Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

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TithianKing
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Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by TithianKing »

So 10 years later I have finally pulled together a group to play DCCRPG.

I am planning the first session, which commences this week. Initially I wanted to start with Sailors on the Starless Sea (Sailors) and follow up with Doom of the Savage Kings (Doom), as many have done previously and suggested.

However I am struck by how similar they are conceptually, especially as I have started fleshing out the Village for Sailors to provide some context.

Now there are things I love about both modules and things I am a little underwhelmed by. So I am looking for suggestions for interesting ways of mashing these modules up into something bigger and better.

The dungeon crawl in 'Sailors' doesn't feel fully realised to me, and its a little to "on the rails" for my taste, but I do love thr setup, the climactic scenes on the Starless Sea and the battle with the Chaos Lord. Most of my issues stem from the ground level of the fortress just not adding up for me.

'Doom' has much more fleshed out locations, with NPCs to engage with, and an interesting dungeon to explore. Overall I think the module provides more player agency and better encounters, and i think my group will prefer it. However the Hound of Hirot doesn't really do it for me as an end boss. It seems anticlimactic after the beastmen and the Chaos Lord of Starless Sea.

So I am leaning toward the following redesign and I welcome your comments and suggestions:

- start in village Hirot, however the standing stones will be replaced with the Fortress from Sailors (slightly modified).
-town is meeting to debate what to do about the beastmen attacks
-Jarl is convinced that a sacrificial lottery is the only option. (Jarl may have received a missive from a Chaos cultist making explicit their demand- I am still thinking on this)
-the
-the PCs are a motley collection of 0-level characters who rally around confronting the beastmen, perhaps at the urging of The Mad Widow
-they can go to the fortress to investigate, and possibly free the slaves, or they can go to the tomb in search of magical weapons
- one of the freed prisoners in the fortress is a wizard's apprentice. His master accidentally unleashed the evil, when he uncorked the well on the courtyard. His master was transformed into a snake man. The apprentice will provide backstory and tell the PCs they cannot survive a confrontation with the Beastmen Horde and The Chaos Lord without heroic arms
- the tomb from Doom will be guarded by the Hound of Hirot, although it will be more like a sentinel.
- the expectation would be that the PCs level before they enter the Starless Sea. And I might beef up the Chaos Lord appropriately.

I realise this is more advanced than a typical funnel but I think its necessary to get my group fully engaged. They will expect more than either module offers in order to convince them to replace D&D5E with DCC RPG.

Thoughts?
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by CapnZapp »

Honestly?

Don't play in order to convince people to move from game A to game B.

DCC stands on its own merits. Starting off with a level-0 funnel, particularly one that pits your 2 hp heroes against cosmic terrors not even level 20 D&D heroes stand a chance against, is a huge selling points.

That adventures after the awesomeness that is the level-0 funnel might cool down a bit is not a weakness. If you try to one-up an encounter with a Chaos Lord you will quickly run out of material, the special will become rote, and your campaign will fall apart.

All which is to say: maybe consider playing each adventure as-is?

That doesn't mean I'm some kind of fundamentalist here. You can and should tweak adventures to suit your campaign.

But if this is your first time, I would start with your choice of level-0 funnel and not worry what comes after. Doom of the Savage Kings will still be a very nice adventure, even if it "only" features a "hound".

In fact, I suspect your players will be so shell-shocked by their introduction they will WELCOME the idea "this is just a big dog, that's something we know how to do"

...which of course is exactly what the module wants them to think... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by Bobjester »

TithianKing wrote: Sun May 15, 2022 2:09 am So 10 years later I have finally pulled together a group to play DCCRPG.

I am planning the first session, which commences this week. Initially I wanted to start with Sailors on the Starless Sea (Sailors) and follow up with Doom of the Savage Kings (Doom), as many have done previously and suggested.

However I am struck by how similar they are conceptually, especially as I have started fleshing out the Village for Sailors to provide some context.

Now there are things I love about both modules and things I am a little underwhelmed by. So I am looking for suggestions for interesting ways of mashing these modules up into something bigger and better.

The dungeon crawl in 'Sailors' doesn't feel fully realised to me, and its a little to "on the rails" for my taste, but I do love thr setup, the climactic scenes on the Starless Sea and the battle with the Chaos Lord. Most of my issues stem from the ground level of the fortress just not adding up for me.

'Doom' has much more fleshed out locations, with NPCs to engage with, and an interesting dungeon to explore. Overall I think the module provides more player agency and better encounters, and i think my group will prefer it. However the Hound of Hirot doesn't really do it for me as an end boss. It seems anticlimactic after the beastmen and the Chaos Lord of Starless Sea.

So I am leaning toward the following redesign and I welcome your comments and suggestions:

- start in village Hirot, however the standing stones will be replaced with the Fortress from Sailors (slightly modified).
-town is meeting to debate what to do about the beastmen attacks
-Jarl is convinced that a sacrificial lottery is the only option. (Jarl may have received a missive from a Chaos cultist making explicit their demand- I am still thinking on this)
-the
-the PCs are a motley collection of 0-level characters who rally around confronting the beastmen, perhaps at the urging of The Mad Widow
-they can go to the fortress to investigate, and possibly free the slaves, or they can go to the tomb in search of magical weapons
- one of the freed prisoners in the fortress is a wizard's apprentice. His master accidentally unleashed the evil, when he uncorked the well on the courtyard. His master was transformed into a snake man. The apprentice will provide backstory and tell the PCs they cannot survive a confrontation with the Beastmen Horde and The Chaos Lord without heroic arms
- the tomb from Doom will be guarded by the Hound of Hirot, although it will be more like a sentinel.
- the expectation would be that the PCs level before they enter the Starless Sea. And I might beef up the Chaos Lord appropriately.

I realise this is more advanced than a typical funnel but I think its necessary to get my group fully engaged. They will expect more than either module offers in order to convince them to replace D&D5E with DCC RPG.

Thoughts?
I haven't fully read Doom of the Savage Kings yet, but I will in due course, as I adapt the DCC modules that I do have on hand into an ongoing campaign. What you've outlined seems reasonable to me, but I assume that the bits I am not familiar with are from DotSK.

Once I've run these modules by themselves, I could mix & match for different players, as I've done with all D&D and AD&D modules since 1980. I don't think I've ran one as written since 1985, and I throw in elements from other modules, or my own to give it my own unique spin.

Once I get familiar with DCC modules (I just started running DCC last year, and have run only 2 adventures so far...) I am sure that the modules are as malleable as the D&D mods of yore.

Not all of my 5e players were interested in DCC at all. I believe that this is most likely due to the prevalence of 5e and Pathfinder as the only 2 available fantasy RPGs on the market. They just don't want to look deeper, or give anything a serious try if it isn't stamped with the WotC or Piazo logo.

If you can get your 5e players into DCC, then more power to you!
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― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by Father Goose »

I think your blend sounds awesome and your players should have a fun time.
I also think both modules are strong as written and playing them in succession is also a fun option.
Whichever approach you take, as long as you lean into the system and embrace it, you should all have a great time.
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by TithianKing »

Thanks.

In the end I began Sailors as written, but as expected my players wanted to know more about their village, so I made them originate in Hirot. We are still mid-Sailors so I am not sure where it will go from there, as in whether or not I will run Doom afterwards, or if I will just use the town as a base.

One awkward thing- we used the scratch-card character sheets, so I had no idea what kind of PCs the players had until we started playing. This made for a slightly awkward situation, as I had expected most of the PCs to be farmers and gong farmers, but in fact there were quite a few characters with rather more "cosmopolitan" occupations. For instances, one was an Elven Barrister, another was a Halfling Habadasher, another still was a Scholar, and so on. I don't think we had a single gongfarmer. After setting them up as simple salt-of-the-aerth folk who live in grimy mud-hovels with thatched roofs, I was glad I had Hirot prepared as I quickly needed reshape my village into a more sophisticated location, one developed enough to justify the PCs occupations. Hirot thankfully is just big enough.

Our first session concluded in the courtyard of the Fort. They spent quite a lot of time dealing with the Zombie Vines and trying to negotiate the entrance, then they examined the well and one of the PCs was turned into a beastman. I had expected them to reach the lower level in the first session, but at the current pace I would say we have 3-4 more sessions to go with this module. They should surely level before they reach the Ziggurat. I think I will lose them if they spend 4 sessions at level 0.
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by Bobjester »

Good game report!

It's a good thing you had an alternate village/town ready to play. Myself, I don't restrict character movement to only their village or valley as the DCC core rules suggest. I assume that there are clusters of farmsteads in rural areas and villages are commonly spaced out to be a day's journey or less away from the next on along the road, with about every 3rd or 4th stop an actual larger town or city.

My average villager has been to at least one village or town 3 or 4 stops away from their own, and in the name of their religion, would make a pilgrimage once every 10 years or so to a major religious temple or site to pay their respects & worship to their deity.

The basic effect on game play, as far as character creation goes, is to allow for a wider array of 0 level backgrounds for the start of the campaign. This campaign design also allows for a more cosmopolitan outlook on character travel and wider knowledge base as the campaign progresses.

I've heard of the scratch off character sheets, but I was skeptical of their utility from the beginning, although a work-mate who is interested in starting DCC saw them online and wants to get them.
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TithianKing
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by TithianKing »

I've heard of the scratch off character sheets, but I was skeptical of their utility from the beginning, although a work-mate who is interested in starting DCC saw them online and wants to get them.
We enjoyed using them immensely. I prompted players to reveal their ability scores the first time they test the ability. I
suppose it is a bit "game-y", so players who like to get invested in the PCs backgrounds might dislike it, but then again those players are never going to be happy playing a DCC RPG funnel adventure.
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by Bobjester »

TithianKing wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 5:13 am
I've heard of the scratch off character sheets, but I was skeptical of their utility from the beginning, although a work-mate who is interested in starting DCC saw them online and wants to get them.
We enjoyed using them immensely. I prompted players to reveal their ability scores the first time they test the ability. I
suppose it is a bit "game-y", so players who like to get invested in the PCs backgrounds might dislike it, but then again those players are never going to be happy playing a DCC RPG funnel adventure.
Gaming the character sheets is a good idea! If we get any for our group, I'll have the players do that. 8)
“The wounds received in battle bestow honor, they do not take it away...”
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TithianKing
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by TithianKing »

Bobjester wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 6:04 am


Gaming the character sheets is a good idea! If we get any for our group, I'll have the players do that. 8)
One caveat- we lost nearly half the party before they ever got to reveal several stats, which seems kind of wasteful. Strength, Agility and Luck got a lot of use but the Stamina, Personality and Intelligence stats didn't get much action.

I am probably going to re-use the cards that are only partially revealed. Unfortunately some of my players were using pens.
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by Bobjester »

If only there was a way to re-cover the scratched off surfaces and let the players re-use them as if brand new.

If it were me as Judge, I'd just take them and re-purpose them as NPCs or foes, scratching off the rest of the sheets.
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Re: Combining the best of Starless Sea and Savage Kings?

Post by TithianKing »

Bobjester wrote: Sat Jun 04, 2022 4:38 pm If only there was a way to re-cover the scratched off surfaces and let the players re-use them as if brand new.
There are in fact ways this can be done. There is a recipe for making scratch-card paint, by mixing dish soap into standard acrylic paint (metallic grey for tradition)
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