We had our Dungeon Crawl Classics game last Thursday night. I learned a few things. The first thing I learned is not to watch Your Highness before finishing my game prep. The second thing I learned is that I now know what it's like to hear words coming out of your mouth that you want to stop, but can't. Finally, I learned that my players have a high tolerance for the depravity that festers beneath the surface of my brain like a mental abscess.
As a group, we're playing through a lot of published material from Goodman and other publishers. I'm doing this in part because I'm running more than one game, and also because I know that there are times when I fall into being a "softball" GM when I create my own adventures, and it's easier to hold myself to the vicious, bloodthirsty requirements of judging DCC if I use appropriate material.
That having been said, I have to tinker. I can't help it. When the party ran through Sailors on the Starless Sea, I had to create a framing device, and I couldn't help it now that they have arrived in the proper location for People of the Pit.
The PCs have already run into an inquisitor that torched their home and was hunting them for a year. They run into him again, and he offers to pay them and clear their names if they can look into a little inquisition business for him. Thus they traveled to a "ravine" in the south, which turns out to be a rift the size of the Grand Canyon. There were six villages around this rift, and now there are five, with the most prominent currently being the village of Doomshadow. Upon arriving, the PCs find out that the village is swelled with visitors for the Games, which seems to be at least a somewhat festive event.
In town, they find out from the mayor that the inquisition shut down the original purpose for the games ten years ago. Hundreds of years ago, when the villages around the rift were attacked by a powerful extraplanar being, a priest instituted a program of sacrificing a dozen virgins to the entity.
Thirty years later, when an ill timed orgy in the village of Chance cause a virgin shortage, the creature attacked again, wiping out that village, and doing great damage to the rest. After that unfortunate incident, two things happened. The games were instituted, and the village whose champion finishes last in the games must provide the extra virgins to cover for the lost village of Chance, to bring the total up to a dozen. Also, the priests of the village created the special dowsing rods that could be used to determine the virginity of any given person, just to make sure.
The mayor is glad to see the PCs, because the inquisition shut down the virgin sacrifice, and promised to look into the matter further. The PCs must be the "problem solvers" that the inquisition promised. He further explains that there have been kidnappings, sightings of strange, faceless robed figures, and the theft of several of their precious viginity dowsing rods. He explains to them that if the PCs find that the creature is no longer a threat, they will gladly hold the games to honor the gods in accordance with the wishes of the Inquisition, and if they fail, they hold the games as normal to pick some virgins really fast. It's a win win situation. Until the inquisition comes back of course.
Why do people keep rebuilding here? The rift is the dividing line between the fertile north and the wastelands of the south, and the lands in this area are the most fertile in the entire empire. Thus, the inquisition is less likely to put villages to the torch willy nilly.
Here Be Spoilers! (If you are going to play in People of the Pit, stop right now!)
With that framing device firmly in place, the adventurers set out to explore the rift. Now, even my softball GM soul can deal with the fact that a few of the players have extra characters left over from the "Funnel Days," so killing a few off will be fun. Plus, the nobleman priest has a hireling along as well.
Thus, I was a little disappointed when the whole group survived the battle with the cultists on the stairs, especially when the cultists managed to summon a tentacle to smash said nobleman priest. The cleric burned pretty much all of the Luck he could afford to damage it enough to hold it off, and the PCs picked up on the fact that if they could kill off enough of the cultists, they might lose the tentacle.
So, no fatalities, but a lot of Luck went out the window.
Exploration, altars, and traps ensued. Most of the party waited at one landing while the halfling in the party found the "back alley" crawlspaces and rooted around, but we determined that the halfing took about an hour and a half to explore, and the rest of the party got bored and assumed the halfling died at the half hour mark and moved on.
The group headed to the last landing, the thief climbed over to the landing and tied off a rope, and because he has poor impulse control, the Chaotic aligned wizard threw a stone at the big ominous gong that everyone else was avoiding. The halfing could hear it, and figured the party was still alive and what direction they went, but was still a way from catching up with the rest.
Eventually the group worked their way to a massive devil toad monstrosity. The wizard was pretty cordial to it, but in the end, they figured out that they had to kill each other. So, remember my concern about fatalities earlier in the night? Chaotic wizard got pinned, swollowed, and killed, I know that the nobleman cleric died, and at least one other PC, but I'm an evil Judge and I don't have all of the PCs memorized yet.
Bah, who am I kidding. They don't deserve recognition until they make it to 2nd level at least.
I had a really good time, once I got past the colossally in bad taste set up that I created and set in motion had passed. I can only hope that my players enjoyed the night as well as I did. And unfortunately, since the party hasn't hit 2nd level yet, I'm making our poor, unfortunate player whose cleric died roll up another 0 level character. I'm sure he'll do well accompanied by his experienced, brave, stalwart companions.