Let’s Enter The Doom-Cave Of The Crystal Headed Children

In the last post, I mentioned how I was gonna tinker with CRGE-Kai for playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess. This is to be a permanent upgrade for CRGE-Kai, though also an experiment. Previously, I played a game with the Ursa Minor engine, to which I fell in love with its mechanics. I decided, like with Mythic, to borrow those mechanics and implement them into CRGE-Kai. And thus, CRGE-Kai Ni is born. For book-keeping purposes, it’ll be referred to as CRGE-Kai, but from here on out, I’ll be calling it CRGE-Kai Ni. So, what did I add to CRGE-Kai? Well, the Turmoil system.

To recap, Ursa Minor has its own Chaos system, but it changes depending on how the characters interact with the game world instead of if the scene ended well for the players. An example would be asking townspeople around about Andrew. Although in Mythic, this would be smooth sailing, Ursa Minor would add a point of Turmoil due to how the characters effectively brought up old scars in the villagers and thus cause them to act wearier.

It also has its own random event system and a system where you can roll out entire sequences of scenes in just one roll, such as perception checks or travelling. There’s a lot to take in, so I recommend you read my Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells game to understand these mechanics. For their own Incident Rolls, they’ll replaced the Altered Scene results and Ambiguous Events.

As for how I’ll go about the module, I looked up the Lone Crusader’s proposed idea, but ultimately decided against using it. The reason is that it involves stripping the module down to base elements. I played around with a module before without needing to do this, so I figure I can manage. Alright, let’s begin this experiment.

And as we get into the cave, we have a lovely description of the entrance being a toilet. Literally. Well, with one of the descriptors that about 5 crystal-headed children are coming to the entrance to relieve themselves and/or cook, I feel like it’s time to pull from the Markdown chart because this has pushed me out of my comfort zone.

[Markdown Result: 5 = A character who is five levels higher than the Crystal-Headed children appears as an antagonist.]

Um… Okay… Using the HD as the level, we have a level five character who also joins the entrance ready to mulch the kids. He runs up to one of them and kills one as it screams for its mommy. Since there’s no actual skill roll for insight, I’m gonna see via the Oracle if they get the picture, using their Wisdom scores as the modifiers.

[Q: Are they able to put two and two together? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 80. Surge goes up to 1]

Yes, they do and they charge in to hold the man down while the remaining children run off. Anaeg gets a good hit in.

[Q: Does the man say his case? Purpose: To Conflict. A: 82, Yes And]

Yes, he does. He tells them that he was assigned by the Clergy to take out a member who had fallen to the dark side of sorcery, and believes that the crystal-headed children are part of his experiment. Calling them unholy abominations, he wishes to destroy them and their creator.

Baldurn calls bull and tells him that, while the fact that these children are crystal-headed is odd, they aren’t experiments and have lives back at the village. If anything, they should fight the man responsible for putting the crystals on their heads. They agree to help the hunter, Anwe, with his quest so long as he helps them bring the Andrews back home. They head forth and the scene ends, Chaos and Turmoil going up. Turmoil started out as 2, but the antics of the warrior made it 4.

[Scene Roll: 6]

Scene Interrupt!

  • Event Focus: 4, Ambiguous Event (Incident Time)
  • Incident?: 7, Furtherance. Turmoil increases to 5.
  • Context: 9, A character (in this case, our party) get closer to their goal of saving Andrews.
  • Trihex: 655, 353, 361; impossible whispering independence.

Okay, so I think I have a good idea where to go here. As our heroes go into the next room, they see a large crystal in the room, followed by dozens of crystal-headed children along with an old mage who stares longingly into the crystal, only to turn around and notice the group.

[Q: Is the Crystal Headed Child that was killed still alive? Purpose: To Knowledge. A: 41. Surge goes up to 1]

Nope. It’s pretty dead all things considered. The man grieves for “his boy” and then growls out a warning that they better not hurt the other boys, lest they invoke his wrath. The group seems rather puzzled with how nonchalant he passed off the death of what appeared to be his son followed closely by “okay, don’t do it again, got it?” They ask what’s going on.

[Q: Can he speak coherently? Purpose: To Knowledge. A: 4, going down to 2.]

No, and unexpectedly…

[Roll: 14, montage]

Instead of telling the group, he shows them in a montage of everything he has seen when his mind melded with the crystal. Namely, how the crystal is really some ancient artifact made by the gods set with instructions on creating offspring. Everyone failed their saves and they all go mad from the crystal.

I think I just TPK’d my entire party. On accident. Without ever picking a fight. I’m not even sure if I can even continue given my party is now driven to speak of crazy pop culture references and think of dictators and overall villains as royalty. Not because I don’t want to, I am more than happy to continue this romp and see where this goes, but as far as the overall game is concerned? The party is just as mad as Wiki Dot Pod, the sorcerer who Anwe was hired to kill. Usually that just means “you failed, make new characters” in something like Call of Cthulhu.

I’m gonna ask CRGE if this game is over.

[Purpose: To Ending. A: 89]

Yes, it’s over, and the heroes get what they want.

Here’s how it goes. The heroes now are able to speak at the same wavelength as Wiki Dot Pod (yes, this is his actual name and I love it) and thus explain to him the situation of the Andrews. Pod orders them to bring the mothers to him to confirm and they do. An hour later, the mothers come. One of them cradles the decapitated head of the one Crystal Headed child and he is regenerated. Pod tries to deny that they’re the mothers.

[Q: Are the others able to decipher the madness that they saw? Purpose: To Endings. A: 77. Surge goes up to 2]

Yes, and twist time. Thrice, as I rolled a natural 66, and then with the modifications of their Intelligence averaged it became 77 and for added craziness, the original number (without averaging, as this is when I realized I broke boundaries) was 111.

First, Mythic.

  • Event Focus: 46, Move away from a thread.
  • Thread Focus: The only thread that makes sense right now is kill Pod.
  • Event Meaning: 23 & 6, Judge Reality.

Then, CRGE.

[Roll: 11, limelit (Oh boy!)]

And lastly, Ursa Minor.

  • Incident?: (2 more turmoil is added due to the mind screwery) 14, Obstacle.
  • Type?: 8. an existing NPC acts according to stated goals, so Pod.
  • Trihex: 464, 324, 166; relying frustration contrite.

They explain through tired old memes and borderline offensive references about how the Crystal has the ability to seek out suitable females to create the offspring. With Pod understanding that, he starts to realize what he’s done, and tries to rationalize with the mothers, only to find that his references are failing to reach them.

This just makes the mothers more concerned. First some crazy psychopath has kidnapped the kids, then is saying that he birthed them and is going to make them “floss” the world like in “Fort Nite”. Naturally, the mothers fight back and grab their Andrews. This just results in Pod rolling his eyes and casting Sleep, causing the mothers to fall asleep. He sees no further use for them and has some of the tougher looking Andrews, the first he created, haul them out, then make a more impenetrable fortress out of the Doom Cave.

In about a fortnight, the Andrews raid the town. With more knowledge on the importance of their mothers, Pod uses the Andrews as his cudgel to drive them into doing what he wants. Eventually he uses an army of 200 Andrews, then 400 Andrews, until it comes down to about a thousand Andrews. Some are killed, but they grow in power with each one killed. It doesn’t help that he has his four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the party he had driven insane.

Okay, this is a weird ending for this session, but it mirrors the goofiness of the module. I haven’t explored the rest of the dungeon, but they contain puzzles and plot points that are just as crazy as what I have shown you. Not going into too much detail, but there’s a room that alters the way a character speaks, a room where you must cross a bridge over a vat of liquid, the color and properties changing depending on the actions done in a different room, and there’s a room that has a hole in the ground that…

Okay, I think I should stop before I gush too much and give a lot away. Point is, this is a fun module that you should play. I give it about a 9 out of 10. As for the system I have created, it’s pretty useable all things considered, so I’m definitely gonna keep using it.

And while the module doesn’t exactly go through with the premise of the Andrews being just some plot token to drag back, I still loved the charm of this module to the point where I might decide to turn this into a full-blown campaign.

And I think I know just the Driver to help with that…

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