Monday, November 28, 2011

It's a GammaWorld Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown

So I did something a little funky for the holidays this year and I thought I'd share what happened. On Thanksgiving, we usually go over to my wife's family's house and during the festivities at some point, all of us in the "next gen" category play games together. It's been Rock Band, Settlers of Katan, Citadels, Munchkin, etc, the game changes up year to year. So this year, the family proposed that we maybe play a little GammaWorld to introduce the cousins to. My wife and her two sisters are all players in my regular 4E game, so they know the mechanics and have all rolled up a GammaWorld character at some point, but the two cousins (both guys) had never played a tabletop RPG. Also did I mention that I found out about this idea with only a day to prep? I'm normally a very proactive planner when it comes to gaming material so I got more than a little nervous about having something to show for the newbies as well as my sister-in-laws who have a bit of RPG background.

I already talked about how awesome I think the Fourthcore Alphabet is and if you haven't check it out, you need to, but I thought I'd put it to the test and use the randomized tables from the Alphabet to create the scenes for the adventure on Thanksgiving. I didn't really have a full idea of what I wanted so I decided to use the random tables and create a quest for the players.

So rolling up ideas, I came up with a simple Quest that my party was going to have to seal away a powerful enemy using some kind of ritual, they were going to have to seek an enemy's help to do it and as a result, the enemy was going to gain access to a powerful artifact as a result of their quest. I wanted to do something remotely Thanksgiving related so I decided that the enemy who had to be sealed away would be something known only as "The Gobbler" and when I came up with more details I would make sure that the turkey theme continued. I also decided that in order to stop the Gobbler, they couldn't just fight him, they'd have to lure him on a "table" and set the table with ingredients which would activate its containment (and yes the ingredients were all components of a thanksgiving meal). This information would be had by a biker gang of Porkers, which several of my players have already had horrible run ins with Porkers in our previous missions in GammaWorld, but the Porkers wouldn't just fork over this information. They want Omega Tech for it. So there is a sacrifice up front, but it hopefully pans out since they gain the means to actually stop the BigBad.

At this point, I started flipping through the Monster Vault to try and find a creature I could use for the Gobbler. I was having a hard time coming up with something, so I turned to the Overlord section of the Fourthcore Alphabet. Randomly I determined that the overlord (i.e. The Gobbler) couldn't speak,but used telepathy to speak through a proxy. I also determined that he controlled his allies through a ritual that must be repeated on a regular basis. This was how the Porkers were able to escape! I also determined that there were bas relief images that covered his entire base and I decided that these would be images of natives fighting armored warriors (a little nod to the colonial Americas).

After that I realized I needed to determine what the base looked like. So I rolled on the Dungeon section. It came across that they were caverns which were constructed by an ancient people who no longer used them. I decided it worked well to have these caverns be a home to a native people group who lived their until they fled do to the advances of a force known as the Grims. I also determined that the main denizens of the dungeon were Animated Constructs. At this point I landed on the page of elementals and start thinking about how perfect it would be if the minions of the Gobbler were all Thanksgiving food related. Fighting a golem made of gravy would make for a very different meal afterwards.

I decided that I wanted the caverns to be made up of 3 chambers (a little classic and blah, but game time was limited). I wanted the first chamber to have potential for a combat, a temptation, and a puzzle. I thought a fountain with a potentially dangerous outcome could be perfect so I went and ahead and declared it a gravy Fountain (great source for constructs if they failed the puzzle) that if drank would attack the player and if hit they would die of a heart attack. I actually rolled the effect and was like, wow, that's appropriate. Drinking from the gravy fountain and just drop dead. Huh. Then I rolled for the Puzzle. I came up with the series of bells in a chamber that need to be rung to sound like the bell on a grandfather clock in the room when the hands are set at midnight. This was a little obscure a puzzle and knowing my players to not be the best at puzzles, I decided to include a subtle detail to give them a hint. The clasp on the bells, the part you hold, looked like two hands side by side straight up. I thought this would give them the piece they needed to solve it pretty easily, but they still spent over half the time in this adventure in that front room. They failed with the bells and summoned increasingly more Gravy Constructs (reskinned water elementals) until finally someone just clicked on the idea and set the hands up and then rang the bell. It was awesome once she got it. :)

The next chamber I wanted to be a gauntlet of Traps so I rolled for three devious devices that they would have to get past to gain access to the next area. The first one was spectral tendrils, that I reflavored as cranberry sauce reaching out to grab people. It had the effect on a hit that the items on the creature would begin to rust and decay away as the jello salad made them older and older. The next trap was a pitfall full of old turkey carcasses and bones that if a party member fell into it (they had to jump the pit, which they used some very creative thinking to make it over) would summon 4 skeleton turkey minions (reskinned skeleton warriors). The final trap was a false floor made of stuffing that gave way when three party members stood on it. They failed their perception checks to smell the difference and it gave way under the whole group dropping them into the last section.

As the party was working their way through the caverns, they collected different bits from the different traps and constructs since they knew they were going to have to use them to lock down the Gobbler. As they walk into the main room, there were Broccoli and Mashed Potato constructs that were reskinned fire and earth elementals and the Big Gobbler himself a reskinned Beholder Gauth. Using the Beholder was something I was particularly proud of. It worked really well with the concept and it was giving the party a really hard time. They were having a hard time of it until they realized they should focus on the constructs to gather the needed materials for the ritual. Once they realized this they were able to maneuver the Gobbler onto "the table" and start putting the ingredients in place to imprison it there. Overall game time took 3 hours and was a LOT of fun. Creating the adventure took 15 minutes. That's what impressed me so much. The Fourthcore Alphabet was a great means for story ideas and made it a snap to make something really specific and cool. I'm definitely using this again when I have another quick adventure to put together and need something really special and different.

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