Friday, January 19, 2024

All Hail the Kingslayer!!

Let me play the proud father for a moment and tell you the tale of Nargle the Kingslayer!

My oldest son has earned a ban on all screens except to practice coding in Scratch this week, so to keep him entertained in the mornings before school I decided to run a game of Dungeon Crawl Classics for him every morning, powered by a mix of Donjon and the Mythic Game Master Emulator. I am playing three PCs and he opted for only one. We agreed once the campaign was rolling that we would switch from me doing all the interpretation and game planning to sharing it.

We rolled them up using the Tatterdemalion's Heroes method at 1st level, and he got a character with a pretty solid 15 in Intelligence and Stamina, and a whopping 18 in Luck, but a low Agility. While I encouraged him to consider a Dwarf or a Halfling, My son, however, has only one class he ever plays: Wizard. And so was born Nargle, the Neutral rope-maker-turned-Wizard. Of course, it helped that that insane Luck bonus got added to all spell damage rolls based on his character's lucky sign.

Nargle has become one of the most destructive, world-wrecking lunatics I have ever had the pleasure to GM.

The adventure started with Nargle and his friends Glorin the Elf (kind of a jerk, Chaotic), Echo the Thief (I am listening to The Iron Realm a lot right now), and Ranna the Cleric (of Ilduvar) in the hands of Amara the sorceress, whose allegedly empty fortress they were attempting to loot. I was intending to just flat-out steal the first chapter of Eyes of the Overworld, only have them steal a giant crystal from a forbidden ruin near a lousy village of grass huts, rather than steal a pair of goggles in the village. 

Not willing to be cursed or a prisoner however, while she was gloating he silently invoked Sezerkhan (having started with Patron Bond, I let him pre-roll one attempt at a bond) and gathered a boost to his magic. As soon as Amara placed a curse demanding they fetch the Lens of the Overworld for her, or die, he burned half of his ability scores and gun her down with an epic barrage of magic missiles.

When I asked he reasoned "If  there's no her to deliver the lens to, then the curse won't work."

I checked the GME in secret, and it agreed with his reasoning. I also had Glorin check in with the King of Elfland, who verified it, but encouraged Glorin to lie and say that they still needed the Lens to completely break the curse.Mythic informed me that the King of Elfland wanted the Lens for himself.

Getting out of the cage and away from the acid pit over which it was suspended was a challenge that took most of the first morning. The cleric now has a limp and mismatched boots.

While rifling Amara's chainmail bikini and lab they discovered, respectively, a scroll of teleport and a text on the Lens, with its last known location. My son, knowing he owed Sezerkhan a favour contacted him and told him about it, and the whole party was immediately teleported to the nearest village to the ruins with orders to fetch the Maguffin.

After helping the villagers defend against blind blue humanoids sacrificing villagers and livestock to a demonic idol, and converting the whole village to the Cleric's religion, the PCs headed into a Donjon-generated ruin to seek the Lens. There was a lot of clever narrative disarming of traps, mostly involving the use of magically enlarged summoned mountain goats and a dagger that had accidentally been turned to lead. And a couple of encounters with Fire Beetles, the PCs reached the lens (randomly placed in a room in the dungeon).

Mythic GME told me that while there were no traps on the pedestal, the Elf King himself was going to travel there by a conduit.

I had Glorin call Nargle over then open a doorway to the Elf King's demense. The King offered him power in return for repudiating Sezerkhan and giving the Lens to him instead.

Here is roughly the dialogue of what happened next:

Son: I am going to cast magic missile!

Me: What?! Why?

Son: I shall never betray the Wicked One! Glorin is a liar, and the Elf King a thief! Destroy!!

Me: Okay... you know you are attacking an immortal demigod, right!


Me: Okay, kid. Your funeral. Give me a sec to think. This may be a short campaign...

Son: Victory shall be mine!!

(This is what you get when you let an 8 year old listen to 1930s pulp on audiobook at bedtime.)

(I ruled that any damage less than 40, the Elf king would simply laugh it off. If it was more than 40, I would treat the Elf King as a 15 HD monster with a 2-in-6 chance of just ignoring magical damage, and the power to cast any spell in the core book. relating to mind control, plants, animals, illusion, or life-forces.)

Me: So your level and Intelligence bonus make +3 and you have a left-over +5 from Sezerkhan. Anything else, gonna burn some luck?

Son: No! I don't want to lose the +3 to all the damage dice. But I will burn Strength, Stamina, and Agility all down to one!

Me: Are you nuts? You realize you will barely be able to stand under the weight of your backpack, right?

Son: I know. Ranna can carry me out.

Me: Okay so that comes to  a +19. Roll it.

Son: 19! so 19 +19... Dad, what's two times 19?

Me: 38... let's see... okay 4d4+2 missiles doing 1d10 plus your level, plus three for your crazy luck...

Son: [grabs my d4s] Oh yeah! 8 missiles!

Me: So... 8d10+32. Give me a second to roll up some HP for the Elf King. I am making him a 15 HD monster with saves like a 10th level wizard.

[We both roll fistfuls of dice]

Me: So... the Elf King has 86hp, and you do... 70 Damage. I am going to make him make a Fortitude save or just die from the shock... nope still kicking!

Son: Blah! I almost got him! More Magic Missiles!

Me: You draw every last ounce of life energy you have, withering into a thin skeletal figure and falling to your knees under the weight of your pack as you thrust your hand and through the portal and unleash a storm of ball lightning on the Elf King. He screams in rage and terror at the attack, but still sits, jerking from the shock but alive in his now-melting golden throne.

Son: I said 'More Magic Missiles!'

Me: I heard you. So we're going to roll initiative. If you go first you can cast a feeble magic missile at +3 and hope to kill him. If Glorin goes first, he closes the portal. If the Elf King goes first, you die. Deal?

Son: Deal. [Throwing the horns] Victory!!

Me: Okay the elf king gets... a... [I couldn't believe my eyes] 1.  

Son: YES!!! Yes ! Yes! Yes! I roll... 18 so that's...

Me: You have a -4, so 14. [I roll] Interesting... Glorin gets 14...

Son: Aww...

Me: But he burned his agility down to 7 earlier, so he's at -1. 13. You go first!

Son: MAGIC MISSILE! [rolls] another 19! That's 22!

Me: REALLY?? You are on fire, aren't you? So you get 1d4+2 missiles that do 1d4+4 each. You Might get the Elf King, you might not. This is all down to the dice. I hope your luck doesn't run out!

Son: [rolling furiously] I get 4 missiles for... 6, 5, 7, and 6!

Me: Gasping for breath as you barely shrug out of your backpack, you raise your shaking hand again, and speak your magic words as Glorin screams in terror "What are you doing?!" you hurl shining bolts of lighting from you palm, the already weakened Elf King barely rose from his throne when your blasts strike him centre mass, he is thrown back, then falls from his throne like a rag doll, and the portal snaps out of existence, nearly taking your hand with it.

Glorin screams at you, reaching for his sword, but then drops dead!

Son: Oh no! I didn't think it would kill him! Oops... Sorry, Dad. But he was a liar and a traitor.

Me: I am going to have to check for loyalty from your allies. You are going to need to be dragged out of here. [I roll insanely positive reactions from Echo the thief, and a pretty high one for Ranna... and I double check to discover her goddess is pleased as well... for now]

Echo says "Oh my gods! I can't believe you killed the Elf King! I thought he was supposed to be immortal! That was amazing! But you look like hell..."

Son: "A little help please..." I am going to Invoke Sezerkhan, hopefully he will get us out of here.

We play out him calling Sezerkhan to claim the stone, which the wicked one does, and rewards Nargle with patron spells, but leaves him to figure his own way out.

Me: Now... you still have to get out of here, and this has all been very noisy. Ranna is going to have to drag Glorin's body, and Echo is going to have to drag you. One random encounter and you are likely all going to be toast.

Son: Nope! We are going out with style! I will use the scroll of teleport! to take us back to our home village. I need a very long nap!

Me: ... Well... you speak the words upon the scroll as Rann draw's Glorin's corpse close and echo holds your shaking hands steady. A moment later you fall into your own bed, in your ramshackle hut, your allies sprawling out onto the floor around you.

All hail Nargle, Elf-killer and King-slayer! I would avoid elves and faeries from now on if I were you, but you are going to have a great reputation with your new CHAOTIC alignment friends... as there's no way you are keeping to Neutral after that.

Son: Totally worth it! I am VICTORIOUS!!

And so, a mere level 1 wizard, through surprise, and bloody-mindedness, mixed with insane luck, became the man who slew the Elf-King and many of his most loyal servants, and delivered unto Sezerkhan the secrets of the Higher Planes. I am very, very proud of him.

I am looking forward to what's next. Elvish Assassins? Angry sprites? A mission from Sezerkhan? Seeking out a perfect jewel to make into his phylactery now that he knows Phylactry of the Soul? or perhaps following up on a strange prophecy written on the Lens's base?

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