that wasn't corrupted in some deep and disturbing way. Not even the dungeon doors escaped being of bizarre function and construct. It looks like a very memorable place to adventure.

Initially, I was a little bit worried about presenting pictures and notes from our explorations this weekend (I don't think that James has any idea that I was playing the adventure with Tavis this weekend, nor did he have advance knowledge that I'd be writing this) -- but as I checked his blog today, it turns out that his own players from the prior night explored the exact same part of the ruins that we did, and he even posted a map that they constructed along the way (compare to photos above). So I'm guessing it's okay. High kudos to everyone involved in the production!

6 comments:

  1. Great to meet you Delta, great post and good times all around!

    Indeed, your dwarf wrangling was a thing of tactical beauty (though now i realize this whole "staying alive" strategy is nothing more than a clever ruse to amass treasure, you greedy dwarves!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy buckets of AWESOME!

    If a D&D game was meat you just had a perfectly cooked Kobe beef steak with a side o' bacon!

    Dang!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mmm, bacon! I'll be running sessions again on 3/17 and 3/18, and then will turn over the big table o' meat to other Judges for the 3/24, 3/31, 4/7, and 4/14 expeditions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "With similar rulings around the table, we had a total of eighteen characters assembled and marching up to Dwimmermount."

    Cool. This illustrates that the 15-member party of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is not too numerous.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Labyrinth Lord game has 3 players controlling a fifteen man party -- seventeen with war dogs. They love the hired help.

    One of them, a 3.x optimizer, remarked; "Charisma and starting gold are my god stats". And he's absoloutely right.

    ReplyDelete
  6. All true -- Never been part of a party quite so large, but the mass melee was really quite awesome! Glad to be a part of it. :-)

    Lord Bodacious: A distinct pleasure meeting you, too! Those greedy dwarves sure knew what they were doing. :-)

    ReplyDelete