Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fantasy Doom Patrol, Session 1

Had the first session of my 'Fantasy Doom Patrol' 4E campaign today. The players were:
Sir Reginald and his brother Bobo, Ogre Ranger and companion (played by Zor)
Freidan Devilsnare, Reverse-Vampire Cleric (Dylan) - Reverse Vampires love garlic, are burned by moonlight, heal people by giving them blood transfusions, etc.
St. HK-47, Robotic Pope (Ian) - agent of the Vatican and devout follower of 'Super Jesus'
Torin the Small, Halfling Body-Part Thief (Shaun)
And the gameworld looks like this:
click for full size

The PCs are all members of a 'medieval black ops unit' under the command of Merlin himself, who uses them to solve the sort of problems that standard heroes just aren't cut out for. The session begins with a priest from the Most Holy Order of the Gourmandines throwing up in his room. The halfwit ogre Bobo performs an impromptu Heimlich maneuver on the fat priest, causing him to vomit so copiously that he loses all his fat in an instant. St. HK-47 declares that it serves him right for being a heretic.

Soon the PCs are summoned by Merlin and informed that all the Gourmandines are suffering the same affliction. They are sent to the town of Gramercy to investigate. On the way, they read a briefing that explains the origins of the order. Apparently the sun-god Hyperion was long ago punished by the Overgods for his hubris and smashed into a mountain (see map). Now his worshippers mine and eat his flesh to gain holy powers.

At the town of Gramercy, the PCs learn that the flesh of the god has recently begun to rot for the first time, which explains the widespread vomiting which has laid low the entire Gourmandine clergy. When they visit the High Priest they are attacked by a pair of Vomit Elementals and a demon emerging from the High Priest's mouth. "You know how vomit burns when it comes up? It feels like that, but on the outside of your body."
this looks about right
 Fortunately these enemies are quickly dispatched and Freidan performs a dangerous surgery on the High Priest to save him from a disease of cancerously multiplying organs. The only way to save the priest is a massive blood transfusion. As he's had over half his blood replaced, he is now a Reverse Vampire as well.

The priest claims that the goblins are responsible for this mess. They are notorious for sneaking into the mines and bootlegging the godflesh. He advises the PCs to follow up a certain miner named Gyar who is suspected to be in league with the goblins. They decide to rest first.

But their rest is rudely interrupted! At midnight, a wooden fort on enormous chicken legs attacks the town. Goblins are throwing grappling hooks and leaping to the guard tower. Torin runs down to the gate, where he sees a man whom he identifies as Gyar, attempting to sneak away quietly. Meanwhile, the Robo-Pope performs a 'terminator walk' up the side of the guard tower to protect the guard against the screaming goblins.

not really as well-made as this. more like just a clumsy wooden platform with some Warhammer-style goblins hanging off the side
An enormous battle begins. The walking fort is full of goblins, most of them incapacitated by vomiting. The ogre Sir Reginald leaps valiantly across the gap but falls short, instead grabbing hold of the legs of a goblin who is himself hanging off the edge of the platform. Then the Robo-Pope leaps and grabs hold of Sir Reginald's legs and they all dangle there together.

Torin makes short work of the traitor Gyar and proceeds to set a fire on one of the wooden legs. A goblin hound climbs down over its master to bite at Sir Reginald's fingers. Torin climbs up behind the enemy line to assassinate their one remaining priest, but is knocked unconscious by a goblin fanatic on a raging mushroom trip. Many enemies are shoved off ledges, often landing on other enemies below. At last the remaining goblins, trapped on the ground, turn to flee.

Meanwhile, the fort becomes agitated as its legs start to burn. In a frenzy, it tries to pull away but is held back by the grapnels attaching it to the guard tower. Sir Reginald grabs one of the vomiting goblins for questioning and leaps back into the tower, where the guardsman has been cowering. No sooner has he achieved this, however, than the tower is torn free and dragged along behind the burning fort as it flees into the distance. Clutching both the goblin and the guardsman to his enormous chest, Reginald makes an athletic tumble out of the window and they all land safely. The goblin barfs on the guardsman's face.

Freidan and HK-47 are left on top, desperately searching for a control mechanism. Freidan only finds a mysterious Jack Russell, which he catches as it tries to escape. HK-47 discovers a room containing a giant hysterical rooster head. Freidan hands the dog to HK, then picks up a barrel of water and swings down underneath the fort, trying to pour water on the fire. Unfortunately he fails and tumbles to the ground. The Robo-Pope picks up another barrel and makes his own attempt, but critically fails - he falls into the barrel and rolls away down the hill.

The Jack Russell escapes his grip and bounds away, far faster and higher than a dog has any right to do. Meanwhile the chickenfort runs screaming into the hinterlands as it erupts into flames.


All in all I thought this was a very successful session. It's been a while since I last played face-to-face and I'd forgotten how the energy can really pick up in a way that doesn't quite happen in webcam games. Playing old-school D&D has probably made me a better DM of 4th edition, more willing to improvise and allow for actions outside the rules. Last time I ran 4E was when I was just getting interested in the OSR, and I spent a fair bit of time fretting about how slow and cumbersome the combats were in 4E compared to OSR. Now I'm more inclined to embrace it - yeah, each fight usually takes upwards of an hour, but if it's a big setpiece encounter with lots of tactical widgets and interesting terrain, then that's over an hour of great fun.

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