Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Ultracon 1

As every July my blog becomes a tad quiet as I spend time preparing for Ultracon. This is the fourth year of our friends and family event and it should be a memorable one. On the way into work this morning I was thinking back to the first Ultracon which started it all. I thought a short follow-up on the event would be perfect for throwback thursday material.

When creating the adventure for UC1 my goal was to design something that our teenage selves would have enjoyed. After all I was gaming with some players which had not gathered in years. And I decided to use Baba Yaga as the BBEG the center of the story. In Ultanya the deformed old crone is an arch mage of considerable power and influence.

She is very well-traveled across multiple planes of existence with wisdom of the multiverse. So much that brave adventurers, kings and queens often seek her counsel for a price. Baba Yaga is also a collector of strange arcana and curios which she keeps in her extra-dimensional abode the tesseract. But alas she had become bored and decided to trap some adventurers to test their mettle for her amusement!

Baba Yaga was watching remotely from the tesseract control room as exploration unfolded.  If the players made their way through her gauntlet all the way to the control room they would be faced with one last challenge: The Tesseract Arena!

When designing the tesseract encounters I made sure everything was gonzo and outlandish. From the time they entered what seemed to be a mundane hut the warning signs were there. A magic mouth named Gygax appeared and asked them to sign a contract. It was presented Willy Wonka style with all sorts of clauses. The smiles on some of the player’s faces were priceless when this handout was presented. They immediately knew they were in for a wild ride!

Some of the more fun dungeon rooms in no particular order:

Tesseract Sewers: All the waste generated by Baba Yaga’s bestiary is magically channeled here. Waiting for the players was highly intelligent rot grubs and of course mutated gelatinous cubes of gargantuan size. Unfortunately for the players the cubes absorbed a large cache of magic potions over the years and the miscibility table favored them completely!

The Spaceship: Not any ordinary spaceship but one filled with Daleks! The look on the Whovian faces when we placed the Dalek miniatures on the table was great. Plungers of doom and yes disintegration rays completed their arsenal. Eventually the players made it to the senior Dalek whose mechanical shell was damaged. It offered information on navigating the tesseract in return for the player’s help. Instead of using dice I purchased a copy of Dalek Operation to simulate removing the damaged parts.

Dredgehammer Brewery: The ruby ale of this lost brewery was coveted by dwarf and human alike. Surely this must be a good place to rest while exploring the tesseract…WRONG. The magic that once enabled some of the brewing process became unstable and wild. It seeped into the aged kegs and created BEER elementals! With special attacks named Hangover and Beer Brawl you can only imagine the chaos which ensued. This was a fun one and of course the loot was an actual cooler of ice cold beer that was hidden inside a closet at the convention hall.

Fremont the Troll: While scouring for outlandish ideas I happened upon something from our own world. This actual statue exists in the Fremont area of Seattle, Washington under the Aurora Bridge.  At 18’ tall and 13,000lbs of steel, rebar and concrete Baba Yaga just had to have him! Fremont was guarding a bridge inside the tesseract that the players had to cross. They needed to answer his riddles or be attacked by massive fists or a thrown VW bug!

Gate of Doom: This was a massive trapped door with many unique tumblers in its plethora of locks. Instead of using dice I decided yet again to use a tactile puzzle. We used a Jenga tower with each piece removed representing a lock. The player squared off against one of the DM’s while everyone watched. The tension generated as the Jenga tower wobbled resembled a rogue picking dangerous locks. If the tower fell on the player’s turn they would set off a nasty trap. Alternatively if it fell on the DM’s turn they disabled all the traps successfully.

At some point when I have the time I will clean up Baba Yaga’s Tesseract adventure and make it available for download. There are many more other fun encounters which occurred throughout the weekend. The take away here is that while high fantasy is indeed fun adding some gonzo to your game sessions makes things refreshing and new. Don’t be afraid to game outside the box and keep your players on their toes!

Never sign a contract in a dungeon!

You are the enemy of the Daleks!

Fremont the Troll

HOW many cubes?

Game outside the box!

50 bottles of Dredgehammer ready for Ultracon 4!