Friday, April 29, 2016

Review and World Tour Report - Escape from the Purple Planet

Not only of elves, dwarves, dragons and orcs lives the fantasy RPGs! Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is a perfect example of that, since it explicitly draws inspiration from various literary sources of the Appendix N of the first edition AD&D DMG (and even other fantasy authors not listed there). In the Purple Planet series of adventures, we can explore a Science Fantasy style of campaign in a decadent dying planet. The influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom Series and Robert E. Howard's Almuric is tangible, and very appreciated.

This particular review is about a supplementary module that comes with the Peril on the Purple Planet Boxed Set called Escape from the Purple Planet. This is a zero level funnel adventure written by Harley Stroh where the players take part as prisoners from all around the cosmos that wake up chained together in a dirty and dark cell, with only one key in their reach and a bunch of weapons in the floor. The goal is to escape whatever terrible fate awaits them and in their path. In their path they will face bestial and savage aliens, lost technology, a weird and horrifying monster and a crazy homicidal alien that can actually help them.

This is a quite small module, with only a few encounter areas but many opportunities for player creativity. The zero level characters used by the players can be from virtually anywhere, any campaign world, time and plane. You could mix Crawljammer PCs with normal DCC ones without any problem. Or do as I did, and make a bunch of zero levels with our real world modern time occupations and give the players the opportunity to act with their own knowledge in this fantasy setting.

The challenges the players can face in the adventure are nicely different. There are fights they can probably face without much problem, others they will sweat to overcome, and others they are better off dodging altogether. Some of them can even be handled with negotiation and diplomacy (like many good old school modules) and can earn the group new allies and replenish their number of PCs if they loose too much.

There are also a few non combat challenges that make the players work more with their own skills than the numbers on their character sheets, which is great, in my opinion. Some parts of the adventure have explorations elements for the players to experiment with, like playing with levers and mechanism of the old advanced cultures and trying to operate an advanced technological artefact.

But one of the best encounters in the module is, without any doubt, Tio-Lizix, the Ythoth prisoner, with a crazy personality and a lust for blood. The way the judge is suposed to portray him and the possibilities for great roleplay scenes with the players are amazingly fun.

All in all, this is a great module, with plenty material to play with. You can easily run it in a 4 hour session in a convention. If I could add anything in this though, it would be more alternative paths and escape routes. Maybe one can add and Ancient's tomb (from the other Purple Planet books) in a side corridor also, to make it less of a straight path.

What follows next is a play report of my 4th World Tour game this year.  I judged this adventure and used only zero level characters with nowadays occupations (like taxi driver, surfer, clown, and such). The event happened in a public library here in Rio called "RPG na BPE". Some spoilers may be in the report, so beware.

Each player (we had 4 - and none had played DCC RPG before, and one was new to Tabletop RPGs altogether) got 4 characters randomly and had some laughs with the occupations and the items they began their adventure with.

We talked a little bit about the game as a whole and its inspirations, specially about the Appendix N and Sword and Planet literature (because of the adventure). Most of the players did not know about these things and were gladly surprised by it. Author names were recorded and we began the game.

The first scene, where they are all chained to the wall and only got one key in the center was really fun. They did not fight amongst themselves to get it, realizing only one could reach it. But the key broke with the first use, and they were left to think of more creative solutions to their problems. This was probably one of their favorite moments in the game. Every one was helping each other on ways of using their few resources to escape. Methods included using paraffin to "butter" the manacles, kitchen oil to do the same, arguing that the monster costume of the Sci-Fi movie extra was made of foam and the he could chew on it to escape and such.

Getting out of there, the group found out that going to the arena was a bad idea pretty quick as a few of them died trying. They soon turned to the alcove in the floor and went underground (not before facing a huge four armed albino gorilla).

Downstairs they did not spread out too much, so it was hard to use the Maur. Except on the stair to the Ythoth prisoner. I made the stairs very narrow, so the one left to be the last vanished. Before that they discovered the ship and had some fun tinkering with it and where very lucky to not crash it. The players enjoyed this whole "traveling through space and time" thing in a fantasy game.

The actual encounter with Tio-Lizix was great! The thinking aloud his thoughts were a blast to play and the players found it amusing. They ended up convincing him they could read his mind and were very powerful, and potentially great allies.

On their way out, they had one last encounter with the Maur and lost another character, but got to the ship with almost half the party. Tio-Lizix, convinced they were valuable warriors, offered them jobs as his crew and a few accepted, but some wanted to go back to earth. He agreed and tooke the there. The only problem was a slight miscalculation that sent them to the time when Dinosaurs roamed the lands!

It was a great game, and the players were very satisfied with the game system, play style and the theme of the adventure.