When we last left our heroes they had fled the catacombs of ancient Kra’adumek, trading them for a far more perilous venture. The gullet of the Demon Worm itself, kept quiescent by freak ice storms, held a far more promising reward. Perhaps salvation could be found in the creature’s heart?
The journey continued onward. Erstwhile companions were forgotten, remade by time and the vagaries of the multiverse. Who can say whether what passed was a continuation of what came before, or merely a reflection in some distant, undiscovered realm. Sages say that there is no place where one Plane ends and another begins, each is merely a continuation of the next. Only Nomad and his companion Quintus remained unchanged or perhaps changeless, a thousand incarnations of the same being.
Two heroes and a hideous alien creature, the psionic chicken-hybrid Kylo Hen, did venture forth into Kra’adumek, searching for the creature’s heart, or perhaps for greater meaning in the universe. What happened to the rifles they found before, who can say?
“Come my sorcerous companion, let us not question this newfound companion too greatly and venture forth into the bowels of this hellbeast!”
Our heroes stalked forward, quiet as cats, towards a great clangour deeper in. Kylo Hen, a queer and inconstant companion, scouted to the left, our two companions took the right, chancing upon a man with a big glistening orb and a woman giving birth.
Quoth Nomad; “Greetings friend. A strange place to give birth, amidst all this death.”
Interrogating the pair, who sought only shelter from the cold in the luminescent bowls of the Demon Worm, they were sent away in safety, for the worst of the cold had abated. Our heroes passed on, finding Insect Men locked in deadly combat with an amorphous horror of the Demon Worm, which contained entire menageries in the contorted dimensions of its gullet.
Quintus stepped towards Nomad and gestured to the fighting: “The Insect Men are winning their bout. We should do something lest we become their next target.”
But Nomad was adamant: “Nonsense friend Quintus. The Insect Men are friendly and gentle. We will aid them in vanquishing this Shapeless Horror of the Void, and thus become their friends and gain their trust!”
Arriving just as the Insect Men had lain waste the shapeless nightmare, our heroes attempted to gain their friendship. “Fear not Gentile Insect men,’ Nomad bellows, “Nomad, Quintus and Chicken are here to vanquish evil alongside thee!”
“What took you so long?” One says. “Who are you strangers?” says another.
“We are Enemies of the Demon Worm. I am Nomad, Prince-Exile, Quintus, Sorcerer Supreme and Mega-Ultra chicken, psionic space warrior.”
“This is our cavity, we have won it from the abomination. Are you scavenging? Do you seek your own cavity within the worm?”
“Your Treason will avail you naught Insect Horrors!”shouted Nomad as he drives a blade into the insects chest. Though his rash act of sudden murder-make did take the creatures by suprise, his sword proved ill-suited to cut tough carapace. Kylo, quick to leap in also, scratched nothing but air!
“Their chitenous hides are proof against a Blade,” shrieks Nomad. “Use FIRE AND SORCERY.” Hurled Masonry rebounded off the hides of the Loathsome Insect Men, known for their treachery and unquenchable hunger for human flesh. All seemed lost, our heroes overcome until Quintus cast the enchantment of Sleep, casting them into the Abyss of Morpheus.
Examining the now unconscious bodies, the three discussed plans. “Butcher them?’ asks the Chicken. “All but one” speaks Nomad. Quintus nods. The Chicken wants death. “The brood will grow strong on the backs of the Formians.” A shrug. “The chicken has spoken,” say our heroes. Nomad finishes all but one by snapping their necks.
And thus our heroes did help themselves to the strange, glowing orbs of the Insect Men, though what these devices meant they knew not. Kylo, confused by the fog of War, did chop and heave at the last of the Insect Men until it perished.
“These orbs contain the power of the olden days”, exclaims Quintus. “There is great power in them to make the ancient devices work again.”
Collecting the glistening orb for the Chicken creature, the trio strode onward, further into the Maw, approaching a band of degenerate cultists paying homage to their alien gods in front of a stone face. Afore they approached, Quintus employed the power of phantasmal force, conjuring forth the image of a vast laser-armed tyrannosaur to walk alongside them, Kylo in the van.
Naked savages, faces painted with orange squares, armed with ancient rifles, awaited them in front of the stone face of their god. The image of his bearded face was upon their helmets. Upon seeing the Lasersaurus, they prostrated themselves for a new god of glamour and techno-prehistory. What business they had in this fell place?
When the Worm had devoured their erstwhile deity, brooking no rivalry for its flock, these worshippers of Zar’daz, called Brutalitarians, had joined him. Quivering insolently, they spoke of the great boon of death the god bequathed upon them to cleanse the land of his enemies in the promised time.
But as the three prepared to execute the cultists before they saw through the glamour, they were approached by the fair Sufa’at, a Sun Elf, beloved on the slave markets of A’agrybah. Of his fate, only this:
“I was sacrificed to the Demon-Worm weeks ago, and have been cowering in fear all this time, not wanting to die.”
Nomad nodded. “Kylo Hen decides your fate then.”
The Chicken leered and clucked, weighing incomprehensible factors on a scale none could fathom and decided to grant a mercy beyond mortal understanding. Caution was thrown to the wind, and on the count of three, our intrepid heroes opened fire on the cultists, killing all of them.
“Death to the opposition!” cried Quintus. Our heroes picked over the bodies like vultures, gathering more ammunition, and finding rations and an 8-track of Black Sabbath. As they quibbled over the spoils, the Chicken crept into the stone idol, taking all of worth, and sharing none of it.
Such is our lot on Cha’alt.
Join us next time for the continuation.
17 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Inside the Daemon Worm Session 3 (Cha’alt)”
“…the psionic chicken-hybrid Kylo Hen”
OK, that’s funny. This feels like something from the early days of Dragon magazine. Back when D&D didn’t take itself very seriously. I remember this long rambling story about a dwarf, a wizard and a stoned elf, and this sort of reminds me of that.
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Roll20 with random players is…an acquired taste. The random nature of one’s co-players and their fickle ability to drop out at any time is very much in keeping with oldschool principles and adds to the gonzo madness of a Venger run Cha’alt game. Thank God Grützi is along for the ride most of the times, otherwise I would be the only constant in this place.
Fun fact, two gay furry players (I infer from their antropomorphic fox avatars) showed up in the game before the game started, asked whether either of them was the GM, then mentioned something about homophobia and promptly left before the GM or anyone else arrived. To this day I wonder at their cryptic statements.
It’s…it’s something alright. I’ve got at least 3 more sessions of this stuff coming up. Stay tuned!
[Roll20 for PoN Readers]
I’m there already. So far, nobody else has arrived to talk about homophobia.
Hey, I’m reading Demon Princes as recommended here. I’ve remarked elsewhere that retro sci-fi is sometimes hard for me to swallow as a software engineer. It’s not unique to DP by any means, but it does make it a bit harder for me to enjoy. Ultimately, it just highlights the fact that almost all sci-fi is fantasy with a (very false) pretense of possibility.
Still, Vance has a way with words that never gets old. I was just re-reading some old Dragons, and it’s clear to me that EGG was trying his damnedest to write like Vance. It’s a little embarrassing, actually. If only he had ripped off Hemingway, the original DMG would have been only 50 pages, very comprehensible, and a bit less interesting.
Demon Princes is the tits, I am glad you are enjoying it. Gygax was a great maker of modules and a good wargamer but his writing ability leaves something to be desired. Still, A DnD without High Gygaxian is a DnD without a soul.
Ah yes, the good times.
Kylo Hen was a very special creature indeed … his mind could see trough the chaotic ebb and flow of the multiverse more clearly than many others … but the price for that was indeed high.
And the Moment Nomad attacked the “gentle insect creatures” was a real shocker 😉
Sadly I couldn’t make it to the last session these days … tell me prince … how did it end?
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We lost half of our original crew to complaints of “not being remotely like 5e” before the first encounter, and I attempted to murder my last companion when we had finally found the motherlode. As for the end…you will just have to wait and see.
Quintus was a good companion, the Mouser to my Faffhrd, the Moonglum to my Elric if you will (who I am rereading to my girlfriend at the moment, perhaps that explains all the multiverse babble). I am at Fortress of the Pearl now, and Tamas was right when he called it a bit of a drag, its noticeably more longwinded then the excellently paced Elric of Melniboné that precedes it. I liked it a lot upon rereading it, though I had not realized Yrkoons almost comic villainly and I lost my shit during the chapter where Yrkoon arrives back in Melniboné, which has got to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious chapters in fantasy ever. Yrkoon never does anything normal, he whirls, snarls, sputters, glares and leers. He is like Ming the Merciless on amphetamines and its absolutely amazing.
Some of these days I might have to put together a Roll20 game so we can all chill out and game. I will contemplate it on the tree of Woe.
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Those guys expected by-the-book 5th edition. Mine is an old school, home-brewed interpretation of 5e. Plus, I have to make allowances for the Roll20 medium. Fuck ’em!
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[not real 5e]
hehe … that was a common complaint in all of Vengers Roll20 Cha’alt sessions up to now.
He has his own style that has a strong “wing it” vibe … but thats fine for me. I mean, it was pretty clear to me from the get go, that this whole thing was meant as a playtest for the fluff and the setting … not the system or crunchy parts.
Still … I had to chuckle everytime someone asked for a charsheet or copy-pasted an ability from somewhere.
[the epic ending to an epic saga of epicness]
yeah .. sounds like nomad 😉
Then I will wait to hear what transpired inside the demon worm and how the world will be changed for better or worse afterwards 😉
Nomad and Quintus made a good team indeed.
Being the only two poles of stability in this chaotic maelstrom of … whats your term … autistic rules-screeching and vanishing players helped immensely.
Being a bit laid back about the whole rules situation and adopting a” just enjoy the show” mentality also helped 😉
I read the first novel in that series an age ago (at least feels like it now) … but never got further 😦
So many books on my to read list … so little time to actually read stuff
[Roll20 for PoN Readers]
If you put together that game im all in 😉
I completely missed the little furry-homophobia incident … strange world indeed.
aye to the whole Vance thing
I recently reread the first book of the Perry Rhodan collection again. I’m a fan so I’m obviously biased, but the story is still pretty decent all in all. And I always have to smile when they mention punch cards and such stuff.
Always funny (and interesting, don’t get me wrong) to see what the past imagined the future to be like.
[Roll20 for PoN readers]
No idea how to use it, but I’m in.
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Hi, Prince! It was nice to read.
When I saw the illustration, I remember idea which I recently found charming (in the weirdest way) – Womb Level, aka adventures inside living giant monster.
So, here’re some examples, if somebody intrested in such stuff like me:
Inside the Purple Worm by Luka Rejec, one-page dungeon contestant;
Belly of the Beast RPG by Sigil Stone Publishing – setting is good, but overall it’s just okay;
The Ytroth Larvae by Ideagonk – nice little encounter for your elfgame;
The Slow-Worm and the Shipwright by Ash Law – kinda meh;
Eyes of the Stone Thief by Pelgrane Press – pretty descent campaign and compilation of adventure seeds;
Adventures inside monsters are interesting but I am curious if someone ever tried to differentiate it from a normal dungeon by more then just the aesthethic. Adding some sort of environmental rules, means by which the monster can wake up or other effects that would alter its metabolism would add to its feel as a living environment. I don’t know if that has been tried or not, it should have been. Maybe I will do some sort of Dead God Flesh Mine mini dungeon and try it out.
All your examples sound like 6s at best, with the exception of the Yroth Larvae. Eyes of the Stone Thief sounded compelling but I’m not if I’d dig the 13th Age it runs on, being essentially a successor chapter of dread 4e.
I had a few environmental rules included, but only used a couple of them so I could focus on playtesting the meat and potatoes of the adventure.
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13th Age relates to 4E in the similar way as DCC relates to 3E – there’s a couple of common rules, and that’s all. I think there’re more similarities between 13A and DCC (“roll to see what cool thing will happen” approach, f.e. Warrior class die or Mercurial Magic). But it doesn’t matter anyway.
Eyes of the Stone Thief – one of that wonderful adventures which is intresting to read just as a story, in spite of rule system. I mean, FUCKGHUGE DUNGEON FULL OF WEIRD SHIT is chasing your adventurers to swallow them and let its inhabitants finish them. Like golems who create weapon with name of the characters on it, which instakill aforementioned characters. Or giant clock of Impending Doom, where the adventures slip between gears, occasionaly damaging it to release full-scale Hell invasion across the world. Or ancient dwarfen settlement which is so old that pages with it’s description of the module printed in the style of OD&D.
It seems pretty linear, especially at first encounters, but it has intresting factions, characters and places, linked with each other. And, if play it as intended, adventurers not mean to be inside it all the time – it must vomit them and catch them as a recurring villain, who can’t be just killed by common way. Kind of side campaign/calamity.
By the way, a part of Nightmare Keep (adventure for AD&D) is settled inside a giant monster (very anatomical) and provides enviroment rules for it (as I remember).
Thou, I found idea of Dead God Flesh Mine is charming. Hope to see it.
My biggest problem with 4e and everything that vaguely resembles 4e is that I play elfgames to pretend to be an elf. That is my big juicy sausage at the end of the stick. Everything about 4e and flowing from 4e seems hell-bent on reminding me I am playing a tabletop game as much as possible. As such I am a little skeptical about the system.
[Eyes of the Stone Thief]
That sounds pretty wild, I might have to check that out.
[As a story]
I always get a little nervous when I hear that phrase because it reminds me of White Wolf Players and I want games that are actually meant to be played not read. That being said, I think the worst thing you can do is to be boring, and I am slowly starting to figure out that interesting backstory is fine, its how it was delivered (i.e long ass opening crawls) that was the problem. Its actually fine to shove as much story and lore in your adventure as you want, as long as it A) doesn’t impede gameplay, B) is interesting and C) can be interacted with and is in some way significant.
Wasn’t that the really insane Forgotten Realms one for 18th level characters with Lich-Bees? Thank you for reminding me that that one exists!
4e was my first elfgame and I dropped it fast because of similar reasons. What is the point of being horrendous druidical blightbeast (who revenges mortals for despoiling woods by plague and insects, which sounds pretty cool), if it’s just another, erm, figure on the board and should act as such? I dunno, so I quit and never regret that times.
[As a story]
I agree with your point. Adventures should be played.
I mean, f.e. when I was reading Shadowbrook Manor, I imagined how my players will get in trouble with all this crazy stuff, and that was the story which I enjoy. And, when I RAN Shadowbrook Manor, the things were as fun as they had been in my head, and we all enjoyed it.
Yep, this one.
[Reading Dungeons as Story]
What Nuckelavee XIII descirbes sound pretty normal to me.
I also imagine what my group will do or how things will or could play out in vertain parts of a Dungeon/Adventure.
All is well here 😉
What is problematic .. at least from my point of view … is the trend for writers to write Adventures/Dungeons in the style of a story.
The point of an Adventure is to play it … for that the GM needs all necessary information presented to him in a sensible manner, so that he can bring the thing to live. Yet many newer adventures are written in the style of a novel … necessary information isn’t presented up front but trather buried in the adventure. So while reading the adventure you get little bits of foreshadowing and suddenly the information is revealed. This way suspense is created which is then relieved when the information is revealed.
An example to make it clearer:
The following passage is presented at the beginning of the module:
“The main villain of this module is a lich who resides in room X. He has corrupted the knights to serve him and has a tribe of bugbears at his command.”
The presentation of information is used to build up suspense … like the plot of a movie or novel.
Page 2: “The knights were once noble men, but serve a darker master now.”
Page 5:” Tough bugbears are a constant threat in these lands, this tribe was brought here for a more sinister purpose by an even greater evil.”
Page 7: “Room X: In this room the master of this dark lair has made his home …. yada yada more building of suspense …Here lives the lich, that has corrupted the knights and controls the bugbears.”
In the “Good Style” example the DM gets all the infos he needs right at the beginning. This helps him to picture the place from an outside point of view.
In the “Bad Stlye” Example the informations aregiven to the DM erratically. This builds supsense but doesn’t help him to picture the place in a useful manner.
If i want to read a mystery i read a mystery novel … a module i want to DM shouldn’t let me have to guess who is the bad guy for two thirds of its pages.
I see your point and agree with it. It becomes terrible while you try to keep in mind all the crucial details of the adventure and they’re scattered across the text just like that. Without proper pre-word and bookmarks it takes a lot of time during the play. And while you’re reading the first time, you can even miss somethig useful or don’t get a full picture of what the Hell is going there.