Battle Royale: The Slave Pits of Lost Agharta
by Harley Stroh
Bride of Cyclops Con heralded a new kind of tournament for DCC RPG: The Battle Royale. Abducted from the light-filled surface lands, the PCs were pressed into slavery by wicked Aghartan slave lords (of DCC #91: Journey to the Center of Áereth) and forced to battle for their masters’ amusement.
Each player was given a single first level warrior. The sole differentiating attribute was their hit points, which were only rolled after answering the crucial question: was the character a cannibal (having kept up their strength by feasting on the flesh of their downed comrades) or had the PCs kept their dignity, at the risk of growing weak in the Aghartan gloom?
The answer would come into play in more ways than one. For as myth warns us, partaking of repast in the mythic underworld seldom ends well.
At the sounding of the doom gong, the first wave of six PCs was ushered onto the base of the towering ziggurat. Above them loomed slave giants, machines of war, blazing crystals and guttering braziers. Clouds of man-bats circled in the dark even as leviathans struggled to crawl forth from the frothing waves.
The goal for each PC was simply to survive, but the means of survival was left to the players. Some sought to forge alliances, others pursued bitter grudges to the grave, and yet others turned the ziggurat’s dangers to their advantage. As PCs fell – whether beneath the blows of giants or to their fellow slaves – they were replaced by other waiting PCs, so that all the players cycled through the game (and some more than once).
The ziggurat itself was replete with danger. Mounds of slain corpses presented the lure of looted gear; towering green crystals offered both arcane risk and reward. Those that survived more than a round or two of the constant onslaught had to be cautious and quick by turns, and more than a little bit lucky.
The result was a game that was largely judge-free:
Each round PCs determined their own actions – attacking foes, turning ballistae on slave barges, kicking foes back into the wine dark seas, or vaulting onto flaming pillars. And then, at the end of each round, each player also took on the role of one of the slave masters, deciding by anonymous vote whether the masters called for the man-bats to attack, the seas to rise, for the giants to crush the PCs, or the mind-altered cannibals to assault their fellow slaves. So while even though only six PCs were “on the board” at any given moment, all the players in the game took part in directing the evolution of the threats in play.
Once the clangor of blades grew silent, and the seas had risen to extinguish the oily flames, one champion stood triumphant, having cast aside the shackles of Lost Agharta, and led his fellows to freedom: Joe “the Immortal” Colistro. Colistro was part of the first wave of PCs to take the ziggurat and never fell. For the entire session, no other PC would assume the green tabard.
A tournament recap would not be complete without thanking Jen Brinkman, co-judge, who took the initiative to bridge the digital divide as new players (and new PCs!) were introduced to the game. Then, as our virtual mayhem reached its peak, temporarily breaking the interface, Ms. Brinkman was there to ensure that the game continued to run smoothly. A judge could not ask for a better comrade in arms.
And even though Colistro the Green carried the day, the grotesque yearnings of the Aghartans only grow stronger. New death mazes are being constructed and even greater battles contemplated. Will another champion arise as Colistro has done? Can that champion survive multiple rounds? What damned souls will meet their end at the cruel hands of former comrades? The Lost Aghartans plot, laugh, and wait.