|Art by Paul Bonner|
For the second adventure in Hubris, I chose the DCC RPG zero level funnel, Sailors on the Starless Sea.
I chose this one because there were only two level 1 characters left from the last adventure, and I've never gotten to run what many consider to be the "classic" DCC funnel.
Since we're playing in Hubris, though, I had to change some things.
While planning/prepping, I determined that the main bad guys I was going to work with were the Murder Machines, Black Queen, and Floating Island of Terror.
So I changed all of the beastmen from the original adventure into Murder Machines. To do this, I simply upped their AC by 2 and decreased their Hit Points.
I took out the vine-horror monsters entirely.
The final battle on the island within the Starless Sea was changed too. The Murder Machines were taking the kidnapped villagers to the island and throwing them (under the direction of a priest/artificer and his acolytes) into a machine that was powered by magma and magic. This machine converted the villagers into Murder Machines. The idea being that the Black Queen was creating these seeding operations all over the place to cause mayhem.
The high priest/artificer had another trick up his sleeve, though; the Mega Murder Machine! Five victims were transformed into a single gigantic murder machine with a cannon arm.
The two leveled characters were a Cleric of the God of the Terrible Whisper and a regular DCC Wizard.
The rest were zeroes created using the Crawler Companion app.
The players decided to scale the rubble outside the castle rather than go in the front entrance. This led to the first death as the rubble gave way and crushed a zero. They then found the entrance to the cursed tomb of the warlord (being from the area, they knew the story of the warlords of chaos from ancient times. I used it as a red herring) where they slipped and slid and almost died from freezing to death. Eventually they made it back to surface inside the castle. They ignored the stone, the wizard discovered the bonus magical effect of the well.
The burnt church scared them so much they didn't want to check it out at first but eventually figured out the connection between the incense and the ooze monster. They took the incense with them.
They attempted to leave the castle through the front gate but the murder machines above dropped the portcullis, narrowly missing one of them. The wizard cast a spell that made one of the zeroes gigantic, and they lifted the portcullis up, then kicked in the door to the tower, and clobbered the murder machines running across the top of the wall. The other characters entered the tower and were ambushed by more murder machines who killed several of the characters.
After defeating the monsters, they found the bodies of dozens of villagers and even some left alive. Those living villagers joined their ranks as additional zeroes.
They found the skulls in the pool and took some of those with them as they descended down to the starless sea.
Most of them went insane from trying to read the ziggurat, but after being beaten senseless, they summoned the boat and went aboard.
The kraken attacked as they ignored numerous clues I gave them about the incense or sacrificing a victim, etc. Couple more were killed before they did enough damage for the kraken to retreat.
When they made it to the island they were down to the two level ones and three zeroes.
The original adventure has the final battle consist of 20 beastmen, three priests, and a demon. That wasn't going to work here. I dropped the number of baddies to 5 murder machines, a priest, 2 acolytes, and a MEGA Murder Machine.
The PCs managed to get a surprise attack in before the bad guys knew what was going on. After the battle started, things did not go well for the characters. Their zeroes all died almost immediately. Some of the captive villagers got some courage and fought back against the bad guys (two more zeroes for the PCs) but were killed.
Finally, after defeating all of the Murder Machines, the Mega Murder Machine, and the Acolytes, all the player characters were dead except for the Cleric and the Wizard, but the Wizard was unconscious. The Cleric faced off against the evil Priest of the Floating Island of Terror. The priest had already used his black powder pistol and was down to a dagger. The Cleric had a sickle. They both sucked at attack rolls.
Eventually, though, the evil priest hit and killed the Cleric.
Total Party Kill.
My first TPK in 25 years of gaming.
The interesting thing about it was that the players didn't really mind. They thought the adventure was fantastic and want to play it again!