Saturday, November 7, 2015

Gameholecon, Part 2, The Museum at the End of Time

Giddy with anticipation (or was that the tingling of radiation poisoning), I got to the table and was soon joined by the other players including +Julian Bernick and +Scott Swift (note, I apologize in advance for the people I will inevitably miss in my accounts here. Just chew me out and I'll plug you in where you belong if I missed you!). Now while I hadn't gamed with either, I had met Julian many, many years ago, back when the World Fantasy Convention was up in Minneapolis - my first WFC - and now, here I was at a table with him at my first Gameholecon. I'm hoping to make it down to Garycon next spring, which would be my first, as well. Julian Bernick is a trailblazer, and I follow where he goes . . .

Except when he's playing a character with 7 intelligence. For those unfamiliar with Dungeon Crawl Classics (from which +Jim Wampler's Mutant Crawl Classics is derived), you might say "how the heck did he get a character with 7 intelligence"? To which I say: "real men roll stats as Crom intended it. Roll 3d6 and deal with it. Do not reroll ones, do not roll 3 dice. Suck it up, sissy." You want power? Go play Mathfinder. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

Now, not to jump too far out of the chronological time stream, but as soon as I posted something about Mutant Crawl Classics on G+ after the session, I was asked when it's going to be released. If I recall correctly, Jim said that it's completed and in Goodman Games' hands, but it has to go through the production queue like anything else (I can tell you all about this - I'm a Production Manager in real life). It's in the queue, but so is a bunch of other cool stuff. You *might* see a kickstarter for MCC this year. Maybe, maybe not.

Don't worry, it's a real thing. Here's proof:

Now, while the elegant judge's screen is jerry-rigged, take a look at those spiral bound books in front of the screen. I believe those were rules booklets. In my giddiness, I never did pick them up and thumb through them. Duh. Lost opportunities. Nothing new to my life. But they are *real*.

For all you Crom haters, you're probably saying "well how do I survive an adventure if I'm not a super human". Truth is: you don't. You die. You may die multiple times. So in the 0-level "funnel" adventures, you are usually given several characters to run at the same time. Here are mine:

Left to right, that's Madson Wisconson (an imaginatively-named Pure Strain Human), Hannah Banana (a mutant banana tree - yes, banana tree - whose full name was "Hannah Hannah Mo Mannah Banana Nana No Nana Fe Fi Fo Fana Banana," though I restrained myself from using it in deference to the constricted time of a con game, and Morelholio, mutant fungi. 

We had six total players, with eighteen characters between us. A wide range of Pure Strain Humans, mutant humans, hybrids, and plants (well, technically, plants and a mushroom). One of our number, ominously named Desslock, led us, encouraging us to go out to the desert to retrieve artifacts that would prove us worthy of the rite of passage. 

Take a quick look again at the picture of the table up above. On it you'll see some rectangular blocks with Jim Wampler's image on them. Yes, that is what he looks like in real life. Anyway, these represented talismans that would tell us when "the glow" was endangering us. All of this is true, except for the part about what Jim looks like in real life. He's a little less cartoony, in actuality. But his image (i.e., the talisman) did show danger, growing dark, as we walked out into the desert. In fact, the radiation was so bad that after bedding down for the night near a rock outcropping, we awoke . . . well, not everyone awoke, let's put it that way. Among the dead was Desslock, who we then renamed "Deathlock" (you had to see that coming . . . it was almost inevitable). 

The next night, we bedded down at another rock outcrop, assured that those remaining were strong enough to survive the night. But in the middle of the night, the watch, who was atop the rock outcropping, spotted a strange sight - a group of dozens of ancients, or at least humans dressed as ancients, wandering around in circles in the desert night. We tried, in vain, to hail them. Then one of our mutants ("Fuzzy" was his name, I think, for the fur that he grew) was able to talk to one of these strange, glowing, semi-translucent ancients. She whispered to him . . . and he went mad, becoming, suddenly, very stupid, and going on and on about how "nothing is real. I'm not real. You're not real. There's no point in anything," and so forth. A truly existential mutant. This made for some . . . uh . . . fun(?) as the rest of the party . . . um . . . helped him, yes, helped Fuzzy to do . . . things . . . for the party.

A side note: though it is hoped that characters hold a profound respect for sentience, the idea of alignment is only applicable insofar as one is aligned with a certain social or ideological group. As Jim put it: "After the apocalypse, 'law,' 'chaos,' and 'neutrality' have little meaning". I rather liked this, as it seemed to feel right for the mood of the game.

And it let us push Fuzzy to near death several times helped us as we best considered how to let Fuzzy contribute to the party's success in his state.

In time, these ghosts of the ancients faded and we spotted a structure off in the distance, something different than the occasional rock outcroppings we had seen so far. We investigated.

Lo, we beheld a building of the ancients. Of course, we entered . . . which accounts for the next casualty as one of the party blindly walked in and plummeted to his death. Yeah, you might want to look before you walk into a dark doorway. Sigh.

So we explored more carefully, lowering one of Scott's characters (help me here, Scott, what was the name?) down on a rope, only to hurriedly pull him back up after hearing his frantic screaming. He had seen an immense creature in the pit below, something gigantic and hideous that seemed to match a very, very large tooth that Mach the human had found earlier in the desert. Eventually, Mach himself, Mach the Mighty, Mach the Fearless, Mach the (insert testosterone-infused bravado here), discovered that the monster was all bones. With instruction from Hannah Banana, Mach broke off one of the ribs of the creature and sent it up to be used as a tie-off point for the rope, spanning the breadth of the doorway at the top of the pit.

As you might be able to tell, this game was all about using available resources, as all old-school gaming should be. You won't find much tech just laying around in MCC, though we did get lucky enough to have a couple of pieces (one had an earbud that occasional spoke, while Hannah Banana had a "bug caller" that buzzed when he pushed a button, though it never succesfuly talked to bugs during this adventure). You just have to make do with what you've got or do without. This tends to push creativity and roleplaying, which is the heart of the game. You want to argue rules, go play scrabble. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

The exploration of the inside of the structure began in earnest. Yttrium, our hook-handed mutant, found a dessicated corpse dressed in the clothing of the ancients. When he removed the clothing, a couple of other artifacts tumbled out, including a device that shot a pink ray (a "Dazer Gun") that accidentally put one of our party members to sleep and something that was promptly broken by the party member who was trying to make it work. There is a good chance, when your character tries to figure out a device of the ancients, that he or she or whatever will not understand the function of the device and stands a pretty good chance of breaking it. Those who are old enough will recall the overly-complicated artifact chart from Gamma World, which was used to determine if a character could get ancient technology to work without killing himself or others in the process. MCC has such a chart, less complicated, though no less nasty. Careful what you do with shiny things . . .

In time, the party tried to make its way through the doors that were embedded in the museum's walls. At one point, they were met by a very helpful hologram and his two very helpful pieces of Smart Metal, who pleasantly informed us that the museum was closed and that we must leave. After conversing with the hologram, it became more insistent that we leave and even let us know that the "security bots" would help us out, if it became necessary. This was not construed as helpful. But since the Smart Metal had "insect-like" legs, Hannah thought it would be a good idea to try to communicate with one of them using the Bug Caller. He approached one of these "security bots" with the Bug Caller buzzing, and it attacked.

So we attacked back. Yttrium got a very lucky stab on one of the bots, opening it up and causing sparks to fly. Though still functional, it was wounded quite badly. The hologram produced some kind of technologically-enhance flail, but he couldn't seem to hit anything with it (Note: You may have heard Jim talk about how unlucky he is with his dice rolls - I'm here to tell you: he ain't lying). And though the Smart Metal zapped a couple of our party with pink rays, we were ultimately able to prevail and go through - and I mean this quite literally, as Mach ran right through the hologram - to the hallway beyond the door.

After a little more investigating, we found a room that contained several small cabinets. In each one was a device that looked like some sort of belt and some sort of helmet. After a near-fatal donning of the helmet by one party member, we eventually figured out the function of these devices - a force-field-generating belt and a helmet that prevented you from suffocating from the lack of air within the forcefield (something I had never thought about before, incidentally).

Moving forward, we found a semi-circular room filled to the brim with ancient tech. I won't spoil everything, as I'm sure certain elements of this adventure, or maybe the adventure itself, will be published in due time, but suffice it to say that Madson Wisconson figured out how to use a certain device, though he had little control over its exact effects, which resulted in Morelholio being transfigured from a fungus into a strange, stunted bird with sharp teeth and de-evolved the party's mutated Conifer Yew. Mach also underwent a change due to the strange device, developing something akin to a turtle shell on his torso and back (which elicited the best comment of the session from Drew: "He's a Mach turtle!").

The party, or what was left of it, made its way back to the village and the elders of the village informed us that our party would now serve as a scout party for the village, carrying out missions at their request.

For the record, Fuzzy survived. As did all three of my characters. Honestly, I felt a tiny twinge of disappointment that all of my guys survived. But you know what, I grew attached to them. Hannah Banana was probably my favorite because . . . well, because he was a freaking mutated banana tree, that's why! Madson Wisconson proved to be the most adept at manipulating tech (which, if you know the city that I love and live in, makes a lot of sense). And Morelholio . . . well, how much more freaky can you get than a mutant fungi who becomes an archaeopteryx? That's just over the top cool.

Besides, there was plenty of dying waiting for me later in the day. Plenty. Oh, so much dying. Mister Wampler wasn't done with me yet. But more on that later.



  1. AWESOME! Sounds like a blast. Thanks for the write up.

    1. It was a blast! I am super pumped about the kickstarter!