As I mentioned, the rules feature mechanics for creating the city where the player’s hail from, Infinopolis. I started our adventure there, but honestly I didn’t want to spend time generating the city and its various districts, I wanted to move on to the adventure itself. So I had the players choose a Faction, and that faction would send them out on their first adventure together.
Of course, they chose the Seal Clubbers.
“In domino masks and flat caps, this group of seeming vandals roams the city to destroy all the tools of carceral containment. None should be held prisoner! No money should be miserly stored! No magical seals must bind creatures worldly and otherworldy! Their studded clubs are made of seal-breaking iron, and they can also bust a lock apart right quick.”
Everyone agreed it was fitting to be adventurers delving dungeons and dedicated to busting open locks.
Next I asked the party to supply rumors of what they’ve heard about this crypt the Seal Clubbers wanted them to explore.
“Undead. And negative energy.”
“If you go in with a gift you won’t be bothered.”
“Extradimensional Ecoterrorism plays a role: some force is trying to liberate something locked away.”
“The crypt is home of the infamous playwright Solomon Doone, whose wild plays were known to incite madness.”
“There’s been a rash of skeletal/resurrected animals making a nuisance of themselves around Infinopolis.”
The Seal Clubbers conscript the party (without pay, but a split of any spoils) to enter a crypt where there’s been some recent…activity…in the area. They send them to a large graveyard, full of tombstones, tombs, and yes…crypts.
“How do we know what direction to go in?”
It was then they remembered the rumor they’d heard about Solomon Doone, and decided to look for anything that bore the name DOONE. Up a hill stood an ornate entryway, flanked on either side by demonic-looking gargoyles. It was a grandiose display of architecture, but it was a small tomb with a wooden door, but sure enough above the entryway was the name DOONE, etched in stone. The players discussed a bit and finally decided Nadia should hack away at the door with her hand axes.
“I have a crowbar,” suggest Nyris Nor.
Nadia continued to hack at the door.
A strange, thick, white mist began to approach, creeping up and encircling the hill.
“Guys I have a crowbar,” Nyris said again.
Nadia began to hack harder at the door.
The thick mist was almost upon them…
“Hey I have a crowba-“
…the rest of the party jumped in and helped hack away at the door, eventually knocking it down in pieces. Nyris looked at the doorway, the fog, his crowbar…and then resigned to follow the group inside.
Quickly Nadia cast a spell she had, using an automatic success to create a wall that filled the open doorway. It would only last a few rounds, but it would keep the fog at bay — hopefully long enough to get to safety within the crypt.
If that was possible.
Now I gave the players a map. I told them ignore how the entrance appears, and just assume the rest of the dungeon is accurate.
Okay. You may be wondering why I gave the map to the players. It’s a weird move, and definitely takes away any surprises, exposes all of the secrets, and allows them to plot and strategize.
All of this is true. And in a normal dungeon crawling roleplaying game, you probably don’t want to just hand the map to the players. But Down We Go is meant to have a different kind of play experience. Remember from the last post when I talked about “Lore as Loot”, and how the players came up with their own set of rumors?
I implemented the same level of player engagement with the dungeon itself. I described the first room as being damp yet clean. Too clean, in fact. For an ancient family crypt, it seemed very well maintained right in the entryway. There was dampness but no mold growing anywhere.
There wasn’t much time to search the room, so the party quickly made their way through the door in the south east, and barred it shut to keep the fog out.
They asked what they found, and I described another pristine chamber, this one dry instead of damp, but very well maintained. Then I paused…and I asked them to tell me what they found.
David, who plays Nyris Nor, looked over the map and locked in on a key feature. “There’s a lone stalactite hanging from the ceiling.”
Puddle John walked over to the stalactite, to see if it might be load bearing. And that’s when the thing unfurled giant bat wings and swooped down to attack Puddle John. Acting quickly, Puddle John cast pain bolt at the beast, exploding it to pieces with 2 hits.
This was the first bit of combat we’d experienced, but it played out great, and while David didn’t describe the stalactite as a monster, I took it upon myself to make it one. I was thinking of both a Piercer or a Cloaker, but we ended up with the party facing something new. Which, if I remember correctly, Rory (who plays Puddle John), named it a “rock bat”. A GIANT rock bat.
What I really enjoyed was how fast I was able to create the monster and implement it in combat. This would be important because, looking at the map, I knew there was another one in the room to the south-west. We’d see if they would encounter that one or leave it alone.
Rock Bat, Giant
Special: Enveloping Wings, Camouflage
Giant Rock Bats are cone-shaped creatures with stone-colored skin and giant bat wings. They can conceal themselves by looking like stalactites, hanging from the ceiling and blending in with other natural rock structures. When disturbed or if they sense prey is nearby, they unfurl their wings, quickly drop down, and try to wrap themselves around their victim. On a successful hit, their target is enveloped; each round following they will score a successful hit on their target. If they suffer any damage while attached to someone they will immediately detach and fly up, attempting to dive again on their next round and latch on to someone else if possible.
Special: Constriction, Opaque
An evil and malicious entity, Creeping Fog moves slowly but its thick nature makes visibility through it impossible. While moving it stays close to the ground, but when it finds a living creature, it quickly rises up around them, and then constricts on them with physical force. Once it has successfully made an attack, it will continue to constrict and tighten on its victim, dealing an automatic 1 point of damage each round.