We finally managed to find the time to actually start our Cörpathium campaign again, so we cosied-up the studio, made two jugs of Goblin Punch [lots of apple/lime/kiwi/banana/mint juice and lime and pineapple soda water and vodka and… look lots of sugar and it ruined me for the next day and I lost my voice around the 6th hour but it was worth it, it tasted like the mid-point of a party where you’re like, “things could go horribly wrong, or this could be the best night of my life, I’m going to find out”], printed some fresh new character sheets, pulled up the spreadsheet for the Rookery of Van Möldus, and rolled our little hearts out.
I had this idea to start everyone as 0 level and only gain a class when they do something to earn it or find a spellbook they can read or have religious fever dreams or something, kind of like a DCC funnel except with a single character each and let loose in the sandbox instead of a set adventure. Have to say, it worked pretty damn well.
Everyone but Ellen used the automated NPC Birthing Sacs to get an idea for their character, so after rolling for equipment we ended up with:
Ellen: Senorita Dos Lumpos, Francish lady in a ridiculously big frothy skirt with a horrible rusted knife and a copper pot.
Roy: Azarnoush Al Zahir, softly spoken Moorish giant (17 Strength) carrying a bronze dagger broken from a statue, still with partial finger attachment, a corpsecatcher pole, and three black candles.
Rose: Maddock Mohrghast, an imposingly big but weak and clumsy Urgoth that may be mentally touched, carrying a sharp copper blade, a bottle of dark “bog” alcohol (that apparently he’s had since he was 7 and it grew his finger back? I don’t know they made that up while I was in the bathroom), two discarded censer balls from the Church of Dust and Ash, a leather satchel with charcoal pencils and half a notebook, two days worth of preserved rat, and a small collection of mouse skulls.
Michael: finally rolled an Intelligence over 5 (well, not on the first try but I let him roll them all again), Elena Sanguine, a petite Francish girl missing an eye, carrying a black blade and a tarnished brass looking glass full of creeping fungus.
Bulletpoint play report after the gameporn.
- Drank lots of Harlot’s Spit and a bitter spirit called Regret at a pop-up hole-in-the-wall brewhouse on the Street of the Harlot until the awkwardness of a failed attempt to start a dance party was interrupted by robed cultists smashing giant barnacle flails into people’s faces.
- Plunged into the back alleys to find a way back to the rooftop entrance of their lodging house where Maddock used his skills as a huge guy to act as a stool for everyone to climb into an open window, Al Zahir saved him from a flail by reaching down and plucking it from the cultist’s hands before swinging it back into his face, and they escaped through the home of a group of surprisingly friendly and unconcerned people who were then heard screaming behind them.
- Woke up the next morning to realise that they’d spent all their money on Spit and Regret and their rent was all used up, but got offered a year’s lodging to clear the fungus out of the basement.
- Split the party.
- Dos Lumpos went to the Belly of the Whale fight den where she tried to bitch slap a 1st level gold-dripping Moorish Fighter named Shalmanasar Abu-Rhain, got slapped back within 1hp of unconsciousness, then uppercutted him in the “gold-plated balls” so hard that he passed out covered in vomit. Maddock cheered and danced from the sidelines and Möldus Blacktongue, leader of the Pitch Eaters and owner of the Belly of the Whale, started a slow clap and invited her to return.
- Al Zahir and Elena climbed into the basement and ignored the way the mushrooms started to glow in waves after stepping on them, and were accosted by a clump of infested rats that rolled out of a crumbling fungus patch which they flicked against the wall with the corpsecatcher pole and finished off with a double-kneed diving floorpunch. Then Elena opened the mushroom-encrusted drawer of a writing desk which caused them to coat her in a huge ejaculation of spores, then tried to shovel as much fungus into her mouth as she could before Al Zahir knocked her out with the corpsecatcher pole, who in stepping forward felt a spike of fungus punch through the top of his foot and start to grow.
- Al Zahir tore out the fungal spike, poured lantern oil into the wound, and sparked it alight.
- Dos Lumpos and Maddock came home to find Elena tied to the bed with dirty handkerchiefs and still a little spore-crazy, so Maddock spat a big mouthful of bog up her nose to clear her sinuses.
- Back in the basement Elena found two black glass femurs in the now-open drawer full of filth and Dos Lumpos casually opened a door to be thrown back by a screaming knife-wielding man covered in tiny mushrooms, but swung her copper pot as she fell and knocked him the fuck out.
- Found two cannibalised skeletons and a locked chest, so Elena split one of their fingerbones and picked the lock on her first try, nabbing a crossbow and a pretty new cloth-of-gold covered iron girdle.
- Knocked the handle off the door and shut the cannibal back inside.
- Found the lowest room of the basement choked with vibrant pink and yellow fungus, streaming from the sprouting body of a young girl washed up beside the rushing sewer and crusted to the stone floor with fungus.
- Poked her with a stick and turned around in surprise when two slopping fungal monstrosities pulled themselves from the mess inside the room. Al Zahir stumbled and fell on the girl, dislodging her arm from the crusted fungus and making the monstrosities scream if mushrooms could scream. He yelled “attack the girl!” so Dos Lumpos half-crushed her head with the copper pot then felt really, really bad about it, and they all kept stabbing and setting fire to the little girl while more fungal bodies appeared behind them until Al Zahir had the bright idea to lever her away from the crusted fungus and into the sewer, causing everything behind them to deliquesce into a pale, feebly-reaching goop.
- Groped their way back up through the goop in the dark to announce that they’d finished the job.
- Went back to the Belly of the Whale the next day where Elena fought The White Ape, a parasite-infested albino baboon with bronze-coated teeth and claws, and killed it by hooking her copper pot over its head and stabbing it in the neck with a rusty knife. Its owner was none too happy and ran screaming and swinging the baboon’s leash, Maddock dove at him and landed face-first on the floor, and the owner smacked down Dos Lumpos while she tried to dislodge her knife and tustled with Al Zahir until Elena aimed her crossbow from the sidelines.
- I took a moment to explain to Michael that if he hit, there was a 50/50 chance of hitting the baboon owner or Roy, and that if he missed he’d kill one of the spectators. Michael rolled his dice and the owner took a crossbow bolt to the back of the skull.
- Dos Lumpos tried to take a baboon fang as a trophy and pulled out the whole top row of teeth from their rotten roots, then horrifically decided to take its bronze butt-plate as well, leaving a mess of fecal matter and parasites strewn across the floor.
- Maddock and Al Zahir teamed up against a pompish 2nd level Fighter named Lazarus Miserivort and Jezebel Cornoviorum, a 3rd level Fighter with a high ruffled collar and makeup that accentuated her facial scars and split lip. They started with Al Zahir picking up the girl and hurling her at her partner, then pulled some wrestling shit by hoisting Maddock on his shoulders and spin-dropping him on top of them with a mighty elbow, but then they got knocked out.
- Impressed by her baboon-stabbing abilities, Möldus advised Dos Lumpos she may have a future with the Pitch Eaters.
- Enjoyed some Cthalamus Siren Stew at Our Lady Sacculina and didn’t try to drown themselves, and chatted with the owner Ballantine Grothki about cultists that swing giant barnacle flails at your face.
- Got sent to the Foetid Babe by Möldus to take part in some fights and see if they could find out anything about the Red Nails.
- Dos Lumpos stomped into the bar demanding to see the owner because she’s the best fighter in Cörpathium, no, in the Rookery, but only got a spit-filled glass until Al Zahir smooth-talked their way in.
- Down in the fight pit Dos Lumpos got strangled within 2 Rounds by Yug-Amon Urthal, the Drowning God.
- Al Zahir accepted the invitation to try his luck, walked into the fight pit, and kicked the Drowning God in the knee, bending it the wrong way.
- Sama’el Vagha invited Al Zahir to come back and participate in their somewhat-bloodier exhibition fights and Dos Lumpos left in shame.
- On their way out overheard a couple of drunks in an alley talking about an old man that can make wings of hands and horrors grow from his flesh that is locked below the Foetid Babe.
- Got followed by two acolytes of the Church of Dust and Ash, crooning at them about the ecstatic void of just, letting, go.
- Dos Lumpos told Möldus all about her brilliant plan to make the Red Nails think she was bad at fighting while she got Al Zahir into the exhibition matches and how they’re going to distract everyone while Elena looks for the old man tomorrow night.
- Rummaged around in the abandoned brewhouse and found a dead barnacle under the bar, broken away from its flail.
- Dos Lumpos and Maddock wanted to go find Ballantine Grothki and sell him the barnacle, Elena agreed to tag along until she could find something to steal, and Al Zahir went home.
- The barnacle carriers got followed by the same Dust and Ash acolytes and Maddock pulled down his pants to expose his buttocks to them, getting a handful of dust blown up his arse and then his face. Dos Lumpos tried to get her fight on but got her arm wrapped up within one of their robes while the other took his robe off completely and threw it on Elena.
- The acolytes stopped laughing when Maddock washed out his eyes with bog and spat it in their face, they screeched and failed to take the robe back from Elena, satisfying her kleptomatic urge.
- Meanwhile Al Zahir stumbled upon someone standing on a pile of crates trying to break into a window, and when they jumped at him with a knife caught their arm and broke it, sending them away from the alley like a stern father.
- After climbing on the crates himself to get to the roof he met a happy guy called Willem and decided to work together to catch the strange pulsing misshapen monkey they could see on a nearby rooftop.
- Willem hid behind a chimney with a noose while Al Zahir postured at the monkey from the other side of the roof, which found itself caught in the rope when it jumped down to attack him. But then its throat swelled and sang Confusion which caused Al Zahir to dash off a good portion of the monkey’s face with the corpsecatcher pole and Willem to stab Al Zahir in the shoulder with a borrowed knife.
- Willem apologised profusely and promised to meet him at the Rat Cage in the morning after selling the monkey’s corpse and they called it a night.
- Al Zahir failed his Constitution save for being stabbed and rolled a 20 on his Infection roll, making it a disease, and contracted Resinous Influenza. He woke up with a deep bone ache sneezing quickly-hardening mucus all over himself and looking very sad.
And then it was 8 hours later and I had drunk way too much Goblin Punch and it had been like 70% humidity all day and I was gross and tired.
All up I’d say it was a damned successful game, they’re already creating their own hooks and I have a few obvious set pieces to prep for next session, and the 0 level thing is fun as hell, and especially in a city game seems to offer a bit more freedom in figuring out what you want to do/be than starting as a set class straight away.
Notes for self: Spend more time describing sights and smells and feelings, let’s make this thing live damnit live * Drink less sugar so that making up different voices isn’t a strain * A lot of the adventure and life of the city is meant to come from random encounters and rumours, so let’s try rolling once per main street instead of once per outing.
House rule idea: If a player succeeds the very first time they try something, like picking a lock or making a climb check or attacking, they gain +1 to that thing.
BONUS STREET MAP AND FUNGAL BASEMENT NOTES
WE DON’T GO IN THE BASEMENT
The Rat Cage Lodging House
- The most reputable and safe lodging house in the Rookery, the sign is a curled dead rat, skeletal below its forelegs.
- Lodgers are given a rat skull with a wax seal on its forehead, proof that they’ve paid for their stay if they need entrance through the roof at night.
– Quietly spoken little Saxon man.
– Takes great care in the operation of the Rat Cage in the hope that it will some day be the most famous lodging house in all of Cörpathium.
– Mental illness instils a repulsion towards personally cleaning anything, making his own appearance squalid even for the Rookery.
Some kind of fungus has grown up out of the basement. He cannot bear to deal with it himself and no one else will. It’s been unused for some time and he hasn’t looked any further than the first set of stairs when he went looking for a bird cage, but now lodgers on the lower level have been having hallucinogenic fever dreams.
He’s sure that something is at the heart of the growth, which may be worth quite a bit in itself. If you deal with the infestation he’ll give you free lodging for a year, and if you can find a cause and bring it back intact he’ll split the money with you after finding a buyer.
The stairs leading down are covered with pale filaments of mould branching out over the surface of the slick wooden floor and stone walls.
Stairs are open to the room apart from a rickety rail.
Mouldering refuse, crates and broken furniture, a bird cage.
|"I Dig Through the Stinking Refuse"
|At the bottom of a crate full of rotten food, or rotten fabric, it's hard to tell it's just mould-ridden sludge, if you dig far enough you find two femurs, utterly black, slick like glass.
|A half-full bottle of dark, red wine, a mushroom sprouting from the cork.
|A small wooden chest, iron banded, locked, contains dead cat.
|A shattered body-length mirror.
|A straw broom, handle snapped in half.
|A thick leatherbound ledger, indecipherable with mould.
|A bird skeleton.
|A bronze knife with a grinning face on the hilt. Quality 3.
|A flask of whale oil.
|A soiled dress.
Fruiting bodies sprout in a trail on Level 1 leading to the stairs, closed in as they descend, walls covered with fungus
-Crusted to the walls like oyster mushrooms
-Pale fruiting bodies in patches on the stairs
When cut or crushed they glow a bioluminescent green, almost enough light to walk by
-They glow in waves down along the walls, warning that you’re coming
1 in 6 chance per person, increasing by 1 each time, that the stairs collapse.
One encounter per floor or when someone prods something.
|Fungal Weird Shit That Hates You
|A clump of mushrooms falls apart and turns out to be d6 infested rats, on a successful attack they dig their faces into your flesh and pop their heads. Save vs Poison or suffer localised fungal infection.
|Porous round-capped pale mushrooms angled up diagonally from a bulk of refuse against the wall, when you move in front of them they expel a cloud of spores. Save vs Poison or 1. Attack your friends. 2. Stab Yourself. 3. Shovel fungal flesh into your mouth. 4. Sweat and dance and strip and touch everything. 5. Vomit and in the vomit there is a dog but there isn't really no one else can see it. 6. Attack your friends SO HARD.
|A pale tentacle wraps around your leg and trips you, but deliquesces into a pale goop when you hit the floor, like the exertion was too much, something like the mockery of a hand still clings to your leg.
|A patch of fungus crusted to the floor curls up and tries to clamp around your leg. Roll under Dex to avoid it, otherwise it curls tendrils deep enough into your skin to take a layer with it if you try to tear it away.
|Something is calling your name from the corner.
|Mushrooms drop from the ceiling and liquefy as they hit your head, they burn like acid, leaving multicoloured wounds of blues and purples. (No pain, no lost hp)
|A colonised cat, fruiting bodies sprouting from its back, purrs and tries to rub up against your leg.
|Lowest Dex check feels a sharp pain in their foot. A spike of fungus has somehow pierced through their shoe, when they take it off fingers of fungus are sprouting from their foot, steadily moving upwards.
The fungus is more thick and vibrant, hues of pink and yellow.
-There is a door in the far wall
-A thick writing desk in the centre of the room
Behind the door is a crazed man with a knife. Tiny mushrooms sprout from his skin and his chin and neck are crusted with some black filth. Inside the room are two human rotting skeletal remains.
They all have wax-sealed rat skulls.
A locked box behind them contains rotted papers and keepsakes as well as an ornate Quality 3 crossbow (will break on first Notch) with a quiver of bolts, and a cloth-of-gold covered iron girdle.
Ever brighter displays of fungus, crowding the room almost to choking, you can’t help but crush it as you walk through the room but nothing does you violence here.
-It all seems to stream from an open door, the sound of rushing water
The door leads to the sewers, water flowing out to the Hollow Sea.
-Lying on the stone landing beyond the door is the washed-up body of a young girl, her body riddled with enormous pink-gilled white mushrooms that grow from her torso and oyster-like growths on her limbs, crusting her to the floor, clusters of softly glowing stalk-like white fungus grow from her open eyesockets
If you touch her d4 1HD masses of fungal monstrosity pull themselves from the growth inside the room.
Each round they:
1. Try to slam you into the ground or wall for d2 damage. Save vs Paralysation or be held down for ongoing 2 damage each round as they colonise your flesh.
2. Erupt part of their bodies in an ejaculation of spores, taking d6 damage for equal bonus to hit and damage. Take ongoing damage as they grow into mushrooms unless you do something to get the spores off, if it kills you arise as a fungal drone 3 Rounds later.
3. Vomit deliquescing black fungal matter from pudgy holes in their head masses. Multicoloured blue and purple wounds, no lost hp or pain, save vs. Poison or kiss the mushroom girl, next Round the monstrosities regain d4 hp each, and there’s a 1 in 6 chance that a 2HD one pulls itself from the muck.
4. Bitch slap you for d4 damage.
If the girl is cut away from the mycelial mess that nets her to the floor the monstrosities will collapse in piles of filth in d4 Rounds, limbs of pale fungal flesh reach out from masses about the room and a misshapen head appears in a silent scream before collapsing.