A Nightmare of Brutality

(Just to clarify, everything below is not complaining, but rather elaborating on how balls-out awesome the game we’re in is.)

Tuesday night we resumed our Lamentations game. This game has taken OSR lethality to such Roguelike levels that we’re joking about needing to start savescumming.  In just 2 sessions, we’ve had 4 PC deaths and a hireling death.

There was a near TPK on the second floor when a pack of NONLETHAL giant centipedes nommed us in to submission. The cleric (different from the one I had to trach) was gracious enough for my managing to pull several off her that she dragged me away while the mage and fighter got nibbled on. We came back with a few folks we’d promised a gold a piece to help us retrieve our friends, but they were both dead when we found them.

After the cleric player had to go home, we went back (my specialist and two newly rolled up characters), this time with a couple of hirelings and a mission to bring back some bird thing from the top floor. No amount of caution saved me from a poison gas trap; didn’t matter how carefully I opened the trap door to level 3, it was the rung on the ladder that had the triggering mechanism on it. The surviving characters loot my corpse and bully my hirelings into fulfilling their contract.

I rejoin the party as an incredibly ornery and vulgar halfling swordsman. We go back to the other side of the river and try to burn the building down. In response to this, a pack of Deep Ones emerge and charge at us. The Deep Ones got a lot of terrible rolls, and I got lot of awesome rolls, killing 5 out of the 8. Some 40 more Deep Ones started coming towards us from the south end of the wharf; we couldn’t go into the burning building (from which hideous night things were flying out of across the skies over town), hiding in another building seemed no safer, and we weren’t going to get the skiff back across the river in time. Jerry bravely tried to hold off the Deep Ones so his friends acquaintances could escape, killing another before being cut down. The Deep Ones lunged into the river, of course, and attacked the fleeing party members. To the horror of her brother, Greta the torchbearer was flayed by a Deep One. I managed to get a cleric rolled up in time to have him meet the party on the other side of the river and cast cure light wounds on the fighter.

We stopped because we realized it was midnight. The fight wasn’t exactly resolved; either the Deep Ones go home, or we’ve led a small army of fishmen right into the “safe” part of town.

It has definitely been an interesting experience playing a game where death is not only a real possibility but the game world is not balanced for the players and the DM refuses to fudge results in either direction. I don’t really see any of us ever making it to level 2, though. The main downside is going to be in the XP economy, in which once the easy stuff is gone, future characters have even less chance to get treasure without risking life & limb against impossible odds.

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6 responses to “A Nightmare of Brutality

  1. If I was a player…

    I’d think of what I wanted. What sort of scenario(s) would give me a fair chance at treasure. Ask the referee for the campaign map. Start asking questions. Ask everyone in town about this objective. If this thing seems reasonable with what the referee has presented, where is it and how can the party get to it?

    Next… organize two sorties. One– a scouting mission to determine if the target is real. (Choose spells and equipment accordingly– speed is more important than armor.) Avoid battle for that mission. Returning to town… optimize for raid if everything looks legit. Then… do that again, but do it better based on everything you know about the world the referee is presenting.

    Referees have a huge incentive to give the players what they want. Go outside the scope of the prepared area… and there’s a huge chance that the game y’all want to play is right there!

    • So far, we’ve been enjoying the absurdly violent and unpredictable nature of the game combined with a system that allows for quick and easy character creation, but I think once the novelty wears off we’ll take a more systematic approach.

      A big part of what we’re doing is helping our friend test out a random dungeon/content generator that he’s programmed. Other than creating an incredibly dangerous high lethality setting, it’s done a pretty good job of generating interesting and plausible building spaces (1st floor: room with cheap decorative statues, dinning area, sleeping room, room with bloodstained floor, room full of mushrooms and a bathtub full of highly viscus yellow liquid; 2nd floor: room with bunk-beds, room with statue of a praying man, room covered in mold, walled up cold room with a pile of bones and the remnants of an aborted game of marbles). The main downside (if you could call it that) is that the buildings we’ve been looking through are things which I have literally seen in nightmares. I have a lot of weird dreams about run-down and dilapidated houses and large multi-unit residences covered in layers of fresh filth, trash and decay…

      As for prepared area, we’ve got a map, so I think we’re going to do some real exploring next time. The guy running it has this cool little pad of transparency paper he’s used to make a map of over half a dozen stories of Kowloon Walled City style megadungeon. It’s all been pretty impressive.

    • As an added note, I think that the “dying can be fun” aspect of gaming is sorely lacking in a lot of new school systems, so those of us who have never really had the chance to play in a game like this have actually been wallowing in it like pigs.

    • There’s something magical about a game in which you can have a character show up to help in the same encounter in which your last character just died.

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