5/7/19

Odd Carcosa - Fungoid Gardens of the Bone-Sorcerer

Last sunday on Discord, we played some Carcosa using Into the Odd's rules.
I really wanted to use the adventure in the LotFP edition, which, as it turns out, makes Carcosa a complete "old-school" sourcebook, in my eyes: it has a huge hex map, a smaller packed hex map for one specific hex, and within that hex there is a settlement that can serve as a home base, and a dungeon that hints at deeper levels, begging to be expanded upon.
That dungeon is the Fungoid Gardens of the Bone-Sorcerer.

Who's Who?
Our three heroes survivors are all Blue Men from the same primitive tribe, sent on a quest to retreive precious artifacts that will aid the tribe, or die trying, this is how you earn adulthood in my Carcosa.

• Pastaman played The Grinding Stone of Seasons, or Morkoth - A Lore-Keeper
• Foursticks played Lousy Hyena, a Bone-Crafter
• Lu played Lazuli, a Dino-Rider (sans Dino, sadly)


What Happened?
As an introduction, I explained how the trio had met a bone-men dressed in rich vestments and a plate armor on the road, accompanied by armed men. The party was offered some sort of job opportunity, drinks, and drugs. It turned out to be a trap: the drinks were spiked, the drugs were more potent than expected...something bad happened and they lost consciousness. Then we started the game proper:

• Waking up in a damp cave, with no gear and only their raggedy clothes, the players investigate a hole in the ceiling with light coming from it. Lousy Hyena nearly breaks his ankle trying to climb on his own before Morkoth offers to build a human pyramid, with the light-weight Lazuli on top. The hole leads outside but is too narrow, they'll have to find another way out.

• A giant slug slowly creeps towards the party - Lousy Hyena quickly crafts two make shift bone daggers with some human remains on the floor, Morkoth grabs a big rock, but after some quick thinking the party decides to avoid the slow monster entirely, and it leaves them be, seemingly friendly.

• Exploring the caves, they reach a large area littered on bones - they get on all fours then crawl while staying close to a wall to avoid getting lost in the dark.

• Later, Lousy Hyena notices some ulfire mold growing in a corner of the cave, and decides to grab some, using his loincloth as protection for his hands. He soon realizes the spores and substance are corrosive, and has to throw away his pants. Bats are also noticed in the area, and promptly ignored.

• They then find a small cache with barrels of wine and crates of dried food. Further ahead is a pair of armed and armored ulfire men (chainmails and steel swords!) - neither have noticed the party, so the PCs prepare an ambush, with Lousy Hyena screaming as bait. It works!

• The fights goes well. There's a lot of stabbing, lots of clever manoeuvering (saves!) and nasty hits descriptions. Nobody that matters gets really hurt (only HP loss), one of the men is left to die from the many stabbings he suffered while the other is interrogated (DO NOT SLAY! I WILL INFORM), bound and stuffed in a barrel. The blue men learn that there are two exits: one through the lair of the amphibious ones, and one known only by the bone-sorcerer. They decide they want to pay a visit to that bone dude and maybe pay him back for drugging them with the bad kind of drugs.

• Now that they have steel weapons and armor, they feel much safer exploring and go investigate a fungi forest to the north, that seems filled with strange plants that the lore-keeper recognizes as rye ergot and other plants used in the manufacturing of psychedelics and deliriants, often used by sorcerers to fuel their dream quests and attempt to learn more of the dark arts. There's also a harvester-bot here that casually informs them that disturbing the harvesting process will be harshly punished, but has no qualms about letting them know where the sorcerer is. Following the machine's indications, they cross a lake of jale slime before finding the Sorcerer's "laboratory".

• There, they see a terrible monster, half horse, half scorpion, the sorcerer himself and a sort of semi-conscious, zombie-looking little white girl in a cocoon. A clever plan is devised to bait the Sorcerer out of his lair, but he's less stupid than his followers and catches on, retreating as soon as he notices the ambushers. The party charges towards him to prevent him from releasing his beast or using his laser pistol, and after a short struggle, Morkoth ends up with the gun in his hand and holds "The Cruel Master of the Deep" up with his own weapon. The Master then reveals that if he dies, the monster will go on a rampage and won't be stopped, and lets the party know that he doesn't need them that much - he'll lead them outside in exchange for his life. They agree but require their gear to be surrendered to them too.

• The Master then guides the party out through a maze of smaller trapped and empty caves, followed closely by his Beast and, weirdly enough, by the friendly giant slug, who's taken a liking to the party.
After reaching the outside, Morkoth stays true to his word and lets the Sorcerer go despite his taunts and overall wickedness. The Cruel Master of the Deep leaves them to the scorching white sand of the Blighted Lands, with no food or water, but their lives and artifacts to bring back home, with the universal sign for peace: the index and middle finger raised with the rest of the hand closed.

• Sadly, the giant slug cannot survive in the desert and quickly retreats back to the caves.

That's All Folks!

• I was a bit worried about the game lasting only two hours - although this was a one-shot and the players had simply handled most of the challenges they faced very well, avoiding a lot of trouble.

• There was no mapping, I believe, but navigation wasn't an issue as the map itself isn't too complicated, and it fit what was happening in-fiction as the trio wouldn't have had the tools to make a proper map, let alone take measurements in the caves.

• Into the Odd worked extremely well for bloody and small skirmishes - things were vivid, tactical, and fast. I made some good use of Scars from EB too, although only NPCs got badly hurt. What I'd really like to see in a campaign would be a scarred important NPC that the PC meet later on, so that he can go "YOU DID THIS TO ME!" and fly in a rage or something.

• Man, Death is the New Pink makes me want to run something more gonzo/post-apocalypse than sword & sorcery. Since Geoffrey McKinney has stated that Mutant Future/Gamma World would work great with Carcosa and that "you can't swing a dead cat without stumbling on ancient tech", I'm tempted to run the next potential games on Carcosa using this ItO hack. It has guns and mutations and stuff.

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