Sunday, January 15, 2017

Uncommon Explorations of the Maze of the Blue Medusa

An exploration of the Maze of the Blue Medusa by four beginning characters played by two players using my "Uncommon" dungeon rpg hack.  

A friend was in town so three of us decided to play a quick pickup game.  I knew these guys would dig the surreal weirdness and social nature of this book.  I played an online game in the Maze once, right before it came out (game was run by Ken Baumann the publisher) and I've run one other session of the Maze using 5th edition D&D.  This time I suggested my DIY hack in order to focus attention more on the setting than the character sheet.  We used a couple of "before you were first level" rolls from the Dungeon Dozen book to jump start the scene.  It turned out the dramatis personae were a cleric recently converted from a den of iniquity, a rich wizard school graduate, a psychopathic fighter, and magpie-thief.  To which I responded thusly:

"You are all lying around on the veranda of your crumbling villa, looking out on a dead salted sea, above a decadent city, as the sun sets, still hung over from the aristo-wizard party from the night before.  It's blurry, but the thief vaguely remembers finding his way into a forgotten closet and lifting a framed painting because he liked the frame.  In any case, the day has been spent staring at the thing and making various comments.  The painting depicts a nude woman chained to a wall in a red room.  The sky darkens, the moon rises, and the woman in the painting turns beckons you hither..."
They gathered up their venturing packs and entered the painting.  The cleric was quick to from Ashen Chantrelle.  She claimed she could remember little, but had been chained a long time.  She said the "reparate" occasionally game to clean and maintain the lanterns, but otherwise she had had few visitors in the course of her uncounted days of imprisonment.  The cleric begged for the lady to be freed, and the thief obliged by picking the manacle locks.  Given a cloak and some food, Chantrelle spoke of the maze in vague platitudes and retreated through the moonlit painting.

The group broke down the door and encountered Lady Crucem Capelli, a demonic dragon lady who seemed a bit indecisive.  Learning that the thief was a bit of an art collector, she offered a deal.  They would collect histories of the creatures in the maze and she would pay them in coins.  The group accepted the deal and began exploring, peeking through all three doors before choosing to navigate the Escher Stairs.

Here I encountered a disconnect between text and map.  The map shows an archway to the Escher Stairs, but the description explains that the gravitational orientation of the stairs changes depending on which doors are open.  So I had to say, "Oh wait, there is a door there."

The group decided to secure a rope and rappelle down to the northern door.  The cleric failed and landed on the knot of stairs.  Just then a sneaking group on men in bird beak masks poked their heads trough the eastern door,  A handy Charm spell lowered the guard of the Oku, and they were soon lowered to their deaths.  

Beyond the stairs was a dark room.  A creature lurking within, some sort of upside down mollusk grabbed the fighter's bag of gold and attempted to flee.  It was angry when the commotion threatened to wake the baby.  Then the baby did wake.  The group all looked at each other, realizing they could regain their sanity if they killed each other.  Instead an arrow was sent through the screaming baby, and the mollusk hurled to its doom on the Escher Stairs.  

At that we were tired.  They sold the story of the Oku to Crucem Capelli, and I allowed the characters to leave.  In the meantime, Chantrelle had begun carousing in the decadent city.  The heroes joined in with the carousing.

Overall a fun session with a couple of very creative players.  I was really happy with the game system and with the dungeon.  I had not cracked the book in months before beginning play, and though I ad-libbed a bit, I was still able to play the characters quickly and run the dungeon easily.  

Would dungeon again.  I'd really like to get farther in to the dungeon next time.