I was totally enthralled with the high-tech high-action high-comedy dungeon that @TheyCallMeDeans shared with us
I assembled three friends last night, none of whom had ever played ICRPG (and one of them had never played any TTRPG before). I handed out pre-generated character sheets for them. Each character had two random rolls on this list of 500 biological mutations, and I gave each one roll on the SciFi loot table, plus whatever starting shabby gear they wanted.
The players really got into the spirit of things! One picked a butane lighter as a prized possession, and described a desiccated wet suit worn as leather armor; another claimed a bird suit for armor, a deformed skull, and a homemade shillelagh she called her “tooth bat” (indeed, a bat with teeth implanted in it instead of nails). The third player made armor from a couple of speed limit signs, carried a stop sign shield, and selected a heavy winch from the loot table just in case.
They entered the lair in search of food for their tribe. They started out cautious, unsure of what to expect and still learning their characters. Upon entry to the security station in Level 1 Area 2, they found the pass key, which I described as a bright blue rectangle attached to a necklace (i.e. a keycard on a lanyard). The bird suit player picked it up, and when she managed to get past the security lasers unharmed she immediately deduced that this blue rectangle was a powerful totem that would protect her from harm. She spent most of the rest of the game brandishing it in front of her like a priest holding a cross out toward a vampire. It was glorious, and her role playing really brought the others into the game in a way I never could have! (She also made a point of checking all foes, living and dead, for teeth she could add to her tooth bat, which was awesome.)
They missed most of level two, quickly finding the elevator to level 4 and therefore bypassing all of level 3 and Bosch. They did interact with the elevator for a bit, which was entertaining. The elevator revealed the presence of the gift shop on five, and that immediately became the desired destination for the entire party.
The trapped explorers on level 4 gave them a good surprise (and a serious wound!), and then Bird Suit made friends with the Scabbie warriors (who I described as wearing clown suits, so the party immediately dubbed them “Murder Clowns”.) Bird Suit sweet talked the Scabbie King, they all rode the slide down, and the key card / talisman allowed the party to befriend the Metal Men in their mission of peace and order.
The gift shop yielded crazy rolls for the party, which supplemented the other crazy loot rolls they’d picked up along the way. They skipped the rest of 5, taking the diving bell down to 6.
I honestly hadn’t expected the party to get this far, this fast, so hadn’t thoroughly prepared the last couple of levels. The Belch Cathedral, with it’s mouths on the wall vomiting non-stop (“Of course they are,” remarked one player), was described as a natural cave with stalagmites that had all been chopped off about 20" or so, making nice seats for the several dozen little goblinoid monsters now sitting upon then.
Here I mixed up my notes, and misread “Crawling Fists” as “Screaming Fists” for some reason. Thinking they were “screaming fists”, I described them as having huge bug eyes and no mouth in their heads. Instead, in the palm of each hand was a tiny mouth. In the cathedral, they all had their hands held high, each tiny mouth screaming in religious fervor.
The party "Nope!"ed right of that room, and found their way to the Demonlord’s lobby.They fought the Screaming Fist boss (a four armed variant). They ended up blinding him, then let him stumble around as they worked on the three heart chest.
Their advancement through the final level was tense and silly at the same time. Bird Suit sweet talked Isosceles Switchblade, trading him the security card / talisman in exchange for safe passage. He used the security card to make guitar picks. The final fight was looming. The party took stock of what they had…
They had a plasma mortar, 10,000 nanites (used to defang the missiles in surprisingly creative ways), a sonic nullifier, several pairs of boots, and various other weirdo loot, including the “Vortex in a Bottle”, which I described as a large transparent vessel, about the size of a fire extinguisher, with a cork stopper in it. Inside was seen a swirling maelstrom, like a tornado in a bottle. The party had no idea what this thing did, and had been afraid to open it since they picked it up several floors above.
After some taunting back and forth, the plasma mortar was launched at the demonlord, and then “What the hell, I open this bottle”. All the air in the room rushed into the bottle. The vacuum pulled the demonlord violently forward. He hit the bottle, breaking his skin open, and the bottle proceed to suck most of his innards out. The party had just enough time to dive back out and shut the door behind them before the plasma mortar, which was also pulled toward the bottle, detonated, finishing off Mercedes Sodacan.
Summary: everyone had a great time. There was much laughing and guffawing, a lot of “what the hell is this??” and “what kind of place are we actually in??”
The ICRPG system worked great for these newbies.
- The character sheets were simple, and applying only one modifier to most rolls, without need for cross-referencing rules or figuring out any applicable combos, kept things moving fast.
- The room target numbers were easy to grok, and needed no follow-up explanation.
- The room targets also made it supremely easy for me to adjudicate all the crazy things my players wanted to try. Whether it was an action hero run-and-jump-and-shoot thing, or sweet talking a foe, the target number was the target number.
- EASY / HARD modifiers were clear and unambiguous for players, working in combination with all of the previous points to keep my players engaged, trying crazy things, and exploring narrative reasons why they could use this thing for that purpose.
- The generally low-HP enemies did a great job making the players feel successful and powerful without taking up dozens of rounds rolling dice.
- The loot rewards were immediately seized upon as significant game-changers in the players’ benefit.
As a GM, there were a couple of challenges for me:
- the chest system of loot delivery kind of dragged. Having the players roll four or five times to “do effort” to open the chests was a wee bit boring. I did my best to provide narrative reasons for the work, and the players quickly learned to inquire about chest descriptions to figure out if it would be an easy chest to open. But simply rolling and rolling and rolling to open the chests kind of dragged for me.
- timers can make a room really complicated. In the heat of a fight, any kind of timed trigger was hard for me to keep going on the proper schedule.
TL;DR: “Underlair of the Demonlord Mercedes Sodacan” is a bad ass over-the-top dungeon, and perfectly suited for ICRPG’s speedy mechanics!